Homer Simpson asks, “How do I Know When to Use Authentic Branding Versus Marketing or Selling?

“Ok,” said Homer last time we spoke, “You’ve made your point about branding, selling and marketing being different. I get it.

How do I know WHEN to sell, market or brand?”

“Speaking from my point of view, as the author and developer of MIBOSO’s Authentic Personal Branding and Authentic (Business) Branding Processes, let’s address the roles of each activity – Authentic Branding, marketing and selling – individually.” I suggested. “Once we’ve done that, we’ll explore how they all work together.”

The Role of Authentic Branding

An Authentic Brand defines specifically what the brand “is”
and what category it fits into, or what it is “one of.”

“Homer, your brand is, “a cartoon character” that fits into the “animated television sitcom” category. That’s what it is “one of.”

“Sure,” said Homer, “You don’t have to be very smart to figure that out!” He looked at me quizzically. “The role of branding gets a lot less obvious as we dig deeper.” I explained.  “Stay with me!” Homer rolled his eyes, then nodded and settled back in his chair.

An Authentic Brand has a USP, or a unique selling proposition.
A USP makes a brand
unique, special, and different enough to cause it to be chosen over other brands that are similar.

“Like choosing “Duff over Duffenbrau?” Homer asks?  “A USP is more than a matter of price.” I laugh. “But price could be a contributing factor to a USP.”

Homer sits up a little straighter. “What’s My USP? Do I have one? Do I?” He entreats. “Of course you do Homer, your USP is what makes your audience choose to watch your show when they could be watching other animated television sitcoms – like “Family Guy.” I reply.  “Who would want to watch them when they could watch a nice normal family like mine?” Homer asked, puzzled.

I smiled and continued, “Typically, a brand’s USP is rooted in its values. I said  in an earlier conversation that “The secret to your success, Homer, is in your Brand Values. Your brand values make you the character that millions love and love to laugh at.””

“Hey, they’re laughing WITH me!” Homer interrupts, “Not  AT me!”  “You’re half right on that one – they ARE laughing with you Homer” I agreed.  He smiled and sat back again.

“So here’s what I said earlier about the appeal of your brand, Homer – and don’t worry – your audience really does love you!”

“His consistent bumbling ineptitude, his long list of relativelyhttp://attractandsell.com/branding/2009/04/02/strategic-branding-homer-simpson/harmless human vices and his  “heart of gold” make Homer’s Brand very human and, at the same time, highly entertaining.”

Homer is touched, “Geez – that’s nice! You got any Kleenex? I feel an un-manly moment coming on.” “You asked for a Kleenex when you meant you wanted a tissue.” I noted. “Kleenex is a brand that’s so well known that it’s used to describe what it’s “one of.” I handed him a tissue and continued.

An Authentic Brand is intentionally positioned to appeal to the identified target market that wants and/or needs the value and benefits the brand delivers.

“Homer, your show parodies the typical trials and tribulations of a middle class American family. By lampooning middle class America, your writers set you up to entertain you Target Market.”

“D’you mean that the people who watch my show are just like me?” Homer asked, astonished. “Yes,” I said, “They’re middle class Americans who are facing the same challenges you do. Watching your show allows them to laugh at their problems – because they’re your problems.”

“Hey, laughing at someone with problems isn’t very nice,” said Homer  sternly.  “Relax Homer, it’s not personal!” I assured him. ”Watching the antics that you, Marge, Bart, Maggie and Lisa get into lightens their load. You make your audience feel like things aren’t so bad for them after all – as what the Simpson’s have to deal with is far worse.”

“So we have it worse than anyone else?” Homer moans. “Waugh! What did I do to deserve this?” “It’s OK” I reassure him.  “It’s just scripting!  Talk to your writers if you want to change your luck.”

“Yeah, right” Homer mutters.  “They don’t listen to me.” Never have. Never will. Talk about dumb luck!”

“You’ll like this next point much better” I said, and managed to distract him.

An Authentic Brand’s messages are believable. Its claims and promises are measurable and verifiable.  In other words, the way an Authentic Brand presents itself is highly credible.

“How does that point apply to my brand?” Homer asks, happy to be the subject of the discussion once more.

“Well, when you’ve had a tough day at work, you’ll head to Mo’s and down a couple of Duffs, right?”
I ask him. “Yep!” Homer confirms.  “And if it was a really tough day, I’ll rant about how much I hate my job, my boss, and whatever else is annoying me.”

“Exactly!” I agree, “And because your audience would do the same thing if they had a “bad day,” your “brand’s behavior” is accepted as genuine and real. You are an authentic representation of a working class American male.” Homer beams with pride.  “I’m a role model” he says, “A Model! Where’s the runway – I want to strut my stuff!”

“Hold on just a minute Homer” I put out my hand, “We have one last point to cover and then you can go.”

An Authentic Brand is consistent – and predictable.

“Homer, your audience  knows what you like, what you believe and what you dislike.” I stated. “What, am I? See through?” He asked. “Well, not see through, but pretty transparent,” I laugh.  “Your audience knows what you eat, where you live and where you work. Your fashion choices are also very consistent – even to the point of being occasionally outrageous.”

“What’s outrageous about what I wear?” Homer snorted. 
“Do I need to bring up the dress?”
I asked, raising an eyebrow.  “Er, no…let’s leave my muumuu out of this.” Homer muttered.  “Because you CAN wear one, on occasion if you want.” I said. “As long as you stay “on brand” you will continue to be loved
by your audience.”
“Phew!” Homer breathed a deep sigh of relief.

“If, however, you took that theme too far” I continued, “If you were to leave Marge, abandon your job and your family, and run off to Canada to marry your boyfriend – that would be very “off-brand for you.”

“What boyfriend?!?!” Homer is shocked.

“If you did something like that,” I continued, “Your audience would likely denounce you. And after their initial interest in the drama of your new relationship subsides, (and it doesn’t turn out to be a nightmare that you wake up from eventually) your audience would stop watching The Simpson’s show altogether.”

“They would abandon me?  But why???” Homer moaned. “It’s simple” I explained. “They wouldn’t want to watch you prancing around in your underwear (or worse!) in the house that you and your new husband own in the suburbs of Montreal. They wouldn’t be drawn to that script as it’s not behavior they relate to.”  “Me neither.” said Homer!

“But it would attract a whole new Target Market.” I suggested.  He looked worried  “I hope you haven’t given my writers any dumb ideas…!” He shud-dered visibly. “And I take back what I said earlier about strutting my stuff – no runways for me!  No siree bob!”

In our next chat, Homer and I will look at the role of Marketing, and after that, at the role of Selling.  Right now he needs some time to recover from the “Homer’s Married to a Man in Montreal” episode.