I go out of my way to support a great product or service, especially if it lives up to its promise. For example, if you live in Boise, Idaho’s Treasure Valley, there’s a delicious salsa called Steph’s Seriously Good Salsa. It’s fresh. The recipe’s simple. And if you like it spicy, try the hot and blow your tastebuds off (it hurts so good!). While the salsa costs a little more than its competitors, it stands in a class of its own and delivers on its promise–seriously good salsa. Stephanie’s business is growing–last year she moved out of a rented commercial kitchen and opened her own. Contrary to Stephanie’s success, there are myriad examples of when brands fail consumers. I’ll share two–one big, one small.
You Call That Tangerine?
SUPERVALU produces a signature brand called Equaline. It promises is to be an affordable choice that mirrors national brand quality. Fighting a cold, I purchased their version of Emergen-C to save $5. I regret the purchase. It’s as if SUPERVALU’s product development folks asked for a product that matched the competitor’s ingredients, but along the way they failed to taste the product to see if it was close to any competitor’s flavor profile (it’s not even on the same planet and I’ve never tasted a tangerine that awful). I’m returning the box and throwing down the extra cash for an even bigger box of Emergen-C.
I recently read about the closing of a local family-run wine shop that was open for about two years–the Pacific Rim Wine Stop. I never stopped in. Each time I drove past, I asked myself the same question (even aloud to the annoyance of my family), “What does the Pacific Rim have to do with wine?” Sure, 50% of the countries that surround the Pacific Rim produce wine, but for me, the term doesn’t evoke visions of vineyards, casks and tasting rooms. I think of the vast Pacific Ocean, tropical sunsets, islands, sake, investments, martial arts and more. In fact, the company’s logo promises the ocean and tropical sunsets.
I Still Didn’t Get It
To get it, I had to look up the Pacific Rim Wine Stop’s website and read the back story, which is way too much to ask for the consumer’s limited attention span. Turns out that that name refers to a ’90s era family restaurant that was open in Boise’s North End. Maybe the name evoked nostalgia among a few legacy locals, but the area’s population and real-estate boom in the early 2000s transformed the North End from decaying homes to a revitalized, go-to neighborhood. Their brand alone didn’t contribute to the business’s demise, but it certainly didn’t offer me a promise I couldn’t resist.
What’s Your Brand’s Promise?
Is your brand delivering on its promise? If not, what are you doing about it? If you’re unsure of where to start, I recommend the classic, Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind.