Brand Management Dilemma: Grow, But Don’t Kill the Core

I think, in retrospect, we may have tried too hard to attract new guests. That left some of our fans shaking their heads, asking ‘What happened to Applebee’s?’

Patrick Lenow (VP Communications and Public Affairs, DineEquity – August 10, 2017)


That’s an eye-opening, unusually direct assessment. There’s even more blunt analysis from Applebee’s president.

First, let’s set the stage with some framing thoughts on brand management.

A Quick Primer – What To Do and Not Do

It’s a constant dilemma and challenge: how to expand the appeal of brand x and/or position it for growth without alienating existing customers and destroying the core business.

Depending on the type of product or service, many actions can be implemented, such as: product upgrades, promoting secondary usage, launching new products, stimulating growth of the overall category, expanding distribution channels, developing brand refresh/renovation tactics, or even complete repositioning.

JCPenney failed.

Domino’s seems to have had success.

Hardees/Carl’s Jr. is trying to reboot their image and brand positioning.

Effective brand management requires smart discipline. To borrow from Ringo Starr, it don’t come easy.

► Building brands is a process, which requires steady, disciplined hands at the helm. It can take time and money. Unfortunately, steady discipline, time and money can be in short supply in CEO suites and boardrooms where results are measured short-term in weeks and quarters. Plus, marketing teams themselves can fall victim to a lack of steady discipline on occasion. Continue reading

Wegmans Supermarket Entices Shoppers with Impressive Magazine

Print is still powerful – if used correctly.

Want proof? Check out the latest issue of Wegmans Menu Magazine.

The well-regarded Rochester, NY grocer publishes an attention-getting, glossy magazine chock full of beautiful photography and enticing recipes. Even non-cooks may be motivated to shop and then head to their kitchens.

Menu Magazine came to my attention via a family member, who recently signed-up for a Shoppers Club loyalty card in advance of a new store opening next week. The magazine was mailed to the home.

After perusing the magazine, I can share three marketing observations:

▶  Make content for the customer. The value and utility of Menu Magazine – products and recipes that make you want to buy – is what hooks the shopper. Of course Wegmans is selling (they are entitled), yet they achieve a business objective by putting the customer first. The magazine’s content makes the reader want to shop, cook and eat.  Continue reading

Packaging Has Strategic Role in Brand Refresh/Renovation

There’s an old marketing adage: when a new brand manager arrives, get ready for a package design change.

While there may be some historical truth to that expression, its use typically conveyed a sarcastic, shallow and derogatory view of marketing. Hopefully, such thinking has dissipated, because packaging is a critical success factor to maintain brand health and relevance. And, those marketers and business leaders who take a disciplined, strategic approach with packaging have a distinct advantage.

This brings me to Arrowhead Mills, a brand of Hain Celestial.

While brand management personnel may have changed over the years, the company’s view of packaging as a strategic, brand-management driver has not. This year, Arrowhead Mills has been phasing-in a complete redesign across categories, including cold cereal.

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Unexpected Sources Can Power Content Marketing

It’s an increasing challenge. Where do business teams get the content to fuel their content-driven marketing?

Part of the answer is that great content can come from unexpected places.

To begin, ensure that your content fits your overall marketing and specific content strategies. That requires you to do your homework.

From there, keep these five guide rails in mind. They’ll help you to be meaningful to, and resonate with, customers and key constituents:

  1. Be genuine
  2. Be authentic
  3. Be relatable
  4. Place your content in the right context
  5. Communicate at the appropriate time

Credit: Allen Edmonds. Father’s Day 2017 catalog.

As an example, consider the CEO who wrote about walking his daughter down the marriage aisle, and even posted a picture, in a Father’s Day product catalog. Continue reading

Don’t Retreat Marketers. Ben Franklin to the Rescue.

What the heck is going on in the business world?

Judging by all the negative stories, one would think that a plague of incompetence has afflicted commercial teams across the country.

However, beyond the obvious blunders (e.g., United and airport security personnel), some of the backlash is a bit perplexing.

Are corporations and their marketing teams failing at higher rates or is something else going on?

I suggest the latter. That’s partly because social media has, for better and for worse, totally disrupted the way so many now get and process their information.

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