Mr. Javed

Sales & Marketing

A Final Word on Branding

By Naseem Javed, Founder, ABC Namebank International

Roy Disney said, "You need branding when your product has nothing to offer." Roy's uncle, Walt, invented Mickey Mouse and created the Disney empire. At the time, the word "branding" was reserved only for cowboys branding herds of cattle by the fiery iron.

The word "branding" is dangerously overused. Many people use branding as a cure for all kinds of problems in all kinds of businesses. To lay claim to a deeper understanding of this elementary word, branding agencies all over the world have developed some cute variations of it, from "emotional branding" to "primal," "sensory," "musical," "internal," "external," "holistic," "vertical," "abstract," "nervous" and all the way to "invisible" branding. However, to see these distinctions, you will need special 3D spectacles.

The list of branding types is almost like the three MIT wizards who took an academic conference for a ride by submitting a paper in all fake jargon: "Rooter: A Methodology for the Typical Unification of Access Points and Redundancy." Their paper was accepted.

Haphazard Branding

There are hundreds of such branding terms pointing to the same thing. Let's analyze and see how this historical process of branding ownership marks on animals got transformed into a word circus, bending the state of mind among corporations, institutions and many governments.

Branding is often presented as a culturally, emotional or lifestyle crazy, sugarcoated packaging process. Sometimes it is like rap music, with spinning colors or psychedelic pastel overtones accompanied with hip-hop idea drivers. Other times it comes with esoteric concepts to camouflage the products or services just long enough to get the customers' attention. Most of the time, it comes as juicy ideas under some new blanket term of branding that is designed to create a safe and secure feeling for the corporation while waiting for the thunder from the charge of anxious customers.

For some reason, if the highly anticipated traffic doesn't show up, then the term is changed immediately to the likes of "primal branding," with a twist or a new style dance added to the circus. The same single promotional process is re-named repeatedly.

The idea is that when share prices fall, call the branding team and let it apply its "fiscal branding" to mail fancy brochures to shareholders. When products fail, let the "visual branding" make logos makeover, and when elevators don't work, give it to the "yo-yo branding" unit, as they are real experts in north and south mobility. Floor please.

Today, branding is a mixed bag of basic, traditional advertising tools, simply waxed and packaged to appear as intellectual advice with an expensive price tag. It is targeted to fit any hungry frame of mind, and is designed to make corporations feel ever so comfortable with terms like "verbal," "digital," "audio," "smelly," "silent" or "loud" branding, as all these terms are designed to offer great safety and invisible lifelines to sinking ships. But does it work?

Just Promotional Tools

At times it does, as corporations do need solid and real branding. However, it most often fails, frequently due to lack of substance, quality, intelligence and experience. What is now being offered in the name of branding includes perfumed stationery at the banks, as sensory tickles, jingles and chimes for the funeral parlor -- just raw promotional tricks.

These approaches fail because they are just basic promotional tools and skills and because they are trendy quick fixes. Branding has been defined so many times by so many experts that it is almost useless to redefine it. Like beauty, it is in the eye of the beholder.

The presentation of fancy fireworks at a huge marina as a big branding exercise might be merely ordinary to some other company. Hundreds of hired people walking on a busy street with their foreheads painted with the names of products might be kinky, tacky or too smart, all depending on the culture and mental level of the client.

Pregnant mothers are being pooled to place ads on their round, shiny stomachs as part of "tummy branding." Some argue that this is how news is created. To some, this is "desperate branding" in action, to others it is getting the word out at any cost.

Welcome to "guaranteed-to-fail branding," a process that ensures a top spot on the list of branding failures. These projects are sometimes called "reality branding." There is no limit to these weird processes.

Most of the time, the creative powers overtake the process, and fancy jargon becomes the Band-Aid while the Laws of Global Corporate Image, Rules of Corporate Nomenclature and Name Identities, Cyber Domain Management, Principals of Marketing and Global Branding are all completely ignored as being too rigid, too serious and too formal.

Solid Training, Thorough Skills

Let's face it, these branding rules are very hard to learn and very difficult to apply because they require solid training and thorough skills. Simple, raw promotional skills backed by big budget fireworks are only "accidental branding" at play, where everyone becomes happy as long as there is some noise. In the recent past, this is how "high volume" or "intense" branding got the center stage. Today, in this budgetless environment, it is only a dream for most agencies to get such mega breaks.

U.S. businesses are still very much overdosed with over-branding. Massive turnover in the advertising and branding industry, compounded by the Internet , e-commerce and outsourcing has created a large glut of branding consultants with too many faceless, nameless consulting services and Web sites.

The market is simply glutted. Western branding agencies are losing their grip by not producing world-class standards and are becoming a laughing stock by adopting, in a panic, monkey-see-monkey-do campaigns.

In reality, you definitely need proper branding today; the type is not the issue. However, first you must have something very good to offer. You also need highly specific and proven branding with highly tactical positioning skills, under proper corporate and brand name identity and image laws, rather than raw graphic and promotional tools.

'Useless Branding?'

Empty concepts and poorly designed and beaten up products and services can't be resurrected with some abstract branding terms along with some flashy campaigns. Big money spending will not buy big image anymore. It worked in the past, but times have changed. Today, the latest cyber-branding techniques are in big play. Corporations are opening up to a debate on this subject among senior management and ignoring the old, traditional branding methodologies.

As e-commerce matures by the minute, the masses of customers have successfully ignored the expensive blitzes and pretended to have some type of an early Alzheimer's condition to justify their memory loss. Nothing sticks in mind any longer.

The blasted, useless messages are instantly forgotten. The 15-minute fame suggested by Andy Warhol is now only a 15-second blip on the global e-commerce landscape. What was previously shoved on 24-7 ad campaigns and lasted at least a year is now completely forgotten the very next day.

Should we now re-define branding all over again? Should this word be re-invented? How about "useless branding?" No, not yet.

Naseem Javed founded ABC Namebank International. ABC operates from a sophisticated, custom built, multi-million dollar facility north of Toronto, with a branch office in New York. He is the author of 'Naming for Power', and is recognized as a world authority on global image positioning and name identities. He advises CEOs of Fortune 500 and other leading corporations on all matters of complex global naming in the e-commerce. He is currently lecturing at major conferences on cutting-edge ideas on image building. Mr. Javed can be contacted at 212-697-7700 or nj@njabc.com Extended Bio...

HotelExecutive.com retains the copyright to the articles published in the Hotel Business Review. Articles cannot be republished without prior written consent by HotelExecutive.com.

Receive our daily newsletter with the latest breaking news and hotel management best practices.
Hotel Business Review on Facebook
RESOURCE CENTER - SEARCH ARCHIVES
General Search:

APRIL: Guest Service: The Personalized Experience

Shayne Paddock

In the past year I’ve traveled to New York City on several business trips usually staying at the same hotel every time. I did that in part to learn how the hotel would interact with me on each repeat stay. Would they treat me differently? Would they recognize me on my fourth stay? Would they remember my name? Each time the reservation staff warmly greeted me but always asked “Have you stayed with us before”. Upon arriving in my room there would always be a hand written letter from the GM welcoming me to the hotel. READ MORE

Adrian Kurre

Today’s hotel guests have embraced the convenience of mobile and digital technology that facilitates everything from booking specific rooms online to checking in and using Digital Key on their smartphones. This proliferation of technology combined with excellent hospitality ensures that guests’ needs continue to be met or exceeded. At the end of the day, like we say at Hilton, we are a business of people serving people. The key is to offer guests the technological innovations they want – and some they haven’t even imagined yet – while utilizing these advances to automate basic transactions. This process allows our Team Members to focus more time on delivering exceptional experiences at every hotel to every guest. READ MORE

Robert  Habeeb

There are growing numbers of quasi-service hotels that are carving out a new niche between select-service and full-service properties. Select-service hotels have been a hot hotel industry segment for several years now. From new concepts to new developments, it has established itself as a clear front-runner in the hotel category horse race. That being said, a recent uptick in full service hotel development clearly shows that segment remains vibrant, as well. READ MORE

Gary Isenberg

By now, nearly every type of traveler prepping for a journey scans TripAdvisor for reviews of hotels in their destination city prior to securing a reservation. By perusing prior guest comments, consumers receive unfiltered and unbiased perceptions of specific properties. Travelers want to know before they book for instance if: Are the rooms clean? Is the service top-notch? Most importantly, does a hotel deliver value for the price? READ MORE

Coming Up In The May Online Hotel Business Review




Feature Focus
Eco-Friendly Practices: The Value of Sustainability
The hotel industry continues to make remarkable progress in implementing sustainability policies and procedures in their properties throughout the world. As a result, they continue to reap the benefits of increased profitability, enhanced guest experiences, and improved community relations. In addition, as industry standards are codified and adopted worldwide, hotels can now compare how their operations measure up against their competitors in terms of sustainable practices and accomplishments. This capacity to publicly compare and contrast is spurring competition and driving innovation as hotels do not wish to be left behind in this area. Water management and conservation is still a primary issue as population growth, urbanization, pollution and wasteful consumption patterns place increasing demands on freshwater supply. Water recycling; installing low-flow fixtures; using digital sensors to control water usage; and even harvesting rainwater are just a few things that some hotels are doing to preserve this precious resource. Waste management is another major concern. Through policies of reduce, reuse and recycle, some hotels are implementing “zero-waste” programs with the goal of substantially reducing their landfill waste which produces carbon dioxide and methane gases. Other hotels have established comprehensive training programs that reinforce the value of sustainability. There is employee engagement through posters and quizzes, and even contests are held to increase innovation, sensitivity and environmental awareness. Some hotels are also monitoring a guest’s energy usage and rewarding those who consumed less energy with gifts and incentives. The May issue of the Hotel Business Review will document how some hotels are integrating eco-friendly practices into their operations and how they and the environment are benefiting from them.