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It's Not The Brand, It's The Product Stupid

Reading an article in this week's Washington Post titled "Businesses find they can’t grow without branding" nearly made my head spin completely off. And it called to mind the now-famous James Carville line.

Myself and most of my family have at one time or another worked for The A&P Supermarket chain or one of its alter egos. I can remember hearing the story of how some A&P stores, (or was it all of them?) in the greater Philadelphia/South Jersey area were going to close, only to reopen under the name SuperFresh. Same stores, same employees (making less money, but that's a whole other issue), same products and so on. Only now, instead of flying the A&P red & white it was the SuperFresh green & white. Whether the powers that be actually referred to this a "re-brand" I do not know but in many ways that's precisely what it was.

Now fast forward to the aforementioned Washington Post article, "Businesses find they can’t grow without branding." The writer of the piece uses Honest Tea as its example, citing the fact that they changed their tagline as part of their rebranding strategy, going from “Be Real. Get Honest” to “Nature Got It Right. We Put It in a Bottle.” I happen to like the new one a whole lot better but that's neither nor there.

The article also touches on the fact that many business, companies, non-profits and even the United States Government are undergoing a rebranding campaign of one sort or another. The government example the writer provides is The D.C. Water and Sewer Authority who changed their name to the much simpler and less-disgusting-sounding, D.C. Water. Why the word "sewer" would ever be in the name in the first place is beyond me, but I digress...

Then there's the obligatory reference to a given company's name and what role that plays and whether acronyms should be used in the name and about logos and colors and...

STOP!!!

Look, I am all for branding, rebranding and so on... I've done more than my fair share of it. I've written plenty of taglines and brand essence statements. I know how important all of this is, I truly do. One part of the article I absolutely agree with is the fact that consumers want to know what a given brand stands for, who is behind it... full transparency.

And I also agree completely with this line: "These days consumers are driving the public perception of companies, offering their sometimes not-so-flattering reviews of products and services through blogs, Web sites and social media."

Yes, yes and yes... consumers are driving the bus for sure.

But to me, when it comes to branding and rebranding... they are what initially get people in the proverbial door.

Important? Key? Vital?

Absolutely.

A brand or rebrand gets people interested, it sparks curiosity and absolutely is extremely vital.

But a brand or rebrand doesn't get people coming back again and again to buy your product or your service or stay in your hotel or fly your airline or whatever. 

What gets people to use your product, your service, your hotel, your airline more than once, AKA be loyal, is the actual product, service, hotel or airline.

The writer of the article made reference to Honest Tea's loyal followers. Well why do you think they are loyal followers?

Because of a tagline?

Because of the logo?

NO...

They are loyal because Honest Tea tastes good.

They are loyal because Honest Tea doesn't cost too much.

As for A&P and SuperFresh? Well the new brand got the customers in the door. But many folks remained loyal after the change. And why you ask...

Wasn't because of the new colors or spiffy new uniforms. It was because the product remained the same; the level of service remained the same.  All of the things that kept them loyal in the first place were still there...

A brand or rebrand opens the door.

A quality, well made, well delivered product, service, etc. keeps the door open and revolving.

Sources: Washington Post, Google Images

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