Tuesday, September 10, 2013

A sump of stupidity.

I read yet another one of those "Death of..." articles this morning and like just about every Death of article this one really rubbed my goat the wrong way. (For years I've wished that someone would write a "The Death of The Death of"article. Maybe I'll get around to it someday, if I ever finish an essay I'm working on called "The Death of Procrastination.)

In any event this particular article, which you can find here was titled "The Death of the Tagline." The human who wrote the piece, Denise Lee Yohn is a self-described "brand-building expert." In it Ms. Yohn writes "In the past, advertisers may have needed to summarize lengthy ad copy with a pithy phrase. But shorter attention spans have prompted a shortening of ad copy. There also seems to be fewer big-brand campaigns." (Shorter attention spans indeed. Yohn's article is almost 700 words long and includes three interstitial links.)

Yohn continues "Moreover, companies are moving to flexible branding, in which they present different identities to express their range (Yahoo's 30 days of brand logos, for example) or a targeted brand strategy, in which they target specific brand messages to different audiences...A single brand tagline has less value in these more fluid and variable applications."

Yeesh and ick.

I happen to believe that most brands refuse to brand themselves because it takes commitment and work--two qualities which are in short supply in our feckless "next-quarter-driven" economy. The four or five brands that people really understand (and like) Apple, IBM, Nike have been unwavering in their brands. They do the opposite of "flexible branding."

By the way, try explaining "flexible branding" to the rear haunches of a cow. A brand is a brand and a brand is resolute in what it stands for. Yohn's Yahoo example is a perfect one of brand suicide. Besides that's not branding. That's a logo. The two ain't the same.

A brand exists to simplify things for consumers. How do you choose between the 79 soaps in the supermarket? Usually you choose the one you understand--the one that stands for something.

The best brands define themselves inviolably. BMW, whether they say "The Ultimate Driving Machine" or not is led by those four words. As has Apple been led by "Think Different."


Tore Claesson said...

Self appointed brand experts often tend to misunderstand what a big idea is. It's not a big expensive TV spot. But it's "The Ultimate Driving Machine", as on eof many examples. One you brought up. With that as the loadstar one can create a new version of it every day. A new tweet every minute. A new TV spot every day, a new magazine ad every months, a different creative idea when it's winter, another for summer, etcetera. I can't understand why that seems so hard to understand.
By all means, let the consumer, you and me, when we're not a our jobs, help come up with ulitmate driving machine stuff. But one can't, as a brand, build much of a repouation if it's one day a Formula 1 car, the next a dung truck, the third a joy ride, the forth a status symbol. The Ultimate Driving Machine is a premium proposition. While "a car for every budget" clearly isn't. No, consumers will never design their own cars, just outfit them, or mix their own dish washer detergent, or sew their own jeans. So what's the makers of those things going to do? There is so much misunderstanding about what brands are nowadays partly becaseu we have so many media outlets, and a public way of sharing "word of mouth". Lack of "Social skills" can harm a brand. Sure. However, If a brand stick to its guns, its promises, its brand, and treat its buyers with respect, great social media will follow. Engage , don't disengage. Just like great word of mouth worked even before the telephone was invented. It could help a brand grow or it could undermine it. Nothing new under the sun as far as the human mind goes. It's just got a bit more complex media wise. And it's harder to hide mistakes.

Tore Claesson said...

And as usual, sorry for typos etc.

Sean Peake said...

Oh, crap George. This was to be my rant for tomorrow. Maybe I'll do something about the death of stuff instead... what?