A pioneer in energy drinks three decades ago, Red Bull is now the world sales leader with estimated 2012 fiscal sales of over $3 billion, profits over $400 million, and a 43% leading US dollar market. To establish a new category in the face of Coke and Pepsi and then hold it for decades is very impressive.
Four quick observations about Red Bull’s unique approach to brand building:
Red Bull’s brand building is largely based on associating its brand with an amazingly wide range of people, teams and events.
Red Bull believes in owning teams and events rather than being one of several sponsors.
Because of this ownership model, they can and have turned this buzz machine into a profit center.
Their on-brand activities reflect two very different personalities that live side by side.
The scope of Red Bull activities is overwhelming. It gets involved in a wide mix of sports such as wakeboarding and motorcycle racing, dozens of Red Bull music events, sponsoring athletes such as motocross racer Ashley Fiolek, teams such as the New York Red Bulls soccer team and much, much more. The Red Bull website has entertainment features such as the Red Bull Soapbox Racer video game, weekly rock music bulletins on the Rock Report, plus sections on movies and TV shows as well. The list of their entertainment features goes on and on and is captured on their Facebook Page, which has more than 37 million followers. With well over 100 potential points of contact, Red Bull will connect to their target market many times, in multiple ways. And more importantly, Red Bull becomes a big part of their customer’s lives. …Continue reading
Since I began this blog, about 10% of my posts have highlighted a brand whose branding and marketing programs have been, in my eyes, impressive. These dozen or so cases, most of which have demonstrable business success as well, all have something in common. They all have a higher purpose. Some have several. They offer a basis for a customer relationship that goes beyond functional benefits to generate self-expressive, emotional or social benefits. They all rise above the “my-brand-is-better-than-your-brand” competition and the noise that goes with it.
Consider the higher purpose that the following brands that were all the subject of a blog post: …Continue reading
What are the most impressive brand building efforts in last 15 years? In constructing such a list, it would be hard to leave out Dove. A $200 million soap brand in the early 1990s has grown into a brand that has been estimated to be worth nearly $4 billion dollars today. They play in an intensively competitive arena with large, smart and established competitors. And in my view, the Dove brand building effort played a big role in their success story.
Have you seen the latest from the Dove ongoing “Campaign for Real Beauty” that originated in Brazil and was done by Ogilvy & Mather in 2004? A forensic sketch artist draws several women, first based only on their descriptions of themselves (he does not actually see them) and then based on the descriptions of a stranger who has observed the women. The subject, seeing the resulting sketches side-by-side, realizes that the sketches inspired by strangers are much more flattering than the versions from their own self-descriptions. The tagline? “You are more beautiful than you think.” The first two versions of these videos each got over 35 million views within two weeks of being posted to YouTube. Thirty-five million!! …Continue reading
My newest book, Three Threats to Brand Relevance is out this week in e-book form. It’s a shorter form book, and can be viewed as a supplement to my book released last year, Brand Relevance.
Brand Relevance explains that the only way to grow is to develop “must haves” through big innovation that will render competitors irrelevant. It is the path to winning. This new book shows the path to avoid losing. As markets become dynamic, there is a real risk that your brand will become irrelevant. The book explains the three threats to look out for and how to avoid them or deal with them. …Continue reading
My last blog post, “Three Models of How a Brand Personality Impacts,” discussed three ways in which a brand personality can impact customers and the marketplace. And its reception, measured by views and comments, indicated that brand personality is a highly sought after and intriguing concept. Many recognized brand personality as a key brand vision lever for brands that are facing dynamic markets and a fragmented media presence. A brand personality can be a crucially important driver of self-expressive benefits, brand-customer relationships and the communication of functional benefits.
If a brand strategist wants to explore the potential of creating or enhancing a brand personality, then they have to address one basic question. What should my brand personality be? …Continue reading
What is the worst thing you can say about a person? That they have no personality. Who wants to spend time with someone who is so boring that they are described as having no personality? It’s better to be a jerk; at least you will be interesting. Having a personality is equally helpful to brands.
Not all brands have a personality, or at least don’t have a strong, distinctive personality. Those that do have a significant advantage in terms of standing out from the crowd, having a message and supporting a relationship with customers. Personality is an important dimension of brand equity because, like human personality, it is both differentiating and enduring. Once established it will provide benefits (or harm) over a long time horizon. Creating or supporting a personality should be part of the brand vision discussion.
The power of brand personality can be seen by conceptualizing three models of how personality impacts: …Continue reading
A small Japanese company that makes bathroom scales has under 100 million dollars in sales generated by less than 300 people. But they put out a recipe book in 2010 that has sold around five million copies and created a new growth platform. Their story, which depicts how a higher purpose can work, is instructive.
Tanita makes and markets accurate, durable, user-friendly professional and personal scales for measuring health related characteristics such as weight, body fat and body water. Based in part on some patented, breakthrough measurement technology developed in 1992 and branded as “bioelectrical impedance analysis,” Tanita has 50 percent market share in Japan, where it is a household brand for scales, and it is a leader in the global market as well.
With healthy living as a heritage value, Tanita developed a company cafeteria that featured a healthy yet tasty menu at a time in which healthy eating was something of a trend, even a fad, in Japan. The cafeteria items were the subject of a prominent TV feature piece that stimulated a publisher to develop a series of Tanita company cafeteria cookbooks, the first of which appeared in 2010. Now one in ten households in Japan own a Tanita recipe book, and its recipes are featured on several established recipe sites in Japan such Cookpad (which gets nearly 7 million unique monthly visitors).
The success of the cookbook led Tanita to open a 70-seat Tanita Cafeteria in the very popular commercial district of Marunouchi in January 2012. Marunouchi is an upscale urban area near Tokyo Station with high end retailers, corporate offices, and who knows how many thousands of restaurants. The menu items are all under 500 calories, with low sodium and fat content. Each table has a timer, not to encourage people to leave but to encourage them to spend at least 20 minutes eating, because a leisurely meal is healthier. There are slogans to honor healthy lifestyles everywhere. The restaurant is so popular that access needs to be controlled with a number system. And more restaurants are now in development.
BrandJapan is an annual appraisal of the brand equity of one thousand Japanese brands from the view of consumers (BtoC) and business managers (BtoB). Each year I provide a commentary on the results. The 2013 data just became available, and it again provides insights into what drives winning brands in Japan.
In the consumer database (BtoC), the big news is that Apple, who had advanced from 11 to number one in 2012 is not only still number one but has created a significant gap over Google, which remains at number two. The iPod and iPad brands have fallen from the top 20 but are still top forty brands, and iPhone has moved to number 18 meaning that Apple has four of the top 40 brands. Furthermore, Apple’s lead on the innovation factor over Google is now huge (132 vs. 108). The seven Apple stores and the elegant success of the iPhone helped the Apple brand achieve a leadership position.
Among the top 25 brands, 10 were retail brands led by Uniqlo (tied with Google at number 2 and with its HEATTECH clothing brand in the top 50) that included Daiso (like dollar stores), 7-11, Muji, two Internet retailers (Amazon and the Japanese firm Rakuten) and four retail food brands (McDonald’s, MOS BURGER, Haagen-Dazs, and Starbucks). There were five tech brands in the top 25 in addition to the two Apple brands with Google, YouTube and Windows in the top 10 and Panasonic and Sony following. Each tech brand was high on the “used recently’ and “being a pioneer” scales. Six of the top 25 were popular packaged goods brands such as Calbee (salty snacks), Nissin (cup noodles) and Suntory, all in the top ten. They all are very high on the friendly dimension. And two entertainment brands, Studio Ghibli (animated film company) and Disney were in the top seven brands with Studio Ghibli moving up from twelve to five.
There was a theme to these results. The strongest brands in Japan have three characteristics.
They are visible, and most of the population is exposed to them frequently.
They are innovative providing interest and energy.
They are relevant in that they are widely used and capable of delivering exceptional use experiences.
The only path to brand and business success is to develop and own an offering feature or service that is judged to be a “must have” by a significant customer group. Competitors lose by being irrelevant. Delta Airlines, who operate in an arena in which differentiation is difficult, is attempting to do just that.
Delta is trying to create and own a new subcategory, namely, airlines that offer superior sleeping experiences for upper-class passengers. They identified sleep as the most important in-flight experience, which means that is an important consideration for a worthwhile customer group. Then they developed a comprehensive program to deliver. In includes a white noise channel on the in-flight radio, full flat-bed seats and a special “Westin Heavenly” comforter and pillow. …Continue reading
The newest and fastest growing brand building communication channel is no doubt mobile marketing. And the initial instinct is to buy ads reach the mobile user. But that’s a problem, since ads are becoming more and more challenging to notice, especially considering the limitation of smaller screen sizes. The solution? Sponsor an app or become embedded and involved in the app’s functionality.
Mobile users typically download many apps, but use only 15 or so regularly. So how do you get into the top 15? You have to have an app that users are motivated to download and use. In an article Sunil Gupta wrote for HBR, he describes five app strategies that can get your brand in the sweet 15 and either cement an existing customer relationship or create a new one.
His strategies correspond with basic motivations to use an app, such as: …Continue reading