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February 24, 2006



Yes, I quite agree. The point here is that like any concepts on marketing and PR (whether offline or online), there is always a confusion on what these terms really mean and what these things could really do. But I guess, as part of its complexity in meaning, branding may be said as something based from what the person perceives or understands it to be. No one actually resolved branding's real value and meaning except that it gives everyone the idea that it is beneficial to any business.

Jeffrey R. Drake

You say "The traditional view is that branding is ... to position the brand in consumers' minds, usually through advertising."

You should know that Branding and Positioning are two very separate things. There is no "traditional view" that they are the same.

Read a few books on the subject and ytou will know better.

Drew Hendricks

Jennifer I really like your explanation. It is very similar to Patrick Hanlon's in his book, Primal Branding. Patrick Hanlon maintains that for a branding message to resonate fully, it must contain the following seven pieces of primal code: creation story, creed, icons, rituals, pagans, sacred words, and leaders. The extent a product or company's brand message is successful is directly correlated with how fully it fleshes out each piece of primal code.

It is these seven pieces of code that allow customers to develop a complete brand picture, or as you might say, it is this "blueprint" which allows the customer to develop a complete picture.

Laure Ries was trying to say that better products and people are merely one aspect of the blueprint, or code which gets into the customer's head. Do better products help a brand? Sure, they are one of the most important pieces of code. Are they necessary? No, because a brand is more than a product, companies that have long since given up product excellence continue to thrive because they do well on the other aspects of this code.

Better products are important, but they are just one part of the message. Where the rubber meets the road on product success is in the customer's mind. Better products and people set the stage for positive meaning, but it is marketing's task to establish this meaning. History is full of companies who have failed despite having better products because they failed to convey the complete message.


I'm not sure that a brand succeeds without a good product, or vice versa. Branding is a promise we make to a customer about the experience they will (hopefully) enjoy with our product/service. But if the product doesn't deliver on that promise, then the brand isn't worth a pinch of you-know-what. People buy the promise (so the brand IS important), but they don't believe the promise because of the marketing, they believe it because of the product.

Steve Liberati

In your post, you said brands are not the domain of marketing depts but rather executive teams. You also said a brand closely resembles a house in which the various departments are the rooms, and the brand platform (the brand mantra) is the foundation.

Maybe so, but I think brands are ultimately the domain of the customer. Its not what the company is about, but rather what the customer is about. I think the customer dictates the brand more so than any marketing strategy (i.e positioning, branding, advertising, etc). Good example off the top of my head is Harley Davidson. No advertising campaign or branding message can compete with the bonds of being part of the Harley Davidson community (no marketing executive can start a community, only the customer can.

If a brand is in fact a house, I think the customer, in essence, guides every aspect of the business; not a focused strategic platform.

You can have the biggest, most elaborate... even the first yellow house on the block...but without love (think customers) you don't have a home (think successful business).


Mark True


Thanks for bringing some calm and clarity to this discussion. I believe you've adequately placed brand management squarely in the hands of the executive team, where it should be.

Laura tends to make a lot of absolute statements and she draws a lot of absolute statements from her detractors. She doesn't help by shutting off comments a week after any given post goes up.

There are plenty of examples where great products fail because of bad brand management (i.e. Sony Betamax) and where lousy products succeed (i.e. Wal-Mart). The strongest determinant - not the only determinant - seems to be brand management that support the product.

David Foster

Let's take a tangible example and see how some of these ideas might apply. In "The Innovator's Solution," Clayton Christensen writes about Sony's introduction of the transistor radio. Because transistors at that time had a performance inferior to vacuum tubes, Sony chose to position to radio as a portable and low-cost product for teenagers. (Anyone else could have done the same thing: the product engineering was relatively simple once the transistor had been invented. But they didn't.)

Would you call this branding? The strategy involved the identification of the product with a particular use and market segment (but the image of the overall company would eventually be much broader)

I don't think most corporate branding efforts operate on this level. If one of the incumbent radio manufacturers had conducted a "branding" exercise, it probably would have focused on what adverbs and adjectives to associate with which of its existing products, and would have missed this opportunity entirely.

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