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A Boy and His Voice

Totally Unrelated News

Monday, April 18, 2005

In Totally Unrelated News today:
My alma mater.. Saint Andrew's Secondary School beat ACS (I) in the Rugby U-17 Finals on 14th April to be the 'B' Division Champions! That's 2 years in a row. Good job Jonathan Leow! =)
In more unrelated news.. my best friend Sam, is picking up photography.. and I have promised to showcase some of his photographs here, in my blog. So, stay tuned.
Finally, I will be having my mid-term exams pretty soon.. therefore I will probably take a hiatus in posting anything new that requires me to use my brain cells.. and yes.. I AM a lazy prick.. it's already difficult to find time to study when I am at home doing absolutely nothing, finding time to add new entries would be too time-consuming. I need to concentrate on studying first.. heh. ok ok.. after exams.. maybe I'll ask someone else to guest blog.. maybe.. of course, I'm assuming whoever is reading this actually wants updates.. you all do love me right? Gimme some love.. no?
That's all for Totally Unrelated News. Thanks for watching.. er.. reading.
Hugs and Kisses
Jyh Yeong

What, Exactly, Is a Brand?

Friday, April 08, 2005

It all started with this article that Christopher Kenton wrote in the BusinessWeek.

In his definition, a brand is basically "just a name, a sign, or a symbol that distinguishes the products and services of one company from all others." It is "your name, your logo, your trade dress." In fact, he has even liken it to a "burning scar on the side of a cow." Now the interesting part comes in. He says that a brand is NOT about being a promise to the consumer of the quality of your product. It is also NOT about the expectation that consumers that begin to attach to your brand. Those are different things. In short, he's saying that a brand, is the physical, tangible thing and that you see.. and that brand experiences and brand equity are important.. but does NOT constitute a brand.. they are what he calls, "derivatives of brand."

Apparently, his definition of the word "brand" has (in his own words), "sparked a flood of polarized e-mails." Marketers argue that his seperation of the concept of brand - a name, a sign, or a symbol that distinguishes your products and services from competitors - from derivative concepts like brand image and brand equity was merely semanitc. (Read the whole of the follow-up article here.) His response was that if everybody had a different definition of brand, how do we (marketers) even know if we are communicating on a level ground and that everybody is talking about the same thing? And if we as marketers don't even know the REAL meaning of a brand, how are we going to convince our clients to part with the money to build a brand. "A brand is something you create. Brand Image is something you cultivate."

He goes on to give examples of other marketing terms that doesn't really have a standard definition and how detrimental it can be for marketers. (Read it here.) He also gave his take on what someone said in a letter to him that, "Marketing or branding is a qualitative aspect. It is not a 2+2 sum which will give you a definite answer. In marketing, you're playing with emotions and human psyche, not numbers." (Read his reply here.)

I apologise for the lengthy summary, but I find it a necessary evil for discussion when and if people are too lazy to read the whole article. Now, let's get on with the ranting..

To be honest, I have no idea what the buzz is about, because I agree with Kenton. I don't know about the rest of the world, but as a student, I find the endless definitions of what a brand is.. enlightening. Not. I just spoke to Andrea, a dear friend and brilliant writer. She was saying that Kenton's definition is so not what today's definition of brand. Now, if we have a yesterday's definition of brand, a today's definition of brand.. how are we going to predict tomorrow's definition of brand? And if everyone has their own definitions, how then are we (as marketers and advertisers), going to convince companies to part with their money; much less work on a common ground?

Actually, Christopher's definition is not that difficult to understand. Let’s take for example.. the brand, Apple. The word Apple, the logo and the colour is a brand. People see their products and their brand as fun, funky and modern. That’s the brand experience. Assuming Apple stops producing iMacs and funky gadgets, and instead focuses on mass producing black and beige boxes called the personal computer. Would people still see them as fun, funky and modern? The brand (Apple, logo and colour) remains the same, the brand experience doesn’t. You Dig?

Of course the brand experience and the brand equity is important.. but they’re just different things.. they’re there in relation to the brand. Different people may have different experiences, or feelings about the brand.. but the brand remains the same.

Regarding the letter that was addressed to Christopher mentioning that, marketing is about playing with emotions and human psyche, not numbers. I think he needs a new job. It’s not about number?! Com’on! It’s always about the numbers! Are you going to tell me you’re going to spend $2 million dollars on a marketing campaign to.. arouse audiences’ sensory, to tickle their funny bone and evoke their inner most desires.. without a promise of any returns? I would like to see him telling my lecturer that! Sure marketing is about emotions and human psyche, but more importantly, marketing is about using these emotions to try and ‘persuade’ customers to be more willing and open with their wallets the next time they see you.

Really, I don’t see any reason why separating the two can be so difficult. It actually makes it easier, no? Now you know what your brand is, you can build that experience that you want your brand to be associated with. Easy, no? The only reason I can think of for marketers to protest this notion so aggressively is their ego. Imagine being in the business for 20 years, and telling countless people that what you think the definition of a brand is; and then one day, someone tells you that whatever you ever thought was true, is not. How would you react? For the better good of everyone, I think they should sit down (after all the whining) and decide that it is best to have one common understanding of what a brand is. Go ahead, reject Christopher’s definition.. but please come up with one that everyone can agree on.

I (mildly) suspect that I have my personal reason for supporting Christopher’s point of view. Mainly because I feel that it makes sense.. and that it would be that much easier to convince my lecturer of my purpose if there was only one meaning to branding.

Now, I have given my take on things.. what's yous?


Thursday, April 07, 2005

wow.. when Paul Williams of Brand Autopsy "loves your thought", you know you're thinking right. I guess that proves my point of learning. We all could only benefit from the open sharing of thoughts and ideas. =)

Read all about the Idea Sandbox

Read all about the progress and comments

Learning.. from you.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Before I even begin to say anything, I would just like to apologise for my stupidity. No really. I forgot to do the simplest thing in order for this blog to be more readable.. and that's paragraphing! Sheesh.. oh yes, and also for not updating. I'm feeling pretty under the weather.. that's why I haven't posted anything new. BUT, I have been reading interesting things, which will probably end up here.. so.. stay tuned. =)
Now.. this entry came about from a conversation with a friend. The interesting thing is, it actually means something because of what a lecturer said in my class about a month again. Oh, did I mention that I was and still am a student? Yeah. That was for the benefit of whoever that might have popped over for whatever reason. Anyways, my lecturer was saying something about Asians being too.. conservative, and they're afraid of sharing information. Interestingly, my lecturer herself is an Asian. She said something along the lines of, Asian companies want to know everything, but doesn't want to disclose anything; and she cannot really do anything to help if she hasn't got anything to start with. Confused? It's really easy, basically, she's saying that she wouldn't know what to feed you, if she doesn't know what won't kill you.
I can relate to what she said, and I'm sure many of you can too. How many times do we think we have a great idea on doing something, but is so afraid to share that we keep it to ourselves? Plenty, if you ask me. An explanation she gave was that we are afraid to share, because we are afraid that our ideas may be copied and we may end up in the losing end. Guilty, as charged. She also said that people can steal our ideas, but they cannot steal our brains (something along these lines I think), and if we're really original, we can always come up with newer and better ideas.
The reason for this behaviour (afraid of sharing), I feel is because of the society that we live. We are living in such a competitve society that we are constantly afraid. Afraid that we might not be able to catch up, afraid of being left behind.. afraid of being redundant.. so much so that whatever good ideas that we think we have, we keep.
Now you guys must be thinking.. what the hell has this got to do with learning? Relax.. I'm getting there. My lecturer, she said that our ideas can only get better, if we share it, and allow it to grow (I'm not quoting.. I think that's what she said.. or at least something like that). I'm beginning to understand what she is trying to say. It's like the guy who invented Linux, Linus Torvalds. He believed that there's a better way to use the computer than relying on Microsoft, so he created Linux. He also knew that there are probably many more brilliant minds out there who can make his program better, so he made it open source. Whoever is capable of making it better, makes it better. It's a win-win situation.
Learning, I feel, is all about that. You learn from me, I learn from you, we all win. My friend said to me, "I'm selfish, I'm all input, no output." That's fine really. He's still my friend and I still love him. But I think that could be a stumbling block. That this mindset is something that is preventing the Asian culture and tradition (e.g. Traditional Chinese Medicine) from really flourishing and becoming great. We all need one another, hence the saying, "No man is an island". I want to learn from all the brilliant minds out there, that's why I set up this blog. To facilitate learning. But I can't do that if you don't tell me your view. But that's alright, you can still learn from me.. I guess I'll just have to learn from someone else.