What Great Brands Do?
We have become so busy in our personal, professional and social lives that we have stopped looking at communication sent to us from companies about their brands. Since we are unable to gather, assess and retain information about products and services should marketers curtail their advertising budgets? Do good brands ever lose their distinctiveness? How do they retain their brand equity? One prudent fact remains that when customers are ignored directly or when their attachment to the brand is ignored, it is still the customers who vanish.
Why do consumers ignore marketing messages? They are too tired of advertisements day in and out moreover everywhere they go. Because of this boredom they don’t know the brand and what the offering is, they don’t understand how the product or service works, they don’t understand the benefits of the brands, they find the advertised messages ambiguous, they feel the ads are not directed at them, the messages are dull and tiresome, while commercials are aired consumers are busy doing something else, they’re at work, they are not in a mood to hear the ads, in short the customers are tired of hearing from the brands and fundamentally to the company’s value offering. The moral of this narrative is the good brands don’t need to be advertised too often and good brands sustain on their core values.
It is a fact that brands like Apple, Nike, McDonald or Google achieved their iconic statuses because of an unattainable magical formula, or we can say that they are lucky to have the brilliance of a single visionary leader. However, these companies have adopted specific approaches and principles that transformed their ordinary brands into iconic brands.
Great brands don’t waste too much time and money on image building; Instead great brands focus on culture, core operations, and customer experience. They reach out to their customers when it is required. Intelligent marketers concentrate on internal marketing communication than external marketing communication. They turn to advertising, promotions, and public relations only after all other elements of the brand have been developed and aligned. These companies believe that actions (customer’s experience) speak louder than words. When organizations cultivate stronger corporate culture, have healthy relations with their stakeholders, believe in corporate governance their brands fuel faster growth.
There’s a lot in name for brands
In my opinion the brand name matters in its success and its life cycle. Where did the name Apple Computer come from? Steve Jobs & Wozniak wanted their startup to be ahead of Atari Computers in the phone book. They wanted to stay away from the unfriendly, larger than life, complex images created by other computer companies such as IBM, Digital Equipments, Cincom etc. Jobs and Wozniak wanted to pay a tribute to Apple Records, the music label of the Beatles. There’s another tale to it that Jobs in his early life had worked in a farm at California picking and growing apples. The name just clicked and rest is history.
Good brands don’t become complacent
One of the fundamental principles of a brand’s success is its ability to do two challenging things at the same time – maintain consistency in the core of the brand such as quality, features, and price points along with this constantly change in order to stay in tune with the changing times. Doing these two things simultaneously is a big challenge for any brand. Sony – one of the most distinguished global consumer electronics brand which has enjoyed unparallel brand equity and loyalty is surprisingly losing out its position. Its rivals Samsung and LG are giving it a tough time. Over the last couple of years, Sony has been gradually but surely slipping from its ivory tower.
There are few reasons for Sony’s fall from the top. This is because of its excessive and unrelated diversifications; to name a few – consumer electronics, music label, online music store, semiconductors, a motion picture company and financial units. These diversifications suck its energy and added to heaped costs of unrelated operations. The diversification’s have not only drained the brand’s resources to a great extent but also abstracted the brand focus from the core of the brand. In addition, brand Sony has become complacent; it has many loopholes left open in its operations making it vulnerable to attacks from rivals. The followers (holding follower position) in the market who are agile, more energized attacked on the loose ends on multiple fronts. Samsung, LG, Apple, Nokia and others have grabbed Sony’s market share in consumer electronics segment.
Good brands don’t chase customers
Regularity and reliability cannot be compromised in the brand building game. The philosophy adopted by Ray Kroc – the founder of McDonald’s is that they can’t be successful unless their operators (franchisees) are successful. The logic is so profound. Approximately 85% of McDonald’s restaurants are owned and operated by independent business men and women. The idea of McDonald’s has always been of wanting to build a restaurant system that would be known for food of consistently high quality and uniform methods of preparations. Their aim, of course, was to assure repeat business based on the system’s reputation rather than on the quality of a single store or operator. This required a continuing program of educating and assisting operators and a constant review of their performance. The key to uniformity is their ability to provide techniques of preparation that operators have to follow. The success also comes because of its management listening so carefully to its operator’s problems, thoughts, ideas and solutions. The success of this partnership between the company and its operators is that the operators devote full time and best efforts to their restaurant business. Their focus and passion is what makes McDonald’s the number one food service organization in the world.
Great brands when commit stay committed
Another iconic brand Nivea body cream has been around for many years. Nivea is used in a household for generations together making it a habit. You will see Nivea on the dressing shelf constantly in many households; this is because it is super hydrating and makes the skin supple. This body cream product has maintained its fragrance, feel, thickness, packaging design same for years. When you buy the bright blue round tub/tin you know what you’re getting. It is one of those creams that have not changed, thus enjoying a large amount brand loyalty.
The best brands are good inside
Fortune Magazine and the Great Place to Work Institute named Google the 2014’s “Best Company Work For.” It’s the fifth time Google has enjoyed this position. This company has always believed in bringing diverse in demographics, smart, talented young people together. They believe in providing a very conducive atmosphere to people while allowing them to innovate, good benefits and perks, safety to women employees. Well, the company has a systematic hiring policy. Nepotism is completely avoided. It is one of the employee friendly organizations. When the work atmosphere is great, obviously the employees give their best.
Good brands stretch out
GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare is leveraging on Horlicks’s brand equity to get into new categories. Horlicks is an old player in the market. Horlicks came to India with The British Army; the end of World War 1 saw Indian soldiers of British Indian Army bringing it back with them as a dietary supplement. It has been around for decades. But there are no evident signs of its ageing. Horlicks’ market share is above 50 per cent as per AC Nielsen market survey. It would be foolish for GlaxoSmithKline not to leverage the equity of such a brand. Thus, GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare decided to use the brand’s equity to get into new categories. It has launched biscuits for children, a nutrition drink for women, an energy bar and chilled milk. Thus good brands stretch out.