Thursday, April 23, 2009

In Branding as in Basketball – You have to Play both Offense and Defense

There are always one or two folks who think marketing and branding a community should be Pollyanna - like one of those all too frequent college basketball teams that apparently believe you can just outscore the opponent with offense and ignore defense. While offense is more fun and gets more space on highlight reels, day in and day out, it is defense that wins basketball games.

Similarly, being successful as a community’s marketing agency and a steward for a community’s brand requires an approach similar to the kind of basketball Coach K and the Duke Blue Devils play. You need both brand offense and defense. But the one that is indispensable, particularly if your shots aren’t dropping is an intense, relentless defense.

The reason this is also true in branding is that no amount of positive promotion alone can outrun something that is attacking, eroding or marginalizing a community’s brand. That’s because negative information is more than twice as powerful as positive information. Failing to defend the brand is like taking one step forward and two steps back…eventually you have to resolve what’s holding you back.

But even at DCVB, where we take a polite but no-nonesense approach to dealing with issues that erode or marginalize the Durham brand, the vast majority of our communication is positive information.

Defense, the often difficult but indispensable part of marketing, falls to DCVB staff and a grass-roots group called Durham Image Watch. They tackle the tough assignments and stand up for Durham, which isn’t always fun and games and take a lot of ingenuity.

To support both these true Image Watchers and for thousands of others less inclined, we distribute bi-weekly emails like the one shown with this blog. They reinforce the core values of Durham’s overarching brand.

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