“Money goes in, but it never comes out….”
That was uttered by Kevin “Mr. Wonderful” O’Leary from Shark Tank speaking about a pitch with brand failure written all over it.
I’ve got to say when Mr. Wonderful is not slaying pitches with his “tough love” negotiation tactics, Kevin has some excellent one-liners.
Is Your Brand Infested?
Brand strategies can make or break a brand. I recently discussed this, outlining how Jimmy Buffett grew his empire made of Margaritas and cheeseburgers.
The right strategy will eliminate the pests, while the wrong strategy will suck money in an endless overnight stay… resulting in brand failures that you would only wish on your enemies.
I know this because I deal with business owners and CEOs who need a rebrand or some other way to fix an ailing brand, only to find their brands infested with “old ineffective ideas” that they are more willing to die for than change.
As Seth Godin brilliantly observed:
“Not changing your strategy merely because you’re used to the one you have now is a lousy strategy.”
What’s the Power of The Right Brand Strategy?
Let’s see… it works. Here are some examples:
- The right strategy overhauled an artisanal chocolatier’s brand to see sales increase 300% in the first month of the relaunch (with NO other changes: no pricing changes, no new flavors, no new hours, no new promotions, no new sales personnel, no new distribution channels. Nothing.) The answer was in a key touchpoint they overlooked.
- The right strategy transformed a small town (that blended into every other small town offering) into a destination site resulting in a 500% increase in walk-in tourism over the 12 months following the rebrand. The right answer was in key points of contact and having the right branding and message at those points of contact.
- The right strategy took an online startup and increased its sales by over 400% in 3 years simply by evaluating its name (awful), its presentation (more awful), and its overlooked opportunities since customers only knew them by their online presence (the most awful of all).
- The right strategy intervened to eradicate fundamental branding errors that catapulted this Napa Valley startup into two consecutive years of 300% growth. The right strategy, in this case, involved brand intervention consisting of a total rebrand: a new brand identity and logo, a new package design, and a radical departure that gave the voice of this brand true meaning and fun. The starting point was that the previous package design did not pass the 4-foot test for package legibility.
The question becomes: Why spend time and money to come close to the market only to experience brand failure when you could be nailing it with the right mix of the right ingredients?
How Do You Avoid Brand Failures?
The right tools. The right insight. The right talent and the right intelligence to know what to attack and why.
Lastly, the right strategy has this element: The right amount of humility to know you need to surround yourself with other great talents whose skill sets complement your own. In other words, the right strategy involves knowing when (and whom) to ask.
In short, the right strategy will:
- Allow you to stand apart from the competition
- Make you memorable
- Present you as a category leader
- Give the buyer something new to consider (especially important in overcrowded categories)
- Exceed expectations and push up value.
Slayed Sacred Branding Cows: How One Entrepreneur Did What Fast Food Goliaths Would Never Do
This launch resulted in a grand opening that rivaled an Apple store, with lines going into the street. In a couple of months, they had about 2,000 customers. (While the launch was incredible, Bridge Street Station was mismanaged into oblivion. The case study below is a valid example of how to properly conceive, develop, and launch a brand in today’s business climate.)
In a few months, we did things no fast food company would (or could) do. We were nimble, fluid, and nothing held us back.
How did we have such an unlikely launch success in such a crowded market?
Here are some of our slings that slayed these Goliaths and their sacred cows:
- The sacred cow of making takeout containers as cheap as possible (and ignoring their potential for being brand ambassadors
- The sacred cow of making initial promotions focus solely on predictable price promotions with no other differentiator
- The sacred cow of treating your commodity like a commodity, not like anything more
- The sacred cow of treating the customer like a moron with the IQ of a Chiclet (the brand of candy-coated chewing gum made by Cadbury Adams—for those too young to know, here’s a visual)
The outcome of violating these sacred cows was a community and region that went nuts awaiting the Grand Opening because we ignored all conventions and replaced them with something better and unexpected.
The Elements Of A Winning Brand Strategy
First, we established a memorable image with an impossibly simple headline that organically married burgers and trains:
The ad campaign built this message in full glory leading up the grand opening:
The array of concurrent direct mail campaign and other promotional components leading up to the grand opening:
The brand components (custom vintage luggage labels we designed and illustrated) for each burger were part of the brand voice of “burgers and trains”:
The “takeout luggage” for the burgers and meals (utilizing the little-known 3rd phase of branding covered here):
Don, the owner dressed up as the Conductor, for grand opening day:
Don, the Conductor, turned into a direct mail piece that had kids dragging their parents to the Bridge Street Station (here he’s doing the YMCA dance):
Photos from the grand opening with interior photos:
Bridge Street Station from the outside:
Don and I pose (after seeing the tsunami of people that came out) to celebrate this new burger joint.
So that’s how we de-infested this new startup to make its grand opening a terrific success.
Do you know the steps to make sure your brand doesn’t become a Roach Motel where “money goes in but never comes out”?
I hope this has inspired toy so you can do the same for your company.
WHENEVER YOU’RE READY, HERE ARE 4 WAYS I CAN HELP YOU:
1. → DownloadThe Lucky Brand: 10 Golden Rules of Branding to Outshine, Outperform, and Outlast Your Competition: Ten immediately actionable steps you can apply to your brand right now to elevate how you’re seen while expanding your impact.
2. → Grab Brand Intervention: 33 Steps to Transform the Brand You Have into the Brand You Need The exact strategies I use to go from zero to 100k+ followers, millions in income with no paid ads… sharing the tested and proven strategies, responsible for over $7 billion in sales for companies just like yours.
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