Branding 102

Kjetil Jensen
In part one we examined the basics of branding. Now it's time to raise the bar:

A brand is a mix of primary and secondary associations. We could say that the primary associations reflect values that are the core within a brand. Secondary associations are values that are a little further out and are used to enrich the brand. For most brands, companies choose functional values as the core values. For secondary values, most choose symbolic or personal values.

Brand quality is how consumers view the total quality or the overall benefit. Their thoughts are often immaterial and emotional based on several underlying factors. These factors include different characteristics within advantages, symbolic or experience. The consumer sees the brand's quality or benefits in comparison to what your competitors offer. The brand that the consumer thinks offers the best quality or benefit sets the standard for the product category. Studies have shown that when consumers have a perception of high quality it has a huge affect on a brand's market share, prices, profits and costs.

Brand personality can be said to be the personal aspects that are associated with a brand. This can include characters, symbols, spokesmen, typical users and their style of life. It is for this reason that many use celebrities in their advertising. Even in the world of adult this has become more and more true. Video producers and sponsors use this situation by showing off their latest stars. If you have a lot of playmates you must be quality, right? The personality can have characteristics like exciting, tough, modern and competent or censored. How does our own industry look in the eyes of the public?

Not only do you need to brand your products, you also need to brand your company. This is particularly true within the adult industry due to so many imitations of products. It can be tricky with credible single-product differentiation. It has become more and more important to establish a good position; not only for your products, but for the entire company. Values and emotions that symbolize the business are key factors in your strategy for differentiation.

Researchers have found reason to believe that by creating positive associations with existing brands, you build a strong corporate brand. It is important to define an explicit message and vision that defines the culture in your business or organization. For instance, I can clearly picture a sponsor that loves pink and seems to work off the beach in some paradise. At least that is what they want me to believe. Building corporate brands can make your business more visible and build your reputation.

It is important to define a long term vision for your business. This will most likely be critical to support your brand strategy. This is likely to be the best source in defining an integrated brand. These are important thoughts among companies today that will bring them away from focusing on a visual profile over a more strategic leadership.

Your corporate brand is dynamic and you have to adapt your vision, culture and image. Just look at the change of the adult business over the past 5-10 years. This is an integrated process that involves all of your employees. This will also help build an image to attract new workers and the environment around the company. This can easily be said to "live the brand." You would like your employees to be within the company values, visions and norms. This can also be done with suppliers, partners, investors and affiliates.

When moving the focus from branding of single products or services to corporate, this has to happen between different areas. This demands an integrated effort within marketing, communication and production. It should be controlled from the president of the company and involve all of the employees.

As you can see there are a lot of aspects to worry about. If you are the president of a company or make some sort of decisions and haven't thought this through already, then you need to get started. If you are thinking about creating a product brand or corporate brand, take your time and really dive deep into what you want your voice to communicate. There is a lot opportunities in the adult business if you are willing and smart enough to take the step up.