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Brand Building 201: Finding The Ideal Way

By Catherine Franz
Posted Thursday, February 17, 2005

The strongest and longest lasting brands branch off of an existing category. Branching takes patience and time. There are two speeds for launching a brand, each one with its own pros and cons.

Speed A, like a hot air balloon, takes a long time to prepare before the actual launch. PR, media marketing, favors A. Longevity success favors A. A tree grows stronger with a well-established roots. And this can only occur with good soil, careful fertilizing, watering, and time.

Speed B, like a helicopter, takes off quickly but requires more fuel on take off, fuel that isn't there later on. Advertising favors B. Speed B for the Internet means viral marketing--spreading by word of mouth. For the Net, this is usually e-mail marketing.

The main reason A is usually a wiser choice is because people are suspicious of new and different. Another reason why it takes any business years to build their success. A typical reaction: "Wait and see if this new concept turns out to be worth while". Letting the brand build slowly using PR techniques can be like watching a tree grow. You can be lulled into falling asleep, however, don't be. There is a pivoting point where PR needs to turn into massive advertising.

There are two hurdles each speed endures--credibility and conventional. Advertising fails because it usually can't convey credibility. It can create conventional--people want to buy what other people want. People buy to be normal. People like to visit restaurants that have lots of cars out front. Yet conventional cannot succeed without credibility. Credibility is why the most effective brand launching starts with PR. The only exception to this rule is selling to the early adopter market.

Real success is a combination of short-lived and longevity products and services. Short-lived can provide the additional capital needed to fuel big advertising campaigns or new research. If you look at the toy industry, you can see every Christmas they have short-lived fad items and they still maintain items, like the Slinky, now celebrating over 50 years.

Service businesses need to use a combination as well. Few in these areas understand the concept and usually brush it off as N/A, non-applicable, to them. Mainly due to the need for multiple marketing campaigns and the work needed to plan and implement. This holds a higher truth the smaller the practice usually due to time limitations.

Another gear in the branding wheel is the number of generations of buyers. Each generation have their own way of buying charactertics. The only answer for this, is to know how they are thinking and why they make the choices they do.

How do you move fast enough in a slow building process and still build credibility along the way? You can use the same method many public relations firms use--the leak. You leak the information before its ready for launching. The gestation length of the leaking period depends on the radicalness of the concept. The more revolutionary the concept, the less advertising should play into the campaign.

Advertising is used for brand maintenance not brand building. As I mentioned earlier, advertising lacks credibility, the crucial element for brand building.

The best way for PR use is to announce a new category not a new product. The media wants to talk about what’s new and what’s hot, not what’s better. What they say about you delivers credibility. It’s because someone else is talking about you.

Launching a PR campaign and an Advertising campaign are two totally different plans. This is a frequently misunderstood concept.

For the accompaning article, Seven Simple Steps To A PR Launch, visit the Abundance Center's article section.

(c) 2004, Catherine Franz

About the Author
Catherine Franz, a Certified Professional Marketing & Writing Coach, specializes in product development, Internet writing and marketing, nonfiction, training. Newsletters and articles available at: ( blog: (


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