Brand for hire: tick!
I don’t want to dissect the details of the program in depth, but when Milo cereal, certain McDonald’s items and Wonder Bread can get a tick of approval, I’ve got to wonder what sort of food would be excluded.
In defending the program this week, Heart Foundation spokespeople were quick to point out that it’s important for people to know the “healthiest” option in a category. It might be just me, but “best of a bad bunch” is no reason to rent the legitimacy of your brand to anyone – even if they are paying you to do it.
Here is where we get to the crux of the matter. When the Heart Foundation bestows the “tick” on a product people don’t think it is just saying this is better for you than others in the category (the way they define it on their website). They see the “tick” and think this is good for me and my family, end of story. The whole comparison piece is lost by the time the “tick” reaches the shelves and what you are left with is, “The Heart Foundation says that <insert product name here> is good for me.”
The Heart Foundation is essentially renting out its brand. Call it a licensing fee or whatever you like but it comes down to the same thing. And, that wouldn’t be a problem if the “who” in this rental equation was more aligned with what the Heart Foundation stands for.
Again from their website the Heart Foundation Vision and Mission are as follows:
“Our Vision: For Australians to have the best cardiovascular health in the world.
Our Mission: To reduce suffering and death from heart, stroke and blood vessel disease in Australia.”
Using those as guidelines (and what you stand for is at the heart of your brand) there should be no justification for the Heart Foundation to ever provide legitimacy to an organisation that contributes staggering amounts of fat, salt and sugar to the diets of millions around the world who eat there – even if the options that carry the “tick” meet whatever determined category criteria.
The long-term health of your brand is always worth more than any short-term addition to the coffers. The Heart Foundation is a good organisation. It provides many useful programs and that work takes funds. I am sure the “tick” program provides revenue that funds many of the others... but at what cost?
I am not suggesting the Heart Foundation should abandon the “tick” program, but perhaps look beyond whether the food meets the “category criteria” and see the bigger picture. After all, it’s the brand at stake here and while you can’t put a value on reputation, I’m pretty sure it’s worth more than a few licensing fees.
See you next week.
Michel Hogan is a Brand Advocate. Through her work with Brandology here in Australia and in the United States, she helps organisations recognise who they are and align that with what they do and say, to build more authentic and sustainable brands. She also publishes the Brand thought leadership blog - Brand Alignment. is a Brand Advocate. Through her work with Brandology here in Australia and in the United States, she helps organisations recognise who they are and align that with what they do and say, to build more authentic and sustainable brands. She also publishes the Brand thought leadership blog - Brand Alignment.