TONY’S LAST WORD
MOST BRANDING is “a waste of money, based on an outdated and invalid desire to manipulate and control consumers’ unconscious.” In a book called Branding Only Works on Cattle, Jonathan Salem Baskin argues that branding may look and feel good to the people who produce it, but it has little or no effect on consumer behaviour.
Consumers aren’t paying attention any more and they don’t believe or remember what they hear anyway. You can think about brands until the cows come home, but unless your company and your consumers actually do something about it, branding is a waste of time and money. Because behaviour trumps branding.
It looks like another nail in the coffin of traditional media advertising, which still ranks high in marketers’ minds as the best way of doing the branding job.
But the thought has been seeping into the consciousness of ad agencies that companies must be seen to be good corporate citizens – to be socially responsible, to avoid profiting from child labour, to do things about the environment, to support activities that consumers approved of. It’s what you do that counts, not what you say.
We’ve seen quite a lot of this new kind of marketing in South Africa. Sports sponsorship is an example of it, where supporters reward the sponsors of their favourite teams or events by buying their products. Says Baskin: “Consumer behaviour is a far cry from what it was 50 years ago. It’s time to update our model and applications. We need a new definition of brand.”