Ben Wise on Branding

Watching the world through the lens of the brand

Archive for February 2010

This Week In Review

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

CPG Brands Top Most Trusted List A study by Millward Brown has CPG brands holding most of the top 10 spots, although top honours go to Amazon.

Microsoft and Amazon Sign Patent-Sharing Deal It is amazing how a common enemy can unite different brands.

Why Sears Is Rebranding Kenmore Interview with the VP of Kenmore on how they are making the brand more modern.

Nike sticking with Tiger Woods Interesting how Nike made this announcement after Tiger’s press conference last week. Waiting for the public reaction before making a decision?

McDonald’s brings back coffee giveaway McDonald’s Canada is continuining their efforts to steal some market share from Tim Horton’s and Starbucks.

Written by benwisebranding

February 26, 2010 at 8:40 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

The Branded App Industry Matures

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A recent article from BrandWeek says that branded apps are having more trouble gaining traction among users, looking mostly at iPhone apps. It is becoming increasingly difficult to reach Apple’s list of the top 100 apps, a common benchmark for success in this space. If history is any indication, this shouldn’t come as a surprise to brand marketers.

Many new categories are founded by small, nimble companies that can quickly meet an emerging consumer need. Initially, the early adopters will jump on the new services but as the market grows it will inevitably become more difficult to stand out. The bar quickly gets raised for brands trying to differentiate themselves.

While this may frustrate some brands, it is music to the ears of consumers. The novelty of mobile phone apps is wearing off and users are looking for services that add real value. Brands will be forced to provide consumers with increasingly useful products.

Another example of this can be seen in Facebook groups and fan pages. Only a few years ago it was the norm for Facebook users to join almost any group they were invited too but any interest in a given group page rarely lasted more than a week. Today, users are more discerning in what groups they will join, focusing on the groups that are of significant interest to them and can provide users with actual value. It is exactly the same thing with iPhone apps today (although some Facebook apps are still around that should have disappeared long ago!).

Once a brand has proven the capability of making a useful app, they will be able to leverage their brand and attract users to new apps more easily – a simple brand extension. However, brand extensions are most successful when done from a strong core brand. For now, they should focus on branded apps that create exception value in order to develop the strong core brand they need.

What do you think? Will mobile phone users be more selective of their branded apps?

Written by benwisebranding

February 26, 2010 at 3:17 pm

Intel’s Brand Investments

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Intel has announced that they are leading a new initiative called Invest in America Alliance. This group’s mandate is to help the US maintain their technological supremacy in the face of rising competition from abroad. The project is expected to bring 10,500 new jobs and $3.5 billion of investment to American tech companies.

The merits of the initiative can be debated, but the message from the Intel’s brand is clear: we are a world leader in technology and innovation. This brand promise is especially compelling in this category, providing a distinct advantage. While most people can’t tell you the difference between chips made by Intel or AMD, people still prefer Intel based on their strong brand.

Establishing this brand has not been easy for Intel. It has taken years of commitment to technological innovation. It has no doubt been tempting to cut R&D spending and enjoy the cash inflows from their existing products. Instead, Intel has opted for Creative Destruction – the process of destroying old technologies by developing new and better ones that take their place. Had Intel strayed, AMD or others would have been given the opportunity to catch up.

The Invest in America Alliance is the latest investment Intel has made to establish their brand as the leader in the market. If you look at their income statements over the past few years, you will see a continual increase in their R&D spending. Even during a recession as revenues fell, the Intel brand was reliant on their commitment to R&D.

It is brands like Intel that make a continued and public commitment to their brand that are able to maintain their market leadership position.

What do you think? What other brands make this type of public commitment?

Written by benwisebranding

February 25, 2010 at 1:33 pm

North Face Takes Mobile Marketing to the Next Level

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With brand messages bombarding consumers from all angles, the fight to be relevant is more important than ever. Reaching consumers with the right message at the right time can be the difference between a purchase and being ignored.

North Face, a retailer of outdoor apparel, is trying to use location-based texting to make their brand communications more relevant. If a consumer is within a certain distance of a retail location, they will receive a text notifying them, likely with a promotional offer.

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about the impact of location-based marketing on brands. North Face is one of the first brands to actually take the leap and reach out to consumers with a geographically relevant message.

However, there is a big risk for the North Face brand. As the first brand running this type of promotion, they are unsure if consumers are ready for location-based promotions. Consumers are undoubtedly heading in that direction and are sharing more information about their locations but it remains to be seen if consumers are willing to receive direct promotions to their cell phones. It is entirely possible that they find promotional texts a step too far into their personal privacy, even if they did sign up for it.

The success of the North Face promotion and the reaction of their consumers will be watched closely by brands and you should expect to see a lot of similar campaigns if consumers show they are willing to receive them.

What do you think? Will the North Face brand benefit from this campaign?

Written by benwisebranding

February 23, 2010 at 9:38 pm

Olympic Sized Emotional Brand Marketing

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At the halfway point in the Vancouver Olympics, one of the most interesting part of the games has been the marketing as brands try to tap into the emotional spirit of fans. Events like the Olympics are a marketer’s dream. Emotions are running high with pride and patriotism, creating the perfect opportunity for brands to develop an emotional connection with their consumers.

There are two commercials I want to highlight that have done a particularly good job of this. First is Tim Hortons, the venerable Canadian coffee chain. The ad, shown below, does a great job of mixing a bit of humour (the warm clothes) with the strong patriotic emotions that are already brought about by the Olympics. Amongst these emotions, Tim Hortons establishes it’s brand as a key aspect of Canadian pride. In a country where consumers want to support domestic companies, being seen as the quintessential Canadian brand can be very lucrative.

The second ad is the series by Visa entitled Go World. These play less on the patriotic emotions than Tim Hortons, though they are still present, and focus instead on the respect that people have for the excellence of the athletes. The Visa brand benefits from being associated with these emotions. And it doesn’t hurt that the Visa colours are a good match to winter landscape.

What do you think? Are these ads winning for their brands?

Written by benwisebranding

February 22, 2010 at 10:17 pm

This Week In Review

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

Microsoft Will Charge Carriers for Windows Phone 7 This is a risky move from Microsoft as Google’s Android is offered for free and is quickly gaining market share

Salesforce Rolls Out a Facebook for Businesses As social networking becomes more widespread, expect to see more applications for professional uses. These have arguably more potential for profit than consumer networks where users are hesitant to pay for the service.

Ben & Jerry’s to blend in taste of Olympic victory The venerable ice cream maker is adding another brand to their roster that will be named after Hannah Kearney, an Olympic gold medalist from Vermont (the home of B&Js).

Is Apple Actually Pushing for the $10 iPad E-Book, After All? Soon after Amazon lost their battle to offer the $10 bestseller, Apple is trying to upstage them. This would put publishers in a position where they were very dependant on one channel, as has happend in the music industry thanks to iTunes.

Written by benwisebranding

February 20, 2010 at 5:25 pm

Posted in Links

Brands Need To Move Up The Post-Recssion Value Chain

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Even as the economy slowly exits the recession, consumers are still looking for better value from brands. At the Consumer Analyst Group of New York (CAGNY) conference this week, this was the sentiment from several leading consumer packaged goods companies.

In an interview, the CMO of ConAgra Foods said consumers are “still concerned about value, so the habits [they] formed during the last economic recession will stay with [them].”

During the recession, private label brands enjoyed rapid growth by being the less expensive option. Many national brands chose to chase consumers down the price spectrum, chopping their prices to provide better value. However, many of these brands now face the challenge of moving back up the chain. This is one of those tricky situations where it is easy to go down, but extremely difficult to go up.

Hope is not lost for these brands, however. It is important to remember that brand value is the tradeoff between the benefit and the cost. If a brand wants to move the cost up, they have to move the benefit up too. Brands that find innovative ways to improve their benefit in a unique and compelling way will find consumers willing to pay a higher price.

Ian Friendly of General Mills said brands must offer “good quality and innovation, so when you pick up that box of Cheerios, we make sure it’s worth every penny you paid for it.”

What do you think? Will national brands be able to regain their price premium over store brands?

Written by benwisebranding

February 19, 2010 at 4:40 pm