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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:

Program Title Offering School Start Date
Market Validation UT Austin - McCombs Apr. 09, 2015
Strategic Marketing Essentials Wharton Apr. 12, 2015
Driving Digital and Social Strategy Harvard Apr. 12, 2015
Digital Marketing Strategy Loyola Chicago - Quinlan Apr. 13, 2015
Marketing Drivers Ashridge Apr. 20, 2015
AIMS: Advanced Industrial Marketing Strategy INSEAD Apr. 27, 2015
Wharton Marketing Metrics: Linking Marketing to Financial Consequences Wharton May 04, 2015
Strategic Marketing Programme INSEAD May 04, 2015
Market Driving Strategies London Business School May 11, 2015
Digital Marketing and Social Media Strategy NYU - Stern May 11, 2015
Marketing Directors' Programme: Leading Profitable Growth in your Organisation Cranfield May 12, 2015
Business-to-Business Marketing Strategy Columbia May 13, 2015
Driving Business Performance through Marketing UT Austin - McCombs May 14, 2015
Managing Key Accounting HEC Paris May 18, 2015
Brand Leadership: Strategy, Management, and Performance Columbia May 18, 2015
Marketing Strategy and Planning CEIBS - Shanghai May 19, 2015
Brand and Reputation Dartmouth - Tuck May 19, 2015
Building a Customer-Centric Culture AGSM May 26, 2015
Key Account Management CEIBS - Shanghai May 26, 2015
Brand Leadership: Strategies for Driving Growth in a Global Marketplace Wharton Jun. 01, 2015
Creating Business Value & Marketing Power through Strong Brands CEIBS - Shanghai Jun. 03, 2015
The CMO Advantage: Evolving Beyond the Digital Revolution Wharton Jun. 08, 2015
Marketing Queen’s Jun. 09, 2015
Strategic Marketing Management Harvard Jun. 14, 2015
Strategic Branding: From Behavioural Insights to Business Growth London Business School Jun. 15, 2015
Digital Marketing Strategy Columbia Jun. 15, 2015
Digital Marketing Strategy Week Columbia Jun. 15, 2015
Key Account Management: Best Practice Cranfield Jun. 17, 2015
Digital Marketing Strategy II: Developing Your Strategic Plan Columbia Jun. 18, 2015
Strategic Marketing Management NUS Jun. 22, 2015
Marketing and Innovation: Igniting Creativity to Add Value Columbia Jun. 23, 2015
Essentials of Marketing Erasmus - RSM Jun. 24, 2015
Chief Marketing Officer Programme: A New Perspective of Marketing CEIBS - Shanghai Jun. 24, 2015
Marketing Channel Management Lagos Jun. 26, 2015
Pricing: Strategy and Tactics Chicago - Booth Jul. 13, 2015
Strategic Marketing Management Chicago - Booth Jul. 20, 2015
Pricing Strategies: Measuring, Capturing, and Retaining Value Wharton Jul. 20, 2015
Challenger Strategies for Building Businesses and Brands-India Michigan - Ross Jul. 27, 2015
Challenger Strategies for Building Businesses and Brands - Hong Kong Michigan - Ross Aug. 12, 2015
The Big Picture: Integrating Marketing Strategy and Execution-Hong Kong Michigan - Ross Sep. 14, 2015
Key Account Management: Best Practice Cranfield Sep. 16, 2015
Customers' Hidden Needs Cranfield Sep. 22, 2015
Strategic Pricing Aalto Sep. 22, 2015
Pricing for Growth CEIBS - Shanghai Sep. 23, 2015
Brand Strategy Erasmus - RSM Sep. 24, 2015
Strategic Marketing in Action IMD Sep. 28, 2015
Marketing Strategy and Planning: Defining Strategies that Deliver Growth in Sales and Profits Cranfield Sep. 29, 2015
The Marketing Consortium AGSM Oct. 06, 2015
Managing Key Accounts HEC Paris Oct. 13, 2015
Marketing Strategy and Planning CEIBS - Shanghai Oct. 13, 2015
Essentials of Marketing Erasmus - RSM Oct. 14, 2015
International Marketing Module ESCP Berlin Nov. 10, 2015
Pricing: Strategy and Tactics Chicago - Booth Nov. 16, 2015
Marketing Directors' Programme: Leading Profitable Growth in your Organisation Cranfield Nov. 17, 2015
Marketing Queen’s Nov. 24, 2015
Key Account Management: Best Practice Cranfield Nov. 25, 2015
Creating Winning Brands Cambridge - Judge Nov. 26, 2015
Strategic Marketing Management Cambridge - Judge Dec. 03, 2015
Strategic Marketing Management Chicago - Booth Dec. 07, 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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