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Is Your Brand The Easy First Choice?

Once your brand is established and known, brand management begins. The idea is to take your brand from known to respected to well-liked to beloved. We can all think of brands we love. By the same token we can all name a brand or two that we hate. Brand management is about ending up in the beloved column and not in the hated column. When your brand is beloved, it becomes the easy first choice for much of your market. That’s where you want to be. You want your competitors to be barely considered at all. I’ve lived in Los Angeles for 44 years. I know what my favorite Mexican restaurant in the whole city is. I love it. It is my easy first choice for a Mexican culinary experience. Except it’s pretty far away from my house. If I don’t want to drive a half hour or more, I have another easy first choice for Mexican only 1.5 miles away. People make different choices in different situations all the time. As brand manager, your job is to figure out what is the best positioning for your brand and then to become the no-brainer option for that situation. How do you do that? Clear, concise and consistent communication.

One of my favorite quotations is from George Bernard Shaw who said, “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” So true. The world is full of advertising. Whether online or offline, you can’t get away from it. Lots of shouting but very little communication. Have you ever had to send an extra email or two because you can’t get a clear answer from your correspondent? Even there, communication can be difficult. Let’s see if we can make your communication effective.

Be clear
That means keep your message simple. Tell people what you want them to know but only one thing at a time. Don’t cram everything that’s great about you into one ad. Don’t even add a second thing. Deliver your advertising message (what you want them to know) clearly through your copy. But deliver the branding message (how you want them to perceive you) through semiotics. Semiotics is the study of signs. Think of it as visual communication. People should understand what kind of experience to expect through the images you include in your marketing, through the color and font choices, etc. Hopefully, you’ve done a good job at establishing these brand assets in the mind of your market. They should instinctively associate them with your brand. If you have to add copy to an ad, telling them who you are, you’re not doing it right. You can do that on your website but, even there, most websites are far too wordy.

Be brief
Be simple but also be short. People don’t really read any more. Most ad copy today is written at a 6th grade level. That’s not because people are dumb. It’s because they don’t have much time to read. Instead they scan, so the message has to come through in just a couple of seconds. The same is true for video ads. Studies show that viewers will give an ad just two seconds before they start staring at the Skip button, impatiently counting down three more seconds before they can click it. So you want to make sure your messaging is simple enough and short enough to actually communicate something.

Be consistent
I once observed that when graphic designers first meet a client they ask, “What’s the problem?” But when advertising people first meet a client they ask, “What’s the budget?” That may make them seem greedy but it’s actually the best first question they could ask. The effectiveness of the messaging will depend on the number of times consumers encounter it. You need to know the budget in order to decide which media mix will allow you to be consistently in front of your market. Consistency means consistency of outreach, not necessarily consistency of message. Over time your advertising messages will want to change. You’ll have special offerings, new products and other benefits to introduce. But your brand messaging, the signs and signals that communicate who you are, should remain constant. And people should see your messaging at not infrequent, regular intervals.

Clarity. Brevity. Consistency. These are the characteristics of marketing communications that make a brand desired and admired. Make these the hallmarks of your messaging. Don’t forget to always deliver on your brand promise. You’ll soon be the easy first choice of a sizable portion of your market.


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