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Where’s the brand warmth?

October 31, 2012
Triumph brochure 1967

Brand warmth – classic brochure for Triumph Motorcycles showing great brand attributes.

Promise. Emotion. Delivery. These are the tricks a brand needs to deliver in order to attract – and retain – customers. Yet many brands fall down because they fail a very simple test: brand “warmth”.

It could be argued these days that there are “hot” brands (Apple, Mini) but frankly for most companies to attempt to achieve hot or super-hot status is difficult. Not least because to do so needs a fundamental overhaul of practically the entire business – from product design to marketing. Yet it is possible to make a brand warm. And warm is often hot enough to get what you want.

A common failure of marketing is to talk brand warmth but to deliver frigidity – production or delivery is out of kilter with message. This is not acceptable. It gives marketing a bad name but, more signficantly, it delivers a bad name to the company hiring the marketers. Marketing is too important to be left to the marketing department after all…

Yet the answers to brand performance lie within all companies. Brand lies within the minds of the staff – the experts who will, ultimately, be far cheaper and far more effective than a team of hired consultants with an alluring one word name like “Saddle” or “Valve” (apologies if such companies exist by the way…).

Staff members know what they like and don’t like about the brands they are familiar with. This can be discussed in workshops to arrive at levels of perception, and how companies want to be perceived. Brand promise – the marketing message – is easier to define when a company understands what it delivers and how well it delivers it.

But assessment of capability is one thing, an environment of vision is another. Management has a role to play here in energizing what the brand is, where it is going, where it wants to be. Think about it; if there is a disconnect between this vision and physical delivery then a brand will go nowhere, disillusionment will abound and – particularly in smaller companies – the business will fail. So vision needs to be demonstrably achievable.

Finally of course we come to brand personality. This is the bit that agencies -and rooky marketers – really love. This is the glamour side of the business which marketers wear as a badge of their “creativity”. But let’s be careful here – personality again needs to reflect actual experience. Customer experience. Apple’s recent failed launch of its i-Phone maps is a classic case where brand personality all of a sudden came down to earth with a bump. Google does maps better.

So, looking at promise, vision and personality – and getting all the company involved – helps companies understand better what their brand is, where it interacts with customers and why it matters to them.

The goal of all companies is to make their brand matter – to customers and to prospects. Relevance depends on a fundamental link between this holy trinity of promise, performance and vision. An engaged – and constantly refreshed – strategic brand approach will deliver acceptable brand warmth and, indeed, could heat up your brand more than you ever imagined.

If you do not feel able to review the way your company manages its perception, let Red Page Consulting help…

Red Page Consulting is run by this blog’s author Michael Smith, a professional message specialist with over two decades of business experience. He helps mainstream small businesses understand their brand and how it is perceived to help deliver increased customer retention and to attract new customers.

Visit the Red Page Website

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