The strongest and longest lasting brands branch off of an
existing category. Branching takes patience and time.
There are two speeds for launching a brand, each one with
its own pros and cons.
Speed A, like a hot air balloon, takes a long time to
prepare before the actual launch. PR, media marketing,
favors A. Longevity success favors A. A tree grows
stronger with a well-established roots. And this can only
occur with good soil, careful fertilizing, watering, and
Speed B, like a helicopter, takes off quickly but requires
more fuel on take off, fuel that isn’t there later on.
Advertising favors B. Speed B for the Internet means viral
marketing–spreading by word of mouth. For the Net, this is
usually e-mail marketing.
The main reason A is usually a wiser choice is because
people are suspicious of new and different. Another reason
why it takes any business years to build their success. A
typical reaction: “Wait and see if this new concept turns
out to be worth while”. Letting the brand build slowly
using PR techniques can be like watching a tree grow. You
can be lulled into falling asleep, however, don’t be. There
is a pivoting point where PR needs to turn into massive
There are two hurdles each speed endures–credibility and
conventional. Advertising fails because it usually can’t
convey credibility. It can create conventional–people want
to buy what other people want. People buy to be normal.
People like to visit restaurants that have lots of cars out
front. Yet conventional cannot succeed without credibility.
Credibility is why the most effective brand launching starts
with PR. The only exception to this rule is selling to the
early adopter market.
Real success is a combination of short-lived and longevity
products and services. Short-lived can provide the
additional capital needed to fuel big advertising campaigns
or new research. If you look at the toy industry, you can
see every Christmas they have short-lived fad items and they
still maintain items, like the Slinky, now celebrating over
Service businesses need to use a combination as well. Few
in these areas understand the concept and usually brush it
off as N/A, non-applicable, to them. Mainly due to the need
for multiple marketing campaigns and the work needed to plan
and implement. This holds a higher truth the smaller the
practice usually due to time limitations.
Another gear in the branding wheel is the number of
generations of buyers. Each generation have their own way
of buying charactertics. The only answer for this, is to
know how they are thinking and why they make the choices
How do you move fast enough in a slow building process and
still build credibility along the way? You can use the same
method many public relations firms use–the leak. You leak
the information before its ready for launching. The
gestation length of the leaking period depends on the
radicalness of the concept. The more revolutionary the
concept, the less advertising should play into the campaign.
Advertising is used for brand maintenance not brand
building. As I mentioned earlier, advertising lacks
credibility, the crucial element for brand building.
The best way for PR use is to announce a new category not a
new product. The media wants to talk about what’s new and
what’s hot, not what’s better. What they say about you
delivers credibility. It’s because someone else is talking
Launching a PR campaign and an Advertising campaign are two
totally different plans. This is a frequently misunderstood
For the accompaning article, Seven Simple Steps To A PR
Launch, visit the Abundance Center’s article section.
(c) 2004, Catherine Franz