Branding Made Difficult in 10 Steps

Branding Made Difficult in 10 Steps

Branding Made Difficult in 10 StepsNovember 6, 2014

Brand Loyalty - By: Bill Pasha

Let’s speak honestly. If you do your homework on a product or service and you fully understand the potential customer, it is not that hard to establish and develop a brand.

That’s the hard part. Doing the homework. At The MBMI Companies, we do our homework for every product and service we are engaged to develop. We make every effort to learn from the bad experiences of others to ensure that you don’t. That’s why we’ve created a list that you can use to grade your own homework. Allow us to demonstrate to you Branding Made Difficult in 10 Steps.

Branding Made Difficult in 10 Steps


Invest in research but misinterpret the results
      • 1) Invest in research but misinterpret the results. Take the infamous case of New Coke. Real Coca Cola lovers in research focus groups and blind panels indicated a taste preference for a sweeter and lighter soft drink than “old” Coke offered. That part of the research may have been correct, but those results underestimated the power of the brand itself. Did those analysts fail to ask the respondents if they would actually stop purchasing Coke and replace it with another drink? Our senses trigger primal memories that can cause us to feel safety, comfort and joy. More homework might have shown that the new product did not bring on those powerful impetuses to consume. You see, sometimes researchers simply don’t know what to ask to get to the most important information. Homework should have included asking Coca Cola drinkers about why they choose Coke over other soft drinks, in the same way spirits and beer probe brand commitment.
Fail to create early key indicators of product acceptance
      • 2) Fail to create early key indicators of product acceptance. During the period of initial consumer trial and rejection of New Coke, before it was heralded as the worst marketing debacle in history, sales tumbled. There was more evidence than financial softness. Customers demanded that grocers restock the old product and dated bottles and cans of the original recipe grew in value. Yet, Coca Cola did not immediately return to the old recipe. Did they fail to establish key indicators? Did they miss them? Or was a decision to delay action due to some EVP’s ego. While it seems unlikely that Coke’s team missed step to create a filter of early indicators, it is possible that it did because research assured success. We may never know.
Advertise before you know what you have.
      • 3) Advertise before you know what you have. We know that New Coke did not fail because of poor advertising or lack of budget. Instead, it failed in part because Classic Coke loyalists rejected the New Coke message, or, worse, they tried the product and vehemently disliked it, proving the research was simply wrong. Then Coke failed to respect the early consumer outrage caused by its marketing decision to stick with the product, so they kept advertising it. Simply put, advertising fanned the flames of dissent. Someone failed to do his homework.
Use a brand launch as a smokescreen for a bigger play.

  • 4) Use a brand launch as a smokescreen for a bigger play. It is sure to work out for you. Some have contended that New Coke’s market introduction was a genius ploy that was designed to acquire incrementally more shelf space at retail than the old product previously claimed. When Coke reintroduced the old recipe as the Classic Coke brand, the brand power of the original would command another brand’s shelf space, disrupting competition and opening unpaid opportunities for Coke brands that would follow.If true, this was a stroke of marketing genius. Or was it? How much money and face did Coke lose in the interim, and at what risk? Were that plan to come to public light, wouldn’t stockholders claim fiduciary irresponsibility in the way the Coca Cola did its business, ham-handedly playing with investor savings? If true, it was a dangerous ploy better overcome by buying some space or creating demand for a sweeter product without abandoning the icon.

Freshen an iconic brand just for the sake of being new.

  • 5) Freshen an iconic brand just for the sake of being new. In many ways, New Coke failed because Coca Cola is an icon and great marketers don’t mess with icons. Instead, the opposite is true. Successful brand extension carefully examines a product’s history, the consumers’ expectations and the core values, features and benefits that created the original.Within the walls of Proctor & Gamble’s packaged product division, there is an old joke. It says, “You know what we call the new guy who suggested that we change the Tide Detergent box?” The answers is, “Recently unemployed.”The joke always provides the room with laughs, but it also makes a product statement about the strength of Tide’s consumer perceptions and loyalties. It speaks volumes about how well P&G understands their brands and customer motivations. It is a stern warning to marketers who would fail to do their homework.

When early indicators predict imminent failure, do nothing.

  • 6) When early indicators predict imminent failure, do nothing. Maybe the research guys weren’t thorough. Or maybe they were, but they failed to correctly apply the consumer information they gained. Either way, the results were costly and painful in terms that far exceed monetary. No one may ever know the true costs associated with the re-launch of the Coke brand but they most certainly were not marginal. Those costs should have been mitigated more quickly than they were. Coke executives couldn’t believe, or wouldn’t admit, they had made a brand-kill mistake. So they waited. They waited while customer after customer tried new soft drinks, including Pepsi. Industry analysts point out that 1985 revenue shares for Coke are so convoluted by sales of Old Coke mixing with Classic Coke’s reintroduction, New Coke marketing as Coke, and the sale of the then-#3 Dr Pepper brand to Coke, that Pepsi might have actually been the top soft drink for the year.Even some of today’s industry experts believe that Coke might be the #2 soft drink if the McDonald’s account were to fall to Pepsi sometime in the future. Could Coca Cola have imagined such a thing before the New Coke mistake? Probably not.

Adjust the product, not the marketing.

  • 7) Adjust the product, not the marketing. Some organizations subscribe to the misguided notion that it is easier to force a lesser product on consumers with cool marketing than it is to create a useful gadget that everyone aspires to own. Don’t be fooled. The Apple iPod’s sleek lines were not a marketer’s idea. They were the dream of a visionary who understood ergonomics. Mercedes-Benz’s advertising layouts do not determine their automobile designs. Engineers do that. If you try to create a product to fulfill a marketing concept, you are likely to die on the vine.

Do not use your corporate name in product marketing

  • 8) Do not use your corporate name in product marketing. Inexperienced marketers often offer this advice and claim that a corporate name indicates that consumers resist a product or service that is manufactured or created by a corporate entity.While this may be the case on the rarest of occasions, can you imagine General Electric failing to use its branding; GE Credit, General Electric Engines, or GE Healthcare? Of course not. Each proudly carries the GE name and the company slogan, “GE Works.” The company’s legacy lends instant credibility to their subsidiaries and products. Consumers trust GE more than a fancy new name.If you previously have spent time and treasure building your company brand, don’t abandon your name and consumer acceptance for the sake of chasing “cool.”

Dismiss opinions of target customers because you know more about your brand than they do.

  • 9) Dismiss opinions of target customers because you know more about your brand than they do. This is an excellent way to make brand development difficult because, in the real world, customers usually know more about why they buy your product than you know. Even customers who know little or nothing about your brand tend to form opinions about it as soon as you introduce it…and, sometimes, before. Coke simply got it wrong. They followed the wrong checklists because they failed to realize that their consumer knew Coke better than Coke knew their consumer. Oops.

t’s just a thing. Treat it that way.

  • 10) It’s just a thing. Treat it that way. Really? Did you miss your daughter’s dance recital for a thing, or did you do it for her future security and welfare? If you treat a developing brand as a thing instead of a living and breathing entity that requires care and nurturing, you’re done. Your product will be, too.As carefully as you plan to set aside money for your kids’ college, select the best foods for them to eat, or advise your daughter to buy the safest car that she can afford, you should plan the marketing and branding births and lifecycles of any product you develop. Don’t ever think of a brand as a thing. It’s more than that. It is lifeblood. It is the reason to wake up in the morning and the last thing to think about at night. Dream of your brand. Wake up during the wee hours to make notes about how to improve it.

We’ll stay up and keep you company. Even in the middle of the night, The MBMI Companies’ Maximized Brand Marketing International, LLC consulting team is awake and ready to help.

We’re only a telephone call away.

Post by

Bill Pasha
President/CEO

Bill Pasha is President/CEO of The MBMI Companies, LLC., the parent firm of MultiBrand Media International, Maximized Brand Marketing International and Valoriant Safety. Before joining the entrepreneurial world, Bill was recognized as one of the top Program Directors in America and as an authority on consumer consumption of media. He continues to consult broadcasters around the world.

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