Brands, products, services, applications and choice abound, many with little distinction.
Non-differentiated commoditisation reigns supreme. As a consequence, for many consumers and clients, pricing is the dominant selection criterion, overwhelming the innate and natural value and virtues of a good brand.
Value is difficult to identify, quantify and, well –value.
Search and purchase routines are typically extended, and often inconclusive when recognised and preferred brand names are not conspicuous and readily available.
Consumers do look for the reassurance and confirmation in brands that are recognised, respected and, above all, TRUSTED.
Sadly, in the current commoditised and over-communicated marketplace many people are confused, uninformed and their needs are unfulfilled.
MAKE A STATEMENT
Effective brand management projects the values, beliefs and virtues integral to the brand, the products, the services and applications which equate to advantages, benefits and rewards for existing and prospective customers and consumers.
Brand: Word associations are telling and definitive, when the brand name makes a statement.
BMW: Engineering Excellence
Apple: Simplicity in design and application
A cursory overview of the branding landscape suggests that there is much to learn.
A recent national Australian survey identified and ranked brands in 65 categories. Perhaps expectedly, some of the tables revealed surprises and a series of, seemingly, stark contradictions.
For example, Dettol was ranked number 1 in both “First Aid” and “Household Cleaning”.
The charity sector was interesting.
Noticeably, church-based not-for-profit brands were conspicuously absent, doubtless a consequence of the fallout from the investigations in, and Royal Commissions on alleged paedophilia by those in the various networks.
Apparently, similar to the political arena, if one is seeking a friend, or unconditional love and trust with charities, they should look no further than man’s best friend - a dog.
The Guide Dogs brand ranked number 1, followed by the RSPCA.
The brand name and graphics are definitive – centred on reliability, value, consistency and trust. The graphics are instantly recognisable (in less than 2 seconds – on social media) and they resonate with a broad spectrum of people.
HAVE A CUPPA
Interestingly, in the coffee-culture of modern society two brands of tea – Lipton and Twinings – were ranked in the top seven of the most-trusted brands, regardless of category.
The manufacturers, distributors and marketers of the battery brands Energiser and Duracell doubtless got a charge out of being ranked 1 in the top 2 most-trusted brands in Australia.
In many instances and respects the monetary value of brands is determined by the beliefs, philosophies and promises behind the products, services and applications.
For example, the unimpeachable and non-negotiable commitment to service excellence and responsiveness (the 24-hour promise of minimal equipment down-time) of the Caterpillar brand provides the sustainable competitive advantage in a crowded marketplace of high-tech, high quality capital equipment.
One cannot live by brand along.
In the category “Australian Iconic” Hills Hoist was “King of the Castle”.
Qantas was ranked second. This is an interesting case study, because during the course of the past two decades, the market share enjoyed by Qantas of in-bound and out-bound international air travel (centred on Australia) has fallen from 42% to around 14% (and declining).
Clearly, being recognised as an Australian icon and trusted is not sufficient to win and retain business.
When better value is readily found with brand names like Emirates, Etihad and Singapore Airlines, prospective passengers fly “the coop” – and with the competitors.
Creative, emotive advertising and sponsoring of the Australian Olympic team count for little in the race for consumer patronage and loyalty. Top-of-mind awareness can do little for the top-line and bottom-line if the brand does not deliver the promise.
Bewildering to experienced and discerning brand managers is the practice of individuals and outlets in franchise, marketing, buying and cooperative networks that insist on featuring and profiling their own sub-brand name in literature, advertising, premises and signage.
The overriding group brand name is compromised for little purpose and gain. Egos can be distracting, toxic forces.
There is no evidence of such happenings with profiled and yes, trusted, brands like McDonald’s and Domino’s.
It seems illogical that an individual or independent operation would join a network, pay annual fees, seek to capitalise on the values and virtues of a recognised brand, then seemingly debase its value.
DOCTRINE OF NO-SURPRISES
Harold Geneen, the former President of ITT (International Telephone and Telecommunications) was a strong advocate of:
The Doctrine of No Surprises
Consistency, continuity and commitment were virtues throughout and beyond the corporation.
They were the stepping stones to building trust and brand supremacy. No surprises there.
It made ITT, and its suite of operating brands, including Sheraton Hotels and Avis, sought-after, leading and profitable.
I’LL DRINK TO THAT
It must be hard for some Australian brewers to swallow that the two most-trusted beer brands throughout Australia in 2016 were:
To be wedged by the bitter taste of ascendancy (and lemon) with a Mexico-based brand (Corona) underscores the global nature of modern commerce and consumerism. No brand, product, service or application is immune to the power and relevance of good brands.
There is a lot that should be written, said and heard about astute brand management
Barry Urquhart of Marketing Focus is an internationally respected business strategist, consumer behaviour analyst and conference keynote speaker.
Conference Keynote Speaker
M: 041 983 5555