Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Can Brand Trump Become President Trump?

In 1968, Joe McGinniss wrote The Selling of the President, analyzing the marketing of Richard M. Nixon. It was the first-of-its-kind intro to a concept of stage-managed presidential branding and a primer for taking a human politician and turning him into a brand – the creation of the “new Nixon.” Now, 47 years later, the American electorate faces a new paradigm shift – turning a human brand into a candidate, this time the creation of candidate Trump.

No matter how you feel about Mr. Trump personally, his political positions, his standings in the polls, his grandiloquence, or even his hairstyle, one thing is undeniable – Donald Trump is a human brand extraordinaire! We’re talking real “Human Brand,” here folks. Not a celebrity, but an actual human being who embodies100% of the values of the company he represents.

“Human Brand” is a designation representing the highest level of imbued meaning, values, and differentiation any brand can be. And despite how many marketers prattle on about how everything and everyone can be a “brand,” Mr. Trump is one of a very, very, very small club of Human Brands, with values and qualities that allow him to successfully expand into multiple and diverse categories, well beyond foundation products like real estate or TV shows. Here’s just a few: catering, sales, leasing, hospitality, golf, home furnishings, ice cream, vodka, wine, men’s shirts, ties, jewelry, and fragrances, books, bottled water, and the list goes on.

When it comes to bringing added-value to a product or service – a critical obligation of 21st century brands and the ultimate acid test of Human Brands – adding the Trump name increases the perceived value of a product or service anywhere from 20% to 37%, enviable by any category standards. In terms of emotional engagement, adding the Trump brand causes the products or services to be seen as better meeting consumer expectations for the values that drive positive behavior in a particular category.

So here’s the question: Can brand Trump become President Trump? Sure, we’ve seen the polls, but to answer that particular question we went beyond the polls and looked at the category engagement drivers for the electorate’s Ideal President.

These engagement drivers have been validated for every Presidential election since 1980. The order of engagement drivers (and the expectations voters hold for each) will vary in terms of what’s important to members of different political parties. But while there is – as there is in any category – detailed and complex values involved in the composition of engagement drivers, generally speaking the drivers can be concisely described (alphabetically) as follows:

Action: Does the candidate have a plan or the capability for solving the problems facing the country?

Compassion: Does the candidate care about all the people?

Perception: Does the candidate have an understanding of the problems facing the county?

Resolve: Does the candidate have the doggedness and determination to make things happen?

Republicans view their Ideal President this way:
  1. Resolve
  2. Perception
  3. Action
  4. Compassion

While the Republicans seem to have lots of politicians talking themselves red, white, and blue in the face, if one were to “voice” the Ideal Republican Presidential candidate, he or she might sound like this:

“I have been successful solving all the problems I’ve faced over the years.  I look at solutions and have learned to focus on what will provide results. We need new thinking and not the same-old, same-old hackneyed promises. Things are broken and they need to be fixed. We need to make America great again. One measure of our greatness is its ability to show concern for all citizens in fair and equitable ways.”

Sound familiar? Keep in mind that during a Presidential campaign the air is full of speeches – and vice versa – so if you were to sift through all the current political rhetoric, the sound bites and tweets, underplay a bit of the bombast, and overlook some of the more unpleasant and belligerent statements, who does that sound like to you?

Anyway, back to the original question of whether Brand Trump could become President Trump?  To answer that we asked 1,350 registered Republicans from the 9 U.S. Census Regions to assess Mr. Trump using our emotional engagement evaluation and compared those results to the Republican Ideal for President. To facilitate comparisons, each of the Ideal’s category drivers have each been calibrated to100% to reflect voter expectations, with “Brand Trump” measuring up as follows:

Resolve:                   84%
Perception:              89%
Action:                     82%
Compassion:           79%

On the basis of those assessments – an overall 84% – the answer to the original question would be “yes.” It seems eminently possible to migrate this particular Human Brand to a Presidential Brand.

For those of you who had other parties and candidates in mind, remember that those results represent only one variable, absent a Democratic challenger, 411 days before Election Day. A lot can happen in that time.

Just ask a candidate like Hillary Clinton. Or a brand like Volkswagen!

Find out more about what makes customer loyalty happen and how Brand Keys metrics is able to predict future consumer behavior: brandkeys.com. Visit our YouTube channel to learn more about Brand Keys methodology, applications and case studies.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Stressed Spelled Backwards is Desserts. Coincidence?

Blue Bell Creameries, the overstressed company that recalled all its products in April following a deadly outbreak of listeria, has re-started production and distribution.

The company alerted the FDA of the company’s 5-stage recovery plan. Stage #1: they’ll be resuming limited distribution this month – reentering grocery stores in 15 states. There’s no specific timeline for stages 2 through 5, but Texas and Alabama are on the primary distribution list, followed by markets in 10 additional states.

The company’s expansion is contingent on product availability and servicing, but Blue Bell agreed with Federal and state health officials production would re-start under stricter health controls and greater regulatory scrutiny. Which is all fine and good, but what about the customers? How do the customers feel about all these touch circumstances? In this instance “tough circumstances” included the outbreak of listeria, a virulent pathogen that posed threats to older adults, pregnant women, newborns, and people with weak immune systems. And when it comes to ice cream, it would seem that your circumstances really couldn’t get much tougher than that!

But it turns out that the Blue Bell brand apparently still engenders high degrees of loyalty and engagement among the ice cream consuming public. What that means is, consumers have been six times more likely to give the brand the benefit of the doubt in these recent tough circumstances, and, while we’re not sure it can get a lot tougher than a deadly listeria outbreak, consumers are willing to trust the brand and give it a second chance.

According to our Customer Loyalty Engagement Index, when it comes to brand confidence and second chances, here’s how ice cream brands currently rank:
  1. Häagen-Dazs
  2. Blue Bell
  3. Breyers
  4. Ben & Jerry’s
  5. Edy’s / Turkey Hill
Blue Bell issued a statement that their expansion will “be based on product availability and when they can properly service the customers,” and we wish them well, but warn them too. While loyal customers are six times more likely to give you the benefit of the doubt, if you disappoint once too often customer loyalty melts away faster than ice cream in 110° summer heat!

Find out more about what makes customer loyalty happen and how Brand Keys metrics is able to predict future consumer behavior: brandkeys.com. Visit our YouTube channel to learn more about Brand Keys methodology, applications and case studies.

Friday, September 11, 2015

NFL Teams By The (Loyalty) Numbers

The 2015 National Football League season kicked off last night featuring the defending Super Bowl XLIX champions, the New England Patriots, versus the Pittsburgh Steelers. The final score: Patriots 28, Steelers 14, with the Patriots starting their “ideal” season ending up on the road to Super Bowl 50. And with the start of the season, Brand Keys is proud to announce the results of our 23rd annual Sports Fan Loyalty Index.

It turns out consumers also have an “ideal” – an ideal team. Teams able to better meet fans expectations for that Ideal, always end up winning in the Loyalty Bowl. There’s no trophy, but it comes with something more important – emotionally engaged fans, increased game viewership, and increased purchases of licensed merchandise.

Here are this year’s NFL teams that scored well when it comes to fan loyalty – and those that didn’t. For comparative purposes, #s in parentheses give the team’s loyalty rankings for last season:

2015’s Top-5

1. New England Patriots               (#1)
2. Green Bay Packers                  (#3)
3. Seattle Seahawks                    (#6)
4. Denver Broncos                       (#4)
5. Indianapolis Colts                     (#5)

2015’s Bottom-5

32. Oakland Raiders                   (#32)
31. Jacksonville Jaguars             (#31)
30. Tampa Bay Buccaneers        (#29)
29. Washington Redskins           (#23)
28. Cleveland Browns                 (#30)

The Sports Fan Loyalty Index was designed to help professional sports team management identify precise fan loyalty rankings in their home and national markets with insights that enable the league and team to identify areas – particularly emotional ones – that can use some strategic brand reinforcement. Those insights are always based upon the fans’ “ideal team,” and that means values more than just a win-loss ratio. Think of the Sports Fan Loyalty Index as providing an apples-to-apples comparison of the intensity with which fans within the team’s home market catchment area support the home team, versus corresponding values for the fans of the other teams or leagues.

OK, it’s true. Everybody loves a winner, but it’s important to note that win-loss ratios do not entirely govern fan loyalty. Neither does counting game attendance (except when it comes to professional hockey where loyalty levels correlate very highly with turnout). When it comes to emotions, and particularly emotional games like the Super Bowl, you could fill that venue fifty times over. That said, there are other powerful and emotionally-based factors that have to be taken into account. The percentages next to each indicate the contribution they currently make to fan loyalty and engagement:

History and Tradition (30%): Is the game and the team part of fans’ and community rituals, institutions and beliefs?

Fan Bonding (29%): Are players particularly respected and admired?

Pure Entertainment (21%): How well a team does, wins and losses sure. But even more importantly than a win-loss ratio, how entertaining is their play?

Authenticity (20%): How well they play as a team. What’s the offense and defense like? New managers, as they’re seen to be responsible for the genuineness and credibility of the team, can also help lift this driver. Sometimes a new stadium can affect this driver.

Look, all teams show up intending to win. That’s the reason they’re there and why players get paid gabillions of dollars each year. But the nature of sports fan loyalty is that overall league and team rankings correlate very highly with game viewership and purchase of licensed merchandise. You shouldn’t confuse “History and Tradition” with fan dedication. There are lots of teams in all the major leagues where team allegiance is based on a this-has-always-been-my-team-and-my-dad’s-team-do-or-die-and-wait-until-next-season. But since the team engagement numbers and loyalty rankings can be influenced depending upon how all drivers are managed, it’s critical that team marketers manage them strategically. In particular to make sure their numbers better meet fan expectations. But you have to know what the fans really expect – beyond a winning season – to successfully manage those numbers.

Oh, and speaking of numbers, the NFL announced Super Bowl 50 will be graphically represented with Arabic numerals instead of the traditional Roman numerals, in use since 1971. The shift in numeric notation is only for this year because – in addition to it being the league’s 50th Anniversary – it was felt that the stand-alone “L” wasn’t pleasing to the eye, proving that numbers are important to different people in different ways.

But when it comes to numbers that are really important, we recommend the ones related to fan loyalty. They correlates very highly with emotionally engaged fans, increased game viewership, and increased purchases of licensed merchandise, something every team would like to count on!
The Brand Keys Sports Fan Loyalty Index measures all the teams in the four Major Leagues, and reported on the other three major leagues earlier this year. The National Football League is currently rated 1st followed by Major League Baseball. The NBA currently ranks 3rd with the National Hockey League in 4th place. Loyalty is a leading-indicator of behavior and profitability, and is a key statistic professional sports teams should track, since it tells us what fans are going to do.

It’s been said that some people think football is a matter of life and death. But depending on your level of fan loyalty, sometimes it can get much more serious than that!

Find out more about what makes customer loyalty happen and how Brand Keys metrics is able to predict future consumer behavior: brandkeys.com. Visit our YouTube channel to learn more about Brand Keys methodology, applications and case studies.