Category: Beloved Brands Explained

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

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.

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 or phone me at 416 885 3911.

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The marketing world has changed, and brand leaders need to change with it

When we say Marketing has changed, the first answer people gravitate to is the change in media options over the last 15 years, with the opening up of digital, social and search. That change is at the surface level, but it is not really enough of a reason to warrant the change we are seeing. 

In the previous century, it was product driven brands like Tide, Kodak, Xerox, Microsoft and Ivory soap that always stressed product superiority with repetitive mass media strategies behind 30 second TV ads that used side-by-side demos and robotic rules like saying the brand name in the first 7 seconds and the see-say product shots over the last 5 seconds. But now we see the most modern brands like Starbucks, Whole Foods, Facebook, Tesla, Uber and Netflix driving success with the modern consumer in a completely modern fashion. While each of these brands has a clearly defined brand big idea, there is no real memorable advertising, no tag line we can recite and yet consumers are tightly connected and outspoken fans of each brand. Do you even remember the first time you heard of these brands? How? All I know, is that I’m sure you remember your last experience. 

These modern brands combine big ideas backed by amazing experiences to create a feeling. They find new ways to tell their brand story that spreads like wildfire and they focus more on being different than being better. The organizational culture of these modern brands has become the foundation of their story, their brand purpose and expressed values have become the substitute for brand claims and product demos. The brand story isn’t done through a traditional media blocking chart. Instead of yelling your message over and over to every consumer in the marketplace hoping some buy you, the most modern brands whisper to their most loyal fans, hoping those brand fans whisper with an underlying influence to all their friends and families. 

Old school brands fought for a space in the consumers mind

The best brands of the last century were based on product inventions that solved small problems consumers didn’t even realize they had until the product came along. Old school Marketing was dominated by TV ads, logos, product superiority claims, coupons and a battle for shelf space at retail stores. Products were developed by scientists in a lab, pushed to the market, shouting “we are the best” to anyone who would listen. It was about awareness, brand recall, persuasion and trial, driving volume up to push costs down and drive competitors out of the market. The old school brands fought for a space in the consumers mind, with a motivation to win over a broad target. These brands are liked by everyone, but not really loved, and many are struggling in the new economy.

Modern brands fight for a place the consumers heart

In the new economy of the 21st century, Brand Love is the currency, with marketing shifting to building big ideas, leveraging purpose-driven story telling, creating experiences, managing ubiquitous purchase moments and steering the brand’s reputation. The best brands of the new economy are based on a big idea that consumers connect with. The idea has to reflect the brand’s soul, with a clear purpose and set of values to create an organizational culture of people who live the brand and who will deliver an amazing brand experience that exceeds any expectations. These brands are seen as consumer brands because they were developed through observation of consumers, with innovation that beats down an identified consumer enemy that torments them every day. The growth comes from finding those consumers already motivated by what the brand does. Consumers are made to feel part of brand, they desire it, crave it and are outspoken fans of it. Instead of shouting at consumers, the modern brands confidently whisper to their most loyal fans, who then whisper with trusted influence to bring their friends to the brand. These Brands now fight for a space in the consumers heart.

Brand Leaders need to change.

This is our Beloved Brands credo, and the inside jacket of our new book to be released in early 2016.

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Here’s a presentation from our workshop on how to create a beloved brand

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 or phone me at 416 885 3911

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Beautiful Remembrance Day ad will bring a tear to your eye

ce0c5f924f69811fb32dcea47485Remembrance Day is a special day in Canada, as we take a moment of silence at 11am on the 11th day of the 11th month, to commemorate the very moment that World War One ended. Before showing Bell’s new TV ad, here’s a little history about Remembrance Day in Canada:

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

Here is the Remembrance Day poem:


10676152_10154731864730332_2660724263171587675_nI set that up because this new Bell ad tells a beautiful story from the eyes of a little girl, as she learns about Remembrance Day and does something very touching for a veteran. It’s a very Canadian storyline and I hope you can appreciate every little subtlety in this ad. There are no words and you have to pay close attention to every detail. In the ad, a little girl peers out a school bus window and sees a veteran selling poppies by the side of the road. It prompts her to google “what is a poppy”, which starts her on the learning process about Remembrance Day. The little girl emails someone in Belgium, asking if they are near Flanders Field, a link to the poem above. Then a letter arrives, presumably from the person in Belgium. The little girl takes the letter to the veteran, giving it to him in a very touching tribute and a beautiful moment.

In Canada, most people will wear a poppy in early November as a tribute to our veterans. Everyone knows the poem, as we learn it in school, with most schools holding a Remembrance Day ceremony, with veterans in attendance. This ad is a beautiful tribute to Remembrance Day in Canada and a reminder: Lest we forget. Here’s the ad:

Bell Canada has a long history of paying tribute to our veterans. Below is an ad from the mid 90s, when we were still excited that we could call from anywhere. In the ad, a young 20-year-old visiting Dieppe phones home to Canada to talk to his grandfather, just to say “thank you”. Dieppe holds a special place for Canadians. Two years before D-Day, 6,000 Canadians tried to land on the beach at Dieppe, but less than half survived. We see many tributes to the soldiers, but this one sends a chill through me every time I watch.

Wear a poppy. Lest we forget.

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Boring people make boring brands that die

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You have to love WHAT you do and live WHY you do it.

Being boring will kill your brand. Not just boring people, but boring minds. Marketers in the new world need to be fueled by their passion and put everything they have into their work. They need to be guided by an underlying purpose for why they do what they do. Brand Leaders need to learn how to be a visionary, creative, emotional, demanding brand driven leader, and avoid being a boring, rational, product driven manager. Everyday, you need to get to the point where you say “I love it”, which is the best bar for making great work. If you don’t love what you do, how do you expect your consumer to love your brand. Where passion meets purpose, you will find that passion is dialed up to  new level when you know why you do what you do. It will consume you, energize you, fuel you and push you to go from good to great.

Brand Love is the new currency.

The more LOVED a brand is by consumers, the more POWERFUL and PROFITABLE that brand will be. Brands move along the BRAND LOVE CURVE, increasing the bond they have with consumers as they move from ‘Indifferent’ to ‘Like It’ to ‘Love It’ and finally to the ‘Beloved Brand’ stage. Boring brands get stuck at ‘Indifferent’ or ‘Like It’, while the most beloved brands are interesting, engaging and break through the clutter. The tight bond beloved brands create with consumers becomes a source of power that makes your brand more powerful in every point of negotiation, whether that is with the very consumers that love you, who feel more and think less, with competitors who can’t figure out how to duplicate the emotional bond you have created, with suppliers just dying to be part of your team, with any form of media who want to showcase your story and with any key influencer that wants to spread your story. Once you have power, and win every negotiation point, the money will flow in, with higher price points, lower costs, more share and an easy entry into new categories.Beloved Brands Summary Tools.002

Consumers love Ideas. They like products.

In a crowded branded marketplace, where we see 5000 brand messages a day, consumers connect with BIG IDEAS that help simplify brand messages in ways that is easily understood and remembered. Boring brands sell products, while beloved brands create big idea that are own-able in the consumers’ mind and heart and served up in a motivating enough message that changes consumer beliefs and behaviors. The role of the BIG IDEA is to simplify the brand message with an outward expression of the BRAND SOUL, which is a collection why you do what you do (purpose) what is important to you (values) and how you can help consumers (role).Beloved Brands Summary Tools.004

Consumers love brands who love them

For beloved brands, everything has to start and end with the consumer in mind. Boring brands get stuck talking about themselves all the time, almost forgetting about the consumer. They talk endlessly about features and claims. Boring brands try to be everything to everyone, and end up nothing to anyone. Beloved brands get in the shoes of your consumer and speak in their voice. You need to define a very focused target market, and using consumer insights and consumer enemy to connect with consumers. Boring brands are consumed while beloved brands are experienced. When consumers experience the brand, they either accept or reject it based on how it matches up to the Big Idea. Consumers who are continually satisfied become loyal and develop a bond with brand. Consumers transform this bond into a reputation they spread. The idealized state for a brand is when the brand reputation perfectly matches up to the brand soul. To ensure delivery of the brand’s Soul, you need to line up all 5 consumer touch points underneath simple Big Idea. Create a simple brand promise that separates your brand from competitors, based on being better, different or cheaper. 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. A fundamentally sound product, staying at the forefront of trends and using technology to deliver on your brand promise. The moment of truth as consumers move through the purchase cycle and use channels, messaging, processes to make the final decision. Turn the usage of your product into an experience that becomes a ritual and favorite part of their day. 

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The desire to be loved guides your brand’s strategy and execution

Boring brand leaders get stuck in the analytics, but a good brand funnel system should allow  you to measure and track brand love. Brand funnel becomes thicker as the brand becomes more loved. It’s not just about driving particular numbers but about moving them from one stage to the next. To drive TRIAL you need to gain CONSIDERATION first (the brain) and then you need to move the consumer towards purchase and through the experience. To drive LOYALTY (the heart) you need to create experiences that deliver the promise and use tools to create an emotional bond with the consumer. AWARENESS is never enough, anyone can get that. But consideration is the point you start to see that your brand idea starts to connect and move the consumer. We can see below how you can use voice of consumer and market indicators to determine where you are on the brand love curve.

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We use where you are on the Brand Love Curve to focus your brand on what strategy to guide your next move. This can help provide your overall focus of the strategy. Brands at the Indifferent stage should be trying to establish the brand in the consumers mind, but those at the Like It stage that want to go to the next stage have to create a bigger following by trying find a way to separate your brand from others. Brands at the Love It stage should tug at heartstrings of their consumers to tighten bond with your most loyal. And those brands at the Beloved stage should be trying to continue the magic and get loyalists to speak on your behalf. We’ve mapped out 16 core brand strategies to help guide your brand strategies.001Once you know the overall strategy, you can begin mapping where your consumer stands on the Brand Love Curve and begin layering in the execution. We use a consumer buying system that reflects the brand funnel and provide executional options to power each part of the buying system. Brands at the indifferent stage should focus on managing the awareness-consideration-search, while brands at the Like It stage should be looking to separate your brand from others and close the deal at the purchase moment. As it moves to the Love It stage, it becomes about turning satisfied consumers into repeating and loyal, while the Beloved stage turns loyalty into outspoken fans that then drive awareness for other consumers. We see the power of the most beloved brands using social media as a tool for influencing awareness among new potential users. I’m still in shock when I see loved brands continue to spend 100% of their money on awareness driving TV ads with a basic product message. WE KNOW WHAT YOU DO–YOU HAVE TOLD US FOR 40 YEARS!!!ad execution.003

When judging execution, you should THINK with strategy and GO with your instincts. Great marketing should attract attention, be about the brand, communicate the story, and stick in the consumers mind. Boring brand leaders get stuck over thinking things and forget their instincts. Or they think about what others will think. The best brand leaders find ways to balance their thinking and instincts, to follow their passion. When thinking, we recommend you ask two questions: Is it on strategy and does it have long-term potential to help the brand?  When going with instincts, you should ask “do you love it and try to assess your gut feel for if it’s good. Strategy is based on slow reflective thinking and instincts are fast responsive thinking. Learn to do both.

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We hope we’ve shown you how brand love can carry throughout every part of running your brand. Follow your passion by loving everything you do. Let your purpose guide your energy every day by living why you do it.

Stop being boring. Get people to fall in love with your brand

Here’s a workshop we run on helping brands find brand love. We hope it provokes you to think differently so you can see how you can unleash the full power and profitability of your brand.

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.BBI ads for 2015.003

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 or phone me at 416 885 3911

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What you should do when your brand is stuck at the Like It stage

Figure out how tightly connected your brand is with your consumer

At Beloved Brands, we have created a hypothetical curve called the Brand Love Curve. The more tightly connected consumers are to the brand, the farther along the curve the brand sits, with brands sitting anywhere from Indifferent to Like It to Love It and finally to the Beloved stage, where demand becomes desire, needs become cravings, thinking is replaced with feelings. Consumers become outspoken fans.Slide1

While marketers dream of becoming a Nike, Coke, Disney or Apple, the reality is that most brands are closer to the “Like It” stage. That means you are doing a pretty good job, you’ve been able to carve out a bit of a niche and be a consistently chosen brand against proliferation of brands in your category. And you likely have good steady market shares, moderate profits and most brand indicators are reasonably healthy. It’s just that no one loves you. You’re likely not really doing enough to create a tight bond with consumers. It also means you might not be maximizing the full potential of your brand, you may be leaving your brand vulnerable to future attacks and you are leaving money on the table. 

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How do consumers see brands at the “Like It” stage

Consumers see your brand as a functional and rational choice. Your brand does a good job in meeting a basic need they have. They tried it and it makes sense so they buy it, use it and enjoy it. They likely prefer it versus another brand. The might not give it much more though. Consumers lack an emotional connection or have any real feeling for the brand. They see it as ordinary, which is just a little bit better than indifferent. Overall, consumers see you brand in the “it will do” space. 

Why is your brand at the Like It stage?
There are seven reasons why you are at the Like It stage of the brand love curve:

  1. Protective Brand Leaders means caution: While many of these brands at the Like It are very successful brands, they get stuck because of overly conservative and fearful Brand Managers, who pick middle of the road strategies and execute “ok” ideas. On top of this, Brand Managers who convince themselves that “we stay conservative because it’s a low interest category” should be removed. Low interest category means you need even more to captivate the consumer. Nearly every category has some consumers that have the potential to love the brand–it’s just a matter of finding them and a willingness to drive more emotion into your marketing.
  2. We are rational thinking Marketers: Those marketers that believe consumers are strictly rational when it comes to the brand are inhibiting their brands. The brand managers get all jazzed on claims, comparatives, product demonstration and doctor recommended that they forget about the emotional side of the purchase decision. Claims need to be twisted into benefits—both rational and emotional benefits. Consumers don’t care about you do until you care about what they need. Great marketers find that balance of the science and art of the brand. Ordinary marketers get stuck with the rational only. Don’t get stuck with just features and claims–match them up to consumer needs and create rational benefits and then dial them up to emotional benefits. We recommend using a customer value proposition brand ladder below to help turn your features into benefits.Slide09
  3. New Brand with Momentum: The second stage of a new brand innovation is ready to expand from the early adopters to the masses. The new brand begins to differentiate itself in a logical way to separate themselves from the proliferation of copycat competitors. Consumers start to go separate ways as well. Retailers might even back one brand over another. Throughout the battle, the brand carves out a base of consumers.
  4. There’s a Major Leak: If you look at the brand buying system, you’ll start to see a major leak at some point where you keep losing customers. Most brands have some natural flaw—whether it’s the concept, the product, taste profile ease of use or customer service. Without analyzing and addressing the leak, the brand gets stuck. People like it, but refuse to love it.
  5. Brand changes their mind every year: Brands really exist because of the consistency of the promise. When the promise and the delivery of the promise changes every year it’s hard to really connect with what the brand is all about. A brand like Wendy’s has changed their advertising message every year over the past 10 years. Looking at the various ads for Wendy’s, do you see a big idea? The only consumers remaining are those who like their burgers, not the brand.Screen Shot 2015-08-17 at 11.14.46 AM
  6. Your brand has positional power–so you figure who needs Love: There are brands that have captured a strong positional power, whether it`s a unique technology or distribution channel or even value pricing advantage. Brands like Microsoft or Walmart or even many of the pharmaceuticals products don`t see value in the idea of being loved. The problem is when you lose the positional power, you lose your customer base completely. Case in point is the Microsoft brand which has struggled to go beyond their Windows monopoly. 
  7. Brands who capture Love, but no Life Ritual: There are brands that quickly capture the imagination but somehow fail to capture a routine embedded in the consumers’ life, usually due to some flaw. Whether it’s Krispy Kreme, Pringles or even Cold Stone, there’s something inherent in the brand’s format or weakness that holds it back and it stays stuck at Loved but just not often enough. So, you forget you love them.

Indicators that your brand is at the Like It stage

From a business point of view, you likely see the brand has a lower conversion from awareness to sales, there is a high % bought on deal, low loyalty and you’re likely faced battling a  strong private label share. 

  • Low Conversion to Sales. While the brand looks healthy in terms of awareness and equity scores, the brand is successful in becoming part of the consumer’s consideration stage, but it keeps losing out to the competition as the consumer goes to the purchase stage. It usually requires a higher trade spend to close that sale which cuts price and margins.
  • Brand Doesn’t Feel Different: A great advertising tracking score to watch is “made the brand seem different” which helps to separate itself from the pack, many times speaking to the emotional part of the messaging.Slide04
  • Stagnant Shares: Your brand team is happy when they hold on to their share, content to grow with the category.
  • High Private Label Sales: If you only focus on the ingredients and the rational features of the product, the consumer will start to figure out they get the same thing with the private label and the share starts to creep up to 20% and higher.

How to get to the Love It stage

  • Separate your brand from the pack: stake out certain spaces in the market creating a brand story that separates your brand from the clutter. The best brands have 3 choices:  better, different or cheaper. When you struggle to be better, you need to find a way to be different so that your brand matches the winning zone below–where your brand’s clear point of difference matches up to what the consumer wants. Begin to sell the solution, not just the product.
  • Build a bigger following: Invest in building a brand story that helps to drive for increased popularity and get new consumers to use the brand.creating beloved brands 2015x.049
  • Leverage those that already love the brand: Focus on the most loyal consumers and drive a deeper connection by driving the routine which should increase usage frequency. On top of that, begin cross selling to capture a broader type of usage.strategy.001
  • Love the Work: It is time to dial-up the passion that goes into the marketing execution. Beloved Brands have a certain magic to them. But “Like It’ brands tend to settle for ok, rather than push for great. With better work, you’ll be able to better captivate and delight the consumers. If you don’t love the work, how do you expect the consumer to love your brand.
  • Fix the Leak: Brands that are stuck have something embedded in the brand or the experience that is holding back the brand. It frustrates consumers and restricts them from fully committing to making the brand a favourite. Be proactive and get the company focused on fixing this leak.
  • Build everything a Big Idea: Consumers want consistency from the brand—constant changes to the advertising, packaging or delivery can be frustrating. Leverage a Brand Story and a Big Idea that balances rational and emotional benefits helps to establish a consistency for the brand and help build a much tighter relationship. Once you establish your big idea, line up everything under that big idea including your brand positioning, communication, innovation, in-store and the overall experience you create.creating beloved brands 2015x Extract 9.001

Brands at the Like It stage tend to get complacent. You need to drive the Love into the work, and find the balance between rational and emotional benefits.

Does being loved matter?

The big idea behind RETURN ON LOVE (R.O.L.) is that the work you do on the brand is first and foremost focused on creating a strong bond between your consumer and your brand. Once you have that bond, you can use it as a source of power versus all the stake holders of the brand: power over customers, suppliers, competitors and even the very consumers you have the bond with. The brand would also generate added power with the media, key opinion leaders and employees. Once you have power, you can drive growth and profit, using that power to drive up price, drive down costs, gain market share and enter new categories. If your finance person asks “so what is the ROI on this”, I’m not recommending you say “we are focused on ROL buddy, not ROI” but what you should say is “we are investing in building a bond with our consumer that will give us more power that we can then wield much greater profit for our brand”

But seriously, having more love adds to the profits. Here are the 8 ways to turn brand love into more PROFITS for your power profit.005

With all the love and power the Beloved Brand has generated for itself, now is the time to translate that into growth, profit and value. The Beloved Brand has an Inelastic Price. The loyal brand fans pay a 20-30% price premium and the weakened channels cave to give deeper margins. We will see how inelastic Apple’s price points are with the new iPad Mini. Consumers are willing to trade up to the best model. The more engaged employees begin to generate an even better brand experience.  For instance at Starbucks, employees know the names of their most loyal of customers. Blind taste tests show consumers prefer the cheaper McDonald’s coffee but still pay 4x as much for a Starbucks.  So is it still coffee you’re buying?

A well-run Beloved Brand can use their efficiency to lower their cost structure. Not only can they use their growth to drive economies of scale, but suppliers will cut their cost just to be on the roster of a Beloved Brand. They will benefit from the free media through earned, social and search media.  They may even find government offer subsidies to be in the community or partners willing to lower their costs to be part of the brand.  For instance, a real estate owner would likely give lower costs and better locations to McDonald’s than an indifferent brand.  Apple get a billion dollars worth of free media, with launches covered on CNN for 2 weeks prior the launch and carried live like it’s a news event.

Beloved Brands have momentum they can turn into share gains. Crowds draw crowds which spreads the base of the loyal consumers. Putting the Disney name on a movie generates a crowd at the door on day 1. Competitors can’t compete–lower margins means less investment back into the brand.  It’s hard for them to fight the Beloved Brand on the emotional basis leaving them to a niche that’s currently unfulfilled.  Walk past an Apple store 15 minutes before it’s open and you’ll see a crowd waiting to get in–even when there are no new products.

Beloved Brands can enter into new categories knowing their loyal consumers will follow  because they buy into the Idea of the Brand.  The idea is no longer tied to the product or service but rather how it makes you feel about yourself.  Nike is all about winning, whether that’s in running shoes, athletic gear or even golf equipment. When Starbucks went for pastries and sandwiches their loyal consumers quickly followed.

The more loved a brand is by consumers, the more powerful and profitable that brand will be.

To read more on how to create a beloved brand, here’s a training workshop we lead with marketing teams around the world:

Also, if you’re interesting in Beloved Brands Training Programs for brand management, feel free to contact us to learn about our one day or three day boot camps for brand leaders. We believe that better leaders make better work which produces better results. Here’s more information.

We make Brands better.

We make Brand Leaders better.™

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

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The words BRAND and STRATEGY are so misunderstood

There remains a lot of debate out there in the marketing world on every potential term. Sometimes when I introduce myself, I’ll say: “Hi, I’m Graham, I’m a Brand Strategy Consultant, the three most mis-understood words in business”.  I think I need a new introduction, but save that for another story. The problem about the word “BRAND” is that a lot of really smart people still see brand as a name, a logo, an identity and possibly a slogan. The problem with with the word “STRATEGY” is people throw that word around for anything and everything they do as a way to justify they are smart. Agencies abuse the word strategy, building it right into their title, yet advertising by itself is a tactic. In fact, a brand strategist at an agency is figuring out how to convert strategy to tactics. And of course, the problem with “CONSULTANT” is that anyone can be a consultant. My friend says “young consultants don’t really know yet what they want to do in life and old consultants wish they still did what they used to do in life”. That’s very true!

So what is a Brand?

There’s a lot of debate in this industry on what makes a great brand.

  • On the one hand, there are those in the industry who want to believe that brand is all about the product or service. Brand to them is very simple, 100% rational and there is almost a ‘what you see is what you get’ view of brand. The product is the brand. Even with a brand like Apple, they’ll say it’s because Apple has “great products”.
  • The other side believes that brand is all about equity and success comes strictly from an emotional connection, no matter how exciting or boring the category.  They tend to think that great communication can overcome any product deficiencies.

This division shows up in various places, including how companies organize their people and resources.  There are too many companies set up with “product departments” and “brand departments”. I also hear the term “brand tax” where the product budgets pay a percent of their marketing spend towards the brand. And finally, I’ll hear “no that’s not our decision, that’s the BRAND’s decision”. And the ad agency and the client might say “this is an equity spot, but we want to put a 5-second tag of the new flavour at the end”.

Here is our definition of a brand.

A Brand is a unique idea, perceived in the minds and hearts of theconsumer, consistently delivered by the experience,  creating a bond, power and profit, beyond what the product itself could achieve.

Let’s break that definition down.

Part 1: “unique idea”

In a crowded branded marketplace, BIG IDEAS help simplify your brand message so it’s easily understood and remembered, own-able in the consumers’ mind and heart and motivating enough to change consumer beliefs and behavior. Brands are based on a unique idea, promise or reputation. Yes, most brands start as a product or service, but the best brands find an idea to make the brand even bigger than the original product.  The idea is big enough for consumers to love, and the brand’s idea becomes a DNA or Brand Essence that you’ll see and feel in every part of the brand. These days as things are so competitive, and consumers have so much access to information, I do think brands need to find a uniqueness, because there really are only four options for brands: 1) better 2) different 3) cheaper or 4) not around for very long. Push yourself to find your brand’s unique point of difference and create a big idea that you can use to manage every part of your brand.

The big idea for the Apple brand is that it takes out the complexity and makes it so simple that everyone can be part of the future. Everything from there falls under that big idea: the promise, purchase moment, brand story, freshness and the experience.big idea map.001


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

  • Create a simple brand promise that separates your brand from competitors, based on being better, different or cheaper.
  • 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.
  • Fundamentally sound product, staying at the forefront of trends and using technology to deliver on your brand promise.
  • The moment of truth as consumers move through the purchase cycle and use channels, messaging, processes to make the final decision.
  • Turn the usage of your product into an experience that becomes a ritual and favorite part of their day.

Part 2: “perceived in the minds and hearts of the consumer”

The image of the brand is no longer owned by the brand, if it ever was owned. At best, we can send out brand messages but the consumer still gets to decide whether or not those messages fit with their perception of the brand. I always say “there is truth in advertising, because all un-true messages are rejected by the consumer”. Too many Brand Leaders go rational, but the reality is that brands are 50% rational and 50% emotional. With social media, the consumer has even more ownership over the brand’s image as their own messaging now carries more weight than your basic TV ad. This is called co-creation, where both you as the brand leader and the consumer own the brand messaging together. I believe Brand Managers should make the choice to represent their consumer back to the brand, rather than representing the brand out to the consumer.  You should act as the consumer advocate, telling your brand what your consumer wants.

Part 3: “consistently delivered by the brand’s experience”

A brand really is a stamp that ensures consistency. Before Kellogg’s decided to brand their own corn flakes back in 1906, consumers would go into town and scoop out corn flakes out of a bin, with a random experience because who knows which farmer made them that day. But now with Kellogg’s the consumer could expect the same experience in every bowl.  Fast forward today, as the landscape is even more competitive and the brand experience is everything. Look at the amazing brands in the market place, like Starbucks, NFL, Disney and Apple and you’ll see each brand backs up their brand promise by constantly over-delivering upon the expectations. As brands hit the loved stage, making sure you nail the experience helps re-enforce loyalty and builds brand rituals into the lives of consumers.

Part 4:  “creating a bond, power and profit, beyond what the product itself could achieve”

The most beloved brands are based on an idea that is worth loving. It is the idea that connects the Brand with consumers. And under the Brand Idea are 5 sources of connectivity that help connect the brand with consumers and drive Brand Love, including the brand promise, the strategic choices you make, the brand’s ability to tell their story, the freshness of the product or service and the overall experience and impressions it leaves with you.  Everyone wants to debate what makes a great brand–whether it’s the product, the advertising, the experience or through consumers.  It is not just one or the other–it’s the collective connection of all these things that make a brand beloved.

So what is STRATEGY?

I love asking brand leaders “so what is strategy?” and get lots of blank stares. Even if they are well-trained, they might say vision or choices or the how part. But no one has really given me a great answer yet. I spent 20+ years in the corporate world, we promoted people on “being strategic” and held them back when “they aren’t strategic enough”. But have you ever had a discussion or debate with your boss about what it means to be strategic. Has anyone ever come up to you and said “hey, you need to be more strategic, here’s a few ways how”. 

At Beloved Brands, we’ve tried to put together a definition and it comes down to outlook: “Strategic thinkers see questions before answers. Non-strategic thinkers see answers before they know the right questions.”creating beloved brands 2015x.032

Strategic thinkers never divide and conquer, they make choices to focus and conquer. They make decisions, using the word “or” more than they use the word “and”. They understand the limited  resources available and can see how there could be an unlimited number of solutions you could do.  But they find the way to apply those limited resources to invest against pressure points that break through.

The six elements of strategy

We have dissected the best strategies and come up with six elements that make for good strategy. It’s a good test to see how your strategies are lined up.

  • Vision: an aspirational stretch goal for future, linked to a well-defined purpose. The vision should push you. It should scare you a little, but excite you a lot.
  • Focus: alignment of your limited resources to a distinct strategic point you wish to penetrate, creating positive momentum on a pathway towards your vision.
  • Opportunity: something happening in the market, as a potential strategic opening based on trends in the market (e.g. consumer behavior, technology).
  • Early Win: break through point where you see a shift in momentum towards your vision. It offers potential proof to everyone that this strategy will work, helping rally others–the team, agency and even your boss.
  • Leverage: ability to turn the early win into creating a momentum, that leads to the tipping point where you achieve more in return than the effort put in.
  • Gateway: realization point where you see a shift in positional advantage or power that allows you to believe your vision is achievable.

To us, focus is the most important element in strategy and the one most marketers struggle with. They always try to do too much. When you focus, five great things happen to your brand

  1. Better return on investment (ROI).  By it’s very nature, return means you get back more than what you put in and this is where you find the pressure points to gain that big payback. 
  2. Better return on effort (ROE).  Rarely do marketers look at ROE, but “Talent” is one of your biggest resource constraints as it’s easier to add money than it is to add well-trained staff that can execute.
  3. Stronger reputation. The tighter your focus around being one thing, the stronger chance you have in owning the reputation for that one thing. Trying to be everything to everyone is a recipe for being nothing to anyone. 
  4. More competitive. The best brands are either better, different, cheaper or not around for very long. Focusing on your uniqueness will allow you to defend against and attack your competitors.
  5. Bigger and better P&L. The odd thing is that brand leaders try to spread their resources so thinly, fearing they won’t be able to do everything. Everything is just ok, and there is never enough money on any tactic to maximize the full potential. And then you’ll never get any more money. However, with focus giving you the ROE and ROI, you’ll be able to ask for more money that gives you the chance to do the things you couldn’t get to.  

Use the Brand Love Curve to frame your strategy

In the consumer’s mind, brands sit on a Brand Love Curve, with brands going from Indifferent to Like It to Love It and finally becoming a Beloved Brand for Life. At the Beloved stage, demand becomes desire, needs become cravings, thinking is replaced with feelings. Consumers become outspoken fans.


It’s this connection that helps drive power for your brand: power versus competitors, versus customers, versus suppliers and even versus the same consumers you’re connected with. The farther along the curve, the more power for the brand. It’s important that you understand where your brand sits on the Love Curve and begin figuring out how to move it along towards becoming a Beloved Brand. With the power of connection, the brand can leverage that power into increased growth and profits.

To figure out your strategic options, you need to understand where you are on the Brand Love Curve, so that you can start to understand HOW to move to the next stage. A brand at the Indifferent stage needs to establish itself in the consumers mind, brands at the Like It stage need to separate itself from the pack and create a following, brands at the Love It stage need to tug at the heartstrings of those consumers who have shown some love in order to tighten the bond and finally those brands at the Beloved stage need to find a way to continue the magic and activate the most loyal followers turning them into fans.

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Here is a guideline for Brand Leaders to use in their plans with the 16 possible strategies to use. For instance at the Indifferent stage, you can use a mind shift, mind share, new news or a turnaround to establish your brand in the consumers mind.

creating beloved brands 2015x.050

Use this as a guideline to get you started on your plan and you may need to add specific flavoring to your situation. As you’ll see, if your brand is at the Indifferent stage, you can’t easily cross sell and you certainly can’t get loyalists to influence others, since you have no real loyalists.

Here is a tool to help Brand Leaders write better strategies:

As I review brand plans for clients, there’s one glaring area where Brand Leaders need to do a better job: the writing of strategic statements. Too many times, they are framed as tasks or objectives, but miss out on the “how to get there” part of the plan. What’s missing is a pathway to power (health) or a pathway to profit (wealth). Brand Leaders need to be better at writing brand strategies that everyone can follow. A good brand strategy focuses and moves the consumer to do something, thereby putting the brand in a better position–either healthier (more powerful) or wealthier (higher profits)

strategy tool.001

Here’s how this tool works. The basic idea is that you will mobilize one of the possible brand connectors to get a specific target profile to take action against a stage of the buying system and then use that to either harness brand power for the future or use it to a specific area that delivers added profitable for the brand. Here’s the five stage process to the tool.

a. Select one of the 5 brand connectors: (brand promise, brand story, innovation, purchase moment or experience

b. Pick target market you will move (user profiles, demographics, regional)

c. to take a focused action along buying system: (awareness, consideration, search, purchase, satisfied, repeat, loyal or fan)

d. To either harness your brand’s power to unleash in the future

e. Or drive one of the 8 profit drivers for your brand

Here are two examples of how you can put this tool to work, and write best in class strategy statements for the Apple brand.

  • Launch the new innovative Apple Phone (a) to Mac loyalists(b) converting interest to trial (c) to successfully move Apple into the phone market. (e)
  • Create an in-store Apple training experience (a) to young seniors 55-60 years old (b) to tighten the bond with apple (c) creating a new user segment for Apple. (e)

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

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How severely damaged is the Toronto Maple Leafs brand?

leafs-badI think the Leafs should be a little worried about the health of their brand. While they have been bad for the entire century so far, this year feels even more disconnected and puts them at risk, if things are not fixed. There are major signs of brand health issues, which usually shows up in advance of any issues with brand wealth. But I think with a quick shot of the optimism drug over the summer, the crazy Leaf fans will be hooked again.

Here’s the brand health issues that should raise concern:

  • Leaf game not shown on TV?  Last Saturday, Hockey Night in Canada decided not to air the Leafs game on the main network for the first time in forty years. With TV media, there are so many games on TV and on-line, that the big Saturday night game is not the same. In fact, the biggest risk now is that I can see 82 games of any team I want.  
  • No sell out? This past Monday, the Leafs failed to sell out for the first time in 15 years. While giving up a little revenue for not selling out, the bigger risk here is that if tickets are going for $30, then it takes away the mystique of going to the game. The good news is the Leafs have announced they won’t raise ticket prices. I love that they actually felt compelled enough to announce this, which shows the true power of the brand.  
  • Fans cheering for the Leafs to lose: Not only are the Leafs tanking this season to get a good draft pick, the fans are cheering for the opponents so that the Leafs do lose. If the Leafs are bad again next year, the fans may again cheer against the Leafs.  If this goes on for 5 years, do these fans go find another team?
  • Fans are mad at the current team: Fans are so enraged at the current crop of Leafs that they continue to boo the best players and have thrown sweaters on the ice in dis-respect of the team. The players took it upon themselves to “not salute the fans” as their retribution. It’s never good to go to war with the fans, when the only thing you have is fans. 

The Leafs brand is on pause this year. The fans are on hold, waiting to see what happens next. I believe if the Leafs get rid of a few players, draft a big name (even if it’s not McDavid) and get a big name coach, they would create the perception that they are moving in the right direction. As we discuss below, the Leafs are not really focused on winning the cup, but rather giving the illusion and optimism that they “could” win the cup. 

The success of the Leafs brand defies logic

When we look at the most valuable sports franchises around the world, whether it’s Ferrari, Manchester United, Real Madrid, New York Yankees, Los Angeles Lakers or New England Patriots, they usually have one thing in common:  THEY WIN.  And in most cases, they win a lot. We’ve never really found out what happens to those brands when they lose.  And then there’s the Toronto Maple Leafs who recently joined the ranks of the most valued brands, now worth an estimated $1.2 Billion. 

  • The last time the Leafs won a hockey championship was 1967, when Lyndon Johnson was President, The Beatles were releasing the Sgt Pepper’s album and Wal-Mart only had 24 stores (all still in Arkansas). It was even 8 years before Justin Bieber’s mom would be born.
  • The Leafs have made the playoffs once since 2004. None of their current players were even in the league in 2004. And they are the only NHL team not to make the playoffs during those years.
  • There were two major work stoppages in the NHL in 2005 and 2012–one wiped out an entire season, the other a half season. In both of those years, the value of the Leafs jumped up. And yet, since 2004, the value of the Toronto Maple Leafs has gone up from $280 Million to $1.2 Billion.

So clearly for the Leafs, actually playing and winning the games doesn’t really matter to value of the Leafs brand. Yes, Apple’s market value has gone up at a faster pace, but they’ve launched iTunes, iPod, iPhone, iPad and the Macbook during that time.  

Most great brands have a vision for the future: what’s the Leafs brand vision?

Like any sports team, the Leafs will state their vision of “we want to win the Stanley Cup”. It sounds good. It’s what you’re supposed to say. Proof for what the real vision might be in the fact that for past 15 years they were owned by a pension fund and they rewarded their President financially, not for how the Leafs did on the ice, but how well the Leafs did off the ice. And now they are owned by a media conglomerate who sees the Leafs as content to get the millions of insane Leafs fans watching in person, on TV and on-line. I believe a more appropriate Brand Vision for the Leafs is “to be the most beloved sports franchise” or even a stretch “to be the most valued sports franchise in the world”. 

Does winning matter?  Yes, but it’s a strategy to help the vision of being the most loved or most valuable sports franchise. It’s the “how” you get to the vision, but not the vision itself. The hook is to appear that you are doing the right things to try to win the cup–enough to keep the fan base engaged.

Holding the Leafs up to the principles of a beloved brand

I once had an economics Professor who said “economics proves that what happens in real life can actually happen in theory”. Well, I usually use the Apple brand to prove how the theories of Beloved Brands work, but let’s take the Leafs brand on a test run and see how they line up.

First, we believe that consumers connect with brands based on a “big idea”. That’s the tough question for the Leafs: what is their big idea? Is it the heritage/history, being the home team of the biggest hockey market or the great underdog story?  At times, it’s been the “loveable losers”, where the mediocre/good players like Palmateer or Vaive become legends in the community. But that’s still not enough to make the brand that connected. The big idea during Steinbrenner’s Yankees was “we we will do whatever it takes to win–at any cost” where as the Montreal Canadiens are all about “we maintain the pride and dignity of history and we’ll do what’s right in our pursuit of victory”. It’s hard to truly see a big idea to connect with the Leafs. While most fans have this nagging feeling in the back of their mind that the Leafs will never win in their lifetime, I believe they cheer for the Leafs “to stay engaged enough just in case there is that once in a lifetime chance to win the cup”. So the Leafs are more like a potential “once in a lifetime eclipse” that fans want to see or even a lottery ticket. The only other sports brand like the Leafs are the loveable Chicago Cubs.  If the Leafs are that “eclipse”, I’ve always debated that if they ever do win the Cup, would more people keep watching or would people stop watching. The Toronto Blue Jays may prove that once they won the World Series, the Toronto fans were like “great, so what’s next” and moved on. My guess is that I’ll never know the answer to this question, as I don’t expect the Leafs to ever win the cup.  

Once you have the big idea for your brand, you need to map out the 5 Brand Connectors to help deliver that big idea: the brand promise, strategy, brand story, freshness of Innovation and a culture that helps deliver the promise.  


Arguably, the Leafs might be defying all 5 of these sources of connectivity. 

  • Brand Promise: Most beloved sports teams can say “we promise to deliver an on-field team that will always be competitive enough to win a championship”. The Yankees, Man U, Ferrari, the Canadiens and Real Madrid can easily say that. The Leafs promise to “win a championship” feels hollow. If that was their promise, the brand would be a complete failure. Fans would walk away and the value of the team would fall. Well, at least for a normal team. When fans get excited about the Leafs, the world feels better, they are happy and optimistic for the future. The real promise for the Leafs is “we’ll make you feel good even if the pursuit of victory is greater than the victory itself.” Maybe if you have that underdog spirit in your own life, you see hope in the Leafs where no one else sees hope. But the problem for this year is that when they lose, that optimism comes crashing down. A friend of mine who is a Leafs fan had a baby a few weeks ago, and posted on Facebook “when do you break it to the kid that the Leafs won’t win a Championship in his life time?” Sadly, that kid will be a Leaf fan. He now bleeds blue. And will pay thousands of dollars towards the leafs coffers over his life time. 
  • Strategy: In terms of players, the Leafs have relied the last 15 years on signing free agents. But in managing the brand, they focus on hyping up the players, they build up the optimism at the beginning of each year and keep the fan base engaged with constant communication and stay reasonably competitive to at least give hope for getting in the playoffs. The Leafs manage to keep the fan base hooked by constantly feeding them optimism. The problem this year is that they’ve fallen so far out of the playoffs the talk of re-build has the fans confused. Those players they’ve hyped turned out to be jerks, who won’t salute the fans, refuse interviews and don’t even try on the ice. It’s hard for the Leafs to hype players that aren’t well liked. 
  • Brand Story: As I was growing up, the Leafs always successfully connected the past (Johnny Bower, Bobby Baun or Daryl Sitler) to the current team. The stories stressed the values of toughness, hard work and how the underdog always over-achieved in the face of adversity. That story fit nicely to the Leaf teams of the 90s with Doug Gilmour, Wendel Clark and Felix Potvin who went to the semi finals in back to back years. However, today’s current Leaf teams are the opposite:  over-hyped, over-paid and under-achieving players like Kessel and Phaneuf, certainly not aligned to the values of toughness and hard work. 
  • Freshness: For a sports team, freshness comes through the signing of new players and then building optimism around those players. The problem is the salary cap and the current roster has the team trapped. The tanking to get a draft pick has been a good strategy as it will provide someone (McDavid or even Strome) that they can build around. You will see this summer that the Leafs will build all the optimism of a rebuild around the youthful team. And fans will buy into it.   
  • Experience: There are only two ways to experience the brand–either in person or on TV. Going to a Leaf game has a buzz and excitement to it. The tickets are usually so expensive that it is so rare for the average person to get to go. The TV games are rooted in history: “Hockey Night in Canada” at 7pm has been one of the highest rated TV shows since the 1950s. And so this year, we’ve now seen two things happen. Last Saturday, for the first time since the early 1970s, the Leafs were not shown on Hockey Night in Canada, with the CBC choosing the Montreal Canadiens game. It’s all about ratings, even though the network that shows the games owns the Leafs. And this past Monday, the Leaf game wasn’t a sell out, and on StubHub you can easily get tickets for $25. So while this is your chance to finally go to a game, no one really wants to even go.

How the Leafs make money

Like any brand, there are really only 8 ways to make more money:  premium pricing, trading up on price, lower cost of goods, efficient spending, stealing share. getting loyal users to use more, entering new markets and finding new uses for the brand.


Pricing: Ticket prices for the Leafs are the highest in the NHL–an average of $375 over 42 home games, which is three times the average ticket price for Detroit Red Wings or even six times the price for Tampa Bay. Getting tickets to a game is nearly impossible for the average fan. Every game is a sell-out. It’s a 40 year wait for Leaf seasons tickets. These end up in people’s wills. The ACC also uses strong luxury box and platinum ticket sales to trade the business consumers up on price–so not only are they paying $1,000, they also have to order enough food and drinks to support a luxury box. If the Leafs look at an extended downturn on play or even a 5-year turnaround, it likely won’t impact average price but it may impact the # of sell outs–especially as the Leafs just experienced their first non-sellout in 15 years.  

Costs: Control of costs works in the favour of the Leafs. The NHL has a salary cap that holds teams to $60 Million per year, which is 6% of the team’s brand value. For the other hockey teams worth $200 Million, that’s 30% of their brand value. That’s a huge competitive advantage for the Leafs–still defies why they can’t win. There’s no real need for “marketing costs” as every game is on TV, with normal exceptionally strong ratings. While the ratings are only in Canada, they are such a dominant ‘country brand’ that it makes the local market all of Canada, which means it has access to 30 Million people.The Leafs receive added earned media with 2 sports TV stations, 3 radio stations and 3 major Newspapers constantly covering every move the team makes. Both sports stations hold a daily live show at lunch time. 

Share: The Leafs dominate the media landscape but end up sharing that revenue with the NHL. It’s estimated that 70% of the league revenues come from Canada–my guess is that most of that comes from the Leafs. For the Leafs merchandise sales are very strong. The Leafs announced it was changing its third jersey to be a replica of the 1967 jersey. Which means all those fans have to go out and drop another $129 on a new jersey. This past year, the Leafs have added a sports bar to the ACC, just outside the arena that has hundreds of TVs and seating for two thousand people. With a roster currently filled with unpopular players, the Leafs need a few popular players for the fans to put a name on the back to really drive up the merchandise sales.

Market Size: The Leafs have expanded the size of the market by driving sponsorship and even creating Leafs TV. The team’s sponsorship drive is incredible–carrying an astounding 50+ sponsors on its roster–including separating out the banking category into Core Banking, Wealth Banking, Credit Card banking, which allows them to get money from three separate banks. Sponsorship is a money machine. The Leafs TV expands the brand for the most loyal followers to connect even more. The Leafs have also launched a bar attached to their stadium that holds another 2,200 fans who drink and eat during the 2 and 1/2 hour game. If the crowd shrinks or the Leafs lose early each time, this bar will be clearing out by the 2nd period. 

Income statement: In 2011 with the world facing a global recession, following up on a 29th place finish in the standings, the Leafs revenue went up ELEVEN PERCENT!!!  And then they raised ticket prices. Because of the player strike a few years ago, player costs have gone down from $69 million to $57 million. Revenue up, costs down–that’s a P&L the people of Price Waterhouse dream about. A lot of the value is now connected to how much money will be made in the future.  The NHL just signed a 10 year labor contract giving the Leafs cost certainty and a 5 year media deal giving the Leafs revenue certainty. While I still don’t think the Leafs will win a championship in the next 10 years, I would bet they will hit $2 Billion.  

It’s not easy being a Leaf Fan. Yet like a drug, it’s not easy to stop being a Leaf fan.



To see a more in depth presentation please read the powerpoint presentation below which is a Workshop to show brand leaders how to create a beloved brand so they can generate more power and profit for their brand.

We make Brands better.

We make Brand Leaders better.™

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


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What the #*$& is wrong with McDonald’s? Here’s five things wrong.

imagesI’ve been confused about McDonald’s marketing the past year, mainly because it appears that McDonald’s is confused about their marketing. That coincides with poor business results, in a downward trend for each of the past 9 months, with February’s numbers showing a deepening issue–down 4% versus last year. “Consumer needs and preferences have changed,” the company said in Monday’s statement. “McDonald’s current performance reflects the urgent need to evolve with today’s consumers, reset strategic priorities and restore business momentum.”

McDonald’s are in desperate need for a RE-FOCUS, so they can get everyone focused on what matters the most. There needs to be an alignment of the team, a return behind their strengths and a return to the fundamentals. The issue with the culture at McDonald’s is that it’s very top-down insular culture with very little outside thinking–which is great when things are going well, but will be tough to battle through when things aren’t going so well.  

Here’s the top 5 potential things wrong with McDonald’s. 

McDonald’s is not aligned with the trend towards healthy eating. 51JW1207ZALThat’s obvious, but that was also equally obvious the past 5 years ago when they grew an average of 10% a year, even +13% the year after the “Super Size Me” movie came out. Also, there are a few examples of indulgent brands that have done well (e.g. 5 Guys), in countering the health trend, to use it as a regular escape from your diet.McDonald’s scored high marks for putting calories on their menu, but bad publicity when they fought NYC on the size of drinks they serve. So while this might be part of the decline, I’m not sure this is the main reason for the decline. McDonald’s should be able to still find growth in this market. 

McDonald’s lacks a product-identity of what it’s now the best at. I’m older so I still think of it as a fast-food burger & fries place. But the menu has become so diverse, I’m no longer sure consumers know what McDonald’s is all about. Without a main product identity where it can win, McDonald’s runs the risk of being second fiddle to everyone they compete against–second fiddle to 5 Guys on burgers, to Dairy Queen on Shakes, to Chick-Fil-A on chicken, to Starbucks on Coffee and Subway on sandwiches. A great case study for McDonald’s is what happened with Starbucks in 2009, where they closed every Starbucks for a day to re-train baristas and send a signal that they are a coffee place. Here’s what I wrote about the Starbucks Case Study: The Starbucks Come Back story: Losing their focus, only to regain it!!!  McDonald’s should re-claim the stake that they are the best burger. They should have done this the past 12-24 months before allowing 5 Guys to get to 1500 locations. They need to own the burger. 

Slide1No one wants to know how sausage is made. I know the internet is attacking McDonald’s all the time about using bleach in their burgers and pink goop in their chicken but we don’t really need McDonald’s mass media to tell us their burgers are made from 100% real beef and their chicken is made from 100% real chicken. I always assumed it was, but now that you bring attention to it, you’re kind of grossing me out. McDonald’s took it a step farther with this on-line video they produced.  Here’s what I wrote last spring: McDonald’s takes a wonderful Advertising idea…and makes a complete disaster out of it  While they might think this video works to explain what their brand is about, I find this video makes me never want a nugget again in my life. As CNN reports below, it’s not pink goop, it’s beige goop and it sure doesn’t make you hungry.   Looking at the options above, McDonald’s should be focused on the heart and the soul of their consumers. McDonald’s needs less attention on the product and more on the magic of the idea of the brand–as the fun little escape for lunch place. 

The experience is now slow and not really that cheap. Ray Kroc’s McDonald’s that grew so fast in the 1960s and 70s was vested in the strong values of quality, service, cleanliness and value. People were trained the McDonald’s way and as a customer you benefited from fast, friendly service and franchises were expected to keep a clean, well-run restaurants. The last few times I’ve been, the speed has been disastrous–you order and then wait 5-10 minutes for them to yell out your number. There is no way the service is friendly–as I rarely hear manners from a McDonald’s employee. Manners are free and can go a long way in making a difference.  

mccafe-headerThe McCafe branding and restaurant re-design. Here’s an article I wrote on McDonald’s launch into the coffee market two years ago: Can McDonald’s win the Coffee War? Not a chance. But two years later, it’s even more important to realize that not only is Starbucks winning, but the investment McDonald’s has put into the coffee launch has taken away from investing in their core fast food business. McDonald’s put major capital into putting fake fireplaces into most locations–major costs that still resemble a plastic play-land. The thing that drives me most crazy about the McCafe is they are hiding what they really are: the golden arches, Ronald McDonald’s, the Big Mac and french fries. While McDonald’s should keep a good coffee, it’s time to re-focus back on being a fast food destination. Get rid of the McCafe branding BS and just make it a product that McDonald’s has, not a separate brand logo that competes with the McDonald’s logo. 

As a new CEO takes the helm, it is time for McDonald’s to re-focus. There is a need for some creativity and investing back in creating a food experience that McDonald’s can win on. Re-train staff to be friendlier and faster for consumers Create magical brand advertising that bonds with consumers. My hope is that McDonald’s can get there–as it’s one of the hall of fame brands out there.

McDonald’s needs to find a reason for their consumers to love it again

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

We make Brands better.

We make Brand Leaders better.™

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



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Is it time we admit that the Apple BRAND is better than the Apple PRODUCT?


Apple is clearly the brand of our generation. In our house, we have an iMac desktop, 2 iPads, 3 iPhones, and two MacBooks.  I love Apple. But this past spring, as my phone contract expired, I started to wonder if I get the iPhone 5S or wait for the iPhone 6.  I was a free agent, and started to look around. I looked at the Android, but like many “Apple fans”, I viewed them as the competition, like a NY Yankee fan might view the Boston Red Sox. The more I dug in, the more I realized the Android phone was quite better than the iPhone: bigger screen, faster processor, better camera.  So I bought a Samsung Galaxy Note 3. Whaaaat? That’s right. A Samsung. I felt like a cult member who snuck out of the compound one night and drooled when I saw the Samsung phone. I could see the Galaxy was light years ahead of my iPhone.  Now that I see the iPhone 6, I’m glad I bought the Samsung instead of waiting.  

Yes, the Apple iPhone 6 news kinda fizzled, but does that matter anymore?

I’m no tech expert, but the iPhone 6 feels a very incremental technology. I’m sure it does a few things I’m not aware of or could appreciate. Financial analysts were so bored by the launch, many downgraded the stock. Yes, the Apple stock price is extremely high, but maybe it’s time for the stock to stop living and dying based on the next great launch.  And maybe, it’s time for us to realize that Apple has shifted from a product driven brand to an idea driven brand.  The real reason people buy Apple is the BIG IDEA that “We make technology so SIMPLE, everyone can be part of the future”. With Apple, it has become less about how we think about the product and more how we feel about the brand. While Samsung has a better product than they do a brand, Apple now has a better brand than they do a product.  Samsung can’t get past talking features instead of benefits, offering almost zero emotional connection beyond the product.  Apple has created such an intensely tight bond with their consumers, they are more powerful than your average monopoly. Apple uses that power with the very consumers who love them, against competitors who try to imitate them and through every type of media or potential key influencer in the market. Below we have mapped out the Brand Strategy Road Map for the the Apple brand.  

Apple isn’t really a technology leader, and likely never was. Yes, Apple had an amazing decade of new products from 2001-2011 that gave us the iPod, iTunes, Macbook Air, iPhone and iPad, but Apple is 
a quick follower who figure out the mistakes the technology leaders make and then cleans them up for the mass market. Apple exploits the fact that the first to market technologies are so badly launched (mp3 players, on-line music and tablets) the average consumer never really sees them, leaving the perception that Apple is the innovator. Apple’s product strategy is: “We bring technology that is simple and consumer friendly across a broad array of electronics products. Products have simple stylish designs, user-friendly functionality, convenience and speed.”  Apple’s brand story, told through great advertising like “Mac vs PC” is: “Technology shouldn’t be intimidating or frustrating. We make it simple enough so you can be engaged right away, do more and get more, with every Apple product you are use.”   As an example below, the  beautiful ads over the past year are less about the product features and more about how the brand makes you feel.  

The most Beautiful Apple Product Apple is now their P&L statement

Maybe we just need to relax on these Apple launches and admire Apple’s Profit and Loss statements.  Apple is going to sell about 80 million iPhone 6’s and I bet the iPhone 6 will be under many Christmas trees this year. Stores continue to be packed–it’s tough to even get an appointment.  The Apple retail stores have the highest sales per square foot, almost twice the #2 store, which is Tiffany’s selling diamond rings.  

Apple is now a huge mass market corporate brand, with a market capitalization of $600 billion, 3 times the value of companies like Coke, Procter & Gamble, Pfizer and IBM.  Apple has moved from the challenger type brand to the “king of the castle” brand. Back in the 1980s, IBM was the “drive the BMW, wear a blue suit with polished shoes” type brand, while Apple was “comfortable in your VW Bug, tee-shirt and sandals” brand. Apple was the alternative, anti-corporate, artist. But that’s changed. As much as Apple fought off and won against the corporate arrogant brands like IBM, Microsoft and Sony, they’ve now become that very type of corporate brand.

At Beloved Brands, we believe the more loved a brand is by it’s consumers, the more powerful and profitable that brand can be.  The best example of this model is the Apple brand. 


In researching the Apple brand, and as a true brand geek like me, when I opened up their P&L statement I almost gushed:  I drooled over the compound annual growth rate, stared at the margin % and was in awe of how their fixed marketing spend stayed constant as the sales went through the roof.  It’s the P&L that every Brand Leader wants to leave for the next guy.  

Apple Brand > Apple Product

At Beloved Brands, we run a Brand Leadership Center to train marketers in all aspects of marketing from strategic thinking, analysis, writing brand plans, creative briefs and reports, judging advertising and media. To read more on the programs we offer, click on the Powerpoint presentation below:

We make Brands better. We make Brand Leaders better.™

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


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How to create and tell the story of your Brand

Sometimes, Brand Leaders write their strategic documents in such a boring way, others have a hard time following.  If you as the Brand Leader are the only one who understands your brand, then you’re in trouble. The Brand story should distill everything you know about your brand (the vision, purpose, values, objectives, strategies, tactics, target market, insights, rational and emotional benefits, reason to believe) and organize it into something that is digest-able for everyone who might touch the brand–whether that’s consumers, advocates, influencers, employees, agencies, retailers or the media. 

So what makes a good story?

Before getting into your Brand story, think of all of the great Super Hero stories of Batman, Spiderman or Wonder Woman and you see some commonality in what makes a good story in general.  For this purpose, let’s use the fundamentals of a good Super Hero story and try to match up all the brand strategic inputs you may have to help tell the story. 

The basis of the Super Hero story usually starts with a conflict of Good versus Evil. There needs to be an Enemy and a Hero.  

Most brands started as products or services that handled some functional problem in the market, but as they matured and became more closely connected to their consumers, they evolved into a Big Idea, that fulfills consumers’ emotional needs. brand idea evolutionAnother way to say it, most great PRODUCTS were invented to solve a rational PROBLEM in your consumers’ daily life. Most great BRANDS solve an emotional ENEMY in your ongoing consumers’ life. The question you likely never ask is: who is the Enemy of your consumer? The conflict and resolution sets up the Big Idea of the story.  If you are the Apple brand, then you fight off the enemy of FRUSTRATION on behalf of your consumer. Unless you work in IT, you likely find computers extremely frustrating. We have all sat at our computer wanting to pull our hair out. Spending 38 minutes to figure out how print, getting Error 6303 message that says close all files open and reboot or buying 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 consumers go through and realized it was in the way of many consumers experiencing the potential of communications through computers. 

There is a substantial back story to explain what makes up the Super Hero.

There is a clear vision for a better future, a purpose to explain why the hero does what they do, and a set of values to explain what is right and wrong.  A brand should also be able to articulate their Vision for the next 10 years, The most successful brands start with a purpose driven vision (why) and match the strategies (how) and the execution (what) to the vision.  Start with the Question of WHY do you do what you do? If you are Apple, the answer would be “At Apple, we believe in challenging the status quo, we believe in thinking differently. We challenge ourselves to make a dent in the universe.”  What do you get for your brand, when you answer the question of “why are you in this business?”.

A good Super Hero story saves someone. A good brand should as well.  Each story also has a distinct cry for help.  

As Steve Jobs said: “You’ve got to start with the customer experience and work backwards to the technology. You can’t start with the technology and then try to figure out where you’re going to sell it”  It’s important to tightly define who you will save and it starts with those who are the most motivated by what you do.  Pick a focused target market. Realizing not everyone can like you is the first step to focus on those that can love you. Too many times, Brand Leaders blindly pick an idealized target market based on size and wealth of the target, figuring that will offer the highest return. However, going after the biggest potential target can sometimes lead to failure because they are already being courted by everyone else.  And that large target when they might not like your product is just a recipe for failure. I like to challenge Brand Leaders to focus on figuring out who are the consumers that are already motivated by what you do. That’s the perfect match up to your brand.  You have to matter the most to those who really care.  Just as the super hero always responds to a cry for help, the Brand must listen to the what they are saying. The best way to frame a consumer insight is to get in the shoes of the consumer and use their voice. Insight comes to life when it’s told in such a captivating way that makes consumers stop and say “hmm, I thought I was the only one who felt like that”.  Insight is about  “seeing below the surface”. To get deeper, keep asking yourself “so what does that mean for the consumer” until you have an “AHA moment”. What are the beliefs, attitudes or behaviors that help explain how they think, feel or act in relationship to your brand or category.  What I recommend to Brands is that they frame insights in quotes and use the word I, forcing you to be in their shoes and using their voice. For a Bank with long hours, the insight would be: “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”.

A Super Hero is different than everyone else.  

For a Brand in a competitive world, you have to realize that no one brand can do it all. You have to decide on what you want to be from four choices: better, different, cheaper or else not around for very long. usp-2-0-2Giving the consumer too many messages about your brand will confuse them as to what makes your brand unique. Trying to be everything is the recipe for being nothing. Trying to do everything to everyone makes you nothing to no one. It just spreads your resources and your message so that everything you do is “ok” and nothing is “great”. With a long to-do list, you’ll never do a great job at anything. And in a crowded and fast economy, “ok” never breaks through so you’ll never get the early win to gain that tipping point that opens up the gateway to even bigger success

There is some super power that makes them even better, without being vain. 

Just like the Super Hero knows they can help, the Brand also has to be able to tell the story of how they help out. Doing a Customer Value Proposition (CVP) helps to organize your thinking as a great tool for bringing the benefits to life.  slide1-4

  • Get all of the consumer insights and need states out. 
  • Match them up against the list of the best features the brand offers. 
  • Find the rational benefit by putting yourself in the shoes of the consumer and seeing the brand features from their eyes: start asking yourself over and over again “so if I’m the consumer, what do I get from that?”. Ask it five times and you’ll see the answers will get richer and richer each time you ask. 
  • Then find the emotional benefit by asking “so how does that make me feel?” Ask that five times as well, and you’ll begin to see a deeper emotional space you can play in and own. 

A good story is one that touches people in an emotional way. 

People tend to get stuck when trying to figure out the emotional benefits. I swear every brand out there thinks it is trusted, reliable and yet likeable. It seems that not only do consumers have a hard time expressing their emotions about a brand, but so do Brand Managers. Companies like Hotspex have mapped out all the emotional zones for consumers. I’m not a researcher, but if you’re interested in this methodology contact Hotspex at Leverage this type of research and build your story around the emotions that best fit your consumer needs. Leveraging Hotspex, I’ve mapped out 8 zones in a simplistic way below

Slide1A Good Super Hero has to make difficult choices. They can’t do everything. It’s all about choices.

Every brand is constrained by resources—dollars, people and time.Focus makes you matter most to those who care. Focusing your limited resources on those consumers with the highest propensity to buy what you are selling will deliver the greatest movement towards sales and the highest return on investment for those resources. When you focus on the right choices, you end up with:

  • Better ROI: With all the resources against one strategy, one target, one message, you’ll be find out if the strategy you’ve chose is able to actually move consumers drive sales or other key performance indicators. 
  • Better ROE: Make the most out of your people resources.
  • Strong Reputation: When you only do one thing, you naturally start to become associated with that one thing—externally and even internally. And, eventually you become very good at that one thing.
  • More Competitive: As your reputation grows, you begin to own that on thing and your are able to better defend the positioning territory
  • Bigger and Better P&L: As the focused effort drives results, it opens up the P&L with higher sales and profits. And that means more resources will be put to the effort to drive even higher growth.

Strategic Thinkers see questions before they see solutions. They map out a range of “what if” decision trees that intersect and connect by imagining how events will play out. They reflect and plan before they act. They are thinkers and planners who can see connections. They use knowledge and judgment about the long-term health and wealth of the brand. 

A good story is well-organized, has a consistent tone throughout the story and has layers that support the story.  

There is a Focus to the story: Using one motivated target market and one Unique Selling Proposition based on need states allows you to drive all your resources against strategies that will move the brand towards being more connected and loved. The story has an Early Win: Able to move a motivated target towards sales and share, plus establishing the brand’s positioning with a balance of rational and emotional benefits. The brand now has momentum and growth.There is this point in the story where you can start to Leverage those early wins into something even bigger: When you can take the emotional bond and translate it into a source of power the brand can use against all the forces in the market. And there is a Gateway to something bigger: When you are able to take the brand power and drive strong growth and profits. 

If you were to write the Starbucks, here’s how it might look;

  • Vision: Cherished meeting place for all your quick service food needs
  • Goals: Increase Same store sales, greater share of requirements from Starbucks loyalists
  • Key Issue: How do we drive significant growth of same store sales?
  • Strategy: Move Starbucks loyalists to lunch with an expanded lunch menu.
  • Tactic: Light lunch menu, increase desert offerings.

The strategic way I like to organize a brand is starting with the Big Idea for your brand and then ensuring the brand promise, brand story, strategy, freshness (innovation) and the experience (culture and operations) all match up to the Big Idea. If you are Apple, this is how you’d lay out the guts of your story.  The idea is about taking the complexity out and making it so simple that everyone can be part of the future.  And then Apple lines up the promise, strategy, story, freshness and experience behind that big idea.  So if Apple is about simplicity, then my check out experience buying an Apple product better be simple.  

Slide1No Super Hero goes alone.  They always have help.

And just like running a brand, the Brand Leader needs to be able to communicate the brand story in a way that elicits help from all the employees, the agencies.   

So how do we tell the story?

Here is a story board format that you can use to frame your story, whether telling it through a Powerpoint presentation, a video or even through a two page word document.  The story makes it easy for everyone to digest and everyone to continue telling for those they influence.  If it’s to your sales colleagues, they may have to explain it to customers, if it’s to your agency, they may have to convey it to their art director, and if it’s to advocates, they to portray it to their followers.  Here’s a simple 15 questions to be asking

Slide1And if we were to layer in where each of these answers is hidden away in your plan, you can use this as a cheat sheet.

Slide1Depending on who your audience is for your story, you may wish to only use parts of this story board.  For instance, if you’re talking to the Board of Directors you would use the the top part where you talk vision and purpose and values.  If you are setting up the external communication of the brand, you’d talk target, insights and benefits.  If you’re talking about go to market execution, you’d outline the plan, strategies and how the organization executes.  Having these 15 answers allows Brand Leaders to keep the story consistent and aligned. 


Story Telling is the Simplest articulation of the complexities of your Brand 




How loved is your brand?

We believe a brand’s source of power is the emotional feelings it generates. With that power comes added profitability.

In the consumer’s mind, brands sit on a Brand Love Curve, with brands going from Indifferent to Like It to Love It and finally becoming a Beloved Brand for Life. At the Beloved stage, demand becomes desire, needs become cravings, thinking is replaced with feelings. Consumers become outspoken fans. It’s this connection that helps drive power for your brand: power versus competitors, versus customers, versus suppliers and even versus the same consumers you’re connected with. The farther along the curve, the more power for the brand. It’s important that you understand where your brand sits on the Love Curve and begin figuring out how to move it along towards becoming a Beloved Brand. With the power of connection, the brand can leverage that power into increased growth and profits. To read more, follow this presentation.


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