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Marketers 'must identify brand assets'

10/09/2013

The big question for many marketers is how they can differentiate their product from its competitors, or generate a unique selling point that can help it stand out from the crowd. Sometimes this 'something' can be difficult to grasp - for instance, what made McDonald's rise to international fame above the many other burger restaurants across the US?

Julian Major, research associate at the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute, makes this point in a recent blog for the Drum when he suggests that the run-away success of McDonald's, or Coca-Cola, is nothing to do with functional differences.

"Coca-Cola is not a better product because it has the colour red, Ronald McDonald does not make McDonald’s taste any better and the Nike 'Swoosh' does not make you run faster," declared Mr Major.

This is fundamentally the purpose of a great deal of marketing - developing an identity around a product that appeals to consumers, whatever the nature of the item in question.

Logos, taglines, characters, music and more are all important when it comes to building up distinctiveness and moving beyond industry counterparts, claimed the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute research associate.

"Logos often act as visual substitutes for the brand name themselves, with all brands having one, and generally displaying it prominently. Colours are often strong visual elements of brands, but their uniqueness suffers from a limited palette," he added.

Mr Major also advised marketers to constantly check the distinctiveness of their brand through audience interaction and testing, something which has been made even easier with the emergence of social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook.

Furthermore, he warned against falling back on that old advertising standard of the 'reboot' or 'rebrand', arguing that change is one of the biggest problems when it comes to reducing audience awareness of brands.

Building up a product's marketing can sometimes take years, and campaigns should be given time to gel and engage with consumers before companies move on to the next thing, concluded Mr Major.

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