Thursday, February 15, 2007

Zondervan Writes the Book on Branding

This morning was one of the better West Michigan PRSA events I've attended in my 10 or so years as a member of the group.

Bill Oechsler of Zondervan gave an excellent presentation on branding. It was a case study about the locally based Christian publisher's recent rebranding. Sometimes the downside of case studies is that they are so specific that there is not broad applicability, but that wasn't true in this case.

For one, Zondervan's was an interesting case. It's a West Michigan company that can show some significant success on a national stage, and thus give hope to all of us. Also, the three micro cases Bill presented had lessons that all could apply to their own company or organization. Included in these lessons are:

  • Public relations is more than publicity, it's about relationships, and thus has a major and central role to play in branding;
  • A brand is more than a logo; it must have meaning for intended publics and be about something no one else can offer;
  • You can and should use lots of creative and unique tactics to launch and perpetuate the brand.

    In addition, I like that Bill stressed they wanted to stand apart not just in their industry, but against all brands. Think about it: Coke, McDonalds, Zondervan. (I just hope they don't get together and offer Bible hero figures in Happy Meals).

    Seriously, it's encouraging to see local companies stand tall in the national and global branding game. I've said it before, I'll say it again--real innovation doesn't have to come from New York and LA.
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