The Blake Project, the brand consultancy behind Branding Strategy Insider, delivers interactive brand education workshops and keynote speeches designed to align marketers on essential concepts in brand management and empower them to release the full potential of the brands they manage.
Category: Brand Perceptions
I have been exploring the importance of brand meaning. My basic premise is that the brands which people find to be different in a good way are the ones they will be willing to pay a price premium for. But as I have explored this topic, I have come to realize that there are some very distinct layers of meaning (how a brand is perceived) and brand marketers need to work differently to motivate people within each level.
Let me quickly outline the three main layers of brand meaning that I believe are important, starting with the outside and working in. Each layer permeates the ones inside it and can influence or be influenced by the others.
This is the broad context in which consumers come to appreciate what a brand stands for and respond to it. An example would be brands like Molson beer in Canada, which in the past has sought to leverage the local culture of Canadian pride to its own advantage.
Brands also seek to leverage popular culture by teaming up with celebrities. And some brands are so strong that they are not just influenced by popular culture but they also play a part in influencing it. Brands like Google and Facebook have shaped the world in which we now live and earned unique status in the minds of many as a result.Read More
Brand perceptions are much more often created by the product or service experience itself than from marketing communication. Marketing communication is much more effective in building brand awareness than it is in creating or changing brand perceptions. That is not to say that marketing communication cannot be used to help change perceptions, but it can’t do it alone and it can’t do it in the absence of real changes in the product or service experience. So, when a brand perception is negative and requires a change, that change is likely to include one or more of the following:
- competitive strategy
- business model
- vertical or horizontal integration
- pricing strategy
- distribution strategy
- product functions, features and styling
- product line breadth and depth
- bundling/unbundling of products and services
- product/service customization
- customer service, including problem handling
- technical support
- internal culture
- employee hiring criteria
- employee training
- performance metrics
- common measures
- internal systems and procedures
- capital investments
No doubt about it change is hard. Humans resist change until they absolutely have to. Like a bad habit, you won’t kick it until it threatens your very existence. So it is with changing a brand’s perception in the minds of customers.
Once a customer’s mind is made up about a brand it’s next to impossible to change it. Marketers embarking on the journey of brand transformation must recognize it's an inside-out process not for the faint of heart.
Brands become what they have proven themselves to be. Mental perceptions are hardened by experience. People can’t form new perceptions without a new experience. Like the chicken or the egg, what comes first?
Brand owners are the first to resist change.
There is a long period of denial before brand owners will change their own thinking. It can take years of sales declines before brand owners will wake up and deal honestly with a brand that is losing ground. This is especially true of iconic brands that once were leaders.
There’s a sense of complacency that cripples organizational action. Long before the cash starts drying up, iconic brands lose relevancy and customers. It’s hard to see this happening in real time. The dynamics of organizational thinking tend to favor the status quo.
If you’re going to change brand perceptions, the process begins by changing from within.Read More
Business is off 40%. You lost $9 million last year, compared with a $7 million profit the year before. Average age of your customers is up to 73, from 68 a decade ago.
It was definitely time for a makeover at Elderhostel Inc., the venerable travel and educational organization for older adults. Among its needs:
- Greater recognition from active baby boomers who are financially secure, have time on their hands and are curious about places they’ve never seen.
- No more minimum age restrictions.
- New programs and tours with wider appeal.
- And, oh yes, a new name.
Elderhostel got its start 30 years ago, offering adults 60 and older noncredit classes and inexpensive housing on college campuses. Its cofounder allegedly asked, “If there are youth hostels, then why aren’t there elder hostels?”
But soon thereafter, people started asking for better accommodations. No more sharing a bathroom down the hall. No more backpacks. Admits one executive, “The name wasn’t even descriptive back then.”Read More