Tag Archives: Brand perception

Volvo: keep your brand focus on safety or be toast!

In every brand book or brand program  there is usually the example of Volvo, the brand that has positioned itself in the car category synonymously with the word “safety”. Unfortunately, unless Volvo changes its current course this good example will turn in an example how to destroy a unique brand position.

Let me explain…

About two years ago everything was still very much on brand positioning. Take a look at the screenshot below taken from volvocars.com/us. It shows the Volvo S80 page with the key sections: Safety, Design, Performance, Environment. Yes! Safety FIRST, of course and exactly what everybody expects from Volvo! Design is obviously second. A car designed in Sweden does bring magic! Both safety and designed in Sweden are great differentiators! Performance third, it simply cannot be first because nothing can jeopardize safety. Finally the environment: Volvo is a good citizen. Everything simply makes sense!

When clicking on the Safety section it will give you all the details you need to know in order to believe that Volvo is the safest car on the planet! The above navigation structure was very consistent implemented with all Volvo models, below an example of the XC90 Safety section.

Now fast forward to 2011… and a lot of brand building has been destroyed.

Look at that same S80 web page:

That’s right! Safety has now moved to the 4th place of the “5 things to know” about the S80. Also note that it is not anymore just “Safety” but “Safety innovations”. Why is that? Would I not expect the safest car brand to innovate by default? Why would Volvo want to stop owning that one word “safety” and make it “safety innovations”?

The list of “5 things to know” consists of:  1. Sleek exterior design, 2. Interior Luxury, 3. T6 AWD Engine, 4. Safety innovations, 5. World class entertainment. Wow… It feels I am looking at audi.com…

If this was not enough Volvo is happily positioning itself away even further from Safety by introducing the concept of Naughty cars. Just check the Volvo S60 pages and you will find out that the Volvo S60 is everywhere named as the “All-New Naughty Volvo S60”. Wow! What happened at Volvo headquarters?

Naughty Volvo? What is that all about?
It obviously should look like this! Volvo = safety!

Volvo this is really bad… you really had the best position in the car category, who after all does not want a safe car? Now you give your positioning away by trying to be Audi. Your consumers will not understand because to them you always will be the brand that is about safety. That is, till you proof them wrong a little too long trying to be somebody you are not. Please change or you will be toast.

Continue reading part II, written three years later.

Mozy… do you really think I change my bi-yearly subscription from 83USD to 1343USD? This offer I will refuse!

Mozy was in many ways an example of brand building. First there is a reliable service that simply works. Second there is plenty of good PR (Mossberg, trends) and word of mouth. Then when the backup category got established the TV spots came to defend the position of the brand.

I got referred to Mozy by a good friend of mine and yes … I have been referring Mozy to many friends as well! Like I said, the service simply works!

This morning however Mozy blew it big time: they changed their proposition from “unlimited backup with yearly subscription fee” to “pay for storage, pay per gigabyte”… Not smart! Once consumers perceive you as free or unlimited (even with a subscription fee) you cannot change the business model unless you are willing to start from zero in brand and relationship building.

For me it is over and out with Mozy and it seems with many others as well, just see the discussions and on Twitter. Lots of companies also participate in the discussion to grab switchers!

As I do backup everything (my music, photos, raw photos, ….) I use a bit of space. With the current plan I can do that for 83USD/2years, the new plan will set me back to 1343USD/2years (data growth not included).

Not.

Hugo… I am still the Boss!

Walking by the Hugo Boss Store in the Friedrichstrasse, Berlin I noticed a very interesting window display:

What is this all about? Is Hugo Boss company trying to:

  • Tell me the Hugo Boss brand benefits/ brand promise? Should wearing Hugo Boss make me feel sophisticated, elegant/modern?
  • Reflect characteristics of their target audience?
  • Inform me about perceptions consumers have of the brand Hugo Boss?

Either way it felt disturbing to me. I do not want to see in a window display who I am, what I should be or what the brand I am buying things wants me to believe it is!

The only thing I ask for from Hugo Boss is to not lose focus of your brand. That way everybody can figure out why to buy Boss and how it will make you feel once you have it!

The Whole Foods lesson: CEOs = their brands and should energize their customers

John Mackey CEO of Whole Foods writing for The Wall Street Journal:

While we clearly need health care reform, the last thing our country needs is a massive new health care entitlement that will create hundreds of billions of dollars of new unfunded deficits and moves us much closer to a complete governmental takeover of our health care system.

Aiii…..

As CEO you just simply need to know your brand, your customers and in fact live the essence of your brand and it’s positioning.

The result of this mistake is costly. People are now rallying against Whole Foods, trying to boycott stores and hence impacting revenue. This is however the not so costly side of this mistake… the much more damaging side of this story is that for Whole Foods consumers who are aware of Mr Mackey’s opinion on Healtcare the perception of Whole Foods as a brand has changed for ever. It will never be that authentic brand it was. Changing THAT perception will take time and much more money than any boycott will do. Especially in a time of Facebook, Twitter etc in which it is really difficult to “silence the crowd”.

So, CEOs please stay true to your brands and their unique positions!