Several days ago I remarked in a blog post entitled “Brand vs Bland” how I thought UPS had fashioned a great brand based upon the concept of “logistics”, and how they now “own” that term.
Thinking a little further about their turn-around from “What can Brown do for You?”, it occurred to me that if you’re going to be logistic, there’s no better color for you than brown. Logistics is no-nonsense. Logistics comes from the military, and at least the US Army still wears brown. Brown is a “working” color.
According to those who study color psychology, brown denotes honesty, modesty and reliability.
So all along UPS had picked the right color, and I’m glad they ignored me and other critics for making such a big deal of their corporate color in the previous (still innocuous) What can Brown do for You? campaign.
The UPS as the logistics brand is, indeed fully integrated. There are no disconnects to turn prospects into scoffers.
Way back in the late 1970’s, Al Ries and Jack Trout introduced the concept of “positioning”. And one of the precepts they espoused was to stay away from product line extensions because they tend to dilute the mother brand, and often cannibalize it.
But people keep introducing brand extensions, some successful, some not. The latest to come to my attention is a line of body washes, deodorants and soaps exclusively designed for men introduced by Unilever under the Dove label. Yes, Dove products for men. Dove, the brand that has been catering quite successfully and exclusively to women for decades, has now consciously diluted their brand with this extension strategy.
Here’s the Dove Men+Care line.
Note they’ve incorporated the Dove logo, though the typeface is a little different, as well as the famous dove icon. The color palette is masculine, but I’m not sure the features promoted for the line are particularly compelling to men. Here’s their pitch for a body wash:
Dove® Men+Care™ Clean Comfort Body and Face Wash with MICROMOISTURE technology is clinically proven to fight skin dryness better than regular men’s body wash. This ultra-light formula rinses off easily for a refreshing clean and total skin comfort.
Below are soap packages for Men+Care and regular Dove.
I’m just amazed that the people at Unilever would extend a franchise brand based upon a very loyal and dedicated female market into a male-oriented product line. It dilutes the messaging of Dove, including their “Campaign for real beauty” self-esteem program for teenage girls. It also hopes to appeal to men who have heard the Dove story and positioned the brand as exclusively female in their collective mind’s eye.
Now I’m not against doing some line extension as Dove has done from soap to other feminine products like body washes, lotions, deodorants and shampoos. But this new line, well I’m afraid they’ve stepped over the line here.
I would rather they had established a brand new line based on a product exclusive or in some significant way differentiated their product from other male-oriented toiletries. Yes, they did differentiate by adopting the Dove signature, but it’s the wrong differentiation because it’s not relevant or creditable. I’d have advised them to begin from Ground One rather than take a chance on diluting the Dove brand with women and on convincing men that Dove can mean masculine, too.
Several years ago I bashed UPS for their “What Can Brown Do for You?” campaign. I thought it was vacuous and certainly did not position UPS in the field of FedEx and DHL. What’s more, just like the color, the slogan and the idea behind it were bland. Except for voicing the color there was no differentiation, no relevancy, no idea expressed.
But how things have changed at UPS. Their current campaign, “It’s Logistics” is 100-percent better and on target. They have found a differentiator, a word upon which they are positioning themselves as more than a fast, reliable delivery service. I’d go so far as to say this was the absolute best branding strategy exhibited this past year.
The idea that UPS now owns the word “logistics”, and that it is a function admired and wished to be attained by the corporate world, makes their messaging most compelling to their markets. I’ll bet they’ve found the board room doors open to UPS reps since the campaign began.
But like all great branding victories, I’ll bet this one began by UPS looking at their business – their corporate aspirations, their strengths, their assets and their culture – and developing a strategic plan to make logistics an overriding feature of their services. If need be, they changed the way they were delivering their services (both literally and figuratively). Only then would UPS enjoy the benefit of messaging about their differentiator.
Substance, not sizzle. Relevancy not ruffles.
That’s branding based on corporate strategy and corporate willingness to be customer oriented. It’s what makes brands strong and long lived.
That’s what I conclude as I peruse the discussion, “In one sentence, what is branding?” started 14-months ago in the Branding Professionals group of Linked-In. People have been adding to it ever since. It will not die.
So far, 333 comments have been added. Not all offer a definition. Some just scoff at the idea of defining branding in one sentence. Others take exception to someone’s definition. Yes, there’ve been some ego clashes leading to vitriolic exchanges.
But mostly, people have thought through and crystallized their submissions. And they run all over the lot. Many view branding as tactics, but most approach branding strategically. There are thoughts about promises, personalities and products; about names, logos and taglines; about customers, employees and shareholders.
Are brands formed by companies or customers? Do they appeal emotionally or logically? Is it driven by marketing or management? You’ll get all sorts of answers to those questions.
Check it out for yourself at Linked In, and maybe even add your own one-liner to the discussion. But you’ll have to have a Linked In account and sign up for the Branding Professional’s group.
Perhaps you’ll come to agree with the scoffers – you can’t define branding in one sentence. But if you can, please leave that definition as a comment below, and then contribute it to the Linked In discussion.
It’s unrealistic to plan your positioning strategy in a vacuum. Remember, you’re positioning against competitors who also have positioned their offerings – with the help of their customers and prospects.
The idea is to find an unfilled position that is relevant and compelling to your target market. Those people actually position you – but you can only help them through consistent messaging and performance.
So to find the positioning of competitors “owning” the attribute customers find important should be the first step in a positioning program, and that really involves two steps: 1) identifying attributes customers crave, and 2) determining how your competitors (and you) are positioned against those attributes.
Identifying attributes customers crave
My handy desktop dictionary defines attribute as, “an inherent characteristic”. And since we’re talking about a brand, not just the product/service itself, we want to explore all characteristics associated with a brand. This includes impressions and feelings, heritage and reputation, associations and experiences as well as the things marketers control: package design, pricing, distribution channels, customer service, environmental impact and social responsibility. All those and others can be thought of as attributes of the brand, and can be influential in the purchase decision and brand loyalty level.
So first, identify those attributes your marketplace perceives to be most important. Focus groups can help in this effort. But I like to do Internet surveys. I get quick response to structured, sequential questionnaires. There are several providers: Survey Monkey, Zoomerang and KwikSurveys come to mind.
I structure the questionnaire by defining the product category and then ask an open-ended question: What factors are most important or desirable when selecting a _________?
Then I provide them with screens of certain attributes, one attribute at a time but rotated so each is presented first, second, etc. For each attribute I ask them to rate on a scale of 1 to 5 how desirable, how important and how beneficial the displayed attribute is for them.
After displaying no more than five attributes in this way, I provide a screen of all those attributes and ask that the respondent rank them in order of importance, desirability and benefit. I also allow them to enter a couple of “fill-in” attributes I hadn’t provided. If there are more than five attributes to measure, I rotate them through so that each attribute is presented an equal and significant number of times.
After analysis of the results – usually three-hundred respondents for each attribute – I am ready for phase two.
Determining competitive positions
This is a second questionnaire and research project, but I’ll use the same list as for attribute identification and ranking. Here I’ll first ask who provides the product/service in the category I’ve defined to get a top-of-mind measure of brand awareness. Then I’ll present the top five most important attributes from round one, one at a time. I’ll ask who provides that attribute. And for each competitor (and our brand, too, if I already have a presence in the category) they list, I’ll ask them to rate them against each attribute on a one-to-five scale. Finally, I’ll list their competitive choices along with other major category participants and ask respondents to rank them for each attribute.
From analysis of this data, I’m usually able to rank and position the players as shown in the star chart below.
This particular study was performed in a small market concerning sit-down restaurants, but any market, brand category or territory can be analyzed in this way.
Who “owns” what attribute?
As Reis and Trout expound in the pioneering book, Positioning: the Battlefield for Your Mind, a brand that “owns” a particular attribute – particularly if that attribute can be stated as a single word or phrase – will almost always be the market leader. This research can determine if such leadership exists in a particular market/category. If a brand already occupies a particular position in the minds of consumers, i.e. Volvo equals safety or Wal-Mart equals lowest cost, then you are advised to base your brand upon another attribute, even if that attribute is not as powerful as the leader’s ownership.
This is more than theory. We’ve seen how successful Target has been since they stopped competing on price with Wal-Mart and made “design” their position.
And it can happen in the smallest of markets. In my restaurant example, a gap was discovered that led my entrepreneurial client to open a family-style all-you-can-eat establishment instead of the linen-tableclothed, high cuisine restaurant he had first envisioned.
Research really is cheap when it can help you position your brand advantageously.
Perception mapping is a tool that can aid in visualizing how people perceive a product or service as measured by product attributes. They are usually arrayed on an X-Y axis that compare two different attributes such as quality and price. Here’s a typical example using local restaurants.
This graph circles depicts American cuisine establishments with O’s and foreign food restaurants with X’s. This example also shows a spot where a new restaurant is considering placing itself. As far as it goes, this depiction can be of use, but more often than not, more than two attributes need to be considered.
So I like to array the attributes in a star diagram. Below is one charting six different attributes based upon a telephone research study. It charts the group’s perceptions of eight different local restaurants.
Then, specific comparisons can also be made as demonstrated below. I then can isolate various competitive types – foreign or American foods, high-priced or low priced, etc., and consider how they perform by other attributes as demonstrated below.
I just find this a more complete approach to evaluating, and ultimately positioning, category participants.
My recent blog, “Does your logo stand out in a crowd?“, elicited a comment stating “Can a great logo that suggests refinement and sophistication stand out as well? “. Well I never thought that luxury brand logos don’t stand out so I did some on-line research. I went to the home pages of 12 luxury brands and captured their logos in the array you see below. I aligned them utilizing the “rule” that each sample must be the same height.
Now the first thing that popped out to me was the almost universal dominance of the brand name in the logo. Even the Rolls and BMW names are there even though not too prominently. The second thing: Seven of the 12 logos used reversed type (light colored type on a darker background). Third thing: except for Prada and Chris Craft, they used traditional type faces, and none used a sans serif face. Fourth thing: half of the samples use capital letters exclusively in their names. And fifth, Except for the Tiffany logo with it’s “Tiffany blue” background, there’s not much color represented in luxury logos.
As far as a small-sized logo is concerned, I’d vote Brooks Brothers being the worst of the bunch because of the lack of color contrast, the very fine lines of the type swishes, and the strange icon on the left that loses any recognition as it shrinks in size. Rolls comes in second. The only thing that saves it is the familiar RR configuration.
Now to address “anon’s” question, can a logo for a luxury brand stand out?. I’d say there are three or four examples of dominant logos in the group above, led by Prada.
Prada has the advantage of a short name which inherently leads to a clean and bold look when the typeface used is bold. Tiffany stands out primarily because of their traditional and world-famous use of the “Tiffany blue” background. The Broadmoor with the “small” A does not diminish no matter the size and is distinctive. Finally, the Chris Craft logo is distinctive and the type face imparts speed even in a much smaller size.
So in this small sample of luxury brand logos you have some that dominate and some that don’t. I’m not sure that this proves that the logo isn’t important, but I think it does state that for this class of brands there are many attributes more important than the logo that contribute to their success.
But if I may be so bold as to make a suggestion to luxury brands, get out of your “me-too” rut and dance to a differnt drummer if you want to differentiate the brand.
That doesn’t mean the tagline can’t accompany your logo, and you can even make it look as if it’s a single element in selected cases.
But please reserve the right to separate them and use the logo as a stand-alone element where necessary. I blogged about the logo standing out when grouped with other logos – Does your logo stand out? It just won’t stand out if must carry along a tagline.
For my own company logo, I integrate logo and tagline where I have a full line devoted to the two elements, but elsewhere I separate them and usually only use the logo itself. Below are examples.
First, logo and tagline associated:
Then the logo alone:
So, logo and tagline are separate elements that can be integrated as appropriate. The thing is, be sure you have the flexibility to do either.