3 Brand Values Sears/Craftsman Taught Us

craftsman-the-power-of-brandingEvery now and then I find an article written by someone else that’s so good it has to be shared. That’s the case with this blog post from Kleber & Associates, a building products sales and marketing company.

When you go to branding school, one of the first things you learn is a lesson on the power of a brand, using the example of Coca-Cola.

The professor is likely to quiz the students: “If you could divide the Coca-Cola company into two parts — one part is all of the factories, bottlers, formula, buildings, equipment assets, and the other part is the Coke brand name and trademark — which would you take?”

Your answer better be the Coke brand.

Why? Because all of that other infrastructure and distribution can be replicated, but a brand with the magnitude of Coke would take generations to rebuild.

But aside from a lesson for marketing students, why would anyone consider that a company be parsed up in that way?

In a way, however, it just happened, and with an iconic American brand, no less. Not with Coke, but with Craftsman.

In a move designed to stave off insolvency, Sears recently sold the Craftsman brand to Stanley Black & Decker for $900 million. While we’re sure there was more to the sale than the Craftsman name and branding standards manual, it all appears so very counter-intuitive to us.

We can’t help but think that Sears Holdings Corp. CEO Edward Lampert should have kept the Craftsman brand and sold everything else.

craftsman-logoMention the Craftsman brand to any red-blooded American male (and an increasing number of females), and they’ll rattle off a list of traits the brand has come to stand for. Durable, American made, strong, reliable. Despite missteps over the years, and the struggles of the brand’s caretakers at Sears, the Craftsman name is largely unspoiled.

We as marketers and branding nerds can all rest easy, as it appears the cherished Craftsman name is in good hands. We can also look back and remember what the Craftsman brand has been over the years.

Most importantly, we can take heed of some of the lessons Craftsman has taught us about how to build a strong brand:

 

Make a simple, strong promise

While we respect the role legal and actuarial professionals play in advising how building products and tools are marketed, how warm-n-fuzzy does it make you feel when you hear that a product has a “limited lifetime” warranty?

The Craftsman brand confidently stood for “Made in America. Guaranteed forever.” Forever. There’s no mincing words in that tagline.

Granted, it’s easy to guarantee forever if your product is essentially a hunk of nearly indestructible forged steel.

But the point is that a brand is the sum of the simplest, strongest promises it can build.

 

Keep innovating

When you think of Craftsman tools, you most likely think of the multi-piece wrench sets, neatly hanging in order of size on a pegboard. It’s a product that hasn’t been changed in a century.

Still, every year Craftsman came out with some new gadget or gizmo. Some were pretty superfluous (a battery-powered heated jacket, really?), others actually pretty smart.

But no matter what, those new products always caught the eye of their target audience (see below) and brought people into the Sears stores to buy them, along with the standard wrench sets. Craftsman never stood pat. They always found a way to capture consumers’ attention with their innovations.

Well, except for the battery-powered jacket.

 

Remember your audience

Since their founding in 1927, Craftsman stayed true to their two audiences: NASCAR mechanics and middle-aged, suburban men who secretly wished they were NASCAR mechanics. The second group was probably the biggest.

Craftsman has always been for the guys. They didn’t ebb into pink tools for women or co-brand with Star Wars to appeal to kids. They knew who their audience was and always, always connected with him. In fact, when Jimmy Carter was presented with a farewell gift as he departed from the White House, it was a Craftsman woodworking set.

In this day and age of an ever-changing landscape — where brands feel like they have to please everyone — it’s refreshing to see a brand remember who got them where they are.

So why hold onto the stores, Mr. Lampert? Will you be auctioning the DieHard battery and Kenmore appliance brands next? We’d advise instead, that you should have taken a page from Revlon’s playbook, as they are clearly prioritizing their brands over distribution. They realize astutely in this omni-channel age, that audiences are far less loyal to rigid shopping venues and that customer allegiance celebrates Brand Value over Brand Available.

So Stanley Black & Decker will now leverage the American-made, forever-guaranteed torch. We’re confident that the Craftsman brand is in good hands and will continue to occupy a prominent place in American garages for years to come.

As for its former parent brand, Sears… well, the future is not so bright.

Good Selling!

Your Price Is Too High!

Your Price Is Too HighWho in sales hasn’t heard these words?

Buyers have many ways of saying your price is too high:

  • “We are reducing down to only two suppliers. If you want to be one of them, you’ll need to sharpen your pencil.”  
  • “I don’t care about service, delivery or quality.  Price is all that is important.”  
  • “My guys sell what the customers want.  They don’t see the difference.”
  • “I need an incentive to cut off a long-term vendor.  You must be lower if you want me to do so.”

Remember, it is the buyer’s job to discount your value, while simultaneously securing it.

The forgotten elements of price that are part of your value

Overcoming Price ObjectionsMost everyone thinks of the invoice price and terms.

But these forgotten values of price are part of the total picture that you must paint for your merchant.

In other words, this is part of the value you are bringing, not just a price.

  • Growth rebates
  • Promotional allowances
  • Show specials
  • Special buys
  • Advertising allowances
  • Co-op plans
  • Pallet configurations
  • Terms
  • Dating
  • Price protection
  • Rebates
  • Pick-up allowances
  • Guaranteed service cycles
  • Merchandising allowances
  • Service
  • Packaging
  • Stocking allowances
  • Customer accommodations
  • Inventory consignment

And more that are unique to your industry.

Each of these elements makes up your pricing – and your value – to the buyer. Don’t forget them when negotiating and remember they all are eating away at your account profitability.

Your price is too high really means “You haven’t shown your value to me”

I Said Your Price Is Too HighSurvey after survey of retailers, dealers, distributors, contractors and homeowners shows that price is rarely the key driver in the decision process. In fact, it is usually 4th or 5th.

Make sure that the customer has truly earned and justified the price they need. Make sure you are comparing apples to apples and considering all of the forgotten elements of price. Understand what you are up against by asking smart questions and getting all the facts.

Once price is relinquished make sure you have gained something for the value you provided. Finally, communicate thoroughly, professionally and always be reinforcing your value.

Being competitive is more than just price

Lowest Price Is Not Always BetterWhat added value can you offer?

  • What else can we bring to the party other than price?
  • How can we help grow the customer’s sales?
  • How can we lower their cost?
  • Can we use any of our unique capabilities to keep from cutting the price?

Marketing is all about 4 P’s, only one of which is Price

Marketing MixMake sure you spend as much time understanding pricing as any other one of the P’s.

Pricing deserves respect, attention and creativity. You will be rewarded with greater profitability and be more competitive as a result.

Good Selling!

Greg Bonsib is an author of the new Mighty Guides Ebook Data Disruption.

Active Search Results (ASR) is an independent Internet Search Engine using a proprietary page ranking technology with Millions of popular Web sites indexed.

The Art of Raising Prices: Lessons from Amazon Prime

 

Raising PricesThink about what Amazon has done to convince us how much we will save with Prime. And how even a large price increase seems like a real value.

Read more on pricing from Channel Instincts at “Are You Pricing for Volume or Profit?” and “What Does ‘Your Price Is Too High’ Really Mean?”

Good Selling!