Top 10 Branding Articles in 2015

Are you curious which Persona Branding and Design articles have been the most popular over the past year?

 

We’re always interested to see which of our posts resonate most with you, our reader. Even though we do lots of research and planning, there are no guarantees which topics will trigger the most interest.

 

Here you’ll find an insider’s peek into our top ten most popular branding articles of 2015, some of which you might have missed.

 

I’m sure you’ll find at least one that will be very useful to your business in the year ahead.

Wishing you growing success in 2016!

   

  

Top 10 Branding Articles In 2015 600px

  

   

1. Rebranding Strategy: Why Your Rebrand Must Embrace Storytelling

 

The differences between a tired, old, has-been of a brand and a fresh, lithe and provocative one can be boiled down to a singular concept: storytelling. The art of telling a story, and telling it well, is integral to grabbing every potential customer’s attention, and a key part of your brand strategy.

 

The secret to success in the elegant art of storytelling lies in understanding its fundamental components. Though by no means comprehensive, what follows is a breakdown of some major elements that any good story should include. These are in fact some of the key ingredients we incorporate in our Story Selling System™ used when developing our clients’ brand stories:

 

The Top 5 Components of a Great Brand Story are as follows…

    

  

 Open Book 600px

   

  

2. Creating New Brands: Top 10 Tips for Brand Success  

 

Launching a new brand is both exciting and challenging. The excitement comes in the promise of something fresh and new that could be wildly successful, be it for your well established, emerging or new start-up company — and the challenge comes in getting it right the first time.

  

Evaluating, articulating, developing and documenting your new brand’s position and purpose is crucial to building a strong successful brand.

  

It provides the roadmap and rationale to get you out of the starting blocks and heading in the right direction towards your ultimate success. And similar to your business plan, it’s also a key foundation to any successful business, be it product or service.

 

The question here is, do you know the key ingredients required for building a new brand?

 

To help you move in the right direction with your branding here are some of the elements we typically include in our branding process every time we’re working with a client to help them build their brand, whether it’s revitalizing an existing brand or launching a totally new brand to market.

 

These are actionable points which you should reference and evaluate before you launch your new brand, product or service, to market.

   

   

 Top 10 Branding Tips For Success 600px 


  

3. What Customers Want: Top 16 Branding Trends in 2016

 

More than a half century ago, the customer-centric branding pioneer Walter Landor said, “Products are made in the factory, but brands are created in the mind.” [1] In 2016, the path to that consumer experience is a two-way street, and guess who’s in the driver’s seat? Brands with strong personality are the winners, because consumers equate experiences with brands.

  

Branding keywords for 2016 include: personalized, authentic, humanized, interactive, engaging, and mobile.

 

We take a closer look at some outstanding examples from brands that illustrate key 2016 on-trend pointers to successfully target today’s customers.

  

 

  Edelman Slide1 600px

Image via www.edelman.com

 

 

4. Brand Profiling: Top 6 Components to Creating a Strong Brand Personality  

 

Your brand is much more than merely a product or service, or a logo. Brands are an experience—the relationship between your business and your customers—and to create an exceptional customer experience, your brand must have an irresistible personality.

 

To quote Martyn Newman PhD “In the information age and globalised economy where values and meaning matter more in the market place, the value of emotional capital increases. This creates brand value and goodwill and results in repeat sales through customer loyalty, lifetime relationships and referrals. In other words, the brand is more than a name or a logo; it creates trust and recognition and is a promise and an emotional contract with each customer.”

 

Brand profiling is the systematic process of creating, developing and implementing your brand character and personality through shaping its brand promise, values, the do’s and don’ts of its behaviours, story, emotional benefits, its culture and what it stands for and so forth.

 

It’s this humanized entity that gets your brand message out into the market, cuts through the noise and gets the attention of your primary customers in a way that matters to them.

 

When creating and developing the profiles for our clients’ brands we use our bespoke Personality Profile Performer™, a systematic approach which underpins the commercial, rational, and holistic aspects of successful brand profile building.

 

The following six key elements are representative of some of the core ingredients included within this branding process, used to create and deploy a compelling personality for your brand.

  

  

 Martyn Newman Brands And Emotion

Image via www.eqsummit.com

 

 

5. Co-Branding: 13 Tips for Growing Your Brand Through Strategic Partnerships 

 

Co-branding is defined as a partnership between brands. It typically works best when Brand A partners with Brand B, each with a different set of customers and brand associations of their own.

 

As in the expression, “the whole is bigger than the parts,” co-branding can add value when synergy exists between the brands; it creates an emotional energy, starts conversations and creates buzz around both partners and can delivery significantly increased financial returns for all involved when done right.

  

In addition to brand revitalization, co-branding objectives may include getting more bang for your buck, growing market share, building audience reach and altering perceived positioning. Co-branding is primarily used an alliance of two brand partners, although there’s no rule against bringing three or more to the party.

 

Checkout here:

• The Top 7 Benefits of Co-Branding

• 5 Co-Branding Risk Management Guidelines

• The Top 6 Tips for Co-Branding Success

with case studies and examples of who’s done it really well.

  

 

 Co Branding Multiple Examples 600px

Infographic via www.missvinc.om

 

 

6. Colour Psychology: Cracking the Colour Code for Profitable Branding

 

Colour increases brand recognition by 80%. 93% of shoppers consider visual appearance over all other factors while shopping. It adds huge power to communications, opinions, recall and emotive influence. In fact when used correctly, colour is a pivotal tool to substantially influence purchasing decisions, service or product.

  

Since colour choices impact every aspect of a commercial enterprise, brand owners should aggressively re-evaluate that choice throughout their brand strategy.

  

The question is, has your brand’s colour palette been selected with the right intent and applied to best possible effect throughout all your brand communications and touch points to ensure your brand grow and increased profitability?

  

Find out more about why colour matters and how you can use it more effectively within your business.

 

  

 Colour Infographic Cropped 600px

Infographic via Blueberry Labs

  

 

7. Packaging Design: How to Make it into an Irresistible Customer Brand Magnet

 

The growing proliferation of multiple different brands in the market place has made customers spoilt for choice, but often at the expense of easy decision-making.

 

When presented with an assortment of packaging options in which nothing decisively stands out, with a compellingly clear message that speaks to a customer succinctly, analysis paralysis sets in. It’s when faced with this situation that a confused shopper will typically default to making decisions based on price alone.

 

The question here is, where does your brand sit in the mix?

 

Leading brands cut through the visual and cognitive noise created by an oversaturated market full of aggressive competitors and hook their ideal customers by meeting their needs both emotionally and rationally.

 

Here’s how…  

 

 

 Marmite Limited Editions 600px

Image via www.marmite.co.uk

 

 

8. Luxury Branding: How to Establish or Re-Position Your High-End Brand   

  

The combined value of the various luxury goods markets in 2014 was an estimated 865 billion euros, with luxury cars, personal luxury goods and luxury hospitality taking the top three places, with values of 351 billion, 223 billion and 150 billion respectively.

 

You might think those statistics make luxury branding a very interesting sector, however if you want to reposition or establish your brand targeted at a high-end customer then there are six keys factors you need to consider within your brand strategy.

 

Firstly there are four main characteristics by which the luxury customer defines a luxury brand. However the way in which someone perceives luxury will depend on factors ranging from their socio-economic status to their geographical location.

 

Here are the four main characteristics by which luxury brands are defined together with the six key brand strategies for building a winning luxury brand. 

  

  

Super Rich Shopping Habits Infographic 600px 

Infographic via Raconteur.net

 

 

9. Millennial Branding: 6 Ways Your Brand Can Appeal to Millennial Customers

 

Millennials, the newest generation of influential consumers (also known as Generation Y or Gen Y), spend more than $600 billion dollars annually with spending power expected to reach $1.4 trillion by 2020, (or 30% of US sales) according to Accenture 2013 research.

 

While these statistics sounds like ‘gold bullion’ for many brands, in our experience often smaller companies and organisations struggle to develop their brand strategy in a way that relates relevantly to this fast changing group of buyers.

 

Millennial consumers are a very fluid constantly moving target with multiple devices overflowing with content clamouring for their attention 24/7. However once you really understand this discerning consumer properly and tailor your brand to really meet their needs, you can, like many others tap into this incredibly lucrative market.

 

Here are our top 6 key brand attributes you need to consider when developing your brand strategy to attract your Millennial customer.

   

   

 Millennial Entrepreneur 600px

 

 

10. Video Brand Strategy: Top 11 Tips for How and Why You Need to Use Video

 

The average consumer spends 88% more time on content with video and video is shared 1200% more times than links and text combined. A landing page with video gets 800% more conversion than the same page without video.

   

If you ever thought using video to promote your brand was too difficult or beyond your reach these statistics might make you think again.

 

Find out exactly how you can use video to grow your brand here.

 

You can even find out how one small start up brand used video to achieve worldwide distribution and now has more online viewers than its competing massive global brands combined!

  

  

 You Tube 360 600px

Image via Google / YouTube

 

 

Did your favourite post feature in one these top 10 branding articles of 2015? If there was an alternative that was your first preference, drop us a line and let us know. 

 

Meantime I’d love to keep you up to date with what’s happening in the world of branding and make this blog really useful to you. If there’s anything branding related you would like to read about in this blog or if you have any questions or comments, suggestions for a blog post, feedback or even just to say Hi, just send me a short note, I’m here to help!

E: brand@personadesign.ie

or give me a call at Tel: +353 1 8322724

 

Wishing you increasing success in the year ahead!

  

  

   

Rugby World Cup Branding: 5 Ideas You Can Learn From Big Brand Marketers

At the early Olympics, every four years triumphant athletes were lauded by having sponsorships called out (family name and native town), odes written and likenesses commissioned. These ancient versions of mass media frenzy were designed to create buzz and sing the virtues of the victorious. Today, major sporting events continue to represent big opportunities for ambassadorships and sponsors, since everyone loves a winning athlete.

 

As the world’s third-biggest sporting event, attracting an audience of 4.5 billion, brands of all sizes have jumped on board. Three thousand years later, what can we learn from the contemporary interpretation of getting one’s brand behind huge sporting events such as the Rugby World Cup?

 

 

Note that brand strategy in 2015 requires the “softly, softly”, more authentic and transparent approach for even the most hard-core rubgy fans. Here’s what we mean by that:

  

1. Humanizing Your Brand (case study Duracell)

 
2. Developing Influencers (case study Heineken) 

 
3. Adding Values (case study EY)

 
4. Thinking Locally (case study Land Rover)

 
5. Using How-To (case study Canon)

 

  

Humanizing Your Brand: Duracell’s Powerplay

First and foremost, you want a battery that lasts; not much else about a battery is terribly important. But, how do you know when the battery is about to die? Unlike smartphones, there’s no indicator screen — unless you’re using PowerCheck technology, uniquely found on Duracell batteries since 1996.

  

Duracell re-positioned #PowerCheck within the rugby event framework, capitalizing on an ideal opportunity for Duracell to emphasize both power and strength. A two-pronged approach, to put a face (and physique) to the brand, enlisted Wales and British Lions captain Sam Warburton as the muscle-bound ambassador for a digital, in-store and PR campaign featuring footage from previous Rugby World Cups.

 

 

  

 

  

On the 2015 World Cup rugby pitch, #PowerCheck technology is used to help to track players’ performance indicators, combining rucks, tackles, carries and turnovers won during each game, rewarding those who “stay stronger for longer.”

 

 

 Duracell Sam Warburton Rugby World Cup 2015

Image via www.marketingweek.com and www.duracell.com

 

 

Alex Haslam, senior assistant brand manager for Duracell UK & Ireland, told Marketing Week the sponsorship will continue in future years and become part of the brand’s long-term brand strategy. Haslam said, “We know we’re not going to own rugby as a brand, but we’ve created something totally ownable. No other brand is talking about power and longevity.”

  

  

 

 

   

Actionable Branding Tip 1

How can I humanize my brand? The Duracell brand strategy can help smaller brands because it’s totally scaleable. Community events, county championships, school fairs, local youth sport clubs, charity fun runs and tournaments all present opportunities for associating your brand with local heroes and teams. Sponsor T-shirts, donate the local juniors’ kits, donate printing services, provide snacks and beverages for break time. We can help you find a great fit for your brand message in connection to a well-respected event, just like Duracell did.

  

  

Developing Brand Influencers: Heineken’s Heads or Tails

Former England captain Will Carling is a rugby VIP. Heineken is a big beer brand. People watch the rugby while drinking beer. Everyone gets that…but, there’s more to a tie-up than hiring someone like Carling to hold up the famous green beer bottle with the red star for the camera.

 

Heineken thought out some ways to get armchair fans involved with star rugby brand ambassadors to enhance the spectator experience, even to the extent of getting 48 fans onto the actual field to open matches, creating untold positive reinforcement for Heineken.

 

The campaign, “It’s Your Call” was created. Consumers find a unique code on the inside of special Heineken promotional packs or on a coin card given out in pubs when buying a Heineken during the promotion. Up for grabs are thousands of official Rugby World Cup 2015 merchandise prizes and the chance to flip the coin at Rugby World Cup 2015 matches.

 

 

   

    

  

To further emphasize “experiences, not just sponsorship,” Will Carling includes coin toss winners in video interviews with top rugby stars, while consumers are invited to live tweet at the rugby legends.   

 

David Lette, premium brands director for Heineken UK, told Marketing Week, “The key thing for us is how we drive the association in a unique and experiential way for consumers.”

 

 

 Heineken Rugby World Cup 2015 600px

Image via www.marketingweek.com and www.heineken.com

 

  

 

Actionable Branding Tip 2

Can a smaller brand develop influencers? Absolutely. Heineken created evangelists-for-life by rewarding ordinary consumers and small brands can, too. Influencers don’t need to be famous. Your brand’s evangelists are your satisfied customers, and they’re happy to enter competitions, provide testimonials, attend events, sample new products, appear in videos. Just begin the conversation with them and press “record.” We’ll show you how to create effective videos within budget.

  

 

    

Adding Values: EY (Ernst & Young) Connects the Dots

Appointed as the official business advisor for the tournament, professional services firm EY (Ernst & Young LLP) targeted a B2B opportunity outside the consumer sphere.

  

 

 Ey Teambuilding And Leadership Rugby Worldcup 2015 600px

Image via www.ey.com

 

 

Homing in on good sportsmanship values like leadership, motivation, performance and teamwork, EY connects the dots to resonate with their client base. Via exclusive seminars and publishing interviews with highly regarded rugby personalities, EY stays relevant while shining a light on their brand’s appointment.

 

  

 

 

 

Comments from proven winners in the world of rugby come from Katy Mclean, England women’s captain; Sir Graham Henry, former coach of New Zealand’s All Blacks; and Sir Ian McGeechan, former Scotland and British Lions player and coach, on topics such as “Lessons in Leadership: Rugby to the Boardroom.” It’s a perfect fit for B2B.

 

 

 Ey Sir Ian Mc Geechan Rugby World Cup 2015 Leadership

Image via www.ey.com

 

 

Tom Kingsley, sport and sponsorship director at EY, illustrates the tie-in, “On a daily basis we are asked by our clients about how to compete on a global stage…

Rugby World Cup affords us the opportunity to explore some of those issues because it is the coming together of 20 elite rugby teams all with one aim — to win on the global stage.”

  

 

Actionable Branding Tip 3

We’re a B2B brand, but small: Smaller business can mirror EY’s content marketing strategy by creating white papers, blog posts, newsletters, webinars, videos and other B2B marketing initiatives that deliver meaningful information and added value to clients and prospects. When there’s a trending event, connect to it through content. We’ll show you how hashtags are your workhorse and a strongly developed brand content strategy can help you punch well above your weight. 

  

  

 

Think Locally: Land Rover Drives the Message Home

Fact: every sports hero and Olympian began as an amateur. Land Rover plucked “from the grassroots to the greatest stage” as the theme for their local-to-global storytelling campaign using the hashtag #WeDealInReal. The brand recruited 96 enthusiastic mascots aged 7-13 from 11 amateur rugby clubs around the world, representing each competing country to run out with their nation’s team.

 

 

 Land Rover Smallest Rugby Team In The World

Image via www.landrover.com

  

    

People are drawn to inspirational stories. Among the videos created to support the campaign, the biggest hit is titled, “Land Rover Rugby Ambassadors visit the World’s Smallest Rugby Club.”

  

  

 

 

 

“It speaks to the heart of the game and I think it also speaks strongly to the brand about being authentic and genuine,” Laura Schwab, UK marketing director at parent company Jaguar Land Rover, told Marketing Week.

  

 

  

  

  

Actionable Branding Tip 4

Great idea, but we’re not a global brand. Small brands are perfectly positioned to drive Land Rover’s concept forward. As a mascot for the Welsh Rugby Union, pint-sized 8-year-old Finlay Walker at Llanharan RFC and a Hampshire local rugby club were not too tiny to garner attention from Jaguar Land Rover. Every brand can — and must — tell their own authentic brand stories one person at a time. We can help you identify and create the best story opportunities using our Story Selling System™.

  

  

 

Using How To: Canon Says You Can

 

Idea #1: Spot yourself in the stands? Official sponsor of the tournament, Canon is producing a series of 360-degree images capturing the entire stadium during major matches. In a clever interactive twist, fans are encouraged to tag themselves in the crowd via social media.

 

  

 Canono Fan Tag Rugby World Cup 2015

Image via www.rugbyworldcup.com

  

 

Idea #2: Exclusivity rocks. Canon offers amateur photographers who post the best rugby shots to shadow a Getty Images photographer at a RWC 2015 training session. The shots get featured on the official RWC website photo gallery. Who knows what special moments might be captured?

 

  

Rugby World Cup Fan Pics 600px 

Image via www.rugbyworldcup.com

 

 

Idea #3: How-to tips. Self-proclaimed “massive fan” Bear Grylls, intrepid adventurer, is joined by professional rugby photographer Dave Rogers to demonstrate angles, shutter speeds and more tips for capturing great shots like Rogers’ famous Jonny Wilkinson drop kick in Sydney from 2003.

 

  

 

 

 

Cyprian da Costa, brand communications director for Canon Europe, said that images play “a vital role in capturing the unmatched excitement and emotion of global sports.”

 

  

Canon Rugby World Cup 2015 600px 

Image via www.rugbyworldcup.com

  

 

 

Actionable Branding Tip 5

How can Canon ideas help my brand? By turning your brand marketing approach on its head. Years ago, a big brand idea around a huge event would have focused on “Canon can…” rather than “You can…” Take a second look at all your brand’s content and brand collateral, adverts, tag lines and social media to re-position everything with an emphasis on your brand seen through the eyes of your audience, not your executive boardroom. We’re here to help.

  

  

We’d love to know what you think about how to scale these five big brand approaches to fit a smaller brand size.

 

• Have you successfully humanized your brand? Do you need to re-evaluate this as part of your rebranding strategy?

 

• Are you using event tie-ins in your brand content marketing strategy?

  

• Would you like to know more about hacking trends?

  

• Have you shot and posted a library of how-to videos?

  

• Are you telling compelling stories about your brand? This is where you might want to consider brand profiling using a system like our Personality Profile Performer™ combined with our Story Selling System™ to help you develop a really compelling and distinctively different brand.

  

• Is CSR part of your brand strategy? Does your brand support a school, community program or charity drive?

  

  

You might also like:

 

• Rebranding Strategy: Why Your Rebrand Must Embrace Storytelling

 

• Brand Personality: Is Your Brand’s Character Big Enough to Compete?  

 

• Brand Sponsorships: The Best Brand Ambassadors Are Already On Your Payroll 

 

• Brand Voice: Differentiating Through Your Own Brand Language and Attitude

 

Video Brand Strategy: Top 11 Tips for How and Why You Need to Use Video

 

• Humanizing Your Brand : Why It is Key to Commercial Success

 

• Brand Profiling: Top 6 Components to Creating a Strong Brand Personality

 

• CEO Brand Leadership: How Does Your Leadership Impact Your Brand?

  

  

Brand Strategy: 6 Lessons Learned – Tourism Queensland’s Amazing Campaign

How do you get 53.9 million page views by 8 million unique visitors in six weeks while generating a 60-minute BBC documentary and 6,000 news stories worth $US165 million in free coverage?    

 

Turn a media campaign into a job search, was the response for one of the most successful brand campaigns ever. Tourism Queensland’s 2009 “Best Job in the World” campaign provides a stunning case study — and it was all done on a relatively modest budget. We take a closer look to determine six ways the brilliant brand strategy employed here is applicable to brands outside of travel and tourism and can be scaled up or down to suit your brand and resources.

  

First, we’ll look at the product and its competition. Let’s say you want to go on an island adventure  holiday. What springs to mind? The Caribbean, Hawaii, the Seychelles and Maldives, perhaps? Islands of the Great Barrier Reef were aiming for that kind of top-of-mind-awareness among global experience seekers in their eight key country markets.

  

Tourism Queensland consulted ad agency CumminsNitro in Brisbane as the recession hit new lows. They determined the only solution was to capture public interest with something that seemed too good to be true and eminently shareable. In fact, they said, don’t just visit this gorgeous place, live here. And we’ll pay you, too. 

 

Why not promote an international search for the best job in the world?

 

  

The Campaign

 

The Challenge: Create International Brand Awareness

  

For Tourism Queensland officials, the islands of the Great Barrier Reef were the product. Substitute your brand here.

  

 

The Budget: Small

 

A budget of $US1.2 million for a global campaign was appropriate for developing the brand strategy and creating multiple print ads in seven languages, placing these as classified ads on recruitment pages of newspapers in selected markets around the world, creating a YouTube channel with compelling content together with a Facebook, Twitter and Myspace presence and a landing page for job applications.

  

No fixed budget is required to model this campaign, which doesn’t require international reach to be successful. Scale it to suit your brand needs. A city-wide or nation wide ‘job search’ brand campaign can be extremely effective too.

   

 

Best Job In The World Print Ad 

 Image via www.teq.queensland.com

 

 

The Idea: Offer a prize that’s not a prize. Make it a Job

 

Call it “The Best Job in the World” and buy classified ads in newspapers in the key markets around the world. The position? Vacant Island Caretaker. Job responsibilities? Clean the pool, feed the fish, collect the mail, explore and report back. Salary? $AUD150K for 6 months. (Accommodation and transportation included.)

 

Message: Anyone can apply. And they did…

  

  

  

   

The ROI: Priceless

 

On day one of the launch, the landing page received 4 million hits an hour, beating out Google searches. By the end of six weeks, 1.4 million applications were received. 34,684 one-minute video job applications included one from at least one person in every country in the world, including Vatican City. Worldwide media attention supplemented the reach to an estimated 3 billion people. 

  

  

Tourism Queensland Hamilton Island Caretaker 

 Image via www.teq.queensland.com

 

  

The Top 6 Takeaways

 

Social media evolves quickly. When Tourism Queensland brainstormed in 2008, Twitter had only 6 million occasional users. Facebook pages for business were “nice to have,” an afterthought. 

  

  

Levi's Girl Job Ad 

Image via www.levi.com 

 

 

Mirroring Tourism Queensland, at the start of 2011, Levi’s launched a Facebook search with crowdsourced voting for the next “Levi’s Girl” selected to model and be the online voice of the brand for six months in a job based at headquarters in San Francisco. The following year, #iamlevis hit Instagram. In an article about the latter campaign, Esquire magazine wrote, “Will someone explain to us what the hell Pinterest is?” Need we mention Snapchat, Periscope and Meerkat?

 

 

Lesson 1: Be Everywhere

 

Integrate social media to deliver real results. Tourism Queensland had fully integrated all their key brand marketing elements on and offline, including a website, print advertising and public relations. If you want to maximise your brand reach you must integrate social media across multi-device, multi-channel platforms to tap into viewers wherever they are, fostering sharing. 

   

   

 

  

  

In 2010, Procter & Gamble introduced the Old Spice guy on TV to appeal to men’s fragrance buyers (the women), but when ad agency Wieden+Kennedy plugged into shareable channels YouTube, Twitter and Facebook, sales increased by 107 percent.

  

 

Lesson 2: Be flexible. Be bold

 

Hard times call for tough decisions. For a luxury brand, fewer consumer dollars directed at discretionary spending during a global recession was felt even more deeply by a long-haul destination with strong appeal to youth.

 

“The Best Job in the World” campaign had a built-in deadline six weeks after launch, which meant gaining agreement for pouring the lion’s share of the entire year’s budget into a single campaign conducted in January and February.

  

 

Lesson 3: Review and Repeat

 

Extend reach. Tourism Australia re-introduced the campaign in 2013 to involve more states in a single voice by expansion into six regions. The 2013 re-launch of “The Best Jobs in the World” acquired 60 strategic partners, including Virgin Australia, STA Travel, Citibank, DELL, IKEA, Sony Music and Monster.com.

   

   

 

    

  

What about the ‘losers’? Tourism Australia Director Andrew McEvoy said, “We’re now going to capitalise on the enormous interest in this campaign by working with Virgin Australia and STA Travel to sell holidays and working holidays to those who missed out on one of the six best jobs.”

  

 

Lesson 4: Be Ready and Prepared

 

User-generated content has its challenges. According to Chris Chambers, digital marketing lead in Queensland, they were unprepared for submissions wildly above estimates, not to mention crisis management due to the demands that mass media attention garnered. 

 

In addition to watching nearly 35,000 videos, some 20,000 emails required responses. By creating a URL for shared content, as Tourism Queensland did with the video job applications, anything can be posted.

 

A brand must be ready with both policy and people to curate, post content and manage content.

 

  

Lesson 5:  Surprise and Delight

 

The evolution of social media for brands means that the interactive aspect of brand response takes on immediacy far beyond what happened in 2009. Early campaigns such as “The Best Job in the World”  and the guy from Old Spice have taught us that brands must develop marketing plans to engage with consumers, surprise and delight, drive sharing via brand evangelists and ambassadors and work with social media pros to maximize impact.

   

   

 

 

   

With an eye-watering 35 percent of the lingerie market, Victoria’s Secret has the world’s top models under contract and hardly needs a hand. Yet, in 2009, they launched a nationwide search for the newest runway Angel to represent the brand. The online and media presence are closely aligned to the retail stores. 

   

 

 Victorias Secret's Angels

 Image via Cyril Attias, flickr 2.0CC  

  

  

Lesson 6: Crowdsource Content

  

We’ve been hearing that content is king for several years and the crown remains securely in place. However, not all content is created equally. User-generated content resonates more loudly, drives distribution, creates word-of-mouth, prompts engagement, builds loyalty, gets shares that maximize tapping into free networks run by other people. As a bonus, social media activates mass media.

Here’s the million dollar question, where and how do you think you could take the learnings from these various examples discussed and integrate them into your branding strategy? Maybe your brand needs a complete overhaul and revitalisation with a strong rebranding strategy to give it a new lease of life.

 

Regardless of your business size there are opportunities here which even the most modest budgets could potentially leverage to great effect — with some solid strategic thinking and creativity.

  

You may also like:

  

Destination Branding: The Key Essentials for Success

   

Brand Profiling: Top 6 Components to Creating a Strong Brand Personality

 

Branding Amazon: 3 Lessons to Learn for Your Brand Success

  

Entrepreneurial Branding: 5 Top Tips for Brand Success

 

World Cup Branding: What Can You Learn from the World Cup Campaigns?

  

So, what do you think?

  

• Does your brand need repositioning or revitalisation and would a ‘job search’ brand strategy work for your brand? Full-time or interim?

  

• What is the most desirable aspect of working for your brand?

  
• Does a ‘job search’ brand campaign fit with your company brand culture?

  
• Would user-generated content work well for your brand?

  
• Where can you harness the best resources to develop your brand strategy, execute the plan effectively, get the required return on your investment and ensure all your brand collateral is cohesive, both on and offline?

 

Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments. We’d love to hear from you!

 

 

World Cup Branding: What Can You Learn from the World Cup Campaigns?

Much like the Olympics, every four years the World Cup captures the attention of the globe—and global marketers. World Cup branding is a powerful way for businesses to elevate their brand profiles and strengthen brand visibility on a global scale.

  

But the branding techniques used by companies during World Cup fever don’t have to be confined to once every four years. Here are some branding lessons your business can take away from the latest World Cup marketing campaigns.

  

Take A Risk With Something Different

World Cup advertising sponsorships aren’t easy to come by—they’re highly limited, extremely costly, and competed for fiercely. Only a handful of big brands manage to score these coveted sponsorships. Non-sponsor companies, therefore, usually arrange for star-studded branded advertising that conveys support for the game and suggests affiliation.

 

 Nike Swoosh Logo

Image via www.nike.com

  

Nike, who wasn’t a sanctioned World Cup sponsor for 2014—though competitor Adidas was—managed to grab an early win by going against the trend. The company created a video, released right before the start of the tournament, that broke all the rules: it’s animated (though some of the characters are futbol celebrities), it never directly mentions the World Cup, and it’s a whopping five and a half minutes long—nearly twice the maximum length of three minutes that’s usually recommended for customer engagement.

  

 

  

The video, which is really a mini-film, uses subtle and strategic product placement throughout. The theme of the video’s story is “risk everything”—and it’s a risk that paid off significantly for Nike, who garnered over 65 million views and experienced more user engagement than its sponsored competitor, with less effort.

 

What can your business learn from “The Last Game”? When you take risks and deliver something unexpected, your brand benefits.

 

Be A Good Sport

When it comes to sporting events, especially global tournaments like the World Cup, passions can run high. Everyone will have their favorites, but not all of them can win. Brands in particular need to carefully monitor their support for one team over another, and be cautious when posting their sentiments in public spaces.

 

KLM Airlines learned the hard way with what happens when you offend your audience with your fan sentiments. The European company tweeted about Mexico’s defeat to the Holland team with a stereotyped picture of a mustached, sombrero-sporting figure next to a departure sign, captioned with the words “Adios Amigos!” The tweet went rapidly viral in a negative way, incurring backlash from the online community that included a profanity-laced attack from Hollywood A-List actor Gael Garcia Bernal tweeting his 2 million plus followers that he’ll never fly KLM again! Though KLM soon deleted the tweet, the damage had been done.

   

Gael Garcia Bernal Tweet

    

The takeaway here is to choose your brand alignment carefully, and be a good sport when it comes to wins and losses. Your brand sentiment should never offend your customers.

 

 

Link Your Offline and Online Campaigns Together

The most successful global brands present a consistent customer experience throughout all aspects and representations of their brands. One of the best ways to maintain consistency is to create links between various campaigns that will drive customer engagement on multiple channels.

 

During the World Cup, several brands strove for integration across channels, from television to social to mobile. Global auto manufacturer Hyundai created a particularly successful integrated World Cup campaign with television commercials that called on a popular internet meme and created a user-friendly Twitter hashtag to continue the theme online.

  

  

The video incorporates the “because something” meme that’s frequently used on social media and pop culture websites. While the subject is the Spanish team and their 2010 World Cup win, the advertisement is universal, with just one line of subtitled dialogue and the rest of the story told in actions and flashbacks. It’s funny and endearing, and the use of the #BecauseFutbol hashtag helped to engage audiences and increase Twitter activity for Hyundai.

 

The lesson here is that a consistent and integrated brand strategy across multiple channels can help your business succeed any time, not just during global sporting events.

  

What do you think?

 

• How can your brand capitalise on global events, even without official sponsorships?

  

• What are some unique ways you can present your brand, or unexpected twists you could deploy over typical marketing themes?

  

• How carefully are you monitoring your brand alliances to ensure you’re not offending your audience?

 

• What are you doing to tie your online and offline campaigns together?

  

• Do you create a consistent customer experience across all channels, on and offline, with your brand?

  

Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you!

 

FMCG Branding: Going for Gold with Fast Moving Consumer Goods

The fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) sector is one of the most volatile and toughest categories in which to succeed and sometimes considered the birthplace of modern branding. The competition has always been fierce and the fight for wallet share never more challenging then it is now.

 

Today’s FMCG industry is a multi-billion dollar sector that’s typically dominated by well-established household brands around the globe, from Coca-Cola to Kraft to Henkel. Breaking into that market as a new brand can be a serious challenge, particularly when you’re up against global powerhouses that have ruled their respective niches for decades with deep pockets. Having said that though, smaller brands have more opportunities to make their impact with limited resources than they ever had before, which helps level the playing field a little!

 

 Kraft Logo

Image via www.kraftfoodsgroup.com

 

The question is how do you move from a ‘C’ or ‘D’ tier, largely unknown, consumer product to become a recognized household brand? Success in the FMCG sector is no longer epitomized by just ‘nice’ logos and good packaging alone—modern consumers expect far more.

 

The most successful brands are consistently creating an authentic customer experience around their consumable products, one that is worthwhile and personally engaging. These brands give their core target audience a more compelling reason to buy and create brand perceptions through their brands personality, promise, values, story and total brand world per se, which their customers find irresistible.

 

The following is an insight into what some of the most successful FMCG companies are doing to maintain consistently captivating brands. What keeps them front of mind in terms of customer preferences, and how you can incorporate these strategies into your own brand building efforts.

 

 

Aligning With And Focusing on Your Core Target Audience

While it may seem counterintuitive, the key to becoming a household brand is not to try appealing to a broader audience—it is to be desirable to the right core target audience. You need to know your market, your competitors, and your sector’s environment intimately, so you can focus on developing your branding strategy specifically tailored towards your primary customers – those who are most likely to buy fully into your brand and what it stands for.

 

Understanding not only what your ideal customers wants, but also how your offering can enhance their lives is hugely important. It’s only when you truly understand their needs, wants, loves, hates and aspirations that you can really craft a concise and focused brand message that cuts through the noise.

 

Consumers are bombarded with thousands of messages from multiple channels 24/7. Your challenge is to deliver the right message, on target to catch their much sought after attention, at the right time and then, most importantly, to hold their attention. You need to develop a customer avatar which you then use to underpin your brand proposition and profile.

 

 Johnsons Baby Logo

Image via www.johnsonsbaby.com

  

Your brand should clearly indicate why and how you’ll meet your customers needs and that you understand what really matters to them. If yours is a family orientated brand then broadly speaking it might be important to communicate reliability, safety, and trust. However you need to dig deeper beyond just the general to the specific and identify more detailed characteristics to bring your brand alive in a way that’s meaningful, distinctive and different to your audience.

 

Millennials might enjoy quirky humor that helps mark your offerings as innovative but you still need to add something more unique to your brand story to help it standout and stick. Overall luxury brands focus on quality and prestige but they still need to develop other attributes, messages and stories that make their brand experience exclusive to them alone.

 

 

Developing Brand Loyalty

Returning customers are the heart of every successful company—and this is especially true in the FMCG sector where products are typically consumed quickly and frequently. Brand loyalty is critical to your long term success and you need to develop a brand strategy that helps ensure your customers become tunnel visioned with regard to your brand when they go shopping.

 

You want them to become blinkered to see only your brand offering so they buy it automatically because they aren’t even open to considering others. When you continue to meet their needs your loyal customers will not only continue to purchase your brand, they’ll become brand advocates encouraging family and friends to switch to your brand too.

 

How do you create brand loyalty? Many businesses make the mistake of trying to compete on price alone where only those with the deepest pockets can win. Customers aren’t necessarily looking for just the cheapest product. Cheap rarely engenders ongoing brand loyalty. Customers typically look for the right blend of quality and value, and many are willing to pay more for a brand they can trust and meets their needs on multiple other levels too. It’s also important to note that value doesn’t mean just price, it’s the complete mix of what the brand has to offer – your brand promise, brand values, brand culture, corporate social responsibility, customer experience, your way of doing things in your brand world etc. that collectively all add up to enhance perceived brand value.

 

 

One strong example of this is Johnson & Johnson, the global leader in baby care products. Johnson’s Baby has been helping parents and doctors give babies a healthy, happy start in life for more than 100 years – what a brand legacy. This company understands what its primary customers want – to give their babies a healthy, happy start in life because ‘every moment with your little one is precious’. 

 

 

 

Saving money might feature somewhere in the mix with parents but babies health and happiness is the primary focus, and not at the expense of their child’s care. They are looking for products with safe, gentle ingredients, backed by a company that genuinely cares about the well-being of babies. Everything Johnson & Johnson does is done to reinforce that message, be it through the products themselves, its CSR strategy or advocacy in baby skin care or baby sleeping advice etc. This is an ethical, quality-focused ‘caring’ brand, successfully engaging its audience by pulling at the heart strings through all its communications strategies – which all but the cynical and hard nosed would find hard to resist. 

 

  

Telling Your Brand Story in a Way That’s Relevant

Storytelling is more than just a buzzword. Creating authenticity with an emotional connection and an element of curiosity is very important to help distinguish your brand from the barrage of the external market. When you communicate your own brand journey, your growth and your message to potential customers, you’re able to connect with them on a more meaningful level.

 

 

 

The Askinosie chocolate brand story shows how its really important and worked for this relatively new confectionary company. Their target market consists of environmentally aware customers who typically shop in organic health food stores. Askinosie sets their brand apart through their packaging and their brand story which really resonates with their customers. Each of their chocolate bar wrappers relates personal stories about the cocoa farmers that supply the company with raw ingredients. The focus is on their relationship with Askinosie as business partners who are well compensated with prices that are higher than Fair Trade.

  

 Askinosie Chocolate Packaging

Image via www.askinosie.com

   

Great brand stories can help you elevate your products into the top tier and are a critical part of the successful brand mix and keep your customers coming back for more. A note of warning though – the brand values from your story and the promise it articulates must be consistently lived and demonstrated throughout the business at every level of interaction internally and externally every day.

 

Changing With The Times

The market is constantly evolving, and your brand must be flexible enough to keep up with the changing times. Successful FMCG brands understand how to recognize trends and implement shifts in strategy that will help them continue to stay relevant and meet market requirements over the years and decades.

 

 Starbucks Logo

Image via www.starbucks.com 

Starbucks in spite of all its ups and downs has largely maintained a strong grasp of its market combined with a willingness to change, and has managed to remain one of the most recognized global brands. The Seattle-based company began as a local retail coffee store, and grew into a worldwide chain that caters to customers looking for an upscale coffee experience. By combining quality coffee with a diverse range of related products, a pleasant relaxing environment in which to enjoy their coffee and engaging with their customers more personally—and treating their employees better than other coffee chains—Starbucks has dominated its niche. 

 

 

  

However, there is a fine line between staying relevant and incorporating new trends versus losing sight of what your brand really stands for by inadvertently ‘muddying the waters’ so to speak with an excessive plethora of confusing brand messages. You must always remain true to the core of what you stand for, whether yours is a well established brand or more recent launch to market.

 

Hershey Logo 

Image via www.hersheys.com

 

Hershey’s has seen a decline in recent times compounded by overenthusiastic trend-chasing activities. In recent years, the company’s brand promise of simple, tasty chocolate has been lagging behind in their efforts to anticipate changing tastes. Extreme diversification has resulted in a confusing tangle of confectionery varieties: milk, dark, and white chocolate with a variety of fillings, coatings and new flavours—all of which is somewhat confusing in its marketing to customers who just want an original Hershey bar.

  

 

Developing Your Brand Message

Strong branding is a vital factor for long term success in the ultra-competitive FMCG industry. In order to create a strong and compelling brand message, you need to fully understand your target customers, including:

  • Who they are: Demographics, motivations, trends, and demands
  • Why they buy: Specific needs and wants (rational and emotional)
  • What they buy: The look and feel of the products they prefer
  • Where / how they buy: Channel preferences, point of sale activities
  • How they consume: Key usage situations for your products

 

Pinpoint your target audience, and develop your brand strategy to focus on the things that matter most to them. Transform your offerings into an experience that will keep your customers returning, and create brand ambassadors who will recommend you to like-minded customers. Focus on what helps elevate and grow your brand and your customer base will expand with you.

 

What do you think?

 • How does your FMCG brand differentiate from your competitors?

 

• What message are you conveying with your brand? What should you convey?

 

• How can you tell the story of your brand more effectively?

 

• What steps are you taking to create brand loyalty?

 

• Has your brand evolved to stay relevant with the changing market—without losing sight of your core?

Sub-Branding: How Many Brands Do You Need To Get A Profitable Return?

What happens when a successful brand fails to impact within a new market or market segment? When despite best efforts, the brand cannot make itself relevant to a new market? Is introducing a sub-brand the answer?

 

There are instances when sub-brands hold the key to expanding market share and broadening profit opportunities. However, sub-branding also runs the risk of jeopardizing the strength of the parent brand if implemented without due diligence and careful analysis.

 

Air Canada Rouge

 

   

Effective Sub-Branding Strategies

 

1. Entering Markets That Are Closed To The Parent Brand

Air Canada recently launched Rouge, a low-cost sub-brand airline created as a means to serve new market destinations that the existing model could not serve on a competitive basis. Air Canada’s original brand value structure would be compromised if the parent brand cut their prices and changed the quality of their value proposition. Rouge aims to be a proactive manoeuvre by the brand against new low cost carriers operating within Canada.

 

 

 

Disney releases Certified 18 movies under their Touchstone brand as doing so under the Disney name would be incongruent with the Disney brand identity and what it stands for; magic, fun, wholesome family experiences full of happy memories and happy endings!

 

2. Satisfying Segmented Customer Needs

Hoteliers segment their market by brand type and frequently introduce meaningful sub brands to serve new customer needs and enter new markets. By separating the hotels into sub-brands, Hoteliers can highlight the different value bundles offered under each brand. It provides clear distinction for the customers on the level of service to be expected from each sub-brand, providing an obvious choice for the business or luxury customer versus the family on a budget.

 

 Marriott Hotel Brands

 

3. Industry Norms

Sub-brands are part of the culture of some industries. Car manufacturers frequently release cars under sub-brands. This is particularly effective when each sub-brand has a particular focus and value proposition that does not overlap with other sub-brands within the family. Toyota’s Prius has a very definite brand identity and serves a focused target market. It allowed Toyota to create a leading position within the environmentally conscious market segment and made the Toyota brand more relevant with that customer group.

 

 Toyota Prius

 

 

Sub-Branding Risks

Sub-brands have been known to help companies thrive, capturing new market segments and introducing a parent brand to a wider audience. However sub-branding can come at a cost too.

 

1. Reduced Impact of Parent Brand

Establishing and marketing a sub-brand demands a considerable investment of capital and resources. In most cases sub-brands move resources away from the core brand, risking potential sales of the parent brand itself. The success of the Coors Light beer came at the expense of a loss in market share of the parent Coors brand due to the reduced marketing budget available to advertise Coors.

 

 Coors And Coors Light

 

2. Create Competition

Sometimes sub-brands can invite competition within a sector, creating obstacles that previously did not exist. American Express had established itself as the premium brand within the credit card market. Then it decided to introduce sub-brands: the American Express Gold Card and American Express Platinum. Suddenly it opened up the opportunity for competitors to launch their own products aimed at the high-end customer, forcing American Express to fight for its premium position.

 

 American Express Cards

 

3. Over Stretch Marketing Resources

As with any strategy, introducing a sub brand offers both pros and cons. The general consensus is that companies should operate with as few brands as possible to maximize the impact of limited marketing resources.

 

Marketing will appear weak and ineffective if it is spread too thinly. Economies of brand, strategic focus and clear efficient internal operations can often give the parent brand the support it needs rather than employing a sub-brand strategy.

 

While sub-brands can help to upscale or downscale a brand offering, without clear differentiation a sub-brand can cause real confusion with customers as to the value proposition and unique offering of each sub-brand.

 

Remember, if your core brand is failing to make an impact within a market there are other strategies that may serve your corporate goals. Identifying the possibilities at hand such as expanding core values, evolving the brand structure or reinterpreting existing brand values could have the desired effect and impact with your target customers. 

 

Before you explore developing sub-brands ask yourself this: how many brands do you need to get the job done?

Why Align Your Brand to A Worthy Cause?

The benefits to worthy causes or charities of partnering with big brands are obvious. Charities, such as Oxfam, use partnerships with commercial brands as a media platform and an opportunity to get its message out to the public.

 

 M S Oxfam

 

Partnering with Marks & Spencer allows Oxfam to tap into the huge influence the M&S brand has over consumers. Being able to promote their message among that captured audience via this kind of partnership is immensely beneficial to the charity and their work.

 

However partnerships of this nature can be mutually beneficial to both the charity and brand alike. It bequeaths the commercial brand with a deeper meaning and offers another opportunity for engagement with their customers on a different emotional level.

 Building Partnership

  

It can also become a significant part of the brands social contribution policy. Without wishing to sound cynical, tying up with a worthy cause or charity can be a winning formula for brands sensitive to the current climate and worth serious consideration as part of your brand strategy.

 

 

4 Top Reasons Why Brands Should Engage in Cause Related Marketing

 

Whether sponsoring charitable activities or committing to donate profits to a worthy cause, the benefits to brands in aligning themselves with good causes are significant

 

1. Build Brand Awareness

Building partnerships with charities can make a sustainable difference to the cause but it also enables the brand to raise awareness with a wider target audience. Sponsoring a charitable activity often coincides with providing the brand with significant visibility of their logo and products with an engaged and receptive audience. It also provides a platform for brands that are looking to reposition themselves in the market, and change customer perceptions, with a great opportunity by aligning themselves with the right charity associated with the desired target market.

 

Charitable partnerships can make the brand more accessible to a wider audience particularly if the brand engages in an experiential marketing campaign. It also enhances a company’s credibility and provides an opportunity to educate the public about their products and services. Product sampling is also a great opportunity to attract new customer attention and commonly used by brands sponsoring charitable sporting activities.

 

 

2. Corporate Social Responsibility

Engaging in a strategy of corporate social responsibility through charitable partnerships displays a brand’s desire to make a positive contribution to social issues in the community.

 

It can also have a positive effect on the internal culture of the organisation. Charity partnerships provide the potential to boost employee engagement, and subsequently improve morale, as well as raising awareness among staff.

 

 Corporate Social Responsibility

 

HSBC has ties with environmental charity Earthwatch and sends employees to visit projects. ‘It is good for motivation and makes employees more likely to stay with the company and become effective brand ambassadors,’ says Nigel Pate, head of environmental partnerships at HSBC.

 

It can give a sense of purpose and involvement to employees. It highlights the importance of nurturing the strategy to support not just the corporate image but the wider stakeholders too. There is a sense of corporate pride amongst employees at being associated with a project that makes a positive impact in their world.

 

 

3. Differentiate the Brand from Competitors

Aligning your brand with a positive cause engenders a more caring image with customers. In markets where the variances between individual brand offerings becomes blurred, associating your brand with a significant social issue or charitable cause can give your customers a new reason to pick your brand over competitors in the market.

 

It is a way to communicate something about the brand that is beyond price, product or service. Brands who partner with charities or champion significant social issues often benefit from a boost in sales because, given the choice, customers are more likely to buy a brand that supports a worthy cause over a competitor who does not.

 O Egg White Eggs Icograda

 

O’Egg is a great example of an Irish brand with modest resources which has aligned itself with ‘Action Breast Cancer’. They operate in a market with weak brand differentiation and yet the O’Egg White Egg product in its bright pink packaging is very much targeted at a female audience. The cause has a very obvious relevance to its target market which has helped raise brand awareness and benefited the cause too.

 

 

4. Boost Brand Equity

Championing a social issue or engaging with charities is a worthy way to boost brand equity and invest in a little feel-good-factor. Aligning marketing activity with cause related issues enables brands to build a reputation with their target market and build an emotional connection can help strengthen brand loyalty.

 

Linking brand support to significant social issues or charities creates an emotive response alongside goodwill. Customers feel they are extending the value of their purchase to include a worthy cause investment and are more likely to be repeat purchasers. 

 

Flora Womens Marathon Dublin

  

Flora’s support of the woman’s mini marathon shows their customers that as a brand, they care about what their customers care about. They recognize their customers concerns and actively try to support them. Brand loyalty is strengthened and brand equity is boosted when the customer’s affinity with the brand extends beyond the product itself. 

 Red Products 

 

(RED) is an example of a long established initiative encompassing the support of some of the worlds biggest brands who have each committed to supporting charitable initiatives in Africa. Each brands dedicates a (RED) product in their product line to the cause.

 

 Red Brands

 

 

How to Beat the Cynics

For cause related marketing to work your customer must feel differently about your company and brands as a result of the association. The partnership must be relevant to the target customers in order to be trusted. The Nissan Leaf brand alignment to the issues of global warning, and its threat to the environment, is a great example of brand cause marketing, all of which is very relevant to their eco sensitive core target audience.

 

 

 

For the most part customers know that sponsorship of charitable causes or championing a significant social issue is not a form of corporate altruism but a strategic business move. Consequently brands need to be upfront and transparent as to the corporate motives behind the association. 

 

Partnerships must prove its credibility with customers before making any kind of direct product links. For this to be successful the commitment to the aim of the cause must be sincere. Long-term commitment is needed to create a degree of trust, and show that the partnership is more than just an add-on to other marketing activity.

 

Arts and charities sponsorships are cheaper than sports sponsorships and can generate profit and brand equity while boosting corporate social responsibility credentials and employee engagement.

 

In an uncertain economic climate where consumer trust in major consumer brands has been damaged, partnering with a worthwhile cause could be the best investment you make in your brand strategy in the year ahead.

 

What local, national or global cause could you authentically align your brand with, that would be congruent with your core brand values, relevant to your target audience and genuinely make a difference – show that you really care?

 

Brand Commoditization : How Safe is Your Brand?

A question to ponder this week… What would your customer’s identify as the number one reason for buying your brand?

 

If the answer is ‘low price’ or ‘convenience’ your brand could be at major risk of becoming just another commodity brand; a very risky position for any brand to be in.

 

When it comes to commoditization, no industry is safe.  Whether you produce consumer products or supply professional services, when your customers can no longer differentiate your offering from that of your competitors it puts the company’s success and profitability in jeopardy.

 

Commoditization is a never ending reality in business today. No matter how hard a successful brand works to be different, their competitors are working equally hard to replicate it.

 

Markets are awash with ‘me too’ products. Customer choice has never been greater online and offline. Brands need to be very proactive in reinforcing their differentiating factors to their customers i.e. the reasons why their customers should choose them. But without a truly unique product or service that process is becoming more and more difficult.

 

 

Is Your Brand At Risk?

How easily can you quantify the differences between your products and services from those of your competitors? Think then about how easily your customers and prospective clients can make the same distinction? What’s your big why for your brand? What does it stand for?

 

When the tangible differences between competing brands diminish, the danger of commoditization grows. But all is not lost. Many brands enjoy a sustainable longevity in their market, despite aggressive copycatting, and do so by identifying the broader value offered by their brands.

 

Articulating the extended intangible values of your brand creates a tougher opposition for competitors. Replicating a product is easy, replicating a brand identity is not.

 

 

5 Ways To Safeguard Your Brand Against Commoditization

 

1. Brand Values

The first step for any company in safeguarding against commoditization is to use internal knowledge to identify the company’s broader value. Take time to consider the intangible benefits of your brand, the perceived benefits to customers, and the desired emotive response when someone experiences the brand. Think back to the very beginning and refocus on the brand identity. What were the core values that established the brand?   

 

 Steve Jobs Apple

 

Apple’s strength lies not just in innovation but on a dedication to producing a high quality product. Their product prices are amongst the highest on the market but their willingness to lose a portion of market on price reaffirms their dedication to their core value of quality and establishes their brand identity in the mind of the consumer.

 Customer Experience

  

2. Relationships

Tangible elements are easy to replicate. Strong brands succeed in developing strong relationships with their customers. Leverage face-to-face interactions and social media to learn more about your customer and start a dialogue that fosters a meaningful relationship that extends beyond the brand experience. 

 

3. Leverage the Corporate Brand

The corporate brand often has sustainable equity. Leveraging the corporate reputation and trust can deliver broader value to product brands and help shape a comprehensive offering to customers that extends beyond the product service attributes.

 

 O Egg White Eggs Icograda

 

4. Package Design

Innovative packaging that creates an aesthetic beyond function can help increase perceived value to the customer and enhance market share. The O’Egg brand focused on package differentiation to turn a commodity product into the pre-eminent egg brand in Ireland. 

 

5. Brand Experience

When a product or service is easily replicated, innovating brand intangibles can strengthen the position of the brand and protect it from the threat of commoditization.

 

 Apple Customers Queue Ny

 

Think differently about your business. Change how its’ perceived. A unique service area, outstanding customer support, or special loyalty rewards can set your brand apart.

 

Starbucks’ strength grew from creating a brand experience around a commodity product. What set the brand apart were the various elements that nurtured the customer’s experience of the brand; from the service setting, to the coffee ordering system, to the interactions with staff. They changed the way the world ordered coffee.

 Starbucks Commoditization

  

Global giant that it is, Starbucks is now under threat because the brand experience has become the commodity and the Starbucks focus has drifted to profit margins and market growth rather than extending customer value. The brand is currently in the process of returning their focus to their core value, putting the customer’s coffee experience at the heart of their operations again.

 

 

One of the biggest problems that lead to a weakening of brand equity is a lack of awareness in the company of the causes of commoditization. 

 

Businesses end up spending valuable resources on updating products and expanding product lines without having a real understanding as to what their customer’s really need and value.

 

 Customer Service

 

• When was the last time you surveyed your customers or researched your market properly?

 

• Do you really know what’s happening at grass roots level in your market?

  

• Do you need a brand audit?

  

In short, how safe is your brand?

De-Branding to Differentiate; Is Your Brand Strong Enough?

Selfridges department store in London made waves recently with consumers and marketers alike with the launch of their “No Noise” branding project.

 

 

 

In an aim to address the increasingly cluttered world of 21st century marketing, Selfridges opened the Quite Shop in-store. Minimalist art and music, and a ban on mobiles and shoes set the scene for a tranquil consumer experience, but bucking the very core of consumerism, the store went beyond by launching brand-free retail.

 

 Selfridges Launches No Noise

 

Global brands such as Levi’s, Heinz, and Dr Dre Beats all produced products that were void of logo or product information for the project, leaving customers to experience the products without the usual assault of marketing design.

 

 Selfridges No Noise Project Quiet Store Products

 

Arguably a campaign for media publicity the project did highlight two important branding issues:

1.  How Strong Is Your Brand Without Its Logo? 

A truly strong brand transcends its logo, as was evident from the No Noise project. Not only were the brands instantly recognizable when void of logos but critically, consumers had developed such an affinity with the brand through the intangible intrinsic values that even the un-branded product still offered value.

 Levis Jeans Debranded

 

2.  With the Prevalence of Brand Clutter, Can De-Branding be a Valuable Differentiator in the Market? 

The de-branded products of the No Noise project also created exclusivity out of normal brands. Void of logos and product information suddenly made Heinz baked beans tins a desirable limited edition unique offering. In a world where branding information is bombarding the consumer, could the simple brand-free product be the one that makes the biggest impact?

 

 Starbucks Debranded

 

Starbucks might be one of the most recognizable brands in the world but it too has started to explore reducing its brand imagery in an effort to differentiate its business and extend its market catchment.

 

 Starbucks Cups

 

Starbucks global reach meant that the visibility of the brand worldwide was almost having a negative effect with consumers. Over saturation of the corporate logo was almost making it uncool with consumers, with a trend towards local coffee houses emerging.

 

 Starbucks Localised

 

Starbucks began removing their name from their cups, and even redesigned their newer stores to fit into the local environment. In the UK no two stores are the same and the brand is focusing on less corporate branding and offering a more personalized experience to their customer. In a high street with Costco chains blatantly visible, would the de-branded Starbucks coffee house offer a more welcoming personable experience to the consumer?

 

De-branding to gain attention was a strategy adopted by VO5 last year in an effort to target the teenage boy market. The brand’s strategy focused on building brand equity through a meaningful narrative in their advertising.  They wanted to be less pushy with their products and thought that un-branded advertising adds to their credibility with their target market.

 

  

An unbranded 30-second teaser on YouTube spearheaded its new integrated campaign ’Pageant’. The short trailer achieved 180,000 views in two weeks after its launch in October and was also voted one of the most popular videos on YouTube’s comedy channel. The trailer was followed by an online film and a TV spot as well as a YouTube channel and Facebook page.

 

The viral success of the campaign means that there might be credence to the claim that de-branding might just be the key to breaking through brand clutter and gaining the attention of the audience.

 

 Gucci Bag Debranded

 

Branding and logo saturation is something that is having an impact in the luxury brand industry, an industry that once thrived on the power of their logos. Recent years have seen brands like Gucci experimenting with logo-free products where they have achieved success targeting a more sophisticated customer.

 

The customer’s affinity with the product was defined by their interest in the quality of the product materials and design rather than perceived status attained from the visibility of the logo. 

 

With a logo-free product the brand has achieved enhanced positioning and exclusivity with their target consumer. By recapturing a more knowledgeable customer and developing an aspirational product, the brand was rewarded with a 25% increase in annual profit last year.

 

 Coutts Debranded

 

Eliminating the brand name from marketing activity is also evident in the professional services industry. While many brands strive to develop brand awareness in the market, sometimes negative brand connotations make it necessary to de-brand. Coutts private bank recently did just that, dropping the well known but unpopular RBS parent brand from their name in an effort to extend business. 

 

The common thread in the examples above it that, before the de-branding took place, each company had developed an offering that presented value to their customers that extended beyond that tangible product itself. The strength of customer’s brand loyalty enabled the brands to experiment with the de-branding process. For obvious reasons de-branding won’t work in every case.

 

Tesco explored removing their brand name from some products but research has shown that the products were more popular with the Tesco name included as the customer has a better understanding of perceived quality that the brand represented.

 

De-branding certainly is not for every company, but it does force you to think about what elements of your brand make the biggest impact with your customer. Could de-branding be part of your brand strategy?

 

• Does your brand offer value to your customers that extends beyond the tangibles of the product or service?

 

• Do your customers have a clear understanding of your brand and its story, what it stands for?

 

• If you de-branded your product, what are the remaining elements that would have the biggest impact with your customers?