Four Ways Brands Maintain Value

Brands provide recognition and perceptions about particular products or companies. For instance, we know where we can buy a Big Mac. We also expect that Big Mac to taste nearly identical to a previous Big Mac we’ve had at a different location. With brands, we want a certain quality and guarantee that meets our expectations based on previous experiences or advertisements. Therefore, brands play a big role in value for a product or company. Most people can immediately name well-known brands, such as McDonald’s, Apple, Toyota, and more. While becoming recognized is a big feat in the brand world, the work does not stop there. Brands must work diligently to maintain their value once they become popular. The following are four ways brands maintain value.

1. Provide consistency and/or improvements. Brands that remain consistent with their products or make improvements to their products provide a bigger guarantee to their consumers. Therefore, when products meet consumer expectations, the more likely consumers will return to that brand for future purchases. Consumers begin to trust them.

2. Advertise aggressively. Advertising plays a tremendous role in brand recognition. Constant exposure and aggressive advertising methods keep brands at the forefront of consumer minds. Therefore, when the time comes to buy a particular product, consumers are likely to search for those brands that they’ve heard about. This is why companies pay big bucks on their advertising efforts. For instance, the smartphone industry is extremely competitive. Thus, they spend tremendous amounts of money on creative advertisements. According to Kantar Media, the top seven smartphone companies spent $1.3 billion in advertising efforts in 2013.

3. Tailor to consumer tastes. While being consistent is an important brand trait, brands must be able to conform to changes in consumer tastes. For instance, many Americans who seek healthier eating habits may forego fast food chains. In order to retain or interest more health-conscious consumers, fast food chains have begun to add healthier alternatives to their menus while still keeping their signature menu items.

4. Respond well to adversity. At times, brands suffer from unfortunate experiences. Unfortunately, this happens often in the food industry. Those who survive are those who respond well to adversity. For instance, in 2011, Taco Bell had to defend its meat product after accusations that it was being less than truthful about the contents. Taco Bell responded by threatening to countersue. It also launched an ad campaign that mocked the lawsuit. In addition, the company defended itself by posting YouTube videos and listing its ingredients on its website. Despite all of these efforts, sales continued to decrease. In the meantime, Taco Bell redirected its focus and partnered with Frito-Lay to offer a Dorito-flavored taco, using the same meat product called into question. Within ten weeks, the company had sold more than 10 million Dorito-flavored tacos, which was the most sold product in its history. This more than made up for the lost sales that resulted in the accusation.

As you can see, brands must continue to work to maintain value. It’s not enough to become widely recognized. Changes, improvements, consistency, and quick thinking are just a few of the ways these brands maintain their value. It can be tough work!

Spokespersons Prove Risky for Company/Brand Image

Companies sometimes use spokespersons to promote a product. They often choose a well-known or famous person that exudes good and moral behavior. Typically, a celebrity or athlete who is often in the limelight captures a wide audience. The audience begins to feel as if they know a specific spokesperson, which translates into a form of trust. If a celebrity is promoting a product, then fans of that celebrity will likely try that product based on the trust factor. However, spokespersons sometimes prove risky for companies.

Spokespersons prove risky at times for companies because companies rely on those spokespersons to represent a product or brand. But the human factor plays a big role. Spokespersons are in the public eye and must maintain good standing with the public at large. When spokespersons lose good standing, then the public often associates any indiscretion with products or brands that spokespersons try to promote.

Indiscretions include all kinds of human behavior including profanity; voicing opinions that go against the public norm; physical, sexual, and substance abuse; and any other form of misconduct deemed inappropriate in the eyes of society. Some notable spokespersons who lost big endorsement deals include Paula Deen, Tiger Woods, Lance Armstrong, Kate Moss, Michael Phelps, and most recently, Jared Fogle with Subway.

In all cases, the companies using these celebrities as spokespersons dropped them in an instant. As they should. If they didn’t, they would receive major backlash from consumers for promoting misconduct. Or at least that is how many people would perceive it. In return, consumers would not buy products or brands because they would associate the misconduct with the company who owns the products or brands.

In many cases, companies use spokespersons for a short time. However, Jared Fogle was the face of Subway for 15 years. While he did not play as prominent of a role in the later years, his role was profound. In fact, Subway’s sales more than tripled during the years Fogle was the spokesperson, increasing from $3.1 billion in 1998 to $11.9 billion in 2014. Subway is likely to rebound, but it may lose some consumers for life based on their perceptions that Subway may not have done a good enough job to ensure their spokesperson was in good standing, especially due to the nature of Fogle’s indiscretion. Further, it can take a company tremendous time, publicity, and even expenses to reassure consumers that a spokesperson’s behavior is separate from the company. All of this does not include the embarrassment factor over the negative publicity. In such cases, companies have to work even harder to find another way to promote themselves in a creative and positive way.

While spokespersons can provide great value in the promotion of products and brands, they can still prove to be a risky endeavor. Companies that create their own spokespersons, such as the Little Caesars pizza man and Geico’s gecko, are less likely to risk human behavioral issues that reflect negatively on a company. But for some consumers, these types of spokespersons may not be taken seriously. These are issues companies must consider when using spokespersons to promote products or brands.