Opinion

You must know the difference between ‘brand’ and ‘branding’, in order to reach the masses

‘Branding’ means embedding the name of the product in the consumer’s mind, as simply selling a category generic is doing the market leader’s job for them – writes Dave Trott

Years ago there was a terrific television campaign starring Leonard Rossiter and Joan Collins. It was very funny, it was very popular with the public, and it won every award going.

Rossiter was snooty and pretentious, Joan was attractive and aloof. Each ad featured pretty much the same gag. Leonard Rossiter would somehow spill his Martini on Joan Collins.

The first ad had her asking him the time. Then in another, he accidentally knocked back her airline seat. Then a group of Japanese businessmen misinterpreted his actions.

The campaign ran for years with the formula unchanged. Stylish, aspirational, jet-set locations, Rossiter repeating that Martini was made from “11 herbs and spices”.

All the brand values were perfectly on target for the audience. Decades later people still love that Martini campaign. There’s just one problem. It wasn’t for Martini. It was for Martini’s main competitor, Cinzano.

Martini was the market leader, Cinzano was the challenger brand. And funny as the ads were, they weren’t very well branded. So the ads are remembered as being for the market leader.

Cinzano was doing Martini’s job for them. Because they confused ‘brand’ and ‘branding’. ‘Brand’ is when you get the brand values right. The thinking goes that the brand values are unique to your brand, so if people love your advertising they will buy your brand, even if they don’t remember the name.

‘Branding’ is when you don’t own the market. You have to make it very clear that this advertising is definitely not for the brand leader, it’s for the challenger brand. That’s why ‘branding’ is crucial.

‘Branding’ means embedding the name of the product in the consumer’s mind. Simply selling a category generic is doing the market leader’s job for them. Like Cinzano did for Martini.

Let me be clear, I love the Martini (sorry Cinzano) advertising. All it needed was branding: a mnemonic. So the campaign would be remembered as Cinzano not Martini.

Otherwise all that hard work in creating a terrific campaign that the consumer loves is wasted. Because people remember it as a campaign for whoever has the highest profile. That’s what the human mind does.

It defaults to whatever is the most salient, whoever owns the category. In this case the category was owned by Martini. So Cinzano did a wonderful campaign but, because they didn’t embed the brand name, the competitor benefits.

Campaigns like this work for advertising people, who pay attention to every detail of every ad that runs. But they don’t work amongst the public, who generally couldn’t care less.

So with Cinzano, they did all the hard work of great advertising that people actually love and remember. But they didn’t want to mess it up with a mnemonic that would make people remember Cinzano instead of Martini.

They were doing ‘brand’ instead of ‘branding’.

Trott tells us that ‘brand’ is not the same as ‘branding’

Dave Trott is a consultant, author and former ad agency creative director, and this article was first published on his blog

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