BlogHer | bet '11 Business: The Brand


Welcome to the BlogHer | bet ’11 liveblog of the Business Panel: The Brand.

Moderator: Gina Garrubbo (GG), EVP of BlogHer
Liz Dolan (LD), EVP/Chief Marketing Officer of Fox International Channels and National Geographic Channel
Analisa Barales (AB), CEO and Founder of Womensphere
Janet Riccio (JR), EVP of Omnicom and Founder of their G23 subsidiary

GG: What are the key elements that go into building a great brand?

LD: Innovative products - do something original, focused segments - who are you meant to serve, emotional ties - why is that person going to care about and love your product?

AB: You are breathing life into your brand, creating the soul of the entity - think deeply about what is this about, what do you stand for, what will it mean 5, 10, 15 years down the road. For us "Womensphere" bringing infinite number of circles together to make a whole, logo is logarithmic, font embodies spirit of exploration - all come together in how we create a world where women have no limits. Think about the spirit of your brand.

JR: regardless of size, brand building is the same. Sustainability, flexibility are important. Facing the world as it is today - moved from monologue to dialog with consumers. Requires confidence in who you are. What is your True North? The highest thing you aspire to on your best day. What are going to be consistent, unique behaviors that signal that you are your brand, not another. Think about lovers of your brand, who will advocate on your behalf and rally them to help evangelize your brand. Know exactly what your best day looks like and go for it every day.

GG: How do you cultivate your brand?

LD: At Nike there was a bad time nobody remembers. Over my bosses desk was a sign "Footwear Spectrum" Nike was at the athletic end. Other parts were e.g. women's dress shoes, men's casual...There was a struggle, we thought we were a shoe maker then realized we are a sports company then brand could be built, emotional connections made. If you are going to be the best sports company, have to be the best running company, etc... each person worked in one category, e.g. basketball company. Once you know who you are, and a commitment to a deep emotional connection then know everything else, e.g. exit strategy. Keep your founding story alive (Phil Knight sold running shoes from trunk of his car).

GG: Key differentiation for small companies - the founder's driving of the story, brand. One of the key element that makes BlogHer brand strong, bloggers are living their story not reporting from outside

JR: Authenticity is key to brand sustainability. e.g. strong connection to Gatorade because brand promise is authentic. Most important thing to know is who loves you and what they get out of your brand.

LD: Not good enough to be 3rd choice brand. Mission as a brand marketer is for people to love you and make you their first choice. You have to have an emotional commitment to serving them.

AB: Love and trust is important so consumers need to know why and how you are passionate. And how you are making their lives better. Have an amazing, beautiful website that communicates this. A big part of trusting is giving. Ask what you can give to the world. Beauty, aesthetics, truth - takes crafting and revisions.

LD: The simplicity of the Satellite Sisters idea made it sellable. The way women sound like when they talk to each other. "It's the sound of friendship." Gina Garrubo at was first to invest in our brand.

GG: Stephanie O'Dea launched her little blog with nothing but a clear vision, strong voice and now is on every week and built a strong brand.

GG: Public can now join in and terrorize a brand. What are best practices for protecting your brand?

JR: Liked all clients on Facebook and it's clear that many don't know who they are talking to? When McDonald's announces the McRib is back who are they talking to? Big brands are clunky in navigating the social space.

GG: Is this an opportunity for smaller brands?

JR: I have a smaller client with a clear voice, vision and I evangelize them to everyone.

LD: An example when your brand is getting attacked, like Nike and factory conditions. Now there is no difference between the front of the house and the back of the house. e.g. Chris Brown on GMA trying to talk only about his album not Rhianna. Transparency is a must, can't pretend that people won't find out.

AB: Have to find women who are giving back to the world in a true way the way we are. Editorial process of choosing who to highlight. Look for authentic stories. Important for startups to make friends and partnerships but keep in mind we are judged by the company we keep. Keep values in mind and check to see if they are shared.

LD: When we moved Satellite Sisters from NPR to ABC radio we insisted on keeping the right to reject any advertisers we thought demeaned women.

GG: If you're a small company do you go with a $50 CPM?

LD: Know who your consumers are. If something undermines your message and mission then it's not worth the money.

JR: Consumers are savvy and recognize misplaced ads. Our teams and clients work tirelessly to make sure ads are in the right place, reaching the right audience.

AB: Who are you trying to reach and where are they? What's the best way to communicate with them?

JR: What does my communications cocktail look like now and a year from now when I reach goals and milestones.

GG: Old model - if I buy xx gross ratings points I sell xx number of jars of mayo. Social media has disrupted.

LD: Radio shows don't generally get lots of publicity but we had a simple message that was unique that could be communicated visually (pics of 5 sisters) and we got lots of attention.

GG: How can small brands create similar opportunities?

JR: No doubt small brands can create earned media opportunities with a clear message.

AB: Develop a complementary brand as an expert on your product, industry. Use social media to build your platform. Either find/create bandwith to maintain or don't launch until you have it.

JR: Harvard Business Review is all about failure this month - worth checking out.

Audience: I get stuck on what should be the name of the company. Should you look at the emotion you want to evoke, the functionality?

AB: For Womensphere I looked at inspiration brand names, like Virgin. What would I and other women be proud to be associated with while being neutral.

GG: Buy up the URLs around and misspellings.

LD: You'd be surprised how many people can't spell satellite. Wasn't sure about "sisters" in the name. Working name "Just between us." Brainstorming and riffing led to Satellite Sisters. It was simple, clear and didn't require a lot of explaining.

LD: The Nike name came from the story of winged victory and desire to have a K in the name.

JR: With G23 when working with women over 50, easy to clearly connect with them "newly liberated chauffeurs"

GG: Deep consumer insights help you get to where you're going.

LD: I don't work for them but as a marketer I love Virgin Airlines. They took a comodity bad experience and make you feel better about the experience. Aesthetics, and more. When I'm in the hands of Virgin I feel understood and it earns my total loyalty. What do your people need, what makes them satisfied?

AB: My Virgin flight was delayed and I didn't mind because it was so enjoyable to be there. Virgin inspires - how can you have a better experience at a better price. Another example - every time I see a "life is good" tee shirt, I smile.

LD: Another brand I appreciate is Spanx. Don't you feel understood by Spanx? Don't have to save the world every time.

Aud: I have a brand and a passion but I don't have the time to build. It's a website vs. a tangible product. How to promote? Tees? How do I take it further in tangible ways while I have a consuming job.

AB: Anything that inspires is worthwhile. Take a vacation - give yourself space and time to create your story. Speak at conferences.

JR: Beautiful name but you've got to create the plan.

Aud: I built a brand and sold it but buyers wanted to make changes. How do you deal with promoting a brand that you didn't create, don't have a passionate connection to and within a bigger company.

JR: We buy smaller companies. We just bought one and we are taking the time to get to know each other and making sure we understand that small company and how we benefit each other.

LD: If you have an entrepreneurial spirit don't give up on doing things on your own. Satellite Sisters is still a small part of what I do every week even though am a Sr. exec at a global company. It makes me happy.

Aud: I have a blog and I bought the website LadiesInPink (she is wearing pink - panel points out she is well branded). How should I go about trademarking and copyrighting - how involved should I be.

Panel: Don't invest in a developing a property unless you own the trademark. Start the process immediately.

Aud: How do you take a brand from I like you to I love you?

LD: Focus as much as you can on the people who really love you.