Branding & the Publicity advantage [Archives:2003/636/Business & Economy]

May 12 2003

Raidan Al-Saqqaf
In Business, branding is the essence of the marketing process. A brand name is any sign, logo, symbol, tune, word or statement that when added to a product, it creates a unique identity and qualities that distinguish certain product from others, and also helps customers in formulating a perception about this product.
Branding can be a very tricky business; it requires a superior understanding and knowledge of the targeted customers and the competition, this understanding should lead to a better, fresher, more innovative and creative brands, which is the trump card in the advertising and marketing business if the product is to have a chance for survival in the market.
Nowadays, the world is becoming more of an over-communicated global village, with too much noise and 'creepy elements' trying to sell anything and everything to customers, this has also reduced the level of confidence in advertisements and impelled customers to adopt a “they- all- say -the- same” attitude. This problem forced marketers to change the way they brand their products, in order to stand out against competition. And for that, they need to have an enhanced understanding and knowledge of the market in order to formulate better advertising and marketing strategies.
As a result of this change, advertising agencies have also spread out their focus from mostly advertising to publicity services and Public Relations, because what others have to say about a particular brand is much more powerful than what the company has to say. In other words when customers become aware of the product, they evaluate it in the light of the perceptions and information they receive about the product, hence publicity and media can greatly increase a customer's confidence in the brand because here an independent third party is providing a statement of opinion.
In fact, modern brands are built with publicity and maintained with advertising, because when a new brand is launched, the more noise it makes the more publicity it gains, the more people come aware of it and evaluate it, look at the internet, for example, no internet service provider I know of has placed a single advertisement, yet it is very popular because it has made a lot of noise and publicity that it is the best source of information gathering and a very effective communication means.
The same thing applies to any other product, but to ensure that customers perceive it positively, advertising agencies have to initiate a dedicated public relations program that exposes more positive characteristics about the brand in order to help in creating the required positive impact on customers. This is why publicity is becoming of increasing importance to marketers and advertising agencies nowadays.
Nevertheless, advertising is still a very important tool critical for the prosperity of any product, but the point is that advertising strategies should be developed from the publicity point of view, because if publicity helps you gain market share, advertising helps you keep it, and otherwise you will be run over by your competition.
Endnote: Today brands are built with publicity and maintained with advertising; unless they are built on a strong foundation of publicity, advertising cannot do much to you because advertising is most effective when used to sustain brands, not building them.