Category Archive: Beloved Brands in the Market

Stop thinking like a PRODUCT manager and think like a BRAND manager

Usually when I ask “what makes a great brand”, the first answer I get is “they have a great product”. That’s not an untrue answer, but it’s just a starting point really. The best PRODUCTS start out solving an actual problem, but as we’ve seen the best BRANDS evolve beyond just the product  eventually becoming a Big Idea. Yes, products can be very successful, without laddering up to a Brand, but they usually take a price strategy only–like Walmart, Expedia or Mcdonald’s.  If you treat your product like a commodity your consumer will treat you the same. 

brand idea evolution

Companies really only have four strategic choices:  you can be better, different, cheaper or not around for very long.  Better implies you have some ACTUAL and MEASURABLE performance advantage versus your competitor and different implies that there’s a PERCEIVED difference versus the average products. Both better and different require you to act like a brand, with a defined idea that can help defend your position. If you choose to act like a PRODUCT, that really just leaves CHEAPER as your strategic option. And choosing the strategy of being cheaper leaves you at the mercy of using pricing fluctuations, by purely supply and demand, and very rational decisions.  When you start managing a brand, consumers start to use more emotions in the decision, thinking a bit less.  

So why do we have Brands?

I love asking this question.  Usually I get a bunch of marketing type answers like driving loyalty, conveying consistency or maintaining ownership over trademarks. All good answers. But the best answer is about profit, not marketing.  Companies only invest to create a Brand if they think they can make more money from a brand, than if we just had a Product.  When you create a brand, there are 4 main ways to use the P&L to drive more profit for your brand:

  • Use the connectivity between brand and consumer to leverage premium Pricing to drive profits:  By creating a brand idea that connects, you can try to command a premium or once you have a loyal consumer, you can look for innovative ways to trade your consumers up. When consumers are emotionally connected to a brand, the price becomes more Inelastic. We can see in the market, that loyal brand fans pay a 20-30% price premium for Apple’s iPad.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 or are they paying for the Brand?
  • Use your brand’s power to drive Lower Costs: A well-run Brand can use their efficiency to lower their cost structure. If you are a hot brand, suppliers will cut their cost just to be on the roster of a beloved Brand. A brand that becomes popular 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.
  • Leverage the bond with consumers to Increase your Market Share: Crowds draw crowds which spreads the base of the loyal consumers. I was walking past a store the other day and they had a line up to get into the store. We immediately became curious as to what that store offered. 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.
  • When you have an idea bigger than your product alone, you can enter into New Categories that fit with your idea:  We see many beloved Brands enter into new categories knowing their loyal consumers will follow because they buy into the Idea of the Brand. Starbucks has gone far beyond Coffee to where it’s now one of the biggest fast food chains in the world.  The idea is no longer tied to the product or service but rather how it makes you feel about yourself. 

Running a Brand can feel a bit less Certain than a Product

I work with Brand Leaders all the time at every level, and with many, I can sense an uneasy feeling when we shift the conversation from product to brand. It’s almost like the uncertainty of skating on ice, instead of the certainty of just walking on pavement. Managing a product is easier, but managing a brand can generate higher growth rates and margin to drive profits for your company.

Challenge yourself to shift your thinking from a product leader to more of a brand leader. As much as it can feel uneasy, shift your thinking to be more conceptual. Try to figure out the big idea of your brand.  We believe that a Brand is an idea that is worth loving. Our definition of a brand: “A Brand is a unique idea, perceived in the minds and hearts of the consumer, consistently delivered by the experience, creating a bond, power and profit, beyond what the product itself could achieve.” The challenge I have for you is that if the best brands eventually evolve to defining a Big Idea for their brand, then why not just start there? You should figure out your brand’s Big Idea and then everything in the company should feed off the Brand’s Big Idea. The Big Idea (some call it the Brand Essence) is the most concise definition of the Brand. For Volvo, it’s “Safety”, while BMW might be “Performance” and Mercedes is “Luxury”. 

Once you have your Big Idea, you should then use it to frame the 5 different connectors needed to set up a very strong bond between your brand and your consumers. Brands are able to generate love for their brand when the consumer does connect with the brand. I wish everyone would stop debating what makes a great brand and realize that all five connectors matter: promise, strategy, story, innovation and experience. The first connector is the Brand Promise, which connects when the brand’s main Benefit matches up to the needs of consumers. Once knowing that promise, everything else feeds off that Promise. For Volvo the promise is Safety, for Apple it is Simplicity and FedEx it might be Reliability. It’s important to align your Strategy and Brand Story pick the best ways to communicate the promise, and then aligning your Innovation and the Experience so that you deliver to the promise. To make sure the Innovation aligns to the Big Idea, everyone in R&D must be working towards delivering the brand promise. If someone at Volvo were to invent the fastest car on the planet, should they market it as the safe-fast car or should they just sell the technology to Ferrari. Arguably, Volvo could make more money by selling it to a brand where it fits, and not trying to change people’s minds. As for the experience, EVERYONE in the company has to buy into and live up to the Brand Promise. As you can start to see, embedding the Brand Promise right into the culture is essential to the brand’s success.

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Think like a Brand Manager

As you’re challenging yourself to think about going to Brand Thinking, here are some of the differences you might notice.  

  • Think of a Brand as an idea with many intangibles, whereas a product is usually tangible to the senses. This is where you as a Brand Leader must begin to think more conceptual and think of ideas.  
  • If we think of a Product as solving a Problem, then try to think of a Brand as fighting your consumer’s enemy.  
  • While managing a product, you’re always focused on trying to figure out the THINKING part of your consumer, and you offer very rational product features and claims, you might need to shift to start figuring out the EMOTIONAL decisions your consumer makes and finding more emotional benefits that connect with them.  
  • Instead of thinking of just the consumption of your product, start thinking of the EXPERIENCE. When I was a Brand Leader, I honestly didn’t pay too much attention to the experience.  We tend to think of that for service brands. But look at the EXPERIENCE of a product brand like Apple and see the difference it can create.
  • Brand becomes a reputation you must manage, going well beyond the legal entity and trademark.  Every brand should be using Public Relations to become part of the news cycle, helping to go beyond Advertising. Look to your most loyal consumers as a potential influencer of your reputation through social media.  
  • Start to think about becoming part of your consumers life, as a ritual, which goes beyond a routine. Be a favorite part of their day, or be an enabler to great things that happen in their life. Adjust to the days of the week of the time of the year. Leverage the calendar as a call out to how your brand might be used.  
  • A product can be debated, but a Brand will be defended.  Provide your most loyal consumers with enough love so that they love you back enough to defend you at the lunch table.  

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The more Love you can generate for your Brand, the more Power and Profits you will generate.  

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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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How to Develop winning CLAIMS for your Brand

usp-2-0-2Brands are either better, different or cheaper. Or not around for very long.

You have to find a unique selling proposition for your brand.  The key to being unique, is not just unique for the sake of it, but to match up what you do best with what the consumer is looking for.  Or else, you will play in the who cares zone.   A great claim must be ownable to your brand, and motivating to the consumer.  

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 ownable for you or motivating to the consumer.

Start with the Consumer First

Like everything in marketing, you should always start with the consumer first.  slide1-4Define your target, create motivating insights that help you connect, map out the consumers’ enemy and create a meaningful customer value proposition. 

Hold a brainstorming session with everyone who works on the brand so you can:

  1. Get all of the consumer insights and need states out. 
  2. Match them up against the list of the best features the brand offers. 
  3. 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. 
  4. 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. 

For instance, no one really cares that a golf club has 5.7% more torque. (a potential claim) When you ask what do i get from that, the better answers are longer drives or lower scores or winning a tournament (rational benefits). When you ask how does that make you feel, the emotional space is more confidence in your golf swing and optimism that you’ll break 80 all the time now (emotional benefit).  

The Brand Positioning Statement
Before you get to your claims, you want to start to map out a best in class brand positioning statement, which has four key elements:

  1. Target Market (a)
  2. Definition of the market you play in (b)
  3. Brand Promise (emotional or rational benefit) (c)
  4. The Reason to Believe (RTB) the brand promise (d)

The more focused your decisions, the more successful you will be: decide on one target, one promise and maybe one or two reasons to believe that help to directly back up your promise. But the target shouldn’t be everyone 18-65, and don’t throw your eight best features at the wall and hopefully something sticks. And the reason to believe has to back up your promise, not be a whole new promise.

The classic way to write a Brand Positioning Statement is to take the elements above and frame them into the following: For the target market (a) Brand X plays in the market (b) and it gives the main benefit (c). That’s because of the following reasons to believe (d). This is what it looks like when you put them into this format:

 slide11-4The claims you are going to create should fit in the Reasons to Believe, and help to support your benefit. As I said above, don’t start with a claim and then try to create a benefit around the claim.  Sometimes in big companies, the claims team sits in the R&D group, randomly developing claims.  You as the Brand Leader need to provide the positioning work as a guideline for them to work within. 

Brainstorming and Sorting the Claims

As you look for that separation for your brand, you have to ensure it’s ownable and motivating to consumers. Otherwise you’re just talking to yourself. What you want to do is hold a brainstorming session with a cross functional team, who might be from marketing, consumer insights, R&D, regulatory, sales strategy or a professional sales team.  Add in people who have been on the brand a long time, and those who are new.  Using the work above, with the Unique Selling Proposition and the Positioning Statement derived from the Customer Value Proposition, you want to create claims that would fit in the Reasons to Believe area.  I would suggest you create potential areas to brainstorm under:

  • Product Feature Claims
  • Experiential Claims
  • Testimonial Claims
  • Emotional Satisfaction Claims
  • Psychological Claims
  • Key Influencer Support
  • Statistical Claims

Once you create a brainstorm list that matches up to your benefits, you then want to do a claims sort through market research.  Focus on the tests that help determine what is most motivating to move the consumer and what is most ownable to your brand.  (grid below)  One caveat is that you may wish to get Legal/Regulatory to go through the claims to make sure you will get approval. The key to a great lawyer is not finding out what will get rejected (anyone can do that) but to move the claim in a direction that will get approval.  I want my lawyer to say “now if you said it this way…”   

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Build your claims around the Benefit,

not your Benefit around your Claims

 

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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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Bad decision by Target Inc to take an INTERNAL motivation video and release it EXTERNALLY

I’ve been a fan of the Target brand for years, which has done a great job in adding emotion into the Mass Merchandising world, where WalMart is an emotionless discounter.  Last year, Target entered the Canadian market with my hype.  So much hype, it was foolishly nominated for Marketer of the Year before the doors even opened.  Canadians had been to Target as visitors and there was a lot of pent up demand.   image

But once the stores opened up, the hype fizzled very quickly.  Consumers didn’t see much different about Target. They were missing US items Canadians wanted, store shelves were only half full and consumers quickly realized the prices weren’t that great.  As a rule for Beloved Brands, there are only four choices a brand can make: you have to be better, different or cheaper, or you won’t be around for very long.  “Maybe we didn’t put our best foot forward when we entered into Canada. We had some disappointments when we opened. Certainly we think we disappointed our guests,” said Damien Liddle, Target Canada’s senior corporate counsel, in the clip. “But here at headquarters and at our store teams we’re working really hard to give everybody that unique Target experience.”

 

And so this month, they did one of those “go get them” videos to the troops, which we all see at sales meetings ALL the time.  There was nothing unique.  But in either an act of desperation or some type of group think, they released the video publicly.  Here it is:

 

Now there is nothing really wrong with the video, but there’s also nothing really right about the video. It won’t do any harm, but honestly, it won’t do any good.  To me, here’s 3 things not in the video: 

Where are the consumer views? Everything has to start and end with your consumer in mind.  This video is very Target focused, and as it goes externally it just feels like a “we messed up” apology.  But it’s ALL ABOUT TARGET, and not about the consumer.  As a rule for Beloved Brands, no one cares about what you do, until you really care about what your consumer wants. Find a way to listen, give them a voice, understand them by being in their shoes. Put your consumers’ needs first and you’ll find yourself speaking in terms of benefits they get, not just features that you do.  Consumers have to get something and you can the one that is lucky enough to give them that something they want. Target: stop talking about yourself, and let them talk about themselves.  

Why are the Employees taking the blame?  As Harry Truman said “the buck stops here”  That’s a sign of true leadership.  In this video, there are about 10 mid-level employees who sort of take the blame for all this and there is talk about what they will do differently going forward to win back consumers.  I don’t see the President of Target Canada, nor anyone from Minnesota.  These are the people who oversaw the merger, who made decisions before many of the people on this video were even hired.  A beloved brand, especially a service brand, has to have an organization where Brand and Culture are one.  The promise you say you’ll do, is executed flawlessly by the culture.  I do feel that putting the mid level employees up and having them take it on the chin is not a culture of leadership, but it feels like a blame game.  The only role that the Canadian President had in this video is he retweeted it on his twitter account.  Btw, he has 758 followers. For Target, it’s time for the leadership to step up. 

What is happening to Target? Yes, they were a little slow to launch into a second market beyond the US.  But going into Canada shouldn’t cause this much stress. Wow. Maybe there is more to it, as we look at the stock price has fallen 20% in the past 18 months as Target has begun missing forecasts overall and management is now being shuffled around. Certainly you can’t blame Canada on this, but maybe Canada can blame what’s happening at Target overall. 

Target needs to reconnect with Consumers to re-kindle the love that appears slipping away

 

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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In honour of D-Day, a “Thank You” TV ad that will give you shivers

d-dayOn June 6, 1944, the Normandy landings, codenamed Operation Neptune. saw the largest seaborne invasion in history, the operation began the invasion of German-occupied western Europe, which led to the restoration of France, the re-capture of Paris and contributed to an Allied victory in the war.

In honour of the 70th anniversary of the landing on D-Day, I wanted to share a TV ad of a young man thanking his grandfather for his time served in Dieppe during WWII. The Dieppe raids took place 2 years before D-Day, and saw extremely heavy casualties. A total of 3,623 of the 6,086 men (almost 60%) who made it ashore were either killed, wounded, or captured.   The events at Dieppe influenced preparations for the Normandy landings. tumblr_lszlv3VDZI1qaqn8to1_1280As a Canadian, Dieppe is a source of pride for us, as 5,000 of the 6,000 soldiers involved were Canadian.  Canadians were also heavy participants in the D-Day invasion, with 14,000 soldiers landing on the beaches of Normandy on the 6th of June in 1944. 

This TV ad for Bell in Canada is a bit dated now, but back in the mid 90s we were still excited we could call from anywhere. I’ve been to that beach in Dieppe and it does command such intense feelings.  While this is just a TV ad, and we might find that silly, it’s one more example of how, when we think of our consumers first, our industry can connect on the things that matter.

We see many tributes to the soldiers, but this one unique thanks one who served long ago.  Every time I watch this ad, it sends a chill through me.  

 

 On this 70th anniversary of D-Day, a special thank you to all who have served.

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The day Apple’s Arrogance cost themselves a very loyal customer

applelogoI love Apple.  I own a MacBook Air, an iMac, iPad mini and an iPhone 4S. My kids both have iPhones and MacBook Pros.  But yesterday, I bought a Samsung Galaxy Note 3.  Whaaaat?   Yes, that’s right.  A Samsung.  

I still feel weird about it.  But I’ll recover. I know this article will bring out the Apple lovers.  Don’t worry, I’m one of you.  But with my new phone, I feel like a cult member who snuck out of the compound one night and drooled when I saw the Samsung phone.  I could see it was light years ahead of my phone. I feel the same way I felt back in 2010 when I escaped my Blackberry cult and bought my iPhone.  

Two hard realities for most people in the Apple army to realize.

  1. Apple is a big mass corporate brand. It’s no longer an artistic challenger brand.  That will be some tough medicine for the most loyal of Apple users who first bought into the brand in the 1980s.  
  2. Apple’s post Steve Jobs innovation has been incremental and not leap frog.  The reality is that R&D pipelines are long lead cycle times, so this is really still Jobs’ pipeline.  But it’s relatively dry compared to the previous decade of riches.  

Apple has changed:  They’ve moved from the challenger brand to the “king of the castle” brand.   Apple used to be the alternative, anti-corporate, artistic, “we try harder” type brand.  IBM was the BMW, blue suit and polished shoes brand, while Apple was VW Bug, tee shirt and sandals brand.  But as much as Apple fought off the arrogant brands like IBM, Microsoft and Sony, they’ve now become that brand. And with that shift, we now see an attitude change–we are seeing a certain Apple arrogance that almost says “come on, where else are you going to go?”  That’s human nature to feel that way as most who now work at Apple are now cult members who joined Apple because they loved the brand.  But that arrogance has a danger to it of thinking you can do no wrong and feel no real competition. Confidence is healthy, arrogance is not. 

Apple has slowed down:  Sales are still strong but thats as the laggard type mass market now enjoys the lead generation products of a few years ago. Next time you’re in an Apple store, look at the table where they are teaching classes and you’ll see a few Senior Citizens. Sales and margins are seeing record highs the past year, but since the middle of 2012, the stock price has floated up and down around $600. If you held stock for the past 24 months, you’re at a break even position.  The high sales are how of how Apple is  doing now, but the stock price is an indication the market is still confused by Apple’s future. If the big play for Apple is China, there’s a good likelihood North America won’t see any leap frog advances for a few years.

I write about Brands all the time.  Samsung has a better product than they do a brand. The reality is the Samsung phone is a better product. It is faster, bigger, and has so many more features than the iPhone. 

Yesterday, I went into my Apple store to upgrade my Iphone 4S to a 5S.  And I asked the strange question:  “so, I’m a current iPhone user and Apple lover, and wondering what price discount that gets me”.  I guess I was using my opening line from when I last bought a car.  It seems like buying a car, so why not. Plus my Scottish blood makes me always eager to save a few bucks.  The guy in the blue shirt looked at me strangely and said “the price of the new iPhone 5S would be $299 with a two year plan.”  So I said, “so there’s no real benefit for me, being an owner of so many Apple products to staying with the Apple brand?”  And he got a bit huffy and said “other than owning a beautiful phone…no”. The guy got up and walked away on me, almost mad that I would even ask.  I felt snubbed.  I wasn’t really expecting a big discount or anything.  But nothing. Here I am in club. And I would get the same deal as a customer walking in off the street. I’m loyal to Apple, but is Apple loyal back to me?  Nope. 

And I smiled like that cult member who could now see a bit of freedom.

So, I went and bought a Samsung Galaxy Note 3.

The most Beloved Brands have to attack themselves before being attacked by competitors.  There’s a reason why Starbucks closed every store for one day to retrain their baristas.  They attacked themselves before competitors could.  And there’s a reason why Sony has lost market leadership in every category they play in.  Arrogance.  I’m afraid Apple’s arrogance has them blindly marching forward, feeling invincible knowing the passion of their cult will follow.  I’m only one customer.  No big deal. But once you’re done fulfilling all the orders of the laggards, then what?  The biggest point of being a beloved brand is to love the consumer.  

I guess like many relationships, I hit my breaking point.  And the guy in the blue shirt basically said “it’s not you, it’s me”.   Now, let me figure out how to send an email on my new phone.  

 

As Oscar Wilde said: “Never love anyone who treats you like you are ordinary”

To go deeper on the Apple, here’s an article  I wrote 18 months ago, outlining how Apple is not delivering on their brand promise:   Apple: What Goes Up, Might Come Down  Not much has changed since.  

 

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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P&G has become really good at Emotional Advertising

6mkd49.pngIn my generation, it was usually pretty easy to spot a P&G marketer. They are the type that has “the” answer. The “P&G way” used to be: find something (almost anything) that you’re better at than your competitor and then make the most of it, by showing a side-by-side demonstration, naming the “next leading brand” and quite possibly add some blue liquid to the TV ad.  P&G managed to exploit this execution through most of the 1970s and 1980s.  Don’t get me wrong: I’ve always respected P&G for what it is. They did a good job for decades using that same trusted formula.  They just stuck to the same formula a bit too long, and it caught up to them by the mid-to-late 1990s.

 

Here’s a great example of the classic 1970s P&G advertising looked like, including the famous blue liquid.

 

But by 2000, the P&G formula seemed worn out they suddenly appeared to hit a brick wall. Growth dried up, several key brands lost their leadership of the market to rivals, and new product launches proved disappointing or even to be downright failures. Competitor products had caught up, and in some cases surpassed them. Colgate was beating Crest, Listerine was beating Scope, Finish was beating Cascade, Dove was beating Ivory and others were catching up or passing the trusted P&G brands., the stock price fell dramatically from $120 to $85 almost over night. A consumer driven brand mainly has 3 weapons: 1) new products 2) communication and 3) go-to-market execution through retailers. P&G stepped up on innovation and even acquisition to bolster the product roster.  And they have made a dramatic change in how they communicate with their consumers,. They also found that the same Advertising formula wasn’t working anymore.

Strategically, brands really have four choices:  

  • Better
  • Different
  • Cheaper
  • Not around for very long

But in the current crowded Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) world, “Better” has become increasingly difficult. Every category is so cluttered, everyone has copied every non-patented product feature, claims are getting even harder to gain separation from competitors.  We are into the world of incremental-ization of fast acting tabs, quick dissolving strips or ultra powders.  Yawn. More and more, what is winning is different.  The brand that taught all of the CPG marketers a vital lesson is Dove, with “real beauty” demonstrating that different is a powerful way to connect.  

At the base of P&G’s communication is the strategic shift from always being “better” to now being “different”. Instead of looking at unique feature differences to build the benefits around, P&G is now looking at unique consumer insights that will help them connect with consumers. The ads have shifted from pure product demos to finding moments within the consumer’s life. Also, P&G has a new respect for the power of Advertising–even sending people to the Cannes awards.  Yes, Unilever has been doing this type of work across their brands for decades now, with the most inspiring CPG brand being the work on Dove.  

 

Here’s a few P&G spots that have really captured the emotional marketing.

I thought P&G did a very nice job at the 2012 Olympics, the one sponsor that seemed to jump out. “Thank You Moms” showed everything that moms did for their athletes, and just as Mom is an enabler, so is P&G to the Moms. I’m sure quite a few moms were shedding a few tears over this one.

 

 

The second P&G ad spoke to the idea that “they’ll always be kids” and it showed the athletes depicted as little children.

 

 

With Old Spice, it was a dead brand.  It was so old that P&G had liberty to completely re-invent the brand.  And this campaign just jumped off the screen a few years ago.  (it’s a bit worn out now)

 

To me the symbolic P&G unemotional brands that P&G has is Tide and if you watch this Ad for “stay at home dads” you would never know it’s a cold brand.

Some good lessons for other brands to learn.

  • Focus on different where you can’t win on better.
  • Instead of product features, move to consumer insights
  • Story telling and Moments connect more with your consumers than claims and demos.  

You’re doing a Great job P&G connecting with consumers. Now it’s time for your competitors to catch up.  

Here’s an article that goes a little deeper on the ABC’S: How to Judge Advertising Copy: Approve the Good. Reject the Bad.

To see a training presentation on Get Better Advertising:

 

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Taco Bell takes on McDonald’s Head On. First with Ronald McDonald and now telling consumers to “move on from your old Egg McMuffin”

urlWow, these latest Taco Bell ads take a lot of guts!!!!  The new ads from Taco Bell take on the golden arches head on by using long time icon Ronald McDonald.  Not quite the mascot, but if you watch below you will see how inventive and cute this spot is.  I sure hope Taco Bell has the word “cheeky” in the creative brief because they sure are nailing it. In a highly competitive fast food category, Taco Bell does stand out as being different–not just in the food items they offer, but in the creatively aggressive advertising.  A great lesson for Brand Leaders, you really have four choices:  different, better, cheaper or not around for very long.  Having gone into an empty Burger King at the dinner hour last month, my prediction is that they are taking the “not around for very long” strategy.  Here’s Taco Bell and here’s what different looks like: 

 

And here’s the latest with a little jingle that calls out the Egg McMuffin as so yesterday (he takes down his Loverboy poster), and asks consumers “move on”.

 

 

 

As I said earlier in the week, I love McDonald’s.  Click here to read a story about how McDonald’s takes a wonderful Advertising idea…and makes a complete disaster out of it 

Great job Taco Bell.  Keep being Different

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Do you want to be an amazing Brand Leader?  We can help you.  

Read more on how to utilize our Brand Leadership Learning Center where you will receive training in all aspects of marketing whether that’s strategic thinking, brand plans, creative briefs, brand positioning, analytical skills or how to judge advertising.  We can customize a program that is right for you or your team.  We can work in person, over the phone or through Skype.  Ask us how we can help you. 

At Beloved Brands, we love to see Brand Leaders reach their full potential.  Here are the most popular article “How to” articles.  We can offer specific training programs dedicated to each topic.  Click on any of these most read articles:

 

 

 

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McDonald’s takes a wonderful Advertising idea…and makes a complete disaster out of it

Mcdonalds-logoI love McDonald’s.  And no I’m not in a cranky mood.  Spring has sprung.  And I loved their “Ask McDonald’s” idea last year.  But this latest stuff, is just awful.   For some reason, McDonald’s in Canada has decided they feel so insecure they need to tell us that they actually use meat, potatoes and chicken in their food.  I think we all knew they sort of do, but no one is really thinking this is Ruth’s Chris quality or even Five Guys quality.  You get what you pay for and that’s ok.  I love how open McDee’s has become and have changed my order once I saw my favourite Angus burger was 780 calories.  

I remember one night I ended up playing poker with a Cattle Farmer and around 2am, I asked him “how good is the quality of McDonald’s beef?” and he said you can always tell the McDonald’s guy at the auction because he’s the guy in the front row getting all excited when they walk out a limping mal-nourished cow.

The Wonderful Idea:  Wow

About a year ago, in McDonald’s “we use meat” campaign, they released a very cute, warm-hearted video that attempts to answer consumers questions, openly and honestly.

The question was “why does your food look different in the advertising than what it does in store?”  This is a great video that shows the how and why they do certain things, a cute way to show how trustworthy McDonald’s is.  A year ago, I talked about this as one of the best uses of social media I had seen.  As it passed around on Facebook and Twitter, it generated over 10 million views.  Have a look:

 

That’s a beautiful video and I can safely say I’m jealous that I didn’t make that.  That’s how good it is.

As a marketer, when you do something right, you should immediately ask “how can we do that again?”.  I know this inhibits creativity bla bla bla, but don’t you want to get another 10 million positive minded views.  I know the temptation is to build on the idea, but this might be a great case where stepping sideways might have been just as good.  But it seems McDonald’s got some great results and then got a bit arrogant, figuring being honest can never be wrong.  Well, sorta. 

The Awful Pool Out:   Yikes

As the old saying goes, “if you ever saw how saussages were made, you may never eat them again”.   The same could be said for chicken nuggets, so here’s the next question McDonald’s decided to take head on with the question:  “What is legitimately in McNuggets, is there pink goop?”   This video takes guts, to make, but also to watch.  I didn’t want to watch it.  So yes, I no longer have a visual of pink goop in my head but now I have this visual of ground up chicken in a blender.

 

 

I don’t think consumers want to see hanging chicken in a plant setting, the de-boning line, ground up chicken in a big blender, battered and frozen chicken.  I know this helps close some urban legend about McDonald’s, but this video makes me want to eat less McNuggets, not more.

One simple question:  Will this video make you want to eat more Nuggets, less Nuggets, or the same amount?   I think I’ll keep eating McNuggets 5x a year, as long as I can get this video out of my head by then.

It gets even worse:  This is what’s on TV

OK, I can see how these videos are getting past around on line.  But this is the TV ad that McDonald’s created to send viewers to their website.  The problem with the video is that it uses a classic problem/solution style TV ad, but only talks about the problem, making you do the work to go find out the solution.  

 

The take away from this ad is not good.  If I’m too lazy to go on line, I’d be worried you’re adding to the mythology than helping.  I hear pink goop, I hear beaks, and I don’t want to learn more.  I’m predicting this sells less chicken McNuggets.  

I commend McDonald’s for their Honesty.  But not for their lack of sound judgement. 

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Do you want to be an amazing Brand Leader?  We can help you.  

Read more on how to utilize our Brand Leadership Learning Center where you will receive training in all aspects of marketing whether that’s strategic thinking, brand plans, creative briefs, brand positioning, analytical skills or how to judge advertising.  We can customize a program that is right for you or your team.  We can work in person, over the phone or through Skype.  Ask us how we can help you. 

At Beloved Brands, we love to see Brand Leaders reach their full potential.  Here are the most popular article “How to” articles.  We can offer specific training programs dedicated to each topic.  Click on any of these most read articles:

 

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Take a look at Google’s inspiring new office space. Imagine the impact of this crazy space on your Brand’s output

abd76f7c-f9ac-497f-ad9c-12b5c2310de7HiResWhat does the design of an office space have to do with a brand?   If you get to the mindset where you start to think of your people as your brand, then where they work, how they work and creative energy they bring to their work matters more than the widget you are selling as a result.  Great Brand Leaders should be looking at the culture as an opportunity to win in the market place.  No matter how good your promise is, if your company is not set up to deliver that promise, everything comes crashing down.  The brand story told within the company is even more important than what you might tell the market through your advertising.  Managing organizational culture is very challenging.  As you move along the Brand Love Curve from Indifferent to Like It to Love It and on to Beloved status, you need to make sure the culture keeps pace with where the brand is.

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When I started working back in the mid 90s, I worked for General Mills where we had this confined area where we must have jammed around 15 offices and another 12 cubicles for our department.   iStock_000000707086XSmall-e1279431675643The cubicle walls were an ugly turquoise, almost falling down, some stained, and we had just enough space for a chair and computer.   There’s no way this atmosphere inspired any creativity.  In fact, in such a drab atmosphere, it crushed any good ideas.  It was pure cubicle hell.

For a few decades now, companies have been getting more and more creative with their office space.  It started with “cute” names for meeting rooms, then went to “crash zones”, then to funky chairs.  Google has taken this to a new level with the launch of their new office in Toronto.  As you look at these photos, I urge you to take some of these ideas as possible inspiration for your own office space.

The center point of most company culture’s starts with the cafeteria.  Here’s what Google

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Taking a modern approach to the old diner booth, these set up great spots for a quick informal meeting.  

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To inspire creativity, Google takes Play to the next level, with a pool table, video games a tent for meetings and a putting green on the roof top.  

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To watch a video of the new Google Toronto office space, watch below.  

 

 

What I want to do is challenge Brand Leaders to start to think of the people on their team as the core part of the Brand, even if you have a patent.  As brands struggle to find their competitive advantage and uniqueness, maybe it will come from your people.  

The Better your People, the Better the work.  And the Better the results you see.  

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 Do you want to be an amazing Brand Leader?  We can help you.  

Read more on how to utilize our Brand Leadership Learning Center where you will receive training in all aspects of marketing whether that’s strategic thinking, brand plans, creative briefs, brand positioning, analytical skills or how to judge advertising.  We can customize a program that is right for you or your team.  We can work in person, over the phone or through Skype.  Ask us how we can help you. 

At Beloved Brands, we love to see Brand Leaders reach their full potential.  Here are the most popular article “How to” articles.  We can offer specific training programs dedicated to each topic.  Click on any of these most read articles:

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Is the Tim Horton’s brand at risk? How can they re-kindle the Love?

tim-hortons-ellipse-logoSaid with Canadian pride, Tim Horton’s is not just an emotional decision, it’s a personal one. How we feel about Tim’s is in part irrational. We are loyal, un-relenting, outspoken, and possessive.  And we are OK to wait in a long line to get our double-double. Tim’s is still a Beloved Brand, but there are signs it might be getting tired and could be at risk at losing. The most Beloved Brands connect with their consumers in five common ways:  a brand promise (positioning) consumers love, focused strategic choices (plan), an emotional brand story (advertising) freshness (innovation) and finally the experience (backed by the culture and operations). 

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Over the last 20 years, Timmy’s had consistently nailed all five, which is what made it our most Beloved Brand.  But in the last few years, we are seeing slippage on the advertising and the customer experience.  strategy adWe can see that in the stock price for Tim Horton’s.  If you invested $10,000 in 2009, your money would have doubled in just 2 and 1/2 years–considering how badly the stock market was doing this would have been an ideal place for your money.  But since then, the stock has gained very little, and has basically been flat for the last 9 months.  That’s not worthy of panic just yet, but from usually we see issues with Brand Health before we see issues of Brand Wealth.  It seems that Tim’s has been so focused on the US expansion over the last two years, that they risk letting the brand slip in Canada.  

Let’s use the five Brand Connectors to assess Tim Horton’s Brand Health:

  1. The “comfortably Canadian” Brand Promise has been brilliant over the past 20 years, striking an emotional cord with our Canadiana more than any other brand. They have created a humble brand, with a simple comfortable menu.  Timbits-500x254It’s not the best food or coffee, but it’s comfortably predictable.  People always point to how Tim’s coffee loses in blind taste tests.  So would my mom’s dried out and burnt Roast Beef.  But I love my mom’s roast beef, because I familiar with it, and it makes me feel comfortable.  I’d grade the brand promise an A+.
  2. Strategically, going beyond the morning coffee has been a huge hit, making Tim’s into the #2 fast food in Canada.  I like the simple food items as much as the coffee. I’d also have to give Tim’s an A+ for the strategic shift to a full menu fast food.  However, the US expansion or global expansion has not been as successful.  Sales per store are not in line with the Canadian stores.  The Canadian pride that Tim’s has tapped into in Canada cannot be replicated beyond the Canadian borders.  And the competition in the US is even stronger.  This expansion likely took their eye off the Canadian operations and has damaged the customer service execution.
  3. As for the Brand Story, it is what has made the Brand, with deeply emotional and engaging advertising.  Magical Canadian story telling at it’s best, whether an old woman walking up a hill or a grandfather at the hockey rink.  But, what’s happened the last few years?  Nothing. The last two great spots that connected with consumers were at the 2010 winter Olympics with the Sidney Crosby “wouldn’t it be great…” TV Ad and the other about an immigrant family arriving at a Canadian airport. Those spots made us proud to be Canadian and Tim’s owned that pride. But, the last few years, all I see are “cute” product spots, with a media plan completely void of the anthemic beautiful ads that made Tim’s a Canadian Icon.  Please don’t show me how coffee is made. That’s completely off the brand character.  Tim’s has to return to using deeply emotional story telling to deliver the “comfortably Canadian” brand promise.  A+ for pre-2010, C+ since.  I’d like to see Tim’s return to doing more ads like this one, a simple story about hockey, but beautifully told about a grandfather visiting the hockey arena to see his grandson play hockey:  
  4. As for Freshness, the innovation pipeline with Lemonade, breakfast sandwiches, grilled cheese, ice caps, maple donuts and oatmeal all delivering the “comfortably Canadian” brand promise.  Nothing wild, nothing crazy, very Tim’s.  In terms of coffee, Tim’s has issues with McDonald’s which has an amazing coffee and a great trial strategy offering free coffee for a week. Tim Hortons vs McDonalds CanadaMost published blind taste tests show that McDonald’s clearly beats Tim’s.  But improving the Tim’s coffee might be like changing the Coke formula. I’d rather Tim’s build on the comfortable taste of the Tim’s coffee linking it to memories.  I’d give Tim’s an A- on innovation, lots of hits, a few flops.
  5. The big gap I see “brewing” (pardon my pun) is the customer experience, where I am seeing a huge drop off.  The expansion utilizing the franchise model has created a dramatically inconsistent experience from one store to the next. I’m starting to hear a lot of horror stories from consumers.  In my last 10 visits to Tim’s, I received friendly and polite service just once. (a shout out to the Aurora store where you feel good leaving)  Most times, the service is efficient, but completely impersonal.  Rarely do you hear “please” and “thank you” from the staff.   It’s not as polite as McDonald’s and not as friendly as Starbucks. If you want to deliver the brand promise of “comfortably Canadian” Tim’s needs to step it up on customer service to deliver that promise.  Polite and friendly are always free. Tim’s needs start by setting up customer service values, strategically aligned to the brand promise. They need to create action standards on service to hold franchisees accountable to delivering the brand promise.  And they need to create a training program to help staff deliver the service values.  Until we see some improvement, the grade for Tim’s experience ranges from an F to an A+, due to inconsistencies.  But overall, I’d give it a D+.

So the report card for Tim’s looks like my grade 9 report card.  A few A’s, a C+ and a stupid D+.  Most business people think “Brand” is what the Marketers do.
bbi adAnd Culture should be left to Human Resources.  Everyone is responsible for Brand and Culture.  Brand is not just about logos and ads, but is equally important internally where it acts as an internal beacon for everyone to follow.  How does Tim Horton’s want their people to show up?  What behavior should be rewarded?   If the Tim’s culture is not set up to deliver the brand promise, the risk is it all comes crashing down.  To read more on how Culture and Brand go together read:  Brand = Culture: How Culture can Help Your Brand Win

For the Tim’s brand succeed in the future and stay a Beloved Brand in Canada, they need to take that “Comfortably Canadian” Big Idea down to every part of their organization.  There might be signs that the new CEO understands what’s happening at the store level.  He recently stated:  “Future battles are not going to be won, in my view, with who has the best strategy or who has the best innovation.  The companies that will win will be the companies that can execute flawlessly at the store level.”Slide1

It’s time for Tim Horton’s to step it up on Service

Here is a powerpoint presentation on “What makes a Beloved Brand”  Click on the arrow below to follow: 

 

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Do you want to be an amazing Brand Leader?  We can help you.  

Read more on how to utilize our Brand Leadership Learning Center where you will receive training in all aspects of marketing whether that’s strategic thinking, brand plans, creative briefs, brand positioning, analytical skills or how to judge advertising.  We can customize a program that is right for you or your team.  We can work in person, over the phone or through Skype.  Ask us how we can help you. 

At Beloved Brands, we love to see Brand Leaders reach their full potential.  Here are the most popular article “How to” articles.  We can offer specific training programs dedicated to each topic.  Click on any of these most read articles:

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