The Insights Blog

How to boost your brand

How to boost your brand

How to boost your brand

Are you investing in your brand, yet your business is not responding? 

Or are you working in a business that is stuck with a low ceiling because of a predominant focus on performance marketing? 

Perhaps your company has a sales-driven culture and it’s hard to get enhanced brand investment. Maybe you face tough competition and simply need your brand to stand out. 

We’ve seen it all. And, we have some suggestions for how to get greater company support for brand initiatives and more effectively use brand initiatives to advance the business. 

Here are three proven techniques that will help you get the most from current brand investment and increase company leadership’s appetite for even greater brand investment.

Create Distinctive Brand Assets

Distinctive Brand Assets are rocket fuel for your marketing as they help every dollar work harder. Distinctive Brand Assets create associations that help customers and prospects notice, recognize, remember and think of a brand. A Distinctive Brand Asset is a non-brand name cue like a special color, distinctive logo, brand characters, identifiable packaging, audio devices, and other distinctive tactics that connote your brand. Most brands have few, if any, Distinctive Brand Assets and they are missing an opportunity!

Good character examples include the Michelin Man, Colonel Sanders and Geico’s Gecko. There are prominent design and logo elements so powerful and recognizable that they can stand alone like (McDonald’s) Golden Arches and (Nike’s) Swoosh. Distinctive packaging can help brands stand out like the Pringle’s can. Color has worked well for Target (red) and John Deere (green). And words, well crafted, can really make a difference like (Verizon’s) “Can you hear me now?” and California Milk Processor Board’s “got milk?”.

For a great introduction to Distinctive Brand Assets, read Jenni Romaniuk’s Building Distinctive Brand Assets. And get to work….

Leverage Category Entry Points

Byron Sharp and The Ehrenberg-Bass Institute define Category Entry Points (CEP) as the building blocks of Mental Availability — they capture the thoughts that category buyers have as they transition into making a category purchase. Strong Mental Availability (being easily thought of in buying situations) is essential for building a successful brand. Because of this relationship, CEPs are the DNA of mental availability. When your brand is well connected to Category Entry Points, your brand has a greater chance of being selected at the consumer’s key moment of decision.

A deep understanding of what category buyers are thinking about, and in what situations, can identify opportunities for future advertising messages and even inform product innovation ideas.

Starbucks’ “third place” is a great example of leveraging a Category Entry Point. Need a casual place to meet with a friend, or have a low-key meeting, work alone or simply relax with a latte? Starbucks’ locations have cornered that market. Need a latte in the morning on the way to work but pressed for time? Starbuck’s Mobile Order & Pay has you covered. Need to search for almost anything on the internet? Google dominates that CEP. Hungry? Grab a Snickers.

For some practical advice on getting started leveraging Category Entry Points, read How Brands Grow.

Track Share of Search

C-suites everywhere are looking for marketing to both sign up to help deliver on major company goals and to be able to explain marketing’s contribution to company success.

A sound starting point is for the CMO, marketing staff and agencies to have a clear (and supportable) framework for understanding how your brand’s current demand stacks up to competition and how marketing impacts customer behaviors in a manner that drives the business. However, market share tracking is expensive and often not readily available in many categories. Marketing Mix Modeling (MMM) and Multi-Touch Attribution (MTA) are powerful sciences that can contribute to a company’s knowledge base regarding what is working (and what is not) in its marketing efforts. But they have severe drawbacks including cost, the need for robust data and their inherent backward-looking nature.

What can a firm that lacks the resources for market share tracking, MMM or MTA do, or how can a firm supplement these sciences in a timelier manner? For many firms, Share of Search can be a powerful and inexpensive tool.

Let’s start with a quick, commonly accepted definition in the rapidly developing science of “Share of Search”: Share of Search is the percentage of organic searches in any given competitive set that are for your brand/product.

Why is it important? Les Binet’s work has shown that Share of Search (SoS) is a powerful and reliable proxy for consumer-led demand. He’s found that It can be used as a proxy for measuring demand as there is a strong correlation between SoS and consumer mental availability.  In other words, Share of Search is an inexpensive yet powerful tool for marketers to better track how their brand stands up to competition and to help explain that status to others in your company.

Want more guidance and links to helpful materials on Share of Search? Read our blog here.

Get Started!

Don’t be discouraged by a low budget or leadership that is reluctant to invest in brand. Take it upon yourself to better track your brand and create programs and assets that can inexpensively enhance your odds of success. If your marketing is driving greater results, greater investment will follow!

Steve Boehler, founder, and partner at Mercer Island Group has led consulting teams on behalf of clients as diverse as Ulta Beauty, Microsoft, UScellular, Nintendo, Kaiser Permanente, Holland America Line, Stop & Shop, Qualcomm, Brooks Running, and numerous others. He founded MIG after serving as a division president in a Fortune 100 when he was only 32. Earlier in his career, Steve Boehler cut his teeth with a decade in Brand Management at Procter & Gamble, leading brands like Tide, Pringles, and Jif.