Singular Distinction Through Stewardship of Your Brand

Did you ever consider becoming the spokesperson in you own ads? How about having a mascot? Could a celebrity help you get more awareness and ad recall? These are some of the tools companies use everyday to help set their brands apart from each other. Most strategies have both positive and negative potential.

Let’s start with celebrity spokesperson(s). We all know that the better known the celebrity, the more attention the ads will get. There is usually a hefty price tag that goes with celebrity. It usually includes a signing fee, geographic usage rights to the name and likeness, length of use, number of commercials produced, public appearances, etc. You also run the risk of brandicide if the celebrity does something negatively newsworthy. (OJ Simpson, Tiger Woods). I conducted proprietary research about ten years ago that indicated that the use of celebrity ranks low when trying to build brand trust. However, my client Bigelow Tea has garnered tremendous brand loyalty and trial through partnerships with Joe Torre, Phil Sims, Wayne Gretzky, and Terry Francona. I believe that Bigelow already had incredible public trust, so these celebrities also brought recognition and retention. See TD Bank Kelly and Regis ad:

Many of us remember the Jolly Green Giant, Pillsbury dough boy, Aflac duck, Geico gecko, and the Budweizer frogs. The use of an animal or cartoon character has a lot of power. I just looked at Geico’s historical ads and it appears that the company can’t make up its mind between pigs, lizards, hamsters, and cavemen in its ads. I find it somewhat confusing. Because of the success of the Aflac campaign, too many companies have tried to copy the model. (Who do the husband and wife turtles represent? I can’t remember.) The establishment of a non-human steward takes a lot of time and money. I don’t recommend it to small companies. See the Aflac ad:

How about you staring in the ads? Well, it is one of the most common ad agency’s ploys to get you to marry them. “Let’s make the CEO famous. He’ll never leave us.” Unfortunately, many of us are just not suited to be on-camera or voice-over talent. However in small-to-medium markets, especially if you are very active in the community, the strategy can be a huge door opener for new business. Again, my research shows that having the CEO of a company speak for the brand is not as believable as testimonials from customers, but I have seen tremendous success with small companies’ leaders representing their brands. My friend, Joe Reilly, CEO of Centrix Bank in Bedford, NH has acted as steward of his brand for many years. When he walks into a new business pitch or community function, he is immediately known as the steward of Centrix Bank. It has worked very well for him.

I would appreciate your thoughts on this subject. If you’re the steward of your brand, I would love to see you in action. Send me your ads.

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