by Kenneth Rudich
(Producer’s Note: The opening sequence to this video is a reference to the material covered in Part 2.)
Obtaining a good brand image is of paramount importance before trying to make it glow.
Once you have a good brand image, then setting out to make it glow becomes a next logical step in the marketing communications initiative. It strives to groom the brand so that it becomes more visible, more recognizable and more embraceable than it already is. The ultimate objective is to endow it with an infectious appeal.
Accomplishing this outcome relies on using the power of positive association to strategic advantage. Now, we realize this is not an entirely new idea. Many businesses, especially large companies, have worked tirelessly over years and even decades to be perceived as socially responsible. It earns them what is commonly called goodwill.
Until fairly recently, however, it took somewhat deep pockets to do this, and it seldom yielded the kind of results that are possible today with a much smaller investment. Also, making a brand glow doesn’t stop at merely fostering goodwill. It attempts to woo fans and cultivate community spirit around the brand name.
A Glow Model for Branding
Let’s look at this from the perspective of what we call the Glow Model.
It’s comprised of five elements. The first three are cornerstone pieces, and the last two depict the type of interaction that’s occurring between them.
The first element is the target audience(s). These are the people and/or entities that matter most to the brand, such as prospects, customers, donors, employees, suppliers, stakeholders, regulators and the like. Each of these groups, such as the customers, may be further sub-divided into even smaller groups or segments based on their demographic, psychographic, sociographic or even firmographic profiles. These subgroups can make a material difference in terms of who will respond to what. For example, an older group of customers may have distinctly different needs or interests than their younger counterparts. The better you know each target audience, the better the chance for making your brand glow in their eyes.
The second element in the glow model is the stimuli. These are the agents and influences that are used to stir audience interest in, and sense of connection to, the brand. They can be grounded in anything that will appeal to the sensibilities of the target audience. Consider, for example, the various causes, events, contests and celebrations the audience might connect with. Or maybe it’ll involve giving recognition to people or organizations that merit the attention. Where appropriate, show sympathy or empathy to those in a bind. Remember, you’re trying to make the brand human and humane, and you’re doing it under the umbrella of promoting a social good. Virtually anything you can do to build a rapport with the audience becomes a candidate for serving this purpose.
When choosing a specific glow agent or influence, seek out ones that are likely to win a critical mass of audience interest and support; also be sure it makes sense in light of your brand image.
Lastly, think about keeping the whole of the effort broad-based enough to capture the interest of each and every group in the audience. Said another way, try to have something for everyone, to the extent it’s reasonable or possible to do so.
The third element in the glow model is your brand. You are, of course, responsible for planning and executing this marketing communications initiative. Try to keep it timely, relevant, consistent and continuous. For instance, you’ll get more mileage from choosing annual events and celebrations than you will from a one-time event.
The same is true for campaigns. For example, a family-oriented business might sponsor or even launch a campaign for a litter-free environment. There are various angles to this social issue, and they can be used across time to keep the campaign rolling along.
This approach not only has the advantage of allowing for timeliness, relevance, continuity and consistency; but also, with a little finesse, it can be made into a fun family learning experience. And what parents would object to having their children adopt this kind of respect for the environment?
The fourth element in the glow model is a channel activity we call hum. These are the interactions that occur between the members of the target audience, the glow stimuli and the brand. There are two categories of hum.
The first category is when the brand drives the association with the glow stimuli, such as launching or sponsoring a campaign. It requires the brand manager to understand the target audience well enough to know which stimuli will invite their attention.
The second category is when the glow stimuli summons a connection to the brand without the brand having to drive it. For instance, a customer might witness a charitable act, and then remember your business supports that cause, which in turn leads her to be loyal to your brand.
The fifth element in the glow model is Buzz. It gets triggered when the brand wins strong social acceptance and vigorous word-of-mouth promotion. This, for example, is where concepts like social media sharing and brand ambassadorship enter the picture. Though it usually takes a combination of time and a consistent effort to achieve it, buzz rewards the brand with the best possible positioning it can have.
So there you have it, a model for making a brand glow.
In summary, the idea is to continually link the brand with stimuli that resonates among the members of your target audience. It’s your job to make sure the fire gets lit and then stays fueled, to go from good to glow.