What Does Wall Street Know About Branding?

I recently decided to spend my weekend in a class on complex stock trades. Although this is a bit off-task for a marketer like me, I found it interesting that there are a few companies so enamored with their brands that they use brand symbols or creative abbreviations for their stock ticker.

harley Davidson logo memorable

Recognized for HOG by bikers and investors alike

For example, if you were going to invest in HOG, who might that be? No, it’s not a pig farm–it’s Harley Davidson, natch! MOO, however, is a cattle-related agribusiness concern. CAT is not cattle-related, but instead is the stock ticker for Caterpillar, manufacturer of tractors and heavy equipment.

Who owns the LUV brand symbol? Not a perfumery or jewelry company. It’s Southwest Airlines, a cost-efficient airline.

Embroiderered southwest airlines logo

How about a little “LUV” in the heart?

The LUV term originated with their home airport of Dallas LOVE Field, and then was co-opted by corporate branding to apply to the airlines LUV of customers and reasonable fares.

Other interesting tickers for brand symbols include:

  • BID, Sotheby’s auction house
  • CAKE, The Cheesecake Factory
  • BTU, Peabody Energy Company (coal)
  • WOOF, VCA Anatech, a pet healthcare company
  • BOOM, provider of explosives and mining/construction equipment

Do these cutesy stock tickers have any impact on the performance of the company or the stock? Interestingly, some academics from Pomona College compared company performance of companies with clever stock symbols with the market as a whole, and found they performed better by a factor of 23.5%. Who knew?

brand symbols stock market

If you’re looking to promote your brand on Wall Street or Main Street, try decorated apparel or logo embroidery. Ask WikiThreads about  Plano embroidery or Plano t-shirts.


What Campaign Posters Teach Us About Branding

branding principles

Campaign Sign Cacophony.

A glance at campaign posters for the May 29th Texas primary demonstrates some of the fundamental principles of branding that also apply to businesses.

Represent core values. The first rule is that your brand and your logo need to represent your core values. Every politician wants to convey to voters that they are patriotic. So of course, we see lots of red and blue signs that are virtually indistinguishable from each other.

Stand out from your competitors. Only one of the candidates’ posters stands out, that of Terri Green. With a last name like Green, it’s no surprise that the candidate has decided to use the color green. Perhaps the voters will cut her some slack and decide she’s just as patriotic as the rest? Is it essential for you to repeat the same benefits that your competitors do? Or is there something unique you can promote about your business that will make you memorable than your competitors?

Repeat impressions matter. In the photo above, it looks like candidate Ben Smith understands this principle. Academic literature is filled with studies about advertising effective frequency. There’s no easy answer to how much advertising is enough, and whether it’s more effective to concentrate ads and risk annoying the audience, or to spread them out for reminder value. Brands have realized that building awareness vs. a sales pitch is effective, which is why we see product placement, event sponsorships, Plano t-shirts, logo embroidery, and promotional products.

Advertise at the point of sale. It’s hardly necessary to look up the address for a local polling booth. The cluttered sign landscape leads the way. It’s almost as if candidates fear that voters will forget their name en route to the polls. Unfortunately, there is some truth to that. Consumers think most clearly about their needs and products or services that meet the criteria when they are ready to buy.

Are you promoting your business at the decision point for the consumer? For consumer products, that frequently means advertising at the check out stand. For more complex product sales, consumers do on-line research, so search engine advertising is crucial. If you have a local restaurant or service business, the decision point is now the smart phone, as consumers search for the nearest business while running errands. Are you listed and search engine optimized in Google+, Yelp, or other mobile directories? If not, you are missing out on today’s point of sale advertising.

To see some of my other recent posts on political branding, refer to:

Promoting the Jeran Akers Campaign with Screen-Printed T-Shirts

Political Promotional Products Grab Interest


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