Posted by: kwbrand | October 12, 2007

3D Branding

Fall is upon us and with it, the eventual arrival of the holiday family-fests. I can anticipate the good food, the ad hoc drinking games, and this question: What exactly do you do?

As a brand marketing consultant, this is a question I have been asked by nearly everyone I’ve met…including my parents. It’s ironic that one of the sole purposes of marketing is to make clear the features and benefits of any given company and yet brand marketing remains among the amorphous aspects of the process.

So, just so that I have something clear to tell my family the next time we get together for a holiday function, I’ll try to make it clear. But first, a bit on brands.

Brands have several jobs.

1. Differentiate: In (generally) crowded markets, brands help to clearly differentiate the product and its company to be worth more—more attention, more respect, more money and more loyalty.

2. Deliver: In (generally) crowded mindsets, well-developed brands make promises they can keep. When I think “high-end coffee beverage,” Starbucks pops into my head because the company and its culture work so hard to deliver a high-end coffee experience. 7-11—the chain of convenience stores, also brew and sell coffee but it doesn’t promise to be high-end; it promises to be fast and cheap and it—like Starbucks—delivers on its promise. Brands make promises about what you, the customer, will get out of the interaction. The product, packaging, people and pricing etc, should all work together to deliver upon that promise.

3. Deepen (you knew there’d be another “d”): Brands are meant to be relational and like any relationship, they’re meant to grow and deepen. When I meet someone for the first time, I have to make a real effort to remember their name. Over time—if we become friends—I will not only know their name, it will carry with it the associations of our many interactions. And, like any relationship, the association will begin to take on a life of its own. I will become loyal to it. I will promote it to other people I like. I will defend it. I will go out of my way to spend more time together. Herein is the meaning of “brand equity.” Brand equity—like carefully managed friendships—grown and deepen in complexity and value.

So what do I do? As a brand translator (a term I made up), I make it my job to research and understand the 3D’s of branding (I made up the three D’s too). 

  • I research a client’s competitors and how they present themselves to their markets so I know how the client can differentiate itself from others who claim to do the same thing.
  • I research the client company itself. I delve into its goals, its history, its values and its culture in order to get a sense of what it can and cannot realistically deliver.
  • I research the client’s customers to get a sense of what comes to mind when they hear the company name, what drew them to the relationship, what they love about it, what makes them stay and what would make them leave. I use all of this information to help the client know how to connect with their customers and to build and deepen that relationship over time.
  • Then—and this is where it gets interesting—I help the clients get a clear and focused sense of how the 3D’s pull together into a unified brand concept that they can strategically use to keep themselves on the straight and narrow path (e.g. to make sure that the Starbucks of the world don’t accidentally start delivering 7-11 quality and values).

There you have it, dear family. That’s what I do.

Kyndra Wilson, KW Brand Translation


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