Disclaimers are everywhere. From the websites we visit to the products we buy and the ads we watch, the terms under which consumers read and receive are carefully wrapped in legal bubble-wrap to protect brands from liability. In an age of transparency, such disclosures seem prudent and very much in keeping with the demands of today. You know where you stand. The terms for what you are getting are laid out in explicit detail. Or are they?
If you’re a marketer, commodity status is a bad thing for your brands. It indicates that your product or service is undifferentiated, that it rises and falls with the market and that it carries no inherent value beyond that. That’s fine when things are going well, and supply cannot keep pace with demand – it’s not so good when the dynamics are reversed. I explain how and why perceived brand value degrades to commodity status here.
Every company that rebrands does so with high hopes. Their expectation is of course that this will mark a new chapter in the life of the business. Given how much is being invested, that seems more than a reasonable goal on their part. But is it realistic? How much change can a company expect to see through a rebrand, and where? This article by Laurent Muzellec and Mary Lambkin from some years back lays out some evergreen principles and reminds us that no two rebrands are the same in terms of the results they generate.
Every brand has a truth point – and that point is always the point of contact: the moment when the customer makes contact with the brand, to buy, to ask, to complain, to enquire … Everyone whose studied marketing for any time nods at this obvious point. But interestingly, whilst all brands acknowledge contact as the truth point and most wax lyrical about customer service and having a customer promise, far fewer resource for it or prepare their people thoroughly to deliver on it. A surprising number still don’t explain to their own people how to apply the brand to what they are working on in their day. They seem to just expect it to happen.
What have you got to say for yourself? How and when should a brand take a stand? And if you do, should you go hard or go soft? Talking is a critical part of brand behaviour.
Brands sent powerful messages through how they price. Price can be influential in portraying a brand as affordable and ‘on the side of the customer’, or exclusive and just for the few. It can generate responses ranging from the thrill of a bargain to the indignation of a price tag that seems far too steep.
When I ask people “Which brands do you hate, and why?”, the names and the reasons for disliking said brand come back thick and fast:
Nice piece on the Adidas campaign (thanks for sharing, Dan Ball) draws attention to the need for brands to shift from talking up their products to talking with their customers about the things that matter to them. In this case Adidas puts Luis Suarez out-front and uses the occasion to start a discussion on people’s reactions to those who are successful with the hashtag #therewillbehaters. As Adidas’ director of global brand strategy, Stefanie Knoren points out, “If you put up [this] hashtag … it is not just enough to talk about new boots. People are expecting a conversation around that with you.” A wider brand discussion Increasingly, brands are placing their products and its values and beliefs in the context of a wider discussion. The danger? That the issue overwhelms the product and consumers are more interested in that than what you are trying to ship. Or they’re not interested and give the messages and the product the cold shoulder. The opportunity? To reflect an ethos that people are drawn to, that lifts their esteem …
It’s tempting to see a struggling brand or business as one mass of people, and to believe that underperformance is spread evenly across the organisation. That’s seldom the case.
Brand will tell you a lot if you let it. How you brand, what you brand, where you’re found, who buys you and how often … these and many more questions are all things that competitive businesses ask themselves on a regular basis. I see brand as a highly effective lens for assessing the relevance and competitiveness of a company. Here are 10 ways that you can use “brand” to reveal what your business may need to change or capitalise on: