The Difference Between Message and Value
In the past week I’ve had several conversations with clients, colleagues and our creative staff about the difference between brand messages and brand value. Brand is still a relatively young business concept and continues to evolve, mature and become more valuable to companies with each passing year. When I think back even just five years ago to the types of brand briefs we were working with, they were mostly Brand Message Centric – ‘what can we tell the market about our products or services that will compel them to choose us over our competitors?’ Typically these days our brand projects have a very different philosophy, our clients are rightly more focused on “What must we be delivering through our products and services so that our market can’t wait to include us in their lives?”. This is the compelling and critical difference between brand Value and brand message.
Apple, a brand obsessed with building customer value from the inside-out.The demands of Employer Branding
Yet one of the areas that lags behind the outward communication of of brands proposition, is the way organisations communicate their brand to and through their current and potential staff. Back before the recession, with skilled staff shortages around the globe, ‘Employer of Choice’ was the catch-cry of every branding project. We heard ‘We wish to be the Employer of Choice in our market’ from retail to finance to local government. Whilst the last 18 months has seen more focus on other parts of our clients’ businesses – as the world economy strengthens, and employment trends turn positive, we expect this theme to return.
Employer of Choice
The funny thing about employer branding is that it works no differently to any other type of branding. A great organisation, with a wonderful vision (just like a compelling brand proposition) and culture will be the place where everyone want to work. For their current and potential employees, companies like Google, Nike & Apple present great brand value for their careers. These companies are Employers of Choice because of what they do, not what they say. The grand irony is, the very organisations with no compelling vision, poor culture, and high staff turnover are the clients who most typically approach us asking for us to make their brand into an Employer of Choice.
Changing Chinese Brand Perceptions
Most Recently China have been running a campaign to change perceptions of the ‘Made in China’ brand. The campaign included a TVC run in the US in an attempt to change the view consumers their hold of the quality of Chinese made goods. This is an example of a Brand Message approach – and it doesn’t seem to be working.
“Perhaps the recent executions of some of the executives responsible for China’s more prominent quality scandals will motivate Chinese manufacturers to make better products. But does that really mean we should do business with them? China’s brand promise should read ‘We may be one of the world’s most oppressive communist dictatorships, but we try not to act like it.'”
“No matter how China’s government attempts to brand their companies in a positive light, they are still an oppressive regime. It makes me think twice about buying things made in China, not just because I think the quality is less.”
“They’re just polishing a turd. Advertising will never fix communism.”
If China is genuine about changing these deeply held brand associations, the only way to achieve that is through the long and painful process of delivering the highest quality goods and services, consistently over many years – a new approach of delivering brand value through quality not price -and that’s a big ask.
David Ansett, Brandamentalist
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Graphic Design / Brand Agency Melbourne