Branding Strategy Insider frequently writes truly great, insightful posts.  Two of the more recent posts are especially worth mentioning…

In Branding: The Next Generation, Martin Lindstrom explains the evolution of the “branding”industry–moving from an industry focused on the “Me Selling Proposition (MSP)” to, the more modern strategy of the “Holistic Selling Proposition (HSP).”

HSP brands are those that not only anchor themselves in tradition but also adopt religious characteristics at the same time they leverage the concept of sensory branding as a holistic way of spreading the news. Each holistic brand has its own identity, one that is expressed in its every message, shape, symbol, ritual, and tradition — just as sports teams and religion do today.

I’m not disagreeing with Lindstrom’s discription of HSP or even the need for his charge to the branding world, I would argue, however, that thinking “holisticly” about branding has always been the most effective strategy and is, therefore, not as revolutionary as he makes it sound.  Sure, the collective of different mediums making up “the whole” has grown and many of the same mediums have evolved into something new, but I don’t think it’s right to assume all marketers are only now realizing how valueable it is to be active and consistent in every (relevant) medium.

Speaking of which, the word “consistency” is not only one of my favorites–at least as it relates to good branding–but it is central to the above idea of holistic branding, because each part must be consistent with the others that make up the whole.

In The Power of Consistency (another Brand Strategy Insider post), Brad VanAuken asks, “what is it about marketers that cause them to want to create something new all of the time?”  He goes on to say:

When it comes to brand identity, I learned a long time ago that consistency is the secret to success.  With enough repetition, people encode the brands identity (usually not as read words but as the recognized look, shape and feel) in their brains, preferably linked to things that matter to them. If you mess with the overall look and feel of the brand, these linkages and associations are likely to break down…Redirect your more creative tendencies to new product development or out-of-the box marketing campaigns and tactics.

Well said, Brad.  Thank you for that.

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KFC is a cysts on the ass of American culture…

OK, I apologize for the graphic language, but we should all be reminded of the enormous role KFC and all the YUM! Brands continue to play in the perpetuation of gluttony and unhealithness around the world.  And, as much as I hate the product KFC injects into global societies, their brand strategy, which has become increasingly disillusioned, has me more concerned.

First, the “Re-Freshed by KFC” idea, where a man dressed up as Colonel Sanders (and a professional crew) fixed potholes around five US cities, was one of the strangest ideas I’d ever heard.  Did they really think people would get hungry and/or be reminded of “freshness” when they starred at and smelled freshly laid gravel? eh…

More recently, the TV spots focusing on KFC’s new grilled chicken recipe seem even more off beat to me.  They show KFC President, Roger Eaton, front and center professing his love for the grilled bird.  This spot is supplemented by spots that feature well-known chefs (i.e. Sandra Lee) explaining how delicious the new recipe is –this was smart.  But who thought it was a smart to use the blantently Austrailian (non-American, non-Kentuckian) Roger Eaton, as the spokesman?  For me this screams “phoney, corporate, mass-produced, chain food.”  KFC still stand for Kentucky Fried Chicken, right?  “Kentucky” and “Fried” have clearly begun to fade from the brand.  The next step will likely be the introduction of a KFC burger.

UPDATE: A brilliant piece from The Onion on how KFC will no longer be allowed to use the word “eat” in any of their advertisements…

“KFC’s claim that its fried offerings have ‘that taste you’ll just love to eat’ is in direct violation of federal regulations,” acting FCC chairman Michael Copps said. “The word ‘eat’ is legally permissible only in reference to substances appropriate for human consumption. Any implication that a consumer could or should ‘enjoy’ a KFC Crispy Strip fails to meet these standards, and presents an unlawful deception to consumers.”

“Any future appeals by KFC for the public to ingest its products will be met with swift legal action,” he added.

Working in conjunction with the Federal Trade Commission to defend consumers from what they call “blatant untruths regarding the edibility of KFC menu items,” officials at the FCC have issued a list of acceptable words and phrases the restaurant can use in its television and print ads. While “eat,” “feast on,” and “taste” remain off-limits, the FCC has approved the use of “purchase,” “be near to,” “look at,” and “hold.”\

…In keeping with the false advertising subchapter of the FTC Act of 1914, the fast food chain is prohibited from setting its commercials in a kitchen, dining room, or any space generally associated with the act of eating. It is also not permitted to show people chewing, rubbing their stomachs contentedly, or exiting a bathroom stall with a look of relief that suggests they have digested the product. Utensils of any kind are also expressly forbidden, even when held by an animated character.