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Marketing, is all about waging war against competitive forces to win market share. For this purpose, marketers create warriors which win the perceptual battle for them, and these warriors are called BRANDS.
Brands have proved their worth and thus marketing programs are built around their brands.  Marketers are exploring new ways of supporting their brand. One such method is called Brand Activation. Brand activation can be defined as marketing process of bringing a brand to life through creating brand experience.

Generally, the core features or brand values of a brand are used for activation. That's what every brand manager strives to achieve i.e. communicating their brand values to their target customers.  Benefits of brand activation include the ability to convey and strengthen your positioning, support your ad claims, increase brand salience, revitalize the brand, and elicit customer insights as people interact with the brand.

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branding strategy
To position (or reposition) a company’s brand in line with its target market, this is how branding can be summed up, a marketing technique which relies on two main elements to develop a brand: the identity (the logo and visual image in particular) and reputation (the values that the brand embodies).

By Joe Ayoub

Independent agency  Brandcell was launched in 2008 to fill this role in Lebanon. The agency has already advised a dozen of clients on their brand strategy. For Joe Ayoub, CEO  of Brandcell, the discrepancy between the brand promise and the consumer  experience is one of the reasons that can explain the success or failure of a  product. "Lebanese businesses still need to be clear about the values that they  convey to their employees as they do their clients." For branding rests as much  on the internal organization of a business – the motivation of employees to champion  the company for which they work – as it does on the coherence of the message that  it sends out to consumers. Joe Ayoub explains: "Imagine you launch a product.  If your employees are not happy in the company, if they think, for example, their  salary level doesn't match their skills or they have never been consulted in  the decisions of the company, what interest would they have in championing this  product to your future clients? 


Brandcell has developed the branding strategy of Mobision, part of the  Communication Entertainment Technologies (CET) Group. Mobision introduced a  system of digital broadcasting, via satellite, for reception on mobile phones,  in Iraq. In the first place, Brandcell helped the business to define its  message. In this case, a service that helps Iraqis to survive since mobile  phones are often the only way for them to stay connected to the world. The  agency also developed the sales manual for the call centre team, around 20  employees, based in Lebanon and composed of Iraqis and Lebanese. "We explained  to them the image of the business and what is at stake so they could integrate  it and champion it." In addition Brandcell conducts regular audits to adjust  the brand image of a business in line with client expectations and market  realities. Branding is not limited to a line of products. It is also useful  when a company undergoes major events such as a merger or a relocation… "You  have to involve the employees: ask their opinion and inform them. One bad  experience and they can become apathetic. In the end they are the first  ambassadors of the brand."

This marketing technique plays an important role when a crisis has to be  managed. "Take EgyptAir and Air France, two airlines which have had air disasters.  The brand image of EgyptAir has never fully recovered from the explosion of its  aircraft off Sharm el Sheikh. That of Air France has emerged relatively unscathed  from the explosion of the AF447 off Brazil: its stock of trust, the values that  underpin its name, contribute to help it to overcome the crisis."

To take a more active role in the education of Lebanese businesses,  Brandcell has chosen to help Lebanese start-ups to put together their brand  identity. "The key remains to adapt oneself to clients." Among Brandcell's  clients: Magrabi Retail, a regional group specialized in wholesale and retail  of sunglasses and spectacles, and the Etisalat telecommunications company in  Sudan.

Origin via levantgroup.com
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How do you build your corporate reputation? Typical marketing activities certainly play a role, as does the overall strength and quality of the services that you deliver.
By Burton Goldfield

Branding your small company  isn't a matter of harnessing a million dollar advertising budget.  Rather, it's a matter of corporate reputation, in which every positive  action that the company makes establishes trust, credibility and  support among its customers. Those customers talk to their friends, and  those potential customers talk to their friends--all of a  sudden--word-of-mouth has created your company's brand.

Conversely, if your corporate reputation gains momentum on reviews of  bad product or poor customer service, you also get a brand--it's just  not the one you want.

So how do you build your corporate reputation? Typical marketing  activities certainly play a role, as does the overall strength and  quality of the services that you deliver. But you also have another  indispensable asset: your own employees. Building a corporate  reputation and powerful brand identification in the marketplace begins  right at home.

You  might take it for granted each of your employees understands your value  proposition. The sales person, the engineer and the front desk person  all play an important role in the company's operations therefore they  understand the value of its services. Or do they? If you really ask  each of them to give the company's "elevator pitch," how similar are  their responses?  If their responses are substantially different that  means that their messages to a prospect or a customer will probably  also be different.

Does your team know what differentiates your company from competitors?  Do they understand your vision for the future?

This is a crucial challenge; take for example the case of my own  company. We recently completed an acquisition of a larger competitor  and we're striving to integrate the two populations in terms of both  organizational structure and culture. I know that the job won't be done  until all employees in the combined company can recite the same  mission, vision and value statement, and be able to describe what the  company does in the same way.

Having everyone aligned in terms of your company's message is crucial  for building the framework of a solid brand. Your employees interact  with customers, talk to their family about work and spread the word  among their personal and professional networks. Each and every one of  your employees is a brand ambassador.

Feed and Nurture Your Intranet

One of the ways you can ensure that your employees are in sync is to  maintain a robust, frequently published and widely used intranet.  Important company messages benefit from significant repetition. Having  an intranet can be a relatively cost-effective way to keep the  company's message out there and ensure that all employees are working  towards the same goals.

The intranet shouldn't be rigidly controlled. You will want to create  and promulgate consistent brand standards, and give the site an  inviting, readable feel. But people won't read the thing unless they  have a stake in it.

Consider the ownership employees will feel in the intranet if they have  the ability to publish their own branded newsletters, communicate with  other departments and contribute to the front page "news" of the  company. The intranet will become a destination for them--the first  thing they read in the morning--that also means that the intranet will  be a trusted source of information.

Show the Human Side

While revenue may be a welcome side effect of an internal referral  competition, it also represents an excellent opportunity to humanize  the company for your staff. A lot of companies' value propositions  sound like arcane business concepts that have no actual impact on real  human beings. The reality is completely opposite.  The chances are,  your company is one that helps people and businesses succeed--and by  extension, the people and families who work with them. You should be  constantly communicating that message to your employees.

Otherwise, they your team may view the referral process and brand  reputation as a chore.  The more clarity they have in regards to how  they help the business and consumer community, the more likely they are  to become brighter brand beacons. The best brands and referrals are  real and heartfelt.

Reap the Rewards

Building  an internal brand is important because you have, by default, designated  each and every one of your employees to be bearers of your company's  brand. Their actions and perception of your company will directly  impact your corporate reputation and brand image.

A positive brand identity leads to loyal customers, strong referral  sources and strong internal growth. Bottom line: Take care of your  employees and they in turn will take care of your brand.
 
 
Burton M. Goldfield currently serves as president and chief executive officer of an HR outsourcing company. In this role, Goldfield is responsible for  setting TriNet's overall corporate strategy and directing business  operations; he also provides strategic guidance in regards to TriNet's  human capital offerings.

Origin via entrepreneur.com
brandingtips
How do you define your brand? Is it how you position yourself in the minds of stakeholders and the public in general? Is it shaped by what people think you do and how you do it? It is determined by the design of your website?
by Tracy Lloyd and Bella Banbury

Brand and reputation

The concepts of "Brand and Reputation" are often seen as one in the same. However, when viewed separately, significant opportunities arise to improve both.

The road to successful branding has never been more complex or challenging. What started, as a one-way lane going directly from the manufacturer's door is now an ever-expanding , two-way, multi-lane superhighway with intersections, tollbooths and rest stops.

During this evolution, the meaning of the word 'brand' has become very broad. It has come to mean everything from a trademark to what amounts to being an all-encompassing and nearly religious experience. Today consumers,consultants,  retailers, wholesalers, direct dellers, CEOs, CFOs and CMOs use the word to mean different things depending on their perspectives on, orientation to,and knowledge of,the branding discipline.

For many, there is no distinct line between the meaning of a 'brand' and its 'reputation'. However, by intentionally creating a line between the two - at a point where one can presume one ends and the other begins - one starts to see clearly and obviously how a 'brand' drives its 'reputation'. At the same time one also sees how the unique mechanics of reputation building, viewed in isolation, hold clues as to how that "cause and effect" works and shows the steps one can take to enhance its power.

The Keys lies in why-and, more importantly, how- things get remembered.

A useful dividing line

Before exploring the mechanics of reputation building, it is important to define a point at which it can be said 'brand' ends and 'reputation' starts. Perhaps the simplest and most useful division between the two is based on control. The business behind a brand invests tremendous amounts of capital and human energy to create products or services, distribution methods, pricing and promotion; these are important variables over which they normally have great degrees of control.

However, the same business loses control once their efforts enter both the public and individual domains. It is at this point when- beyond the control of the business- everything the business - everything the does with its brand is interpreted by individuals, social groups and the media. This process of interpretation puts the brand into the broader context of social and individual life (answering questions such as "what's in it for me?" "is it cool?", how will I feel owning it" etc.) It is this personally mutated interpretation, which is then internalized. Quite simply, individuals retain memories that are something different than what the business has communicated through its branding efforts. They remember what remains when the brand has been put through the personal and social filters of values, beliefs, needs, customs, morality and so on.

Put simply, a 'brand' is what a business does, and a 'reputation' is what people remember.

What- and how- do people remember?

A helpful way to understand what and how people remember things is to answer this question:" Name a person or brand that has made you very angry." The first thing to notice are the feelings that come up immediately - there's a pureness to the emotions. Next consciousness will conjure up an image of the errant person or brand and the damaging situation. Slowly, the story will take shape as more and more details flood the conscious mind. If asked about the feelings that have emerged, it is likely the conscious mind will take over and provide rationalizations and justifications for the anger in the compelling language of a defense attorney.

The point of this vivid illustration is to focus attention on the 'anchor point' of the memory: core emotions. In this case, we've dealt with strong negative emotions: anger and resentment. However, by turning the story around and asking. " Name a person or brand that has made you feel really secure" one can see by that positive memories start and work in the same way. The memory in this case would initiate warm and secure feelings at the start, from which would flow the story, it's details and then the subsequent presentation of rationalization and justification for the emotions.
The dominant role of emotions in the way people remember - and therefore how reputations are built - is summed up in the quote from the poet Maya Angelou, " I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." But, as seen in the above examples, one doesn't necessarily totally forget what's been said or done. These 'rational facts' are stored alongside strong and significant memories. Indeed, the biggest fans of individuals or brands will always be prepared to give 'testimony' through fact-laden, highly detailed and passionately presented stories.

It is debatable whether people remember every interaction experience they have in the course of a day, a week or a lifetime. But clearly, particularly in today's media intensive environment, people have learned to relegate banal experiences to the deep, dark recess of the mind (e.g. this morning's trip to the ATM) while giving priority - and "top-of - mind awareness' - to experiences they have found significant and meaningful. Just as a brand helps us quickly buy our preferred coffee (without having to look at, evaluate and consider all the options on offer), people have found ways to navigate the world based on their emotional preferences and needs. They seek out, and respond to, emotional connections that give added meaning to their otherwise crowded and demanding lives.

It is important to acknowledge that this thinking does not always lead to a 'happy,happy,happy' relationship between brands and the people vital to their success. In some cases this may be emotional nature of the relationship (e.g. they may also make price deals) and the engineering firm isn't only about the rational (e.g. they may choose to bond with their customers through a thought leadership program).

The learning form this is that the more relevant, significant and meaningful a brand's emotional anchor will be (as well as the deeper the well of kept story-telling facts and information). Hence, businesses that work to ensure that their branding efforts have strong emotionally anchored content will build stronger, more resilient and more powerful reputations for their brands.

Emotional anchors carve out a manageable 'emotional space'

Many businesses have been successful over time without paying particular attention to the emotional nature of their reputations. If things were going well, it was assumed the business had a "good" reputation. But today, with the changing ways in which businesses compete, consumers consume and technology evolves it is clearly time for businesses to make the shift from simply having a 'good' reputation to prospering over time through a 'meaningful reputation'.

A reputation is meaningful when it is built upon particularly significant, relevant and emotionally meaningful interactions. The continuing accumulation of interactions over time helps support, reinforce and expand the reputation.

The task therefore is to populate the business's interactions with specific emotional anchors, which seen together can be said to comprise the brand's 'emotional space'. There is a pool of some 300 positive emotions from which businesses can choose the three or four, which they can use to define the emotional space their brand seeks to occupy. The different emotional anchors selected typically reflect different dimensions of the relationship between the brand and the people vital to its success. After all, few meaningful relationships are based upon a single emotion. Emotional anchors may link to different aspects of the purchase experience; for example, how it feels to buy the product or service, how it feels to deal with the company after the sale, how it feels to own the product or service and, perhaps, how it feels to let others know the product service has been acquired.

Blended with the brand's unique characteristics, the emotional space creates a highly differentiated and emotionally captivating story for the brand.

Creating more meaningful interactions

Whether a business seeks to create, shift or improve their reputation, the starting point is to access all the ways the business interacts with the people vital to its success, from customers to prospects to partners to suppliers to employees present and future. Then it is matter of choosing those interaction opportunities that have the greatest possibility to embrace people emotionally.

Every interaction is composed a four variables, each of which the business can reshape in light of its emotional space.

1.Aesthetics- essentially, the 'look and feel' of the interaction. Design is the most powerful tool to establish emotional space (based on 3 or 4 chosen emotional anchors). From first impressions to the on-going role of maintaining the brand's emotional integrity, design is a critical factor in the success of building and creating a meaningful reputation.

2.Discourse - this is both the dialog and the tone of voice. Content creates the rational story; tone of voice adds an important emotional dimension.

3.Functionality- this is the way the interaction literally works. For example, based on a desired emotional space definition, a business may choose to streamline, simplify or eliminate process steps to generate greater emotional bonding.

4.Associations-these can be either metaphorical (e.g. linked to a lifestyle) or literal (e.g. linked to a another brand or social cause) with the aim of underscoring the brand's emotional space.

A practical way forward is to 1 ( define the brand's desired emotional space;2) choose the business's most emotionally potent interactions and 3) inject the desired emotional space into those interactions by considering how aesthetics, discourse, functionality and associations can be fine-turned to spark specific emotional responses.

Over time, a truly competitive business will spread this thinking to virtually all its customer,partner, supplier, and employee interactions. This will help create a seamless emotionally led reputation. Indeed, the most advanced businesses will strive to create new modes of interaction based solely on the brand's desired emotional space. In this sense, the emotional space becomes an integral part of the business's mission.

In short, a brand's chosen emotional space defines how the business would like each person vital to their success to feel with they think of, encounter and talk about their brand.

By seeing 'brand' and 'reputation' as separate entities, a business can take important steps to improve both. The mechanics of reputation- the emotional anchors and their vital role in memory - show how a business can set emotional goals for its brand and the steps it can take to achieve them.

This approach to 'reputation-based branding' leads to more meaningful between a brand and the people vital to its success. The greater meaning conveyed through each emotionally-led interaction leads to more profoundly positive memories which, in turn, results in a stronger, more resilient and more enduring reputation. And as will all successful brand-building efforts, businesses realize tangible returns on investment:

- A compelling competitive edge, powered by emotion as uniquely manifest with the brand
- Powerful differentiation; lifts brands from 'good enough' to 'must have'
- Increased sales because of greater awareness and increased desire
- Brand inoculation - stronger brand affinity counters negative events
Those searching for ways to prevail in today's dynamic marketplace would do well to seize the power of reputation-based branding.
awards + recognitioncustomer experience
Businesses, and more recently individuals, have always been accustomed to bankruptcy as a last resort. But in today's economic environment, bankruptcy is no longer a dirty word.
By Barry Silverstein.

It's easy to blame a brand bankruptcy on the economy, but it may be more complicated than that. "The brutality of this economy is not only exposing toxic assets, but poorly differentiated brands," says John Gerzema, author of the best-selling book The Brand Bubble. "Many had a common inability to build strong brand differentiation and lead the consumer forward. Deficits that became that much more apparent in times like these" ("Bankrupt Brands," TheBrandBubble.com, Jan. 20, 2009).

Gerzema''s point is well taken. In his book, Gerzema addresses the changing role of the consumer when it comes to assessing brands. He says consumers "are increasingly acting like investors. They have heightened expectations for brands to continuously surprise, adapt, and evolve." Brands that go bankrupt, Gerzema says, "aren't evolving, or aren't different enough to begin with."

The most telling public proof of Gerzema's hypothesis is probably the recent stunning bankruptcy of General Motors. With the GM bankruptcy came the demise of several of its storied automobile brands. Even prior to the bankruptcy, GM had stopped making Oldsmobile, a brand that, despite its long history, had become, well, old. The bankruptcy itself, however, killed off Pontiac, a brand many car aficionados would agree was very much a part of GM's prior success. Pontiac was the "muscle car" to Chevy's "all-American car." The Pontiac brand spawned songs like "Little GTO" and became an iconic symbol of the macho male. Ultimately, though, Pontiac was a brand stuck in the muddy past, unable to compete in a new, more nimble marketplace.

Bill Sowerby, a retired GM manager, says of Pontiac: "It didn't have a focus. Back in the '70s and '80s, the brand had its heyday. It had a kind of gold chains, bell-bottoms and leisure suits image of its era. But then it began to lose its brand equity" ("Pontiac Closing Stirs Muscle Car Memories," The Washington Times, April 28, 2009). Maybe the GM bankruptcy had a positive if sobering effect: beginning to cull out some of the brands that could not be relevant to contemporary car buyers.

While the Pontiac brand will be gone by the end of 2009, other GM brands may live to see another day. Saturn, for example, was once viewed as the brand that was symbolic of a new direction for GM. When it was first introduced, Saturn's association with GM was even downplayed. Now it too has been jettisoned by the company. But apparently Saturn will survive, because the Penske Automotive Group, the second largest dealership in the US, has agreed to purchase the brand and its 350 dealerships. In fact, Penske is in talks to "broaden Saturn's lineup,"according to MotorAuthority.com ("Official: Penske Automotive agrees to buy Saturn," June 5, 2009).

What is happening to Saturn is not all that unusual. Lately, it seems, just as many bankrupt brands are revived in a different life form as enter the brand graveyard. The reason: that elusive quality called brand equity. The longer a brand name exists, and the wider its exposure, the more powerful and lasting its awareness. The brand name, bankrupt or not, has built value that counts for something. Even a brand that goes bust may have the potential for a second life.

Polaroid is a classic case of a brand that failed, yet its brand equity seems too strong for the brand to die. In its day, Polaroid was a strong, well-differentiated brand inextricably connected with "instant photography." But that unique position eventually led to its downfall, as photography evolved into a digital medium. While Polaroid attempted to reinvent itself, its association with instant photography-now archaic - couldn't be overcome. The Polaroid Corporation went bankrupt once, sold the brand, and then the company that bought the brand went bankrupt (albeit for different reasons).

John Gerzema says on TheBrandBubble.com that Polaroid "once was simply 'magic"" but now it is "perceived as 35 percent less up-to-date and 23 percent less visionary than Canon." Gerzema analyzed data from the BrandAsset Valuator, a massive brand database, to arrive at this conclusion.

Bankrupt brand or not, the brand name "Polaroid" lives on. As recently as 2009, a digital camera with a built-in printer called the Polaroid PoGo was introduced. In April 2009, the Polaroid brand was purchased by a company that intends to license the name globally.

Licensing, in fact, is one of the up - and-coming ways to extend the life of a bankrupt brand. (See the Brandchannel commentary on brand licensing.) Gerzema says, "...many troubled brands still possess enormous value. The key is to reshape a business model around the brand's strongest points of differentiation, or invent new ways of being different." Gerzema cites Sharper Image as a bankrupt brand that is "reemerging through a licensing business model.

Sharper Image, along with bankrupt brand names Linens 'n Things and Bombay, has been purchased by a partnership of two liquidators, Hilco in Toronto and Gordon Brothers in Boston, for about US$ 175 million ("Brand Names Live After Stores Close," The New York Times, April 14, 2009). The Sharper Image name is already on new merchandise that appears in Macy"s, JCPenney and Bed Bath & Beyond. Linens 'n Things is selling through a website. Bombay is expected to become a line of furniture.

The payback? Jamie Salter, chief executive of Hilco, "predicted a billion dollars a year in sales for Sharper Image and Linens 'n Things in each of the next five years," according to The New York Times.

Other brands that have appeared to have gone out of business are still very much in business. Retailers CompUSA and Circuit City, for example, were liquidated, but the assets of both were purchased, and they still operate under their original names via online stores. The website SEOBook.com points out that keeping the Circuit City brand alive online makes good business sense: "CircuitCity.com was quickly relaunched last week to capitalize on the remaining brand strength and traffic to the website...That traffic is cheaper than AdWords, will pay for itself in less than a year, and since they are a corporation the Google rankings and traffic will stick" ("What Does $14 Million Worth of Page Range Look Like?" SEOBook.com, June 11, 2009).

In times past, a bankrupt brand might have been abandoned. But today, bankrupt brands represent a new business opportunity for companies to acquire a well-known name for below-market value and revive it. With the expense of launching a new brand, it may in fact be cheaper to keep a bankrupt brand going, as long as it can remain viable, fresh and current.

It could be that negative associations with bankruptcies are lessening, simply because there are so many of them. Oddly enough, bankrupt brands could end up being beneficiaries of a weakened economy. After all, if a brand name lives on despite adversity, it may be regarded by consumers as a beacon in the storm.

It could be that negative associations with bankruptcies are lessening, simply because there are so many of them. Oddly enough, bankrupt brands could end up being beneficiaries of a weakened economy. After all, if a brand name lives on despite adversity, it may be regarded by consumers as a beacon in the storm.

Origin via brandchannel.com
Franchise Brands: More than a Logo In franchising, it's not just the corporate logo that needs to be carefully guarded, although that's important. It's the logo plus everything else - corporate colors, signage, buildings, trucks, uniforms, products, services, prices, promotions, ads, window posters, and even mundane stuff like pens, wrappers, and every collateral item in existence.
By Barry Silverstein

SUBWAY restaurants, named the #1 Global Franchise Opportunity for 2009 by Entrepreneur magazine, has more than 30,500 locations in 87 countries. Imagine what it's like to control every aspect of the SUBWAY brand in every franchise location around the globe.

If it sounds like a major headache-inducing challenge-well, it is."Multi-unit franchises may face a variety of difficulties along the way toward building brand consistency," says Gary Findley, CEO of the Findley Group, in Franchising World ("Consistency: The Key to Branding," April 2007). "Balancing brand uniformity while respecting franchisee independence and regulating brand messages while effectively targeting local communities are two of the struggles that often arise."

Findley believes the only way to control the brand is through RQM-  repetitive quality marketing. "In RQM, repetitive is remaining persistent and consistent with the marketing message," Findley says. "In RQM, the overall objective is to remain consistent. Consistency in the marketing campaign will not only strengthen the brand identity, but it often leads to positive business growth."

In the franchise world, however, marketing consistency takes on a whole new meaning. "...marketing touches everything a business does," Findley says, "from the design on the bathroom tiles to the rips in the salesperson's jeans, and anything a customer sees, touches, hears or smells can affect the brand image."

For large and small franchise operations alike, educating franchisees about the value of the brand is often the first and most important step. Taylor Bond, CEO and president of Children's Orchard, a US-based children's clothing resale franchise, explains it this way in Franchising World ("Communicating the Brand," February 2005): "...we have aggressively focused on communicating the 'picture of value.' That means we have done everything humanly possible to help our franchise owners understand that the brand is the market share. We explain that the brand is a mental message, a picture that consumers connect to their store." Bond says smaller franchisors should point to the success of large global brands to get their franchisees "to understand and embrace the value of the brand." It's crucial, he says, to "tie the brand directly to the value of the business."

In large, sophisticated franchise operations, the franchisor maintains control of the brand through numerous means, including franchisee training programs, comprehensive brand guidelines, and providing franchisees with consistently executed branding and marketing materials.

Providing brand guidelines is not that difficult, but enforcing them across a far-flung franchise system is another story. "While many franchise systems provide their franchisees with guidelines about logo usage, signage and advertising, many fail to fully enforce those guidelines," says Nikki Sells, vice president of franchising for Express Personnel Services, in Franchising World ("Consistent Brand Identification Increases Market Share," December 2006).

"This is why a customer can go from one unit to the next and have a completely different experience with the brand. Enforcing clear guidelines will not only help franchises stay true to the brand when marketing, it will also improve customers' experiences." Sells says it may take site visits, customer surveys and focus groups with field reps to determine adherence to brand standards.

That's why superior global franchisors such as SUBWAY and McDonald's make franchisees part of the solution. McDonald's requires its restaurants to spend a minimum of 4 percent of gross sales annually for promoting and advertising the business. Owner/operators work with local agencies to place advertisements and, in some cases, produce their own creative material, as long as it follows system guidelines. McDonald's also encourages its operators to offer feedback and ideas that could benefit the entire system; the Big Mac, Egg McMuffin and Filet-o-Fish sandwiches were all developed by owner/operators.

International branding is particularly difficult. Language and cultural issues present unique challenges for franchises. For food franchise systems, local cuisine preferences may require entire menus to vary. McDonald's, for example, operates in India but does not serve beef there. Instead, the Indian system offers a choice of vegetarian and non-vegetarian menus; the non-vegetarian menu is comprised of chicken and fish. Product names retain the McDonald's branding concept but are country-specific: McVeggie, McAloo Tikki, Shahi Paneer McCurry Pan and Veg Pizza McPuff.

bc-franchise-logo-2.jpg

Challenges not withstanding, globalization is a means of rapid brand expansion. US-based Yum! Brands, owner of KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell restaurants, has enjoyed widespread acceptance for its franchise brands around the world. The KFC business in France has the highest unit volumes of any KFC in the world. For the last four years, Pizza Hut has been ranked as the #1 most trusted food-service brand in India in a consumer survey in The Economic Times.

Mainland China is Yum! Brands' top market for new company restaurant development worldwide. The company opened 471 new restaurants last year in mainland China. KFC, with more than 2,300 restaurants in China, is the leading quick-service restaurant brand, while Pizza Hut, with 400 locations, is the leading casual dining brand in mainland China. Yum! Brands says it opens a new KFC every day in mainland China. In 2007, operating profits for Yum! Brands' China Division were more than US$ 375 million.

When a franchise system decides to change its brand, the implications are mind-boggling. In 2001, global shipping giant UPS acquired Mail Boxes Etc., a private postal center service. In 2003, "The UPS Store" brand was introduced. Tests in select US markets pitting The UPS Store against Mail Boxes Etc. showed a strong preference for The UPS Store. That meant thousands of US-based Mail Boxes Etc. stores had to be rebranded. Stores in Canada were rebranded in 2005. Stores outside North America, however, maintain the Mail Boxes Etc. brand. UPS currently operates over 6,000 stores worldwide.

bc-ups_logo.jpg

Despite the arduous requirements of global branding, the business opportunity associated with a strong international franchise is unparalleled. Controlling their brands across thousands of locations is a key reason leading franchise systems succeed - and why their brands are among the most recognized in the world. 

Origin via brandchannel.com
design
How do you define your brand? Is it how you position yourself in the minds of stakeholders and the public in general? Is it shaped by what people think you do and how you do it? Is it determined by the design of your website, the quality of your marketing collateral or the success of your public relations efforts?
by Dan Hutson

I just finished reading Gregg Lederman''s Achieve Brand Integrity: Ten Truths You Must Know to Enhance Employee Performance and Increase Company Profits, which cuts through the confusion and misconceptions to get right to the heart of what a brand is and what your brand strategy should be. Although most business leaders are obsessed with the concept of branding their companies, few really understand what it means to develop a successful brand. Nonprofits have even less of a clue. Many seem to think that their brands are reflected in having the right logos, taglines, mission statements and stories.

While we all understand that Starbucks and Southwest Airlines and Walt Disney are great brands, there seems to be a limited grasp of what makes them so.

Lederman gets it. These companies are insanely focused on making sure that every experience and every point of contact with their people, products and services shape their brand from the inside out. It's not just about doing better or marketing better than the competition. It's about being better.

When customers (or stakeholders) have a consistent experience over time with you, your products and services, they come to expect that same experience every time. That's your brand promise. Your brand strategy, according to Lederman, is this:

"Brand strategy is the process of aligning what we say with what we do, to positively influence what customers think."

It sounds simple, but if you think through the ramifications of it, there's really nothing more difficult. It isn't about better communication or more effective marketing. It's about developing and delivering products and services that align with your brand promise. It's about employees who consistently meet the expectations you've set. It's about delivering on that promise even when there's every temptation and justification to maybe dial it down a notch or cheat a little because times are tough and what you're doing is hard.

According to Lederman, people will judge your organization by the experience they or someone they know has with your brand 90 percent of the time and only 10 percent or less by the marketing messages they've heard.

The difference between you and Southwest Airlines is that they're investing in the management of doing vs. your management of saying.

Lederman lays out what he sees as the four realities of branding:

1. Branding is not a part of the business, it is the business.
2. A brand is about experiences, not logos and taglines.
3. The little things that you do consistently are much more important than the big things you say.
4. A brand strategy is the single most important differentiator between a good company and a great company.

Saying that you deliver great customer service, care about your employees or operate with integrity is meaningless. Doing what you say you stand for, day in and day out, is proof that these qualities are woven tightly into your organization's culture. No marketing campaign will convince someone you're great at customer service when they've had a lousy experience that demonstrates just the opposite.

Achieving this level of brand integrity is hard work. Most organizations won't even attempt it. That's why the rare organizations that truly live their brands stand out in such stark relief when compared to everyone else.

I'd wager that the number of nonprofits operating at this level is even smaller as a percentage of all such organizations. Nonprofits may not see the incredible benefits of going through the kind of transformational process Lederman describes in his book when they're struggling just to stay alive. Of the tens of thousands of nonprofits operating in Southern California, for example, I could probably count on one hand the number who operate with the kind of brand integrity we're discussing here. And don't ask me to name them because it could be I'm overestimating.

I strongly believe that achieving brand integrity in this way will divide those organizations that survive and thrive in the future from everyone else. It's up to you to decide on which side of the line you want to be.

Origin via biznik.com
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Joe Ayoub recognized the need for Levant-based companies to adopt the concept of strategic guidance, and created Brandcell consultancy in 2008.
A veteran of the communications and marketing field with over 25 years of experience, Joe Ayoub successfully managed Proctor & Gamble's brand communications for years before taking on the task of managing and restructuring the Intermarkets Agency Network's offices in Kuwait and Lebanon. He then founded Spider-Monkey Communications in 1999 in partnership with the WPP group. Ayoub recognized the need for Levant - based companies to adopt the concept of strategic guidance, and created Brandcell consultancy in 2008 to develop key local and regional clients' branding strategies in the service, retail and media sectors. EXECUTIVE recently sat down with Ayoub to get his views on strategic branding strategies in the Levant region
 

Branding as a philosophy is nothing new. But people use the name for a zillion different descriptions: from describing a corporate identify logo to delivering a complete brand strategy. Unfortunately in the Middle East and in Lebanon specifically, the understanding of the importance of strategic branding, , as opposed to design branding, is extremely low, even though the impact of having a good brand strategy is extremely high. This we have seen in the West when it comes to names like Starbucks or Apple. You see that they have crafted a strategy around their brand and they consistently try to improve it and deliver on it time and time again. In Lebanon that delivery, when we are talking about service industry, is extremely erratic. There is no consistency. Not because the people are not up to it or not qualified, but they don't have a sort of 'brand guideline' to follow that will ensure the right 'key messages' that they have to communicate day in and day out to their customer, are being done in a very consistent way which over tie, will build this effect.

Why do you think there has been reluctance in the region to embrace the concept of strategic branding as central to a marketing strategy, and instead focus on disparate messages similar to those we witnessed during Lebanon's recent elections?

The issue is not that they are reluctant; the issue is that they don't understand it. This is a role that someone, a consultancy or a specialized agency, is supposed to educate its clients about. The election issue is a very good example of how you see the segregation of incoherent messages within an extremely short period of time.

You see the difference you look at the West if you followed Obama's campaign or Sarkozy's campaign. They take one message and they keep hammering it home over and over. They are adamant to remain focused on a particular point because their strategy is that this is the weak point of their opponent and they have to hit at it. In Lebanon they tend to react to things. If one party launches a slogan or a key message, all they care about is how they are going to respond to this. So they are distracted by their own strategy and the same extends to businesses. If someone claims something about his product and I sell a similar product, I tend to think: 'There must me something good about this, let me do it. Why should I bother and strategize and dig for my own benefit? Let me consider that we are in the same category and benchmark.


What would you advise region to do in order to reap the benefits of strategic branding?

Unfortunately, you cannot teach an old dog new tricks and it costs much more to fix something that is broken or radically wrong than to do it right from the beginning. Entrepreneurs normally don't have a lot of money because they are starting afresh and have scarce resources. But at the same time, they have the opportunity to do things right as long as they focus on bringing something new to the table. Today, entrepreneurs have to clearly define what business they want to be in.

Even if they are in Information Technology and they want to sell computer solutions, [strategic] branding will help them define whether they are in the business of selling software, hardware, total solutions, supplying material or whether they are niche brand or a mass market brand. They need to define their territory clearly and then they need to define how they want to position themselves within the competitive landscape and, most importantly, how they are going to translate this into their daily work.


So what should they focus on?

Entrepreneurs have an important asset they can bank on_ their personalities. I really encourage entrepreneurs to put their personal branding up front. They probably don't have a lot of money. But if they have a charismatic personality, a clear sense of purpose for their company and a long and a long-term vision, then they should communicate it. We all know Richard Branson. What sells the Virgin brand more than Richard Branson? What sells Apple's brand more than Steve Jobs or the stories people circulate about him on a daily basis in the news? Entrepreneurship by definition is a very personalized business and [entrepreneurs] should not be afraid, if they have all these qualities, to brand themselves first.
 

In markets where branding is fully developed we have seen brands such as Starbucks employ methods such as store clustering and below-market price cutting to push out smaller niche companies, small to medium enterprises and start-ups and thus limit avenues for entrepreneurship. What do you think about this argument, and how can you preserve the ability of new businesses to enter the market space and at the same time push branding to the limit?

In a free market economy you have to accept the laws of this free market. You have to accept the laws of supply and demand and, at the same time that the best man wins. This is a cycle. Before Starbucks there were others that were famous. Probably the small private neighborhood coffee shop and then Starbucks came and standardized the whole thing. In five or 10 years we might see that standardization is no longer en vogue and probably more authentic local neighborhood touches will become extremely important once again. Branding doesn't come out of the blue. Branding is a natural reflection of what consumerism is all about. It is about understanding the psychological needs of consumers. Branding is like a human being. A brand is born, it is young, it reaches a maturity stage after a period of growth, and then it could reach a decline or death stage. So we have to look at the brand as a human being. We give it a name, we give it packaging or a dressing like you dress a child; you give it certain values the same way you educate your children, and then you put it on the market as an adult. Then it has to perform. Either it will perform or I will underperform left out of the market. If their customers start to feel that Starbucks is overdoing it and it is in a monopoly stage, it will be the customer who will stop it first. No law or anti-trust law can do as much as the veto power of the customer. What will dictate things is the consumer's own perception of what is right and what is wrong in the free market economy. Whenever you do something out-of-line, the verdict will come from the customer. So managing your brand is like managing your children; you have to really make sure that it behaves, [that] it is constantly polite, constantly performing in its environment, and it's up to you to manage it properly.


Source: Executive Magazine


 
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Private label products are seizing an increasing share of global retail sales on the back of both supermarket consolidation and an improved image, according to a new report from Euromonitor International.
Euromonitor's new report on "The World Market for Private Label" shows that the global private label market grew by 6% in 2004, comprising 16% of total retail sales. Western Europe dominates the market for private label accounting for over half of global retail value sales. In 2004, Euromonitor International's research shows that Europe's most developed private label markets were Germany and the UK, reporting sales of $US15.2 billion and $US 13.9 billion respectively.

Private label products have come a long way from their original image as the poor relation to national brands. The private label market has changed dramatically in recent years, thanks to the introduction of premium products and products that cater to specific market segments, such as low fat or organic products. Although some private labels still compete successfully on a generic basis, offering a low cost alternative to national brands, many private labels are now becoming synonymous with quality and innovation.

Retailers are starting to differentiate themselves on the basis of their private label offering. For example, when Sainsbury realised it was being outperformed by rival Tesco, the company was forced to rethink its strategy on low-priced own label products. Sainsbury worked hard to turn itself around and create an image of quality, partly with the help of celebrity Chef Jamie Oliver. Now the UK's two leading retailers, Sainsbury and Tesco offer premium ranges under the "Taste the Difference" and "Finest" private labels respectively, as well as a number of other value added ranges, such as organic products.

Euromonitor believes that the single most important factor in the rise of the global private label market has been the development and consolidation of chained grocery stores. International retailers such as Tesco, Carrefour and Wal-Mart, which operate strong private labels, have expanded both within their core markets and into emerging markets. This has greatly increased the availability of private label products and has forced local retailers to develop private labels in order to compete.

The impact of a concentrated supermarket network can be seen especially in the UK, which has one of the most developed private label markets in the world. In the UK, competition at store level is intense, as consumers remain loyal to their preferred retailer's brand. Successful retailers have established a connection with the consumer by offering products with added value, especially in categories where national brands do not suffice. On the other hand, the US grocery retailing industry is more fragmented, which has limited the development of its private label market. Even though the US is one of the largest private label markets in absolute terms, its share of total sales does not compare with many European markets.

Strong performance by ready meals and disposable paper products

Despite successful branding initiatives by leading retailers, private labels are still hard pressed to compete with powerhouses, such as Coca-Cola, Nestlé and Mars. This is especially true in sectors where brand image is key or where long-established, global players dominate. For example, Euromonitor International's research shows that in the beer, spirits and baby food sectors, private label accounted for only 1.3%, 1.5% and 1.6% of retail sales respectively in 2004. Private labels have traditionally held strong shares in commodity sectors, such as disposable paper products (DPP), where branding is less important. According to Euromonitor International, DPP performed well in 2004 with a 15.2% share of global retail sales.

One of most promising private label sectors is ready meals or chilled/processed food. This sector offers retailers the opportunity to capture high margins and expand into a number of segments, including low-fat, ethnic or premium meals. Ready meals performed particularly well in developed markets such as the UK and Switzerland in 2004, capturing 71% and 69% of the market respectively. This is largely due to the progress made by both Sainsbury and Tesco with their high quality ready meal brands. Private label ready meals are also popular in Japan, with Daiei's Savings range the most popular private label brand of frozen ready meals.

Euromonitor International forecasts that the global market for private label will grow by approximately 6% in 2005 to reach 17% of total retail sales. The greatest potential lies in emerging markets where supermarkets with well-developed private labels are expanding rapidly.

Although growth is expected across all sectors, the highest increase in share is expected in the ready meals sector. Euromonitor's research shows that ready meals will grow from a 23.6% share in 2004 to a 27.1% share in 2008. Growth will be underpinned by the trend towards busier lifestyles and convenience, while innovation will expand product ranges further.

Euromonitor sees the future of private label as bright, as long as retailers continue to be innovative. In order to be successful it is no longer enough to produce copycat products; retailers must retain customer loyalty, generate a strong store identity, improve margins and compete effectively both with branded products and other retailers' brands.

Euromonitor International's new "World Market for Private Label" report analyses the impact of private label products in key consumer markets. Trends in total retail sales and supermarket penetrations set the scene, offering an insight into the potential for private label in national markets. Private label market shares are analysed by region, country and product sector, allowing you to identify growth markets and product trends. Sector coverage includes: packaged food, pet food, soft and hot drinks, alcoholic drinks, cosmetics and toiletries, disposable paper products, OTC healthcare, consumer electronics and large kitchen appliances.

Origin via marketresearchworld.net
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With some one thousand theme-based-cities being developed at a phenomenal rate here in the Middle East, the branding and name identities of such projects become nightmares.
By Naseem Javed

As in size, except a very few, they range between a few acres to even a single large dwelling. Now this requires a new definition of the term 'city' so not to confuse the customers with other traditional metropolises. For example, the introduction of Dubai Media City has become great success story, which extends the souk concept to its infinite extremes. But with the emerging jigsaw of cities, it will make it difficult to distinguish among similar overlapping-city themes. Innovation, manufacturing, industrial, transportation, technology, logistics or metals somehow overlap too much. Soon, there could also be Furniture City, Food City, Book City parked within People city. Like The Babushka dolls, cities into cities. A serious battle of image, name - identity and brand positioning rages.

Concept versus word

The city as an idea is great. It demands though huge acreage with structural development with all the other support infrastructure to create the likes of a miniature city. The naming concept has serious pre-requisites. It has to be large enough to create a critical mass about a particular theme, and rich enough for the customer to have serious reasons for repetitive visits. But the word 'city' in itself communicates something along the lines of New York, Toronto, Paris or Kolkata. Those are different than tens of thousands of little shopping marts all over the world, named after whatever they seem to specialize in: Sport City, Pizza City, Computer City, Carpet City , Toy City, Silk City or Gold City. Normally this term may also be perceived as a large specialty store with good variety, under fluorescent lights and sold at cheaper prices. So, does this explain why there are so many close-outs and mega branding failures? Beware. Customers won't be fooled by fake branding names. Any generic theme like 'Toy' attached to the word 'city' will ensure that its identity is lost among the thousands of equally-watered-down projects with equally similar identities. Does this mean that now these cities should be called 'Toy Country' 'Toy Continent' or even 'Toy World'? No. But creating a stronger brand is accomplished through building a unique experience for the place. Naseem Javed, author of Naming for Power, is recognized as a world authority on Global Name Identities, Corporate Image, Cyber-Branding and management of Digital Branding Assets. He introduced The Laws of Corporate Naming in the 1980's and also founded www.abcnamebank.com - a consultancy established in New York and Toronto a quarter century ago. In addition to writing for the Global Politician, he is currently lecturing at major conferences on cutting ideas on image building and global iconization.

Immaculate attractions

For example, customers have never experienced, a Toy City, where they were escorted in long train rides ushered by gnomes while crossing distances over immaculate gardens, lakes and mountains with year-round rainbows, as toys dance around in a scene to the orchestral treat from the Nutcracker Suite. If you have a super 'city' brand, then let the whole world see it. If you have an absolute 100 per cent ownership of a brand, prove it.

Today, 95 per cent of brands in the Middle East do not have full ownership. They may have huge logos, unique designs, colourful executions, banners and billboards, but as long as there are far too many identical and similar name-identities all over the marketplace, the issue of 100 per cent ownership stays behind. Global icons like Sony, Rolex, or PlayStation are 100 per cent owned, and all over the world there is absolutely no confusion about this whatsoever. Therefore without an iron-clad ownership of the name identity, the entire advertising and marketing is nothing but an uphill losing battle. Also why copy western names, when their already famous themes and global icons will eventually make this region nothing but a distorted copy of a loosely-disconnected Disneyland?

Finally, the real-estate branding in the Middle East is at an elementary stage. Now with intense competition it is going to jump out from all kinds of generic and dictionary name-identities to an advanced stage of proper world-class corporate nomenclature.

The best approach is play the image and name identity game under the laws and rules of naming. Branding city, no thanks.

Origin via themanager.org
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