LP6 – Branding and CRM

After today’s class emphasis of brands, I have a stronger feel of how companies promote, build, and sell brands.

Brands

http://www.strategynewmedia.com/why-is-branding-important

A companies’ brand can be worth millions to billions of dollars. In a video we watched in class, Coke’s brand makes up 61% of their value.  Brands are important to protect for that fact that it takes so long to build their image.  I have always thought that companies own their brand but really, consumers own and control a brand.  They can easily make or break a company.  The example we had in class was Gateway computers.  They were big for a while and I had a few of them myself.  I remember they were sold a good price but I had multiple problems with them, especially the fact that they were slow.  Eventually, enough people stopped buying their products that they went out of business.  This article states so many reasons why brands are important but some of the reasons that stuck out to me were, “A strong brand generates referrals.”, “A strong brand sets yourself apart from your competitors.”, and “A strong brand helps customers know what to expect.”. A brand makes a company unique, builds value and creates monetary revenue.  I think that referrals are one of the strongest ways for a company to increase their income.  It’s basically free advertising and creates a waterfall effect to generate more referrals.  Companies also need to focus on one thing and get really good at it.  Jack of all trades don’t go very far.  Consumers may become confused on a companies true mission.

Brand Image

http://www.marketwatch.com/story/7-companies-hurt-by-bad-publicity-2014-08-18

Brand image is a sub section of branding but I feel that it’s important enough to be it’s on takeaway.  The article listed above is about seven companies that were hurt bad from publicity.  I’m not going to mention all of them but I will state a few of the most familiar to me.  Seaworld is one of them.  I remember seeing things in the news and social media about their killer whales injuring their trainers.  Some trainers were injured and if I remember correctly, one or more trainer have died from killer whale backlashes.  PETA has gotten involved and Seaworld claims that their killer whales are happy and will live just as a long as if they were in the wild.  There was even documentaries on Netflix that showed footage of a trainer held underwater for a long time.  I think one trainer was trapped for 40 minutes within the jaws of a killer whale.  To me, that seems too dangerous and I wouldn’t want to be part of an audience when a horrific thing like that goes down in front of me.  The article states that the company’s stock went down 33% from those incidents and $405.2 million in a single quarter.  That’s a huge loss.  I had recently seen a TV commercial from Seaworld.  In it, they have whale trainers stating that killer whales are happy in their captivity, live just as long or longer as they would in the wild and they are treated with care.  That commercial was trying to rebuild their brand but I think their damage is permanent and going to be hard to recover from.

Another company hurt from publicity was Target.  Their information database was breached by blackhat hackers.  Blackhat hackers are the bad hackers and whitehat hackers are the good people that set up defenses to block out blackhatters.  Sensitive information, credit/debit cards,  should have the highest grade of security.  With this massive breach, Target lost $148 million.  The worst part about hacking is that it can’t be prevented infinitely.  Let me explain that.  Not all defenses are immune to hacks.  Eventually they will break.  It just takes time and they can be outdated.  Blackhat hackers are very smart people and can almost find a way to get through a defense.  Getting hacked is a company’s worst nightmare.

Sony was another company that had a similar issue like Target.  Their databases were hacked too.  Although it wasn’t mentioned in this article, it’s still vivid in my mind.  I used to play the Sony Playstation quite a bit a while back.  When they got hacked, their system was down for over a month.  When they came back online with a new security defense, they gave a lot of free downloadable content to their consumers to compensate for their mistake and the wait.  A lot of people were mad and switched over to Microsofts Xbox.  Sony implemented a new pay per month security to have their consumers better protected.  They offered better deals with this plan and free games to download.  Their system used to be all free but with the breach there are now two versions of it.  I remember shortly before their breach, Sony was trying to sue a guy who had hacked their games and made it free to play for anyone.  Soon after that issue and I think even before that case was closed, Sony was hacked.  I wonder who hacked them…  Just my thought.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

http://www.infoentrepreneurs.org/en/guides/customer-relationship-management/

CRM is an important part of the business cycle.  It is a strategy company use to learn more about their consumers behaviors and needs. Companies can gather this information their own phone system, Google analytics from their website, and social mass media. Customer relationship management is actually two separate entities.  I can be a strategy theory or an IT installed program to help upper management better gauge consumer relationships.  For instance, upper management can easily access and listen in on a live incoming call from a consumer.  This article explains the benefits, drawbacks, and implementations of having CRM.  After selling a product or service, it’s up to the company’s customer service abilities to keep the customer.  If customers have a bad experience, with today’s technology, they could easily deteriorate a companies image.  I remember having a bad experience with Turtle Wax’s car rim cleaner.  After spraying their rim cleaner onto my car rims, it destroyed my brake caliper paint on my four calipers.  I called them and they kept putting me off for months, horrible documentation abilities and I had to explain my situation every single time.  Finally I got fed up with it and threatened to sue them out of anger. Shortly after the call, they immediately emailed me the necessary paperwork to get reimbursed.  I thought “How come they couldn’t do this in the first place?”.  They made me wait months for no reason.  To this day, I never buy Turtle Wax products.

All companies should always keep a good balance of their brand, image and CRM.  Without proper customer service after a sale, a company can easily fall regardless of their size.  The bigger they are, the harder fall.  A waterfall effect can either be positive or negative.  With a proper balance, companies can continue to grow.

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