Knowing where you are today helps you know your next strategic move

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One tool we use to help guide strategic choices is our hypothetical “Brand Love Curve” which is used to assess how tightly connected your brand is with your consumers. We believe that brands move along the curve through five phases, moving from Unknown to Indifferent to Like It to Love It and finally becoming a Beloved brand. The reason brands need to move along the Brand Love Curve is to leverage their increased connectivity with consumers, to become more powerful against all stakeholders in the market. With that added power, brands gain more profit through higher prices, efficient costs, share gains and a bigger market size.

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Where you sit on the Brand Love Curve should guide your next major strategic move. At the Unknown stage, the strategy is about getting noticed in the market. For a brand at the Indifferent stage, where consumers have no opinion of your brand, brands should focus on establishing your brand in the consumers mind. Build an opinion about your brand, by taking a stand. At the Like It stage, where consumers see the brand as a rational choice, there needs to be strategic work to separate your brand from the pack and generate a following with a core group of consumers. At the Love It stage, focus on tugging at the heart-strings of consumers to drive a deeper connection with those consumers who love the brand. At the Beloved stage, continue the magical feeling of the brand and get loyalists to scream to their network on the brand’s behalf.

The unknown brand
At the unknown brand stage, the brand might be a completely new innovation, re-launch, hidden gem, small niche looking to expand, or entering into a new region or channel. Many new brands struggle to break through to reach consumers or build distribution with doubting retailers. Leadership team conflicts result in confusion around the value proposition, inconsistent messaging to consumers and everyone in the organization moving in different directions. Like any new launch, there is a risk of being seen as a product, not yet a brand idea. Too many times, companies at this stage fixate more on selling than marketing. There is a desperation for sales, no matter who buys or why they buy. This stage is where the heavy investment is needed to establish both brand awareness and distribution. Being seen as a commodity product, with no real separation from competitors, makes it hard to command a price premium. It is hard to generate efficiencies in selling and marketing.

The 3-point game plan for unknown brands: 1) Create a Big Idea to build everything around, both internally and externally. 2) Stay focused to maximize your limited resources: focused target, tight positioning, tight strategies, and limited activities—always focused on driving a return. 3) Find ways to passionately express your brand purpose as a rallying point, both internally and externally.

The four brand strategies that unknown brands should focus on are:

  • Brand Set up: Establish distribution, brand experience, purchase moment.
  • Launch: Enter market, building awareness with consumers, sales levels with channels.
  • Build core message: Establish niche benefit and a big idea that will establish a reputation.
  • Find early lovers: Build a small base of early adopters, who become fans to build upon.

The Indifferent brand
For Indifferent brands, these brands are likely too product-focused, not yet able to find way to separate the brand from competitors. The brands act like commodities. They suffer from very skinny brand funnels, with low awareness at the top of the funnel, with soft purchase, repeat and loyalty scores. These brands suffer from poor tracking scores on any marketing support programs. Without a big idea or unique positioning, it is difficult to break through with advertising or innovation. To keep selling, these brands becomes reliant on price promotions to drive volume, resulting in a profit margin squeeze. Lower volumes prevent these brands from reaching the needed economies of scale to drive down variable cost of goods. These brands are unable to gain new users or drive frequency. They have no power with retailers, unable to get their fair share of shelf space, display or price promotions. These brands are at risk of being delisted, if they fall below volume thresholds. Private label brands threaten their sales levels. These brands have lower payback on Marketing activities, making the marketing investment (advertising, innovation, in-store) difficult to justify.

The 3-point game plan for Indifferent brands: 1) Create a Big Idea to establish the brand’s uniqueness and build a reputation to stand behind. 2) Focus the brand’s limited resources on establishing a point of difference in the consumer’s mind. 3) More passion and risk into your work.

The four brand strategies that unknown brands should focus on are:

  • Mind Shift: Drive a new brand position or re-enforce current positioning
  • Mind Share: Draw more attention than competitors by being better or different.
  • New News: Launch something new or re-launch to appear new.
  • Turnaround: Focus energy on gaps, leaks in the brand’s execution.

Like It brands
Brands at the Like It stage doing a pretty good job in establishing itself on a rational level. However, without an emotional connection, these brands suffer from a lower than desired conversion to purchase. These brand looks healthy in terms of driving awareness and tracking scores, however the brand keeps losing to competitors as the consumer moves to the purchase stage. These brands usually require a higher trade spend to close that sale. This cuts into profit margins. An important tracking score to watch is “the brand seem different” helping to separate the brand from the pack. Without any emotional connection these brand get to a certain level and then face stagnant market shares. They make gains during Marketing support periods but face declines during the non-support periods. These brands appear content to hold onto their share and grow at the same rate as the category. In categories with high private label shares, if you focus too much on product ingredients and rational features, the consumer will start to figure out they can get the same thing with the private label at a significantly lower price.

Here is a 3-point game plan for Like It brands: 1) Leverage the brand’s big idea to connect emotionally. 2) Focus your resources on building a bigger following by converting awareness to purchases. 3) Build a culture of passion, where everyone loves the work they produce.

The four brand strategies that Like It stage brands should focus on are:

  • Drive Penetration: Bring in new consumers.
  • Drive Usage: Get consumers to use more/differently by building the brand into a routine.
  • Consolidation: Induce consumers to use the brand for more usage occasions.
  • Cross Sell: Persuade current consumer base to try other products within the brand.

Love It brands
Brands at the Love It stage start to see a higher emotional connection and a resulting power in the marketplace. Indicators include a strong conversion from purchase to loyalty. These brands are able to drive strong repeat and loyalty scores, as the brand becomes a routine or ritual. The brand is now seen as different and motivating. These brands see a strong overall brand funnel with an expanding user base and a strengthening usage frequency as the brand becomes part of the consumer’s routine. Highly responsive Marketing programs and tracking results means the brand can shift to more efficient spending with lower GRPs. The brand sees high adoption of new innovation, which allows the brand to continue to stretch the consumer towards the ideal brand positioning. High net promoter scores leads to high word of mouth recommendations, social media recommendations or positive on-line brand reviews (e.g.Yelp or Trip Advisor). These brands should be able to leverage their power with retailers and influencers. Even in a competitive market, a brand at the Love It stage should be able to gain share and widening their leadership stance.

The 3-point game plan for Love It brands: 1) Tug at the heart of those consumers who love the brand, helping build a community of Brand fans. 2) Shift to creating a brand experience that turns purchases into routines. 3) Turn the love for your work into a bit of magic for the consumer.

The four brand strategies that Love It stage brands should focus on are:

  • Experience: Shift from a product focus towards creating brand experiences.
  • Maintain: Re-enforce the brand strengths with your core base of brand fans.
  • Deeper love: Match the passion of your consumers, treating them extra special.
  • New Reasons to Love: Re-enforce messages to your most loyal users.

Beloved Brands
Brands at the beloved stage are the iconic leaders in their category. These brands have an extremely healthy and robust brand funnel with likely a near perfect brand awareness (over 95%), high conversion to purchase, with strong repeat and loyalty scores. These brands have good penetration and purchase frequency scores. Tracking results show immediate reaction to new marketing programs—high brand link on advertising and high trial rates on innovation. They usually have a dominant share position, at least in a specific segment. They have the power to take a dominant stance in the marketplace, squeezing out smaller brands and reducing the influence of key competitors. These brands have strong net promoter scores and have cultivated a community of outspoken brand fans. Even competitive-users respect these brands, expressing a potential desire to switch in the future. These brands use their power with retailers, who provide preferential shelf space and use the beloved brand to drive traffic to their stores. Suppliers are willing to cut their costs in order to sign up the beloved brand as a customer. Even governments might offer special benefits. The beloved brand becomes an employer of choice for new talent who want to be part of the brand. The brand even has a power over the earned and influential media gaining efficient and impactful media and positive reviews. The brand becomes an asset, with high profitability. It becomes a good stock to invest in.

The 3-point game plan for beloved brands: 1) Focus on maintaining the magic and love the brand has created with the core brand fans. 2) Challenge and perfect the experience. 3) Broaden the offering and selectively broaden the audience.

The four brand strategies that Love It stage brands should focus on are:

  • Magic: Continue to surprise and delight loyalists.
  • Leverage Power: Drive financial value from the brand’s sources of power.
  • Attack yourself: Continue to assess and improve every aspect of the brand.
  • Use loyalists: Leverage brand fans to influence their network.

Knowing where you are sets up your strategic choices

While you will come up with your own uniquely written strategies, where you stand on the Brand Love Curve can help guide you as to the strategic choices you can make.

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One strategic flaw I see in many brand plans is trying to drive penetration and usage frequency at the same time. This is a classic case of trying to get away with doing two things, instead of forcing yourself to pick just one. Consider how different these two options really are and you will see the drain on your resources from trying to do both. A penetration strategy gets someone with very little experience with your brand to likely consider dropping their current brand to try you once and see if they will like your brand. A usage frequency strategy tries to get someone who knows your brand already, to change their behavior in relationship to your brand, either changing their current life routine or substituting your brand into a higher share of occasions. By doing both, you will be targeting two types of consumers at the same time, you will have two main brand messages and you will divide your resources against two groups of activities that have very little synergy. If you decide that you are going to pick both to do at the same time, you have to stop telling people you are a strategic thinker. It is crazy to try to do both. Yes, in terms of digital media, you can find ways to target both. However, you are still dividing your budget out. Also, any strategy usually goes far beyond media. You should be thinking holistically about the brand story, product innovation, purchase moment and brand experience.

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Knowing where you are today helps you know your next strategic move

To read more about brand strategy, here’s our workshop presentation that we run:

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.

Beloved Brands Training program

At Beloved Brands, we promise to make your team of BRAND LEADERS smarter, so they produce smarter work that drives stronger brand results.

  • How to think strategically: Strategic thinkers see “what if” questions before seeing solutions, mapping out a range of decision trees that intersect and connect by imagining how events will play out.
  • Write smarter Brand Plans: A good Brand Plan provides a road map for everyone in the organization to follow: sales, R&D, agencies, senior leaders, even the Brand Leader who writes the plan.
  • Create winning Brand Positioning Statements: The brand positioning statement sets up the brand’s promise to the consumer, impacting both external communication (advertising, PR or in-store) as well as internally with employees who deliver that promise.
  • Write smarter Creative Briefs: The brief helps focus the strategy so that all agencies can take key elements of the brand plan positioning to and express the brand promise through communication.
  • Be smarter at Brand Analytics: Before you dive into strategy, you have to dive into the brand’s performance metrics and look at every part of the business—category, consumers, competitors, channels and brand.
  • Get better Marketing Execution: Brand Leaders rely on agencies to execute. They need to know how to judge the work effectively to ensure they are making the best decisions on how to tell the story of the brand and express the brand’s promise.
  • How to build Media Plans: Workshop for brand leaders to help them make strategic decisions on media. We look at media as an investment, media as a strategy and the various media options—both traditional and on-line.
  • Winning the Purchase Moment: Brand Leaders need to know how to move consumers on the path to purchase, by gaining entry into their consumers mind, help them test and decide and then experience so they buy again and become a brand fan.

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

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Microsoft just bought LinkedIn. This is a huge move into the world of social media.

Posted on 2 CommentsPosted in Beloved Brands Explained

Microsoft has announced a $26 Billion acquisition of Linked In. This is Microsoft’s first entry into the social media world. (or second if you count MSN). My first reaction was “WOW. Just wow.”  I was expecting something, but didn’t see it coming now, and with Microsoft. But good for them. And this is the first move, not the last move.

linked in.002I normally hate mergers and acquisitions, but this one is pretty interesting. Microsoft is making an obvious play at the business world. While the Nokia experiment failed, I wouldn’t be surprised if they keep pushing into the portable device space. The surface has done fairly well (I’m 100% Apple guy, but I see them around). And now  Microsoft will now be able to package Surface + Office + LinkedIn + Slideshare + Skype.

In an email to staff, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella touted the pairing as a way to improve both companies by integrating LinkedIn’s content and network with Microsoft’s cloud computing and productivity tools. “This combination will make it possible for new experiences such as a LinkedIn newsfeed that serves up articles based on the project you are working on and Office suggesting an expert to connect with via LinkedIn to help with a task you’re trying to complete. As these experiences get more intelligent and delightful, the LinkedIn and Office 365 engagement will grow,”Nadella wrote.

Honestly, I have no idea where the current world of social media settles in, and who owns what. But the world of convergence will happen over the next 5-10 years. From a social media point of view, most of these sites are just about expresses ourselves, just in slightly different ways. If I look at my news feeds on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter or Instagram, they are starting to look similar, some days almost too similar. Not all of them will survive or need to survive. There are already apps that allow one to post on each site. Why not take it a step further and just have one site, with 3 or 4 window. Facebook could easily have a personal window, business window, entertainment window or politics window. I don’t see a need for Twitter, do you?

I could easily see Apple and Facebook getting together.

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By the way, shares of LinkedIn surged 48% after the announcement, while Microsoft’s stock was down 4%. Trading in Microsoft had been halted briefly for news pending before the announcement of the all-cash deal. So maybe the market’s first reaction isn’t so strong. I think this is a great fit for Microsoft and the market will settle in.

Your move next Apple.

 

At Beloved Brands, we lead workshops to help teams build their Strategic Thinking, helping Brand Leaders to think differently in terms of competitive strategy, consumer strategy, getting behind your core strengths and being aware of the situational strategy. Click on the Powerpoint file below to view:

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

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

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

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

GR bio Jun 2016.001

 

 

Who is your consumer’s enemies that you will fight on their behalf?

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Beloved Brands Explained

While regular products solve regular problems, the most beloved brands beat down the enemies that torment consumers every day. Positioning-2016.027What are your consumer’s frustration point that they feel no one is even noticing or addressing? For instance, the Disney brand fights off the consumer enemy of “growing up”, while Volvo fights off the consumer enemy of “other drivers” or Starbucks fights off the consumer enemy of a “hectic life”. Shifting from solving a rational consumer problem to beating down a consumer enemy is the starting point to reaching into the emotional state of your consumer.

Starbucks fights off the enemy of the hectic life

Put yourself in the shoes of your Starbucks consumer, who is a 38-year-old mom with two kids. She wakes up at 6:15 am, not only to get ready for work, but to get everyone in the house ready for their day. She drops off one kid at daycare, the other at public school and then rushes into the office for 8:30 am. She drives a van, not because she wants to but because it is a great transportation choice for carrying all the equipment needed for after-school activities, including soccer, dance, tutoring and ice hockey. It never stops. No one is really old enough to thank her, the only appreciations are random moments of celebration or a hug at the end of a long day. Just after getting both to bed, she slinks into her bed exhausted. What is her enemy? a03e0da8-fac7-11e3-acc6-12313b090d61-medium-1Her enemy is the hectic life that she leads. If only she had a 15-minute moment to escape from it all. She doesn’t want to run from it, because she does love her life. She just needs a nice little break. A place where there is no play land, but rather nice leather seats. There are no loud screams, just nice acoustic music. There are no happy meals, just nice pastries have a European touch. Not only does she feel appreciated, but the cool 21-year-old college student not only knows her name but knows her favorite drink. Starbucks does an amazing job in understanding and fighting off the consumer’s enemy, giving her a nice 15-minute moment of escape in the middle of her day.

Yes, the Starbucks product is coffee, but the Starbucks brand is about moments. Starbucks provides a personal moment of escape from a hectic life, between work and home. They fight off the consumer enemy of the hectic life.

Apple fights off the enemy of frustration

Unless you work in IT, you likely find computers extremely frustrating. We have all sat at our computer wanting to pull our hair out. computer-frustrationExamples of computer frustration includes spending 38 minutes to figure out how print, getting error message 6303 that says “close all files open and reboot” or if you have ever bought a new computer and you need to load up 13 disks and 3 manuals to read before you can even email your friend to tell them how amazing your computer is. Apple has recognized the frustration that consumers go through and capitalized on the enemy of frustration with PCs with the famous TV campaign of “Hi I’m a Mac,….and I’m a PC”, helping to demonstrate the many issues around computer set up, viruses and trying to make the most of your computer.  As soon as you open the box you can use the new computer, Macs are intuitive, aligned to how consumers think, not how IT people think. You can even take classes to learn.

Yes, the Apple product is about computers tablets and phones, but the Apple brand makes technology so simple that everyone can be part of the future. They fight off the consumer enemy of frustration with technology.

If you want to show that you better understand your consumers, how would you project the enemy that you are fighting on their behalf.

 

Understanding the consumer is the first step in writing a winning brand positioning statement. To read more on brand positioning, here’s our workshop we run for brand teams:

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 416-885-3911You can also find us on Twitter @belovedbrands. 

GR bio Jun 2016.001

A casual and cool Prime Minister Justin Trudeau sells a new type of Canada

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Beloved Brands Explained

CgpID6RUgAE5OKIAs a Canadian, I am used to Canada being very low-key on the world stage. However, all that seems to be changing with the election of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. For me, it started the morning after we elected Trudeau back in the fall of 2015, when one of my friends texted me “I hear you have a hot new Prime Minister”.

Trudeau is young (44), good-looking with modern liberal views, outspoken on his support for women, native Canadians and newly minted Syrian refugees. Imagine a politician in these times not only pushing for Syrian refugees, but he showed up at the airport to welcome them to Canada. Trudeau’s trip to Washington made the news, with a similar impact as how Prince William or Harry might generate. He had a tremendous impact on President Obama who referred to him as the most popular Canadian ever. Trudeau is making most of the top 100 most influential lists.

Here’s the type of Prime Minister we have here in Canada, as he welcomes Syrian refugees at the airport.

 

 

 

And now Trudeau is literally selling Canada.

Tourism Canada has caught on to Trudeau being one of their bigger assets to re-positioning Canada as modern, hip, cosmopolitan and accepting, hoping to attract tourists from around the world. Especially those Americans feeling disenfranchised by the current political climate in the US Presidential race. Recently, the Canadian visa website has been flooded with download requests.CO-Truedeau04.JPG

Research shows that tourism is up 8.5% for Canada, and about 1 in 10 Americans have considered a vacation to Canada, although they have expressed concerns about potential cold weather and the perceived lack of urban sophistication. Both of these are misguided stereotypes. Just so everyone knows, Vancouver weather is identical to Seattle (both rarely ever get snow) and Toronto is just like Chicago or Boston (a mix of snow in winter and heat in the summer). As for urban sophistication, Canada has a very urban population (80% of Canadians live in urban areas), and Toronto is the 4th largest metropolitan area in North America. Those who visit talk about how clean Canada is, how safe they feel and how friendly the people are. Many of the Canadian cities are consistently rated as some of the best cities in the world. We have some of the greatest natural beauties in the world, with the Rockies of the West or Newfoundland of the East.

Below is a new Canadian tourism video, prominently featuring Trudeau, that was just released by Destination Canada. He nails some all the key talking points, showing our culinary sophistication, talking about the diversity of Canadians and just showing a very casual coolness that feels different than a politician would normally project themselves. He even talks about a consumer insight that I’ve always been fond of: “Canada has such a beautiful diversity, that it is one the only places where you can’t tell who is local and who is a tourist”. Have a look, and see if this guy is more casual and at ease with people than Obama or Bill Clinton or Tony Blair.

 

 

Now whether this type of low-key casual spot is enough to drive tourism sales in Canada, we likely can expect Trudeau’s next 5 years as Prime Minister will continue to drive intrigue and knowledge of the new emerging Canada. Below is a YouTube clip of Trudeau (a former teacher) explaining Quantum computing–and my guess is that most views are not to learn more about computers.

 

 

 

Would you consider traveling to Canada?

 

To read more about brand positioning, here’s a workshop we run:

 

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. 

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Can Uber survive their own disasters?

Posted on 5 CommentsPosted in Beloved Brands Explained

IMG_0713.0.0We’d all likely agree that Uber thrust itself into the marketplace with one of the most recent disruptive technologies. It was such a brilliant idea, where you can order a car, track exactly where it is and when it will pick you up and then pay for it via your smart phone. But will they even survive?  This week, Apple announced that they had purchased Didi for $1 Billion, Uber’s biggest rival in China. While I’m a huge Apple fan, they never really invent stuff, they look to enter categories with easy entry and where consumers are being under-served. Maybe this is just a sign that Apple has too much cash or they want to replace lost sales in China.

While Uber might have launched a great App, they sure are bad at managing their brand. Here are mistakes they have made the past year.

Brands have four choices: better, different, cheaper or not around for long

When Uber first came out, I thought “wow, that’s so much better than a Taxi cab”.  Yet the fixation on price has treated ride-sharing like a commodity. In Uber’s mind, they want to use the efficiency of the App to drive out the weak. Just like Twitter, they are yet to figure out the way to become profitable. However, what is their long-term vision for becoming a profitable brand?

Here’s a quote from an Uber spokesperson: “Shock, horror, Uber makes a loss. This is hardly news and old news at that. It’s the case of business 101: you raise money, you invest money, you grow (hopefully), you make a profit and that generates a return for investors.”  That’s more like Business Arrogance 101, sounding like Twitter, who after 10 years has yet to convince us that it will be around for 15 or 20 years.

The risk here for Uber is you treat yourself like a commodity, yes, you will drive every other competitor out of the market. But after you do, you will be a commodity.

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Uber has yet to define their brand, and exactly what their core strength will be

There are four options for what CORE STRENGTH your brand can win on: product, promise, experience or price. Many brand leaders have their marketing strategy wrong, when it comes to aligning everything behind the right strength. 

  • Product: your main strategy should focus on being better. You have to invest in Innovation to stays ahead of competitors, remaining the superior choice in the category.
  • Promise: your strategy should focus on being different. To tell that story, you need to invest in emotional brand communication. You want to connect consumers on a deep emotional level with the concept.
  • Experience: your strategy and organization should focus on linking culture very closely to your brand. After all, your people are your product. As you go to market, invest in influencer and social media that can help support and spread the word of your experience.
  • Price: focus on efficiency and drive low-cost into the products you sell and high turns and high volume. You have to be better at the fundamentals around production and sourcing.
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I keep trying to figure out where Uber should play. At first, I thought what an amazing EXPERIENCE. I love ordering, love watching the little car on my phone and love getting out of the car. Just like Netflix, the Uber brand could have been all about the brand experience. However, while Netflix has created their own content (House of Cards) while Uber has had a hard time recruiting higher quality drivers, hurting the experience. In the last month, I’ve had two Uber drivers get lost and one car in disastrous smelly condition, really questioning the whole brand experience.  The Airbnb brand would be a role model of a brand that has taken the experience to new levels. But, that leaves me to say Uber is a price brand, similar to how we’d peg Expedia. I can use a car-sharing app to get Uber, Lyft, Juno, or a taxi. I don’t see any significant difference between any of the services, each of which arrives quickly, charges similar fares, and offers clean cars and knowledgeable drivers. Sounds like Uber is fast becoming a commodity, focused on price. Maybe they will end up being the Expedia, who competes as a price-commodity with about 15 other hotel/travel brands.

Don’t go to war with City Hall

Of course, all these disruptive technologies are going to upset someone. Netflix had to work directly with governments around the world to gain entry. Netflix stayed patient and tried to work behind the scenes market by market. Still a work in progress. Uber took on the completely different tact, continuing to directly challenge City Hall. In Toronto recently, Uber took out a very aggressive Petition Campaign, pitting voters against City Hall. In the end, the Toronto City counsel voted to keep Uber, but with 3 major stipulations: 1) Uber had to charge the same price as Taxis. 2) Uber had to pay a licensing fee 3) Uber had to do a better job in regulating their drivers. After those 3 stipulations, that leaves Uber without any competitive advantage.  The taxis have apps, and now with everything equal, the Taxi companies have a long list of experienced drivers, a local brand name and service values. Uber might have won the approval of City Hall, but they just lost big time.

While Toronto is just one city, Uber is going head to head with City Hall around the world. Even the wins are turning out to be losses. While all my Facebook friends were happy with the win for Uber, I was sitting there with my mouth open thinking “what a destruction of the Uber brand”.

Uber has not created Service Values

Uber’s President recently re-designed his own logo. The old logo seemed good enough. What he should have been doing is working hard to create an Uber culture, backed by service values that the company could have built a superior brand experience. With Experience Brands, your strategy and organization should focus on linking culture very closely to your brand. After all, your people are your product. As you go to market, invest in influencer and social media that can help support and spread the word  of your experience. Wells Fargo bank offers comfortable banking, Ritz-Carlton uses impeccable customer service to really separate itself, Emirates Airlines who take service to new heights (and prices accordingly) and Starbucks creates an escape with indie-music, cool servers, leather chairs and a touch of Europe. Each of these brands operate in high commodity type businesses, yet they each use precision based service guided by tight service values that line up to a brand purpose.

Uber is forgetting that a brand is a reputation

Every week, there seems to be a bad story about Uber. When that Uber driver went on a shooting rampage last month, I must have heard “Uber driver” 50x a day. Uber, Uber, Uber. Every time I hear Uber executives quoted, they seem mad at the entire Universe.

When a woman tweeted Uber, claiming that she had been choked by her driver. According to an email leaked to Gawker, Kalanick immediately emailed his PR team, blaming the media for suggesting that Uber is “somehow liable for these incidents that aren’t even real in the first place,” and then instructing them to “make sure these writers don’t come away thinking we are responsible even when these things do go bad.”

You are supposed to manage these stories, not get just get angry at them.

The race to convergence of the Automobile market

It’s still hard to imagine what driving will be like in the year 2030. I have no clue, so it’s safe to say my only input will be to say “Wow, this is really cool”.  When markets converge, there are many sub-categories working really hard in the hopes that they will be the ultimate winner. Here are the various sub-categories that are converging:

  • Electric Automobiles. (Tesla)
  • Self-Driving Automobile Software. (Apple or Google or Microsoft)
  • Self-Driving Automobiles. (Mercedes, BMW, Audi, Toyota, Honda)
  • Efficient production of mass produced automobiles. (Toyota, Honda)
  • Design and Styling of the inside of automobiles. (Mercedes, BMW)
  • Ride sharing Apps. (Who cares)

 

I have put in brackets who might win. This convergence could set up partnerships you could imagine, such as Apple and Tesla or Google and Toyota. A year ago, I would have thought that the ride-sharing Apps would be at the centre of the power structure of the market. BTW, the real winner of this convergence might be 15 years old and designing cool things in his garage. Unless Uber can stop treating this like a commodity, they will just end up the next Expedia where no one really cares what App you use.

Uber has no competitive advantage. They have a hyper focus on price, not the experience potential. They lack any service values that will establish a brand culture. And they have an arrogant attitude that will make many cheer on their demise. Maybe Apple really does know something. Or maybe they just had a spare billion sitting around doing nothing.

Uber is one more cool App, with bad management of the execution. I’m predicting Uber becomes the next Pet Rock that we will soon forget.

 

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. 

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Forget the 4 P’s. Focus on the 5 touch-points of consumer connectivity

Posted on 2 CommentsPosted in Beloved Brands Explained

 

The 4 P’s

Most of us started learning about marketing by looking at the 4 P’s:  Product, Price, Promotion and Place. While I’ve seen people adding P’s, a fifth one and even have seen up to eight P’s. I guess it’s a fairly easy way to teach marketing. It’s an OK way to learn, but it seems to treat marketing like an activity and not really a strategy. The 4 Ps are obsessed with what you do, and start you on the path of always thinking about YOU YOU YOU!  The 4 P’s almost ignore the consumer.   Over my 20 years, I learned that the only source of revenue was the consumer, not the product. Sure, we sell the product. Or, better yet, someone buys our brand. It’s just about mindset of how you wish to run your brand. I believe that everything had to start and end with the consumer in mind. We will show you below how we start with the consumer and map out the 5 touch-points of consumer connectivity–the promise, brand story, innovation, purchase moment and brand experience.

 

The natural evolution of brands

It’s true that most brands do start off as a product or service that helps to address some type of problem the consumer has in their lives. Early on it’s about a selling activity where you push your brand onto the target market and hope they buy. As the brand evolves, you start to establish an identity for the brand that gets well-known, you start narrowing what you’re naturally best at down to a promise and begin executing and building your experience around the promise. As you keep evolving, the Brand starts to shift towards becoming an Idea that helps solve the consumer’s emotional problems.

    • Apple is not just a computer or cell phone. It’s based on an idea of “simplicity that deals with the frustration over technology”.
    • Dove is not just a soap or hand cream, but all about the idea of “real beauty that allows women to feel comfortable with who they are”.
    • Starbucks is not just a coffee and pastries, but an “escape from a hectic day”

While a lot of the Beloved Brands have taken 20 years or even 90 years to earn their status, you can advance your brand faster by starting off as an idea. It becomes less about product and more about the big idea from day 1. It becomes less about hopeful tactics and more about insightful strategy.  You’ll be able to build around the idea rather than getting stuck in the constraints of what your product does. An idea helps you connect with consumers and that connection gives your brand added power, and the power can be used to drive higher growth and profits.

A Beloved Brand is based on an idea that’s worth loving.

 

The 5 touch-points of consumer connectivity

The biggest problem I have with the 4 P’s is that it builds the brand from your the vantage point of the company, not the vantage of the consumer who actually matters the most. I would rather start with the consumer and then build your brand, based on a promise that motivates consumers, a brand story that engages consumers, an innovation plan that keeps the consumer connected, mapping out what the consumer goes through to the purchase moment and building a consumer experience that helps the brand connect with their consumers.

When we think of the most beloved brands–Starbucks, Apple, Ferrari, Disney, Nike or Mercedes–it’s really hard to figure out the ONE part of the brand that really makes it great. For example on Apple, I have heard: “Apple has the best products” or “they have the best ads” or “it’s actually the experience”. At Beloved Brands, we believe you need 5 magic moments that a brand must deliver at an extremely high degree in order to become a beloved brand:

  1. Brand Promise
  2. Brand Story
  3. Innovation
  4. Purchase Moment
  5. Experience
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  1. Brand Promise: Create a simple brand promise that separates your brand from competitors, based on being better, different or cheaper. Try to use a brand positioning exercise to figure out your brand’s value proposition–we use a brand ladder where we map out the target definition, product features, rational benefits and emotional benefits.
  2. Brand Story: At Beloved Brands, we see Advertising as a tool for telling your brand story in a way that creates a bond with consumers, to establish your brand’s positioning and to drive change in your consumers behavior that leads to higher sales, share and profit. You should use your brand story to motivate consumers to think, feel or act, while beginning to own a reputation in the mind and hearts of consumers.
  3. Innovation: Fundamentally sound product, staying at the forefront of trends and using technology to deliver on your brand promise. The trick with innovation is keeping the serendipity of an R&D team aligned, while pushing for a balance of blue ocean against straying within the perimeters of the brand strategy. New products have to meet consumer needs and many times creating a consumer need they didn’t even know they had.
  4. Purchase Moment: As consumers get near the purchase, there becomes this “moment of truth” when they have to make the final decision to buy. How we manage that, is we use a buying system to map out how consumers move through the purchase cycle and use channels, messaging, processes to make the final decision.
  5. Experience: Turn the usage of your product into an experience that becomes a ritual and favorite part of their day. One of the best brand experiences is Starbucks, providing consumers with more than just coffee, but rather an escape from daily grind a hectic life. At Starbucks, you find that little moment between home life and work life, a cool atmosphere indie music and leather chairs, a barista that knows your name and your drink, you can order in Italian and one of the best things they manage to indirectly achieve–no screaming little kids.

The brand becomes more powerful when everything is aligned under a “big idea” for your brand. In today’s crowded media world, consumers now see 6,000 brand messages every day. They have to quickly sort through those messages, rejecting most and only engaging in a few each day. It’s those brands who can communicate in a headline style idea will grab the consumers attention.

Once you establish that big idea, you can align each of the 5 magic moments underneath that big idea.

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Using the Big Idea map above, we can see the promise comes from the brand positioning, the brand story is told through advertising, the innovation is driven by R&D, the purchase moment is a combination of your sales team and your distribution strategy while the experience comes directly from how you manage the operations and culture of your organization. As you can start to see, everyone and every activity should be driven by the Big Idea. To show you how to use the Big Idea map, here’s the example using the Apple brand, showing how they align behind everything linked to the big idea of “simplicity”.

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The most beloved brands are strong on all of the 5 touch-points of consumer connectivity

Here’s a presentation on what makes 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. 

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10 ways to build an exceptional Customer Experience, just by saying “stop it” to these brand killers

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There is only one source of revenue: Your Customers!!!

The most Beloved Brands create a brand experience that lives up to even over-delivers against the brand’s promise. I always like to remind myself that the customer is the most selfish animal on the planet, and deservedly so, because they have given you their hard-earned money. Brand Leaders are always fixated on driving demand to increase share and sales. Yet they usually only reach for marketing tactics like advertising, special promotion or new products. Many tend to forget about creating exceptional customer experiences. It takes years to get customers to change their behavior and move away from their favorite brand and try yours. Yet it takes seconds of bad service for you to lose a customer for life.

Do you treat those who love your brand better than you treat other customers?  You should. You can never lose their love, and then you have to find ways to use that love to get them to influence others in their network.

As we map out how consumers buy and experience brands, we have created 5 main consumer touch-points that will impact their decisions on whether to engage, buy, experience and become a fan. Our five consumer touch-points we use are:

  1. Brand Promise: Brands need to create a simple brand promise that separates your brand from competitors, based on being better, different or cheaper.
  2. Brand Story: Use your brand story to motivate consumers to think, feel or act, while beginning to own a reputation in the mind and hearts of consumers.
  3. Innovation: Fundamentally sound product, staying at the forefront of trends and using technology to deliver on your brand promise.
  4. Purchase Moment: The moment of truth as consumers move through the purchase cycle and use channels, messaging, processes to make the final decision.
  5. Brand Experience: Turn the usage of your product into an experience that becomes a ritual and favorite part of their day.
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Here are the 10 customer experience things that you should STOP DOING:

#1: Stop it with the attitude of “I’m in shirts not ties”.

It can be extremely frustrating walking up to an employee of a store who has no clue about anything but their own little world. And even worse when they just point and say “go over there”. The better service is those who take the extra step by jumping in and helping and those know what’s going on in every part of the brand–not just their own world.Stop Try asking someone at Whole Foods where something is and they will walk you right over to the product you’re asking about and ask if you need anything else.

#2: Stop it when you make the customer do the work.

The airlines have been shifting all their work over to customers for years–boarding pass, bag tag and now even lifting your suitcase up onto the conveyor belt. While it might help you control your costs in the short-term, you’ll never be a Beloved Brand and you’ll never be able to charge a premium price for your services. Instead, in a highly price competitive marketplace, you just end up passing those cost savings onto to the customer in lower prices. No wonder most airlines are going bankrupt.

#3: Stop it when you feel compelled to bring up the fine print when dealing with a customer problem.

A year ago, I had a problem with a laptop I bought, but I felt extra confident because I had paid extra money to get the TOTAL service plan. Yet with my first problem with the laptop, I was told the TOTAL service plan did not include hardware,software, water damage or physical damage. 1e1d5d079e23366d1149ea834ce8102f62d562519d45930ae0c0fb1b485ffff7Are you kidding me? With a computer, what else is there? As a consumer, I had gone through the brand funnel–from consideration to purchase–and made a choice to buy your brand. Yet, at the first sign of my frustration with your brand you are deciding to say to me “don’t come back.” I had a problem with my iPhone and returned it to the Apple store. They went into the back room and got a new iPhone for me and said “would you like us to transfer all your songs over?” I was stunned. Apple took a problem and turned me into a happy customer who wanted to spend even more money with them.

#4: Stop it when you send a phone call to an answering machine.

We’ve all experienced this and secretly many of us have done this. Now if you know you’re going to get a machine ask the customer: “is it OK if you get their machine”. But willingly sending a caller into a machine is just plain lazy and it says you just don’t care. Treat them with the respect that a paying customer has earned with you and make sure there is a human on the other line.

#5: Stop it with processes that make it look like you’ve never been a customer before.

While brand leaders tend to think they own the strategy and advertising, it is equally important that you also own the customer experience. While the positive view of the purchase process is driven by a brand funnel, you should also use a “Leaky Bucket” analysis to understand where and why you are losing customers. It is hard work to get a customer into your brand funnel, it is great discipline to move them through that brand funnel by ensuring that every stage is set up to make it easy for the customer to keep giving you money. Step into the shoes of your customers and experience the brand through their eyes on a regular basis so you can effectively manage the experience. You should always be shopping your own category, just to see how it is to buy your brand. When you find leaks to the brand funnel, find ways to close them so you can hang on to the customers you’ve worked so hard to get into the doors.

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#6: Stop it with trying to win every customer interaction.

This past Christmas I was lucky enough to be 34th in the return line at Best Buy. For some reason they put the most angry person they could find to manage the returns line. I suppose it lowers their return budget, but it also drives away customers. With every customer, this guy was hell-bent on trying to break the customer’s spirit so they’d avoid returning the product. As I watched, I felt like I was headed into a police interrogation. On the other hand, if you want to see a comfortable returns policy, try returning something at Costco. They take the stance that they are on the side of their “members” and help you go up against the big bad manufacturers. If you don’t have your receipt, they’ll print it out for you. At Costco, the returns process is where they earn that $50-100 membership price. Just maybe you should start treating your customers like members and see if it forces you to see things differently.

#7: Stop it when you are explaining your problems instead of listening to the customer’s problems.

When a place is completely messed up, some workers feel compelled to tell you how stupid they think this is. Unfortunately, this constantly complaining ‘why me’ attitude can quickly become systemic and contagious within the culture. It takes an effort to turn the culture around. The best way is to create service values, driving process that helps reward good service, and driving personal accountability within everyone. Then reward behavior that matches up to the service values.

#8: Stop it with the hollow apologies that seems like you are reading from a manual.

No one wants to deal with people who just feel like they are going through the motions. It’s crucial that you set up a culture that is filled with authentic people who have a true passion for customers. TD Bank retail staff does an exceptional job in being real with customers. When you consider that they hire from the same pool of talent as all the other banks, it’s obviously the culture of caring about their customers that really makes the difference in separating their customer experience from others.

#9: Stop it when you try using my complaint call as a chance to up-sell me. The only up-sell is to get me to come back again.

Last month, I had an issue with my internet being way too slow. When I called my local service provider, instead of addressing how bad their current service was, the first response was to try selling me a better service plan that with a higher monthly fee and a higher priced modem. Then suddenly, they tried to sell me a home security system. If a customer is a point of frustration, why would they want to pay you even more money for a bad service. You haven’t earned my business. The best in class service is the Ritz Carlton who proactively look to turn customer problems into a chance to WOW the customer. It’s built right into the culture as employees are encouraged to brainstorm solutions and empowered with up to $2,000. Instead of up-selling, the Ritz spends the extra effort to ensure you’re satisfied with the service you’ve already paid for.

#10: Stop it when it just becomes a job for you and you forget the passion you have for the business.

When your team starts to feel like they have no power, they just start to show up as pencil-pushing bureaucrats. There’s no passion left–as it’s been sucked out by a culture with a complacent attitude and a bunch of check in-check out types who follow the job description and never do anything beyond it.  Ask yourself “why do you come to work” and if the answer doesn’t show up in your work, then you know that the culture needs a complete overhaul. If you don’t love the work, then how do you expect your customer to love the brand?  

The best Marketers manage their brand culture

Beloved Brands create an exceptional customer experience. They know it’s not just about advertising and innovation. As a consumer, I’ve become spoiled by the best of the brands who raise the bar and continue to surprise and delight me. Think of how special you feel when you are dealing with Disney, Starbucks and Apple. Compare that to how demoralized you feel when dealing with the airlines, utilities and electronics shops. For the Beloved Brands, they understand that Culture and Brand are One. The Brand becomes an internal beacon for the culture—and the brand’s people have to genuinely be the strongest most outspoken fans who spread the brand’s virtues.keep-calm-and-stop-it-stupid.jpg

As you look at your own customer experience, take a walk in your customers shoes and see where your customer would rate you. Are they with you because they love you and want to be with you or because they have to be with you? Even though they like the product, they may feel indifferent to your brand. And they’ll be gone at the first chance at an alternative. And as a brand leader, your brand is likely stuck on a rational promise, unable to separate yourself from competitors and instead you are left competing on price and promotion.

  • Begin by holding the culture up the lens of the brand’s Big Idea and ensure the right team in place to deliver against the needs of the brand.
  • Start finding ways to create a culture that is more consumer centric (customer first)
  • Begin to push the culture to create a unique delivery of the product experience. Use Leaky Bucket analysis to take a walk in your customers shoes and to discuss weaknesses.
  • Set up forums for innovation—that create an energy through the culture and one that starts to take risks on the best ideas.
  • Use a purpose driven vision, with a set of beliefs and values to challenge the team to create and deliver that experience.
  • Reward the behaviors that match up to your values, with both rewards and recognition. Creating a culture of wow stories motivates all employees to seek potential wow moments they can deliver.
  • Begin using power of a loved brand to attract and keep the best. Find fans of the brand who will become your front line spokespeople. They bring that passion for the brand.

Here’s our workshop presentation on “Creating 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

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Consumer Insights are secrets that we discover and use to our brand’s advantage

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There is a difference in selling to someone and motivating someone to buy.

When you just sell, you start with the product and you don’t really care who you sell to. Whoever comes through the door, you start talking to them about the features of the product and look to close the deal.
Motivating someone to buy starts with the consumer not the product. Instead of selling to anyone, you have to target those consumers who are already motivated by what you do. You have to matter the most to those who already care the most. You have to understand them, to match your brand up to their needs, wants and desires.

You have to get in the consumer’s shoes, observe, listen and understand their favorite parts of the day. You have to know their fears, motivations, frustrations and desires. Learn their secrets, that only they know, even if they can’t explain. Learn to use their voice. Build that little secret into your message, using their language, so they’ll know you are talking to them. We call this little secret the consumer insight. When portrayed with the brand’s message, whether on packaging, an advertisement or at the purchase moment, the consumer insight is the first thing that consumers connect with. When consumers see the insight portrayed, we make them think: “That’s exactly how I feel. I thought I was the only one who felt like that.” This is what engages consumers and triggers their motivation and desire to purchase. The consumers think we must be talking to them, even if it looks like we are talking to millions.Strategic Thinking 2016.062

Consumer Insights are secrets that we discover and use to our brand’s advantage

It is not easy to explain a secret to a person who doesn’t even know how to explain their own secret. Try it with a friend and you will fail miserably. Imagine how hard it is to find that secret and portray it back to an entire group of consumers. Safe to say, consumer insights are hard to find.

The dictionary definition of the word Insight is “seeing below the surface”. To get deeper, when you come across a data point, you have to keep looking, listening asking yourself “so what does that mean for the consumer” until you have an “AHA moment”. You can start with the observations, trends, market facts and research data, but only when you start asking the right questions do you get closer to where you can summarize the insight. Look and listen for the consumer’s beliefs, attitudes and behaviors that help explain how they think, feel or act in relationship to your brand or category. Because the facts are merely on the surface, you have to dig, or you will miss out on the depth of the explanation of the underlying feelings within the consumers that caused the data. Think beyond the specific category insights and think about life insights or even societal trends that could impact changing behaviour.

Good insights get in the SHOES of your consumer and use their VOICE. We force every insight to be written starting with the word “I” to get the Marketer into the shoes of the consumer and force them to put the insight in quotes to use their voice.

Here are two examples of how using Consumer Insights drove business results.

  • Working in the quit smoking business, our starting point was: “Studies show that people try to quit cold turkey 7x before reaching for a smoking aid to help them quit.” That’s not insightful. That’s just a lack of deep thinking. Only when we watched, listened and dug deeper could we feel the consumers pain. When you hold a 2 hour focus group with smokers and tell them “you can’t smoke for 2 hours and we’re going to talk about smoking the entire time” you can see them getting crankier and crankier in the second hour. What we learned is smokers are actually scared to quit, because they knew they’d either fail or lose friends. The new insight we came up with was: “I know I should quit. I’ve tried to quit so many times, it’s ridiculous. I’m not myself, I’m grouchy, irritable and feel out of control. Quitting Smoking Sucks.” When we share this secret with a smoker and they say “yup, that’s exactly how I feel”. The ad they made was a Flight Attendant losing her mind trying to quit smoking, and was the highest tested ad in the company’s history.
  • Working with a bank who was trying to gain a competitive advantage by staying open late, our starting point was this fact: “Recent research shows if a Bank were to open till 8pm, that customers would use the bank 3.4x more each month and with added transactions that would mean $26 more for each customer, and nearly $32 Million in revenue overall.” That’s not insightful. That’s just a lack of deep thinking. Consumers would resent a bank if they knew they were only opening late so they can make more money from them. When we started to think like the consumer, we landed on this insight: “I am so busy driving my kids around, I can never get to the bank during banking hours. I wish there was a bank that worked around my life, rather than me working around the banks’ life.” When we share this secret with a busy mom, she says “that’s exactly how I feel”. The ad they made with this insight had a woman doing a head stand on a yoga pillow with the caption “I do my banking between yoga and taking my kids to soccer practice”. The ad was the highest performing ad in the bank’s history.

Knowing the secrets of your consumers is a very powerful asset. An insight should ONLY connect with the audience you are talking to. I hate when people say “we don’t want to alienate others”. The best brand communication should be like whispering an inside-joke that only you and your friend get. Yes, when we target, we actually do want to alienate others. That’s the only way we will truly connect. Your ability to harness those secrets into creating insights that are arresting or intriguing, fuels the creative spirit as you tell your brand’s story, launch new innovation and move the consumer through to the purchase moment.
After all, there is one source of revenue, not the product you sell, but the consumers who buy. In a tough competitive market, your ability to harness the secrets of your consumers that only you know, is a huge potential competitive advantage.

Done right, if you can make consumers want to buy, you will never have to sell.

Here is the Nicoderm ad based on the consumer insight:

 

We run brand training workshops on everything connected to marketing. Here’s our workshop on Brand Positioning:  

 

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. To learn more about Marketing, continue to visit beloved-brands.com where you will have access to stories on everything connected to brand management. 

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Our 7 favorite Holiday ads of 2015. Have your say.

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The UK has always led the way with story telling Holiday ads. And this year is no different. 

UK retailer John Lewis always does terrific Christmas ads and this year is one of the best. I love it. Makes me think of my daughter’s relationship with my mom. Already achieved 20 million views on youtube. 

Sainsbury’s, a UK grocery store, launched an ad this year, which appears to be a fan favorite. Cat lovers certainly will enjoy this one. Personally, I found the ending a bit too contrived. But 21 million viewers and many of my friends have said they like this one better than the John Lewis spot.

This next ad comes from Mulberry, and is a bit bizarre. Wonder how well this goes over with the deeply religious. The sarcasm of this spot treats this new red hand bag as though it is the baby jesus. Perfect for those with a slightly dark sense of humor. I’m still trying to figure out if I like it, but it sure stands out.

Staying with sarcasm comes one of my favorites this year from an electronics retailer in the UK. Curry’s PC World hired Jeff Goldblum to tell people how they should be acting. I’ve seen a handful of these spots, including one where Jeff tells people how to act when the boss gives you a secret santa gift or how to act when someone burns the turkey. And in this one, how to react when your husband gives you a jigsaw puzzle. So far, each spot

 

Another UK retailer, Harvey Nichols, has done a great job in articulating the selfishness of Christmas. While not quite as good as last year’s spot, this one is still quite good.

The spot that is generating the most interest comes from german grocery retailer, EDEKA. This spot is getting shared on many social media sites making people all over the world cry. It certainly touched a nerve with me. Right after seeing it, I called my mom to see how she was doing. Some others find the spot goes way too far to pull at the heart-strings with the older man faking his death. However, this has generated an incredible 38 million views so far.

And finally, Tesco has created a series of quirky humor ads including this spot with a young man flirting, or at least trying to flirt. 

 

Have your say in our poll: Poll Link

If you have seen other ads, we’d love you to share those in the comments section. This is one of our more lighthearted articles, given you are likely cleaning up files before year-end, getting your accrual into finance and finishing some of your key projects. Hope your year-end performance review goes well and you start getting ready for a big 2016.

Here’s our workshop we run to help Brand Leaders become better at Advertising

We make Brands stronger.

We make Brand Leaders smarter.™

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

Brands only have 4 choices: better, different, cheaper or not around for very long.

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There are some consumer driven marketers who think if you do such a great job in servicing the consumer, you should not have to worry too much about what the consumer does. That is crazy talk, with blinders on as to what is happening in the market. The only reason Apple, Starbucks or Virgin are such amazing brands is they are much better than any competitor within those categories. That is the reason why we call the worst type of brands “Indifferent” not just to convey the consumers blasé attitude to the brand, but to really signal “NOT different”. If you do not find your point of difference, you are a commodity, and should be priced accordingly at market prices like the fish at tonight’s restaurant.

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You have to find a unique selling proposition for your brand, that distinguishes you from others. Looking above at the Venn diagram, we first start by listing out everything your consumers want, then list what your brand does best and what your competitors do best. The winning zone for your brand to play in is the match up where consumers want what you do best. The losing zone is to play where consumers want it, but your competitor does it better than you. As we are maturing in the marketing, it is harder and harder to come up with a definitive win, so that is where you can win the risky zone by being different, being faster to market, winning with meaningful innovation or building a deep emotional connection. The key to be seen as unique, not just for the sake of it, but to match up what you do best with what the consumer is looking for. Sadly, I do have to always mention the dumb zone. This is where two competitors “battle it out” in the zone the consumer does not care about. I say sadly, because I keep seeing this in the market. One competitor starts saying “we are faster” and you see them so you think “well we are just as fast”. No one bothers to ask the consumer if they care about speed. To often, Brand Leaders start with the claim, and then try to make the most of it in everything they do. The problem with that strategy is your claim might not be a benefit, and even if it ladders up, it might not be something that is own-able for you or motivating to the consumer.

A good tool we use is to list out all of your brand assets, which could be your main strengths you can stand behind and begin the match them put to various consumer need states. This will not determine your brand positioning, but help you focus as you move into a potential brainstorming session around positioning.

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What is the core strength of your brand?

Most brands should have a focus as to what they win on, whether that is winning based on product, concept, experience or price. You have to pick an area of focus, rather than trying to be everything. Using our Core Strength Model, we use this as a brainstorming tool to play a little game. We give out 4 blue chips, and force you to pick one strength as your core strength, two at the mid-level that will help support your core strength and the fourth chip forced at low to go of it as a potential. This leaves four types of brands: product, concept, experience or price. Positioning 2016.013

  • With Product Brands, your main strategy should focus on being better. You have to invest in Innovation to stays ahead of competitors, remaining the superior choice in the category. Here, it works to focus on rational advertising that makes sure you re-force with consumers that you are the best. However, in a crowded market, it has become increasingly difficult to win on product alone—as many brands are operating in a parity situation. The product brands doing well include Samsung with the best TVs and phones, Five Guys with the best burger and Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse who has a unique cooking technique that products the best steak. These brands talk mainly about the great product. In fact, looking at the Five Guys brand, they have almost completely let go of experience or pricing. imgresThe restaurants are almost run down, and the price of a 5 Guys burger is about twice the going rate. For years, Proctor & Gamble pushed this strategy at every opportunity across Tide, Ivory, Pampers and Always. But technology gaps have closed they have been forced to switch some of their brands to focusing more on being different and less on being better. The problem for product type brands is they struggle to be emotionally engaging and while consumers might love the product, they do not necessarily love the brand. While you can run an amazing business this way, if a competitor catches up to you on product or if you wish to move your loyal base into other products, it is not as easy as being a concept or experience brand.
  • With Concept Brands, your strategy should focus on being different. To tell that story, you need to invest in emotional brand communication. You want to connect consumers on a deep emotional level with the concept. Brands in this space include Apple who builds around the concept of simplicity, Virgin stands out in new categories by challenging the status quo and generally accepted ways of doing things and W Hotels combine the nightlife feel, so you never have to leave the Hotel. With these brands, they still need to make sure that the product delivers at a level expected within the concept. If it fails to deliver, there may be a sense of hollowness to the concept that brings the brand down. Instead of calling these loved brands, I call these brand lust, where our initial feelings are the same as love, only to be disappointed by the product experience.
  • With Experience Brands, your strategy and organization should focus on linking culture very closely to your brand. After all, your people are your product. You want to build values and align the culture to those values. And as you go to market, invest in influencer and social media that can help support and spread the word of your experience. white-glove-service-ritz-carltonWells Fargo bank offers comfortable banking, Ritz-Carlton uses impeccable customer service to really separate itself and Starbucks creates an escape with indie-music, cool servers, leather chairs and a touch of Europe.
  • With Price Brands, your strategy has to focus on efficiency and drive low-cost into the products you sell and high turns and high volume. You have to be better at the fundamentals around production and sourcing. Use call-to-action type advertising to help keep the turns very high. McDonald’s of the 1970s perfected this model, but we’ve since seen Walmart take it to the next level. You might not like all that Walmart does from an ethical point of view, but it’s on strategy and helps you get toilet paper cheaper. What consumers don’t notice at Walmart is their obsession with retail turns. On average Walmart sells through their stock within 28 days, compared to other retailers who might average 100 days. You rarely see slow-moving items and rarely see clearance items. Brands like Uber, Amazon and Netflix have combined an amazing experience at a very low cost. These inventive brands have recently figured out ways to use technology to eliminate a lot of waste in the value chain.

You have two questions to answer:

Are you better, different or cheaper? 

Are you a product, concept, experience or price brand?

Below is a presentation from our workshop on How to find a winning brand positoning statement.

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

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