Is That Ice Tea?

(It must be because he’s wearing a cool suit.)

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Everyone at Geico hopes its heavily rotated commercial where a question is posed to kids operating a lemonade stand, has been seen by the world. Three adults walk up and ask, “Is that ice tea?” We won’t spoil the punchline because it’s the same as blurting out the ending of a movie you’re about to see.

We’ve all had these moments. The popcorn is about to crunch in your mouth when a loudmouth a row behind you says: “I’ve seen this five times. Yeah. Darth Vader is really Luke Skywalker’s dad.”

That kills the anticipation. You want to throw milk duds at the big mouth. Here is the relational gist all business should have: “product clarity,”and “brand distinction.”

The kids in the commercial are selling lemonade, but seem to encounter the same question about what they’re selling. In advertising clients often failed to identify essential key markers for success.

It begins with packaging. Perhaps it resembles similar packaging for a totally unrelated product. People are also reluctant to change their websites because Uncle Fredo did it. But, Uncle Fredo used the 1998 AOL homepage template. (Inspect a few clothing lines or restaurants websites) The layouts are chaotic and have too many fonts.

Think about walking in front of a beautiful business establishment, only to be let down by décor that’s raggedy, archaic, or too opulent.

There is a brand perception issue. What are you buying, exactly? Here is an anecdote. We were at the beginning stages of a campaign for a professional service company. Their business cards were Times New Roman. The stationery masthead fonts were gothic. Their company colors were dissimilar. It happens that the company’s envelopes were similar in color to a company that fell into disfavor  with a number of businesses. Our client’s stuff went into the trashcan.

Brand confusion happens more often than one might think, and its avoidable. Branding actually defines what a business is. To some this is elementary, but to most, it isn’t.  Here are some questions one should ask about their business:

  • Have we established, a clear and concise message about our  brand?
  • Does the brand messaging  extend to every aspect of the business, including how the phone is answered, and what people wear as ambassadors of the company on  sales calls?
  • Does the messaging “voice” for the company truly reflect what the brand represents? Evaluate then act to improve it.
  • Develop a tagline that captures the essence of your brand.
  • Design templates and reflective of the brand  for your marketing materials. Use the same color scheme, logo placement, look and feel. Consistency is paramount
  • Be true to your brand. Customers won’t return to you–or refer you to someone else–if you don’t deliver on your brand promise.

Branding must be designed to bring about product distinction. If it isn’t — marketing becomes more difficult. Don’t take branding lightly. Don’t mistake ice tea for lemonade.

Bernard Alexander McNealy, President

CDM Digital Advertising Agency LLC

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