The Volvo brand in one word: Safety">The Volvo Brand in one word: Safety

The Volvo brand in one word: Safety

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When I am giving speeches on Marketing, I always use  the Volvo brand as a great case study. I tell the audience that I am going to do a magic trick where I predict what word they will shout back at me. I write “Safety” down on a piece of paper. I then say “what is the one word that describes the Volvo brand” and the audience yells back “SAFETY” without hesitation. 

I went to see Al Ries speak a few years ago and he challenged all marketers to get your brand down to one word. It sounded great, until I went back to my desk and started trying it out on my brands. At best I was able to get it down to a few words or a quick catch phrase. As I sat there frustrated, I realized that the effort to try to get it down to one word is a great catalyst that gets you down to a few words.  That’s a hell of a lot better than the excessively long-winded 5-page briefs or the long list of RTB’s (Reason to Believe) people want to jam in a TV ad.

“If you want to build a brand, you must focus your efforts on owning a word in the prospects’ mind. A word nobody else owns” – Al Ries

 

With today’s consumers being bombarded with 5,000 brand messages a day, the first 7 seconds that a consumer is exposed to a brand is a make-or-break moment. The brand must captivate the consumer’s mind quickly or the consumer will move on. The brand must be able to entice consumers to find out more and then motivate consumers to see, think, feel or act in positive ways that benefit the brand. I will show you how to develop a big idea that serves as the brand’s 7-second sales pitch. The Big Idea must be interesting, simple, unique, inspiring, motivating and own-able. The backbone of the Big Idea is the brand positioning that speaks to whom your brand will serve and what consumer benefits the brand will provide. To stand out within the clutter, smart brand positioning must establish your brand as better, different or cheaper. Otherwise, your brand will not be around for long.

How to find your brand's big idea

As much as people have a hard time matching up their inner motivations with their outward projection of their own personal reputation, a brand faces a similar challenge in matching up the inner thoughts inside the brain of the organization behind the brand with the outward brand reputation owned within the minds of their consumers. In psychology, there are three constructs to the brand personality, the ego, the id and the super ego. In our brand apparatus, the brand soul is used to express the inner thoughts of the brand that defines ‘what you want your brand to be’. The brand reputation is ‘what consumers think of you’ which is the outward view of the brand that resides within the minds of consumers. As the ego of the human mind works to regulate the id and super ego, the brand’s big idea serves as the stabilizer between the inner motivations of those behind the brand and the outward projection. In a stabilizer role, the big idea must adjust to the actual reputation, yet send signals to steer the consumer’s mind towards a desired reputation that exists within the brand soul. A brand finds its equilibrium when the brand soul, brand reputation and big idea are the same.

I have created a tool that helps define your brand down to the seven second brand pitch.

Seven Second Brand Pitch

From there, you should be able to narrow down to a 1-second brand pitch.

One Second Brand Pitch

For a long time, we’ve thought that brands just exist to convey a degree of consistency in the consumers mind. Yes, that helps to own a position in the marketplace. But more and more, we are also starting to realize that consistency of message acts as an internal beacon for everyone in the organization to follow.

Big Idea

I am always pushing everyone to focus:  focus on a tight target,  own one main benefit area that no one else can own and then shout it from the mountain top. The challenge here of getting what your brand stands down to one word would be the ultimate. I’d encourage you to take this on a test run and see where you get.  But the bigger point is to, learn from how obsessed Volvo is around safety.

I am yet to see any other brand that is so focused against one word like Volvo is with safety. For Volvo safety is not just a claim or demo in their TV ads, but is everything they do. But the real beauty for Volvo is their obsession with safety.

  • Volvo was long ahead of the marketplace. Volvo first started the safety angle in the 1940s and became completely obsessed in through the 1960s long before consumers cared about safety when no one was even wearing seat belts. But the market place has since caught up. This year, Car and Driver reports safety as the #1 benefit that consumers are looking for in a new car.
  • Volvo’s purpose in making safety a priority. In 1958, Volvo came up with the 3-point seat belt. Even with a patent they could have enforced and made millions, Volvo decided to share the technology with all the other car manufacturers because they believed so strongly in it. That really speaks to Volvo’s conviction and authenticity.
  • Volvo has always been way ahead of car safety regulations.  In fact, as safety became a priority with consumers, regulators looked at what Volvo was doing as the standard and then made Volvo’s advancements mandatory across other companies. In the 1990s, Volvo was ahead of the curve on the introduction of air bags and side-air bags.
    In TV ads, we got so used to seeing the crash test dummy ads re-enforcing Volvo’s ownership over safety.
  • Volvo continues to set the standard for safety today. The 2012 IIHS (Insurance Institute of Highway Safety) had 3 Volvo models in the 10 Top Safety Picks, the most of any car brand. The Euro NCAP collision test has recognize 2012 Volvo V40 as the best car they’ve ever tested, giving it the top rating of five stars in the Euro NCAP collision test.

Safety in Action

Most impressive to me that highlights Volvo’s obsession with safety is to look internally at the long list of R&D advancements over the past 70 years.

  • 1944 Safety cage
  • 1944 Laminated windscreen
  • 1957 Anchor points for 2–point safety belts front
  • 1958 Anchor points for 2–point safety belts rear
  • 1959 3–point front safety belts standard
  • 1964 First rearward–facing child safety seat prototype tested
  • 1966 Crumple zones front and rear
  • 1966 Safety door–locks
  • 1969 Inertia reel safety belts
  • 1971 Reminder safety belt
  • 1972 3–point safety belts – rear
  • 1972 Rearward–facing child safety seat
  • 1974 Multi-stage impact absorbing steering column
  • 1974 Bulb integrity sensor
  • 1975 Braking system with stepped bore master cylinder
  • 1978 Child safety booster cushion
  • 1982 “Anti–submarining” protection
  • 1986 Three–point safety belt centre rear seat
  • 1990 Integrated child safety cushion in centre rear seat
  • 1991 Side Impact Protection System
  • 1991 Automatic height adjusting safety belt
  • 1992 Reinforced rear seats in estate models
  • 1995 Integrated child safety cushion outer rear seats
  • 1997 Roll Over Protection System
  • 1998 Whiplash Protection System
  • 1998 Inflatable Curtain
  • 2001 Volvo Safety Concept Car
  • 2002 Roll Stability Control
  • 2003 New Front Structure called Volvo Intelligent Vehicle Architecture
  • 2003 Rear seat belt reminders
  • 2003 Intelligent Driver Information System
  • 2003 Inauguration of Volvo’s Traffic Accident Research Team in Bangkok
  • 2004 Blind Spot Information System
  • 2005 Door Mounted Inflatable Curtain
  • 2006 Personal Car Communicator
  • 2006 Collision Warning with Brake Support
  • 2007 Power Park Brake
  • 2007 Driver Alert Control
  • 2009 City Safety – Automatically stop car at speeds below 19 mph (31 km/h) if obstruction is detected in front of car
  • 2010 Pedestrian Detection with auto brake
  • 2012 Pedestrian airbag

True leader push themselves by attacking the brand even before competitors have a chance. Volvo is continuing to push themselves with a very visionary challenge for the year 2020 that’s squarely directed internally within Volvo.  Sure Volvo had some wiggling going on when they were bought by GM a few years ago. But since re-gaining control of the brand, they are back standing behind the word: SAFETY.

The Volvo vision statement: “Nobody should die or be seriously injured in a Volvo.”  

That speaks volumes to the obsession they’ve had for the past 70 years and to the obsessive focus for the future of Volvo!

Here’s a powerpoint presentation on how to define your brand, including the Big Idea tool.

 

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

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

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

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

 Graham Robertson Bio Brand Training Coach Consultant

New Lego Mosaic allows you to make your face out of Lego

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Lego is all about imagination. The brand is one of the best illustrations of the difference between a product and a brand. While the product is a mere brick, the brand idea of ‘imagination’ comes to life through the magical play value that Lego creates with kids, as they can really do whatever they want with those little bricks.lego mosaic photo face london store

In London’s new Lego store, the brand uses a traditional photo booth to scan your face and then produce a personalized box of lego bricks that will help you recreate your own face using their bricks.

This is an amazing consumer experience. It would be the perfect gift for someone and the perfect experience that consumers will want to share with their own little world. The next step for Lego will be to create an on-line so you can send in your photo–whether it is  your kid, spouse or even your dog and have it made into lego.

Here’s a video that shows the entire process come to life:

 

The Lego brand is all about imagination. The brand reaches 100 million kids around the world. As today’s parents fight the temptations of video games, they are trying to return to simpler games that forces their kids to think. As a result, the Lego brand has seen revenue growth of 10 to 25% per year this decade.

Lego brings imagination to life

This is one of my all time favorite print ad campaigns. No copy at all, yet it has a defined target, a consumer insight, a consumer benefit and an easy to distinguish big idea of “Bringing imagination to life” that defines the Lego brand.  Amazing.

 

The pathway to brand success is now all about building relationships

The best brands of today engage in a strategy that follows a very similar path to the rituals of a courtship. Through the eyes of consumers, brands start as complete strangers and if successful, they move into something similar to a trusted friendship. As the consumer begins to open up, they allow their emotions to take over and without knowing, they begin to love the brand. As the brand weaves itself into the best moments of the consumer’s life, the consumer becomes an outspoken fan, an advocate and one of the many ‘brand lovers’ who cherish the brand. From the strategic mind of the marketer, this follows a very similar pattern to the strategies of a successful courtship.

The brand could move into a position where the consumer sees it as a forever choice. lego brandTo replicate how brand building matches up with the building of a relationship, I have created the Brand Love Curve, as consumers move through five stages including unknown, indifferent, like it, love it and onto the beloved brand status. This Brand Love Curve is an anchor used throughout the book to help guide the choices a brand should make to move the relationship along to the next stage. Where the brand sits on the curve guides the decisions the brand leader will make on the brand strategy and tactics, brand communication including advertising, public relationship and social media, the product innovation and the building of the culture that fuels the consumer experience with the brand. The vision of every brand should be to move the relationship with your consumers to the next stage, to become more loved by consumers, which increases the power and profit potential for the brand.

A brand like Lego is one of the most beloved brands around the world. The brand does an amazing job at surprising and delighting their most cherished brand fans. The last few year, Lego has even brought their brand to life through the Lego movie. That looked like a high risk brand move, but has been incredibly successful with a core audience. Lego also uses amazing in-store displays of their brand to tempt their fans into wanting to try the more challenging puzzles they offer.

Lego uses imagination to inspire new ways to delight their brand fans

Here is one of our workshop we run on how to create a beloved brand. I hope some of the ideas here can inspire you on your own brand.

Beloved Brands: We make brands stronger and brand leaders smarter.

We will unleash the full potential of your brand. We will lead a 360-degree assessment of your business, help you define your Brand Positioning, create a Big Idea that will transform your brand’s soul into a winning brand reputation and help you build a strategic Brand Plan everyone who works on the brand can follow.

 

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

To contact me, call me at 416 885 3911 or email me at graham@beloved-brands.com

Beloved Brands Graham Robertson

The first McDonald’s ad from their new agency is out and there is a lot wrong with it!!!

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McDonald's Advertising Big MacLast summer, McDonald’s made the news for their consolidation of all their agencies into one. It had an $800 Million price tag with Omnicom coming out on top. They added a very unique tie into the overall sales impact. That is very uncommon for the agency relationship. As someone who spent 20 years on the brand side, I had some doubts that linking agency’s compensation to sales might focus the advertising too much on the short-term. That is what we are seeing McDonald’s land with this first ad.

McDonald’s has struggled with relatively flat sales results the past two years. The only growth came when they turned their breakfast items into an all-day breakfast. Even that, has recently flattened out. The role of a Brand is to create a tight bond with your consumers, that will lead to a power and profit beyond what the product alone could ever achieve. The problem is that when you just become a short-term sales machine, then who is building the brand?

McDonald's AdvertisingThe healthier the brand, the easier it is to sell from. Think of your advertising plan a little like those “leave a penny take a penny” cups we see at a convenient store. The advertising must work to keep the cup pretty full. A strictly product sell type ad “takes a penny” while an anthemic brand ad seems to “leave a penny” to be used later. I guess the problem I see is McDonald’s needs a few more pennies in the cup. They need to create a tighter bond with their consumers to have a healthier brand, to enable them to sell product from. I would have expected McDonald’s to come out with a few anthemic ‘brand spots’ to re-create the magical appeal of their amazing brand. Instead, this attempts to just sell Big Macs. It does not add anything. It just takes a penny from an empty cup.

Here’s the new spot spot. What do you think?

 

 

 

Mistake #1: Trying to be everything to anyone is the starting point to end up nothing to everyone

This brief clearly had “everyone” as the target market.

When you target everyone, then no one thinks the ad is for them. They each think it is for someone else. With a non-edgy rap song, teens will think it is a lame attempt to get 38-year-olds, while the 38-year=olds will think the ad is for kids. This music feels like a whole new music category I would call corporate rap. The visuals also support the “everyone” argument. One scene has a teenager in a library, while another scene uses a banker that closes a deal. This is what happens when you have “everyone” for every potential occasion on your brief.
Mistake #2: They are trying to move feet (go buy it) before they move the brain (positioning)

This brief clearly stated “sell more Big Macs”.

       Click here to add Graham Robertson on LinkedIn.

They really needed a big new agency to produce this spot?  The biggest problem for McDonald’s is consumers no longer know what it stands for….is it a family restaurant, a coffee shop, a sandwich shop or a meeting place? What is it?  Sales have flattened. Evidence would suggest they have lost their way and need to get it back.  McDonald’s needs to define themselves in the mind of consumers. They need to pick one path, not a bunch of them at once. With a desperate need for brand repositioning, they ignore that with their first spot out of the gates that just sells the product. They should have led with a new brand spot to establish what they want their brand to stand for, whether that ties back to a prior positioning, updates their positioning or finds something completely new. What is the 7-second Big Idea you would use to describe the brand?

Mistake #3: This ad will have no impact the consumer

This ad likely had “Recent data shows 25% of millennial consumers have never had a Big Mac.” as the business problem. What the brief failed to do was translate the business problem into a consumer problem.

Creative execution must amplify your brand story and brand positioning so that your brand stands out in the crowded marketplace, connecting with your most desired consumers so they will see, think, act or feel differently about your brand than before they saw the message. This ad does nothing. It attempts to reconnect with those who already know about the Big Mac and basically asks them to try it again. If you have never had a Big Mac, this ad does nothing for you.

What I wished McDonald’s had done was figure out their Big Idea that reflects their inner brand soul. And then work to build a new reputation in the market the brand can stand behind.

McDonald's Advertising Beloved Brands

 

McDonald’s needs smarter focus, definition and execution

The problem many brand leaders have, is they come to a decision point, and they try to find a way to justify doing both. Sorry McDonald’s. This is my second article this month that trashes your strategy and now your execution. I am a fan of the brand, I want the brand to be successful. My big ask is that you find some way to focus. Here’s the last article I wrote about McDonald’s unable to decide whether they want to completely re-build their kitchens to sell fresh expensive hamburgers or they want to completely re-build their lounge areas to sell more coffee.

starbucks mcdonalds story

 

To read about how to create a beloved brand, here is our workshop we run:

Beloved Brands: We make brands stronger and brand leaders smarter.

We will unleash the full potential of your brand. We will lead a 360-degree assessment of your business, help you define your Brand Positioning, create a Big Idea that will transform your brand’s soul into a winning brand reputation and help you build a strategic Brand Plan everyone who works on the brand can follow.

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

To contact me, call me at 416 885 3911 or email me at graham@beloved-brands.com

Beloved Brands Graham Robertson

 

5 ads that bring people together, not tear us further apart">Feel good ads

5 ads that bring people together, not tear us further apart

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Beloved Brands in the Market

In these crazy divided times, where no one can seem to have a normal conversation, as we see brands choosing sides, and consumers aligning with the brands that choose their side. While about 20 brands have picked a side, I am yet to see a brand try to bring people together.

Here are 5 ads that have the potential to bring us together. 

 

Coke: “I’d like to teach the world to sing”

This is the ultimate feel good ad. It grabs your attention from the opening verse and makes you feel good the whole way through. It is a true peaceful gathering with a diversity from around the world. We could use an ad like this today.

 

Dodge Ram: And god created a farmer

If you think this is just about farmers, you might be missing the point. The ad uses farmers to speak to all those who work hard and respect hard work. I would hope that a banker on Wall Street, a high school student studying for mid term exams, a Barrister in England, or a farmer would get this message, equally to the great farmers around the world. It is a powerful message, with a lot of American patriotism thrown in.

 

President’s Choice: #EatTogether

Loblaws, who is Canada’s leading grocery store, made this spot last month to encourage people to eat together. This feels perfectly fitting for our times, of coming together. For centuries, the dinner with friends and families has brought us together as one. This spot sets up the problem of how technology is getting in our way of the human connections. I have a few friends who do a internet-free day or weekend. Sounds like a great idea.

 

Pfizer:  More than medication

Beautiful touching spot about a family member facing a health scare. We all face these moments, throughout various stages of our lives. This ad has a nice twist. What at first appears to be a typical rebellious teenager, but he turns into an angel, with a big message for his sister.

 

Google:  Reunion

I love this spot. The first time I saw it was without the subtitles and it made complete sense to me. Even drew a tear without understanding a word.  If you want, you can turn on the Closed Captioning by hitting the tiny CC button at the bottom right of the video. Talk about bringing people together, this ad brings together old friends–one from India and one from Pakistan–who have not seen each other in a very long time. I am quite sure a few people have lost friends over the last year. Such a shame. We need to find ways to come together.

 

If you want to learn how to show up better, we train marketing teams on how to get better Marketing Execution. We go through how to write better briefs, how to make better decisions and how to give inspiring feedback to realize the greatness of your creative people. Here’s what the workshop looks like:

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.

Beloved Brands Graham Robertson

Why would a pilot buy pizza for the stranded passengers of a competitor?

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Beloved Brands in the Market

Airline delays are a reality. If you travel enough, you have experienced some painful ones. Most times they are outside the control of the airline. My best story was showing up at the Paris airport at 8am to be told the flight had been delayed 12 hours. I checked my bags in and spent the day walking around in Paris. None will ever live up to that one.beloved brands customer experience consumer brand culture

Delays are a pain. The passengers get all cranky, which causes the employees to get cranky. The two clash. Then anxiety causes the drama to flare up one more level. The reality is that most delays are outside the control of the airlines, especially with snow storms moving up the east coast. I think passengers know this, but they have to get mad at someone. One of the things that separates the great airlines from the bad is how they handle a crisis. This is a great story how one airline (WestJet) was able to demonstrate how their culture is different, while the other airline (Air Canada) just stood still and watched.

This week, an Air Canada flight had to be diverted due to the snow storm. They landed at another airport at midnight. The first thing the Air Canada employee at the airport told the passengers that because it was just after midnight, it was not possible to get any food delivered. One more reason for passengers to be upset. And hearing this, a pilot from a competitive airline–WestJet–stepped up to the rescue. As I like to describe the difference between a product and a brand. A product solves small problems we did not even know we had, while a brand heroically beats down the enemy that torments us. This WestJet pilot stepped up as a hero, offering to buy pizza for everyone.

Here’s how one of the passengers described it to the local TV station. “Out of nowhere, a WestJet pilot emerged and said, ‘Hey … I am from WestJet and we do things differently. Who wants pizza?’ Within 20 minutes  the pizza had arrived and I think he paid for it out of his own pocket.”

Now, what might sound like a random story to passengers, was not at all. It was a perfect storm of the opportunity for the WestJet challenger brand to step up and deliver the brand message. Air Canada was completely ambushed and ridiculed with one simple act that cost the pilot around $60. Air Canada said in a statement the next morning, “Clearly we should have done better for our customers.”

I have had the luxury of traveling on both airlines. WestJet employees bring an energy and a smile to the experience, while many of the Air Canada employees bring a pained misery to their job. The true difference is not just in the advertising that says “we are friendly” but in the cultures behind the brand. As the smaller player in the market, WestJet has clearly figured out their only way to win is by creating amazing consumer experiences. You have to win through your people, and that means sending brand messages internally.

How to communicate to the corporate culture behind your brand

With most brands I meet up with, I ask “What is the Big Idea behind your brand?” I rarely get a great answer. When I ask a Leadership Team, I normally get a variety answers. beloved brands customer experience consumer brand cultureWhen I ask the most far-reaching sales reps, the scientists in the lab or their retailer partners, the answers get worse. That is not healthy. Everyone who touches that brand should be able to explain what it stands for in 7 seconds, 60 seconds, 30 minutes or at every consumer touch-point. They should always be delivering the same message. There are too many Brands where what gets said to the consumer is different from what gets said inside the corporate walls. The Big Idea must organize the culture to ensure everyone who is tasked to meet the needs of both consumers and customers, whether they are in HR, product development, finance, operations and experience delivery teams, must all know their role in delivering the Big Idea. And in this case, the pilot.

Too many brands believe brand messaging is something that Advertising does. The more focus we put on delivering an amazing consumer experience, the more we need to make sure the external and internal brand story are aligned. It should be the Big Idea that drives that story. Every communication to employees, whether in a town-hall speech, simple memo or celebration should touch upon the brand values that flow from the Big Idea, highlighting examples when employees have delivered on a certain brand value.

The Big Idea should drive everything and everyone

Brand Management was originally built on a hub-and-spoke system, with the Brand Manager expected to sit right in the middle of the organization, helping drive everything and everyone around the Brand. However, it should actually be the brand’s Big Idea that sits at the center, with everyone connected to the brand expected to understand and deliver the idea. Aligning the brand with the culture is essential to the long-term success of the brand. The best brands look to the overall culture as an asset that helps create a powerful consumer experience. The expected behaviors of the operations team behind the consumer experience should flow out of the brand values, that flow from the Big Idea. These values act as guideposts to ensure that the behavior of everyone in the organization is set to deliver the brand’s promise.

beloved brands customer experience consumer brand culture

I was lucky enough to be able to attend the Ritz-Carlton Training session, and as a Brand Leader, the thing that struck me was the idea of meeting the “unexpressed” needs of guests. As highly paid Marketers, even with mounds of research, we still struggle to figure out what our consumers want, yet Ritz-Carlton has created a culture where bartenders, bellhops and front desk clerks instinctively meet these “unexpressed needs”. Employees carry around note pads and record the expressed and unexpressed needs of every guest and then they use their instincts to try to surprise and delight these guests.

Employees are fully empowered to create unique, memorable and personal experiences for our guests. Unique means doing something that helps to separate Ritz-Carlton from other hotels, memorable forces the staff to do something that truly stands out. And personal is defined as people doing things for other people. Is that not what marketers should be doing? So what is getting in your way?

Ritz-Carlton bakes service values right into their culture

The Ritz-Carlton phrase they use with their staff is “Keep your radar on and antenna up” so that everyone can look for the unexpressed needs of their guests. These could be small wins that delight consumers in a big way, showing the hotel is thinking of ways to treat them as unique and special. But like any hotel, things do go wrong. When a problem does arise they quickly brainstorm and use everyone’s input. The staff is encouraged to surprise and delight guests so they can turn a problem into a potential wow moment.

 

This was not a random move by a pilot. This was the WestJet culture delivering their brand. 

Here’s a workshop that we run on how to create a beloved brand.

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

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

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

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

Beloved Brands Graham Robertson

Were you fooled by the true political message behind any Super Bowl ads? #AlternativeFacts

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Beloved Brands in the Market

 

The day after the Super Bowl is the usual time for people to talk about Super Bowl ads. This year, with everyone hot about the election, it is not surprising that those that rose to the top have a political message. People are talking about Airbnb, Budweiser, 84 Lumber and Audi.

However, as consumers start to dig in a little deeper, there are a few ads who are missing out on the truth behind a few of the spots.  The two ads that might not be as expected, or as we would say in 2017, they might have alternative facts are:

  • 84 Lumber
  • Audi

I have seen people tweeting, “That’s it. I am now going to buy more lumber” which is foolish or “I am a loyal fan of Budweiser, I’m never buying a Bud again” which is just as foolish. The reality of aligning yourself to a political message is it is the slowest way to gain customers and the fastest way to lose customers. A bunch of strategists of the world are saying “if you are purpose driven, you have to stay purpose driven”.  That’s OK, but what does that have to do with politics?

84 Lumber

On Monday morning, everyone on my Facebook has been talking about the “84 Lumber” spot. Ad Age and AdWeek have it on their top spot. OK, people, a lumber company who I never ever heard of just spent $10 Million on a 2 minute ad to send you to their website to see a 5 minute version.  Wait, what’s the brand name again, 84 Lumber. Ok, I forgot since I typed it 2 minutes ago.

So I  watched the 5 minute video and I was confused.

 

 

Is this a pro-immigration ad, or an anti-immigration ad?  What does the door opening mean? Does it mean that America is an open door filled with opportunity to realize the american dream? It might.  Or does it mean the wall will have a door that is a legal way to get into America? It might. Most of the left believed it means opportunity and they love the ad. The right also believed it was pro immigration, so they hate the ad. Apparently, the 84 Lumber CEO is a staunch Trump supporter and came out on Monday and said:

“We need to keep America safe. America needs to be safe so you and I can have the liberty to talk. The wall, I think it represents, to me, security. I like security.”

So, 84 Lumber who is a B2B brand focused on a very niche audience should never be in the Super Bowl have now run the risk of pissing off the left and right. Why did 84 Lumber spend $10-15 Million?  They say ‘awareness’.  Well, you have some short-term awareness, as both sides will now hate you. But who do you need awareness from? You are a B2B lumber brand. Anyway, personal marketing bias is that I hate awareness as a goal. But even worse, if you poke your nose into an issue, you better be able to stand up to the issue. 84 Lumber cannot even express what they want now. Imagine a year from now, they bid on the construction of the wall. They likely will. So how do you now feel about this ad?

 

Audi

I can’t blame those who feel betrayed by 84 Lumber, because that’s now I feel about Audi. I’m very pro-equality, and with an 18-year old daughter, I want her to achieve as much as she can in life. I rated this spot as my favorite Super Bowl ad.  Here’s the spot.

 

 

And here’s the script:

  • What do I tell my daughter?
  • Do I tell her that her grandpa’s worth more than her grandma? That her dad is worth more than her mom?
  • Do I tell her that despite her education, her drive, her skills, her intelligence, she will automatically be valued as less than every man she ever meets? Or maybe, I’ll be able to tell her something different.
  • Audi of America is committed to equal pay for equal work.
  • Progress is for everyone

I still love the spot, but I am not so sure Audi has earned the right to say this. There are no women who sit on Audi’s Management Board and there are only two women who sit on its 14 person American executive team. In the press release for the Super Bowl ad, the car company said it was publicly committed to supporting women’s pay equality and pointed out that half of the candidates for its graduate internship program must be female. I feel fooled by their message. Actions speak louder than words. Audi made me a completely hollow promise. Isn’t this the same Volkswagen company that told us about fuel emissions last year? Let’s hope this backlash can work to make Audi do more for women inside their own organization before they start challenging everyone else to do so.  So how do you now feel about this ad?

Do the #alternativefacts make you feel different about these TV ads?

 

I believe brands should never pick political sides. You must realize that choosing political sides after a hotly  contested election is the fastest way to lose sales and the slowest way to gain sales. Politics is ugly. Brands should stay away.

There is a difference between a cause and a political belief.

It is great to be such a purpose driven brand that you stand up for your beliefs. But, why do you feel compelled in 2017, to extrapolate your purpose into the partisan political arena? The closer you get to one side of the political aisle, the uglier it can get. When it comes to politics, people cannot see straight. There beliefs are so deep, you will not change any minds. Instead, you should expect severe blowback, which could haunt your brand for years. I still think of Chick Fil A as the brand against marriage equality. Did you know that Chick Fil A quickly backpedaling on that stance? Wait, you think a brand should stand up for itself? Once Chick Fil A took some heat, they did a 180 turn and started donating to LGBT causes just to avoid a full on boycott. Yet, in my mind, their initial statements will stick forever.Last year, Starbucks had baristas writing #racetogether on coffee cups. Seemed innocent enough, but when their customers complained, Starbucks quickly backed away. If you like that brands stick their nose out, then you must hate when they pull back at the first sign of trouble.

If you are really purpose driven, then why does it have to show up in your advertising? Why not be authentic about your purpose and line up with a cause you believe in. How about mobilizing all your employees to go clean a river or give back by teaching kids how to read, or go work at a food bank. To keep it is authentic and pure, how about you do it quietly and believe you do not even need to garner any PR. Let your actions speak louder than your words.

As a guide, there has to be truth to your advertising. If you lie, you will get caught. So next time you have an ad you love, ask them “can we really stand behind this message?”.  Looks like 84 Lumber and Audi cannot.

Here’s our workshop to building a beloved brand.

 

Beloved Brands: We make brands stronger and brand leaders smarter.

We will unleash the full potential of your brand. We will lead a 360-degree assessment of your business, help you define your Brand Positioning, create a Big Idea that will transform your brand’s soul into a winning brand reputation and help you build a strategic Brand Plan everyone who works on the brand can follow.

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

To contact me, call me at 416 885 3911 or email me at graham@beloved-brands.com

 

The best super bowl ad:  Audi takes a stand on the side of women

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Beloved Brands in the Market

Like many of you, I have been watching the release of Super Bowl ads the last few weeks. I heard one of my friends ask, “If Super Bowl ads are so expensive, why do some brands do really bad ads?” That’s a great question. In reality, normally there are only 3 or 4 great ones each year, with 10 good/ok ones and the rest will be awful.

I must confess that one of my all time favorite Super Bowl ads is “Farmer” by Dodge. It had an arresting quality that made you stop and listen. While everyone else was loud, they were quiet. It told a story that made me tingle. It picked a target for their spot, the working class of America, without worry about “are we alienating the non farmers who might buy our trucks?” Please stop asking these questions. Your consumer does not think this way. And Dodge Ram made a promise, to stand with the hard working farmers of America, which is what every brand should do.

Watch.


This year’s Audi spot shares some of the same principles as the “Farmer” ad. Through a father’s voice, Audi has a great question of “what do I tell my daughter?”. There is no fear here of alienating men. Most of us have mothers, sisters, daughters and friends we want to experience the same opportunity. We need more messages where girls are able maximize their potential. We need more thinking that way in society. Audi told a story, through the innocence of a young girl, who has likely not yet faced what she will face in the future. She swerves throughout the race and wins–a metaphor for what comes ahead in her life. And, as they walk to the car,  just as it looked like Audi might choose to sell the car, they quietly male a bold promise: Audi of America is committed to equal pay for equal work. Nice job Audi.

Here’s the script:

  • What do I tell my daughter?
  • Do I tell her that her grandpa’s worth more than her grandma? That her dad is worth more than her mom?
  • Do I tell her that despite her education, her drive, her skills, her intelligence, she will automatically be valued as less than every man she ever meets? Or maybe, I’ll be able to tell her something different.
  • Audi of America is committed to equal pay for equal work.
  • Progress is for everyone

I am the father of an 18 year old daughter, who I want to see achieve whatever she wants in life. Her biggest obstacle will be the rising tide of sexism I am seeing, not just the old men out there, not just the corporate world but among her own peer group of teenage boys. Sadly, I see sexism on the rise. As a fellow dad, go have a talk with your sons and let’s get back on track to progress. We have to stop believing that someone else’s gain is a threat to us.

This type of ad builds on Nike’s “If you let me play” from 20 years ago:

 

Enjoy the game.

And go Patriots.

To read more our brand leader training presentation on how to inspire marketing execution, click on this powerpoint below:

 

Beloved Brands: We make brands stronger and brand leaders smarter.

We will unleash the full potential of your brand. We will lead a 360-degree assessment of your business, help you define your Brand Positioning, create a Big Idea that will transform your brand’s soul into a winning brand reputation and help you build a strategic Brand Plan everyone who works on the brand can follow.

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

To contact me, call me at 416 885 3911 or email me at graham@beloved-brands.com

Starbucks goes from brilliant to stupid and back to brilliant with their red cups

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Beloved Brands in the Market

red-cups-2-zoom-3e712383-738a-4084-afb4-ef61b1ddf022

 

For years, the Starbucks red cup has been a symbol that Christmas is coming. It is completely irrational, but then again isn’t everything about Starbucks irrational.

When you reach the Beloved stage like Starbucks, it becomes all about the experience and the magical moments you can create. While you can continue to attack yourself before others can attack you, it’s also about maintaining the love by creating a bit of magic to surprise and delight your most loyal consumers. For a brand that taps into routine, having a regular set of drinks and desserts around Christmas gives the consumers some festive favorites to liven up the routine a little bit. Being a life ritual each and every day gets even bigger when you become a tradition each Christmas. For 10 years, Starbucks has used red cups to  create excitement with consumers. Here’s a quote from the head of brand in 2013.

Terry Davenport, Senior Vice President, Global Brand, said in 2013 that “When the cups turn red at Starbucks, that’s one of the first cues that the holidays are upon us. The emotional connection that our store partners (employees) have when they open that first box of the red cups and start using them that first day, and the emotional connection they see from their customers, that’s what we strive for. They see that surprise and excitement: ‘Oh, the red cups are at Starbucks!”red_holiday_cups_2016_graphic_swirls_

If you have been into a Starbucks during the Christmas period, you will certainly feel the magic of the holiday season. Every Starbucks feels well-decorated but never over stated. You can smell peppermint and ginger as soon as you walk in. If you want to add some flavor to your regular Latte, you can go for a Caramel Brûlé, Eggnog or Peppermint. And if you want to try one of the Christmas deserts, there’s Gingerbread loafs, Frosted Snowman cookies or the Cranberry Bliss Bar. Better yet, have you had one of those incredible Peppermint Brownie Cake Pops?

More impressively, according to Starbucks, “within the first 48 hours of red Starbucks cups launching in 2014, a photo of a Starbucks holiday cup was shared on Instagram every 14 seconds.” The event is so popular and anticipated, it has even given rise to countdown clocks. Sure it’s crazy, but it’s crazy fun. Kinda like Santa Claus, just crazy fun.

And then Starbucks got really dumb for a moment in 2015

Starbucks dStarbucks Holiday Cup Causes Online Controversyecided to launch a plain red cup, to ensure everyone felt included in the festivities. Plain red without any a pattern or design. There are no snowflakes, stars, or snowmen. And people were pissed. And social media screamed at the brand. This was seen by the public as one more “politically correct” thing in their lives. People understand not everyone is Christian, but can’t you just put a snowflake on the damn coffee cup.

In a world of social media, things can unravel very quickly. Within days of the launch last year, the issue began to dominate the headlines. One Youtube video blasting Starbucks generated 15 million views within days, with 500,000 people shared it. The red cup issue became one of the top stories in the country. Starbucks had lost control of their brand story. The controversy certainly caught Starbucks by surprise. Only after the issue developed did it release a statement noting that with the new design, “Starbucks is inviting customers to create their own stories with a red cup that mimics a blank canvas.”
This was the second time in a year that Starbucks had used their coffee cups to make a political statement. Earlier in the year, in order to promote unity among people, they encouraged their baristas to write #RaceTogether on cups. But the campaign didn’t sit well with some Starbuckrace-together-starbucks-cupss customers. Many voiced on social media and elsewhere that they didn’t want a debate with their brew. So Starbucks backed down.

Howard Schultz’s note to employees acknowledged the sceptics as an anticipated part of the outreach. “While there has been criticism of the initiative — and I know this hasn’t been easy for any of you — let me assure you that we didn’t expect universal praise.” Shultz said the campaign at its core aims to make sure that “the promise of the American Dream should be available to every person in this country, not just a select few.” Clearly, the average Starbucks consumer didn’t want a conversation–just a latte.

Brands need to be careful about over-playing their purpose. Consultants and Marketers are currently in love with brand purpose. Books, videos and boardroom meetings on brand purpose. I love brand purpose as well, but many times it is better used for the internal marketing. You have to understand what type of brand you are. And while internally, brand purpose drives the culture of Starbucks, externally to consumers Starbucks is an experience brand. Trying to mix the two, appears to leave consumers with a bad experience. To many consumers, Starbucks is an escape. With the current political climate, Starbucks needs to just keep things simple to ensure people can have that comfort of the escape. The consumer is now begging Starbucks for no more political messages. Can they resist in the future?

And now in 2016, Starbucks has done the right brand move going to 13 distinct Holiday designs.Taking last year’s controversy where consumers were drawing on their own cups, Starbucks has taken the best designs from their customers around the world and made them part of this year’s campaign. Here’s the video on the new red cups.

 

Smart recovery move by Starbucks. Now everyone can enjoy their little red cups in peace and harmony. Let’s see which brand can stay on brand message longer:  Trump or Starbucks.

Stay true to your brand and stay true to your consumers! 

Passion in Marketing Execution Matters. If you don’t love it, how do you expect your consumer to love it? If you “sorta like” it, then it will be “sorta ok” in the end. But if you love it, you’ll go the extra mile and make it amazing. To read more about how to drive your Marketing Execution, here is our workshop that shows everything you need to know, to have the smarts of strategy, the discipline of leadership and the passion of creativity to generate brand love in today’s modern world.

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

At Beloved Brands, we promise that we will make your brand stronger and your brand leaders smarter. 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 use workshop sessions to help your team create a winning brand positioning that separates your brand in the market, write focused brand plans that everyone can follow and we help you find advertising that drives growth for your brand. We will make your team of Brand Leaders smarter so they can produce exceptional work that drives stronger brand results. Our Beloved Brands training center offers 10 training workshops to get your team of brand leaders ready for success in brand management–including strategic and analytical thinking, writing brand plans, positioning statements and creative brief, making decisions on creative advertising and media plans.

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.

bbi-creds-deck-2017-007

 

A modern day Mrs. Claus steals the show for Marks and Spencer

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screen-shot-2016-11-12-at-6-41-32-pmBig production, intricate story line, little boy doing something for someone else at Christmas with a slight tear. Sure sounds like John Lewis, right? This year, John Lewis left the door wide open with their slightly boring bouncing dog ad. Marks and Spencer appears ready to steal the best in show prize away.

Here’s the latest Christmas ad for 2016, for Marks and Spencer of the UK. This is a very appealing modern-day take on Santa and of course Mrs Claus, who comes across as modern, empowering with a make-it-happen attitude. Helicopters, GPS and stylish red suit. And if you look very closely, Mrs Claus is reading “Fifty Shades of Red” at the end.  All the modern appeal and yet, we have a very simple old-fashioned story of a boy trying to do something nice for his sister. Well done Marks and Spencer. I would give this spot a solid 7.5/10 on the Christmas ad scale. Light on branding, but good solid story-telling in a modern sense. A slight tear at the end. And, most importantly, you just beat John Lewis.

 

So far, the best ad of the holiday season goes to Burberry, with a fabulous spot. I give this spot a 9.5/10. This Burberry spot will be hard to beat. Click to read below.

Consumers want Burberry to make a full-length movie out of their epic 3-minute mini-movie

 

Normally, I would rate the John Lewis spots in the 9/10 range, however 2016 falls flat a 5.5 out of 10. Sad to even think that. I am already looking forward to a better 2017 ad from them. To read our story on this year’s John Lewis ad, click on the link below:

New John Lewis 2016 Christmas ad finally released and it falls a little flat

Passion in Marketing Execution Matters. If you don’t love it, how do you expect your consumer to love it? If you “sorta like” it, then it will be “sorta ok” in the end. But if you love it, you’ll go the extra mile and make it amazing. To read more about how to drive your Marketing Execution, here is our workshop that shows everything you need to know, to have the smarts of strategy, the discipline of leadership and the passion of creativity to generate brand love in today’s modern world.

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

At Beloved Brands, we promise that we will make your brand stronger and your brand leaders smarter. 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 use workshop sessions to help your team create a winning brand positioning that separates your brand in the market, write focused brand plans that everyone can follow and we help you find advertising that drives growth for your brand. We will make your team of Brand Leaders smarter so they can produce exceptional work that drives stronger brand results. Our Beloved Brands training center offers 10 training workshops to get your team of brand leaders ready for success in brand management–including strategic and analytical thinking, writing brand plans, positioning statements and creative brief, making decisions on creative advertising and media plans.

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.

bbi-creds-deck-2017-007

New John Lewis 2016 Christmas ad finally released and it falls a little flat

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Beloved Brands in the Market

images

I feel like a little kid who races downstairs only to be disappointed by my gift. And then I feel bad about it. I am one of those who love the John Lewis Christmas ads and starts to think about it around early October.

And yet, this year, I just feel “blah”.

Once a year, brand fans await the latest installment of the John Lewis Christmas ad. So much attention, that it creates media hysteria trying to predict when it will be launched. John Lewis took advantage of that hype to use three little 10-second teasers with #BounceBounce to build up the anticipation.

The ad is OK, but not great.

It’s cute, but not brilliant.

It falls a little flat, compared to previous John Lewis ads.

Here is the ad, and before I lose you I have put all the John Lewis Christmas ads below for you to compare with.

 

Pretty simple story. Kid likes to bounce on things. Dad builds a trampoline. Animals come out and bounce on it. Dog sees them and is jealous. Dog bounces on the trampoline before the kid gets to it. Kid disappointed?  Mom and Dad disappointed? No one seems happy.

 

How do you feel about it? Is it just me?

The people at John Lewis felt that last year’s spot was “too sad” and they didn’t want to do “sad-vertising” anymore. Personally, I loved last year’s spot. It did bring a tear to my eye, but in a good way. John Lewis has also said they are trying to tap into the insight that 2016 has been a tough year, with Brexit and the US elections. Wouldn’t a more elaborate story be a better escape for consumers?

 

John Lewis has created a legacy around Christmas that is tough to live up to

I have worked on campaigns that lasted 10 years and 5 years. The hardest thing for a Marketer is to stay on track, yet try to beat last year’s spot. It is very hard to be creatively different, yet stay in line with the campaign. marketing-execution-2017-extract-9-001Those fight against each other. Since 2009, John Lewis has wiggled a little each year. But what they have not done yet, is sold out to the pressure. Each year, the ads have been highly creative, the ads that created the magic simply through the eyes of the children in the ads. The emphasis has always been on giving. You will see there is not a lot John Lewis branding in any of these ads, but there is a certain degree of ownership.

 

Rachel Swift, head of brand marketing at John Lewis, says “It is has become part of our handwriting as a brand. It’s about storytelling through music and emotion. The sentiment behind that hasn’t changed – and that is quite intentional. The strategy behind our campaigns is always about thoughtful gifting.”

Let’s use that summary to see how well the 2016 spot lives up to the John Lewis ads of the past?

  • There is not much of a story.
  • It is not very emotional at all.
  • It is not really about thoughtful gifting.
  • No one in the ad even seems happy.

In my view, 2016 ad falls flat and now I have to turn my attention to other retailers to see what they do. My hope is someone does something extra special. Right now John Lewis is the gold standard for Christmas ads and this latest puts them at risk that another retailer easily outshines them.

 

 

The history of John Lewis Ads

Here is last year’s spot, that might have gone overboard on sad. But I truly loved it.

Yes, the man on the moon is a metaphor (sorry, there really isn’t a man on the moon) for reaching out and giving someone a gift. For me, this ad quickly reminds me of when my own kids are on the phone or FaceTime with my mom. There is a certain magic in the innocence and simplicity when the very young talk with older people. They both seem to get it, maybe sometimes more than the in-between ages where the innocence of Christmas is lost within their busy schedules.

 

Here are the John Lewis spots from the last few years and you can tell me which one you like the best.

2014:  Monty the Penguin:

 

Here is the one from 2011, about the boy who couldn’t wait for Christmas. You will notice this year’s Man on the Moon feels very similar.

 

This is also a great one from 2010

 

And you can see the one from 2009.

 

In 2012, the “snowman” ad felt bit too dark for me with the tone feeling like a slight miss for John Lewis. I felt they were trying too hard.  Maybe feeling the pressure to keep the campaign alive by being different when really the consumer just wants the fast-becoming-familiar-John-Lewis-magic each year.

 

I also found the 2013 ad a bit of a departure, going to animation and utilizing on-line and in-store media. This campaign seems trying too hard to capitalize on their success. Doesn’t feel like a fit.

 

I guess I’ll have to wait for the 2017 John Lewis Christmas ad!  🙁

 

Christmas is 8 weeks away. Expect to see this spot a lot on your social media feed. But, also expect the other UK retailers to compete as they did last year. Here is a link to the 7 best Holiday ads for last year:

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

 

Passion in Marketing Execution Matters. If you don’t love it, how do you expect your consumer to love it? If you “sorta like” it, then it will be “sorta ok” in the end. But if you love it, you’ll go the extra mile and make it amazing. To read more about how to drive your Marketing Execution, here is our workshop that shows everything you need to know, to have the smarts of strategy, the discipline of leadership and the passion of creativity to generate brand love in today’s modern world.

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

At Beloved Brands, we promise that we will make your brand stronger and your brand leaders smarter. 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 use workshop sessions to help your team create a winning brand positioning that separates your brand in the market, write focused brand plans that everyone can follow and we help you find advertising that drives growth for your brand. We will make your team of Brand Leaders smarter so they can produce exceptional work that drives stronger brand results. Our Beloved Brands training center offers 10 training workshops to get your team of brand leaders ready for success in brand management–including strategic and analytical thinking, writing brand plans, positioning statements and creative brief, making decisions on creative advertising and media plans.

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.

bbi-creds-deck-2017-007