SUMMARY: The idea that the brands we use are intensely important to us and that we spend time and energy understanding their meaning and trustworthiness is a profoundly ingrained marketing fantasy. (The Ad Contrarian)
Bob Hoffman, The Ad Contrarian, hits the nail on the head:
The idea that the brands we use are intensely important to us and that we spend time and energy sussing out their meaning and trustworthiness is a deeply ingrained marketing fantasy.Ad Contrarian
As I began work with a new client, I received a considerable PowerPoint deck on their “brand meaning.” It was pure horseshit. I wondered if anyone at this large CPG company believed this garbage. In a conference call later with the Senior Director, I soon learned that they thought there was an “emotional connection” between them and their customers.
At the risk of losing this client, I asked if anyone on the call, 12 people, actually believed this trash. After an awkward silence, someone finally said, “actually, no.”
Here is a fact: people buy certain brands because they deliver on their brand promise. If you make a yummy frozen pizza, customers will be back, but if your brand ads build up their promises and your product disappoints, it’s a waste of money.
Why do you think private label products are growing so fast? It’s because consumers can’t tell the difference between private labels and branded products.
The bull that people want “socially responsible” brands are also making the rounds. Starbucks, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon all have done socially irresponsible things, yet people need their new iPhones and love to click to buy on Amazon.
For the most part, ad agencies are primarily responsible for the branding bullshit, but too many marketers also believe in pure fantasy. Follow the hashtag #marketing on Twitter and listen to the clueless people who still insist on personal branding.
Is this true for all brands? No. Some understand the need the embrace their customers and delight them with customer service to ensure profitable growth. One reason Apple continues to thrive is that its customer service is often rated highly by people who have problems.
As the media flames the fires of contempt for corporations because they often pay little in taxes, consumers are willing to leave brands behind. I just talked with the head of private label products for a large retailer, and he said they are moving more product categories into private label because they make more money and consumers are willing to leave brands behind.
More and more brands are going to learn that lesson the hard way.