I have excerpted these three brand problems from thirty-five problems that I list in my Brand Aid book. Here are problems twenty-two through twenty-four from that book:
Problem 22. Following challengers because it’s easier and produces more immediate results, rather than creating new ways to meet consumer needs
Analysis. If you are the market leader, this is an easy trap to fall into. If you are ahead, just match the competition to stay ahead—that way they can never catch up. That is a fairly common sailboat-racing tactic. The problem with this strategy is that you begin to play by your competitor’s rules. It is easier to win at your own game than at someone else’s. It may be a more natural reaction to match competitive moves, but as you are doing that, you are distracted from doing what you do best—playing your own game. And, remember, other competitors that are playing by different rules may not be far behind.
Problem 23. Not applying the latest product and service innovations to your flagship brand because it is getting too old and stodgy (a self-fulfilling prophecy)
Analysis. It is a tragedy to walk away from a brand you have invested in— and that might be investment of millions of dollars, over time. It is better to reposition, revitalize, and extend an aging brand than to ignore it. You should carefully monitor consumer opinion to ensure the brand is perceived as relevant and vital. Also, track the brand’s consumers to make sure they are not a shrinking or aging group. Often, new subbrands can make the parent brand more relevant to new consumer segments.
Problem 24. No central control of the brand portfolio (so that each brand team is free to apply the best differentiating features of one brand to each of the others in the portfolio).
Analysis. Certain attributes, features, and benefits should be off-limits to certain brands within your portfolio. When the business is organized and run by product category or channel of trade (as opposed to brand), there is more pressure to apply the best ideas to all brands regardless of each brand’s positioning or intended point of difference. If the business is organized by brand and most people understand brand concepts, this is less likely to happen. P&G might offer several different brands of detergent, but each has a distinct point of difference. One might make clothes whiter, one might work best in cold water, one might take out tough stains, one might be gentle on the clothes, yet another might be hypoallergenic, etc. Since P&G manages by brand, the company really understands that points of difference are central to a brand’s success, whereas somewhere else (for example, in a company organized around product development or run by engineers), people might feel more pressured to add the best features they come up with to all their products. A highly placed brand management group or council should have the authority to ensure that brand teams, product development teams, business units, divisions, and subsidiaries don’t blur the lines between your organization’s brands. This council should guard against a “silo” or short-term approach to the business.
Excerpted from Brand Aid, second edition. Copyright 2015 by Brad VanAuken.