Thursday, September 15, 2016

Strategy Alignment in Support of Brand Quality Perceptions

Recently, I have been helping owners of a luxury watch brand rethink their pricing strategy as it relates to their brand strategy. One of the exercises I engaged them in was to explore a wide variety of their strategies to determine to what degree they supported their intended brand image. In particular, I wanted them to think about all of the things that could enhance or detract from brand quality perceptions.

This is something every brand manager needs to think about whether working on a luxury brand or some other type of brand. Each of these is a signal to a brand's quality.

  • Craftsmanship
  • Design/Styling
  • Look/feel
  • Durability
  • Reliability
  • Awareness
  • Brand cache
  • Pricing 
  • Country of Origin
  • Scarcity
  • Outlets at which they are sold
  • Where they are advertised
  • Service and support
  • Reviews
  • Word of mouth
  • Brand story

It is surprising how many times we discover disconnects between the brand's intended image and the image that some of its strategies convey.

Assume you are a luxury brand. You should not sell in Wal-Mart. Depending how "high end" you are, you might not even want to sell in Target or Macy's. Luxury brands need controlled prices. The brand owner does not want to see them deeply discounted throughout the marketplace. You wouldn't expect to find a great watch brand produced in Mexico using Chinese movements. Nor would you expect to find a great wine brand produced in Siberia or Yemen. Luxury brands shouldn't seem to be ubiquitous in massive quantities. Even worse, the excess inventories should not show up on every discount website. A luxury brand should not show up on for $2.99 no matter how old, ragged or used. Some brands are only sold in their own stores on Rodeo Drive, Fifth Avenue and similar shopping districts in a handful of upscale communities worldwide. Rolex advertises at elite sporting events (maxi yacht races, polo matches, equestrian events and other similar events), not football games or bowling tournaments. 

It is amazing how many times one finds one or more of these out of alignment with what the brand is trying to communicate. I encourage you to to assess your brand's alignment against each of these. 

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