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Getting branding right

Updated Tuesday, 19th April 2011

Watch Britain's brightest business brains talk about the importance of getting a brand noticed and understood

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Rita Clifton, Richard Branson, Ruby Hammer, Millie Kendall, Mark Bokowski and Gerry Robinson discuss their experiences of branding: helping people understand a business, getting it noticed, and the difference between branding and brand perception.


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One of the very important things to remember about branding generally in any category is that your consumers, or indeed, your opinion formers, will pick up their cues and clues about your brand from a whole range of sources. So where is it in the supermarket, or how do people answer the phone, or who is advertising it, who is loving it and using it, what's the packaging like? All these things are important to people's impressions about your brand.

So when you can get all the elements working together, obviously that's very powerful, but because it's so important, that you're giving people the right clues and cues for your brand, then you've got to use that power with real intelligence, and also, frankly, with real integrity.


I, I think, I think too many British chairmen are too shy and retiring, um, and if they've got good products to sell, at least 25-50% of their time should be using themselves to get there and out their, put their, you know, their brands on the map.

Um, and, er, and it's just something that, er, has, has not happened very much in, in, in the past in the UK. And, and I think that when people take on, you know, chairman of their companies er, the board should very much take that in, in to account. And, er, so, er, you know, so it is, it is a big role that, that, er, er, chair, you know, the chairman of companies should play.

If they're not willing to do that, um, I think, er, at, at the second best is, is to get out there and just find, find personalities, um, who can endorse their product. And, um, you know, people, people relate to personalities. Um, and, you know, the particular, there are some personalities that will work very well with one kind of product and, er, and some with another.

Um, you know, when Kate Moss had her problem, um, you know, we did some fun advertising for Virgin Mobile, er, you know, to, to, er, to help her, help her get, you know, get accepted again by the public, um, and also to help put our Virgin Mobile on the map. And, you know, it, it worked fantastically well, you know, Virgin's a slightly, you know, um, you know, risqué brand, er, she's a slightly risqué person and, you know, it was the perfect fit.

Well look, going back to Sir Freddie Laker, it was Sir Freddie that said to me, look, you’re, you’re never going to have the advertising spend to, er, compete with British Airways or United Airlines, or, you know, the big, the big carrier you're competing with. Er, you've got to use yourself, um, to get on the front pages of the papers rather than the back pages, um, to get your Vir, your Virgin brand on the map. Um, and you know, to be on, it’s, it's a strange thing to say but I was actually quite a shy, retiring person in those days.

Er, so I had to sort of train myself to get out there and, er, you know, make a fool of myself, er, in order to get, um, the Virgin brand well know.


Also, I mean we're the perfect example of that. In Ruby and Millie, we - we are the face of it.  One is - it was cheap because we didn't have to pay a supermodel.


You got - you got two voices for the price of one as well.


Secondly, it was - the brand was about us so we did - don't, you know, don't think we didn't look to - could it have been two different models, do we not have a model and should it just be a product shot?  Could it just be the logo, you know, we - you - you really do look at all of those things.  I was a professional and she's considered more the marketeer, or the person, you know, back of house, but it wasn't.

We both took equal prominence in that.  Some people would say who's Millie then, is she a makeup artist and I'd be no, no, she's, you know, but - does she know about makeup?  Yes she does.  Then they--


I get called the makeup artist all the time.


Yeah, which is wrong.


You wouldn't want me putting your makeup on really.


Then there are the people that they just think oh Ruby, she's just the hands, she's just a creative, she doesn't have a, you know.  No, I've got an economics degree.  I have as much grip on our business as anyone else.


You know, some of the greatest minds have made some of the greatest mistakes.  You know, brands talk about risk and challenge of brands.  They don't wanna be that.  It's the equivalent of actually saying somebody who actually wants to drive a very fast car, actually they don't want to buy a - they don't want to drive the fastest Ferrari; they actually wanna sit in it and make engine noises without switching on the ignition.


Well, when you're going to update... a brand, obviously the key thing is, to think about number one, what is it that people love about your brand at that time, and frankly, if the success, the business success for your brand, is built on your traditional consumers loving you, you mess with that at your peril. However, the dilemma of any established brand is that you want to keep on bringing in new users, new consumers, to make sure that your business stays dynamic. So managing that kind of dilemma is obviously the key to what a good marketer has to do. What you don't do, is go so far, make the pendulum swing so far in the other direction, that you leave your existing users look at you -- looking at you as though you are bonkers.


Brands are such amazing things, but they are such dangerous things too with the--the...What a brand does is--is it--it takes the decision-making...the thought about decision-making out of our heads. It's Persil, it's alright. It's a brand I use. It's brilliant, it's safe, it's fantastic. I…I'm happy with it. I don't even think these thoughts.

I see it on the supermarket shelf, I buy it, that's how it works. That's the strength of a brand. You--you--you know harm that certainty and you start to think: Persil, isn't that the one that...doesn't that ruin your clothes. That--that's a huge problem and, you know, months after the technical problem is solved, years, maybe, after the technical problem is solved, people are still thinking: Oh, Persil, mm, I'm not too sure about that.

Really, with…that perception of a brand is such a precious thing that you never mess with it. You never, ever take a risk with it.


It's very interesting sometimes when people talk about that's a strong brand or this is a strong brand but it didn't make any money. Certainly, ah, from my perspective unless you are managing a brand to generate real economic value you don't have a strong brand, you might have strong brand perceptions but you don't have a strong brand, and that's a really important and fundamental difference.





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