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14 Responses to “Modafinil For Sale”

  1. Tom Asacker says:

    I love it! Much better than, "If your brand was a car (celebrity, animal, etc.) which one would it be and why?" and other irrelevant nonsense.

    With your metaphor, you've described the dynamic tension that exists with all great brands; a tension that I refer to as "substance and theater" in my new book. Great minds? :)

  2. Dave Bradley says:

    Wow, great post. The illustration instantly told me the story and the story told me why, in a simple and succinct way.

  3. Mark T says:

    This posting speaks to the difficulties of managing a brand. The concept of brand theme allows employees, partners, clients to operate within an accepted bandwidth relative to the brands core messaging. The key with this brand theme is to make certain that the brand’s employee has enough leeway to act autonomously without taking the brand too far away from the brand core. I believe that brand theme is important for large, complex organizations, in order to pivot with marketplace demands, innovate, or adapt to conditions without losing control of the long term brand identity.

    • blackcoffee says:

      Thanks Mark, 
       
      so much gets lost in translation. Large or small, established or startup, every organization can benefit from simplicity and clarity.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

      Mark Gallagher
      Brand Expressionist®

  4. John Burke says:

    I think this is an excellent point and I am in full agreement with one reservation.

    First, establishing brand characteristics is an essential element in creative briefs to communicate effectively cross-team during the campaign creation/branding process. That being said I agree whole heartedly that setting a brand theme for employees and to establish company/brand identity in a larger sense is absolutely essential on a variety of fronts. Some of these being as you mention in a customer service/sales capacity and most importantly on the product dev side. In product dev it is key especially.

    Internal and customer facing efforts (from campaigns to sales) must operate along a similar thread in my view. This is the hallmark of the most successful companies and brands. This however leads to my one reservation; taking this too far. Case in point, Starbucks.

    Starbucks has "brand theme" in spades but I think they go too far in certain areas such as calling their employees "partners" and in the naming of their product sizes among other ways. Their product size naming is out of context with the larger "coffee culture" as a whole (grande, venti etc) and has caused somewhat of a Starbucks backlash in my view. It is almost iconic culturally in the negative and I am not one to believe all press is good press. Do a google search on your tube and you will find hundreds if not thousands of jokes about this mistake (in my view). Secondly, their employees. As one who has worked at Starbucks in college I can tell you their on boarding process is so heavily laden with "Starbucks culture" it was a huge turn off and came through with a tangible amount of insincerity. I could go on for a good while about this and if challenged in this thread I will elaborate more. End point being a case where brand theme has gone too far.

    So yes, I agree 100% but we have to watch that brand theming is tempered with a healthy sense of realism and awareness of the larger culture as a whole.

  5. blackcoffee says:

    John,

    Starbucks' brand theme, "the third place," attempts to encapsulate the concept of bringing the European coffeshop to the US: Home, Work Starbucks.

    I fully agree that when a brand tries too hard it often fails to connect with it's intended audience. It's a question of brand authenticity. As you've pointed out Starbucks is seen by many as a corporate storefront rather than the third place.

    BTW, I find it interesting that you write "campaign creation/branding process," as the two terms are far from synonymous. however that's a topic for another post!

    Thanks for sharing your point of view.

    Mark Gallagher
    Brand Expressionist®

    • John B says:

      Agree. What I was trying to illustrate by lumping them together was basically to outline the elements and various uses of a creative brief which traditionally use brand characteristics (or similar) to achieve various ends.

      Campaigns and branding are definitely two very different exercises. Probably a good topic for another time indeed.

      • blackcoffee says:

        The way I see it, "creative briefs" are intended to drive "creative." Unfortunately, they often end up circumventing strategy.

        Cheers,

        Mark Gallagher
        Brand Expressionist®

  6. deniseleeyohn says:

    hey mark — interesting post — how do you see a brand's theme relating to its identity or competitive positioning? — denise lee yohn

  7. blackcoffee says:

    Denise,

    I believe the two are intrinsically linked. The problem is that all too often positioning is confused with a slogan or tagline, design or advertising. The brand theme helps to provide a consistentcy across each individual effort.

    For example “Einstein meets Picasso" would be a terrible tagline! However "Think Different" encapsulates that core message in a compelling way.

    In this way the brand theme allows the brand to evolve while maintaining consistency of purpose. If the brand were to reposition, it would need to develop a new theme. However, unlike a campaign the brand theme wouldn't change with each new agency revamp.

    Thanks for commenting.

    Mark Gallagher
    Brand Expressionist®

  8. @mtlb says:

    My experience is that it depends on a strong org/brand to do it and buy into the concept. Even though there may be a specific theme, there needs to be a somewhat fluid approach in how it's executed. Few brands are set up to think that way though. (By fluid, I mean the brand letting the agency explore executions that deviate but still reinforce the theme in the end.) Too often, you see ideas killed because brand people take things literally, then end up sacrificing ideas from agencies just because they don't check off every box on the theme checklist.

    • blackcoffee says:

      Bill,

      Just as clients are often too literal, agencies are often too abstract. We’ve seen great concepts which are “on brand” shot down or altered to the point of being off brand. We’ve also seen “off brand” concepts pushed through because they are “creative.”

      It’s not always easy to get the client to accept the concept of a brand theme (we attribute this to years of agencies convincing clients that their tagline is their positioning). However, we’ve found that most clients, big or small, embrace the concept of a brand theme once they realize that it provides elasticity for both brand and agency, tempering the clients’ bias towards being literal and the agency’s bias towards creativity for the sake of being clever.

      The brand theme is a useful tool for both clients and agencies alike. I encourage you to try it.

      Thanks for sharing!

      Mark Gallagher
      Brand expressionist®

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