I’m not a classically trained marketer, so I don’t really understand how branding works. Why do people sign up for a credit card because Charles Barkley appears in a TV commercial? How does Alfa Romeo sponsoring the Super Bowl halftime show increase car sales? And why does my public utility have to brand itself at all?
None of this makes much sense to me, and yet branding — when done correctly — clearly drives immense value for companies. The right branding convinces us to do crazy things, like pay more money for a commodity (salt, sugar), or get a new iPhone every 18 months.
The flip side of branding successes, however, is that a lot of branding fails. I’m not talking about huge brand blunders (like Pepsi’s attempt to channel the Black Lives Matter movement via a Kardashian), but rather brand dollars that are simply ineffective.
Take the beer companies, for example. Budweiser spends billions every year on brand advertising, and yet its market share continues to plummet. Even iconic branding campaigns — like the “Old Spice guy” – often have minimal if any impact on actual sales.
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