Brand Architecture to Red Light the “NASCAR” Syndrome
The early 2000s saw much consolidation in the paper market. By 2004, Georgia-Pacific had grown from a smaller 9% share player to the largest player with 41% share of the paper market. As expected, much of this growth was through acquisition leaving Georgia-Pacific with a plethora of disjointed brands across the towel, tissue and napkin markets – what Georgia-Pacific referred to as the “NASCAR” syndrome. The product portfolio was further complicated as Georgia-Pacific had pursued a “source-brand” branding model where the product-based sub-brand was king.
In an effort to better manage the overall Georgia-Pacific Commercial product portfolio, the recommendation was made to consider moving more towards a masterbrand model where the Georgia-Pacific brand would be emphasized, and the product-based sub-brands would be deemphasized. As part of the movement towards a more prominent Georgia-Pacific brand, many product offerings and especially product brands would have to be consolidated. As part of this consolidation, Georgia-Pacific was unsure how to best leverage their venerable Dixie sub-brand while moving to build the masterbrand.
Georgia-Pacific asked FullSurge to partner in this effort to achieve not only a common global master brand architecture but also how to best leverage the Dixie brand within it.
We commenced the project with one-on-one, in-depth Georgia-Pacific leadership interviews and group telephone calls with the four regional sales teams. We analyzed existing Georgia-Pacific primary research as well as secondary industry research. Further, we conducted store audits to understand better how the Dixie brand was being positioned in the retail segment. Our “ah-ha” moment came when we began probing on the value of the various sub-brands. Not surprising, when we initially asked about the importance of sub-brands across the businesses, most responded that sub-brands were critical. However, when we asked which sub-brands had marketplace equity or recognition, many acquiesced. Further, when asked specifically about the value of the sub-brand versus the value of the Dixie brand, answers varied widely. Still, the overwhelming cry was, “please don’t take Dixie away from us.”
We believed that it was the proliferation of sub-brands rather than the overuse of the Dixie brand that was the greater threat to the Food Services Solutions business. Given this, we recommended a product-based brand architecture that would allow for the co-existence of both the Georgia-Pacific and Dixie brand. It was the most intuitive and straightforward architecture structure, eliminating branded organizational levels, and integrating business lines into a customer-facing product offering. It allowed the Georgia-Pacific Professional brand to play a more prominent role across product offering while still allowing the Dixie brand to be leveraged to its fullest extent across foodservice products. Dixie would become the range brand across all products. It established product as king, setting the stage to create streamlined product segmentation based upon the customer-in rather than the organization-out as well as enabling customers to identify value providing offerings clearly. Lastly, it allowed the organization to easily highlight and position truly differentiated offerings within the overall product portfolio.
We believed that it was the proliferation of sub-brands rather than the overuse of the Dixie brand that was the greater threat to the Food Services Solutions business.
Georgia-Pacific fully embraced our architecture recommendations and commenced a commercial wide initiative to implement the strategy – including a complete website overhaul. FullSurge was subsequently hired to develop the implementation plan to sunset the plethora of product sub-brands as part of our recommendation. Georgia-Pacific continues to be one of our longest-standing clients and the relationship has grown to include Georgia-Pacific Chemical as well as Georgia-Pacific Gypsum.