What comes to your mind when someone mentions a brand you recognize?
It can be a color: White for Apple. It can be an image: the Aflac duck. It can be an odor: Coffee for Starbucks. It can be a sound: the audio logo of McDonald’s, “pah pah rah pah pah.”
Even if you don’t realize it, your brain has assigned a personal trait to every brand stored in your memory. If a brand successfully positions the identity traits in your mind, we say that the brand shows human traits and acts like a real person.
During the COVID-19 quarantine, I’ve been ordering the weekly delivery of groceries from Publix, although I have other supermarkets closer in my area. Why? The stores in my neighborhood don’t look as organized as Publix does. I didn’t even check if other supermarkets had apps. I immediately installed the Publix app on my cell phone because Publix is positioned in my brain as a more reliable persona. I trust Publix more.
Effective brands have an attractive appearance, great personality, fixed values, life goals, and establish relationships with others.
In Strategic Brand Management, Kevin Lane Keller says that customers perceive brands as credible based on three dimensions: perceived expertise, trustworthiness, and likability. One example of that is FedEx, whose personality is perceived as dependable. FedEx has “stressed its speed, skill, and dependability in shipping and delivery” (Keller, 2013).
My brain seems to have stored Publix’s personality as competent, innovative, and a market leader who also keeps customers’ interests in mind.
According to their website, Publix started as a family-owned single store in 1930, in Winter Heaven, Florida. Since then, the company grew to 1243 locations; most of them are in Florida (809), Georgia (188), Alabama (77), South Carolina (63), Tennessee (46), North Carolina (46), and Virginia (15).
A great brand is aware of how people perceive its identity; it monitors results and reacts consequently. Apple, the brand, stays on top of this strategy by turning the ordinary into beautiful. People don’t buy a smartphone. People buy an iPhone.
In the same way, by monitoring its performance, Publix developed influence perceptions through innovations such as the app I’m using. Such means position the company as a trend-setter in the industry for its target segment.
Publix has a simple yet sophisticated logo design that reflects the company’s identity. It embodies the color green which, at the same time, is related to sustainability and respect for the environment. Here we notice consistency with its mission statement, where Publix affirms that they are committed to being “Intolerant of waste.”
Publix’s slogan is “Where shopping is a pleasure.” I notice that Publix has an advantage in cleanliness, employee training, and respect for the customers compared to other brands.
A great brand has a strong personality. Publix has its own speech style towards others. The company takes care of complaints and answers offering solutions; the organization’s mission is ambitious: to be “the premier quality food retailer in the world.”
Powerful brands have significant cultural potential. For instance, Louis Vuitton is enthused by the passion for travel. Disney’s core values are: “Innovation, Quality, Storytelling, Community, Optimism, and Decency.”
Publix’s founder, George Jenkins, inspires its values. He was asked what he would be worth today if he hadn’t given so much away. He immediately responded, “Probably nothing.” For that reason, the company aims to bring together farmers, food banks, and families in need through Publix Charities.
Publix takes action by employing and working with people “from many backgrounds, cultures, abilities, and ethnicity”, and is ranked on Fortune’s list as one of Best Big Companies to Work For.
Strong brands follow an established plan, defining challenges, precise segmentation, and positioning. They also have clearly-defined long-term goals and strategies. The brand Nike, for example, aims to offer sustainable innovation for a better world using a hero story to boost the ego. The brand IKEA positions itself with an excellent value by selling simple and functional Swedish designs, an innovative shopping experience to a young audience.
During the past 70 years, Publix made smart choices like supporting sustainability and implemented remarkable actions like the initiative for helping farmers, Feeding America, Youth Soccer, and Habitat for Humanity. All these objectives are focused, relevant, and consistent with the company’s marketing mix.
Some of the most reliable brands are the ones that inspire respect. They are proof that it is possible to achieve profitability without sacrificing humanity.
And what about you? Do you have a favorite brand? Did you identify similar traits? If you find my article useful or think it might help a friend, please share it. Let me know about your story and goals. I’m here to listen.
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