Brand management is an area where many companies often struggle. This blog covers the top 3 issues to watch after in this area of branding, which are:
- Brand misrepresentation & piggy-backing
- Employees as bad brand reps
- Lack of referral business from customers
Brand Misrepresentation & Piggy-Backing
Often there are marketers that work with brands that hold very low market share in a given category where there are only 1 or 2 dominant brands. The lower-level brands decide to piggy-back on the packaging of the leaders for additional market share because their packaging isn’t so unique that it can be “claimed” by that brand. This causes a toxic environment at retail that can not only hurt sales, but can cause damage to the premium brands. An old stat that was released on this topic (so it is probably higher now), was that brand confusion was causing $4 Billion worth of missed revenue by the big brands. That is no small amount to sneeze at. But, before you go and change your packaging (again), ask yourself a few questions – Am I telling the brand story through the packaging in a truly UNIQUE way? Is it compelling and is there a central (ownable) personality driving this brand?
Examples of toxic brands piggy-backing on established brands:
Some of these examples were pulled from an article published in the UK pointing to an increased incidence of “parasitic packaging.”
So what do you need to do to really stand out on the shelves and eliminate piggy-backing as a possibility? Work through what your brand really stands for (or what you want it to stand for) and tell that story through the colors, shape and size of the packaging. We’ve been successful enough in this endeavor with our partners at DAZBOG Coffee Co where we have designed every part of their brand.
DAZBOG packaging stands out in the coffee isle:
The clear difference here is that the packaging for DAZBOG tells a story of being Russian, something that no other brands could mimic. Although the beans are roasted in Denver, CO DAZBOG is owned by Russian brothers – Anatoly and Leonid Yuffa – and we connect the company to their heritage and the American story of perseverance and success. Not only is the packaging TRUTHFUL, it is also very DIFFERENT.
Employees as Bad Brand Representatives
Some brands are very well-known for their ability to connect their corporate values with their sales people at retail. For example, Nordstrom maintains a corporate philosophy that is all about it’s customers, and Starbucks started with the “Green Apron” handbook that taught staff to take the “ordinary” to “extraordinary” on a consistent basis across the company and all locations. When staff become disenfranchised by their experience with the company, or perhaps they were never completely oriented with the meaningful brand attributes that represent the company, they can be the most devastating enemies to your brand. In this modern electronic world with review sites like Yelp! and a more empowered customer base than ever, one scathing “internal” review of the company could be viewed with more credibility than 100 positive customer reviews. It is more important than ever that companies empower their employees the same way customers feel empowered to affect the same companies.
The flip side of this is when negative customer and investor reviews overshadow positive employee insights. Right at the top of the latest “10 most-hated companies in the USA” is JC Penney. Yet, there are numerous employee reviews of working for the company that are very positive. This seems to be a case study for management more than branding, but then again, don’t the two of those go hand-in-hand these days?
So how do we fix this issue?
One way is to develop a well thought-out brand platform (NOT based on “making more money” like the Sears example to the right), a set of core values, or a clear and actionable mission statement. This document, or set of documents should be a part of the hiring process as much as it is a part of the day-to-day activities of the employee. Clear, consistent and actionable brand attributes are the key to building loyal employees that are hired, trained and empowered to carry a positive work ethic every day.
Lack of referral business from customers
When you open a can of Coca-Cola, what do you get? Do you really get “happiness?” Have you ever told anyone how happy you feel when drinking Coke?
What about when you drive a BMW, is it really the “Ultimate Driving Machine?” I’ve never owned one but I hear they are nice to drive, but the ultimate? I haven’t heard that from any owner.
Or how about your mobile phone? Do you have an iPhone or Android? Why? Did your friends tell you about it or did you do your research and find that the iPhone is the best, or the Android? Did you buy your Android phone because Google’s mission is “Do no evil?” Or what about Apple? Does anyone actually know their mission statement?
Having a consistent brand platform available, that is understood and connects with customers in a meaningful way–will drive the next generation of consumer loyalty. It has been shown over and over again that Millennials care more and more about what companies stand for. How are you going to position your company to align with the next generation of customers?
Customer loyalty and referrals are built through a cycle that relies on TRUST, which is built on the PERFORMANCE and VALUE of their interaction with the company after trial of the product or service.
Maintaining that trust is the job of a good Brand Manager, and in our case we refer to ourselves as the Brand Police.