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The consumer has changed dramatically

The life of the modern consumers has changed dramatically, impacting what it takes for brands to win. In today’s crowded branded marketplace, the modern consumers see 5,000 brand messages a day. The fastest thing our brains do is reject brand messages. Brands need an entry point to gain permission to the consumer’s brain.

After decades of being burned by false promises, modern consumers are naturally cynical and constantly doubting brands. They test the brand by asking detailed questions.  Brands need a solid story that closes off any doubts consumers may have. 

Modern consumers like to take control over their buying process as they move from consideration to search and finally to a purchase moment. Brands need to move with consumers through to the purchase moment.

As the modern consumer experiences the brand, they either accept or reject the promise. Consumers are more loyal to brands to which they share a common purpose and shared values. Brands need to create experiences that match the brand story

The organizational culture that backs up the brands has also changed

The organizational support behind brands can be complex. Various departments have differing motivations and misaligned goals. Brands need an internal beacon to rally the motivations of their employees.

The best brands are beginning to realize that it is the people of their organization that deliver the brand story, innovation, purchase moment and experience Together, they create a bond with consumers. Everyone needs a common understanding and talking points of the brand. Brands need to lay out the detail so everyone can know the impact they have.

Organizations need to break down silos to ensure various groups move in the same direction, each with unique solutions that line up with other groups. Brands need a plan that gets everyone on the same page with strategies, tactics and project plans.

It is the culture of the organization who delivers the experience of the brand. People are the face of the brand, and will be the source of creating loyalty with consumers. The culture under the brand is quickly becoming the new product that consumers connect with.

The role of the Big Idea

A Big Idea for your brand ensures consistency in the consumers mind as they notice, test, decide and experience the brand. The brand needs to be able to tell their story in 7 seconds, 60 seconds, 30 minutes and over the lifetime of the brand.


Have you ever gone to a party where you “weren’t yourself” that night? That’s when the outer projection of your image does not match with your inner views of what you are comfortable with. It is the same thing for brands. A brand finds equilibrium when the internal BRAND SOUL, matches up perfectly to the external REPUTATION that it creates in the market place. The role of the BIG IDEA is to unite these two and ensure you are working every touch-point of the internal organization and external consumer face with the same brand messaging. 

The Big Idea should serve to simplify the brand message with an outward expression of the Brand Soul, which reflects the purpose, values, beliefs and motivations that form the brand culture.

In this crowded marketplace, the first connection point for consumers has to be the Big Idea as they are only willing to give a brand 7 seconds to capture their attention. As consumers experience the brand for the first time, they either accept or reject idea whether it matches up to their expectations based on their first impression from the big idea. Consumers who are continually satisfied with the brand experience start to become loyal and develop a bond with brand. They will build routines or rituals around the brand. Should the brand become one of their favorites, we will see consumers transform their brand love into a reputation they spread within their social network.

Are you starting to see that the Big Idea has to not only be the first connection point for consumers, but rather every connection point? The Big idea must be unique, own-able and motivating. It must gain a quick entry, be layered easily and have longevity over the life of the brand. 

How to use a Big Idea Brand Concept

While I love the JUST DO IT tagline for Nike, that is a creative big idea, not a strategic big idea.The “Just Do it” tagline does not guide the design of next year’s shoe, the overall experience you are trying to create with the brand, it does not help decide who to hire to work the retail stores, or what celebrity athlete to hire. The strategic Big Idea for Nike is: “Nike pushes your athletic boundaries beyond what you thought was possible, so you can win on your own terms.” A slogan never drives your brand strategy. But a great brand strategy should drive your slogan. We need to stop thinking that Brand Strategy is only about the external consumer view, as it is equally about the internal culture and operations. Next time your ad agency says “Let’s vet the brand concept past our creative people”, you should say “sure, let me invite our HR manager to attend that discussion”. By the way, if you are an ad agency, have you ever asked to speak to someone in HR?  

Here are four examples of strategic Big Ideas, that would help me to communicate with consumers, build innovation, manage the purchase moment and build experiences around the brand:

How to use a Big Idea Brand Concept


Creating the Big Idea

To ensure we have an idea that is big enough to guide every part of the organization, we start by describing the brand as to the products and services that we sell and matches that up to the external brand reputation among consumers. We describe what internal beacons are within the brand that would help guide the entire internal brand culture and organization that supports the brand as well as the brand character as it touches consumers. We would also describe the role of the brand, about how it connects the brand with consumers, the link between the internal soul and the external reputation. 

The Big Idea Blueprint below shows everything that must be considered for creating the Big Idea.

How to use a Big Idea Brand Concept


To describe the product we recommend that you  start by figuring out exactly what you do, in the most passionate words that would excite you and your consumers. This should be matched up to the Brand Reputation to ensure the external and internal alignment. You should assess how your most engaged and loyal consumers would view your offering, to ensure it attracts, excites and engages them in a way that changes their behavior. From there, you should move to the Internal Brand Beacon, which helps to create an internal rallying cry for everyone to follow that reflects the purpose, values, motivations to deliver the brand you created. This should be matched up to the Brand Character, which are the emotional characteristics, and personality traits that help consumers connect passionately with the brand. The role of the brand serves as the bridge between the internal and external brand. Assume a role for how you can ensure consumers can get the most from what you do.

Step One

Using our fictional Grays Cookie brand, under the five sections of the Big Idea blue print, we brainstorm 10-15 words for each area, then vote to narrow down to the best 3-4 words.

How to use a Big Idea Brand Concept



Step Two

Take the best 3-4 words for each section and build key phrases that summarize each area.

How to use a Big Idea Brand Concept


This forces you to almost write a big idea for each unique section of the Blue Print. It also serves to stimulate the creative writing juices on the team, which will help in step three

Step Three

Using the 5 areas to inspire you, try to write a summary Big Idea statement that captures everything you have worked on.

How to use a Big Idea Brand Concept


Creating a Brand Concept

When writing the Brand concept you should use the work from the Brand Positioning Statement and the Big Idea blue print.

How to use a Big Idea Brand Concept



If you have done a good amount of work on the Brand Positioning and created a Big Idea, you will see how easy it is to write winning concepts.

When writing the brand concept, the main headline should capture the big idea of your brand. Obviously the headline is the first thing consumers see, so it should contain the big idea that you want your brand to stand behind. Use the opening statement of the concept to connect quickly with your target consumers by starting with their enemy or insight. I love using the enemy because it can be a very arresting way to really make the consumer say “That’s me”. Bring the main benefit to life in a compelling promise statement. I prefer it to have an emotional/rational balance in the promise. At the very least, the emotion modifies the rational. The promise statement then forces us to bring in the two reasons to believe (RTBs) to help back that up. Avoid a laundry list of support points, only putting what you could realistically put into an advertisement or package. I like to add a motivating call to action at the end to help prompt purchase intent. Adding a supporting visual is optional, but it helps connect with consumers. 

How to use a Big Idea Brand Concept


At Beloved Brands, we lead workshops to help teams find their Brand Positioning, helping the team define their target, benefits and reason to believe so they can find a space that is unique, own-able and motivating. Click on the Powerpoint file below to view:

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

At Beloved Brands, we promise that we will make your brand stronger and your brand leaders smarter. We can help you come up with your brand’s Brand Positioning, Big Idea and Brand Concept. We also can help create Brand Plans that everyone in your organization can follow and helps to focus your Marketing Execution. We provide a new way to look at Brand Management, that uses a provocative approach to align your brand to the sound fundamentals of brand management. 

We will make your team of Brand Leaders smarter so they can produce exceptional work that drives stronger brand results. We offer brand training on every subject in marketing, related to strategic thinking, analytics, brand planning, positioning, creative briefs, customer marketing and marketing execution. 

To contact us, email us at or call us at 416-885-3911. You can also find us on Twitter @belovedbrands

Beloved Brands Graham Robertson 

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Graham Robertson

Graham spent 20 years in Brand Management leading some of the world’s most beloved brands at Johnson and Johnson, General Mills and Coke, rising up to VP Marketing. In his career, he has won numerous Advertising, Innovation and Leadership awards. Graham played a major role in helping J&J win Marketing Magazine’s prestigious “Marketer of the Year” award. Graham brings a reputation for challenging brand leaders to think differently and to be more strategically focused. Graham founded Beloved Brands in 2010, to help brands find growth and make brand leaders smarter. He leads workshops to help define your Brand Positioning, build your brand’s Big Idea, and write strategic Brand Plans that motivate and focus everyone that works on the brand. Our Beloved Brands training programs will help your team, produce exceptionally smart work work that drives stronger brand growth and profits. We cover everything a brand leader needs to know including strategic thinking, planning, positioning, execution and analytics. Our robust client roster has included the NFL Players Association, Reebok, the NBA, Acura, Shell, Miller Lite, 3M, Jack Link’s and Pfizer. His weekly brand stories have generated over 5 million views.

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