Nestle’s decision to throw its weight behind a corporate branding
campaign (story, page 4) raises the question of why corporate branding
is figuring so prominently on the marketing agenda.
With the recent cases of Shell, Monsanto and British Nuclear Fuels, the
motive for a corporate push is clear: these are companies pleading to be
liked, to be forgiven for past sins and trusted in the future. Arguably,
Nestle, which is still trying to distance itself from the baby-milk
episode, also falls into this category.
But for most fmcg manufacturers, which have historically let their
brands do the talking, there are few obvious reasons to trumpet the
corporate name. Do consumers really care, or believe, that Kellogg’s
mission statement is ’Serving the Nation’s Health’? The important thing
is that it keeps on making good Corn Flakes. And will shoppers buy more
Nestle brands if they are reminded they are furthering the fortunes of
the world’s biggest food company?
We appreciate that research - from the Henley Centre and Business in the
Community to name but two - says consumers increasingly look behind
brands at the credentials of the parent company. But that doesn’t mean
they suddenly love big corporations. It’s still the case that the bigger
the company the less inclined people are to like it.
Underneath all the psycho-babble, the real reason most companies invest
in corporate branding is to inflate the chairman’s ego by showing off to
competitors and the City. The ’we’re bigger than you’ factor still has a
lot to answer for.