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Stop thinking like a PRODUCT manager and think like a BRAND manager

Usually when I ask “what makes a great brand”, the first answer I get is “they have a great product”. That’s not an untrue answer, but it’s just a starting point really. The best PRODUCTS start out solving an actual problem, but as we’ve seen the best BRANDS evolve beyond just the product  eventually becoming a Big Idea. Yes, products can be very successful, without laddering up to a Brand, but they usually take a price strategy only–like Walmart, Expedia or Mcdonald’s.  If you treat your product like a commodity your consumer will treat you the same. 

brand idea evolution

Companies really only have four strategic choices:  you can be better, different, cheaper or not around for very long.  Better implies you have some ACTUAL and MEASURABLE performance advantage versus your competitor and different implies that there’s a PERCEIVED difference versus the average products. Both better and different require you to act like a brand, with a defined idea that can help defend your position. If you choose to act like a PRODUCT, that really just leaves CHEAPER as your strategic option. And choosing the strategy of being cheaper leaves you at the mercy of using pricing fluctuations, by purely supply and demand, and very rational decisions.  When you start managing a brand, consumers start to use more emotions in the decision, thinking a bit less.  

So why do we have Brands?

I love asking this question.  Usually I get a bunch of marketing type answers like driving loyalty, conveying consistency or maintaining ownership over trademarks. All good answers. But the best answer is about profit, not marketing.  Companies only invest to create a Brand if they think they can make more money from a brand, than if we just had a Product.  When you create a brand, there are 4 main ways to use the P&L to drive more profit for your brand:

  • Use the connectivity between brand and consumer to leverage premium Pricing to drive profits:  By creating a brand idea that connects, you can try to command a premium or once you have a loyal consumer, you can look for innovative ways to trade your consumers up. When consumers are emotionally connected to a brand, the price becomes more Inelastic. We can see in the market, that loyal brand fans pay a 20-30% price premium for Apple’s iPad.The more engaged employees begin to generate an even better brand experience. For instance at Starbucks, employees know the names of their most loyal of customers. Blind taste tests show consumers prefer the cheaper McDonald’s coffee but still pay 4x as much for a Starbucks. So is it still coffee you’re buying or are they paying for the Brand?
  • Use your brand’s power to drive Lower Costs: A well-run Brand can use their efficiency to lower their cost structure. If you are a hot brand, suppliers will cut their cost just to be on the roster of a beloved Brand. A brand that becomes popular will benefit from the free media through earned, social and search media. They may even find government offer subsidies to be in the community or partners willing to lower their costs to be part of the brand. For instance, a real estate owner would likely give lower costs and better locations to McDonald’s than an indifferent brand.
  • Leverage the bond with consumers to Increase your Market Share: Crowds draw crowds which spreads the base of the loyal consumers. I was walking past a store the other day and they had a line up to get into the store. We immediately became curious as to what that store offered. Competitors can’t compete–lower margins means less investment back into the brand. It’s hard for them to fight the Beloved Brand on the emotional basis leaving them to a niche that’s currently unfulfilled.
  • When you have an idea bigger than your product alone, you can enter into New Categories that fit with your idea:  We see many beloved Brands enter into new categories knowing their loyal consumers will follow because they buy into the Idea of the Brand. Starbucks has gone far beyond Coffee to where it’s now one of the biggest fast food chains in the world.  The idea is no longer tied to the product or service but rather how it makes you feel about yourself. 

Running a Brand can feel a bit less Certain than a Product

I work with Brand Leaders all the time at every level, and with many, I can sense an uneasy feeling when we shift the conversation from product to brand. It’s almost like the uncertainty of skating on ice, instead of the certainty of just walking on pavement. Managing a product is easier, but managing a brand can generate higher growth rates and margin to drive profits for your company.

Challenge yourself to shift your thinking from a product leader to more of a brand leader. As much as it can feel uneasy, shift your thinking to be more conceptual. Try to figure out the big idea of your brand.  We believe that a Brand is an idea that is worth loving. Our definition of a brand: “A Brand is a unique idea, perceived in the minds and hearts of the consumer, consistently delivered by the experience, creating a bond, power and profit, beyond what the product itself could achieve.” The challenge I have for you is that if the best brands eventually evolve to defining a Big Idea for their brand, then why not just start there? You should figure out your brand’s Big Idea and then everything in the company should feed off the Brand’s Big Idea. The Big Idea (some call it the Brand Essence) is the most concise definition of the Brand. For Volvo, it’s “Safety”, while BMW might be “Performance” and Mercedes is “Luxury”. 

Once you have your Big Idea, you should then use it to frame the 5 different connectors needed to set up a very strong bond between your brand and your consumers. Brands are able to generate love for their brand when the consumer does connect with the brand. I wish everyone would stop debating what makes a great brand and realize that all five connectors matter: promise, strategy, story, innovation and experience. The first connector is the Brand Promise, which connects when the brand’s main Benefit matches up to the needs of consumers. Once knowing that promise, everything else feeds off that Promise. For Volvo the promise is Safety, for Apple it is Simplicity and FedEx it might be Reliability. It’s important to align your Strategy and Brand Story pick the best ways to communicate the promise, and then aligning your Innovation and the Experience so that you deliver to the promise. To make sure the Innovation aligns to the Big Idea, everyone in R&D must be working towards delivering the brand promise. If someone at Volvo were to invent the fastest car on the planet, should they market it as the safe-fast car or should they just sell the technology to Ferrari. Arguably, Volvo could make more money by selling it to a brand where it fits, and not trying to change people’s minds. As for the experience, EVERYONE in the company has to buy into and live up to the Brand Promise. As you can start to see, embedding the Brand Promise right into the culture is essential to the brand’s success.

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Think like a Brand Manager

As you’re challenging yourself to think about going to Brand Thinking, here are some of the differences you might notice.  

  • Think of a Brand as an idea with many intangibles, whereas a product is usually tangible to the senses. This is where you as a Brand Leader must begin to think more conceptual and think of ideas.  
  • If we think of a Product as solving a Problem, then try to think of a Brand as fighting your consumer’s enemy.  
  • While managing a product, you’re always focused on trying to figure out the THINKING part of your consumer, and you offer very rational product features and claims, you might need to shift to start figuring out the EMOTIONAL decisions your consumer makes and finding more emotional benefits that connect with them.  
  • Instead of thinking of just the consumption of your product, start thinking of the EXPERIENCE. When I was a Brand Leader, I honestly didn’t pay too much attention to the experience.  We tend to think of that for service brands. But look at the EXPERIENCE of a product brand like Apple and see the difference it can create.
  • Brand becomes a reputation you must manage, going well beyond the legal entity and trademark.  Every brand should be using Public Relations to become part of the news cycle, helping to go beyond Advertising. Look to your most loyal consumers as a potential influencer of your reputation through social media.  
  • Start to think about becoming part of your consumers life, as a ritual, which goes beyond a routine. Be a favorite part of their day, or be an enabler to great things that happen in their life. Adjust to the days of the week of the time of the year. Leverage the calendar as a call out to how your brand might be used.  
  • A product can be debated, but a Brand will be defended.  Provide your most loyal consumers with enough love so that they love you back enough to defend you at the lunch table.  

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The more Love you can generate for your Brand, the more Power and Profits you will generate.  

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How loved is your brand?

We believe a brand’s source of power is the emotional feelings it generates. With that power comes added profitability.

In the consumer’s mind, brands sit on a Brand Love Curve, with brands going from Indifferent to Like It to Love It and finally becoming a Beloved Brand for Life. At the Beloved stage, demand becomes desire, needs become cravings, thinking is replaced with feelings. Consumers become outspoken fans. It’s this connection that helps drive power for your brand: power versus competitors, versus customers, versus suppliers and even versus the same consumers you’re connected with. The farther along the curve, the more power for the brand. It’s important that you understand where your brand sits on the Love Curve and begin figuring out how to move it along towards becoming a Beloved Brand. With the power of connection, the brand can leverage that power into increased growth and profits. To read more, follow this presentation.

  

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How to create and tell the story of your Brand

Sometimes, Brand Leaders write their strategic documents in such a boring way, others have a hard time following.  If you as the Brand Leader are the only one who understands your brand, then you’re in trouble. The Brand story should distill everything you know about your brand (the vision, purpose, values, objectives, strategies, tactics, target market, insights, rational and emotional benefits, reason to believe) and organize it into something that is digest-able for everyone who might touch the brand–whether that’s consumers, advocates, influencers, employees, agencies, retailers or the media. 

So what makes a good story?

Before getting into your Brand story, think of all of the great Super Hero stories of Batman, Spiderman or Wonder Woman and you see some commonality in what makes a good story in general.  For this purpose, let’s use the fundamentals of a good Super Hero story and try to match up all the brand strategic inputs you may have to help tell the story. 

The basis of the Super Hero story usually starts with a conflict of Good versus Evil. There needs to be an Enemy and a Hero.  

Most brands started as products or services that handled some functional problem in the market, but as they matured and became more closely connected to their consumers, they evolved into a Big Idea, that fulfills consumers’ emotional needs. brand idea evolutionAnother way to say it, most great PRODUCTS were invented to solve a rational PROBLEM in your consumers’ daily life. Most great BRANDS solve an emotional ENEMY in your ongoing consumers’ life. The question you likely never ask is: who is the Enemy of your consumer? The conflict and resolution sets up the Big Idea of the story.  If you are the Apple brand, then you fight off the enemy of FRUSTRATION on behalf of your consumer. Unless you work in IT, you likely find computers extremely frustrating. We have all sat at our computer wanting to pull our hair out. Spending 38 minutes to figure out how print, getting Error 6303 message that says close all files open and reboot or buying a new computer and you need to load up 13 disks and 3 manuals to read before you can even email your friend to tell them how amazing your computer is. Apple has recognized the FRUSTRATION consumers go through and realized it was in the way of many consumers experiencing the potential of communications through computers. 

There is a substantial back story to explain what makes up the Super Hero.

There is a clear vision for a better future, a purpose to explain why the hero does what they do, and a set of values to explain what is right and wrong.  A brand should also be able to articulate their Vision for the next 10 years, The most successful brands start with a purpose driven vision (why) and match the strategies (how) and the execution (what) to the vision.  Start with the Question of WHY do you do what you do? If you are Apple, the answer would be “At Apple, we believe in challenging the status quo, we believe in thinking differently. We challenge ourselves to make a dent in the universe.”  What do you get for your brand, when you answer the question of “why are you in this business?”.

A good Super Hero story saves someone. A good brand should as well.  Each story also has a distinct cry for help.  

As Steve Jobs said: “You’ve got to start with the customer experience and work backwards to the technology. You can’t start with the technology and then try to figure out where you’re going to sell it”  It’s important to tightly define who you will save and it starts with those who are the most motivated by what you do.  Pick a focused target market. Realizing not everyone can like you is the first step to focus on those that can love you. Too many times, Brand Leaders blindly pick an idealized target market based on size and wealth of the target, figuring that will offer the highest return. However, going after the biggest potential target can sometimes lead to failure because they are already being courted by everyone else.  And that large target when they might not like your product is just a recipe for failure. I like to challenge Brand Leaders to focus on figuring out who are the consumers that are already motivated by what you do. That’s the perfect match up to your brand.  You have to matter the most to those who really care.  Just as the super hero always responds to a cry for help, the Brand must listen to the what they are saying. The best way to frame a consumer insight is to get in the shoes of the consumer and use their voice. Insight comes to life when it’s told in such a captivating way that makes consumers stop and say “hmm, I thought I was the only one who felt like that”.  Insight is about  “seeing below the surface”. To get deeper, keep asking yourself “so what does that mean for the consumer” until you have an “AHA moment”. What are the beliefs, attitudes or behaviors that help explain how they think, feel or act in relationship to your brand or category.  What I recommend to Brands is that they frame insights in quotes and use the word I, forcing you to be in their shoes and using their voice. For a Bank with long hours, the insight would be: “I am so busy driving my kids around, I can never get to the bank during banking hours. I wish there was a bank that worked around my life, rather than me working around the banks’ life”.

A Super Hero is different than everyone else.  

For a Brand in a competitive world, you have to realize that no one brand can do it all. You have to decide on what you want to be from four choices: better, different, cheaper or else not around for very long. usp-2-0-2Giving the consumer too many messages about your brand will confuse them as to what makes your brand unique. Trying to be everything is the recipe for being nothing. Trying to do everything to everyone makes you nothing to no one. It just spreads your resources and your message so that everything you do is “ok” and nothing is “great”. With a long to-do list, you’ll never do a great job at anything. And in a crowded and fast economy, “ok” never breaks through so you’ll never get the early win to gain that tipping point that opens up the gateway to even bigger success

There is some super power that makes them even better, without being vain. 

Just like the Super Hero knows they can help, the Brand also has to be able to tell the story of how they help out. Doing a Customer Value Proposition (CVP) helps to organize your thinking as a great tool for bringing the benefits to life.  slide1-4

  • Get all of the consumer insights and need states out. 
  • Match them up against the list of the best features the brand offers. 
  • Find the rational benefit by putting yourself in the shoes of the consumer and seeing the brand features from their eyes: start asking yourself over and over again “so if I’m the consumer, what do I get from that?”. Ask it five times and you’ll see the answers will get richer and richer each time you ask. 
  • Then find the emotional benefit by asking “so how does that make me feel?” Ask that five times as well, and you’ll begin to see a deeper emotional space you can play in and own. 

A good story is one that touches people in an emotional way. 

People tend to get stuck when trying to figure out the emotional benefits. I swear every brand out there thinks it is trusted, reliable and yet likeable. It seems that not only do consumers have a hard time expressing their emotions about a brand, but so do Brand Managers. Companies like Hotspex have mapped out all the emotional zones for consumers. I’m not a researcher, but if you’re interested in this methodology contact Hotspex at http://www.hotspex.biz Leverage this type of research and build your story around the emotions that best fit your consumer needs. Leveraging Hotspex, I’ve mapped out 8 zones in a simplistic way below

Slide1A Good Super Hero has to make difficult choices. They can’t do everything. It’s all about choices.

Every brand is constrained by resources—dollars, people and time.Focus makes you matter most to those who care. Focusing your limited resources on those consumers with the highest propensity to buy what you are selling will deliver the greatest movement towards sales and the highest return on investment for those resources. When you focus on the right choices, you end up with:

  • Better ROI: With all the resources against one strategy, one target, one message, you’ll be find out if the strategy you’ve chose is able to actually move consumers drive sales or other key performance indicators. 
  • Better ROE: Make the most out of your people resources.
  • Strong Reputation: When you only do one thing, you naturally start to become associated with that one thing—externally and even internally. And, eventually you become very good at that one thing.
  • More Competitive: As your reputation grows, you begin to own that on thing and your are able to better defend the positioning territory
  • Bigger and Better P&L: As the focused effort drives results, it opens up the P&L with higher sales and profits. And that means more resources will be put to the effort to drive even higher growth.

Strategic Thinkers see questions before they see solutions. They map out a range of “what if” decision trees that intersect and connect by imagining how events will play out. They reflect and plan before they act. They are thinkers and planners who can see connections. They use knowledge and judgment about the long-term health and wealth of the brand. 

A good story is well-organized, has a consistent tone throughout the story and has layers that support the story.  

There is a Focus to the story: Using one motivated target market and one Unique Selling Proposition based on need states allows you to drive all your resources against strategies that will move the brand towards being more connected and loved. The story has an Early Win: Able to move a motivated target towards sales and share, plus establishing the brand’s positioning with a balance of rational and emotional benefits. The brand now has momentum and growth.There is this point in the story where you can start to Leverage those early wins into something even bigger: When you can take the emotional bond and translate it into a source of power the brand can use against all the forces in the market. And there is a Gateway to something bigger: When you are able to take the brand power and drive strong growth and profits. 

If you were to write the Starbucks, here’s how it might look;

  • Vision: Cherished meeting place for all your quick service food needs
  • Goals: Increase Same store sales, greater share of requirements from Starbucks loyalists
  • Key Issue: How do we drive significant growth of same store sales?
  • Strategy: Move Starbucks loyalists to lunch with an expanded lunch menu.
  • Tactic: Light lunch menu, increase desert offerings.

The strategic way I like to organize a brand is starting with the Big Idea for your brand and then ensuring the brand promise, brand story, strategy, freshness (innovation) and the experience (culture and operations) all match up to the Big Idea. If you are Apple, this is how you’d lay out the guts of your story.  The idea is about taking the complexity out and making it so simple that everyone can be part of the future.  And then Apple lines up the promise, strategy, story, freshness and experience behind that big idea.  So if Apple is about simplicity, then my check out experience buying an Apple product better be simple.  

Slide1No Super Hero goes alone.  They always have help.

And just like running a brand, the Brand Leader needs to be able to communicate the brand story in a way that elicits help from all the employees, the agencies.   

So how do we tell the story?

Here is a story board format that you can use to frame your story, whether telling it through a Powerpoint presentation, a video or even through a two page word document.  The story makes it easy for everyone to digest and everyone to continue telling for those they influence.  If it’s to your sales colleagues, they may have to explain it to customers, if it’s to your agency, they may have to convey it to their art director, and if it’s to advocates, they to portray it to their followers.  Here’s a simple 15 questions to be asking

Slide1And if we were to layer in where each of these answers is hidden away in your plan, you can use this as a cheat sheet.

Slide1Depending on who your audience is for your story, you may wish to only use parts of this story board.  For instance, if you’re talking to the Board of Directors you would use the the top part where you talk vision and purpose and values.  If you are setting up the external communication of the brand, you’d talk target, insights and benefits.  If you’re talking about go to market execution, you’d outline the plan, strategies and how the organization executes.  Having these 15 answers allows Brand Leaders to keep the story consistent and aligned. 

 

Story Telling is the Simplest articulation of the complexities of your Brand 

 

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How loved is your brand?

We believe a brand’s source of power is the emotional feelings it generates. With that power comes added profitability.

In the consumer’s mind, brands sit on a Brand Love Curve, with brands going from Indifferent to Like It to Love It and finally becoming a Beloved Brand for Life. At the Beloved stage, demand becomes desire, needs become cravings, thinking is replaced with feelings. Consumers become outspoken fans. It’s this connection that helps drive power for your brand: power versus competitors, versus customers, versus suppliers and even versus the same consumers you’re connected with. The farther along the curve, the more power for the brand. It’s important that you understand where your brand sits on the Love Curve and begin figuring out how to move it along towards becoming a Beloved Brand. With the power of connection, the brand can leverage that power into increased growth and profits. To read more, follow this presentation.

 

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As a brand, you must be LIKED before you can be LOVED

So while I’m desperately trying to convince Brand Leaders that being more loved will make you a more powerfully connected brand, and enable you to drive higher profits, I feel that I have to remind everyone that Love Takes time to build, and you have to be LIKED first, before you will ever be LOVED.  To relate it with human behavior:  Yes, hearing the words “I love you” is something we all dream of, but hearing them on the first date is a bit creepy, don’t you think.  Just like in our personal relationships, we need to get to learn the brand, be able to trust and rely on the brand, and quite honestly we use our brains to figure out if it is THE ONE for us.  Then we let ourselves fall in love. 

I have created a hypothetical curve I call “The Brand Love Curve”.  In the consumer’s mind, brands sit on a Brand Love Curve, with brands going from Indifferent to Like It to Love It and finally becoming a Beloved Brand for Life. At the Beloved stage, demand becomes desire, needs become cravings, thinking is replaced with feelings. Consumers become outspoken fans.love-curve-detailed4

It’s this connection that helps drive power for your brand: power versus competitors, versus customers, versus suppliers and even versus the same consumers you’re connected with. The farther along the curve, the more power for the brand. It’s important that you understand where your brand sits on the Love Curve and begin figuring out how to move it along towards becoming a Beloved Brand.  With each stage of the Brand Love Curve, the consumer will see your brand differently. The worst case is when consumers have “no opinion” of your brand. They just don’t care. It’s like those restaurants you stop at in the middle of no-where that are called “restaurant”. In those cases, there is no other choice so you may as well just name it restaurant. But in highly competitive markets, you survive by being liked, but you thrive by being loved. Be honest with yourself as to what stage you are at, and try to figure out how to be more loved, with a vision of getting to the Beloved Brand stage.

Most brands that are truly beloved brands have taken decades if not a century to achieve such status.  It took Apple 30 years to truly break through to the masses. Yes it was loved by a few early on, but not by the many.  Those brands that quickly get to LOVE IT sometimes don’t last there, because when we poke holes in the brand we find little substance. Examples where brands quickly got to the love stage might include Cold Stone Ice Cream, Crocs, Benneton and maybe even the pop band “DEVO”.  (sorry Devo fans)

Before getting all emotional, ask yourself:  Why is your brand Stuck at the Like It stage?

There are seven possible reasons why you are at the Like It Stage:

  1. Protective Brand Leaders means Caution: While many of these brands at the Like It are very successful brands, they get stuck because of overly conservative and fearful Brand Managers, who pick middle of the road strategies and execute “ok” ideas. On top of this, Brand Managers who convince themselves that “we stay conservative because it’s a low-interest category” should be removed. Low interest category means you need even more to captivate the consumer.
  2. We are rational thinking Marketers: Those marketers that believe they are strictly rational are inhibiting their brands. The brand managers get all jazzed on claims, comparatives, product demonstration and doctor recommended that they forget about the emotional side of the purchase decision. Claims need to be twisted into benefits—both rational and emotional benefits. Consumers don’t care about you do until you care about what they need. Great marketers find that balance of the science and art of the brand. Ordinary marketers get stuck with the rational only.
  3. New Brand with Momentum: Stage 2 of a new brand innovation is ready to expand from the early adopters to the masses. The new brand begins to differentiate itself in a logical way to separate themselves from the proliferation of copycat competitors. Consumers start to go separate ways as well. Retailers might even back one brand over another. Throughout the battle, the brand carves out a base of consumers.
  4. There’s a Major Leak: If you look at the brand buying system, you’ll start to see a major leak at some point where you keep losing customers. Most brands have some natural flaw—whether it’s the concept, the product, taste profile ease of use or customer service. Without analyzing and addressing the leak, the brand gets stuck. People like it, but refuse to love it.
  5. Brand changes their Mind every year: Brands really exist because of the consistency of the promise. When the promise and the delivery of the promise changes every year it’s hard to really connect with what the brand is all about. A brand like Wendy’s has changed their advertising message every year over the past 10 years. The only consumers remaining are those who like their burgers, not the brand.
  6. Positional Power–who needs Love: there are brands that have captured a strong positional power, whether it`s a unique technology or distribution channel or even value pricing advantage. Brands like Microsoft or Wal-Mart or even many of the pharmaceuticals products don`t see value in the idea of being loved. The problem is when you lose the positional power, you lose your customer base completely.
  7. Brands who capture Love, but no Life Ritual: There are brands that quickly capture the imagination but somehow fail to capture a routine embedded in the consumers’ life, usually due to some flaw. Whether it’s Krispy Kreme, Pringles or even Cold Stone, there’s something inherent in the brand’s format or weakness that holds it back and it stays stuck at Loved but just not often enough. So, you forget you love them.

You have to answer those questions and figure out your brand before you just go to your ad agency and say “let’s be more emotional this year”.  Communication can help, but if you’re at the LIKE IT or INDIFFERENT stage, you need to begin crafting an idea that will help separate your brand from the pack. 

Here’s some thoughts for how to get to the LOVE IT stage.

  • Focus on action and drive Consideration and Purchase: stake out certain spaces in the market creating a brand story that separates your brand from the clutter. Begin to sell the solution, not just the product. Build a Bigger Following: Invest in building a brand story that helps to drive for increased popularity and get new consumers to use the brand.
  • Begin to Leverage those that already Love: Focus on the most loyal consumers and drive a deeper connection by driving the routine which should increase usage frequency. On top of that, begin cross selling to capture a broader type of usage.
  • Love the Work: It is time to dial-up the passion that goes into the marketing execution. Beloved Brands have a certain magic to them. But “Like It’ brands tend to settle for ok, rather than push for great. With better work, you’ll be able to better captivate and delight the consumers. If you don’t love the work, how do you expect the consumer to love your brand.
  • Fix the Leak: Brands that are stuck have something embedded in the brand or the experience that is holding back the brand. It frustrates consumers and restricts them from fully committing to making the brand a favourite. Be proactive and get the company focused on fixing this leak.
  • Build a Big Idea: Consumers want consistency from the brand—constant changes to the advertising, packaging or delivery can be frustrating. Leverage a Brand Story and a Big Idea that balances rational and emotional benefits helps to establish a consistency for the brand and help build a much tighter relationship.

The big lesson here is advertising alone can’t make you more loved. You have to have everything lined up behind the brand promise to create an experience that lines up to the story you want to tell.  McDonald’s might have great coffee, but they’ll never be a Cafe, if I have to sit in plastic chairs, beside a screaming 4-year-old who is throwing his french fries at his mom, or 8 teenagers hanging out behind me.  

I don’t think you can be rational and emotional at the same time

Yes, I am starting to see many Brand Leaders taking on the emotional areas of Brand Marketing, and I’m happy for it. But what I’m concerned at are creative briefs asking agencies to create ads that are big on emotions, but then heavy on facts about your brand. Before you even get to the communications stage with your agency, you have to understand where you sit on the love curve and why you are there. As most brands sit at the LIKE IT stage, they need to understand why they are there, before they can try to just be loved randomly. Just like in dating, you might have a blind spot that has nothing to do with advertising, so trying to create an ad that says “LOVE ME” might be like a jerk asking a girl to marry him.  A good piece of communication can only move one body part at a time: the head, the heart or the feet. Challenge yourself: do you want to target the HEAD so you can get consumers to think differently about you, the HEART to try to connect emotionally or the FEET where you try to drive action.

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If you think you can create an Ad that does all three, you are the worlds greatest advertiser in history. And if you can’t you should then focus on one at time. That’s where the Anthem will help reposition the brand (head) or connect emotionally (heart) and the Innovation spots should drive action (feet). The choice on where to focus should come from your brand’s strategy. At Beloved Brands, we use the Brand Love Curve to help determine where your Brand currently sits with consumers. If you’re at the Indifferent stage, you need to drive Trial (feet) or change their minds to see you differently. As you move along the curve, it becomes a balance of mind and heart, but driving towards Beloved, you need to connect emotionally. (The Heart) of consumers.

slide16The pathway to LOVE for a brand starts with an idea.  

Align everything on your brand behind that idea:  the promise, the strategy, the story, the innovation and the experience.  And it’s the idea that helps to create a strong bond with your consumers. That bond becomes a source of power for your brand, whether that power is with the very consumers who love your brand, versus retailers, suppliers, competitors, influencers, employees or even versus the media.  Once you’re able to generate power for your brand, you can then turn that into profit, whether driving price, cost control, market share or increasing the market size.

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The more love you create for your brand means more power and profit. 

 

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How loved is your brand?

We believe a brand’s source of power is the emotional feelings it generates. With that power comes added profitability.

In the consumer’s mind, brands sit on a Brand Love Curve, with brands going from Indifferent to Like It to Love It and finally becoming a Beloved Brand for Life. At the Beloved stage, demand becomes desire, needs become cravings, thinking is replaced with feelings. Consumers become outspoken fans. It’s this connection that helps drive power for your brand: power versus competitors, versus customers, versus suppliers and even versus the same consumers you’re connected with. The farther along the curve, the more power for the brand. It’s important that you understand where your brand sits on the Love Curve and begin figuring out how to move it along towards becoming a Beloved Brand. With the power of connection, the brand can leverage that power into increased growth and profits. To read more, follow this presentation.

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How to Develop winning CLAIMS for your Brand

usp-2-0-2Brands are either better, different or cheaper. Or not around for very long.

You have to find a unique selling proposition for your brand.  The key to being unique, is not just unique for the sake of it, but to match up what you do best with what the consumer is looking for.  Or else, you will play in the who cares zone.   A great claim must be ownable to your brand, and motivating to the consumer.  

To often, Brand Leaders start with the claim, and then try to make the most of it in everything they do.  The problem with that strategy is your claim might not be a benefit, and even if it ladders up, it might not be something that is ownable for you or motivating to the consumer.

Start with the Consumer First

Like everything in marketing, you should always start with the consumer first.  slide1-4Define your target, create motivating insights that help you connect, map out the consumers’ enemy and create a meaningful customer value proposition. 

Hold a brainstorming session with everyone who works on the brand so you can:

  1. Get all of the consumer insights and need states out. 
  2. Match them up against the list of the best features the brand offers. 
  3. Find the rational benefit by putting yourself in the shoes of the consumer and seeing the brand features from their eyes: start asking yourself over and over again “so if I’m the consumer, what do I get from that?”. Ask it five times and you’ll see the answers will get richer and richer each time you ask. 
  4. Then find the emotional benefit by asking “so how does that make me feel?” Ask that five times as well, and you’ll begin to see a deeper emotional space you can play in and own. 

For instance, no one really cares that a golf club has 5.7% more torque. (a potential claim) When you ask what do i get from that, the better answers are longer drives or lower scores or winning a tournament (rational benefits). When you ask how does that make you feel, the emotional space is more confidence in your golf swing and optimism that you’ll break 80 all the time now (emotional benefit).  

The Brand Positioning Statement
Before you get to your claims, you want to start to map out a best in class brand positioning statement, which has four key elements:

  1. Target Market (a)
  2. Definition of the market you play in (b)
  3. Brand Promise (emotional or rational benefit) (c)
  4. The Reason to Believe (RTB) the brand promise (d)

The more focused your decisions, the more successful you will be: decide on one target, one promise and maybe one or two reasons to believe that help to directly back up your promise. But the target shouldn’t be everyone 18-65, and don’t throw your eight best features at the wall and hopefully something sticks. And the reason to believe has to back up your promise, not be a whole new promise.

The classic way to write a Brand Positioning Statement is to take the elements above and frame them into the following: For the target market (a) Brand X plays in the market (b) and it gives the main benefit (c). That’s because of the following reasons to believe (d). This is what it looks like when you put them into this format:

 slide11-4The claims you are going to create should fit in the Reasons to Believe, and help to support your benefit. As I said above, don’t start with a claim and then try to create a benefit around the claim.  Sometimes in big companies, the claims team sits in the R&D group, randomly developing claims.  You as the Brand Leader need to provide the positioning work as a guideline for them to work within. 

Brainstorming and Sorting the Claims

As you look for that separation for your brand, you have to ensure it’s ownable and motivating to consumers. Otherwise you’re just talking to yourself. What you want to do is hold a brainstorming session with a cross functional team, who might be from marketing, consumer insights, R&D, regulatory, sales strategy or a professional sales team.  Add in people who have been on the brand a long time, and those who are new.  Using the work above, with the Unique Selling Proposition and the Positioning Statement derived from the Customer Value Proposition, you want to create claims that would fit in the Reasons to Believe area.  I would suggest you create potential areas to brainstorm under:

  • Product Feature Claims
  • Experiential Claims
  • Testimonial Claims
  • Emotional Satisfaction Claims
  • Psychological Claims
  • Key Influencer Support
  • Statistical Claims

Once you create a brainstorm list that matches up to your benefits, you then want to do a claims sort through market research.  Focus on the tests that help determine what is most motivating to move the consumer and what is most ownable to your brand.  (grid below)  One caveat is that you may wish to get Legal/Regulatory to go through the claims to make sure you will get approval. The key to a great lawyer is not finding out what will get rejected (anyone can do that) but to move the claim in a direction that will get approval.  I want my lawyer to say “now if you said it this way…”   

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Build your claims around the Benefit,

not your Benefit around your Claims

 

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How loved is your brand?

We believe a brand’s source of power is the emotional feelings it generates. With that power comes added profitability.

In the consumer’s mind, brands sit on a Brand Love Curve, with brands going from Indifferent to Like It to Love It and finally becoming a Beloved Brand for Life. At the Beloved stage, demand becomes desire, needs become cravings, thinking is replaced with feelings. Consumers become outspoken fans. It’s this connection that helps drive power for your brand: power versus competitors, versus customers, versus suppliers and even versus the same consumers you’re connected with. The farther along the curve, the more power for the brand. It’s important that you understand where your brand sits on the Love Curve and begin figuring out how to move it along towards becoming a Beloved Brand. With the power of connection, the brand can leverage that power into increased growth and profits. To read more, follow this presentation.

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While testing your Ads might make you sleep better at night, gathering consumer insights will make you dream more

A challenge for Brand Leaders is to look at your research budget, and see how much of your money you spend on TESTING versus how much is spent on GATHERING insights. Slide1There is no right number, but you might be shocked that when you do so much TESTING, you just don’t have that much money left over to GATHER. I’m not advocating stopping advertising testing, especially for new campaigns, but I am advocating gathering insights before you even get into the Advertising testing roulette wheel.  

Advertising Results give a result, but do not always give the solution.  The worst thing for a Brand Leader is getting back advertising test results that either fail or are a borderline pass.  A simple look at Advertising results matrix. Obviously, the best ads come from the right insights matched up to the right creative idea, but the problem for many brands is that if you just keep TESTING ads without taking the time to GATHER insights, you see questionable results, so instead of figuring out if it’s the strategy or the creative idea, you throw out both and start again.

Slide1Once you start testing, it’s hard to stop testing. You can’t really take a time out, because you’ve likely committed to a media date and the time you took on round 1 just puts even more pressure on you to find some advertising that works. Yes, you learn from testing, but it can also create a never-ending line of confusion.  Below is the Ad Testing Roulette, which is what happens when you just keep testing ads, hoping for a good result. Because you spend more of your research dollars on testing, you never have enough money to actually learn about your consumer. Unless you do the work on insights, at various stages of the Ad Testing Roulette wheel, you just end up in the “don’t know why” stage.  

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Start with the Consumer: What is an insight? 

Our definition of Insight is Quite Different.  Insight is not something that consumers never knew before.  That would be knowledge or news, but not insight. It’s not data or fact about your brand that you want to tell.  Real insight goes a layer or two deeper to help with the cause and effect.  Oddly enough, Insight is something that everyone already knows.  Here is my definition:  Insight comes to life when it’s told in such a captivating way that makes consumers stop and say “hmm, I thought I was the only one who felt like that”.

That’s why we laugh hysterically when we see insight projected with humor, why we get goose bumps when insight is projected with inspiration and why we cry when the insight comes alive through real-life drama.  Insights help tell the story, paint the picture or inspire the creative juices.  Insights need to be interesting or intriguing.  My challenge is to think beyond specific category insights and think about Life Insights or even Societal Trends  that could impact changing behaviour.

Jerry Seinfeld is the god of insights, whether it’s his TV show or his stand up routine. There is zero shock value to Seinfeld and he never tells us anything new. In fact, everything he says is exactly what our inner self is thinking.  Slide1He just serves it up in a creative way to make us laugh. I saw Seinfeld do a 90 minute stand up routine and I giggled the entire time because I could sense that everything he said was already part of my life. There was nothing shocking, but he seemed he knows human behavior.  He connected. 

Mining for Insights

The dictionary definition of the word Insight is “seeing below the surface”. To get deeper, keep asking yourself “so what does that mean for the consumer” until you have an “AHA moment”.  What are the beliefs, attitudes or behaviors that help explain how they think, feel or act in relationship to your brand or category. 

Strategic Planners at Ad Agencies have a certain talent for uncovering insights. As margins get squeezed, too many agencies are reducing the role of planners.  As a client, that’s a big mistake.  I have always loved having a great planner on my brands.

What I normally do is bring together a collection of people who best know the brand, the business and of course the consumer.  And we brainstorm to get a collection of insights.  Insights are mined from many sources. 

  • Find insights by bringing intuition to important data points by asking: “so what does this mean” or “how do we think this happened?”.
  • Insights can come from up-close observations of the consumer, in qualitative focus groups or in observing the purchase behavior in action.  Listen to what they say and how they say it.  Capture insightful quotes that summarize a big idea, as inspiration.  
  • Insights can come from mapping out a day in the life of the consumer to understand what’s going on in their brains.  In healthcare, we found Sunday’s nights was the best time to consider a jolt to improving your healthcare, not Thursday.  
  • Insights can come from looking at consumer problems in life, by creating talking about “who is the consumers enemy?”  Picking the enemy gives your brand focus and another way of bringing insight into your brand positioning.
  • If you track Voice of the Customer (VOC), you can find some very interesting raw data from the consumer.  You can potentially mine Facebook or Twitter comments from consumers.  

Everything Starts and Ends with the Consumer in Mind

 

Is your brand beloved?  Maybe you need to take a step back and challenge yourself.  To read more about what makes a brand Beloved, click on the PowerPoint presentation below:

 

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Beautiful “Like a Girl” ad by P&G that re-defines stereotypes, will definitely move you

d7291c2d01784756_Always_Run_Like_a_Girl.xxxlargeMost days I can safely say “we are just marketers” but every once in a while, I see that we can actually have a cultural impact. We can use our platform to stand up for consumers, in this case teenage girls, and in fact, all women will be moved by this video. A new 3 minute video by the ALWAYS team at P&G is making its way around the internet this weekend with millions of views already.  My hope is that it gives you goosebumps, tears or gets you think differently.  

The insight that P&G’s team found was that somewhere in the adolescence stage, girls self-confidence plummets.  In the video, they ask both men and women over the age of 15 to depict what “like a girl” looks like, and both sexes show a stereotype and a negative association with WEAK.  And then, they ask 8-10 year old girls to “run like a girl” and they just show how they would NORMALLY run.  The insight is that somewhere between 10 and 15, girls start to see “like a girl” as an insult.  The Always brand challenges us to re-define “like a girl”.  Here’s a look:  

 

It’s one more example of where Procter and Gamble is moving, to emotionally connect with consumers.  Click on this article to see how P&G is making this change:  P&G has become really good at Emotional Advertising

I’m a dad of a 16-year-old girl, and I can see this insight.  I remember playing football in the backyard when my daughter was around 10 and she picked up the football and threw a perfect spiral about 20 yards.dove1 I just stood in awe. She’s an amazing athlete, a Dennis Rodman type basketball player who leaves nothing on the court. In 6th and 7th grade she was the regional shot put champion. And then in 8th grade, she didn’t even go out for her school team.  She was fighting those stereotypes at a very hard age to “be a girl”.  The Dove Outdoor campaign from last year really hit home with girls quitting sports in their teens because of confidence.  In today’s world of Instagram and Twitter, from what I see everyday, it’s harder than ever to get to 20 feeling good about yourself. 

Getting on the side of your consumer makes your consumer say “this brand is for me” and “this brand gets me”.  Unilever was the first CPG brands to get on the side of consumers with the Dove “real beauty” campaign–still a gold standard that many of us aspire to.

 

But in reality, CPG brands should still look beyond CPG to push themselves.  Watching Nike’s “if you let me play” ad from 1995, you can see the inspiration of this work.   This is for all the women who kick ass in sports, including my daughter.

 

Doing this type of advertising takes guts. At this point, the video is viral and gaining momentum.  This type of work comes straight out of insights gathered by the team. Insight is not something that consumers never knew before. That would be knowledge or news, but not insight. It’s not data or fact about your brand that you want to tell. Real insight goes a layer or two deeper to help with the cause and effect. Oddly enough, Insight is something that everyone already knows. Here is my definition: Insight comes to life when it’s told in such a captivating way that makes consumers stop and say “hmm, I thought I was the only who felt like that”.  This Always ad strikes that chord of women and connects with women.  

Many of us wish we could do this type of work. But how does it happen?  I don’t work at P&G but here are my guesses.  They spent more money on GATHERING insights than they did on TESTING the work.  Put it this way:  while testing your Ads might make you sleep better at night, gathering insights will make you dream more.  The brief did not say “I want a 30 and 15 second ad, plus give me a print ad I can use in-store”.  There were no claims or demo requests, and they didn’t jam in a claim at 2 minutes and 23 seconds into the video. There was no debate over pack shots, of which sku to use.  My guess is that not everyone at P&G bought into this and the work had to be sold in, to various levels by someone that believed in it.  Every great ad I was ever part of met major resistance, even doubt and rejection. That doesn’t mean you give up.  You should be more afraid of the ads where EVERYONE in your company likes the ad you want to make.    

 

If you watch this video and as a Brand Leader you say I wish I could do that, ask yourself what’s getting in your way?   The answer might be YOU!!!  

 

 

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You’ll gain more share by Fighting your consumers enemy than fighting your brand’s enemy

Slide1It is normal when a Brand Leader is in a category with intense competitive pressures to become obsessed and fixated on what their competitor is up to now.  They launch a bigger size so you launch a bigger size.  They claim fast and you claim faster.  They launch Lemon and you launch more Lemon.  You both do side-by-side demonstrations in your TV ad against each other. Pretty soon, you have both forgotten about the consumer and what they want. And as the two brands fight it out, the shares pretty much look the same as they did last year.  

We believe that a Brand is an idea that is worth loving. Our definition of a brand: “A Brand is a unique idea, perceived in the minds and hearts of the consumer, consistently delivered by the experience, creating a bond, power and profit, beyond what the product itself could achieve.” Most brands started as products or services that handled some functional problem in the market, but as they matured and became more closely connected to their consumers, they evolved into a Big Idea, that fulfills consumers’ emotional needs.

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Another way to say it, most great PRODUCTS were invented to solve a rational PROBLEM in your consumers’ daily life. Most great BRANDS solve an emotional ENEMY in your ongoing consumers’ life. The question you likely never ask is:  who is the Enemy of your consumer? 

Who is the Enemy of your consumer?

I like to push my clients to think of their consumer’s enemy.  It is a starting point to put them in the shoes of their consumer and then they start to use the voice of the consumer.  The enemy is a great way to start a connection because if done right, it shows that you understand them.  It’s not just about features that you do, but pushes you into finding the rich emotional zones that you can own.  Picking the enemy gives your brand focus and another way of bringing insight into your brand positioning.  

Starbucks fights off the enemy of a HECTIC LIFE:  Put yourself in the shoes of your Starbucks consumer, who is a 38 year old mom with two kids, wakes up at 615am, not only to get ready for work, but to get everyone in the house ready for their day.  a03e0da8-fac7-11e3-acc6-12313b090d61-medium-1She drops off one kid at daycare, the other at public school and then rushes into the office for 830am.  She drives a van, not because she wants to but because it’s a great choice for carrying all the equipment needed for after-school activities, which are soccer, dance, tutoring and ice hockey.  No one is really old enough to thank her–the only appreciations are random moments of celebration or at the end of a long day.  Just after getting both to bed, she slinks into her bed exhausted. What is her enemy?  It’s a HECTIC LIFE.  If only she had a 15 minute moment to escape it all.  She doesn’t want to run from it, because she does love her life.  She just needs a break.  A place where there is no play land, but rather nice leather seats.  There are no loud screams, just nice acoustic music.  There are no happy meals here, the drinks and pastries are not average, but have a European touch.  Not only is she appreciated, the 21 year old college student knows her name and what her favorite drink is.  Starbucks fights off her HECTIC LIFE and gives her a nice 15 minute escaping moment in the middle of her day.  Yes, the Starbucks product is coffee, but the Starbucks brand is about MOMENTS.  

Apple fights off the enemy of FRUSTRATION: Unless you work in IT, you likely find computers extremely frustrating.  We have all sat at our computer wanting to pull our hair out. Spending 38 minutes to figure out how print, getting computer frustrationError 6303 message that says close all files open and reboot or buying a new computer and you need to load up 13 disks and 3 manuals to read before you can even email your friend to tell them how amazing your computer is. Apple has recognized the FRUSTRATION consumers go through and realized it was in the way of many consumers experiencing the potential of communications through computers.  They capitalized on the frustration of PCs with the famous TV campaign of “Hi I’m a Mac,….and I’m a PC” to demonstrate issues around setting up computers, viruses, and cool applications you can use. Everything Apple does has SIMPLICITY at it’s core.  As soon as you open the box you can use it, they have compatibility with other software or external devices and eve the store set up makes it easy to check out or questions of experts. You can even take classes to learn. Yes the Apple product is about computers tablets and phones, but the Apple brand is about fighting off FRUSTRATION by making everything SIMPLE enough so that everyone can be part of the future. Here’s how Apple drives simplicity into everything they do: 

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Special K fights off the enemy of THOSE FEW EXTRA POUNDS:  As we hit our 30s and 40s, the metabolism slows down, yet we still want to look and feel our best.  The proactive preventer does everything they can to maintain a healthy life but they can still have problems with a few extra pounds.  Yes, there are so many diet programs promising to lose 50 or even 80 pounds.  You can take pills, join a gym, get needles in your butt. Everywhere you look.  It’s almost over-whelming to consumers.  But what if you just want to lose 5 or 10 pounds, for that cruise you have coming up, or just to get ready for the summer season?  What if you just want to fit into your favorite pair of jeans again?  You can’t show up to Weight Watchers and say “Hi I want to lose 5 pounds”.  `  Special K has recognized a potential niche in the market to take on those “few extra pounds” with the Special K challenge promising that if you use Special K for two meals a day, you will lose six pounds, or one jean size.  This is obviously not the miracle cure being offered by everyone, but rather it targets women doing as much as they can already, and want to TAKE CONTROL of their weight.  Here’s how Special K takes the idea of empowering women to take control into everything they do:Slide1

Use the talk of your consumers’ enemy to be more insight driven on your brand. Insight comes to life when it’s told in such a captivating way that makes consumers stop and say “hmm, I thought I was the only who felt like that”.  Stop asking who is your brand’s enemy.  At your next team meeting, start off by asking “who is our consumers enemy?” and see if it enables you to connect more with your consumer and see if it takes you into a highly creative zone?  If your team has a problem answering that question, maybe you have a problem in how you run your brand.  

So, who is the enemy of your consumer? 

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How loved is your brand?

We believe a brand’s source of power is the emotional feelings it generates. With that power comes added profitability.

In the consumer’s mind, brands sit on a Brand Love Curve, with brands going from Indifferent to Like It to Love It and finally becoming a Beloved Brand for Life. At the Beloved stage, demand becomes desire, needs become cravings, thinking is replaced with feelings. Consumers become outspoken fans. It’s this connection that helps drive power for your brand: power versus competitors, versus customers, versus suppliers and even versus the same consumers you’re connected with. The farther along the curve, the more power for the brand. It’s important that you understand where your brand sits on the Love Curve and begin figuring out how to move it along towards becoming a Beloved Brand. With the power of connection, the brand can leverage that power into increased growth and profits. To read more, follow this presentation.

 

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Bad decision by Target Inc to take an INTERNAL motivation video and release it EXTERNALLY

I’ve been a fan of the Target brand for years, which has done a great job in adding emotion into the Mass Merchandising world, where WalMart is an emotionless discounter.  Last year, Target entered the Canadian market with my hype.  So much hype, it was foolishly nominated for Marketer of the Year before the doors even opened.  Canadians had been to Target as visitors and there was a lot of pent up demand.   image

But once the stores opened up, the hype fizzled very quickly.  Consumers didn’t see much different about Target. They were missing US items Canadians wanted, store shelves were only half full and consumers quickly realized the prices weren’t that great.  As a rule for Beloved Brands, there are only four choices a brand can make: you have to be better, different or cheaper, or you won’t be around for very long.  “Maybe we didn’t put our best foot forward when we entered into Canada. We had some disappointments when we opened. Certainly we think we disappointed our guests,” said Damien Liddle, Target Canada’s senior corporate counsel, in the clip. “But here at headquarters and at our store teams we’re working really hard to give everybody that unique Target experience.”

 

And so this month, they did one of those “go get them” videos to the troops, which we all see at sales meetings ALL the time.  There was nothing unique.  But in either an act of desperation or some type of group think, they released the video publicly.  Here it is:

 

Now there is nothing really wrong with the video, but there’s also nothing really right about the video. It won’t do any harm, but honestly, it won’t do any good.  To me, here’s 3 things not in the video: 

Where are the consumer views? Everything has to start and end with your consumer in mind.  This video is very Target focused, and as it goes externally it just feels like a “we messed up” apology.  But it’s ALL ABOUT TARGET, and not about the consumer.  As a rule for Beloved Brands, no one cares about what you do, until you really care about what your consumer wants. Find a way to listen, give them a voice, understand them by being in their shoes. Put your consumers’ needs first and you’ll find yourself speaking in terms of benefits they get, not just features that you do.  Consumers have to get something and you can the one that is lucky enough to give them that something they want. Target: stop talking about yourself, and let them talk about themselves.  

Why are the Employees taking the blame?  As Harry Truman said “the buck stops here”  That’s a sign of true leadership.  In this video, there are about 10 mid-level employees who sort of take the blame for all this and there is talk about what they will do differently going forward to win back consumers.  I don’t see the President of Target Canada, nor anyone from Minnesota.  These are the people who oversaw the merger, who made decisions before many of the people on this video were even hired.  A beloved brand, especially a service brand, has to have an organization where Brand and Culture are one.  The promise you say you’ll do, is executed flawlessly by the culture.  I do feel that putting the mid level employees up and having them take it on the chin is not a culture of leadership, but it feels like a blame game.  The only role that the Canadian President had in this video is he retweeted it on his twitter account.  Btw, he has 758 followers. For Target, it’s time for the leadership to step up. 

What is happening to Target? Yes, they were a little slow to launch into a second market beyond the US.  But going into Canada shouldn’t cause this much stress. Wow. Maybe there is more to it, as we look at the stock price has fallen 20% in the past 18 months as Target has begun missing forecasts overall and management is now being shuffled around. Certainly you can’t blame Canada on this, but maybe Canada can blame what’s happening at Target overall. 

Target needs to reconnect with Consumers to re-kindle the love that appears slipping away

 

How loved is your brand?

We believe a brand’s source of power is the emotional feelings it generates. With that power comes added profitability.

In the consumer’s mind, brands sit on a Brand Love Curve, with brands going from Indifferent to Like It to Love It and finally becoming a Beloved Brand for Life. At the Beloved stage, demand becomes desire, needs become cravings, thinking is replaced with feelings. Consumers become outspoken fans. It’s this connection that helps drive power for your brand: power versus competitors, versus customers, versus suppliers and even versus the same consumers you’re connected with. The farther along the curve, the more power for the brand. It’s important that you understand where your brand sits on the Love Curve and begin figuring out how to move it along towards becoming a Beloved Brand. With the power of connection, the brand can leverage that power into increased growth and profits. To read more, follow this presentation.

 

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In honour of D-Day, a “Thank You” TV ad that will give you shivers

d-dayOn June 6, 1944, the Normandy landings, codenamed Operation Neptune. saw the largest seaborne invasion in history, the operation began the invasion of German-occupied western Europe, which led to the restoration of France, the re-capture of Paris and contributed to an Allied victory in the war.

In honour of the 70th anniversary of the landing on D-Day, I wanted to share a TV ad of a young man thanking his grandfather for his time served in Dieppe during WWII. The Dieppe raids took place 2 years before D-Day, and saw extremely heavy casualties. A total of 3,623 of the 6,086 men (almost 60%) who made it ashore were either killed, wounded, or captured.   The events at Dieppe influenced preparations for the Normandy landings. tumblr_lszlv3VDZI1qaqn8to1_1280As a Canadian, Dieppe is a source of pride for us, as 5,000 of the 6,000 soldiers involved were Canadian.  Canadians were also heavy participants in the D-Day invasion, with 14,000 soldiers landing on the beaches of Normandy on the 6th of June in 1944. 

This TV ad for Bell in Canada is a bit dated now, but back in the mid 90s we were still excited we could call from anywhere. I’ve been to that beach in Dieppe and it does command such intense feelings.  While this is just a TV ad, and we might find that silly, it’s one more example of how, when we think of our consumers first, our industry can connect on the things that matter.

We see many tributes to the soldiers, but this one unique thanks one who served long ago.  Every time I watch this ad, it sends a chill through me.  

 

 On this 70th anniversary of D-Day, a special thank you to all who have served.

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8 Interview Questions I used to ask potential Marketing Hires

facebook adOn average, you’ll need 4-5 interviews to land the job–likely one with HR, a couple at the manager level and a couple at the director level.  If it’s part of the formal recruiting process, then you need to realize you are being judged at every moment, from the on-campus event to the potential dinner/lunch during the interviews and even how you act between interviews.  If they give you a mentor to help you, that person will also have influence.  In our debrief about candidates, there were just as many comments about things beyond the interviews as there was the interviews themselves.

Many interviews are moving to behavioural style where they might say: “tell me a time when you had a conflict…”  This means you need to translate all your strengths and weaknesses into stories that show you have experience in the given area.  Write down your answers in the form of Situation Action and Result. Learn how to tell the stories so that it answers the question and showcases your strengths.  Even if people don’t ask you the “tell me a time…” questions, it can be powerful for you to answer in that method.

You will still get asked “what’s your weakness?”.  It’s such a cliche question now, but it still gets asked.  I once had a candidate tell me they hated ambiguity, which was pretty much the death-nail.  Avoid the BS style “I’m too hard on myself” or “I work too hard”.  You just sound annoying.  The safest option I would recommend is “I’m not very good at negotiating” which is a skill that’s not really that important for marketing.

Here are the Interview Questions that I used to Ask:

  1. Tell me a time you used numbers to sell an idea? Most marketers suck at finance and it will eventually limit your career. At some level in marketing, you have to be good at running the P&L, so I’d rather find out now. You better have your story tight because your answer will be questioned one or two more levels to see if you really know your stuff.  Great Marketers can tell stories with analysis.  I’m going to challenge every aspect of your story.  
  2. What’s the most creative thing you’ve ever done?  It really doesn’t matter what it was, but how far did you push yourself out of your comfort zone to find the creative solution.Your passion for your idea should come through.    
  3. What’s the thing you’re most proud of?  When I read a resume, I want to see big accomplishments beyond your work experience or school.  Football, chess, travelling the world or charity work etc.  I want to hear your story and your pride come through. Great Marketers accomplish things, and I want to know that you have a history of accomplishments.  Don’t tell just what you did, tell me what you ACCOMPLISHED!  
  4. Tell me a time when you’ve convinced your boss of something they thought wouldn’t work. I want to see if you can make it happen.  This will show your leadership, selling skills, and willingness to push.  A great Marketer can get what they want.. 
  5. If you were the agent of Miley Cyrus, how would you maximize her value over the next 10 years?  I always took something in the pop culture news and asked how you would handle it. I was looking to see how curious you are and how you could take something with very little subject matter expertise and put together a plan. A great Marketer has a curiosity and can form opinions quickly. This lets me see your thinking.  Pop culture is a great area that goes beyond books.   
  6. If you were on a team that solved a serious healthcare problem for Society, what factors would you use to price it on the global level?   This is a very thick question with many issues, especially adding in the global issue. I want to see you think through those issues and layer those issues into your answer. How do you handle the differences between North America and the Third World? How important is profitability vs R&D vs compassion?   How would you leverage government, key influencers and where would that fit into your answer. Great marketers can handle ambiguity and there is a lot within this case.  
  7. From your previous Interview with our company, what’s the biggest mistake you made and how would you now change that? Great marketers are constantly pushing themselves to improve.  That starts with your own personal assessment. I want to see that you have thought about it and now see a better solution. It also puts you under a bit of unexpected pressure to see how you handle that.  
  8. What questions do you have for me? To me this is one of the most important sections. It demonstrates how engaged you are in the process. The quality of your questions will help to separate you. Have five great questions done ahead of time, ask about 2-3 each interview. Ask deep questions, not surface questions.Turn each answer into a conversation starter. 

Act like you want the job. Show a bit of spunk and energy through the interviews. Marketing jobs are a bit different.  Take a Red Bull before the interview.  Be leaning forward, make eye contact, be comfortable and dynamic in your personality. Marketing jobs require a bit of charm, a big push, and a willingness to get things done no matter what. I want to see all those things in the interview. 

If you bomb a few interviews, keep going for it.  There are more people who want to be an Assistant Brand Manager than there are jobs. And that’s continuing to tighten in the tough economy as many places are going without. So how bad do you really want this job?   Do you want it more than everyone else? And will you do what it takes to get that job.  I remember interviewing so many times and not getting the job–I must have gone through 100 interviews before I finally landed the right job.  I remember one time, after 3 minutes the hiring manager looked at my resume and said “you have zero marketing experience, this won’t work”.  That one still stings after twenty years, but made me want it even more.  Persistence has to be the key. If you are only half trying, then I have very little sympathy. If you are completely immersed in the effort, trust me, you will eventually break through.

Best of luck to you, and go for it.  

 

Here’s a presentation on Successful Marketing Careers:  

 

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