Connective Branding
Gravelle Branding / Marketing

Components of a Brand: Brand Cause, Connective Strategies, Contact Point Coherence

Dallas Hall is the iconic and oldest building on the SMU campus.
Dallas Hall is the iconic and oldest building on the SMU campus.

There was a day when competing meant an image campaign, more locations, better access to capital, and an assiduous patent program. While much of this is still true, there is another area of competition that is outside your control, clutter. 75 gazillion television channels, 40 gazillion radio channels, a magazine a minute, 24/7 news, and all of this is replicated, magnified, and made immediate in another space of unlimited size, the internet. Your client or prospect is building mental buckets as a way to sort through it all. If you're not in the right bucket, you'll end up in a truly bad bucket, the round file.

The old question "which one are you?" has acquired new complexity and much more importance.

"A cohesive brand is your 24 hour sentinel in a giant marketing battleground. It stands for you whether you are awake or asleep."

The discipline of branding has been developed to provide the answer. Honestly, many organizations have intuitively practiced branding for years. It was known by many names: unique selling proposition, reputation management, image building, persuasion strategy, corporate identity, etc. These were all parts of branding, but by themselves, they were not enough.

Connective® Branding, a disciplined process designed to articulate the brand that will make a difference, is the result of efforts by many bright marketing minds, trial and error, and countless applications in countless categories. It has been refined, improved, and refined again.

Because of the immense amount of clutter, the ultimate control over your brand has moved into the heads of your clients and prospects. You can blame the Internet for equipping the marketplace with data/reviews/visuals of your brand and your competitors long before they even contact you.

Your goal must be to create an understanding of your brand that is desirable, and not only that, but the most desirable of the choices. A brand is the desirability of a product/service/company as perceived by your clients and prospects.

Connective Branding was built to establish the right idea in the heads of the right people, so your brand will be chosen. It’s simple, right?

Brand Cause

Brand Cause

In the center of your brand is an impenetrable nucleus called the brand cause. This is the unshakable belief in what you do for others. It is the beginning and the source of your strength. The brand cause defines work as a noble mission, not a job.

The brand cause is the core belief of what you do for others. If you don't really believe in it, you shouldn't be doing it.

It is not about making money. It is about the most beneficial thing you do that results in making money. The brand cause keeps you on the path you have chosen and stops you from taking that tasty-looking rabbit trail. It also gives you the courage to say, "no, that's not us' and make it stick.

OLD RED COURTHOUSE: A beautiful  and meticulous restoration of the historic 1892 courthouse.
OLD RED COURTHOUSE: A beautiful and meticulous restoration of the historic 1892 courthouse.
Brand Positioning

Brand Positioning

Radiating out from the brand cause is the brand positioning. It is the most famous of the components of a brand. It has a simple premise. A brand must have a rational proposition to be chosen. If you are not understood, your chances of being chosen go down. A lot.

The brand positioning consists of three elements: target, choice set, and most compelling benefit.

The articulation of the target audience should identify a core value, need, or even a problem that drives purchase behavior. Is your best target consumed by the need to reduce stress, be perceived as socially hip, or live their life frugally, or are they intrigued by the Texas mystique? Finding out what this is about your target should turn inside-out thinking." I'll do/make this, and they'll be really excited, "to the outside-in." What can I do/make that excites them?" It should bring the target to life and answer a marketing 101 question, what makes my best client/prospect tick? You can't sell much if you don't know.

A clear brand positioning is like shooting pool with a custom-made cue.
A weak one is like shooting pool with a rope.

The choice set can be devastating if you get it wrong. If people don't know what bucket to put you in, they will have a hard time choosing you. Are you a full-service grocery store or a price fighter? If your prospective shopper doesn't know the answer, you may not get the "big shops'. The choice set is designed to get you into the right bucket.

The final element of brand positioning is the most compelling benefit. As Jack Palance famously noted, it is the one thing you stick to, and everything else doesn't mean ... CACA.

Most often, the most compelling benefit is a summary of the many benefits that exist. Do you choose an airline because of the schedule, the price, or because you like it? There's one where the answer is an emphatic yes on all counts. There are others where the answer is, "Oh man, do I have to?'

Brand Voice

Brand Voice

There are millions of voices in the marketplace. A well-crafted brand voice will help flesh out a picture of your brand, in the same way, the straightforward but fun voice of Southwest Airlines (which you hear at the ticket counter and the intercom) helps them stand out from all the “We’ve got planes, too” brand voices. Southwest is one giant brand voice.

What do you want your voice in the marketplace to sound like? A Tiny Tim kind of voice or Luciano Pavarotti?

Will a distinctive brand voice help? You bet it can. You might ask Motel 6, which got the plain-speaking Tom Boyett to talk to the Everyman traveler about the no-frills frugality-loving Motel 6. As he so eloquently said, “You know, when you turn out the light, they all look the same”.

This brand voice is further executed by operations and pricing, which emphasize frugality, all voiced by a neighborly guy who might live just a house away. Everything Motel 6 does, whether spoken, printed, or whatever, delivers its brand voice.

Your brand voice helps your brand platform come alive to your audience as if it were sitting right across from you. It humanizes you. People can identify with a humanized brand because it’s, well, human. A distinctive brand voice helps you stand apart from, not only your competitors but also from the noisy clutter of the 24-7 marketplace. And a loud noise it is.

White Rock Lake is an island of tranquility in the middle of a big, noisy city.
White Rock Lake is an island of tranquility in the middle of a big, noisy city.
Brand Club

Brand Club

Most people don't consume a brand, they join it. In most B2B new business presentations, the list of your clients is usually at the beginning of the deck. What is being communicated is, "see this list of really smart companies?
They chose me!

Build your brand imagery with this in mind-
"Bud Light's club dropped them like a rock. That created an opening for a distant number two in sales to become number one in a single week."

Put another way, many people make final purchasing decisions based on what the choice says about them. It's called ego. It's a powerful force, and your brand must appeal to it, particularly if you want to sell at a premium.

"Ever seen a Mini Cooper gathering? It is the club of clubs. Badges and all.”