“Great Programs And Products Are Built On Great Insight And Knowledge”

Q&A with Scott Bannell, V.P. Corporate Brand Management and Licensing at Stanley Black & Decker

Stanley Black & Decker’s brands generate annual revenues of over $10 billion and span a wide range of products, including hand and power tools, lawn and garden equipment, security systems, healthcare solutions, and more.

The company has commissioned various branding studies with B2B International over the years. B2B International’s Julia Cupman spoke to Scott Bannell, V.P. Corporate Brand Management and Licensing at Stanley Black & Decker, to ask his thoughts on market research and branding:

What is your role at Stanley Black & Decker?

I’m responsible for brand management, brand advertising, sponsorships, social media and licensing. I also manage a wide range of projects typically related to branding, and get involved in the annual report.

So how many brands are there within the company?

Well there are the big five: Stanley, Black & Deck6er, DEWALT, Bostitch, and Porter-Cable. We have over 100 brands, but some are more niche and some are just product names. We probably have 30 big brands, including regional brands such as Facom in Europe and Sidchrome in Australia.

What challenges do you face in managing brands for both consumer and b2b markets?

I’d say the biggest issue is staying true to the brand promise while that brand is used in different industries and by different end users. It’s so easy to want to do one brand positioning for a particular type of b2b customer, and a different brand position for another type of end user.

With a brand like Stanley, it’s everywhere – it’s in Walmart, it’s used for putting cars together, it protects babies, etc. Its touchpoints are just amazing. It’s much easier to precision target for the likes of DEWALT (professional grade power tools), compared to a family brand like Stanley.

Outside of Stanley Black & Decker, which brands have impressed you in recent years, and why?

I like Caterpillar; worldwide they’ve always impressed me. They look good. They’re consistent. I watch them a lot.

I also think McDonald’s is fabulous. I like their branding, their consistency, how they listen to the market, for example consumers wanting healthier and fresher food, compared to others who just stick with one thing. I love the “I’m loving it” campaign.

I like so many brands. There’s a lot of great branding going on in the world. I think there’s more great branding out there than poor branding.

You recently undertook branding research on a couple of your brands. What led to the decision to use market research?

We believe great programs and products are built on great insight and knowledge. There’s nothing better than listening truly objectively to what consumers and b2b customers think. While we believe we know what they think, sometimes we’re right and sometimes we’re not, but we always learn something, and normally we learn a lot. Even those who think they are close to the customer or know the answer, they look at findings from a study and say “I didn’t know that”, or didn’t realize that one factor was that big and another factor was that small.

We use research a lot. We have our own internal discovery teams that are dedicated to listening to the voice of the customer, and we also use third party companies like B2B International.

At the outset of the research projects, what were the potential difficulties and how were these overcome?

Perhaps the biggest challenge is keeping the research focused on what you really want to know. Being budget conscious, you can throw in the kitchen sink by including every question in the world, but you can end up having a little bit of insight on a lot of topics instead of a lot of knowledge and insight on the real focus. We’ve not had any difficulties though.

What advice would you give people responsible for brands in other companies, who might not have used market research before?

Well I’d be surprised if they haven’t. Perhaps they do their own in-house research and don’t seek outside help? There’s always something to be learned though. My advice would be to be cautious about thinking you know all the answers.

Going back 38 years, my first three years at Stanley were in market research. I was straight out of school, and I learned at a young age the importance of research. People would come to us to validate their theory; in some cases we did, and in other cases we didn’t.

So, I have learned to be careful of someone coming into my office saying “This is the way it is”. I always think back to those first three years and think, maybe it’s not so.

Interesting that you started off in market research! What are the biggest changes you’ve seen in the research world over the years?

It’s so far more advanced technologically, far more automated. Back then it was the world of manual research. We didn’t have the tools and methodologies you have today. We had mail surveys, mall intercepts, and phone calls. You can capture so much now, it’s massive! It makes you wonder what research will be like 30 years from now!

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