Two-Way Street

PR, social media, events and incentives – Collaboration & communication ideas for demanding businesses from The Castle Group's Mark O'Toole

Posts Tagged ‘branding’

Delivering on the Brand Promise…or Just Delivering, Period

Posted by thecastlegroup on October 20, 2010

Castle co-founder Sandy Lish draws a line from customer service to brand values in this Two-Way Street blog post.


A few weeks ago, I ordered a replacement part for my GPS. This was a relatively simple online transaction, from a brand that is synonymous with the GPS industry. A week went by, then two, and I realized that my item hadn’t arrived. Checked my bank account, and sure enough, the account had been charged the day after I placed my order. So I called the company, which required some heavy digging online as the phone number was somewhat buried. The customer service person looked up my order, looked at the shipping information in her record, and let me know that she had no idea where my item was, although it had been shipped two weeks ago. I asked her to look a little harder and figure out what was going on. The best she could tell me was that it was somewhere en route, and to check back in a few days if it still had not arrived.

As this was not the highest priority in my life, I decided to just give it a couple of days. Then it struck me: there’s significant irony in the fact that I bought a GPS item that the GPS company itself cannot even find. In a conversation a few days later with a client, we were talking about online shopping and I relayed this story. She immediately said, “They’re not delivering on their brand promise!”

Branding, as we know, is about much more than images and marketing materials. It carries through to the customer experience, which in this case completely contradicted the company’s brand promise. If your message is about positioning and tracking, it is unacceptable to ship a package you cannot locate.

A few phone calls and days later, I received a link to track my package, which said it should arrive three-to-five business days after leaving the warehouse (which it had done more than two weeks earlier). That ship had sailed. It had literally been in my town two weeks prior, then left and traveled to a variety of states, where it evidently kept being “missent.”

By the way, the package finally came over the weekend. My husband laughingly pointed out the sticker on the outside: “Fast Ship.”

I will never buy another item from this company. The brand itself may be spiffy, the product may be highly rated by consumers, but if they can’t deliver—literally or figuratively—they’ve lost me.

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Products, packaging and PR – critical marketing steps for package design

Posted by thecastlegroup on March 25, 2009

Today’s Boston Globe looks at recent product packaging redesigns as a way to maintain competitive advantage on the grocery store shelf. In these times, manufacturers are fighting for each sale and need to do what they can to get consumers to notice and purchase their products.


In the packaging design process, manufacturers also need to consider gearing the right products toward the right consumers.


Look at the spaghetti sauce aisle at your local supermarket. Between the jarred spaghetti sauce, individual ingredients to make spaghetti sauce and the pasta itself, there is an entire aisle devoted to this one dish.


With so many products crowding the shelf, it all becomes a blur to the consumer, who is then forced to shop on price or specials. The wide variety of flavors and styles, along with low-fat, sugar-free, lower sodium and other options, necessitates consumers becoming students of labels in order to make the right purchase. Grab and go is a thing of the past.


By creating more well-defined “looks” for each product extension, then backing up the packaging with targeted marketing efforts that support specific lines, manufacturers can drive sales in each channel and create greater consumer satisfaction by directing them to products that best suit their needs.


For example, a “no sugar added” pasta sauce line could be marketed to diabetics through targeted advertising in diabetic publications, sampling at diabetes health expos, blogger outreach, media relations and co-marketing with other diabetes-related products — and sit in the pasta aisle with increased awareness alongside mainstream competitive products.


Exposing the target audience to products at a variety of touch points will help quickly guide them to the right product on the shelf.


This is where PR, branding and strategy all align, and why marketing conversations need to happen in lockstep with product design.

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