Does your brand have enough energy?

Gerzema and Lebar both work at Young & Rubicam,
and claim in a article in Strategy + Business that the
value of A brands is waning rapidly. Based on data from
the Brand Asset Valuator they claim that around the
year 2000, A brands started turning in lower marks on
‘top-of-mind awareness’, trust, reputation and admira-
tion. And this is not only the case for a few brands, but
rather a development they see across the board. Con-
sidering that brands contribute to about one third of a company’s share price, it
goes without saying that it is imperative that this development be reversed.
Gerzema and Lebar focus on three subjects in their article:
 Lower scores on variables that measure brand perception.
 An explanation of why consumer appreciation of A brands is dropping.
 The question how brands can increase their value.

Based on data dating back to 1993, Gerzema and Lebar conclude that con-
sumer attitudes towards brands showed a significant downturn around the year
2000. Scores on brand trust dropped by over 50%, quality perception dropped
24% on average, brand awareness 20% and reputation and appreciation 12%.
These figures basically go to show that consumers do still know most A brands,
but that they are far less motivated to buy them than before. The British Henley
Centre also concludes in its annual study that 16 of the 17 leading British brand
saw a drop in consumer trust from 1996. An American institute - the Carlson
Marketing Group – identified a strong drop in brand loyalty.

Gerzema and Lebar name three factors as the root cause of the general brand
malaise. Firstly they identify the surplus in the number of available brands as a
reason why it is harder for a brand to attract consumers’ attention. Secondly
they point at a lack of creativity. The boundaries of what consumers consider
innovating have seen a significant shift in recent years, partly due to the advent
of the Internet. The third cause the authors flag is the general decline in con-
sumers' faith in institutes, leaders, major corporations and... large, renowned
brands. In 1997, consumers indicated that they have a high level of confidence
in 52% of brands. By 2008 that percentage had dropped to 22%!

The authors do point out that a number of brands are getting off unscathed. Fur-
ther analysis showed that these are brands that exude a high degree of energy;
examples they found include Adidas, iPhone, Nike, Microsoft, McDonald’s and

Wal-Mart. There are three factors that add to brand energy. Firstly, brands need
to have a clear vision and idea of the world that surrounds them. Examples are
Ikea and Toyota. Secondly, brands need to have a strong reputation for innova-
tion; Decathlon and Innocent Drinks are fine examples of that. And finally,
Gerzema and Lebar draw attention to dynamics. Dynamic brands are those that
actively seek out the consumer. Take the Sturgis Rallies organised by Harley-
Davidson and Mini, which saw Mini owners sent an RFID chip that tailored bill-
board advertising specifically to them every time they passed a linked billboard.
Gerzema and Lebar’s article shows that marketing professionals still have a
long way to go in their brand energizing efforts; the good news is that this article
provides them with a number a clear starting points.

Gerzema, J., Lebar, E. (2009), The trouble with brands, Strategy + Business,
issue 55 (10p.). *

* : Available in the EURIB library.

© 2009 EURIB (www.eurib.org)