Posts Tagged ‘corporate branding’
A recently posted blog gave those of us involved in marketing and communications the following advice: Between developing your brand or starting a blog, you should choose the blog and figure out the branding later. The blog went on to say that online, content is king, so it’s important to create content every day, even if you continue to work out your messaging on your blog until you get it right.
Wow! What a recipe for disaster! Creating content while you figure out your messaging is like getting in your car without any clear idea how to get somewhere. Even worse, what impression does it give the person reading your blog? I would guess it’s like those experiences at a party where you get into a conversation with someone who loves to hear himself talk. You know the type. He starts to talk before he knows what he wants to say, babbling on until eventually getting to some point. How impressed were you with this person once you were able to extricate yourself from his clutches?
Content is king — online and everywhere else. It always has been. But lately, that belief has been modified by some who believe that online “a large quantity of content is king” even at the expense of quality. I don’t subscribe to that theory. More quantity may draw people to you through search engines, but what impression will they have of you once they’ve been there?
To go back to the blog’s initial premise — should you develop your brand or write a blog first? Well, to answer that, let’s be clear what a brand is. At its simplest, a brand is the image of a company or product in the market. But it’s also deeper than that. It’s a core set of principles and beliefs — communicated through words, images, and actions — that leaves an impression of who you are. So it’s really not an either/or argument because whether or not you formally develop your brand, you create an impression. Which begs the question: what kind of impression do you want people to have — one where they clearly understand your core principles and what you have to offer, or one that gives the impression that you’re a company trying to figure it out as you go?
Ouch! Sometimes taglines can come back to bite you. Because of all their recent troubles, Toyota’s tagline, “Moving Forward” takes on a a whole new, unintended meaning. After all, moving forward isn’t a problem for their cars. Stopping seems to be.
The Toyota brand has certainly taken a hit, and the road back continues to hit bumps. Not the least of which are the recent emails that seem to indicate that Toyota has been concerned about the electronics of their cars for some years — something they have been publicly denying as the problem for quite some time.
Other companies have had their brand dragged through the mud and have come out of it in good shape. For example, another Japanese leader in the auto industry received terrible publicity after safety experts linked their product to several fatal accidents, went through a massive recall, and was forced to testify before Congress. In this instance, the company was the tire maker Bridgestone.
However, within two years of the recall, the company returned to profitability, and over time was able to recapture much of the market share it had lost.
Another player in this safety issue was Ford, which had many of Bridgestone’s tires on its SUVs. At the time, Ford was struggling to rebuild its own brand, and the public squabble with Bridgestone as to who was at fault, didn’t help.
Like Bridgestone, Ford publicly acknowledged its errors, corrected the problem, and plodded forward to win back the public’s confidence. Today, Ford is one of the darlings of the auto industry.
Although I’m not recommending they change their tagline to “Plodding Forward”, Toyota will need to do just that for the foreseeable future as they slowly win back customers’ confidence and restore their brand.
I don’t use my rider mower very often. Usually just in the fall to help collect leaves. So when my old rider mower finally died, I didn’t want to spend a lot of money on a new one. I decided to go to Sears. I’ve used Craftsman tools since I was little, and they have always been a good value for what they are.
The salesperson who helped me pick out the right mower for my needs was fantastic. Since it was late fall, the one I wanted was not in stock. I was told it I could pick it up within the week. No problem. I left happy with my purchase and decision to go to Sears. Things deteriorated quickly after that.
My rider mower didn’t come in as promised. Disappointing, but these things happen. What followed over the next week didn’t help. Without going into all the details, what I encountered in my quest to find out when I might receive my purchase included misinformation by sales people, a faulty phone system that wouldn’t let me connect to any department — or anyone — in the store for days on end, computer problems at the store, and insufficiently trained and rude store personnel. All of this was aggravating, but none of these were the reason I won’t be going to Sears anymore.
What did it was how my problem was handled. Not one person was willing or had the authority to help me. Not at the store. And not at the customer care hotline that I called a couple of times. Instead, they read from scripts, wrote down notes and passed my problem on. They told me that someone of authority would contact me, but no one ever did.
Much, but not all of the problem was the fault of the local store where I bought the mower. Regardless, the damage was done. My image of Sears, the company, had been tarnished.
My point in all of this is not to rant on about Sears, but to illustrate that a brand is more than a visual look. Your brand encompasses everything someone experiences with your company or product. That’s why it’s critical to educate every employee — from the CEO to the delivery driver — about it. Because whether they know it or not, they are a big part of your brand.
The recent suspension of baseball’s Manny Ramirez has created quite a marketing mess for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Based on Manny’s spectacular success after his arrival there last year, and despite some obvious warning bells, the Dodgers decided to make Manny the centerpiece of their marketing efforts for this season. In other words, they made a conscious decision to hinge their success — at least in terms of profits — on one star, and now they are paying the price.
The Dodgers dilemma leads to a question pertinent to medical device companies: is it better to market products or the company name? Companies that have wrestled with this issue have taken different tacks for different reasons. For example, we work with a large corporation that has built its brand almost entirely around the company name. In fact, though some of their products have names, many have numbers only. In the market, the products are often referred to by the company name, not the product name. This strategy works well for them for a couple of reasons:
First, they do not have one star product — they offer many similarly weighted products. This breadth of products has helped their reputation grow to where it is today — a provider of high-quality products in the healthcare industry. Each product boosts the reputation of the others.
Second, in many head-to-head comparisons with competitors, this company’s products don’t offer any advantages in terms of price, features and, in some cases, even quality. But since they enjoy such a well-earned reputation for quality and reliability across the board, they often win when a healthcare organization has no compelling reason to pick one product over another. Theirs is a safe choice.
The fact that the company’s brand and reputation is known versus each of their individual products also helps when a healthcare organization wants to standardize on one company to gain efficiencies, streamline buying processes, and enjoy better compatibility.
Other companies take the opposite approach. They market their products, not the company. If the product is successful, the company will profit, and if the product is lackluster, or worse — encounters some serious problems — their other products and the company won’t be dragged down as a result. This strategy is more common when product offerings are independent of each other.
So as you begin to review your marketing strategy, you have to assess what will work best for your company in the long run — particularly if some problem comes out of left field.