The ultimate branding coup must surely be Coca Cola’s branding of Father Christmas in the 1940’s and 50’s –
“The Santa image may have been standardized before Coca-Cola adopted it for their advertisements, but Coca-Cola had a great deal to do with establishing Santa Claus as a ubiquitous Christmas figure in America at a time when the holiday was still making the transition from a religious observance to a largely secular and highly commercial celebration. In an era before colour television (or commercial television of any kind), colour films, and the widespread use of colour in newspapers, it was Coca-Cola's magazine advertisements, billboards, and point-of-sale store displays that exposed nearly everyone in Americato the modern Santa Claus image. Coca-Cola certainly helped make Santa Claus one of the most popular men in America, but they didn't invent him.”
Urban Legends Reference Pages © 1995-2005
When branding the tangible the aim is to be as VISIBLE as possible in your chosen context. The first task is to choose the tangible / physical objects of your business that you intend to brand. You need to audit all internal and external, tangible branding opportunities:
· receptions & meeting rooms,
· stationery, etc.
If our aim is to be visible then the brand must be discretely present on everything. Look at your building, your car park, your people and particularly your reception area. Does your brand surround your customer and embrace them in a differentiated experience. If your brand environment is uninspiring or the same as others then you are selling yourself short, keeping your value hidden, not visible. You do not stand out. First impressions are memorable, use the brand to make them so.
Your own physical environment is not the only place to make your brand visible. Make the brand visible on partners’ products if you can and if it is relevant. (I was recently in a Hamley’s toyshop and saw that the staff sweatshirts were dual branded with Hamley’s and Ever Ready, making the relevant association between toys and long life batteries).
Finding additional tangible branding opportunities is a creative challenge. Using sponsorship and events is a common way of tangibly extending brand visibility – the opportunity is to find relevant connections between your customer, your product and the chosen branding opportunity. Consumer companies have done this for years – Marlboro branding motor racing and snooker; Landrover sponsoring Gatcombe Horse trials. Business to business companies use industry events, golf days, rugby and football matches for relationship building but sometimes do not maximise the brand visibility. If the brand is as visible as possible it is more likely that the investment in the event will be much longer than the day itself as memories of the event will always be linked with your brand.
It is also desirable to brand physical items that customers will take into other areas of the life. It is possible to get your brand into their office, or even into their home. Seeing the trigger will stimulate a continuous reminder of the brand. This is the physical side of branding - This is the brand that we can see in the world.