TLDR: A strong brand cannot be truly successful without a positively considered product or service. A brand/re-brand in itself cannot change market perception. The two must work hand in hand.
Do you know where your brand sits on the chart?
A brand’s position is measurable in two dimensions, strength/weakness and positivity/negativity. The strength/weakness of a business’ brand is the number of people in the target market that know of the brand, have heard of it and recognise the name. The strength of a business works on a sliding scale in relation to the intended market, for example Jimmy’s Chip Shop has a target market that is much smaller than say Mercedes cars; however, Jimmy’s Chip Shop is popular in the area that it operates amongst its targeted market and therefore would register just as strongly on the chart.
Positivity/negativity refers to the way that a brand is perceived (think BMW and Skoda), do people consider the brand and its products/services good or bad?
Business owners and entrepreneurs should pay close attention to where their brand sits on this chart as the effect on marketing campaigns can be significant. Let’s take a look at the businesses in the example.
This business sits within the ideal section of the chart, and it should be the aim of every organisation to get to this position. The company is well known amongst its target market, and its products/services are perceived as positive. Business 1 should continue to keep its brand at the forefront of people’s minds, develop creative marketing campaigns and keep up the excellent work. An excellent example of a brand in this space is Cadbury Schweppes who in 2007 saw revenue growth of 5% from an advertisement depicting a gorilla playing the drums.
Business 2 is considered positive by the people who have used its products/services; however, only a small proportion of the target market knows the brand. This business could benefit from developing an effective marketing strategy.
Before developing any campaigns, the brand must undergo scrutinisation as to whether or not it requires improvement before pushing itself out to the market. It is easier and much less costly to brand/re-brand at this stage than make changes once market visibility is high. A lot of the clients we work with and the ones we want to work with fall into this category. They have a fantastic product or service, but market recognition is needed. A strong brand, creative campaigns and well developed online systems allow them to reach out and grab market share.
On the surface, the position on the chart occupied by Business 3 could look pretty bad. Its products/services are viewed negatively by its customers. Fortunately, only a small percentage of the target market have any knowledge of the brand, and there is hope. First, the organisation needs to look seriously at its failings and could benefit significantly from a customer research campaign to highlight where things are going wrong.
Only once the issues have been resolved, and it has begun to move towards the positive end of the scale, should a business look to market itself and follow the example of Business 2.
Things are complicated, and businesses occupying this position are usually on a downward spiral and often cease operation. A turnaround can be achieved but requires substantial investment over many years. Skoda is a prime example of this. Even today, Skoda has a harder time in the fight to control a portion of the market than many other manufacturers. Public perceptions of Skoda are still heavily rooted in the past, from a time when government restrictions prevented their vehicles from keeping pace with technology and innovation. Skoda has made a comeback, but the time and costs required have been tremendous.
Recent events in the US have somewhat landed the tech giant Huawei in a similar position. Huawei has announced that the short term costs of its trade war with the US are in the region of $30 billion. To bounce back to its former glory and change public opinion in the west will likely cost a lot more.
The cost implications of investing in marketing activities before a brand is ready can be detrimental to the overall success of the organisation. Not just from a financial standpoint but also the position of market perception.
A brand refresh or a brand development project is much more effective when the product or service is positively received. Brands cannot represent high quality when the product or service is inferior. The two must support each other.