March 15, 2021
This week I turn my attention to brand 4.0.
Some 30 years ago, when Stamats undertook its first brand marketing project, brand marketing was foreign to many college administrators and faculty. Most didn’t understand it, some even feared it.
Times have changed.
While more and more campuses are comfortable with the broad idea of brand marketing, there is a growing sense that a narrow or dated definition of brand marketing has limited its potential on many campuses.
With this concern in mind, I want to walk you through a long-term practitioner’s view of how brand marketing has evolved…beginning with brand marketing 1.0.
Brand marketing 1.0 focused almost exclusively on look, letterhead, and logo. Long, and sometimes painful, conversations about PMS colors and graphic standards manuals were common. This was the era of the logo police. Control and conformity were the coin of the realm. The consistent spelling of words (is it email or e-mail?) was a hot topic. While brand marketing 1.0 had great concern about message format and style, it had almost no interest in message content.
Brand marketing 2.0 was concerned not just about graphic consistency, but also message content. We were beginning to see more message matrices; detailed schemes in which key messages were “translated” for different audiences. More than personalization, we began to see message customization.
Because message consistency was cross-departmental, brand marketing 2.0 was also the beginning of marketing advisory boards; people from different departments and parts of the campus who would regularly convene to find common marketing ground.
Read Part 6: The Language of Value
Now, many schools are embracing the twin tenets of brand marketing 3.0.
Brand marketing 3.0 is no longer supervised by managers or directors who report to the chief advancement officer, but by VPs who sit on the cabinet and have real political support, real clout, and real budgets.
In addition, while brand marketing 3.0 is still concerned about look, logo, and message, it is increasingly concerned with how the institution acts. In other words, is your behavior consistent with your message?
We are now entering the era of brand marketing 4.0 and the conversation has been elevated in two ways.
First, brand marketing 4.0 is all about creating and managing the brand experience. The brand experience involves all the sensations, expectations, interactions, and reactions that individuals have in response to a brand. In brand marketing 3.0 marketers hoped the experience would align with the message. Currently, in brand marketing 4.0 marketers strive to ensure that the experience aligns with the messaging.
In brand marketing 4.0, the brand experience (what you hope) and the customer experience (what you deliver) are largely the same thing. Apple understands this. Cell phone companies don’t.
The second dimension of brand marketing 4.0 involves a desire, even need, to measure the return on your marketing investment. This is called mROI.1
More than simple tracking (how many responded), mROI is interested in determining the relationship between the cost of a marketing activity and the revenue generated by that marketing activity. The goal, of course, is to determine what is working and what is not and thereby improve performance. But there is a second goal: To demonstrate the efficacy of marketing to the larger campus community and thereby earn greater opportunity and support for marketing.
While we may not know exactly what brand marketing 5.0 will look like, we can be certain that it will continue to emphasize the position of the customer and that measurement, valuable now, will become even more critical in the months and years ahead.
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1Some experts define this as “marketing return on investment.” Others define it as “measuring return on investment.” Though the verbiage may be different, the goal or outcome is the same.