Successful Brand Marketing

With an increase in trust deficit world over, here is what brand managers need to weed out of their environments to retain their brands’ trust

MARKETING’s greatest invention is the brand. In effect unheard of 100 years ago, brands and branding now march triumphant. Everything and everybody — places and destinations, political parties and social movements, people (first celebrities and politicians, now, it appears, all of us) — are brands.

Yet, aside from a few usual suspects such as Apple, in the branding heartlands, all is not well. Y&R executives John Gerzema and Ed Lebar highlighted the problem in 2008, when they reviewed longitudinal evidence from Y&R’s Brand Asset Valuator research programme. In their book The Brand Bubble, they charted a ‘precipitous’ decline in brand trust since 1993, along with sharp falls in consumer perceptions of quality, brand awareness and ‘brand esteem’.

In 1993, for example, consumers trusted 52% of the brands researchers asked them about. Fifteen years later, the figure had fallen to 25%. Gerzema and Lebar pointed out that stock markets may have been pushing up the value of brand-owning companies, but brands themselves were being ‘hollowed out’.
Then came recession. Halfway through, Promise chief executive Charles Trevail observed that “according to every survey and index on trust in institutions and organisations from around the world, trust is in terminal decline”. Even when the recession was supposed to be lifting, Alterian chief executive David Eldridge commented on his company’s latest research: “Consumer trust is at an all-time low.”

So what’s the problem? How can brands and branding be so successful, yet so sickly at the same time? The answer may lie with the occupational diseases of brand management — diseases that are generated by the daily working lives of brand managers.

Brand management as ‘mask management’ is the most common of such diseases. Because brands are all about external communication, many brand managers find it hard to resist the temptation to paint ‘lipstick on the gorilla’ — telling customers what the brand manager knows they would like to hear, rather than keeping to the truth of what the organisation can, or actually intends to, deliver.

In reality, the most important part of the brand manager’s job is one of internalisation: bringing customer views and perceptions from outside the organisation inside, so that the organisation understands, responds and resonates to customers’ changing demands. Yet, activity-wise, the minute-by-minute focus of the day job is external communication. When changing the external message is easy (and fun) and changing the organisation inside is hard (and painful), the lures of lipstick-on-the-gorilla mask management can become irresistible. In fact, they can even be dressed up as a new theory. Remember when we were told that punters didn’t buy the beer, but its advertising? Remember George, the Hofmeister bear?

Next on the list is brand hubris. Not long ago, it was fashionable among brand consultants to show their clients a chart depicting the relative prices of different T-shirts. Some sold for a fiver or less, while branded ones were at least £50. “Which T-shirt do you want to be?” the consultants would ask. The difference between being able to charge £5 and £50 lies in “branding”, they would say. “We can help you become experts at ‘branding’.”

Well, they may have been experts at branding, but they were dunces at economics. If you sell 1000 T-shirts for £5 with a £1 margin, you make £1000 profit. If you sell 10 for £50 with a £48 margin, you make £480 profit. By implying that the supply/demand curve could be ‘branded’ away, these consultants were usually doing their clients a real disservice. While they were doing the rounds with their presentations on ‘branding’, full of impressive words such as ‘intangibles’, the brand that romped it on the high street was Primark.

That is not to say that discounting is always the best strategy. Rather, it is to challenge the widespread belief that it’s the ‘extra stuff on top’ — the stuff added by ‘branding’ — that is the source of brands’ margins and profits. The fact is that, apart from some special cases such as luxury goods, if you look at most successful brands — such as Amazon, Apple, Dell, easyJet, Facebook, Google, IKEA, Nike, Starbucks, Tesco, Toyota, Virgin and Wal-Mart — what marks them out is not superb ‘branding’ (sometimes it’s superb, but very often it’s not) but that they deliver outstanding customer value, often via breakthrough innovations, technology and/or underlying business models.
‘Branding’ alone hardly ever makes a business successful. It is businesses, including their culture and ethos, that make brands successful. And as soon as the business drops the ball on innovation, service, quality or price, or forgets its cultural roots, the brand quickly loses its lustre.

Brand narcissism is our third, closely related, occupational disease. Brand narcissism works on two levels. At the first, every brand manager desperately wants their target audience to recognise their brand, love it and be loyal to it by, for example, acting as an unpaid yet enthusiastic brand advocate.
There is nothing wrong with these dreams per se. They are natural. What is wrong is when we morph the wish into a ‘strategy’ of ‘success by being popular’ — where getting people to talk about and ‘love’ the brand becomes an end in itself, pretty much divorced from the value it’s supposed to be delivering.

The second level of this brand narcissism, which is even more dangerous, is where the brand manager forgets the underlying purpose of the brand and starts acting as if it’s the job of the customer to add value to the brand (by paying a price premium or being its advocate, for example), rather than the job of the brand to add value to the customer.

An obvious point, perhaps, but it can be difficult to remember in a world where your every passing thought, and key performance indicator, is about how well-remembered you are, how preferred you are, or how many people are talking about you.

Our final occupational disease is toolkit myopia. Brand managers are surrounded by a dizzying array of sophisticated tools and techniques for research, testing, data-gathering and evaluation. They are on an endless quest for the breakthrough insight and the sparkling creativity. It’s difficult to master all these things and the quest easily becomes obsessive. So much so, that it soon seems as if excellence at these diverse technicalities lies at the heart of successful branding — when it is not.

You can, for example, use exactly the same technical toolkit, excellence, to build a brand that perfectly communicates a brand’s unique value.
And to hide the fact that the brand is nothing more than a me-too mediocrity. You can use technical excellence to articulate specialness and hide sameness, but content-wise, they are opposites, having an opposite meaning to the customer.

The one thing that branding as mask management, brand hubris, brand narcissism and toolkit myopia have in common is that they destroy trust. They are potentially catastrophic mistakes, yet they are in the air brand managers breathe, growing naturally in their working environment. So they have to be combated on a daily basis.

How? What’s the antidote? To remember that a brand’s real job is to build trust, and that everything the brand does must be tested against this yardstick. It’s this simple human understanding that successful brand managers never let anyone forget.


Coca Cola launches mobile marketing campaign

Coca Cola launches mobile marketing campaign

Coca-Cola Great Britain has launched a promotion to give away 50p free mobile credit with every purchase of a Fanta, Dr Pepper and Sprite drink.

The campaign which is aimed at teenagers will run for one month. Cans and bottles carry a code which can be entered at Thereafter, customers can enter subsequent codes online or text the code to 85888.

Credit will be added to the prepay or contract customer’s account within 48 hours of redemption and is available on all the major networks. Coca-Cola Great Britain marketing director Cathryn Sleight said: “We are always looking at innovative ways to engage with our teen consumers. We know mobiles are integral to their lives and we wanted to bring them both value and a point of difference that will fully engage them with the promotion.”

HMV picks new CRM system

HMV’s new rewards scheme, PureHMV, is using a customer relationship manager (CRM) system from EHS Brann Discovery.

PureHMV allows customers to collect points for transactions, then trade them in for ‘money can’t buy items or experiences such as autographed guitars or concert tickets.

EHS Brann Discovery is supporting the launch of the unique scheme, which has now gone nationwide after a six month trial across 33 stores in East Anglia and the West Midlands. The agency’s approach will utilise reward scheme data from multiple sources including HMV’s point-of-sale systems and in-store and website sign-ups, all of which will feed hourly into the CRM system.

The system will analyse sales data by customer types and spending behaviour to allow for better targeted and more relevant communications on promotions and offers. This aims to make the customer’s journey more personal, relevant and valuable and HMV’s marketing more efficient, profitable and insightful.

“The implementation of a CRM system will enable HMV to maximise the value it derives from PureHMV, and provides the tools to ensure that its approach to customer loyalty remains current and credible. Investment in customer loyalty generates a vast quantity of customer insight, and by carefully analysing this data and applying it to the interactions it has with its customers, HMV can continue to enjoy profitably and long term relationships,” says EHS Brann Discovery managing director Richard Greenhalgh.

Procter & Gamble Deploys Analytics Software for Product and Branding Research

The Procter & Gamble Co. is leveraging predictive analytics in an effort to gain a complete view of customer attitudes and preferences about its products.

The Procter & Gamble Co. is using Chicago-based SPSS Inc.’s Predictive Analytics Software (PASW) to gather and analyze direct consumer feedback to improve its marketing research and brand evaluation.

“At P&G, we believe that high-quality, focused market research is an indispensable tool in the successful development and marketing of our consumer products,” said Patrick Hogan, consumer research solutions manager for global business services at Cincinnati-based P&G. “SPSS Predictive Analytics Software is instrumental in our understanding of how consumers think about and interact with our products, how they make purchase decisions, and how they respond to new ideas.”

P&G uses PASW Data Collection software to manage the entire research lifecycle by authoring and conducting surveys, and then sending feedback to analysts for improving process efficiencies. PASW Data Collection was designed to provide an open, scalable and customizable solution for multi-channel survey research and reporting needs.

“SPSS Predictive Analytics Software has enabled P&G to improve on and execute our research with consistent standards, quality and comparability across the globe,” said Hogan. “Using Predictive Analytics Software, our organization has made strides in effectively promoting brands, resulting in considerable savings to our organization and value to our consumer.”

Albertsons Completes Chain-Wide Installation of DVD Rental Kiosks

Albertson’s, LLC has completed the deployment of Coinstar’s RedBox DVD rental kiosks at all 248 of its locations across the country, with the installation of units at 116 locations in Arizona, Florida and New Mexico.

“Albertsons’ commitment to our customer is to deliver the service and merchandise they want at an affordable price,” said Bob Butler, Albertson’s LLC SVP of marketing and merchandising. “Redbox is a great fit for our stores, and has proven to be a popular service that is convenient, easy to use and affordable.”

The DVD kiosks are part of Coinstar’s 4th Wall solutions, of which Albertsons was an early adopter. The solution consists of selections from a variety of options, including self-service coin counting, DVD rental, money transfer, electronic payment solutions and entertainment services.

Boise, Idaho-based Albertson’s, LLC operates 248 stores under the Albertsons banner in Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Louisiana, New Mexico and Texas.

Jewellery majors add regional touch to brighten sales.

LEADING jewellers are discovering the fact that it pays to play the regional card for sales to shine brighter. Players like Tanishq, Orra and Adora are all reaping dividends by tweaking their assortment and designs to suit regional tastes. Through this, they hope to grab a bigger share of the consumer’ wallets by offering a broader product range and more depth in various categories.

Tanishq, for instance, has identified top 20 communities and started stocking merchandise in each store geared at them. This initiative is aimed at helping the brand to become a bigger player in the roughly Rs 45,000-50,000 crore Indian wedding market.
“We will now be stocking wedding collections targeted at specific communities,” said Tanishq vicepresident (retail and marketing) Sandeep Kulhalli. “After starting in the South, we are now looking at north India. After building enough merchandise, we will start marketing efforts geared around that,” he said.

Ajay Mitra, MD, India sub-continent, World Gold Council said: “The impulse buy category is usually domi
nated by career-oriented women who have a commonality in likes and dislikes, which cuts across regional nuances. But, from 35-45 onwards, there is a strong orientation towards regional tastes, most of which are hand-crafted intricate designs.”

According to Mr Mitra, national chains have studied the business models of large successfully-run regional
players which are doing very well. “From our interaction with some of the big jewellers, I think they have clearly identified large buyers — communities which have allocated a large chunk of their marriage spends to gold jewellery.” It’s not just at the design level that regionalisation is happening either. According to Orra CEO Vijay Jain, “It’s happening even at a diamond level, where customisation is in fact higher.”

Jewellers ET spoke to claimed that while people in the South prefer a higher quality of diamonds, those in the north go more for
flash, at cheaper prices. So, IF (internally flawless)/ VVS (very very small inclusions) clarity diamonds sell better in the South while VS (very small inclusions)/SI (small inclusions) clarity diamonds are more popular in the North.

Singapore unveils £42m plan on tourism

Singapore Tourism Board is embarking on a £42 million initiative to encourage tourism.

The BOOST (Building on Opportunities to Strengthen Tourism) campaign aims to increase travel to Singapore and will include tactical marketing campaigns developed in collaboration with tourism industry partners.

A “2009 Reasons toEnjoy Singapore” year-long global marketing campaign is part of the promotional push and will feature special offers.

Eight key source tourism markets will participate in the campaign: Indonesia, Malaysia, China, India, Vietnam, UK, Germany and Australia.

The thrust of the campaign in the UK will focus on the promotion of Singapore as a ‘must-see’ stopover destination and will see the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) partner with a number of operators including Travel 2 and Trailfinders on a wide range of promotional campaigns, including a mix of print, online, in-store and broadcast media.

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