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Dave Murray

There’s no Commoditizing in Branding!

There’s no Commoditizing in Branding!

“Are you commoditizing? There’s no commoditizing. There’s no commoditizing in branding!”

Those were Jimmy’s famous words to Evelyn in the hit 1992 branding film, “A League of Their Own.” Seriously, check it out.

Okay, that wasn’t really the line. I just needed a cheap joke.

Now, time to be serious! Ish.

dave murray mayniax branding theres no commoditizing, there's no commoditizing in branding!

What Is a Commodity?

For the purpose of this post, we’ll use the following Merriam-Webster definition of “commodity”: a mass-produced unspecialized product.

From there, and just for fun, I decided to look up how many brands of beer there are. According to didyouknow.org’s article Beer brands, types, styles and brewing, there are over 20,000 different brands of beer in the world. And that was written in 2010. It has to be north of that, by now.

And then, just for fun, I decided to look up how many brands of soda there are. According to Wikipedia’s List of brand name soft drinks products, there are, well, a lot. Feel free to count.

And then, just for fun, I decided to look up how many brands of shoes there are. Okay, I didn’t dig too deeply when I saw Shop 440+ Brands, from onlineshoes.com. By the way, a brand they don’t list is Nike, so we all know that 441+ brands of shoes exist.

All the brands in those categories are mass-produced unspecialized products. They’re all commodities. And yet, while we’ve never heard of most of them, a few are in our minds. I’m looking at you, Coca-Cola, Nike, and Budweiser!

Mayniax Branding - Commodities Shmomodities!

So how did they become brands, rather than commodities?

Time and Focus

Take Nike. They started in 1964 with shoes, when they were called Blue Ribbon Sports – they weren’t Nike until 1971. And then they kept making shoes. And then they made more shoes. And even more shoes. And today, they’re number-one seller is still shoes, accounting for 62% of their revenue in 2014. As a sidenote, we’re not fans of line-extending any brand, but you can’t argue with the culture Nike’s built around theirs, which is a separate post altogether.

Shoes are a commodity. Nike’s a brand.

Mayniax Branding - Nike Stock Price

Ann Arbor’s Not Safe from Commoditization!

In our rockin’ town of Ann Arbor, MI, we come in contact with a lot of different businesses. They’re impatient and don’t want to focus. It’s all about the next shiny object. Web designers who’ve decided their whole industry’s a commodity. Print shops that want to be full service for all sectors. Cleaning companies that don’t act strategically. It’s enough to drive us even more nuts than we already are – and possibly take up a whole lot more caffeine!

If any of them would target a single type of person / industry, they’d be well on their way toward domination in their category, and possibly being the only local brand in their industry But they just keep treating their businesses like commodities. Because that’s what they actually believe they are.

Just for fun, I decided to look up how many people there are on Earth. According to worldometers.info, there are nearly 7.5 billion of us. Do you think of yourself as a commodity?

Well, you probably shouldn’t think of your business as one, either. And with a little time and focus, you never will again.

Stay gutsy, gang!

Dave Murray

A Brand is More Important than its Product!

To reiterate the title: a gutsy brand is more important than a great product!

I know, I know, “That can’t be right!” “You’re an idiot!” “I hope a pack of rabid spider monkeys attacks you while you sleep!” Okay, that last one was just mean. Read on, and hopefully we can come to an understanding. And you’ll end up preferring a pack of cuddly kittens attacks me while I sleep.

George Patton Mayniax Branding

Many businesses don’t stay open very long, though the numbers aren’t as bad as one would think. An article written by Ryan Jordan – VR Business Brokers – using data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, shows that roughly one in two businesses survive the first five years. The top five reasons, according to Travis Thorpe – CEO of Boostability – are a failure to market online, failing to listen to their customers, failing to leverage future growth – where he talks about the importance of branding, of course – failing to adapt and grow when the market changes, and failing to track and measure your marketing efforts.

Notice two of those had to do with marketing. Gang, once your brand is established, you are in the marketing business! It can’t be overstated how important marketing to your brand is.

I’d like to add to Mr. Thorpe’s list: thinking differently. Look back at General Patton’s quote, then realize if you think your product is more important than your brand, you’re thinking just like everyone else. And everyone else isn’t cracking the Fortune 100. Or even the Fortune 5000.

Nowhere in that list, or in my quick little addition, is product ever mentioned.

Now, let’s take a look at some brands that are WAY better than their products!

Budweiser – A couple months ago, I spoke to a group of 150 people. To conclude my presentation, I had them raise their hands if they enjoy a nice, refreshing beer from time to time. As you can imagine, nearly everyone’s hands went up. Then I had them keep their hands up if they had a favorite beer. Everyone’s hands stayed up. And lastly, I had them keep their hands up if their favorite beer was Budweiser. Out of 150 people, one person kept his hands up. And I feel so sorry for that poor bastard.

But see, Budweiser is so ingrained into our minds – as any good brand should be – that even though it’s nowhere near most people’s favorite beer, they still dig it enough to keep it at number one in the U.S. Which really does make it the “King of Beers.”

The iPhone – Let’s not worry about Apple as a whole, right now. Let’s just talk about this crazy little piece of hardware. The iPhone and its operating system are, by many accounts, substantially behind Android, tech-wise. The iPhone and Galaxy are the top two phones out there, and they’ve both been first and second place the last few months. The Galaxy runs on Android, so if the product mattered, the Galaxy would be blowing away the iPhone, right? Well, yeah. The thing is, the product doesn’t matter. It’s all about the brand. And even though the iPhone’s behind the Galaxy, tech-wise, the brand is still strong enough to keep the race neck and neck.

By the way, since readers of my blog know brand expansion hurts one’s brand, I have a tip for Apple and Samsung: stop adding new numbers and letters at the end of your products. And especially stop making cheaper and more expensive versions. Make one version of your respective phones, and instead of calling it the Galaxy S6 and iPhone 6+, just call it the 2015 Galaxy, or the 2015 iPhone. I promise you, it’ll be so much better for your brands!

But I digress.

General Motors – GM is a corporation, and a sort-of-brand since car manufacturers know little about branding, that has so far admitted to killing 51 people due to a faulty ignition switch they knew about in 2001. And yet, General Motors still has the highest market share of all the automobile companies in the United States, and according to Bill Visnic – a contributor to Forbes – its global sales are actually up nearly two percent, this year.

So let’s re-cap the GM situation: they’ve so far admitted to being directly responsible for 51 deaths, due to a shoddy product, and their sales are up. The auto industry may not be great at branding, but GM’s corporate brand seems to be doing okay, anyway.

So, there are the three examples I went with for this one. There are a whole lot more out there, but hey, I have stuff to do!

And that stuff definitely isn’t drinking a Budweiser. And hopefully you’re thinking cuddly kittens instead of rabid spider monkeys.

If you have any questions about this post, or anything else you’ve found on our gutsy, somewhat maniacal site, feel free to give us a jingle, or shoot us an email at contact@mayniaxbranding.com

And with that, I’ll close in my usual way with a good old-fashioned…

Stay gutsy, gang!

Sources:

LinkedIn – What Are the Real Small Business Survival Rates?
Inc – The Top 5 Reasons Small Businesses Fail
USA Today – GM Victims’ Fund Closes with 51 Deaths – So Far
Wall Street Journal – GM’s US Market Share
Forbes – General Motors Global Sales Edge up 2 Percent, China Remains GM’s Largest Market