Recipe to successful brand marketing

Published in Philippine Daily Inquirer, June 22, 2001

ONE aspect of business management that is often misunderstood and consequently neglected is brand marketing.

In a mad scramble for corporate profits and the fulfillment of short-term business objectives, many firms neglect the value of brand marketing activities. Consumer loyalty eventually erodes.

To prevent this, brand marketing requires value disciplines in a number of areas:

1. Define your position or brand meaning very early in the product or service
life cycle.

Positioning is not what you do to the product but what you do to the mind of your prospective customers. That is, you position the product in the mind of your potential end-users. It is the product’s positioning that tells the customer exactly what it stands for and drives the buyer to consume or use the product or

To be effective, the positioning statement should support the product. It must tell the user what the product or service is and what its key benefits are. The statement should be simple, focused and easy to understand.

Most important of all, it should be differentiated and communicated with drama, consistency and repetition at an early point of the product’s life cycle so that the end-user immediately recognizes what the brand, product or service stands for when you mention the brand name.

An example of a brand in its very young state is the soon-to-open tertiary care hospital in Filinvest, Alabang. This early, Asian Hospital’s message to its target market is “patient centered care in a total healing environment.”

Its highly focused product supports this premise by providing the patient a physical environment that encourages healing and comfort. Its design interiors are done in soft, warm, healing colors coupled with subdued lighting and pleasant landscape views provide an environment that promotes rest, relaxation and

2. Sustain the vision.

A clear brand definition requires vision. Vision encompasses the brand’s roots – why you are in the business and where your company is headed. Many people tend to associate vision with some lofty, long-term journey
or audacious goal that is difficult to define, let alone achieve.

But a vision for a brand can be simple. The key is that the vision must be consistent and sustainable. By and large, the most successfully positioned companies and brands in terms of growth, financial performance, visibility and market share are those that have linked a powerful brand positioning to an inspiring and achievable mission.

3. Establish customer intimacy and increasing emphasis on relationships.

Consumers today want brands to be accountable for both their products and services. What they really want is the kind of lifetime relationship that existed in the days when buyers and merchants knew each other by name and product and services are delivered to the customers with care and pride.

Asian Hospital hopes to integrate this value discipline into its operations and culture when it opens by assigning permanent primary caregivers to a patient throughout a patient’s entire hospital stay thus, personalizing patient care and avoiding fleeting, processed caregiver-patient relationships.

4. Build alliances.

Complementing or supplementing a brand’s strengths can contribute to growth. Examples include high-profile marketing alliances between Disney and McDonald’s and the co-branding effort of a number of airline companies under the brand Oneworld, which includes Cathay Pacific, Aer Lingus, American Airlines, British Airways, Finnair, Iberia, Lanchile and Quantas.

Co-marketing activities can be especially effective but there has to be a fit between partners and complementary or supplementary relationships that make sense in the marketplace.

5. Seek brand champions in the boardroom.

For any company, large or small, the absence of a brand champion is a serious flaw in the brand building process – guardianship of a brand must occupy a high priority. This means that it is best to have at least one brand champion in the firm’s board of directors who will help pursue high-profile brand marketing activities that reflect the brand’s values.

It is vital however that there is a broad base of support at board level for the sake of longevity of brand marketing endeavors. Successful companies view marketing as a core or primary organizational process.

Understandably, organizations that treat brand marketing as a secondary process do not realize the value of this essential activity in demand creation which ironically is an endeavor critical to the survival of any business.

However, brand management is organized for the company, remaining true to the brand’s meaning is critical. Behind the power brands, the strategy is the key driver. None of the world’s most powerful and admired brands achieved recognition without being consistent.

Never did they do anything that is out of character of the brand. Because to consumers, consistency means trust and trust builds brand loyalty and friendship. And behind all these, the brand champion at the board level becomes the critical force to help sustain the brand over time.