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

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.

The playbook for how Apple became a $1 trillion brand

[sg_popup id=”9″ event=”onload”][/sg_popup]Apple has built everything around the idea of simplicity, which they use in their brand promise, communication, innovation, purchase moment, and the experience. Starting in 1997, Apple has gradually shifted from a craft type brand to a disruptor brand to a challenger brand and today Apple is a power player brand. While the innovation is not at the same pace as ten years ago, they have done an amazing job in creating desire among consumers, transforming that desire into brand power, which has created a base for profitable growth. This week, Apple became the first company to reach the $1 trillion mark.    

The strategic thinking behind Apple

Apple started out as a classic craft brand in the 1970s and 1980s, positioning their Macintosh as the computer for the “rest of us.” The brand stayed niche with a “making computers simpler” message against IBM personal computers. It focused on a niche consumer who favored the intuitive and artistic side of personal computers, as opposed to IBM’s business computers.

Apple almost went bankrupt

In 1996, the Apple brand bordered on bankruptcy. It was just another computer company without any real point of difference. Years of overlooked opportunities, flip-flop strategies, and a mind-boggling disregard for market realities caught up with the company. The Windows 95 launch by Microsoft had severely eroded Mac’s technology edge. Apple was rapidly becoming a minor player in the computer business with shrinking market shares, price cuts, and declining profits. 

Apple looked like it would not survive, as it was a poorly run organization through the early 1990s. Executives made terrible decisions with inconsistent strategies and, most importantly, there was no brand idea for what Apple should be. After Steve Jobs came to Apple in 1997, he shifted the focus to rebuilding Apple around the brand idea of “Apple makes technology so simple that everyone can be part of the future.” He took a consumer-first approach in a market dominated by an obsession with gadgets, bits, and bytes. 

The disruptor version of Apple

Apple evolved in 2001 to a disruptor brand strategy, when iTunes completely disrupted the music industry. iTunes gave consumers the ability to have 10,000 songs in their pocket, buying one song at a time with perfect digital quality. And they made CDs feel disconnected from consumers and a thing of the past.

The challenger version of Apple

In 2006, Apple used its market power and substantial resources to deploy a challenger strategy, with the “I’m a Mac” TV ads to go head-to-head with Microsoft. Apple repositioned every one the potential Microsoft strengths into a frustration point for consumers. The ads set up Mac as the only solution for consumers.

Apple becomes the power player

Since 2012, Apple has become a power player brand, with stock prices continuing to climb beyond their wildest dreams. It is now a brand for the masses. The company attacks itself internally to stay at the top. Apple takes a fast-follower stance on technology, which frustrates those who loved Mac in the early days. While Apple’s early brand lovers from the 1980s may be disappointed with the Apple of today, the brand must now play to the mass audience and let the true influential innovators, who once loved them, find someone else to love. In 2016, Apple’s most substantial growth came from the 55+ age segment, a clear sign the brand is for everyone. How long can Apple stay on top before someone starts to disrupt or challenge them?

How Apple completed its turnaround plan:

1. Set a vision of what you want

Apple’s vision was to make it easy to get everyone to be part of technology in the future. The  main issue was how to create Apple fans then mobilize them to spread the word to the masses.

2. Invest resources in a strategic program

Apple invested and aligned everything behind a brand idea defined as “Apple makes technology so simple; everyone can be part of the future.” The company uses this brand idea at every touchpoint, including the brand positioning, communication, innovation, purchase moment and experience. 

3. Focus on an identified opportunity

For decades, Apple consistently focused on empathizing with—and taking advantage of—the consumer’s frustration with technology. In the 1980s, Apple attacked IBM personal computers as being too complicated. In 2005, Apple used “I’m a Mac, and I’m a PC” advertising to attack Microsoft. Each time, Apple used its “consumer-first” mentality to transform leading-edge technology into accessible consumer technology.

4. Leverage a breakthrough market impact

Apple takes a fast-follower stance that takes current technology and makes it simple to use. Every Apple platform, including desktops, laptops, phones, watches, tablets, and music streaming delivers the brand idea of “simplicity.” Apple deploys high profile launch hype to use vocal Apple advocates to spread the word to their friends.

5. Performance result that pays back

Apple created a consumer bond with their brand fans to enter new categories. Apple is now the most beloved consumer-driven brand, with premium prices, stronger market share, sales, and profits. And, Apple has used brand love to help drive a remarkable 40x revenue growth over 10 years, skyrocketing from $5.7 billion in 2005 to $240 billion in 2015. This rapid growth helps cover the high costs of advertising and R&D, giving Apple very healthy operating margins, up over 35%. All this strategic effort has increased Apple’s market capitalization approaches $1 trillion.

The Apple Brand Plan

Vision: 

Apple wants everyone in the world to be part of the future.

Goals:

Continue aggressive sales growth, geographic expansion into China, launch a major new consumer-friendly technology each year.

Key issues: 

  1. How do we convey Mac’s superior user experience versus the traditional PC?

  2. How do we enter the music industry and increase the availability of online music to support our iPod?

Strategies: 

  1. Apple will launch a full communications assault to challenge the PC/Microsoft Windows dominant position by finding flaws in the PC to contrast with Mac computers’ simplicity to steal significant market share by enticing frustrated PC consumers to buy a Mac.
  2. Apple will launch a full assault against the entire music industry with a disruptive innovator stance to show how iTunes provides higher quality digital music on your iPod much cheaper, faster and smarter than CDs to gain an entry point into the music industry.

Tactics:

TV advertising to highlight new features and challenge competitors.Launch innovation each year including phones, tablets, online music, watches and personal computers. Launch specific products for China. Increase retail space around the world. Build out the e-commerce program.

How Apple builds everything behind the “simplicity” brand idea

The brand idea for Apple is “making technology so simple that everyone can be part of the future.”  Apple takes a consumer-first mentality, as they transform leading technology advancements into “consumer-accessible” technology, helping fuel the perception among the mass audience that Apple is an innovative leader.  

Apple has done a great job in taking that brand idea and stretching it across their brand story through advertising, and their innovation plan (as they have entered many new technology categories). Apple has also used their brand idea to guide how they manage the purchase moment (to make sure their retail outlets are easy for consumers), and how they create happy experiences for consumers. And when they don’t nail the ideal consumer experience, they go out of their way to help out. They also have the genius bar and on-site lessons, which help increase the knowledge of consumers. 

Apple’s advertising has delivered “simplicity” since the 1970s 

Apple’s advertising has been relatively consistent for over 40 years and incredibly connected with consumers. The early print ads of the 1970s talked about how we designed the computer, so you don’t have to worry about the details. 

The “1984” TV ads for the Mackintosh launch spoke about the freedom from machines. Although the message was a little ahead of its time, it fit with simplicity. 

The brilliance of the side-by-side “Mac versus PC” TV ads epitomized the brand idea by making the PC seem overly complicated and frustrating while setting up the Mac as the simple alternative. 

Apple builds product innovation around simplicity 

Apple has taken many failed technology ideas like online music, tablets, or mp3 players, and turned them into consumer-friendly platforms such as iTunes, iPads, and iPods. With each new product, Apple uses launch hype to generate excitement to spark the enthusiasm of the early adopters who spread the word. Also, Apple has successfully taken its cherished brand fans into new categories.  

Purchasing Apple products is very simple, including its own retail store experience  

Apple uses simplicity to manage the purchase moment through its retail stores, making sure the experience is simple and straightforward. All staff carry a credit card machine and complete the transaction very quickly. No lines or cash registers. Simplicity shines through the store layout, with the genius bar for one-on-one tech questions and support and the training area to teach classes. The brand also puts every Apple product on display to allow consumers to take them for a test drive.  

Even when Apple products are in other stores, the brand has used its power with that retailer to create a distinct store-within-a-store concept, which replicates a similar look and experience from Apple’s own retail locations.   

Apple obsesses about the consumer experience 

As Steve Jobs famously said, “You have to start with the customer experience and work backward to the technology.” Apple even believes opening your Apple products should be like unwrapping a gift. 

The brand wants the consumer to be able to use any Apple product right away rather than spending hours loading software or setting up your machine. Regarding product integration, Apple products work together, and they work the same way, which makes it very simple for consumers when they move from one Apple product to another. 

Apple has used brand love to command power and enable them to drive both revenue and profits

Apple has used brand love to help drive a remarkable 40x revenue growth over 10 years, going from 5.7 in 2005 billion up to $240 billion in 2015. 

This type of rapid growth helps cover costs of Advertising and R&D, giving Apple very healthy operating margins that are up over 35%. All this has increased Apple’s market capitalization to $1 Trillion.

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.

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

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.

The best solutions are likely inside you already, but struggle to come out. Our unique engagement tools are the backbone of our strategy workshops. These tools will force you to think differently so you can freely generate many new ideas. At Beloved Brands, we bring our challenging voice to help you make decisions and refine every potential idea.

We help brands find growth

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 big 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. Finally, the big idea must influence employees to personally deliver an outstanding consumer experience, to help move consumers along the journey to loving 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. We work with your team to build out project plans, creative briefs and provide advice on marketing execution.

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

We make Brand Leaders smarter

We believe that investing in your marketing people will pay off. With smarter people behind your brands will drive higher revenue growth and profits. With our brand management training program, you will see smarter strategic thinking, more focused brand plans, brand positioning, better creative briefs that steer your agencies, improved decision-making on marketing execution, smarter analytical skills to assess your brand’s performance and a better management of the profitability of the brand.

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

Use your brand idea to match up the internal and external of your brand

[sg_popup id=”9″ event=”onload”][/sg_popup]There are too many brands out there where the external message does not match up to the internal message. Many still believe that brand management is just advertising and promotion–the external delivery of the brand message. The smartest brands understand the brand idea should inspire everyone who works behind the scenes of the brand to deliver greatness on the brand’s behalf.

internal brand and external brand

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.      

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.   

Brand Idea

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. 

 Brand Idea

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. 

Brand Idea

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. It must establish the ideal brand 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.         

Here’s an example of the brand idea map for Gray’s Cookies 

Brand Idea

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. Get 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 to drive the internal brand

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. 

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

Brand Credo

  • 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.

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.

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

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.

The best solutions are likely inside you already, but struggle to come out. Our unique engagement tools are the backbone of our strategy workshops. These tools will force you to think differently so you can freely generate many new ideas. At Beloved Brands, we bring our challenging voice to help you make decisions and refine every potential idea.

We help brands find growth

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 big 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. Finally, the big idea must influence employees to personally deliver an outstanding consumer experience, to help move consumers along the journey to loving 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. We work with your team to build out project plans, creative briefs and provide advice on marketing execution.

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

We make Brand Leaders smarter

We believe that investing in your marketing people will pay off. With smarter people behind your brands will drive higher revenue growth and profits. With our brand management training program, you will see smarter strategic thinking, more focused brand plans, brand positioning, better creative briefs that steer your agencies, improved decision-making on marketing execution, smarter analytical skills to assess your brand’s performance and a better management of the profitability of the brand.

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

How to align the internal and external connections of your brand.

[sg_popup id=”9″ event=”onload”][/sg_popup]The brand idea should help capture the attention of consumers. It should define the brand and manage the reputation. The brand idea should steer everyone who works behind the scenes of the brand. It should stand between the brand soul and the brand reputation. A brand finds itself in equilibrium when the brand reputation, brand idea, and brand soul are the same. 

The brand idea must represent your brand soul

The brand soul defines the moral fiber for why everyone who works on the brand “wakes up each day to deliver greatness on behalf of the brand.” The brand soul must be an inspiration to align the team behind a common purpose, cause or excitement for why they do what they do. Just like the soul of a human, every brand brings a unique combination of the unexplainable assets, culture, motivations, and beliefs. Support your brand purpose with a set of values and beliefs, deeply held in the heart of everyone who works behind the scenes of the brand.

From the outside eye, the complexity of an organization can appear to be a complete mess. Many organizations are filled with silos of conflicts that get in the way of what the brand stands for. There are varying opinions on where the brand should go next. Everyone in your organization must be able to describe the brand in the same way.  This includes the most remote sales rep, the technician in the lab, the ad agency or the CEO.

When a brand is in trouble, the first thing I ask is, “Describe the brand in seven seconds for me.” When I start to hear conflicting answers or confusion, I know the team lacks alignment. If you cannot consistently describe your brand within the walls of your organization, how could you ever expect consumers to hold a consistent reputation in their minds?

When the brand does something in conflict with the brand soul, a healthy organization should resist and possibly even reject that action as outside of the cultural norms and beliefs of the brand. To accept something that goes against the brand’s soul would put the culture at risk.

I have met brand leaders who would rather fail than give up on their principles and beliefs. They say, “I don’t want to sell out just to be successful.” I respect their conviction because they understand themselves. A brand should be extremely personal to trigger the passion of everyone who works on the brand.

The brand idea must manage your brand reputation

The brand reputation lives within the minds of your consumers, out in the crazy, unstructured, unorganized, and cluttered real world. While a brand tries to project itself out to the market, a brand reputation meanders, and adjusts to the constant changes and complexities of the marketplace.

There are constant challenges to the brand reputation, including continually changing consumer need states, conflicting voices from competitors, key influencers, or retailer partners.

The role of the brand idea works in the middle, between the brand and the consumer, acting as a stabilizer between the internal passion at the heart of the brand soul and the outward opinions of the brand reputation.

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: What is the link between the internal sound and the external reputation?

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.

The five touchpoints

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. Us it to project 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   

I am excited to announce the release of 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.

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

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.

The best solutions are likely inside you already, but struggle to come out. Our unique engagement tools are the backbone of our strategy workshops. These tools will force you to think differently so you can freely generate many new ideas. At Beloved Brands, we bring our challenging voice to help you make decisions and refine every potential idea.

We help brands find growth

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 big 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. Finally, the big idea must influence employees to personally deliver an outstanding consumer experience, to help move consumers along the journey to loving 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. We work with your team to build out project plans, creative briefs and provide advice on marketing execution.

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

We make Brand Leaders smarter

We believe that investing in your marketing people will pay off. With smarter people behind your brands will drive higher revenue growth and profits. With our brand management training program, you will see smarter strategic thinking, more focused brand plans, brand positioning, better creative briefs that steer your agencies, improved decision-making on marketing execution, smarter analytical skills to assess your brand’s performance and a better management of the profitability of the brand.

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

Brands must evolve their strategy as they move from the rebel brand to the power player brand

Many brands start in a garage, in someone’s mind or discussed over the kitchen table.  To break through, the new brands must use a rebel brand strategy that go against entire marketplace. Gradually, as the brand gains strength, it can move to an island brand that tries to separate consumers away from the main competitor. Then, as the brand gains a larger follower, it opens up the opportunity to use a challenger brand strategy and go head-to-head to take on the leader. And finally, if the brand does really well, it will reach the power player position, needing to defend the castle they worked hard to achieve

Strategic Thinking Competitive

 

Consumer Mindset Curve

In every category, there is a consumer mindset curve in relation to adopting innovation and new products. Consumers are divided into trend influencers, early adopters, early mass and then the mass audience. As consumers, we do show up differently to every category we might purchase. A trend influencer with technology products may be part of the mass audience with fashion. Brands have to identify and understand the various types of consumers they should be targeting.

Strategic Thinking Consumers

The trend influencer consumers are right at the beginning of the curve, looking for every new innovation in a category. They are in touch with experts and frustrated by the status quo brands. They love the leapfrog gains and they despise incremental movement by brands.

The early adopter consumers play the bridge role between the influencers and the mass market. They try to keep up, and enjoy being the first within their network to try the latest and greatest.

From there, the mass market consumers gets divided into early and late mass. The early mass take on new products while the overall mass is resistant to change.

How your brand strategy should evolve

The rebel brand stands out as a completely different and better choice to a core group of trend influencers who are frustrated with all the competitors in the marketplace. This group becomes the most motivated consumer base to buy into your new idea. You must bring them on board and use their influence to begin your journey.

At the rebel stage, you must take a high risk, high reward chance on who you will be. You should not worry about the mass audience, because most times, they will naturally resist brands that are very different as they do not yet see the problem. If you play it safe, it will lead to your own destruction. Your brand should naturally alienate those who are not yet ready to take on something new. Not only does a great brand say whom the brand should be for, it should equally say who it is not for. Be careful; do not try to be mass too soon or you will lose your base while also missing the mass audience.

As the brand gains power

As you transition to the island brand strategy, you must mobilize your audience of the early trend influencers to gain a core base of early adopters into your franchise. While the rebel brand attracts the attention of trend influencers by alienating the major players in the category, the island brand tries to use their significant point of difference to pull consumers away from the leaders, making the leaders seem detached from the needs of the consumer.

As the brand gets bigger, it should take on the challenger strategy, using the influence of the trend influencers and early adopters to attract the mass audience. With a bigger consumer base, more power and financial resources, these brands have earned that has earned a hard-fought proximity that allows it to go head-to-head with the power player leader. The challenger brands turn the competitor’s strength into a weakness, pushing them outside of what consumers want, while creating a new consumer problem for which your brand becomes the solution.

At the Power Player stage, the strategy shifts to maintaining the growth. The focus becomes a defensive strategy to attack back at any player. While you may lose the early innovator type consumers that once loved your brand, you have to focus on the mass audience. While the trend influencers and early adopters play a huge role in making the brand a household name, as the brand gets bigger, they leave the brand and look for what is next.

How Apple evolved from an innovative rebel into the mass power player

Strategic Thinking Apple

 

Back in the 1980s, Apple was the rebel brand using the MacIntosh as the computer for the “rest of us”. They stayed a niche brand to with a simplicity message to those favoring the artistic side instead of the strictly functional PC.

Apple evolved in 2001 to an Island brand strategy, when iTunes disrupted the music industry. They gave consumers the ability to have 1,000 songs in your pocket, with perfect digital quality. And, they made CDs feel disconnected from consumers and CDs quickly became a thing of the past.

In 2006, Apple used their newly found power and heavy resources to use a Challenger strategy, using the “Mac versus PC” TV ads to go head-to-head with Microsoft. With a challenger stance, Apple repositioned every one the potential Microsoft strengths into a frustration point for consumers. This set up Mac as the only simple solution for consumers.

Since 2012, Apple has become the Power Player brand, with stock prices continuing to climb. They are now the brand for the masses. Apple now takes a fast-follower stance on every technology, which frustrates those who loved Mac in their early days. They also must attack themselves internally to stay at the top. Apple’s core audience may be frustrated by what they see. However, Apple must now play to the mass audience, and let the true trend influencers go find someone else to love.

 

Strategic Thinking Workshop

To read more on Strategic Thinking, click on the Powerpoint file below to view:

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.

The best solutions are likely inside you already, but struggle to come out. Our unique engagement tools are the backbone of our strategy workshops. These tools will force you to think differently so you can freely generate many new ideas. At Beloved Brands, we bring our challenging voice to help you make decisions and refine every potential idea.

We help brands find growth

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 big 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. Finally, the big idea must influence employees to personally deliver an outstanding consumer experience, to help move consumers along the journey to loving 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. We work with your team to build out project plans, creative briefs and provide advice on marketing execution.

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

We make Brand Leaders smarter

We believe that investing in your marketing people will pay off. With smarter people behind your brands will drive higher revenue growth and profits. With our brand management training program, you will see smarter strategic thinking, more focused brand plans, brand positioning, better creative briefs that steer your agencies, improved decision-making on marketing execution, smarter analytical skills to assess your brand’s performance and a better management of the profitability of the brand.

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

Beloved Brands Graham Robertson

How to win the competitive battle for your consumer’s heart

A competitive brand strategy finds a space in the marketplace that your brand can win over and own. You must decided if you will position your brand to be better, different, or cheaper. Otherwise, your brand will not be around for very long. A competitive brand position matches up what consumers want with what your brand does best, that is better than your competitors. We will look at four types of competitive brand strategy situations: power player, challenger brand, island brand or the rebel brand. Most importantly, you need to make sure you align with the right competitive situation.

Finding your space to win

To find the competitive space in which your brand can win, I introduce the Venn diagram of competitive situations. Looking below, the first circle should list out everything the consumer wants.

The second circle then lists everything your brand does best. And, finally, the third circle lists everything your competitor does best.

Competitive Strategic Thinking
To win, brands have to find the space where they are better, different, cheaper…
or else they will not around for very long.

To find your brand’s winning zone, you should match up what consumers want with what your brand does best. This provides you a distinct space that you can own and defend from attack. To maintain ownership over that space, your brand should always be able to satisfy the needs of the consumer better than anyone else can.

Your brand will not survive in the losing zone, which is the space that matches up the consumer needs with the area where your competitor does it better than your brand. It is dangerous to try to play in this space, because over the long term, your competitor will beat you.

Brands can win the risky zone

As markets mature, competitors copy each other. It becomes harder to be better with a definitive product win, and that leaves you to play in the risky zone, which is the space where you and your competitor both meet the consumer’s needs in a relative tie. The tie is important to understand, because brands can still win the tie when they make their brand seem different enough that consumers perceive their brand to be better. Perception becomes reality. The four ways to win the risky zone is to leverage your brand’s power in the market to squeeze out lesser brands, or to be the first to capture and defend the space, or to win with innovation and creativity, or find ways to build a deeper emotional connection.

Sadly, I do have to always mention the dumb zone where two competitors “battle it out” in the space where consumers do not care. One competitor says, “We are faster” and the other thinks, “We are just as fast”. A competitive war starts up, yet no one bothered to ask the consumer if they care.

Competitive situations

In brand management, we never experience pure isolation. Even in a blue ocean situation, the euphoria of being alone quickly turns to a red ocean that is cluttered with the blood from nasty battling competitors. The moment we think we are alone, a competitor is watching and believes they can do it better than we can. To win the competitive battle, you have to find a unique selling proposition for your brand that distinguishes you from others. If you ignore the competition, with a belief that only the consumer matters, you are on a naive pathway to losing. Competitors force us to sharpen our focus and tighten our language on the brand positioning we will project to the market.

In terms of marketing war games, I will use this Venn diagram to map out four types of competitive brands: power players, challenger brands, island brands, and rebel brands. The final situation, where brands have no clue where they stand competitively, I call the cluttered brands. They sit in the cluttered space, lost, disconnected with consumers and in total decline.

Power Players

Power Players lead the way, as the share leader or perceived influential leader of the category. These brands command a power over all the stakeholders, competitors, and retail partners of the category. In terms of positioning, the power player brands own what they are best at, and they leverage their power in the market to help them own the tie. This expands their presence and power across a bigger market. They leverage the love from a core group of loyal brand lovers to win the tie. These brands can also use their advanced financial situation to invest in innovation to stay ahead of the category.

Power Player brands defend their territory with an attack back at any aggressive competitor or even an attack on itself to close any potential leaks before a competitor notices. These brands require a strong culture to continually get better and stay ahead of the competitors. To stay as the power brand, you can never become complacent or you will die.

Competitive Strategic Thinking
A Power Player positioning  strategy uses what you do best to dominate the win and uses their brand power to dominate the space where they tie their competitors

Examples of Power Player brands

One of the best Power Player brands is Google, who has managed to dominate the search engine market. Their extreme focus and smart execution gained market power and squeezed out Microsoft and Yahoo. Focused on providing knowledge for consumers, they have continued to expand their services into a bundle of products with e-mail, maps, apps, docs, cloud technology, and cell phones. On the other hand, Blackberry forgot to defend their castle. In 2009, Blackberry dominated the B2B corporate smartphone market. However, they became distracted by the Apple launch and tried to be more like Apple than stay themselves. They launched a bad touch screen phone, an undifferentiated tablet, sponsored rock concerts, and launched Blackberry Messenger (BBM) for young teens. These brands never attacked themselves. They left severe product flaws that frustrated their users. Pretty soon, corporations switched to the iPhone.

Challenger Brands

Challenger brands must change the playing field to attack the leader and exploit a potential weakness or build on their own strength. While you can amplify what your brand does best, it becomes just as important to reposition the power player who you want to take down. The best way is to turn their well-known strength into a perceived weakness that moves them outside of what consumers want. While your first instinct would be to attack the power player’s weakness, the smarter move is to reposition one of the power player’s strengths into a perfective weakness.

Strategic Thinking Competitive
A powerful strategy is to attack your competitor’s strength and turn into a weakness, making their strength either less important or less interesting. 

When you attack a power player brand, be careful of the leader’s potential defensive moves. Anticipate a response with full force—possibly with even greater resources than yours. Avoid battles that drain your brand’s limited resources or else you will spend a fortune only to end up with the same share after the war. Focus on consumers who are less vested in the leader’s brand to help kick-start a momentum away from the leader. As the leader tries to be everything to everyone, you should drive a narrow attack that slices off the most vulnerable part of its business before it can defend it.

Examples of challenger brands

         Apple’s “I’m a Mac” campaign defined the Mac brand as simple, confident, and cool, while re-defining the PC as old, uptight, and awkward. Apple repositioned PC’s strength as an intelligent computer and turned it into a weakness that was perceived as complicated, frustrating, and incapable. The ads layered in new ways that Mac was easier, while they highlighted all the problems with the PC that included hardware issues, software problems, and insufficient applications.

One of the best examples of a challenger brand that made significant gains is Pepsi, who launched the Pepsi Challenge in the 1970s as a direct offensive attack on Coke. Taste was one of Coke’s perceived strengths, but the ad implied that Coke’s taste was actually an acquired and memorable taste, not a sweet, superior taste. In the blind taste test, without the Coke brand name visible to consumers, they overwhelmingly picked Pepsi, preferring the sweeter taste. At the same time, Pepsi amplified their own strength as the “new generation” that set themselves up as the solution to those ready to reject the old taste of Coke.

Island Brands

       Island brands move into the blue ocean area all by themselves, where no one else competes. These brands are so different, that they appear to be relatively on their own. Most Island brands start as game-changers who have responded to an identified niche gap in the main category. They satisfy an unmet consumer need, whether that is a new target, price point, distribution channel, format, or positioning. When successful, the Island brand ends up repositioning the main category players as unattached to the consumers. While everyone wants a game-changer, to be so different brings increased risk that the concept may fail. Also, success may invite other entrants to follow the island brand, which puts the brand in a red ocean position. A red ocean is where your brand becomes the new power player brand who needs to defend your territory with full force.

Strategic Thinking Competitive
While using your disruptive approach to change the marketplace, you also want to push mass competitors away so to make them feel out of touch with consumer needs.

Example of an Island brand

Volvo is a great example of an island brand. Most car brands have traditionally focused on the horsepower and speed performance of the car, the interior luxury and comfort or the stylish designs, Volvo focused on safety. For Volvo safety is not just a claim or demo in their TV ads, but is everything they do. But the real beauty for Volvo is their obsession with safety. Volvo was long ahead of the marketplace. Volvo first started the safety angle in the 1940s and became completely obsessed in through the 1960s long before consumers cared about safety when no one was even wearing seat belts. But the market place has since caught up.

This year, Car and Driver reports safety as the #1 benefit that consumers are looking for in a new car. Most recently, Volvo has come up with a very ambitious vision statement for the brand: “No one should every die or be seriously injured in a Volvo.”

Rebel Brands

Rebel brands go against the entire category, into an area too small for the leaders to even take notice or attack back. Rebels pick a segment or target market that is small enough not be noticed that they can easily defend. They take an antagonistic approach to the rest of the category. They portray every other brand in the category as old school, flawed, corrupt, overly corporate, or even stupid. Rebel brands believe that it is better to be loved by the few than liked or tolerated by many.

Strategic Thinking Competitive
Rebel brands or craft brands want to win a small space to a highly engaged target, that is far enough away from major competitors, so they won’t feel the need to attack back.

Growth of the tail 

In today’s economy, every category has seen the growth of craft-type brands that satisfy a small segment. As consumers have taken over the buying process, they look for brands that speak directly with them. A typical store that had three to four main coffee brands now carries fifteen to twenty coffee brands. Rebel brands must speak directly with a small group of consumers and own a small enough niche away from competitors. A great strategy is to focus on a niche of consumers who are frustrated by the market leaders.

These brands lead with purpose, they create a deep emotional bond, and try to be seen as “anti-corporate”. Their intention is to be aggressive. They put all the brand’s resources against their small target to gain the perceived relative force of a major player. These brands have to be nimble and quick to seize the opportunity before others notice. They are ready to exit if consumers shift their needs or the major competitors enter. Rebel brands explore non-traditional marketing techniques such as creative names or media options that fit the niche target market.

Examples of Rebel brands

A great example of a Rebel brand is Five Guys Burgers who successfully avoided big fast food chains. While fast food feels frozen and microwaved, Five Guys has gone the opposite direction with high quality and fresh ingredients. They offer larger portions at a super premium price ($8-$10 for a burger). They promise not to start cooking your hamburger until it is ordered. Five Guys have expanded rapidly with word of mouth helping to spread their reputation as “the best burger”. Since then, Five Guys has become a global brand, McDonald’s has yet to generate an adequate competitive response.

Another great example is Dollar Shave who launched as an online subscription model for razor blades. With a $3 billion dollar shaving market dominated by two players, the price of razor blades grew out of control. With only $30 million in the first year, they were too small for Gillette to even bother with. However, without a response, Dollar Shave continued to grow year-by-year. Unilever recently purchased the Dollar Shave brand for $1 billion.

Cluttered Brands

Strategic Thinking Competitive
Cluttered brands are lost in the middle.They lack a point of difference or connectivity with consumers

A cluttered brand has no clue where they stand competitively. These brands are stuck in a cluttered mess. There is no clear target market or clear point of difference. These brands lack a loyal base of consumers and are unable to generate any positive growth or price premiums. They end up an indifferent commodity, disconnected from consumer needs. Without sales growth or profits, they struggle to invest back into their brand, which further accelerates the path of decay.

Examples of cluttered brands are General Motors, Burger King, and Sears, all of whom lack any clear brand positioning. The way to break this vicious downward spiral is to start over and follow the strategy of the rebel brand. Try to own a small niche and build around a unique brand positioning to a smaller motivated target.

Strategic Thinking Workshop

To read more on Strategic Thinking, click on the Powerpoint file below to view:

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.

The best solutions are likely inside you already, but struggle to come out. Our unique engagement tools are the backbone of our strategy workshops. These tools will force you to think differently so you can freely generate many new ideas. At Beloved Brands, we bring our challenging voice to help you make decisions and refine every potential idea.

We help brands find growth

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 big 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. Finally, the big idea must influence employees to personally deliver an outstanding consumer experience, to help move consumers along the journey to loving 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. We work with your team to build out project plans, creative briefs and provide advice on marketing execution.

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

We make Brand Leaders smarter

We believe that investing in your marketing people will pay off. With smarter people behind your brands will drive higher revenue growth and profits. With our brand management training program, you will see smarter strategic thinking, more focused brand plans, brand positioning, better creative briefs that steer your agencies, improved decision-making on marketing execution, smarter analytical skills to assess your brand’s performance and a better management of the profitability of the brand.

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

Beloved Brands Graham Robertson

 

Non-Marketing people really need to stop defining what marketing people do.

I suppose that everyone who has a TV and can critique Super Bowl ads or those with a Twitter account thinks they can now say they are a marketer expert. Sadly, we have let far too many people use the word “MarketingMarketing”or “Brand” in their title. The commentary that I see coming from non marketers is borderline cringe-worthy or hilarious. I have to tell you that the comments are silly.

  • When I read, “Marketers need to think more about the consumer” I think you’ve never met a real marketer. The best marketers starting doing that around 1915. I guess somehow this is now popular among non-marketers.
  • When I hear,  “Marketers should analyze data”, again, I’m thinking what incompetent marketers have you been hanging around with. That’s been a major part of the job since 1950. Sure, big data. But I have been working any data from share report data to Ipsos tracking data to weekly Walmart sales tracking data.
  • When I read, “The CEO should be in charge of the brand”, I think “Well then the CEO should be in charge of the IT system”. Sure, in charge, but they should be smart enough to delegate to the experts who will make their brand stronger. From my experience, the best marketing led organizations have bottom up recommendations, empowering the brand manager to tell their directors what they want to do, who then support them in moving that up to the VP and President. The worst organizations are when the CEO walks down the hall and asks “Why are we not on Instagram? My 15-year-old daughter was just showing me how cool it is this weekend”. This is likely the reason why the average tenure of a CMO is under 24 months at this point. They are likely sports coaches, hired to be fired, by the impatience of getting results.
  • When I hear, “Marketing needs to be more than just advertising” once again, you just don’t understand the job….typically advertising is 10-15% of the job.The best marketers determine the strategy, figure out the brand promise, brand communication, product innovation, purchase moment and consumer experience…they touch all, decide all, but they let their experts run each of those touch points.

Marketers don’t just “do marketing”.

I am glad so many want to be in Marketing. But you really should have to earn your way into it. Go interview for a job, get rejected a few times, push to really get in there and then learn like ton for a few years. I spent 20 years in marketing. I could not believe how much I learned  in my first five years, then even more in the next five, then way more in the following five and absolute insane amount in those last five years. I’ve now been a consultant for over five years and I swear I know twice as much as I learned in the first 20.

Marketing is not just an activity. The best marketers have to think, define, plan, execute and analyze, using all parts of your brain, your energy and your creativity.

OK, my rant is over.

 

To learn more, here’s a presentation on how to create a beloved brand:

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

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

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

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

Graham Robertson Bio Brand Training Coach Consultant

The Ferrari brand sells more merchandise than it does cars

Ferrari is one of the most desired luxury car brands in the world. To Italians around the world, the Ferrari brand screams the passion they hold for the Italian culture. As other brands hope to claim their value by selling more, Ferrari makes their money by actually selling fewer cars. This is a great case study for marketers to build desire for your brand. With all the pent-up desire, Ferrari sells more merchandise than it does cars.

While most marketers ask “what consumers do we want to get” when thinking of a target market, I ask a slightly different question of “who wants us?” You should be looking for those who are already motivated and bringing them in first. Then use them to help fuel passion for your brand.  Once you have the most motivated consumers, you can tap into their desires and build a tight bond with these brand fans. That bond becomes a source of power for the brand to drive their profits from.

Ferrari is such a unique brand. Here are the three pillars of their success:

  1. Ferrari spends nothing on advertising, everything on the F1 race: They put all their money into the Scuderia Ferrari F1 racing team, knowing that a win in front 500 million viewers each week fuels that desire for the brand. While Ferrari was the dominant winning team from 2000-2007, most recently they have struggled on the track behind Mercedes. Scuderia is Italian for a stable reserved for racing horses, closely linked the prancing horse in the Ferrari logo. Ferrari supplies engines for 4 of the F1 race teams. No matter what part of the world, whether in Australia, Britain or Brazil, it is the screaming Ferrari fans with their faces painted red, who are the most passionate among the crowd. The passion of these fans will continue to fuel Ferrari on the race track to catch up with Mercedes. They have to. It is crucial to the brand’s success.
  2. Ferrari stands for Italian passion: The Ferrari brand big idea is “Italian Excellence that makes the world dream”  They clearly understand the brand’s role in tapping into the pride of Italians around the world. Most fans of Ferrari will never own a car. It will be a lifelong dream. Instead, these brand fans will buy the tee shirts, hats, sunglasses, key chains and anything that projects their association with the brand. The branded merchandise accounts for $2.5 billion in sales each year, slightly more than the revenue from selling cars.
  3. Ferrari limits production on cars:  Since back in the 1990s, Ferrari has found tremendous success in using the pent-up desire to fuel their success. While everyone should want a Ferrari, not everyone should have one.  This keeps the price high.By focusing on extraordinary vehicle design and exclusivity, Ferrari is able to sell luxury cars with high-profit margins. Increasing profitability with high margins has been a key driver of revenue growth for Ferrari. Ferrari reported EBITDA margins of 25%, which is quite high as compared to other luxury car manufacturers as well as the industry average.

The purpose behind the Ferrari brand is clear: “We build cars, symbols of Italian excellence the world over, and we do so to win on both road and track. Unique creations that fuel the Prancing Horse legend and generate a “World of Dreams and Emotions”. Very motivating to consumers in the marketplace, as well as internally, for everyone who works on the Ferrari brand.

Luca Cordero di Montezemolo, the former Chairman of Ferrari talked about the link between the history and traditions of the Ferrari brand with the future. “I want to maintain the link with the past, with the tradition and with the history but don’t want to be in the prison of the history. I want to be in the prison of the future.”

The two issues for Ferrari in the future:

  1. How will Ferrari improve their performance on the F1 track, to beat Mercedes, and keep the passion of their fans alive?
  2. With changing regulations on fuel emissions, around the world, how can the Ferrari brand advance on Hybrid technology so that it can maintain their standing as a modern car?

It looks like as we head into the F1 season of 2017, there will be pressure for the Ferrari brand to step up their performance on the track. All those fans with their faces painted red want victories.

For marketers, who are your most motivated consumers and how can you turn them into passionate brand fans?

 

To read more, here’s our workshop to building a beloved brand.

 

 

My new book, Beloved Brands, coming this spring.

How this Beloved Brands playbook can work for you. The purpose of this book is to make you a smarter brand leader so your brand can win in the market. 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 be able to analyze the performance of your brand through a deep-dive business review.

 

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.

The best solutions are likely inside you already, but struggle to come out. Our unique engagement tools are the backbone of our strategy workshops. These tools will force you to think differently so you can freely generate many new ideas. At Beloved Brands, we bring our challenging voice to help you make decisions and refine every potential idea.

We help brands find growth

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 big 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. Finally, the big idea must influence employees to personally deliver an outstanding consumer experience, to help move consumers along the journey to loving 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. We work with your team to build out project plans, creative briefs and provide advice on marketing execution.

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

We make Brand Leaders smarter

We believe that investing in your marketing people will pay off. With smarter people behind your brands will drive higher revenue growth and profits. With our brand management training program, you will see smarter strategic thinking, more focused brand plans, brand positioning, better creative briefs that steer your agencies, improved decision-making on marketing execution, smarter analytical skills to assess your brand’s performance and a better management of the profitability of the brand.

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

Graham Robertson bio

Should brands speak out in the year of the brand boycott?

#No.

That is my shortest article of all time.

I have intensely strong political opinions in my head, but I will not share them. They are likely as strong or even stronger than yours. But I will not post them on Facebook. I will never go against them at any point in my life. Ever. Yet, I keep mine in my head. And I completely respect yours, even if they are in direct opposition to mine. I refuse to take a political stand in public. They make voting booths private for a reason.

When it comes to politics, people cannot see straight. I have learned 1000 times in my life that you will never change their minds. I have learned about 15 times this year on Facebook. It is crazy. They cannot even hear you. That is ok. That is the reality of the market a brand must play within.

With such a divided electorate, it is too dangerous for brands to take sides.

As a person, I love that people have political convictions and applaud them for speaking out. I loved that millions marched. It was truly inspirational. Now, if you enjoy speaking out, go for it. Your choice. I know you think I am wrong. I have tried to hint to friends that they should tone down their inflammatory Facebook posts, but to no avail. They seem to need that therapeutic. It is perfectly OK for an individual, buried somewhere on your personal Twitter or Facebook feed with your 334 followers. Have fun.

Even if you are the CEO, you are still just an employee who works for the shareholders.

I love Howard Schultz. He is one of the most brilliant marketing minds of our today’s world. Maybe he will run for office one day. Maybe he will win. But as a brand, Starbucks should have been more careful this week. He should have produced a vague statement of defiance like P&G, Nike or Facebook, which look like a team of 30 lawyers read over every word. After reading it a few times, I am not even sure what the P&G’s statement says. Schultz may have over-estimated the Starbucks brand’s support, as they did behind the #racetogether campaign. As their loyal consumers rejected #racetogether, they did quickly back away. Now as a person, I don’t think people should boycott Starbucks for offering to hire refugees. But they did. Schultz is just employee #1 at Starbucks, reporting to the shareholders. Three days after speaking out, Starbucks just lost $5 Billion in market valuation. Wow. That’s a 7-8% loss in a robust stock market. I sure hope the waters calm down and they bounce back up. Then you could argue it was worth it. But what if the stock bounces down to a 20% loss?  What is the price it is worth it? 30%?  Still worth it? What’s the price to pay when you are gambling with the hard earned savings of those stockholders counting on that money for their retirement. Shareholders are not the 1%, but the 50%. Half of America participates in the stock market. They are counting on that money to be there.

Brands only exist to make more money than the product alone could ever do.

I believe brand’s only exist for companies to make more money than if they sold the product alone. Sure, you can have a brand purpose or brand soul that wants to make a difference. If having a conviction makes you more profits, I say, “Have more conviction”. However, if you just a coffee shop with nice seats, be more careful. Do not be so loud about it. Because more profits will allow you to quietly make more of a difference. Your role as a hired brand slinger is to deliver profits back to the shareholders. You can certainly hire refugees over the next 5 years. But watch out for inflaming the die-hard 25% of people who voted for Trump. Same goes for brands on the right hand side now facing boycotts. 

Also, if you have such a brand purpose, you should understand profits allow you to have even more of a purpose and for even longer. Benneton was an outspoken in shocking ways in the 1980’s. Very purpose driven, loud and in your face stance. They are no longer around. They no longer have a voice.

 

2017 is becoming the year of the boycott.

If you love the anti-Trump sentiment, you likely hated what Uber did with airports on the weekend, driving past the Taxi driver protest and on top of it, charging surge prices . If you are on the left, you likely also hated the Chick Fil A making statement against marriage equality about 3-4 years ago. Maybe you have not eaten there since. I believe that brand mistake will stick with them forever. You just sell chicken, you are not my moral compass. Arguably, this could stick with Starbucks forever. These brands are now forcing consumers to make personal brand choices based on politics. The left is boycotting brands on the right and the right is boycotting brands on the right. Anyone who meets Trump gets trashed with a new hash-tag. Anyone manufacturer, big or small, who gets called out by a Trump tweet, truly lives in fear. I saw a brand announce they were building a manufacturing site in the US, they were then praised by Trump and then boycotted by the left. Wait a second, you are boycotting because they are creating US jobs?  Wow.

The best numbers out there, is about 27% voted one side and 25% voted the other way. Still, 48% refused to vote. That means 27% and 25% of your employees vote one way or the other. If you motivated 27%, you de-motivated the 25%. And you likely annoyed the 48%. Are you now going to ask political questions in the job interviews?  That would be scary.

Trump’s approval rating is 45%. You can either read that as the lowest approval rating for the first week of a President, or you can read that as only 1% less than voted for him 8 weeks ago. This is a very crazed and divided marketplace. Someone today told me they really respect Starbucks for this stance. However, when I pressed them if it would make them drink more coffee, they said they already boycott Starbucks for something they did 2 years ago. So this is the crazy type of consumer a brand must deal with in 2017.

Be careful. Be quiet. Pick your spots.

I am sure there will be people who tell me they love what one of these brands are doing, but hate what the other brand is doing. You are only proving my point. You will not hear my political views. It does not mean they are not as strong as yours.  It just means I am careful.

If you like what Starbucks did, you better start drinking more coffee. Fast.

Today’s consumers are drawn to Big Ideas. You need a Big Idea to win.

The first connection point for consumers with a brand is that moment when they see a Big Idea they consider worth engaging in. The brand almost jumps off the shelf, draws attention to itself on a TV ad or makes consumers click on a digital ad. The brand has to generate interest very quickly.

A brand’s Big Idea must be interesting, simple, unique, inspiring, motivating and own-able. It must attract and move consumers.

When the Big Idea is interesting and simple, it helps the brand gain quick entry into the consumer’s mind, so they will want to engage and learn more about the brand. With the consumer being bombarded by 7,000 brand messages every day, the brand only has 7-seconds to connect or else consumers will move on. When the idea is unique and own-able, it stands out from the clutter, and the brand can see enough potential to build their entire business around the idea. When the idea is motivating to consumers, the brand gains an ability to move consumers to see, think, feel or act in positive ways that benefit the brand.

The idea should be big enough to last 5 to 10 years, flexible enough to show up the same no matter what media options the brand uses. The idea must provide a common link across the entire product line-up. The idea should inspire the team working behind the scenes to deliver amazing consumer experiences. Brand Leaders must work to create and build a reputation that matches up to the idea.

The brand has to show up the same way to everyone, no matter where it shows up. Even as the Brand Leader expands on the idea, whether telling the brand story over 60-seconds, 30-minutes or over the lifetime of the brand, the brand must tell the same story. When the idea works best, the most far-reaching sales rep, the scientist in the lab, the plant manager or the customer service people must all articulate the brand’s Big Idea in the same way, using the same chosen words. Every time a consumer engages with the brand, they must see, hear and feel the same Big Idea. Each positive interaction further tightens their bond with the brand.

There are 5 consumer touch-points that need to be aligned and managed, including the brand promise, brand story, product innovation, the path to the purchase moment and the overall consumer experience. I have created the Big Idea Map to help align all 5 consumer touch-points. As today’s consumers naturally doubt and test the brands to see if they deliver, every time the consumer interacts with the brand, they should experience the same Big Idea that attracted them to the brand on day 1. When all five consumer touch-points line up to deliver the same Big Idea, the bond with the consumer will continue to tighten.

  • The brand promise connects with consumers and separates the brand from competitors. The promise must position the brand as interesting and unique, utilizing brand positioning work that defines the target market, the balance of functional and emotional benefits, along with key support points.
  • The role of the brand story is to help the brand stand out from the pack and gain the consumer’s consideration for purchase. The Big Idea must push consumers to see, think, feel or act differently than before they saw the brand message.
  • Innovation must help the brand stay on top of the latest trends in technology, consumer need states, distribution and competitive activity. A brand cannot stand still. The Big Idea should act as an internal beacon to help inspire the product development to come up with new ways to captivate consumers.
  • The purchase moment transforms the awareness and consideration into purchase. The Big Idea ensures everyone along the path to purchase is delivering the same brand message, using retail and selling strategies to influence consumers through direct selling, retail channels or e-commerce.
  • Create consumer experiences that over-delivers the promise, driving repeat purchase and future consumer loyalty. Partnering with Human Resources, the Big Idea acts an internal beacon to the brand’s culture and organization, influencing the hiring, service values and motivation of the operations teams who deliver the experience.

To read more about conducting a Brand Positioning, here is our training workshop we use to help Brand Leaders get better in this area

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

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

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

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