Ben Wise on Branding

Watching the world through the lens of the brand

Archive for March 2010

Get Your Brand Ready for the Mobile World

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The future of the internet is drastically changing with the rise of mobile applications. Initially, mobile internet users were simply surfing the internet on a mobile browser. For many users this is still the case. However, with the growth of branded applications, the web browser (and with it regular web sites) is quickly declining in importance.

On a day-to-day basis, how many web sites do you actually go to? Most people could probably count them on their fingers. Email, social networks, Wikipedia, a couple of shopping sites, and some news/blogs. For most people, that is it. And each of these sites and sources, along with thousands more, are developing mobile applications to cut out the middle man, aka the web browser.

What does this mean for brands?

The changing use of the internet will have a profound impact on how brands target, reach, and interact with consumers. Here are some things your brand should be thinking about to adapt your digital strategy:

  • As the importance of search declines, how will your brand reach consumers? How can you ensure that your brand is represented in a consumer’s portfolio apps?
  • Who do you target with your mobile apps? Different segments will invariably have different needs. How do you make sure that your app delivers to each segment?
  • If you have multiple branded apps (which most major brands probably will), how you do make sure that each consumer has the app that is right for them?
  • How do you want consumers to interact with your brand through mobile applications? This is a crucial strategy question. The answer should drive pretty much every aspect of the development of your mobile apps.
  • Despite a decreasing use of regular web sites, consumers still want the connection that all of these sites provide. How will you integrate your mobile platform into the wider digital world to provide functionality to your consumers?

The digital revolution that is being driven by mobile applications offers tons of opportunity for brands that can answer these questions.

What do you think? Is your brand’s mobile strategy ready?


Written by benwisebranding

March 30, 2010 at 7:34 pm

Is McDonald’s Changing Their Target?

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For a long time, the McDonald’s brand had two targets: kids and their parents. In the past few years, their marketing campaigns (eg “I’m Loving It”) and menu changes (eg Salads) have shown an effort to expand the brand into other target consumers, namely everyone in between the two original groups.

Further confirming this trend, McDonald’s will be ending their long-time sponsorship deal with Sesame Street. One can argue about the hypocrisy of Sesame Street touting childhood health issues on their show while McDonald’s provides funding, but the bottom line is that it is hard to find a source aimed at children that is more trusted and respected than Sesame Street.

Dropping this sponsorship is a big deal for McDonald’s! It signals that the brand isn’t just moving toward the 18-35 demographic (ie older than kids and younger than parents), but that they are actively moving away from children. Most 25-year-old would view Sesame Street as part of their childhood, not something they associate with now. McDonald’s must view this demographic as potentially more lucrative or believe that they won’t lose kids even if they don’t target them.

This is a conscious decision to prioritize a new target segment over their old one. That said, transitioning a brand’s target segment doesn’t happen overnight. McDonald’s restaurants will still be full of children for several years, but don’t expect to see many new stores being built with a playground.

What do you think? Is dropping the Sesame Street sponsorship a good move for the McDonald’s brand?

Written by benwisebranding

March 25, 2010 at 5:51 pm

Tupperware Pushing Romantic Nights At Home

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An article in the New York Times last week commented on an ad campaign from Tupperware. The article states that despite appearing to target men, with cooking as a way to impress a woman, according to Rick Goings, the chief exec, they are in fact saying “if you want to target women, the best way is to also go after men.”

A direct quote from the CEO is pretty compelling evidence of the brands positioning, but I think they are aiming at something deeper. Even though the economy is exiting the recession, there has been a fundamental change in consumer behaviour around cost savings. Tupperware is playing off this fact by offering up home cooked meals as a legitimate (read: not appearing like a cheap skate) alternative to a romantic night out.

This is similar to the NYT’s diagnosis, but has a subtle difference. The key benefit is cost savings. Romance is a proof point, not the benefit itself, showing that the sacrifice is small. Consumers get the benefit of a nice meal without the cost of going out. This is especially appealing as consumers are looking for some fun after a long recession but are still wary of their budget and is becoming an increasingly common position for brands to try to occupy.

What do you think? Is Tupperware selling romance or cost savings?

Written by benwisebranding

March 24, 2010 at 9:29 pm

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Pepsi Brand Chases the Health Conscious

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It is no secret that consumers are moving toward healthier lifestyles (or at least trying to!). In light of this change, brands have to evolve their positioning to meet the new realities of the market. Pepsi is taking a big step in this direction.

Last week, Pepsi announced that they will be removing their sugary beverages from schools worldwide. Pepsi is clearly placing a bet that the loss of sales will be outweighed by the value it brings to their brand. This is a pretty safe bet for three reasons:.

  1. First Mover Advantage
  2. Compared to Coke, Less of Pepsi’s Brand Portfolio is Soft Drinks
  3. Already Out of US Schools

First Mover Advantage:

In their never-ending battle with Coke, it can be hard to find meaningful differentiation. Being the first of the two to take a global stance gives the Pepsi brand an association with being a responsible corporation. Even if Coke follows suit, it will be viewed as much less genuine without the first mover advantage.

Compared to Coke, Less of Pepsi’s Brand Portfolio is Soft Drinks:

Pepsi’s portfolio of brands is much more diversified than that of Coke. Obtaining an association to their brand of childhood health can be leveraged across their entire portfolio. This gives this position much more value to Pepsi than it would to Coke.

Already Out of US Schools:

In 2006, both Pepsi and Coke agreed to stop selling sugary drinks in US schools. Any loss of sales from this move will therefore not impact their biggest market. While it will impact some of the fastest growing markets (ie China), they are less reliant on soft drinks than the US. Again, the benefits from the move will still occur in the US without any change to their US operations.

What do you think? Can Pepsi credibly associate their brand with being healthy?

Written by benwisebranding

March 22, 2010 at 8:46 pm

How the Google Brand Capitalizes on Data

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For years Google has been expanding their reach, even moving out of the online world, offering new services that have yet to generate any revenue. From a consumer’s point of view, the Google brand is always free. Only a few services, namely search and Gmail, have managed to bring in much cash (YouTube is on its way, but still far behind these two).

In providing an array of free services, they have come to dominate almost all things online and have generated more data on consumers than most people can imagine. This data has allowed them to provide highly targeted ads, which have proven extremely lucrative.

Google has just launched the next evolution of this branded business model. Google Maps in Australia now shows brand logo’s to viewers. Similar to their existing ads, which logo gets presented depends on a multitude of factors around relevance and usage.

While some will highlight this as a big step for location-based advertising, which is certainly true, it also highlights the use of data to the Google brand. Many companies focus their online efforts at brand awareness and sales, there exists massive opportunities from collecting data and using it to draw out insights that help you run your business. At its most basic level, more data helps you make better decisions. And your online operations are a wealth of data. Of course, Google will continue to incorporate data into their existing services to create new revenue streams, but you should also expect other brands to try harder to capture data online and use it to improve their business.

What do you think? Could your brand benefit from more data?

Written by benwisebranding

March 18, 2010 at 9:58 pm

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Social Media’s Financial Rewards

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A couple months ago this blog discussed the ability of social media to create emotional brand benefits. eMarketer has just released data that now ties these emotional benefits to bottom line performance. For marketers and brand professionals looking to substantiate their social media efforts, look no further.

A full 19% of respondents said that for many brands, they are more likely to buy a brand that they ‘follow’ or ‘fan’. An additional 32% said they are more likely to buy for a few brands that they follow/fan.

Over half of social media users have just said that interacting with brands through social networks increased their likelihood of purchase (admittedly, stated behaviour and actual behaviour often differ).

For any brands that are still deliberating a move into social media because they can’t convince their CEO or CFO or the benefit, here is your proof.

What do you think? Will this help make the case for a brand’s involvement in social media?

Written by benwisebranding

March 17, 2010 at 5:46 pm

Are Brand Valuations Worthwhile?

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I get skeptical when I read about brand valuations. They seem to reward the companies with the most revenue and rarely reflect consumer sentiment.

Interbrand just published their top 10 retail brand values. The top three were Walmart, Target, and Best Buy. I don’t know the exact figures, but they are also among the top retailers in total revenue.

Obviously, the revenue generating potential of a brand must be the biggest determining factor in the value of a brand. However, their existing revenue is not always a result of their brand and separating the drivers of revenue can be difficult.

Certainly, Walmart will generate billions of dollars of revenue for the next several years. But how much of this revenue comes from their existing size? The power they have over suppliers? Their huge distribution capabilities?

Brand valuations often rank Rogers as one of the most valuable in Canada, but if you were to ask Canadians for their impression of the brand, they would almost unanimously reply with negative feedback.

At its essence, a brand is a promise made to consumers. Some promises are stronger than others. I’d love to see a brand valuation that placed a bigger emphasis on consumer data. Are consumers advocates for their brand? Working tirelessly to promote the brand and convince others to shop there? Rogers customers definitely don’t do this. I’m sure some Walmart customers do. But an awful lot of customers of the Apple store do this. Same for Amazon, who only just cracked the top 10.

What do you think? Do brand valuations fairly reflect the value of a brand?

Written by benwisebranding

March 15, 2010 at 5:23 pm