Monday, October 27, 2008

Building the Brand

Brand. We all know it when we see it. The curved checkmark embraced and modified by Nike to now be known as the “swoosh.” The white script on red background that will always spell out Coca-Cola. The team of draft horses and catchy jingle that for years represented Budweiser (and still does at holiday time). Think about where and when you’ve seen these brands – and in what context – and you are likely reflecting on the process of integrated marketing.
The American Marketing Association defines integrated marketing as “a planning process designed to assure that all brand contacts received by a customer or prospect for a product, service, or organization are relevant to that person and consistent over time” (Brand is defined as a product's attributes — name, appearance, reputation, and so on — taken collectively and abstractly).

Integrated marketing begins with branding. While we can relate visually to Nike’s swoosh, we are also relating subliminally to all the characteristics that the swoosh represents – physical fitness, excellent athletic apparel, exceptional sports performance are just a few. These are the attributes of Nike’s brand, and consumers expect these attributes and a lot more every time they come in contact with Nike marketing, such as purchasing a Nike product, watching a Nike-sponsored sporting event, or hearing from an athlete who endorses Nike apparel.
If we were to define a brand for MVCC, what attributes would be included? Excellent education? Friendly and welcoming atmosphere? Convenience and flexibility? What would our brand look like? Tea leaves? A hawk? What would our brand promise be?

The college’s Marketing and Communications department, with my support, will be conducting focus groups across the college, to collect faculty, staff and student opinions on branding, through an exercise known as the Brand Platform. The Brand Platform is a five-step process designed to elicit our best thinking about brand purpose, values, positioning, personality and promise. Working with many of the current college committees, we will try to survey as many of you as possible so that our brand development is as informed as it can be. Our goal is to complete the surveying process by December, so that branding – the first step in achieving truly integrated marketing – can be developed and finalized during the spring.

I know many of you have clear opinions on what the college should represent to our students, and what it should not. Please share your answers to the questions above by emailing me at presblog@mvcc.edu.