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On 12, Oct 2015 | In Business | By Ruth
Developing a strong brand strategy that stands the test of time is a complex task. It is a process that continues long after the concept and the design process have been completed and a corporate identity has emerged.
Today’s multi-faceted communication channels require careful brand management in order to achieve visual coherence between all the brand’s touch-points with its audience. A brand needs to have enough flexibility to appear consistent on physical applications (e.g. packaging, labels, store design, promotional material, the company’s truck or the driver’s outfit) as well as in its virtual presence (e.g. website, e-newsletters, blog, social media etc.).
However, it is more than just the careful execution of corporate identity guidelines or the meticulous implementation of logos, fonts and pantone colours that make a brand feel “right”, genuine and worthy of customers’ trust and loyalty.
Branding conveys the fundamental philosophy behind a service, product or organization. It reflects the spirit and values that define a particular brand. Branding is not a call to action (purchase). Instead it communicates what the brand stands for and its raison d’être. The brand is what people can identify with, get excited about, or recommend. A brand can support a purchase decision but its impact exists even without linear correlation with an actual offer/product. Ultimately, it is the element that determines customer loyalty in the long run.
Strategic Brand Alliances
Branding is an ongoing process that requires careful crafting and a sensitive vision for the future. Today, many brands are engaging in strategic brand alliances or brand partnerships to improve brand equity. Such alliances help reach several goals:
- Strategic brand alliances open up new distribution channels for the brands involved by helping them to promote their products to new market segments.
- Strategic brand alliances increase brand exposure and extend the reach of a company’s target audience.
- Strategic brand alliances allow to enjoy immediate credibility for one brand through its alignment with another brand, which is reputable on the new market.
- Co-brands’ united efforts help maximize the brands’ marketing budgets.
What makes a good match?
Strategic brand alliances can be very successful when:
- They combine brands with similar and matching values and quality.
- They increase marketing exposure and open new market segments to both partners.
- The brands compliment each other and have equal value in the relationship.
- Consumers perceive the partnership as a natural extension of each of the brands.
Unbalanced partnerships run the risk of compromising years of branding efforts and of being blindsided by the almighty dollar.
Some recent successful strategic brand alliances:
Spotify & Uber: Uber enjoys a competitive advantage by enabling customers to enter a hired car welcomed by their favourite playlist. For Spotify, it provides an incentive for users to upgrade to the premium level and sets them apart from Pandora, iTunes or YouTube.
Snapchat & Square (together: Snapcash): Square provides solid credibility of secure money transfers and can boost its image by accessing Snapchat’s young, trendy target audience. Snapchat is able to offer an additional valuable service (free money transfer to friends’ bank accounts) to its users.
H&M and haute-couture designers: Over the past decade H&M formed several partnerships with high-end fashion designers (e.g. Karl Lagerfeld, Stella McCartney, Roberto Cavalli, Sonia Rykiel, Lanvin, Versace, Alexander Wang etc.). H&M strengthens its brand positioning as a fashion-forward retailer by offering limited time, exclusive fashion brand items that drive people into their stores. Through this time-limited offer, haute-couture designers enjoy exposure to a new generation of shoppers who, with time, have the potential of turning into followers and customers of their high-end collections.
Are these partners a natural fit?
The recent partnership between yoga apparel giant Lululemon and Curiosity Lager (by Vancouver’s Stanley Park Brewing) is considered by many as “untraditional”. Water, tea, smoothies, exercise facilities or sport events might come to mind before alcohol.
However, the marketing benefits are clear: the partnership allows both brands to tap into each other’s audiences and extend their reach. Lululemon can reach a more male beer-drinking crowd, while Curiosity Lager gets to align itself with terms such as “health” and “well-being”.
The manifesto on Lululemon’s website says: “We are passionate about sweating every day and we want the world to know it. Breathing deeply, drinking water and getting outside also top the list of things we can’t live without…”
Though most yogis and athletes celebrate special occasions with alcohol from time to time, could the placement of the Lululemon logo on beer compromise the authenticity of the brand’s values a little?
Other unusual strategic brand alliances:
• KFC’s 2010 “Buckets for the Cure” campaign.
• Play-Doh & McDonald’s: playset that molds modeling dough into fries, burgers and milkshakes.
• Lego & oil giant Royal Dutch Shell (Shell-branded Lego collection).
On 19, Feb 2015 | In Business | By Ruth
Where to focus your online marketing efforts in 2015? Running campaigns on Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites was a priority in recent years and often posed an overwhelming challenge to businesses. This year, a Forbes article by Ewan Spence sheds light on recent developments and their implications. Due to new policies of social media sites and their need to maximize their own revenues, a re-evaluation is required. Today, as Facebook no longer pushes messages into timelines from a page, unless it has already gained attention within the followers of a page… to get the process-started you are asked to pay. If you do not have an extra budget to promote each post, having to rely on a mysterious traffic algorithm showing the content is quite frustrating and beyond your control.
Everyone should be cautious about handing over control over conversations between your brand and your audience to the mercy of likes or the ever-changing policies of other sites. This year should be the year you take back control of the conversation.
A way to regain control is to post on Facebook posts of the blog/news section of your website. This will generate traffic to your blog and will keep the conversation under your control.
Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, Digg, Reddit, and many other social sites can provide viral wins over a short period of time and could be wisely used as additional tool to channel people to properties that are under total control of a brand (a website, an RSS feed for media delivery, an email newsletter subscription page).
Posting links to your blog, newsfeed or communicating tailored messages via e-newsletter reduces the risk of relying on a third-party and supports building the relation between consumer and brand rather than consumer and social media site.