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

Gatorade’s High-Tech, Sweat-Reading Vending Machine Delivers Brand Positioning

For the Gatorade marketing team, the old adage “never let them see you sweat” does not apply.

Quite the opposite.

Credit: Gatorade.

Credit: Gatorade.

The Gatorade brand is all about sweat and countering its effects on the body. For the past three years, Gatorade has activated marketing around the “sweat it to get it” idea.

Now, Gatorade’s team in India has evolved the idea with a high-tech vending machine that dispenses free bottles of Gatorade to workout warriors. It’s technology powered marketing that delivers positioning and product benefits in a fun, content-friendly activity that’s well-suited for social media and mobile Internet sharing. Continue reading

Dynamic Duo – Ingredient Suppliers and Marketers Work Together for Consumer Success

Food ingredient suppliers are gathering this week in Las Vegas for the annual SupplySide West trade show.

And food and beverage marketing teams will be paying attention.

Credit: SupplySide West.

Credit: SupplySide West.

That’s because, in recent years, marketers have realized they can win with food ingredients – if they do it right. Keys include science-based credibility, great taste and mainstream-type products. It’s not easy, but there are wonderful opportunities. Consumers care about what they put in their bodies, more so than ever. They are proactive about what they want to eat and don’t want to eat.

As someone who has worked on the both the ingredient marketing and consumer brand management side of the desk, it’s been interesting to monitor how suppliers and marketers are increasingly coming together. Continue reading

Basketball-Playing Cop Demonstrates Power of Touchpoint Marketing

Everything can be marketing and everyone can be a marketer.

Officer Bobby White and neighborhood basketball players. Credit: Gainesville, FL police department.

Officer Bobby White and neighborhood basketball players. Credit: Gainesville Police Department.

Consider the unlikely example of Officer Bobby White from the Gainesville, FL police department. The policeman responded to a complaint of kids playing basketball too loudly on a residential street. Maybe the neighbor who called police should have been investigated, but I digress.

What does this police story have to do with marketing?

Everything. As you’ll see in the video below, Officer White produced more in a few minutes than any multi-million dollar community relations campaign the town of Gainesville could have commissioned. Continue reading

19th Hole Marketing: Positioning Requires a Decision

I just couldn’t get 100% comfortable with the gunshot-type-sound every time my partner hit the ball during a round of golf this summer.

If you’ve played golf or listened closely on TV, you understand the thwack of the driver or the whoosh of a good iron hit.  And, if you’ve been to a gun range, you know the sound of a firearm.  But you wouldn’t expect a gun sound on a golf course.

That’s what you get with the EZeeGolf Power Driver, which automatically drives a ball down the fairway.

There’s also a worthy strategic marketing discussion to be had.

Continue reading