We all know the drill. We have a thousand things to say and five seconds or less to convey the message. We pen five hundred words for an ad or web site landing page when we know we have to shave off eighty percent of that content. What we fail to realize is that all that content tends to chase off eighty percent of our target audience.
Successful advertising depends on strong branding messages. Short and to the point is a quick rule of thumb. But deeper than that it’s about knowing what your customers find most appealing about your company. The Harley Davidson slogan, “American by Birth. Rebel by Choice” hits the nail on the head. Harley Davidson is an American icon, selling motorcycles that cost as much as high-end automobiles. Arguably, Disney is the greatest entertainment company of all time. Disneyland boasts, “The happiest place on earth.” Who wouldn’t want to be there? Are you familiar with the cost of a Disney vacation? It makes Tahiti a bargain.
Logically, companies want to share every aspect of their business; their list of products/services, business hours, weekly, monthly and annual promotions, plus three different phone numbers, email addresses and WOE! It’s just a five pound bag. The real message quickly gets watered down. Ads including excessive information tend to drive away potential patrons who assume they are getting all the info they need and thus have no motivation to contact you.
Let’s face it. People really don’t read anymore. When they see two hundred words in an ad they are more likely to run away screaming. Thus, the saying, “Less is more”. People tend to ponder one liners for extended periods, even chant them to themselves repeatedly and use them as personal slogans. “Just do it” – “Finger linkin’ Good” – “Live in your world, play in ours.” – “Save money. Live better.”
Boiling it all down: Branding is all about making the complex simple. It’s about finding those few words that speak volumes. Nothing in a company marketing department warrants a brainstorming session more than slogan branding. Ask loyal customers, friends, and family what they like about your business and boil it down into five words or less. Brand it, stand by it and proliferate. Contact us, WDA can help.
Borrowing a popular phrase, “fifteen minutes could save you fifteen percent or more”, you know the rest. But the reality is that the same fifteen minutes could save you hundreds of thousands. If there is any lesson my father taught me it was never to spend money I didn’t need to spend. This is exactly what a good branding strategy can do.
Too often companies pour money into advertising, marketing and social networking professionals who dedicate their every waking moment to fine tuning a brand strategy. The great expense and the real problem lies in the simple fact that we make things more difficult than they really need to be. Two key elements in this argument are all about knowing your products or services and what it is that your customers appreciate or love about them. Honestly, it’s just that simple.
It might come as a surprise to many to know that Geico has been in business since 1936. Only in recent years has the company struck on a branding campaign that is arguably second to none. As their recent campaign suggests, “everybody knows that”. People associate a wide variety of images with this company. Some think of the Gecko, others “Piggy” and still others the Caveman, which has inspired an entire culture of similar references. No matter what comes to mind the message is clear, “fifteen minutes could save you hundreds of dollars”. “Does anybody know what day it is?”
Another surprising fact about this company is that their business model is primarily telephone and internet centered; unlike many top competitors which sink big dollars into national independent agents. It wouldn’t be any surprise to know they do pour a lot of hard cash into television advertising; but who can argue with a nine billion dollar subsidiary company?
This isn’t a study of one company as much as it is an effort to drive home some simple truths about branding. Consider the message you want to impress and marry that image with what your customers see in you. For Geico it is the ease of doing business and a joy in that process. Once you have this established, drive it home in everything you do. Again, and again, and again. This really is branding at its best.
Boiling it all down: Repetition is Key to Retention. Creating, proliferating and consistently pushing that message is the name of the game. My personal favorite phrase is “Sustained Saturation”. For small start-ups this may seem out of reach. In reality, with the advent of Digital Advertising, Blogs, YouTube and Social Networking the playing field is more level than it has ever been. The creative element is the key ingredient and “Sustained Saturation” is the methodology.
In the most simple terms, The Art of Advertising Shorthand is dubbed “Branding“. To simplify the term and the concept even further, this word comes from the practice of making a mark by charring the surface of wood or flesh. Anyone familiar with the old-west practice of branding livestock has a pretty good idea of how the process works. Today the term has transformed into many variations, but the concept remains the same.
While it may seem trivial to illustrate a simple fact like this, it is important to understand why this has profound meaning in our modern efforts to define our company brands.
First of all, it wouldn’t make a whole lot of sense for Cowboys to write, “Property of the Hillside Ranch and Cattle Company” on the side of their livestock. Even if it was charred into the flesh of cattle, it is just too long a statement and virtually impossible to see at a distance. Imagine sitting on a horse some two or three hundred yards from a bull on the open range and trying to see what that says. It wouldn’t matter if it was a neon sign. They would need binoculars to begin to read it. But a simple symbol such as (C could easily be seen from a distance without too much effort. (In case it isn’t obvious that is a “hillside” next to the letter “C”)
For anyone coming across this mark it was clearly obvious that this was the “Property of the Hillside Ranch and Cattle Company”. In fact there was (and still is) a state by state registry of livestock brands; just as there is a registry for trademark stamps for product logos. Fortunately, the practice of hanging has been replaced by fines for anyone violating the use of registered brands.
Boiling this all down; a brand is an indelible mark that can easily be seen from a distance which clearly identifies a company or product. In terms of products, we can now take this one step further to include sounds, smells, tastes and more. A Coke™ is a Coke and a Starbucks™ is like no other. Not to mention, “You’ve got mail.”
(To include a Trademark Stamp (™) in documents, hold down the ALT key while typing in 0153)