In a world of fly-by-night, flash-in-the-pan businesses and disposable products the best way to meaningfully differentiate your company is to build a brand that lasts. In Brand Immortality: How Brands Can Live Long and Prosper, authors Hamish Pringle and Peter Field, draw upon 880+ case studies to make a strong argument that “Properly managed, no brand need decay and die — immortality is within the reach of all…” At Immortology, we concur.
After 20+ years of creating strategies and integrated campaigns for some of the world’s most successful companies, our leadership team has learned a thing or two about building brands that last. We know there are eight steps every company must take to ensure eternal relevance and prosperity. Unlike mortal brands, immortal ones adhere to a tried and true process to become so. What’s more these steps work for any business and can be implemented at any stage in your company’s lifecycle.
Even though many claim otherwise, most agencies today simply do not possess the strategic, verbal, design and production skills to do so. Most are focused on short-term, online, sales activation strategies and tactics which are no more than a modern spin on direct marketing. Direct should be a part of every marketing plan because it is extremely efficient at harvesting sales. In Effectiveness In Context, Les Binet and Peter Field present evidence that all brands need brand building and sales activation to maximize growth. Most companies should invest a minimum of 60% of their ad budgets into long-term, mass market, brand building campaigns and no more than 40% into direct, short-term sales activation tactics. However, the average business puts 72% of its advertising in online media – almost the direct opposite of what they should be doing. For companies that sell directly to customers/consumers through their own or third-party e-commerce sites, the above ratios should be even more skewed towards offline, mass media like TV, radio, outdoor, print, etc. Bottom line, you need to be long-term focused with long ideas not big ideas.
The Eight Steps to Brand Immortality:
1. Legendary Product
You might have the best product in your category but if your customers don’t perceive it to be the best, you’re leaving money on the table. Ditto if you’re competing in a market of parity products and services. So how do you change perception? First you need to understand what your customers really want and need and then position your product/service to fulfill this need (usually an emotional one) in ways your competitors can’t or won’t. The goal is to make your product’s perceived value higher than it’s actual cost. (This is why Hermes can charge 100x more than Brooks Brothers for a belt made out of the same materials.) We can help you with both. To see how we can uncover actionable insights through consumer research click here. To find out how we position businesses for optimal success click here.
2. Legendary Brand Platform
Why does your company really exist? What do you stand for? What are your core values? Who are your real competitors? How are you better/different than them? Who are your ideal customers? What does each want and need from you most? What’s your mission, vision and Higher Business Purpose? (You need all three. Don’t know the difference? Click here.) What are your long and short-term goals? A better Brand Platform should answer all these questions and more. It’s been our experience that the vast majority of agencies wouldn’t know how to create a Brand Platform if it bit them on the bottom line. Don’t have one? Don’t worry. To learn more about Brand Platform development through our proprietary Brand Enlightenment process, click here.
3. Legendary Buy-In
Having a better Brand Platform is critical but it won’t be effective unless you get everyone in your company behind it – from the lowest rung of your org chart to the top. Do you have an elevator speech? More importantly, do your employees know it, believe in it and use it? Do you have an Employee Pledge everyone signs? What’s your Manifesto? Is it posted in a prominent place for all to see? Does everyone understand and believe in your company’s Higher Purpose? Does it drive everything you do? Yeah, we know this stuff sounds fluffy. But consider this. 47 out of the 50 top performing brands in the world have a Higher Purpose that drives their businesses and rallies their employees to success. Our proprietary Brand Enlightenment Workshops will help you define and fulfill your company’s true calling to generate long-term profits.
4. Legendary Strategy
Ok, now that you have a better product and buy-in on your brand platform, how are you going to achieve those long and short term goals you’ve defined? You need a marketing strategy that will inspire your agency and employees to create legendary brand experiences through an integrated advertising campaign and every customer touchpoint on and offline. In our experience, most agencies (digital and traditional) are at best only paying lip service to this crucial step. Better strategies consist of:
An Overarching Creative Brief defining specific goals, key messaging, desired actions, prioritized tactics, mandatories, overall budget, etc.
Tactical Briefs for each paid, earned or owned medium defining target, desired actions, target/media specific key messages
An IMC (Integrated Marketing Communications) Plan is one document containing the following information:
All marketing tactics
Media deadlines, placements and runs
5. Legendary Creative Ideas & Executions
When was the last time you felt proud of your advertising? Creative campaigns must earn you an unfair share of attention. They not only need to be impossible to ignore and hard to forget, they must also be rewarding and meaningful – so much so your network of customers, friends and influencers will want to share them with their networks. To do this, you need work that potential customers will find more interesting or valuable than anything else within the medium it appears. To ensure all our creative work meets this extremely high standard we test it against our Big Idea Checklist. If it passes the test, each idea in the campaign needs to be meticulously written, designed and executed to perfection. Which means your agency needs to have world-class writers, art directors, designers, coders, photographers and broadcast production resources at your service. To see if your work passes our test, click here.
6. Legendary Delivery
Contrary to the hype, you cannot effectively or efficiently build your brand through social and search alone. No brand with household name ever has. To be effective, you must integrate your creative campaign across all appropriate Paid, Earned and Owned media to be in the right place at the right time with the right message. To be effective, campaigns need to have legs so you’re not constantly reinventing the marketing wheel when it’s time to refresh the work or add new media. For a list of tactical services we provide click here.
7. Legendary Measurement And Perpetual Improvement
Once baselines have been established and the campaign has had time to work, each tactic must be measured and analyzed for effectiveness. Those that don’t cut it are perpetually revised, removed or replaced to take advantage of changes in the market.
8. Legendary Vision
In addition to parlaying current events into marketing gold, great agencies help their clients anticipate industry change and spot opportunities long before they occur. Twice a year, we lead collaborative What If? sessions with each of our clients to brainstorm new ideas and initiatives to keep them two-steps ahead of their competitors. To learn more about our What if? sessions, click here.
Give us 90 minutes and we’ll show you how we can make your brand immortal.