I have often wondered at the power of a brand and its influence on whatever market it may serve. Brands that come quickly to mind typically are McDonalds, and KFC. However, lesser brands also serve their own sector of the community very well and in turn are supported.
It was with a sense of satisfaction and "loyalty" that I observed that Banks Group, a shoe store group which had originated in Wellington had gone into receivership and then been rescued by a member of the Banks family and it seems will continue trading. I remember the original store well, it was located in Lower Hutt’s high street, and it was a faithful servant to the local and wider community. Naturally it was a family business and as such, the relationship between the company and customers was somewhat personal.
Consequently it was not really a surprise that a family member rescued the company from receivership
Brands are seriously protected both by the company they serve and the people who work under the brand, some believe in the brand however more than others, and in some cases consumers are dominated by a brand rather than the other way round as demonstrated by the McDonald's and KFC examples.
Well represented brands however particularly in publicly listed companies are essential as a relationship between the company and its performance, a recent example of which was the "Fletcher" brand affected by a decline in its profit warning. Naturally this then impacts on the shareholding value, and investors will ponder the value of the shares and the "brand" comes under scrutiny.
Another example was the similar downsizing of the profit forecasting made by The Warehouse Group
As a result negative comments emerge about The Warehouse and its performance, something the brand could do without.
Brands therefore are a key element of any business. Once a brand is created, its owner is constantly looking at ways of protecting and enhancing its representation. Happy employees who understand the culture of the brand will inevitably be the keynote to the company's success.
It isn't always about growing the brand which is what ultimately led to the collapse of the Banks Group, but rather protecting and enhancing the brand we have, protected by good corporate governance, culture, and most importantly recognising what the brand stands for by its users, employees and stakeholders. Retention of Banks Shoes as a brand is therefore important not just to its long term customers but by the traditional values that its original founders perceived at the outset back in the 1930s.
We all go to a lot of effort to develop a new brand; signage, social media and the original culture all play a key part. Sometimes it is important that we pause and consider the part played by the brand we represent whatever form of business that brand may be part of. Sooner or later, it will reap the benefits of its success or conversely its failure!
Paul Keane is a registered property professional and has vast experience in New Zealand’s commercial property industries. He provides retail and property consultancy including development management to many New Zealand property owners, developers and city councils. This post originally appeared on RCG's blog.