The food is consistent, the TV commercials are pleasant, but the dining experience has become tainted in recent years, driving away many soccer moms and young adults from dining in, to the drive through. What happened? The dining experience is populated by a lower socio economic customer that segregates and marginalizes McDonald’s target customer.
Fix It, Or Else!
McDonald’s is but one example of many powerful brands which struggle to attract the customer they want to serve in changing economic times. Similar issues affect other valuable brands.
#2 on Forbe’s list is Microsoft (McDonald’s is #6, just ahead of Samsung), which has suffered for years under the stench of Windows and Office customers who hated to use their products and found solace, comfort, and favored usability elsewhere.
Google remains high on the list of valued brands, but more for its history as a search engine giant, and a verb, than the good feeling users need to obtain from a brand. Google is now associated with privacy invasion, itself a hot topic among those growing numbers of computer and mobile device users who feel threatened by any entity that tracks their every move online and geographically. Plus, Android is not good for Google’s brand.
Just a few years ago Samsung contended with Apple for the premium end of the mobile device spectrum, only to fall upon hard times, drooping profits, and a name that has become associated with overpriced plastic devices sold by a company which bends, distorts, and remakes truth and facts; a purveyor of products which do not compete well against other products which do much the same thing at half the price. Android is not good for Samsung’s brand.
Just as a good, well known, revered brand can make a company, a tarnished brand can devalue a company, and just as a brand needs to be built, cultivated, and cared for to become valuable, a weakened brand can take many years to overcome whatever plight has set it. In the various lists of most valuable brands worldwide, Apple comes to the top of the list of most. A company can coast along on the good will a positive brand brings to customers, but a tarnished brand will first show up as a problem in revenue and profits.
Apple’s financial situation is as stellar as the brand. Others in the Top 20 Most Valuable Brands struggle financially due to a diminished brand value. Microsoft, Samsung, Google, McDonald’s top my list but others have similar issues. Apple keeps a few hundred million customers happy with products that delight and amaze, while competitors struggle to differentiate their wares from plastic knock-offs which run the same operating system.
Apple is much like Disney, which always shows up on valued brands lists; and Disney is a conglomerate of many brands which reside comfortably under the carefully cultivated brand umbrella. So it is with Apple.
If financial problems are the first indication that a brand has been tarnished by misuse or overuse, how long before Microsoft, Google, and Samsung begin to fall down the list?