Ben Wise on Branding

Watching the world through the lens of the brand

Archive for July 2010

Building a Brand Takes Time

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I sometimes worry that people read this blog, make a few changes to improve their brand, then expect to see the results right away. Marketers and brand managers are often used to running promotions where you can see the ROI within days of its launch.

Unfortunately, building a brand takes time. And anyone expecting quick results will be frustrated.

A traditional marketing campaign is designed to elicit a specific reaction within a specific time horizon. If someone buys your product when it is on a limited-time special offer, than you have achieved your goal.

When building a brand, loyalty is often your objective. And building loyalty takes time and multiple interactions. Each of these interactions must remain consistent in order to embed your brand’s promise in the mind of consumers.

What do you think? What time horizon do you focus on for your brand?


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July 27, 2010 at 8:55 pm

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Despite All the Buzz, Email Still Trumps Social Media

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Much to my dismay, I found myself spending much of my Sunday afternoon in a mall. While I don’t love shopping, I am always amazed by the positioning of brands at this crucial touch point in their relationship with me as a consumer. After stopping at a few stores, it became abundantly clear that brands are still placing much more emphasis on email marketing than social media.

Four of the five stores I stopped at were offering discounts if you signed up to their email list. Only one of the five prominently displayed their social media channels (ie ‘check us out on Facebook/Twitter/YouTube’).

This was reinforced in data published by eMarketer that shows that most consumers still prefer to receive promotions by email. Of all respondents, 37% said their preferred method was Email, followed by Mailers at 23%. Only 9% prefer to receive promotions by Social Media, placing the channel fifth among consumers.

Is this short-sighted?

However, this  may indicate that brands are being too short-sighted. Email promotions offer a very clear and easy to measure ROI. If you measure the ROI of a single promotion on social media, it will likely come in lower than email. In the short-term, email definitely wins.

But this isn’t an ‘apples to apples’ comparison since it doesn’t take into account the long-term impact on consumer loyalty. With the common ‘Please do not reply to this message’ on almost every email campaign, there is much less opportunity to develop a relationship between the brand and the consumer. Social media, on the other hand, is designed around building and maintaining relationships.

The downside is that these relationships are hard to measure, so brands stick with email campaigns.

What do you think? Email or social?

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July 21, 2010 at 8:24 pm

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Advertising on Social Networks Doesn’t Work

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ComScore has just released data showing that social networking websites still charge much less for digital advertising than traditional websites.


This should come as no surprise. People find social networking addictive. They spend hours checking the latest updates on the Facebook wall. For many it is the first thing they check in the morning and the last thing they check at night.

People find social networking unbelievably engaging. One can assume from this that the actual content must be pretty interesting. So why would anyone expect people to notice small ads on the side when the content in the middle is so damn good?

The answer is simple – they shouldn’t. Social networking by its very nature is not as well suited to regular ads as traditional websites.

What can your brand do about it?

Don’t worry, there is some good news for your brand. Social networkers have shown a tremendous willingness to engage with brands through social platforms. Today, Starbucks is just short of 10 million fans (or ‘Likes’) on Facebook giving the company access to a huge pool of potential brand advocates.

By engaging with these fans, Starbucks (or any other brand for that matter) has the chance to build brand loyalty with users in a much more meaningful way than is possible with regular ads.

The idea of ‘engaging instead of broadcasting’ through social networks has become a cliché, but for good reason – it works.

What do you think? Is your brand still relying on regular ads on Facebook?

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July 12, 2010 at 9:16 pm

What Else Is Influencing Your Brand?

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Great brands have a deep understanding of not only the functional attributes that drive consumer behaviour but also the emotional attributes. Unfortunately, this is still a step too short.

Despite all of the consumer surveys and focus groups your brand may have conducted to land on the perfect set of purchase drivers, this testing is done in a controlled environment. And the real world is anything but a controlled environment. The perception of your brand will change based on other factors in the lives of your consumers.

To set your brand apart, you need to understand what these factors are and how you can influence them.

The shopping experience at The Beer Store provides a perfect example (for readers outside Ontario, there are only really two places to buy beer, The Beer Store and the government operated liquor store).

It starts with having to choose what you want from a giant wall that shows only logos and prices. There are literally hundreds of options, but customers aren’t able to take their time and pickup or examine each product. Then the unfortunate customer places their order at the counter which gets yelled into a microphone for the whole store to hear. With a large lineup forming behind you, it is not surprising that very few people ask any questions of the clerk. Finally a heavy case of beer is send via conveyor belt from the warehouse in the back, thus completing the purchase.

Needless to say, this is not a very pleasant experience and one that some consumers have found very intimidating.

If you sell your beer through The Beer Store it is essential to take into account these external influences on your potential consumers, who might be frazzled by the time they make their purchase. What can you do to make this experience easier? How can you make it easier to purchase your product in this situation? Here are a few quick ideas:

  • Focus on the unaided awareness of your brand to ensure consumers can order it without finding it on the wall
  • Keep your logo simple so it is easily recognized on the wall of brands
  • Include different packing options in your marketing communications so consumers know what to order

There are likely many more ways to improve the shopping experience and thus positively influence consumer behaviour, but it requires you to understand their state of mind at the time of purchase.

What do you think? How do external influences impact the behaviour of your customers?

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July 6, 2010 at 9:46 pm

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