Known as the Father of Advertising, David Ogilvy left us valuable lessons on advertising, which we can apply in other aspects of life as well. He also provided marketers a guide for ethical practices as someone who preferred “soft-selling” from focusing entirely on convincing to the market to buy what is being promoted.
Here are seven (7) of his pieces of timeless lessons about branding.
1. You can control how the market sees your brand
“Every advertisement should be thought of as a contribution to the complex symbol which is the brand image.”
Brand image is how the market sees your brand. Both are abstract. Unlike a marketing strategy whose result may be measured quantitatively and qualitatively, a brand can be measured by, for example, strength. Brand strength may be reflected by market share over the years. This gives us the impression that brand is a long-term concept, thus, it must be developed, promoted, and supported by aligned marketing activities to reflect the targeted image.
All marketers start with a weak brand image and all activities to its name count as operations progress. Though it is your marketing strategy that has a direct effect on your brand, it can also be enhanced by, for example, the delivery of promise and how you support your customers.
In contrast, when it has reached the point where it can be called “strong,” to discredit it will take great effort. A strong brand is characterized by a large market share and loyal customers among other things.
2. Focus on the product, but also make it attractive
“Once upon a time I was riding on the top of a First Avenue bus, when I heard a mythical housewife say to another, “”Molly, my dear, I would have bought that new brand of toilet soap if only they hadn’t set the body copy in ten point Garamond.”” Don’t you believe it. What really decides consumers to buy or not to buy is the content of your advertising, not its form.”
Never underestimate the capability of the consumer to determine if your product is worth their money. If you think it’s only the marketing that works, wait till your market uses your product and discovers it does not deliver its promise. The result? A disaster. Word-of-mouth can be more powerful than your best ad, especially if what the market has to say about the product is negative. This will certainly affect your brand image.
Still, consider physical attractiveness. Create packaging that will catch the eye of your target market. Although it’s more usual to over-emphasize packaging, there’s no harm in making sure it captures attention.
3. Do not mislead your market
“The consumer isn’t a moron; she is your wife.”
Misleading the market in an ad qualifies as false advertising. Remember that nothing good comes out of it. Maybe it can produce a positive instant effect, as in a positive income right after the ad has been shown, but it will not strengthen your brand. The safest strategy, not to say the winning, is to create a product that your market deserves and that they can discern good products from the bad. Attune your marketing activities based on this idea and many will favor your brand.
4. Always set your branding apart
“If you ever have the good fortune to create a great advertising campaign, you will soon see another agency steal it. This is irritating, but don’t let it worry you; nobody has ever built a brand by imitating somebody else’s advertising.”
It is true that a successful and cutting-edge advertising campaign could tempt you to tailor yours, even slightly, to such campaign. It may work for a while, much to the annoyance of the owner of the original idea, but it will harm your brand image in the long run. How? Here’s one way. Because your campaign takes after the original one, your brand gradually takes after the other brand or worse, it becomes just one of the brands.
Take global brands Nike and Adidas for example. They have the same target market, but have you ever seen them create similar-sounding ads? No, because what one does is create a campaign that is better than the last and above the other’s.
If you want to create a strong brand over the years, you need to set it apart by thinking of your own ad campaign – something that is uniquely yours.
5. Know your product
“Advertising people who ignore research are as dangerous as generals who ignore decodes of enemy signals.”
Know every facet of the product or service before you create an ad campaign. This allows you to understand the product and sell it well, not just by highlighting a characteristic that appeal to a target market, but by knowing that the product addresses a market’s needs and wants.
However, if you ignore this important step in advertising, you could make the mistake of promising something your product cannot deliver. Or, you fail to see why your product is better than its competitors. You don’t only waste resources here, but you somehow harm or neglect the brand image.
6. Base your marketing strategy from experience
“I have a theory that the best ads come from personal experience. Some of the good ones I have done have really come out of the real experience of my life, and somehow this has come over as true and valid and persuasive.”
If you want to capture the interest of your target market, create an ad that situates your product in their lives. Here are some examples:
• A practice that reflects values favored by the target market
• A typical situation or problem where your product could be the solution
• Something funny, creative, and cultural
• Iconic event that your target market can relate to
These appeal better to the emotion, which often becomes the basis for buying a product. If you think you don’t know enough about your target market to create such an ad, do some research. Spend time observing their behavior, their collective interest, and how they spend their free time.
7. Make money from talent
“In the modern world of business, it is useless to be a creative, original thinker unless you can also sell what you create.”
This translates to, vaguely, as creating something that is not just creative and unique, but also engaging. In the realm of art, there is the concept of “creating art for the sake of art,” rather than creating something that can be used. While it serves its own purpose among artists and those who appreciate such art, this notion obviously does not apply in marketing and advertising, where creative, original thinkers who could sell a product are immensely rewarded.
What is your favorite Ogilvy wisdom?