When we talk about brand traction we mean ‘sticking power’ in the sense that customers really understand what a company’s brand is all about, what it stands for, its reputation overall and how relevant it is to their own lives. But we also mean ‘force’ in terms of being able to pull ahead of its competitors.
Brand traction is something that has to be cumulatively built up over time, be it service or product, through the relationships it has with its suppliers, staff, customers and the media.
Relationships with the media are extremely important in terms of brand traction too, and not just in the promotional sense. Walmart and McDonald’s, for instance, are currently being ostracised in the States over their failure to pay what is perceived as a minimum wage. Starbucks and Amazon meanwhile are facing criticism over their failure to pay UK taxes.
Both of these issues will adversely affect the reputation of these multi-national companies to some degree, generate negative brand traction and compromise sales because certain consumers will boycott them on principle alone. No company wants to be known as the organisation that doesn’t pay its staff a living wage or reneges on its tax obligations.
Then there are the brands that have positive brand traction, who are memorable for all the right reasons. A major study recently by US research firm Added Value looked at the cultural traction of a number of the world’s largest brands, 160 brands over 15 sectors to be exact. They measured them in terms of four major metrics – how visionary they were, inspiring, bold and exciting.
This infographic shows the results in terms of the Top 10 Global Brands. The most rapid-changing and innovative sector in society at this moment in time, computing and technology, not surprisingly claims the top three positions.
Casualties were Facebook (remember its recent rows over privacy?) and alcohol brands which all suffered in terms of popularity due to what the study described as ‘a fall in cultural relevance.’ Absolut Vodka was the highest alcohol brand in the study.
In contrast, Dove with its 10 year long ‘real beauty’ campaign, where it dispelled media representations of idealized female beauty, was described as responsible and its brand traction positively increased as a result. It was also noted for its creativity.
In terms of the list then it’s clear to see that the brands which ranked highest were innovative, forward-thinkers and leaders in their field – they ‘dared to be different’ – none of them could ever be accused of being bland. All are distinctive, and we don’t mean this in terms of their logo or advertising jingle, but largely through the way in which they ‘see the world’, engage with it and endeavour to change it.
Amazon is a brand which has gained huge traction in the field of cloud computing. The US Central Intelligence Agency recently considered dropping IBM (whom they’ve been with for years) in favour of the global company which initially made its name in the world of e-commerce as a global powerhouse.
Meanwhile, in a desperate effort to achieve better brand traction last year PepsiCo engaged in an intense bout of brand building via a huge advertising and marketing spend (5.7 per cent of revenue). In North America they flooded stores with in-house displays and globally launched the Pepsi campaign ‘Live for Now’. With it came a new positioning statement involving the idea of ‘Now’, ‘as in the present moment’. Early figures indicate the campaign has been successful.
Runner and Olympic silver medallist Yohan Blake attempted to up his brand traction by emulating his fellow team mate Usain Bolt, known for his famous lightning pose, by creating a pose for his own personal brand. Unfortunately in his case the results weren’t quite so successful. In order to achieve ‘brand’ success Blake needs to develop his own distinct brand personality, different positioning, memorable message and authentic promise instead of trying to be a boring copy of something that’s already been successfully done, in effect ‘owned’ by another entity.
At present Blake is endeavouring to grow his brand traction by imitating Bolt, through adopting a pose after a race, when really he should be trying to differentiate himself and show his own unique qualities. His ‘brand message’ should also be unique to make his brand credible. After all it’s what he stands for and the associations that come with the pose that will ultimately lead to stronger branding for Blake.
- How much traction do you think your brand currently has?
- Are there areas in which you perhaps, need to do a bit more work, in order to achieve more brand cohesiveness?
- Where would your brand stand in the Added Value survey in terms of visionary, inspiring, bold and exciting?