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Strategic thinkers see questions before they see solutions

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strategic thinkingThe elements of strategic thinking creates a vision, allocates resources to a focused opportunity, and turns a breakthrough impact into a performance result.

Ever hear someone say, “that’s a good question.” It usually means someone has just asked an interruptive question. This slows everyone’s thinking, to help reflect and plan before they act. The strategic thinking side of marketing is logical. Map out a range of decision trees that intersect, by imagining how events will play out in the future. If you think too long, you may just spiral around, unable to decide. And, you may miss an opportunity window.

Instinctual thinkers jumps in quickly to find answers before they even know the right question. Their brains move fast; they use emotional impulse and intuitive gut feel. They want action now and get easily frustrated by delays. And, they believe it is better to do something than sit and wait around. They see strategic people as stuck running around in circles, as they try to figure out the right question. Instead, these instinctual leaders choose emotion over logic. Yes, a “make it happen” attitude gets things done. If they go too fast, their great actions may solve the wrong problem. 

Brand leaders must be both strategic and intuitive. You must learn to change brain speeds. Slow down the thinking when faced with challenging issue and move quickly with your best instincts on execution. 

The five elements of smart strategic thinking

Everyone says they are a strategic thinker, yet few are. Early in my career, I confess that I was more of an instinctual marketer. To learn strategic thinking, we need to slow down and organize our thoughts. Here are the five elements that make up smart strategic thinking: strategic thinking

1. Set a vision of what you want for your brand

A vision sets aspirational stretch goals for the future, linked to a clear result or purpose. Write a vision statement in a way that scares you a little and excites you a lot. It should steer everyone who works on the brand. Focus on finding ways to create a bond with your consumers that will lead to power and profit beyond what the product alone could achieve. As Yogi Berra famously said, “If you do not know where you are going, how will you know if you get there?” 

To be a visionary, you must be able to visualize the future. Imagine it is five or 10 years from now and you wake up in the most fantastic mood. Visualize a perfect future and write down the most critical milestones you need to achieve. Even think about words that will inspire, lead and steer your team towards your vision. 

As strategic thinking starts with asking questions, a smart strategy must ask interruptive questions that frame the issues regarding what you want to achieve. By raising those issues early on, you can focus the team on the significant problems that need to be solved to get you on the path to your vision.  

2.  Invest resources in a strategic program

Think through the options of where you should invest to move your brand into a more powerful and profitable position. The programs you choose should solidify the brand’s core strength, build a brand idea that tightens the consumer bond, battle competitors on positioning, or address the situational challenges and opportunities.

3. Focus on an identified opportunity

Focus your limited resources on a distinct opportunity you have identified. Is there a potential change in the market, including changes to consumers, competitive situation, technology or sales channels. 

In today’s data-driven world, everyone has access to the equivalent information and in turn, can see the same opportunities. You must use speed to seize the opportunity before others can take action, and then that opportunity is gone. 

The best brand leaders never divide and conquer. They force themselves to focus and win. The smartest brand leaders use the word “or” more often than they use the word “and.”  If you come to a decision point, and you try to rationalize doing a little of both, you are not strategic. Force yourself to make choices. 

Many marketers struggle to focus. 

  • Myth 1: The most prominent myth of marketing is to believe that your brand will get bigger if you have a broader target market.
  • Reality: Too many marketers target anyone. I will always argue it is better to be loved by a few than tolerated by many. You have to create a tight bond with a core base of brand fans, and then use that fan support to expand your following. 
  • Myth 2: The second myth to becoming a more prominent brand is to believe a brand stands for everything. Some brands try to say everything possible with the hope the consumer hears anything. 
  • Reality: Hope is never a strategy. To be loved by consumers, a brand must stand for something with a backbone and conviction. Trying to be everything to anyone just ends up becoming nothing to everyone.
  • Myth 3: Your brand will be bigger if you try to be everywhere, whether in every sales channel or on every possible media option.
  • Reality: If you went to Las Vegas and put a chip on every square, you would be bankrupt before midnight. The worst marketers lack focus because they fear missing out on someone or something. By trying to be everywhere, the brand will drain itself and eventually end up being nowhere.

Every brand has limited resources, whether they’re financial, time, people, or partnerships. Marketers always face the temptation of an unlimited array of choices, whether in the possible target market, brand messages, strategies, or tactics. The smartest brand leaders limit their choices to match up to their limited resources, to focus on those that will deliver the highest return. 

When you focus, five amazing things happen to your brand:

  1. Stronger return on investment (ROI): When you focus your dollars on the distinct breakthrough point or against a program that you know will work, you will see the most positive and efficient response in the marketplace. 
  2. Better return on effort (ROE): You must make the most efficient use of your limited people and resources. Find the Big Easy! Focus on the ideas with the most significant impact that is the easiest to execute. Avoid those ideas that are small and difficult to implement. While you may not always have the data to calculate your ROI, you should have the instincts to figure out your ROE. 
  3. Stronger reputation: When you limit your audience and brand message, you will have a better chance to own that reputation among that core target audience. 
  4. More competitive: When you focus your message to a specific target audience, your brand will start to create a space in the market you can defend against others from entering that space.
  5. More investment behind the brand: When you focus and deliver business results, your management team will ask you to do that again. They will give you more money and more people resources. Even with increased resources, you must take the same focused approach. 

4. Leverage the breakthrough market impact 

A smart strategy turns an early breakthrough win into a shift in momentum, positional power or tipping point where you begin to achieve more in the marketplace than the resources you put in.

Many underestimate the need for an early win. I see this as a crucial breakthrough point where you start to look at a small shift in momentum towards your vision. While there will always be doubters to every strategy, the results of the early win provide compelling proof to show everyone the plan will work. You can change the minds of the doubters—or at least keep them quiet—so everyone can stay focused on the breakthrough point. 

The magic of strategy happens through leverage, where you can use the early win as an opening or a tipping point where you start to see a transformational power that allows you to make an impact and achieve results in the marketplace. A smart strategy should trigger the consumer to move along the buying journey from awareness to buy and onto loyalty, or it can help tighten the consumer’s bond with the brand.   

5. Performance result that pays back

The shift in positional power in the marketplace moves your brand toward your vision and creates a future pathway to building a consumer bond, brand power, and brand profitability. 

A brand can become powerful compared to the consumers they serve, the competitors they battle, the channels they sell through, the suppliers who make the products or ingredients, the influencers in the market, any media choices and the employees who work for the brand. We explored these eight sources of power in the opening chapter. 

You can drive profit through premium pricing, trading consumers up on price, finding a lower cost of goods, using lower sales and marketing costs, stealing competitive users, getting loyal users to use more, entering new markets or finding new uses for the brand. We explored these eight ways a brand can add to their profitability in the opening chapter. For a strategy to work, what pays off in the marketplace must pay off in brand power or business results.  

Using Gray’s Cookies to demonstrate strategic thinking

Let’s look at the fictional Gray’s Cookies as a case study. Gray’s Cookies are the ultimate healthy cookie, which is excellent tasting, low fat, low calorie and made from the best ingredients. I did mention it was fictional. This cookie is battling the major mainstream competitors, starting from a small niche with a core target market of fans who are beginning to love the brand. 

Here are the five elements of smart strategic thinking for Gray’s Cookies:

1. Set a vision of what you want

Gray’s wants to be the first healthy cookie to generate the craving, popularity, and sales of a mainstream cookie. Make Gray’s a $100 million brand by 2020. The most significant issue in the way, like many new brands, is how to drive trial while closing gaps.  

2. Invest resources in a strategic program

At the rapid growth stage, Gray’s needs to build a strong bond with consumers, address the distribution gaps while battling any mainstream brands who could enter the healthy cookie segment.

3. Focus on an identified opportunity

Gray’s Cookies recognizes the opportunity created by the consumer shift to healthy choices. If they can take the dominant power player role in the healthy cookie segment, they can drive high market share in a rapid growth category segment.

4. Leverage a breakthrough market impact

Gray’s Cookies is the dominant power player role in driving high trial, and significant market share results to gain additional shelf space in the retail stores.

5. Performance result that pays back

Gray’s will bring mainstream cookie users over to drive higher sales and establish itself as the dominant “healthy cookie” brand.

How to turn thinking into strategic objective statements

Let’s now look at how to turn your smart strategic thinking into writing a strategic objective statement that can provide explicit marching orders to everyone who works on the brand. 

The process covers off all five elements of smart strategic thinking. You can see the brand vision, and key issue statement covers the first strategic element. But you need the strategic objective statement to cover off the remaining four other strategic elements including the program investment, focused opportunity, market impact and the performance result. 

strategic statements

Here’s how that strategic objective statement breaks down: 

a. The statement calls out the investment in a strategic program, with crystal clear marching orders to the team, leaving no room for doubt, confusion or hesitation. In this example, the strategic program is to “Create an elevated VIP consumer experience.” strategic statements

b. You should provide a focused opportunity, which is the breakthrough point where the brand will exert pressure to create a market impact. In this example, the focused opportunity is to “Reward our most loyal consumers.”  

c. You must have a specific desired market impact to outline the market stakeholder you will attempt to move, whether it is consumers, sales channels, competitors or influencers. In this example, the desired impact is to “Turn the consumer’s regular usage into a higher frequency ritual.” 

d. And finally, you need a specific performance result, linking the market impact to a specific result on the brand, either making the brand more powerful or more profitable. In this example, you are “Tightening their bond with our brand.”

This unique strategic model will force you to pick answers to build a strategy statement with marching orders for those who follow your plan. As you move to building your brand plan, I recommend you use these four elements of smart strategic objective statements to ensure you structure the thinking. 

 

To learn more about this type of thinking, you should explore my new book, Beloved Brands.

With Beloved Brands, you will learn everything you need to know so you can build a brand that your consumers will love.

You will learn how to think strategically, define your brand with a positioning statement and a brand idea, write a brand plan everyone can follow, inspire smart and creative marketing execution and analyze the performance of your brand through a deep-dive business review.

Beloved Brands book

To order the e-book version or the paperback version from Amazon, click on this link: https://lnkd.in/eF-mYPe

If you use Kobo, you can find Beloved Brands in over 30 markets using this link: https://lnkd.in/g7SzEh4

And if you are in India, you can use this link to order: https://lnkd.in/gDA5Aiw

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

At Beloved Brands, our purpose is to help brands find a new pathway to growth. We believe that the more love your brand can generate with your most cherished consumers, the more power, growth, and profitability you will realize in the future.

We think the best solutions are likely inside you already, but struggle to come out. Our unique playbook tools are the backbone of our workshops. We bring our challenging voice to help you make decisions and refine every potential idea.

We start by defining a brand positioning statement, outlining the desired target, consumer benefits and support points the brand will stand behind. And then, we build a brand idea that is simple and unique enough to stand out in the clutter of the market, motivating enough to get consumers to engage, buy and build a loyal following with your brand.

We will help you write a strategic brand plan for the future, to get everyone in your organization to follow. It starts with an inspiring vision that pushes your team to imagine a brighter future. We use our strategic thinking tools to help you make strategic choices on where to allocate your brand’s limited resources.

Our brand playbook methodology will challenge you to unlock future growth for your brand

  1. Our deep-dive assessment process will give you the knowledge of the issues facing your brand, so you can build a smart plan to unleash future growth.
  2. Find a winningbrand positioning statementthat motivates consumers to buy, and gives you a competitive advantage to drive future growth.
  3. Create a brand ideato capture the minds and hearts of consumers, while inspiring and focusing your team to deliver greatness on the brand’s behalf.
  4. Build a brand planto help you make smart focused decisions, so you can organize, steer, and inspire your team towards higher growth.
  5. Advise on advertising, to find creative that drives branded breakthrough and use a motivating messaging to set up long-term brand growth.
  6. Our brandtrainingprogram will make your brand leaders smarter, so you have added confidence in their performance to drive brand growth.

To learn more about our coaching, click on this link: Beloved Brands Strategic Coaching

To learn more about our training programs, click on this link: Beloved Brands Training

If you need our help, email me at graham@beloved-brands.comor call me at 416 885 3911

You have my personal promise to help you solve your brand building challenges. I will give you new thinking, so you can unlock future growth for your brand.

Signature

Graham Robertson

Founder and CMO, Beloved Brands Inc.

 

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The reasons why Sears went bankrupt

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SearsToday, Sears declares bankruptcy in the US. It is a very sad day for many of us who grew up circling items in the Sears Christmas catalog. But, it is a day we have seen coming for 20 years. I have a soft spot in my heart for them because my mom worked in the Sears men’s clothing section when I was a teenager. I thought it was a cool job. That’s where I got my suit for my High School graduation. My mom told me “every man needs a good suit.”

I also know of many great people who have worked at Sears over the years. From what I heard, they were extremely frustrated by the poor moves or lack of moves by senior leaders. Too little, too late.

Let’s explore the reasons why Sears died and what you can learn from them for your brand. This is the classic retailer who tried to be everything to everyone. Sears failed because they let Walmart steal their low-price positioning at retail, and then let Amazon steal their catalog shopping model.

Sears lacked a point of difference 

I tell brands all the time: “You have four choices: you can be better, different, cheaper or else not around for long.” I have never met anyone who chooses the fourth option of not around for long, but if you don’t choose one of the first three, then the fourth chooses you.

Like any department store, it is hard to be different. They are all just a collection of goods that someone else has made for them. For decades, Sears was successful in owning the “cheaper” option with their good value, at the lowest price. They likely kept that until the early 1980s.

First, the rapid expansion of Walmart and Costco put the first dagger into Sears by severely undercutting them on price. For comparable items, Sears was a 20-30% price premium.

Trying to be everything to anyone is the recipe for being nothing to everyone.

And then, as consumers moved to the big box stores and outlet malls, each of those individual retailers put another dagger into each and every department Sears owned.

  • Looking for a TV, go to Best Buy.
  • For a home renovation, go to Home Depot.
  • If you need any sporting goods, go to Dick’s.
  • And, for any clothing item, head to the nearest outlet mall.

To find the competitive space in which your brand can win, I introduce a Venn diagram of competitive situations. You will see three circles. The first circle comprises everything your consumer wants or needs. The second circle includes everything your brand does best, including consumer benefits, product features or proven claims. And, finally, the third circle lists what your competitor does best.competitive positioning

Find your brand positioning

Your brand’s winning zone (in green), is the space that matches up “What consumers want” with “What your brand does best.” This space provides you a distinct positioning you can own and defend from attack. Your brand must be able to satisfy the consumer needs better than any other competitor can.

Your brand will not survive by trying to compete in the losing zone (in red), which is the space that matches the consumer needs with “What your competitor does best.” When you play in this space, your competitor will beat you every time.

As markets mature, competitors copy each other. It has become harder to be better with a definitive product win. Many brands have to play in the risky zone (in grey), which is the space where you and your competitor both meet the consumer’s needs in a relative tie.

Using this logic, Sears offered moderate value goods, at a higher price than their competitors. There was no reason to go to Sears. They were in the dumb zone (in blue) for the last 20 years.

Walmart did exactly what Sears did, only better

Walmart used the identical playbook from Sears: well-known brand names at a much lower price than you could get anywhere else. As Walmart grew up through the 1970s and 80s, the focused on being the perfect store for the small towns or rural areas because they offered everything you would need in one place. As Walmart moved into suburbs in the 1980s and 90s, they met face-to-face with Sears.

What did Sears do to fight back? Nothing.

If we go back to the 1970s, I would label Sears as the “Power Player” brand of the retail category. Power Player brands should be the share leader or perceived influential leader of the category. These brands command power over all the stakeholders, including consumers, competitors, and retail channels. power player brands

Regarding positioning, the power player brands own what they are best at and leverage their power in the market to help them own the position where there is a tie with another competitor. Owning both zones helps expand the brand’s presence and power across a bigger market. These brands can also use their exceptional financial situation to invest in innovation to catch up, defend or stay ahead of competitors.

Power player brands must defend their territory by responding to every aggressive competitor’s attacks. They even need to attack themselves by vigilantly watching for internal weaknesses to close any potential leaks before a competitor notices. Power player brands can never become complacent, or they will die.

Sears should have squashed upstart Walmart in 1970 when they only had 38 stores, yet it was obvious that they were onto something. The smart power player brand would have paid Sam Walton $100 million for his stores and signed a do not compete. Within five years, their sales grew 10-fold from $40 million to $350 million, yet Sears still did nothing. That $100 million would look pretty cheap by the mid-1980s when Walmart grew another 40-fold up to $15 billion in sales. Keep going and by 2000, Walmart sales were $220 billion.

Sears failed to attack any competitive move made by Walmart, and they certainly never attacked themselves.

Sears once owned what Amazon now makes billions doing

For decades, Sears delivered catalogs with the widest assortment of products, customers would pick out exactly what they wanted, send in their order through the mail, Sears would send it from a central warehouse to one of their local stores and then the customer would go pick it up at their local Sears store.  I’m sure we are all looking at this model, baffled at how Sears never mastered online retailing. All they needed to do:

  • Put the entire Sears catalog on a website.
  • Let your customers order through the Sears website.
  • Mail it from your central warehouse to the customer’s house.

Not only did Amazon steal this model, they even paved the way with a “books only” model that still allowed Sears the time to launch their full catalog online.

The problem for many leaders is that to be a visionary, you must be able to visualize the future, and then take action. Many leaders of brands about to be replaced by a smarter model for the future resist the future as hard as they can. The leader could actually replicate the brand attacking them, and become the future faster than the brand attacking them. That’s crazy.

Too many of the brands link their brand with the format they deliver. Newspapers think they are in the business of broadsheets, and retailers think of locations. Remember that phrase “location, location, location.” I would rather brands think of the idea they stand for, and adjust the business model to deliver that idea.

Running a brand takes imagination

Just imagine, if in 1975, Sears fought back with all their power and squashed Walmart. It would have worked.

Just imagine, if in 1995, Sears saw the future of online shopping, and moved their entire catalog model to an e-commerce platform.

Without a vision for the future, Sears is now part of our past. 

To learn more about this type of thinking, you should explore my new book, Beloved Brands.

With Beloved Brands, you will learn everything you need to know so you can build a brand that your consumers will love.

You will learn how to think strategically, define your brand with a positioning statement and a brand idea, write a brand plan everyone can follow, inspire smart and creative marketing execution and analyze the performance of your brand through a deep-dive business review.

Beloved Brands book

To order the e-book version or the paperback version from Amazon, click on this link: https://lnkd.in/eF-mYPe

If you use Kobo, you can find Beloved Brands in over 30 markets using this link: https://lnkd.in/g7SzEh4

And if you are in India, you can use this link to order: https://lnkd.in/gDA5Aiw

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

At Beloved Brands, our purpose is to help brands find a new pathway to growth. We believe that the more love your brand can generate with your most cherished consumers, the more power, growth, and profitability you will realize in the future.

We think the best solutions are likely inside you already, but struggle to come out. Our unique playbook tools are the backbone of our workshops. We bring our challenging voice to help you make decisions and refine every potential idea.

We start by defining a brand positioning statement, outlining the desired target, consumer benefits and support points the brand will stand behind. And then, we build a brand idea that is simple and unique enough to stand out in the clutter of the market, motivating enough to get consumers to engage, buy and build a loyal following with your brand.

We will help you write a strategic brand plan for the future, to get everyone in your organization to follow. It starts with an inspiring vision that pushes your team to imagine a brighter future. We use our strategic thinking tools to help you make strategic choices on where to allocate your brand’s limited resources.

Our brand playbook methodology will challenge you to unlock future growth for your brand

  1. Our deep-dive assessment process will give you the knowledge of the issues facing your brand, so you can build a smart plan to unleash future growth.
  2. Find a winningbrand positioning statementthat motivates consumers to buy, and gives you a competitive advantage to drive future growth.
  3. Create a brand ideato capture the minds and hearts of consumers, while inspiring and focusing your team to deliver greatness on the brand’s behalf.
  4. Build a brand planto help you make smart focused decisions, so you can organize, steer, and inspire your team towards higher growth.
  5. Advise on advertising, to find creative that drives branded breakthrough and use a motivating messaging to set up long-term brand growth.
  6. Our brandtrainingprogram will make your brand leaders smarter, so you have added confidence in their performance to drive brand growth.

To learn more about our coaching, click on this link: Beloved Brands Strategic Coaching

To learn more about our training programs, click on this link: Beloved Brands Training

If you need our help, email me at graham@beloved-brands.comor call me at 416 885 3911

You have my personal promise to help you solve your brand building challenges. I will give you new thinking, so you can unlock future growth for your brand.

Signature

Graham Robertson

Founder and CMO, Beloved Brands Inc.

 

 

 

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How to run a B2B brand

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b2bToo many people think that brand management matters most to a consumer brand, and they underestimate the value of marketing for B2B brands. And many of these people are running B2B brands. They treat marketing as a support function, hiring low-cost marketing coordinators to support their sales team, and do basic packaging for new launches and run a few basic trade magazines.

In this story, I will show you how to build out a customer profile, a brand positioning statement, brand idea, brand concept, and brand story, all within the context of a B2B brand. I hope afterwards, you will be convinced the fundamentals work equally well.

Manage your B2B reputation

B2B marketing is not just about selling products, but about building and selling your brand’s reputation. The role of a B2B brand is to create a unique idea for your brand, perceived in the minds and hearts of your customer, consistently delivered by the experience, forming a bond, power, and profit beyond what the product itself could achieve. Too many B2B companies believe they just SELL PRODUCTS. However, you should be building and managing the reputation of your brand. Whereas basic products and services solve small problems, I like to think that a brand beats down the enemy that your customer faces every day. For instance, FedEx fights the enemy of “business moving too slowly” while IBM fights “unsolvable problems” for their customers. What is your customer’s enemy that you can solve for them?

The more loved a brand is by its customers, the more powerful and profitable that brand will be. With a connected brand, it helps to warm up sales leads–many times they’ll already know your reputation before you call. A brand can connect with customers so that pricing becomes less of a factor. If the customer is satisfied and connected on one piece of business, they’ll look to you to solve other problems for them.

Elements of the brand positioning statement

Four elements make up a brand positioning statement, including who you serve, where you play, where will you win and why consumers should believe you. These are the consumer target, marketplace definition, the consumer benefit, and support points.

  1. Who is your customer target? What slice of the potential customer base is the most motivated by what your brand offers? Do not just think about whom you want, but rather who wants your brand.
  2. Where will you play? What is the competitive set that defines the space in the market where your brand competes? Positioning is always relative to the other brands your brand competes against.
  3. Where will you win? What is the main consumer benefit promise you will make to the customer target to make your brand stand out as interesting, simple, unique, motivating, and ownable? Do not talk about what you do (features); instead, talk about what the consumer gets (functional benefits), and how the consumer feels (emotional benefits).
  4. Why should they believe us? Understand what support points and features you need to back up your main promise. These support points should close any possible doubts, questions, or concerns the consumer has after hearing your main promise.

b2b marketing

Before you just randomly write out a brand positioning statement based on your intuition, force yourself to think deeper to help focus your decisions on the best possible space for your brand to win and own.

Start with your customer

Most marketers think of the type of customers they want to attract. Why not change your thinking and go after those customers who are already motivated by what your brand offers? So instead of asking, “Who do we want?” you should be saying, “Who wants us?”

I use seven fundamental questions to define and build a profile of your ideal consumer target:

  1. What is the description of the consumer target?
  2. What are the customer’s main needs?
  3. Who is the customer’s enemy who torments them every day?
  4. What are the insights we know about the customer?
  5. What does the customer think now?
  6. How does the customer buy?
  7. What do we want the customer to see, think, do, feel or whisper to their friends?

b2b

The customer benefits ladder

The customer benefits ladder helps turn your brand’s features into customer benefits. You should stop talking about what your brand does and start talking about what your customer gets.

b2b

The four steps to building a customer benefit ladder:

  • Leverage all available research to define your ideal customer target profile with need states, customer insights, and the customer enemy.
  • Brainstorm all possible brand features. Focus on those features you believe give your brand a competitive advantage.
  • Move up to the functional benefits by putting yourself in the shoes of the customer. For each feature on your list, ask, “So, what do I get from that?” Challenge yourself to come up with better benefits by asking the question up until you move into a richer zone.
  • Then move up to the emotional benefits. Look at each functional benefit and ask, “So, how does that make me feel?” As you did in step 3, keep asking the question until you see a more in-depth emotional space you can win with and own.

Find your Brand Idea

The best brands use a Brand Idea to help explain themselves in 7 seconds, and use that Big Idea to help extrapolate that same brand story into 60 seconds or even 30 minutes, depending on the situation. In a crowded branded marketplace, Brand Ideas help simplify your brand message so it’s easily understood and remembered, own-able in the customers’ mind and heart and motivating enough to change consumer beliefs and behavior. That brand idea should transform your brand message into a brand reputation.

b2bI created a brand idea blueprint, which has five areas that surround the brand idea.

On the internal brand soul side, describe the products and services, as well as the cultural inspiration, which is the internal rallying cry to everyone who works on the brand. On the external brand reputation side, define the ideal consumer reputation and the reputation among essential influencers or partners.

b2b

The brand role acts as a bridge between the internal and external sides.

  • Products and services: What is the focused point of difference your products or services can win on because they meet the consumer’s needs and separate your brand from competitors?
  • Customer reputation: What is the desired reputation of your brand, which attracts, excites, engages, and motivates customers to think, feel, and purchase your brand?
  • Cultural inspiration: What is the internal rallying cry that reflects your brand’s purpose, values, motivations, and will inspire, challenge, and guide your culture?
  • Influencer reputation: Who are the key influencers and potential partners who impact the brand? What is their view of the brand, which would make them recommend or partner with your brand?
  • Brand role (archetype): What is the link between the internal sound and external reputation?

Once you have your Brand Idea, you should then use it to frame the 5 different connectors needed to set up a powerful bond between your brand and your customers.

Build your brand around a brand idea that’s simple to understand and big enough to create a lasting impression with consumers. b2b

  • Create a simple brand promise that separates your brand from competitors, based on being better, different or cheaper.
  • Use your brand story to motivate customers to think, feel or act, while beginning to own a reputation in the mind and hearts of consumers.
  • You need a fundamentally sound product, with innovation that keeps your brand at the forefront of trends and using technology to deliver on your brand promise.
  • The purchase moment is where customers move through the purchase cycle and use channels, messaging, processes to make the final decision
  • Turn the usage of your product into an experience that becomes a ritual and favorite part of their work life so that your customers always turn to you first.

Organize your Brand Concept

Write your concept in as realistic a manner as possible, narrowing it down to one main benefit and two support points. It should be realistic enough to fit on your package, new product innovation, advertising copy, or your sales message. Too many brand leaders try to write concepts that include everything, with a long list of claims and reasons to believe. There is no value in writing a concept just to pass a test, and then find yourself unable to execute the concept in the market.

The ideal brand concept

  • The main headline should capture the brand idea. The headline is the first thing customers will see, and it will influence how they engage with the rest of the concept.
  • Start every concept with a customer insight (connection point) or customer enemy (pain point) to captivate the consumer enough to make them stop and think, “That’s exactly how I feel.” Your customers feel more engaged with your concept. The enemy or insight must also set up the brand promise.
  • The promise statement must bring the main customer benefit to life with a balance of emotional and functional benefits.
  • The support points should close off any gaps that customers may have after reading the main benefit. An emotional benefit may require functional support to cover off any doubt lingering in the consumer’s mind.
  • Complete the concept with a motivating call-to-action to prompt the customer’s purchase intent, which is a significant part of concept testing.
  • Adding a supporting visual is recommended.

b2b

The Brand Idea should drive the internal culture

Whereas B2B brands currently treat marketing as a support function, once you have your brand idea, you can see how for a B2B brand, that the idea should drive every part of your organization and that your brand’s experience will be supported by the culture, people and operations which then transforms that idea into a brand reputation. Below you can see how that Big Idea should be a beacon for your top-to-top leadership, your sales team, the problem solvers, customer service team and the experience delivery team.

b2b

Everyone in your organization must be saying the same message. For a B2B brand, marketing’s role is to make sure that the external and internal stories are given equal importance so that everyone in your organization must be communicating and delivering the same big idea to customers that they see in trade magazines, at trade shows or in the sales materials.

b2b

Communicating your brand

Like any brand, there are really only four choices: you can be better, different, cheaper or else not around for very long. For B2B, when your product is a commodity, you have to find a way to use service levels as a way to see your point of difference. When you start to treat your own brand like a commodity or believe that you are, that’s when you’re in trouble. What you want to do is use that Brand Idea to create an internal culture and use that culture to build your brand’s reputation as the way to help separate you in the marketplace.

As you build your culture, you’ll see that you can begin to use culture as a way to stand out and then you’ll evolve to where culture becomes the backbone that delivers the brand experience. At the ideal stage where you become a beloved brand, you see that culture and brand become one as your own people become the most outspoken fans of the brand.

You can extrapolate all the work you have done so far into a brand story, which explains, “who you are.”

  • Turn your brand idea into an inspiring promise statement you will deliver.
  • Match the brand purpose to customer insights showing why it matters. This thinking makes it highly personal, explains the story behind why you do what you do. This part of the story will connect with consumers.
  • Use your brand’s core belief in connecting with consumers, and demonstrate what you do to support that belief.
  • Talk about what makes your brand different and what claims you have to support your difference.
  • Outline the ways you want to connect with your customer and the promise you will make to them.

Your brand is your reputation, and it can never be a commodity

Click below on the Powerpoint version of the B2B brand workshop we run for clients.

To learn more about this type of thinking, you should explore my new book, Beloved Brands.

With Beloved Brands, you will learn everything you need to know so you can build a brand that your consumers will love.

You will learn how to think strategically, define your brand with a positioning statement and a brand idea, write a brand plan everyone can follow, inspire smart and creative marketing execution and analyze the performance of your brand through a deep-dive business review.

Beloved Brands book

To order the e-book version or the paperback version from Amazon, click on this link: https://lnkd.in/eF-mYPe

If you use Kobo, you can find Beloved Brands in over 30 markets using this link: https://lnkd.in/g7SzEh4

And if you are in India, you can use this link to order: https://lnkd.in/gDA5Aiw

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

At Beloved Brands, our purpose is to help brands find a new pathway to growth. We believe that the more love your brand can generate with your most cherished consumers, the more power, growth, and profitability you will realize in the future.

We think the best solutions are likely inside you already, but struggle to come out. Our unique playbook tools are the backbone of our workshops. We bring our challenging voice to help you make decisions and refine every potential idea.

We start by defining a brand positioning statement, outlining the desired target, consumer benefits and support points the brand will stand behind. And then, we build a brand idea that is simple and unique enough to stand out in the clutter of the market, motivating enough to get consumers to engage, buy and build a loyal following with your brand.

We will help you write a strategic brand plan for the future, to get everyone in your organization to follow. It starts with an inspiring vision that pushes your team to imagine a brighter future. We use our strategic thinking tools to help you make strategic choices on where to allocate your brand’s limited resources.

Our brand playbook methodology will challenge you to unlock future growth for your brand

  1. Our deep-dive assessment process will give you the knowledge of the issues facing your brand, so you can build a smart plan to unleash future growth.
  2. Find a winning brand positioning statement that motivates consumers to buy, and gives you a competitive advantage to drive future growth.
  3. Create a brand idea to capture the minds and hearts of consumers, while inspiring and focusing your team to deliver greatness on the brand’s behalf.
  4. Build a brand plan to help you make smart focused decisions, so you can organize, steer, and inspire your team towards higher growth.
  5. Advise on advertising, to find creative that drives branded breakthrough and use a motivating messaging to set up long-term brand growth.
  6. Our brand training program will make your brand leaders smarter, so you have added confidence in their performance to drive brand growth.

To learn more about our coaching, click on this link: Beloved Brands Strategic Coaching

To learn more about our training programs, click on this link: Beloved Brands Training

If you need our help, email me at graham@beloved-brands.com or call me at 416 885 3911

You have my personal promise to help you solve your brand building challenges. I will give you new thinking, so you can unlock future growth for your brand.

Signature

Graham Robertson

Founder and CMO, Beloved Brands Inc.

 

 

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Ideal brand plan format

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brand plan formatThe brand plan process starts with a deep dive look that uncovers the issues of the business. Use your key issues to show everything in the way of the brand vision. Moreover, the issues help frame the overall brand strategies where you will deploy your limited brand resources. And from there, match up tactics that will deliver those strategies.

While I recommend you use our “Plan on a Page” format for your plan, I also know how PowerPoint is used to present and share your plan across the organization.

Below is our 20-page brand plan template

Figuring out the details of the plan

When you review our Brand Plan format, you will see all the essentials that you need to gain management’s approval of your brand plan.

  • Vision
  • Goals
  • Sales projection
  • Summary of the business review
  • Key Issues and strategies
  • Each strategy laid out in detail
  • Execution plan
  • Plan calendar that shows overall timing
  • Marketing budget

I’m also a big believer in getting your brand plan onto one page.

How to write a smart Brand Plan Marketing Coach Consultant Workshops

That’s a lot of information, but the plan should guide everyone that works on the brand: brand team, agencies, sales, R&D, Finance, HR and senior management. Everyone likely cares about various specific sections, but the brand manager should use the plan to bring everyone together. This is where our brand training program can help.

The power of 3’s: As we said earlier, the plan is about making decisions. We recommend that you narrow your effort down to 3 strategies and then 3 tactics for each strategy. That means 9 core projects for each brand to focus their resources on during the year. Compare the subtle difference that 5 strategies with 5 tactics for each strategy explodes into 25 projects that might cripple your brand’s resources. By doing less number, you will be focusing your limited resources on making each project has a big impact. When your team lacks time to do everything with full passion, they run the risk of turning out OK work that fails to connect with your consumers.

How to write a smart Brand Plan

Brand Plan Key Terms

  • Vision: What do you want your brand to be in the next 5-10 years? Vision gives everyone on the brand a clear direction, it should be measurable (quantitative) and motivating (qualitative). It should push you so much that it scares you a little, but excites you a lot.
  • Goals: What do you need to achieve? Specific measures of brand health and wealth, related to consumer/customer behavioral changes, metrics of key programs, performance targets or milestones on the pathway to the vision. It’s the brand scoreboard.
  • Key Issues: What is getting the way of achieving your vision/goals? The deep analysis highlights what’s driving and holding brand back, as well as future risks and untapped opportunities. Issues are asked in a question format to provide the problem to which strategies become the solution.
  • Strategies: How can we get there? Strategies are the “How” you will win the market. Choices based on market opportunities, using consumers, competitors or situational. Strategies should have a pinpointed focus providing a breakthrough on the pathway to the brand vision.
  • Tactics: What do we need to do to execute the strategy? Framed completely by strategy, tactical choices deploy your limited resources against brand projects, the most efficient way to drive a high ROI.

To read more about how to write a brand plan, click on this story below:

How to build a smart brand plan everyone can follow

Here is our training workshop we run to help brand leaders write better Brand Plans:

These slides are from our brand management training program. With our Brand Plan training, we will show you how to come up with the vision, purpose, goals, analysis, key issues, strategies, execution plans and measurements.

To learn more about this type of thinking, you should explore my new book, Beloved Brands.

With Beloved Brands, you will learn everything you need to know so you can build a brand that your consumers will love.

You will learn how to think strategically, define your brand with a positioning statement and a brand idea, write a brand plan everyone can follow, inspire smart and creative marketing execution and analyze the performance of your brand through a deep-dive business review.

Beloved Brands book

To order the e-book version or the paperback version from Amazon, click on this link: https://lnkd.in/eF-mYPe

If you use Kobo, you can find Beloved Brands in over 30 markets using this link: https://lnkd.in/g7SzEh4

And if you are in India, you can use this link to order: https://lnkd.in/gDA5Aiw

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

At Beloved Brands, our purpose is to help brands find a new pathway to growth. We believe that the more love your brand can generate with your most cherished consumers, the more power, growth, and profitability you will realize in the future.

We think the best solutions are likely inside you already, but struggle to come out. Our unique playbook tools are the backbone of our workshops. We bring our challenging voice to help you make decisions and refine every potential idea.

We start by defining a brand positioning statement, outlining the desired target, consumer benefits and support points the brand will stand behind. And then, we build a brand idea that is simple and unique enough to stand out in the clutter of the market, motivating enough to get consumers to engage, buy and build a loyal following with your brand.

We will help you write a strategic brand plan for the future, to get everyone in your organization to follow. It starts with an inspiring vision that pushes your team to imagine a brighter future. We use our strategic thinking tools to help you make strategic choices on where to allocate your brand’s limited resources.

Our brand playbook methodology will challenge you to unlock future growth for your brand

  1. Our deep-dive assessment process will give you the knowledge of the issues facing your brand, so you can build a smart plan to unleash future growth.
  2. Find a winning brand positioning statement that motivates consumers to buy, and gives you a competitive advantage to drive future growth.
  3. Create a brand idea to capture the minds and hearts of consumers, while inspiring and focusing your team to deliver greatness on the brand’s behalf.
  4. Build a brand plan to help you make smart focused decisions, so you can organize, steer, and inspire your team towards higher growth.
  5. Advise on advertising, to find creative that drives branded breakthrough and use a motivating messaging to set up long-term brand growth.
  6. Our brand training program will make your brand leaders smarter, so you have added confidence in their performance to drive brand growth.

To learn more about our coaching, click on this link: Beloved Brands Strategic Coaching

To learn more about our training programs, click on this link: Beloved Brands Training

If you need our help, email me at graham@beloved-brands.com or call me at 416 885 3911

You have my personal promise to help you solve your brand building challenges. I will give you new thinking, so you can unlock future growth for your brand.

Signature

Graham Robertson

Founder and CMO, Beloved Brands Inc.

 

 

 

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Go beyond Porter’s Model to understand the 8 sources of brand power

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Porter’s 5 forces modelWhen I was in business school, I learned about Michael Porter’s five forces model as a way to understand the industry attractiveness and competitive intensity. It’s a great starting point to get you to think more strategically.  However, I want to show you how you can go beyond Porter and start to see other sources of power, which reinforces the idea that the more loved a brand is by consumers, the more powerful and profitable that brand will be.

Start with Porter’s Model

I created the brand love curve, which shows the differences in how consumers feel about a brand as they move through five stages. It defines their feelings as unknown, indifferent, like it, love it and onto the beloved brand status.

For unknown brands, the strategic focus should be to stand out so consumers will notice the brand within a crowded brand world. For indifferent brands, the strategy must establish the brand in the consumer’s mind so they can see a clear point of difference. At the like it stage, the strategy is to separate the brand from the pack, creating happy experiences that build a trusted following. And at the love it stage, the focus shifts to tugging at heartstrings to tighten the bond with the most loyal brand fans. At the beloved brand stage, the strategic challenge is to create outspoken, loyal brand fans who are willing to whisper to their friends on the brand’s behalf.

Porter's Model

Competitive Rivalry = Brand Power

As your brand moves to the loved and beloved stages, the power of buyers goes down. We see that Consumers start to feel more and think less. They become outspoken brand fans who can’t live without the brand. Your brand is becoming a favorite part of their life, built into their normal routines. These brand fans defend you, sell you and crave you at times.

The other source of buyer power are the Channels you sell through. In that relationship, it is the retailers who are powerless against a beloved brand. Consumers switch stores before brands. Stores can’t stand up to the beloved brand.

When it comes to the threat of substitutes, competitive brands cannot match the emotional bond that the beloved brand has with their brand fans. It becomes less about product and more about connection and how the consumer feels through the brand. The beloved brands have a monopoly on feelings.

When it comes to the power of Suppliers, they serve at mercy of the beloved brand. High volumes drive down costs and margins. Suppliers build completely around brand.

New brands can’t break through the emotional bond of a beloved brand. Their message can become lost in the clutter or shut out by the loyal brand fans.

Going beyond Porter

Porter is a great starting point for assessing brand power. However, Brands are in the midst of a significant change on a few fronts. The obvious one people can see and touch is Media. However, don’t forget to look beneath the surface and you’ll start to see a more significant change in brands than the media, and that’s the Brand Culture and the Conversations.

Porter's Model

Brand love generates brand power over buyers

The tighter the bond a brand creates with their consumers, the more powerful the brand will become with all stakeholders. Think of brand love as stored energy a brand can unleash in the form of power into the marketplace. You can use that power with consumers, competitors, new entries, employees, influencers, media, suppliers and channel partners.

These beloved brands command power over the very consumers who love them, as consumers feel more and  think less. These consumers pay price premiums, line up in the rain, follow the brand as soon as it enters new categories and relentlessly defend the brand to any attackers. They cannot live without the brand.

Beloved brands have power over channel customers, who know their consumers would switch stores before they switch brands. Stores cannot stand up to the beloved brand; instead, they give the brand everything in negotiations. The beloved brand ends up with stronger store placement, better trade terms and better promotions from retail partners. 

Competitors can’t compete

The competitors, whether current competitors or new entries, cannot match the emotional bond the beloved brand has created with their brand fans. The beloved brand has the monopoly on emotions, making the consumer decisions less about the actual product and more about how the experience makes consumers feel. Unless a new brand has an overwhelming technological advantage, it will be impossible to break the emotional bond the consumer has established with the beloved brand.

The power over media

The beloved brand also has a power over the media whether it is paid, earned, social or search media. With paid media, the beloved brand gets better placement, cheaper rates and they are one of the first calls for possible brand integrations. The beloved brand is considered newsworthy, so they earn more free media via mainstream media, expert reviews and bloggers. 

Being a famous, beloved brand helps bypass the need for search engine optimization (SEO). The beloved brands become part of the conversation whether it is through social media or at the lunch table at work. Beloved brands can use their homepage website to engage their most loyal users, inform the market of upcoming changes, allow consumers to design their version of the brand and then sell product directly to brand lovers.

The beloved brands have power over key influencers, whether they are doctors recommending a drug, restaurant critics giving a positive review or salespeople at electronics shops pushing the beloved brands. These influencers become fans of the beloved brand and build their own emotions into their recommendations.

Power over suppliers and employees

Suppliers serve at the mercy of the beloved brand. The high volumes drive efficiencies of scale that drive down production costs, backing the supplier into a corner before they offer up most of those savings. Plus, the supplier becomes willing to give in, so that they can use the beloved brand as a selling tool for their supplier services to other potential brands.

Beloved brands even have power over employees, who want to be part of the brand. They are brand fans, who are proud to work on the brand. They embody the culture on day 1 and want to help the brand achieve success.

Brand love means brand profits

With all the love and power the beloved brand generates, it becomes easy to translate that stored power into sales growth, profit, and market valuation. Here are the eight ways a brand can drive profits: 

    1. Premium pricing
    2. Trading up on price
    3. Lower cost of goods
    4. Lower sales and marketing costs
    5. Stealing competitive users
    6. Getting loyal users to use more
    7. Entering new markets
    8. Finding new uses for the brand.

Beloved brands can use higher prices and lower costs to drive higher margins 

 

To learn more about this type of thinking, you should explore my new book, Beloved Brands.

With Beloved Brands, you will learn everything you need to know so you can build a brand that your consumers will love.

You will learn how to think strategically, define your brand with a positioning statement and a brand idea, write a brand plan everyone can follow, inspire smart and creative marketing execution and analyze the performance of your brand through a deep-dive business review.

Beloved Brands book

To order the e-book version or the paperback version from Amazon, click on this link: https://lnkd.in/eF-mYPe

If you use Kobo, you can find Beloved Brands in over 30 markets using this link: https://lnkd.in/g7SzEh4

And if you are in India, you can use this link to order: https://lnkd.in/gDA5Aiw

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

At Beloved Brands, our purpose is to help brands find a new pathway to growth. We believe that the more love your brand can generate with your most cherished consumers, the more power, growth, and profitability you will realize in the future.

We think the best solutions are likely inside you already, but struggle to come out. Our unique playbook tools are the backbone of our workshops. We bring our challenging voice to help you make decisions and refine every potential idea.

We start by defining a brand positioning statement, outlining the desired target, consumer benefits and support points the brand will stand behind. And then, we build a brand idea that is simple and unique enough to stand out in the clutter of the market, motivating enough to get consumers to engage, buy and build a loyal following with your brand.

We will help you write a strategic brand plan for the future, to get everyone in your organization to follow. It starts with an inspiring vision that pushes your team to imagine a brighter future. We use our strategic thinking tools to help you make strategic choices on where to allocate your brand’s limited resources.

Our brand playbook methodology will challenge you to unlock future growth for your brand

  1. Our deep-dive assessment process will give you the knowledge of the issues facing your brand, so you can build a smart plan to unleash future growth.
  2. Find a winning brand positioning statement that motivates consumers to buy, and gives you a competitive advantage to drive future growth.
  3. Create a brand idea to capture the minds and hearts of consumers, while inspiring and focusing your team to deliver greatness on the brand’s behalf.
  4. Build a brand plan to help you make smart focused decisions, so you can organize, steer, and inspire your team towards higher growth.
  5. Advise on advertising, to find creative that drives branded breakthrough and use a motivating messaging to set up long-term brand growth.
  6. Our brand training program will make your brand leaders smarter, so you have added confidence in their performance to drive brand growth.

To learn more about our coaching, click on this link: Beloved Brands Strategic Coaching

To learn more about our training programs, click on this link: Beloved Brands Training

If you need our help, email me at graham@beloved-brands.com or call me at 416 885 3911

You have my personal promise to help you solve your brand building challenges. I will give you new thinking, so you can unlock future growth for your brand.

Signature

Graham Robertson

Founder and CMO, Beloved Brands Inc.

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Use your brand vision to help imagine a better future

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brand visionA well-written brand vision should be the ultimate end-in-mind achievement, which answers, “Where could we be?” Think about significant accomplishments that would make you feel completely fulfilled. Put a stake in the ground to describe an ideal state for your future. Every smart brand plan must start with a brand vision statement. When I see brand teams who struggle, they usually lack a brand vision. 

“If you don’t know where you are going, you might not get there.”  Yogi Berra

Some organizations get so fixated on achieving short-term goals; they chase every tactic in front of them just to make their numbers. Your vision should steer your entire brand plan. Choose the language and phrases within your vision that will inspire, lead, and steer your team.

Examples of best-in-class brand vision statements

brand visionUse these statements to inspire you as you write your own vision statement. Maybe you will see something that feels familiar to what is in your mind or at least a structure for how you would write your own vision statement.

Your vision should scare you a little and excite you a lot. You should wonder if you can achieve it and then think of how it would feel if you did. While we do not always accomplish every vision, we rarely achieve more than we thought was possible.

Once you establish your vision, it sets up the key issues of your plan, including obstacles in the way of achieving your vision, which then sets up the strategies for how to reach the vision. As mentioned earlier, a brand plan has to flow like an orchestra, with each element directly related to the others.

Imagine the perfect picture of your future

brand visionTo be a visionary, you must be able to visualize your future. You should be able to imagine the perfect picture of your brand in the future, to helps answer, “Where could we be?” Imagine it is five or ten years from now. You wake up in the most fantastic mood. Think about where you are in your personal life and your business life. Start to imagine an ideal state of what you want. Visualize a perfect future of what has you in such a good mood and write down the most important things you want to achieve.  

  1. What is your future revenue or market share?
  2. Describe the future culture of your company.
  3. What do you want people to say about your brand?  
  4. What do your own to people find motivating about working on your brand?
  5. How do you want customers to describe their experience with your brand?
  6. Name some of the future accomplishments that would make you proud.
  7. What do you do better than anyone else on the planet?
  8. Name something out-of-the-box that would make people talk about your brand.

Checklist for what makes a vision great:

  • Your vision should last 5-10 years. 
  • It should help you imagine the ideal picture of “where could we be.”
  • Describe your dream, describing what you see, feel, hear, think, say and wish for your brand.
  • It should be emotional to motivate all employees and partners to rally behind it.
  • It must be easy to understand, in plain words, which may already be a familiar phrase within the company. 
  • A great vision is a balance between aspiration (stretch) and reality (achievement).
  • Consider adding a financial (sales or profit) or share leadership position (#1) number.

Cautions and caveats when writing your brand vision statements:

  1. A vision should not be a positioning statement.
  2. Make sure you have not already achieved it.
  3. Do not make strategic statements. It is not the “how.”
  4. Try to be single-minded. Keep tightening it. Do not include everything! 
  5. Focus on how to build a purpose-driven beloved brand

Find your brand’s key issues by asking “what is in the way of your vision?”

Lay out the key issues that answer, “Why are we here?” by taking the summary findings of the deep-dive analysis and drawing out the significant issues in the way of achieving your stated brand vision.    

A great way to find the issues is to brainstorm up to 30 things in the way of your vision. Then, narrow down your list to the top 3-5 significant themes you see. Take the themes and begin to write the top issues in a rhetorical, strategic question format to prompt a few different strategic options for how to solve each issue. Spend serious thinking time on these questions because the better the strategic question you ask, the better the strategic answer you will get.    

To learn more about this type of thinking, you should explore my new book, Beloved Brands.

With Beloved Brands, you will learn everything you need to know so you can build a brand that your consumers will love.

You will learn how to think strategically, define your brand with a positioning statement and a brand idea, write a brand plan everyone can follow, inspire smart and creative marketing execution and analyze the performance of your brand through a deep-dive business review.

Beloved Brands book

To order the e-book version or the paperback version from Amazon, click on this link: https://lnkd.in/eF-mYPe

If you use Kobo, you can find Beloved Brands in over 30 markets using this link: https://lnkd.in/g7SzEh4

And if you are in India, you can use this link to order: https://lnkd.in/gDA5Aiw

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

At Beloved Brands, our purpose is to help brands find a new pathway to growth. We believe that the more love your brand can generate with your most cherished consumers, the more power, growth, and profitability you will realize in the future.

We think the best solutions are likely inside you already, but struggle to come out. Our unique playbook tools are the backbone of our workshops. We bring our challenging voice to help you make decisions and refine every potential idea.

We start by defining a brand positioning statement, outlining the desired target, consumer benefits and support points the brand will stand behind. And then, we build a brand idea that is simple and unique enough to stand out in the clutter of the market, motivating enough to get consumers to engage, buy and build a loyal following with your brand.

We will help you write a strategic brand plan for the future, to get everyone in your organization to follow. It starts with an inspiring vision that pushes your team to imagine a brighter future. We use our strategic thinking tools to help you make strategic choices on where to allocate your brand’s limited resources.

Our brand playbook methodology will challenge you to unlock future growth for your brand

  1. Our deep-dive assessment process will give you the knowledge of the issues facing your brand, so you can build a smart plan to unleash future growth.
  2. Find a winning brand positioning statement that motivates consumers to buy, and gives you a competitive advantage to drive future growth.
  3. Create a brand idea to capture the minds and hearts of consumers, while inspiring and focusing your team to deliver greatness on the brand’s behalf.
  4. Build a brand plan to help you make smart focused decisions, so you can organize, steer, and inspire your team towards higher growth.
  5. Advise on advertising, to find creative that drives branded breakthrough and use a motivating messaging to set up long-term brand growth.
  6. Our brand training program will make your brand leaders smarter, so you have added confidence in their performance to drive brand growth.

To learn more about our coaching, click on this link: Beloved Brands Strategic Coaching

To learn more about our training programs, click on this link: Beloved Brands Training

If you need our help, email me at graham@beloved-brands.com or call me at 416 885 3911

You have my personal promise to help you solve your brand building challenges. I will give you new thinking, so you can unlock future growth for your brand.

Signature

Graham Robertson

Founder and CMO, Beloved Brands Inc.

 

 

 

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How to use media to move consumers along their consumer journey

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consumer journeyThe magic of marketing happens where you start to see a transformational power that allows you to make an impact and achieve results in the marketplace. A smart strategy should trigger the consumer to move along the consumer journey. And, you need to move consumers awareness to consideration, to search, purchase and repeat. And then, from loyal to brand love and finally onto the brand fan stage..  

The consumer journey has changed for Marketers

Old-school marketing used to yell their messages at every possible consumer using mass media, then move consumers naturally through the brand funnel from awareness to purchase and loyalty. With so few media choices, consumers could not escape the advertising. If consumers did not respond the first time, show it to them again and again. Back in the 1970s, it was all about the interruption of consumers, with brands focused primarily on day-after brand recall. Many times, the more annoying the ad, the better it would work. And, this media planning is not quite the sophisticated media strategy brands need today. 

consumer journey

New-school marketing whispers to the most loyal brand fans, hoping they drive awareness with influence to their friends. The word of a friend will bring more influence to their purchase decision than a random TV ad. As the brand moves to the masses, consumers look for the advice of trusted peers whom they respect to know enough about the latest and greatest of the category. They also look to the brand lovers, giving them evidence the brand does deliver what it promises.

Moving the consumer through their buying journey

consumer journey

To drive awareness, you need to stand out and be seen in a crowd. Invest in mass media to gain entry into the consumer’s mind. Use TV, digital, viral video, out of home, or magazine. Where it makes sense, sponsorships and experiential events can increase the consumer’s familiarity with the brand. 

To move consumers to the consideration stage, use influencers to teach those seeking to learn more. Use public relations to make the brand part of the news, whether through traditional, social, or blogger channels. Engage the online user review sites like Yelp, Trip Advisor, or category-specific review sites.

For more complex or higher risk purchase decisions, consumers will rely on search for almost everything, even if to just confirm what makes sense. Marketers can use search sites, such as Google, expert review sites, and online content, or long copy print media. The brand website comes into play and should include the right information to close off gaps or doubts, then move consumers towards the purchase decision. 

Media options to help trigger purchase, include point-of-sale advertising, with in-store signage, displays and sales materials to prompt consumers at the purchase moment. Remarketing is a great tool to push consumers who might feel stuck at the consideration stage to reconsider and buy. 

After the purchase, you must turn usage into a ritual among your most loyal users. Cultivate a collection of brand fans, using VIP programs and experiential events with special deals. Layer in emotional advertising to tighten the bond. 

Once you have a strong base, you can mobilize your brand lovers, by intentionally creating shareable experiences, which will trigger brand lovers to share with their network through social media. With the new social media tools, the smartest brands are getting their most engaged consumers to drive awareness. 

consumer journey

To learn more about this type of thinking, you should explore my new book, Beloved Brands.

With Beloved Brands, you will learn everything you need to know so you can build a brand that your consumers will love.

You will learn how to think strategically, define your brand with a positioning statement and a brand idea, write a brand plan everyone can follow, inspire smart and creative marketing execution and analyze the performance of your brand through a deep-dive business review.

Beloved Brands book

To order the e-book version or the paperback version from Amazon, click on this link: https://lnkd.in/eF-mYPe

If you use Kobo, you can find Beloved Brands in over 30 markets using this link: https://lnkd.in/g7SzEh4

And if you are in India, you can use this link to order: https://lnkd.in/gDA5Aiw

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

At Beloved Brands, our purpose is to help brands find a new pathway to growth. We believe that the more love your brand can generate with your most cherished consumers, the more power, growth, and profitability you will realize in the future.

We think the best solutions are likely inside you already, but struggle to come out. Our unique playbook tools are the backbone of our workshops. We bring our challenging voice to help you make decisions and refine every potential idea.

We start by defining a brand positioning statement, outlining the desired target, consumer benefits and support points the brand will stand behind. And then, we build a brand idea that is simple and unique enough to stand out in the clutter of the market, motivating enough to get consumers to engage, buy and build a loyal following with your brand.

We will help you write a strategic brand plan for the future, to get everyone in your organization to follow. It starts with an inspiring vision that pushes your team to imagine a brighter future. We use our strategic thinking tools to help you make strategic choices on where to allocate your brand’s limited resources.

Our brand playbook methodology will challenge you to unlock future growth for your brand

  1. Our deep-dive assessment process will give you the knowledge of the issues facing your brand, so you can build a smart plan to unleash future growth.
  2. Find a winning brand positioning statement that motivates consumers to buy, and gives you a competitive advantage to drive future growth.
  3. Create a brand idea to capture the minds and hearts of consumers, while inspiring and focusing your team to deliver greatness on the brand’s behalf.
  4. Build a brand plan to help you make smart focused decisions, so you can organize, steer, and inspire your team towards higher growth.
  5. Advise on advertising, to find creative that drives branded breakthrough and use a motivating messaging to set up long-term brand growth.
  6. Our brand training program will make your brand leaders smarter, so you have added confidence in their performance to drive brand growth.

To learn more about our coaching, click on this link: Beloved Brands Strategic Coaching

To learn more about our training programs, click on this link: Beloved Brands Training

If you need our help, email me at graham@beloved-brands.com or call me at 416 885 3911

You have my personal promise to help you solve your brand building challenges. I will give you new thinking, so you can unlock future growth for your brand.

Signature

Graham Robertson

Founder and CMO, Beloved Brands Inc.

 

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How to use your brand idea to drive every part of your organization

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brand ideaThe brand idea must be interesting enough to engage and entice consumers on a first encounter to want to know more. Keep it simple enough to gain entry into the consumer’s mind. Your idea must be easily layered to organize everything you do. It should match up with the five consumer touchpoints, including the brand promise, brand story, innovation, purchase moment, and consumer experience.

Your idea must be unique enough to build a reputation so consumers will perceive the brand as better, different, or cheaper. And, your idea must be able to motivate consumers to think, feel, and act in ways that benefit your brand.

The idea must represent the inner brand soul of everyone who works on the brand, inspiring employees to deliver the brand promise and amazing experiences. Finally, the brand idea must be ownable, so no other competitor can infringe on your space, and you can confidently build your brand reputation over time.

The brand idea blueprint

I created a brand idea blueprint, which has five areas that surround the brand idea.

On the internal brand soul side, describe the products and services, as well as the cultural inspiration, which is the internal rallying cry to everyone who works on the brand. On the external brand reputation side, define the ideal consumer reputation and the reputation among necessary influencers or partners. The brand role acts as a bridge between the internal and external sides.

  • Products and services: What is the focused point of difference your products or services can win on because they meet the consumer’s needs and separate your brand from competitors?
  • Consumer reputation: What is the desired reputation of your brand, which attracts, excites, engages, and motivates consumers to think, feel, and purchase your brand?
  • Cultural inspiration: What is the internal rallying cry that reflects your brand’s purpose, values, motivations, and will inspire, challenge, and guide your culture?
  • Influencer reputation: Who are the key influencers and potential partners who impact the brand? What is their view of the brand, which would make them recommend or partner with your brand?
  • Brand role (archetype): What is the link between the internal sound and the external reputation?

brand idea

How to find your brand idea

Step 1: Keywords brainstorm for each of the five areas

With a cross-functional team working on the brand, start off with a brainstorm of keywords for each of the five areas around the brand idea. Expose the team to the work you have done on the brand positioning statement, including details on the target profile, consumer benefits ladder work, and the consumer benefits sort. Ask participants to bring their knowledge, wisdom, and opinions from where they sit within the organization.

The first step is generating 15-20 words that describe each of the five areas.

brand idea

Step 2: Turn keywords into key phrases for each of the five areas

Next, get the team to vote to narrow down the list to the best 3-5 words for each section. You will begin to see certain themes and keywords. Take those selected words and build phrases to summarize each section.

Step 3: Summarize it all to create a brand idea

Once you have phrases for all five areas, the team should feel inspired to use their creative energy to come up with the brand idea. Find a summary statement that captures everything around the circle. Try to get a few different options for the brand idea you can test with both consumers and employees.

Brand Idea

The brand idea should steer everyone who works behind the scenes of the brand.

Brand leaders must manage the consistent delivery of the brand idea over every consumer touchpoint. Whether people are in management, customer service, sales, HR, operations, or an outside agency, everyone should be looking to the brand idea to guide and focus their decisions.

With old-school marketing, the brand would advertise on TV to drive awareness and interest, use bright, bold packaging in store with reinforced messages to close the sale. If the product satisfied consumers’ needs, they would repeat and build the brand into their day-to-day routines.

Today’s market is a cluttered mess. The consumer is bombarded with brand messages all day, and inundated with more information from influencers, friends, experts, critics, and competitors. While the internet makes shopping easier, consumers must now filter out tons of information daily. Moreover, the consumer’s shopping patterns have gone from a simple, linear purchase pattern into complex, cluttered chaos.

Five main touchpoints reach consumers, including the brand promise, brand story, innovation, purchase moment, and consumer experience. Regardless of the order, they reach the consumer; if the brand does not deliver a consistent message, the consumer will be confused and likely shut out that brand. While brands cannot control what order each touchpoint reaches the consumer, they can undoubtedly align each of those touchpoints under the brand idea.

How the brand idea stretches across the five consumer touchpoints

  • Brand promise: Use the brand idea to inspire a simple brand promise that separates your brand from competitors, and projects your brand as better, different, or cheaper, based on your brand positioning.
  • Brand story: The brand story must come to life to motivate consumers to think, feel, or act while establishes the ideal brand’s reputation to be held in the minds and hearts of the consumer. The brand story should align all brand communications across all media options.
  • Innovation: Build a fundamentally sound product, staying at the forefront of trends and technology to deliver innovation. Steer the product development teams to ensure they remain true to the brand idea.
  • Purchase moment: The brand idea must move consumers along the purchase journey to the final purchase decision. The brand idea helps steer the sales team and sets up retail channels to close the sale.
  • Consumer experience: Turn the usage into a consumer experience that becomes a ritual and favorite part of the consumer’s day. The brand idea guides the culture of everyone behind the brand to deliver the experience.

Marketing your brand to employees inside your own company

The best brands consistently deliver. When you build your brand idea, I recommend you use a cross-functional team, including salespeople, R&D, human resources, finance, and operations. Their participation is one way to gain their buy-in. But that’s not where it stops. 

Use your internal brand communications tools to drive a shared definition of the brand idea, as well as getting everyone to articulate how their role delivers that brand idea. Give the external and internal brand story equal importance to the consumer experience you create for your brand.

Everyone who works on the brand should use the brand idea as inspiration, and to guide decisions and activities across every function of your organization. It is the people within the brand organization who will deliver the brand idea to the consumer. Everyone needs a common understanding of and talking points for the brand.

When you work on a brand that leads to the customer experience, your operations people will be responsible for the face-to-face delivery of your brand to the consumer. Develop a list of service values, behaviors, and processes to deliver the brand idea throughout your organization. 

Using your brand idea to build a brand credo document

Having spent time at Johnson & Johnson, I was lucky to see how their credo document has become an essential part of the culture of the organization. Not only does it permeate throughout the company but you will also likely hear it quoted in meetings on a daily basis. It is a beautifully written document and ahead of its time.

Brand Idea

You should have all the material you need to create a brand credo document.

  • Start with your brand idea and turn it into an inspiring promise statement, which explains to your people how they can positively impact your customers.
  • Use your brand’s core point of difference to outline the expectations of how everyone can support and deliver the point of difference. A great exercise is to get every department to articulate their role in delivering the brand idea.
  • Connect with your people by tapping into the personal motivation for what they can do to support your brand purpose, brand values, and core beliefs. Make it very personal.

The hub-and-spoke brand management system

Brand management was built on a hub-and-spoke system, with the brand manager expected to sit right in the middle of the organization, helping drive everything and everyone around the brand. However, it is the brand idea that lies at the center with everyone connected to the brand expected to understand and deliver the idea.

Brand Idea

To learn more about this type of thinking, you should explore my new book, Beloved Brands.

With Beloved Brands, you will learn everything you need to know so you can build a brand that your consumers will love.

You will learn how to think strategically, define your brand with a positioning statement and a brand idea, write a brand plan everyone can follow, inspire smart and creative marketing execution and analyze the performance of your brand through a deep-dive business review.

Beloved Brands book

To order the e-book version or the paperback version from Amazon, click on this link: https://lnkd.in/eF-mYPe

If you use Kobo, you can find Beloved Brands in over 30 markets using this link: https://lnkd.in/g7SzEh4

And if you are in India, you can use this link to order: https://lnkd.in/gDA5Aiw

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

At Beloved Brands, our purpose is to help brands find a new pathway to growth. We believe that the more love your brand can generate with your most cherished consumers, the more power, growth, and profitability you will realize in the future.

We think the best solutions are likely inside you already, but struggle to come out. Our unique playbook tools are the backbone of our workshops. We bring our challenging voice to help you make decisions and refine every potential idea.

We start by defining a brand positioning statement, outlining the desired target, consumer benefits, and support points the brand will stand behind. And then, we build a brand idea that is simple and unique enough to stand out in the clutter of the market, motivating enough to get consumers to engage, buy and build a loyal following with your brand.

We will help you write a strategic brand plan for the future, to get everyone in your organization to follow. It starts with an inspiring vision that pushes your team to imagine a brighter future. We use our strategic thinking tools to help you make strategic choices on where to allocate your brand’s limited resources.

Our brand playbook methodology will challenge you to unlock future growth for your brand

  1. Our deep-dive assessment process will give you the knowledge of the issues facing your brand, so you can build a smart plan to unleash future growth.
  2. Find a winning brand positioning statement that motivates consumers to buy, and gives you a competitive advantage to drive future growth.
  3. Create a brand idea to capture the minds and hearts of consumers, while inspiring and focusing your team to deliver greatness on the brand’s behalf.
  4. Build a brand plan to help you make smart focused decisions, so you can organize, steer, and inspire your team towards higher growth.
  5. Advise on advertising, to find creative that drives branded breakthrough and use a motivating messaging to set up long-term brand growth.
  6. Our brand training program will make your brand leaders smarter, so you have added confidence in their performance to drive brand growth.

To learn more about our coaching, click on this link: Beloved Brands Strategic Coaching

To learn more about our training programs, click on this link: Beloved Brands Training

If you need our help, email me at graham@beloved-brands.com or call me at 416 885 3911

You have my personal promise to help you solve your brand building challenges. I will give you new thinking, so you can unlock future growth for your brand.

Signature

Graham Robertson

Founder and CMO, Beloved Brands Inc.

 

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The marketing skills you need to be a successful Brand Leader

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marketing skillsAt Beloved Brands, we use a 360-degree approach to marketing, which can highlight the skills you need to be successful in running your brand. You must be know how to analyze the performance of your brand through a deep-dive business review. Brand Leaders have to be able to think strategically to sort through issues and make decisions on direction. You must know how to define your brand with a positioning statement and a brand idea. Marketers need to know how to write a brand plan that everyone can follow. And, marketers should learn the skills needed to inspire smart and creative marketing execution that builds a brand that consumers will love.

Let’s use this 360-degree model to highlight the skills you need for each of the five areas. Below, I have broken down each of the five areas into 4 unique marketing skills. This will leave you with 20 overall marketing skills you need to be great.

1. Analyze performance

Too few marketers take the time to dig into the data analytics. There is no value in having access to data if you are not using it to discover meaningful insights. The best brand leaders can tell strategic stories through analytics. You need to know how to create a deep-dive business review, looking at the marketplace, consumers, competitors, channels, and brand. And, you need to be able to to turn your analysis into a written report or a presentation for management. You need to know brand finance, to know every financial formula you need to run your brand.

  • Understand all the potential sources of brand data you can use to evaluate the situation. These include market share, consumption, shipment data, brand funnel, advertising tracking, market research studies, and financial statements.
  • Know how to dig deep into data, using draws comparisons and development indexes to find the data breaks. Draw out insights and conclusions that you can turn into a story to help your team debate and make decisions.
  • Able to lead a best-in-class 360-degree deep-dive business review for the brand that looks at the marketplace, consumers, channels, competitors and the brand results to give a holistic view of the brand’s performance.
  • Once you have all your findings, you need to be able to write analytical stories that include performance reports and key issues presentations. Then, you need to be able to outline the strategic implications of the brand’s current situation.

2. Think Strategically

Too many marketers are so busy that they do not even have time to think. The best brand leaders do the necessary critical strategic thinking to find ways to win in the market. Strategic thinking is an essential foundation, forcing marketers to ask big questions that challenge and focus brand decisions.

There are four ways to enhance your strategic thinking, using the brand’s core strength finder, consumer strategy, competitive strategy and situational strategy. As you frame your strategies, you should learn to think and then talk in a method that lays out the vision for your brand, focuses your limited resources on breakthrough points, takes advantage of opportunities you see in the market, finds early wins to leverage to give your brand a positional power to drive growth and profits for your brand.

  • Ask the right interrupting and challenging questions to help slow your brain down to a reflection speed. Make sure you understand the issues surrounding the brand before you reach for solutions
  • Take a 360-degree strategic view by looking at your brand’s core strength, how consumers engage, the stance your competitors are taking, and the current business situation you face
  • Able to lead a well-thought strategic debate across the organization. Ensure sales, operations, product development and senior leaders have their say.
  • Make smart strategic decisions that map out a vision, focuses the brands limited resources, takes advantage of an opportunity, gains an early win that can leveraged to drive added power or incremental profits.

3. Define the brand

Too many marketers are trying to be everything to anyone. This strategy is the usual recipe for becoming nothing to everyone. The best brand leaders target a specific motivated consumer audience and then define their brand around a brand idea that is interesting, simple, unique, motivating and ownable. 

You have to know the fundamental ways for how to write a winning brand positioning statement with four essential elements: target market, competitive set, main benefit and reason to believe (RTB). Learn how to build a brand idea that leads every touchpoint of your brand, including the brand promise, brand story, innovation, purchase moment and experience. And finally, you have to know the tools for how to write a winning brand concept and brand story. 

  • Defines your ideal consumer target. Build out consumer profiles framed with need states, consumer insights, enemies and the desired response.
  • Take a consumer-centric mindset to turn brand features (what you do) into functional benefits (what consumers get) and emotional benefits (how it makes them feel)
  • Find a winning brand positioning statement that is own-able for your brand and motivates consumers to build a tighter bond with the brand.
  • Develop a brand idea that is interesting, simple, unique, inspiring, motivating and ownable. You must be able to stretch that brand idea across every consumer touchpoint, including the brand promise, story, innovation, purchase moment and consumer experience.

4. Create Brand Plans

Too many marketers focus on a short-term to-do list, not a long-term plan. The best brand leaders write brand plans everyone in the organization can follow with ease, including senior management, sales, R&D, agencies and operational teams. You have to know how to write each element of the brand plan, including the brand vision, purpose, values, goals, key Issues, strategies, and tactics. You must be able to build execution plans including a brand communications plan, innovation plan, and in-store plan.

  • Lead the development of all elements of a smart brand plan; vision, purpose, goals, issues, strategies, tactics.
  • Know how to turn strategic thinking into smart strategic objective statements that can stand as the foundation of the brand plan
  • Able to use the brand plan presentation to convince senior management to follow the issues and strategies you lay out, and garner the necessary support across the organization.
  • Develops smart execution plans that deliver against the brand strategies, and steer each execution team to stay on strategy.

5. Inspire creative execution

Too many marketers are becoming task-masters and stepping over the line into execution. The best brand leaders need to inspire experts to produce smart and creative execution. You need tools and techniques for judging and making decisions on creative advertising from your agency.  For judging execution, I use the ABC’s tool, believing the best executions must drive Attention (A), Brand link (B), Communication (C) and Stickiness (S). I also have a checklist for you to use when judging executions. One crucial skill is being able to give direction to your agency to inspire and challenge great execution.

  • Write strategic, focused and thorough creative briefs that will inspire great work from those experts who will execute on your brand’s behalf.
  • Capable of leading all marketing projects whether they are on brand communication, innovation, selling or experience.
  • Able to inspire greatness from experts at agencies or throughout the organization to offer their greatest work on your brand.
  • Makes smart marketing execution decisions that will help tighten the bond with consumers, put the brand into a more powerful position and drive long-term success that matches up tot he strategy.

I believe you need a playbook that covers each of these skills. Here’s the skills you need to be able to bring out when needed in your role.

Marketing Skills

Taking this a step further, use our assessment tool to highlight your own marketing skill gaps. Once you identify these skill gaps, use our book or our brand training programs to close those gaps.

marketing skils

Here is a presentation that can help you manage your career in Brand Management.

To learn more about this type of thinking, you should explore my new book, Beloved Brands.

With Beloved Brands, you will learn everything you need to know so you can build a brand that your consumers will love.

You will learn how to think strategically, define your brand with a positioning statement and a brand idea, write a brand plan everyone can follow, inspire smart and creative marketing execution and analyze the performance of your brand through a deep-dive business review.

Beloved Brands book

To order the e-book version or the paperback version from Amazon, click on this link: https://lnkd.in/eF-mYPe

If you use Kobo, you can find Beloved Brands in over 30 markets using this link: https://lnkd.in/g7SzEh4

And if you are in India, you can use this link to order: https://lnkd.in/gDA5Aiw

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

At Beloved Brands, our purpose is to help brands find a new pathway to growth. We believe that the more love your brand can generate with your most cherished consumers, the more power, growth, and profitability you will realize in the future.

We think the best solutions are likely inside you already, but struggle to come out. Our unique playbook tools are the backbone of our workshops. We bring our challenging voice to help you make decisions and refine every potential idea.

We start by defining a brand positioning statement, outlining the desired target, consumer benefits and support points the brand will stand behind. And then, we build a brand idea that is simple and unique enough to stand out in the clutter of the market, motivating enough to get consumers to engage, buy and build a loyal following with your brand.

We will help you write a strategic brand plan for the future, to get everyone in your organization to follow. It starts with an inspiring vision that pushes your team to imagine a brighter future. We use our strategic thinking tools to help you make strategic choices on where to allocate your brand’s limited resources.

Our brand playbook methodology will challenge you to unlock future growth for your brand

  1. Our deep-dive assessment process will give you the knowledge of the issues facing your brand, so you can build a smart plan to unleash future growth.
  2. Find a winning brand positioning statement that motivates consumers to buy, and gives you a competitive advantage to drive future growth.
  3. Create a brand idea to capture the minds and hearts of consumers, while inspiring and focusing your team to deliver greatness on the brand’s behalf.
  4. Build a brand plan to help you make smart focused decisions, so you can organize, steer, and inspire your team towards higher growth.
  5. Advise on advertising, to find creative that drives branded breakthrough and use a motivating messaging to set up long-term brand growth.
  6. Our brand training program will make your brand leaders smarter, so you have added confidence in their performance to drive brand growth.

To learn more about our coaching, click on this link: Beloved Brands Strategic Coaching

To learn more about our training programs, click on this link: Beloved Brands Training

If you need our help, email me at graham@beloved-brands.com or call me at 416 885 3911

You have my personal promise to help you solve your brand building challenges. I will give you new thinking, so you can unlock future growth for your brand.

Signature

Graham Robertson

Founder and CMO, Beloved Brands Inc.

 

 

 

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How to do a quick dissection of your brand’s profit statement

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profitFor many of us, we became marketers because we were attracted to the strategic, creative, and psychology aspects of business. So if finance is not a natural skill, when your finance manager hands you the brand’s profit and loss (P&L) statement, it can be rather intimidating. Here’s an easier way for you to assess your profit statement. To assess the profit performance of your brand, and begin knowing where to dig deeper, I recommend you break it down by looking at four key numbers. 

  1. Understand the sales growth rate, relative to the economy or the category growth
  2. Look at the gross margin percentage
  3. Dig into the contribution margin percentage
  4. Do a quick comparison between spending growth rate and the sales growth rate.  

Start with the growth rate

  1. As a leader of the brand, I start by trying to understand the growth rate. Most brand leaders have brand growth as their number one objective. You can do a quick calculation to figure out the average growth rate but, as you dig in, you should try to find out what happened each year to give you a better feel of the brand performance. There are two calculations you can use, either average growth rate or compound annual growth rate (CAGR).profit
    • In this example, the average growth rate is 7% and CAGR % is 9.1%, but very high compared to the overall economic growth of 2-3%. My first instinct would be to look at the category growth to see if the brand is gaining or losing market share. 
    • Next, the year-by-year growth shows the growth rate has shot up to 12% over the past two years. I would make a mental note to expect to see this as an investment brand and determine whether the profit is paying off yet.

Understand what’s happening with the gross margin

  1. My eye is drawn immediately to figuring out the gross  margin percentage, as the first signal of the health of the brand or to try to understand the strategy behind the brand. Divide the absolute gross margin by the sales. You can assess the brand’s health by comparing the margin percent over time to see the trend line, with other brands in your portfolio to assess the opportunity cost, or with other competitive brands in the category.  profit
    • In this example, the gross margin percentage has fallen from 43% in 2018 down to 37% in 2020, which should prompt you to go a layer deeper to look at price and cost of goods.
    • Regarding price, dig around to see if there has been an average price decrease, then look to see if it is due to an increase in trade spend, a shift in the sales mix to lower-priced items, or even a shift to lower margin items. 

Then look at the contribution margin

  1. Next, look at your brand’s cost of goods and impact on overall profit. Some cost factors are outside the brand’s control, such as foreign exchange, raw material cost increases, duties, and transportation costs. However, you also need to look out for factors within the brand’s control. Was there a strategic decision to change to a higher cost raw material? Was there increased quality control at the manufacturing site? Did you switch to a more expensive supplier  or change the location of your production? profit
    • Look at contribution margin percentage, dividing the bottom line contribution income by the overall sales. 
    • In the example, an alarm bell goes off when I see the contribution margin percentage has fallen from 26% to 17% in three years. My first observation is the sales are up dramatically, yet both the gross margin percentages and contribution margin percentages are down.  
    • While the gross margin percentage is down, the gross margin dollars increased. However, in this case, the contribution margin dollars have gone down from $5,763 to $4,772. After two years of investment, the brand is not responding fast enough to cover that spend level.  

Try to assess profit impact of the spending 

  1. Finally, look at the comparison between the sales growth rate and the spending growth rate.  
    • While sales are growing at 12% over the past two years, spending is up 22%. The brand is not covering the spending increase. Dig in to understand if the payback was expected to be slower. If not, I would dig in to explain why it is not paying back: not the right message, competitive activity, or market dynamics. 

To learn more about this type of thinking, you should explore my new book, Beloved Brands.

With Beloved Brands, you will learn everything you need to know so you can build a brand that your consumers will love.

You will learn how to think strategically, define your brand with a positioning statement and a brand idea, write a brand plan everyone can follow, inspire smart and creative marketing execution and analyze the performance of your brand through a deep-dive business review.

Beloved Brands book

To order the e-book version or the paperback version from Amazon, click on this link: https://lnkd.in/eF-mYPe

If you use Kobo, you can find Beloved Brands in over 30 markets using this link: https://lnkd.in/g7SzEh4

And if you are in India, you can use this link to order: https://lnkd.in/gDA5Aiw

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

At Beloved Brands, our purpose is to help brands find a new pathway to growth. We believe that the more love your brand can generate with your most cherished consumers, the more power, growth, and profitability you will realize in the future.

We think the best solutions are likely inside you already, but struggle to come out. Our unique playbook tools are the backbone of our workshops. We bring our challenging voice to help you make decisions and refine every potential idea.

We start by defining a brand positioning statement, outlining the desired target, consumer benefits and support points the brand will stand behind. And then, we build a brand idea that is simple and unique enough to stand out in the clutter of the market, motivating enough to get consumers to engage, buy and build a loyal following with your brand.

We will help you write a strategic brand plan for the future, to get everyone in your organization to follow. It starts with an inspiring vision that pushes your team to imagine a brighter future. We use our strategic thinking tools to help you make strategic choices on where to allocate your brand’s limited resources.

Our brand playbook methodology will challenge you to unlock future growth for your brand

  1. Our deep-dive assessment process will give you the knowledge of the issues facing your brand, so you can build a smart plan to unleash future growth.
  2. Find a winning brand positioning statement that motivates consumers to buy, and gives you a competitive advantage to drive future growth.
  3. Create a brand idea to capture the minds and hearts of consumers, while inspiring and focusing your team to deliver greatness on the brand’s behalf.
  4. Build a brand plan to help you make smart focused decisions, so you can organize, steer, and inspire your team towards higher growth.
  5. Advise on advertising, to find creative that drives branded breakthrough and use a motivating messaging to set up long-term brand growth.
  6. Our brand training program will make your brand leaders smarter, so you have added confidence in their performance to drive brand growth.

To learn more about our coaching, click on this link: Beloved Brands Strategic Coaching

To learn more about our training programs, click on this link: Beloved Brands Training

If you need our help, email me at graham@beloved-brands.com or call me at 416 885 3911

You have my personal promise to help you solve your brand building challenges. I will give you new thinking, so you can unlock future growth for your brand.

Signature

Graham Robertson

Founder and CMO, Beloved Brands Inc.

 

 

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