Bentley College Marketing- Honors

This blog is for MK 402-H01 and the greater Bentley College population.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Is McDonalds Betraying Its Brand?

OK, I have officially changed my blog to Michael Wagner’s blog, “Own Your Brand: Everything About What it Takes to be a Brand Owner.” Frankly, I find his postings more relevant and more interesting than Michelle Miller’s blog (although I did just watch her video and like her a lot more since I watched her video on her blog) and it also doesn’t hurt to blog on someone who comments and requires me to think a little extra before I go and post! So, Michelle, please forgive me and Mike, you’re my new pick!

Mike’s most recent posting is titled “I Want Large Fries with My Fruit Buzz” and details McDonald’s new strategy of appealing to women through the creation and promotion of fruit, salads, etc. Mike then goes on to challenge this decision, calling out McDonalds on its decision to “lose their ‘difference’ ” and “ ‘forsake originality’ for ‘the latest political agenda’.” He promotes the idea to brand owners to think twice before making any changes to the brand image that has brought them success and has differentiated them in the past. People started going to McDonalds in the first place to bite into a juicy hamburger on the go, not munch on a crunchy salad to lose weight.

The aspect of this blog that relates it to marketing is the message that it sends to brand owners and its discussion of brand identity. In regards to informing marketing, this blog posting contains a good deal of “food for thought” (no pun intended) and the effect that changes in a brand’s messaging could potentially have on the success of that brand. Mike encourages brand owners to not “mess with, or in any way change what has historically made you different or relevant in the minds of your customers.” This touches on factors of brand loyalty and the emotions and connotations that one associates with a brand upon building loyalty. The farther a brand strays from the image its customers associate with the brand, the higher the risk of losing that customer and decreasing overall brand loyalty. This is an important point and assessment that every marketer should fully evaluate before making a change in messaging. Determining the level to which such a change affects the image of the brand and the emotions that customers associate and connect with the brand could represent a big differece in a company's overall customer loyalty and retention.

When I began to evaluate the level to which this blog improved my understanding of marketing, I actually found myself more confused on this topic after reading Mike’s posting (no fault on Mike’s part, simply due to varying class discussions we have had on this topic). While I fully understand and find his points compelling and applicable, I find myself confused as to where the line should be drawn between evolving with the consumer and sticking to your brand image and strategy. On one hand, I can see how deferring from McDonalds original and intended strategy to provide “finger lick’n McNuggets dunked into dipp’n sauce” would cause some people to lose faith in the brand and feel McDonalds is being untrue to itself. On the other hand, weight consciousness is a huge issue in today’s society and those in the fast food business who do not develop alternate menu possibilities for those looking to lead a healthy and still on the go lifestyle are missing out on a huge market opportunity. Hence my original question as to where the line should be drawn. When does a move to appeal to a new market cross into the territory of betraying brand identity? (I think all these weeks of writing essay questions for homework is finally getting to me…).

As far as a critique on this blog posting goes, I would have loved to read Mike’s thoughts on the opposite side of this argument (somewhere along the line of the question posed above) and see him negate the idea that there is a potential for new market capture by offering these healthy menu items. I feel it would have strengthened his argument and provided a more well rounded presentation of his argument.


Anonymous Michael Wagner said...

Nicole - honored to be your "official" blog!

But I am a big fan of Michelle Miller and her blog. I can see why like her more after watching her video. She is who she is, and we all long for authentic sources of wisdom in our lives.

You have raised some good questions for me to reflect on. Thank you!

Wednesday, April 05, 2006 12:02:00 AM  

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