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The University Magazine

FYI

Branding goes far beyond name recognition


By Philip Tyler '65

We at RIT have been hearing a lot about branding over the past year or so. A major study for RIT has been completed and we are looking to implement the findings. This article is designed to help people understand what is meant by branding and why a branding initiative can be very positive for any organization, including a university.

Philip Tyler
Philip Tyler ’65 (business) is an associate professor of marketing in RIT’s E. Philip Saunders College of Business and director of the college’s Center for Management Development. He was also president of Delta Group/Rochester Ltd., a marketing and management consulting firm. He has held the position of Product Manager at R.T. French Co. (Durkee Foods). He holds an MBA and doctoral degree in marketing from Michigan State University. He is co-chair of RIT’s Branding Task Force.

What is branding?
There are many misperceptions about branding. Among these are that branding is a logo, a trademark or a slogan. While each of these may play a part in an overall branding program, they in no way convey the essence of branding. Branding is so much more.

Branding has been called “the art of building trust” and a brand “a promise kept.” Note the core element of trust and the import that the trust must be well-founded – we must deliver on our “promise.” A brand promises what will be delivered (a good experience) and then delivers it with the result of building a long-term relationship. This means branding goes well beyond communication with the relevant targets to include making sure the whole organization understands and ensures that the promise is kept. This is a key part of meeting/exceeding expectations and differentiating an offer from that of competitors.

People use brands as a means of choosing which of many possible choices might be considered and also in deciding which of the many possibilities to buy/choose. This is known as the “first moment of truth.” The second “moment of truth” is when the promise is (or is not) kept by the organization.

Brand meaning may vary
Who is the customer/constituency? The same brand may have different meanings to different constituencies. Constituencies for goods and services would include customers, employees, suppliers, channel members and stockholders, for example. For universities, they would include students, parents, faculty/staff, high school guidance counselors, current and prospective employers and alumni, for example.

What comes to your mind and to your heart when you hear Sony, Kodak, Xerox, Microsoft, e-Bay, Apple, Coca Cola, Starbucks, Coach, Duke, Harvard, MIT, Notre Dame or RIT? Do you think of quality? Reliability? Innovativeness?
The most recent Business Week/Interbrand study shows that Google’s brand value grew 46 percent in 2006 over 2005, the greatest rate of growth of all Top 100 Global Brands.

Some years back, a Kodak manager told me of the Kodak technical sales rep who, when entering a photofinishing company in the United Kingdom, was noticed by an employee who immediately shouted “Kodak’s here!” They were genuinely happy to see Kodak arrive because Kodak was associated with helping the photofinisher do an excellent job of helping them serve their customers.

 

A brand is a promise that is valued
It is important to keep in mind that a brand is a promise that is valued. What do your relevant constituencies value? If you do not know, find out. How well do you promise to deliver and how well do you actually deliver? If you do not know, find out. How well do your competitors do? If you do not know, find out. If there is a difference between your constituencies’ “ideal” and how you are perceived, there is an opportunity for you to grow/improve. Lay out a strategy that will get you closer to your constituencies’ “ideals” than your competitors do. This will translate into success for your organization,

Again, branding is so much more than just an image created by advertising and logos: It is a promise kept. You must deliver the expected value.

Brands have meaning and value
The Business Week/Interbrand 2006 Top 100 Global Brands study had the top 10 global brands as follows: Coca-Cola, Microsoft, IBM, GE, Intel, Nokia, Toyota, Disney, McDonald’s and Mercedes-Benz. This ranking measures brand value as the net present value of the earnings the brand is expected to generate over the next year. Of local interest, Xerox is ranked 57th and Kodak is ranked 70th, both down slightly from the year before.

Branding at RIT
While in academe we do not measure success in terms of earnings, it is clear that brand equity is a notion of great importance. Witness Harvard, Stanford, MIT and Notre Dame.

It is important to note that if a brand is not actively managed, the marketplace will do it by default. Insightful management makes good things happen with and for its brand; it doesn’t just let things happen.

At RIT, the decision has been made to make a valued promise to our constituencies and keep it! It is an exciting time for all of us at RIT and we each play a part in keeping that promise.