What is a Brand Identity – and why is it so damn important anyway?

I’ve had more than a few conversations with brand owners who have asked me this question – why is an ID so important?

My answer to them has always been simple.

If YOU don’t know what your brand is supposed to stand for in the mind of your consumers – then how is your consumer supposed to know how to think about and feel about your brand? If you don’t set up and manage the perceptions that you want people to hold about your brand, the chances that they will come to hold those perceptions by themselves is fairly remote, don’t you think?

And that is what a Brand ID is – it is essentially a a blueprint that allows a brand manager or brand owner to decide what perception they wish to create in their consumers’ minds… and then go about creating it as systematically as possible. It doesn’t guarantee successful brand building – but it greatly increases your chances of building a strong brand in the long term! It’s the foundation on which your brand’s communication is built – and if you know what you are trying to get people to believe about your brand, then you can tell them the story that is most likely to help you to achieve that goal.

Of course, you also have to be truthful to that story. You can’t tell people that you are an ethical brand, for example, and then cut corners on product safety to save a couple of cents… If it comes to a choice between believing what you say, and what you do, people will believe your actions. So all actions you take to bring your Brand ID to life have to be consistent, and driving that equity home for your consumer.

Remember, in the words of the inimitable Dan Adams:

“Every action you take is either a deposit into, or a withdrawal from, the Bank of Brand Equity!”

So… do you know what your Brand Identity is? And do you have a road map to bring it to life in the mind of the consumer? I hope so, otherwise there is a good chance that you are wasting your promotion dollars… and given today’s environment where all investments (marketing or otherwise) are under a microscope, that would be a crying shame.

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Ad Claims & the Role of Media

What is the role of media in the claims that their advertisers make in their ads? Do they have a role?

My friends in the media are quick to say that if a piece of copy – any ad – meets certain basic requirements, they have no choice but to run it. Meaning that if there is no nudity, no religious issues, nothing that contravenes cultural norms, they will run it. They do not get involved in checking the veracity of claims.

The question is – do they? And more importantly, should they?

I submit that the media does in fact practice a form of self-censorship when it comes to advertising and content. Unfortunately, when it comes to ads, there seems to be a varying standard being applied.

Below is an example of an ad that in my opinion crosses a line – one that the media should be respecting.

An ad that promises something that cannot be delivered…

As anyone who has ever applied for Canadian immigration knows, it is virtually impossible to get a Canadian passport in 60-120 days. Impossible, unless maybe the Prime Minister of Canada gave you a passport from his own personal stash (which of course is a JOKE :)

And yet, this as is the first thing I see almost every morning, because it is on the side facing me every morning when I pick up my newspaper.

So… does the newspaper know that this claim is potentially patently fraudulent? Do they care? After all, this company is probably one of their biggest and most regular customers… So, what is the media to do? Turn away a paying customer in the middle of a recession?

Not an easy one, I grant you, but one that I need your thoughts on. Should the media involve themselves in this type of claims validation? After all, if a pharmaceutical company came along and said “We have a drug that makes you 3 inches taller!” I doubt that any respectable media company would run that ad without asking for some proof or test results, or something…

In the meantime, asking a simple question – how many people have actually received a passport in 60-120 days – would allow the media to validate the claim, and legitimize the ad in my view.

Should they care? What do you think? Look forward to your thoughts!

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