Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Learning about Brand Power for the New Media

Another way to learn about the power of branding is to refer to the course I teach at NYU's Continued Study program, "Positioning and Brand Development" (X50.9255.001).

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Internet and Brand Piracy

One of the biggest problems in the pharmaceutical industry is couterfeiting, which is essentially the same as stealing money and undermining a key asset for a company - its brand equity. Today brand priacy is estimated to be a $500 billion industry, operating across national and juristictional boundaries. In the pharmaceutical industry, you can look up countless offerings of prescription drugs on the internet that sound very scientific and legitimate, but are clearly illegal. I just read one that asked several due diligence type questions and offered a medical "examination" for $49, as a lead-in for purchasing the desired RX drug. High drug prices, especially in the U.S., is the primary driving force behind this growing industry, as well as confidentiality (e.g. uncomfortable about telling your doctor about certain ailments) and easy access over the internet. From the pharmaceutical company perspective, this form of counterfeiting not only robs them of potential revenues, but it raises significant risks and/or liabilities for safety, under performance and other possible health implications. Finally, the brand equity of the particular drug and parent company is put into serious jeapardy. A brand is basically a promise, and when the product does not deliver on this promise, consumers lose their confidence and trust with that brand - key components for consumer loyalty and growing brand equity over time. All these risks raise important questions about internet marketing. As wonderful as it is, companies must be more sensitive to the risks of counterfeiting and losing control of their brands from marketing over this "new media". Obviously pharmaceutical companies should conduct in-depth research to track these counterfeiters (The Knowledge Agency and their I-track is one of the best in the business for this), but they should also use the internet and other marketing media to strengthen their brands so that they become more clearly distinguishable from these brand piracy practices.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Brand Power - Integrity vs. Impressions

Brand Power - I just read Richard Edelman's blogs, which I thought were very insightful and interesting. He makes many excellent points about the role of PR today in light of the growing cynicism and mistrust of what is traditionally the bedrock of this marketing function (credibility), and particularly liked his reference to Shakespeare's Othello when discussing the importance of reputation, where Iago says "he that flinches from me my good name robs me of that which not enriches him and makes me poor indeed." He also points out how branding is all about impressions. And good branding goes beyond a simple impression, to engage the target customer emotionally. This critical element of emotional impressions, however, can conflict with another dynamic that is becoming more omnipresent in our society these days, - the need for integrity and trust, which is sorely lacking in marketing and especially politics. Rove and his Republicans have indeed done a superb jobs playing on people's inherent emotions and creating impressions that are often misguided if not simply baseless. Last week, the NY Times had an article on the Federal Election Institute in Mexico, a kind of "ombudsman" that enforces the integrity of campaign speeches and advertising in its current election for president, with authority to even "ban any speech that besmirches a candidate's reputation..." The article goes on to project such a mechanism for ensuring integrity in the US, noting that the Swift Boat campaign against Kerry and the Willie Horton ad against Dukakis would never have been allowed if we had a similar enforcement body. History will show that despite the highly questionable "facts" behind these efforts, both hit that proverbial emotional "hot button" and helped shaped attitudes in favor of the Republicans. But a bigger question is how this possible conflict between emotional engagement, which is the main advantage of the "new media" of blogging and buzz marketing, and the noteworthy credibility and trust resulting from hearing such diverse opinions, play out in the long run. Also can brand equity be developed and maximized if this new media allows for such a variety of opinions, positive and negative, enhanced by strong emotional feelings naturally emanating from customer empowerment, and still maintain sufficient focus, credibility and trust in this new blogosphere of complex messages that is sorely needed for a powerful brand?

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

How to make "Brand Power" more Relevant and Interesting

This is my second posting, as I try to further understand this enigma (to me at least) of blogging and in general the "new media". I just read with great interest and joy the postings of my fellow classmates, and realize how boring my tutorial blog on brand power must sound. I much prefer reading about new "good value" restaurants in NYC, or the obvious exploitation (albeit probably very successful) of product placements, the classic divide between males and females best demonstrated today by the World Cup, and the degrading yet captivating leveraging of female insecurities on dating, now on TV. One of the reasons why I'm taking this "Blogs to buzz" course is to determine whether/how this new media might ultimately effect a product or company brand over time. Obviously it is too early to assess this fundamental issue. One thing is very apparent to me, however, and that is the commonality of perhaps the most critical element for both branding and blogging - the emotional engagement that exists, which should ultimately lead to the strong customer/participant relationship that is the basis for consumer loyalty and building brand equity. In the future, I will try to transition from these esoteric thoughts to more lively, current discussion and application that would hopefully will intrigue, inspire and even touch that elusive, emotional "hot button" that is the dream of every marketing person.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Brand Power - How to Build Brand Equity in Today's Changing Media World

Monday, June 12, 2006 - This is my first blog posting, a classic "trial balloon". My main purpose for these postings, other than to familiarize myself with blogging, is to air my thoughts on branding in the very dynamic world of shifting media, from the traditional to the new media of "many-to-many", and to hopefully hear from others with their reactions and insights on my observations. My background includes lots of years of packaged goods marketing and consulting, and more recently teaching a course on "Positioning and Brand Development" at NYU, so my perspective reflects primarily the old world of traditional media. A central question I have is whether and how the central principles of branding still apply to this new, emerging world of Marketing 2.0. From my course and a book I wrote on branding, I have developed a summary list of "Key Principles for Developing Strong Brands", which I would like to explore in the context of this new "many-on-many" media world. In particular, are these principles still relevant, practical, and instructive for building brand equity when using these emerging media (blogging, world-of-mouth marketing, buzz marketing, etc.)? What are the risks and/or opportunities? How must one change?