#brandlibraries

I’m on the #brandlibraries working party – one of the LIANZA’s Strengthening the Profession projects. I couldn’t really not put my hand up for this project, seeing as I have been banging on about libraries and aspects of marketing for a while. However some stressful personal family circumstances made me doubt if I had the energy for this. Well I ended up applying, things have changed family wise and the project is now under way and I am part of the working party. Vye Perrone (Waikato University) is chairing the working party, and other team members are Sandy Green (Masterton Public) and Amanda-Jane McFadden (Tauranga Public).

I won’t be blogging about every aspect of the working party – that won’t be appropriate as the project is LIANZA’s and there are reporting requirements back to LIANZA Council. But at the moment I’m considering what branding is, and thinking about what it is we might exactly need to achieve.

The project aim is to “Create a strong, unified library “brand” aimed at decision makers, which spell out the economic and social value of libraries in New Zealand”

So let’s have a look at what some of my favourite library marketing gurus have to say on the subject.

In The Accidental Library Marketer, Kathy Dempsey (p. 125) says:

Branding is another important aspect to consider as you look at your overall marketing picture. That’s really about developing the “personality” of your product and service. How do you want people to see you? What characteristics should come to mind when people think of you?

In The Library Marketing Toolkit, Ned Potter (p. 37-38) writes:

Branding is the:

 process of creating a recognizable product or service – building an identity which people understand – and marketing it as distinct from potential competitors.

(For libraries these are bookshops, the internet and other institutions people can invest time in).

The brand … is the sum total of everyone’s perceptions about what you do. It is the way people feel about your library, the way people describe your library to others. Clearly branding as a marketing practise is an attempt to influence this as favourably as possible. But the brand is in the eye of the beholder – in the eyes of the users and non-users of your library – so you can never fully control it .. To put it a simpler way, a brand exists in the way people feel about something; branding is an attempt to make these feelings positive

He also writes – and these aspects are key (p. 39,)

Ultimately the aim of an organization’s branding and visual identity is not just to give a good impression, but to help people position that organization within their lifestyle. It helps people make a decision as to whether something is “for them” or not … Branding doesn’t just increase use of the library by attracting new customers, it also increases the amount of use by existing customers, and influences those decision makers who hold the purse strings for library finance

Libraries are already a strong brand – and to most people, that brand means books. A recent US study* indicated that this association was only getting stronger – in 2010 75% of American’s associated libraries with books, which was up from 69% in 2005.

In his post on The Physics of Your Library Brand, Steve Matthews points out:

There are few brands in the world bigger than LIBRARY. Library is generic – they are all the same, they are interchangeable, they all function the same, look and smell the same as far as the public perception is concerned. LIBRARY is one of the biggest brands ever developed. It took centuries to create the LIBRARY brand – BOOK. It will not be replaced easily or quickly – “the bigger a brand, the more difficult it is to reposition it”

However strong brands don’t always survive. Libraries have been fighting threats to our brand for almost as long as I have been in the profession (and that is a few years now!).

But as Steve Matthews asks:

How can the library re-invent itself and change its brand to survive in the 21st Century technology and information marketplace? How can we apply physics to library marketing in order to move the library’s position in the marketplace?

One of his recommendations is:

On a national level, library associations must conduct marketing campaigns that change the LIBRARY brand to something other than BOOK

So we do already have a brand, the question is probably are we wanting to reposition it?

And for this project – is it necessary to reposition the library brand in order to meet the primary outcome of the project which is “libraries are recognised as core to a healthy and prosperous New Zealand” ?  You could say it isn’t, but you could also argue that this is an ideal opportunity to attempt to do so!

Or should we focus more on a publicity/public relations campaign. And if that is the case what about the information about the “economic and social value libraries in New Zealand”? Presumably any campaign is going to need to have this information – so where will it come from? Are the advocacy pages on the LIANZA website developed well enough to draw upon?

We have an interesting challenge ahead!

http://www.oclc.org/reports/2010perceptions.htm (see pg. 38)

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Demystifying Marketing definitions

Definitions in the field of marketing can be rather confusing – many terms are used interchangeably. For instance people can talk about marketing when more correctly they are talking about advertising. These definitions from Kathy Dempsey’s book – The accidental library marketer (2009, p. 16-17) – are useful for demystifying some of the terminology:

Marketing is taking steps to move goods from producers to consumers. It’s determining what people want, delivering it, evaluating consumer satisfaction, and then periodically updating that whole process.

Public relations is a planned, long-term communication program (via various media) with a goal of convincing the public to have good will toward something. It’s helping people to think well of an organization, product or concept.

Publicity is sending a message via official channels such as news releases, newsletters and press conferences.

Promotion is furthering the growth or development of a product or service. It’s not just aiming toward good will; it’s encouraging people to use the product or service by telling those people how it would benefit them.

Advertising is calling attention to something through paid announcements.

Branding is a process with dual objectives: 1) establishing a strong link between a company and its logo/typeface/picture or name/phrase and 2) developing the “personality” of your product and service, establishing the characteristics that should come to mind when people think of you. Branding helps build loyalty.

Advocacy is getting people who have good opinions of your organization to speak others on its behalf, to convince other people of its value. 

Stare at these definitions long enough and I think that even they start to get a bit blurry around the edges 😉

It is worth considering that in a marketing framework, advertising, promotion public relations and publicity are part of the marketing communications mix – which according to Kotler and Keller in  A framework for marketing management (2009, p. 256)  is:

 the means by which firms attempt to inform, persuade and remind consumers – directly or indirectly – about the products and brands they sell. They represent the “voice” of the company and brand and are a good way to establish a dialogue and build relationships with consumers”.

The other parts of the marketing communications mix are events, direct marketing, interactive marketing, word-of-mouth marketing and personal selling.

Because these elements that make up the marketing communications mix are the parts of marketing that we usually see, it tends to dominate our view of what marketing actually is.

And just to add to any confusion, I was chatting to a colleague at work about where public relations fitted into marketing – i.e. it’s a component of marketing.  Well apparently according to public relations theory, marketing is a subset of public relations!

Facebook and New Zealand organizations – a PR perspective

I recently had the opportunity to hear a talk by Dr Kane Hopkins (School of Communication, Journalism and Marketing, Massey University) on how New Zealand organisations are using Facebook*.

First up were his 3 takeaways for the session:
1. Facebook is best used as a space to interact with customers (via likes etc) – it is not an easy way to sell or market
2. “Likes”will enthusiastically engage with an organization
3. Much of what happens is meaningless!

Facebook is:
– a communication space – not a marketing space – it’s about people expressing who they are and who they like
– a customer services tool – people like organizations and then post customer services queries – this has created a burden for some organizations

Facebook observations:
– “liking” is easy – but pretty meaningless. For instance people can like something but not necessarily back that up by donating money – the exception is where likers have a strong attachment to causes they support (e.g Paws for Justice)
– because of this, Facebook on its own is not enough. Organizations successful on Facebook – like Paws for Justice – use it as just another communication channel
–  photos are king on social media – people are interested in photos of other people and spend more time looking at them than videos (this is worth keeping in mind!)

The actual research looked at 12 organizations – and posts over 21 days (these could be posts from the organisation themselves, or posts others had put on the organisation’s wall). The four models of PR (Grunig + Hunt, 1984) were applied to the Facebook communications of the organizations studied. On Facebook most for the PR activities of the organizations observed were in the areas of customer service, stakeholder engagement and events.

The challenge!
– organizations need to be smart – a Facebook presence may not be useful – and just because everyone else is on it, doesn’t necessarily mean it will work for you
– it is very difficult for a brand to establish itself on Facebook – big brands do well because they are big – so they will get a lot of fans (e.g. Coke)
– Facebook keep changing the rules which is becoming a problem with administering pages
– how does an organization keep people interested so they continue to appear in people’s news feeds?

The good news for organizations:

– people want to engage with you (especially younger people)
– Facebook pages provide venues for fans to voice opinions
– Facebook is a great source of marketing intelligence (e.g. Air NZ asking people where they would like to go)

Kane is undertaking more research in this area – and it will be fascinating to see what comes out of that. It is clear that it is still early days for understanding Facebook – and despite claims to the contrary out there, it is very difficult to be an expert on it!

*Kane’s presentation was base onresearch by a Massey University Master’s student – I’ve yet to get their details.