Dockers vs Snapple

So, you might see that title and think “Wait, am I in a Netflix commercial?” But I was asked in my branding class which company – Dockers or Snapple – did better in using marketing programs and branding elements. While there are great arguments for both sides, I came down on the side of Dockers. Here’s why.

When Levi’s created the Dockers brand, it created an entirely new brand market. The messaging was an “everyman” image, showing ordinary men wearing Dockers in everyday situations. Though the core essence of the brand was the same, the brand proved adaptable when it moved into new marketing campaigns. Dockers relied on distributors to sell its product, so it worked with retailers from the beginning to ensure the “everyman” image was promoted to the end consumer. The brand was positioned to be viewed as accessible by all categories of men, and the price point and variety of distribution channels reflected that accessibility. Dockers used a combination of marketing programs, including traditional print and TV advertisements as well as in store displays and sponsorships (such as the US Open.) Dockers found itself needing to innovate its marketing as competitors like the Gap started eating into market share, but continued to preserve its image with new products and more updated advertising.

In contrast, Snapple started as a similarly unique brand, but I would argue it was not as successful in keeping a solid brand identity. Originally, it focused on all natural products and a slogan that showcased that it was  – “Made from the Best Stuff on Earth.” The Keller case notes that Snapple practically created the non-carbonated beverage category (Case, 329). Its high price point and limited distribution contributed to an image of an upscale, high-quality brand. However, product placement in various sitcoms and the use of a real-life employee spokeswoman also gave the brand a human and engaging face. But the brand did not respond well to competitive threats and was sold to Quaker Oats after loosing market share. Snapple attempted to recover, re-engaging with its customer base through promotions like naming a beverage after a customer and creating a “Snapple-fest,” but the lack of product innovation stalled the brand. In addition, an outside heath audit and distribution issues further damaged the brand. Snapple resorted to traditional advertising techniques, which further diluted the brand.

While I would argue that the Snapple brand has more “heart,” Dockers has maintained a more consistent brand over its life cycle.  What can you do to focus on consistency in your brand messaging. If your brand is stale, what can you do to shake things up (while still maintaining your brand)?

Keller, Kevin Lane. (2008). Strategic Brand Management: Building, Measuring and Managing Brand Equity (3rd edition). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall.
Keller, Kevin Lane. (2008). Best Practice Cases in Branding: Lessons from the World’s Strongest Brands (3rd edition). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall.

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