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  • Subject area(s): Marketing
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  • Published on: 14th September 2019
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The brand Gap was written by Marty Neumeier and published in 2003. It is describing how to have a successful Brand. Brand Gap is the worlds most read book on branding, according to Neumeier. People who are interested in design, marketing, branding and or business should read this book.  

Some people mistake a brand for a logo. Logo is Greek for word. People use the term logo just because it is socially acceptable, but the correct term is trademark. Also, people confuse a brand with a logo or a trademark. It is just a symbol, so if you are being consistent with a trademark or logo that does not create a brand. While managing a brand people often mean managing their products. This is because they are not educated on what a brand is. Neumeier states that a brand is a persons gut feeling about a product, service, or company. It is a gut feeling because the brand is defined by individuals in the end the day. Something a brand is similar to is  a platonic ideal. To compare what makes a brand different from its competitors it is simple, you need to know what makes it different or stand out. Brand management is noticing and controlling the differences. How you make them different in other peoples minds. The idea of a Brand has been around at least five thousand years. But one hundred years ago it was not as big of a deal as we make it now. Our society has changed over the years and our purchasing options have increased. In our current time, if kids wear a cheap brand or a non-name brand they get made fun of or bullied. So kids try to get brands that are socially acceptable. You can try and put a dollar value on your brand, some fail and some results are amazing. Coca-Cola's brand is worth nearly seventy billion dollars. It takes a great amount of effort to start a brand. It is not an easy process, most people appoint a brand manager who is responsible for a brand department, which involves strategist that are very knowledgable. In addition, it takes strategy and creativity to start a brand. The left side of the brain is analytical, logical, concrete, numerical, verbal. The other side is the creative part, intuitive, emotional, spatial, visual, physical. Both parts of the brain do not know what each other is doing.

There are five disciplines of branding, and to be successful you need to master all five. The first one is differentiate, Neumeier words it as “The process of establishing a unique market position to increase profit margins and avoid commoditization.” According to Greg Galle, “to bring a high level marketing meeting to a halt, ask these 3 questions”.

Who are you?

What do you do?

Why does it matter?

Most companies have complications with answering the third question. Stated in the book, John Deere is a good company that knows what they are about. Clorox is also another good one, when they purchased Ranch they did not add it to their product line and rename it “Clorox Hidden Valley”. Us, citizens, like different stuff. It works because of our cognitive system. Everything we acquire in our brains we try to make sense of it and we put it into sections in our brain. The sense we depend on most is our sight. If we see something attractive, it is going to catch our attention. There is four possible goals to design: identify, to inform, to entertain, or persuade. When branding is in the picture there is a fifth, to differentiate. There has been an evolution in marketing. The shift shows that yes, features and benefits will always be important, but personal identity has become an even bigger necessity to people. Cognitive expert Edward De Bono stated, “instead of bullying a brand on the Unique Selling Proposition of a Product, they should pay more attention to unique buying state of their customers.” With this being said humans change their taste over the years, so you would want to promote what people want.

Globalism is the knocking down of national, economic and cultural barriers to create a single society. The faster globalism removes barriers, the faster people create new ones. A brand kind of creates a tribe. Depending on what you buy you can be apart of a tribe. In branding, the three most valuable words are Focus, Focus, Focus. A focused brand, by contrast, knows exactly what it stands for, why it is unique amongst its competing brands, and why people find an interest in it. Focus is  strenuous because it means you are concentrating on one thing and giving something up. According to Neumeier, “It is better to be number one in a small category then to be number three in a large one.” At number three you have to have to have low prices opposed to number one where you can charge a premium. Moving along, with your brand you need to plant “trees” for future profit and harvest old “trees” for profit today. Brand extension strengthens your brand, it adds definition to the brand. It does not make sense when they are driven for short term goals without any consideration to focus.

Brands do not develop in isolation, it happens from the large amounts of people interacting with it over a long length of time. Branding needs a lot more parts than you would be aware of. Neumeier states that it requires, “executives, marketing, people who manage the brand, ever changing roster strategy consultants, design firms, advertising agencies, research companies, PR firms, industrial designers, environmental designers, etc…”. Other people as in employees, stock holders, distributers, and customers are needed; an entire branding community. Neumeier compares building a brand to building a cathedral during the Renaissance. It takes tons of craftsmen, multiple years, and plenty of generations to complete a major edifice. Each person added a touch significant to them to the building. Brands today are too big and complicated to be managed by a single person a single department. There are a lot involved as stated previously. There are three essential models for overseeing brand collaboration. One is subcontracting their brand to a broad service offering. The second is to outsource it to a brand agency. The last way is administrating the brand within an integrated marketing team. Today's one stop shop is either a  team with multiple members with skills that vary, but hold to a specific firm, or a holding company with a large group of different firms specializing in different areas. One upside to this is the ability to condense a specific point the client wants to get across the media and how simple management is for the client. Second, the brand agency is a variant of the one step notion. With the help of this, the buyer works with an agency, who then helps put together a group of specialists to help compose the brand. The brand agency is, for the most part, in complete control of the project, including paying for other firms as sub contractors. Advantages are also to bring together a message through social media and the ability to work with specialists who are the best in their field. Third, the integrated marketing team views branding as an ongoing network activity, the need to be contained from the interior of the company. A part of this model is the “best-of-breed specialist”. The people that are a part of this firm are hand-picked to work with marketing people on a constructive “super-team.” Some pros are the ability to bring across a message past social media, freedom to work with the specialists that are the best in their area of work, and internal supervising. The last benefit is good due to there being a team in place to control all the information and relate it back to the company. A disadvantage would be that it requires a durable team within the management company. According to McKinsey, “the next economy will see a significant rise in network organizations, companies cooperating to deliver products and services to customers”. In the book they talk about Hollywood. Not all Hollywood movies are great, but they have few bad ones. What prevents this is prototypes. They use scripts as prototypes for the story and story board for prototypes for production. Any problem with the movie gets corrected here.  

A good strategy and poor execution is the problem with half of brand communication today. Neumeier says, “pick up a copy of your favorite magazine and leaf through the ads. How many actually touch your emotions?”. I thought about this and he is totally right. Putting ads in a magazine is a great idea, but their execution to grab the attention is poor. He says that execution is a very hard part of the branding mix to control. Innovation requires creativity, which gives a business a spark. Something new is “untried and unsafe”. But in the business world you will always be taking risks. Innovation can produce better design and better business. You can not be a leader by following. We are “social animals” and our gut feeling is to go with the group. But with creativity, you have to be different, unique, original. To do this you can not care what other think. Pros excel at MAYA (Most Advanced Yet Acceptable Solution). Neumeier say, “when you know your brand is innovative it should scare the hell out of everybody.” A suitable name can be a brand's most beneficial resource, being different and being accepting. The wrong name can cost a plethora amount of money. Names that are high imagery are more memorable then low imagery names. There are seven criteria for a good name. Distinctiveness, brevity, appropriateness, easy spelling and pronunciation, likability, extendibility, and protectability. Logos are dead, icons and avatars took over.

There is a standard model for communication. There is three components to it: sender, message, and receiver. The sender creates a message and sends it to a receiver. What this feeds off of is the customers feedback. Validation is the process of measuring brands against meaningful criteria. The brands has to do well in five areas of communication, distinctiveness, relevance, memorability, extendibility, and depth. Distinctiveness is being unique. For example, you can refer it as a needle in a hay stack. It often requires courage, clarity, boldness, surprise, and innovation. Relevance asks what importance the brand has. Memorability is how a brand sticks in a consumers mind. If your brand is memorable to customers then you will be successful.  Extendibility measures how well a given brand expression will work over media, over social limits, and across message types. Depth is how far a brand expression will travel through your audience. With depth, you have to be able to create multiple connections instead of just one. For example,  Apple, their materials looks nice, operate well, and there is a variety of products they have to offer. Successful businesses continuously morph to changes in the market place, the industry, the economy, and social culture. After you differentiated, collaborated, innovated, and validated your brand is heading up in the charts. Neumeier states that, “every person in the company should be issued a shockproof brandometer, a durable set of ideas about what the brand is and what makes it tick. No decision should be made without asking the million dollar question, will it help or hurt the brand?”.

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