Why Brand Continuity Still Matters

For years I’ve argued that brand continuity is important, and for years franchisees have told me it isn’t. Here are two recent examples that illustrate why brand continuity matters.

Example #1 :: Sobeys

I lived in Winnipeg for two years and shopped at Sobeys because 1. I could walk there, 2. it was a clean bright store,  3. my father-in-law recommended it, and 4. it also had a pharmacy. I came to look forward to my frequent small shopping trips. Better yet they had a number of products that I came to love. I’m not a foodie, but Sobeys did it’s best to make me one. So now I’m back in Toronto – missing my local Sobeys and some of those special treats. I drove to the nearest one, only to find it small, dingy, unfriendly and worst of all – the treats I loves to buy in Winnipeg were nowhere to be found in the Toronto store.  The result: i will not go back to Sobey’s in Toronto and I’ll share my brand disappointment with others.

Example #2 :: Days Inn

Charlie (my dog) and I used to drive to Winnipeg and back a few times a year. When my wife came along we made it a road-vacation. we set a leisurely pace and overnighted 4-5 times enroute. Over the years and miles we’ve found that some hotels and motels had no-dog policies, others charged as much as a 2nd (or 3rd) human occupant, and others put you up in their ‘smoking’ rooms. Then there was Days Inn. So far no matter what route we have taken from Toronto to Winnipeg and back, Days Inn was always happy to put up Michelle, Charlie and me for a $10-$20.00 premium in a non-smoking room. Given the rooms are large, comfortable and equipped with wireless internet and a desk, they’ll continue to get my business and my referrals.

As Holiday Inn used to say in their ads: “The best surprise is no surprise”.



Positioning, Reframing + Repositioning

I offer these advanced Neuro-Linguistic-Programming (NLP) communication services. They are part of the art of change developed and taught by Dr. Richard Bandler + John Grinder. These transformational grammar tools can be used to engage staff, improve productivity, heighten customer satisfaction, boost customer loyalty and ramp up repeat sales when they are employed correctly to lay a transformational foundation for long lasting, positive change.

  • Positioning supports your USP. 
  • Re-framing changes how you look at customers. 
  • Repositioning changes how they look at you.

This little piece by Microsoft is a nice personal example of Positioning (“What makes you unique”) and Repositioning ("makes you uniquely qualified") in action.




Illustration versus Photography

At a time when online communications are becoming more and more visual, a good illustration is often much better than a great picture because you can really zoom in on what’s most important. Here are two illustrations that (no pun intended) help me make my point.







Leadership versus Happiness




Google uses Direct Mail. Do you?

Here’s the headline + rationale from a Google direct mail piece that I received last week.

Right now, people

Are looking for

Businesses just

Like yours.

66% of mobile searchers made a purchase (either online or in-store) after doing a related search on their smartphone in the past 3 months. (Based on a US May 2015 survey. n=1243)

82% of smartphone users say they use search to find a local business. (2014/15 survey. n=1,000)

27.5M smartphone users in Canada expected in 2020. (statista.com survey)

To make it even easier for me to buy an Adwords campaign right now, Google’s offering me up to $150.00 when I spend $150.00  

This misleading piece of direct mail got me going for a few reasons.

The rational is a rationalization that attempts to cover up Google's most fundamental online search challenge with a false assumption: that when you’re searching for something (on your mobile device) you want paid ads popping up ahead of your organic search results.    

While Google wants me to run an Adword campaign to capitalize on the latent potential floating around in all those search results, their seemingly generous offer masks the real cost of a successful online advertising campaign. Google will help you along with sophisticated tracking tools that enable you to measure your own campaign's progress. But although their tools eclipse the metrics offered by traditional media, Google provides absolutely no comparative data that gives you a sense of how other companies in your category, demographic of geographic segment are doing. The longer Google keeps you in the dark, the more you’ll spend. This competitive isolation strategy is unique to Google + I hate it.

Since the dawn of adverting high quality, personalized direct mail has been tried, tested and selected as the medium of choice when it comes to increased target group reach, message frequency, detail message comprehension and increased response rates (from both existing and lapsed customers). Some of my Adword accounts have been dormant for over five years and I am still on Google’s direct mail list because they know, as you also should, that it is much cheaper to reactivate a lapsed customer than to activate a new one.

Google has tried to reactivate me in the most affordable manner possible; using their own channels including YouTube, their search engine and e-mail banner offers. But Google knows, as you also should that when the law of diminishing return kicks in, it is best to drill down into your data base and skim off a layer of high potential non-responders and test response rates with a completely different medium – like direct mail.

If Google, perhaps the biggest and most savvy media vendor on the planet, is using a combination of 1. Google media channels, 2. e-mail, 3. Adwords and 4. addressed direct mail to improve their market share, shouldn’t your marketing and advertising teams be doing the same?

Shouldn’t you be running ongoing media and message tests as well?

Shouldn’t you be thinking that maybe, just maybe, online advertising isn't the be-all and end-all? That maybe it's just a small part of a comprehensive, well constructed advertising plan rather than the foundation.

This by the way, is not a Google best practices thing, it's a media 101 common sense thing for any experienced Media Director (like me) who has been around long enough to observe that while media selection and media mixes change over time, people really don’t.