Differentiation. Quality. Trust. Purpose. Innovation. Buzz. Value.  Those were some of the many responses SGB received after we recently asked our subscribers about their opinion on the attributes of a brand they believe are the most important when assessing brand strength with the consumer.  The answers were not far from what consumers told SportsOneSource in the recently released 2010 Brand Strength Report.

Below, SGB highlights a few responses:

Multi-seasonal and multi-generational repeat purchase loyalty and deep satisfaction with the brand in the face of competing products or services regardless of price.
Stephen Encarnacao, CEO, Dayton Boots

Differentiation, consistency, purpose, and value are all important to a brand. A brand’s message must be unique and frequent. Frequency is important because it adds credibility and drives home the point that your brand is a major player equipped with resources. You do not want your core customer base to think you are slipping or fading away, you need them to know you are alive and well regardless of the economic times.
Derek Grundy, Product Manager Running Footwear, Reebok

Brand strength is the measure of valence a customer deems important to support his/her self image and self esteem. Therefore, a brand must identify and target the connection to the consumer’s soul. The beauty of marketing is determining the right mix to gain market share at opportune times. Picture an equalizer with the dials such as price, quality, color, fit, availability, style, eco-friendly, etc. There are thousands of permutations. The brand’s challenge is to find the right frequency and tune that resonates with their targeted customer.
Billy Smith, CEO, VS Athletics

It used to be quality, functionality and price. Now I believe it is “eye appealing” for lowest price.

Did you bring something new to the market and do you own that space? Does your product “matter” to the customer. Is it real? Can it become “Iconic”? If you can answer yes to these questions then you are in good shape. Brands such as MTB, UGG and Sanuk have achieved these things and are thriving.
John Vance, President, Sanuk

Since we are on the retail buying side of things, we always hear the consumer asking, “Who rides for them?” or “Who is on their team this year.” If the brand’s team is off the hook, that brand sells well for us in the store. Marketing the Team is Huge! I always say “The product that’s on the podium Saturday will sell on Sunday!” Consumers see this and associate this with the brands strength. I believe this is the most important part as a retailer.
Tony Grieco, Owner, Getboards, Big Bear Lake, CA

Integrity, credibility, consistent reliability, value, timely innovation and relevant design.
Alex Frank, President, Francorp

Consumers are tired of being lied to and lead astray by clever marketing. A brand that sells good products creates a post-purchase euphoria where the consumer wants to showcase his purchase.
Luciano Caolo, Independent Agent, South Africa

Consumers have more desire for research and support than ever before. Brand strength is now ranked by positive peer reviews, quick feedback, and personal outreach. When in history have CEO’s been so accessible? Social Media has made the proverbial soap box a platform for two-way communication. At the end of the day consumers buy from the brands and people they like, even if it costs more. When we feel connected with a brand’s leadership team, we feel a sense of community which breeds loyalty, and loyalty is a strong long-term strategy for any brand.
Fred Heim, VP Brand Connection, Power Plate

Trust. Value. Quality.

Great brands are customer-centric. Great brands reflect value (quality/price/service) and a sustainable financial model. Importantly, the developers of great brands followed a principle, that all cues must be consistent, creating a visual image in the minds of the consumer and observer of what that brand is, what it looks, smells, tastes or feels like and why it is desirable.
Thomas Hicks, Managing Partner, Renaissance Partners, L.C.

In a cluttered, commoditized world, consumers need to know, very specifically, what to expect from their brands. The truly powerful brands capture and hold their brand space in the mind of customers through relentless focus on achieving product excellence. Brand successes without product excellence have certainly been won, but they rarely last. Marketing communications also has its place, but it’s only legitimately capable of driving lasting brand strength when the product can back it up. Consumers mostly talk about products, not brands.
Brent Hollowell, Principal, BrandRx Marketing

A brand, which I still think is nothing more than what we called a logo, should be easily recognized and identified with the product or service its company is involved in. Too many require the viewer to take time to figure out what a company is trying to say. Simplicity is the key, in my mind.
Ralph Frese, Senior Sales Manager, Chicagoland Canoe Base, Inc.

Quality of product BEHIND the brand. If the product is not substantial enough to my demands, I WILL NOT be loyal to the brand.

Quality, innovation, visibility, and brand community.

I believe that mass retailers are low quality & cost. So, where you put the brand relates to the customer’s perceived value (cost & quality).
Derek Crenshaw, Product Design Director, SI Jacoboson

Marketing is a huge driving force, but the product must live up to the promise, in order to protect and preserve brand integrity.
Alycia Cavadi, Founder and Principal, Momentum Media PR

Cosmetics/graphics, advertising, price and warranty. Perceived strong consumer awareness attributed to the fore mentioned.
Richard Fredericks, President, H.R.F. & Associates

Brand strength can be run through the following filters and criteria: 1) awareness, 2) loyalty, 3) perceived quality and leadership, and 4) the functional and emotional attributes associated with the brand. Take a handful of brands in sports and outdoor and run them through these metrics. You can determine if the brand is a “Power Brand”, “Niche Brand”, “Dormant Brand” or “Marginal Brand” based on their dominance in these dimensions. Take Nike, for example, the brand is so omnipresent on the four criteria above that it easily qualifies as the quintessential “Power Brand.”
Dan Herman, President, Directions

Value at retail, i.e. not discounted in every shop around. Brand recognition and manufacturer not competing with retailer for customer’s retail business.



See all the answers to the March SGB Question at: www.sportsonesource.com/news/spor/qArch/sq2010/MarA2010.asp.
Check out and respond to the April SGB Question regarding the Health Care Bill recently passed by Congress.  Go to: www.SGBQuestion.com