Broad Branding

It seems almost every week a new medium appears — wireless application protocol (WAP), short messaging service (SMS), AOLTV, personal digital assistants (PDAs) — and a range of other electronic delivery media that may or may not take off. Some lead to small revolutions; others come and go the way gimmicks usually do. Regardless of the individual and collective fate of those media, the multifarious media environment is ushering in some intricate brand-building responsibilities.

The increasingly complex media picture has resulted in a growing number of consumer touchpoints for brand builders, presenting them with a broader palette than the one upon which television, print, outdoor, radio, and Internet media have been mixed.

The question is no longer, Which magazine should your brand occupy to target its particular market segment? Rather, the question is, Which media niche should you choose for your brand? Should it be offline or online? And when, at what particular hour, should your brand be exposed? You can no longer expect to harness a teen market simply by basing your brand strategy on a magazine’s pages. It might be that a combination of an SMS program, some TV exposure, an email campaign, some point-of-sale materials, and a few on-the-spot events might be required to catch your audience’s full attention.

But, hang on! What happens with the brand then? Isn’t there a risk that it could be overexposed? That its points of contact could become too diverse and its identity and message diluted? Yes, and that’s the challenge of broad branding.

Broad branding refers to a 360-degree view — a total branding plan that should aim to secure links between media channels, promoting positive synergy between each and every communication channel used in your broad-branding strategy.

When a television commercial refers you to to check out Something Inc.’s new hot offers, that’s a simple example of brand links across media. Or when a leaflet from the supermarket suggests that you look out for a television commercial that offers some extra brand information or customer opportunity. Pretty straightforward, right?

Broad branding is the next generation of this link branding. It’s achieved when positive synergy is created between a brand’s media tools, messages, and audience. For example, on a day that’s 92 degrees Fahrenheit, you might pass by a store selling Coke. An SMS or WAP message would appear on your cell-phone’s display: “Check out our 920F Coke offer! 2 for the price of 1.” When you respond by entering the participating store, a large Coke “Heat Wave” promotion will be in action offering everyone two cans for the price of one while the temperature is above 90 degrees, and even asking patrons to sign up to receive other Coke Heat Wave offers via their cell phones.

Campaigns like this not only create strong brand links across media channels but they also establish the broad-brand synergy that, having secured a consumer’s attention once (and this can happen at any point in the communication chain), is able to carry over this attention to the next point in the chain. This nudging ensures that more communication time is shared between the consumer and the brand and that the consumer is introduced to progressively more of the brand’s dimensions.

Sounds easy? Well, there’s nothing easy about integrated broad branding. In fact, only a few companies in the world have managed to successfully carry out the strategy.

Broad branding isn’t just about maintaining a consistent identity across media. It’s about ensuring that every expressed brand value coheres with the context of the host medium, makes meaningful contact with the target group, and reflects the established brand platform to reinforce brand identity and purpose.

In short, broad branding is a three-dimensional brand campaign that covers the breadth, height, and depth of communication possibilities.

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