Branding and positioning
What is it?
Deciding what (if any) branding and brand positioning is appropriate for the intervention.
The best brands create a special relationship with customers, based on intangible qualities that evoke strong emotional responses. These might consist of a logo, a general look and feel, a tone of voice and the way a company interacts with its customers – but the whole should be much greater than the sum of the parts. More >
The American Marketing Association defines a brand as a “name, term, sign, symbol, or design or a combination of them, intended to identify the goods and services of one seller or group of sellers and to differentiate them from those of competition.”
Some of the best known brand names, such as Levi, Pepsi-Cola and Heinz have dominated markets (and consumers minds) for over 100 years and together with newer brands such as McDonalds, Microsoft and Sony, have become global brands.
Some of the best known and earliest brands exist in those markets in which social marketers seek to intervene and change behaviour, for example, registration of some cigarette brand names: Dunhill, 1907; Camel, 1913; Marlboro, 1924 and Philip Morris,1933. In the fast food sector McDonalds was established in 1937 and Burger King in 1954.
By contrast, some of the brand names associated with social objectives are more recent, for example: Friends of the Earth in 1969; Greenpeace in 1971; and NSMC in 2005.
Why do this?
For social marketers branding can serve a number of purposes. A well designed brand can:
- Provide a recognisable symbol to consumers which can create coherence within an intervention and across a range of interventions.
- Create associations in the minds of consumers, for example, for reliability, expertise, helpfulness (brand attributes).
- Create a personality for the intervention to encourage customers to develop relationships and become brand loyal.
- Convey the positioning and image of the organisation or intervention.
- Make it easier to introduce new products/services under the same brand name as customers become familiar with it.
- Save money when introducing new products/services as customers already know what the brand represents.
- Therefore there is less need to devote resources to communication for brand building
How might you do this?
If branding is going to be involved, it requires buy in from stakeholder groups and a clear assessment of the functions which the brand aims to fulfil. Above all, the target audience’s perceptions of the brand name or logo must be ascertained. More >
You could bring together your steering group (or a subgroup) to consider a number of issues using, for example, a Branding Decisions Checklist. This could be used to:
- Identify constraints, for example does the funding body or other stakeholder require that their brand name or logo be included?
- Decide on whether a family/umbrella/generic brand, multiple brands or a combination is required.
- Consider developing a particular brand name for the specific intervention, for example ‘Change for Life’.
- Consider combining the two above and use a family brand/logo and add a specific name to this for a particular intervention.
- Consider developing an existing or creating a new brand.
- Set out the attributes (product benefits) associated with the brand.
- Consider emotional consequences associated with the brand.
- Consider how the brand will be positioned.
Remember that branding is not just about a logo or identity. It is about people’s perceptions, real or otherwise, of their experience of your offering. So for instance, the experience people receive from frontline staff can have a significant impact, positive or negative, on the brand.
Also, creating a new brand identity and positive associations can be expensive and time consuming.
Do some research to check the opportunities to link with or piggy back on existing brands which have established brand traction (Change4Life, Smokefree and so on). This is particularly important to avoid wasting money on unnecessary duplication. See the Department of Health’s report on the National Chlamydia Screening Programme which highlighted unnecessary duplication.
It is vital that the attributes that are built into the brand are the most relevant to the target audience. More >
Continually revisiting the research and insight created in the scoping stage will help to make sure that this is the case.
Remember that a particular brand may have negative associations and consequences on consumer perceptions. More >
Changing brand names may be more cost-effective than spending money on communications to try to improve a failing brand.
A branding report/document (if appropriate). More >
The report could cover:
- An examination of branding issues and recommendations for brand names/logos.
- A summary of research/insight affecting branding decisions gathered in the scoping phase.
- Detailed requirements for pre-testing of brands and logos prior to final design.
- Detailed requirements for additional activities and expenditures required to support the branding strategy.
A decision about an appropriate branding strategy if one is required.
Awareness of any additional consumer insight required prior to final decision.
Awareness of additional activities required to support the branding strategy, for example communications, training, location decisions and so on.