Headquarters: Atlanta Brand established: 1919 2005 advertising: $192.8 million 2006 Interbrand/BusinessWeek ranking: No. 32 Brand value: $17 billion CoreBrand ranking: 15
STRENGTHS: Gregory: Like two great fighters, it is fascinating to watch the brand battle between FedEx and UPS. Brand Power for UPS has grown from 76.4 in 2003 to 82.9 in 2006. The UPS brand equity has grown from 19.00% in 2003 to 19.54% in 2006. Ries: UPS is the dominant package delivery carrier. With more and more business being done over the Internet, the long-term prognosis for the company is highly favorable. CHALLENGES Roth: The Mailboxes Etc. acquisition has helped establish a retail presence, but UPS has been slow to effect the transition, and the location branding seems to lack the presence of its FedEx Kinko’s rival. Ries: The company’s biggest problems might be internal. If its drivers go on strike, the company’s reputation would be seriously endangered.Verizon Communications' efforts to become a broad-based media and business solutions company moved forward on several fronts this year, from the continued development of its multibillion-dollar fiber optics network to its acquisition of MCI Corp.
Verizon Communications' efforts to become a broad-based media and business solutions company moved forward on several fronts this year, from the continued development of its multibillion-dollar fiber optics network to its acquisition of MCI Corp.But for many customers, the branding message that resonates best still comes from the spectacled, nebbish "test man" at its Verizon Wireless division who is known for his frequently asked question, "Can you hear me now?"
The question has been answered in Verizon Wireless' favor; it maintains the lowest customer turnover rate in the industry and is the engine behind the parent company's growth. (Verizon Wireless is a joint venture of Verizon and Vodafone.)
But this year, "test man" wasn't alone. New TV spots showed the network of people that work behind the scenes supporting his ability to get clear reception. One such 30-second execution from McCann Erickson, New York, showed a man who was told to come along to a meeting with shady characters, only to find that his network is standing behind him. The shady-looking character he is meeting starts complaining about how unreliable his own wireless service is when he's doing business in remote areas.
Verizon Wireless says the addition of a crew behind "test man" is another way to deliver the reliability message and build the brand. "There are many companies that can build brands but not stand for their brand," said Suzy Deering, director of brand management and integration at Verizon Wireless. "The network and the personification of the network—we have those real people. That's important."
Scott Davis, senior partner at branding firm Prophet Inc., sees the latest permutation of the campaign as a bridge strategy to the b-to-b world, showing the depth of resources and experience behind "test man."
"It's just a phenomenal bridge, whether planned or not, to take advantage of moving more to the b-to-b space," he said. "Verizon is trying to rise above and transcend both of these markets, and I think they're doing an OK job of it."
Some worry that Verizon's efforts to extend its brand equity may backfire.
"They are a very strong brand right now," said Steven Addis, CEO of brand consultancy Addis Group. "I worry about this new strategy. The old-fashioned strategy is you roll up a vertically integrated market; you change all the names to one master brand. My prediction is that runs counter to the personalization that people demand now." —M.E.P.