State of the Brand Survey Results Announced: Brand commitment is high; brand creativity is low

January 25, 2007 (PRLEAP.COM) Business News
SAN DIEGO— If companies are highly committed to their brands and spend significant time and resources to keep them fresh and relevant, why do so few brands make a connection with consumers?

Sure, the noisy, highly competitive marketplace makes it difficult. But, based on the State of the Brand Survey, there may be another answer: Brand marketers are stuck in a rut.

Conducted by MiresBall, a leading brand design firm, in conjunction with Luth Research and the American Marketing Association, the survey gathered insights from marketing executives from a broad range of companies, including Albertson’s, UPS, Visa, Johnny Rockets, yahoo! and Intel.

According to survey results released in January 2007, companies are spending more money on marketing activities (11% of annual revenue in 2006, up from 9% in 2004) and revitalizing their brands regularly (8 in 10 were revitalized within the last five years, more than half in the last two years).

The good news: There is a strong correlation between brand revitalization and brand success.

The bad news: Marketers appear to be falling short in two critical areas: brand positioning and brand marketing.

Consider the following:

• 56% of brands are positioned around “value,” “premium” and “innovative.” Even more telling, marketers anticipate very little net change in brand positioning over the next five years, with “value,” “premium” and “innovative” continuing to hold the top spots.

• Although marketers cite “word-of-mouth,” “customer service interaction,” “Web & interactive” and “public relations” as the most effective methods for communicating their brand, they spend over 60% of their marketing budget on traditional outreach mechanisms such as broadcast and print advertising, direct mail and corporate communications.

According to Rachel Thomas, marketing director for MiresBall, the findings highlight the need for more out-of-the-box thinking. “A brand positioning should be highly differentiating. It should be black compared to a competitor’s white, in the same vein as the classic rivalries between Coke and Pepsi and McDonald’s and Burger King. If a company follows the pack, it will never break through the noise and grab consumer attention.”

The survey also found that brand positioning follows a lifecycle, with younger brands favoring a “lifestyle” or “innovation” positioning and older brands favoring a “traditional” or “biggest” positioning.

John Ball, partner/creative director, explains the problem with this model: “In many ways, a brand is like an individual; it should not change significantly as a function of age. Take Apple. Since its iconic ‘1984’ ad, Apple has stood for ‘humanistic innovation.’ As the Apple brand ages, it evolves to stay relevant, but it remains unchanged at its core.”

Although marketers understand the power of less conventional brand-building tools, they appear slow to implement them. As Ball explains, “Marketers need to follow the lead of trend-setting brands. From Target’s vertical fashion shows to Dove’s Real Beauty photography exhibit, the smartest companies are blurring the lines between self-promotion and entertainment, business and culture, advertising and experience, to create brand impact.”

Brand marketers clearly understand the challenges of today’s marketplace, citing the “rise of strong competitors,” “changing customer demographics/psychographics,” “pricing pressure” and “lack of brand awareness” as their primary concerns. So why do they seem slow to change the way they position and market their brands?

According to Thomas, many clients cite “fresh thinking” as the main reason for bringing in an outside creative partner. Based on the results of the State of the Brand Survey, they may be on to something: Companies that spend more than 25% of their marketing budget working with creative service partners are more successful.

For the complete State of the Brand Report, download a PDF at

About MiresBall
Founded in 1984, MiresBall is one of the largest independent brand design agencies in Southern California. A trusted partner of leading national and global brands, MiresBall creates market differentiation by melding two powerful ideas—lifestyle and innovation. The agency’s expertise lies in developing and implementing fully integrated marketing campaigns encompassing positioning, identity development, messaging, advertising and print, as well as packaging, tradeshow environment and Web design.

For more information about MiresBall, visit

About Luth Research
Founded in 1977, Luth Research consistently offers clients around the world the kind of forward-thinking market research that moves businesses ahead. Beyond its state-of-the-art focus group facilities and CATI stations, Luth offers unparalleled access to multi-dimensional data via its online research community of 3.5 million people worldwide.

For more information about Luth Research, visit