Ben Wise on Branding

Watching the world through the lens of the brand

Posts Tagged ‘Subway

Burger King Changes Course in the UK

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The Burger King 'King'For years, Burger King has played second fiddle to McDonald’s. Their response has been to try to entice users with promotional offers. Considering that a distressed Burger King was just sold to 3G Capital Management, the brand strategy based around promotional offers wasn’t a bit hit. In the year to June 30, sales fell by over 2% while their key competitors, McDonald’s and Subway, both grew sales. Under new management, the fast-food brand is changing course for the better.

The Problem with Promotions

Promotions are often a necessary part of brand marketing, which isn’t likely to change anytime soon. I can accept that. But a strategy based around promotions is inherently too short-term focused. Promotions might get customers in the door, but unless you have an amazing and differentiated product (something extremely difficult to do in the fast-food business), it will never garner the loyalty required to build a sustainable brand.

Burger King’s promotions could easily be matched or beaten by competitors and never created a lasting, emotional connection with customers.

The New Way

Burger King has launched a new campaign that is centered around their iconic King character. The campaign will be tied into Foursquare, as well as other social and digital ads promoting the same message. The obvious benefit of this campaign is the introduction of a brand character that has the potential to create an emotional connection with customers, something sorely lacking in their brand strategy. As well, it does a great job tying in multiple media channels to reach different customers in the manner best suited to them. This helps create an experience out of the campaign, another effective way of providing an emotional benefit.

Unfortunately, Burger King isn’t moving far enough from their old ways, as following the King will lead customers to discounts and special offers.

A move in the right direction, but still a few steps too short!

What do you think? Will the change help Burger King turn their sales around?


Written by benwisebranding

September 14, 2010 at 10:07 am

Lawsuits are Only for Desperate Brands

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I’ll be the first to tell you how competitive a world today’s brands must live in. Whether on price, design, function, or personality, brands are constantly attacked from all angles. This makes it increasingly difficult for existing brands to maintain their leadership roles and for new brands to gain a foothold in their target market.

But don’t feel too bad for brands. Despite these challenges, they continue to thrive, creating stronger and potentially more loyal relationships with their consumers.

This is why I get so upset when brands start suing each other. Subway is suing other companies that use the term “footlong” to describe a food product. This is a clear sign of desperation. A brand will usually only sue a competitor to protect an advantage that they have gotten used to. In other words, a brand will only sue someone if they don’t have any other way of maintaining their competitive advantage. It is a move of last resort – a sign of desperation.

Don’t get me wrong, there are lawsuits out there that are legitimate, but far too many are not and it is a shame when great brands like Subway resort to such cheap tactics.

What do you think?

Written by benwisebranding

May 22, 2010 at 10:04 pm

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Starbucks Protects Itself with Defender Brand

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While marketers love to examine the price premium that a strong brand can command, the reality is that all brands face price pressures. There is always a cheaper alternative. As most brand managers are in their role for only a few years and are evaluated primarily on short-term results, the temptation is to cut price to maintain volume.

But there is another way!

A Defender brand is one used to protect against low-cost competitors. For example, if P&G were to launch a low-priced laundry detergent it would be a defender brand. The new brand would protect P&G from losing market share to private label competitors, without having to lower the price and potentially damage the brand equity of Tide.

Seattle’s Best Coffee: The Defender of Starbucks

Starbucks acquired Seattle’s Best Coffee in 2003, but only recently has gained much value from it. Facing increasing pressure from less expensive competitors (McDonald’s, Tim Horton’s, etc), Seattle’s Best Coffee allows Starbucks to compete in the low-price segment of the market without harming their core brand. Starbucks is now pushing Seattle’s Best Coffee into national fast food chains, including Burger King and Subway.

Starbucks is able to successfully implement a defender brand strategy for two key reasons:

  1. Starbucks can leverage their geographic coverage and get national distribution quickly for Seattle’s Best Coffee
  2. Both brands are kept almost completely separate. It is important that consumers don’t have a close association between the two brands, or they won’t effectively play in their respective segments.

What do you think? What other companies are effectively using Defender brands?

Written by benwisebranding

May 17, 2010 at 10:14 pm