by Kirsty Bisset. As a brand owner, you want to sculpt your brand’s image and present it in a way that resonates with your market. Associating with a celebrity, whether it is a sports star, musician, model, actor or TV or radio personality, is one of the best ways to develop your brand identity quickly.
Each year, brands spend millions on affiliating with cool people in an attempt to buy cool. Brand ambassadors, sponsored athletes, models, actors, celebrities and more recently, creators and influencers. To make this person the face of your brand, you allocate a great deal of your budget to purchasing their endorsement. Each time, you have your logo prominently displayed alongside their image on billboards, magazine ads, and TV screens. Each time, you enhance the association between your brand and the celebrity.
Connecting with the industry leaders in niche sports and lifestyles is a no-brainer – a brand that is perceived as a leader in its field will stand out from the pack. For mainstream brands, buying the endorsement of a celebrity gives the brand the association it needs to communicate its brand message effectively. However, brands often spend enormous amounts of money on building this association, forgetting that most of their target market won’t interact with the brand ambassador at all. So, I ask the question, who is the real face of your brand?
Let’s take sportswear brand, Under Armour’s partnership with Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson as an example. Who better to represent an athletic brand than him? While Dwayne Johnson first gained notoriety as a WWE wrestler, ‘The Rock’, his talents and brand have evolved. Under the partnership, Johnson helped the brand develop footwear, apparel, accessories and created inspiring ads, like this one, with a tagline: Will Finds A Way. The ads show everyday underdogs who willed their way to success.
To say that Johnson made Under Armour would be unfair to the brand and the thousands of hard-working individuals that built the company. But having him as the face of the company certainly made the path a lot smoother and bought the brand a huge amount of authenticity. And, in niche industries, authenticity is everything. But has your Under Armour customer ever met The Rock? The short answer: No. The long answer: Definitely not where it matters most to Under Armour, at the point of sale.
When a person walks into a store, does Johnson pop up from behind the counter to sell him/her a pair of shoes, a hoodie or a pair of shorts? No. The way I see it, the person standing at the till or hanging out between the shoe racks is Under Armour’s real face. It is this person who will interact with the target market. The person at the point of purchase represents the brand to the consumer in the most direct and personal way.
This is unfortunately here where brands often fall short — hiring students or other transient workers at minimum wage, under-investing in their training and brand immersion, and putting them directly in front of consumers. Despite the fact that many still excel at this role, this policy in most cases results in disinterested and under trained staff at the most critical point in the consumer-brand relationship. In essence, brands run marathons of enticing consumers to visit their stores, only to fall at the finish line of conversion.
What’s my point? If a brand can’t deliver on its brand promise and image at the point of purchase, it doesn’t matter how much money it invests in constructing its image and perception. Spending millions on a famous face will deter you from investing in the equally critical point of contact between your brand and your target market. Don’t let it.
Main image credit: Under Armour TVC.
Kirsty Bisset is Managing Director of HaveYouHeard Durban.
– Receive the Retailing Africa newsletter weekly • Subscribe here.