A company’s brand is its greatest asset

Friday, February 05, 2010

Start with a marketing strategy to ensure branding success

Sacramento Business Journal – by Debi Hammond, Contributing writer, Marketing

“Any damn fool can put on a deal, but it takes genius, faith and perseverance to create a brand.”

This quote by David Ogilvy is quite pithy and poignant and perfectly sums up the importance and value of a brand. For those who are not familiar with Ogilvy, he is an advertising industry icon who wrote the book “Ogilvy on Advertising.”

So, why should we care about what some ad executive says about a brand? What is it about a brand that is so important?

Well, first, a brand is a company’s greatest asset. I know what you’re thinking; my assets include equipment, products and intellectual property. To a certain extent that is correct, but your greatest asset is indeed your brand. Just look at The Coca-Cola Co., Microsoft Corp., McDonald’s and The Walt Disney Co. Their brands are valued in the billions. Yet, in some cases, their products or services are basically no different than their competitors’. What did Amazon buy when it bought Zappos.com for $800 million? It was definitely more than the company’s assets. It was the Zappos brand and everything for which that brand stood.

Want to build your brand? First you must start with strategy. Too often companies rely on marketing tactics in an effort to build their brand, but starting with tactics is like taking the “ready, fire, aim” approach. To borrow from Ogilvy, any damn fool can do that.

A true marketing campaign must start with a strategic brand blueprint. This brand blueprint is not your logo, corporate Pantone Matching System color, ad campaign or style guide. It’s a messaging platform that clearly defines your brand essence, personality, promise, positioning and tone. If you are not clear what your brand truly stands for, and if it’s not outlined in such a way that your employees and everyone who comes into contact with your brand either understands or experiences, then it’s time to take another look at your company’s greatest asset.

The brochure, radio spots, ad campaigns and billboards are all tactical elements that should be reflective of your brand strategy. So, ask yourself, what is your brand strategy? What is it that your company owns in the mind of your customer? What is it that you want to own in the mind of your customer? If you haven’t asked yourself these questions, or more importantly, if you can’t answer them, stop spending time and money on the tactics and invest in your greatest asset, your brand.

Debi Hammond is president and chief executive officer of Sacramento-based Merlot Marketing Inc. Reach her at debi@merlotmarketing.com.

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