How did an iconic brand grow when customers were “actively disengaged” and the market was confused about its value proposition?
As the Manager of Brand Strategy, my successes included infusing positioning and consumer research into a category-defining “store of the future” and re-imagining the tire, maintenance, and repair experience into a more customer-friendly encounter. I also addressed market confusion through a new name, tag line, and visual identity.
While Firestone’s $3 billion category-leading retail arm had grown on the strength of its parent’s iconic product, their business model fostered churn and their brand sowed market confusion.
Consumers wanted one-stop shopping across buying tires, maintaining their cars, and repairing their cars. But the overwhelming presence of tires in the stores – market research revealed, for example, that the smell of rubber permeated the in-store experience – left the impression that tires were the brand’s only business.
The in-store experience was also more oriented to “gear heads” that the target, lower-involvement “moms with minivans”.
Confusion was exacerbated by independent dealers that used the Firestone logo if they sold Firestone tires and by the retailer’s poorly supported service brand, Mastercare.
Though charged with the discrete task of raising retention by developing a new store format, I employed market research to identify the wider opportunity of building a relevantly differentiated retail brand.
I partnered with the COO (my manager) to transform the research into a positioning and tag line, “The experience you want”. It addressed the challenging point of sale experience and tapped the brand’s decades of expertise.
The retail design agency that I managed created a category-defining store of the future based on my brand strategy.
I clarified the complex brand architecture by eliminating Mastercare, for example. The name I crated, Firestone Complete Auto Care, is still in market. Our team also implemented a messaging hierarchy, brand personality guide, and refreshed graphic presence. I partnered with digital teams to rethink the online experience
To drive adoption of these strategies, I spoke at internal conferences, Board meetings, and store meetings across the United States.
The evolved brand and revitalized retail format were rolled out nationally.