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Great post on the Hill Mullikin blog about the need for new thinking in the marketing world. What’s interesting about it? Simple: This isn’t coming from a “new marketing” or Marketing 2.0 source like Seth Godin, Tom Asacker or Francois Gossieaux, but from someone who has been working in the agency trenches for years, using primarily traditional marketing tools to make their clients successful and happy. Yet here they are, talking about looking for a better way:

Is it time for us marketers to look in the mirror?  I believe some of the problem lies in the cookie-cutter approaches that most real estate developments have taken.  And we are all guilty.  Unlike most corporate brands with armies of marketing generals and brand police, real estate has always been armed with sales savvy entrepreneurs and “I need it yesterday” deadlines.  And when the pressure is on, we all default to what we know best – what ever worked last time.

The critical thinking that needs to go into a successful brand is always left in a haze of gotta-have-it-now timelines.  In the end, we have magazines full of beautiful mountain views, couples holding hands on the beach, seniors with their feet kicked up on bicycles (which I don’t think has ever happened without a camera around), and golf holes basking in the morning light.

We have forgotten some of the branding fundamentals that really connect with people and tug on the heartstrings.  Branding is about differentiation.  About standing out and being easily identifiable in a herd.

Brands are not things that developers or marketers create.  Brands are built in the minds of consumers.  And the art of “branding” is what allows you to plant that seed in the users mind.

So where do we start?  Back at the basics.  All successful brand share four common characteristics:

1. The brand presents a tangible point of difference. Attributes have been identified that sets the brand apart from the competition. Does the world really need just another signature golf community?

2. The brand is relevant to its audience. The audience has been identified, and that audience feels a need in their heart that can be satisfied. Is your community what the market wants, or is it a monument to your ideals?

3. The brand is consistent. The audience, when greeted by the receptionist, when reading a magazine or surfing online, sees and hears the same core message.  Verbal and visual cues align across all mediums.

4. The messages are frequent. When you understand what makes you different, who you need to target and what you need to say—then say it. Again, and again, and again.

So, does marketing really need to change?  Or did marketing ever change?  I think that it is really time to go back to basics and identify how we effectively communicate our unique selling propositions, who we are talking to, what they desire and last but not least, ask them to do something.

Do I call this progress? You bet.