Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Brand Promises

Continuing to go back and forth on this brand project. It’s B2G, and the toughness is the disparity of voices: The need to be different, yet the conservative nature of the opposing internal party (as well as the target audience). The balance has yet to be struck.

Branding in the B2G space is difficult, and part of the difficulty is that many contractors are willing to be anything to any client in the space. The parity is stifling. That has worked for large brands in the marketplace, but at the same time their brands don’t stand for anything other than contractor. In some cases, it only means body shop.

Extending a brand successfully beyond a certain product or service set (for example: service orient architecture or SOA) requires a promise that’s more than the product. See some people say that the brand cannot be extended. I don’t believe that, especially in the early stages of a brand.

The brand is a promise, a promise of a great product or experience. That’s why brands like Virgin, Booz Allen (for you B2Gers), Time Warner and others can extend beyond an initial product or service offering. They promise more than records, premium accounting solutions, cable TV, etc. They promise style and rebellion, quality, and good media experiences, respectively.

Conversely, if a brand promises something very specific and becomes known for it, then tries to extend the brand, well the results are less than promising. On the B2G side consider GTSI’s extension into services, or in the commercial world Amazon has become known for nothing, when it was a great bookstore. Jennifer Rice does a great job discussion brand extension on her recent blog entries for Brand Mantra. She also has phenomenal taste in novels.

Back to the current branding effort, it’s my hope that I can elevate the decision making group’s level of thought so they see the need for communicating an experiential promise. This will be refined further this week.

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