Is advertising dead? Not the good stuff.

This headline caught my attention the other day: Advertising Is Dead, Long Live Packaging. It was an article from Brandchannel by Ted Mininni.

Advertising dead as a Do Do?But the reason for this blog is to give a different slant on the idea that [tag-tec]advertising[/tag-tec] is dead.

Certainly Ted’s not alone in voicing this trend. Al and Laura Ries wrote a book named The Fall of Advertising & The Rise of PR in 2002. The great interest in “experiential marketing” has gained attention and greater slices of the marketing budget for many companies. And, of course there’s the Internet and the second generation of web marketing, i.e., Social Marketing 2.

Yes, there are nay-sayers galore, and I must admit to being one of them. I deplore advertising for creativity’s sake. I’d say fully a third of the commercials on TV are irrelevant and often incoherent.

The commercials I admire consistently, as a class, are [tag-tec]info-commercials[/tag-tec]. Continue reading Is advertising dead? Not the good stuff.

Brand package design – where to get inspiration

Though I was encouraged to change majors by a couple of art school professors at the University of Florida, I stuck with the advertising curriculum from the journalism school. So I have some design sense but no formal design education.

Functional packagingSo I rely on graphic designers for the most part, particularly when it comes to the discipline of package design.

Package design is integral and vital to consumer brands where products compete for shelf space. But design also has its technical aspects as well. Can the package be manufactured cost-effectively? Will it provide an optimum number of frontings? Will the package protect the contents and offer an optimum shelf life? How will the package “travel”?

As I was contemplating these thoughts, I began a web search for package design blogs.

There weren’t many, but here are five worth scoping out:

The – leading package design blog. This is truly the leader in so far as number of entries and number of links. It’s an authority site through and through.

The other four include package design but really have a broader focus of general graphics and/or commercial creativity.

Box vox – thoughts on packaging & other design-related stuff
Eyes on Creativity: news and views on all things creative
Veerle’s blog Inspiration Series: Package Design where creatives go to know

So someone with experience in package design could make a name for themselves by creating a packaging authority site. Especially one that emphasized technology, techniques and templates; materials, measurements and methods.

Martin Jelsema

The power of nostalgia in branding

I’m an old guy.

I remember, almost as if it were yesterday, [tag-tec]brands[/tag-tec] like: The Lone Ranger (on radio), Wild Root Cream Oil, Buster Brown Shoes (and Tige), and Nash.

Buster Brown and his dog TigeI still own a library of lp’s and 45’s – all jazz and most of them re-issues from an earlier age of flappers and hip flasks.

So an article syndicated by Around the Net in Brand Marketing (Marketing Daily from June 10, 2008 –, extracted from the Miami Hearld) really caught my eye.

They are commenting on the growing sales of vinyl albums. Here’s the excerpt that resonates with me: Continue reading The power of nostalgia in branding

Dissecting the 22 Immutable Laws of Branding

In 1998, [tag-tec]Al Ries[/tag-tec] and his daughter Laura produced a book their publisher called “the branding bible…the definitive text on branding…”. The book: [tag-tec]The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding[/tag-tec].

The 22 Immutable Laws of BrandingNow I’ve been a fan of Al Ries since the mid-1960’s when I “replaced” Al as an account exec and copywriter at Marstellar Advertising’s New York office. He had just gone on to form Ries Cappiello Colwell Advertising.

He and [tag-tec]Jack Trout[/tag-tec] published their ground-breaking book, [tag-tec]Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind[/tag-tec] in 1981, Before that, in the early 1970’s, Ad Age had published the articles that became the basis for the book, and made available a slide presentation which my then employer, Tallant/Yates Advertising had acquired. Right then I became an advocate of [tag-tec]positioning[/tag-tec] as the foundation for [tag-tec]brand development[/tag-tec].

But back to The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding: the book is ten years old today, and I wonder if those “laws” are still “immutable”. There was some argument upon the book’s introduction about using that word.

Immutable, according to my copy of the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, is defined as, “not susceptible to change”.

So I’ll explore each of those “laws”, one law per blog entry, over the next month or two.

But in this initial post, I’ll comment on the writers’ intro and the assumptions and definitions they made in compiling this “bible”.

Here goes.

One major assumption was that [tag-tec]branding[/tag-tec] would dominate marketing and replace sales activities as the major mover of goods and services. This shift from selling to buying is only exacerbated by the Internet and the vast amount of readily available information that allows people to better assess the options available to them. In this arena alone branding has certainly replaced salesmanship – even in light of the large quantity of direct-response “salesmanship in print” efforts of entrepreneurs in cyberspace.

Another presumption Al and Laura espouse is that the brand is a concept that resides in the minds of consumers, and that the objective of the brand process is to make your brand meaningful and memorable to your target market segments. As they have stated in other forums, the brand should “own” a word – position – in your prospects’ collective mind.

Differentiation and focus are two main principles that underlay the brand process and the 22 immutable laws of branding. (As a sidelight, after Ries and Trout stopped collaborating, Al wrote a book called [tag-tec]Focus[/tag-tec], and Jack wrote [tag-tec]Differentiate or Die[/tag-tec] with Steve Rivkin.)
Al and Laura suggest that the forces that broaden the base, widen the appeal and extend the (product) line are the same forces that undermine the power of the brand. This book was meant to help brand managers direct and control those diluting forces – and focus.

With that, I’ll close this blog.

Next time I’ll tackle the first law (yes, they’re numbered), The Law of Expansion.

Martin Jelsema

Differentiating your Brand: provide leadership

Another strategy for [tag-tec]brand differentiation[/tag-tec] is assuming a leadership role in your market. [tag-tec]Jack Trout[/tag-tec] and [tag-tec]Steve Rivkin[/tag-tec], in their book, [tag-tec]Differentiate or Die[/tag-tec], claim it’s THE most powerful differentiator.

Leading the chargeLeadership establishes credentials for your brand better than any other method. So people tend believe your message and assume quality, reliability, service and innovation are automatically delivered.

But how to establish leadership is the big question, particularly in local retail markets and in business services.

The first principal: proactively take a leadership position. Become a leader in your own mind first. Imbed this idea in employee training and orientation. Make being a leader a high priority.

Second, actively solicit publicity. Participate in industry associations, local chambers, charitable efforts. Whenever there’s an opportunity, make your opinions known about issues and events of interest to your market. Speak with passion publically. Speak often.

Third, participate in competitions. Public recognition by peers can be leveraged in this way.

Fourth, look to the long haul. Wresting leadership from today’s front runner will be difficult. They’ll want to continue wearing that mantel.

Like all other strategies, you’ll have to assess your market and the present positions of you and your competitors. As I’ve said often, paraphrasing [tag-tec]Ries[/tag-tec] and Trout in [tag-tec]Positioning: the Battlefield for Your Mind[/tag-tec], find a position not now occupied by a strong competitor. They have the advantage of “being there” and establishing their reputation over a period of time.

But if no one’s taken the lead and you have the resources to challenge and sustain that role, go for it.

Martin Jelsema

Too late to jump on the Green Brand Wagon?

There’s been an avalanche of brands claiming they’re “green”. BrandWeek is now publishing an e-mail called the Green Report. And there’ll be a conclave in Washington about Green Marketing in August sponsored by the American Strategic Management Institute.

The Brand WagonSo the question occurs to me, “Can a company’s green activities differentiate its brand?”
I say NO.

Being environmentally friendly has past that point.

Since everyone participates, just as they did in the 1990’s with the “quality” buzz, you can’t use the term or the actions to differentiate your brand. Continue reading Too late to jump on the Green Brand Wagon?