This Brand’s for You. Or is it?

Brand equity. It’s something we all tirelessly strive to build and maintain in order to ensure consistency with everything we do. Which is why it’s so interesting, confusing, and above all else, frustrating, to watch one of the biggest brands in the national landscape change their name. Just for the summer.

By now you have guessed that I am talking about Budweiser’s move to change their name to America for the summer months of 2016.

Being a bit of a beer snob, I won’t even get started on the sub-par product that Budweiser – er, America – puts in their bottles and cans and calls beer. Leaving that all behind, they still have one of the most recognizable brands and names on the face of the planet. They brew more “beer” than any other brewery – in the world!

So why would they risk all of that equity for one summer’s worth of changing their name? It has to be pretty apparent to most people – marketers aside – that this is a blatant attempt to sell out to get American consumers right where they want us. Shelling out more dollars in the name of American, patriotic-themed stuff.

But might Anheuser-Busch InBev also be trying to figure out a way around larger problems plaguing their market? Such as:

  • It’s no secret that AB InBev has been struggling with the idea that portraying themselves the “American beer” just doesn’t work when your parent company is based in Belgium. Ever since the 2008 founding of AB InBev, drinking a Bud just seems a little less patriotic than it used to.
  • Craft micro breweries keep popping up and not backing down. Some of the lucky ones are turning more into craft macro breweries and spreading their distribution network far and wide. And with Budweiser’s 2016 Super Bowl ad taking aim at these breweries, one might guess they might be starting to feel threatened by a changing market.
  • AB InBev is willing to pull out all of the stops to capitalize on a year when we all might be feeling a bit more patriotic, especially come August and the start of the 2016 Summer Olympics, to sell more beer.

So what does this mean for your bank or credit union brand?

  1. Remember where you’re coming from and what your brand stands for. I’m thoroughly convinced that this move will be one of those things we look back on in 10 years and say to ourselves “Remember when Budweiser changed their name to America? That was funny.” And then we’ll all laugh and take a drink from a Sam Adams (or Fat Tire, etc.). The point is, these little blips in the branding radar aren’t long-term, just like your auto loan rate promotion. Stay true to your brand and your market will stay true to you.
  2. Do what makes the most sense for your market and audience. Budweiser changing their brand for the summer may make sense in certain contexts. They’re also marketing to people who are looking to drink beer. Even if you had the budget and brand equity to do something silly like this, would it make sense? We certainly don’t see Wells Fargo or Bank of America trying it out.
  3. Focus on what matters. At the end of the day, we want our customers and members to remember us as a trusted financial partner. Keep your brand consistent to your values and what matters to your bank or credit union and the people you serve.

It would be interesting to find out if Budweiser’s name change for the next six months spurs more beer sales than they would have seen for the same time frame year-over-year. Likely, we’ll never know, but what’s your guess? Is this Bud – er – America for you?