When your Brand is liked but not loved

Don’t feel bad about being at the Like It stage, because that’s where most brands are.

You have been able to successfully carve out a niche and be a chosen brand against a proliferation of brands in the category.And you have good share results, moderate profits and most brand indicators are reasonably healthy.  It’s just that no one loves you.

Does it really matter? Brands move from Indifferent to Like It to Love It to Beloved Brand for Life. But isn’t being Liked Enough? If you could move to a Loved brand, you would have a very tight connection with consumers.  That connection becomes a source of power that you can harness, and then use to drive higher growth and profits. How can you harness the power Love in the market?  If you are loved, you’ll have power over retailers generating preferential treatment, because they know their consumers will switch stores before they switch brands. You can push suppliers for lower costs because they’ll want to tell others they supply you. You can generate free press, because your brand is now all of a sudden newsworthy. You’ll have cheaper real estate because malls will want your brand to anchor the new mall. Employees will sacrifice wages just to have your brand on their resume. And loved brands can even use that power on the very consumers that love you already: new products will generate early awareness and trial.   All this power, derived from the connectivity to consumers, can be harnessed to generate higher growth rates and added profits. Ask Apple, who is the most loved and the most profitable. They understand the formula: Beloved = Power = Growth = Profit.

Many times I find it hard to convince logical brand managers that being more loved matters. They stick to the safe logic of claims over benefits, stick to the rational of side-by-side demonstrations and they settle for likeable execution instead of pushing for loveable work.  They worry going emotional feels risky. Unsafe.   I’m a logical profit driven marketer. I believe in proof. Emotional is silly agency talk. You might be right because the only advantages a Loved Brand offers is higher growth rates, higher margins, lower costs to serve and overall higher profitability. So stick to being liked and your modest results.

How the consumer sees your Brand at the Liked Stage:  

Consumers see your brand as a functional and rational choice they make. They tried it and it makes sense so they buy it, use it and they do enjoy it.  It meets a basic need they have. They likely prefer it versus another brand, but they think it is better, cheaper or easier to use.  Or your mom told you to use it.  But, consumers don’t have much of an emotional connection or feeling about the brand. Where Indifferent is really bad, you’re ordinary, which is just a little bit better.  Overall, consumers see you brand in the “it will do” space.

Why is your brand stuck at the Like It stage?

There are seven possible reasons why you are at the Like It Stage:

  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.
  2. We are rational thinking Marketers: Those marketers that believe they are strictly rational 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.
  3. New Brand with Momentum: Stage 2 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. The only consumers remaining are those who like their burgers, not the brand.
  6. Positional Power–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 Wal-Mart 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.
  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.
There are lots of reasons your brand is stuck at Like It, mainly because so many of brands are at the Like It stage. There’s nothing shameful in it, but just know you could get more from your brand.

Indicators that your Brand is stuck at the Like It stage

  • 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 set, 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.
  • Stagnant Shares: Your brand team is happy when they hold onto 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 past the Like It stage and move towards the Love It stage

  • Focus on action and drive Consideration and Purchase: stake out certain spaces in the market creating a brand story that separates your brand from the clutter. 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.
  • Begin to Leverage those that already Love: 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.
  • 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 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.

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

 

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

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

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

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

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What is a Beloved Brand?

Being a Beloved Brand gives a brand a tighter connection with their consumer.  That connection becomes a source of power and a source of brand value. 

Beloved = Connection = Power = Profitability

Follow the presentation below:

Executive Summary

  • Everything starts and ends with the consumer in mind.  Consumers move along the “LOVE CURVE” going from Indifferent to Like It to Love It, and then they’ll make it their Brand For Life.  The farther along the curve, the more connected consumers are to the brand.
  • As a brand, you need to know who your consumer is, how they live and what’s important to them. Understand who is not your consumer, realizing you don’t need to be liked by all, but loved by those that really matter.
  • Love the work you do and consumers will love you back.  If you don’t love the work, then how do you expect your consumer to fall in love with your brand? Reject all work that is “just ok”.
  • The Connection and Love  that Consumers have for a Brand becomes a Source of Power for a brand, helping to change the dynamic the brand can have with suppliers, customers, competitors and even with the consumers themselves.
  • The “Love Curve” can be linked to the Brand Funnel which becomes the underlying scoreboard of the brand.  You can use the funnel to map out the buying process for the consumer, identifying both strategy and tactics to move them along the funnel towards being more loved.
  • Used properly, the Power of the Brand can help drive the P&L with four important levers:  driving increased price, lowering costs, increasing share, creating new markets.
  • A powerful connected brand is much more efficient.  And that efficiency can leverage the P&L to invest back in the brand’s connectivity and driveProfitand in turn create Value for the Brand.

About Graham Robertson:  I’m a marketer at heart, who loves everything about brands. I love great TV ads, I love going into grocery stores on holidays and I love seeing marketers do things I wish I came up with. I’m always eager to talk with marketers about what they want to do.   My background includes CPG marketing at companies such as Johnson and Johnson, Pfizer Consumer, General Mills and Coke.  I do executive training of executives and brand managers, helping on strategy, brand planning, advertising and profitability. If you have interest for your team, email me and we can customize a program to your needs.  For Powerpoint versions of Building a Career in Beloved Brands as well as other team learning presentations, visit Slide Share Learning Presentations

Consumers are selfish and deservedly so, because they have money

Consumers are the “Most Selfish animals on the Planet” and deservedly so, because they have money and a willingness to buy. As marketers, we need to  satisfy those selfish needs better than anyone else can. We need to make them love our brand more than they love any competitors’ brand. With that tight and deep emotional connection, it will make our brand more powerful and drive value for that brand.

“By pursuing his own interest he frequently promotes that of the society more effectually than when he really intends to promote it.”

Adam Smith’s Invisible Hand

People have always ask me “why do we need to bother making sure that the consumer loves the work we do?  Isn’t it more realistic that we just get them to like it?” My answer is that “if you don’t love the work you do, how do you expect the consumer to love your brand?” Consumers are incredibly selfish and deservedly so, they are stuck on their current favorites and can’t imagine anything better, they have no time in their lives to hear your sales pitch, yet in contrast they are bored out of their minds, desperately wanting something new in their life. As marketers, selfishness is a good thing, because it just makes it more obvious the need we are trying to satisfy. So give them something they’ll love, not just something that they’ll “kinda like”.

When a consumer walks into a mall, the selfishness hits its peak. They have money and motivation and so many needs they don’t even know where to start, constrained only by how much room they have on their credit card. They are forced to make choices between needs and between brands that might satisfy those needs. They put themselves and their needs as their #1 priority. Until they find exactly what they want, they are blinded by desire, willing to be fussy and demanding. Satisfying the Consumer Selfishness starts with understanding the needs of your consumers and then matching those needs up to what your brand does best (see below for the zone marked with the green check mark). Once you find this winning zone, you need to make it seem even bigger. Most purchase decisions are 50% rational and 50% emotional, yet marketers get stuck by putting only the most boring undisputable facts into their sales pitch. That won’t be enough to satisfy the most selfish. Instead, winning brands find a way to dial it up by driving into the deeper emotional need states, so the immediate connection starts off in a deeper zone.

Losing brands try to go head to head where your competitor can satisfy that need better than you can.  (see the zone marked by the red X)  The zone where both your brand and the competitor can satisfy that consumer in an equal zone, you need to find something where you do it better–execution, attention to detail or going the extra mile to satify that selfish consumer. Here, execution matters more than anything–so you better love the work you do.

Consumers have a love of their favourite things. Whether it’s their favorite coffee they get on the way to work every day, their favourite running shoes that let them run faster or their favorite restaurant where the waiter knows what they want.  Consumers move along a Love Curve, going from Indifferent to Like It to Love It and finally Brand for Life, where it becomes fully embedded in the heart of the consumer—demand becomes desire, needs become cravings, thinking is replaced with feelings.  Consumers become outspoken fans of the brand, ready to speak on the virtues or defend it from attack. All marketers should push their brands along the love curve, leveraging that deeper connection with consumers to become a more powerful brand.

Consumers are busier than ever, making it harder than ever to break through. Whether it’s working late, trying to balance everything or doing too much, they have so little time. People are multi-tasking, texting while driving or on the TV while watching TV—which is up 35% this year. Traditional ways with a 30 second ad and a billboard aren’t having the same effect in today’s world. The average consumer is exposed to over 6,000 advertising message per day. The consumers’ brain sorts through the clutter until finds something that might fill their needs. Imagine your boring logical message, well thought and all, breaking through to that consumer. Even with the fast paced life, most consumers are bored with life and just want something to entice them. The simplest way to challenge boredom is to like everything you do unconditionally, but if this bored consumer meets up with a boring brand, it will be rejected very quickly.

Marketers Play It Far Too Safe to Find True Love. Brand Leaders choose the safety of logic and facts instead of getting too deep or going all emotional with their consumer. And, most brands end up liked but never end loved. My Mom Wanted Me to Be an Actuary. Apparently, an Actuary has one of the longest life expectancies, can make quite a bit of money and they live the ideal work-life balance.  Sounds like the perfect job, but I just couldn’t do it. What’s lacking in the life of an actuary is the ability to have fun at work or drive all your passion into your work to create something big. You can make a real difference. So if you’re not going to be an Actuary…then stop acting like one when you’re the Brand Leader. We can’t afford to keep doing just the usual, we can’t get stuck in logic and we can’t just satisfy needs. We need to push to go beyond greatness at every touch point with our selfish and bored consumers. We need to cultivate a deep emotional relationship with our consumer and we need to entice craving and desire.

Here’s my simple challenge for you:  If you don’t love the work you do, how do you expect the consumer to love your Brand.

 

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Finding your love in the art of being different.

I found this year’s Super Bowl ads were “pretty good”.While the Farmers ad stood out as amazing, the Budweiser ad was nice. But the rest of it while well executed feels like something we see on CNN all the time. Nothing was different.

Given the current economy, shouldn’t we be taking more risks to stand out rather than playing it safe right down the middle of the road? Let’s hope someone has the strength to do something different.

The classic launch formula: do the basic product concept testing, hope for a moderate pass. Then meet with sales and explain how this is almost identical to the launch we did last year, and builds on the same thing we just saw our competitor do. Re-enforce that the buyer hinted that if we did this, we’d get on the shelves pretty easily. Go to your ad agency, with a long list of mandatories and an equally long list of benefits they can put in the ad. Tell the agency you’re excited. They’ll tell you they’re excited as well. Ask for lots of options, as a pre-caution because time is tight and we’re not sure what we want. Just hope the agency clearly understood the 7-page brief. Test all the ads, even a few different endings, and then let the research decide who wins. That way, no one can blame you. Do up a safe media plan with mostly TV, some small but safe irrelevant secondary media choice. Throw in a web site to explain the 19 reasons why we launched. Maybe even a game on the website.

Ah, we have our launch. 

This is a guaranteed formula for success, because it follows last year’s launch to a tee and will be done hundreds of brands this year. Convince yourself, you had to play it safe because sales are down, margins are tight and you will do something riskier next year once this launch is done. What looks like a guaranteed success will likely get off to a pretty good start and then flat-line until it will be discontinued three brand managers from now.

At some point, to break through in a cluttered market, you’ve got to do something different to stand out:  now, more than ever. It might feel like a risky move, but it’s almost riskier not to take that chance.

Push yourself to be different. The most beloved brands are different, better or cheaper. Or not around for very long.  

There are four types of launches:

good-vs-different

Good but not different (our launch above) 

These do very well in tests mainly because consumers have seen it before and check the right boxes in research. In market, it gets off to a pretty good start—since it still seems so familiar. However, once challenged in the market by a competitor, it falters because people start to realize it is no different at all. So they go back to their usual brand and your launch starts to go flat. This option offers limited potential.

Good but different:

These don’t always test well: consumers don’t really know what to make of it. Even after launched, it takes time to gain momentum, having to explain the story with potential investment and effort to really make the difference come to life. But once consumers start to see the differences and how it meets their needs, they equate different with “good”. It begins to gain share and generates profits for the brand. This option offers long-term sustainability.

Not good and not different:

These are the safest of safe. Go back into the R&D lab and pick the best one you have–even if it’s not very good. The tallest of midgets. They do pretty well in test because of the familiarity. In market, it gets off to a pretty good start, because it looks the same as what’s already in the market. But pretty soon, consumers realize that it’s the same but even worse, so it fails dramatically. What appears safe is actually highly risky. You should have followed your instincts and not launched. This option is a boring failure.

Different but not that good

Sometimes we get focused on the product first: it offers superior technology, but not really meeting an unmet need. So we launch what is different for the sake of being different. It does poorly in testing. Everyone along the way wonders why we are launching. But in the end, consumers don’t really care about your point of difference. And it fails. The better mousetrap that no one cares about.

It will be up to you to figure out how to separate good from bad. One caution is letting market research over-ride your own instincts. As Steve Jobs said: “it’s hard for consumers to tell you what they want when they’ve never seen anything remotely like it. Yet now that people see it, they say OH MY GOD THAT’S GREAT”

We always tracked many numbers (awareness, brand link, persuasion etc), but the one I always wanted to know was “made the brand seem different”. Whether it is new products, a new advertising campaign or media options push yourself to do something that stands out. Don’t just settle for ok. Always push for great. If you don’t love the work, how do you expect your consumer to love your brand? The opposite of different, is indifferent and who wants to be indifferent.      

In case you need any added incentive: Albino fruit flies mate at twice the rate of normal fruit flies. Just because they are different! And the place where most ground hogs are run over is right in the middle of the road.  

Push yourself to find your difference

 

To read more about how the love for a brand creates more power and profits:

 

For a presentation on how to write a Positioning Statement, follow:

Other Stories You Might Like

  1. How to Write a Creative Brief. The creative brief really comes out of two sources, the brand positioning statement and the advertising strategy that should come from the brand plan. To read how to write a Creative Brief, click on this hyperlink:  How to Write a Creative Brief
  2. How to Write a Brand Plan: The positioning statement helps frame what the brand is all about. However, the brand plan starts to make choices on how you’re going to make the most of that promise. Follow this hyperlink to read more on writing a Brand Plan: How to Write a Brand Plan
  3. Turning Brand Love into Power and Profits: The positioning statement sets up the promise that kick starts the connection between the brand and consumer. There are four other factors that connect:  brand strategy, communication, innovation and experience. The connectivity is a source of power that can be leveraged into deeper profitability. To read more click on the hyper link:  Love = Power = Profits
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The more beloved the brand, the more profitable and valuable the brand is.

Consumers have relationships with their brands, some simple and shallow while others are tremendously deep and personal. There is almost a LOVE CURVE the consumer goes on,  moving from INDIFFERENT to LIKING to LOVING and then on to a BRAND FOR LIFE.   At a given point, consumers stop thinking and start feeling.   It can take years or just minutes.   For Brand owners, what’s important is to know where your brand is on the curve and how to move it along to the next stage.

There are significant benefits to moving the brand along the Love Curve.   At stage 1, consumers are INDIFFERENT, your brand is basically replaceable and you only get used because “this will do”.   You’re not really anyone’s favourite.    As they move to stage 2, they LIKE it and make logical, solid functional choices.   But at stage 3, consumers  LOVE the brand, are outspoken, possessive, unrelenting, and it becomes very personal.  Along the way, people stop thinking and start feeling.   And consumers enter stage 4 where it’s their BRAND FOR LIFE, where the brand is almost an extension of the consumers themselves.  They would never use another brand because they’d almost feel like they are cheating.

Look at how we feel when we love a brand (Unrelenting, Possessive), compared to Indifferent (It will do, Basic Needs)

Apple is a great example of a modern day beloved brand.   They hate Microsoft as much as they love Mac.  Try telling a Loyal Mac user that “Windows 7 is really good” you’re certain to start a fight.   You might even lose a friend.    One of the most beloved brands is Ferrari which Italians from around the world see as a statement of their Italian culture and personal identity.  They wear the logo with pride, cheer for Ferrari each week in the F1 and yet they most likely have never driven a Ferrari.  They spend zero dollars on Advertising, relying on consumers wearing their brand, cheering for their brand or just dreaming of it.   What a place to be as a marketer where your consumers act as brand fans, and standing up for you.  Another great example to show the differences is Coffee, where Tim Horton’s is the Beloved Brand.

But what goes up, can also come down and brands can move backwards on the curve.  For instance Gap Clothing, Levis or even Olive Garden were all once loved and have slid back to indifferent.

The only true goal of brand building is profit and brand value.  Every choice you make that moves your brand along the LOVE CURVE towards being beloved helps you drive long term value into your brand.

THERE ARE SIGNIFICANT BUSINESS BENEFITS TO BEING A BELOVED BRAND:

  1. Brand is more than just positioning.  Brand serves to match up the brand’s external promise with the internal culture and operations that delivers that brand promise.   While most brands look for an external positioning, that’s the promise you make to the consumer.   It’s equally important to focus on delivering that promise with the Brand serving as a beacon for the culture and operations and helps to steer behaviour, thinking and decisions employees make to support the brand.  For many brands, the people and the culture are the “secret sauce” to that brand’s success.  It’s like an iceberg where the brand promise is the tip the consumer sees, but below is the culture that needs to be aligned to deliver that promise.
  2. It’s easier to run a branded business with a line up at the door.    Longer lines means fresher product, and that means a better customer experience.   A baquette in Paris tastes so much better, not because it’s in Paris, but because the pâtisserie in Paris  sells 300 baquettes by 10 am, all fresh out of the oven.  The poor baguette in the North American grocery store looks lonely, dry, crusty.  Also, people love to follow the crowds, figuring others have already made the decision for you.
  3. Strong Sales Growth helps The P&L Starts to Work Better:  Using Porter’s Model, strong steady sales also means you can control your variable and fixed costs.    a) More Buying Power over Suppliers: higher volume means you can go to suppliers with a big order and exert pressure on the costs  b) Power Over Customer Channels: you can begin exerting power over the sales channels to your advantage–trimming variable trade with retailers while demanding more in return including more control over pricing. c) Smarter More Efficient Management:  manage your inventories, meet customer expectations, control pricing and drive cheaper costs.  d) Growth means you start outgrowing any fixed costs.  This includes start up costs, sales force, product plants or R&D costs.  e)  Lower Cost of Capital:More certainty means lower risk and you can re-invest, knowing the ROI will be quicker and stronger.

    There are 4 profit drivers you can push through the brand: price, cost, share and market size.
  4. The Poor Competition has no chance.   Most categories play the zero sum game, where one brands’ gain is the other guys’ loss.   Leader brands that build an emotional connection back the competition into the rational zone–facing scrutiny, doubt and skepticism.   As a marketer, the more emotional heat you can generate leaves almost nothing left for your competitor.  You reach that tipping point, where your gain is their loss.  When it’s all about share gain, the beloved brand has a competitive advantage.
  5. Great Brands have a certain magic to them.  Gaining that deep Emotional connection is hard work, but also takes a certain flare or an art form.  Gather all the data, be ruthless in your decisions, always focus on ROI, and eliminate risk and you’ll be liked but never loved.  You need to use instincts, take chances, use a certain flare and believe that execution matters.  If you want your consumer to love your brand, you have to love the work you do.  Look at the love Apple projects to it’s consumers through the magic of design, branding and marketing.

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