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In the article “Branding ‘the Bay/la Baie’: Corporate Identity, the Hudson’s Bay Company and the Burden of History in the 1960s,” James Opp argues that branding is important in the current business environment for any company to succeed. The author suggests that customers’ perceptions of the brand name determine their level of identification with the products offered by a specific firm. Opp makes his case by following through the history of the Hudson’s Bay Company and the challenges that executives faced while trying to expand into other areas outside Canada. Originally founded in the English-speaking region of Canada, the company tried to open new stores in Quebec and Montreal by acquiring Morgan’s department stores in 1960. Five years later, HBC was struggling to attract the target clientele base because of poor branding.
In 1965, the founder of HBC was outraged when the company announced that the flagship department would be called “The Bay. ” HBC was apparently named “The Bay” to appeal to the new customer base. However, the Hudson’s Bay Company could not attract the attention of customers in the new regions. Most of them believed that the name still depicted its English connotation; hence, some form of capitalism. It is evident from the article that customers are integral in determining the brand name of a store. Most people always sick to identify with corporations that appreciate their cultural aspects. Since HBC was operating in both the English-speaking and French-speaking suburban areas, it became crucial to integrate the two cultures so that a common tag name could help in promoting products and services offered by HBC. In suggesting the significance of customer needs, the author collected primary data through interviews. A sample of participants came from both English-speaking and French-speaking regions to provide their perception of HBC’s products and those that came from the Morgan department store. While women identified to be English speakers preferred products from HBC, French speakers would rather purchase their items from the Morgan department. James Opp assumes that the history of the company determines its success. This notion is unsupported because HBC had a long history but when it decided to go international, customers from the French-speaking regions resisted its products. They wanted a store that could depict their local culture in terms of the name and the logo. For this reason, branding is about understanding customer needs as opposed to the parent company’s history. It was difficult to consider HBC as a representation of a “national identity. ”
Some customers feared the increasing level of capitalism attached to the name. As suggested in the article, HBC was led by a London-based governor and board of directors. Many customers looked at American-based organizations with much suspicion. HBC’s history did not protect it from fears that Canadian corporations were losing ground in the global marketplace. The corporate identity of HBC had to take a global face to succeed in new markets. The consolidation process of HBC and the Morgan department store required recommendations from experts. They carried out a market research and discovered the concerns of consumers, especially regarding the imagery and logo. The organization was set to operate in two major regions, and therefore, the L&M team suggested that the brand name is called “The Bay/La Baie Morgan’s. ” Although branding is vital in selling products from a specific organization, other factors should be considered. James Opp presumes that branding is enough in acquiring a large customer base. A close look at the discussion in the article, it is evident that advertising and pricing are integral in attain customer trust. Among the correspondents, some argued that products from HBC and Morgan were highly priced.
The business environment is so competitive that companies must use more than one strategy to achieve clientele loyalty. For instance, they could focus on product differentiation to appeal to different types of customers. The organization was operating in both urban and suburban areas, implying that its customers had varied economic capabilities. After reading the article, one will realize that capitalism has a long history. HBC was preparing to celebrate its 300th anniversary as it moved to new regions around the world. However, the founders of the company wished to retain the history of the company by maintaining the English connotation of the brand names in new markets. The move attracted strong resistance from other communities, especially French-speakers. This clientele base could not identify with the brand name that had an American origin. They wanted something within the local attachment. Therefore, in the process of expanding to other regions around the globe, it is important for firms to conduct research on the local culture of the destination country. It is possible that a company has superior products but fail to sell because of capitalism. The strong belief that some regions dominate the market causes some customers to alienate with products from these areas. Similarly, fighting capitalism proves hard because of the strongly-rooted beliefs among consumers.
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