I’ve been quiet on my blog recently. Most of you might think it’s because of my kiting addiction; you are partly right but it’s also because I’ve been busy helping my friend’s company with a little branding issue. It was a great coincidence since I recently assisted to a conference given by The Canadian Marketing Association – Calgary about branding. The speaker mentioned how brand managers look like people sitting behind their desks thinking all day. I have to admit that sometimes, I have the feeling this is how my coworkers see me at work.
Managing a brand is a complex task, and companies often underestimate the value of it as well as the necessary time and effort it takes to build brand equity. Allowing the right amount of time for brand management isn’t a waste of time since it can position a company to be the leader in their industry.
One of my favorite brands is unquestionably Red Bull even if I drink a Red Bull less than once a year. I still identify myself with that sporty person who likes to push his limit to the extreme and who would love to be the next superstar in his challenging sport competitions. Consumers are attracted to organizations that support their values, such as me who is attracted to Red Bull.
Maelstorm Kiteboarding: Case Study
Examples of leading companies with branding issues aren’t hard to find and some of them will manage the situation fast enough to remain leaders in their industry. Making small branding changes will sometimes help but for other cases, re-branding the company remains the costly but only solution.
Maelstorm, a traction kite (power kite) company that sells products online, is a perfect example of a branding trap. A maelstrom is a large whirlpool with significant downdraft that can even sink a ship. I find it cleaver to name a traction kiting business Maelstorm (read well…Mael-storm); it merges the water power with the wind power, I suppose the domain name and trade mark were available. It was all good, and that is how the business started. There were some problems that were either minimized or not anticipated: people read the name Maelstorm, but they see Maelstrom. Unless you hear someone pronounce the name correctly, you are very likely to think the name of the business is Maelstrom. FYI maelstrom.com is the website of a virtual reality business. Even if you got the name right, don’t google maelstorm because The Google will kindly suggest that you correct it to maelstrom. If you ignored google’s suggestion, I doubt the ranking was good.
The Maelstorm people didn’t minimize the problem when they saw it and they took action right away. Maelstorm asked their clients and suppliers their opinion about their branding issue; as part of their strategy, they chose to change their name to: Maelstorm Gear. It is obviously a small compromise and we could debate whether it is the best solution or not but I think it is a good first step. Since the name isn’t completely changed, the notoriety of the brand is mostly kept, but the name is different enough from maelstrom making it easier to have an online strategy (website easier to find).
Of course, some companies have more complex branding issues but this clear example shows how important branding strategies are. Having the right person and putting the necessary time and budget can save lots of trouble (and time and money).
Do you know any other company facing important branding issues? Please share your story.