Advertising & Practical Thinking

The advertising profession is cold and cruel. The power of practical thinking is a perfect antidote.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Searching for the Soul of a Brand

As stated previously, I strongly believe every brand has a soul and it can usually be found in the head of the CEO of the company. The SVP of the global advertising agency who had asked me to expound on the words “brand” and “branding”, later asked me, “How do you apply your practical thinking to mine the head of a CEO of a global company ?”

Seek beyond the obvious and look for simple clues that we would never consider as bearing any relevance. The Bentley he (or she) drives, the Armani suits he dons, or his Rolex timepiece do not necessarily reflect the innermost workings of the mind of this person. These are just the outer layers.

Start peeling the onion, one layer at a time.

Find out what are the brands he consumes regularly, from toothpaste to coffee, and cookies to chocolate. Soft drinks, beer and Scotch. Even deodorants, soap and shaving accessories. When was the last time he changed any of these brands?

How long has he been with the same insurance, home and auto, company? How long has he been with the same mobile services provider? Who is his rental car company? If any changes were made in the last two years, why?

Does he go the grocery store? Does he go to a hardware store or book store regularly?

Is he a collector of art, vintage wines, stamps, coins, or sports memorabilia?

Does he try new products or new brands? What was the last new product he bought? What was the last new brand he bought?

Does he play golf? Does he ski? Is he an outdoorsman? Does he watch sports on TV? Was he an athlete, a musician, or an actor at any level? What are his favorite TV programs, movies? What about music – blues, jazz, rock and roll, or classical? His favorite business and non-business publication? What were the last works of fiction and non-fiction he read? His favorite author?

What was his first job and at what age? How many siblings does he have?

On an average, how much time a day not related to business, does he spend on the Internet?

You get the idea. You are trying to mine the head of the CEO for some data and information. The interpretation of the findings is what will lead to that one nugget – the soul of the brand.

No, it is not brain surgery. It is just practical thinking.

Yes, there are times when the soul of a brand is totally lost in the cobwebs of the mind of a CEO. Or, the interpretation of the data is way out in left field. This is when we have confused brands!

Once the soul of the brand has been articulated, the process of branding the product can start – usually with the crafting of a position statement.

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