Bentley College Marketing- Honors

This blog is for MK 402-H01 and the greater Bentley College population.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Strong brands are not the only key to success

In his post “Strong Brands are Not the Only Key to Success” Francois disagrees with a blog posting by Laura Reis; he highlights his main disagreement with her on her statements: "Building strong brands is the key to success, in our opinion, not better products or better people," followed by: "Because in America marketing is not considered important. Management, human relations, customer service are all considered of higher importance that marketing." Francois calls her thinking “20th century and wrong.” Instead, he argues that the customer needs to be incorporated into the equation. He pushes the true meaning of brand by questioning who owns it – how is it integrated with the product and the customer service? He thinks that marketing needs to be thought of from a different perspective as he concludes with the statement, “We are seriously overdue for a new breed of marketers to come to the foreground and eclipse this old school of marketing thinkers.”

This blog is marketing related since it questions the importance of branding in marketing. Francois argues that branding is not the only key to success since he is supporting an integrated marketing point of view. He does not think that marketing is “silo-ed.” Rather, it crosses many disciples in business, being more horizontal in nature. Similarly, branding is not solely controlled by the marketing department since the entire organization has an impact on the brand. Francois also brings the marketing concept to Laura’s argument by asking where the customer fits into the equation of brands. He gives the example of Harley Davidson as a brand that began in the original definition of brands but has evolved to be more integrated and more in the hands of customers. Since brands only exist in the minds of consumers, the consumers clearly have a direct impact on them.

The story informs marketing by questioning different perspectives of the position of both marketing and branding. It supports the view of marketing as an integrated activity that cannot truly separate things such as product, people, and brands. Since brands are so subjective, they are impacted by all of the other elements and areas of the business. In the same light, there is no cut and clear way to approach branding since so many different elements have an impact on it.

This story improved my understanding of marketing because it made me think about how I view the role of both marketing and branding. Although I agree that building strong brands is a key to success, it is only one component that contributes to a firm’s success. I think that Francois’ idea of an integrated approach will yield the highest success; however, achieving this level of integration is difficult. Although no solution for how to view either branding or marketing is offered in the blog posting, it makes readers evaluate how they view these things and how they would approach them. As a marketing student, I was attentive to Francois’ final comment concerning the need for a “new breed” of marketers to enter the business world to overturn these “old school” ways of thinking about marketing. It made it more apparent that we must always evaluate the way we think about what we are doing.

As is often critiqued in our class, more examples could have also made his argument better; I particularly enjoyed his use of Harley Davidson as an example of a brand and would have liked to see more examples like this. Other than more examples, I don’t have any real other criticisms about this piece since it raised some excellent points for though. However, I questioned on of Laura Reis’ comments. She says: "Because in America marketing is not considered important.” From our discussions on mass consumption and American consumerism, I would say that marketing is extremely important and vital to firms’ success. However, I think that Francois does an excellent job of offering differing perspectives to counter Laura’s, all of which touch upon the integration in marketing today.


Blogger John Cass said...

What is marketing? I wonder if Laura meant that many marketing people in the US think that marketing is all about promotion rather than promotion being one element of the whole concept. When you get out into the private sector, I think you will find many companies understand the idea of advertising and ROI. But there is no starting point with market research and understanding the customer's needs.

Monday, February 27, 2006 2:01:00 PM  
Blogger Dr. Blogenstein said...

This post makes me think about a comment I have made several times in our class together (eMarketing, MK725) and one that has been part of my teaching and course design and delivery process for more than a decade: I want you all to "build your brand." Simply, when people recognize you or your name, I want them to think "good things" about your, such as "expert in eMarketing," "great thinker and problem solver," really knows about this stuff," "is way ahead of the curve," etc. the brand is simply a name and mark that represents the underlying qualities and meaning of an entity. In my class, I want you all to build your personal brand. For most organizations, it means conveying the meaning and value of a product, or of the company. It is absolutely KEY to build a brand. It is easy to recall and recognize and can fire off so many darn neurons about who and what you are. But, shouldn't good "stuff" be behind the brand? Of course! In most cases, the processes, including respect and treatment of the customer, is implicit in one's meaning associated with a brand.

I don't buy it when someone says, by definition, that branding does not include the consumer. Uh uh. For most effective branding implementations, the consumer is at the center of the process involving the development or communication of a brand.

Volvo = Safety...Volvo recognized this consumer need and developed their products with respect to this (and not only this!) The consumer was involved!

Disney, powerful brand name, yes?...good luck trying to make the case that they do not place great emphasis on the consumer...if anything, many profesionals will indicate how obsessive Disney is with incorporating consumer needs into so many processes of their product!

As for the statement about "old school." There are always new things about effective marketing. But, there are many principles for effective marketing that hold today and will most likely hod tomorrow. One thing that has changed is the availability of information to consumers and opportunity for consumers to more easily interact with each other. This is indeed somewhat different, at least at the scale enabled by the Internet. Marketers would indeed be wise to recognize this and not continue to believe that they hold all of the cards. Auto buyers now know about new vehicle costs. Auto dealers and manufacturers are indeed aware of this and have indeed changed their behavior! Travel industry players now know that the Internet makes it easier for consumers to search fares and other info related to travel. They don't convince themselves that this is not the case. They recognize this and have changed!

It's interesting to consider whether branding is "a" or "the" key to effective marketing. Those who believe it is "the" key are likely to assume that a host of other key marketing activities (e.g., product development, customer service, etc.) is implicit in this, as the brand, in the end, conveys "everything" about a person or organization that one/consumer can perceive.

In the end, have fun with marketing and try not to get to hung up on terms. Keep your eye on being creative, smart and doing cool things!

Thursday, March 02, 2006 10:34:00 AM  
Blogger John Cass said...

Working in industry, I see a lot of companies that work very hard on putting together effective marketing programs that sell the a product that does not quite meet the customers needs and wants.

My question is why not have both. If you are going to spend your time and resources. Why not try to be as effective as you can be.

I agree fun is important. But as a marketeer, my measure of fun, is setting a marketing budget that blows the door off sales.

But its also knowing that my products and services actually meet my customer's needs and wants.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006 10:11:00 AM  
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Wednesday, April 19, 2006 9:24:00 AM  

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