Brands have tangible value, even in tough economic times. But brands can be weakened as well as built. They are not forever; they must be nurtured and at times revised. There is an understandable temptation to take short-term actions particularly in uncertain times of change – reducing product quality, cutting back on advertising and marketing, adding line extensions that dilute the essence of the brand – to reduce losses and make budgets.
If that’s the temptation or indeed the reality, then the need for brand rescue isn’t going to be far round the corner.
Cutting costs is, of course, a reality in harsh times, but few businesses have been built just on this platform. Innovation and differentiation are the pillars on which businesses are built. Revolution not evolution is now needed for brands and businesses – small incremental changes are not enough.
Simplicity and narrowing down of choice has to be a good way forward for a large proportion of brands now, especially, when you consider that we are faced with over 20,000 new products hitting our shelves every year. Looking for ways that can help individuals make decisions appeal hugely in our complicated lives. Mintel predicts a 36% rise in own brand sales over the next 10 years, trusted brands offering to remove complexity and risk and turning chaos into order gets results.
This is the age of Brand OCD; Order from Chaos creates Decision! After all who really wants a choice of over 3000 different mobile phone plans?
With the growing consumer desire for authenticity in the marketplace – the need for a story, not just a product – all brands, products and services should come with strong narratives, good brand stories and a positioning based on values, human and emotional principles. Bring back trust, integrity and longevity.
Value – such an underrated word – is crucial, not as in cheap, but value in terms of competitive, quality, sustainable and functional. ‘Essentials’ from Waitrose comes with the pledge ‘Quality you’d expect at prices you wouldn’t’. It’s not an ‘economy’ brand, but helping the business underline that it is not expensive. It is part of the work Waitrose has already done on improving customers’ value perception.
‘Essential Waitrose gives us the opportunity to shout loudly to all our customers that these everyday items are true value for money and that we have not compromised on any of our standards,’ says Rupert Thomas, Director, Marketing and Brand Development. Along with a string of other awards recently Waitrose was recently named ‘Favourite Supermarket’ by BBC Watchdog viewers – in an online poll of over 36,000 votes.
Waitrose is not a brand in need of rescuing, just a very good example of a brand with healthy OCD that seems to care; maybe that’s got a lot to do with it being a people owned brand! (All links open in a new window.)