Brand Equity - Brand Identity Guru

7 Qualities Of A Strong Brand:

1. Commands premium pricing while retaining loyalty

2. Shortens the sales cycle

3. Deflects competition

4. Resists commoditization

5. Establishes top of mind awareness (mindshare)

6. Generates referral "word of mouth" momentum

7. Meets and exceeds shareholder expectations

If you are lacking some of these qualities read on to learn how you can strengthen your brand!

Putting Your Message In Motion?

" Persuasion is the centerpiece of business activity," writes Robert McKee, Screenwriting Coach, in a June 2003 Harvard Business Review article on storytelling. "?If you can harness imagination and the principles of a well-told story, then you get people rising to their feet amid thunderous applause instead of yawning and ignoring you."

You tend to listen to a guy who has taught people how to spin yarns like The Color Purple, Forrest Gump and Sleepless in Seattle. Though in this article McKee was referring to executives' effective storytelling to inspire their various stakeholders, the same principles resonate through a company's brand communications. First you've got to capture your prospects' imaginations and make them believe your story. Only then are you within reach of branding a customer and opening a new revenue stream. Multimedia makes this goal a lot easier to reach.

The term "multimedia" encompasses any medium that relies on more than one of the human senses to communicate. For example, print ads use only sight (except for "scratch 'n sniff). Radio uses only sound. By contrast, web movies, television and cinema use sight and sound together for a more effective presentation. So though technically multimedia has been around for a long time, today the reference is chiefly reserved for digital presentations with motion, visuals and sound.

Study after study proves that the more senses involved in telling your story (sight, sound, touch, etc.), the more effective it becomes. The greatest advantage of multimedia for B2B marketers isn't really the media itself, but the channels now available to distribute it to niche audiences with surgical precision. DVD and the web, search engines and email provide the perfect mix of vehicles to drive a highly targeted stream of people to hear and see their stories. So in this age of digital information, it's no wonder that marketers are rushing to use this highly targeted storytelling medium.

MicroSoft PowerPoint

This is a simple multimedia-capable tool. The next step up from a photo slide show, PowerPoint has become the most popular multimedia program in distribution today. PowerPoint's elementary animation of typography and images richens the cracker-dry corporate slide presentation of the past and brings the entire presentation process in-house, relegating it to administrative assistants instead of outsourced creative specialists.

The problem we've seen with PowerPoint is that it is so easy to use that companies allow people untrained in even basic storytelling, graphics or their specific corporate brand standards to create these presentations. This does more to undermine the integrity of a consistent brand image than anything else we've seen. Everyone wants to add their "creative touches" to the PowerPoint presentation, and before you know it, a conservative-minded company can look like Disneyland at the board of directors meeting.

And since PowerPoint contains libraries of backgrounds, effects and color palettes for all to use, it is easy to develop presentations with a "canned" flavor, defeating the objective of brand differentiation. The use of these common library images and elements also increases the chances of your presentation taking on the same look and feel of one of your competitors.

The solution? A unique, yet standardized template based on corporate brand identity standards should be issued to a select group of managers whose departments regularly create presentations. Each completed presentation should be reviewed for adherence to standards prior to use in the field, or even internally. Creating a brand review committee will help immensely, even if it is an ad hoc, part-time or outsourced function.

Flash by Macromedia

This is an animation software tool well suited for telling conceptual stories where motion is important to express the concept, but actual cinematic media (motion film) is not the answer (for either expressive or budgetary reasons). This might work well in the case of demonstrating the principal of a machine's operation, of which many parts are not visible.

Flash is a vector (as opposed to a raster) digital format. Vector programs like Flash and Adobe Illustrator hold quality as they rescale in size or dimension, take up far smaller amounts of disk space and download faster on the web.

Flash is built for flexibility in resolution and aspect ratios. The same presentation can be used on a laptop computer for a sales presentation as well as a 60" letterbox plasma screen at a trade show with the same high quality results requiring only minor adjustments in display settings.

Though actual photos and even motion film or video clips can be embedded in Flash, its true capabilities shine in the animation mode. With a capable and creative designer, Flash can be a very entertaining and effective tool. It can instantly be embed in the mind of the viewer, a core concept that would otherwise take far more time and explanation.

The key is to tell an engaging story with your Flash animation. Start by identifying with your audience and encountering the problem in the way they would. Instead of simply showing a demonstration, try creating a unique character with a personality that is consistent with your brand promise or typifies your customer. Or personify inanimate objects. Build the storyline with a problem/solution orientation. Like any other marketing project, do your homework so your presentation is credible.

Here are a few tips for Flash use:

A 90-second Flash introduction to a sales presentation can standardize the way your story is told (solution story versus product features) and allow your sales reps to get to the negotiation stage faster. It is a good idea to build control buttons into the sales and web versions of the presentation to allow reps and visitors to pause at key points, fast forward through less relevant segments and rewind for those "let's see that again" requests.

On the web, don't use Flash for an introduction to your web site. People can grow impatient when forced to view your show before your home page. Instead, put voluntary links to your Flash movies on your home page and promote them throughout the site.

Use Flash movies for

? Positioning

? Demonstration

? Comparison

? Concept Illustration

Raster Web ("Director") Movies

B2B marketers have long been envious of consumer marketers' effective use of television. TV commercials are one of the most powerful mass positioning tools of all time. But for most B2B marketers, the television medium doesn't efficiently target niche B2B segments. And though cable television has provided more specialized programming where more B2B corporate positioning commercials are finding success, for the vast majority of the middle market, it's still a bit rich for the budget. But movies on the web?now there's a combo with some B2B traction.

In contrast to Flash vector movies, raster web movies are simply actual videos or motion film productions that are available on the web. These movies are created no differently than cinema or television commercials. They're simply digitized, edited and optimized for use on a DVD, CD or the web. They are quite a bit larger in file size than vector movies, so many times streaming technology is used for playback rather than downloading the entire movie before playing.

With the web growing fast as the number-one resource for business marketers, it is beginning to make sense to make special "infomercials" and short positioning movies for the web. In essence, this is simply a more engaging reincarnation of the obligatory, dust-collecting "corporate video" but with some new twists and exciting, new distribution options. Rather than make one corporate video that comes packaged with caffeine supplements, produce exciting, new, shorter, more to-the-point flicks that aim for high marks in immediacy and relevancy with web-savvy buyers.

BMW has become a leader in this area. You may have seen promotions for their web movies over the past couple of years. I received a great email last week from BMW promoting their new 3-Series cars. In the well-designed html email was a still photo of the car with a link to a movie that allowed me to set it in motion. I watched the car cornering and performing other BMW-esque maneuvers on a winding coastal highway. Very nice for positioning. Very effective story telling.

T-Mobile is now unveiling a custom-produced version of the smash TV series "24" on short web movies delivered to select web-capable wireless phones. Though this may be a superfluous demonstration of technology and off-task with the utility of wireless phones, the fact that it can be done is in itself impressive.

Other uses for this phone technology and storytelling style are sure to catch fire over the next few years (movie trailers, mobile video mail, etc).

Paid search engines are a great way to efficiently target and recruit viewer-ship for your web movies and Flash presentations. Services such as Google's AdWords, Yahoo's Overture, Espotting.com and FindWhat.com are services that guide search inquiries from popular search engines to your website and only charge per click-through to your web site. This is a very efficient promotional tool to hook up with exceptionally qualified, active prospects.

ROI

The great thing about doing anything on the web ?like multimedia presentations ? is that you can get some fantastic metrics on who is watching, when and why. From this and other information, relationships can be made between ROI and spending that could never have been as precise before web technology.

Most Internet Service Providers (a.k.a. "ISPs" or Hosting Services) now include web metrics packages that enable you to see how much traffic you're getting, through what pages visitors enter your website, how long they visit, which pages they visit, when, and a host of other metrics.

How do you use this information for determining the ROI of web media? When you run promotions (with strong offers via email or other direct marketing), use a special web address as a response device, so you can measure the effectiveness of lead generation. Once the visitors are on the site, you can carefully structure their paths with strategic links that lead to your web movies, Flash presentations and other web media. This should help to position your brand and motivate the visitor. A call for action to download information or order products at the end of the movies can be used to measure the effectiveness of the movies.

With each marketing or branding objective, new and creative ways of measuring your ROI can be devised, and motion media developed to motivate action.

To measure how strong your brand image is copy and paste: (http://brandidentityguru.com/bightml/brandmasterpiece.html). Then click "Take the brand strength test". This is a short survey that measures the strength of any company's brand. It's a great tool to see where you are today.

Scott White is President of Brand Identity Guru (http://www.brandidentityguru.com), a leading brand consulting and market research firm located in Easton, Massachusetts, USA, near Boston. Brand Identity Guru specializes in creating corporate and product brands that increase sales, market share, customer loyalty, and brand valuation.

Over the course of his 15-year branding career, Scott White has worked in a wide variety of industries: high-tech, manufacturing, computer hardware and software, telecommunications, banking, restaurants, fashion, healthcare, Internet, retail, and service businesses, as well as numerous non-profit organizations.

Brand Identity Guru clients include: Sun Life Financial, Coca Cola, HP, Sun, Nordstrom, American Federal Mortgage, Simon (America's largest shopping mall manager) and many others, including numerous emerging growth companies.

Scott White is a very enthusiastic speaker and has the gift of being able to explain the principles of branding in a compelling and entertaining manner so that people at all levels can understand.

In The News:


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