Focus on your strengths part 2: BRANDS

In a previous post, we looked at the idea of amplifying strengths, rather than focusing on fixing weaknesses, applied to people. Here in part 2, we look at how it applies to brands.

Brands, like people, have strengths. Often there is a negative flip-side to these strengths. And many teams spend too much time worrying about these weaknesses and how to fix them. In doing so, they forget what made them famous. Also, they find out that brands, like people, are hard to fundamentally change once they are “grown up”.

For example, in an earlier post we saw how Wal-Mart worried about lacking aspiration versus competitors like Target. This led to an attempt to re-position the brand away from low prices and add lifestyle values. The brand signed endorsement deals with Destiny’s Child, ran an eight-page ad campaign in US Vogue and even had a runway show at New York Fashion Week.

The brand was in a loose-loose situation. In trying to make the brand more aspirational, Wal-Mart forgot what
made it famous. And it was unable to add the sought-for lifestyle values.

A better approach was revitalising the brand, rather than trying to re-invent it. The result is a positioning based on the idea
of “Save money, live better”. This amplified the brand’s heritage of offering low prices. It was also perfectly timed to position the company as a help for hard-up consumers in 2009. Middle and upper class shoppers are discovering the benefits of being savvy savers.

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The Wal-Mart share price (blue) against the more aspirational Target (red) shows investors believe the revitalisation is working.

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Another example is cheese snack brand Cheesestrings. The brand was loved by kids for its play value, but mums were worried that is was processed and un-natural. One option would have been to try and appeal to mums, and re-position as a healthy snack. But this would probably have been a loosing battle.

Picture 3 Instead, the brand has amplified the playfulness with new packaging and website designs that feature the Mr Cheesestring character.

At the same time they have sought to “neutralise” concerns on health by saying the brand is all natural, and made with milk. But even this is done in a playful way.

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Next time you look in detail at your brand, consider a re-focusing of effort of amplifying your strengths, and worrying less about weaknesses.