With to offer a quality product and service,
With the great level volume of competition in the business world, it’s never been more vital to develop a distinctive identity and value proposition through branding. Though it’s imperative to offer a quality product and service, effective branding is a central element which makes companies sustain and succeed. I would like to discuss how Airbnb found its unique, disruptive business mission and brand-driven storytelling. Airbnb had great success in sharing economy and penetrated into customer’s consciousness and rung up $30 billion valuations.Airbnb had a unique challenge, which is the notion of staying in a stranger’s home or to host a stranger. These scary thoughts led the brand’s very first international TV campaign, “Never a Stranger.” I think as an MBA student, it is important to loom into uncomfortable truth and address concerns to their advantage. The heads of the company formed a strategic partnership with KLM plane and American express to establish trust and credibility to create an overnight experience.According to company’s mission, the customer “both hosts and guests: – is their brand strategy. In 2013, the company reoriented its mission and the central elements that made using the service so unique. Douglas Atkins, head of community restructured the brand’s message by posing the questions of the purpose of Airbnb existence, its purpose and its role in the world. The team interviewed 480 participants and they found out that the last thing their customers want to be tagged as tourists and too passive for them. Instead, the company found from their interview that their customers want to enjoy the rich culture and engage with their hosts and wants to be an insider. With the gamut of research, the company changed their brand identity and the message to “belong anywhere”. The company’s rediscovered new logo as a result of a month of conceiving called as Belo in 2014 by CMO. Their symbol was redesigned to resonate heart, location pin and A in the Airbnb. The design team wanted it to be simple so that anyone can easily draw representing: people, love, place, and Airbnb.The company positioned themselves much bigger than just travel; their organization will stand up for the community and foster human relationship by using technology for the purpose of bringing tribe together. The company managed to hold great perseverance against all critics. The team also gave a fresh painting and canvas to their website and apps which are much cleaner than the previous message with subtle animation and flashy images. I feel Airbnb has successfully emerged from being a sceptical brand to a most visible story-telling brand who has reinvented their mission not just ambitious but historic.Brand not-so-great.JC Penny was considered as one of American largest mid-range department stores. Under CEO Ron Johnson in 2011, JC Penny tried changing their brand’s mission and vision. The company lost its core brand identity by adding companies within their stores and moved away from their target middle-income American. Instead, they swayed away to attract high earning customers. One of the biggest mistakes was forgetting their brand strategy, they replaced coupons with everyday low price and wholly haunted their market along with the position of the company. Getting rid of coupons took away their target customers feeling of smart emotional achievements. Over the time due to a great mistake in brand management and marketing strategies, it was not clear for customers why would they shop at JC Penny when they have a plethora of options from WalMart to TJ Max. The management completely misread what their customer wants and neither they tested their vision in advance. Like Airbnb, the management should have asked their customers or did prior market research about their pricing strategy on a limited time basis. While revamping the brand, management should have analysed their entire purpose of their business-like Airbnb. The organisation discontinued the private band and made room for more national brands and tried to introduce a new service called Town Square within each store and all these initiatives alienated loyal customers because the customers could not align with new product and services. The timing of brand renovation and strategy was bad as the economic conditions were not constructive and too many changes were implemented too quickly.A company’s brand need not be the first to be disruptive or transformative but must be a more novel way like Airbnb. It is about timing, product, and target market, like Airbnb attracted millennials and was an urban phenomenon. Repositioning a brand is an enormous challenge and takes time, and the success of the process is not guaranteed. Like Airbnb, JC Penny should have started with low expectation; Johnson did not predict the size of the drop and investors lost patience when the results were weak. Johnson’s team did not test their new strategy, did not give any importance to existing customers, humiliated long-term employee, changed their entire top-tier management team and had no compelling value proposition. I predict his successor, Mike Ulman will stabilise the brand learning from the mistakes of Johnson and the new strategy will take time.