Just checked out the new Ad Age list of Americas Hottest Brands. As the Ad Agers say, some winners rode in on big campaigns and some are upstarts. Oddly enough, some of the big guys are the surprising ones.
How about Buick, for instance? Now the fastest growing major automotive brand in the U.S., it’s a case study example of how a crusty old brand can evolve, once it gets its head screwed on straight. They’re still comfy American rides. But now they’re comfy American rides for people who may not have served in WWI. Brand evolution doesn’t always have to be about flash and sizzle. Sometimes it can be about paying attention and responding. As an investor in GM (as are all of us Americans), it makes me proud. Side note: Just to show how well Buick’s communicated, I just happened to mention to my wife the other day that if and when we get ready to spring for a new car, I would like to look at Buicks (among others, of course). She gave me the “you MUST be kidding” look. Now I can show her the Ad Age article. Side note #2: Ford is on the list, too, which figures, since they were Ad Age’s Marketer of the Year for 2010. Unfortunately, my late father told me many years ago never to buy a Ford and it’s the one piece of his advice I think I’ve heeded to this day. Sorry Ford. Some negative brand equity can be hard to bury.
Then there’s Bass Pro Shops. Those of us who have worked in retail for a while have seen the idea of “retail as theater” come and go in waves. The reason it works for BPS is because they REALLY know their customers — what they like to do with their spare time, what game the local folks like to hunt and fish for, what TV they watch. They’ve made themselves a part of their customers’ lives, not just their lifestyles, in the meantime creating lots of good reasons to make the trek to a BPS “Outdoor World” mega store. How’d they get over 500,000 likes on Facebook? The old fashioned way — they earned it.
Lots more to say about this list. Maybe in the next post.