The Brand Experience Myth

brand

Many brands continue to lose relevance, value, and profitability. Much is written about how “marketing” needs to fix this. Talk abounds about consumer experience, purpose driven brands, etc. It’s all misdirected.

We accept that consumer experience and connection with your company’s purpose can create stronger brand loyalty. It’s the “icing on the cake;” not the cake itself.

brand experienceHarley Davidson has fierce brand loyalty others would “kill for.” How many consumers tattoo your company’s logo on their body and wear brand logos on their clothes like Harley owners? And yet a few decades ago, Harley produced crap bikes that leaked oil, etc. and their loyal consumers began to flee. If the product isn’t what one expects, then all that other “icing” won’t make the cake worthwhile.

Several years ago, Chrysler invited us to help figure out ways to sell more cars. At the beginning of the process, they told us that they did not want to discuss the PT Cruiser as they could sell more of that car than they could make. We suggested that they needed to develop more cars that people wanted to buy. We haven’t been invited back to work for Chrysler since. But then, they haven’t done so well either.

So-called Chief Marketing Officers are tasked with improving brand loyalty, consumer connection, etc. Unfortunately, in most companies, these folks are just Chief Marketing Communications Officers with no real, or any, input on the products/services themselves. They are just expected to put “lipstick on a pig” so the consumer will love the pig.

We hear more than ever about consumer brand experience, why, purpose, etc. What’s the root cause of brand value degradation today in our opinion? Crap or at least not “better” products. If your high-priced brand (at least when compared to a house or private brand prices) is no better, and perhaps worse, than your house or private brand, how can you expect the consumer not to switch?

We do some workshops for “marketers” for many recognized brands. We have noticed that they rarely send any product people to the workshop, instead they send “marketing” (né marketing communications) people.

If you get the product or service right, marketing communications are easy. Just look at Apple. As a percentage of revenue, Apple spends little on “marketing communications” compared to others. No wonder they can generate over 80% of cell phone profits with less than 50% market share.

If you get the product or service right, marketing communications are easy. Click To Tweet

If you’re wondering what started us down this path: it was dental floss. I resisted flossing my teeth for decades. I hate that little fishing line stuff. Then my periodontist (note we did not say dentist as there is a punishment for not flossing) introduced me to floss on handles (like in the picture). I love them and so does my dentist, now that I floss.

My first purchase was a private brand product. It worked very well. When I was running low, I asked my wife to buy some new ones. She came home with Oral B brand. It was more expensive, and there were less in the package, compared to the private label product.  But, it was Oral B and my wife knew that brand.

It was a crap product. None of the private brands I used, ever broke during use. 20% of the Oral B brand did, and 70% of the rest, weakened to the point where it they failed early. Why on earth would anyone pay more for this product? What kind of “brand experience” do you think the marketers at Oral B could come up with that would make up for an inferior product?

Do you want your brands and products/services to thrive? First, make a great product/service. Then, deliver it consistently, and only then, look for the icing. Putting icing on a cardboard cake will not make it a great cake.

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