Ben Wise on Branding

Watching the world through the lens of the brand

Archive for January 2010

This Week In Review

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A weekly list of interesting articles on branding from around the web.

Justice OKs Ticketmaster-Live Nation merger The emergence of a behemoth in the entertainment industry will hopefully allow a more seamless experience (but could do the opposite and raise prices too).

Google’s Nexus One to Be Sold at Walmart? Does this mean that Google realized the error of their ways and is adjusting accordingly? A lot of respect for being able to change and adapt to consumer reactions.

Apple Reports Record Earnings I have written several times about the power of the Apple brand. This shows the impressive bottom line impact of it all.

Adidas Steps Into The World Of Augmented Reality A cool release from Adidas confirms that augmented reality applications will be a big trend in the next couple of years

Yelp Takes Up to $100 Million in New Funding This shows the growth in localized services and the opportunity that this presents for brands.

iPad: Bad Name, Lots of Potential Unless you were living in a bubble this week, you already know about Apple’s launch of the iPad. This is one of the better reviews of it that I have seen.

Kindle Refuses To Back Down To iPad’s Potential When brands compete this fiercely, consumers are likely to gain


Written by benwisebranding

January 29, 2010 at 8:28 pm

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How Does Your Brand Make Money?

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At first glance, this looks a bit of a silly question. The brand makes money by selling a product or service. But a closer analysis will give you a deeper understanding of what should drive your brand.

When I was doing my MBA, a marketing prof asked the class what Disney sells. Being a group of young keeners, we heard answers like ‘dreams’, ‘magic’, and ‘fun’. My favourite answer was ‘characters’.  With the benefit of a bit of research and data, the prof enlightened us. Most Disney movies will gross a few hundred million dollars in theatres. But over the lifetime of the brand of that movie, they will often clear a billion dollars in other merchandise. Disney movies are really just a conduit to selling merchandise so their brand needs to create such a strong emotion connection that consumers are compelled to buy the dolls and video games.

I came across another example from a friend who worked in sales at a CPG company. His first day on the job, his boss told him that his job wasn’t to sell their products on the shelves, but to get their products on to the end-caps and promo stands in grocery stores. This is where they made their money.

Understanding the source of a brand’s profit should dictate almost all of the strategic decisions that you make. This may seem a daunting task at first, but if you can nail this then the tactics should follow easily.

What do you think? How do your brand make money?

Written by benwisebranding

January 29, 2010 at 7:24 pm

Dealing With Toyota’s Crisis

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The halt in sales and production of 8 Toyota models, including the best-selling Camry and Corolla, will cost the company millions of dollars. Others have been forced to halt sales briefly for quality reasons, but the scale of Toyota’s troubles is unprecedented and will have an equally profound impact on their brand.

That being said, the level of reaction from Toyota might actually improve their brand. Think back to the scare that Johnson & Johnson had with Tylenol or the issues Maple Leaf Foods had with listeria. In both cases, giant recalls took place and the company suffered massive losses. But in both cases they proved to their consumers that safety is a top priority, potentially improving their brand.

Will this work out the same for Toyota? It is hard to say. I’m sure there are many more examples of recalls that didn’t have this silver lining. The list of faulty toys alone could fill a few pages. But watching Toyota navigate this issue should provide some great insight into how to handle these situations to minimize the damage to the brand.

What do you think? How will Toyota deal with the current crisis?

Written by benwisebranding

January 28, 2010 at 6:37 pm

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Metro Using Loyalty Card To Boost Their Brand

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Metro Inc, one of the biggest Canadian grocers, announced that they are launching their own loyalty card in Quebec. This will give them greater insight into consumers’ behavior and shopping habits.

This is indicative of brands boosting loyalty by becoming more intimate (not in that way!) with their consumers. A deeper relationship between a brand and a consumer, shown by personalized products or services, creates a stronger emotional tie between them that cannot be easily replicated by another brand.

Tesco, the largest grocer in the UK, has a well established loyalty card that provides them a significant advantage in a highly competitive market. Tesco card holders regularly receive coupon booklets customized to their shopping habits, a far more attractive prospect than generic coupons targeted at an entire city.

Grocery stores aren’t the only ones emphasizing customer intimacy to build their brand. There is a famous story about Nordstrom’s where they let a customer return a tire to one of their stores even though they don’t carry tires because it gave them a deeper understanding of that customer’s lifestyle.

What do you think? Will the Metro loyalty card give their brand a boost?

Written by benwisebranding

January 27, 2010 at 6:24 pm

Apple, Google & Microsoft: The Technology Wars

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In light of the upcoming announcement from Apple about the tablet I thought I would take a look at the big players in tech. There have been several commentaries on who is actually competing with whom as the tech giants start to encroach on each other’s space.

The three key players in this space today are Apple, Microsoft and Google, who don’t actually compete with each other as directly as many think. Conveniently, each of these brands has carved out their own space in which they enjoy a lucrative business.

Microsoft may be seen as the lumbering giant who can’t keep up with their hipper rivals, but you can’t deny their dominance in the corporate arena. Unless you work at a creative agency, odds are that you are using Windows. No matter how ‘cool’ Apple’s products are, they don’t stand a chance in the business environment and while Google Docs is a helpful service, it is years away from the sophistication of the MS Office Suite.

Google, with their vast array of data centers and online services controls the ‘cloud’. Microsoft has seen the appeal of this market and is trying to move in this direction, but stealing market share from Google has proven a tricky task.

Finally, Apple has come to dominate the home. In a world where all media is becoming digital, Apple’s media friendly devices are becoming the standard. Today’s announcement of the new tablet will only reinforce this positioning.

Despite their entrenched positions, Apple, Google and Microsoft are all trying to move into each other’s turf. Google is chasing Microsoft with Google Docs and going after Apple in the smart phone arena. Microsoft is chasing Google online, pouring millions of dollars into Bing in an effort to win greater market share there. Apple is the only one who is staying focused, but may be tempted to start targeting corporations (with either laptops or smart phones) as people get used to their products.

It will be difficult for any of these three to make inroads in a new space as their brands are strongly rooted in their existing products. People don’t need Apple’s ‘sleek creativity’ to make a spreadsheet at work. But making a move into your competitor’s backyard will serve to help keep each other honest. Toyota moved into the US with small cars and the big three ignored them. They could have retaliated in Japan, but instead they let Toyota gain a foothold on their home turf (and we can all see how that worked out for them). So don’t expect big changes between these three giants, but don’t expect them to drop their expansion efforts either.

What do you think? Can any of these brands expand into new areas? Should Facebook be included in the list of tech giants?

Written by benwisebranding

January 27, 2010 at 1:55 pm

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Using Customer Experience To Develop Brand Advocates

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In too many companies, the customer experience and the brand are thought of as two distinct entities. The brand resides with marketing while the customer experience is left with operations. Apart from a lack of communication between these groups, they are also operating with very different objectives (costs and efficiency vs sales and awareness).

The definition of the brand must be expanded to include all interactions between the company and their customer, especially the customer experience.

Some brands have done this really well. Apple comes to mind as a leader. They sell technology products, but the Apple store, one of the first branded product stores, is a key component in delivering their brand through the customer experience. If Apple products are about simplicity and ease of use, then these attributes must be included in the shopping and customer support functions as well. Taking control of these functions instead of outsourcing them entirely to other retailers allows Apple to maintain the brand promise throughout the customer experience.

By contrast, Rogers claims to be Canada’s leader in telecommunications. But anyone that has had to call their customer support knows that they are anything but a leader. The same goes for TD bank whose brand is supposed to be about ease and comfort but often results in frustrated customers.

The companies that do this well have a clear competitive advantage. Having an excellent customer experience will develop brand advocates that now have a wider audience through social media and other online sharing sites. Additionally, these brand advocates can promote your brand with much more credibility than the company could ever do themselves.

What do you think? Do any examples of a really good/bad customer experience jump to mind?

Written by benwisebranding

January 25, 2010 at 6:23 pm

This Week in Review

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B&N Writes the Book on Brand Experience Shows how the brand experience is increasingly becoming a part of the value proposition

New Study Reveals Facebook Better Than Twitter for Marketers Some useful data on the Twitter versus Facebook debate that most marketers have surely come across

Best New Products survey sheds light on shifting consumer trends Some good insight into what consumers are looking for (specific to Canada)

Tablet Wars: Amazon Adds Apps to Kindle With the state of the market today, it is shocking that having an app store isn’t standard yet

YouTube to launch rental service The latest move in Google’s continued effort to dominate every service available online

Tactic Lust A good lesson for marketers: don’t get caught up in tactics, get your strategy in order and the tactics will flow from there

Written by benwisebranding

January 22, 2010 at 9:00 pm

Posted in Links