Ad strategy is not brand strategy

Tom Dougherty, CEO – Stealing Share

25 January 2010

Tenets Of Brand Marketing Are Often Forgotten

There are two strains of wisdom we often talk about at Stealing Share: That brand marketing must reflect their target audiences and they must be different and better. Those seem simply enough. Just be aspirational to those you want to affect and be positioned against the competition.

But there is another, more basic tenet that is often overlooked too often: Have a point of view.

brand marketingSo many brands don’t even have that first step before they get to brandface or position. They just promote a product benefit. Or there is one like the eTrade “talking baby” commercials. They have all three: a point of view (it’s so easy a baby could do it), a brandface (wiseacre) and a different position (easy vs. expert, ala TD Ameritrade).

On paper, then, these stepsisters to Geico’s “So easy a Caveman can do it” spots are strategically sound. What I wonder (other than why did they replace the first baby with a new one – the first one was funnier) is whether any of those are meaningful. Are those wanting to invest really looking for easy, see themselves as wisecracking (in this context) and point to eTrade as a different and better choice?

Maybe they do. But that points to another tenet of those wanting to steal market share must consider: Find what is most important emotionally to those you want to affect through research that is projectable to the entire audience.

My guess is that eTrade’s strategy was based more on an advertising agency’s desire to make those kinds of ads (ie., win awards and gain attention) than being truly strategic. Now there’s a tenet not to live by.

See more posts in the following related categories: Advertising Brand Branding


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