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CVS' Lesson: Let Your Brand Be Your Guide

CVS' Lesson: Let Your Brand Be Your Guide
Image credit: Elvert Barnes

We need to thank CVS for giving us a very valuable business, branding and marketing lesson.

Let your brand be your guide.

As universally reported, CVS last week made a very bold decision to halt its sales of tobacco products, in support of its healthcare positioning. It is the place where you pick up solutions to your healthcare issues after all … or so seemed the rationale.

This couldn’t have been an easy decision, with tobacco products providing an estimated $2 billion in sales a year. Those sales are likely to go somewhere, and not necessarily to be replaced by sales in other categories for the retailer. With any decision of this magnitude, I imagine it alienated some customers in the process as well, despite the outpouring of support in the media and on social media.

Related: CVS to Quit Selling Tobacco Products

But if you think about it, maybe this was an easy decision after all. When you really know what your brand is all about, then decisions like these are actually quite easy. 

Whenever you face a key milestone in your business, you should simply look to how you’ve defined your brand to make your decisions. Make sure you’re consistent with what you stand for, and make sure you’re consistent with what your customers want. If you keep those two things in mind consistently, then you’ll find tough decisions so much easier to make.

Hopefully loyalty will follow, adding back incremental sales.

Let your brand be your guide.

Related: How You Give Back Provides Purpose to Your Personal Brand

The author is an Entrepreneur contributor. The opinions expressed are those of the writer.

Jim Joseph is the North American president of New York-based communications agency Cohn & Wolfe, part of the media company WPP Group PLC. He is the author of three books, including the latest, The Personal Experience Effect (Happy About 2013). Joseph also teaches marketing at New York University and blogs at JimJosephExp.com.

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