Brand Strategy Archives -
On 12, Oct 2015 | In Blog | By Ruth
Developing a strong brand strategy that stands the test of time is a complex task. It is a process that continues long after the concept and the design process have been completed and a corporate identity has emerged.
Today’s multi-faceted communication channels require careful brand management in order to achieve visual coherence between all the brand’s touch-points with its audience. A brand needs to have enough flexibility to appear consistent on physical applications (e.g. packaging, labels, store design, promotional material, the company’s truck or the driver’s outfit) as well as in its virtual presence (e.g. website, e-newsletters, blog, social media etc.).
However, it is more than just the careful execution of corporate identity guidelines or the meticulous implementation of logos, fonts and pantone colours that make a brand feel “right”, genuine and worthy of customers’ trust and loyalty.
Branding conveys the fundamental philosophy behind a service, product or organization. It reflects the spirit and values that define a particular brand. Branding is not a call to action (purchase). Instead it communicates what the brand stands for and its raison d’être. The brand is what people can identify with, get excited about, or recommend. A brand can support a purchase decision but its impact exists even without linear correlation with an actual offer/product. Ultimately, it is the element that determines customer loyalty in the long run.
Strategic Brand Alliances
Branding is an ongoing process that requires careful crafting and a sensitive vision for the future. Today, many brands are engaging in strategic brand alliances or brand partnerships to improve brand equity. Such alliances help reach several goals:
- Strategic brand alliances open up new distribution channels for the brands involved by helping them to promote their products to new market segments.
- Strategic brand alliances increase brand exposure and extend the reach of a company’s target audience.
- Strategic brand alliances allow to enjoy immediate credibility for one brand through its alignment with another brand, which is reputable on the new market.
- Co-brands’ united efforts help maximize the brands’ marketing budgets.
What makes a good match?
Strategic brand alliances can be very successful when:
- They combine brands with similar and matching values and quality.
- They increase marketing exposure and open new market segments to both partners.
- The brands compliment each other and have equal value in the relationship.
- Consumers perceive the partnership as a natural extension of each of the brands.
Unbalanced partnerships run the risk of compromising years of branding efforts and of being blindsided by the almighty dollar.
Some recent successful strategic brand alliances:
Spotify & Uber: Uber enjoys a competitive advantage by enabling customers to enter a hired car welcomed by their favourite playlist. For Spotify, it provides an incentive for users to upgrade to the premium level and sets them apart from Pandora, iTunes or YouTube.
Snapchat & Square (together: Snapcash): Square provides solid credibility of secure money transfers and can boost its image by accessing Snapchat’s young, trendy target audience. Snapchat is able to offer an additional valuable service (free money transfer to friends’ bank accounts) to its users.
H&M and haute-couture designers: Over the past decade H&M formed several partnerships with high-end fashion designers (e.g. Karl Lagerfeld, Stella McCartney, Roberto Cavalli, Sonia Rykiel, Lanvin, Versace, Alexander Wang etc.). H&M strengthens its brand positioning as a fashion-forward retailer by offering limited time, exclusive fashion brand items that drive people into their stores. Through this time-limited offer, haute-couture designers enjoy exposure to a new generation of shoppers who, with time, have the potential of turning into followers and customers of their high-end collections.
Are these partners a natural fit?
The recent partnership between yoga apparel giant Lululemon and Curiosity Lager (by Vancouver’s Stanley Park Brewing) is considered by many as “untraditional”. Water, tea, smoothies, exercise facilities or sport events might come to mind before alcohol.
However, the marketing benefits are clear: the partnership allows both brands to tap into each other’s audiences and extend their reach. Lululemon can reach a more male beer-drinking crowd, while Curiosity Lager gets to align itself with terms such as “health” and “well-being”.
The manifesto on Lululemon’s website says: “We are passionate about sweating every day and we want the world to know it. Breathing deeply, drinking water and getting outside also top the list of things we can’t live without…”
Though most yogis and athletes celebrate special occasions with alcohol from time to time, could the placement of the Lululemon logo on beer compromise the authenticity of the brand’s values a little?
Other unusual strategic brand alliances:
• KFC’s 2010 “Buckets for the Cure” campaign.
• Play-Doh & McDonald’s: playset that molds modeling dough into fries, burgers and milkshakes.
• Lego & oil giant Royal Dutch Shell (Shell-branded Lego collection).
On 10, Jul 2015 | In Blog | By Ruth
An interesting comparison of long-time competitors, BMW and Mercedes-Benz, analyses different aspects of the brands’ digital marketing strategy. This assessment evaluates their brand strategy and performance on various digital marketing channels.
In many cases we witness traditional brands encountering difficulties in adapting their marketing strategy to new digital marketing channels like social media, forums etc. The challenge is to maintain the brand’s core values and to convey them consistently and effectively throughout all communication platforms.
This evaluation reveals that the two German rivals have embraced the new age and perform similarly well on social media. While each is a little stronger on certain digital channels, overall they maintain a close race on digital marketing channels.
When evaluating data output (mentioning of the brand on different channels) Mercedes outweighs BMW on Twitter and news outlets while BMW has a strong advantage on Facebook and forums. In this evaluation, BMW secured a minimal overall advantage (53%).
Both brands seem to have analogous brand responsiveness as both share comparably consistent and effective level of response to their audience. Conversely, although Mercedes-Benz enjoys larger following, BMW’s target audience is more responsive to the brand’s content and engages more actively with it than the Mercedes audience with their brand of preference. BMW succeeds to generate more dialogue from less content and fewer followers.
Key-word assessment reveals the core values and attributes for which these two different brands are known in the market place. Mercedes-Benz stands out with fuel efficiency as well as luxury and comfort, while BMW shines through speed, torque and handling.
Summarizing both brand performance results throughout diverse digital marketing channels, the final difference appears to be minimal and the BMW brand wins the race by a nose.
View complete comparison by James Lovejoy