Branding Still Has Value

Branding’s gotten a bad rap lately. In an economy that has made marketing money increasingly difficult to come by, it’s not unreasonable to want a measurable return from every single dollar invested.

Because branding campaigns generally don’t have a measurable response mechanism — or even an offer to respond to — it’s easy to conclude that they don’t have any effect.

Sometimes they don’t.

And sometimes, a paragraph like this one jumps out of a Wall Street Journal article:

On a recent afternoon, at a supermarket in Chicago, Laura Gilligan confronted a salad-dressing aisle filled with dozens of varieties spread across two dozen brands. After staring for nearly a minute, Ms. Gilligan, a computer-company manager, chose Kraft Foods Inc.’s cucumber-tinged light ranch. “There’s too many choices,” she said. “I just went with Kraft because I know Kraft.”

What caused her to choose that dressing? It wasn’t a coupon, or a direct-mail pitch, or an email, or a pay-per-click ad. Kraft will never be able to figure out what “worked”.

And yet, something did. Faced with “dozens of varieties spread across two dozen brands”, shoppers often just grab something familiar and throw it into the cart.

What “worked” was the years, and dollars, that Kraft invested in building the Kraft brand.

This doesn’t mean that the direct-response advocates are wrong. But they aren’t completely right. Even in today’s economy, there’s real, tangible value in good branding.


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