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The Proper Use of Key Messaging

Most everyone knows the Jason Bourne movie franchise, starting with 2002’s The Bourne Identity, based on the first book of the Robert Ludlum trilogy. There have been at least three sequels. And I hear another one is in the works. Shown here is a poster for the original movie. The artwork created for the poster is called key art. This image of a gun-totin’ Matt Damon on the run appeared on the poster, on advertising, on standees, online … anywhere it might help convince someone to see the movie. Because stars sell tickets, Matt Damon’s name and image dominate. But, because female lead Franka Potente is well-known in her native Germany, her image was added, just to the left and behind Matt, to the key art used there. There are usually other, smaller scenes depicted in the key art to give movie-goers an idea of what to expect from the film. For any product or service that needs to be marketed, key art is important. Key messaging works in much the same way. Extrapolated from a brand’s Positioning Statement, key messaging is designed to influence the way a market feels about a brand.

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Plan Your Brand Strategy While Under Yellow

Perhaps the scariest part of this economic slowdown (leaving aside the public health threat for just a moment) is the abrupt decline in demand across all sectors. Suddenly, all the customers, clients, consumers and purchasers seemed to vanish. Businesses responded by downsizing drastically. The week of March 16, an almost unimaginable 3.3 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits. That number will grow alarmingly in the next couple of weeks. As I wrote last week, the economy is racing under a “yellow flag.” Senior executives are pulling out all the stops to save their businesses and hopefully come out of the emergency still in position to rehire those they’ve had to lay off. They’re concentrating on protecting their workforces, stabilizing their supply chains, staying in communication with their home-bound customers, strengthening their financials and generally organizing themselves for dealing effectively with the emergency. But, according to an argument from McKinsey & Company this month, that won’t be enough. Management must respond to the short term necessities, of course. But not if that means taking their eyes off long-term planning.

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Your Brand And COVID-19: Racing Under Yellow

There are two emergencies going on now – the health crisis and the economic crisis. When COVID-19 emerged as a real danger to the US, there was not much that the authorities could do about it. Disbanded first-response pandemic team, not enough tests, masks, ventilators, etc. You’ve read all about it. The only thing that could be done would have to be done by people themselves. In China, that’s pretty easy. The government tells the people what to do and they have to do it. New hospitals built in 14 days. Entire cities quarantined. It was impressive, if a little scary, to see what a totalitarian government can get done. It’s a little different in a democracy. The government can’t make us self-quarantine. It can’t make us all stand six feet apart. It can’t make us stop hoarding toilet paper. It can close down bars and restaurants but it can’t stop us from throwing house parties. In a democracy, the people have to all agree to take precautions. And I can’t express just how proud I am that we’re all getting with the program. Sure, some are a little slow to get on board but Americans, mostly, are coming together, helping one another to beat this thing. We’re taking care of each other the way we always do in an emergency. It’s a hard truth that some of us will suffer more than others. But, with a little patience, a little charity and a hefty dose of good humor, we’ll “flatten the curve” and the country will get through another tough time. And, in spite of the terrifying nose dive on Wall Street, there’s good reason to believe the economy will bounce back quickly once COVID-19 is mostly in the rear view. Last week, a new friend made a believer of me.

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When should you change your brand’s name?

I was thinking back to all of the naming projects we’ve done here at Boardwalk and the reasons our clients had for engaging us. Very few were asking us to name a new brand, right from the start. When people think of a new business or a new product, the very next thing they do is think of a name for it. Usually, they’re already in love with the name by the time they get to us. They can’t think of their business or product existing with any other name. And even if we see they’re making a huge naming mistake, it’s almost impossible to talk them out of it. Not then. But, if they have made a naming mistake, it will come back to haunt them eventually. Almost all of our naming engagements have been with clients who wanted to – or were forced to – change their existing brand’s name. What sorts of things compel management to take the huge step of renaming their brand?

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Your Brand And The Coronavirus

We’re not in full-blown panic mode yet but it looks like we may be heading that way. People are stockpiling Purell. Suppliers can no longer provide healthcare workers with sorely needed face masks. Because they’ve all been sold to civilians who don’t really need them. If you’ve been neglecting your brand up to now or just taking it for granted, you could soon be regretting it. Because, when people panic, they reach for the familiar. They go to brands that they know. This is not a time when customers and clients will want to experiment by trying something new. On the other hand, if you have a strong brand strategy, and you’ve been working it diligently over at least the last 3-4 years, you’ve probably already seen a steady YOY sales increase. But now you’re about to reap another reward – trust.

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