Would your customers save your brand if it was faced with extinction? This question was answered loud and clear for the brand Snopes recently. Snopes.com is the place you go to if you want to check the validity of a piece of news or claim. Anything from absurd Facebook posts about a Mummified Three-fingered Alien in Nazca, Peru, to news items like whether El Chapo Put a $100 Millon Bounty on Donald Trump. When Snopes got into legal trouble, it asked its customers and community to help raise money on GoFundMe raising $612K at my last look against their $500K target in 2 days. Do you think that’s the sign of a brand that’s weak? Nope. Here are other ways you can tell if your brand is weak.
You’re No Different
I was blown away by a fascinating presentation by Tim Ray, the founder of Carnivore Club. Despite having a very defined and politically risky brand voice (They’ve been called sexist and juvenile among other things as are illustrated in their crazy videos), the company has been wildly successful. Who would’ve thought an online subscription based meat box would do well? They are now expanding all over the world. When I asked Tim if they’d lost business because of their edgy brand voice, unhesitatingly he said “No, we never would’ve gotten any of the free press or advertising or placement which ultimately led to our success if we were like everyone else out there”. I had to agree with him. If your brand is saying the same things as everyone else in your industry, it’s weak.
You Don’t Stand For Anything
I recently came across a new product in the market that raised $50MM to sell ‘Unbranded‘ products. This is no regular ‘no name brand’. Their claims are pretty serious. Their tagline is ‘Better Everything. For Everyone.’ Everything costs $3. They supposedly eliminate ‘brand tax’, working directly with manufacturers to do so. Every item is natural, healthy with gluten free and free-trade options. There are so many brand promises and such a strong positioning that I don’t even know where to start. Make no mistake, this is definitely a brand–even though it’s called ‘unbranded’ and it definitely stands for something. Unlike ‘Unbranded’, when you stand for nothing and have generic claims and undifferentiated messaging, you have a weak brand.
You Have To Play The Price Game
When I worked in the pen industry, research told us that we had 3 different types of buyers. One type of buyer stole the damn things from any hotel or gas station. The other type we called the “Cheap Mom” would buy any pen as long as it was even a few cents cheaper and didn’t give a hoot about the brand. The last type of buyer was the “Pen Lover” who would try to kill you if you took their pen away from them because they coveted them. Naturally they were very brand loyal and bought more frequently with very little price sensitivity. So, who do you think we picked to concentrate our marketing efforts on? When you find yourself constantly having to lower your pricing, no matter the industry, you can be sure that your brand isn’t as strong as it should be.
Strengthening your brand is the only way I know of staying on top of the competition and of having longevity in this see-sawing market landscape. Look at some of your indicators I mentioned above and get your head in the brand game before someone takes you out of the running.