On-target branding

Carole Sloan, December 4, 2000

There's been so much talk of late about brands and branding.

Unfortunately, for the most part, that's just what it's been-talk. Most folks who are now into one of the latest buzzwords haven't a clue about what is entailed and how they should go about it.

There's one awesome practitioner of the art of brands and branding; Target. And each time it does something for its brand, it just seems to get better and better.

Back a couple of years ago, as the discounter was moving eastward at a fast pace, it made something of retailing history with a summertime ad supplement in one of the prestigious food magazines. Without that tiny target icon on each page, knowledgeable retail competitors were hard pressed to attribute the package to other than one of the tony upper-end department or specialty stores.

Time has passed, and the expansion has progressed. And so has the development of the branding program.

Just in recent weeks there has been a dramatic flurry of activity-all tightly focused, and with an emphasis on the company's dot.com site.

The recent blitz included special ad supplements in such publications as the New York Times home section in October, House & Garden, and a supplement within a supplement of luxury retailers in the Times magazine section a week back.

One was called "All that Glitters for the holidays" and included a Tina (Turner) exclusive CD on the cover and eight pages of disparate gifts with headings like dazzle, sparkle, shine.

Another called "All through the House" detailed "holiday style," room by room and showed merchandise that was relevant to the particular room.

All of these talked about lifestyle, entertaining, the holiday gift times. And all there was of a commercial was that tiny, bright, red target icon.

That's branding! And the entire concept approach is the envy of lots of the upper-end retailers who can't get the funding for something as critical as this.

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