Many of the most effective image builders come from direct marketing. Take a pioneer like L.L. Bean and a more recent success story like Victoria’s Secret, for example. These brands appeal to decidedly different market segments, yet, in their own ways, they’ve built highly individualistic brand personalities that their customers have come to know and trust. Their high PQs have helped them carve out a share of mind by standing for something uniquely important with their customers. That’s why they continue to be successful, maintaining their fiscal fitness even when the broader economy falters.
PQ Doesn’t Stand For Pretty Quick
Effective brand building takes time. It’s a process that is measured in years and decades, not weeks and months. It’s characterized by patient relationship building aimed at people who might become loyal customers. It avoids profit-shredding special promotions that appeal to bargain hunters who are constantly sniffing out the best deal du jour. Although it’s true that icons like Coke might be able to survive cost-cutting branding initiatives in certain times and places, those tactics only work with megabrands that have an established image that only a catastrophe could damage.
Of course, there are some challenges that no brand PQ can survive unscathed. A good example is Toyota‘s recent tsunami of quality and PR disasters that have rapidly transformed the brand from a Jekyll into a Hyde. And BP has also taken a breakneck slide down a slippery slope of its own making. Whether its initials change to BK remains to be seen, but if it survives as a brand, it will be rehabilitating its image for years if not decades to come.
Unlike some brands that seem to change with the seasons, L.L. Bean and Victoria’s Secret keep burnishing the same image, year after year. These brands raise their PQs slowly but surely, while other advertisers try to rebuild images instantly, as if the sheer weight of megabuck budgets can buy enduring relationships. As a result, they’ve earned something money can’t buy: customer loyalty.
Companies with the highest PQs know who they are and what they’re about, so they stand behind their products and services with iron-clad, no-risk, money-back policies. They make a commitment to customer satisfaction and back it with a “no-questions asked” guarantee, because they know that’s how you build trust. Companies with high PQs also manage to do a better job of image building because they refuse to waste time or money on marketing communications that don’t work. Rather than drowning the market with saturation messaging, they try to consistently reach out to their best prospects with pinpoint communications that go right to the heart of each person’s self-interest.
So, to increase your Personality Quotient, build a friendly, believable image — one that will carve out a unique niche in Boomers’ minds. Once you’ve established that position, speak to their individualism. Do all that and more, and your brand will have the kind of high PQ.
|Vincent Vassolo is the founder of Vim, Vigor & Vassolo, an agency that creates strategies, advertising and marcom programs tar|