AB InBev, the global brewery that owns many of the world’s most famous beer brands, has decided that it will keep that name even after it purchases SABMiller.
Is that a good idea? My answer: It doesn’t matter.
Brand naming is an important process in gaining preference but, in this case, the name AB InBev is only as important to its beer brands as P&G is to its products. That is, consumers don’t even know the parent brand name and preference, if there is any, comes from the individual beer brands themselves.
AB InBev owns Budweiser, Corona, Stella Artois and many others, and you’d be hard pressed to find drinkers of those beers who know the name AB InBev. It’s the same thing with SABMiller. Consumers know all the Miller beers, plus Henry Weinhard and Fosters. But SABMiller? Not a chance.
The AB InBev brand structure is not for everybody.
It should be noted, however, that this is a very inefficient way to build a brand. For one thing, it’s extremely costly. Being a house of brands means you have to invest in each product like it is its own entity. There’s no relationship between, let’s say, Budweiser and Corona. They each have their own unique brands that have to create preference by themselves.
Most companies do not have the cash to do that. If you are a medical device company, for instance, giving each of your products its own unique brand name – instead of a descriptive one – means your parent brand does little to affect market share. Without the cash of a P&G, you don’t even create preference for those products.
Yet, it’s a parent brand that presents the easier path to preference. P&G has put some effort into highlighting the parent brand but it’s being half pregnant. The P&G brand, whatever it means, doesn’t really help Tide or Febreze.
It’s important for CEOs to remember that, if you have a powerful umbrella brand, then the success of one product lifts the preference of the rest.
So, is AB InBev keeping its name a good thing? It won’t matter until it invests in the parent brand.
AB InBev as a parent brand for its beers was last modified: September 28th, 2016 by Tom Dougherty
Rebranding companies like Stealing Share specialize in the application of rebranding science for many of its clients. Brand launches and the creation of new brands are a small part of what we do at Stealing Share.
Because markets are getting more and more competitive everyday the need to rebrand or update an existing brand is more common. As a result, rebranding has become more important.
Can you be only a rebranding company?
It is impossible to be solely a rebranding company. Rebranding companies must apply many of the tools utilized in a new brand launch when rebranding and redefining an existing brand. The skill set needed to create a new brand and the components of a rebranding project are similar. However, you must concentrate on the rebrand by looking clearly into the eyes of the prospect AND the current customer.
However, rebranding is even more rigorous than launching a new brand in the market. Why? Because everything you do must be tempered to retain existing customers and keep the values that are working for you.
Also, unless the goal is brand repair (for example, a brand that has withstood unflattering PR or a product failure of some sort), you must find a way to hold onto the equities in the existing brand. This is more difficult than it may appear because often the brand’s own bias clouds the view in deciding what is important and what must be left on the cutting room floor.
Rebranding requires market research
Research is a necessity in rebranding and all successful rebranding companies must have an in-house research company. Stealing Share has Resultant Research in-house (read about Resultant Research here) and its participation in rebranding is imperative and cannot be overlooked.
The questions that need answering in a successful rebranding effort can only be found in a fertile mix of both current customers and prospects. The research we require is always a projectable mix of qualitative and quantitative market research.
To often, rebranding companies use only existing research. It is a mistake. Talking only to your current customer base is deceiving.
Current customers already have a relationship to your brand and, while we need to understand the risks of brand change, we should logically be more interested in prospects.
Maybe it is Stealing Share’s own bias, but we believe the only reason to jump into a rebranding project is to grow your market share. If that is the reason, doesn’t it make sense that you need to understand the needs, wants and beliefs of those that currently have no relationship to your brand? Also, existing research was not designed to uncover the intricacies of rebranding and such a fragile and important project must not be left to chance.
Rebranding companies need rules to follow in a rebranding project. Here are ours.
Five rules for successful rebranding
1. What does the current brand mean right now? Does it create awareness among possible customers? Is it persuasive in terms of creating preference over competitors?
2. What do current customers attribute to the current brand? What are the risks in loyalty loss if change occurs in the way they receive the brand? How strong is their affinity to the brand and what is at risk in rebranding? What is the elasticity in meaning if the current brand is altered?
3. What opportunity exists in equity markers? Rebranding companies need to be able to actually measure that opportunity and compare it to a return on investment. Think about the internal costs with something as benign as a color palette change. Rebranding should leave as little to chance as possible. Again, brand research ensures fewer missteps.
4. Where are the rebranding opportunities? Once again, legitimate rebranding companies must understand the entire competitive landscape. At Stealing Share, our strategists carefully analyze the entire competitive category. We look to understand the brand promises of the competitors. We look at the color palettes and opportunities to differentiate the rebrand.
Creatively, we look at the meta messages inherent in color choice. Ideally, you want to choose an uncommon color in the category but you must make sure the color meets the emotional needs of the target audience. When we rebranded Blue Rhino (a backyard grill propane tank exchange company) some years back, pink and red were available colors but were both inappropriate for a market dominated by male purchasers and dealing with a flammable (LP) product.
5. How can the switching triggers uncovered in the research be incorporated in a new logo design and locked reflected in the brand theme? As a powerhouse of rebranding companies, Stealing Share asks more from your logo than that is simply and beautifully designed. We demand that it express the brand’s value and that the theme speaks clearly to your persuasive advantage.
An example of highly successful rebranding
Look at this example of a rebranding. Stealing Share rebranded ProAssurance, a few years ago. They are a dominant player in the U.S. medical malpractice insurance category. We identified the highest emotional intensity in the category (fairness) as well as the number one switching trigger —”I would switch carriers if I knew I would be treated fairly.”
The prior brand for ProAssurance was predominantly blue (like the competitors) and spoke of strong litigant defense and financial stability. In both of these cases, every competitor claimed (and owned) the same values. Yet no one looked into the emotional needs that prompted switching. No one sought to capture the switching customer’s voices. No matter the outcome —increased fees due to a lawsuit or a drop from coverage after a lawsuit — the physicians universally voiced “but that’s not fair.”
The old ProAssurance logo (on the left) was all about the corporation
Notice that the ProAssurance theme (which is in a logo lockup with the word mark) is spoken from the perspective of the customer. It says “Treated Fairly” implying that the customers of ProAssurance feels that way. It would be much less powerful if it was written from the company’s perspective and said “We Treat You Fairly.”
For expert rebranding companies, the prospect comes first.
Rebranding companies need to remember that value is outside-in not inside-out. It must be from the perspective of the customer.
Even the mark itself must be designed from the perspective of the prospect. Note that the green plane is curling up to reveal a new beginning. Thus, even the mark represents a change from the status quo.
Not all rebranding companies are the same. Not all are equal. If you are considering rebranding and are compiling a list of rebranding companies, Stealing Share belongs in that list.
We promise you a different opinion and rebranding that moves the preference needle as well as demonstrating a change and an update.
We have no account executives or unnecessary support staff. We have no intervening personnel artificially placed between our clients and our strategists, researchers or creative director. We are talented and aggressive. We are lean and we are focused.
Being one of the world’s top branding companies comes with responsibility
Stealing Share has earned its place as one of the world’s top branding companies because our success rate is astounding. We succeed because we have no time for sacred cows and little patience for distractions.
Traditional branding companies (even traditional top branding companies) judge their success based on industry awards for graphic design. We don’t (even though we have won our fair share of them). We march to a different drum.
You see, Stealing Share has a singular purpose. We steal market share. We don’t think anyone should invest a dollar or a euro in rebranding or launching a new brand unless the goal is to increase your preference and therefore increase your market share. As a result, we have a tangible goal line to be measured against— one that rewards victory based upon accomplishment. We demand that the brands we build are persuasive and create preference.
As one of the world’s top branding companies, we have a responsibility to have all of the tools you need to succeed in-house. And we do.
Our brand strategists work directly with our clients— without an intermediary account executive. We have the world’s premier market research firm, Resultant Research, under our roof and our design and creative group take our strategies and make them shine uniquely in the market space.
Our work, as one of the top branding companies, has taken us all over the globe. We have branded products and companies on every continent but Antarctica. As a result, our brand strategists and market researchers are skilled at teasing out the cultural differences between your prospects and customers. We have created brands in Europe, the Sub-Continent, Asia, Oceana, Africa, the Middle East, and the Americas.
Everything you need (strategy, creative, design, and research) is in-house
Resultant Research has commissioned research studies in Mandarin, Spanish, French, Japanese, Italian, German, Dutch, Flemish, and almost every language you can think of (or in) including English.
But our real secret is our clients. We choose them well (and they choose us). They are also aggressive, care about tangible results, demand critical thinking, believe in projectable research and are willing to embrace change in order to secure results.
If you have something in common with them, then steal a few minutes of your time and we will show you how we do it.
We leave you with these words from Mike Reitz, Chief Operating Officer, Genesis Healthcare
“We did not know Stealing Share prior to hiring them. They came up with a game changing new brand for us in the short stay rehabilitation industry (PowerBack Rehabilitation). Now? Well now they have unlimited credibility with us.”
A successful brand launch is an intricate dance number. Launching a brand requires the marketers to have identified the highest emotional intensity available in the space, claiming that space, defining the brand personality in terms of that emotional promise and a well-planned and coordinated launch itself.
When launching brands, there are things you can do to get out of the way of success and there are some things you should keep in mind even during the earliest planning. All too often brand launches fall victim to a few common errors. Here are five common brand launch errors.
The Five Most Common Errors When Launching a Brand
Assumptions are made based upon faulty reasoning or poorly developed market research.
The bias and preconceived ideas already codified in the marketing department itself become implanted in the new brand launch.
Time, effort and R&D resources focus on product advantages or features but neglect the emotional triggers that excite trial and loyalty.
The language used to describe the new brand in launch materials lacks importance because it is built around meaningless phrases that teeter precariously as cliché.
Coordination between the advertising agencies, brand companies, public relations firms and internal marketing departments are poorly executed. Turf wars surface and the clarity needed when launching a brand is never fostered.
Hire Us First
We believe hiring a brand development company is necessary to ensure a successful brand launch. While not all brand companies are talented and capable, a good one can bring something rare and valuable to the table — a dispassionate objectivity to the brand task at hand. No company entertains and funds a project to launch a brand frivolously. But all too often the launch itself has inside-out agendas woven into the process.
These agendas can get in the way of the launch effectiveness because unless they are REAL and important to those you must influence, they are destructive.
At Stealing Share, we caution all of our clients that communication without purpose is at its best unconstructive and at its worse destructive.
The margin of error between a successful brand launch and a failure are slim. Candor saves everyone a lot of time and a dispassionate brand company should be in a position to provide that candor. After all, the term of engagement is finite and there is no conflict of interest like an advertising agency or PR agency would have because their agenda is always a long-term engagement complete with monthly retainer costs. As a result, they are prone to tell you what they believe you want to hear and not what you need to know.
A Brand Launch Demands That You Leave Your Preconceived Notions at the Door
Projectable market research is key in any brand launch. The key word here is projectable. It must not be a series of focus groups where nothing learned is projectable to the market as a whole.
The research element in a successful brand launch is so crucial we formed our own in-house research company. This allows the brand strategists to work side by side with the researchers. Again, a coordination of professional equities.
The development of the research project is carefully constructed. You must identify the target most likely to covet the new brand and then survey them in a projectable manner. The idea is to uncover the triggers to switching behaviors, the barriers to acceptance, the best pricing strategy, and the belief systems that define the target market.
Oddly, these are rarely uncovered with open-ended questions. Ask beer drinkers why they prefer the brand of beer they drink and they will overwhelmingly state, “I like the taste.” Yet, we know from direct experience that beer drinkers can rarely discern the difference in beer brands in blind tastings.
To get to the root of behaviors you need to model the activity and then ask for agreement on a series of direct statements. These sort of intense anthropological questions demands a blend of experience and smarts. As a result, we spend almost as much time developing the questions as we do fielding the research itself.
The Power of a Brand Launch
The power of your brand launch can be found in the importance the correct target market invests in the newly launched brand. It’s a great asset to have a product feature or benefit that differentiates the new brand from the competitors but the most successful brand launches go much further. They feature an emotional intensity that is of greatest importance to the target market. This emotional intensity adds a powerful magnetic value that attracts the target audience to the brand even without the benefit.
Think about Jiff peanut butter as an example of this. The brand promise is “Choosy mothers choose Jiff.” This promise is designed to reinforce the value of choosy as a self-descriptor of the customer and prospect. The product benefit is that Jiff “tastes more like fresh peanuts.”
The Jiff example is a simple representation of the magic of developing a brand message that creates space between the current market and your new brand launch. Optimally, it should represent the highest emotional intensity available in the market space and be proven true by the benefit or feature.
Stealing Share is highly experienced in launching brands all over the globe. If you are considering a brand launch, give us a call and we can help reduce the barriers to your own success.
Brand Launch. Planning and executing it. was last modified: March 25th, 2015 by Tom Dougherty
When choosing a branding company, start with what they have accomplished
Branding companies promise to completely understand what your brand means. In the most basic sense, a branding company examines the logic and relationships between the services and products you produce or offer, and help better define the connections between disparate offerings and promises.
We try to clarify the values inherent in everything your brand does. This is an intellectual evaluation of everything you say about your brand and often it requires changes in your brand equities.
What are brand equities?
In a general sense, brand equities are the things your brand owns. Some are visual representations that are immediately associated with your brand. For example, when someone sees the silhouette of a hat with mouse ears, they immediately recall the Disney brand. These, like the NIKE Swoosh, are examples of a brand mark and are considered an equity— something the brand owns. Other visual cues can also be equities.
For example, a logo or a word mark is designed to be an equity. A specific color palette may also be an equity (like the pink color of Pepto-Bismol or the blue of Chase Bank) as can a shape (like the unique shape of the Coca-Cola bottle) or packaging (like Air Wick).
The conventional wisdom amongst branding companies is to identify something important about the brand and give life to that importance. This is why you see so many brands with a logo or brand mark that looks like what the brand does. This is why we have so many brands that are named after the technology or product (think Duracell and Energizer).
While some may do a better job with these tasks than others, most branding companies can point to examples of how they have created a brand by inventing these equities and identifying a distinct color palette. All the brand consultancy needs is a few smart and strategically thinking minds and a design team that makes appealing images.
Why Stealing Share rejects this model
The commercial world today is different then it was just a few years ago. Almost every category is crowded with competitors, so brands find themselves surrounded by strong competition. The customer has many choices and the field of battle is desperate to say the least. It is important to own something but that something needs to be important to the prospects you wish to attract and the customers that you wish to keep.
We ask more of your brand at Stealing Share than other branding companies. So should you.
The amount of importance your brand occupies is in direct relationship to what your target audience covets. If you want your brand to grow and steal market share from your many competitors then the foundations of the brand equities are going to be found in the beliefs and needs of the people you need to influence— not in the things you make or your company itself.
Persuasive brands find a way to merge the brand value itself with a reflection of the company AND the customer’s highest emotional intensity.
This is not easy to accomplish. It requires all of the parts of standard branding companies (smart strategists and talented designers) but also requires in-house market research and brand anthropologists who study human behavior and find ways to influence it. This rare element in branding science makes everything work together. The strategy, the research, the creative and the brand itself. Suddenly, nothing is the same and the game itself has changed.
So how do YOU choose a branding company?
Start by inviting us in for an hour of your time and we will change everything. Ask more of us because we brand for a purpose. It’s in our name and our brand DNA. Is it in yours? Our clients are aggressive, hungry and looking to grow. Clarity is what you want but purpose is what gets you there.
Choosing a Branding Company was last modified: July 2nd, 2015 by Tom Dougherty
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