Branding Claptrap

by Chris Kenton on March 16, 2005

Here is Exhibit A of the problem I’m addressing with the confused meaning of "Brand". A "marketing innovator" who posts a blog but doesn’t identify himself, takes issue with my support of a tangible definition for the meaning of brand.

Christopher
Kenton of Marketonomy wants
to reclaim the term "brand" for the advertising realm.

I’d be curious to know on what basis that judgement is made, since nothing could be further from the truth. I want to reclaim the term "brand" for the rational realm, and distinguish it from the other derivative brand concepts that are important but *different*.

He’s argument is
well-thought-out but wrong. It is meaningful to distinguish between
‘brand image’ and ‘brand experience’ but in the end, a company has to
live more in the derivative world of brand consequences than in the
artistic world of brand impressions. Speaking as someone who’s worked
for many companies where the advertising was at devastating odds with
the real experience of customers in the company, I think we stand to
gain more as marketers by insisting that ‘brand’ = the total customer
experience based on encounters with the company.

It’s funny, because I used to argue the same thing. In fact, if you look at my theory on Touchpoint Mapping, the whole premise was that the only way to try and bring the entire breadth of the brand experience into the realm of the tangible was to understand the practical meaning of brand to be the entire array of Touchpoints a company uses to create a relationship between the company and the customer. Brand Experience is *critically* imortant to the success of any company. BUT IT IS NOT BRAND. You own your brand. You do not own your customer’s experience. One is something you create. The other is something you cultivate.

It blows my mind that so many marketers refuse to accept such a basic semantic necessity as clarifying words and meanings so that we don’t confuse each other by talking in circles about what a Brand is. It’s a relationship. No. It’s a bond. No. It’s an experience. No It’s an image. No. It’s a promise.

What marketers stand to gain from most is Clarity.

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