Branding in a Troubled Economy
Texas Public Relations Association
February 28, 2009
“The most negative brand in America.”
+ Representative George Miller
Guilt by association
“ Part of the problem is that the law, which comes up
for reauthorization every five years, became closely
associated with President George W. Bush, and as his
popularity slid, the law, and its name, came under
attack and ridicule.”
+ Mental Asset Recovery Program (MARP)
+ Resourcing Educational and Development Outcomes (REDO)
+ All American Children Are Above Average (AACAAA)
+ Not Even We Think This Will Work Act
+ Act to Help Children Read Gooder
the morals of the story
+ branding can’t cure everything
+ branding has become part of our social currency
+ branding is not as simple as it looks
Putting the platform to work
Identity system Culture
Identity elements Products
Strategies Imagery Vehicles
BRAND Graphic motif Uniforms
PLATFORM Messaging Format Environments
Simplification Sound Identity
Deconstructing the Apple brand
cause tools for the creative mind
reason for action
promise technology that is artful, elegant
and radically easy to use
declaration of intent
The compelling truth
an advanced technology company
that produces artful, elegant,
radically easy to use products
Brand as storyteller
+ Brands are becoming more than differentiating marks and
corporate missions. Some tell stories that are deeply
connected to the ego and personal community.
narrative identity stored In
story beat exposed to consumers consumer matches beat to the
narrative stored in identity centers
of the subconscious brain
+ The source narrative already exists in the consumer’s head
+ Brand touchpoints prime the brain to recall the story
+ Through repeated experiences, the brand is linked to the narrative in long
term memory and validates the world view
Brand as narrative device
theme characters plot aesthetics
cause stakeholders products touchpoints
+ visual system
THE RIGHT METAPHOR
the brand is a blast furnace
the nervous consumer
+ US Consumer confidence
indexed at 25
+ Many consumers link self
concept to objects and
+ TMT research reveals that in
times of adversity, favored
brands provide comfort
+ Your brand asset may be
more comforting to the
consumer than a discount
Source: The Safety of Objects: Materialism,
Existential Insecurity, and Brand Connection,
Journal of Consumer Research, 2009
Brands and identity formation
a brief history of identity formation in the u.s.a.
early americans modern era
identity linked to old- identity linked to consumption
world customs and and feedback from
generational norms environment and “others”
tradition inner other
identity linked to lessons learned
in childhood and readings from
the “inner compass”
A shift from brand to discount
might discount your future
“Making attribute information salient to consumers may switch the locus of equity
from brands to attributes. Any equity that the attribute draws from the brand
reduces brand equity.”
Consumer brand perceptions are “sticky” and tend to be influenced by
the most recent brand exposure, which frames the next.
Locus of Equity
The Brand Attribute
“ We wanted to give the Mustang pony a more
realistic feel. We lifted the head to make the
pony more proud, tipped the neck into the
wind to give it a feeling of greater speed and
+ Douglas Gaffika
Brand architecture models
Branded House House of Brands Hybrid
Associated products Situational/Combination
Branded House Offers clear, logical paths to new brands and extensions
Value of master brand preserved and transfered easily
Dependent upon the health of the master brand
Sometimes makes it harder to micro-segment
One house, many brands
House of Brands Insulates and “protects” individual brands
Allows for competing brands within the same category
Expensive to promote and maintain
Hybrid Flexible–provides option to use master brand, or not
Allows for segmentation through endorsement
Difficult to manage
Rife with “slippery slopes”
“MOTOization” created complexity for Motorola
Extending to business platforms
Proliferation of names
And consumer products
Motorola’s new brand architecture
Welcome to the brand
Experience of the brand
MOTO + 1 to 4 easy-to-pronounce
characters or short word
Products, services, technologies
Motorola + Suggestive name
Motorola + Generic name or Alphanumerics
Architecture decision tree
Create a version Extend an existing Create a descriptive name Create a trademark name Create a strategic
Innovation Unique value The Motorola Naming Game Powerful Substantial
proposition brand resources changing marketing revenue
Is this a new Is the offer so Is Motorola + Is there time, Is this a game Will there be Will the offer
product, and unique that it descriptor budget and changing offer, significant generate
not a cannot live under insufficient? resources to create, upon which the marketing significant
manage, market and success of support over the revenue?
modification of the umbrella of
an existing an existing name? extend a trademark Motorola long-term?
product? name? depends?
Brand architecture drivers
+ Does your portfolio reflect and reinforce your brand and business strategy?
Alignment + Is there a clear relationship between your brands?
The optimization of individual
brands with the corporate strategy + Do your brands invite the customer relationships you want?
+ Are your branding practices cost-efficient?
+ How well do customers understand what you sell?
Loyalty + How loyal are customers to your brands?
How the marketplace feels about
the current brands and how they + What are the risks and rewards of change?
are likely to react to change
+ Can you learn from competitors or peers?
+ Are you getting your money’s worth from current brand investments?
Financial + Can you afford to move to an ideal scenario?
How much change will cost and
what return should be expected + What return should you expect from different models?
+ Will brand change create unacceptable cultural disharmony?
Obstacles + Do legal or regulatory obstacles stand in the way of change?
The human and operational
barriers to change + Are your current operations and technology able to accommodate brand integration?
“...back vowels such as the [u] sound in dull or ugh are very often
found in words expressing disgust or dislike (e.g., blunder, bung,
bungle, clumsy, muck), and words beginning with sl also tend to
have a negative connotation (slouch, slut, slime, sloven). Words
beginning with fl often express movement (flutter, flap, flicker).
Across languages and cultures, similarities have also been noted.”
+ Phonetic Symbolism and Brand
Journal of Consumer Research, 2007
+ Apples are delicious 1001011010000001001101001100111110000001
+ Apples are good for you 0010001000100000010110101101101101000001
+ Apples are natural 0011011111110100101010010010110000001000
The Power of Experience
“The engaging aspects of product experience can lead to illusions + “Learning from experience is
of control ... improved consumer memory when information more seductive than learning
learned through experience was organized around a goal.” from education.”
Stephen J. Hoch
“Consumers are skeptical of advertising claims, especially those
that can only be verified through experience ... product experience
is credible because it is basic, with no obvious staging by a self-
interested outside party.”
“Experience is selective, and since it does not come along with a
control group, interpretation is required ... people learn brand
associations that later block the learning of new attribute
+ Endogenous (affected by changes in tastes)
“Beggen (1992) found that people evaluated a brand more
favorably merely because they owned it ... Consumers engage in
creative, motivated reasoning when faced with justifying a choice.”
Connecting messages to brand
Characteristics of Good
Messages Brand Messages
+ Reasonably consistent
+ Connected to a distinctive
manner, tone and style
+ Sometimes subtextual
+ Tailored to audiences
while retaining a familiar
The voice attributes derive from the brand platform.
They guide the tone and manner of verbal
Voice attributes communications.
Clever | Determined | Dignified | Optimistic
Tonal characteristics of Reagan
Library verbal identity signature
The messages are high level assertions to be communicated at targeted
audience segments. These messages rest at the corporate / brand level,
and are intended to remain in tact for several consecutive years.
Visit one of Southern California’s “must see” destinations.
Illustrative message targeted at
The narrative architecture provides a few storytelling constructs
that can be used to compose and edit copy so that it naturally
Narrative connects with the Reagan Library voice attributes and conveys a
architecture sense of the brand promise.
Anecdotal Bookends Like the oratorial style of Reagan himself, this construct
delivers a message within the context of a personal anecdote about real life
experience. It often works well when used with lighter, more optimistic subjects.
Architectural construct for framing a a
message with voice attributes
Reagan Library copy illustration
Voice influence – the language choices
conjure a determined, optimistic and
dignified tone – implies “you can act and
He stood at the podium on the terrace of the West Front of the U.S.
Capitol, a break with tradition that provided a sweeping view of the
Artifacts from President Reagan’s childhood
great mall which now teemed with thousands of spectators. It was
and professional career provide physical
unusually warm that January afternoon, as a nation gathered in to
evidence of his extraordinary life. Step through
listen to the vision of its 40th president.
a model of the Dixon Arch in Illinois to
experience Reagan’s youth, while his Eureka
“We must act today in order to preserve tomorrow,” he told them.
College letter sweater recalls his student years.
“And let there be no misunderstanding–we are going to begin to act,
A recreated studio booth highlights his early
radio broadcasting career, which led to an
acting contract with Warner Bros. Film clips.
In a leadership career that spanned more than five decades, Ronald
Original costumes and movie posters trace his
Reagan inspired Americans to act and achieve more than they
days in the movies, the Screen Actors Guild,
imagined. His legacy thrives at The Reagan Library, one of Southern
and on television, as host of GE Theater and
California’s most beautiful destinations where an ongoing stream of
Death Valley Days. Glimpse into Ronald and
interactive events and exhibits rediscovers Reagan’s values, actions
Nancy Reagan’s devoted marriage, a love story
and spirit of determination. Experience the studio days that shaped
straight out of a Hollywood script. Learn about
his future role as the “great communicator.” Glimpse at fragments of
Reagan’s growing involvement in politics.
the Berlin Wall, torn down from his bold leadership against the cold
Witness his presidency, from reviving the
war. Step aboard Air Force One to learn how Reagan changed the
economy, reducing the size of the federal
face of global diplomacy.
government, and ending the threat of nuclear
war. See a piece of the Berlin Wall, immerse
But The Library is more than a record of the past. It celebrates and
yourself in Camp David and Rancho del Cielo.
continues the mission of one of America’s most vibrant visionaries,
And, in 2005, walk through the Air Force One anecdotal
echoing the hopeful sentiment he shared that January day on the
that President Reagan used throughout his bookends to
threshold of his presidency, when he recalled the words of a soldier
eight years in office. frame the
on the western front: message of the
“I will work, I will save, I will sacrifice, I will endure, I will fight
cheerfully and do my utmost, as if the issue of the whole struggled
depended upon me alone.”
Embedded message – visit a “must see” destination
Organizations need to have the
structures and tools in place to
empower employees to deliver
brand-centered results, so that
Employees know what the
the promises being made by the
brand promise is and why it
brand are kept by every is right for the organization.
Employees must be inspired to believe in the brand and
the role they have to play to support it. Inspiration
results from creating compelling and emotional
dramatizations of the brand.
Three guidelines for branding in bad times
+ Simplify your architecture
+ Tap brain power
+ Align your messaging
the art and science of
simplicity to create
branding programs that
help organizations excel.
serving clients around the world from strategic locations
Global network through partnership with Fleishman-Hillard
What we do
Research Visual Identity Design
Brand Strategy Environmental Branding
Brand Architecture Digital Strategy + Design
Naming Experience Simplification
Content Development Brand Alignment
+ Explores how the best brands tell
their stories through unconventional
+ Describes a unique cycle that
transforms ordinary brands into
+ Explains how brands play a role in
identity development and cultural