<trp-post-container data-trp-post-id='26510'>Brands in the turmoil

European tourists travelling to Sri Lanka or Bangladesh will be astonished to discover televisions, washing machines and refrigerators bearing the Singer brand name: for them, Singer means sewing machines, and only sewing machines; an old brand, certainly robust, but one that no one expects in the high-tech sector!

Singer Sri Lanka is proud of its roots: "The Singer saga begins with its founder Isaac Merrit Singer and his revolutionary invention - the Sewing Machine". but the company has since come under Hong Kong control and now sells all kinds of products, from the essential sewing machine to LCD televisions, mattresses and hairdryers.

The marketing man will look at the saga with interest: how can the same brand tell two different stories in parallel while claiming the same origin and the same values?

Some brands have more than one story to tell in the course of their existence, as we've become used to - but rarely in parallel, as is the case with Singer: more often than not, these are brands that had their moment of glory and have since fallen into disrepair, like Talbot, which was mothballed in 1960 after its takeover by Simca, then revived by PSA in 1979 ... only to let it die again a few years later.

In the majority of cases, the brand owner no longer exploits the brand directly: it is licensed either to a distributor or to a start-up that does not have the financial resources to launch its own brand and thus benefits from values that it could never have afforded.

In France today, you'll find televisions, telephones, small electrical appliances, home automation systems, computers and tablets... Thomson, even though the brand's owner, Technicolor, neither manufactures nor markets any of these products.

For consumers, there is a certain amount of deception: many still believe they are buying televisions made by a national company, when in fact it is the Chinese company TCL that designs them!

But a brand is part of a company's balance sheet, and licence fees can be very lucrative. At Adwise, we co-authored the ISO standard on brand valuation with Ernst & Young.

Beware of faulty products, and the whole reputation of televisions and telephones suffers ipso facto.

Until a few years ago, the damage caused by a faulty product could easily be contained, as consumers could only complain in the shop or to their friends, and then a good advertising campaign would rectify their mistakes.

Today, manufacturers are discovering that a disgruntled customer - or even a single disgruntled fan, as the latest Clarks sexism case proves - has plenty of friends on social networks, who themselves have plenty of others: the setbacks of one quickly spread like wildfire! The sacked employee is always at the mercy of a mistake made ... by people he or she doesn't know and over whom he or she has no control.

In the age of social media, some brands seem like rudderless ships - constantly hoping that the storm won't hit... but it's not always a case of crossing your fingers and arriving safely in port.

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