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Does This Logo Make My Brand Look Fat?

Does today's globalized, highly-interconnected world require new approaches to branding?
Apr 9, 2014 — M. Filtz
In the business world, it's hard to imagine a more ambivalent group of people than today's brand managers. With social media and globalization, they're faced with huge opportunities to grow their brands and company profits; but at the same time, one false step can really hurt. Just look at KFC – when the fried chicken company tried to break into the lucrative Hong Kong market in the 1980s, it didn't realize that its well-known slogan, “finger-lickin' good,” would translate to “eat your fingers off” in Chinese.
 
Of course, KFC changed the slogan posthaste, and the company is currently doing quite well in Hong Kong, and is growing strongly in mainland China. However, if this happened today, with sarcastic Tweets, memes, and fun-poking Tumblr posts, one could easily imagine a blunder like this turning into a full-blown crisis.
 
Pitfalls like this are one reason why a number of managers are turning to executive education to help with branding issues. “There's a realization that this is a really important topic,” says Kevin Lane Keller.
 
“Your brand is just critical, as an asset. It affects you in so many ways, and you can benefit from it in so many ways.”
 
Keller teaches on an executive program called “Brand and Reputation” at Dartmouth College's Tuck Executive Education. Over two and a half days, the program covers tools and frameworks that can help participants develop a strategic approach to building brand equity and reputation. 
 
Likewise, McMaster University's DeGroote School of Business offers a one-day course in “Corporate Branding and Reputation Management,” as part of a broader which also covers strategic issues such as planning, as well as the importance of identifying stakeholders. The latter can be particularly important to many organizations, who often need to think outside the marketing box when considering brand and reputation. According to Barry Kuntz, who teaches on the program, “the course shows that building, growing and protecting corporate reputation is definitely not the job of marketing alone.”
 
“Indeed, a company can fail if they miss this very important point.”
 
Linking brand with reputation
 
These two programs are part of a growing number that link brand and reputation – two core concepts in corporate communications which often overlap. A large-scale study done last year by Hill+Knowlton found that even if the terms are frequently confused or used inaccurately, they are in fact strongly correlated, meaning that perceptions of both tend to move in the same direction. Additionally, the study found that “they are indeed separate constructs, and they speak to separate (though sometimes overlapping) audiences about different issues.”
 
“They're clearly related,” Dartmouth's Kevin Keller says. “When you think about it, reputation is another word for image, and brand image is a well-established concept in marketing.”

Upcoming programs & courses:
Marketing

Program Title Offering School Start Date
Marketing Strategies for Profitable Growth – China Harvard Oct. 26, 2014
Visual Merchandising & Atmosfera. Ambienti, Relazioni, Esperienze SDA Bocconi Oct. 27, 2014
Customer Focused Marketing: The Key to Unlocking Profits London Business School Oct. 27, 2014
The Innovative Organization UC Berkeley - Haas Oct. 27, 2014
Digital & Social Media Strategies Summit: Social Media 101 Georgia - Terry Oct. 27, 2014
Programa Dirección de Marketing - PDM ESADE Oct. 29, 2014
Masterclass Customer Experience Strategie & Executie Nyenrode Oct. 29, 2014
Digital & Social Media Strategies Summit: Digital Marketing Academy Georgia - Terry Oct. 29, 2014
Marketing de la Santé - Réinventer le marketing dans l'univers de la santé ESCP Paris Nov., 2014
Distribution Channel Management: Bridging the Sales and Marketing Divide Northwestern - Kellogg Nov. 02, 2014
Strategic Marketing Management Columbia Nov. 02, 2014
Accelerated Development Program - London Chicago - Booth Nov. 03, 2014
Advanced School of Marketing Research Georgia - Terry Nov. 03, 2014
Marketing Healthcare Products Northwestern - Kellogg Nov. 03, 2014
Product Management UC Berkeley - Haas Nov. 03, 2014
Marketing Performance MIP Nov. 04, 2014
Pharma Marketing. Il Marketing Farmaceutico SDA Bocconi Nov. 05, 2014
The Marketing in You: New Frontiers for Marketing and Retailing Leaders SDA Bocconi Nov. 05, 2014
Executive Masterclass Key Account Management Nyenrode Nov. 06, 2014
Customers' Hidden Needs Cranfield Nov. 06, 2014
Employer Brand Manager WU Executive Academy Nov. 07, 2014
Marketing to Financial Services Customers Northwestern - Kellogg Nov. 09, 2014
Strategic Marketing Communications in Today's Media World Northwestern - Kellogg Nov. 09, 2014
Key Account Management - Edizione Autunnale SDA Bocconi Nov. 10, 2014
Market Driving Strategies London Business School Nov. 10, 2014
Developing and Implementing Marketing Strategies Melbourne Nov. 10, 2014
Business Plan - Elaboração do Plano de Negócios Saint Paul Nov. 10, 2014
Estatística para Tomada de Decisão em Marketing Saint Paul Nov. 10, 2014
Strategic Marketing Analytics: Leveraging Big Data Virginia - Darden Nov. 10, 2014
Key Account Management IAE Business School Nov. 11, 2014
Business and Bagels: Developing a Social Media Strategy for Your Organization MSU - Broad Nov. 11, 2014
Développer sa Présence sur les Réseaux Sociaux KEDGE Nov. 14, 2014
Social Media: Strategies for Success McMaster - DeGroote Nov. 14, 2014
Strategic Marketing Essentials Wharton Nov. 16, 2014
Strategic Social Media Marketing Northwestern - Kellogg Nov. 16, 2014
Pricing: Decidere il prezzo SDA Bocconi Nov. 17, 2014
Fondamentaux du Marketing KEDGE Nov. 17, 2014
Driving Business Performance Through Marketing UT Austin - McCombs Nov. 18, 2014
Marketing and Innovation Columbia Nov. 18, 2014
Essentials of Marketing Erasmus - RSM Nov. 18, 2014
Marketing Directors' Programme: Leading Profitable Growth in your Organisation Cranfield Nov. 18, 2014
Advanced Digital Media Strategies: Embracing the Digital Future IESE Nov. 19, 2014
Strategic Brand Management & Product Marketing York - Schulich Nov. 19, 2014
Search, Social & Mobile SDA Bocconi Nov. 20, 2014
Corporate & Marketing Communication SDA Bocconi Nov. 24, 2014
Managerial Leadership in Sales and Marketing Lagos Nov. 25, 2014
Marketing: Innovative Marketing Approaches for Creating Customer Value and Driving Profitable Growth Queen’s Nov. 25, 2014
Canali Digitali e Nuovi Paradigmi di Marketing MIP Nov. 27, 2014
Creating Winning Brands Cambridge - Judge Nov. 27, 2014
Strategic Business-to-Business Marketing Vlerick Leuven Nov. 28, 2014
Pós-MBA FDC/Kellogg FDC Nov. 30, 2014
Mini-MBA: Digital Marketing Rutgers Dec. 01, 2014
Consumer Analytics MIP Dec. 02, 2014
Consumer Analytics MIP Dec. 02, 2014
Social Media and Digital Marketing for Business NYU - Stern Dec. 03, 2014
Trade Marketing MIP Dec. 03, 2014
Product Management Vlerick Leuven Dec. 04, 2014
Successful Marketing Strategies for High-Tech Firms Cambridge - Judge Dec. 04, 2014
Strategic Marketing Management Chicago - Booth Dec. 08, 2014
Strategic Business-to-Business Marketing Vlerick Leuven Dec. 08, 2014
Brand Leadership: Strategies for Driving Growth in a Global Marketplace Wharton Dec. 08, 2014
Digital Marketing Strategy Week Columbia Dec. 08, 2014
Digital Marketing Strategy Columbia Dec. 08, 2014
Product Management UC Berkeley - Haas Dec. 08, 2014
Mini-MBA: Social Media Marketing Rutgers Dec. 08, 2014
Digital Marketing Strategy II Columbia Dec. 11, 2014
Measuring Marketing ROI: Making Highly Profitable Marketing Decisions York - Schulich Dec. 15, 2014
Customer Driven Marketing — India Wharton Dec. 16, 2014
Advanced Account Management and High Yield Selling York - Schulich Dec. 18, 2014
Il Business Plan per l'Internazionalizzazione MIP Jan. 13, 2015
Leading Growth Through Customer Centricity – India Harvard Jan. 27, 2015
Strategic Marketing Management NUS Feb. 02, 2015
Product Management UC Berkeley - Haas Feb. 09, 2015
Marketing Management: Planning Tools for Success Wisconsin Feb. 11, 2015
Marketing Alberta Feb. 18, 2015
Certificate in Marketing Grenoble Feb. 23, 2015
Product Management UC Berkeley - Haas Mar. 16, 2015
Strategic Marketing in Action IMD Mar. 23, 2015
Marketing électronique : développer une stratégie Web intégrée qui va du mobile aux médias sociaux HEC Montreal Mar. 24, 2015
Creating a Culture of Innovation Wisconsin Mar. 30, 2015
Driving Digital and Social Strategy Harvard Apr. 12, 2015
AIMS: Advanced Industrial Marketing Strategy INSEAD Apr. 27, 2015
Strategic Marketing Programme INSEAD May 04, 2015
Market Driving Strategies London Business School May 11, 2015
Strategic Marketing Management Harvard Jun. 14, 2015
Strategic Branding: From Behavioural Insights to Business Growth London Business School Jun. 15, 2015
Strategic Marketing in Action IMD Sep. 28, 2015
 
And indeed, Keller says that each topic generally draws a distinct group of participants: marketing people are more interested in the branding side, whereas the reputation content tends to attract those who work in corporate communications. This creates a dynamic environment where participants can learn from the course, as well as from each other.
 
“It broadens them, because they tend to focus on one of the two sides, and the other side is relatively new,” Keller says.
 
And beyond that, participants in these programs might find that they'll get a dose of practical experience, from which they can learn how to deal with real issues. In the Dartmouth program, attendees are encouraged to bring in their own branding and reputation issues, to discuss with the group. Likewise, in the DeGroote course, attendees participate in a mock media interview, where they can assume the role of an executive whose firm is currently in the midst of a crisis.
 
“This exercise and the discussion that follows demonstrates the fragility of corporate reputation, and the need to be prepared for any eventuality,” according to Barry Kuntz.
 
While everything #changes, everything remains the #same
 
As the news cycle is described in shorter and shorter time frames, the need to be prepared for any eventuality is becoming increasingly important. Just look at the social media team at Tesco, who, while the company was managing fallout from a scandal involving horsemeat last year, forgot to turn off its auto-Tweets. One unfortunate Tweet read “It's sleepy time so we're off to hit the hay! See you at 8am for more #TescoTweets."
 
But as pointed as this case may be, it also highlights the need to have a well-defined strategic approach in place to prepare for and manage these kinds of possibilities. 
 
“So many things have changed,” says Dartmouth's Kevin Keller, who notes that new technologies, along with globalization, and an increased awareness of social responsibility, are three main forces that are currently affecting marketing.
 
“Those are three powerful forces, and they have definitely affected how we do branding.”
 
However, in the face of these larger shifts, the fundamental marketing concepts – like segmentation, targeting, and positioning – haven't changed, and are still as important as ever.
 
“Without the strategy side in place, it's going to be difficult to be successful, no matter how good you are tactically,” Keller says.
 
Photo: RelyAble / Creative Commons
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