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May 7, 2003
Oh No, Not Another "Building Brands" Article

Brands are taking over our lives more and more. That's because people like buying better products and believe it or not, famous brands usually make the best ones.

Our job as marketers, is to enhance the way prospects and customers feel about our client's products and services. In many cases, much of the value we add is derived from the customer's relationship with the brand.

So how do we go about defining a brand for the consumer? Believe it or not, most marketers start in the wrong place. Most will start with what the brand is trying to say about itself to itself. What's that about? Consider this. The best service that we can perform for both brands and consumers is to take what brands are trying to say and turn it into what the consumer wants to hear.

When I look at a brand, and begin to create a brand's messaging I imagine a house. The upper floors represent the brand's expression of what it stands for. It usually comes to life in those Sunday morning sixty-second look alike, feel alike, sound alike film epics. Supposedly Wall Street loves this advertising because it gives them permission to recommend buying said corporation's latest stock offerings. The reasoning is, if a company can spend upwards of a million bucks on something that resembles a major motion picture then they can't be doing all that badly. Supposedly the corporation's employees feel good about these spots because it gives them the feeling that they are working for a warm and fuzzy company, not some faceless, gigundo megalith whose operating budget is larger than some third world country's entire treasury. Lastly, it gives the CEO something to feel good about because at his next cocktail party he will have something to talk about. But what do these epics offer up for the consumer? I don't know about you but my BS meter gets a hefty workout in this arena.

The floor below is where the brand's actual products and services are showcases. This is the world of thirty second spots, monologues to the consumer, which are intended to make us vaguely aware, if we listen really carefully and pay very close attention, of a product's differentiated attributes. Yet differentiation is getting harder and harder to create between products and brands (Goodyear or Goodrich?). So it's getting to be one big blur to me. Get the TiVo warmed up.

The next story down is really where all the action is. This is where all the brand's hard work gets done, where a customer's relationship with a brand really comes to life through direct marketing components such as direct mail, DRTV, promotions and websites. Here the brand has the chance to reach out to consumers and create a dialogue from consumer to brand and brand to consumer because this is where the brand has the chance to demonstrate they really understand what you need and how their products or services can help you cope better. This is where most consumers really experience the brand. This is truly where a brand lives. And this is the best place to begin to create as well as maintain a brand's relationship with the consumer.

So start here. Build a brand from the ground floor up. And as long as the brand and its products and services can demonstrate how they fit seamlessly into a consumer's life, the brand will not only live but thrive for a very long time. So I say "Bottom's up!" to truly connect with what I think consumers are hungering for from their brands.

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If you work in media and you don't know Jack Myers, you don't know jack. Since 1982, Jack has provided research, insights, and strategic guidance that have helped direct media companies, advertising agencies, marketers, and even Wall Street. No wonder more than 20,000 executives daily read The Jack Myers Report
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