Friday, August 13, 2004

Master Branding Run Amok at Bayer

It’s a floor wax.
It’s a dessert topping.
Hey, you’re both right. It’s a floor wax and a dessert topping!

Bayer seems to have confused corporate brand positioning with a master brand strategy. How else to explain aspirin and pest control sharing the same brand? In a business portfolio, it makes sense – in a life sciences kind of way – improving health and well being with medicine and technology, etc. But as a consumer, I am left confused. “Wait, Bayer the aspirin company makes pesticide? Huh? Is that stuff getting into my aspirin?”

Certainly there’s a PowerPoint deck out there in Bayer land offering a healthy logic flow to using the Bayer name on aspirin and pesticide: “the equity in the Bayer name in various markets; the themes of life/science/technology that can serve as an umbrella to the portfolio, yada yada yada…” Bayer has a long history of innovation across a range of technologies and chemicals and materials. Yet most of their products are sold as ingredients for things like sunglasses and vehicle construction and, yes, pest control. For an investor audience, a Bayer umbrella may make some sense (Hey, it works for GE). For internal corporate structure it may make sense to group businesses by technology, rather than by market. And perhaps the Bayer name has “aspirin equity” in one geography and “pest control equity” in a second geography and neither business was willing to drop the brand.

But someone, somewhere at Bayer should have just offered some Emperor’s New Clothes common sense. Products that are almost diametrically opposed in what they do should not live under the same consumer brand. Period.

Mmmm delicious.
And just look at that shine!


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June 21, 2006 at 9:04 PM  

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