Reality Check for BrandingWhat a relief to open the current issue of Business Week (September 18) and find a report on a company that has gone back to basics with branding. In lieu of superficial gestures in the direction of establishing a personality for their brand, Safeway decided to be very serious about freshening their brand image in an authentic way.
Reporter Justin Hibbard extracts three best-practices from the Safeway case that are well worth sharing:
Tell a true story. Consumers don't just want to buy a widget or save a buck. They want products placed in a meangful context a story. Marketers don't always have to focus on facts, but their stories must hold up when consumers get the goods.Hibbard's story focuses on the changes Safeway made in the quality of its food and its stores' decor. I assume that orienting old and new employees to their role in delivering on Safeway's brand promise is also part of the rebranding program. If it isn't, it should be.
Deliver, then promise. A brand is a promise. When you tell consumers your brand stands for something, you had better be ready to deliver that special something. Safeway spent three years improving food quality before it rebranded the company.
Don't oversell. It's fine to add new meaning to an existing brand if you can deliver. But throwing out the old meaning in a radical about-face can seem fake. When Safeway extended its brand, it was careful not to climb too far upscale.