By Adam Armbruster
Special to TelevisionWeek
How did Starbucks do it? Why do I stand in a very long line for the chance to pay over $5 for a cup of coffee?
The MBAs will tell you that my paying $5 for a cup of coffee makes sense because I feel that Starbucks has high brand worth. (By the way, did anyone notice Starbucks’s recent price increase?) Yes, my value perception of a cup of Starbucks coffee is so high that I am well off the Consumer Price Resistance Curve; in other words, I’m hooked.
How can you build your brand on television and generate this same amazing sense of extraordinary value?
First, you need to create your own subcategory of your business, then completely dominate it before anyone else gets the idea that they can even compete.
It’s not as difficult as it may sound.
As a television professional, you already see high-brand-worth companies such as automotive manufacturers and dealers, furniture stores, home builders and electronics manufacturers.
Here’s the effective formula for brand worth: Brand value perception by the Customer minus price paid by customer equals your brand worth (what’s left over).
The customers’ brand value perception sets the tone for what they feel is a fair price. So the real key to brand worth lies not in what you charge, but by how high you can build your value perception on television in the first place. (That’s also called great marketing.)
Here’s a good example of an advertiser that already has established high brand worth: GM’s Hummer. We spoke last week with Megan Stooke, marketing director for the Hummer Division of General Motors, about the brand and its recent “It’s Not Magic … It’s Hummer” television advertising campaign.
TelevisionWeek: How did the idea for the new Hummer television campaign begin?
Megan Stooke: Hummer and the H2 are both powerful brands around the globe, and people of all ages recognize a Hummer when they see one. While they knew the new, midsize H3 was a Hummer, they were often surprised to learn the truth about it-that it was fuel-efficient, easy to drive and less expensive than they expected. This led us to a simple but powerful thought for the advertising concept: to surprise people with the truths behind the H3. The “It’s Not Magic” campaign features Belgian comedian Chris van den Durpel as an illusionist who tries to make the ordinary acts of parking a truck and passing a gas station into impressive feats of magic. We found him in his character of Daniel Chesterfield on YouTube.
TVWeek: What type of buyers do you want to reach with television?
Ms. Stooke: We are reaching out to a broader audience than we did for H2, which includes younger buyers and families. We think we’ve accomplished that by placing the ads on mass-reach entertainment and broadcast prime spots, such as Comedy Central and HGTV. This kind of programming is proving to be contextually relevant for the H3 target audience. We believe the creative work is helping us reach these new potential buyers. Though this is a different storytelling approach for Hummer, it remains contemporary, which appeals to our existing Hummer customers, but is also friendly enough to resonate across a wide range of mid-size SUV shoppers who may not have considered Hummer before.
TVWeek: What do you expect television to do for the Hummer and its brand worth?
Ms. Stooke: Our goal with television is to continue to convey that Hummer is “Like Nothing Else,” as always, but to do it in a fun and approachable way. We are using humor to show that the Hummer H3 has all the things people associate with Hummer (excellent off-road capabilities, unique styling), but that it is also very competitive among midsize SUVs and a better value than they might have thought.
TVWeek: How is it going?
Ms. Stooke: We just introduced the “It’s Not Magic” campaign in late August. We found that the third quarter of this year was the best quarter in the history of the Hummer brand, as evidenced by growing H3 sales across the country. We feel this TV campaign has certainly helped to not only educate our consumer base on the many “‘surprising truths” inherent to the H3, but also to drive consumer traffic to our dealers.
Clearly, Ms. Stooke and her team have created a successful subcategory and lord over it very well.
Other high-brand-worth companies have some key common traits, including:
High market share: This is established at the outset by literally creating an entirely new subcategory of a larger exciting brand category. Hummer literally came out of nowhere with its product idea.
High quality perception: Most high-worth brands spend more on “fit and finish” than their competition to create a perception of elegance and superior overall design. Ever notice the finish on a Sony TV set or computer?
Constant breakthrough innovation: The H2, H3, the baby Hummer, what’s next? A Hummer motorcycle?
Edgy marketing: No “ordinary” campaign is ever launched by a high-brand-worth company. The very feel and congruent elements of its campaign make it stand out prominently.
Significant use of broadcast television: Watch a football game on TV and you’ll see a Hummer TV ad. It knows who its customers are and where to find them.
So what can you do now to build your company’s brand worth without incurring more expense in your ad budget? Here are some examples.
Play up your product’s or store’s unique features more often. Often we see brilliant furniture stores, home builders and more that market themselves “just like the other guys.” These diamonds are worthy of a breakthrough television concept. They really deliver high brand worth in the store and deserve a customer’s business.
Resist discounting. The best companies push price high and value higher. They indulge in discounting only when it’s absolutely crucial. Even when they do discount, it’s done through providing additional value, such as upgrades or bonuses, and not through slashing prices.
Constantly remind consumers. Think the Hummer “It’s Not Magic” campaign. Hummer is a significant and consistent spender in television. Notice how it sponsors appropriate events locally and dominates television programs globally.
Superior presentation. Go to a Hummer showroom and notice how it feels more like a high-end department store than a car dealership. Hummer knows how to get the buyer in a state of mind and build its brand worth in his eyes as soon as he enters. Visit Hummer’s Website and notice how remarkably easy it is to navigate. Call Hummer and listen to the professionalism of its employees.
Building extraordinary brand worth does not have to be just for the big guys. Try using some of these elements in your next local television campaign to build your brand worth to your customer and enjoy market share and profit growth as a result.
Adam Armbruster is a partner in the Red Bank, N.J.-based retail and broadcasting consulting firm Eckstein, Summers, Armbruster and Co. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 941-928-7192.