Posts Tagged ‘Branding’

Keeping the Conversation Going, Tell a Story

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014

A few days ago I mentioned an article an AdAge/BtoB article (bit.ly/1k4URTt) telling of comments delivered by Beth Comstock, GE CMO, at the annual Business Marketing Association meeting this week in Chicago. The report was a thumbnail, and I'm sure CMO Comstock elaborated more fully in her address. I'll use a few of her comments here to springboard into some of my own thinking as I serve my clients.

Among her remarks reported in the article were, "Business marketing can and should have emotion, and connect with people first." This is something GE does well, I think. They talk about how their products and services address issues that people, whether it is GE customers or the end beneficiaries, care about.

Rather than simply showing the product I think it's far more powerful to include images of people in print ads or brochures, or on websites to communicate how they enjoy the benefits of a technology, product, or service, or to communicate the features or benefits themselves. For example, the featured image in an ad for wall coatings (paint) intended for healthcare facility interiors subjected to aggressive cleaning and disinfectants could be a hospital room freshly painted in an attractive, appealing color, and the headline, "Our Wall Coatings Are Durable Enough to Look This Good for Years." Or it could be the same freshly painted hospital room but with beaming young parents holding a newborn baby girl, and the headline, "She'll Be Getting Her Driver's License by the Time This Room Needs Re-Painted." The parents and their newborn certainly benefitted by the attractive, clean, well-kept surroundings of their healthcare facility. But their presence in the ad told a story and made a connection with readers.

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Which do you think has a better chance of breaking through the clutter and connecting?

Another point CMO Comstock made was, "It's important to have a strong brand and communicate who you are."

I'd suggest communicating who you are by what you can do for your customers. That's what GE did for years with their advertising slogan, "We Bring Good Things to Life." The overarching message ("We Bring Good Things to Life") was constant and the content of their ads, collateral, and website told how. They told a story.

The last point Ad Age/BtoB  mentioned among Beth Comstock's remarks was ". . . companies anxious to establish or re-establish their identity with customers can benefit from thinking of marketing and how to use it in the right way, regardless of their size."

I'll substitute the word "brand" for "identity," and here's the baseline for doing it:

The keys to effective branding are message, frequency, and consistency: message in that you must tell your customers and prospects about you and your products in ways that connect with what they need and want, and what they know about how you and your products provide the benefits that can satisfy them; frequency in that customers and prospects will come to know your brand by repetitive exposure to it and the messages associated with it; and consistency in that the brand is presented to the customer always the same. Lack of frequency will result in failure to build cumulative impressions that leads to familiarity. Lack of consistency will lead to confusion and a lack of understanding of who you are, what you do, and why they should buy from you. The role of marketing communications is to provide the means to expose a marketer and its products to customers and prospects frequently and consistently. While each item created for a marketer’s marketing communications mix will have its own objectives, it should also fulfill the broader purpose of reinforcing the marketers brand. Every word of text and every design element is a building block for the brand. That is why all materials created and produced for a marketer should portray a consistent verbal and visual representation of the brand’s personality.