|Illustration: Ismael Roldan|
|The "Red" campaign is uniform; consumers understand both the message of the campaign and Bono's involvement. But Bono's business decisions and inability to innovate his approach to them impact the effectiveness of marketing.|
As marketers, we primarily focus on brand image. It is what we want the brand to be -- or to appear to be. It focuses on the creation of unifying visual images, tonality, fonts and key messages that we want our core consumers to know. The effectiveness of brand image, or "matching luggage," in an age of media fragmentation provides scale across a number of channels.
Empty and meaningless
I won't deny that brand image is important. But without brand innovation, it is empty and meaningless. Fundamentally, this innovation must come from within an organization. It's not something your agency can create, and it requires you, the CMO, to act differently. It is no longer possible to separate your marketing from the truth of how your company operates.
The companies that embrace true brand innovation are the companies that will succeed in the new-media landscape.
Here's an example: Everyone loves to talk about Apple. The "Silhouettes" campaign stands out as singular and conceptual across every execution. It is an excellent example of a unified brand image that is unmistakable across all media. Do you think the advertising campaign is the reason Apple sold 21 million iPods this past holiday season? We would be foolish to attribute the success of the iPod to the "Silhouettes" campaign alone.
Apple's success is driven primarily by the power of brand innovation. Apple began by innovating its product -- including its "digital" product linkages (iTunes) -- first. In fact, every detail down to the white headphones, which visibly communicate the brand, has as much to do with iPod's success as the "Silhouettes" campaign.
Here's another example. Late last year, Bono launched the "Red" campaign. This program has made a huge splash with a skillfully designed, multifaceted effort designed to bring focus to the issue of AIDS in Africa. It's a noble cause, and the campaign beautifully speaks to the importance of the message.
Soon after the launch of the campaign, U2 chose to move its publishing company out of Ireland, its home country, to the Netherlands to dramatically reduce its taxes. In days past, this would have been known by only a small number of people; it would have had little impact on the larger social discussion. However, in the age of widespread information dissemination, bloggers seized on the issue and roundly discussed the hypocrisy of U2, who regularly call upon governments to increase their amount of foreign aid. Last fall, members of U2 were forced to explain their actions. In an Oct. 2 interview with the Dublin radio station Newstalk, band member Dave Evans -- aka the Edge -- said, "Of course we're trying to be tax-efficient. Who doesn't want to be tax-efficient?"
This is an excellent example of how Bono has singularly embraced brand image. The "Red" campaign is uniform; consumers understand both the message of the campaign and Bono's involvement. However, this example also illustrates how inexorably linked business operations are with marketing. Despite a beautiful ad campaign, Bono's business decisions and inability to innovate his approach to them impact the effectiveness of marketing.
The CMO's options
So how does the CMO drive true innovation down through an organization? Some thoughts:
The marriage of brand image with brand innovation is critical to our future success. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to get back to my Wii.