Picture: 123RF/CAN BE DONE
Picture: 123RF/CAN BE DONE

In an analysis of the high and lowlights of 2019, a recent Forrester Roundup, entitled “Brand Spotlight: The Best and Worst of 2020” by Dipanjan Chatterjee came up with three important insights. The first is the old school brands have proven that innovation isn’t just for new start-ups; that relevance ensures longevity; and finally, that marketing can’t fix what is broken in a brand.

Three companies made the Forrester highlights list, all of them well established in the market. Disney – a brand that is over 100 years old - proved that a commitment to relevance, customer experience and innovation is what it takes to stay at the top; regardless of age and legacy. Disney’s acquisition of Fox, the launch of a themed Star Wars area and the debut of Disney+, not to mention a dedication to removing customer pain points has kept that brand relevant to its consumers. Disney is honest about its weaknesses, finding ways to address them and has added new value for customers by “connecting content to distribution”, the report reveals.

Also on the highlights list was inimitable fashion brand Gucci. Gucci has experienced success with a younger market, aged 18-35 who, according to the report, will account for 45% of luxury brands’ business by 2025. Forrester explains how Gucci has used technology to create relationships within this market. For example, it offers avatars that can be dressed in Gucci pieces and shared on social media. It has taken a progressive digital approach that has helped the brand to form connections with a younger market, which many other luxury brands have failed to do. BrandZ reports that Gucci has shown double-digit growth ahead of its competitors and is one of the world’s top 10 most valuable brands.

Mastercard’s daring removal of its brand name from its logo landed it on the highlights list for 2020. Other accolades for the brand include the creation of a sonic identity, and the launch of initiatives that embrace inclusivity, such as offering cards allowing transgender and nonbinary customers to use their chosen names when banking.

On the other side of the coin, Facebook featured high on Forrester’s lowlights list. After the Cambridge Analytica scandal, the company has lost public brand trust, largely due to its failure to accept accountability for its inability to protect the privacy of its users. Forrester reports that the brand lacked empathy in dealing with the situation and has shown itself to be “out of touch and uncaring”.

The big take-out:

No amount of marketing can fix what is broken in a brand

Gillette’s campaign around masculinity fell flat last year because it lacked authenticity, the report says. Response to the campaign was lukewarm, with sales in line with pre-campaign levels.

Kraft Heinz, also on the lowlights list, had a poor 2019, with profits in the first half of 2019 down by more than 50% from 2018. The brand has shown an inability to evolve in a changing market, with consumers choosing to buy more natural products than those on offer from the brand. A number of brands were demolished in the name of cost cutting, which essentially removed Kraft Heinz from competing in a changing market.

The lesson for CMOs, according to the report, is that legacy can be a positive, provided it is combined with reinvention, relevance, added value and innovation. Furthermore, marketing cannot be used as a panacea for brands that have deeper problems than a new ad campaign will be able to address. Finally, both Gillette and Kraft Heinz have shown the danger of a “business as usual” approach. Never lose relevance or the knowledge of where your market is headed – the danger lies in ignoring new market forces.

Would you like to comment on this article or view other readers' comments?
Register (it’s quick and free) or sign in now.

Speech Bubbles

Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.