What comes to mind when you think of the iPhone? Sleek, hi-tech, expensive, security blanket, camera, friends, access…? Whatever it is, that’s what you associate with Apple. People go through the same mental process with your company’s brand too. It’s called brand association. And it’s either making you money or costing you some each and every day.
I am intrigued by movies set in the 1800’s that always seem to have the obligatory Magic Tonic salesman drawing a crowd while he exclaims the many benefits of his potion. No matter the movie, the character is always enthusiastic and selling their product as the key to your future happiness. In other words, they make a big deal out of it. And in the movies, like real life, people buy it.
I’ve been involved in a lot of strategic planning sessions lately, and we inevitably discuss brand vision at some point in time. That is, what does the organization want the brand to ultimately be? Something lofty, even noble. As we discuss this, some clients will talk about a vision that is well articulated and congruent with how they are currently operating. Others want their brand to be something that is far different than what it is today (fair enough) and they operate in a manner that isn’t going to get them there (impossible).
The announcement of Amazon’s purchase of Whole Foods shouldn’t be surprising. Amazon has grown from an online book retailer to a logistics distribution company. Why wouldn’t they, or similar companies get into the delivery of consumable products? Maybe UPS will buy YUM brands next. Or Uber will hook up with Home Depot. And when all of this happens, who will occupy all of this expensive real estate that these national retailers currently occupy? Radio Shack, Sears, JC Penney, Macy’s, Payless, American Apparel – it’s a long list and getting longer.
What does it take for a brand to earn your loyalty? Meeting all of your expectations? Exceeding them? A loyalty program? There's no doubt that loyalty programs can be of tremendous value to marketers. But, developing the program and getting people to join it is just the beginning of the challenge.
There is a business theory that the first brand that goes to market usually wins. Research tells us that being early to market might be better than first. It will be interesting to watch this in practice as autonomous or self-driving vehicles begin hitting the market sometime around 2021. Most of the major automotive manufacturers are developing the vehicles and licensing the technologies that will dramatically change our lives in the very near future. So, first to market might be barely first and have no real impact. I like that because it means good marketing will decide the winner.
Which consumer brand do you associate with your bathroom? Is there one? There seems to be a dominant brand or two that is associated with most things in our everyday lives: Del Monte or Libby's in the pantry; Maytag or Whirlpool in the laundry room; LG, Samsung, Sony in the den. There are a few that receive heavy consideration in each instance.
Who would you say has the best personality in your group of friends? Are they the smartest, best-dressed or the funniest? Probably not. But the rest of your group is likely to agree that they are fun to be around and most assuredly are never boring. Social media isn't too different from your circle.
By now, we are all aware of the criticisms of the millennial generation: They can't focus, aren't present, overly entitled, too good to care about anything that doesn't concern themselves. It's a pretty long list that makes them difficult to relate to, and especially to manage.
We are living in an age of disruption. Uber. Netflix. Amazon. Tesla. Blue Apron. These brands are literally changing how we shop, travel, cook—really how we live our lives. And as these brands prosper, other ‘traditional’ brands suffer.