Archive for the ‘Brand Management’ Category

Brand New or New Branding?

Original and now new again Tropicana packaging on the left, new but now old generic branding on the right.

Original and now new again Tropicana packaging on the left, new but now old generic branding on the right.

This has been a busy year for companies trying to get noticed.  Now I can understand with the recession and all that there is cause for concern and more reason to bring attention to your business.  But attention alone doesn’t make a customer suddenly what to do more business with you.  There is something to be said about familarity too as well as what kind of attention you bring to yourself.

Eariler this year Tropicana brought attention to itself by switching it’s packaging.  A whole new look brought much attention for this orange juice icon.  However, the attention was not positive.  Amazingly, Tropicana was not able to have the forsight to realize that trading in a premium branding campaign built up over decades with a generic branding campaign anyone could have come up with wasn’t a good idea.  It makes it harder to justify a premium price too if your branding reflects a generic brand.  Customer outcry made them realize the mistake and a few months later, and a bunch of marketing dollars shorter, and the original branding is back. 

I’m driving to work and pass by the local Wal-Mart Super Center – what the heck is that funny new logo?  Oh my gosh, did they paint over the trademark blue on the outside of the building?  I just can’t help thinking this is a change for the sake of change without any business reasoning behind it.  I’ve never seen a shortage of cars in their parking lot and I’ve never stood in line for less than 30 minutes just to buy a pack of batteries.  Love ’em or hate ’em, the new branding is just going to further irk detractors and alienate core customers, in my opinion.  Wal-Mart is too much of an institution than a store – maybe more of a tradition as generations of families have been brought up under it’s roof.  You just don’t mess with tradition.  I’d love to see the price tag for this re-branding vs. how much more it actually adds to their bottom line.

How about that new Pepsi logo?  Kinda weird, huh?  Ok, they have always tended to market mostly to a younger demographic, so I’m not going to be too critical of their new branding.  It may not appeal to me, but then again, I haven’t had a soda of any kind in about a decade or so.  I’ll remain nuetral on this one.

Even Maxwell House!

Even Maxwell House! New on the left, older packaging on the right.

I dislike their shoddy, overpriced coffee and over-sugared speciality drinks like Frappacinos, but have always loved Starbucks coffee-flavored ice cream.  I mean, I really love the stuff.  But Starbucks has played musical branding  with it’s packaging  – each time getting more generic in appearance and each time I end up seeing less of it being stocked in the ice cream isle at my local supermarket.  Hmmm….  Then, about 6 months ago it disappered altogether from the shelves for a few months.  I must have bought every other coffee ice cream brand known to man when magically Starbucks coffee ice cream reappeared on the shelves with what’s that, yet another packaging design (and what I swear is a different taste too).  Why can’t they just leave well-enough alone – all these improvements are making it worse.

You’d think I was an anti-new-brander by this blog post so far, but I’m really not.  I love pointing to the rebranding that UPS did a few years back.  They took their tradition with them, enhanced their logo and made the color brown kinda cool.  There was no re-adjustment, no “that’s weird” stage – everything was the same just better.  You didn’t fell like you were doing business with a different company – they maintained their identity.

Now these are big multi-billion dollar corporations with established identities at stake, but what about the small business owner?  What is the identity of your brand – do you have a brand identity?

Usually small business owners start on a small budget and logos and branding tends to be at a lower importance level than other factors in getting the business up and running.  But as your business grows, the importance of your branding grows.  As you become more established in your field, your premium rises.  Just as Tropicana can charge more money for their better known, premium orange juice, your rates for your products or services will increase too.  As your rates increase your customers will expect your branding to reflect this new premium.  Tropicana spent a lot of money learning this lesson – don’t expect a premium while presenting in a generic fashion or stripping away your established indentity.

If you are new to the game then you are in a good position to start off on the right track.  Working with a good design team you can establish the look of a premium brand before you really are one.  Upfront costs in this case are more, but you can save yourself a lot of retooling of your brand down the road.

What does your brand say about you?  Are you a generic, a premium, or somewhere in the middle?

Brand and Reputation Management

Michael Phelps.

Ok, what was the first thing that came to your mind with that name?  Was is all the Olympic gold medals?  Was it the world records?  Was it the years of hard work and training?  Was it countless endorsement deals?  Or was is a photo of a guy getting caught smoking pot?

Search results in Google for "Michael Phelps"

Search results in Google for "Michael Phelps"

It doesn’t take much to pollute a reputation.  It also doesn’t take much for your reputation in Google to get polluted either.  While all the good stuff still pulls up in Google for Michael Phelps, a person searching on his name has to weed through (no pun intended) numerous listings related to his negative behavior.  His personal brand has been damaged, by his own actions of course, but none the less damaged.

As an example, consider if a high profile employee of your company gets arrested for a DUI or gets caught embezzling money.  Those negative news stories will quickly populate Google results for searches on your company name.  A former disgruntled employee or client decides to start a blog talking about how bad you suck.  That is going to be pollution in your Google search result stream.

How do you combat these negatives so you are always putting your best foot forward in the search results?  Simple.  Create content.  Everywhere you can.  Blogs, social networking profiles, Twitter posts, news releases, article sites, leave comments on other websites, guest posts on other blogs, get interviewed, upload videos, photos, basically, wherever you can put content, do so.  Of course, it needs to be good and useful content and that requires some work, but they don’t use the word “management” in brand and reputation management for nothing.

Alert! Alert! Somebody Said This About You…

You have spent a lot of time building and protecting your reputation, but do you know what your online reputation is?  Do you know what others are saying about you – good or bad?

There is a number of tools out their that let you find out what others are saying.  At a minimum, be familiar with our old friend Google.  Sure, you probably have already Google’d yourself, or your company name, right?  But have you setup a Google Alert (or two)?

Google Alerts are part of the overall Google services that they offer.  How it works is you type in any search term you want to be kept up to date about – such as your name or company.  Then, each time Google tracks a new web page with your keyword term or terms, it kicks an email to you with a summary and link to the page so you can see first hand.  Very handy as it is a set it and forget it service.