Brands: Managing the Message - May 2011

By Dick Whitney

 

A brand is more than a logo, and it won’t run on autopilot, no matter the visibility and success of past campaigns. And like the product itself, it needs to be maintained. Brands are the most powerful and sustainable wealth creators in the world, as long as the shepherds of the brands are creative, tenacious, protective and consistent in their management, investment and growth.

When volume is down and raw material prices are on the rise, the focus of producers shifts to short-term issues while the broader vision of products and brands are shunted to the back burner, and the easy choice is to pull back on the “non-essential” advertising expense. But it’s a hazardous strategy, because this short-sightedness leads to a lack of consumer preference and shifts the power either further down the channel or into another product category. Those who hold true to their business and brand strategies are the ones who come out with the stronger position and the bigger share of the business. 

Also, since flooring is often a non-essential, deferrable purchase, advertising one’s brand also helps keep the entire category in the minds of consumers as a rewarding option for their disposable income.

In the flooring industry, as evidenced in the chart below, there are only a handful of manufacturers (or their brand stewards) that invest in consumer advertising, and that number has fallen considerably in the last few years. In fact, manufacturer spending on consumer brand awareness is almost half what it was two years ago, and several prominent flooring producers have entirely abandoned their efforts to maintain brand awareness. 

If manufacturers allow the big box retailers and category killers to build stronger consumer awareness than they themselves have, they risk losing mindshare and preference to the consumer, and that allows downstream brands like Bellawood and TrafficMaster to control the market. Once that happens, prices rise to the top as the most influential differentiator and margins start to erode.

Brand Focus
One of the reasons that classic and leading brands (of any size) have been so successful is how completely they have delivered clarity and consistency, driven by leadership.

One key element of a branding strategy is the underlying communications plan. The plan must reflect what is required in a brand position, the audience’s preferred mode of communication, and the firm’s desired role and participation in the audience’s behavior.

A brand with no clear vision or commitment has no clear future. There are no guarantees, but chance favors the best prepared. A significant percentage of manufacturers do not have formal brand strategies, and they don’t seem to understand that today’s consumers are looking for brands that will help them make responsible and rewarding decisions. It’s evident that some are acting without clear, intentional strategies—just doing something because they feel they should, but without an understanding of how the process really works.

The more sophisticated companies, those with a formal or even an informal brand strategy, see their brands as a promise to their customers. Those without a brand strategy—and some of the more informal planners—simply see brand as a name or don’t even acknowledge brand as an important variable.

Neither start-ups nor existing companies of any size should approach the branding issue lightly. Corporate brands reflect the intrinsic nature and history of the company. They derive from the complex workings of internal corporate goals and external marketplace needs.

Firms should measure the effectiveness of their brand strategies. In addition to supporting qualitative corporate goals, brand strategy must also support a price premium or marketshare objectives leading to improved returns for investors. Simply tracking brand awareness is not a sufficient measure of a brand strategy’s success.

If you don’t plan and invest in the future you want, you get the one that shows up. It’s a leadership issue that goes beyond today’s operating plans and initiatives, which can too often get in the way of long-term planning. 

 

Copyright 2011 Floor Focus 



Other Archived Articles

Volkswagen Chooses Chattanooga for New SUV   Full Article
Chattanooga, TN, July 14, 2014 -- Volkswagen said it will invest $600 million to build a new seven-passenger SUV at its factory in Chattanooga.

Median Age, Credit Scores For High-End Borrowers Fall   Full Article
New York, NY, July 14, 2014 -- The median age of borrowers seeking high balance mortgages has declined steadily over the last three years, according to private lender LoanDepot.

Meritage Homes To Acquire Atlanta Builder Legendary   Full Article
Scottsdale, AZ, July 14, 2014 -- Meritage Homes said it will acquire the Atlanta-based homebuilder Legendary Communities for approximately $130 million.

Previous Record Low Rates Hurting Home Sales   Full Article
New York, NY, July 11, 2014 -- Low interest rates are keeping some people from selling their homes, which is limiting supply and putting a damper on the housing recovery.

Metroflor's Aspecta Wins Award   Full Article
Norwalk, CT, July 11 -- Metroflor said that its new LVT contract brand, Aspecta, was acknowledged by the Product Innovations 2014 awards bestowed by Buildings magazine to a group of 30 finalists exclusive to NeoCon exhibitors.

Buchanan Hardwoods Gets NWFA Certification   Full Article
St. Louis, MO, July 11, 2014 -- The National Wood Flooring Association said that Buchanan Hardwoods, of Aliceville, Alabama, has earned the NWFA/NOFMA Mill Certification for its Elite Flooring.

Business Economists See Improving Economy   Full Article
Washington, DC, July 11, 2014 -- Business economists have lowered their expectations for second quarter growth but don't believe a recession will occur anytime soon.

Initial Jobless Claims Beat Expectations   Full Article
Washington, DC, July 10, 2014 -- Initial claims for unemployment benefits fell 3.5% to 304,000 for the week ending July 5, according to the Labor Department.

McGrane Named Executive VP at Max Windsor   Full Article
Adairsville, GA, July 10, 2014 -- Joshua McGrane ?has been named executive vice president? of ?Max Windsor USA.

Tile of Spain Seeking Design Contest Entries   Full Article
Madrid, Spain, July 10, 2014 -- The 13th Tile of Spain Awards of Architecture and Interior Design is seeking entries.

Lumber Liquidators Lowers Forecast, Stock Plunges   Full Article
New York, NY, July 10, 2014 -- Shares of Lumber Liquidators fell as much as 15% in after-hours trading on Wednesday after the company lowered guidance for the full year 2014.

Soniclean Partners With Shaw on Soft Carpet Vacuum   Full Article
New York, NY, July 10, 2014 -- Soniclean said it has partnered with Shaw Industries to address the growing demand for a vacuum cleaner capable of cleaning soft style carpeting.

Teragren Names Vice President of Sales   Full Article
Bainbridge Island, WA, July 10, 2014 -- Teragren has named Mark Jordan vice president of sales.

Dixie Group Added to Russell Stock Indexes   Full Article
Chattanooga, TN, July 10, 2014 -- The Dixie Group said it was added to the Russell 3000 Index and Russell 2000 Index when Russell Investments reconstituted its comprehensive set of U.S. and global equity indexes on June 27.

Congoleum Closing New Jersey Warehouse   Full Article
Hamilton Township, NJ, July 10, 2014 -- The Congoleum flooring warehouse here will cease operations later this year.

CRI Posts Model Specification for Commercial Carpet   Full Article
Dalton, GA, July 9, 2014 -- The Carpet and Rug Institute said its Model Specification for Commercial Carpet is now available online at Carpet-Rug.org.

Bamboo Hardwoods Names Flooring Sales Director   Full Article
Seattle, WA, July 9, 2014 -- Bamboo Hardwoods has named Bruce Boulden as the company’s national flooring sales director.

Mortgage Application Volume Increases Last Week   Full Article
Washington, DC, July 9, 2014 -- Mortgage application volume rose last week, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.

Ardex Academy Sets Training Dates   Full Article
Aliquippa, PA, July 9, 2014 -- Ardex Academy offers free classroom and hands-on product installation training at eight locations throughout North America. Participants learn substrate preparation and the newest installation techniques.

Judge Ends Laminate Copyright Dispute between Home Legend and Mannington   Full Article
Rome, GA July 3, 2014 -- A U.S. District Court in Rome, Georgia ruled in favor of Home Legend in a legal dispute over similar looking laminate floorcovering. The judge ruled nature can't be copyrighted.