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מותגים לטווח קצר – חלק שני – Think Short

Think Short – Part 2

 Short-Term Brands Revolutionize Branding

מאת: ד"ר דן הרמן

In recent years, consumers exhibit an unprecedented readiness to try new brands and a preference for brand-variety over brand-loyalty (even loyalty to a consistent repertoire of brands), resulting in damage to brand survivability. To cope, marketers now need a supplemental tool to that of the familiar Long-Term Brand (LTB): the methodical creation and management of profitable Short-Term Brands (STB). In this e-booklet, I will clarify the need for STB, I shall define and describe the concept and finally, provide you with some guidelines for managing STB.

Part 1

Introduction

Brands in and out (?) of crisis

Is Consumer Loyalty a Disappearing Phenomenon?

Some Widely Accepted Explanations

An Additional Factor: Consumers Have Changed

Underlying Processes of Psychological and Social Change

Enters the Fear of Missing Out (FoMO)

Marketers Change Their Behavior

 

Part 2

Short-Term Brands (STB)

The Psychological and Social Usefulness of Brands

The Psychological and Social Usefulness of STB

STB Constitute a Possible New Path to Customer Loyalty

Managing Short-Term Brands

References

 

Part 2

 So, how do brands achieve emotional significance? The first point to realize is that consumers' feelings are not really related towards the brand itself. Let us not be confused. The only emotions that brands evoke in consumers result from anticipating the benefit. The reason for this is not shrouded in some kind of mystique. It is the very nature of the human emotional system. Humans experience positive / negative emotions, respectively, whenever perceiving anything, including a brand, as bringing them closer to / pushing them away from, their goals (for people benefit when realizing their goals).

In line with these observations, I offer to define a brand as follows:

A brand is an anticipation experienced by a target group, for a specific benefit about to be derived from an identified source (a product, a service, and so forth) often associated with a standardized set of symbolic representations (name, logo, icon, color, image, etc.).

To fully understand this definition, think of the particular and distinct anticipation of benefit evoked by such brand names as James Bond, Paris, Apple and Mercedes.

From this standpoint, a marketer can claim ownership of a brand only if his target consumers attribute to his product and/or service the ability of consistently delivering (exclusively, if possible) a certain desired experience or a beneficial result. The more motivating and unique is the expected benefit – the stronger the desire and the more lasting the preference.

An anticipation of benefit will not last if not consistently fulfilled. According to my approach, Branding is the creation of a system of both arousing anticipation for and providing fulfillment of, brand benefits ('Promises').

Earlier, I claimed that 'Emotional Brands' arouse feelings in consumers because they are instrumental psychologically or socially. What do I mean by that?

Next to usages leading directly to experiential benefits (desired sensual or emotional experiences) and usages resulting in tangible benefits (desired effects in the physical world, including in one's body), consumer use products and services,

  • To reassure themselves and relieve anxiety
  • To bring about mood changes and a sense of being refreshed
  • To encourage themselves and inspire optimism
  • To cultivate motivation
  • To strengthen their sense of self and invigorate self-image
  • To reward themselves and to heighten self esteem
  • To compensate themselves
  • To obtain legitimization for certain demeanors and to strengthen self-confidence
  • To internalize Social roles
  • To assign personal meaning to certain dates, places and other components of the surrounding environment
  • To support certain interpretations of reality (sometimes quite fictional) and self-delusion
  • To escape, take a break from both actual self and reality, and to experience emotions scarce in real life and fantasies that are impossible, dangerous or very costly to realize

These are Psychological uses.

Consumers also use products and services,

  • To convey,
  • Certain personality traits ('conscientious', 'up-datedness'…)
  • Linkage to specific Social stereotypes ('yuppie', 'intellectual, 'bohemian')
  • Belonging to particular groups
  • Having a Social role
  • Having a socio-economic status
  • A certain level of sophistication and refinement
  • Having certain tastes and preferences

etc

in order to comply with a norm and / or to manage other people's impressions influencing their attitudes

  • To express emotions
  • To create an atmosphere and to evoke emotions (thus preserving, shaping or furthering a relationship)
  • To create shared experiences, meanings and rituals (thus preserving, shaping or furthering a relationship)

These are Social and interacting uses.

In some cases, Psychological or Social instrumentality is the intrinsic, core benefit of the product or service (e.g. psychotherapy, motivational books, and gifts). However, we focus our attention here on Psychological or Social instrumentality as an extrinsic benefit.

Destining brands to be instrumental psychologically or socially is a strategic option. This means of course, designating the brand for a specific function based on one of the options listed above and having a specific content. It is gaining insight into what consumers are trying to accomplish psychologically and/or socially, that presents us with opportunities to shape brands for Psychological or Social gratification.

There are prerequisites for devising a strategy for a successful emotional brand:

  • Specific is what does it. A major problem with the widespread practice of Emotional Branding is the attempt of most brand developers to associate their brands with general positive feelings (in order to appeal to an as wide as possible an public). However, it turned out that there are no nearly enough distinct positive feelings to allow differentiation between all rival brands.

Strong brands like Coca-Cola, Timberland and Versace, take an entirely different path. It is the path of specificity in their Psychological or Social instrumentality. Coca-Cola enables us, on a Psychological level, to re-experience the primal and powerful feelings of youth unattenuated by experience and perspective. Timberland facilitates the fantasy of adventure confronting the powers of nature. Versace is a means for expressing extravagance and an eccentric personality.

When planning Psychological or Social instrumentality I strongly recommend detailing a scenario of the brand being used by the consumer. The scenario should include situational aspects, actions, conversations, thoughts and feelings involved – all expressed verbally. The brand's instrumentality in achieving the consumer's sought after benefit should be evident.

  • Catering to an unsatisfied or under satisfied Psychological or Social need, or to a need that might be satisfied considerably better than it is by any existing alternative or in a markedly new way (where sheer novelty is an advantage).

For most practical purposes, instruments for the achievement of Psychological and Social ends are not essentially different from means to a desired experience or from instruments to a physical effect. I am of the opinion that the best approach is to treat developing brands for Psychological and Social instrumentality in the same way we treat developing products and services for experiential or physical instrumentality. This means seeking differentiation and positioning for competitive advantage.

How do we actually create the Psychological or Social instrumentality?

My methodology for crafting brand strategies defines and provides tools for the creation of seven branding extents(15).  These extents range from brands meant to facilitate the enjoying of intrinsic benefits (as well as tangible extrinsic benefits originating in the marketing mix), to brands designed to allow extrinsic benefits resulting from Psychological and/or Social instrumentality. It is the strategist's responsibility to choose the suitable extent for the brand to be developed.

The seven extents are growing in complexity with each one inclusive of all the 'capabilities' of those who precede it.

The seven extents are:

  1. Arousing anticipation by focusing the consumer's attention on an intrinsic benefit of the product or on a tangible (experiential or physically instrumental) value added in the marketing mix.

This is the approach to use when the product or service has a substantial and lasting competitive advantage. The role of branding in this case is to make the advantage apparent to the consumer and to associate it closely with the source. A good example is Domino's Pizza – the pizza delivery champion, expediting the experience of enjoying Pizza.

  1. Arousing anticipation and contributing to fulfillment by creating a mental context for associating the diverse product / service facts that the consumer encounters under a unitary specific beneficial concept.

At this level of branding, we seek to give to the various marketing efforts, the service, innovations, etc, one particular umbrella meaning, emphasizing a benefit (for example: Easy Group's dedication to accessibility, affordability and ease of use services), this way creating a cumulative impression that is repeatedly reinforced.

The simplest form of this extent of branding often occurs spontaneously and is familiar to us as 'reputation'. It is based upon inferences made by the consumer from facts like 'long lived', 'a very large corporation', 'has many branches', etc. In this manner, well known brands can reduce anxiety regarding mistakes in choice and contribute to making our reality more predictable. Mega brands also create a global 'brandscape'(15) making new places more 'familiar' and friendlier.

  1. Arousing anticipation and contributing to fulfillment by suggesting a crystallizing concept meant to direct and influence an otherwise ambiguous product / service experience.

At this level, we create expectations that will be transformed into a self-fulfilling prophecy. Many experiences are of an uncertain nature and can be perceived and then conceived, in a multitude of ways. The expectations we induce direct this process, much like in hypnosis. This is accomplished by suggesting to the consumer a concept (like Haagen Dazs' sensual, erotic and indulgent ice cream for adults) that will alter, to some degree, his/hers subjective experience of the product or service.

  1. Simultaneously arousing anticipation and enabling fulfillment by creating a symbol that has a shared meaning within a Social group.

This is the first level where benefit is altogether extrinsic even though it often befits the nature of the product or service. By creating a symbolic meaning for the brand, we make it useful to consumers both in internal dialogue (Psychological instrumentality, for instance Zippo – use it to start something) and interpersonal communication (Social instrumentality, e.g. Harley Davidson that serves as a symbol of being free and wild at heart, if not in actual life).

  1. Simultaneously arousing anticipation and enabling fulfillment by assuming Social and/or cultural authority.

At this level, brands post themselves as a source of legitimacy and become useful for the consumer in learning accepted values and norms of behavior: what is proper, what is admirable, what will bring happiness, etc. (Nokia's ad portraying a woman romancing another woman in a bar, comes to mind).

  1. Simultaneously arousing anticipation and enabling fulfillment by offering to serve as an extension of the consumer's reach and power, as an envoy or by suggesting being an Alter Ego.

At this level, brands propose to

  • Serve as 'the long arm' of the consumer, doing something that the consumer would like to do but is unable to accomplish by himself or herself (e.g. Body Shop)
  • Act as the consumer would like to but dare not (provocative, audacious, autonomous, rebellious – take Virgin, for instance)
  1. Simultaneously arousing anticipation and enabling fulfillment by inviting the consumer to recreate and mentally personalize a fantasy.

At this final level brands facilitates fantasies of omnipotence, of unlimited sex appeal, of importance, of adventure, etc. First, we instill a promise of a certain feeling in the consumers' mind. Then, consuming or using the product becomes a cue to 'connect' to that feeling and experience it (think of Marlboro and the feeling of powerfulness that results from self restrain and control). This is a genuinely hypnotic effect. From a different perspective, it is not unlike buying a ticket to a certain genre of film promising a predictable type of emotional experience.

While the promises of brands of extents 1 – 3 originate in product or service facts, brands of extents 4 – 7 derive their potency exclusively from the consumer's disposition to find in them a means to a Psychological or Social end.

Having chosen our brand's benefit to its target consumers and the extent of branding, we can proceed to articulate the brand's promise. A brand promise is an invitation for the consumer to accept our brand as his or hers preferred means to the goal.

The Psychological and Social Usefulness of STB

Short-Term Brands can offer the consumer Psychological and Social instruments too. Benefit types are those gained through perpetually buying new brands. A focus groups study conducted in the spring of 1999(15) helped me discern them.

 Buying a new brand can be socially instrumental because it –

  • Signals to others that you are up-to-date ('cool', 'fashionable')
  • Is often a part of a continuous signaling of affiliation and active participation
  • Conveys a message of 'youthfulness', openness and flexibility

The focus groups study revealed that finding and trying new brands constitutes a factor of considerable importance in marital, familial and social life (Social instrumentality). Openness to the new is obvious in products with a social character. However, it can also be seen in more personal product categories like toothpaste or body lotion, to which "the skin gets used to it and after some time it's effectiveness ceases", as one of the participants testified (Psychological instrumentality).

Buying a new brand can be psychologically instrumental because it –

  • Strengthens the self-image of someone who is current
  • Nurtures a feeling of liveliness and connectedness to what is happening in the world around us
  • Provides a refreshing, renewed, stimulated and invigorated feeling
  • Facilitates mood management (breaking routine, liberation from a feeling of 'being stuck')
  • Increases confidence in a purchase choice because 'new' often implies improved quality

I found supporting evidence expressed as agreement to statements such as the following in my February 1999 survey:

  • 'When I am in a bad mood I often buy new products to improve it' – 22%
  • 'I buy new products in order to break routine and relieve boredom' – 38%
  • 'When I buy a new product I feel refreshed' – 55%

We can conclude that each type of brand, long-term and short-term, fulfils a basic human need. Long-term, fulfill the need of stability, continuity and security. Short-term, fulfill the need for renewal and of sensual, emotional and intellectual stimulation.

STB Constitute a Possible New Path to Customer Loyalty

The gospel of CRM with its soothing promise of practically lifelong customers, directed many marketers to focus their attention on catering to customers expectations and to monitoring their misleading satisfaction. At the same time, it led them to underestimate, even neglect, the consumer's need for novelty and stimulation. There is nothing wrong with CRM in itself, of course. It is a matter of how it is used as a marketing tool.

In an HBR paper(15), Stephen Brown voices a wake up call to marketers: "Marketers spend all their time slavishly tracking the needs of buyers, then meticulously crafting products and pitches to satisfy them. … My friends, it's gone too far. … (Customers) do not want us to prostate ourselves in front of them and promise to love them, till death do us part. They'd much rather be teased, tantalized, and tormented by deliciously insatiable desire. … Marketing is about glitz and glamour. It is mischievous and mysterious. Marketing, lest we forget, is fun". Hear! Hear!

In another HBR article(15)  , Suzy Wetlaufer, in summing up ('The Idea at Work') some of Bernard Arnault's recommendations for creating star brands writes, "Don't follow consumers. You won't generate breakthrough products, and people won't pay premium prices for something they expect. Instead, let creators drive innovation …".

It may be that the way to retain today's consumers driven by the fear of missing out on (FoMO), in many product and service categories, is to adopt a strategy of winning their heart anew repeatedly by surprising them, exciting and delighting them. A successiveness of new STB that they might miss out on (combined with LTB, as I shall explain shortly) is a viable strategy for keeping the customers' enthusiasm and attraction fresh.

I know that this option may seem wearying to marketers, and so it truly is, considering the way they operate. The adoption of such strategy calls for organizational changes as well as changes in work processes and, most importantly in culture. However, once these are accomplished, my experience clearly demonstrates that marketing gusto and competitiveness are transformed miraculously.

Managing Short-Term Brands

During my years of work with the concept of STB I have gathered a rather large knowledge base. I started with learning from the accumulated experience of marketing products and services in fields characterized by brands having limited life expectancy: fashion, movies, children's games, etc. To that, I added observations and generalizations made from studying cases of dozens of short lived but indisputable successes of brands in other categories. Later, I moved on to working with companies developing STB in various fields. This work has given me an invaluable opportunity to sharpen my conceptualization of STB, gain more insights and continually perfect my method. I would like to share some of these with you. In the concluding part of this e-booklet, I will set about formulating some basic principles, guidelines and practical suggestions that might be useful for developing and managing STB. 

What can you achieve by using STB?

Short-Term Brands can serve the following marketing endeavors:

  • Launching new products or new product versions that have some trendy or fashionable quality, that represent a considerable progress from a previous version, or that have a limited life expectancy, for any reason.
  • Gradually enriching the meaning of a superordinate Long-Term Brand or performing a step-by–step rebranding.
  • Preserving the strategic focus of a Long-Term Brand, while taking advantage of trends and fashions with STB.

“The power of the brand is inversely proportional to its scope,” say Al Ries and Laura Ries in their book 'The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding'. Using LTB in combination with STB is helpful in creating more focused brands and can be, in many cases, a preferred alternative to brand extension.

According to Bernard Arnault of LVMH, a Star Brand has to be timeless and modern at the same time. "you must be old and new at once. In a star brand you honor your past and invent your future at the same time"(16).   he says. STB and LTB combines can make following this dictum somewhat easier.

  • Introducing events, projects, large promotional campaigns, special activities, limited period services, etc.
  • Testing the market potential of a new product or service concept.
  • Maintaining flexibility. The unpredictability that we encounter in our markets often necessitates planning for the short-term.

Note that we can brand for the short-term practically everything that we can brand for the long term including: a product, a product line, an organization, a company, a person (for example, during a campaign), etc. 

 

Indications for the use of STB 

It is particularly advisable to consider the creation of Short-Term Brands,

  • When a strong market leader already exists
  • Where technology changes and new developments are frequent
  • When category experience indicates a short lived interest of the consumer in brands
  • In product categories in which one or more of the following applies:
  • Product consumption is accompanied by a sensual experience.
  • Use of the product is public/observable and connected with Social interaction or can be used as a topic for conversation.
  • Benefit of the product is doubtful but the desire for the benefit is strong (diets) or the benefit perceived is at the fantasy level.

Analyzing characteristics of those who expressed agreement with TGI(17)  statements indicating a strong tendency to buy new products, as well as a cluster analysis performed on the findings of my February 1999 survey raise the following description of the most significant target group for Short-Term Brands (about one quarter of the population):

  • A higher than expected proportion of:
  • Women
  • People in the age group 24-45 (thereby a relatively high rate of families with children under 16-years of age)
  • Income level average and above
  • Employees
  • Secular people
  • People conducting a modern lifestyle (e.g. frequently consuming frozen food)
  • A marked tendency towards entertainment
  • A comparatively high level of attention to appearance
  • A relatively low level of interest in news, in actuality, documentary and even TV sports shows
  • In contrast, a relatively high level of interest in talk shows, TV games, films, satire, and cultural programs
  • People who enjoy commercials more than the rest of the population

In terms of Psychological profiling, it seems that these people are adaptable, sociable, self-monitoring and escapists to a certain degree.

STB- embedded Brand Architectures

In my work with Short-Term Brands, I have found three alternative brand architectures to be very useful:

  1. Pure STB:

The first and the simplest, is an architecture composed of a chronological sequence of thematically unrelated STB. Each one of these brands is entirely independent and each succeeds or fails on its own merit. None of them is identified, in any way, with their mutual marketer. Each one has a timely appeal to its target market.

  1. The Background – Foreground architecture:

In many cases, we introduce a short- term brand under the 'auspices' of a Long-Term Brand (e.g. a corporate brand) which is not at the center of attention and does not have a rich meaning to the consumer. Its role is simply to alleviate concern regarding product quality.

This architecture is not to be confused with the familiar hierarchical approach of branding levels. The role of the background brand, the LTB, is to calm, to reduce perception of risk by the consumer. It is the foreground STB, on which the headlights focus. The STB is the ultimate source of benefit to the consumer. It is its role to command attention, excite and create desire.

Disney and Monsters, Inc. are a good example of this architecture.

  1. The Star – Satellites architecture: 

In this architecture, the LTB is the celebrated star and the STB is a satellite. STB are used in the Star – Satellites architecture to highlight products, services, events, special projects, etc, under the endorsement of the LTB but having a contemporary short-term relevance. The LTB's strategic focus remains intact although we sometimes use the STB either to enrich the LTB's meaning or to divert it toward rebranding.

Calvin Klein's CK One and CK Be collections of fragrances exemplify this architecture.

Developing Strategy for a Short-Term Brand

Following I shall elaborate on the model of my working process for the development of strategies designed for brands planned to have Psychological or Social instrumentality.  I have already described in brief most of the stages and the concepts and tools used at each stage. Only "Branding Strategy" and "Brand Drama" still need clarifying.

Brand Strategy, also known as the Brand Promise, is the belief about the brand that, if adopted by the consumer, will stimulate the anticipation of benefit that will consequently induce the consumer to desire the brand.

My methodology for developing brand strategies employs my own version of the Means-End model for formulating brand promises. According to this model a link is created in the consumer's belief system between product / service facts and benefits / goals the consumer has, by mediation of perceived consequences or of interpretation of the facts. This association in the consumer's mind construes the product / service as a source of the benefit.

Unlike other approaches to formulating brand promises, an important affirmation of this approach is that all brand beliefs are founded upon facts known to the consumer. This affirmation does not imply that the inferences based on this fact will always withstand scrutiny. In one of the options, the consumer will perceive the fact as symptomatic to a larger situation although it is not necessarily so. Let us take an example. One of GSM's (the cellular communication technology) great strengths is its international roaming capability, giving consumers a seamless service in about 160 countries. This fact can be interpreted as symptomatic of GSM's suitability for people traveling extensively. In turn, this interpretation can offer a psychological benefit by supporting a fantasy of being a 'citizen of the world'.

In rare cases an advertising creative approach, if distinctive and used consistently for a long time, can become a fact identified with the brand. Think of Marlboro's cowboy.

In order to devise ways for 'setting in motion' the brand promise in the consumer's mind we need a diagnosis of the consumer's current communicational and Psychological accessibility (levels of interest and openness, doubts, reservations, apprehensions, etc). Then, we need an approach that deals with the diagnosed obstacles in order to reach him or her. This is the Branding Strategy, also known as the Presentation Style, in my methodology.

The Brand Drama approach is a method I use to bring brand strategy to life by aiming to move consumers and to create truly emotional brands. It is an orderly application of the principles of drama theory (usually applied in creation of theater plays, movies and fiction novels) to the implementation of brands. The first step of the method is the translation of the brand's strategy into dramatic terms.  The following steps include the creation of a multitude of plots and 'staging' options for a multi-disciplinary actualization of the brand (among them the various means of marketing communication, brand experience, brand culture, brand community, innovations under the brand's concept and so forth).

The brand drama approach is especially fruitful when the brand has Psychological or Social instrumentality. In these cases, we invite consumers to experience a Trance Logic. Examples of trance logic are the internal consistency of fiction, dreams, hypnotic states, religion, and cult-like shared convictions. As long as we immerse ourselves in the trance logic, we are willing to accept and experience a reality that is detached from the input of our senses suspending critical faculties and common sense. However, every incompatibility disrupting the internal consistency can break the spell and waken us to reality in acute disappointment and frustration. The ultimate contribution of the brand drama approach to branding lies in the ability to create and maintain the trance logic.

Competitive Strategy  
  V  
  Basal Brand Definitions  
  V  
  LTB or STB?  
  V  
  Brand Architecture  
  V  
{Consumer Research & Analysis Psychological & SocialOpportunity Search Continuous Trends }& Fashions Tracking
  V  
  Usage and BenefitingScenario  
  V  
  Brand Strategy  
  V  
  Branding Strategy  
  V  
  Brand Drama  
V   V
Multi-disciplinaryBrand Implementation Program   CreativeApproach

 

 

  

Principles of Marketing Mix and Marketing Plan

 There is a wide diverseness of possible STB. The following principles assume that you are branding a new product.

 Several principals distinguish the introduction of STB products from that of LTB products:

  1. An STB product must be easier 'to digest' for the consumer than an LTB product.
  2. An STB product will be unmistakably contemporary.
  3. All marketing efforts will be concentrated on introduction aimed at creating a 'blockbuster' exploding effect.

Here are some more specific guidelines:

  • Usually, an STB product will not be a niche product (economic considerations will not allow it).
  • The product will not be revolutionary. It will usually be based on a formula that has succeeded in the category before, with the addition of no more than one new element.
  • The product will be simple to understand and use, and will be offered in a limited number of versions.
  • Usually the product will contain something current and fashionable (design, color, an associative name…).
  • The packaging will be remarkable and stand out on the shelf (not 'classic').
  • The price will not be high compared to the category, and often special penetration price and payment terms will be offered to ease the purchase.
  • Combination of advertising, public relations, and rumors will create an expectation before market penetration.
  • There will be early marketing to opinion leaders.
  • Special terms will be offered to large and organized groups of consumers.
  • Most of the marketing effort will be made during penetration. The advertising will be condensed and poignant within a short period of time (reminders will be used for multi-seasonal products). The chosen advertising channels will enable high frequency of exposure. The theme will emphasize novelty; it will be especially dramatic and will utilize popular elements (a celebrity, a hit song…).
  • To create swift and wide-scoped trial, sales promotion will be conducted (launching events, co-operation with complementary products, samples/tasting/test drives, sale together with a familiar product).
  • A variety of distribution channels, some unusual, will be used in order to ensure maximum accessibility.

A Final Remark

When managing Short-Term Brands, we should take note that the final judge of the brand's fate is the consumer. The same way a brand planned for the long-term may prove to be a short-term one, the opposite is also possible. One typical danger in managing Short-Term Brands is the tendency to 'kill them' before they exhaust their inherent potential. A careful tracking and monitoring of consumer's anticipations and behavior is essential to the correct navigation in the strong and unpredictable currents of the marketing reality in which we operate.

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