As I was beginning my career in the late 1950’s, it was common to think of advertising and marketing as a way to persuade people to buy based on an image or proposition.
When we talked of corporate identity, we spoke of image.
And somehow the mind-set was to make people think the advertised product was really better than it was.
This is the way advertising was pretty accurately portrayed in the AMC show, Mad Men. It’s a fine drama. And it reflects the times pretty well.
But advertising has fallen from favor. People have become more critical and discerning. Advertising has become more outrageous and self-serving. Al Ries and his daughter, Laura, were right on and just in time, too, when they wrote “The Fall of Advertising & the Rise of PR”.
So here’s why I see a gaps between branding and advertising today – a gap that’s getting wider with each year.
Branding in all its forms – messages, signals, images, touch points, dialogs and relationships – form the real essence of a company’s offerings. Whether we like it or not, customers and prospects and other influentials shape the brand in their minds. They are in control. Yes, they’re influenced by the marketer’s actions and branding efforts. But reality dictates the brand, not image and not advertising.
In short, today the essence of the brand, the brand promise, needs to be formulated and expressed honestly. No sham. No exaggeration.
Brand today is substance. It’s what and how you deliver. All the rest, though it may reinforce the brand’s position in the minds of consumers, is just icing.