The death of brands as we know it

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Brands have been commoditized. It's all about the sale...or a race to the bottom. I remember when it was cool to be affiliated with something, now it's all about "cheap".

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The death of brands as we know it

  1. 1. R.I.P. The Death Of A Brand As We Know ItClick the image to read the original article In August I wrote a short article about The Death of a Salesman. I now refer to it as my obituary as a former CMO of many fine companies I had the privilege to work with.(Read It Here) I‘ve never claimed I’m an easy guy to work with because mediocrity and complacency are not in my DNA. I’ve been both blessed and cursed with “Passion”. Passion for everything: passion for being a great dad, a great employee, a great leader and passion for being different than everybody else when it comes to leading the marketing of an organization. Because of this passion, I often findmyself at odds with “traditional” organizations. I hate traditional…it’s pedestrian andthe results are always predictable. This leads me to rant about what a brand is, orshould I say “is not” in our industry today.In our industry, research has shown that consumers really don’t know or care aboutany of our brands. As matter of fact, I believe the number is less than 19%! That’sgetting uncomfortably close to Congress’s approval rating!
  2. 2. I remember in the 90’s GAP had these awesome commercials featuring people swingdancing to swing music. When the commercials came on, I’d turn them up, loved themusic, loved the energy, I loved the visual “candy.” I ended up shopping therebecause I loved “cool casual”!This platform rocketed them up in Brand awareness, likeability and more. BUT themost important statistic was their sales grew sometimes 17%+ per quarter! They wereon fire, crushing the competition.So the geniuses at GAP decided it was tired and wanted to try something new. Theyfired the marketing guy, hired a new person and went to everyday low prices andmore. The result? Their business tanked!The brand we promote is “Cheap.” Cheap everything, sale this, closeout that; always arace to the bottom. No aspiration, No engagement, No connection, except for thoseconsumers who like feeding on the bottom, yep bottom feeders I think the slang is. -Mediocrity & Commoditization RULES here!What went wrong? In the 60’s and through most of the nineties, BRANDS RULED.There was a perceived value of owning a branded item, people believed in brands,they sought them out, they bragged about it. Not anymore. Now when asked they bragabout “what they paid for it.” How sad is that. Your brand has now been “tagged” tocheap.In our industry there is one company that stands out: IKEA. You say they aren’t your
  3. 3. competition? You are wrong! 126,000,000 Gen X & Y love cool, hip and the stuffthey sell. The first item your son or daughter purchases when they move out? A bedand they are pretty likely going to buy it at IKEA. IKEA is cool and everyone at thatage wants “cool”.Speaking of IKEA, have you seen what they’ve just done? They’ve made their iconiccatalog into an interactive home design catalog. It is the most amazing innovation forhome furnishings I’ve seen. You can take a bed, hold it’s position, show bedspreadsand scroll the style until you see what you like, take a snap shot and you are now yourown HGTV design star, well at least in your mind ;-)(Click the image, or the link below, to read the article and see the catalogs andvideos)Click the image, or the link below, to read the article and see the videoshttp://creativity-online.com/news/mccannerickson-gives-new-ikea-catalog-a-vitamin-pill/236165Look at their commercials, clever, fun, funny and relevant. They are mavericks andthey do NOT aspire to being a “pedestrian, or your father’s Oldsmobile, brand.”Meanwhile, our brands are still printing catalogs, spending 100’s of thousands if notmillions of dollars a year on these antiquated tools. We invest in clever “in-store”
  4. 4. graphics and we invest in $500 commercials for SALE, SALE SALE, with cheapgraphics, and lousy voice over’s. Then the end result is we complain we can’t make adecent margin! Einstein’s theory of Insanity anyone?Take a look at most of the manufacturer websites in our industry. They are NOT goodand since I’ve already printed my obituary I can safely say they stink! Add that to thebulk of retailers who also have lousy sites…if they even have one…and you have astrategy for disasterThe product photography stinks, the information about the product is minimal and thenavigation is non-existent. I’m sure this is all done because you really don’t want tosell anyone, right? You don’t want them to visualize that awesome looking sofa intheir home, right? Oh, I know, it’s about saving money and “hoping” things willchange…back to the good old days. Well, I’m here to tell you that car dealers DONOT sell Oldsmobile’s anymore, and hoping that you can buy a new Oldsmobile andfind spare parts somewhere is a failed strategy of hope again.OK, you’re defending yourself that you rely on your retailer to do all this. WHATARE YOU THINKING! You’re going to let 1,000 retailers define 1,000 ways whoyou are, what you are and why you’re the “one” they want? Einstein again, people.The first rule of a brand is YOU create it, YOU define it, YOU control it, and YOUdevelop the tools to insure it is positioned the way YOU WANT IT to bePERCEIVED BY YOUR TARGET CONSUMER.BUT that is only the beginning in developing a brand. Based off your 5P’s – yep Iadded one – Product, Promotion, Price & Place and PROMISE. Your brand is aPROMISE. A promise, that IF the consumer does what you want, searches you outand ultimately buys your stuff, that promise is fulfilled. If you don’t fulfill that“promise”, you’ve sold a “one-off” and your lifetime value of that customer is toast.IKEA does this the best….granted maybe for first time buyers, but they know whotheir market is – GEN X & GEN Y and they know how to target them, engage themand always aspire to be different in how they promote their Brand Platform. Surethere are a couple people that I know of that do this well: Sheely’s Furniture – Sam’sFurniture – Baer’s and more that I wish I could name. They use video, online chat,awesome designs, blogs and more to capture their customer and explain to them why
  5. 5. they (Their Brand) will be fulfilled based off their “promise.”So, if and when you develop a great brand platform, be careful that someone, yourretailer, doesn’t hijack it and commoditize it to the bottom feeders. Instead of sittingthere hoping, printing catalogs and useless P.O.S and “thinking” your way into abrand, start “acting your way into a brand.Want more? Go to http://www.social4retail.com where we have hundreds of articles,info-graphics and more to help you create guide and deploy successful marketingsolutions integrating the web with social media. About Bill Napier: www.social4retail.com - About Bill Napier: Bill is a specialist in creating, guiding and deploying successful marketing B2B & B2C solutions integrating traditional marketing strategies with the web and social media. He has worked in the home furnishings industry for over 12 years, as the chief marketing officer for some of the industrys largest manufacturers and creating some of the largest promotions ever launched within the industry.Contact:billnapier@napiermkt.com608-539-3005 – Office612-217-1297 - Mobile

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