Month: October 2011

Cancelling the brand: what has Qantas really grounded?

The ramifications for the brand after Qantas’ decision to ground its entire fleet over the weekend are obvious. It’s a move that has no doubt put tens of thousands of people in a very bad mood and set the scenes in my view for an ongoing internal war that may well prove unrecoverable. In brand terms, Qantas has done something equally damaging. In looking to force a regulatory decision, it has handed its competitors the perfect bridge: actions that discredit trust; and a prompted opportunity for customers to try out the opposition. One of the most powerful incentives for change is doubt – that nagging, unrelenting feeling that somehow a brand is not what it used to be, or even worse that it cannot be taken at its word. The other incentive is access to another channel that is viable, credible and that offers an opportunity to vent emotion. Both incentives exist here. Meaning people now not only have a reason to walk, they have lots of gates to walk to. Domestically and internationally, competing …

Does efficiency jeopardise brand?

In the hunt for more streamlined businesses that are less resource intensive, how real is the risk that brands are actually putting people off dealing with them? When does an efficient process become so rationalised that it loses its humanity and therefore its appeal? On the face of it, brand and efficiency have similar objectives. They’re both about creating financial headroom – but of course they approach that goal from opposite directions. Efficiency is so often about what can be subtracted. Brand is all about what can be added, at least perceptually, that people will pay more for. The problem occurs when the experience is over-compromised in the interests of saving money: when the seats become too cramped; the aisles too narrow; the servings too small; the service too automated … Because it’s at that point, that delight leaves the building, and customers start looking elsewhere because they feel you’re being mean-spirited. There are, as I see it, two ways to address this: 1. Set very clear customer expectations. If you’re running a high volume, …

Customers or passengers?

It’s amazing who we forget and how quickly. I don’t remember any of the people on the bus last week. Who did I ride home with last Thurday? My mind goes blank. It’s nothing personal – it’s simply that I have no reason to remember them. Or they me. Exactly the same for most transactions that take place between people and brands. People get what they’re looking for, and then they go. If you ask the people responsible for running brands what customers they want, they’ll often say “as many as possible” or “people who spend a lot” or this age group or that ethnic group – but that’s not what they really want at all. Because, when probed, they have no idea who they want as customers. They’ll take anyone whose buying. They just want the money. And yet many of them spend their working days trying to get those very same people to value them above the myriad other offerings. To value them as more than just a price. As Robert Kozinets has …

Turning your brand into the authority

In this article in Business Week, Howard Schultz talks about how the mighty Starbucks brand lost its way – mistaking aroma rather than coffee for the core of its business and embraking on a strategy that saw it shift seriously off-course. The problem, as Schultz explains, is that by the time the company realised that they had diluted their brand position, breakfast sandwiches had become 3 percent of the company’s total revenue. Getting back on track was a big call. He did it anyway. We talk a lot these days about thought leadership – but really, I see that as a component of a bigger objective: market authority. You may or may not want to be the biggest in a sector, but the article says there are three actions that you need to take if you have lost your mojo and, like Starbucks, are looking to re-establish brand authority. I actually picked up five: The first decision is obvious – decide what you want to be the authority in as a brand, and keep the …