brand values

Does Your Brand Walk the Walk?

k-10-ice-3210-20370-lyj0923-02-brandingWhat happens when brands talk the talk but don’t walk the walk? Well, recently, employees from one of Canada’s largest and most-recognized telecommunications company have made claims that the company does not represent the values it stands for in one of its most successful campaigns.

If you follow my blog closely, you would have read by now the importance I stress on branding and having a brand that is true to what you and your company believe in. But if your brand lacks synergy with the reality of your operations, as is with the case mentioned above, there can be real and damaging consequences to your business.

In my 20 years as a marketing leader and expert, I’ve helped craft brand identities from tried and true methods but have also bared witness to countless brands that have failed to resonate with consumers due to various reasons.

So, what can a brand misalignment mean for your business?

  1. Upset Customers, Bitter Employees
    In today’s digital age, there’s no hiding from a disgruntled customer. Social media and review sites have paved the way for upset customers to air their bad experiences with the click of a button. According to AdWeek, 81% of customers conduct online research before making a purchase. A good brand will ensure that the sales experience is a pleasant one and is based on the entirety of a customer’s experience with your company; not just your logo.

    Additionally, employees have influence over your brand’s perception as well. With websites such as Glassdoor and Indeed, future hires and even customers can get an inside glimpse on what it’s like to work for a company – the good, the bad, and the ugly.

  1. Bad PR
    There’s the old saying that there’s no such thing as bad publicity. I would humbly disagree. Remember when the documentary Blackfish was released and SeaWorld’s stock dropped by half since 2013, even though they “protect animals and the wild wonders of our world”? Or how about when Target failed to secure their customers’ data from a breach resulting in a loss of at least $148 million and leading their customers to “expect more” from the company? For a small business, a drastic hit in revenue caused by bad PR would likely mean closing shop.

Luckily, even the most established of brands can revitalize themselves. Here’s how you can ensure you walk the walk when it comes to your brand:

  1. Be True to Who You Are
    A brand can make any claim they want, but they need to be able to back up their claims if and/or when they are questioned on them. If your company is known for its excellent customer service or award-winning products, use it to your advantage! Basing your brand on real, positive experiences of customers will give you an edge over the competition’s brand ambiguity.
  1. Brand Values Start From Within
    Your employees are an extension of your brand. Much like how you would turn to customer perception for assistance in developing your brand, your internal staff should also play a role. Ask them what they think the company stands for, and find a common theme that you can pull from to establish a relatable brand for all stakeholders. The more your employees feel included, the better they will represent the brand in their roles!

No matter the size of your company, a successful brand will ensure that its values are felt throughout the company. In the end, baseless or contradictory claims will only cause more harm than good. If you need help creating a cohesive brand identity, contact CreativeWorks Marketing today!

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How Canadian Brand Identities Get Lost in American Franchises

UnknownAn interview with a Canadian owner of the U.S. brand Edible Arrangements

As a Canadian marketer, I am often faced with the challenge of trying to market an American franchise to a Canadian audience. When a Canadian buys a U.S.-based franchise they must deal with the many trials and tribulations that arise when defining a nation specific brand identity for a well-known U.S. brand.

In today’s blog I decided to interview Tiziana Cannella, the owner of the Edible Arrangements franchise in Vaughan, Ontario. Edible Arrangements is a U.S. franchise originating from East Haven, Connecticut. They handcraft fruit baskets to customers all around the world. With over 1,100 stores in 14 countries around the globe, they are all about making a customer say “WOW” to every product they create.

I sat down with her to discuss what her experience has been like as a Canadian operating an American franchise.

Q: Do you feel the need to create a Canadian brand identity? Why or why not?

A: I believe that although it is really important as a franchise to maintain brand and product consistency across the board, it is equally important to identify with my Canadian market too. I’d like to have a brand that reflects Canadian practices, habits and lifestyles which are different from Americans. For example, when our customers see the Edible Arrangements TV commercial they automatically assume we are only available in the states. Canadians shouldn’t be surprised to find us locally when searching online, but they often are due to much of the advertising coming out of the U.S.

Q: What are some challenges you face with creating a Canadian brand identity?

A: When marketing is approached from an American mindset, Canadian franchises are not taken into account. We have different spending habits, and lifestyles that cause different marketing tactics to be adjusted when reaching out to different audiences. For example, in the U.S. most advertising is done around large holidays such as Mother’s Day and Christmas, however, Canadians don’t buy just for these holidays, in fact, they spend more for everyday needs. When the recession hit the US a few years ago, heavy markdowns were issued in both US and Canada, but Canadian sales were doing just fine. This caused Canadian buyers to believe they were overpaying the rest of the year because the recession was not affecting the Canadian market. Prices did not need to be adjusted in Canada and this is something that challenges us as franchisees trying to be that brand for Canadian consumers.

Q: Do you know of any examples of how brands can have a U.S. and Canadian brand?

A: Yes. Starbucks is a great example, just by visiting the homepage of their American website and their Canadian website you can see different messages coming across as proof that they are speaking to different audiences. On both sites the home page features are the same except the U.S. site is advertising the health of a breakfast sandwich, while the Canadian site is promoting the new feature pastries they’ve brought into Canada. Starbucks feels the need to talk to their audiences differently by the things they want their different audiences to see.

CANADIAN HOMEPAGE

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USA HOMEPAGE

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This example shows the importance of talking to your consumer and creating a brand experience for your consumer. By creating a region specific brand identity, you are letting the consumer know they matter and letting them know that your brand is accessible to them.

Q: What do you think is the first step to changing this problem for Canadian franchises?

A: Somebody at the head office in the U.S. needs to understand that since a percentage of my sales is spent on marketing, the way they spend the marketing budget and promote their brand needs to be different in Canada. Once we have their buy-in and approval for a separate Canadian marketing budget, then we can work with an expert like an agency or a marketing professional to tell us where we should be focusing our marketing efforts, where our audience is and when we should be doing marketing activities.

Many thanks to Tiziana for taking the time to discuss this provocative topic with me and providing me with her insights and frustrations.

If you are a Canadian franchisee of a U.S. company, how do you define your Canadian brand? What challenges and solutions could be offered to this solve this issue? I look forward to a lively discussion on this one!

Can You Spot the Difference?

branding2When branding your company, not only will you need to communicate how you are different from your competition, but what value(s) are placed on that difference.

Although your logo is essentially the face of your brand, there is a lot more to your brand than your logo.

Your brand is how the public is able to identify with you visually, but it needs to be supported by brand values. In other words, to make the sale, you’ll need to “convince” your consumer that your brand (product or service) is right for them – it needs to resonate with them.

In marketing, we make connections with our consumers by determining your brand values and making sure they accurately reflect your brand.

After you’ve established your brand values, you’ll need to create supportive messaging for your brand. Here are a few tips to get you started:

  1. Put your best foot forward: Determine or develop a positioning strategy that makes your brand a leader in your category.
  2. Make the right colour choice: Establish colour as an icon that represents your brand exclusively. Think UPS.
  3. What they think matters: Talk to your stakeholders to be sure that their perception of your brand accurately reflects the reality of your brand. It is a good opportunity to validate your values as well.
  4. Sync your brand logo and culture:  Your brand logo should reflect your values and also help to differentiate you.

Branding is complex, but if you are able to build these four steps into a cohesive message, you will be well on your way to strengthening your brand and make it easier for you to sell your products or services.

Do you feel if you have a brand that accurately reflects your brand culture? How important do you think it is to have a cohesive brand?  Please share your experience in the comments below.