Building a brand is not achieved through advertising, but rather publicity. A prime example of this is Starbucks who had spent less than $10 million in advertising in its first 10 years. Larger companies like McDonald’s spend more and more on advertising to maintain their brand and keep their position in the consumers’ minds. For older, more established companies, advertising helps to remind the world that they are still around. For a new company, it won’t do much good in the way or “reminding”. This is where publicity and PR come into play.
- PR is more reputable and trustworthy than advertising.
- Advertising helps to maintain a brand, not build it.
- A company will (usually) not gain much momentum from advertising early in the brand’s life.
- Advertising costs exponentially more than PR, and advertising’s effects are not as long lasting as those of PR.
Referring again to Starbucks, they rode the PR train until just recently when advertising was needed to maintain their market (and mind) share. PR worked for them for all of the reasons above, and they were able to continue using it.
In order to generate publicity and buzz around a brand it first has to be capable of generating publicity. A way to do this: being the first in a category or niche market. For example, Jell-O (now synonymous with gelatin desserts) was the first brand of gelatin desserts, and Xerox (also synonymous with its product: copiers) was the first plain-paper copier. Being first in their categories helped to generate massive amounts of publicity. Now, later in the brands’ life cycles, advertising is needed to maintain the brand. Another great benefit of being the first: the brands have captured mind share, and have created a new meaning for their names. When a consumer needs a cotton swab or a tissue, they think of Q-Tips or Kleenex, and even call all tissues and cotton swabs as Q-Tips and Kleenexes. This only helps to reiterate the brand and its “quality” for being first.
Media is more prone to talk about what’s new, hot, and emerging, rather than what is better. While consumers are usually welcoming of better products, they are more interested in learning about new products. For example, the Blu-ray player is not only supposedly better than the DVD player, it is new (to consumers).
For many years public relations has been seen as a secondary option to marketing and advertising. The combination of the two and the use of PR to bring a brand to life are vital to the well-being of a brand. PR should be used first (and most times over advertising) to help promote a brand and company. Advertising ought to be used to maintain a brand’s already generated publicity. Though PR is harder to control, and usually the result of outside parties reporting and mentioning your company, you can use the new tools that technology has given to advertisers, PR professionals, and marketers alike. Using these tools, combining PR and marketing efforts, and being a part of your online reputation, PR can build a brand.