The recent shopper backlash against Target in the USA and Wickes in the United Kingdom reminds us that even big brands can erode their brand image if they stretch their core brand positioning too far.
A brand is a name, term, sign, symbol or design which differentiates a product or service in the minds of consumers. Just like we do, our customers spend a lot of time and money researching and understanding shoppers so they can find ways to be different and encourage shoppers to shop in their stores and websites.
A customer’s brand proposition is what they deliver to shoppers. It’s the reason why shoppers choose to shop at the customer. This, together with the their overall value proposition is often called the customer ‘shopper promise’. It’s designed to build lifelong shopper loyalty by offering shoppers a unique benefit versus competitors. It should encapsulate (like all strong brands) our customer’s competitive advantage.
As brand manufacturers we spend time making sure that our category and brand propositions (features and benefits) should be aligned with and enhance the customer brand proposition. This influences our decisions on the tactics we choose to deploy in a category in any specific customer. In turn the customer brand enhances our own brand values based on the environment that our brand is found in.
In other words, the list of our brand’s features and benefits that we offer to our customers is largely the same but we emphasise benefits which are tailored and align with our customer branding. A simple example is a large value for money pack size in a discount wholesaler and a convenience single use pack size for a convenience retailer.
It can be tempting to jump headlong into the latest fashionable hot topics – everybody is always looking for the next best promotion or corporate messaging. But this can erode brand value, especially when you think about how many different touch points there are to manage, to influence what we communicate to shoppers.
So what do we do? As a supplier we always focus on long term brand building – robustly sense checking whether any customer activity aligns with our core brand activation platform. Under no circumstances do we want our target shoppers and consumers to be confused about what we are and stand for.
No doubt when #cancel and #boycott hashtags are linked to your brand, the marketing and communication teams responsible for building customer brand value have had a sharp reminder of the financial and common sense wisdom of focusing on their core brand proposition and target shoppers.