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Davis ThinkingDavis Thinking } analysis and interpretation

Protecting Your Brand at Every Touch Point

Monday, April 23, 2007

Skurban. Yes, that’s Skater + Urban.

As a branding person, I nearly laughed out loud when I read that word atop a Nike display during a recent trip to the mall. And I’m sure quite a few jaded, Vans-wearing teenagers did as well.

After this fiasco , I was surprised Nike would be naïve enough to use corporate speak so laughably bad to market its skater-style sneakers. Then I noticed it wasn’t Nike who had scourged its rather edgy, fashion-forward shoe with Skurban, but retailer Foot Locker .

Most teens would probably sooner be afflicted with scurvy or scabies than use the word skurban in front of their friends. Nike knows better. Apparently Foot Locker (or the out-of-touch agency that developed the “lifestyle segmentation strategy” for the retail displays) doesn’t. And Nike will suffer the consequences.

Later in the day I stopped by a big-box retailer. I was minding my own business trying to find shampoo when a wrinkly, tired-looking old man stuck out his liver-spotted hands and said:

“Acne cream sir?”

I’m sure AcneFree would prefer a better pitchman. Especially since the brand’s strategy is based on a head-to-head comparison with Proactive , whose pitch people include superstar hotties Jessica Simpson , Lindsay Lohan , Diddy , and others.

The point is brands can do everything right – from product design to brand communications – only to screw things up at the final touch point with consumers. Distributors, partners, licensees, employees and creepy, acne-cream-pushing old men are all brand ambassadors that can make or break the end touch point with consumers.

Brand managers must monitor all brand touch points through frequent brand audits to ensure nobody is dropping the ball along the way. For global brands like Nike, that’s no easy feat. But it’s certainly worth the effort to avoid catching a nasty case of the Skurban.

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