Different by design
Ads designed for branding are cool. They don't plead and beg and cajole, they just sit there. They may be loud, but in a very smug way because they already got what they want. They may tell you where to click or who to call, but they don't really care if you do. You saw them... that's enough. An impression was made.
Think Absolut Vodka.
Direct sale ads have a real do-or-die attitude that can make them a bit annoying and undignified, especially amid their mellower counterparts. By their directives shall ye know them: Call Now! Order Now! Click Now!
You can't track the results of a branding campaign like you can a direct sales campaign, but you don't have to. You don't need to prove that an ad performed its function when its function was to just sit there and look cool.
But where does that leave the accountants who need those stats to further trim the marketing budget?
The new customer
Say it's your friend's birthday and you buy her a T-shirt with the logo of the Mikey Running Shoe Company emblazoned across the front. Does that make you a Mikey person?
No. You're just some putz who bought something. As far as the Mikey Running Shoe Company is concerned, you're irrelevant... a statistical aberration.
Frankly, Mikey would rather have their shirt back.
But say you buy all your friends gifts with the Mikey logo—plus most of your own wardrobe. You don't even have to think about it, you just do it. Now you're not an aberration, you're a customer, and that's a whole different level of commitment.
You pay money to be a walking billboard for Mikey. You strive to represent the Mikey ideal. You craft your self-image based on the models and sports stars in Mikey ads (even if you're a pudgy smoker with a lazy eyeball and a ten dollar-a-day twinkie habit).
But your adoption of the Mikey image runs far deeper. You're not just a Mikey customer, you're a Mikey person.
If someone bad-mouths Mikey, you set them straight. If someone speaks well of a non-Mikey product, you respond with autonomic contempt. If someone converts to Mikey-hood, you embrace them into the fold.
If it were a cult, it would be called programming.
If it were an ideology, it would be called brainwashing.
If it were a religion, it would be called a conversion.
But it's a shoe. It's called branding.
The new world order
In any field, there are two brands and a bunch of off-brands or wannabes. Democrat and Republican are brands. Reform, Libertarian, Green Party and whoever else are merely Other.
It's a Yin Yang interdependence thing. Note how Democracy is diminished without Communism for counterpoint?
In the new world order, stores and web sites are clubs, brands are families, and The New Person is defined simply as the combination of several dozen brand settings, like toggle switches on a motherboard: Coke (not Pepsi). Chevy (not Ford). Burger King (not McDonald's). Shaken (not stirred). Catholic (not Protestant). White Sox (not Cubs).
And is there ever any real difference between the first and second place players in any given category?
Sure. The one I prefer is clearly superior.
Duh. Linda Cox
Linda Cox is involved with Smart-Traffic.com, home of TopDog Search Engine Analyzer/Submitter, the ZDNet Editor's Choice software for creating and maintaining high positions in 200-plus US and international search engines. Free trial: http://www.Smart-Traffic.com.