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SMU 101 - Session 07: Intro to Brand Management

Purpose/Aim of this session

In this session we are going to introduce you to the listening and response aspects of brand management. 

In this session, we'll be covering how to accentuate the positive perceptions of your branding - and ways in which you can not only capitalize on this, but reward it. we'll also cover how to address negative perceptions in a constructive, effective and positive manner.

Learning Aims for this session:

  • You will develop an understanding of the basics of brand management process
  • You will understand how brand management is used in positive and negative audience perception situations
  • You will explore the practice of active listening and responding

Learning Outcomes for this session:

At the end of this session, you will be able to:

  • Plan for addressing positive and negative brand perceptions
  • Identify the elements that foster effective listening
  • Create your own brand management plan that will address predictable perception scenarios - and how you will respond to them

How this Session Works:

  1. Read through the Overview that accompanies this session. This provides an overall context for the session.
  2. Work your way through the items on the Preparatory section that accompanies this session.
  3. Listen to the Lecture that accompanies this session.
  4. Work your way the branding scenario in the "Scenario" tab. The scenario is a practical exercise activity to develop your initial understanding of the branding concepts covered in this session.
  5. Work your way the template in the "Template" tab. The template will support you as you take the first steps in developing your understanding of your brand.
  6. You can browse through some carefully selected material in the "Reading Room" tab. These materials will build upon your initial Brand concepts.

SMU 101 Session 7 Study Activities

  • Overview
  • Preparatory Activities
  • Lecture
  • Scenarios
  • Template
  • Reading Room

image representing brand positioning

Boiled down, the elements of brand management are the process of steering, accentuating and supporting the perception of your brand. Motoring is actually a pretty good analogy for the brand management process.  There will be times when you're allowed to coast along on cruise control - use these brief periods of time to catch your breath. There will be times when you have to travel up steep inclines. You'll be faced by bad weather conditions. Sometimes, you'll have to suddenly break or do a U-turn. Just as you have to manage your car's performance in the course of every journey you too do you have to manage the ever-changing perception of your image. It's an important thing to remember: branding, like any relationship, never remains static.

We will be covering brand management in more advanced and critical details in the 200 and 300 level series courses. The SMU 200 series, for instance, will introduce you to brand equity and brand evaluation, which are more developed aspects of brand management. The SMU 300 series will cover aspects of brand management like sub-branding and brand extensions. The SMU 100 series is all about building your initial knowledge and increasing your confidence with the basics.

Actually, we've already introduced you to a sizable portion of brand management knowledge over the previous 6 sessions. Brand Positioning, identifying your strategic storytelling elements, getting you to contemplate how you're going to tell your strategic branding stories - these are the initial stepping stones of the brand management process. Listening and responding are deeper and critical activities within the brand management process. Through them you can monitor and support brand loyalty, a topic we will address in the next session.

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Brand Management Process

The image above puts your initial brand management learning into an overall course context. As you'll see, we're more than halfway there.

  1. Listening to your audience is an essential, yet often overlooked, element in managing your brand. This is an idea that we will explore in much more detail in SMU 103. The brief video below highlights the benefits of listening to your audience.

  2. Meaningful contact - and not contact for contact's sake - is an important part of communicating with audiences. In other words, having a clear goal in mind when conversing with your audience. This short article by Inc offers some great points to think about when it comes to crafting meaningful contact:

    Lea, W. The New Rules of Customer Engagement, Inc.
  3. In an earlier session, we covered how audiences have conversations about our brands whether we want them to or not. Companies and businesses are no longer in control in how their brands are perceived. Clever brands understand the importance of listening and open, transparent engagement with their audiences in terms of either steering perception. This forms the topic of the next short article we'd like you to read. The purpose of this article is for you to begin to think about what mediums you are going to use to listen and communicate with your audience:

    Frasco, S. Social Media Engagement Strategy - Overview, Convert with Content.
  4. The next video is simply an amazing introduction to the art of listening. The example used is  based on music and teaching. However, the basic truths discussed are universal - and easily transferable. Academic Eric Booth discusses three elements of shared experience:  creating, listening and reflection.  Branding creates worlds that we, as brand managers, invite audiences to enter. Once you have understood the essential basis of Booth's points, and have applied them to branding, watch the next video.

  5. In the video below, branding expert Josh Miles discusses the reality of when a brand's message or experience isn't the same message heard or experienced by an audience. It's a great introductory video with some excellent and easy to understand scenarios.

  6. The last video below covers how to turn talking - pushing sales messages out to an audience - into talking. KGW Digital Director and WSU Adjunct Professor Frank Mungeam shares examples of how to leverage social 'listening', including: what people really think of your brand, how to improve customer service, using followers for research and how to test marketing messages.

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 The lecture this week is in the form of the webinar below with James Beser, group product manager for brand display advertising at Google.  Beser shares research about Brand Engagement. You'll learn how marketers and audiences (he refers to them as consumers) think about engagement today and get inspiration to very actively manage your approaches to engagement strategy.

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Before you begin with the scenarios, we recommend that you read the article below, which synthesizes the main points of the preparatory and lecture materials in this session - applying them to real world branding:

Armano, D. 2010. Digital Embassies: A Blueprint For Community Engagement, Logic + Emotion. 30 September 2010.

Read the following presentation, reflecting and thinking about how the points raised can be applied to your brand:
Keller, K.L. Strategic Brand Management: Managing Brands Over Time

The short video below is a great initial scenario for you to reflect on. Brands are created through words and images. While watching the video, think and reflect upon your own brand as each point is mentioned. How will you incorporate each element and approach?  How will you listen to your audience's feedback on each?

Watching the video below, think about how you can turn a negative audience engagement with your brand into a positive. Applying knowledge to the central point of the video, return to the risk assessment concept, what 3 aspects of your brand do you think will receive positive engagement? What 3 elements of your brand do you think could receive negative engagement?  How will you respond to both?

Online brand monitoring enables you to identify key social media influencers and engage with them to increase marketing effectiveness. Watch this video to see how Microsoft Social Listening adds value to marketing teams.  Think about how will you find the influencers in your industry or field online.  Think about how you can listen and then communicate with them. (again, we'll be getting into this in great depth in SMU 103).

 This last video covers online branding - and its importance. As you watch the video, think about all of the various offline and online branding elements he covers, reflect on your current practice, and assess whether your current practices truly support the needs of your brand.

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The template below has been provided for you to reflect on your own brand, or a brand you manage for a client.

Working through it will help you initially how your brand will listen, engage and respond to an audience.

Brand Management Template

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The Reading Room for this session provides carefully selected resources for you to further explore the basic components of brands.

Aaker, J. L. 1999. The malleable self: The role of self-expression in persuasion. Journal of Marketing Research, 45–57.

Crawford, K. 2009. Following you: Disciplines of listening in social media, Continuum, Vol. 23, Iss. 4, 2009

Global Brand Strategy (attribution details unknown).

Keller, K.H., and Lehmann, D.R. 2006. Brands and Branding: Research Findings and Future Priorities, Marketing Science, Vol. 25, No. 6, November–December 2006, pp. 740–759.

Keller, K.L. Strategic Brand Management: Customer Based Brand Equity (CBBE)

Kemp, S. 2014. Social Brands: The Future of Marketing, We Are Social. 20 May 2014

Rust, R. T., Zeithaml, V.A., and Lemon, K.N. 2004. Customer-Centered Brand Management, Harvard Business Review, September 2004.

Wood, L. Brands and brand equity: definition and management.
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