Hitting the core

Lately I have been thinking about a big question relating to communicative branding: How do we make our consumers feel relevant to our products and services?  Traditionally, marketing has been all about repeating and repeating product names and features, repeating again, pushing and shouting at the consumer via the mass media.


This approach is losing effectiveness.  We are heading towards an era in which brand perceptions are shaped by customers, instead of forged by the seller.

Still, many marketers use the traditional approach to sell, pounding away: “We are good!  We are unique!  Therefore our products are good! ”  The consumer has become cynical and resistant to such overt pitching.  So the question becomes, once you define your brand attributes, how to release them into the market and have your target audience “feel” relevant to your product without having to promote it too hard in a sea of competing messages.

These two commercials are excellent examples of “letting brand attributes go” without over selling:

In these commercials, relevancies are key.  The first commercial sells permanent markers and lets the meaning of “permanent” go. The concept of permanent in relation to their products is not perceived until the end of commercial, at which time it achieves a great, humorous, almost transformational relevancy.  The other commercial takes a similar approach: it is all about “relaxation,” and does not promote hotel services until the very end.

In each, the brand attributes are so relevant to us that we experience an empathy with the product by the end of the commercial.

Sometimes, we should not push our services and products too hard. In the long run, creating a sense of relevancy could be the most effective way to draw your customers’ attention to your products and services, without aggressive promotion.

Are your brand attributes communicating? If not, contact LakeOMedia!.


Someone asked me.

“How do you say “CHANGE”  in Japanese?”

The Japanese word is “Henkaku” and is written below:


For the sake of argument, let’s say Obama were to implement the presidential campaign in Japan.  Should his keyword “change” be translated to the Japanese characters above for key messaging in the campaign?

From marketing perspective, the answer would likely be NO. It should stay in English, as “CHANGE,” and not be translated into the Japanese characters “henkaku.”

The English word “change” is a very common in Japan, and it brings the same attributes as it does in the United States.  It immediately clicks with everyone, similar to how the word “OK” clicks across languages and regions of the world.  Whereas “henkaku” implies mechanical innovation or methodological improvement, “CHANGE” implies something fresh, pro-active, a significant departure from what went before, and even, something better to hope for in the future. 

Below is a graphic that has became popular in Japan.  You can see the attributes in play:


When you go into the Japanese market, it is critical how you communicate your own tagline. In many cases, direct translation does not necessarily communicate your message in the market.  Sometimes,  Just like “CHANGE,” a simple, universal term can effectively resonate outside the United States as well.  Knowing the difference can spell the difference between successful localization and not.

Special thanks to Mikal Anderson of LakeOMedia and TokiOMedia for his contributions to this article.

I often blog about how to localize your brand for the Japanese market. You should carefully examine if your brand attributes need to be localized. 

However, some companies can stay with consistent global brand attributes: Ritz and Oreo are the good examples. You see the cultural adjustments here but these TV commercials clearly show the same product attributes.

Ritz commercial

Ritz commercial in Japan


OREO commercial

OREO commercial  in Japan

Marketing in Japan? Contact LakeOMedia!

I am totally in love with this commercial.

This girl in the picture below is a famous Geisha Blogger from Kyoto (my hometown!) who generated a lot of international media buzz through her bilingual blogs (English & Japanese). I just found out that she is taking a short break from blogging.  Too bad but LakeOMedia hopes that she will come back soon!

To read her blogs, click here.  Elegant  web design too!


(Photo Source:  DayLife )

I always love this  Marketing Campaign by Buckley’s. Another excellent example of  “‘Less is More.”

(Agency: Saatchi & Saatchi)


It is all about framing… 


Customer :  “Wow, this one is so fruity. …”

Sales person: “Earthy?”

Customer : “Yes! Yes! Earthy!”



The New Sophisticated-Smelling me. (NY Times August 16, 2007).

And watch this. 

Next Page »