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taking a slow approach to brands

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Category: branding

Make it easy for others to promote your brands online

5 June, 2009 (00:50) | branding | By: Shannon Clark

I was recently invited to the private Beta for Linkaholix (follow this link for my referral if you want to join). Linkaholix is a site dedicated to indicating things that you like – from brands to books to albums, restaurants and more. While entering in a range of things I’m passionate about, I have been struck by a simple yet puzzling observation.

Even many of the biggest, most popular online savvy brands do not make it easy to find their logos online or to refer to them in an authorative manner.

So a short note to suggest that when you think about your Brand presence online, don’t neglect some of the absolute most basic elements, adding brand collateral in a uniform manner online and making it very clear where your presence is based (i.e. which URL a fan should link to directly when referring to your business) as well as making it easy for an individual or a business to find the right logos and other related photos – such as of your retail businesses, your brands in use, your packaging etc. Consider as well making all of your brand marketing and advertising available online in easy to link to or embed formats.

I would much rather use the right logos and images when I’m promoting a brand I enjoy via an online service. This isn’t just a matter of following a brand on Twitter or joining a fan page on Facebook, though both of those actions are also relevant signals. Instead this is a matter of when I am blogging here on this site, or when I’m using a great service such as Likeaholix to capture short notes about why I like the things that I like, I would like to present those brands in the best possible light and to use the most accurate and correct images and videos possible.

As a challenge to you, try to find the logo for Revision3’s show Co-op which is a show I love on gaming.

They have a truly great logo for their game – 8 bit icons in a logo type font that captures a great deal about who they are and what they are about. A great image that I can’t easily share here as I still haven’t found a image of the logo online as just the logo in a form I can copy & use elsewhere.

Defining a publisher – the myopia of Ad:Tech

21 April, 2009 (16:33) | branding | By: Shannon Clark

I am at Ad:Tech San Francisco all this week, my third Ad:Tech SF I have attended, I’ve also attended multiple Ad:Tech’s in NYC.  I attend as a blogger and journalist, as well as an interested analyst, consultant and entrepreneur. Every year i seek out who is, in fact, delivering really innovative and valuable services and every year I find myself puzzled by most of the exhibitors. 

This year I have had a bit of an “Aha” moment this morning and early afternoon, namely that for the majority of this show the definition of what is a “publisher” is stuck in a model of about a decade ago, a model which in turn is based on a fairly simple modeling of non-Internet media properties to the web. 

Namely that a publisher, in this context, is a company which offers up lots of media content – usually text (with links) but increasingly also video (pure audio is another approach but one which gets only minimal coverage). This model plays mostly into a volume game – where “content” is stretched over multiple pages, each page is layered with more or less well “targeted” advertising (in a variety of formats) and where “traffic” is in turn generated in large part via ad buying – where the name of the game is to pay less for the traffic than is generated via revenues from that traffic. Organic search traffic is vital as other than the costs associated with Search Engine Optimization (SEO) that traffic would usually be lower cost than nearly any other form of traffic. 

Into this model of publishing with little variation (minor for sites which are video versus textually based) steps most of the companies who exhibit at Ad:Tech. 

  1. Traffic businesses – whether Search Engine Optimization i.e.SEO firms or platforms on which ads can be run to generate traffic often these firms are search engines – Google is one example. To be fair, many of these businesses are here for a number of reasons, Google for example is also showing off their Website Optimizer and Google Analytics products. 
  2. Ad server providers as well as Ad Networks who offer to serve up ads for the publisher. The ad server providers provide mostly raw technology to serve the ads, the ad networks also in theory provide ads to serve. Targeting companies may help or be partnered with these providers to help determine which ads to show to whom. Ad Optimizers (such as my friends at Rubicon Project) offer services for publishers by optimizing ads from multiple sources (directly sourced, various ad networks) including ads of multiple forms. Some ad networks offer ads of only one type – common variations are Cost per Thousand Impressions or CPM – usually banner ads or other visual ad formats such as some video ads, Cost per Click or CPC – often seen in text link ads though occasionally also banner ads, Cost per Action or CPA – generally paid after some transaction is completed such as filling in a form or registering and a few Cost per Lead or CPL – which are similar to CPA ads but generally represent further qualification of the individual completing the actions to define that person as really a true lead for the business.
  3. Affiliate Networks – in some ways similar to ad networks but with an important variation. Where an ad network usually offers a rane of creatives, sometimes priced in a variety of ways, an affiliate network offers a series of offers which a publisher can share and for which the publisher will be paid based on transactions completed. These transactions can be newly registered users, purchases online (or occasionally purchases offline), subscriptions ordered etc. The archetypal example of an affiliate program is Amazon.com’s Associates program but there are literally hundreds of programs as well as dozens of networks of programs.
  4. Service providers to publishers – exhibiting here this year are a number of companies who offer payment processing and other services for web publishers, in most cases intended for websites who might be using online advertising to generate traffic but then need additional services to close a transaction and get paid. 
  5. Service providers to ad agencies (and the occasional direct brand) – there are a number of companies here who are showing off tools to help manage advertising campaigns from the ad buying perspective, tools that might, for example, help decide where to place ads across a number of networks and at what price points and to manage the spending. In most cases they may also help track results from the online advertising such as clicks and other metrics. 

And those are the majority of the firms exhibiting here at Ad:Tech San Francisco 2009. There are a few exceptions, the occasional digital agency, law firm, magazine or industry organization and there are a few variations of firms in the mobile and video spaces who offer specific tools or additional functionality. 

What most share, however, is a myopic view of what is a Publisher.

Publisher, as assumed by most of the companies exhibiting here at Ad:Tech,  is a website which has lots of “content” across a number of pages. In most cases this “content” is text and around that text (or before/after it loads or via modifications to the text) a range of ads and offers can be presented. Most publishers are defined as having some amount of traffic, measured in page views (and often in unique users in a given month) where the unit of a “page” is generally an HTML page. Video sites may talk in terms of the videos viewed and occasionally the number of minutes spent viewing those videos. Most of the publshers are assumed to have sites which are crawled by search engines and in turn in most cases are assumed to generate a great deal of traffic from search engines (though the best publishers also have a lot of natural or direct traffic – i.e. actual people who go directly to that site on a regular basis. 

What is mising from this view is a world of new media, the worlds of applications and services where increasingly more and more of the time and attention of Internet users is spent. 

The majority of so called Web 2.0 companies, for example, would not be considered a publisher by this definition, much of what occurs within such applications is opaaque to search engines, it requires someone to be registered and logged into the service and is usually customized for that individual user. Her content, her friends, her last move, her family’s finances. 

Many Web 2.0 businesses do work with Affiliate programs, whether on a one off basis or via an affiliate network. To the extent that the applicaiton they offer leads naturally to transactions by their users this can be a natural and productive fit – and indeed many of the affiliate networks offer some degree of hooks into their systems which web applications can utilize. However this is not a good match for all applications. 

What I do not see, or at least haven’t seen often, are ad network designed to accomodate the needs of really dynamic, rich applications. Networks which accept API calls in place of embedded Javascript, and which accept with that API call information about the user – or better yet group of users – to use to customize and target the ads to be shown.

The Death of Brands

3 March, 2009 (03:59) | branding | By: Shannon Clark

Salon.com's The Brand Graveyard

In yesterday’s email to Salon.com subscribers a new blog, The Brand Graveyard was announced. It will be a blog about dead brands, about companies (or perhaps individual brands from companies) which have “died”. To start they have posts on Circuit City, Mervyn’s, Fortunoff, and a guest post from a journalist formerly at The Rocky Mountain News. Each post is a short summary of the end of a historic (at least so far) company, starting with a brief lesson on the history of the brand then looking quickly at what appears to have been the cause of the demise. 

In a related trend TechCrunch in 2008 started tagging posts with what they call the Deadpool when they wrote about a company or a brand owned by a larger company which was, in their opinion, no longer a viable and active brand. At times they have written posts taking a brand “out” of the Deadpool usually when a new investor has purchased the brand and restarted the activity which had been placed on hold. These posts, though often depressing, are also some of the most interesting reading as like The Brand Graveyard they often follow a similar pattern of a quick summary of the history of a brand then an update about what went wrong and why they are now placing that brand into the Deadpool.

I have been tracking this trend of trumpeting the Death of invididual brands and a related trend among some of claiming a broader death of Brands generally. John Winsor has a recent blog post on The Death of Brands It’s not about the Cow in which borrowing a metaphor from Seth Godin he asks if Brands are Cows then perhaps it is time to think of Farms not just Purple Cows. It is an interesting question, but I think the conclusion it reaches misses a more fundemental issue.

Namely that Brands today, or more specifically probably brand managers and management more broadly, have underinvested in building, sustaining and maintaining their brands while simultanously abusing their brands and the concept of Brand more broadly

Why do I claim this? 

Look at the advertising present today on TV (both Network and Premium, national as well as local). Then look at the ad pages in many mass (1M circulation or higher) magazines. Finally look at the ads present in the dwindling number of newspapers. Also the brand focused advertising (mostly display) across the web. 

I see a trend of fewer and fewer Brands investing in all of these forms of advertising – from fewer national TV ads (or Radio) to fewer ad pages in many national magazines to fewer national campaigns (or local for that matter) in newspapers. Related forms of advertising such as Billboards are also, though this is entirely based on anecdotal observation, increasingly event focused (marketing to attendees at a convention in a given town for example) or purchased with only minimal thought.

However I am basing this solely on my own observations and second hand reading of others – I would love to find a source for specifics on TV, Radio, Magazine, Newspaper, Online and Outdoor brand advertising purchases month over month and year over year. If such as source also tracked Brand/Product placements inside of media (TV shows, Online content) even better. 

Some  proposed solutions for Brands

Brands should simplify. Across the board Brands of all types have an unfortunate trend towards creeping complexity and overloading. Brand extensions and additional products under the same branding are one aspect of this. Another is a proliferation of additional elements and definitions in the brand presentation (see any marketing content by Microsoft of the past couple of decades)

Brands should differentiate. A Brand should stand for something different from competitors. Brands should not strive to be all things for all people, rather inherent in defining the Brand should be how it is different – including what other alternatives it is different from (other products – including from the same company, alternative ways to spend similar money or time etc) All people who are involved with the Brand should be able to clearly and consisely define what is unique and different about the Brand – they should be able to from this definition help decide if the Brand is right for a given person. And the correct answer here is NOT that there is a way to answer in the affirmative for all people.

Brands should invest in clear messaging. Today there are more, not less, ways for a Brand to get a message out about the Brand. Smart Brands, Slow Brands, are Brands who take these opportunities not to invest only for short term, immediate results but look for results multiple sales cycles outward. This framing, around the sales cycle for a given Brand could help define the right ways for a given Brand to invest. 

What other suggestions can you offer for Brands today to avoid being placed in the DeadPool?

A review of Harrison Owen’s Open Space Technology 3rd Edition

17 September, 2008 (03:52) | branding | By: Shannon Clark

I first encountered Open Space as a meeting format in the mid-1990’s in Chicago. I was a member of the Company of Friends, a group of readers of the magazine Fast Company which gathered together on a monthly basis. In Chicago the monthly meetings were held as Open Space meetings.

Since that time I have facilitated and opened many Open Space meetings and helped with seemingly countless other Open Space events or events held in the spirit of Open Space, if not always in the most formal of manners.

I highly recommend that everyone interested in Open Space visit Harrison Owen’s site Open Space World (.com) and the sister site Open Space World (.org) , a site managed in part by my good friend Michael Herman. And of course, I’ll cut to the chase in this review and also suggest that you buy the book (hint the image above is a link to Amazon and yes, I’ll get a very small affiliate fee if you click that link and buy it)

So what is Open Space and how does it apply to Slow Brands?

The short answer is that Open Space is a methodology for holding meetings which is incrediably powerful, seemingly simple, and yet also somewhat counterintuative. The meetings start without any formal agenda, instead the participants set the agenda, usually there are no speakers and little formal structure yet a lot can and does happen.

Harrison Owen’s book goes into great detail about all aspects of opening and holding an Open Space, his focus is generally on a fairly formal process which starts from an assumption that the space is opened by an inviation sent to a group of people who share a common and usually pressing interest.

Here in Silicon Valley, however, a hybrid type of meeting started a few years ago and has spread rapidly all over the world. These BarCamps while structurely often very similar to Open Space’s usually involve a large group of people with some shared interested, but usually from many different organizations and often brought together without a large specific or pressing purpose. As a result BarCamps tend to be held in a somewhat less formal manner than an Open Space as Harrison Owen describes them.

In my own practice I also generally modifty the formal aspects of Open Space in a few key areas.

But getting back to Slow Brands, what lessons can be learned from Open Space?

A key part of Open Space is the Four Principles and One Law.

The Four Principles

Whoever comes is the right people

Whatever happens is the only thing that could have

Whenver it starts is the right time

When it’s over it’s over

The One Law

The Law of Two Feet

All that may sound a bit cryptic, even contradictory for a method of holding a meeting (how do you schedule such a meeting if discussions will take however long they have to take and that’s defined as being just fine?)

But underlying all of the principles and the law is a respect for others and a appreciation of quality over quantity or formal process. A lesson all brands, but especially smart, Slow Brands, would be wise to learn and ponder.

How can you think about your brand, your corporate identity and messaging, not just as something formal and sent down from above (i.e from the company to customers) but as part of an ongoing process?

If you get the chance to participate in an Open Space I encourage you to do so, if you find yourself planning a meeting, especially a meeting around a pressing and important topic and find that you are bogged down in agendas, schduling, and formal structure, consider the seemingly slower (but actually often faster) option of an Open Space.

And yes, though it is not my primary  service, I am occasionally available as a facilitator for Open Spaces (or can if I’m not available suggest fantastic facilitators).

A simple case which needs branding

10 August, 2008 (20:32) | branding | By: Shannon Clark

A few days ago I attended part of the iPhoneDevCamp which was a fantastic event gathering together a large group of creative people and which was well supported by a range of sponsors. One of the sponsors had a small table where they were both demonstrating and selling an iPhone accessory they make, an external battery for the iPhone with a bunch of very clever additional features. It has an LED light (i.e. a fixed flash for your camera and also useful to have), is designed to work with the regular iPhone dock and chargers, has a USB passthrough to recharge other USB devices at the same time, and holds a charge sufficient to recharge the iPhone twice. All-in-all a fantastic product and though not super cheap, well worth the show special price of $75 and I’m sure lots of people will pay their higher regular price, especially when they come out with their next version for the iPhone 3G.

So what is the problem?

Note what I was unable to do in the above paragraph, I couldn’t refer to the product either by the product brand name or by the nameo of the company, neither brand is present anywhere on the product itself. Now personally when it comes to my clothing and appearance I look for items which don’t shout a company brand, I try to choose carefully those brands whom I associate with my personal image – for example I’m mostly only wearing t-shirts with logos of companies or organizations I support and in most cases really do use myself.

I could not however refer to this product or the company because though they used a very nice material to construct the product the neglected to spend the likely relatively small additional amount to embed their name &/or logos anywhere on the product. Earlier today as I used the device to recharge my iPhone which was dangerously close to running out of battery charge after a long day away from home I wanted to tell my Twitter followers about the product – but was prevented from usually doing so by this lack of branding.

So what is the moral here? Consider how your customers will use your products and without being too blatent don’t be so restrained as to make it hard for existing customers to refer others to your brands and products – indeed you want to make that process of telling people about your company and brands as easy as possible. This also suggests avoiding unpronounceable or really difficult to remember how to spell brandnames or the sometimes used avoiding a word brand at all (i.e. “the artist formerly known as Prince” who after a while decided having a name for people to refer to might afterall be useful).

Oh, what is the product and company? After a lot (and I do mean a lot of poking around and searching I found it). It is the iV from Fastmac. A great product but horrible branding (well complete lack of branding).

Slowly building your (personal) brand part 1

23 May, 2008 (00:09) | branding | By: Shannon Clark

a smaller dinner party at my SF apartment

I am a serious food lover, have been for many years. I am lucky to have grown up in a household where we ate dinner together as a family every night and where my first memory of dining out was when I was 3 and learned to use chopsticks at a Chinese restaurant. And while I imposed Chucky Cheese on my family on many a birthday as a child (my family has a tradition where the person celebrating his or her birthday picks where we ate dinner as a family typically dining out) my parents also exposed me and my sister to a very wide range of cuisines and flavors as we grew up.

Before we moved to Chicago I remember teaching the parents and teachers at my 2nd grade school how to make Guacamole from scratch. I was a bit precocious but as I recall it also tasted quite good the way I made it (which I had learned from my mom).

In college I threw serious dinner parties every few weeks, typically where I cooked all the main dishes, friends baked dessert, and everyone helped clean or prep. Each week I would cook a different cuisine using a mix of recipes from cookbooks and the Internet (this was pre-web, so drawn from USENET or occasionally Gopher). But at almost every meal I would also improvise, adjusting a recipe to taste or often making up an entirely new dish from the flavors of a given cuisine and ingredients I bought. I had learned to cook from a combination of observing my Mom and my Dad as they cooked (and they both cooked as I grew up) and from a few “Home Economics” courses I took in the 7th grade.

Since college I have continued to be a very serious cook and dine out a great deal. In Chicago I was a highly active poster to Chowhound (in the days before CNET purchased them and upgraded the site’s software) and then on a website friends of mine set up after being frustrated by the forum software of Chowhound, LTHForum (the name stands for a Chinese restaurant we love in Chinatown, Little Three Happiness called that because there is a second and much inferior Three Happiness restaurant right across the street). The group of us and the forum grew quickly and we not only posted about food we also gathered together on a regular basis for meals and events all through out Chicagoland.

In Chicago and especially since I moved to San Francisco I have also become quite adept at the art of organizing large group dinners. Typically I pick the restaurant and very often arrange for all of the food, often ordering everything and arranging for a family style or at least a prix fix meal to maximize everyone’s enjoyment.

Why do I mention all these details about my past and present life?

Because, and this is where it gets tricky, even with all of that which I have claimed (assuming you have read this far) you still do not have any particular reason to trust me, my suggestions, my cooking or my reviews.

Yes, I claim to be good, even an expert but that claim, by itself, no matter how often I repeat it is just words, just an unverified assertion.

In contrast for the most part anyone who has eaten at one of my dinner parties begs me for invitations to future events. People who have taken my suggestions for dinner locations and/or been to a meal I have organized, generally let me help them again in the future. To a lesser degree people who have been following me on Twitter for a long time have noticed that amongst my random rants and discussions I also twitter about food a great deal. Mini-reviews, observations about places I find, and occasionally small rants and even some raves.

With every event I organize this list of people grows, people who both trust my recommendations and in many cases refer people to me for advice and assistance.

In the next post in this serious more discussion on how to best build (or rebuild) your personal brand, especially as you also shift your job functions.

Diet Coke, “Live Positively” and subtle branding problems

19 May, 2008 (18:59) | branding, food | By: Shannon Clark

Coke, Coca Cola, and diet Coke are some of the most recognizable and most valuable brands in the world.

Entire web communities invest time analyzing the subtle changes in the packaging of soda across the planet.

But even great Brands, brands which have for decades defined how to build, manage, extend, and maintain a great brand make mistakes.

Take this can of diet Coke I photographed this weekend.

Diet Coke sweating

Notice how it has the phrase “Live Positively” along the side of the can? This same phrase can also be found on the current versions of other sizes and shapes of diet Coke found here in the US at present.

I wondered, what happens when you do a Google search on the phrase “Live Positively”?

Turns out you find a mix of self help sites and for the most part, sites for people who are living with HIV. This phrase has been used for a long time now by HIV support groups here in the US and indeed around the planet.

For diet Coke it was, I think, intended as part of their packaging and branding around support for women’s health and in particular a focus on healthy hearts which is the current main focus for diet Coke’s advertising on TV.

So I went to the diet Coke home page. I thought I might find some more information on this phrase at the official site, however I was wrong. Couldn’t find it. The home page is mostly tracking codes for various scripts and a primary and almost entirely flash driven graphical site. You can view the current diet Coke TV ads, can download a few images of posters, and can get some information about the myCokeRewards program which currently includes an offer for a red designer dress which diet Coke has had made as part of their support for healthy heart awareness in women.

Reading over the site I noticed that the entire marketing and branding present in the site had a built-in assumption that anyone interested in diet Coke was a woman. So apparently a male, such as myself, was not at all the target audience for any of diet Coke’s brand messaging.

More to the point, though historically Coca Cola has built some great examples of Slow Brands, brands driven by an iconic imagery, consistent and patient messaging, and living up to and exceeding brand promises and expectations for decades upon decades, with the rise of the internet at least the diet Coke arm of Coca Cola does not appear to be getting how to invest in a brand in a digital world.

Getting back to that phrase. Though it is present on the diet Coke cans, I have not been able to find any official diet Coke presence than explains it or makes reference to the phrase. One article from the Beverage Institute mentioned a “Live Positively team” but I can’t find any other reference to the team and diet Coke on the web.

A number of bloggers have noticed the phrase on their cans and bottles of diet Coke but even these discussions are in the search engine results interleaved with other sites which were focused on HIV/AIDS but happened to also mention diet Coke on a given page.

Today any Brand should take the time to search on the other uses of messages which will be a part of your Brand messaging offline and online and see how your messaging ties into the existing uses of a given phrase. While it perhaps is not diet Coke’s intent, perhaps Coca Cola should have made some donations to and given support to some HIV/AIDS support groups around the globe perhaps as part of an overall campaign to help people, likely emphasizing women if indeed diet Coke is intended to be branded mostly for women consumers. In that case the overlapping meanings of the phrase would have echoed the Brand messaging.

As a consumer while some parts of the soda industry have remained iconic and slow, the packaging and marketing of the core products has often seemed to no longer be consistent or slow. Seemingly every time I am in supermarket today (at least here in the US) the packaging and marketing for both Coca Cola’s family of brands and Pepsi’s family of brands seems to have changed, on a nearly weekly basis.

In fact I noted that I could tell that the little corner store near my house had bought the soda they were selling a long time ago because the packaging on it contained contests which had ended months prior.

I am highlighting diet Coke here because it is an example of an iconic Brand, a great Slow Brand of the past, which I think is not entirely succeeding in the new, online driven world.

What other examples of historically great, Slow Brands, can you think of which have stumbled online?

A formula for Brands

19 May, 2008 (17:57) | branding | By: Shannon Clark

Arthur Einstien Vice President of Marketing at Loyalty Builders

My post about What is a Brand Anyway prompted my friend Arthur Einstein to write an email to me where he took issue with the simple, and I agree it is too simple, definition that a brand is a promise.

The formula which Arthur offers in place of that simple definition is:

Your Brand = awareness + expectations + engagement + experience

Awareness is simply the knowledge that you’re there.
Expectations pretty obvious. It’s the promise you speak of.
Engagement is the quality of the interaction that turns a consumer into a customer
Experience is the customers perception of how his/her expectations have been fulfilled

(and continue to be fulfilled over time)

Arthur Einstein is the Vice President of Marketing at Loyalty Builders. He has over 30 years of experience in the marketing and advertising industry, including as an agency president.

He ended by noting that:

What’s important about this view of branding is that each of these quantities can be measured and each of them can be managed.

I agree with Arthur that his definition captures a more nuanced approach to the entirety of what a Brand is and that certainly the ability to measure is important. Though I also worry that measuring too much (and especially measuring the wrong things) can be counterproductive. What’s more, it can lead you to focus on what is easiest to measure versus what will have the largest impact over time.

And rapid measurement can lead to rapid adjustments, which is counter to my view of how a Slow Brand should approach building and enhancing their Brand.

Instead I would suggest balancing immediate measurement and reactions to those measurements with setting long term goals and then giving your planned methods time to prove themselves. Especially in todays media rich world, I argue, it takes more persistence and especially consistency to associate your brand with your messages around the brand.

What would you offer as a definition of a brand?

What is a Brand anyway?

17 May, 2008 (01:07) | branding | By: Shannon Clark

Food dot com Shimla India

My personal and favorite definition is “A Brand is a promise”.

At the most basic level a good or service which is “branded” has an implicit promise that it is, in fact, from the owner of that brand and they (whether a company or an individual) stand behind their product. In most cases a branded good or service is also promised to be consistent, if you get the same product again it will again meet what has been promised.

This does not, however, always mean that every time you buy that product it is the same – some brands might promise uniqueness or constant variety, while also maintaining other promises – quality, taste, service, fair prices.

An error made often by companies is having a brand for which no clear promise can be ascribed. Frequently the promise is summed up in the tag phrases that accompany the Brand marketing and advertising – many companies today change these messages rapidly often using many different phrases and promises.

This is not to say that a Brand has only one promise, many brands offer a range of related promises but most great brands, Slow Brands, usually have a clear and dominant promise associated with their brand. Historically, for example, Volvo = “Safe”. Perhaps with the additional promise of “safe and a bit boring”.

And yes, this meant that Volvo’s did not tend to attract young, single males as buyers. But for Volvo’s primary audience of families (and more typically usually mothers) “safe and a bit boring” was quite compelling.

Recently a new site, Brand Tags has launched which asks people to tag with a single word or phrase a variety of brands.

Take a look at how Apple has been tagged.

Now compare that to how Dell has been tagged.

Which company would you rather be?

What is a Slow Brand?

16 May, 2008 (02:32) | branding | By: Shannon Clark

A Slow Brand is a brand which has been invested in over time, a brand that has made promises and kept those promises many, many times.

A Slow Brand is a confident brand sure of what it stands for as well as what is not in keeping with the brand.

Brands are a promise. Whether a personal Brand, a corporate Brand, or the Brand of an entire country, great brands stand for things, have consistency and are backed up and built up through the accumulation of messages.

Most Brands today are not Slow Brands. Companies and individuals rarely, today, invest the time it takes to have a Slow Brand. Instead many Brands change their messages and the promise of the Brand rapidly. Making different promises to different audiences in many cases and all too often using very short term measures to signal when to shift messages yet again, changing messages and promises with growing frequency.

This blog will focus on Slow Brands, what they are, on examples of Slow Brands, and on both the specific messages of individual brands and on the techniques they use online and offline to build, maintain, and enhance the value and import of their brand.

Where does the phrase originate?

The phrase “Slow Brand” is an homage to the Slow Food Movement which since 1989 has celebrated local, heritage foods and the art of eating and living a slow, thoughtful life. The transformation of regions around the world and the preservation of cultural heritages embodied in regional foods has been and is an incredible achievement. As a serious foodie, and long time fan of the Slow Food Movement, my awareness of Brands have been shaped by Slow Food. Both in my own cooking and when I dine out I now look for brands not (typically) from large international corporations, but the brands of local, slow food producers.

This blog will illustrate the concept of Slow Brand often by looking at some of these local, slow food inspired companies and individuals.

Disclosure – the business of Nearness Function, the ad network focused on Brand Advertising which Shannon Clark is a co-founder of, is helping brands invest in building their brand via the long term support and sponsorship of rich experiences and passionate communities.