Business information written specifically for newspaper advertising departments

Two Branding Rules to Live By

You could change a few minds, however, by setting yourself apart from the rest rather than proving your ability over the competition. You might offer the same set of products or services your competitors do, but maybe you sell something that the others don’t.

 

Branding is an integral part of any business, be it your own ad department’s services to the community or your clients’ companies. It is a complex concept with many facets that go beyond a logo and a slogan. After all, these days, the ideas behind brands extend from advertising all the way to social media profiles and customer service. Branding can go terribly wrong if you don’t dedicate the time and research it requires. For example, Netflix’s attempt to break its services into multiple sites and call its DVD rental service Quikster — that was a branding disaster and customers fired back. It takes time to figure out, but in a column for Inc.com, John Parham, the President of Branding at Parham Santana, discussed a couple of the foundational rules to live by when it comes to branding.

Much of branding boils down to a simple but effective mission statement. What is the intention and purpose behind your business? Parham says when defining your business’ mission, it’s more important to be clear than clever. You might come up with a witty, smart and catchy slogan, but does it confuse the functions and definition of your company? Will customers readily know what it is you do?

He offered Avis, a car rental company, as an example of getting this branding rule wrong. The company changed its slogan from “We try harder” to “It’s your space.” Space is a very abstract word and confuses what the company does. But “We try harder,” tells customers that this particular car rental company goes above and beyond its competition to give them what they need.

The second rule Parham offered readers was that, in terms of branding, it is more valuable to be different than better than the rest. The notion that one company is better than its competitors is ultimately a subjective conclusion, but companies will dole out the big bucks on advertising and marketing to make customers think they are best in town. This can end up being a fruitless endeavor, because many customers are already well set in their brand loyalty ways.

You could change a few minds, however, by setting yourself apart from the rest rather than proving your ability over the competition. You might offer the same set of products or services your competitors do, but maybe you sell something that the others don’t. If that’s the case, Parham suggests focusing in on that aspect of your business.

Parham lives by his own advice, as his own company’s slogan is not that it’s simply a branding agency, but a “brand extension” agency. In addition to typical branding services, Parham Santana works to find where businesses can extend their offerings into new territories, thus discovering new revenue channels. Branding advice and consulting is a dime a dozen, but brand extension, well, that’s different.

Parham recommends finding something about your company that you love to do, and make that the mission and brand. You will love what you do, and according Parham, it ups the chances that you will make your company stand out from the crowd.