Today's global market for manufactured goods is totally different than it was 10 years ago. Most large corporations are Multi-National today and produce or source their products all over the world. It’s fascinating to leave the United States, travel halfway across the globe, and see a McDonald’s or a Taco Bell.
How do companies build such a brand? Why, when you think of fast-food, do you almost immediately think of McDonald’s? How does something like that come to be? The answer is CONSISTENCY!
A key factor in the success of any business lies in your ability to execute your services consistently and profitably over a long period of time. A lack of consistency is a major reason for losing customers and a lack of profitability results in losing your business.
A meal from McDonald’s tastes almost EXACTLY the same as when I was a teenager. The cheeseburgers are the same; as are the French fries. They haven’t changed a bit. And unless it is very crowded, you never have to wait long for your food. It is available to you in minutes. When you go to McDonald’s, you know what type of food you’re going to get and what kind of experience it is going to be.
There are no calls for conservation from McDonald’s; they never ask you to please be patient with them; they never ask you to eat fewer burgers so that there are enough burgers to go around. They consistently provide the same experience over and over, year after year.
This doesn’t happen overnight. It takes many years of consistent performance to become a rock-solid name brand in people’s minds.
It’s very hard to compete with such companies. If you’re planning on starting a fast-food restaurant, you have your work cut out for you. You can without a doubt succeed, but you must think long-term; perhaps even beyond your lifetime. It’s probably safe to say that Charles Merrill, one of the founders of Merrill Lynch, never would have guessed in his wildest dreams that Merrill Lynch would have over $1 trillion in customer assets. So thinking beyond your lifetime is not unique. In fact, if you’re considering taking on McDonald’s, it may be a necessity.
You must then, year after year, and decade after decade, provide CONSISTENT results. These results will then turn into TRUST from consumers.
The average American drinks more Coca-Cola then they do water. This is not necessarily a good thing health wise, but it shows the power of trust and the consistent delivery of a product. Like McDonald’s, Coca-Cola hasn’t changed a bit throughout my lifetime as well. You go into a restaurant and when the waiter asks what you’ll have to drink, you respond, “I’ll have a Coke.” You’ll do this many times without even giving it a thought. That’s the power of a brand name. That’s the power of consistency.
Keeping an established brand name in good standing with the public is of utmost importance. For once there is a chink in the armor, it can unravel very quickly. Let’s look at a good example from the Internet boom of the late 1990’s.
One of the biggest mergers in U.S. history was when AOL bought Time Warner. The combined value of the two companies was $350 billion. The name of the new company became AOL Time Warner. It’s important to point out that Time Warner began building up its reputation as a publishing company back in the 1920’s. It took them many decades to be recognized as a top brand. AOL, on the other hand, was very new to the marketplace.
Well, the merger turned out to be a huge disaster. Today the combined company is valued at $85 billion, with AOL’s share being approximately $10 billion. So what did the company do? They dropped the AOL from the company name in 2002. The company is now simply referred to as Time Warner.
Becoming a name brand is a big challenge. It takes years of consistent performance to help make it happen.