Sticking the Boot into the Brand

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Sticking the Boot into the Brand

“Don’t destroy your brand credibility” In my presentations with clients I often talk about brand integrity; we discuss the fact that the brand is based on the consumer’s expectations and experiences. This was brought home to me in a very clear way recently. We were hosting a group of Canadian business people in Australia recently. For all Canadians in the party it was their first visit ‘down-under’ and they all had their perceptions of our country. One of the group was looking forward to purchasing what he looked on as a pair of iconic Australian leather boots. This was discussed at great length during the tour and eventually he found a retail store that sold the boots. He purchased the boots and commented that they were far cheaper than he had expected and he was well pleased with his iconic Aussie purchase. His tone and body language had changed when he joined us that evening for dinner. We were all expecting to see him proudly showing off his latest footwear. But, alas, that was not to be. He told us that when he opened the box the tag on the boots stated “Made in India”. My Canadian colleague felt he had been ripped off. He had a desire to buy what he believed was an Australian icon and he ended up with an Indian product. He was not concerned with the quality or even that it had been made in India. He was annoyed that the brand story credibility had been destroyed. He ended up giving the boots away and went to the boots brand competitor. He paid three times more for an Australian made product and got on the plane a happy man. What is the Moral of the story? Price is not always the motivator. Having established a brand strategy and sold that strategy to the consumer, the consumer has expectations of the brand. The product may look identical and save the supplier and consumer money it is outsourced, but the consumer’s expectations have been destroyed. My guest told a whole group of his disappointment and the “ripple effect” was enormous. Brand building takes time and money. Once established it has to be maintained. The brand is not the product or a logo; it is based on consumer expectations. It is the expectation that is the critical issue, not the product or the manufacturing process. When developing your own brand strategy, always start with the consumer. What are their expectations of the brand? What are the negotiables and non-negotiables in their eyes? At least this supplier had been honest with the consumer as far as labelling goes, but they broke one of the non negotiable rules. As a result they have on Canadian who has become a “terrorist” to the company rather than an advocate.