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Brand Building 201: Finding The Ideal Way

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

50 years.

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

they do.

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

about you.

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