Branding

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Branding: Making sense of the philosophical confusion

One of the privileges of the pen is that he who wields it can indulge in all kinds of literary conceits to address even the most prosaic of subjects. Thus, in addressing the subject of ‘rebranding branding,’ I will open this brief commentary with a quote from the most notorious philosopher of the 20th century, Ludwig Wittgenstein: ‘There are no philosophical problems. There are only linguistic puzzles.’

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Accountants 1, Marketers 0

Here’s a sobering thought. The accounting profession probably understands more about branding than most marketers – at least as far as a brand’s actual value is concerned.

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How do you market electricity in a newly deregulated energy economy?

Ontario opened its electricity market to competition on May 1 and while government brochures don’t say consumers will save money, the fact that they can choose their electricity provider, as they can natural gas or telephone services, is positioned as being a good thing. But consumers aren’t really convinced of that yet.
Overall there has been little education. There is a lot of confusion as well as reluctance to sign on with retailers after the aggressive marketing tactics taken by some agent/brokers in the deregulated natural gas market.

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Marketing messages gearing internally

Health, by its definition, is the state of being well in body or mind. Total health, then, would require the aligned vitality of both. The same could be said for a brand, and some corporations have come to realize that it isn’t just the external façade – their relationship with consumers – that needs nurture. In the last few years many have reflected on what’s going on inside their walls and are investing in employee branding practices as a result.
A recent survey of 150 major organizations, conducted by Carlson Marketing Group in Minneapolis, found that two-thirds were involved in employee branding and most of them saw an increase in budget for such programs on the horizon, indicating a ‘recognition of how important it is,’ says Steve Fraser, VP relationship marketing, at Carlson’s Toronto office.

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Brandmaker Express is onto something

‘I have been over into the future, and it works.’ – Lincoln Steffens
As for me, I found the future on the Internet the other day. A colleague suggested I log onto www.brandmakerexpress.com, so I did.
The future is owned by four people in an office on West 30th Street, Big Apple, USA, which if I remember the neighborhood correctly, probably once housed somebody who knocked off designer dresses. Their Web site is very professional, very lively, and starts off like this:
’1 – Problem: The project goes on and on. Answer: Brandmaker Express takes only 10 days.

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The TV medium gets the message

You’re nothing without personality, and these days every product from toilet paper to text-messaging has to have it.
TV channels, perhaps more used to being the vehicle for other people’s messages, have known this for years. But movement on the branding front indicates that on-air branding has recently been upgraded from ‘desirable’ to ‘necessary.’

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Who’s got personality? (and who doesn’t)

In a zillion-channel universe, having a distinct brand is a must, whether you’re a specialty, regional or broadcaster. Strategy asked four TV experts to flick on the tube and rate how well Canada’s channels are building their personas through on-air branding…

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It’s not glamorous. And it works

They say that creative is a young man’s game, but while twentysomethings hopped up on double espressos can keep those wacky ideas coming, many don’t have a clue when it comes to long-term strategic brand building. It takes time to produce a multi-year campaign that achieves recognition levels of 95% (such as Monsieur B. in Quebec). It takes discipline. It takes experience. Not many Canadian CDs can do it. Here’s a chance to meet four who can.

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Narrow the focus, own the word

If you’re responsible for the care and feeding of a brand, some of the insights gleaned at Strategy’s recent conference on branding, Building Customers for Life, may be fodder for revisionist thought.

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Keeping it simple: Why narrowing your focus makes your brand stronger

Zellers could go the way of Kmart, Roots will conquer the States, and Canada’s beer companies couldn’t have done a worse job down south.
So says Al Ries, marketing consultant and co-author of Positioning, one of the best-selling advertising books of all time.

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When a cocktail onion is a brand experience…

It all started with some cocktail onions. Bypassing my usual three olive request with a dry martini, something that Friday evening inspired me to ask for cocktail onions instead. The cheery young waitress smiled, closed her order pad and sped away, only to re-appear a few moments later with a look of despair as her only companion.

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Hired guns and other brand escalation tactics

During the ’90s, the importance of branding took hold like never before and marketers espoused brand strategy as the key to winning consumer loyalty. But if the ’90s built the path for strategic planning, the new millennium is set to position tactics as the key to successful brand building.

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Corus research into what women want sparks younger, bolder WTN

It turns out that what women don’t want, after all, is a serious TV channel that talks about issues 24/7. As Toronto-based Corus Entertainment recently discovered through extensive research, women actually go to the small screen for the same reason men do – to be entertained. This epiphany has culminated into a bolder look for WTN, now called simply W, as well as a clever ad campaign encompassing TV, radio and print that will introduce the revamped network beginning April 15.

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How can the struggling Canadian film industry build momentum?

Chances are, you will opt for the former – not necessarily because it’s a better movie but because this is the film that’s a sure bet. The trailers looked good, the media reviews were promising and most importantly, everyone’s talking about it.

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Yes, but is it art?

Branding is a bit like one of those big, colourful rectangle paintings by Rothko. An expert on the New York School of abstract painting could write a 400-page treatise on how it came about and what it means, but when you step up to the picture, what you see is just a big colourful rectangle.
In the same way, the best brands have hours of strategizing behind them, result from reams of research, and the brand architects could write a book on what they mean, but they look pretty simple to the consumer.