Branding – Has the consumer empowerment pendulum swung too far?

giant eagle rebranding

Brand Backlash – Important feedback of ill-informed hot air?

I read with interest this week of a city in the US State of Maryland who launched a new brand identity for the town, only to backtrack in the face of resident dissatisfaction. Having worked on the rebranding of several local Councils throughout Victoria and NSW I can imagine the heat on an municipal organisation who launch an unpopular new brand. For local government, residents are more powerful stakeholders than the average customer may be for a consumer brand. However on the same day I also ready of US grocery retailer Giant Eagle who launched a new logo on Facebook, only to announce a retreat 12 hours later due but after negative comments on the social platform.

Frederick-rebrand giant-eagle-rebrand Giant-Eagle-social

These are interesting times for brand owners and organisational leaders across every category from FMCG to Public Service. It appears the pendulum of brand leadership has swung so far from the bad old days of “it’s our brand and we’ll do what we want with it” to the madness of trying to make all the people happy all the time. In this transition we seem to have lost sight of the role of CEOs, Marketing and Brand Directors to make the big decisions about what the business requires, and develop a brand strategy that responds regardless of how consumers may respond.

It would be a rare leader to ask customers or residents their view on any other key strategic organisational decision. Yet when it comes to branding, the final call is too often handed to those who either do not understand the strategic imperative, are not qualified to judge whether the brand identity design meets that imperative, or most commonly – both. It is time for brand leaders to take responsibility for establishing the right strategic approach, having confidence in the professionals (both in-house and agency) to deliver sound branding on that imperative and stand-by their convictions rather than back-flipping on the basis of some ill-informed heat.

Dave Ansett
David is the founder of Truly Deeply, a Melbourne branding agency with 25 years experience working with brands to position them for growth. His deep expertise is in the creation of high engagement brands that attract the attention of their audience and stand out from their competitors. David has extensive experience working with corporate, retail, food & beverage and entrepreneurial clients. Find out more here
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