The reasons why Sears went bankrupt

SearsToday, Sears declares bankruptcy in the US. It is a very sad day for many of us who grew up circling items in the Sears Christmas catalog. But, it is a day we have seen coming for 20 years. I have a soft spot in my heart for them because my mom worked in the Sears men’s clothing section when I was a teenager. I thought it was a cool job. That’s where I got my suit for my High School graduation. My mom told me “every man needs a good suit.”

I also know of many great people who have worked at Sears over the years. From what I heard, they were extremely frustrated by the poor moves or lack of moves by senior leaders. Too little, too late.

Let’s explore the reasons why Sears died and what you can learn from them for your brand. This is the classic retailer who tried to be everything to everyone. Sears failed because they let Walmart steal their low-price positioning at retail, and then let Amazon steal their catalog shopping model.

Sears lacked a point of difference 

I tell brands all the time: “You have four choices: you can be better, different, cheaper or else not around for long.” I have never met anyone who chooses the fourth option of not around for long, but if you don’t choose one of the first three, then the fourth chooses you.

Like any department store, it is hard to be different. They are all just a collection of goods that someone else has made for them. For decades, Sears was successful in owning the “cheaper” option with their good value, at the lowest price. They likely kept that until the early 1980s.

First, the rapid expansion of Walmart and Costco put the first dagger into Sears by severely undercutting them on price. For comparable items, Sears was a 20-30% price premium.

Trying to be everything to anyone is the recipe for being nothing to everyone.

And then, as consumers moved to the big box stores and outlet malls, each of those individual retailers put another dagger into each and every department Sears owned.

  • Looking for a TV, go to Best Buy.
  • For a home renovation, go to Home Depot.
  • If you need any sporting goods, go to Dick’s.
  • And, for any clothing item, head to the nearest outlet mall.

To find the competitive space in which your brand can win, I introduce a Venn diagram of competitive situations. You will see three circles. The first circle comprises everything your consumer wants or needs. The second circle includes everything your brand does best, including consumer benefits, product features or proven claims. And, finally, the third circle lists what your competitor does best.competitive positioning

Find your brand positioning

Your brand’s winning zone (in green), is the space that matches up “What consumers want” with “What your brand does best.” This space provides you a distinct positioning you can own and defend from attack. Your brand must be able to satisfy the consumer needs better than any other competitor can.

Your brand will not survive by trying to compete in the losing zone (in red), which is the space that matches the consumer needs with “What your competitor does best.” When you play in this space, your competitor will beat you every time.

As markets mature, competitors copy each other. It has become harder to be better with a definitive product win. Many brands have to play in the risky zone (in grey), which is the space where you and your competitor both meet the consumer’s needs in a relative tie.

Using this logic, Sears offered moderate value goods, at a higher price than their competitors. There was no reason to go to Sears. They were in the dumb zone (in blue) for the last 20 years.

Walmart did exactly what Sears did, only better

Walmart used the identical playbook from Sears: well-known brand names at a much lower price than you could get anywhere else. As Walmart grew up through the 1970s and 80s, the focused on being the perfect store for the small towns or rural areas because they offered everything you would need in one place. As Walmart moved into suburbs in the 1980s and 90s, they met face-to-face with Sears.

What did Sears do to fight back? Nothing.

If we go back to the 1970s, I would label Sears as the “Power Player” brand of the retail category. Power Player brands should be the share leader or perceived influential leader of the category. These brands command power over all the stakeholders, including consumers, competitors, and retail channels. power player brands

Regarding positioning, the power player brands own what they are best at and leverage their power in the market to help them own the position where there is a tie with another competitor. Owning both zones helps expand the brand’s presence and power across a bigger market. These brands can also use their exceptional financial situation to invest in innovation to catch up, defend or stay ahead of competitors.

Power player brands must defend their territory by responding to every aggressive competitor’s attacks. They even need to attack themselves by vigilantly watching for internal weaknesses to close any potential leaks before a competitor notices. Power player brands can never become complacent, or they will die.

Sears should have squashed upstart Walmart in 1970 when they only had 38 stores, yet it was obvious that they were onto something. The smart power player brand would have paid Sam Walton $100 million for his stores and signed a do not compete. Within five years, their sales grew 10-fold from $40 million to $350 million, yet Sears still did nothing. That $100 million would look pretty cheap by the mid-1980s when Walmart grew another 40-fold up to $15 billion in sales. Keep going and by 2000, Walmart sales were $220 billion.

Sears failed to attack any competitive move made by Walmart, and they certainly never attacked themselves.

Sears once owned what Amazon now makes billions doing

For decades, Sears delivered catalogs with the widest assortment of products, customers would pick out exactly what they wanted, send in their order through the mail, Sears would send it from a central warehouse to one of their local stores and then the customer would go pick it up at their local Sears store.  I’m sure we are all looking at this model, baffled at how Sears never mastered online retailing. All they needed to do:

  • Put the entire Sears catalog on a website.
  • Let your customers order through the Sears website.
  • Mail it from your central warehouse to the customer’s house.

Not only did Amazon steal this model, they even paved the way with a “books only” model that still allowed Sears the time to launch their full catalog online.

The problem for many leaders is that to be a visionary, you must be able to visualize the future, and then take action. Many leaders of brands about to be replaced by a smarter model for the future resist the future as hard as they can. The leader could actually replicate the brand attacking them, and become the future faster than the brand attacking them. That’s crazy.

Too many of the brands link their brand with the format they deliver. Newspapers think they are in the business of broadsheets, and retailers think of locations. Remember that phrase “location, location, location.” I would rather brands think of the idea they stand for, and adjust the business model to deliver that idea.

Running a brand takes imagination

Just imagine, if in 1975, Sears fought back with all their power and squashed Walmart. It would have worked.

Just imagine, if in 1995, Sears saw the future of online shopping, and moved their entire catalog model to an e-commerce platform.

Without a vision for the future, Sears is now part of our past. 

To learn more about this type of thinking, you should explore my new book, Beloved Brands.

With Beloved Brands, you will learn everything you need to know so you can build a brand that your consumers will love.

You will learn how to think strategically, define your brand with a positioning statement and a brand idea, write a brand plan everyone can follow, inspire smart and creative marketing execution and analyze the performance of your brand through a deep-dive business review.

Beloved Brands book

To order the e-book version or the paperback version from Amazon, click on this link: https://lnkd.in/eF-mYPe

If you use Kobo, you can find Beloved Brands in over 30 markets using this link: https://lnkd.in/g7SzEh4

And if you are in India, you can use this link to order: https://lnkd.in/gDA5Aiw

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

At Beloved Brands, our purpose is to help brands find a new pathway to growth. We believe that the more love your brand can generate with your most cherished consumers, the more power, growth, and profitability you will realize in the future.

We think the best solutions are likely inside you already, but struggle to come out. Our unique playbook tools are the backbone of our workshops. We bring our challenging voice to help you make decisions and refine every potential idea.

We start by defining a brand positioning statement, outlining the desired target, consumer benefits and support points the brand will stand behind. And then, we build a brand idea that is simple and unique enough to stand out in the clutter of the market, motivating enough to get consumers to engage, buy and build a loyal following with your brand.

We will help you write a strategic brand plan for the future, to get everyone in your organization to follow. It starts with an inspiring vision that pushes your team to imagine a brighter future. We use our strategic thinking tools to help you make strategic choices on where to allocate your brand’s limited resources.

Our brand playbook methodology will challenge you to unlock future growth for your brand

  1. Our deep-dive assessment process will give you the knowledge of the issues facing your brand, so you can build a smart plan to unleash future growth.
  2. Find a winningbrand positioning statementthat motivates consumers to buy, and gives you a competitive advantage to drive future growth.
  3. Create a brand ideato capture the minds and hearts of consumers, while inspiring and focusing your team to deliver greatness on the brand’s behalf.
  4. Build a brand planto help you make smart focused decisions, so you can organize, steer, and inspire your team towards higher growth.
  5. Advise on advertising, to find creative that drives branded breakthrough and use a motivating messaging to set up long-term brand growth.
  6. Our brandtrainingprogram will make your brand leaders smarter, so you have added confidence in their performance to drive brand growth.

To learn more about our coaching, click on this link: Beloved Brands Strategic Coaching

To learn more about our training programs, click on this link: Beloved Brands Training

If you need our help, email me at graham@beloved-brands.comor call me at 416 885 3911

You have my personal promise to help you solve your brand building challenges. I will give you new thinking, so you can unlock future growth for your brand.

Signature

Graham Robertson

Founder and CMO, Beloved Brands Inc.

 

 

 

An inspiring letter from Starbucks’ Howard Shultz on race in America

Everyone in marketing talks about brand purpose. The role of brand purpose only becomes powerful when are you prepared to make decisions that stand by your purpose. Today’s letter from Howard Shultz is a great example of standing for what you believe in. He speaks very honestly about what he wanted Starbucks to be, where it fell short, and what he sees its role in race relations in America.

When the incidents at the Starbucks in Philadelphia took place, I’m sure it shocked a lot of people. It was wrong. It seemed against the values of Starbucks. I kept thinking how many times I’ve sat in a Starbucks waiting for a friend. It’s only natural not to order, until your friend gets there. Especially, if it is a business meeting. I thought the CEO did a great job in flying across the country to meet face-to-face with the two gentlemen.

Here is the full letter from Howard Shultz to customers of Starbucks

This afternoon Starbucks will close more than 8,000 stores and begin a new chapter in our history.

In 1983 I took my first trip to Italy. As I walked the streets of Milan, I saw cafés and espresso bars on every street. When I ventured inside I experienced something powerful: a sense of community and human connection.

I returned home determined to create a similar experience in America—a new “third place” between home and work—and build a different kind of company. I wanted our stores to be comfortable, safe spaces where everyone had the opportunity to enjoy a coffee, sit, read, write, host a meeting, date, debate, discuss or just relax.

Today 100 million customers enter Starbucks® stores each week. In an ever-changing society, we still aspire to be a place where everyone feels welcome.

Sometimes, however, we fall short, disappointing ourselves and all of you.

Recently, a Starbucks manager in Philadelphia called the police a few minutes after two black men arrived at a store and sat waiting for a friend. They had not yet purchased anything when the police were called. After police arrived they arrested the two men. The situation was reprehensible and does not represent our company’s mission and enduring values.

After investigating what happened, we determined that insufficient support and training, a company policy that defined customers as paying patrons—versus anyone who enters a store—and bias led to the decision to call the police. Our ceo, Kevin Johnson, met with the two men to express our deepest apologies, reconcile and commit to ongoing actions to reaffirm our guiding principles.

The incident has prompted us to reflect more deeply on all forms of bias, the role of our stores in communities and our responsibility to ensure that nothing like this happens again at Starbucks. The reflection has led to a long-term commitment to reform systemwide policies, while elevating inclusion and equity in all we do.

Today we take another step to ensure we live up to our mission:

FOR SEVERAL HOURS THIS AFTERNOON, STARBUCKS WILL CLOSE STORES AND OFFICES TO DISCUSS HOW TO MAKE STARBUCKS A PLACE WHERE ALL PEOPLE FEEL WELCOME.

What will we be doing? More than 175,000 Starbucks partners (that’s what we call our employees) will be sharing life experiences, hearing from others, listening to experts, reflecting on the realities of bias in our society and talking about how all of us create public spaces where everyone feels like they belong—because they do. This conversation will continue at our company and become part of how we train all of our partners.

Discussing racism and discrimination is not easy, and various people have helped us create a learning experience that we hope will be educational, participatory and make us a better company. We want this to be an open and honest conversation starting with our partners. We will also make the curriculum available to the public.

To our Starbucks partners: I want to thank you for your participation today and for the wonderful work you do every day to make Starbucks a third place for millions of customers.

To our customers: I want to thank you for your patience and support as we renew our promise to make Starbucks what I envisioned it could be nearly 40 years ago—an inclusive gathering place for all.

We’ll see you tomorrow.

With deep respect,

Howard

 

 

10 emotional ads that leave you with goosebumps

emotional advertisingWhen brands say they want emotional ads, I usually say “I can’t wait to see this emotional creative brief you wrote.” Without digging deep to understand the emotion and consumer insights beneath the surface, asking for an emotional ad, feels like a random game of chance. To get emotional ads that work for you, you must understand the emotional space your brand wishes to own and then layer in emotion-based consumer insights.

Do you understand the emotional space your brand can own?

Below you will find a list of 40 potential emotional benefits. From my experience, marketers are better at finding the right rational benefits than they compared with how they work at finding emotional benefits. As a brand, you want to own one emotional space in the consumer’s heart as much as you own a rational space in the consumer’s mind. When I push brand managers to get emotional, they struggle and opt for what they view as obvious emotions, even if they do not fit with their brand. I swear every brand thinks their brand should be the trusted, reliable and likable.

The emotional benefits cheat sheet

Emotional benefit Cheat Sheet

I have used Hotspex research methodology to create an emotional cheat sheet with eight emotional consumer benefits zones, which include optimism, freedom, be noticed, be liked, comfort, be myself, be in control, and knowledge. Use the words within each zone to provide added context.

Brands must own a space in the consumer’s heart. Brands should own and dominate one of these zones, always mindful of which zone your competitor may own. Do not choose a list of emotions from all over the map or you will confuse your consumer. And, use the supporting words to add flavor to your brand positioning.

Ten emotional ads that work

Here are ten emotional ads that do a fantastic job going into the emotional space, whether it’s a mass retailer, a utility or a shoe company. They do a nice job of connecting the consumer tightly to the brand. While the ads do that, does the brand do what it takes to back it up when you experience that brand? In some cases, yes, but not all.

Google “Paris”

For all the romantics, this is one of the best ads. They tell the complete story through google searches, with a few surprises like the airline ticket, wedding bells and of course the baby. Extremely creative.

 

Nike’s “If You Let Me Play”

Nike released this inspiration way back in 1995, outlining the benefits of having girls play sports. Brands such as Always “throw like a girl” were inspired by this type of message.

P&G “Thank you mom”

Back in the 2012 London Olympics, P&G was making an attempt at a Master Brand strategy. This is a beautiful Ad, that is a nice salute to moms around the world, whether your child is an Olympian, or not.

Ram “Farmers”

Aired during the Super Bowl, it’s one of the best spots I have ever seen. Using Paul Harvey’s storytelling hit a positive vibe with Farmers and Americans in general. The simplicity of the idea, yet storytelling at it’s best.  They didn’t over-do the branding, but consumers were so engaged in the ad, they were dying to know who is it that’s telling this story. While everyone else is being loud, maybe being so quiet stands out. 

Canadian Tire “Bike Ad”

This ad makes me cry every time. We can all remember our first bike and how special it is. In Canada, Canadian Tire was that store, prior to Wal-Mart entering the market. Now, Canadian Tire can’t deliver on this promise, because it now resembles Wal-Mart. No longer is it where you go for your first bike, but rather where you go buy Tide when it’s cheap.

Bell “Dieppe”

Wow, a utility delivering an ad that gives you goosebumps. I have been to that beach in Dieppe and it does command such intense feelings. As you can tell from the phone at the end, this was in the early days of Cell phones, trying to link the idea of connecting anywhere. While this is just an ad, I do wish that utilities would try harder to connect with consumers at every stage of the consumer’s buying journey.  

John Lewis “Christmas 2011”

Every Christmas, British retailer John Lewis has been releasing campaigns around Christmas.  To me, this one is the best, especially the ending. John Lewis is an employee-owned retailer, with a unique culture that delivers on the brand.  

Budweiser “9/11”

Aired only once, only a few months after 9/11 the context of this ad is paramount to the emotion. An amazing salute, by the brand, to the heroes of 9/11.

Pfizer “More than Medication”

A nice twist. The ad appears to be a typical rebellious teenager, but he turns into an angel, with a big message for his sister.

Nike “Find your Greatness”

Aired during the 2012 Olympics, this ad was a very high risk but also ran counter to all the athlete ads. There are many types of motivation, for some of us, Michael Jordan is the inspiration. But not all of us are Michael Jordan. This kid running is the average person that gets out there and makes it happen. My hope is that it inspires you do get out there and “just do it”, on your own terms.

To learn more about this type of thinking, you should explore my new book, Beloved Brands.

With Beloved Brands, you will learn everything you need to know so you can build a brand that your consumers will love.

You will learn how to think strategically, define your brand with a positioning statement and a brand idea, write a brand plan everyone can follow, inspire smart and creative marketing execution and analyze the performance of your brand through a deep-dive business review.

Beloved Brands book

To order the e-book version or the paperback version from Amazon, click on this link: https://lnkd.in/eF-mYPe

If you use Kobo, you can find Beloved Brands in over 30 markets using this link: https://lnkd.in/g7SzEh4

And if you are in India, you can use this link to order: https://lnkd.in/gDA5Aiw

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

At Beloved Brands, our purpose is to help brands find a new pathway to growth. We believe that the more love your brand can generate with your most cherished consumers, the more power, growth, and profitability you will realize in the future.

We think the best solutions are likely inside you already, but struggle to come out. Our unique playbook tools are the backbone of our workshops. We bring our challenging voice to help you make decisions and refine every potential idea.

We start by defining a brand positioning statement, outlining the desired target, consumer benefits and support points the brand will stand behind. And then, we build a brand idea that is simple and unique enough to stand out in the clutter of the market, motivating enough to get consumers to engage, buy and build a loyal following with your brand.

We will help you write a strategic brand plan for the future, to get everyone in your organization to follow. It starts with an inspiring vision that pushes your team to imagine a brighter future. We use our strategic thinking tools to help you make strategic choices on where to allocate your brand’s limited resources.

Our brand playbook methodology will challenge you to unlock future growth for your brand

  1. Our deep-dive assessment process will give you the knowledge of the issues facing your brand, so you can build a smart plan to unleash future growth.
  2. Find a winning brand positioning statement that motivates consumers to buy, and gives you a competitive advantage to drive future growth.
  3. Create a brand idea to capture the minds and hearts of consumers, while inspiring and focusing your team to deliver greatness on the brand’s behalf.
  4. Build a brand plan to help you make smart focused decisions, so you can organize, steer, and inspire your team towards higher growth.
  5. Advise on advertising, to find creative that drives branded breakthrough and use a motivating messaging to set up long-term brand growth.
  6. Our brand training program will make your brand leaders smarter, so you have added confidence in their performance to drive brand growth.

To learn more about our coaching, click on this link: Beloved Brands Strategic Coaching

To learn more about our training programs, click on this link: Beloved Brands Training

If you need our help, email me at graham@beloved-brands.com or call me at 416 885 3911

You have my personal promise to help you solve your brand building challenges. I will give you new thinking, so you can unlock future growth for your brand.

Signature

Graham Robertson

Founder and CMO, Beloved Brands Inc.

 

Why every western retailer brand should be visiting China now!

As retailers struggle, we keep hearing about the battle between traditional and online retail, but not enough talk about consumer-centric retail. China is moving ahead, starting with the consumer. They are mapping out how they want to shop, providing smart, creative solutions so retailers show up completely different. Brands like Alibaba are leading the way, with consumer centricity.

When I grew up cartoons were only on Saturday morning, which was the same time my mom went to do groceries. Now, cartoons are on whenever, wherever and however kids want. Pause, switch devices and keep watching.

Somehow North American retailers seem stuck debating offline versus online. And, many stores still fumbling around on the transition from old to new.

A few months ago, we purchased a beautiful desk, and the experience was laughably horrendous. Honestly, we saw carbon copies. The glass top for the desk was out of stock, and they would call us when it was available, two months from now. Then, we were given the number to call for a third party delivery company. The delivery company said they could get the desk to us in two weeks time. I felt like I was being transported back to 1977.  This is a big name retailer, in 2018!

Toys-R-Us is gone.

Sears is dead.

Macy’s has no clue if there will ever be another parade.

Even Sam’s Club is closing stores.

It is not just that these stores using old world retail thinking. They are barely thinking about the consumer, which results in a very boring and frustrating consumer experience.

Meanwhile, the Alibaba stock price has doubled in the past year.

China is moving beyond online, into a world of consumer centricity. 

Shop how you want, order how you want, deliver how you want and prepare how you want. You can order ahead and have it cooked for you in one of the store’s restaurants. You can browse fresh fish or vegetables, have it cooked the way you want, and then delivered to your home within 30 minutes.

Below is a video by Alibaba about their view on “New Retail.” This will give you a feel for the smart and creative areas where retail can go.

 

Hema stores from Alibaba

Hema supermarkets are the central retail choice to Alibaba’s push for “new retail,” that blends online and offline experiences. They have in-store restaurants so shoppers can select live seafood and eat on the spot. Shoppers, whether online or in the store, can receive free delivery within 30 minutes. No more carrying bags home, and if you get the food cooked by the store, you don’t even have to cook it.  Rather than loading up your grocery cart, then lining up at a cash register, shoppers can browse and pay as they shop.

Consumers are instantly provided information about brands through their smartphones. And once you want it, you can pay instantly with Alipay, the payment app used by over 500 million people in China.

Payment apps have become so common. On my last trip to China, the taxi didn’t take Visa, and one of the cabs didn’t even take cash. Just the payment app.

Old-school marketing no longer works, but the fundamentals of brand management matter more now than ever

The old logical ways of marketing no longer work in today’s world. These brands feel stuck in the past talking about gadgets, features, and promotions. They will be ‘friend-zoned’ by consumers and purchased only when the brand is on sale. The best brands of the previous century were little product inventions that solved small problems consumers did not even realize they had until the product came along. Old-school marketing was about bold logos, catchy jingles, memorable slogans, side-by-side demonstrations, repetitive TV ads, product superiority claims and expensive battles for shelf space at retail stores. Every marketer focused on how to enter the consumer’s mind.

Old-school marketers learned the 4Ps of product, place, price, and promotion. It is a useful start, but too product-focused and it misses out on consumer insights, emotional benefits, and consumer experiences.

Brands need to build a passionate and lasting love for their consumers   

How can brand leaders replicate Apple’s brand lovers who line up in the rain to buy the latest iPhone before they even know the phone’s features?  I see Ferrari fans who paint their faces red every weekend, knowing they will likely never drive a Ferrari in their lifetime. There are the ‘Little Monsters’ who believe they are nearly best friends with Lady Gaga.

It was amazing to witness 400,000 outspoken Tesla brand advocates who put $1,000 down for a car that did not even exist yet. I love the devoted fans of In-N-Out Burger who order animal-style burgers off the secret menu. Every brand should want this type of passion and power with their consumers.

Smart strategic thinking

A smart strategy turns an early breakthrough win into a shift in momentum, positional power or tipping point where you begin to achieve more in the marketplace than the resources you put in.

Many underestimate the need for an early win. I see this as a crucial breakthrough point where you start to look at a small shift in momentum towards your vision. While there will always be doubters to every strategy, the results of the early win provide compelling proof to show everyone the plan will work. You can change the minds of the doubters—or at least keep them quiet—so everyone can stay focused on the breakthrough point.

The magic of strategy happens through leverage, where you can use the early win as an opening or a tipping point where you start to see a transformational power that allows you to make an impact and achieve results in the marketplace. A smart strategy should trigger the consumer to move along the bug journey from awareness to buy and onto loyalty, or it can help tighten the consumer’s bond with the brand. 

Every retailer should be booking flights to China to explore what retail of the future will look like. And soon.

My new book, Beloved Brands, coming this spring.

How this Beloved Brands playbook can work for you. The purpose of this book is to make you a smarter brand leader so your brand can win in the market. You will learn how to think strategically, define your brand with a positioning statement and a brand idea, write a brand plan everyone can follow, inspire smart and creative marketing execution, and be able to analyze the performance of your brand through a deep-dive business review.

 

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

At Beloved Brands, our purpose is to help brands find a new pathway to growth. We believe that the more love your brand can generate with your most cherished consumers, the more power, growth, and profitability you will realize in the future.

The best solutions are likely inside you already, but struggle to come out. Our unique engagement tools are the backbone of our strategy workshops. These tools will force you to think differently so you can freely generate many new ideas. At Beloved Brands, we bring our challenging voice to help you make decisions and refine every potential idea.

We help brands find growth

We start by defining a brand positioning statement, outlining the desired target, consumer benefits and support points the brand will stand behind. And then, we build a big idea that is simple and unique enough to stand out in the clutter of the market, motivating enough to get consumers to engage, buy and build a loyal following with your brand. Finally, the big idea must influence employees to personally deliver an outstanding consumer experience, to help move consumers along the journey to loving your brand.

We will help you write a strategic brand plan for the future, to get everyone in your organization to follow. It starts with an inspiring vision that pushes your team to imagine a brighter future. We use our strategic thinking tools to help you make strategic choices on where to allocate your brand’s limited resources. We work with your team to build out project plans, creative briefs and provide advice on marketing execution.

To learn more about our coaching, click on this link: Beloved Brands Strategic Coaching

We make Brand Leaders smarter

We believe that investing in your marketing people will pay off. With smarter people behind your brands will drive higher revenue growth and profits. With our brand management training program, you will see smarter strategic thinking, more focused brand plans, brand positioning, better creative briefs that steer your agencies, improved decision-making on marketing execution, smarter analytical skills to assess your brand’s performance and a better management of the profitability of the brand.

To learn more about our training programs, click on this link: Beloved Brands Training

If you need our help, email me at graham@beloved-brands.com or call me at 416 885 3911

Graham Robertson bio

 

 

 

 

 

McDonald’s creates their own system of traffic signs out of the golden arches

McDonald’s outdoor ads have added to our traffic signs around the world. They have taken a part of the iconic golden arches and turned into direction signs.

McDonald's outdoor ads

 

 

The other day, I saw one of these outdoor McDonald’s ads and it captured me right away. And, I knew the brand and I wanted McDonald’s fries right now!!! Today, I saw the whole system of signs and I am completely blown away. I must say it was one of the most brilliant executions I have seen in a while. I had one of those why didn’t I think of this?” moments. I am jealous. I wish I made this. And, those are the natural signals of when you know you have made great work. Congratulations to Cossette Agency.

 

  • I love the simplicity of using the brand’s logo.
  • The potential consistency across cities and countries would make it instantly recognizable and ownable for the brand.
  • It will have the ability to tempt consumers, as it will be one more visual triggers of desire for the brand.
  • Wow. Nice job McDonald’s.

And now, you owe it to us to get this in 80 countries fast. Go.

 

Here’s a 45-second video to showcase the outdoor system.

The smart and creative thinking behind great advertising

The best advertising must balance being creatively different with being strategically smart. Find your sweet spot for where the work is different and smart.

Creative Advertising Execution

When ads are smart but not different, they get lost in the clutter. It is natural for marketers to tense up when the creative work ends up being “too different.” In all parts of the business, marketers are trained to look for past proof as a sign something will work. However, when it comes to advertising, if the ads start off too similar to what other brands have already done, then the advertising will be at risk of boring your consumers, so you never stand out enough to capture their attention. Push your comfort with creativity and take a chance to ensure your ad breaks through.

When ads are different but not smart, they will entertain consumers, but do nothing for your brand. You need advertising that is smart enough to trigger the desired consumer response to match your brand strategy.

To read our story “The 10 steps of the creative advertising process” click on this link below:

 

At Beloved Brands, we run workshops to train marketers in all aspects of marketing from strategic thinking, analysis, writing brand plans, creative briefs and reports, judging advertising and media. To see a WORKSHOP ON MARKETING EXECUTION, click on the Powerpoint presentation below:

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

At Beloved Brands, our purpose is to help brands find a new pathway to growth. We believe that the more love your brand can generate with your most cherished consumers, the more power, growth, and profitability you will realize in the future.

The best solutions are likely inside you already, but struggle to come out. Our unique engagement tools are the backbone of our strategy workshops. These tools will force you to think differently so you can freely generate many new ideas. At Beloved Brands, we bring our challenging voice to help you make decisions and refine every potential idea.

We help brands find growth

We start by defining a brand positioning statement, outlining the desired target, consumer benefits and support points the brand will stand behind. And then, we build a big idea that is simple and unique enough to stand out in the clutter of the market, motivating enough to get consumers to engage, buy and build a loyal following with your brand. Finally, the big idea must influence employees to personally deliver an outstanding consumer experience, to help move consumers along the journey to loving your brand.

We will help you write a strategic brand plan for the future, to get everyone in your organization to follow. It starts with an inspiring vision that pushes your team to imagine a brighter future. We use our strategic thinking tools to help you make strategic choices on where to allocate your brand’s limited resources. We work with your team to build out project plans, creative briefs and provide advice on marketing execution.

To learn more about our coaching, click on this link: Beloved Brands Strategic Coaching

We make Brand Leaders smarter

We believe that investing in your marketing people will pay off. With smarter people behind your brands will drive higher revenue growth and profits. With our brand management training program, you will see smarter strategic thinking, more focused brand plans, brand positioning, better creative briefs that steer your agencies, improved decision-making on marketing execution, smarter analytical skills to assess your brand’s performance and a better management of the profitability of the brand.

To learn more about our training programs, click on this link: Beloved Brands Training

If you need our help, email me at graham@beloved-brands.com or call me at 416 885 3911

Graham Robertson Profile

Best Super Bowl ads of 2018, based on whether I would spent the money

Best super bowl AdsHere are the Best Super Bowl Ads. As a former client side Brand Leader, I only ever judge an Ad based on whether I would have spent the money to make it. Super Bowl Ads are high-profile, and a big financial investment. While none of this year’s Ads will make my All time Top 10 list, there were a handful I would have invested in.

 

Is the Super Bowl a good media choice for your brand?

When it comes to your media, your strategy should determine how much you can invest. Have you discovered a new brand message that you know will motivate consumers to buy your brand? Have you Identified change in the consumer needs, motivations or behaviors that will benefit your brand.Has there been a shift in the competitive dynamic, with an opportunity to make gains or a necessity to defend? Are you continuing to fuel brand growth, with a window to drive brand profits? Is there a new distribution channel you can use to move consumers through, before competitors do? Have you launched a breakthrough product innovation that offers a competitive advantage to your brand? While the Super Bowl is a huge investment, if done right, it can actually be a more efficient brand spend than paying for a 30-second spot on Big Bang Theory on your average Tuesday. It all depends on the creative. During a Super Bowl game, we tend to see some of the best…..and my god, some of the worst Ads of all time.

 

Does your Ad have branded breakthrough and a motivating message?

The Brand Leaders who are good at advertising can get great Ads on the air, and keep bad Ads off the air. You need to make decisions to find the sweet spot where your brand’s Advertising is both different and smart.

To be different, you need to achieve branded breakthrough, using creativity to capture consumers, not only gaining their attention within the clutter of the market, but linking your brand closely to the story. To be smart, you need a motivating message to make sure you communicate the main message to connect with consumers in a memorable way, and make sure the ad stick enough to move consumers to see, think, feel or act differently than before they saw the Ad.

I always use the principles for achieving Attention, Brand Link, Communication and Stickiness—the model I call the ABC’S.

Here are the 5 Ads I would have paid for:

Tide:

Tide stole the evening. While Tide has a dominant share, I have zero emotional feelings for Tide. The brand is so stoically cold, I have never seen any Tide Ad in the past 40 years I have liked. Till last night. I actually found myself wanting to see the next Tide Ad. And a few times, I said “this is a Tide Ad” and I was wrong. But still laughing my ass off.

And then there was this one, using their sister brand, “Old Spice”. When this came on, I said “oh good, finally a new Old Spice Ad”.  Nope, a Tide Ad.

Then I saw a Clydesdale horse, ready to cry. Nope, it’s a Tide Ad. Damn.

Tide is a dominant Power Player brand. They have the financial resources to do this type of Ad once a year. High on attention, strong branding, still tells cleaning message and sticks in the consumer’s mind. I’m sure the overnight recall for “A Tide Ad” is 90%. I’d buy it.

Amazon Alexa

It was a weak evening for technology. But Amazon Alexa was great. With a new product innovation, it naturally generates Attention, and used a highly creative demo to communicate the benefits of the brand. Nice use of a few celebs who fit their role. Very funny, to create some good talk value. I’d buy it.

 

Jeep

This Ad spoke to those consumers who love the Jeep Wrangler. It was a 30-second one take product demonstration. I bet if you ask Jeep lovers, this Ad perfectly epitomizes their view of the brand. While the masses might not remember by this ad today. I am guessing at every water cooler or Facebook page, the Jeep owners are quietly saying “I like the Jeep Ad”. Maybe lose half the copy of the voice over. Let the quietness of the Ad speak for itself. Plus, that voice over seemed to be talking to the Ad industry, not Joe Average Jeep owner. But,  I’d buy it.

Ram 

One of my top 10 all time favorite ads was the Dodge “And god created a farmer” ad with the voice of Paul Harvey from 2012. It was such a captivatingly quiet Ad. So last night, I could tell the MLK ad was Ram’s, but the music was annoying me. Last I checked, Dr. King doesn’t need background music. I’d buy it, but I’d ask for the music to be gone.

Compare that ad with the Dodge Ram ad from the 2012. See what I mean by the lack of sound is what captures you. Now watch the MLK ad and imagine without the music.

Doritos and Mountain Dew

I feel for the Doritos team for having to come up with a hit every Super Bowl Ad. Maybe not way out there, but a solid 8/10. Highly entertaining rap to launch a product innovation, followed by Morgan Freeman with Mountain Dew. While I love Morgan Freeman rapping and dancing, the brand link and message was not as clear. I’d buy the Doritos and think twice about the Mountain Dew. Maybe I’d use the Morgan Freeman script on a salt and vinegar Doritos.

That’s my shopping list done. There were a ton of Ads. Lots of crap last night. I will remember Tide, maybe not in my top 10 Super Bowl ads of all time, but maybe in my top 25.

At Beloved Brands, we run workshops to train marketers in all aspects of marketing from strategic thinking, analysis, writing brand plans, creative briefs and reports, judging advertising and media. To see a WORKSHOP ON MARKETING EXECUTION, click on the Powerpoint presentation below:

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

At Beloved Brands, our purpose is to help brands find a new pathway to growth. We believe that the more love your brand can generate with your most cherished consumers, the more power, growth and profitability you will realize in the future.

The best solutions are likely inside you already, but struggle to come out. Our unique engagement tools are the backbone of our strategy workshops. These tools will force you to think differently so you can freely generate many new ideas. At Beloved Brands, we bring our challenging voice to help you make decisions and refine every potential idea.

We help brands find growth

We start by defining a brand positioning statement, outlining the desired target, consumer benefits and support points the brand will stand behind. And then, we build a big idea that is simple and unique enough to stand out in the clutter of the market, motivating enough to get consumers to engage, buy and build a loyal following with your brand. Finally, the big idea must influence employees to personally deliver an outstanding consumer experience, to help move consumers along the journey to loving your brand.

We will help you write a strategic brand plan for the future, to get everyone in your organization to follow. It starts with an inspiring vision that pushes your team to imagine a brighter future. We use our strategic thinking tools to help you make strategic choices on where to allocate your brand’s limited resources. We work with your team to build out project plans, creative briefs and provide advice on marketing execution.

To learn more about our coaching, click on this link: Beloved Brands Strategic Coaching

We make Brand Leaders smarter

We believe that investing in your marketing people will pay off. With smarter people behind your brands will drive higher revenue growth and profits. With our brand management training program, you will see smarter strategic thinking, more focused brand plans, brand positioning, better creative briefs that steer your agencies, improved decision-making on marketing execution, smarter analytical skills to assess your brand’s performance and a better management of the profitability of the brand.

To learn more about our training programs, click on this link: Beloved Brands Training

If you need our help, email me at graham@beloved-brands.com or call me at 416 885 3911

Beloved Brands Graham Robertson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What do you think of the new Diet Coke logo and packaging?

diet cokeThe new Diet Coke package design is certainly colorful but the strategy behind the package seems confusing. The simplest test that I always do with logo design or even print ads. Take a step back and ask “What’s the first thing you see?”  I see the word “Coke”. I see it on the traditional Coke red background.

What’s the second thing you see?  I see multiple colors. And I think, aren’t a few of those formerly failed flavors from the past few decades?

What’s the third thing you see?  I see weird little drawings along the bottom of the can, that I’m not sure what those are?  If you force me to look, maybe I will. Why is the cherry flavor in purple, and not red? You have to look at your execution as though you are a consumer.

What I haven’t seen yet, is the word “Diet”. Hmmm. Oh, there it is, very small, sideways and in a script that’s hard to read. Why are you hiding the word Diet, when your brand name is DIET COKE?

Is Diet Coke a brand itself, or is it part of a master brand?

diet cokeI know a few years ago, Coke tried to make all the packaging look the same, so that it looked like one big family, with most of the can using the big Coca Cola red logo. It was done in a test market and failed miserably. But it showed you the strategic mindset.

Coke needs to face that carbonated beverages are in sharp decline

diet cokeThis decline has to change your strategy. While Coke and Pepsi have been in a share dog fight for the last 50 years, that fight is now a fight for survival. With both Coke and Pepsi stretched across legacy success stories of the original, diet and zero/max sub-brands, and stretched across legacy success flavors, the reality is that the consumer mind space and retailer shelf space will eventually collapse.

The only remaining strategy is to beat each other.

It reminds me of that great mythology story about two hunters bedded down at their campfire and were about to fall asleep when a giant bear loomed in front of them. One hunter rushed to put on his sneakers. The other said, “What good will that do? You will never outrun that bear.” The first one said, “I am not worried about outrunning the bear. All I have to do is outrun you!”

That’s where the Coke brand is right now. All they have to do for the decade is outrun Pepsi. Don’t over think some of the things you are currently over-thinking.

  • Diet Coke is a brand, not a sub brand. Launched in 1981, it was treated as though it were its own brand from day one. Why try to change that now, especially as you face a declining category? Use the separate Diet Coke brand to your advantage to squeeze out Pepsi.
  • I know the word “diet” might not fit our modern day “organic” and “low carb” words. But “Diet Coke” means more to consumers than the word diet. Maybe you should have called it Coke Light like Europe does. But it is what it is. Don’t over think it.
  • Those look like cute flavor choices, but launching four new flavors at once is crazy. Your retailers will likely take one or two. Also, launching four at once just spreads your sales across the four flavors so that none of them will generate high enough sales to hit a threshold of success.

So I guess I don’t like the strategy, the naming or the design. What do you think?

To learn more about how to judge advertising that works, here is our Marketing Execution workshop we run to help train Brand Leaders:

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

At Beloved Brands, our purpose is to help brands find a new pathway to growth. We believe that the more love your brand can generate with your most cherished consumers, the more power, growth and profitability you will realize in the future.

The best solutions are likely inside you already, but struggle to come out. Our unique engagement tools are the backbone of our strategy workshops. These tools will force you to think differently so you can freely generate many new ideas. At Beloved Brands, we bring our challenging voice to help you make decisions and refine every potential idea.

We help brands find growth

We start by defining a brand positioning statement, outlining the desired target, consumer benefits and support points the brand will stand behind. And then, we build a big idea that is simple and unique enough to stand out in the clutter of the market, motivating enough to get consumers to engage, buy and build a loyal following with your brand. Finally, the big idea must influence employees to personally deliver an outstanding consumer experience, to help move consumers along the journey to loving your brand.

We will help you write a strategic brand plan for the future, to get everyone in your organization to follow. It starts with an inspiring vision that pushes your team to imagine a brighter future. We use our strategic thinking tools to help you make strategic choices on where to allocate your brand’s limited resources. We work with your team to build out project plans, creative briefs and provide advice on marketing execution.

To learn more about our coaching, click on this link: Beloved Brands Strategic Coaching

We make Brand Leaders smarter

We believe that investing in your marketing people will pay off. With smarter people behind your brands will drive higher revenue growth and profits. With our brand management training program, you will see smarter strategic thinking, more focused brand plans, brand positioning, better creative briefs that steer your agencies, improved decision-making on marketing execution, smarter analytical skills to assess your brand’s performance and a better management of the profitability of the brand.

To learn more about our training programs, click on this link: Beloved Brands Training

If you need our help, email me at graham@beloved-brands.com or call me at 416 885 3911

Beloved Brands Graham Robertson 

 

 

 

 

 

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My favorite Christmas Ad of 2017 is an old-fashioned romantic story

I am happy to report that 2017 will end with a great series of Ads from Vodafone in the UK. This six-part old fashioned, love story does a great job portraying the awkwardness of the early stages of dating. Anyone who knows the lines to “It’s a Wonderful Life” is good in my books.The rehearsing of that first phone call.The awkwardness of the family probing about them. All very cute. I just finished watching “Love Actually” for the 10th time, almost an annual event with my family.

Sure, these ads weave in a few phone messages. Almost in a cute way. But, they certainly draw the viewer in naturally with the hope of seeing what’s next in the story. Even after six ads, I still hoped for more. Here are all six of the ads. Tell me if you wonder what’s next.

Enjoy

 

As Brand Leaders, I know we can do better in 2018

The world of branding has become far too transactional in 2017. Too many marketers spent the year trying to hack through algorithms to get a few more views of something rather meaningless. I keep hearing about story-telling, but I’m just not seeing enough of it. Brands have become so data-driven, they want the sale now. The super bowl ads were weak, the Christmas ads even weaker. Don’t even get me started on how boring the John Lewis ad is this year. I think of advertising like the little “add a penny, take a penny” plate or jar you see beside the cash register. Building up your brand to create a desire among consumers is “adding a penny” while telling the consumer to buy is the “taking a penny”.

If you are always taking a penny, there won’t be any pennies left in the penny jar.

 

As we look to end the business year of 2017, I think we can do better. I want to see great work in 2018. Not just average. Remember, OK is the enemy of great. I want you to ask yourself “Do I love it?”.  If you do not love the work you do, then how can you ever expect the consumer to love your brand. That’s my challenge to everyone reading. If you make some, send it my way. Seeing great work will feel like my reward.

Here’s to seeing greatness in 2018,

 

 

 

The new John Lewis 2017 Christmas advertising fails to deliver on the high expectations of consumers

images

The new John Lewis 2017 Christmas advertising is out.  I feel like a little kid who races downstairs only to be disappointed by my gift. And then I feel bad about it. This year, I feel “It’s OK”. From a brand view, it’s pretty safe. From a consumer view, it is disappointing. 

For a few years, there was hysteria and anticipation for the John Lewis Christmas ad, but that may be dying down if they fail to deliver. During the era amazing John Lewis advertising they were able to link the advertising with sales growth of 5-8%. The connectivity with consumers was helping buck the declines other retailers were facing with e-Commerce.

Here’s the John Lewis 2017 Christmas advertising

 

 

What do you think?

To me, the ad is OK, but not great. It’s cute, but not brilliant. It falls a little flat, compared to previous John Lewis ads. It has a monster, which a cross between Monsters Inc. and the Monty the Penguin they did a few years ago. I didn’t like that one either.

Ugh. I just wish it was better. I wish it was like 2010 or 2011 when John Lewis made the best Chrtimas ads.

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

 

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. Each year, the ads had 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.

How’s this ad.

  • It’s not that different. Seems to borrow a few elements of traditional Christmas elements and pieces them together into a story.
  • There story is OK. Not that clear at the end. Was I the only one that didn’t understand the gift, is to reduce the boy’s fears and allow him to sleep? Weak ending.
  • The ad is missing the emotional tension in the story. Sure, the kid can’t sleep. But it lacks that emotional tension of the other John Lewis spots.
  • It is not really about John Lewis’ big idea around “thoughtful gifting”. The ending is a little confusing, as I wasn’t quite sure what the gift was at first. 

The history of John Lewis Christmas ads

2016: Buster the Boxer

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. But a dog on a video gets tons of views.

 

2015: Man on the Moon

This spot was great on story telling, but it might have gone overboard on sad. But I truly loved it. My second favorite John Lewis ad next to the 2011 spot.

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.

 

2014:  Monty the Penguin:

Pretty simple ad, a little similar to the 2017 spot. The imaginary penguin becomes his best friend, and in the end, he gets a penguin toy for Christmas. In 2017, the imaginary monster becomes his best friend and the monster gives him a toy so he won’t be scared at night. Pretty damn safe. Seems to be targeting younger moms and their toddlers.

 

2013: The Bear and the Hare

This 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 for the depth of story-telling of the 2010 or 2011. I get the sense they felt they were too dark on tone in 2012, so they went very light in 2013.

2012: Snowman

The “snowman” ad went a bit too dark for me with missed 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.

 

2011: Counting down

This is my favorite John Lewis ad from 2011, about the boy who couldn’t wait for Christmas. Great story telling about the boy who could not wait, but with a nice surprise at the end. You will notice the “Man on the Moon” feels very similar. But that’s OK, traditions are allowed to have some repetition to the ritual.

 

2010: “Your song”

This is also a great one from 2010, with the story telling improving over the 2009 spot and Ellie Goulding’s cover of “Your song” is incredible. With the multiple stories throughout the spot, it has that “Love Actually” quality to the ad.

 

2009: Sweet Child of Mine

This ad was the starting point for the great advertising John Lewis would do. Engaging video story-telling with a soft cover of a classic song. These would become the trademark of the great John Lewis ads over the next few years.

 

 

 

 

 

I guess I’ll have to wait for the 2018 John Lewis Christmas ad!  🙁

 

Christmas is about 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.

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, our purpose is to help brands find a new pathway to growth. We believe that the more love your brand can generate with your most cherished consumers, the more power, growth and profitability you will realize in the future.

The best solutions are likely inside you already, but struggle to come out. Our unique engagement tools are the backbone of our strategy workshops. These tools will force you to think differently so you can freely generate many new ideas. At Beloved Brands, we bring our challenging voice to help you make decisions and refine every potential idea.

We help brands find growth

We start by defining a brand positioning statement, outlining the desired target, consumer benefits and support points the brand will stand behind. And then, we build a big idea that is simple and unique enough to stand out in the clutter of the market, motivating enough to get consumers to engage, buy and build a loyal following with your brand. Finally, the big idea must influence employees to personally deliver an outstanding consumer experience, to help move consumers along the journey to loving your brand.

We will help you write a strategic brand plan for the future, to get everyone in your organization to follow. It starts with an inspiring vision that pushes your team to imagine a brighter future. We use our strategic thinking tools to help you make strategic choices on where to allocate your brand’s limited resources. We work with your team to build out project plans, creative briefs and provide advice on marketing execution.

To learn more about our coaching, click on this link: Beloved Brands Strategic Coaching

We make Brand Leaders smarter

We believe that investing in your marketing people will pay off. With smarter people behind your brands will drive higher revenue growth and profits. With our brand management training program, you will see smarter strategic thinking, more focused brand plans, brand positioning, better creative briefs that steer your agencies, improved decision-making on marketing execution, smarter analytical skills to assess your brand’s performance and a better management of the profitability of the brand.

To learn more about our training programs, click on this link: Beloved Brands Training

If you need our help, email me at graham@beloved-brands.com or call me at 416 885 3911

 

bbi-creds-deck-2017-007

How can a junk business be the best consumer experience of any brand I’ve ever seen

1-800-GotJunkHaving been in our current house for 16 years, as our kids have gone from 4 up to 20 years old, we have naturally accumulated a lot of junk.

Sure they are memories, but at various stages, it has become overwhelming and we needed to create more space, to accumulate even more junk.  And repeat.

We have called 1-800-Got-Junk three times now. And as a brand guy, I’ve been mesmerized by how great of an experience it has been.

As soon as you open the door, you think “This is the type of guy, I wish my daughter would bring home, and say Dad, this is who I’m going to marry”.

Articulate, polite, college kids, smart. Almost just perfect.

They put on their little booties, and walk around the house with you. Every time you point at something, they nod, smile and write it down. Even as you apologize for how much we have, or how rough things look,  they always give the perfect response. Not only can they hold a conversation during the 2-3 hours of the visit, it seems they almost start conversations. I don’t know how they do it, but the people they hire keep smiling and talking as they cart off….junk.

And after each of the three visits, I say to my wife “How can a junk company create such a perfect culture?”

It’s all about the people.

That’s one of the mantras of 1-800-Got-Junk, but they seem to have gone beyond the cliche.

When CEO Brian Scudamore was asked how do you create such happy people, his response was simple: “We hire happy people and keep them happy”.

It doesn’t hurt that they give 5 weeks of paid vacation. Well, not only does that keep the people happy, but it allows you to recruit the best of the best.

Brian Scudamore started his company in 1989 at 18 years old, when he was in a McDonald’s drive thru, and saw a junk removal company. The company grew through the 1990s into a million dollar company, expanded through a franchise model that moved it to a $200 million in annual sales. They pick up junk. 

At various points along his personal journey, Scudamore has used a “painted picture” vision to take a step back. In 1997, he sat on a dock and tried to visualize what the company could look like in the future. His perspective changed when instead of worrying about what wasn’t possible, he began to paint a picture in his head of what was. He closed his eyes and envisioned how he wanted 1-800-GOT-JUNK? to look, feel, and act by the end of 2002.

“My painted picture contained not only tangible business achievements like the number of franchises we would have and the quality of our trucks, but also more sensory details, like how our employees would describe our company to their family members and what our customers would say they loved best about working with us.”  

Brian Scudamore, CEO of 1-800-Got-Junk

Scudamore amore still uses this technique, trying to visualize what life and your business will look like in 5 years. In 2008, as the economy started to tank, he took another huge personal reflection, writing down what he loved and what he was good at. The two lists almost matched up perfectly, as his passion and skills matched up. Then, he wrote down what he didn’t love and what he wasn’t very good at. He realized he needed to build a team around him, with individuals who could cover off his weaknesses. The overall vision is to make ordinary businesses extraordinary.  

Here’s a few of the questions that Scudamore asks of himself:

  • What is your top-line revenue?
  • How many people are on your team?
  • How would your people describe the culture of your company when talking to a family member?
  • What is the press saying about your business? Be as specific as possible: what would your local paper say about your company? What would your favorite magazine say?
  • What do your people love about your vision and where the company is headed?
  • How would a customer describe their experience with you? What would they say to their best friend?
  • What accomplishment are you most proud of? What accomplishment are your people most proud of?
  • What do you do better than anyone else on the planet?
  • Describe your office environment in detail.
  • Describe your service area. Who are your customers and how do they feel?

To really make your culture part of the brand, Scudamore has made this visualization part of the culture, with an annual release of a new painted picture, plus quarterly meetings that articulate the painted picture. He’s even cascaded this technique down to his franchise owners, where each franchise articulates what they see for themselves. This allows the culture to form around the vision.

“Do What You Love; Let Others Handle the Rest”

Brian Scudamore, CEO of 1-800-Got-Junk

If you want to learn how to show up better, we train marketing teams on how to get better Brand Plans, helping to lay out the vision, goals, issues, strategies and tactics.  

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