Brands Build Themselves

by Roger Pynn

It takes time to build a brand.  In fact, I question whether you can build one.  Rather, product lines become brands because they have been adopted by satisfied and loyal customers who have come to believe they can count on them.

This article from CNNMoney is just another example of the continuing misunderstanding of what we have come to refer to as the “branding” process.  AT&T’s Global Marketing Officer Cathy Coughlin is doing some pretty creative things that are sustaining a brand that evolved over the last century as America’s telephone monopoly became ingrained in our culture.

But I’d imagine even she would argue with the headline that suggests you can “build a superbrand – superfast.”

The whole concept of “branding” as a marketing verb amuses me … and that many marketers have convinced their senior management that they are somehow creating brands deludes executives into thinking they can force themselves into market dominance.  This article only begs further confusion.  Next thing we know CEOs could by calling us in to demand “I want you to build this brand and I want it tomorrow.”

Only one thing creates a brand … living up to your customers’ expectations.  And you have to do it over and over and over again until they are calling you or purchasing your product habitually because there’s no doubt in their mind that you’ll deliver as promised.

Geoff Colvin’s Q&A with Ms. Coughlin was really about the importance of having a nimble marketing communications capability … something AT&T proved deftly during the Olympics by producing overnight some outstanding vignette-style commercials that celebrated winning performances.

Advertising, public relations and promotions programs reinforce the beliefs of satisfied customers that you will continue to make them happy.  They are critically important to building market share, establishing credibility in the financial community and capitalizing on brand satisfaction when you launch new products.

“Branding” is not a verb.  It is a buzz word.  Branding is for cattle.  Brand building is for the long haul.

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