Building Brands

In a former agency, I had a creative director who would respond to every common office greeting like “How’s it going?” or “What are you up to?” with “Building brands. Just building brands, man.”

He believed it, too. He believed passionately that every time he had the opportunity to create something that represented a brand, he wanted that piece of communication to build an image and reputation. He believed that the idea of something was much more powerful than thing itself and always was out to plant that next idea into the minds of consumers.

It’s common for people to talk about advertising in terms of soft-sell and hard-sell. There is almost a kind of unfortunate rivalry between marketers who sometimes look to prove to each other how their preferred pitch is the most useful.

Obviously, no business will survive without sales. “You’ve got to move the merch,” one advertising professor told me. The nature of business requires immediate and constant attention to the bottom line. There’s a current promotion or product and it needs to be sold.

So, I understand the need and desire to push an offer or a discount. Save 50% or buy this and get this. There’s a time and a place for enticements, but every Groupon offer out there has to start with the premise that a consumer wants that product at all in the first place.

Most CEO’s have to beat their earnings estimates and CMO’s must see an upturn in sales. The ability to keep one eye on the long-term image of the brand while still managing to deliver short-term sales requires discipline.

As a marketer, what are you saying to improve your image in the minds of consumers? Where in the budget is there space for you to communicate who you are and what you stand for?

What is your company doing to make people want your product or service? What are you doing to help people know who you are?

What does you consumer know about what your brand loves? What are you doing to engineer and foster the desire or your product in the people you are hoping will buy it?

“Oh, but we’re not Apple,” some say. “Big brands can focus on image, we just need to tell people about this offer.” Of course, not everyone has a billion dollar budget, but no matter the size of the marketing budget, there’s still some percentage dedicated to image and branding alone.

I certainly don’t believe all advertising needs to be 100% offer free, but consumers are pretty savvy these days. If they want to find you, your name is but a Google search away. If you can create the right kind of desire within people they’ll put the hard sell on themselves.

Or as Don Draper’s would tell you: “You are the product. You. Feeling something. That’s what sells.”