Archive for January, 2011

Brand Management Over Time (Cont.) – Brand Revitalization and Management

Thursday, January 20th, 2011

No matter what product you sell or what service you offer there are millions of examples of once prominent and admired brands that have fallen or even disappeared, especially in hard times like right now. Nevertheless, there are also a number of brands that have managed to come back successfully in recent years. Old Spice, for example, one of my favorite brand stories about how a grandpa deodorant becomes one of the sexiest brands overnight! Forbes summarized the top 10 comeback brands of 2011. All these examples described how brands restored to the status of their golden ages. Regardless of the brand revitalization approach that they have applied to make a come back, these changes have been more revolutionary than evolutionary.

The first step to rescue a brand starts from checking with the original sources of brand equity. The more value that a brand possesses, the better chance that its comeback trial will be smooth and successful.

  • Norman Berry at Ogilvy & Mather once said: “The brands most likely to respond to revitalization efforts are those that have clear and relevant values that have been left dormant for a long time, haven’t been well expressed in the marketing and communications recently, have been violated by product problems, cost reductions, and so on.”

To accurately characterize the breadth and depth of a brand equity, marketers need to conduct a comprehensive brand measurement (or brand audit) to understand current status of the brand sources, including brand awareness, strength, brand image, and uniqueness of brand associations and brand responses from relationships with existing customers. There are many different ways to construct detailed measurements from market research, comprehensive brand equity models, etc. Qualitative research techniques, for instance should help identify possible brand associations and sources.

Then, marketers must decide whether positioning should be changed in order to bring the brand back to life and, if it is to be changed, which position to adopt. Sometimes, the old brand position is no longer viable, thus it is often easier to reinvent a new position strategy. Other times, the problems do not lie in the position strategies but in marketing activities that have failed to deliver effective communications. In this case marketers need to re-focus on the basic marketing mix and develop marketing communication activities that can recapture audience attention.

Finally, it is vital to dig out the deep rooted reasons, whether it is marketing failure (insufficient marketing communications), product failure (functional defaults), or reputation damage (unethical business practices). In the latter of these cases strong and negative brand associations may be difficult to overcome. There are still successful cases, for example Johnson & Johnson’s Tylenol recall is a great example. In that case they didn’t avoid public attention or shirk responsibility. On the contrary they dealt with it directly: tell the truth, provide facts and context, educate the media, avoid “No Comment” statements, provide positive information of your company, and demonstrate concern.  In the end the product failure was due to on the shelf product tampering by a deranged individual and it was not the fault of the company.  Because of the honest and powerful way they dealt with it their brand took minimal damage in the short term and came out of it stronger in the long run.

With a solid understanding of both current and desired brand goals and solid research into brand equity in hand marketers can then go about revitalizing a brand by refreshing old sources or creating new ones to achieve the intended position. We’ll discuss two main options of expanding brand awareness and improving brand image next week.

Brand Management Over Time

Friday, January 14th, 2011

I believe we all agree that the marketing environment has been evolving and changing. This situation will continue, and usually in very significant ways. Changes in consumer behavior, innovative technology, government regulations, competitive environment and the firm’s own strategies can greatly affect a brand’s image, meaning, and other aspects of a brand’s equity. The challenge of effective brand management lies in the proactive strategies to at least maintain, if not enhance your brand’s value. FiG will spend the next 2 weeks discussing some brand strategies to reinforce brand meaning and adjustments to marketing programs to identify new sources of brand equity.

Reinforce Brand Meaning-Use marketing actions that consistently convey the meaning of the brand to consumers in terms of awareness and image”

First you need to know the long-term effects of marketing activities on your brand equity. Consumers develop their knowledge towards your brand from responses to marketing activities. They hear your brand’s name on the radio, see your products on web searches, and read news and reports about your company in magazines and newspapers. Today they have millions of channels in which to know you, understand you, and develop a personal feeling towards you.  You feel this in sales trends, interaction with you through customer service, and talking with friends about you on Facebook or Twitter. One sentence: Consumers change their brand knowledge by responding to past, current and future marketing activities.

Therefore, it is of great importance for a company to have long-term marketing strategies that constantly reinforce brand. While doing so, one of the most essential considerations is the consistency in the nature and amount of marketing support the brand receives. Kevin Lane Keller, the notable author of Strategic Brand Management, once said: “Brands with shrinking research and development and marketing communication budgets run the risk of becoming technologically disadvantaged-or even obsolete-as well as out-of-date, irrelevant, or forgotten.”

Brands such as Coca-Cola, Nike, Disney, and others have been remarkably consistent in their strategies once they achieved a preeminent market leadership position. But being consistent doesn’t mean avoiding any changes. On the contrary, necessary innovative changes and tactical shifts in sync with the nature of the changing market will help a brand maintain strategic trust and the right direction. These changes include pricing adjustment, improvement of product features, creative slogans, and other tactical shifts. Although the specific tactics can change, marketers should retain and develop the key elements of equity for a brand where appropriate.

  • Successful Example-Burberry, a British high-end brand remains in the fashion world with the consistency of its iconic imagery (trench coat and Prorsum horse insignia), but has made changes from an expensive raincoat designer to a contemporary and traditional fashion designer.
  • Failed Example-GM, once the global automotive leader, lost its individual brand image because of inconsistent marketing activities.  Although they had many brands, many of these brands both looked alike and functioned the same, which forced them to spend separate marketing efforts marketing cars that were for all intents and purposes identical. The biggest and only objective of GM was to increase sales numbers through brute-force promotion rather than cashing in on brand equity.

What happened to GM is a lesson to all marketers no matter how big and powerful they are. “Reinforcing brand equity over time requires consistency in the amount and nature of the supporting marketing program for the brand.”–Kevin Lane Keller

A successful brand has to stand for something. When you attach variations/adjustments under a brand make sure the core brand image is untouched. You cannot do all things to all people and the more you try the more you risk sinking the ship.  Focus on your branding efforts on your target market.

Business Resolution

Tuesday, January 4th, 2011

Happy New Year everyone! Forget your dieting plan, it’s time to make business resolutions for 2011! FiG certainly has its own, and we call it PPP resolutions, including our goals to satisfy clients, employees and our communities.

  1. Professionalism: Customers are the central part of business for FiG. In this coming year, we will keep our productive & creative works satisfying customers. Since internet and digital technology has allowed consumers to explore immeasurable amounts of information online by themselves, our marketing job is to make this process easier and delightful, as well as to provide services and solutions when necessary. If your resolution is to have happier clients, with FiG you know you are in good hands!
  2. People: Without our people, FiG would not be able to meet clients’ demand, not to mention seizing market opportunities. A happy employee is a productive employee. According to our employees, FiG has been doing a wonderful job keeping the work innovative and enjoyable. Our friendly corporate environment, open-to-suggestion culture, and flexible work environment have won people’s hearts to have them happy to work hard here. In 2011 FiG will keep this friendliness and assist our people to grow both individually and with FiG.
  3. Planet”: By saying planet, we are actually talking about CSR (corporate social responsibility) in general. An effective business needs a healthy, educated workforce, sustainable resources and stable, peaceful society to exist and compete. 2011 will be a new start for FiG to get on board with non-profit organizations and charity foundations to create shared value and a more sustainable community.

How did we make these resolutions? We consider the sales we want to achieve, the directions that we can take, the unsaturated markets that we can find, and the values that we can create.

Usually we start with reflections and evaluations from our employees and management team on overall performance and client satisfaction from last year. FiG has noticed that this self-reflection and group evaluation helps with performance in the coming year. It never hurts to hear other people’s insight and wisdom, which can improve the overall organizational dynamic to provide quality products and services.

The next step when actually making business resolutions, stay focused! Your desired results have to match with the market’s limitations. Often when sales keep growing, companies expect it to continue. A very good lesson from Nokia is that the ex-giant of smartphone fell hard because they failed to notice warning signs that the market and customer demands were changing due to new economic conditions and innovations.  All they needed to do was to keep heads up when so much was going on around them instead it blocked their view of the bigger picture.

Keep these in mind when making strategic business resolutions for 2011. The goals should be able to help create consistent values. And the companies that are able to constantly deliver values that the market needs are going to be the true winners of 2011.

FiG Advertising and Marketing (Focus Identity Group, LLC), can help your business better focus on your niche and target customers, to deliver more concentrated marketing initiatives that lead to growth and increased sales.