Monday, July 30, 2018

A Postmortem of the Ivanka Brand

Ivanka Trump announced the death of her brand last week.

It was famous (“Thanks, Dad!”), but it wasn’t desired.

It was famous, but it wasn’t very big.

It was famous, yet it only made a tiny flicker in the constellation of much larger, more desired, fashion-brand stars.

Listen to what we had to say to Reuters TV.

Ms. Trump forgot that being famous wasn’t enough. A real brand has to stand for something to consumers – besides being pretty and available.

To exacerbate things, Ivanka, who described her “life’s mission” as “seeking to improve the lives of working women,” wrote a book, “Women Who Work” – how women could achieve personal satisfaction and professional success. Just like Ivanka and her brand. The book ended up being an ill-timed and ill-conceived branding exercise. According to one critic, “It was not really offensive so much as witless!” Another critic thought, “Reading it is like eating scented cotton balls!”

If the book said nothing, Ivanka said nothing about anything related to being First Daughter or Presidential Advisor. Her comments regarding, well, everything was to say, well, nothing. “I would say not to conflate lack of public denouncement with silence. . . Where I disagree with my father, he knows it.” That silence, the lack of standing up for anything, eventually leeched into the brand.

To further aggravate things, she was not only speechless, she was tone deaf.

While 2,000 immigrant minors were separated from families she shared photos with her children, one captioned “on a date night with my daughter.”

She was unable to comment about the White House’s 2nd annual "Made in America" celebration. Ivanka-branded clothes and shoes (along with most Trump-branded products) come from pretty much anyplace that isn’t the USA.

And sure, some of the retailers who dropped her line may have been politically-motivated, but businesses don’t make money-making political decisions, they make money-making business decisions, and consumer purchase attitudes toward the Ivanka brand are significantly down YOY, so retailers weren’t making money for the stores. So the brand got dumped, just like lots of brands. This one was just more famous.

Brands should be more interested in meaning something, saying something, standing for something, than just being famous.

Because the bottom line is, when brands don’t speak to consumers, consumers speak to each other then speak for the brand.

Usually with their wallets!


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, July 24, 2018

What do you use to fix a broken pizza brand?


Usually, tomato paste.

Unfortunately, better claims notwithstanding, that’s not going to work for Papa John’s founder.

Our 2018 Brand Keys Customer Loyalty Engagement Index pizza rankings look like this:
  1. Domino’s
  2. Papa Murphy’s
  3. Pizza Hut
  4. Little Caesar’s
  5. Papa John’s
  6. Chuck E. Cheese 
How did the brand sink from its perennial #2 spot to #5? First there was the NFL blame-game debacle, when founder, John Schnatter, blamed disappointing sales on players kneeling during the national anthem. 1st Quarter ’18 sales fell 5.3%!

Then this week, Forbes reported Schnatter used the N-word during a conference call. University of Louisville removed his name from its football stadium and Center for Free Enterprise. Major League Baseball indefinitely suspended a promotion that offered fans discounts at the pizza chain after grand slams. The company is pulling his image from all marketing efforts.

Mr. Schnatter apologized and resigned as chairman, although as of the writing of this note has been making noises that he shouldn’t have had to. So not a good week for the founder. But the good news is there is hope for the brand.

There’s a difference between being “founder” and “brand.” Dave Thomas was the founder and successful spokesperson of Wendy’s, but not the brand. Col. Sanders was the founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken and oft-imitated spokesperson, but not the brand. Richard Branson was founder and spokesman for Virgin, but was never, ever mistaken for the brand.

There’s a big difference between being “founder” and being “brand,” and a brand can be saved if managed properly. That’s not always true for a founder no matter how many apologies or denials they issue.

Because, particularly in this category, when customers emotionally engage with a brand, they also give up a pizza their hearts.


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.

Monday, July 16, 2018

When Category Values Shift, Hope Is Not A Strategy!

Our 23rd annual Customer Loyalty Engagement Index identified new consumer values that are creating unprecedented shifts in how consumers view categories, compare brands, and buy.

And buy again.

If you think this is an aberration or an eccentric deviation from the norm or a ‘blip’ on the radar, you’d better think again.

The analysis included 761 brands, evaluated by 50,527 consumers, 18-65 balanced for gender and political affiliation.

Shifts in brand values have resulted in category leadership changes and same-store sales and Quarterly profits in 60% of the B2C and B2B categories tracked.

Want to know how it might affect your brand? Read our Marketing Politics Weekly Op-Ed, “RisingImportance of Brand Values.”

Because when category values shift, hope is not a strategy!


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.

Monday, July 09, 2018

You’re Not a “Classic” Brand Just Because They Can Hum Your Theme Song!


Remember this?

I don't wanna grow up, I'm a Toys R Us kid
There's a million toys at Toys R us that I can play with. . .
From bikes to trains to video games
It's the biggest toy store there is. . .
I don't wanna grow up, cause if I did
I couldn't be a Toys R Us kid!

Well, while you were celebrating the 4th of July holiday, customers apparently grew up and Toys “R” Us abandoned any hope of survival following an absolutely dismal 2017 holiday season. They shut the doors at all 700 U.S. stores,

The brand was sold, re-purchased by its founder, and sold two more times, finally ending up at private equity firms Bain Capital, KKR, and Vornado Realty. In light of industry trends, shifting platform preferences, and customer disengagement, they gave up all hope of saving the brand, “classic” or not. The overseas business, sister brand, Babies “R” Us, and mascot, Geoffrey the Giraffe, are due to be axed too.

Social media lit up at the announcement of the demise of the brand, with folks swearing that they would always be Toys “R” Us kids.

But here’s the thing about “classic” brands. You need more than a catchy theme song, a mascot, or even real real estate. And you need a lot more than just a lot of tweets on social media.

You need real brand loyalty and customer engagement and the sales that always come with them.

And something more predictive of your brand’s future than promises made on social media.    


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.