Management / Brand protection the blue-chip way

Brand protection the blue-chip way

Brands are always vying to be loved by the masses. Whether they’re held in high regard or considered cool and cutting edge, staying at the top is competitive business.

Only a few companies can manage this tricky juggling act – brands such as Apple are on top of the cool list, while British Airways is the winner among the super brands. What these companies have in common is a great reputation, a strong set of values – and the ability to be able to protect their brand.

“If you think about the Superbrands it is about the quality of the product proposition,” Stephen Cheliotis, pictured, CEO of the Centre for Brand Analysis and chairman of the UK Superbrands & CoolBrands Councils, tells Business Reporter.

“It is about being consumer-centric, delivering products and services that are useful, reliable and of good quality that add value to the lives of people or that business.

“It is about reliability. It is about being a brand individuals can trust to deliver on its promises. It is about the CEO taking ownership of it and developing a business proposition that is truly about the brand.”

What a brand owner should be doing to protect themselves, Cheliotis says, is to be “constantly innovating and doing things that enable consumers to identify what is real – whether that is security marked or whether it is specific products innovation that as yet can’t be copied by the counterfeiters.”

Cheliotis sees the big issue in regards to brand risk is when companies try to talk the talk, but not necessarily walk the walk. He believes the CEO of a company must be a brand custodian, who ensures the brand is what drives the business across its different functions, rather than being just a marketing proposition. According to Cheliotis, if you get it right in the first place, when a crisis happens you are more likely to have a period whereby people will give you the benefit of the doubt or give you an opportunity to resolve whatever that issue is. He says: “The interesting thing is that, if you do it right in a crisis, ironically you can actually build as opposed to destroy your brand, because people recognise you are doing the right thing.

“Everyone knows whether you are a person or a business, things can happen beyond your control. It is about acting quickly, efficiently, openly, honestly and transparently.

“The strongest brands have a more thorough risk-assessment framework where they are looking at all of the potential things that could happen.”

However, overall Cheliotis reckons it is getting harder to become a superbrand. Consumers are increasingly savvy with their choices.

He says: “Options in terms of alternatives are consistently growing. Consumers not only have more information at their fingertips, but the ability to switch to rival brands is becoming much easier. If brands don’t deliver they will be in trouble quickly.”

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