Don’t Let Your Brand Be Watered Down Through Expansion
October 16, 2012
What is a brand? For many consumers, it’s what they connect with when they deal with companies. It’s the underlying theme or deeper meaning that attracts them to a company in the first place. For example, Johnson & Johnson’s brand establishes the company as being family-centered and innovative. As a result, the brand’s various pharmaceutical products have become some of the most trusted medications around the world.
But what happens in the transition of these goods and products? Brands – the original makers of products – are on one side of the distribution equation and consumers are all the way on the other end. Going back to the Johnson & Johnson example, the brand might make health and beauty products such as Aspirin and Band-Aid, but the consumer seldom buys these goods straight from them. Instead, Johnson & Johnson sells these products to retailers such as CVS and Walgreens, which then promotes and markets them to consumers.
Companies’ distribution chains are growing broader, especially as globalization encourages businesses to expand to new markets. While this can enhance reach, it also means more partners are touching a brand’s products and as a result, its message. Having a uniform message and control over brand – brand management, is pivotal to ensuring brand strength. Companies don’t want their partners to alter their brand perception through irrelevant marketing campaigns.
Research from DDB Worldwide Communications Group highlights the growing importance of brand management. According to data, 67 percent of respondents consider brand consistency to be more important now. Meanwhile, approximately 60 percent said they want their brand standards to be strictly adhered to.
It isn’t that channel partners are looking to intentionally misrepresent brands, it’s just a matter of trying to promote products to their audience. This may lead them to create marketing collateral that isn’t particularly relevant to the brand’s message. Moreover, because of the lack of communication between retailers and the original manufacturers, it’s difficult to accurately convey branding.
Johnson & Johnson: A Model Company of Brand Management
Johnson & Johnson serves as the perfect example of what a company needs to do to maintain brand consistency. After Chris Hacker was brought on board at Johnson & Johnson, he worked hard to create a universal brand that couldn’t be watered down.
He did this by working with several design and marketing companies to create a set of brand management guidelines for Johnson & Johnson worldwide, which outlined and unified the visual approach and format of all promotional materials. The company has been a long-time user of marketing automation software, and these branding guidelines fed into the utilization of these solutions. By leveraging the right tools, Johnson & Johnson is able to ensure all of its retail partners are complying with established brand guidelines.
In open business supply chains, companies frequently lack the tools required to encourage their partners to maintain brand messaging consistency. A closed-loop feedback system with a marketing collateral builder can act as the solution to this problem. The closed-loop strategy encourages each level of the distribution channel to report back to each other, bolstering communication throughout the supply chain. This helps companies ensure their brand is being accurately represented by retail partners.