“Purpose” driven Marketing is a flavor-of-the-month strategy on the verge of over-kill

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in How to Guide for Marketers

The Marketing community gets fixated on an idea and then ultimately over-does it to the point where we make it completely irrelevant. I just read that one retailer is starting their “Post Black Friday Sale” before Black Friday. Some days, we Marketers are complete idiots. We have used some tactics so much that we killed them, including bonus packs, BOGOs, 25% more, parity claims and side-by-side demonstrations. And now, we are on the verge of killing this whole brand purpose mythology.

I think we are on the verge of over-kill with Brand Purpose 

I believe brand purpose is an effective tool, when it fits. However, we should also realize that it should rarely fit. Don’t get fixated on a type of strategy before you know where you really are today. got-purpose

I just read that Unilever has shifted 50% of their brands into a purpose-driven brand positioning. I love the Dove brand and everything it stands for. It’s a great case study for purpose driven Marketing. However, if we make every brand into a purpose driven brand, then we are at risk of destroying a potentially strong tool. I predict three years from now, the next Unilever CMO will be shifting many of their brands away from purpose, realizing that while it worked for Dove, it might not work for margarine, ice cream, deodorant or razor blades.

Imagine how annoying life would be if every TV ad was 90 seconds long and telling the life story of the founder and owner of the company. Sadly, if we move every brand to a purpose-driven brand, that’s what life would look like. The consumer will eventually tire of this tactic and begin rejecting every story, including those rare cases when the brand purpose actually matters.

You should be careful of those Brand Consultants or Brand Strategists from Ad Agencies, who come in with a fixation on a type of strategy before they even engage your brand. If the strategist mentions brand purpose before they even understand your brand, be careful because they might be on the verge of applying their one-size-fits-all-flavor-of-the-month type strategy. I am assuming it seems sexier for Strategists to want to tell your extremely personal story of why you do what you do. Equally, many leaders would love to gush over their own ego-filled story and pump those thoughts out into the market. However, the consumer just might not care about your purpose. Case in point is Starbucks who has tried with blank coffee cups at Christmas and the #RaceTogether campaign. Both were completely rejected by consumers who basically have told the brand “we don’t care about your purpose”.

You should think your strategy through on a deeper level as the strategy you choose for where to go next, should really depend on where you are today. Build around your core strength.

If all you have is a hammer, then everything looks like a nail

If you think every brand should communicate their brand purpose to consumers, you likely don’t understand how consumers operate. You likely have bought into this “Start with why” by Simon Sinek, who said that consumers don’t buy what you do, they buy into why you do it. That is complete B.S. To an industry person, this sounds like fun but it is just not true. Simon Sinek says that consumers buy Apple, not because it is simple to use and user friendly but because Apple likes to challenge the status quo and Apple believes in thinking differently. That is pure bunk. Go ask 1,000 of your average consumers who are not employed in marketing, advertising, computers or consulting, and I will bet you won’t find 10 consumers who buy Apple because of their brand purpose. Sure, “Start with Why” is a fun speech at a Ted Talk and a fun book to read, but the worst thing a Marketer can ever do is start to talk to ourselves. The second worst thing we can do is to take ourselves too seriously.

Consumers buy benefits still!!!! I love to say that consumers are the most selfish animals on the planet, and rightfully so because they hold the cash. It is not an insult to consumers, but more of a challenge for the marketer to actually figure out how to get the consumers to hand over their hard-earned cash. Consumers have to get something (functional) or feel something (emotional) for them to hand over that cash. But very rarely, will they opt to buy something, just because of the purpose. That’s a lie!

Apple is a story-led brand that tells the story of simplicity, not purpose-led.

In reality, the brand purpose barely shows up in the Apple brand. Consumers are buying Apple because they generally hate computers, they are frustrated with all technology and they see Apple as the simple solution that enables them to be smarter. It has nothing to do with all that challenging stuff that Simon Sinek says. Yes, consultants and agency types loved Steve Jobs and the 1997 “Think Different” Apple advertising. If Apple’s stated purpose was so powerful, then why did Apple struggle until 2001 whey found the iPod and iTunes. Sure the purpose drove the internal pursuit of new products. I’m completely fine with purpose driving every internal cultural. But, Apple’s purpose was not an immediate success, until the selfish consumers saw they could get something from iTunes before they were willing to hand over their hard-earned cash.

The big idea for Apple is “We make technology so simple that everyone can be part of the future”. This big idea shows up in everything they do, whether it is the advertising, their innovation, how they manage the purchase moment or the brand experience.

  • Almost all their advertising portrays “Technology should not be frustrating. We make it easy to do more or get more.” By the way, stop thinking Apple is a challenger brand. They are a mass-power player, like IBM of the 1980’s or Microsoft of the 1990’s.
  • They portray their innovation as “Surprising leap-frog technology around simplicity.” In reality, nearly every Apple product is a me-too copy of some technology that was packaged in such a confusing way, the consumer didn’t get it. (mp3 players, tablets or PC software).
  • As they manage the purchase moment they allow consumers to try, touch, feel in a soft sell retail store, so they can see how easy the products are and how they will work in their lives.
  • In terms of the consumer experience, they enable consumers to get the most from their Apple products. Straight out of the box, integration across platforms or the fully integrated Apple Care support programs.

There are 4 types of brands, all great, just it really depends on your brand’s core strength

 

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We believe there are 4 types of brands: product-led, story-led, experience-led and price-led. The purpose-led would be one of the types of story-led brands. All are great strategies that are really dependent on what is the core strength of your brand. Many brand leaders have their marketing strategy wrong, when it comes to aligning everything behind the right strength. Those that struggle with this usually struggle being honest with themselves as to what they really are, or they have this hidden desire to be something they are not. Trust me, there are lots of those brands around. The best brands know exactly who they are and stick with it.

  • Product led Brands: With product as your core strength, the strategy should focus on being better, building around continuous innovation and a rational selling approach. Ensure promise and experience built around product. Establish your reputation as the superior brand in the category, defending against any challengers to your position. Continue to invest in Innovation to stay ahead of competitors, being the leader in technology, claims, and new formats. You should be leveraging product-focused mass communication, directly calling attention to the superiority and differences in your product versus the competitors. Use product reviews and key influencers to support your brand. Build the “how you do it” into your brand story, to re-enforce point of difference. Use rational selling to move consumers along the buying system. As the brand matures and moves towards being more loved, challenge the brand to drive an emotional connection to help evolve and grow. Tide is a dominant product led brand. No one wants to know their brand purpose. They just want to know that Tide will get their clothes whiter. Five Guys is an amazing burger, Ruth’s Chris is a great steak and Rolex is the world’s greatest watch. Each of these product brands should be projecting how they are better than other products
  • Brand Story led Brands: With the brand story as your core strength, the strategy should focus on being different, building around being different, supported by emotional brand communication, that connects motivated consumers with the concept on a deeper emotional level. Focus on building a big idea that connects quickly with a core group of motivated consumers, and then everything (story, product, experience) can be lined up under it. Invest in emotional brand communication that connects with a motivated audience. Build a community of core “brand lovers” to influence others in their network. A soft-sell approach, based on tapping into emotions that helps to influence the potential consumer. Know the impact of price, as to when it matters and when it does not. Do not bring price to the forefront, as it can take away from the idea. The brands that tell their story include Apple, Nike, Tesla and Dove.
  • Consumer Experience led Brands: With the consumer experience as your core strength, the strategy and organization should focus on linking culture very closely to your brand. After all, your people are your product. As you go to market, invest in influencers and social media to support and spread the word of your experience. Use the brand purpose (“Why you do what you do”) and values to inspire and guide the team leadership and service behaviors. Focus on building a culture and organization with the right people, who can deliver incredible experiences. Invest in training the face of the brand. In terms of Marketing Communications, you will need to be patient as the consumer needs to experience what it feels like before they are willing to speak on its behalf. Effective tools include word of mouth, earned media, social media, on-line reviews, use of key influencers and testimonials. Too much marketing emphasis on price can diminish the perceived consumer experience. Some of the most amazing experience brands such as Ritz-Carlton and Starbucks have created a customer focused culture on the lookout for over-delivering the brand promise.
  • Price led Brands: With price as your core strength, the strategy focus on efficiency and drive lowest possible cost into the products you sell. Fast moving items means high turns and high volume. You have to be better at the fundamentals around production and sourcing. Price brands own the low price positioning, attacking any challengers. Need good solid products. Consumers are willing to accept lower experience.The focus should be on business efficiency built around low-cost, fast-moving, high-volume items. Invest in production and sourcing, using power to win negotiations. Use call-to-action style marketing communication, to drive purchase. Hard to maintain “low price” while fighting off perception that you are “cheap”. Many price brands struggle to drive an emotional connection to the brand. Brands like Walmart, McDonald’s or Kia have to find smarter ways be cheaper for the consumer.

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Brand Purpose is an amazing weapon to drive your organizational support internally, as the beacon to the culture and organization that support the brand. Regardless of whether you are a product, story, price or experience brand, the purpose can help motivate, guide and influence daily decisions internally. But it should rarely be used with consumers, only when it actually matters to consumers. Otherwise, you are just wasting your money and adding to clutter of brand purpose stories that don’t connect with consumers.

Let’s figure where to use Purpose with consumers, and where not to use it. Before we destroy it completely. 

Brands need to stand out to win! Brands have four choices: better, different, cheaper or not around for very long. Your brand positioning statement must be simple, unique, own-able and motivating enough to get consumers to think, feel or act differently about your brand. To read more about how to drive your Brand Positioning, 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.

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Turning Consumer Insights into an asset for your brand

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Consumer Insights are little secrets hidden beneath the surface, that explain the underlying behaviors, motivations, pain points and emotions of your consumers. Brands should think of consumer insights as a competitive advantage, equal in importance to a patent or intellectual property. The insights are what enable brands to connect with their consumers on a deeper emotional level, showing your consumer that “WE GET YOU” so that consumers will stop and listen to your brand’s promise, brand story, innovation and consumer experiences that you create along the pathway to becoming a beloved brand.

The dictionary definition of the word Insight is “seeing below the surface”. Too many Marketers think that data, trends and facts are insights. You have to keep looking, listening and digging to get beneath the facts. Ask yourself “so what does that mean for the consumer” until you start to see an “AHA moment”.

I always do this little test asking if this is an insight: “Consumers in Brazil brush their teeth 4x a day compared with only 1.8 times per day for Americans”. I can usually find someone in the room who says that’s an insight. But, look at how very little we know about the oral care habits of Brazilians. If we rely on this as insight and don’t dig in to ask “why” then it could lead us to making a huge mistake in judgement. It might be that Brazilians stand closer to each other so we launch a breath freshener. Or they eat spicier foods, so we go with a heavy duty germ killing mouthwash. Or, we believe they might lack fluoride in their water system, so we launch a Fluoride Toothpaste. Or we think it’s a vanity play and that Brazilians believe they are the most beautiful people on the planet, so we launch a whitener. All these answers remain at the surface level. It is a sign of laziness on the Marketers view. It could take you down a path where you end up missing out on connecting with the real feelings of consumers.

Data is only valuable when turned into stories that can share the wisdom gained from the data. Think slowly through your analysis to avoid making a snap instinctual decisions on one data point without gaining the understanding of the richness in underlying insight and cause.

Ask questions that force you deeper. Avoid the cliches (e.g. Baby Boomers want to live longer) that keep you at the surface level and stop you from doing the deep thinking to get to the rich, meaningful insights. When you have a data point, ask yourself 5 times “so what does this mean” to go deeper and deeper.

 

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You will see your opinion turn into a fact based consumer insight that can align a team and drive action.

360 degrees mining for Consumer Insights

You can start with market data, observations, voice of the consumer, emotional needs and life moments. Here are the 5 areas to dig into:

  • What we can read: Using all the data available through market share results, tracking studies or category trends, you should be looking for explanations of the data breaks, drivers, inhibitors, trends with consumers, channels, competitors
  • What we see: Observations of the consumer reactions in focus groups, product tests, ad testing, direct consumer engagements to add to insights.
  • What we hear: Listen to Voice of Consumer (VOC) with comments on social media, brand reviews, market research. Look for word choices.
  • What we sense: Use our emotional need state cheat sheet to understand potential emotional insights.
  • Day in the Life Moments: Map out your consumer’s life and their underlying behaviors, motivations, pain points and emotions. Draw conclusions on how their life impacts their path to purchase.

Once you have completed all 5 zones on your 360 degree mining, can you begin drawing conclusions for the insights. You have to get in the consumer’s shoes, then observe, listen and understand how they think, act, feel and behave. You have to know their fears, motivations, frustrations and desires. Learn their secrets, that only they know, even if they can’t explain. Learn to use their language and their voice.

Writing meaningful insights

From the work you do on the 360 degree mining, force yourself to get in the shoes of your consumer and to use their voice. To do so, you have to write every insight starting with the word “I” to get the Marketer into the shoes of the consumer and put the insight in quotes to use their voice.

Working in the quit smoking business, our starting point was: Studies show that people try to quit cold turkey 7x before reaching for a smoking aid to help them quit. This is very fact based, but not very insightful. As we watched focus groups, we could see that Smokers become very agitated, when talking about quitting smoking. You can see how frustrated they are with their failed attempts. When we listened to what they said, we heard them say, “I feel guilty that I can’t quit. I know it’s expensive. But when I do, I’m really not myself. I get so irritable that I give up”. Looking at the emotional need states, we could sense they lacked the confidence to quit, and they feel out of control when they make an attempt to quit. And when we tried to see where this fit into their lives, could we understand that each time they tried quit, they felt miserable. They told us how they take it out on those around them, whether that’s their friends or their wife. They think their friends would almost rather they keep smoking than have to deal with the terrible version of themselves.

The consumer insight (Connection point) that we drew out was: “I know I should quit. I’ve tried to quit so many times, it’s ridiculous. I’m not myself, I’m grouchy, irritable and feel out of control. Quitting smoking sucks!!!” When we share this secret with a smoker who wants to quit, they say, “Yup, that’s exactly how I feel”. The consumer enemy (Pain Point) we came up with was: “I fear quitting smoking will bring out the monster in me, tuning me into the worst version of my personality.”

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You will know you have a powerful CONSUMER INSIGHT, when consumers stop and say, “I thought I was the only one who felt like that.”

Where the Consumer Insights show up on the Brand

You need to bring the Consumer Insights to life in each of your brand’s five consumer touch-points: promise, brand story, innovation, purchase moment and consumer experience.

  • Brand Promise: Consumer insights demonstrate to our consumers that we understand them, and the consumer enemy elevates the consumer problem that the brand solves.
  • Brand Story: Consumer insights educate, inspire and challenge the creative teams to produce amazing brand communication that immediately connects with consumers. The best brand communications reflect the consumer insights helping move consumer to see, think, feel, act or whisper to their friends.
  • Innovation: Consumer insights should be at the forefront of every product concept to immediately connect, letting consumers know this product has been designed for them. With consumer enemies and insights brands can develop an Innovation Plan to drive new ideas, concepts, testing, launches through the system.
  • Purchase Moment: Consumer insights inspire shopper insights, as you begin to understand how your brand impacts their life moving through a buying system on the path to purchase. Turning consumer insights into shopper insights allows the brand to Influence the Purchase Moment with channels, merchandising and e-commerce
  • Consumer Experience: As you will see how the consumer interacts with your brand, begin to listen, adjust and win over the consumer as they build your brand into the rituals of their lives. Use consumer insights to build brand experience by Influencing the Culture with a Brand Credo, explaining purpose, values and expected behaviors.

There is one source of revenue, not the product you sell, but the consumers who buy.

Brands need to stand out to win! Brands have four choices: better, different, cheaper or not around for very long. Your brand positioning statement must be simple, unique, own-able and motivating enough to get consumers to think, feel or act differently about your brand. To read more about how to drive your Brand Positioning, 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.

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The “Gut Instincts Check List” to help you judge Advertising

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in How to Guide for Marketers

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If you think the idea that one needs a checklist for your gut feeling of something sounds crazy, then you likely have never been a Brand Manager before. You might not get this article.

As a Brand Leader, our brains can be all over the place, running from a forecasting meeting to talking with a scientist about a new ingredient to trying to do a presentation for management. And all of a sudden, we jump into a creative meeting and we need to find our instincts. All of a sudden, they are completely lost. We might come into the room still thinking about the financial error we just discovered, or what our VP wants from this ad. We might still be thinking about whether we should have known the market share in the food channel when our VP asked for it and we said you had to look it up.

I see many Brand Leaders show up in a confused state, unable to lead the process and incapable of making a decision. The check list is designed to get you back to where you should be. Relax. Smile. Have fun. If you did all the work on the positioning, the brand strategy and the brief, this is supposed to be your reward. The creative advertising should express all the work you have done. If great advertising is like the perfect gift that you never thought to get yourself, then you have to be in the right mindset to receive your gift. It should be a complete surprise, but as soon as you see it for the first time, you know it is just perfect.

 

Here are 8 key questions that will help you reach down inside to find your instincts that might feel lost:

 

1. Do you love the ad? Do you want this to be your legacy? (Your Passion)

What is your first reaction? 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. Ask if you would you be proud of this as your legacy. Your feedback to your agency should be “I get that the ad could be effective, but I just don’t love it. And I want to make sure that I love it before we make it.” There is no reason ever to put out crap in the current crowded cluttered world of brand messaging. Ask for something better. A good agency should respect that.

2. Does the ad express what you wrote in your brand strategy? (Fit with plan)

Does it work? What is your immediate reaction when you reach for your instincts? Many times, instincts get hidden away because of the job. Relax, be yourself in the zone, so you can soak it in, right in the meeting. The goal of great advertising is to find that space where it is creatively different enough to break through the clutter and smartly strategic to drive the desired intentions of the consumer.  From what I have seen, Brand Leaders tense up when the creative gets “too different” yet they should be scared when it seems “too familiar”.  Be careful that you don’t quickly reject out of fear.

3. Will the ad motivate consumers to do what you want them to do? (See, Think, Feel, Act)

In the Creative Brief, you should have forced a decision on one desired outcome that you wanted for your consumer. Just one. If you are offering something new, the ad should be about the visualization in order to stimulate awareness. If you are trying to get consumers to their mind about your brand, the ad should get them to think differently about your brand. If you are trying to tighten the bond with your consumer, the ad should get consumers to feel something different. And finally, where you are trying to drive the consumer to purchase, the ad should prompt an action. Just as you should force yourself to have one objective in the brief, you can only have one objective in the Ad.

4. Is the Big Idea the driving force behind all the creative elements? (Express Big Idea)

The Creative Idea has to express the brand’s Big Idea through the work. It should be the Creative Idea of the Advertising that does the hard work to draw the Attention, tell the Brand story, Communicate benefit and Stick. Make sure that you see a Creative Idea coming through and make sure that Creative Idea is a fit with your brand’s Big Idea that you spent so much effort developing. Make the Creative Idea flows through the ad and is central to every aspect of the ad. If there is no Creative Idea that holds everything together, you should reject the work immediately.

5. Is the ad interesting enough to break through the clutter? (Gain Attention)

Will this Ad get noticed in a crowded media world?  Keep in mind as to what type of brand you are, relative to the involvement and importance. The lower the involvement, the harder it will be to break through that clutter. Higher involvement brands have it much easier as the consumers are naturally drawn to them, and these brands add one more distraction to the lower involvement type brands.  With the consumers seeing 7,000 ads per day, if your brand doesn’t draw attention naturally, then you’ll have to force it into the limelight. Embrace creativity. Do not fear it.

6. Is the brand central to the story of the ad? (High on Branding)

Will people recall your brand as part of the ad?  You should be trying to see where the Creative Idea helps to tell the story of the relationship between the consumer and the brand. Even more powerful are the Ads that show the consumers view of the brand through interesting consumer insights. Make sure you don’t just jam your brand awkwardly into various elements of the brand. It has been proven that it is not how much branding there is, but about how close the brand fits to the climax of the ad. Avoid the type of ads that run away from your brand, where your brand is not even central to the story. These ads think that making your boring brand a part of a creative ad will help your brand seem less boring. It won’t work. Embrace the advertising tries to  make your brand seem as interesting as possible, because the ad finds a way to connect the brand with the consumer.

7. Does the ad communicate your brand’s main benefit? (Communicates what you need)

There is a Marketing myth out there that if I tell the consumer a lot of different things, then maybe they will at least hear one of them. Try that at a cocktail party next time and you will soon learn how stupid this myth really is. Tell them ONE thing over and over, and the consumer will remember what your brand stands for. Just ask Volvo.  To make your one thing more interesting, tap into the insights of the consumer to helps tell the brand’s life story and focus on the ONE main message you laid out in the brief. Keep your story easy to understand, not just about what you say, but how you say it.

8. How campaign-able is the ad? Does it work across various mediums, with all products? Will it last over time? (Stickiness)

To build a consistent experience over time to drive a consistent reputation in the minds and hearts of the consumer, you want to look for an Advertising idea that can last 3-5 years, that will work across any possible medium (paid, earned, social), that will work across your entire product line up as well as new launches in the future. Think of being proud enough in the work to leave a legacy for your successor. Force your brain into the longer term.

If you feel a lot of pressure from being in the hot seat as the client in a Creative Meeting, you should. 

For many Brand Leaders, being on the hot seat in the creative meeting feels like your brain is spinning. Too many thoughts in your head will get in the way of smart thinking. What you do with that pressure will the make or break between being OK at advertising and great at advertising. I always say to Brand Leaders, “If you knew that being a better client would make your execution better, could you actually show up better?”

The style and tone in which you give feedback to an agency can make an ad better, or destroy it before it’s ever made. Be a passionate brand leader, open with your feelings, challenge the work to be better, take chances, reward effort and celebrate successes together.

In most Marketing careers, we are only on the hot seat for such a short period. We make so few ads that can have such dramatic impact on our brand. As a junior Marketer, we might be observing our boss on the hot seat, and you can’t yet feel what it is like till you are there. As we move beyond the hot seat to a Senior Marketing role, we will miss the days of those pressure moments. Make the most of it. Enjoy it.

Advertising should be fun. If you are having fun, so too will the consumer. 

To read more on Marketing Execution, here is the workshop we take brand leaders through to help make them smarter.

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.

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How to Judge Creative Advertising

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in How to Guide for Marketers

Great execution must balance the creative and strategy, finding ways to be both different and smart. Finding the space where you are different will help to break through the clutter in the market. Being smart ensures that your message will motive consumers to see, think, feel or act in the way you need for your brand to succeed. Many Brand Leaders tense up when the creative gets “too different” yet they should be scared when it seems “too familiar”.marketing-execution-2017-055

While we encourage you to use a balance of your instincts and strategy, many Marketers need tools to help with their Advertising decisions. That’s how we came up with the ABC’S model.

This will drive higher awareness and higher persuasion scores.

  • Branded Breakthrough: How you say it helps break through to connect with consumers, while linking brand closely to the story. This is all about driving Attention and ensure your Branding is part of that breakthrough.
  • Moveable Messaging: What you say as your main message connects with consumers and motivates them to think, feel or act differently about the brand. This becomes all about your executions to deliver the Communications of your main message in ways that ensure Stickiness in the consumers mind over time.

Said another way, we believe that the best ads start with a Creative Idea that helps to:

  • Garner the consumers’ Attention to break through (A)
  • Puts spotlight on Brand so it is remembered (B)
  • Communicates brand’s benefits through story (C)
  • Sticks over time making brand seem different (S)

The ABC’S is a great tool to help you judge the potential impact the ads will have on consumers and your brand.

The ABC’S Decision Tool

  • Attention: Get noticed in a crowded media world where consumers see 7000 ads per day. If your brand doesn’t draw attention naturally, then you’ll have to force it into the limelight.
  • Branding: Tell the story of the relationship between the consumer and the brand will link best. Even more powerful are ads that are from the consumers view of the brand. It’s not how much branding there is, but how close the brand fits to the climax of the ad.
  • Communication: Tap into the insights of the consumer helps tell the brand’s life story. Keep your story easy to understand, not just about what you say, but how you say it.
  • Stickiness: Build a consistent experience over time to drive a consistent reputation in the minds and hearts of the consumer.

Just like the Strategic Big Idea should drive all parts of your brand, the Creative Big Idea should drive all parts of your brand communications. It should be the creative idea that earns the consumers’ attention, the creative idea that draws attention to the brand, the creative idea that builds benefit into story and the creative idea that consistently builds a reputation.

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Attention

The best way to grab attention is to take a risk and do something creatively different. Here are 7 ways to gain more attention:

  • Be incongruent: Get noticed by being different from what they are watching. Different type of creative can help drive a high score on “made the brand seem different”. A lot of brand leaders are afraid of this, because they feel it exposes them.
  • Resonate: Leverage consumer insights to connect with the consumer, in a true way they see themselves or interact with the brand.
  • Entertain them: Make them laugh, make them cry, or make them tingle. Consumers interact with media to be entertained.marketing-execution-2017-extract-6-004
  • The evolution of the art of being different: As much as movies, TV, music continue evolve, so do ads. Reflect the entertainment to capture consumer attention.
  • Location based: Be where your consumers are most open and willing to listen. Make sure your creative makes the most of that media choice.
  • Be part of the content: As much as consumers are engaged in the content, not the advertising, then having your brand front and center and part of the story.
  • Be Sharable: Amazing story-telling ads getting passed around on social media vehicles. These long videos are great for engaging the consumer emotionally.

Branding

The best BRANDING comes when you connect the Brand to the Climax of the ad. There is an old Advertising saying: “Half of all advertising is wasted, but we aren’t sure which half.” Coincidently, the average brand link is usually around 50%. Your goal should be to get past that mark. Here are 6 ways to increase the branding in advertising:

  • Make your brand a central part of the story: It is not how much branding you use, but rather how closely connected the brand to the climax of your ad.
  • Is it the Truth?: It sounds funny, but if there is a disconnect between what you say, and what you really are, then the brand link won’t be there.marketing-execution-2017-extract-6-005
  • Own the Idea: Be a bit different—make sure that what you do sets you apart from anyone else.
  • Repeat: Simplest way to get stronger branding is to repeat and repeat and repeat.
  • Avoid cutting away to a white screen: My pet peeve in advertising is when I hear creatives say, “And then we cut to the pack shot”. When I hear that, I wonder why people are afraid of the brand? That’s the “gag and tag” approach where consumers like that ad, but then “can’t remember what brand its for”. The way to get maximum involvement is to force your creatives to make the brand part of the story.
  • People remember stories: If the story involves the brand naturally, we would have more branding. A powerful story can capture the consumer, and hold them, but also leave them with a little magic. It is the brand’s life story, the purpose or the reason for being and that will make the brand much more memorable.

Communications

The best way to communicate is through story telling that involves the brand. Communicating is about selling. Keep in mind, communication is not what is said, but what is heard.marketing-execution-2017-extract-6-006

  • Start a dialogue: If you can do a good job in connecting with the consumer, the branding idea can be a catalyst that enables you to converse with your consumer.
  • What are you selling?: You have to keep it simple—you only have 29 seconds to sell the truth. Focus on one message…keep asking yourself “what are we selling”.
  • Powerful expression: Find one key visual that can express what you are selling and stand behind it over time.
  • Find your “More Cheese”: This is where the benefit is so obvious what people want, we need to scream it or find ways to demonstrate it.
  • Sell the solution—not the problem: Brands get so wrapped up in demonstrating the problem, when really it is the solution consumers want to buy.
  • Diminishing returns of messages: Tracking studies show that the more messages you put in an ad, the less the consumer can retain.

Stickiness

The best way to stick is to have an idea that is big enough.

  • Dominant Characteristic: Things that are memorable to the senses (visual, sounds, smells, etc) and have something that dominates your mind
  • How big Is the Idea? It is proven that a gold fish will get bigger with a bigger bowl. It is the same for ideas. marketing-execution-2017-extract-6-007
  • Telling Stories: While visuals are key to communicating, people remember stories—that’s how we are brought up—with ideas and morals designed to stick.
  • Always add a penny: With each execution, you have a chance to add something to the branding idea.
  • Know your assets: Build creative and brand assets into your ad so that it sticks. Keep using in new executions or in other parts of the marketing mix.

 

To read more on Marketing Execution, here is our workshop that we run for Brand Leaders:

 

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.

 

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3 simple steps for how to build your brand’s Big Idea

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in How to Guide for Marketers

Building the Big Idea

We have come up with the Big Idea Blueprint that allows you to define your brand’s Big Idea. How it works is we start by brainstorming the 5 areas that surround the Big Idea. On the internal side, we describe the products/services and the internal beacon. On the external side, we describe the ideal consumer reputation and the brand character. We also look at the brand role, as the enabler to help bridge the internal and the external.

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Step One: Brainstorming Words

With a cross-functional team of those who work on the brand, and you expose them to all the work you have done on the brand positioning with the target profile, brand benefits ladder and the brand positioning. Also, provide them with any necessary background research that was done. Most importantly, ask them to bring their knowledge, wisdom and opinions they have from where they sit in the organization.

We recommend that you start off by brainstorming each section, starting with the internally focused products and services, followed by the mirrored externally driven brand reputation. Then, you should move down to internally driven brand beacon, followed by the mirrored externally driven brand character. You should start to see that these match up, or at least should be reflective of each other. You should ask the team to brainstorm up to 15-20 key words that describe each area. Once that is done, brainstorm 15-20 words that start to describe the brand role, which starts to bride the internal and the external.

  • Products and Services: What is the focused point of difference that your brand can win on, because it meets consumer needs, while separating your brand from competitors?
  • Consumer Reputation: What is the desired outward reputation of the brand, that attracts, excites, engages and motivates consumers to think, feel and purchase your brand?
  • Internal Beacon: What is the internal rallying cry that reflects your purpose, values, motivations helping to inspire, challenge and guide the culture, including everyone’s focus and daily behaviors?
  • Brand Character: What is the set of emotional characteristics, and personality traits that help consumers connect passionately and identify with the brand on a deeper self-reflective level?
  • Brand Role: What is the link between consumer and brand, reflecting the way we service, support and enable our consumers to ensure they make the most of our brand offering?

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Step Two: Constructing phrases from the best words

Ask for a vote to narrow down to the best 3-4 words for each section. Divide your group into 2-3 mini groups and then assign the task of taking the winning words and building key phrases that will begin to summarize each area. With different versions of each section from the mini-groups, you can narrow down to what feels like the best version of each of the five areas. You will begin to see a focus around certain areas and key words. Importantly, the groups will move towards alignment. It also serves to stimulate the creative writing juices on the team, which will help in step three.

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Step Three: Finding the Big Idea

Using the five areas to inspire you surrounding the Big Idea, get each of the mini-teams to try to write a summary Big Idea statement that captures everything you have worked on. Try to get a few different versions of the Big Idea. Hopefully, with the teams fully focused on the brand and with all the creative energy in the room, you will get a couple of good versions that you can play with after the meeting.

If you are still working on brand concepts, you can even take the best versions of the Big Idea forward into Market Research testing as part of a concept test. You should also vet them internally with key members of your organization.

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Organize everything around the brand’s Big Idea

The Big Idea should guide everything that the consumer touches. You will need to manage the consistent delivery of the Big Idea over five consumer touch-points, including the brand promise, story, innovation, purchase moment and brand experience. This means everyone that works on those, whether management, agencies, customer service, sales, HR and operations all should be looking at the Big Idea as a guiding beacon for decisions.

  • Brand Promise: Use the Big Idea to inspire a simple brand promise that separates your brand from competitors, based how it is better, different or cheaper. This helps to inspire the brand positioning.
  • Brand Story: Bring your brand story to life to motivate consumers to think, feel or act, while beginning to own a reputation in the mind and hearts of consumers. This helps to focus all the brand communications across all media choices.
  • Innovation: Build a fundamentally sound product, while staying at the forefront of trends and technology to help deliver on your brand promise. This helps to steer the product development and R&D teams to stay true to the Big Idea.
  • Purchase Moment: The moment of truth as consumers move through the purchase cycle and use channels, messaging, processes to make the final decision. This helps push the sales team and focus how you set up the retail channels to drive towards the sale.
  • Consumer Experience: Turn the usage of your product into an experience that becomes a ritual and favorite part of the consumer’s day. The people at the organization deliver the consumer experience. The Big Idea can steer the values and expected behaviors that help frame organizational culture and the operations team.

The Big Idea helps guide every aspect of Brand Management. When you begin to blow this out one step further, you can start to see where everyone in your organization should align and understand how they can deliver the brand’s Big Idea.  If you are in finance at Volvo, you should be thinking about how to make safe cars cheaper, if you’re in HR at Starbucks, you should be hiring people that deliver moments and if you’re working at the Genius Bar at Apple, you have to make sure your language choices are simple so that it is easy for consumers to understand. Every sales rep coast to coast should be living the Big Idea. It has to permeate through he organization, reaching everyone who touches the brand.

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Here’s how it would look for Gray’s Cookies. This should allow you to run every part of your brand organization.

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To read more on Brand Positioning, here is the workshop we take brand leaders through to help make them smarter.

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.

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How to stop writing ugly Creative Briefs

Posted on 1 CommentPosted in How to Guide for Marketers

 

marketing-execution-2017-extract-4-002

 

Here are the smart and ugly examples, showcasing some of the most common mistakes in writing the Creative Brief.

We go through line by line of the creative brief to show the ugliest versions we have actually seen. We are begging you not to repeat these problems.

Why are we Advertising?

Smart briefs have one very clear objective. Ugly briefs try to do too many things in one brief.

  • An ugly unfocused Brief: Drive trial of Grays Cookies AND get current users to use Gray’s more often.
  • A smart focused objective: Drive trial of Grays Cookies by positioning it as “The good tasting Healthy cookie”.

Too many briefs try to do both penetration and usage frequency in one brief. You will just confuse and muddy the creative development process. This means two targets, two objectives, two messages and likely two different media options. It really should be two separate briefs and two separate projects. When you have two objectives your agency will come back with one ad that does penetration and one for frequency. This means the creative then picks the strategy and that’s a weak position for a Brand Leader to take.

marketing-execution-2017-extract-4-003What’s the Consumer Problem we are addressing?

Smart briefs start with the consumer. Ugly briefs start with the product.

  • Ugly Product-Driven Brief: Gray’s market share is still relatively small. It is held back by low awareness and trial and the product usage is not on par with the category.
  • Smart Consumer-Driven Brief: I’m always watching what I eat. And then BAM, I see a cookie and I’m lost. As much as I look after myself, I still like to sneak a cookie now and then.

We recommend that you start with the consumer’s enemy as the pain point for the consumer. While most products started by solving a problem, every brand should fight off an enemy in the consumers life. Put yourself in the shoes of the consumer and look at how the brand fights off what might be bugging the consumer every day. Just like an insight, it is usually below the surface level.

Who are you talking to?

Good briefs have a highly focused target market. Ugly briefs try to target everyone with a just in case attitude.

  • The Ugly “target everyone” Brief: 18-50 year olds, current customers, new customers and employees. They shop at Grocery, Drug and some Mass. They use 24.7 cookies a month.
  • The smart highly targeted Brief: “Proactive Preventers”. Suburban working women, 35-40, who are willing to do whatever it takes to stay healthy. They run, workout and eat right. For many, Food can be a bit of a stress-reliever and escape even for people who watch what they eat.

Avoid trying to target everyone. The great Marketing myth is to think that the pathway to getting bigger is to target a bigger audience. Having a 30+ year age gap is far too wide. Your agency will give you one ad for 25-year-olds and one for 50-year-olds. This means that you will be picking your strategy based on which of the two ads you like best. Brand Leaders want CREATIVE options, not STRATEGIC options. We recommend a very tight target market. For instance a maximum 5 year age gap will give your ad tremendous focus. Also, you must decide whether it is current or new users. You can’t do both.

Consumer Insights

Smart briefs use insights to bring the consumer to life. Ugly briefs just jam a bunch of stats into the brief.

  • An ugly “stats driven” Brief: Gray’s product taste drives high trial to purchase (50%) compared to other new launches (32%). Consumers only use Gray’s 9.8 cookies per month compared to the Category Leader at 18.3 cookies.
  • A smart “insights driven” Brief: “I have tremendous will-power. I work out 3x a week, watch what I eat and maintain my figure. But we all have weaknesses and cookies are mine. I just wish they were less bad for you”

The best ads are rooted in consumer insights as the connection point that enables you to move the consumer in a way that benefits your brand. Bring insights into the brief as ways to tell the story to help inspire the creative team, so they can build stories that connect with your consumer. The best ads are those where you can almost see the insight shining through the work. As we mentioned in the positioning chapter, we recommend that you frame your insight by starting with the word “I” to force yourself into their shoes and put the insight in quotes to force yourself to use their voice.

What do we want consumers to see, think, feel or do? (Desired Response)

Smart briefs get the consumer to do one thing. Ugly briefs hope the consumer does a lot of things

  • An ugly convoluted Brief wants the advertising to do everything:  We want them to THINK that Grays Cookies are unique. We want them to FEEL they can stay in control with Grays and it will keep them feeling successful in living their healthy lifestyle. And we want them to TRY Grays and see if they like the great taste.
  • A smart focused Brief tries to just ONE thing: We want them to THINK they can stay in control with Grays.

You should choose only ONE of see, think, feel or act, not a combination of any of the two. We like to say that good advertising can only move one body part at a time—the eyes, mind, heart or feet. Very few ads in history have directly moved two at once. You have to decide on which response you want, or else your agency will show you creative options for each of these strategies and the best ad will decide your brand strategy. If you keep pushing the agency to jam them all into one ad, you have a severe mess on your hands.

What should we tell them? (Main Message) 

Smart briefs focus on the consumer benefits. Ugly briefs focus on the product features.

  • An ugly feature-oriented Brief:  Grays Cookies are the perfect modern cookie, only 100 calories and less than 2g of Fat. For those looking to lose weight, the American Dietician Society recommends adding Gray’s to your diet. You can find Gray’s at all leading grocery stores.
  • A smart benefit-focused Brief: With Grays Cookies you can still have a great tasting cookie without the guilt.

marketing-execution-2017-extract-4-004The ugly example here takes the features and puts them into the main message. They are basically the support points. The best ads speak in terms of benefits, not features. Focus your main message stimulus on what consumers get (rational benefit) or how consumers feel (emotional). Also, narrow down what you TELL consumers to ONE THING, not a laundry list of things. One great Marketing Myth is that if we tell the consumer a lot of things, at least they will hear something. False, if you tell them too much, they will hear NOTHING but a mess and shut you out.

Mandatories

Smart briefs have few mandatories. Ugly briefs use mandatories to try to steer creative.

  • Ugly briefs use mandatories to try to steer creative: Avoid humor, as a sarcastic tone will not work with our target market. Preference is for real customer testimonials supported by before/after with our 90 day guarantee tagged on. Ensure brand shown in first 7 seconds. Use Snookie, as our spokesperson. Ad setting in pharmacy will add credibility.
  • Smart “open minded” brief gives freedom to creative: The line: “best tasting yet guilt-free pleasure” is on our packaging. At least 25% of Print must carry the Whole Foods logo as part of our listing agreement. Include the Legal disclaimer on the taste test and the 12 week study.

If you think the first list is fictional, it’s not. I’ve seen every one of those mandatories in creative briefs. With the second list, you’ll notice that none of them steer the creative advertising ideas. I have seen Brand Leaders write long mandatories lists, that makes it so prescriptive that the creative agency ends up backed into a creative corner. To tick off each mandatory, it creates a messy, ugly “frankenstein” ad that pieces everything together.

Simple rules for a good Creative Brief:

  1. Make sure you have a tight target: Spreading your resources against a target so broad, everyone will think your message is for someone else. Make it feel specific and personal. Target the people most motivated by what you do best. Don’t just randomly target competitive users that are most desirable to us, without knowing if we can actually win them over.
  2. Benefits not features: Consumers don’t care what you do, they selfishly and rightfully so care about what they get. Always talk about what they get or how they will feel. Don’t just tell what we do, so that it makes us appear the best in the category.
  3. Drive one objective at a time:. Focus on getting consumers to do only one thing at a time: see, think, feel or do. Make a choice instead of  trying to get new users to buy and getting current users to use more at the same time.
  4. Drive one main message at a time: With so many messages, people won’t know what you stand for, and you’ll never get a reputation for anything. Use your big idea to organize everything.
  5. Connect with our target where they are most likely to engage with our brand story:  While efficient media is important, focusing solely on efficiency and ROI might lead us to staying beneath the consumer’s radar. Consumers hear 7,000 efficiently placed messages a day, and quickly reject boring messages all day long. They likely will connect and engage with 5 messages a day. Will it be yours?

marketing-execution-2017-extract-4-005

 

Trying to be everything to anyone, makes you nothing to everyone

To read more on Marketing Execution, here is the workshop we take brand leaders through to help make them smarter.

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.

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How to use our Brand Strength Finder to drive your brand strategy

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in How to Guide for Marketers

The Brand Strength Finder

There are four options for what core strength your brand can win on: product, brand story, experience or price. Many brand leaders have their marketing strategy wrong, when it comes to aligning everything behind the right strength. Here’s a simple little game that we play with executive teams. We provide them with 4 chips against the 4 choices of product innovation, brand story, experience or price. They have to put one at the highest competitive importance, two at the mid level and then force one to be at the low level. Try it and you will be surprised that your team struggles to agree. You may also find that you are at one strength now and figure it is time to shift your brand marketing to become focused on something else.

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Product led Brands

With product as your core strength, the strategy should focus on being better, building around continuous innovation and a rational selling approach. Ensure promise and experience built around product. Establish your reputation as the superior brand in the category, defending against any challengers to your position. Continue to invest in Innovation to stay ahead of competitors, being the leader in technology, claims, and new formats. You should be leveraging product-focused mass communication, directly calling attention to the superiority and differences in your product versus the competitors. Use product reviews and key influencers to support your brand. Build the “how you do it” into your brand story, to re-enforce point of difference. Use rational selling to move consumers along the buying system. As the brand matures and moves towards being more loved, challenge the brand to drive an emotional connection to help evolve and grow.

Brand Story led Brands

With the brand story as your core strength, the strategy should focus on being different, building around being different, supported by emotional brand communication, that connects motivated consumers with the concept on a deeper emotional level. Focus on building a big idea that connects quickly with a core group of motivated consumers, and then everything (story, product, experience) can be lined up under it. Invest in emotional brand communication that connects with a motivated audience. Build a community of core “brand lovers” to influence others in their network. A soft-sell approach, based on tapping into emotions that helps to influence the potential consumer. Know the impact of price, as to when it matters and when it does not. Do not bring price to the forefront, as it can take away from the idea.

Consumer Experience led Brands

With the consumer experience as your core strength, the strategy and organization should focus on linking culture very closely to your brand. After all, your people are your product. As you go to market, invest in influencers and social media to support and spread the word of your experience. Use the brand purpose (“Why you do what you do”) and values to inspire and guide the team leadership and service behaviors. Focus on building a culture and organization with the right people, who can deliver incredible experiences. Invest in training the face of the brand. In terms of Marketing Communications, you will need to be patient as the consumer needs to experience what it feels like before they are willing to speak on its behalf. Effective tools include word of mouth, earned media, social media, on-line reviews, use of key influencers and testimonials. Too much marketing emphasis on price can diminish the perceived consumer experience.

Price led Brands

With price as your core strength, the strategy focus on efficiency and drive lowest possible cost into the products you sell. Fast moving items means high turns and high volume. You have to be better at the fundamentals around production and sourcing. Price brands own the low price positioning, attacking any challengers. Need good solid products. Consumers are willing to accept lower experience.The focus should be on business efficiency built around low-cost, fast-moving, high-volume items. Invest in production and sourcing, using power to win negotiations. Use call-to-action style marketing communication, to drive purchase. Hard to maintain “low price” while fighting off perception that you are “cheap”. Many price brands struggle to drive an emotional connection to the brand.

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Key Learnings from the Strength Finder

Surprisingly, many brands do not know their core strength and some wish their core strength was something else, so they deny it. Many Brand Leaders try to have two strengths, which means you end up trying to implement two completely different strategies at the same time. As you can see, the investment and strategic focus changes for each core strength. Product led brands need to be better and invest in innovation, while Brand Story led brands need to be different and invest in communication. Price led brands need to be cheaper and manage efficiencies, while consumer experience brands need to invest in people, culture and organization who are the backbone in delivering that experience.

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Turning Strategic Thinking into Strategic Statements

The ideal one-year Brand Plan should have 3 main strategies and the 5-year Strategic Plan can have up to 5 strategies. A well-written brand strategy has four elements in the statement:

  • Focus
  • Specific strategic program
  • Market impact
  • Performance impact

In the spirit of focus, if you have too many strategies, all you are doing is spreading your limited resources over too many strategies. This puts your most important strategies at risk of not having enough resources to realize the fun potential of the strategy. As you move to your strategies, the reality is that you will have a combination of strategies from your core strength, competitive, consumer and situational. Let’s look at how to write strategy statements that support your brand’s core strength

a. Focus: Focus on enhancing your brand’s core strength. The choices are one of product, brand story, experience or price.

b. Strategic Program: Deploy resources against the Strategic Program. The choices are Brand Communications, Innovation, People and Culture or Distribution

c. Market Impact: Impacting the market with key message that should match up to your core strength. You could say that your product is better, tell the story behind your big idea, demonstrate how your people are what makes the difference or explain the story behind how you turn efficiency into lower prices.

d. Performance Impact: Align organization and everything you do around strength. It should help to either harness your brand’s power through one of the 8 sources of power or it should drive profit through one of 8 brand wealth drivers

Here are two examples of what Starbucks core strength strategies might look like:

  • Re-build the Starbucks coffee experience (a) by training all the Starbucks baristas (b) to emphasize how our people make the difference (c) to get current brand lovers to use Starbucks more often (d)
  • Enhance the Starbucks experience at lunch (a) with innovative sandwiches and snacks (b), to re-enforce the quality difference at Starbucks (c) to enter the new lunch time market (d).

To read more on Strategic Thinking, here is the workshop we take brand leaders through to help make them smarter.

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.

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For Netflix to survive, they need to stop trying to do 7 things at the same time

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in How to Guide for Marketers

I love Netflix. Will they survive?  I sure hope so.

Netflix is a much better product than traditional networks. I can watch it when I want. Pause. Pick it up later. The library of movies and shows is pretty good. I wouldn’t call it great. 10478570_10152214521608870_2744465531652776073_n-0However, their original programming is such high quality–production, writing and acting. Network TV can’t compete with that level of quality.

Last year, the CEO was asked whether they planned to take their high user base into other applications, he answered the right way:  “No, we are going to stick with what we do best, movies and TV shows”.  I loved the focused approach, especially as I see Uber trying every type of business they see.

However, the more I look into Netflix, the more I see they are not as focused as they should be. Or at least, they aren’t making the tough choices on what to give up on. Last week, they had announced better than expected growth on subscribers. The profit numbers are OK, but still could face a bumpy ride from competitors like Amazon, the traditional major networks and any new entrants in the future. Maybe ATT&T will use their combined mobile network and purchase of Time Warner to enter the market.

The 7 things that Netflix is doing at the same time:  

  1. Enter new geographies: Netflix is now available in 190 countries. I understand the desire to be global, but this really spreads your people resources. The amount of work that goes into the gaining of entry with local governments, the launching, language choices, content selection and negotiation by geography. This must be exhaustive on their limited people resource. Netflix should focus on the top 10 markets. Entrenched success in the top 10 markets will give Netflix longer term success than a moderate success across all 190 markets.
  2. Produce original High quality content: Netflix original content is of the highest quality in the industry, matched only by HBO and AMC. Shows such as House of Cards, Orange is the New Black or Bloodline are a potential hook for new customers who need to sign up for Netflix to see the shows that people are talking about. However, the cost of production, writers and actors could be a drain on the profits. The TV shows on the traditional networks look like fast food in comparison. Amazon Prime has not engaged to the same extent. However, AT&T could use the Time Warner purchase to bring the Warner Brother, HBO and TBS assets into a competitor to Netflix.house-of-cards-kevin-spacey
  3. Royalties on high quality movies/shows: Netflix continues to add new content to which they pay a royalty every time one of their users watches. There is pressure to keep the content current and broad. The balance here is between movies that last 2-3 hours for consumers and TV shows like Friends or Gray’s Anatomy that provide 80+ hours of entertainment for consumers.
  4. Drive new users in the geographies they are in: The Netflix marketing effort to push for new users and usage frequency at the same time also drains both financial and people resources.
  5. Manage the consumer user experience: The user experience should be fairly constant given the formatting. However, content will be the biggest driver to the user experience. If that falls, the Netflix brand will suffer dramatically.
  6. Stay as an advertising-free site and Maintain the low monthly fee of $8: Netflix has also made the decision to made two core decisions on their product concept, commercial free and only $8 per month. Both these are essential to the Netflix brand that consumers have bought into, however they put a cap on potential revenues. Imagine the revenues they could have garnered from advertising on House of Cards. The challenge here will come from the main networks who will offer a streaming option on their own content. It will be “free” but will most likely have advertising before the show, possibly during the show and even along side the screen.
  7. Fight off competitors: Netflix is the dominant power player brand in the category, stronger than both Amazon and Hulu. They have much better content, both the original content and library of movies and shows available.

That is a long to-do list for a company that is currently showing 4% profit. Is there value in focus?

Netflix is living the two great Marketing myths

  • We can be bigger by trying to be everywhere.
  • We can be bigger by trying to be everything to everyone.

Which one of the 7 things that Netflix is doing, would you give up on?

The power of Focus

In today’s marketing world, brand leaders are losing their focus. There seems to be a fear, that if we focus too much, we will miss out on something or someone. The idea of focus is that it allocates your brands limited resources to a distinct point that you can breakthrough and move forward towards your vision. Marketers always face limited resources. They never have enough money, enough time or enough people. Yet the creative brain part of the marketer can see an unlimited list of choices, they fear picking a narrow target market, they fear picking only one brand positioning and they fear picking too few strategies for tactics.strategic-thinking-2017-037 They would rather target everyone, list out every possible feature that they do and try to execute a little of each activity. But ladies and gentlemen, this isn’t strategic marketing. This is just doing stuff randomly in the hope that it works. The best Marketers never divide and conquer out of fear. They force themselves to focus and conquer with the confidence of having done the strategic thinking. If you come to a decision point, and you try to rationalize in your own brain that it’s okay to do a little of both, then you are not strategic. In fact, you are not even a decision-maker at all. If we have limited resources, for the equation to work, we must limit the possible solutions to those that will deliver the greatest return.

When you focus, 5 amazing things happen to your brand:

  1. Better return on investment (ROI): By focusing your dollars on the distinct breakthrough point that you know will work, you will see the most efficient and effective response in the market.
  2. Better return on effort (ROE): You also want to make effective use of your people resource. We suggest that you look at the ideas that have the greatest impact and are the easiest to execute. I have always suggested that strategic thinkers are lazy, because they are always trying to think about how to get away with doing less and getting more.
  3. Stronger reputation: By limiting your audience and limiting your brand message, your brand will start to get a focused reputation among a very motivated audience.
  4. More competitive: when you focus your message to a focused audience, you will start to own that message and own that audience.
  5. More investment behind brand: When you focus and deliver, your management team will ask you to do that again. They will give you more money and people. And when your resources go up, I want you to take the same focused approach that you just took. Just because someone gave you money, does not mean you can now spend wildly.

Strategy is all about choices. Netflix may be forced to make a few.

To read more on Strategic Thinking, here is the workshop we take brand leaders through to help make them smarter.

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.

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How to run the creative Advertising process before it runs you

Posted on 1 CommentPosted in How to Guide for Marketers

As the Brand Leader, you play the most crucial role in getting amazing Marketing Execution. Keep in mind that an OK agency can do great work on a great client. But a great Agency can fail with a bad client. In that regard, the client matters the most. If you knew that being a better client would make your execution better, could you actually show up better? The biggest challenge for most Brand Leaders is to stay focused on your vision at every stage, always inspire and yet challenge.

It can be a very complex process. Make sure you run the process before it runs you.

Here are the 10 steps in the creative Advertising process that you need to manage: 

  1. Strategy Pre Work: This is the homework you do before you even write the brief. Go deep on finding the consumer insights and consumer enemy. Understand the brand positioning, the Big Idea and then lay out a Brand Concept. From your Brand Plan, and then know how the overall brand strategy plays out into the Brand Communications Plan. Only once you have all the homework done, should you take a pen to the creative brief.
  2. Focused Brief: Sitting with your Agency, map out a Creative Brief that will create the right box that the ad must play. From your homework you should have a tight objective, insights, strategic desired response, knowledge of what main benefit will resonate and what support points (RTB) should move forward into the advertising.
  3. Creative Expectations: It always surprises me that the first time Brand Leaders meet the creative team is at the first creative meeting. This seems like an old-school way for the Account team to control both the client and the creative team. However, I believe the best advertising is highly personal. You will need a personal relationship with the creative team. Just after signing off on the brief, you should request to meet the creative team to help convey your vision, passion, strategy and needs to the team. This is a great chance to inspire and push for great work.
  4. Tissue Session: When you have a completely new campaign or one that has a high risk to it, I would recommend having a tissue session before the creative meeting. This is where the creative team can present 10-20 ideas that are not really fully fleshed out. It is a good chance to focus the team, either encouraging them to keep exploring further or talk about how it might not fit. Focus on big ideas, push for better.
  5. Creative Meeting: How you show up as the Brand Leader at the first creative meeting can make a huge difference. Think of it like a first date. You have to stay positive and only focus only on big picture. You will need to give direction and make decisions. However, do not use this time to add your own solutions. Don’t get too wrapped up in the details as there is plenty of time to keep working those. Stay inspiring as there is a long road ahead of you.
  6. Feedback Memo: We recommend that you work it out with the Agency ahead of time that you will give a feedback memo 48 hours after the creative meeting. This gives you the chance to gather your thoughts, balancing your instincts and your strategic thinking. In the memo, you can ask or clarify the details that you did not talk about in the creative meeting. However, even at this stage, you should avoid giving YOUR specific solutions. Use the feedback memo as a chance to create a new box, that continues to evolve from the creative brief.
  7. Ad Testing: The use of Ad Testing can depend on how timing, budget or degree of risk. Where you have a new major campaign, you should potentially test 3 ideas that you feel have the best chance to project your brand positioning, communicate the main benefit, break through with consumers and motivate them to purchase. You can use either qualitative focus group style feedback that will help your instincts, or quantitative testing that will replicate how it might do in the market. However, you should use testing to confirm your pick, not make your decision.
  8. Gain Approval: Even though we have this as the eighth step, you should keep your boss aware at each stage, especially the creative brief and first creative meeting stage. They should be aligned with the feedback you give. However, you will still need to sell in the Ad. Be ready to fight any resisters to make it happen. With every great ad I ever made had a share of resistors. However, with every bad ad, I seemed to be the only resistor trying not to make it.
  9. Production: The production process can be a very complex project. Remember that you have zero real expertise in this area. Don’t even pretend you do. Stay engaged, listen and make decisions. Your main role is to manage the tone to ensure that it fits with the brand. First, you always should deliver as close to the original spot that was approved. Think of this as the base version that you know your boss will approve. Once you get that, you can then explore how to make it even better. I always thought that we should get more than we need, just in case it looks different by the time we get to the final edits.
  10. Post Production: As you move to the post production stage, you become even less of an expert. Many clients stay close to their account person. I have always believed you should talk directly with and leverage every expert you come across. Stand with the editor and ask questions. The added personal approach will enable you to get the most out of each of the experts.

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To read more on How to lead the Marketing Execution, here is our workshop that we lead on Analytical Thinking.

 

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.

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Before planning where to go next, you need to understand where you are today

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in How to Guide for Marketers

analytics-2017-extract-001Before starting the Brand Plan, we recommend that you conduct a deep-dive business review that looks at everything connected to the business including the category, consumer, competitors, channels and the brand. You should be doing this at least once a year.

  • Category: Start by looking at the overall category performance to gain a macro view of all major issues. Dig in on the factors impacting category growth, including economic indicators, consumer behavior, technology changes, shopper trends, political regulations or what is happening in other related categories that could impact your own category.
  • Consumer: Define your consumer target, digging deep on the consumer’s underlying beliefs, buying habits, growth trends, consumer enemies and key insights. Use a consumer buying system analysis and leaky bucket analysis to uncover how they shop the category and your brand. Uncover consumer perceptions through tracking data or market research.
  • Channels: Look at the performance of all potential distribution channels and every major customer in the category. Understand your channel customer’s strategies, as well as the available tools and programs your customers have, so your brand can align your brand with each customer and find a pathway to success within each channel.
  • Competitors: Dissect your closest competitors by looking at their performance indicators, brand positioning, innovation pipeline, pricing strategies, distribution and the perceptions of the brand through the eyes of their consumers. Map out a strategic Brand Plan for all major competitors to help predict what they might do next, and know how you might counter in your own brand plan.
  • Brand: Understand the reputation of your brand through the lens of consumers, customers and employees. Use brand funnel data, market research, marketing program tracking results, pricing analysis, distribution gaps and financial analysis. Look at the internal health and wealth (inside the company) as well as the external health and wealth of the brand (in the market place).

To draw conclusions from the deep-dive review, you need to summarize the factors driving the brand, the factors inhibiting the brand and then lay out the untapped opportunities and risks. Here is a summary tool that lays out the top 3-4 points for each box.

  • Drivers: Factors of strength or inertia that accelerate your brand’s growth. The driving factors could be related to brand assets, successful programs working, favorable market trends. New products, advertising, channels. Keep fueling.
  • Inhibitors: Factors of weaknesses or friction that slows your brand down, or a leak that needs fixing. Achilles heel, competitive pressure, unfavorable market forces, channels, specific segments. Minimize going forward.
  • Opportunities: Specific untapped areas in the market that would fuel future growth, based on unfulfilled consumer needs, new technologies on the horizon, regulation changes, new distribution channels or the removal of trade barriers. Take advantage.
  • Risks: Changing circumstances including consumer needs, new technologies, competitive activity, distribution changes or potential barriers to trade create potential risk to your growth. Minimize the impact of these risks.

Here’s an example, using Gray’s Cookies.

brand-plans-2017-029The simplicity of the deep dive analysis is that it provides a starting point for the issues, as you will want to find ways to continue or enhance the drivers, minimize or reverse the inhibitors, take advantage of the new opportunities and avoid or manage the risks.

To read more on How to lead a deep-dive Business Review, here is our workshop that we lead on Analytical Thinking.

 

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.

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