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July 2004


Bruce DeBoer

Brand Journalism? Ugh. I’m not sure I can stand one more useless buzz word. As we all know, branding isn’t rocket surgery but it is hard – GOOD brand strategy hasn’t changed all that much. Yet, it is getting more complicated to focus since we now have many more innovative channels of communication with our customer.

I personally like the Al & Jack approach. In my mind it is simple and on target. Today we have to deal with the rapidly shifting ground we call a media plan. Our TiVo’ed world is rapidly changing – how can we possibly keep up if we don’t have a firm grasp on our brand development? Keeping the direction clear and the target focused is almost more critical today than it was yesterday.

PR, [Gorilla and otherwise], internet marketing, conventional advertising; all points of contact build your brand, even the person who answers your phone at the office. How can ANYONE claim that advertising doesn’t build brands? Shame on you.

BTW – I think “We Try Harder” would work today – It’s personal and makes a positive out of a negative. How is that NOT valid in today’s market?

Steven Streight aka Vaspers the Grate

Positioning is similar to my "Mentally Correct Marketing," whilst "Brand Journalism" is simply "marketing confusion."

Stories sell little, usually they put us to sleep. News is old stuff happening to new people.

The Single Idea, the Tight Focus, the One Thing shall prevail over multiple facets.

To sample my further thinking in this regard, try my new post, "Martha Stewart & Mentally Correct Marketing" or "Mirror of User Reality" at:


I am developing a User-Centric definition of branding, soon to be unleashed at the above blog.

First visit here: you've been bookmarked, and will be added to my blog list on my site. Cheers.

Ankesh Kothari

Thanks Laura for your insightful post. (linked to your blog from mine :))

This comment is not regarding your post but rather regarding your comment: "Advertising is not an effective way to build a brand or change a mind. Advertising has no credibility. The only time advertising is effective at all is after the brand is established as a reminder to consumers of what the brand stands for."

Thats debatable. Advertising works if used properly. And works to create a brand. Even today brands like enzyte, in a very competitive market, are built by 1 minute ads on TV.

A recent IAB/Nielsen study shows that being highly ranked on search engine results, *including* having the top *sponsored* listings, enhances branding.

I definately value PR over advertising. Not because it can builds brands and advertising can't. Because even today, proper advertising can build brands. But because PR is free and advertising is not.

You can still build brands through advertising. It is just costlier.

kind regards,
Ankesh Kothari


We are definitely living in a marketplace driven by creativity and innovation. Which is why the most powerful way to build a brand is being first in a new category and using PR to get into the mind of the consumer. Advertising is not an effective way to build a brand or change a mind. Advertising has no credibility. The only time advertising is effective at all is after the brand is established as a reminder to consumers of what the brand stands for.

Tom Asacker


I certainly agree with you that "Brands help define who we are. We select our brands based on their position in our minds and whether they match how we feel about ourselves." However, the Ries philosophy treats the mind as an unchanging entity, which can be programmed to go on autopilot when a need or desire arises; e.g. "I need to grab a bite to eat with the kids." Click . . . whirrrr . . . "I should go to the kid's place (a.k.a. McDonald's)."

In fact, here was how positioning was described by your father and Jack Trout in their seminal book of the same name: "The basic approach of positioning is not to create something new and different, but to manipulate what's already up there in the mind, to retie the connections that already exist."

And that may have worked well twenty-three years ago when the book was written, and when product and service options were a fraction of what they are today and people were still influenced by propositions like: “We try harder.”

People today are better informed, well connected and extremely hard-nosed. We’ve been trained to be highly skeptical of any type of marketing claim. Which makes ours an era of action, not talk. We're easily bored. We expect you to prove your pitch with new, exciting and relevant products, services and business models. We’re living in a marketplace driven by creativity and innovation. The concept of branding is a much more dynamic idea. Sticking to your knitting, and trying to persuade people with clever advertising and image-building campaigns, is a sure route to the retirement home. But . . . I could be wrong. ;-)

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