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  • Sam Decker

Marketing Bullseye 10: Brand “Credit” Activities Only

There is an article in the recent MarketingProfs that is a great way to think about whether or not to do a marketing activity — and therefore a great way to prioritize marketing activities with limited resources. Essentially you must conscsiously ask yourself or your team a set of questions to determine if any given marketing activity will be a credit to your brand ‘checkbook’, or debit.

The principle is brought from Starbucks. Here’s a snapshot of the article:

Just as your personal checkbook has credits and debits, a brand checkbook has credits and debits in the form of brand credits and brand debits. "Brand credits" are business activities that enhance the reputation and perception people have of a brand, and "brand debits" are those that detract from the reputation and perception of the brand. When faced with determining the appropriateness of marketing activities such as a promotion, sponsorship, program, or special event, the marketing department first determines whether the activity is a brand credit or debit. To determine the positive impact (credit) or negative impact (debit) of a potential marketing activity, Starbucks marketers ask the following questions:
  1. Does the marketing activity respect the intelligence of Starbucks customers?

  2. Can Starbucks expertly deliver on all the promises made to customers in the proposed activity?

  3. Will Starbucks employees be excited and motivated by the activity?

  4. Will customers view the marketing activity as being clever, original, genuine, and authentic? If the marketing department answered "yes" to three of these four questions, then the activity is considered a brand credit. On the other hand, if Starbucks marketers answered "no" to more than one question, then the activity would be considered a brand debit. The Starbucks marketing department would then need to discuss the business importance of doing that brand debit activity.


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