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Brand: start making the link

I've come across brand strategy firms, many which will clearly state "we specialize in corporate branding, not product..." and so on. Their work is about building a corporate brand and not about building consumer product brands.

I thought that is what my firm, Studio Pinpoint was all about too, but I never totally bought into the feeling.
I was ready to explore this feeling and so I revisited The Persuaders today. A 2004 PBS special by Frontline. You can see the entire special and access full interviews and read the full transcripts on the website.

In hearing about all the elbowing in the advertising industry, all the effort to "cut through the clutter" and in seeing the launch of Song Airlines, featured as the development of a new brand - and knowing now it's demise only three years after launch, which happened at the same time as Southwest and JetBlue made it - I came to realize one thing.

Corporate brands matter especially when you are selling consumer product.

It seems the overall focus for brand managers is on the product brand. This is precisely where I believe there is a big missing piece. It's the link to the corporate brand - what does the corporation behind the product contribute to the product brand? Why isn't anyone looking at that?

Advertising agencies have been so focused on creating emotional connections, stories, places where consumers can find meaning, that they have missed out on the one thing that links the consumer to the product - and that's the values of the company behind the product.

Skim the surface as much as you want, create the theories and the rhetoric to get the consumer to buy. The industry has been doing this since the beginning of sponsored advertising on radio and television. What's been missing all along is the real connection point between the company behind the product (what it believes and is made of - its values and its principles) and the product brand.

Lovemarks, created by Kevin Roberts is "loyalty beyond reason where premium profits lie...infused with mystery, sensuality and intimacy and has an iconic place in your heart". He is redefining brand by going beyond it. These efforts are great, it keeps the thought leadership in brand strategy and development fresh and active.

What I have found is continually missing in brand strategy leadership is the focus on the source of the product - the corporate brand, the parent company brand or the manufacturer's brand.

Is Nike successful because it espouses the very principles and values it was founded on? Was Song unsuccessful because it was more focused on applying the latest "brand-thinking" or too focused on developing new "brand-thinking" rather than understanding the very values and principles its parent company would infuse in its culture - whether they liked it or not? The iPod is not just hip, sexy and cool because the advertisers came up with a great campaign. It is that because the very principles that launched Apple into the success stratosphere align so naturally with hip, sexy and cool.

When campaigns reflect the core values and principles of the company producing the product you get outrageously successful results.

Tell me, do you think this award-winning Saatchi & Saatchi campaign for JC Penny reflects the core principles and values of that brand? Award-winning or not, how successful has this campaign been for the client?

As for Studio Pinpoint? We do work on consumer product brands - and what we bring to the table is the link, the real connection point, to the corporate brand. A link that I believe is critical to the outrageous success of a campaign, award-winning or not.