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Branding Made Simple

Business man looking at hand drawing solution for maze solution concept.jpegOne of my favorite brands is General Electric, or GE. Established in 1878 as the tiny Edison Electric Light Company, it is now a vast, multi-billion dollar conglomerate. It employs 295,000 people, give or take, who speak dozens of languages and who work in over 170 countries. It once had more than eighty business units although they’ve now streamlined, through mergers and divesture, down to eleven. But those remaining eleven are massive companies in their own right. GE is a big player in power, energy, lighting, healthcare, financial services, aviation, and much more. It is an enormously complex machine yet it is known for being as agile and innovative as a millennial’s startup. With all the difficulties of making the whole thing go, they’re still able to express their brand in three simple words, “Imagination at work.” Now, my admiration for GE was already well-developed when they had a six-word brand promise, “We bring good things to life.” Think of it. They already had a beautifully simple and efficient brand promise that, in almost miraculous fashion, managed to express what every worker in every business unit was about. And what did they do? They took the time and effort to make it even simpler, going from six words down to three. Why?
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Topics: Innovation

Advertising Message Vs. Branding Message

Oliviero Toscani, the legendary creative director for the United Colors of Benetton, once pointed out, “All companies have their products and their communication. The products come and go but the communication must remain constant.” In a nutshell, that’s the difference between advertising message and branding message. The advertising message extolls the benefits of the product or service on offer: half off! 24-hour turnaround! or made with Egyptian cotton! The branding message is more about who is making the offer and what kind of “tribe” you’ll be joining if you make the purchase. Businesses that deal with popular culture – like movies, music and fashion – put out new product every season. So they have to make sure that, in addition to getting their advertising across, they project a consistent set of values that the market can recognize and, hopefully, identify with. Under Toscani’s direction, Benetton chose to stand out by running print ads calculated to shock the public mores of the times. Ads like the one pictured here sure got them noticed. Ads in later years featured dying AIDS patients, prisoners on death row, adversarial world leaders kissing one another and other images that one would not expect to see in a fashion ad. So what’s the brand message?

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Topics: communication

Graphic Standards: Why They Matter.

It frequently happens that owners or managers of small- or middle-market businesses balk when they see proposals for a new corporate identity. For those who don’t think about it all that often, corporate identity usually translates to one thing and one thing only: a logo. Generally, this frame of mind considers a new corporate identity project to be an unwanted distraction from getting business done, a nuisance project that must be endured. It’s thought of as an expense, like paper clips, that is unlikely to have any positive effect on profitability. Better to get it over with quickly and cheaply. So, when reading proposals from various corporate identity designers, they usually grumble about what it’s going to cost. And they almost always take specific exception, after having agreed to allocate funds to the logo itself, to spending even more on graphic standards. You just slap the new logo on everything and you’re done, right? Who needs a rule book? Unfortunately, that is just the sort of attitude that contributes to a diminishment of customer experience, the one key performance indicator that should be paramount in any business.

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Topics: Identity

Best Holiday Wishes To You

(No blog post this week.

May the spirit of this season of joy sustain you and your loved ones throughout the coming year. Let’s endeavor to see 2018 surpass all expectations, in every arena of our personal and public lives, and no matter what disappointments pop up in our news feeds. Wishing you a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year.

Read on for some fun branding links.

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Topics: Branding

The Terrifying Challenges Of The Luxury Brand

So you want to launch a luxury brand. I hope you’re well capitalized. In fact, if we were friends, I’d probably try to talk you out of it. There are so many hurdles, so many barriers to entry above and beyond the not insignificant hard work of starting any business. According to Gian Luigi Longinotti-Buitoni, President and CEO of Ferrari North America, when you’re selling luxury, you’re selling dreams. So, to build the luxury brand, not only do you have to reach your market like any other brand, you have to reach into the dreams of your market and become a fixture there. And that is exceedingly difficult. But when you examine the journeys of successful luxury brands, there is not much of a clear pattern to follow. There is no road map, only landmarks. And the threats are many.

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Topics: Positioning

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Best Branding Reads
Week of January 15, 2018

6 Dominant Branding Themes for a Savvy 2018
Don’t know why but, collectively, I find these six trends to be a little frightening.

What Awaits Brands In The Year 2018
More scary predictions for brands in 2018. 

How Car Companies Decide You’ll Ride a Mustang or Catch a Tiguan
Thanks Aaron H. for sharing this informative and, in parts, hilarious article.

Building Culture Through Brand
When your people are driving your brand culture, your brand will survive both incremental and disruptive change.

Olympic Committee Releases 'Olympic Athlete from Russia' Logo
The IOC punishes clean Russian athletes too – by making them wear this ridiculous non-logo logo.

New Logo and Identity for Russia Tourism
New logo for Russia Tourism is complex but it still works for me.

Diet Coke Relaunches in North America With New Design and Flavors
Diet Coke drinkers should love the new flavors and look.

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