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Brand Recognition and How People Recognise Brands

Brand image is expressed in many ways which can also help brand recognition. I wrote a highly popular post on the topic last year, which I would recommend reading first if you missed it; it’s called “What Every Marketer Needs to Know about Brand Image, Equity, Personality & Archetypes”

Since then I’ve been thinking a lot about what brands are, above and beyond their names, logos and the product or service they offer. Which of them have a face, a voice, an aroma, a unique packaging, a slogan or a sound that immediately identifies them? If so, what does it bring in addition to the brand in terms of brand recognition?

Here is a very personal perspective of some of the best examples in each area. Feel free to add your own in the comments below.

 

Face

Some of the faces which represent brands are of celebrities, others of unknown people who become celebrities.

One of the first faces I think of for a brand is Flo from Progressive. She has won the hearts of Americans over the years, with her helpful but quirky discussions with potential customers. She has also made insurance less confusing and more friendly through her “girl next door” looks and sparky attitude. Here’s one of the most recent ads with Flo from last year.

In 2012, an animated box was added to their campaign concepts, to represent the company’s products. Apparently, the vast number of ads with Flo – over 100 – had resulted in a “love her or hate her” relationship as some found her off-putting.

George Clooney has been the face of Nespresso for many years now. He started as smooth and superior, but over the years he has become more approachable, even funny. The latest commercials actually show him being injured in various ways, from falling pianos to “Mafia-type makeovers!” They are always entertaining, even for non-Nespresso drinkers.

Perhaps Nestle is trying to open their appeal to younger coffee drinkers who enjoy humour and hoping that the videos get shared on social media?

There are many other examples of “faces” that we now immediately recognise and associate with their brands. Even if some have been dropped over the years, they still maintain their strong connection:

SC Johnson’s Mr Clean and the muscle man

Quaker Oats and the Quaker.

Coca-Cola and the Polar Bear

Marlboro and the Cowboy – Darrell

Duracell / Energiser and the Pink Bunny

Each face is chosen to represent the brand because it fits with the values with which it wants to be linked.

The Muscle man suggests toughness, never tired, perfect for house cleaning when you want the quickest and easiest solution to difficult jobs.

The Quaker implies integrity, harmony, simplicity, perfect for natural products.

The Polar Bear is associated with cold, stimulating, refreshing liquid (ocean), perfect for a carbonated soft drink.

The Cowboy suggests independence, freedom, strength, perfect for a masculine brand.

The Bunny implies endurance. never-ending energy, perfect for a long-lasting battery.

The advantage of a cartoon character over a real person is that associations are unlikely to change. Just consider some of the recent sporting disasters which resulted in brands firing their “faces”.

Almost all celebrity spokespeople are required to sign an agreement containing certain moral or behavioural clauses. These give the brands the right to cancel a contract if the celebrity does something which could be damaging to the brand.  Nike has done this with Maria Sharapova, Manny Pacquiao, Michael Vick and Lance Armstrong.  Tiger Woods was apparently dropped by Gillette, Accenture, AT&T, Gatorade and Tag Heuer. Wow, that must have lowered his income somewhat!

Find out more about the challenges of choosing a face for a brand in this article on advertising law, and this one on the top 15 athletes who were dropped by their sponsors.

 

Sound / Voice / Tone

Besides the faces of celebrities, some brands have adopted a very individual voice or sound. These can be actual voices, such as the infamous Budweiser’s Wassup campaign that was first aired in 1999. (yes really that long ago!) Or the tones used in print advertising, which has become even more important with the rise of social media.

George Clooney is definitely a smooth talker, at least he was in the first ads he did for Nespresso. With time, he has become more self-deprecating and funny, as in the above commercial. As already suggested, perhaps Nestle wants to move its brand image and reputation to appeal (also?) to younger coffee-drinker?

Both Coke and Pepsi use sound to great effect. For Coke, it is the ice being dropped into a glass and then Coke being poured over it. For Pepsi, although it may have started by using the sound of the ring pull releasing the fizzing bubbles from the can, the brand now introduces unknown music performers with their “sound drop” campaign.

Kellogg’s believed that the reason for their success was the sound their cornflakes made when they were being eaten. In fact, they hired a Danish sound lab to recreate the Kellogg’s crunch for inclusion in their advertising. It became so identifiable and uniquely Kellogg’s Cornflakes that the company went on to patent it.

One of their latest developments is the creation of the world’s first light therapy bowl. Although only in prototype form, for now, it is part of a project to help beat SAD. I find this a particularly interesting development, that they are experimenting with adding sight to their already well-known sound.

Unilever’s Magnum is another brand with a distinctive sound. The ice cream is instantly recognised today from the cracking as the model bites into the chocolate coating. This sound is used at the beginning and at the end of the ads for their bars; pity the music in between is somewhat irritating, at least to me! And recently, they have added the cracking sound to the advertising for their new range of chocolate topped ice cream tubs, albeit it more discreetly.

Moving on to the tone of voice on social media, some of the best examples I’ve come across include:

Innocent: Would you be interested in following a Twitter account that posted about natural fruit drinks all day? Probably not, and Innocent Drinks clearly understands that. Instead of simply advertising its juice products, Innocent posts chuckle-inducing, highly relatable content. It comes across as Innocent being just a friend who is always coming out with random, yet spot-on observations of life. Who wouldn’t want to follow them on Twitter for this daily dose of fun?

Innocent on Twitter

Tiffany: This brand mixes product images with thoughtful commentary such as the example below. It continues its elegant, cool sophistication of its physical presence admirably. It also uses its signature colour in large blocks for instant recognition.

Tiffany on Twitter

 

Old Spice: Having been successfully relaunched with its “Man your man could smell like” campaign, which was directed at females, it recently moved to a more irreverent and fun tone which is particularly appealing to younger men. At least that’s what I think because most of their new ads certainly don’t appeal to me! Let me know what I’m missing in the comments, please!

Old Spice on Twitter

 

Aroma

Smell is the only one of the five senses which connects with the right-hand side of the brain. This is where creativity, emotion and hunger are processed, and memories of pleasurable experiences are stored. Therefore smell is the sense which can trigger an impulse reaction.

Branding is about creating an emotional connection with users and therefore aroma is a powerful ally in doing this.

There is little logic involved in impulse purchases! For this reason, aroma is being increasingly used to build brand recognition even further. It is a powerful yet subtle way to gain customer loyalty, especially in such industries as retail, hospitality, healthcare, finance or any enclosed environments. You find yourself feeling good in certain places without really knowing why.

Aroma is so powerful, that some brands have been created or relaunched using it as their USP. Think Herbal Essences as one example. It was originally launched as a single shampoo. But in the 1990s it was relaunched using commercials featuring women moaning with pleasure while using the product. The shampoos offered “a totally organic experience” thanks to their unique and luxurious perfumes.

Even if the groaning has gone away, the perfume of the shampoos remains the luxurious spirit of the brand, as shown in this latest commercial.

Other examples which have been launched in the past few years, positioned primarily on aroma, include Jeyes Bloo Foam Aroma and P&G’s Lenor Unstoppables™.

 

Packaging

Colour and shape are important elements of recognition. But packaging goes way beyond this today. A pack can become a brand’s signature, whether through its unique form, touch or sound. Yes, a pack can have a sound too – see the numerous examples below.

When thinking shape, Coke obviously springs to mind first, but Toblerone chocolate, Perrier water and Pringles chips also have distinctive packs. Their success can be witnessed by the copy-cat look-alike packs that have been launched by competitors ever since. In some cases even the pack’s colour is similar, making brand identification on-shelf more of a challenge.

Unique forms have also become important in a number of industries as a way of combating market saturation or stagnation. These include cigarettes, candies, condiments and perfumes. In the later, product shape plays a vital role since the bottles are transparent and the majority are colourless too. Luxury can therefore only be suggested through the caps’ materials and the form of it as well as of the bottles.

Shape can also be used as a differentiator in providing additional benefits. Think about the Heinz Ketchup squeeze bottle or the pump dispensers offered on products from cosmetics to liquid hand wash.

Companies are paying more attention to the sound their products’ packaging makes too. There is the well-known clunk of a luxury car door (not sure if we would call it a pack!), but also of the lid closing on a Pantene shampoo bottle. The click of a pen cap or mascara wand when closed are studied and evaluated so that they give just the right sound for associations with luxury or safety.

Branding is becoming ever more challenging with the explosion of products and new product offers being launched each year. Therefore to stand out from the competition, a brand needs more elements to identify its image and personality.

As I have shared, its face, voice, sound, tone, aroma and pack all increase its differentiation and enhance brand recognition. In addition, research shows that stimulating more of a user’s senses significantly increase loyalty. It has been estimated that senses account for 25-30% of a brand’s revenue! So what are you waiting for?  


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How to Stop Customer Satisfaction Drip, Dripping Away

I recently spent a few days in a condo that I have rented before in Miami Beach. It is a wonderful penthouse suite with panoramic views of the sea to the east and Miami city and port to the west. I rent it because I am always delighted to spend a few days of vacation in such a perfect place.

However, this last time I wasn’t happy. What has changed? Very little really but enough to make me feel disappointed. That made me reflect on how quickly our customers can move from delighted to dissatisfied because of some small detail we might have overlooked or which we ourselves see as irrelevant. Let me explain.

  1. I arrived at the condo building, but the usual doorman with whom I had built a good relationship has been replaced by a new person. Just as efficient but not “my” doorman; he didn’t know me so he came across as less welcoming and friendly. In the business world our customers like to be recognized for their loyalty.
  2. The condo was as perfect as ever, but had obviously been cleaned in a rush in time for my arrival. It smelt wonderful of course, but I didn’t notice the high-sheen tiled floor was this time wet and I went skidding onto my backside as soon as I entered. Customers notice when things are wrong more than when everything is right.
  3. The usual paper products were supplied, but only four sheets of kitchen roll and not many more of toilet paper! No big deal but it meant I had to immediately go out and buy them first thing the following morning instead of lazing at the beach. Customers will sometimes buy a competitive product rather than go searching when yours is out-of-stock.
  4. I went to bed early upon arrival because I was tired from the sixteen hour trip and the six hour time difference. I had never noticed before but neither the blinds nor the (too short) curtains cut out the daylight, so I tossed and turned for hours before sleep finally took over. Small issues with your product or service may go unnoticed – at least until there are many more “small issues.”

I am explaining these details to demonstrate how little things can build upon one another to create dissatisfaction. The same can happen to your customers. So ask yourself, what little changes have you been making that your customers haven’t (yet) noticed?

  • Reducing pack content just a little
  • Reducing the cardboard quality of packaging
  • Making the flavouring just a little more cheaply
  • Increasing the price just a few cents
  • Shipping just a few days later than usual
  • Call centres being not quite as friendly as they used to be
  • Response time to queries and requests a little slower than before

These adaptations are unlikely to be noticed by your customers at the time they are implemented, unless they are already unhappy with your product or service. The minor changes you have been making over the past months or years will have gone by without any impact on sales. Therefore you decide to make a few more. Each will save you a little more money, which adds up to big savings for you.

However, one day your customers will notice and question their original choice (>>Tweet this>>). To avoid this slow drain on your customers’ satisfaction and delight, here are a few ways to avoid this situation arising in the first place:

  1. When you run product tests, compare not only to the current product and your major competitors but also to the previous product. (or its ratings if the product is no longer available)
  2. Run a PSM (price sensitivity meter) or similar test to check levels of price perceptions and acceptable ranges.
  3. Measure br and image on a regular basis and review trends not only the current levels.
  4. Check that call centres are judged on customer satisfaction and not (just) on the number of calls answered per hour.
  5. Offer occasional surprise gifts or premium services to thank your customers for buying.
  6. Aim to make continuous improvements in response times both online and in call centres.

Perhaps surprisingly, in many categories, customer satisfaction, loyalty and delight come from the small differences and not the big basics (>>Tweet this<<). For example:

  • Consumers are delighted by the perfume of a shampoo more than by the fact that it cleans their hair.
  • Amazon surprises and delights its customers by occasionally offering premium delivery for the price of st andard.
  • Kids will choose one fastfood restaurant over another because of the “free” gifts offered.
  • Women love to buy their underwear from Victoria’s Secrets because they walk out with a pretty pink carrier bag overflowing with delicate pink tissue paper.
  • Men buy their girlfriends, wives and mistresses jewellery from Tiffany because they know that the little aqua box they present to their loved one already says it all, even before it is opened.
  • A car is judged on its quality and safety by the “clunk” of the door closing, more than its safety rating.

In today’s world of dwindling product / service differentiation and an overload of choice, which I already spoke about in the last post entitled “Do your Shoppers face a purchasing dilemma? How to give the right customer choice every time”, your customers want to be made to feel cared-for, not cheated. Find new ways to surprise and delight them and they will remain loyal, even if you have to increase your prices. As L’Oreal continues to remind its consumers every time they buy one of their products, “They’re worth it”.

If you would like to review your br and building and learn new ways to catalyse your own customers to greater loyalty and delight, then contact us for an informal discussion of your needs. I know we can help.

Winning Customer Centricity Book

Don’t forget to check out my latest book Winning Customer Centricity. It’s available in Hardback, Paperback and eBook formats on Amazon and andnoble.com/w/winning-customer-centricity-denyse-drummond-dunn/1121802409?ean=9782970099802″ target=”_blank”>Barnes & Nobles, as well as in all good bookstores. And if you haven’t yet joined, sign up for free to become a C³Centricity Member  and get a DISCOUNT CODE as well as many free downloads, templates, case studies and much more.

C³Centricity used an image from Miami andBeaches in this post.

 

8 Things CEOs might question about your Marketing Plan: And how to Answer them

All marketers create a marketing plan and work to achieve the growth mentioned in it. It takes a lot of time and effort to develop the plan, and even more to get it approved by management.

The annual parade of br and-plan presentations is a reality in most companies. Marketers all breathe a sigh of relief when it is over and they can get back to their beloved day jobs, that of supporting their br ands.

Worried marketer answering a marketing question

However, management doesn’t always allow a marketer to get off that easily. They can just as easily spring an “innocent” question when passing them in the corridor or socialising at a company event. If you can answer the CEOs question to their satisfaction, you will shine in their eyes. Provide an incomplete or worse still no answer, and they might wonder if it isn’t time to restructure the marketing group.


So, here are eight of the most likely questions a CEO may ask and how you should answer. NEVER say you don’t know, but also never drown them in a long-winded answer. Neither response will win you brownie points. Make sure you have an answer like those proposed below and your name might just be on the next list of promotions.

1. Who are our br and customers?

There is far more information needed than just age and gender, to answer this question. Prepare a short description (often called a persona) of a typical user, in the same way as you would describe a friend. See “13 Things your Boss Expects you to Know about your Customers” for further details on what you should already know about your customer.

ANSWER: Our customers are middle-aged women, whose children are in their late teens or early twenties. She shops in local supermarkets and gets advice from  friends on Facebook, about the best br ands to buy and what’s on offer. She’s been buying our br and for over two years because it satisfies her children’s hunger when they get in from playing sports. That makes them happy and she then feels proud of being a good Mum.

2. How much are our customers worth to us?

Marketing plan question about valueBesides having an average lifetime value in your head, you should also be able to provide information about your customers’ perceived value of your br and.

ANSWER: On average each customer spends about XXX (Dollars, Euros, Renminbi, Rupee, Real) each year on our br and, which is about YYY over ten years (lifetime value is rarely calculated further out than this). Our current average price in-store is ZZZ, but 70% of our customers thinks we’re actually worth more.

3. What return on our marketing budget are we getting?

Whilst ROI is not the best measure of marketing’s impact (see this Forbes article for more on that), you still need to answer the question. The answer to this could get very complex if you go into too much detail, so keep it simple. Say what your total budget is, how much you spend on advertising and promotions and what impact that has had on sales, in total. I know it takes a lot more than these two actions to impact sales, but as I said, keep it simple.

ANSWER: Our total budget is AAA of which BBB goes on communications and promotions. With our current sales growth of SSS, that works out at approximately TTT.

4. How much will we sell; what market share are we expecting this year?

You could give just one number in answer to this, but why not use the attention you’ve got by adding something impressive to the story?

ANSWER: We’re expecting a RRR% growth this year to UUU unit sales. This is the highest in the category so our share will increase by PPP points to MMM percent market share.

5. What are our innovation plans for the br and?

You could answer this with a long list of all the new SKUs you will launch but again use your time wisely by adding some underst anding too.

ANSWER: We will be launching CCC new variants, which we expect to add MMM percentage points to our market share. We will also be eliminating FFF units that are not delivering on expectations.

6. What do we know about our carbon footprint?

Marketing question about br and carbon footprint

Questions around sustainability and sourcing tend to be raised in corporations which already have targets. If this is the case in your own company, then measurements are almost certainly already being taken. Therefore you just need to reply with the latest numbers.

But you can again use this exchange with top management to add how your customers feel about the question and all the efforts being made by the company – you do have that information too don’t you?

7. How’s the competition doing?

The answer to this question could cover a lot of topics: sales, market share, new launches, advertising, promotions or pricing. Respond with a simple summary of a few current metrics in comparison to two or three major competitors. The manager will then clarify if he was thinking of a specific topic and you can answer more precisely.

8. How’s our distribution doing these days?

A simple summary of outlets we have gained or lost is enough here, but why not add some detail about successful placement improvements too? That latest shelf redesign that has increased sales, or the fact that you have just been named category captain in a retail chain is definitely news worth sharing.

These are just eight of the most common questions top management asks of marketers. As you can see, the answers I’ve suggested are short. Especially when the question is posed outside the formal marketing plan presentation, the executive is probably looking not only for the information requested, but also to check that you have an excellent underst anding of your br and. He wants to be assured that his business is in good h ands. Prove it to him and also show your respect of his time, by giving a short, precise, answer whenever possible.

Do you frequently get asked other questions that I have forgotten? Do let me know. If you also have a better way of responding to any of the above questions, I’d love to hear those too.

If you’d like your team to be better prepared for “awkward” questions from management, why not ask for a 1-Day Catalyst session on marketing KPIs? No obligation, just INSPIRATION!

C³Centricity used images from Microsoft and Dreamstime in this post.

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