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
It’s no secret that brands are constantly in search of ways to build connections and loyalty with their customers. However many brands are tackling this challenge by blasting meaningless messages into the ether, hoping to gain a committed following. It’s a sure-fire way to turn people off and eventually leave your messages falling on deaf ears. Strong brands engage consumers with authentic and consistent material that reflects an understanding of their interests and gets the dialogue going. These days, great content makes for great brands.
The word “content” is the catchall term for brand communication, and companies around the world are hopping on “content creation” as the way to capture the hearts and minds of customers. Every day, consumers are inundated with brand generated advertising – around 5000 advertising messages compared to a mere 500 messages forty years ago. Yet, this statistic doesn’t capture the various Tweets, Instagrams and other messages companies push out every day. Content is everywhere, and the impact is real – consumers are conditioned to filter and sort through the junk more quickly and easily than ever. …Continue reading
Each controversy came with different reasons, different accusations, and different levels of fall-out, but they all ended with the same result: A public apology via printed word, viral video or TV ad. The apology bandwagon seems to be on hyper-drive these past few years. Apple , BP , Carnival Cruises, Tiger Woods, Lance Armstrong, StubHub…the list goes on and on. There is no shortage of mistakes being made. And there is no easier out than to run a 30 second and wash your hands of the mistake.
But in our ever-changing, hyper-connected world, words are just words. Consumers are smarter than ever.
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
Over the last two days, innovation came to life at Fast Company’s annual New York Innovation Uncensored. Held in a dark, chilly music venue called Terminal 5, the substance of the event was in stark contrast to the vibe of the venue. With a mix of humor, emotion and great storytelling the event was full of thoughtful material sure to be the stuff that shapes the businesses of the future. Through this series of articles we will dive into all the major takeaways and shine a spotlight on some of the things we thought really missed the mark.
While reflecting on the conference on the plane home (from yep, you guessed it – 40,000 ft), it became clear that all in all, Fast Company put on a great show. Innovative business leaders from around the world spoke passionately about the processes of making impact through bringing new ideas into the world, and Fast Company kept it interesting with inventive presentation formats, making the event feel well paced and full of variety. Hosted by the hilarious Baratunde Thurston – author of the satirical book How to be Black – this year’s Innovation Uncensored was a perfect intersection of creative inspiration and powerful new thinking in the world of business. …Continue reading
There has been a significant amount of buzz recently about Ron Johnson, former CEO of JC Penney, and his failed attempts to turn around the struggling middle-market retailer. In a recent post, James Walker outlined how an unsuccessful SKU assortment and poor pricing and promotion decisions—not their new strategy of “everyday low pricing”—accounted for the company’s biggest losses. While this is certainly true, I believe it’s also worth evaluating the implications of these recent pricing moves and strategic decisions from an overall brand strategy perspective.
Ron Johnson and JC Penney: A History
In January of 2012, Johnson stepped in to reinvent the JC Penney brand. Drawing on his past experiences at Target and Apple, Johnson announced that Penney would do away with coupons and discounts in favor of “fair and square pricing,” while the store layouts would be overhauled to a format of curated mini-shops. A year ago, the stock price jumped at the Apple store pioneer’s bold vision, but today, Penney revenues have fallen by 25%, the stock price has fallen almost 60%, and the company has lost nearly a billion dollars.
So what happened? Within this failure story are two important lessons in brand strategy: …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