In brand management interviews, one typical question is “What is an example of a good brand?” This query also comes in other flavors, such as “What is a brand you can’t live without?” or “What’s your favorite brand?” All of these questions are really testing your ability to talk coherently about a brand, its value proposition, and how well it’s supported through marketing and product development. Although there is no right or wrong answer, whatever you do, don’t use Coke, Pepsi, Nike, or Apple as your example, unless you are striving to be forgettable.
Here’s one current example of a “good” brand that I haven’t been able to stop thinking about recently: Oral-B (a Proctor & Gamble brand). When I thought this morning of a product I couldn’t live without, my Oral-B CrossAction manual toothbrush came to mind. But just liking a product doesn’t make the brand great. Here’s what Oral-B seems to be doing very well:
PRODUCT INNOVATION – This is the area where P&G spends more money than any competitor. They study their target segments of the population, perform extensive market research, and engineer new products with precise detail. If you examine a CrossAction toothbrush, you see that it is truly different from any other toothbrush, in terms of the angles of the bristles and the varied bristle types. And it really does seem to remove more plaque from the teeth than a traditional toothbrush. Oh, and did I mention that it has a special texture on the back of the toothbrush head for scraping your tongue? Genius!
AWARENESS – The brand maintains great awareness. I imagine that if I performed an unaided survey asking “What is are some brands of toothbrush?”, Oral-B would be at the top of your list. That’s not just a fluke—it takes a lot of money and effort to gain that position.
FOLLOWS THE HUMAN LIFECYCLE – Oral-B can follow you throughout your life. There are products specifically tailored to babies, toddlers, youth, teenagers, and so on. They also make electric toothbrushes for the lazier stages of life.
MARKETING SUPPORT – TV commercials (especially outside the USA) and magazine ads are abundant. Oral-B and the good folks at P&G know that consumers need regular reminders of their brand in order to make them feel more comfortable when they spend $4+ on a toothbrush, so the messages will reach you frequently.
CHANNEL DEVELOPMENT – Why is it that your free toothbrush at the dentist’s office is always an Oral-B? It’s because the brand managers have developed those distribution channels very well over time. The company spends time with dentists, finding out what’s important to them, as well as building relationships with national organizations.
TRADE PROMOTIONS & COUPONS – The company uses frequent promotions, plus occasional BOGOs (buy-one-get-one-free deals) to maintain premium shelf space in retail stores. Because their product quality is so high, it’s almost impossible to go back to a straight-bristle brush after using a CrossAction, so the promo accomplishes its goal of winning a new loyal customer.
Even if you don’t share my delight in diagonal bristles, it’s hard not be impressed with Oral-B’s ability to brush away the competition and earn a mint in profits. Do you have an example of a brand you couldn’t live without?