Author Archive: belovedbrands

UK retailers always do the best Christmas ads. Who won this year?

Slide1Every year, UK retailers battle to see who can do the best Christmas TV ad.  Over the last decade, John Lewis has been the clear winner.  However, everyone has been playing catch up and finding their own creative ways (and major investments) to stand out. The production values resembles that of a Netflix movie. Here are the top 5, and then vote on who you think is the winner at the end

John Lewis:  “Monty the Penguin”

This year’s John Lewis ad is a nice throw-back, almost a hint to the innocence of yesteryear. The kid in the ad has no video games, cell phones or wifi issues. There’s a bit of old-school romance and a cute twist at the end.  But for John Lewis, it’s also a throw-back to the ads of 2009-2011, those years when the John Lewis Christmas ads really broke through with an innocence, simplicity and nice twist.  This year’s “Monty the Penguin” follows that formula, as it follows the life of a boy preparing for Christmas, with a great old song (John Lennon’s “Real Love”) covered by with a young singer (Tom Odell).

Boots “Christmas”

This is a very simple ad and with quite the dose of reality. Too many times, we are running around trying to buy something for someone. When in all honestly, the gift is not always the gift–but rather it’s your appearance that makes all the difference. In this ad we see many journeys, with a nice little tear at the end as we realize what the journey was for–to see mom (sorry British folks, I guess I should say “mum”)

Sainsbury “Christmas is for Sharing”

There was talk all year, that Sainsbury was going for it. And we can see the exceptional production values in this ad. Sadly, even with all that, I”m just OK on it. It feels like it’s trying too hard. And I think they were. But nonetheless, it’s highly engaging and highly emotional. I’m sure it will be well-loved by many. Maybe I’m just a fan of the small moment made big, instead of the big moment made small. 

Marks & Spencer: “Magic and Sparkle”

The UK loves their fairies–and they seem a bit darker than what we are used to. These two little fairies (magic and sparkle) do come across a little dark at first in a competitive spirit but come together to create a nice little bit of magic. It’s a good ad, maybe not in the league of the other four on here.

Mulberry: “Win Christmas”

I know I said you get to vote, but this wins it for me. Not just the ad, but the big idea behind WIN CHRISTMAS. I’m one of four kids and I know it’s all about the win. So what beats a beautiful portrait, a puppy that waves or a unicorn? A new bag from Mulberry!!!  That’s what. 

Have your say on which Ad you like best

At Beloved Brands, we run a Brand Leadership Center to train marketers in all aspects of marketing from strategic thinking, analysis, writing brand plans, creative briefs and reports, judging advertising and media. To see a workshop on HOW TO CREATE A BELOVED BRAND, click on the Powerpoint presentation below:

At Beloved Brands, we love to see Brand Leaders reach their full potential.  Here are the most popular article “How to” articles.  We can offer specific training programs dedicated to each topic.  Click on any of these most read articles:

We make Brands better.

We make Brand Leaders better.™

We offer brand coaching, where we promise to make your brand better by listening to the issues, providing advice that challenges you, and coaching you along a strategic pathway to reaching your brand’s full potential. For our brand leader training, we promise to make your team of brand leaders better, by teaching sound marketing fundamentals and challenging to push for greatness so that they can unleash their full potential. Feel free to add me on Linked In, or follow me on Twitter at @belovedbrands If you need to contact me, email me at graham@beloved-brands.com or phone me at 416 885 3911

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If you want to accelerate your career in 2015, then start thinking of yourself as a Brand

How come you do such a good job marketing brands, but a bad job marketing yourself? At this time of year, it is natural to think about what’s next in your career.

Most brand leaders I see tend to only go after those jobs that come to them, relying on being called by a recruiter or seeing postings on job sites. That’s how 16 year olds look for a summer job, not how leaders manage their careers. Other brand leaders take a “selling approach” where they apply to as many jobs as they see (even if they aren’t their ideal jobs) and hope for the best, treating the job like the prize instead of believing they are the prize. That’s more selling than marketing.  Why not treat yourself like a brand?

Start by analyzing your strengths

I believe in the idea of loving what you do and living why you do it. The tool below can be used to help you find that sweet spot that matches what you are good at with what you love. Too many people build their career on what they are good at–they did well in accounting so they became an accountant. But that is a recipe for spending 40 years in a career you don’t really like. On the other hand, going after what you love, without the talent can be a pipe-dream you never achieve.

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The advantage of using this type of tool is that it allows you to re-define yourself away from job titles. For instance, in my career I was always better at marketing communications than I was at product innovation–which has my consulting career focused on finding that winning brand positioning, creating brand concepts and acting as an advertising coach. But I won’t be inventing the next app or gadget anytime soon.

The next tool to use is the personal strength finder.  This model helps you to force some choices.  The idea is that for each of the 4 options below, only one can be considered HIGH, two at the MIDDLE score and you have to force yourself to put one at the LOW.  While we all say we are generalists, that’s never really true. I’ve met many that are OK at all 4, but have never met anyone great at all. This tool forces you to be one of four types of Brand Leaders: 

  1. Managing Products
  2. Creating Ideas
  3. Strategic Thinking
  4. Leadership of People.

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Find your Unique Selling Proposition

Just like the brands you manage, take the analysis above to start forming a brand positioning for yourself that makes you stand out as unique. As a marketer you start with what consumers look for, so what you want to do is try to understand what employers are looking for. You need to find that USP that matches up the employer needs up to your strengths where you are better than your peers. 

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Once you find your USP, find a way to turn it into a big idea. As I reached senior levels in marketing, I knew I was better at strategy/communication, better at brand turnarounds and had an a more aggressive type leadership style. When I looked at what employers were looking for, it matched up nicely to brands looking to re-invigorate growth on their brands. I positioned myself as “I can find growth where others couldn’t” knowing the only reason an employer would bring in someone from the outside is the previous leader couldn’t figure it out. As I’ve moved into consulting, my current big idea (below) is “provoking you to think differently” believing that a client needs new thinking, because the thinking that brought you this far might not be enough to get you where you want your brand to be.

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Map out a Brand Plan for yourself

I bet you don’t have a brand plan. Why not? Use the time over the break to start mapping out your own brand plan and you might be surprised where this disciplined approach takes you. Write a vision for yourself by thinking about where you want to be in the next 10 years. Reach down deep to create a purpose for yourself supported by a list of values that are important to you. Set goals for yourself in 2015, and list out the potential strategies and tactics you’ll use to accelerate your career in the right direction. 

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Treat yourself like a Brand and use marketing fundamentals to manage your career

To read more, including looking at a deep dive assessment of your personal situation and how to create your own Brand, follow this Powerpoint presentation:

At Beloved Brands, we love to see Brand Leaders reach their full potential.  Here are the most popular article “How to” articles.  We can offer specific training programs dedicated to each topic.  Click on any of these most read articles:

We make brands better.

We make brand leaders better.™

We offer brand coaching, where we promise to make your brand better by listening to the issues, providing advice that challenges you, and coaching you along a strategic pathway to reaching your brand’s full potential. For our brand leader training, we promise to make your team of brand leaders better, by teaching sound marketing fundamentals and challenging to push for greatness so that they can unleash their full potential. Feel free to add me on Linked In, or follow me on Twitter at @belovedbrands If you need to contact me, email me at graham@beloved-brands.com or phone me at 416 885 3911

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Weight Watchers takes a compelling consumer insight and manages to anger me

When I saw this ad, my mouth fell open as I watched.  There was something compelling and revolting about this ad, which leaves me confused about how I felt.  Here’s the ad:

 

I applaud client and agency for using consumer insights in their ads. Too many ads all about the product (what do we do) and not enough about the consumer (what does the consumer get) And, I recognize that in a crowded category, the tone of these Weight Watchers ads did some take some risk to stand out as being different. It certainly grabbed my attention, and during the ad, I said “who the hell is making this ad?”.

However, it’s such a weird deliSlide1very of the consumer insight. Yes, it is a fact that people eat because they are sad, down, stressed, bored or lonely.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 “A-HA moment”. Ask what are the beliefs, attitudes or behaviors that help explain how they think, feel or act in relationship to your brand or category? At Beloved Brands 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 our 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”.

While I think people will get these ads, those looking to lose weight will be slightly offended. As someone who has lost the same 10 pounds many times in my life, I know the struggles of managing my weight. I know it’s about control and that I need to find other ways to counter the boredom and stress. I know it’s hard and I know that I likely need help.But making fun of me, even poking me just a little, will not make me want your help. I’d rather turn to someone who makes me feel positive, encouraged and optimistic that I can do it. The best ads use insight to connect and this ad repels consumers away, taking a well-known insight and delivering it in a hurtful, degrading and de-humanizing way. The best ads get on the side of the consumer and provide a rational and emotional benefit–this ad only articulates the problem. Consumers buy solutions more than they buy problems, so sell the solution. The best ads create a space that is unique for their brand, making them seem better or different. This ad is a basic “brought to you by” type ad, where the brand name said at the end is enough to move us. In a crowded weight loss category with many choices, this ad needs to say more about Weight Watchers that separates them fro the other brands. I hope they pull the ad, before diet season hits in 4 more weeks.    

Enough of negative messaging. Here’s an ad with a similar insight, but twists it in a motivating and challenging way. This ad gets me to the gym!!!

Use consumers insights to engage and connect with consumers

At Beloved Brands, we run a Brand Leadership Center to train marketers in all aspects of marketing from strategic thinking, analysis, writing brand plans, creative briefs and reports, judging advertising and media. To read more on strategy, here is a workshop on HOW TO CREATE A BELOVED BRAND, click on the Powerpoint presentation below:

At Beloved Brands, we love to see Brand Leaders reach their full potential.  Here are the most popular article “How to” articles.  We can offer specific training programs dedicated to each topic.  Click on any of these most read articles:

We make Brands better.

We make Brand Leaders better.™

We offer Brand Coaching, where we promise to make your Brand better by listening to the issues, providing advice that challenges you, and coaching you along a strategic pathway to reaching your Brand’s full potential. For our Brand Leader Training, we promise to make your team of Brand Leaders better, by teaching sound marketing fundamentals and challenging to push for greatness so that they can unleash their full potential. Feel free to add me on Linked In, or follow me on Twitter at @belovedbrands If you need to contact me, email me at graham@beloved-brands.com or phone me at 416 885 3911

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Challenge your thinking to focus your brand strategy

Yogi Berra once said: “If you don’t know where you’re going, you might not get there.” That really fits with brand planning. Many brands I see don’t even know where they are–either have their head in the sand in denial, or have a team mis-aligned in debate.  But if plans move brands, then if you don’t understand where you are, then how can you decide where you want to move them. So in marketing terms, we’d say “if you don’t know where you are, you might not know where to go next”. 

Here are five questions that will help focus your plan

At the start of every planning cycle, I would take a few hours, put the feet up on the desk and put down 2-3 bullet points for each of the following questions.

1. Where are we?

2. Why are we here?

3. Where could we be?

4. How can we get there?

5. What do we need to do?

Answering these questions really helps to focus your thinking because you can see the guts of the macro brand plan before you even start to dig in. It will give you the starting point on your situation analysis, map out the key issues, frame the vision/purpose/goals, lay out the strategies/tactics that will enable you to hit your vision and then provide a top-line look around how you might execute.  

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And if you want to take those questions and answers further, you can build a plan-on-a-page using the 6 key areas as outlined below:

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Here are four questions that will help focus your brand strategy

As you’re looking at your brand strategy, you need to look at the brand from all sides. Here are four questions to be asking that force you to choose four possible solutions to each.

1. What is your current share position in the market?

2. What is the core strength that your brand can win on?

3. How tightly connected is your consumer to your brand?

4. What is the current business situation that your brand faces?

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  1. What is your current share position in the market?  Where you rank is a great indicator of how much power you can command in the market.  You have four choices, using Marketing Warfare (Trout and Ries) you are either the Leader, Challenger, Niche or a Guerilla.
    • Leader (defensive): Leader of category or sub-category defending their territory by attacking itself or even attacking back at an aggressive competitor.
    • Challenger (offensive): Challenger’s attack on the leader to exploit a weakness or build on your own strength.
    • Niche:  An attack in an open area where the Leader is not that well established.
    • Guerilla: Going into an area where it’s too small for the Leaders to take notice or are unable to attack back.
  2. What is the core strength of your brand?  Most brands should have a focus to what they win on, either winning on product, idea, experience or price.   Slide1
    • Product Brands:  your strategy should focus on superiority, ensure that you invest in Innovation to stay ahead of competitors, and likely focus on rational advertising that makes sure you leave consumers knowing you are the best. In a crowded market, it has become increasingly difficult to win on product alone. Thirty years ago, P&G pushed this at every opportunity, but technology gaps have closed. And even P&G has successful switched to focusing more on being different and less on being better. That leads us to choose more of the idea brand below.
    • Concept/Idea Brands:  your strategy should focus on being different.  To tell that story, you need to invest in brand communication. You want to connect consumers emotionally to your brand idea. Apple builds everything on their brand around the idea that “apple makes it so simple that everyone can be part of the future”, whether that’s the easy-to-use products, concept focused advertising or the stores that help them execute the idea.  Are the products great?  Yes, but not likely better.  Just different.
    • Experience Brands: your strategy and organization should focus on linking culture very closely to your brand. After all, your people are your product. You want to build values and align the culture to those values. And as you go to market, invest in influencer and social media that can help support and spread the word of your experience.
    • Price Brands:  your strategy has to focus on efficiency and drive low-cost into the products you sell and high turns and high volume. You have to be better at the fundamentals around production and sourcing. Use call-to-action type advertising to help keep the turns very high. McDonald’s of the 1970s perfected this model, but we’ve since seen WalMart take it to the next level. You might not like all that WalMart does from an ethical point of view, but it’s on strategy and helps you get toilet paper cheaper. What consumers don’t notice at Walmart is their obsession with retail turns. On average Walmart sells through their stock within 28 days, compared to other retailers who might average 100 days. You rarely see slow-moving items and rarely see clearance items.
  3. How tightly connected is your brand to the consumer? Consumers move along a “Brand Love Curve”, as they become more connected to Brands, their feelings and behavior changes. Slide1There are four phases of the Brand Love Curve, moving from Indifferent to Like It to Love It and finally to the Beloved stage.
    1. Indifferent: At this stage, consumers are either not aware, confused or not interested in your product.  You treat your brand like a commodity, and your consumer treats you the same way, sticking with their current brand. Promotional pricing becomes your only weapon. As brands only have 4 real choices in survival–better, different, cheaper or not around for very long–I would not bet on these surviving long-term.
    2. Like It: At this stage, brand satisfy the consumers’ basic needs.  They use it, see it as a very functional, rational choice. To survive without emotion, you must have a better product or service offering. Your lack of connection means no relative power and you risk substitution as you battle for every penny earned. If you are leapfrogged with something better, your brand dies a quick death.
    3. Love It: Here we start to see brands building loyalty with consumers. There is an emotional connection and you become the consumers’ favorite brand, possible building into their routines. We see power shift to the brand, as it can use this emotional connection to charge premium prices, enter new categories and build added volume through heavier usage.
    4. Beloved:  At this stage, consumers become fans of the brand.  Here consumers are un-relenting in their conviction, they are possessive and outspoken, seeing the brand as a personal choice.  It goes beyond routine and becomes a ritual, not just a favorite brand but a favorite part of the day. These brands do everything right, align their brand promise, strategy, story, innovation and experience behind the big idea they stand for. Slide1 

4. What is the current situation your brand faces? As your plans are designed to move your brand, you need to understand where they are before you can decide where you want to move them.

  • Continued Momentum: Sales growth and profitability in good shape, team is aligned on direction for the future. Underlying brand metrics and relationships beyond organization are strong. Keep business going strong. Fuel growth drivers, while resisting temptation for wholesale change
  • Turnaround: Continuing decline in sales, being attacked by competitors or category shrinking. Margin squeeze, either due to price/cost or the shrinking sales line. Downward momentum over 2-3 years. Lack of alignment, internally or externally, on the solutions for the future. Need to get business back on track. Change the direction: new people, new plan, new ideas, new attitude.
  • Re-Focus: Circumstances on business have changed, driven through either external market forces or internal dynamics to the point where there is now a lack of alignment on the direction or next steps for the brand. Alignment around Brand (positioning, plan) and Culture (values, behaviors)
  • Start Up: Getting a new brand into he market, or launching a current brand into new categories of innovation. Organization needs setting up (team, culture, structure, values, behaviors) Need for focused strategic Investment choices to get brand going. Moving from blank slate to big idea, plan and team. Focus Focus Focus!

Strategic Thinkers ask “what if” questions before they see solutions. 

At Beloved Brands, we run a Brand Leadership Center to train marketers in all aspects of marketing from strategic thinking, analysis, writing brand plans, creative briefs and reports, judging advertising and media. To read more on strategy, here is a workshop for Brand Leaders to make them better Strategic Thinkers and write better Brand Plans. To view, click on the Powerpoint presentation below:

At Beloved Brands, we love to see Brand Leaders reach their full potential.  Here are the most popular article “How to” articles.  We can offer specific training programs dedicated to each topic.  Click on any of these most read articles:

We make brands better.

We make brand leaders better.™

We offer brand coaching, where we promise to make your brand better by listening to the issues, providing advice that challenges you, and coaching you along a strategic pathway to reaching your brand’s full potential. For our brand leader training, we promise to make your team of brand leaders better, by teaching sound marketing fundamentals and challenging to push for greatness so that they can unleash their full potential. Feel free to add me on Linked In, or follow me on Twitter at @belovedbrands If you need to contact me, email me at graham@beloved-brands.com or phone me at 416 885 3911

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Retailers are destroying Black Friday

Black-Friday-LineFor the past 20 years, it has been a tradition for american families to plan out their friday after US Thanksgiving by hitting the malls as the kickoff to Christmas season. For us too lazy to get up at 5am, it has been fun to watch on TV, seeing doors flung open with screaming people trampling each other trying to get to those door crasher specials. Whether you like the idea of “Black Friday” or not, retailers are doing what they do best:  taking a good thing and messing it up.  

Last year, we saw “Black Friday” ads on the Monday of Thanksgiving. This year, we saw them the week before. The problem when you mess with Black Friday is that you lose the buzz and excitement. You also lose the irrational consumer behavior brought about by the energy of the moment. So Black Friday used to mean getting up at 5am, running through the store to grab that Samsung TV for $179 by 6:15am and then adding a TV stand and gold-plated cables at full price on the way out of the store. Just like any emotion, causing consumers to feel more and think less puts the power into the hands of the brand. Retailers were winning this transaction. That’s gone if you do your sale over 10 days. You are just giving consumers time to think, search other websites and come to a rational decision. Now with time on their side, consumers can shop around for a week, review the specs on the TV and figure out that it has been down-graded with a lack of features, determine the gold-plated cables are a waste of money and just go to IKEA for the TV stand. Maybe they can even talk themselves out of the TV!!!  Why? Because now they can use their brain. After all, that buzz is gone.

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Another crazy trend is the idea that retailers open on Thanksgiving evening. Retailers are always trying to get a leg up, so they are now all trying to open when no one else is open. And yet with a low barrier to copy, they all just follow each other and negate any advantage. Last year the trend started where major retailers including Wal-Mart, Target, Best Buy and Sears opened on Thanksgiving Day–the night before Black Friday. This won’t mean a jump in revenues it just means revenues will be brought forward one day. Yes, retailers have this belief that it’s a constant dog-fight for sales, and if one my competitor gets a leg-up, that means a loss to me. Retailers are facing such pressure during these economic times so I’m somewhat sympathetic. Margins are shrinking and many retailers basically make or break their year during Thanksgiving and New Years. So I can understand the temptation. Before we get into the ethical part of opening, let’s look logically at the 8 ways a brand can make more profit: 1) increasing prices 2) getting consumers to trade up 3) lowering your cost of goods 4) lowering your marketing costs 5) stealing other users 6) getting users to use more 7) entering new categories and 8) getting new users. I realize it’s all about stealing other users. But if both competitors blink and open at 8pm on Thanksgiving, no one really wins over the consumer. The only thing I see here is a slight increase in the costs of increased wages and store opening costs. Net net, no one really wins.Slide1

So at the year end, no retailer will really be saying “we had a great year because we opened on Thanksgiving Day”. But come on guys, while your press releases are saying that you’re really just “catering to consumer demand”, we business people know that’s BS. I’d rather see all Americans sitting around the dinner table and watching football (go Patriots) with family and friends. If families are your main target market, you should be making a big deal out of the fact that you are closed so that all employees can spend time with their families. That’s a great way to establish love for your brand. My Hope is the Retailers Announcer Early that they will be closed on Thanksgiving 2015!!!

To all our American Friends, I want to wish you and your families a Happy Thanksgiving

At Beloved Brands, we run a Brand Leadership Center to train marketers in all aspects of marketing from strategic thinking, analysis, writing brand plans, creative briefs and reports, judging advertising and media. To read more on strategy, here is a workshop on HOW TO CREATE A BELOVED BRAND, click on the powerpoint presentation below:

We make brands better.

We make brand leaders better.™

We offer brand coaching, where we promise to make your brand better by listening to the issues, providing advice that challenges you, and coaching you along a strategic pathway to reaching your brand’s full potential. For our brand leader training, we promise to make your team of brand leaders better, by teaching sound marketing fundamentals and challenging to push for greatness so that they can unleash their full potential. Feel free to add me on Linked In, or follow me on Twitter at @belovedbrands If you need to contact me, email me at graham@beloved-brands.com or phone me at 416 885 3911

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Why Brand Matters

You can make more money by investing in your Brand

The reason that most business’ choose not to invest in a brand, is they “can’t afford it”. But really, by investing in a BRAND, you can make more MONEY! Use the connectivity between brand and consumer to leverage premium Pricing. Use your brand’s power to drive Lower Costs. Leverage the bond with consumers to Increase your Market Share. When you have an idea bigger than your product alone, you can enter into New Categories that fit with your idea. Here are the 8 ways a BRAND can make you more MONEY!!!  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.  Slide1What you want to do is create a strong bond between your consumer and your brand. Once you have that bond, you can use it as a source of power versus all the stake holders of the brand.  If we think back to porter’s model, the brand’s bond gives you added power over customers, suppliers, competitors and even the very consumers you have the bond with.  Beyond Porter’s forces, the brand would also generate added power with the media, key opinion leaders and employees.  Once you have power, you can drive growth and profit, using that power to drive up price, drive down costs, gain market share and enter new categories.  

  • 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. 

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You need to Focus your brand behind one Core Strength

Every brand needs focus.  Brands are either better, different or cheaper–or else not around for very long.  The problem I see is that brands try to be everything to everyone, and you end up being nothing to no one. Strategically, before going further, you have to decide on what core strength you will win on:  product, concept/idea, price or the experience.  The model below is a good tool that can help your team focus on what it does best.  

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  • If you’re the PRODUCT driven brand of the category, you need to focus on driving innovation on both product and claims as a way to maintain superiority over your competition. You want R&D closely aligned to your brand’s Big Idea and you have to invest to continue the pipeline.  The marketing may take more of a rational approach. Currently, Samsung is one of the best product driven brands, whether it’s phones, TVs or appliances. Their one weakness is the inferior laptops they’ve tried to push on the market.
  • On the other hand, if you are a CONCEPT driven brand, you need to focus on being different. The problem is when these types of brands get distracted by trying to be better or just as good as the PRODUCT driven brand they compete with. The CONCEPT brands need emotional advertising and more creative approaches to connect with consumers. Apple is a great concept driven brands, creating an idea of simplicity that goes across their entire product line and experienced in their retail stores.
  • With EXPERIENCE brands, who focus on the people/culture as being the guts of your brand. You need to be purpose driven and values based, projecting why you do what you do.  Invest in training to instil values and project who you are through social media. With Hotels all competing on price and pillow feather counts, Ritz-Carlton is all about service, that meets the unexpressed needs of consumers.  Ritz-Carlton has a service credo with supporting service values. And they are so good at service, you can now take a 3-day Ritz-Carlton training program on how they do it.  
  • If you are the LOW PRICE brand, focus on efficiency and cost cutting to drive lower prices.  Make up for the lower margin by driving higher volumes, with call-to-action type advertising.  And you better be good at all the production, forecasting and sourcing.  WalMart does this better than anyone, even going as far as crushing every union movement.  To show you how good they are at operations, WalMart’s turns at shelf average 28 days, while most other department stores average 75-100 days. You rarely see the word “clearance” at Walmart. 

You need to Build your Brand by lining up all 5 Connector to your Big Idea

While you need a lead strength from the model above, once you decide on were you want to go, you need to create an IDEA and then line up each of the 5 elements of a brand:  promise, strategy, story, freshness and experience.   Slide1

  1. The brand’s promise sets up the positioning, as you focus on a key target with one main benefit you offer.  Brands need to be better, different or cheaper. Or else not around for very long. ”Me-too” brands have a short window before being squeezed out. How relevant, simple and compelling the brand positioning is impacts the potential love for the brand.
  2. The most beloved brands create an experience that over-delivers the promise. How your culture and organization sets up can make or break that experience. Hiring the best people, creating service values that employees can deliver against and having processes that end service leakage. The culture attacks the brand’s weaknesses and fixes them before the competition can attack.  With a Beloved Brand, the culture and brand become one.
  3. Brands also make focused strategic choices that start with identifying where the brand is on the Brand Love Curve going from Indifferent to Like It to Love It and all the way to Beloved status. Marketing is not just activity, but rather focused activity–based on strategy with an ROI mindset. Where you are on the curve might help you make strategic and tactical choices such as media, innovation and service levels.
  4. The most beloved brands have a freshness of innovation, staying one-step ahead of the consumers.  The idea of the brand helps acting as an internal beacon to help frame the R&D.  Every new product has to back that idea.  At Apple, every new product must deliver simplicity and at Volvo, it must focus on safety.  
  5. Beloved brands can tell the brand story through great advertising in paid media, through earned media either in the mainstream press or through social media.  Beloved Brands use each of these media choices to connect with consumers and have a bit of magic to their work.

As we talked about the Apple brand, here’s an illustration of how well Apple lines up behind their big idea.

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You need to Transform your Brand by going Beyond Product

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 loved a brand is by consumers, the more powerful and profitable that brand can be

At Beloved Brands, we run a Brand Leadership Center to train marketers in all aspects of marketing from strategic thinking, analysis, writing brand plans, creative briefs and reports, judging advertising and media. To read more on strategy, here is a workshop on HOW TO CREATE A BELOVED BRAND, click on the Powerpoint presentation below:

At Beloved Brands, we love to see Brand Leaders reach their full potential.  Here are the most popular article “How to” articles.  We can offer specific training programs dedicated to each topic.  Click on any of these most read articles:

We make Brands better.

We make Brand Leaders better.™

We offer Brand Coaching, where we promise to make your Brand better by listening to the issues, providing advice that challenges you, and coaching you along a strategic pathway to reaching your Brand’s full potential. For our Brand Leader Training, we promise to make your team of Brand Leaders better, by teaching sound marketing fundamentals and challenging to push for greatness so that they can unleash their full potential. Feel free to add me on Linked In, or follow me on Twitter at @belovedbrands If you need to contact me, email me at graham@beloved-brands.com or phone me at 416 885 3911

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Beautiful Ads that pay tribute to our Veterans will bring a tear to your eye

poppyToday is Remembrance Day in Canada–a day we pay honour to our veterans from the wars in our history and sadly even today. These young soldiers fight for our freedom.  

Remembrance Day (also known as Poppy Day) is a memorial day observed in Commonwealth of Nations member states since the end of the First World War to remember the members of their armed forces who have died in the line of duty. Remembrance Day is observed on 11 November to recall the end of hostilities of World War I on that date in 1918, as hostilities formally ended “at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month”.  Every Canadian kid learns about “In Flanders Fields”, which is a war poem, written during the First World War by Canadian physician Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae (November 30, 1872 – January 28, 1918) who was a Canadian poet, physician, author, artist and soldier during World War I, and a surgeon during the Second Battle of Ypres, in Belgium.  He was inspired to write “In Flanders Fields” on May 3, 1915, after presiding over the funeral of friend and fellow soldier Alexis Helmer, who died in the Second Battle of Ypres. According to legend, fellow soldiers retrieved the poem after McCrae, initially dissatisfied with his work, discarded it. “In Flanders Fields” was first published on December 8 of that year in the London-based magazine Punch. flanders-fieldThe red remembrance poppy has become a familiar emblem of Remembrance Day due to the poem In Flanders Fields. These poppies bloomed across some of the worst battlefields of Flanders in World War I, their brilliant red colour became a symbol for the blood spilled in the war.

Here are some beautiful ads that pay tribute to the veterans and war heroes.

This ad from Bell in Canada, from the 1990s pays tribute to a war hero from Dieppe in World War II.  

This ad from Guinness called “Empty Chair” is a nice quiet tribute to a soldier, awaiting their return home.

Budweiser has done quite a few ads to salute our heroes of war, but “Welcome Home Troops” in 2006 is so simple, no words are needed.

At 11am, in my hometown of Ottawa, 80,000 people will gather at the War Memorial for a moment of silence. Last month, an unarmed solider Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, only 24 years old was shot in the back as he guarded this war memorial.  Today, we will honour his memory along with all those soldiers lost to war.  

ottawa monument i

 

LEST WE FORGET

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UK retailer John Lewis returns to form with a beautiful 2014 Christmas ad

imagesJohn Lewis Christmas ads use beautiful music, a movie-like storyline that demonstrates the beauty of gift giving, stretched out over 90 seconds. No words are needed to tell the story. They are not loaded with so much branding that they would turn you off before inviting you in.  The John Lewis ads take you on a journey with a slight twist at the end as they tug at the heart and bring a reminder of what the season is all about:  the gift of Giving. 

This year’s John Lewis ad is a nice throw-back, almost a hint to the innocence of yesteryear. The kid in the ad has no video games, cell phones or wifi issues. There’s a bit of old-school romance and a cute twist at the end.  But for John Lewis, it’s also a throw-back to the ads of 2009-2011, those years when the John Lewis Christmas ads really broke through with an innocence, simplicity and nice twist.  This year’s “Monty the Penguin” follows that formula, as it follows the life of a boy preparing for Christmas, with a great old song (John Lennon’s “Real Love”) covered by with a young singer (Tom Odell).

Here’s the ad

 

The John Lewis Christmas Series

John Lewis has been doing these Christmas ads for years now.  People around the world, including myself, are now starting to look for them each year.  I know when you run a long running campaign, it takes a lot of creativity to keep it going.  It has a nice song and a twist at the end.  My only complaint is that they are moving away from what first gave me goose bumps. 

For me best one was 2011, about the boy who couldn’t wait for Christmas

This is also a great one from 2010

And you can see the one from 2009.

When you see those 3 ads, you’ll notice a similar formula of those, and realize this year’s ad fits that formula. However, I found both the 2012 and 2013 ads were a bit of a departure.  In 2012, the “snowman” ad felt bit too dark for me with the tone feeling like a slight miss for John Lewis.  

I also found the 2013 ad a bit of a departure, going to animation and utilizing on-line and in-store media. This campaign seems trying too hard to capitalize on their success.

 

Thank you John Lewis for providing such a great campaign

At Beloved Brands, we run a Brand Leadership Center to train marketers in all aspects of marketing from strategic thinking, analysis, writing brand plans, creative briefs and reports, judging advertising and media. To read more on strategy, here is a workshop on HOW TO GET BETTER ADVERTISING, click on the Powerpoint presentation below:

 

At Beloved Brands, we love to see Brand Leaders reach their full potential.  Here are the most popular article “How to” articles.  We can offer specific training programs dedicated to each topic.  Click on any of these most read articles:

 

We make Brands better.

We make Brand Leaders better.™

We offer Brand Coaching, where we promise to make your Brand better by listening to the issues, providing advice that challenges you, and coaching you along a strategic pathway to reaching your Brand’s full potential. For our Brand Leader Training, we promise to make your team of Brand Leaders better, by teaching sound marketing fundamentals and challenging to push for greatness so that they can unleash their full potential. Feel free to add me on Linked In, or follow me on Twitter at @belovedbrands If you need to contact me, email me at graham@beloved-brands.com or phone me at 416 885 3911

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Managing Your Career: Finding and using your Core Strength as a Brand Leader

Brand Leaders always pride themselves on being generalists, and as we move up, we have to be. But the reality is that we are naturally better in some areas than others, and at very senior levels that can help guide your career choices. Here’s a very simple tool I have created to help guide your thinking to see where your natural strength lies, within one of four choices:  1) Managing Products 2) Creating Ideas 3) Strategic Thinking or 4) Leadership of People.  Grade yourself, or ask others to help you, whether you are High, Medium or Low at each of them.  But to this game, we only let you put ONE at the high and you should force ONE score as low.  

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Where is your Strength?

  • Managing Products:  You’re naturally a business leader, who enjoys the thrill of hitting the numbers–your financial or share goals for the year. In Myers Briggs, you might be an ENTJ/INTJ (introvert/extrovert, intuition, thinking, judgment) the “field general” who brings the intuitive logic and quick judgement to make decisions quickly to capitalize on the business opportunity. You like the innovation side more than the advertising. You are fundamentally sound at all the core elements of running a business:  forecasting, analytics, finance, distribution, working each of the functional areas to the benefit of the products. You may have some gaps in creativity or people leadership, but you’re comfortable giving freedom to your agencies or team to handle coming up with ideas.  My recommendation is that you stay within Brand Management as long as you can.  If you find roadblocks in your current industry, go into new verticals before you venture into new career choices. If you go outside, consider running businesses on behalf of Private Equity companies or even venture out into Entrepreneurship where you take your core strength of running a business to making it on your own.Slide1
  • Strategic Thinking:  You enjoy the planning more than the execution. You might fall into the INTP, where you’re still using logic and intuition, but you are stronger at the thinking that helps frame the key issues and strategies than the tactical solutions to the problems. The introvert side would also suggest that your energy comes from what’s going on in your brain, more than what others are saying. If you stay within industry, you’d be very strong in a global brand role, general management or even a strategic planning role. You need to either partner with a strong executer or build a strong team of business leaders beneath you. Going outside, you’d enjoy consulting and thought leadership which could turn into academic or professional development type roles.  
  • Creative Concepts/Ideas:  You are the type of Brand Leaders open to new thinking, highly creative and you connect more to ideas and insights than strict facts and tight decisions. You believe facts can guide you but never decide for you. They are high on perception, allowing ambiguous ideas to breathe before closing down on them.  They respect the creative process and people.  They are intuitive but opt for how something feels as they use their instincts for what is a good or bad idea. You may have gaps on organization and strategy that hurts you from being a senior leader.  Going forward beyond Marketing, you might opt to switch to agency side or find a subject-matter expert role (Innovation, Marketing Communication or Public Relations) that better suits your strengths.
  • Leadership of People:  You find natural strength in leading others–getting the most from someone’s potential.  You’re good at conflict, providing feedback, inspiring/motivation. You are a natural extrovert, where you get your energy from seeing others on your team succeeding, almost more than yourself. As you move up, you should surround yourself with people who counter your gaps–whether that’s on strategy or execution. You might find yourself better at Management than Marketing, and you should pursue a General Management role. You also would benefit from a cross functional shift into a sales function.  After you hit your peak, consider careers such as executive coaching. 

I realize that most senior leaders will struggle to come down to their ONE key area of strength and you might find yourself more of a combination.  For instance, I had a hard time deciding between Strategy and Creativity, and have managed to find some balance in my second career as a Brand Coach as well as an Advertising Coach.  But I am not quite comfortable enough in presenting Creative Ideas on behalf of an Agency, nor do I just want the purity of strategy.  If you find yourself debating two, that still can provide you with some focus as a combination of strengths to take forward into your career. 

Here are Five Soul-Searching Career Questions You need to Be Asking yourself throughout your Career

  1. Within your current company, how high up do you think you can realistically go?
  2. Should you stay in the same industry or look at new verticals?
  3. Should you stay in pure Brand Management or venture into a subject-matter expert type roles?
  4. How long do you want to keep working?
  5. Do you stay an employee or do you take this moment to leap out on your own?

You have to answer these questions honestly before going out into the market, looking for a job. These answers help frame the strategy for the roles you’d consider. Think of these questions as a starting point to your Personal Branding. To read more, including looking at a deep dive assessment of your personal situation and how to create your own Brand, follow this Powerpoint presentation:

We make Brands better.

We make Brand Leaders better.™

We offer Brand Coaching, where we promise to make your Brand better by listening to the issues, providing advice that challenges you, and coaching you along a strategic pathway to reaching your Brand’s full potential. For our Brand Leader Training, we promise to make your team of Brand Leaders better, by teaching sound marketing fundamentals and challenging to push for greatness so that they can unleash their full potential. Feel free to add me on Linked In, or follow me on Twitter at @belovedbrands If you need to contact me, email me at graham@beloved-brands.com or phone me at 416 885 3911

 

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How to find your brand’s EMOTIONAL BRAND POSITIONING

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. Slide1In 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.   Too many times, Brand Leaders ask their agency for emotional advertising, without even understanding what emotions they want.  You look at the brief and the brand positioning statement is strictly functional and buried under tone, you’ll see 5 words randomly thrown on the brief such as “trusted, reliable, smart, authentic and optimistic”.  But there is no true understanding of what is the ONE emotional area your brand should own.

Start with the Consumer and Map out their Emotional Insights

Beloved Brands know who their customer is and who it is not.  Everything starts and ends with the Consumer in mind.  To demonstrate knowledge of that target, defining consumer insights help to crystallize and bring to life the consumer you are targeting. The dictionary definition of the word Insight is “seeing below the surface”. When insight is done right, it is what first connects us to the brand, because we see ourselves in the story. Insight is not something that consumers didn’t know before. It’s not data or fact about your brand that you want to tell. That would be knowledge not insight. Too many people think data, trends and facts are insights.  Facts are merely on the surface and miss out on the depth of thinking. You need to bring those facts to life by going below the surface and transforming the facts into insights. Insight is actually something that everyone already knows and 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”. That’s why we laugh 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.  

Think beyond specific category insights and think about Life Insights or even Societal Trends that could impact changing consumer behavior. Consumer Insights come to life when you get in shoes of consumers (start the insight with the word “I”) and you use the consumers’ voice (put the insight in quotes)

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What’s the Emotional Benefit?

To get to that emotional benefit, we recommend that you do up a Customer Value Proposition (CVP) helps to organize your thinking as a great tool for bringing the benefits to life.  Hold a brainstorming session with everyone who works on the brand so you can:

    1. Define your consumer target and Brainstorm all of the consumer insights
    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.

This tool is designed to get you out of talking about yourself (your claims) and gets you talking about what the consumer gets (the benefits)  For instance, no one really cares that a golf club has 5.7% more torque.  When you ask what do i get from that, the better answers are longer drives or lower scores or winning a tournament.   These are rational benefits.  When you ask how does that make you feel, the emotional space is confidence and optimism.  This is the emotional benefit.  Slide1

People tend to get stuck when trying to figure out the emotional benefits. 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 Research 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 the Hotspex work, we’ve mapped out 8 zones in a simplistic way below:

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Within each of the zones, you can find emotional words that closely align to the need state of the consumer and begin building the emotional benefits within your CVP.  It almost becomes a cheat sheet for Brand Managers to work with.  How it works is when you figure out which ONE emotional zone you think your brand can own, and just like a rational position, you can’t try to own them all. If we think of the world’s leading  companies, Apple owns Freedom while Google owns Knowledge and they are at their best when they stick to those positioning statements.  

Bringing Emotion to Life

Here’s how well Apple has brought “Freedom” to life.  You’ll not really hear any functional benefits within this type of Ad.  Poetry matched against the beauty of the world is a perfect demonstration of FREEDOM–making Apple seem interesting, exciting and alive.  

While knowledge might sound boring, by sticking to that strategy, here’s how well Google has done. Embedded within the story line, Google is used as an enabler of knowledge–making you smarter, wiser and competent.

 

At Beloved Brands, we run a Brand Leadership Center to train marketers in all aspects of marketing from strategic thinking, analysis, writing brand plans, creative briefs and reports, judging advertising and media. To read more on strategy, here is a workshop on HOW TO GET BETTER ADVERTISING, click on the Powerpoint presentation below:

 

At Beloved Brands, we love to see Brand Leaders reach their full potential.  Here are the most popular article “How to” articles.  We can offer specific training programs dedicated to each topic.  Click on any of these most read articles:

 

We make Brands better.

We make Brand Leaders better.™

We offer Brand Coaching, where we promise to make your Brand better by listening to the issues, providing advice that challenges you, and coaching you along a strategic pathway to reaching your Brand’s full potential. For our Brand Leader Training, we promise to make your team of Brand Leaders better, by teaching sound marketing fundamentals and challenging to push for greatness so that they can unleash their full potential. Feel free to add me on Linked In, or follow me on Twitter at @belovedbrands If you need to contact me, email me at graham@beloved-brands.com or phone me at 416 885 3911

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