THE BRAND RANT CONTINUES...
And by the way, a big thanks to everyone who pointed out the missing word last week.
The sentence should have read, "I drive a car to work, therefore mass transit doesn't work."
And if you missed the tee-up to that because instead of reading the screed, you were busy listening to important DR advertising on the radio, it was about the style of argument used by so many anti-branders: "I'm in direct marketing and I can prove the return on investment of each effort that I initiate. Therefore, branding doesn't work."
And yes, that rant continues this morning.
Along with your invitation to help us make the case against these nattering nabobs of brand negativism.
One argument was thus:
"YOU CAN'T TAKE BRAND AWARENESS TO THE BANK"
Of course not.
You also can't take your mother to the bank.
But your life would be impossible without her.
We were recently having a conversation with Dr. Sam of Dr. Sam's Eye Care.
As the faithful reader to the screed knows, Dr. Sam is one of Slow Burn Marketing's oldest clients.
We worked with him to rebrand United Eye Care Specialists.
Business had been flat for three years. And let's face it, there is nothing "United" about a one-doctor office in rural New Hampshire.
(In his defense, Dr. Sam did not name the business. It was saddled with that moniker when he bought it.)
NEW BRANDING AND RUNNING A BRANDED ADVERTISING CAMPAIGN DOUBLED HIS NEW PATIENT BASE
That took three months.
In 10 months, the business that was flat for three years was up 30%.
Beyond that, the branding helped turn Dr. Sam into a local celebrity.
He once handed some outgoing mail to a postman.
The postman looked at the envelopes, awestruck, and said, "Are YOU Dr. Sam?"
Patients come into the Dr. Sam's office and routinely repeat the brand tagline back to the people who work there: "Straight talk, better vision."
THE BRANDING ADVERTISING HAS CREATED BRAND AWARENESS
Dr. Sam is the top-of-mind eye doctor for his area in New Hampshire.
And he no longer runs as much advertising as he used to.
His brand is doing a lot of the work without it.
For instance, he sponsors a race car. He has the hood of a prominent local stock car driver, and it routinely brings him new patients.
(For all the pro-DR, anti-branding blather out there, tell me this: if branding doesn't work, explain how sports sponsorship is one of the single most effective uses of the advertising dollar in terms of ROI. There is no advertisement at all. There is a logo. Period. Yet the big brands who do it can prove the investment is worthwhile.)
HE ALSO SPONSORS LOCAL NON-PORIFTS
This is a surprisingly effective use of ad dollars.
He buys display ads in the printed programs for local events.
The Humane Society. The Girl Scouts. The non-profit arts organization.
The ads are simple and funny and NEVER talk about eye care except incidentally.
Instead, they create an emotional link to the event they're supporting.
One of the simplest was for the Humane Society.
It features a little yellow chick wearing an enormous pair of eyeglasses.
The headline says in huge letters, "SEE?"
And that's it.
THAT ADVERTISEMENT BROUGHT HIM NEW PATIENTS
All the ads supporting the non-profits do.
Slow Burn Marketing branded Dr. Sam's Eye Care.
Dr. Sam's Eye Care turned into a juggernaut.
There is no offer in any of the advertising beyond the implicit offer of a good eye doctor who is conscientious caring and gives it to you straight.
There is no hard call to action in the ads, just the phone number.
And they work, as The Fabulous Honey Parker would say, like a voodoo charm.
They make people like and trust a man who works in a business with a very long selling cycle.
ALL OF US HAVE STORIES ABOUT HOW BRANDS HAVE COME INTO OUR LIVES
We don't necessarily think of them as brands.
We often think of them as important people.
Often, we think of them as friends.
So, what's your story, either as a marketing professional or a customer?
How has a brand impacted your life?
Or do you walk around thinking, "Wow, that was a really good direct response ad. I'm glad I saw it."
Tell us about your brand story at email@example.com
DOCTORS ARE LICENSED TO PRACTICE
So are lawyers. And financial planners.
Massage therapists and nail technicians need a license.
Yet those of us who practice marketing?
Since we don't touch a person's body or money, we are free to do as we please.
We can just hang out a shingle that says, "Expert marketing advice, $50,000!"
And we can take the money and run in circles yelling, "La! La! La! La!" and batting at our hair like it's on fire, and nobody's going to do anything about it.
There's no board of ethics that's going to bring us up on charges.
SHOULD THAT CHANGE?
And what makes me ask such an impertinent question about such an oppressive and invasive process as licensing and oversight?
Just a bunch of Great Big Marketing Experts out there in the ether, asserting their expert opinions about the folly of branding.
Like, claiming you can't monetize it.
You can't take brand awareness to the bank.
Branding is a waste of time and money.
Nobody can prove a correlation between branding and ROI.
NOBODY CAN PROVE THAT A NUCLEAR WAR WOULD RESULT IN A NUCLEAR WINTER, EITHER
That doesn't mean that the experts doubt it would happen.
And who's really willing to find out if it's true?
Not me. I also don't have my finger on any of the red buttons around the world, so it seems moot.
But circling back, here's the problem with the anti-brand contingent.
They're almost always direct marketers.
AND THEY CAN "PROVE" THAT BRANDING DOESN'T WORK
Which is utter BS.
And we haven't even defined what the hell branding really is.
What they're saying is, "I'm in direct marketing and I can prove the return on investment of each effort that I initiate. Therefore, branding doesn't work."
This is not in any way a correlation.
That's a little like saying, "I drive a car to work, therefore mass transit work."
Except that it's easy to prove mass transit does work.
(Unless we're talking about Mumbai or Atlanta. Then, all bets are off)
THE LACK OF A CORRELATION BETWEEN BRANDING AND ROI IS NONSENSE
There are plenty of successful brands that prove it.
Want a case of a micro-brand that works?
It can be as small as Slow Burn's solopreneur client who re-branded his struggling business. In one year, he doubled his annual revenue--with no paid advertising.
Or it can be a case as big as Trader Joe's--a discount gourmet grocery chain that is growing like crazy. Trader Joe's presently generates annual revenue of more than $9 billion--with virtually no advertising. And certainly, there is no direct response advertising.
You think Trader Joe's can take its brand awareness to the bank?
Of course not.
THERE'S NO WAY TO PUT BRAND AWARENESS ON A BALANCE SHEET.
That doesn't mean you can't recognize a correlation between everything mandated by the brand direction--which is distinctive, resonant and inarguable.
One doesn't grow a single grocery store into a chain of almost 500 locations with over 10,000 employees without advertising unless there's something else at work.
And here's the irony.
Every King of Direct Marketing who pees all over the idea of brand is completely dismissing what is one of the most powerful weapons in the marketing arsenal.
GOOD DIRECT MARKETING IS EVEN MORE POTENT WHEN GOOD BRANDING IS INVOLVED
I am a direct marketer.
I know what it means to live or die by response to an advertisement.
Most proponents of smart branding embrace DR.
Conversely, no DR expert who's bashing brand can say they understand what it means to build a brand in any meaningful way.
At Slow Burn Marketing, we have seen branding literally change the lives of small-business owners.
From the struggling solopreneur who doubled his annual revenue, to the local hair salon that has increased revenue 300% in five years, to the event contractor who re-branded and subsequently landed a quarter-million-dollar raise out of a single meeting--all of these are examples where the branding made a difference.
WHAT ABOUT YOU?
What's your experience with brand?
As a small-business owner, do you have a story about the potency of brand in your life?
As a small-business marketer, do you have a story about the power of brand in a client's marketing?
As a consumer, do you have a story about how good branding influenced you in a remarkable way?
If you have a noteworthy tale, I want to know.
All the unmitigated, non-scientific crap out there bashing brand has become tiresome. "My direct response advertising works so branding is a failure!"
You're invited to join me in an effort to lay waste to the BS.
If DR experts can make nonscientific, anecdotally-supported claims about how branding doesn't work, we can make nonscientific, anecdotally-supported claims about how branding does work.
AND YOU WILL BE FAMOUS!
Only if you want to, that is.
I will happily use your name and the name of your brand here in the screed.
Or, if anonymity is better for you and/or the brand, we can do it that way.
But send your anecdote.
Whether you're speaking as a marketer, as a business owner, or as a consumer--how has a strong brand made a difference?
Either reply to this email, or (if you're reading online) send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org
How has brand mattered in your life?
Send your story today.
We'll make the the Anti-Brand DR BS hit the fan tomorrow.
Blaine Parker is prone to ranting about any and all things related to brand. In many ways, he is a professional curmudgeon. While there is no known vaccine for this, the condition is also not contagious. Unless you choose it to be so.