Create a Strong Brand

One example of many available - Ridley AgriProducts (Refer to "Case Histories" for more)

To reap the benefits of a strong brand or "image" in the market, requires discipline to achieve consistency and focus in all the communication.

We can't be communicating many unco-ordinated messages that, without our identification, look like they could have been done by someone else.

The start point of any communications development has to be the long term, overall perception that we wish the Ridley's brand to have in the minds of its Clients.

David Ogilvy (October 1955):
"Every advertisement (communication) is part of the long term investment in the "personality" of the brand. We hold that every advertisement must be considered as a contribution to the complex symbol which is the brand. A part of a long term investment in the reputation of a brand. The manufacturers who dedicate their advertising to building the most favourable image, the most sharply defined personality for their brand are the ones who'll get the largest share of their market at the highest profit in the long run. Sure, deals will get you immediate sales, but at a price. They simply will cost you too much and they don't build the kind of brands that are indestructible. An image that is indestructible, which is the only thing that can make your brand part of the fabric of a country's life."

Why is branding so important today?

  1. Strong brands develop consistent volume and revenue year after year after year - they last.
  2. Strong brands are more valuable - command higher price and margin, for example, Hitachi > GE by $75.00, and sold twice the volume.
  3. Strong brands resist attack - more resistant to competition.
  4. Strong brands get more than their fair share. They can increase sales while the market shrinks, e.g. Marlboro 3% growth in U.S. against the overall market decrease of 1.5 - 2%.
  5. Strong brands can take the offensive, for example, line extend successfully (Coca-Cola clothing).
  6. Strong brands even cut it with retailer, agent, bottler and distributor.
  7. Strong brands increase the value of the company that owns them. (Phillip Morris paid $5.7 billion for General Foods. 3.2 times book value. Phillip Morris paid that for Maxwell House, Jell-o and Birdseye, and for all the equity in brand names owned by General Foods - not the company itself. Nabisco sold for 3.2 times book value.)
  8. Strong brands buy you time - to make up for mistakes - to catch up with the competition.

Great branding is the relationship built up between the Client and brand over time. Brands only exist in Clients' minds - being able to touch "unchanging man".

So for our brand we need a single overall communications strategy statement which is then complemented by individual project briefs as specific projects are activated. These individual projects are then developed with the express purpose of aiding the achievement of the long-term perceptions.

In writing communications strategies/project briefs, you are in fact dictating by that thought process, all of the varying ways by which the Client's perception of the Ridley brand is formulated.

To achieve this disciplined approach and its benefits, it means you have to have a clear understanding of how branding operates in the mind of the consumer and how the mechanics of communication affects the perception of the brand.

Branding
In order to start to define how branding works, we suggest the following as a working definition.

A brand name is a convenient shorthand which should evoke in the mind of a potential or actual Client, a series of hopefully positive images. If these are sufficiently positive, then you have a potential market leader. If not, you have some work to do with your Client.

These images in Clients' minds are in a constant state of flux. The market place, and the brand's own activity within it, are either creating images, maintaining them or modifying them. Rarely, if ever, is a brand's consumer perception static.

The Process
The development of a communications strategy requires a number of specific questions that must be answered in order to make it a meaningful business document against which all communication is to be judged, and a constructive directional document for the company.

The format falls naturally into two parts:

  1. The business/functional aspects of the briefing and
  2. The emotive, aspirational and personality aspects of the brief

Marketing Objectives of the Communication
Every piece of communication has a marketing objective. The purpose of this paragraph is to relate the mechanism by which the communication will deliver against the marketing objective. To take an example: Suppose the marketing objective is to increase market share from 18% to 25%. There are two key ways you might attempt that. One is by persuading existing Clients to consume more, and the other is to persuade new potential Clients to trial the Ridley brand. (Obviously we are painting this very much in black and white terms to make a point). We suggest that depending on which of those two you chose, the final execution could be very different.

What Do We Want the Communication To Achieve
What we are dealing with here is the basic issue (and perhaps that's a better word than problem) that the communication is to address. In other words, to follow through my example above, we must here understand the reason why existing consumers do not consume more or why potential new consumers will not trial.

Having established the task to be achieved we turn to the tools with which we will accomplish that task. I refer to the product, the positioning of the product and the personality with which the product is to be invested by the communications.

"The Positioning"
The next section is positioning. Although this design of strategy form deliberately puts more emphasis on the emotive aspects of the brand/Ridley, it does not ignore the fact that good communication must stem from the product and from its correct positioning.

The positioning statement is expressed in objective terms and is designed to focus attention on "why is the product believably better". As with all positioning statements, it is very easy to write when you have a clear-cut product benefit and extremely hard to write when you have no such advantage.

"Brand Personality"
We now come to what is perhaps the most difficult part of the briefing form to define. That is the brand personality. This section is designed to answer "who are you that makes your personality distinctive". In answering the question there are several particular trigger questions that need to be asked.

What is the brand's associations and distinguishing clues? What would the target want to be like, ie. aspire to through using this brand? What emotional needs can the brand fulfil? What feelings should the brand evoke? What role does the brand in this product category play in the Client's life?

Once we have established what the personality of the brand is or what it needs to be, this then provides a set of parameters for all aspects of the brand business outside which the brand should not go.

To take a human analogy again, it was probably a great surprise to a lot of people to find that Rock Hudson was homosexual. It probably came as very little surprise that Liberace was. The only reason why you have made those implicit judgements is because of the personalities that were created for those two products, through the creative executions that communicated to the consumer. Stepping outside the parameter of those personalities would have been catastrophic. The same is true of brands - for some brands, a cut-price policy is acceptable, for others, not. (Incidentally, one of the best ways to understand this process is to look at the incredible intuitive marketing job that was done on film stars of the 30's, 40's and 50's against their real personalities and the products they became. It wasn't very ethical but was superb marketin.)

In brand terms you expect to go to K-Mart and Target for cut prices. You do not expect to go to Harrods for low prices. The positioning and personality for those two stores dictates a different reason for shopping there and to a very large extent a different customer and target audience.

The Brand Resume defines and documents the brand positioning issues for us.


BRAND RESUME

POSITIONING STATEMENT: Ridley (Our Brand)
IS BETTER THAN: Other Suppliers (The Competition)
FOR: Product Performance Oriented Farmers (Target Market)
BECAUSE IT: Produces Faster Weight Gain (Buying Incentive)
AS A RESULT OF: The Unique Nutritional Formulation Incorp. XYZ Complex (Support)
PERSONALITY: Who are we that makes our personality distinctive?

Consider:

  • What is Ridley's brand?
  • What would the target want to be like, or aspire to through using the Ridley brand?
  • What emotional needs can Ridley fulfil?
  • What role does Ridley play in the Client's life?

_________________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________________
COPY PLAN

What are the key pictures and words that convey the essence of the Ridley brand in a way that makes it:

  1. Distinctive
  2. Appealing
  3. Enduring

_________________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________________

We are now in a position to develop an advertisement for a specific business need/opportunity we face. For that we use the Communications Work Plan following. RIDLEY AGRIPRODUCTS
Communications Work Plan ©

PART 1: THE BRIEF

1.1 THE PRODUCT
For low involvement products, provide a simple description.
For high involvement products, provide full details as an attachment.

1.2 WHAT's HAPPENING IN THE MARKET?
A single-minded statement that isolates the relevant trends. Avoid statistics or percentages.The challenge is to offer unique products (hence effective branding) in a market segment that is commodity-price driven.

1.3 WHO ARE WE TALKING TO?
Give a succinct description of prospects as people, not just demographically. What is their behaviour and their attitudes? What kind of lifestyle do they lead and what are their values? (Numbers are more useful to media, rather than creative people)

1.4 HOW DO THESE PEOPLE CURRENTLY SEE OUR BRAND AND ITS COMPETITORS?
Briefly describe how the brand is perceived in its context, using your judgment and any available research on imagery. In other words, how is the brand positioned in the minds of our prospects?

1.5 ARE THERE ANY MANDATORIES?
Any legal or self-regulatory requirements? Any corporate policies or compulsory mnemonic devices?

1.6 WHAT DO WE EXPECT THE COMMUNICATION TO DO?
Keep to the achievable. Remember that communication is most effective in reinforcing existing attitudes and behaviour, not in changing them. Avoid percentages.

1.7 WHAT DO WE WANT OUR PROSPECTS TO FEEL FROM THE COMMUNICATION?
What emotional response do we want the communication to release? Most important when prospects' perceptions create brand differences, rather than the brand's physical properties. (Particularly relevant for personality positioned products).

1.8 WHAT DO WE WANT OUR PROSPECTS TO KNOW FROM THE COMMUNICATION?
Most important when there are physical differences between brands. Provide supporting evidence when applicable. (Particularly relevant for performance-positioned products).

1.9 WHAT IS THE SINGLE IDEA WE WISH OUR PROSPECTS TO TAKE FROM THE COMMUNICATION?
The key emotion, reason, or blend of both, which the communication will leave with prospects and with which they will agree.

1.10 TONE AND MANNER
Irrespective of the motivation we are leveraging, describe how the communication should show empathy and understanding with our prospects (to avoid talking down to them, going over their heads, or threatening or offending them).

PART 2: DIRECT RESPONSE

2.1 WHAT IS THE OFFER
Briefly state the special offer that will motivate the desired consumer action.

2.2 WHAT WILL MOTIVATE OUR PROSPECTS TO ACT IMMEDIATELY?
Is it a limited offer? What is the deadline? Is there an incentive linked to the deadline?

2.3 HOW ARE OUR PROSPECTS REQUIRED TO RESPOND?
What are our prospects required to do? Visit a retail location? Mail a coupon? Make a telephone call? Or a combination of these?

2.4 WHAT IS THE BUDGETED RATE OF RESPONSE?

_______________% enquiries/leads. ________________% orders


2.5 WHAT IS THE BUDGETED COST PER RESPONSE?

$_______________per enquiry/lead. $______________per order.

2.6 FULFILMENT
How must the Client handle and manage the response?

PART 3: TACTICS

3.1 WHAT WILL DRAW OUR PROSPECTS' ATTENTION TO THE COMMUNICATION?
Is it necessary to use some specific device to draw attention to the communication? Will the media format itself draw our prospects' attention?

3.2 WHAT WILL MOTIVATE OUR PROSPECTS TO BECOME INVOLVED IN THE COMMUNICATION?
Is there a role for programmed learning? Is a tactile or cerebral involvement device to be used?

3.3 WHAT WILL MAKE THE OFFER CREDIBLE TO OUR PROSPECTS?
Is the brand an established one? Is there a need for a guarantee? Are either endorsements and/or testimonials to be used?

3.4 MEDIUM/MEDIA:

Period ———————- Frequency

3.5 RESPONSE ANALYSIS/DATA PROFILE.

3.6 OTHER SUPPORT ACTIVITY.

ACTION: