Friday, October 28, 2005

Emotional Insights Drive Brand Success

Branding, we all know, is one of the trickiest things about marketing. Often it's like splitting hairs with a difference that is small but can be built up into something big. That's because the competition is always right behind with their copycat of the feature you just built a multi-million dollar campaign around.

Better insights come from the emotional level. Fortune Magazine reports on the revived branding for DeWalt power tools:

"Less than 20 years ago," DeWalt power tools "was a dead brand walking," but today it is "one of Black and Decker's most profitable divisions," reports Julie Schlosser in Fortune (10/31/05). No less an authority than the editors of Tools of the Trade magazine have declared DeWalt's comeback the "single greatest change within the power tool industry this past decade." And why not: "With $1 billion in annual sales, it commands a 35 percent share of the professional-tool market." As recently as the late 1980s, DeWalt was so totally whipped (primarily by Makita, a Japanese tool company) that Black and Decker, its parent, actually shelved the brand.

Shelved, yes -- but not forgotten. Black and Decker bothered to look into whether there was any life left in the DeWalt brand name, and "were surprised to learn that professional tool users had a high regard" for it. So, they re-launched the brand with a special focus on "professionals -- who make up 69 percent of U.S. tool sales." The driving insight was rather blunt: "The contractor doesn't want a tool that has the same name as his wife's toaster," explains Dan Gregory, DeWalt's vp of marketing. The contractor wanted something "more rugged and reliable" than the Black and Decker name suggested."
The Emotions Drove the Brand

Did you catch that? It was not that DeWalt had some super slick new feature or a new line of cordless tools. It was something much more emotional than that. The contractor did not want a tool with the same brand as his wife's toaster. Whoa! That's good.

The Cincom Simplicity Brand ... Another Emotional Edge

Our research into attributes that made for a stronger Cincom brand snagged a similar emotional platform. Enterprise software buyers were tired of overly complex application packages that took years to install, millions of dollars in services to do the installation and requirements that demanded the company change its most basic internal processes for production and customer service. These requirements were killing them. They lusted for simpler answers that would solve today's problems and still give a path for solving tomorrow's problems. They wanted simplification.

On that premise, Cincom is storming to its four best consecutive growth and profit years. The entire company has come to grips with bringing simplification to its clients ... powerful software solutions that provide immediate value, faster path to return on investment, at a lower overall cost and with less business risk.

Cincom's branding is doing the same thing that Black & Decker has done with its DeWalt Power Tools for Professionals. Effective branding must be built on honest, meaningful and sustainable emotional insights.

Stop building brands around ingredients, features, and other such tactical moosepoop and get at the underlying issues that are important to your customers. If you don't, you will be in a price-comparison battle until your brand simply runs out of steam.


At 2:06 PM, Anonymous Erin Caldwell said...

I agree -- I think it all comes down to understanding your customer's psyche. I was a theatre major before I changed to PR and have been acting since the age of nine, and this idea of emotional insight with regard to successful branding reminds me a lot of the process an actor goes through to get into character.

Any good actor is well-versed with his own method of getting into character. In order to successfully portray a character, he has to truly understand the character's emotions: what interests him, what motivates him, what moves him. He has to really get into the mindset of the character and see things from his perspective.

I think the same goes when trying to develop a successful branding campaign. You have to see your product through your customer's eyes. Like you mentioned, Dale, you have to understand what the customer needs ... and then develop a strategy to convey that this particular product can meet those needs.

I think your splitting-hairs reference is right on. Like branding, acting is an intricate process that involves many minute choices that may seem insignificant but ultimately creates a performance that really moves the audience on a personal level. Branding, of course, has this same objective: to make choices and develop a brand that will merit lasting success.

At 2:21 PM, Anonymous Emily said...

Branding is a huge issue in marketing your product. I believe that with two products that are exactly the same, a customer will purchase the product with which they identify more with the brand of the product. And identifying with a certain brand comes from emotional insight, like you said.

I recently wrote about Walmart acquiring Tommy Hilfiger clothing in their stores and how it would affect the Hilfiger brand. Hilfiger clothing is not only about quality clothing, but a lot about brand perception. The brand has to identify with its customers and provide them a certain status with the clothing.

Same thing with DeWalt tools. They provide professionals with an image and a status that is far above that of his wife's appliances.

Again, I believe that branding can make a crucial difference is marketing a product. DeWalt hit the nail right on the head.


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