Today the anti tobacco lobby demanded the withdrawal of logos, colours and themeing on cigarette packaging. I say bravo – in honesty I think the habit is revolting as well as harmful – but that’s just my opinion. Call me crazy but sucking in someone elses used exhaust fumes is like french kissing a Galapagos lizard.

As marketers though, we should all take note of the strategem here. What these good folk are actually saying is that branding and its cohort projections are influential and if that doesn’t seem important, we should all think again.

For as long as I can remember, argument for and against branding has raged. Certainly the power of the brand is accepted by large marketing savvy organisations, who already experience success with long term corporate and product imagery but what about the medium to small businesses who live in a world of brand denial?

These are the vulnerable companies. I call them vulnerable because they are the victims of the local media reps. You know, the Bobby Cheapdeal who peddles the idea of local exposure using packages, ad hoc specials and features guaranteed to sell at least a few squillion packets of budgie seed. The unsuspecting ‘no brand’ business is ill equipped to understand the nuances of branding and in a desperate search to grab some market share they turn to inconsistent, badly formatted advertisements which have no strategic value and usually end in a poor result.

The anti tobacco lobby have sent out a message from which all businesses can learn. They’ve effectively acknowledged that branding and corporate themeing influences purchases. They said: take away the brand and its cohort design elements and you defuse the potency of sale. And they’re right.

It does of course work both ways. Stop the brand in its tracks by debranding – slow down the sales. It therefore follows in logical conclusion that if you want to influence sales begin a brand strategy today.

There’s no smoke without fire and while the anti tobacco lobby strive to rid us of smoking remember their aim is to keep more people alive. Ironically, they may also help us to keep many small to medium businesses alive also.

I’m off for a quick whiff!