Brand Brilliance: Why Budweiser Won Hearts and Go Daddy Broke Them

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The Super Bowl and NFL season has gone into hibernation once again and we’re left with watching, in my opinion, a very disappointing array of continuing Super Bowl commercials. There were two commercials that really stood out this year in completely different ways. Before we look at them specifically, lets take a quick look at branding.

The idea of branding continues to mystify even the the companies with multi-million dollar ad budgets. In todays marketplace, brands rely on being funny or quirky with regard to how they create their brand communication. It’s a successful tactic in getting noticed, but how do you stay funny – all the time? Even Kevin Heart tells bad Jokes.

When we look long-term, in these times, there comes a point where your brand has to communicate a deeper set of values – brand purpose. If what you say has to align with what you do, then harnessing your entire brand ecosphere becomes a precious strategy that must be executed with careful decision making.

Or not, if you’re Go Daddy.

Breaking Hearts

Go Daddy, who usually has some pretty cool commercials, took a very heart warming concept and made it one of heartbreak. The commercial had all the makings of a heart tugging storyline of lost and found.

But did that happen?

Yes initially, but ultimately NO!

If you happened to have missed it (because it was pulled immediately –rightfully so) the story was about a puppy who had accidently got thrown from its owner’s truck and had to endure some challenging times to be reunited with its owner. The puppy finally makes its way back to the owner who says, “ I’m so glad you made it home because I just sold you on this website I built by Go Daddy.”

Yikes!

That’s just like Nike saying, “Just Don’t Do it,” or Apple saying, “Think Like Everyone Else.”

It’s Anti-branding, and leaves a scar on your brand that will take a long time to heal.

Good Story, Terrible Ending

They took a potentially great storyline, which 99% of it was great, and spoiled it at the end by not understanding how the marketplace really feels about puppies – adorable, cute and cuddly family members.

Not only was it a $4mill mistake (cost of the ad), but a right hook to the rib cage of Go Daddy’s brand.

Brand messaging counts a great deal, and if you don’t protect it at all costs, your brand equity takes a hit – and they didn’t protect theirs. They basically hung their brand over a hungry den of lions – when they didn’t have to.

Brand stories are important because they capture the human essence of what a business stands for. If the human expression of your brand thinks there’s a funny side to puppy mills, you have been asleep for sometime now, or you believe there’s a funny side to everything. That’s a costly gamble.

Winning Hearts

Budweiser’s commercial has a puppy as its star as well. They decided not risk their brand equity, but instead they created a story that transcended their brand.

If you remember, this was their second installment of the initial commercial they ran during the 2014 Super Bowl where a puppy and horse befriend one another. In this installment the puppy escapes the stable and ends up on an adventurous journey back home. The plot thickens when the puppy is cornered by a wolf (hearts pounding), but the horse along with others come to the rescue of the puppy and is finally reunited with his owner.

Predictable?

Maybe so, but humans can relate to that situation thus creating branded value statement(s);

  •  Friendship
  • Compassion
  • Love
  • Resilience
  • Empathy
  • Family

Your brand can’t lose when you hit all of these emotional strings in a one minute commercial spot.

Budweiser’s brand was not only enhanced by this brand storytelling – because of the millions of views, but deepened its brand purpose and ideals with the general populous.

Take-Away

What your brands says matters, but more important is understanding your marketplace and how they feel about certain things. As we have witnessed, funny works, but context is what makes it work. Budweiser understood this. Go Daddy understood this to a point but failed in execution.

Protect and nurture everything about your brand. The more you protect it, the more people will respect you for it. Don’t gamble with your brand – make sure you not only understand the purpose of your message but its context.

Stay Hungry, Hustle Hard!

 

Gary

The Number 1 Reason Great Brands Are Successful

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Take a moment to think about what brands today are currently making an impact in our society. Try to pick three or four that come to the top of your head… Now take a moment to reflect upon the great brands of yesteryear…

If you truly study what makes brands successful today, you will see a dramatically different picture of what made brands successful back then. Back in the day, the brands that may have come to mind were quite simply those who ran the most advertisements, or who had the most stores – wow have things changed! Cultural shifts change how we look at everything – it’s an all-encompassing change that some embrace and some fall victim to.

For many years, we defined stalwart brands as ‘institutions’ or ‘mega-brands’, but were they really brands? I guess if you defined them by size and revenue… then maybe they were. I guess we had no choice but to call them brands – after all we didn’t know any better because that’s all we knew. Big brands told us what to believe, and we believed it.

Well, those days are long gone. In fact, they have disappeared altogether. Brands like McDonald’s continues to struggle with the coveted Millennial market segment during this fast-moving shift because they are falling victim to what made them successful in the first place – scale, distribution, revenue… and by contrast the little guys (Chipotle, Smash Burger) are chipping away at them like piranhas in a feeding frenzy.

The Davids vs. The Goliaths

So the question becomes… how are the Davids standing toe-to-toe with the Goliaths?

They do so because they are a reflection of the cultural change in society today. They simply speak and deliver on the core values of their market place while the big brands continue to throw looping punches in a fight where speed, agility and integrity are the key skill-sets to creating a winning environment.

Note: For all the articles on this blog on branding and brand strategy, click how to brand a company.

Let’s take a look at the 3 brands below that understand the cultural shifts and deliver values that the marketplace actually cares about.

1) Tesla Motors

 Electric cars of the past exuded a very uninspired design vision. They spoke to the cultural shift of energy efficient and clean technology driven products, but lacked the design aesthetics to really lift the category to it potential.

Tesla bridged these two ideas into a beautiful car that speaks to the ‘clean’ movement in society. Design is function, and Tesla’s effort has led to them to being far and above the category leader (full size luxury sedans).  This category includes formidable brands with long heritages like – Mercedes, BMW and Lexus.

2) Whole Foods

If you were a betting person, you probably wouldn’t give many grocery entrants a chance among the giant retailers occupying that space – most notably Wal-Mart and host of other big grocery retailers. Wal-Mart is selling price, which is a big value to some, but not all.

Whole Foods understood the quality movement in society – not just in its products, but also in the entire process of bringing food and beverages to market.  Health, responsibility and fairness are the cornerstones of their brand and their customers love them for it. They can tell a unique and inspiring story that’s hard to duplicate.

Does Wal-Mart speak to any of those values? A better question might be, Can they? Currently the answer is a resounding ‘No’, as their story is in direct contrast to Whole Foods – lower cost… at all costs.

3) Nike

 There are two brands that tend to get overused when the discussion is about branding… Nike and Apple – but they get this notoriety because they have this ‘branding thing’ down better than most companies.

Nike has dominated the performance and active wear market since I was a little kid. They did, however, fall asleep at the wheel and Under Amour was able to penetrate the market in a very viable and relevant way.

What did they need to do to create distance and differentiation? They focused on consumers and community creation. The development of the FuelBand allowed them to connect products and services into a community of competition that joins people from all over the world. In short, they are selling products disguised as an integrated services offering.

The Wrap-Up

Tesla, Wholefoods & Nike have done a great job in understanding the prevailing movements in our society, and have built products that align with these movements.

As you are building the next great idea, make sure that it’s relevant and useful, but most importantly reflects the culture you are seeking.

 Stay Hungry & Hustle Hard!

 Gary

Are You Creating Your Headline for Your Customer or for Google?

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Unlike the days of the Roman Empire where wars were decided with the victor standing as living proof, creating impactful headlines has 2 winners, or more than likely, just a draw.

Being in this business you come to know and understand that there’s a war between writing headlines that are designed to stir interest and engagement, and those with mundane keyword strategy. I say mundane because keywords are boring. Boring as hell! Continue reading “Are You Creating Your Headline for Your Customer or for Google?”