The Sum Of All Your Parts

It took a long time for me to understand what this marketing axiom really means – but once I got it, my ability to analyze and grow a brand jumped:

A Brand Is The Sum Of All It’s Parts

Duh …

But … “All of it’s parts” means the good and the bad … and some of those bad parts may be necessary to achieve the good stuff.

  • Fast-food’s Good Parts:  It’s cheap and fast
  • Fast Food’s Bad Parts:  It sucks

If it was good – it would have to be more expensive and/or take longer to prepare.

A friend of mine who worked at a large discount store for years told me that sometimes minutes before the doors opened a manager would be frantically running around the store messing up displays – sometimes even throwing snow boots & hats on the floor.

Why?

His brand was CHEAP.  The messier the display, the better deal the public assumed they were getting.  They had some items that were exclusive to them.  How did they price them (as a super-discoutner)?  It didn’t matter.  Just throw those coats or swim suits or sneakers on a giant table and their customers would attack them – never even looking at the price.

In radio, we are terrible offenders.  We spend a lot of $$ on research.  Most research only identifies bad parts of the brand (repetition, morning show is chatty, weekend specialty show is weird).  I took over an alternative station once that had a weird “locals only” Sunday night show.  It tanked in the ratings (I mean really tanked … sometime zeroed out).  So we yanked it.  What we didn’t realize, was that just having that unorthodox “weird” show in a non critical depart fed the radio stations brand as a true alternative.  Even people who didn’t listen were upset when we yanked it.

Every Top 40 station has been through this.  A researcher will convince the General Manager that the problem is repetition – and that researcher will have some ugly Power-Point slide to prove it.  But what happens at Top 40 when you start playing the hits less frequent … you sink.

  • Crappy food makes it cheap and fast.
  • Piles of snow-boots makes it almost flea market style cheap.
  • Repetition means we only play the hits.

Having realized this, I sometimes use the negative image in a playful way when marketing the brand.

Caller:  Hey! I heard you pay (hit song) 3 times today.

DJ:  3 times … you mean you missed the 4 other times?

The rush to eliminate negative is one of the key mistakes marketers make.  In every inherent brand strength, there is a weakness.  Deal with it.

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