Wednesday, May 23, 2007

3 Books + RD on Branding

(Reader’s Digest Asia)

(Superbrands Publications Philippines)

(Summit Books)

By Len Weinreich
(Kogan Page)

CNBC’s Erwin Wladawsky-Berger writes in his online column, “If your company has a strong internal culture and set of values, that will be manifest in its external image or brand - that is, the "symbolic embodiment of all the information connected to a company, product or service." Every enterprise, institution – or individual, for that matter – has a brand – that is, is seen by the world in a definable way. If that image is not in harmony with the culture and values that person or organization espouses – in other words, if the brand is not truly values-driven – then the gap can be damaging, even fatal.”

“This is particularly the case in today's increasingly transparent world, where people who think a company's behavior is not consistent with the brand image it projects can take it to task over the Internet, using social networking tools like blogs. Every so often, one such disgruntled blog starts circulating over the Internet, gathering more and more readers and significantly damaging the image of the company being criticized. Walking the talk - that is, living by the values you espouse - is more important than ever for companies, especially global companies with a strong brand.”

That said I reread the book, Superbrands, and checked out the list of the country’s strongest brands as judged by a “well-educated and lifestyle-conscious population.” To the question “what makes a superbrand?” some of the answers of the members of the Superbrand Council were:
· Stasch Radswanki (president of Academy Consultants Manila): When brands reach Superbrands status they have become trusted friends of the consumer. The psyche is the home of the Superbrand and to be invite(d) into this domain is the greatest compliment that can be awarded to a brand.
· Mike O’Connor (chairman of MS2 Inc) A superbrand is always top-of-the-mind. It is the brand I won’t exchange for another (even) if it is not available.
· Jose Jesus Roces (professor at Asian Institute of Management): Brands drive businesses in the sense that the battle for shares of the mind is as intense as the battle for shares of the market. The strongest branding is emotional branding, or going beyond rationality as the criteria for choosing one brand over another.
· George Balagtas (chairman of Scope): Its brand name must be ubiquitous and virtually synonymous with the product or service it offers. It should have been in the market for at least 7 years, registered a minimum 5-year sales growth and have major market share of at least 30 percent.
· Karl Mclean (general manager of Superbrands Publication Phils): Think bread think Gardenia, think peanuts, thing Growers, think beer, think San Miguel, think petrol, think Petron, for example. The Superbrand status stands for quality and success.

Some of the identified homegrown superbrands in 2004 are: The Manila Times, Max’s Restaurant, French Baker, Goldilocks, Asia Brewery, Boysen, Casino Filipino, Chinatrust, Gardenia, Globe Telecom, Smart, Greenwich, LBC Bank, Lemon Square, Mang Tomas, Manila Bulletin, Marca Piña, Petron, PLDT, Red Bull, Rusty Lopez, Selecta, These brands could remain in the exclusive firmament of Superbrands or they could fall off cloud 9 and stumble into oblivion. They need to heed the counsel of aforementioned brand experts.

Do you notice that branding is mostly a result of leadership and sound people management practices? Find out more by attending the 44th PMAP Annual Conference this September 26-28, 2007 in Cebu. Indeed, people deliver if you know how to tap into their inner strengths!

The May 2007 issue of the Reader’s Digest has a supplement containing the result of RD Asia’s Trusted Brand Survey. The most trusted brands 100% voted for by consumers are: Ajinomoto, Citibank, Crown Asia, GE Appliances, Metrobank, Boysen, Coca-cola, Emperador, Honda and Nokia. While those 100% voted for by consumers are: Panda, Petron, PhilamLife, Pilot, PNB, San Miguel Beer, Sony, St. Luke’s and Purfoods Tender Juicy Hotdogs.

RD explains, “The core attribute of a Trusted Bran is longevity. A Trusted Brand bank must be financially sound, reliable, and thus have stood the test of time. It should also have an eye on the future, as banking is a very competitive industry.”

Some companies become super brands on the personality and competences of its founders/owners/management. The “bookazine,” Success Secrets, paid tribute to 50 superb individuals whose names have become popular brands, regardless of what business they go into.

Some started off poor, but they used life’s adversities to achieve big dreams. They are Alvin Carranza (Café Lupe), Filemon Barbasa (Filbar’s), Les Reyes (Reyes Haircutters), Alexander Crisostomo (Biocare Inc) and Victor Tan (Bobson). Some are bold, successful and rich and they’re not even 40: Jonathan Jay Aldeguer (Islands Souvenirs), Steve Benitez (Bo’s Café), The Jose brothers—Quito, Martin and Daniel (Brothers Burger) Cheese Ledesma (The Big Chill Inc) and many others.

Still others preside over multimillion-peso ventures and many aspiring entrepreneurs idolize them for their extraordinary feats in business. They are: Tony Tan Caktiong, George Yang, Socorro Ramos, Rolando Hortaleza and Pacita Juan.

The rest can identify an opportunity when they see one, and have a knack for turning a business into an overnight success. They are: Tess Ngan Tian (Lot’s Pizza), Roberto Gandionco (Julie’s Bakeshop), Michael Trillana (Go Nuts Donuts), Ricardo Cuna (Fiorgelato Ice Cream) and Ben Colayco (Level Up!). And the taipans: John Gokongwei Jr., Henry Sy, Sr., Lucio Tan, Andrew Tan and Ben Chan.

I notice, though, that generations of family entrepreneurs, albeit brands—the Lopezes, the Ayalas, the Concepcions and many others—were not profiled.

What made them successful brands? Jaclyn Lutangco-Chua writes:
· They consider their businesses as their “baby,” even likens it to “raising a teen-age daughter.”
· Entrepreneurship entails hard work; during the start up, they do everything themselves. They acted as cashier and bookkeeper, handled the telephones, did the delivering, mopped and swept the floor, and 100 other myriad roles and functions until they were capable to hire the right people.
· Entrepreneurs are hungry for information affecting their business. They constantly improve themselves and are always on the lookout for new ideas and techniques.
· Successful entrepreneurs persevere, overcome fears, and take risks.
· They are sensitive to their markets, spot opportunities where others see none and waste no time in going after them.
· The taipans, in particular, are not averse to crisis, they make success happen and take control of their future.

Beauty is more than skin deep. Branding is very much rooted in the leadership, quality of people, internal processes and many other goings-on inside an organization over a long period of time. However, some brands become successful through proper positioning and conscious image building. The saga of Surf and Lumen lingers in the mind.

Author Weinreich has 50 propositions to those developing great brands through advertising campaigns. The first 20 are:
1. Never trust anyone who can articulate logically after professing to have been profoundly moved.
2. Buying a campaign requires faith rather than rationality.
3. Faith in a brand equal faith in its myth.
4. Myths defy logic
5. Belief plus passion equals faith.
6. Knock on wood.
7. Brands are strong medicine and carry powerful ju-ju (all the emotions connected with it).
8. Fame isn’t everything.
9. Friendly is not necessarily good for business.
10. The first lesson an author has to learn is that he cannot please everybody.
11. Advertising with ideas is better remembered than advertising without ideas.
12. The communication where you work out the meaning is the communication you remember.
13. The communication you remember is the one that gets acted upon.
14. If you’re constructing the perfect mousetrap, it is vital that you leave room for the mouse.
15. Don’t ever be deluded into believing in your own infalliability. You might have been right every single time up until now; but sooner or later you’re going to be wrong.
16. Stay as far as possible from Caveman’s Conventional.
17. Nobody counts the amount of ads you run; they just remember the impression you make.
18. Uninspired mediocrity is invisible.
19. Haemorrhoids are a pain in the neck.
20. To ensure consistency, young brand managers must be kept in line.

And the last two: Pomposity in advertising breeds blandness. Research can trap you into the past.

Very sound advice indeed. These proposition applies in branding a business unit—your HR organization (how are you really perceived by your employees) and a person—you!

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