Branding: The Simple Math of Branding
Ford Motor Company's "Miracle Man," President and CEO Alan Mulally, had a daunting task ahead of him when he took the reins in 2006. He needed to turn around a failing brand that was on life support. Was his strategy to add product lines, introduce new brands and acquire other companies? Nope. He did just the opposite. He immediately started subtracting products. He shed European subsidiaries Volvo, Jaguar and Land Rover, and is phasing out the Mercury line. He narrowed Ford's focus.
"People really want to know what your brand stands for, not so much your house of brands," Mulally likes to say. He's bet everything on the Ford logo, and he's winning. Ford's stock was at $1.03 a share when he took over; it's now trading above $16.
When in doubt, always narrow your focus.
The secret to effective branding is taking what makes you special — i.e., all of those magical moments that create memorable customer experiences — and multiplying them over and over again. Consistency and repetition is key. Multiply the things you're good at. Repeat a similar experience at every customer touchpoint.
Cross-channel apparel retailer Horny Toad does a great job of taking its unique and quirky personality and multiplying it across all channels. Yes, Horny Toad sells women's and men's apparel, but it's the brand's fun personality and what it stands for that makes it different. Horny Toad's motto is "Every day is an adventure." It makes you feel just that every time you interact with the brand, regardless of channel. This core message is multiplied throughout its catalog, on the pages of its website, in its emails and in its social media efforts.
View social media as a tool to magnify your brand. It should be an extension of all your marketing efforts. It's part of the mix, not the silver bullet that can fix everything. That said, social media can be a very effective way to take your brand story and multiply it rapidly.
Simple math — addition, subtraction and multiplication — can have a significant effect on your branding efforts. The secret is knowing when and how to use each.