Hostess Demonstrates What A Brand Should Be

November 21st, 2012 by Don Tanner

If there was any question about what a brand should constitute need only look at the ongoing and unfortunate saga of Hostess. A bankruptcy judge in White Plains, New York this week approved a motion by Hostess Brands to begin winding down its operations. In recent days, the iconic maker of bakery goods has very nearly knocked both the Petraeus scandal and Middle East turmoil off of the front page as Twinkies, Ding Dongs and Ho Hos have literally flown off the shelves of retailers from coast to coast and, like gold, onto Ebay and into personal stashes.

What is a brand exactly? Certainly not a logo. In the case of Hostess, most are hard pressed to recall the Hostess name in blue encircled in a red oval, topped with a red heart. No, a brand, when done right, is something that elicits a positive emotional response and, over time when continually delivering on a “brand promise”: “brand loyalty”.

Most who grew up with Hostess – in less health conscious times to be sure – are certainly nostalgic about the company, brand and what it represents; namely, delicious treats enjoyed during youth. I have incredibly fond memories of riding my bike to the grocery store with friends, 50 cents in hand, to purchase my favorite – the Hostess Fruit Pie (preferably Apple). We then would ride to an area playground to eat our fare from high atop one of the playscapes on one of those lazy summer days. Priceless memories of youth no doubt played out by many millions of individuals over the years. And Hostess consistently played a prominent, priceless role.

It is precisely why, when news of Hostess’ imminent demise first broke, scores of consumers (many of whom no doubt had not purchased a Ding Dong in years), felt compelled to snap up a piece of Americana; indeed a morsel of their very childhood. That constitutes brand gold and is precisely why one or several companies are expected to buy either all or specific products for somewhere in the neighborhood of a billion dollars. And employee layoffs aside, if that’s not a creamy center, I don’t know what is.

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