Brands fail to connect with consumers

Some of the world’s most famous company logos and brands are failing to connect with their target audiences, despite having their name clearly emblazoned on the motif.

In an eye opening exercise for brand experts and designers, three quarters of consumers across seventeen countries failed to instantly identify their biggest national brands.

Brits emerged as one of the most confused nations, with one in four consumers believing the Deutsche Bank logo belonged to HSBC, according to the Stewart-Allen/GMI study.

A further 40 per cent of UK respondents correctly identified the HBOS logo, but around 36 per cent said it belonged to the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS).

RBS however was quickly recognised among consumers in Spain, Japan, France and Germany - more so than it connected with its own UK market.

Those who did correctly pinpoint the logo as belonging to the Royal Bank of Scotland said the brand rated top for ‘friendliness.’

The world’s local bank, HSBC, made its consumers feel like the company was ‘alert,’ ‘socially responsible’, ‘environmentally friendly’ and the ‘most customer-focused’ brand in the UK.

However, the French were less impressed, saying the brand image and customer experience made them feel that the bank was low down the scale for ‘responsiveness’.

Similar to their British counterparts, German consumers shunned their national brand heavyweight, citing Deutsche Bank as ‘socially irresponsible’ ‘immoral’ and ‘unresponsive,’ with poor service overshadowing any branding message.

Outside Europe, the study showed that location impacts the potential for brand recognition, to the extent that designers' or marketers' efforts can be wasted on the most stubborn of consumers.

Evidence for the power of location, lies in the non-US respondents who said American Express, Merrill Lynch and GMAC all score negatives because of their US roots.

Such a finding for US brands, reinforces previous findings from GMI that American companies need to look more ‘local’ to avoid consumer hostility as a result of their origin and heritage.

Regardless of location of respondents, Visa emerged as the most accepted and high scoring brand that follows through with its treatment of customers.

Conversely, Capital One and BNP Paribas ranked among the lowest, suggesting these brands were not consistently trusted.

Allyson Stewart-Allen, head of Stewart Allen, said the outlook for brand experts is more “unsettled” than expected.

“Given these are international brands with big marketing budgets and global and national campaigns, we were surprised by how inconsistently all of the brands were viewed across 17 markets,” she said.

“There are some truly global brands and these are doing well. The question for their marketing managers is whether the inconsistencies in their brands around the globe are intentional, a function of poor marketing, or even on their marketing agenda at all.”



 

11th October 2005

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