What Avon And Gillette Can Teach Us About Branding

Big brands have market share. Sometimes huge. Gillette; a global dominator and Avon a Top Global Direct Sales Company. Gillette’s market share hasn’t a close threat in sight (other than online sales where they only get a fifth of the market) but Avon, well, they lost 3.08% in 2014 and surrendered the title of top global-direct-sales-company to Amway. In response to that loss, they’ve come back with a phenomenal ad campaign, which will no doubt get them some favourable results.

Is it evil to watch the battle of the brands? One loses out and fights back with creative ad campaigns to claim their leading spots back?

It is fascinating, but when you delve deeper into the makings of big brands, there are a few things we can all learn about how they go about claiming market share in the first place.

How Brands Become Established

They say that a brand is everything a business needs to succeed. It’s not. Your brand needs an audience to succeed. You can only define your brand but your audience are the people who gain momentum for it to grow.

To make that happen, you need to make powerful impacts in your marketing. Branded content will only go so far at spreading your company name and at that, you’re only advertising a name with no real purpose.

If you’re spending big on a marketing budget, there’s a high chance you need to get around a white board, do some creative brainstorming and define your business.

There are brands big, small, personal, and some downright favourable. At the very least of a goal, yours should be to be favourable. There’s always going to be competition and you never know when a competitor is going to move into your patch. That area you thought a few years ago was a perfect haven with a gap in the market for you to move into will never be safe. Even if you’re business is online and “not on the high street” – a phrase that’s turned into a brand.

Problem is, if you can do it, so can someone else, or a bigger outfit with a bigger purse to splash out and take over your terrain. Do you have the capital to compete with a franchise and…

Did capital make you think money?

Capital isn’t just cashflow. Money will only get your business so far until the funds run dry. What can never run dry are your brand ambassadors.

Take Wikipedia – Supposedly the most trusted source on the internet. Some people cite them; others loathe them stating flat out they are not a credible source because the material is self-authored.

Opinions aside, it is a brand. They have a mission statement, a vision and most importantly – the brand has values, in which they state “Our community is our biggest asset”.

Love or loathe them, they know they can improve. What they define is never set in stone and some sources, not even their own editors trust and make that abundantly clear when you arrive on an information source.

Like this one:

Brand Ambassador

“Brand ambassador is marketing jargon for celebrity endorser or spokesmodel, a person employed by an organization or company to promote its products or services. The brand ambassador is meant to embody the corporate identity in appearance.”

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brand_ambassador

There’s so many things wrong with that. Your brand ambassadors are not employed by your company to endorse your product. Every celebrity endorsed interruption ad on any TV channel… it’s blatantly obvious that those people are paid to say and do what the company puts in their script. They’re rarely trusted and when they are, it’s idiotic.

Unless it has something to make it credible – so Avon gets an exemption on their recent ad campaign. Right at the start of the commercial, it sounds the same as the rest until they said they sent their products to beauty bloggers. When viewers heard that, it prompts the response of “they did what”. What happened? Bloggers, Social Media, TV – What’s going on? Genius marketing and branding.

Image Source: http://www.avon.uk.com/PRSuite/blogger_TV_advert.page

Near the end of Helen Anderson’s unboxing video (featured in the TV ad) on YouTube showed what a brand is. On her video, you could see her remember her Avon Lady who was her school nurse, and when she says she “remembered the scratchy pages“…it was clear there were memorable moments there.

Why didn’t they put that in the ad?

It invoked memories of a brand she’d completely forgotten about and that was from when she was just a kid. They’re still going and still do business in the same way. Just using multimedia channels to reach more people. There’s likely a ton of people who just forgot because for one reason or another, the Avon Lady fell out of touch.

The point of that story is they are clearly memorable. They have a brand, they have representatives, and to be where are today, they must have core values somewhere to give their company and representatives a guide.

Quick check and yes they do indeed.


1. Belief
2. Integrity
3. Respect
4. Trust
5. Humility

That last one is not something you see often and they clearly state they are not always right. And they aren’t right on that page either because they finish off by stating
“We’re no less human than the people who work for us” – No!

Anyone at the Avon HQ reading this – We’re no less human than the people who work with us.

Change for to with and it reads a lot differently.

Independent Representatives work for themselves and partner with others. They don’t work for others. They work with them. That just denounced the third core value of respect.

Take that as a lesson in writing. It only takes one word out of place on your copy and it’ll devalue the message you’re trying to send out.

A brand needs core values.

It’s something that no page on Wikipedia will ever be able to define because it’s unique to your business.

You have a vision, a dream even. However, you’re smart enough to know that you need a path to reach your goals. You can’t go about your business with your head in the clouds. You need to come back down from dreaming to deal with the realities of keeping growth on track and you need a clear path to do that.

That path starts with your brand identity. The core values that your business sets out to uphold in everything you and your partners do. As for partners, take a lesson from Starbucks #tobeapartner where employees are partners.

Core values are not a one off exercise either. When you’re small, your core values will be focusing on the independence and personalising the experience to create memorable moments. As your company grows, there may be wording that needs changing in your core values, more added, and some altered. Perhaps even a re-branding campaign to redefine your business.

The core values of a brand represent a navigation tool

Nothing too complex and simple enough to be understood.

Do you need to set core values to define your brand?

No, but you definitely should. If you’re not convinced, think of any industry and see what the market leaders have in place.

Let’s take the shaving industry as an example. It’s no surprise that Gillette dominates. It has over 70% market share in the UK, and even higher worldwide with 81% market share. Not even a close second Schick (we know as Wilkinson Sword) which has 17% market share.

Take a look at both brands and you figure if you need to core values or not.

Gillette has a mission

Image Source: http://gillette.co.uk/en-gb/about-gillette

Wilkinson Sword has a timeline.

Image Source: http://www.wilkinsonsword.co.uk/our-heritage

See the difference? Market leaders lead, they innovate, they connect with people. Gillette makes the promise in one statement that implies every new razor launch will be better than the last.

What’s implied by Wilkinson Sword? Something along the lines of the brand your Great Grandpa trusted for his weaponry during the Battle of Omdurman?

Both brands are successful and have their own loyal customers. One focuses on innovation, whereas the other focuses on heritage. It’s still core values.

A brand is much more than a business…

• It defines your core values
• It defines your vision
• It defines your growth

The most important part of a brand is the connection. Or as the Wikimedia Foundation call their biggest asset – Our Community!

Define your brand and connect with your audience using your message. Audiences build brands. Core values, mission statements, and visions are all defining what your business stands for. Others will connect with your message and that’s what builds your community and your community builds your brand.

You just have to tell people what you stand for.

• Gillette do it
• Avon do it
• Starbucks do it

It’s hardly worth mentioning Coca Cola but there you go.

Make your mission statement a promise to be delivered and then tell the world what your brand is setting out to do. Connect with others, build a community and those are the people who will promote your brand name.