Category: How to Guide for Marketers

Love is not enough: The most beloved brands have a fundamentally sound product and an emotionally connected brand.

As someone who talks about Brand Love every day all over the world, I want to make sure that brand leaders out there balance the emotion and the rational in their brand. As I like to say:

  • Everyone wants to hear the words “I LOVE YOU”, they don’t want to hear it on the first date because that’s a bit creepy.  
  • Before people will say I LOVE YOU back, people want to know that the person saying it has a job, doesn’t live in their parents basement playing video games and doesn’t have a criminal record.”  

In other words, there is a right time to say “I love you”, once you’ve established all the rational parts that establish your a good person. The same thing goes for brands.

Where does your brand sit on the Brand Love Curve?

In the consumer’s mind, brands sit on a Brand Love Curve, with brands going from Indifferent to Like It to Love It and finally becoming a Beloved Brand for Life. At the Beloved stage, demand becomes desire, needs become cravings, thinking is replaced with feelings. Consumers become outspoken fans. It’s this connection that helps drive power for your brand: power versus competitors, versus customers, versus suppliers and even versus the same consumers you’re connected with. The farther along the curve, the more power for the brand. It’s important that you understand where your brand sits on the Love Curve and begin figuring out how to move it along towards becoming a Beloved Brand. With the power of connection, the brand can leverage that power into increased growth and profits. Slide1

Love is not enough: The most beloved brands have a fundamentally sound product and an emotionally connected brand.

The emotional and rational parts of a brand must go together to create a brand that can be loved. Before we can engage personally, we need to feel comfortable that the rational side has been solved–it’s the same thing in how we engage in brands. Brands like Apple, Disney and Mercedes have a deep emotional connection, but an equally deep rational connection. Below, we categorize brands into 4 buckets:  a) Sound Choice: high on product quality but relatively low on emotional connection b) Brand Lust: high on emotionally engaging but low on product quality c) Rejected Brand: low on both and an obvious recipe for disaster and d) Brand Love: perfect harmony of an emotionally connected brand backed by a sound product.Slide1

Watch out that as your agency gets so excited about the emotions of the brand, they don’t forget the sound fundamentals, or you’ll end up with brand lust or hollow brand love. Your communication must satisfy both sides of the consumers brain: the left brain which is logical, rational, analytical yet doubting and resisting that must be overcome and the right brain which is creative, passionate and emotional yet it can be easily fooled, so it looks to the left side of the brain for help.0be680e

When you go to your ad agency and say you want to create a brand that is loved by consumers, they’ll welcome you with open arms, because that’s the type of work they want to make. The only risk is that while they will be excited to take on the task of finding brand love, they may forget about the rational part of the brand and you’ll be left with a hollow brand lust, not brand love. We believe that a brand is a unique idea, perceived in the heads and hearts of the consumers, consistently delivered by the experience, creating a bond, power and profit, beyond what the product itself could achieve. Then what is the role of Advertising?  It’s to create that bond with consumers, establishing your brand’s positioning and it must drive some type of change in your consumers thinking feeling or behavior–mind, heart or action–that leads to higher sales, share and profit. Where you are on the Brand Love Curve should impact your brand strategic choices and even your focus of your brand communication. Too many times, Brand Leaders ask their agency for emotional advertising, without even understanding what emotions they want. You look at the brief and the brand positioning statement is strictly functional and buried under tone, you’ll see 5 words randomly thrown on the brief such as “trusted, reliable, smart, authentic and optimistic”. But there is no true understanding of what is the ONE emotional area your brand should own.Brand Managers tend to get stuck when trying to figure out the emotional benefits. It seems that not only do consumers have a hard time expressing their emotions about a brand, but so do Brand Managers. Companies like Hotspex Research have mapped out all the emotional zones for consumers. I’m not a researcher, but if you’re interested in this methodology contact Hotspex at http://www.hotspex.biz  Leverage this type of research and build your story around the emotions that best fit your consumer needs.  Leveraging the Hotspex work, we’ve mapped out 8 zones in a simplistic way below:

Slide10

Within each of the zones, you can find emotional words that closely align to the need state of the consumer and begin building the emotional benefits within your Customer Value Proposition. It almost becomes a cheat sheet for Brand Managers to work with. How it works is when you figure out which ONE emotional zone you think your brand can own, and just like a rational position, you can’t try to own them all. If we think of the world’s leading  companies, Apple owns Freedom while Google owns Knowledge and they are at their best when they stick to those positioning statements.

Leverage the harmony of the rational and the emotional to create a love with your consumer

We make Brands better.
We make Brand Leaders better.™
We offer Brand Coaching, where we promise to make your Brand better by listening to the issues, providing advice that challenges you, and coaching you along a strategic pathway to reaching your Brand’s full potential. For our Brand Leader Training, we promise to make your team of Brand Leaders better, by teaching sound marketing fundamentals and challenging to push for greatness so that they can unleash their full potential. Feel free to add me on Linked In, or follow me on Twitter at @belovedbrands If you need to contact me, email me at graham@beloved-brands.com or phone me at 416 885 3911

Slide19

Continue Reading

5 key areas Brand Managers should focus on to reach their full potential

After 20 years of CPG marketing, I have hired so many potentially great marketers–who were eager for success, brilliant, hard-working and dedicated. But in reality, about 50% of Assistant Brand Managers get promoted to Brand Manager and less than 20% of Brand Managers make it to the Director level. I’ve given it a lot of thought over the years and here is my view on what makes great Brand Managers, great enough for them to get promoted to the next level.  

What separates good from great at any level in Marketing:

Before we get into the specific Brand Manager level, here are the expected behaviors in Marketing at any level.

  • Hit the deadlines: Don’t look out of control or sloppy. We have enough to do, that things will just stockpile on each other.
  • Know your business: Don’t get caught off-guard. Make sure you are asking the questions and carrying forward the knowledge.
  • Open communication: No surprises. Keep everyone aware of what’s going on. Present upwards with an action plan of what to do with it.  
  • Listen and decide: While it’s crucial that we seek to understand, it’s equally important that we give direction or push towards the end path.
  • We must get better: When we don’t know something, speak in an “asking way”, but when we know, speak in a “telling way”.
  • We control our destiny: We run the brands, they do not run us. Be slightly ahead of the game, not chasing your work to completion.
  • Regular feedback for growth: You should always take feedback, good or bad, as a lesson for you. Not a personal attack or setback.

And when it comes to being a leader and managing others, here are the biggest factors you should look at:

  • Hold your team to a consistently high standard of work in strategic thinking, planning, execution in the market. Consistency in the Quality of marketing outputs: Advertising/Media, Innovation/New Products and In-store/Promotion
  • People Leadership: your team knows the team vision and is consistently motivated by where you want to go. Seen as actively interested in helping your team to manage their careers.
  • Processes: you organize, challenge and manage the processes so your team can execute. Your team gets things done on time. Deadlines, on budget, on forecast.
  • Coaching: Teach, guide and direct your team members for higher performance. Training and Development: provides on-going skills development to make the team better. Motivation and Recognition: you are seen to actively provide positive commentary to team players, one on one and in public.
  • Consistent Communication: Both written and spoken, big and small. Easily approachable and makes time to wander. Actively Listens to Team: asks the big strategic questions, not the small tactical details
  • Leadership during times of pressure: results, ambiguity, change and deadlines.

Slide1To be a great Brand Manager, here are the 5 key areas you should focus on:

1. A great Brand Manager takes ownership of the brand

  • Many BMs struggle with the transition from being the helper to being the owner. As you move into the job, you have to get away from the idea of having someone hand you a project list. Not only do you have to make the project list, you have to come up with the strategies from which the projects fall out of.
  • A great Brand Manager talks in ideas in a telling sense, rather than an asking sense. It’s great to be asking questions as feelers, but realize that most people are going to be looking to you for decisions. They’ll be recommending you’ll be deciding.
  • When managing upwards be careful of asking questions—try to stick to solutions. You just gave up your ownership. Your director wants you to tell them what to do, and debate from there. 

2. A great Brand Manager provides a vision with strategies that match up

  • Bring a vision to the brand. Push yourself to a well-articulated 5-10 year brand vision. But a vision can be as simple as a rallying cry for the team. But you have to let everyone know where you want to go.
  • The strategy that matches up to the vision becomes the road map for how to get there. As the brand owner, you become the steward of the vision and strategy. Everything that is off strategy has to be rejected.
  • Communication of strategy is a key skill. Learn to think in terms of strategic pillars, with 3 different areas to help achieve your overall strategy. Having pillars constantly grounds you strategically, and is an easy way for communicating with the various functions. Each function may only have 1 strategic pillar but seeing how it all fits in is motivating.

3. A great Brand Manager spends the effort to make their ABM as good as can be.

  • Most BMs struggle with their first five direct reports. The key is to keep self evaluating and looking for ways to improve with each report.
  • Most BMs struggle to shift from “do-er” to “coach. They think they can do it faster, so they may as well do it. They just become the “super ABM”.
  • Many BMs fail to share the spot light, so it becomes hard to showcase the ABM. But the work of your ABM reflects 100% of how good of a manager you are.
  • ABMs need feedback to get better—both the good and bad. I see to many BMs not giving enough feedback. And so many afraid of “going negative” so the ABM is left in the dark or left thinking they are doing a good job.
  • Great BMs take the time to teach up front, give the ABM some room to try it out and then give hands-on feedback in real-time. Use weekly meetings to give both positive feedback and address gaps.
  • Brand Mangers should do QUARTERLY sit down performance reviews with their ABMs, who have the capacity to learn faster than annual reviews allows for.

4. A great Brand Manager gets what they want and need.

  • The organization is filled with groups, layers, external agencies, with everyone carrying a different set of goals and motivations. You can see how the organization works and appreciating what are are the motivations of various key stakeholders. You then use that knowledge to begin to work the system.
  • You are starting to see key subject matter experts giving you their best. You understand their personal motivations and find a way to tap into those motivations as a way to ask people for their best. It might be an odd step, but from my experience a really motivating step. Very few people ask for “your best”.

5. A great Brand Manager can handle pressure: ambiguity, results, relationship and time pressure.  

  • Ambiguity is one of the hardest pressures. As a leader, patience and composure help you sort through the issues. The consequences of not remaining composed are a scared team and choosing quick decisions with bad results.
  • If the Results don’t come in, it can be frustrating. Reach for your logic as you re-group. Force yourself to course correct, rather then continuing to repeat and repeat and repeat. Challenge team to “this is when we are needed”
  • Relationships. Be pro-active in making the first move to build a relationship. Try to figure out what motivates and what annoys the person. Understand and reach for common ground, which most times is not that far away.
  • Time Pressure. It’s similar to the ambiguity. Be organized, disciplined and work the system so it doesn’t get in your way. Be calm, so you continue to make the right decisions. Use time to your advantage.

Conversely, here are the 10 factors that are career limiting for Brand Managers

Conversely, here are the 10 factors that are career limiting for Brand Managers

  1. You struggle to make decisions
  2. You are not analytical enough
  3. You can’t get along
  4. Not good with Ambiguity
  5. Too slow and too stiff
  6. You’re a bad people manager
  7. Poor communicators, with manager, senior management or partners
  8. Never trust or follow your instincts
  9. You can’t think strategically and almost equally important, you can’t write strategically
  10. You fail to run the brand, you let the brand run you. 

Always challenge yourself to get better. You run your career and control your personal brand.

We make Brands better.
We make Brand Leaders better.™
We offer Brand Coaching, where we promise to make your Brand better by listening to the issues, providing advice that challenges you, and coaching you along a strategic pathway to reaching your Brand’s full potential. For our Brand Leader Training, we promise to make your team of Brand Leaders better, by teaching sound marketing fundamentals and challenging to push for greatness so that they can unleash their full potential. Feel free to add me on Linked In, or follow me on Twitter at @belovedbrands If you need to contact me, email me at graham@beloved-brands.com or phone me at 416 885 3911. To help brand leaders reach their full potential ask us about our Brand Boot Camp.  

Slide19

Continue Reading

How to lay out your 5-year brand strategic plan on one page

The same leaders who use the phrase: “Let’s all get on the same page”, then send out 110 slide Powerpoint presentations. We take it serious enough to create a Brand Strategy Roadmap that you can use to frame the next 5 years of your brand strategy, and fit it on one page. This way,  you really can get everyone on the same page.  

The master brand strategy roadmap

Having the brand road map on one page can help align everyone that works on a brand. This is especially useful when managing a Branded House or Master Brand where there are various people in your organization that each run a small part of the brand. The road map helps guide everyone and keep them aligned.

Here’s the one I use that has all the key elements that help define the brand

Slide11

Start with the Brand’s Big Idea

Brand’s Big Idea: A Beloved Brand is an idea that’s worth Loving. As brands become more loved, they go beyond being just a product and they become an idea that fulfills consumers’ emotional needs in the consumers life. Below is the Tool I use to figure out a Brand’s Big Idea revolves around four areas that help define the Brand 1) Brand’s personality 2) Products and Services the brand provides 3) Internal Beacons that people internally rally around when thinking about the brand and 4) Consumer Views of the Brand. What we normally do is brainstorm 3-4 words in each of the four section and then looking collectively begin to frame the Brand’s Big Idea with a few words or a phrase to which the brand can stand behind.

big-idea

The five connectors with the consumer: Under the Brand Idea are 5 Sources of Connectivity that help connect the brand with consumers and drive Brand Love, including 1) the brand promise 2) the strategic choices you make 3) the brand’s ability to tell their story 4) the freshness of the product or service and 5) the overall experience and impressions it leaves with you.Slide1

As an example Apple’s Big Idea is about “taking the complexity and make everything simple enough, so that everyone will be part of the future”. Accordingly, everything in the organization should line up to delivering a simple experience whether that’s the day they turn on the product, installing an App on an iPhone or when they show up at the store to ask questions from the Genius Bar.Once you have your Big Idea, you should then use it to frame the 5 different connectors needed to set up a very strong bond between your brand and your consumers.Slide2

Brand values should come from the Big Idea, and act as guideposts to ensure that the behavior of everyone in the organization is set to deliver upon the Brand’s promise. How do you want your people to show up? What type of service do you want? How much emphasis on innovation? What type of people do you want to hire? What behavior should be rewarded and what behavior is off-side. Having the right Brand Values will help you answer these questions. The Brand Values become an extension of what the Brand Leader wants the brand to stand for. To read more this subject read the following: Brand = Culture

Worksheet Strategy Summary

The 5 year road map should combine the elements of a long range brand plan with the mapping of the brand’s big idea. We recommend you do up a worksheet summary, that allows your team to brainstorm and continue to modify before you go the final road map.Slide1

 

With this format, having it all on one page forces focus and allows you to keep a tight control over those that will be working under the Master Brand.

  • Vision: What do you want your brand to be in the next 5-10 years? Vision gives everyone on the brand a clear direction, it should be measurable (quantitative) and motivating (qualitative). It should push you so much that it scares you a little, but excites you a lot.
  • Purpose: Why does your brand exist? Keep asking yourself why you do this, to find the personal motivation hidden in the brand. Articulating your purpose can be a very powerful way to connect with both employees and consumers, giving your brand a soul.
  • Goals: What do you need to achieve? Specific measures of brand health and wealth, related to consumer/customer behavioral changes, metrics of key programs, performance targets or milestones on the pathway to the vision. It’s the brand scoreboard.
  • Financial Forecasts: sales, A&P spending, margins, profits, market share.
  • Key Issues: What is getting the way from achieving your vision/goals? Deep analysis highlights what’s driving and holding brand back, as well as future risks and untapped opportunities. Issues are asked as a question to provide the problem to which strategies become the solution.
  • Strategies: How can we get there? Strategies are the “How” you will win the market. Choices based on market opportunities, using consumers, competitors or situational. Strategies should have a pin-pointed focus providing a breakthrough on the pathway to the brand vision.
  • Tactics: What do we need to do to execute the strategy? Framed completely by strategy, tactical choices deploy your limited resources against brand projects in the most efficient way to drive a high ROI.
  • Marketing Budget to achieve Results: broken out by trade spend, communication, consumer promo, new products, research.

Putting the plan and big idea togther to create the 5 year road map

How it all comes together is you take the summary elements of the brand plan and the big idea brand map together into the Brand Strategy Roadmap.

Slide1

 

Get everyone on One Page with a Brand Strategy Roadmap that everyone can follow

 

We make Brands better.
We make Brand Leaders better.™
We offer Brand Coaching, where we promise to make your Brand better by listening to the issues, providing advice that challenges you, and coaching you along a strategic pathway to reaching your Brand’s full potential. For our Brand Leader Training, we promise to make your team of Brand Leaders better, by teaching sound marketing fundamentals and challenging to push for greatness so that they can unleash their full potential. Feel free to add me on Linked In, or follow me on Twitter at @belovedbrands If you need to contact me, email me at graham@beloved-brands.com or phone me at 416 885 3911

Slide19

Continue Reading

How to re-position your brand by transforming the perception of your competitor’s strength into a weakness

Slide1When you’re struggling, the obvious answer marketers look to is to re-position your brand. Have you tried a strategy where you re-position your main competitor as a way to re-position your own brand?  

Find your brand’s distinction

At Beloved Brands, we believe in using positioning as a way to finding Your Uniqueness.  We believe that brands have only four choices: they are either better, different, cheaper, or not around for very long. The key is to find a unique selling proposition for your brand. You don’t always need to find a rational point of difference as long as there is room to be emotionally unique. It all starts by mapping out everything that the consumer needs, then plotting that (using venn diagram in the chart below) against everything your competitor does best and against what you do best. We define the winning zone as the intersection of what your consumer wants and what you do best. The risky zone is where it’s a relative tie between you and your competitor, which we believe the winner will be those who win through speed, innovation or emotional connection. Brands should avoid the losing zone where you try to take on your competitor in the area where they can beat you. And finally, the dumb zone is where the consumer doesn’t care at all–outside of what consumers want.Slide04

When you a using competitive positioning stance (using the two charts below) what you want to do is focus on the area where you are better than your competitor and then extrapolate that feature’s importance with consumers in order to make what you do seem even bigger. The hope is that by doing so, you can diminish the importance of what your competitor does best. 

In a highly competitive marketplace, where your brand needs re-positioning, you want to take it one step farther.  You might find a more innovative approach to re-position your brand by turning your competitor’s perceived strength into a weakness, making consumers re-think their current brand and creating a new problem for which your brand becomes the new solution to that problem. With this type of re-positioning, you are moving your competitor into the “dumb zone” outside of what consumers want, while setting your own brand up as the best solution.  

Slide1

A great example of this type of thinking is in a highly commoditized salmon market. There are two types of salmon: pink and white. For years, consumers had became accustomed and accepting of tins of pink salmon in their grocery stores. In fact, it was really the only salmon on the market. But when the white salmon tried to sell their product into stores, consumers rejected it immediately as it didn’t fit with what they knew about canned salmon. The white salmon fisheries came up with a brilliant line to re-position the pink competition: “Guaranteed not to turn pink in the can!”  This is a great example of getting consumers to re-think their current brand, starting to wonder if their salmon was actually safe to eat. The pink salmon fisheries fought back with an equally brilliant line: “Guaranteed: No bleach used in processing!”

Case Study: The Pepsi Challenge

Back in the 1970s, Coke was such a dominant brand–with a strong bond with consumers.  Consumers loved the Coke taste, and all the emotions it evoked with the Coke heritage, americana feel and even Santa Claus. The Pepsi Challenge was a direct offensive attack on Coke–a dagger in their heart–attacking the taste of Coke. In blind taste tests, without the attachment of Coke brand name and all that went with it, people picked Pepsi, preferring the sweeter taste–serving to re-position Coke as the lesser tasting product.. The Pepsi challenge moved Pepsi up to a competitive share position even at times reaching #1. Coke was so dazed and confused they launched “New Coke” with a better taste. Finally, consumers took control of the situation and rejected New Coke, basically saying “it’s not the better taste we want, it’s the usual Coke taste and what goes along with all that is Coke that we want”.  New Coke was killed, and oddly through the process, Coke re-gained what they had lost through the Pepsi challenge. 

Historical: A look back at the iconic Pepsi Challenge from the 1970s (CNW Group/PEPSICO CANADA)

Historical: A look back at the iconic Pepsi Challenge from the 1970s (CNW Group/PEPSICO CANADA)

Case Study: Apple’s “I’m a Mac” 

Let’s face it, Apple is a cool, hip brand. It pushes a strong identification with everything young, up-to-the-minute and smart. The “I’m a Mac” campaign was brilliant in not only defining the Mac brand as smooth, confident and cool, but defining the PC brand as old, uptight and awkward. Even the two characters in the ad resembled the leaders of each organization with a nerdy Bill Gates look-alike, versus a cool hipster in Steve Jobs. At the height of this campaign I was in a crowded bar that went immediately silent when one of the “I’m a Mac” TV ads came on. Apple has done a great job in separating themselves from the competitor, whether it’s the white headphones on the iPod, the number of apps for iPhone and iPad or the cool sleek designs of the Mac. Not only that, the Apple store is a store just for Apple users.  Here are 10 hilarious ads from that “I’m a Mac” campaign. 

Case Study:  Avis “We try Harder”

Back in the 1960s, when Avis was struggling behind the clear market leader in Hertz, they created the “We try harder” campaign that openly said “we are #2, so we have to try harder” which turned the strength of Hertz #1 market share into a slight weakness, making consumers wonder if the #1 brand Hertz was resting on its laurels. They layered in reasons to believe saying they couldn’t’ afford to provide unwashed cars, low tire pressure and dirty ashtrays which made consumers start to wonder if Hertz did those things. 

 

Slide1

 

A failed case study is the McDonald’s coffee launch, which seems we are close to saying it’s been a distraction for the McDonald’s brand who now faces 15 straight months of overall sales decline. When McDonald’s launched their coffee, they did so on price claiming that “Fourbucks was dumb” attacking a well-known high priced weakness and while a few came frustrated price shoppers came over the McDonald’s, it did nothing to change the perception of consumers, since they already knew McDonald’s would be cheaper than Starbucks. The actual disappointment for those new consumers is the high price of the specialty McDonald’s coffees were much cheaper. Back in the 1980s, Wendy’s “where’s the beef?” campaign attacked McDonald’s weakness around small burgers, but again, that was a generally accepted weakness for McDonald’s so it did very little to change perceptions. 

What I recommend for you is to start to think about how you can turn your competitors strength into a perceived weakness, which will then make the consumer think differently about their current brand and possibly put them into the zone where they are ready to explore new brands. 

Use re-positioning to open your consumer up to new thinking that the strength of their current brand might actually be a weakness

 

We make Brands better.
We make Brand Leaders better.™
We offer Brand Coaching, where we promise to make your Brand better by listening to the issues, providing advice that challenges you, and coaching you along a strategic pathway to reaching your Brand’s full potential. For our Brand Leader Training, we promise to make your team of Brand Leaders better, by teaching sound marketing fundamentals and challenging to push for greatness so that they can unleash their full potential. Feel free to add me on Linked In, or follow me on Twitter at @belovedbrands If you need to contact me, email me at graham@beloved-brands.com or phone me at 416 885 3911

Slide19

Continue Reading

How to write amazing Consumer Insights that will create a bond with your consumer

A client asked me to review their advertising creative brief and I was shocked by a few things: the brief was 8 pages long, while there were many features there were no benefits and while there were facts about the product, there were no consumer insights. If your team is struggling with advertising, the first place you should look is the creative brief. Sadly, it’s becoming a lost art and a lost skill for too many brand leaders. 

The role of consumer insights

At Beloved Brands, we believe the more loved a brand is by consumers, the more powerful and profitable that brand will be. A brand is a unique idea, perceived in the minds and hearts of the consumer, consistently delivered by the experience, creating a bond, power and profit, beyond what the product itself could achieve. The role of Advertising is to create a bond with consumers, establish your brand’s positioning and drive a change in your consumers behavior that leads to higher sales, share and profit. We believe that any advertising must do something that changes the consumers’ behavior. And to change their behavior, you need to fully understand what they think today and what you want them to think, feel or do in the future. That’s where insights come into play. While you can paint the picture of the consumer by defining their profile, the insights bring it to life. Slide06

A good target not only decides who is in your target but who is not in your target. 

As you figure out where you are playing, defining who you are serving and who you aren’t serving helps provide focus. Ongoing measurement and adjusting should look at how well you are doing versus your target in terms of share, preference, purchase intention, brand funnel scores and panel data. As well you should track your research against the target and mass population. In terms of choosing target segments, you can break it out by demographics, psychographic, geographic and usage occasion or behavior.

Insights serve as a connection point between the brand and consumers  

The dictionary definition of the word Insight is “seeing below the surface”. To get deeper, keep asking yourself “so what does that mean for the consumer” until you have an “AHA moment. What are the beliefs, attitudes or behaviors that help explain how they think, feel or act in relationship to your brand or category. It’s not just data, trends and facts are insights. Facts are merely on the surface—so they miss out on the depth of the explanation of the underlying trends or feelings that caused the data. Insights help tell the story, paint the picture or inspire the creative juices. Insights need to be interesting or intriguing. My challenge is to think beyond just the specific category insights and think about Life Insights or even Societal Trends that could impact changing behaviour.

Insight is not something that consumers ever knew before. That would be knowledge not insight.  It’s not data or fact about your brand that you want to tell. Oddly enough, Insight is something that everyone already knows. Insight comes to life when it’s told in such a captivating way that makes consumers stop and say “hmm, I thought I was the only one who felt like that”. That’s why we laugh when see the way that insight is projected with humor, why we get goose bumps when insight inspires us and why we cry when the insight comes alive through real-life drama.

Slide1

Good insights get in the SHOES of your consumer and use their VOICE

When writing consumer insights, we recommend that you should start with “I” to get in the consumer’s shoes and that you should frame the insight by using quotes to use their voice. Too many brand leaders out there just jam facts into the brief, usually directly connected to their own brand and think that’s insightful. I love using this example: “in Brazil, people brush their teeth 4x a day compared to only 1.7x a day in North America–is that an insight?” And most times, people will say “yes, that’s an insight”. While it tells something, think of how much that statement doesn’t tell you about Brazilian brushing habits. What insights can we garner as to why Brazilians brush their teeth so much? Is it related to how social Brazilians are, spicy foods they eat, the vanity of the people or attitudes to overall healthcare? Without insights, we may know the fact, but don’t know what’s beneath the fact. 

Slide1

Using the Banking example above, look at how little the facts tell us about how consumers feel about longer banking hours. The basic facts are they’ll use the bank more and spend more, but how can we use that as a way to connect with consumers and create a bond between consumers and the brand? Yet, when we dig a bit deeper and get in the shoes of the consumer and use their voice, we would hear them say: “I am so busy driving my kids around, I can never get to the bank during banking hours. I wish there was a bank that worked around my life, rather than me working around the banks’ life”. It was this type of insight that led to the bank producing a print ad with a woman doing a head stand with the caption that said “I go to yoga after work, so I switched to a bank that has flexible hours”, which achieved the best ad tracking results in the bank’s history. 

The second example came from my experience when I was a Pfizer, managing the Quit Smoking brand teams, with the Nicorette and Nicoderm brands. The insight in the Nicoderm brief read: “There are no real competitors. But studies show that people try to quit cold turkey 7x before reaching for a smoking aid to help them quit.” Again, facts say very little and give the agency nothing really to work with. The work we did around the psychological impact of the brand really changed how we managed the brand. Even in focus groups, you could see the irritation consumers had just talking about the times they had tried to quit. We brought this irritation to life through this consumer insight: “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.”  It was that ad that produced this TV ad for the Nicoderm brand. There is no way the facts alone would have provided the creative team with such insight.

Here are the six questions that a brand leader should answer before even starting a brief:

  1. Who is in the consumer target? (Who is the most motivated to buy what you do?)
  2. What is the benefit we are selling? (What is your main benefit?)
  3. Why should they believe us? (Support points to back up what you say)
  4. What’s the long-range feeling the brand evokes (What is the Big Idea for the brand?)
  5. What do we want the brand communications to do for the brand?  (Strategic Choices)
  6. What do want people to think, feel or do?  (Desired Response)

Consumer Insight is the necessary starting point to creating a powerful bond between the consumer and brand 

To see a more in depth presentation click on the Powerpoint presentation below which is a Workshop to show brand leaders how to write a Creative Brief that helps to generate a greater bond, power and profit for your brand.

We make Brands better.

We make Brand Leaders better.™

We offer Brand Coaching, where we promise to make your Brand better by listening to the issues, providing advice that challenges you, and coaching you along a strategic pathway to reaching your Brand’s full potential. For our Brand Leader Training, we promise to make your team of Brand Leaders better, by teaching sound marketing fundamentals and challenging to push for greatness so that they can unleash their full potential. Feel free to add me on Linked In, or follow me on Twitter at @belovedbrands If you need to contact me, email me at graham@beloved-brands.com or phone me at 416 885 3911

Slide19

 

Continue Reading

Pick ONE social media lead vehicle. Don’t try to do everything.

Brand Managers heard the term “social media is free” and thought it was a media buffet so they got a crappy website, then got on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and had no clue what to do next. With no strategy or though, brand leaders went out and built very bad websites that talked about how to cleanse a wound, how to pick the right color of a dishwasher or a basic list of all the sizes and flavors you offer. You spent money on a viral video and put it on your website. Then, brand leaders created a Facebook page (with 173 likes), a Twitter account (with 97 followers) and thought about creating an Instagram account but not quite sure what you’d put on. And so now, you’re making the most of this free media?  Last year, I was driving leisurely along a country road on a Saturday afternoon and I saw a rock quarry with a sign out front that said “Like us on Facebook”. My first thought was, why would I want to like a gravel pit on Facebook? I thought what kind of updates would they be giving? Would my friends see that I liked a page with 37 likes?  Maybe that gravel pit should have used their sign for better use like “We’ve got Quartz at $9 a pound” The lesson here is that not every brand should be using Social Media, just because it’s free. And like any tactical tool, it should be well thought out and fit with your brand strategy. Don’t just go on there because you think you have to be, go on because you see that it will help grow your brand.

The role of Advertising is to create a bond with consumers, establish your brand’s positioning and drive a change in your consumers behavior that leads to higher sales, share and profit. For brands, media is an investment at touch points where consumers are most willing to engage in the story. Media has to be used to create a bond with consumers, establish your brand’s positioning, learn about your consumers and influence a change in your consumers behavior (think, act or feel) that leads to higher sales, share and profit. Since we still think social media is “free”, you have to realize that social media takes “effort” which means employees and time. You need a strategy, guidelines, interesting content, continuous feeds, engagement mechanisms. You need smart, strategic, fully engaged, creative people. So let’s look at it from an ROE point of view (return on effort). 

Return on Effort (ROE) is a great tool for focusing your activity

Doing a laundry list of activity spreads your resources so thin that everything you do is “ok” and nothing is “great”.And in a crowded and fast economy, “ok” never breaks through enough to get the early win and find that tipping point to open up the gateway to even bigger success. Here are the benefits to the Brand by focusing your efforts: 

  • Better Return on Investment (ROI): With all the resources against one strategy, one target, one message, you’ll be able to move consumers enough to drive sales or push other key performance indicators in the right direction.
  • Better Return on Effort (ROE): It’s about getting more back than you put into the effort. Working smart helps make the most out of your people resources.
  • Stronger Reputation: When you only do one thing, you naturally start to become associated with that one thing—externally and even internally.  Reputation is a power you can push to find deeper wins.
  • More Competitive: As your reputation grows, you begin to own that one thing and you can better defend that positioning territory. You can expose the weakness of your competitors, attract new consumers as well as push internally (R&D, service, sales) to rally behind the newly created reputation.
  • Bigger and Better P&L: As the focused effort drives results, it opens up the P&L with higher sales and profits. People with money invest where they see return.

New school thinking for media planning

Brand Leaders have to recognize the change in the marketing model. For generations, they talked AT the consumer, but now they have to talk WITH the consumer. In the old school, Brand Leaders were trained to try to INTERRUPT the consumer in a busy part of their day and then YELL at them over and over again. It was all about driving AWARENESS-PURCHASE-LOYALTY where you use advertising to build Awareness which leads to conversion and then Purchase which then the brand experience leads to Loyalty. The new school of marketing is all about LOYALTY-AWARENESS-PURCHASE where you cater the most to your most loyal users, who will be the ones driving Awareness and the influence of the conversion to purchase. It’s no longer about yelling at strangers on TV.  Instead, you have to engage your most loyal consumers, and they become the medium for reaching new users as they WHISPER advice to their friends. In the last few years, I’m noticing more and more queries of Facebook where people will put “I’m going to Boston, does anyone know a good restaurant?” or “I’m buying a new phone, anyone have a recommendation?” as they trust and rely on their friends. It will be those people within their network that will carry more influence than any marketing you can provide. So if one of those is a motivated loyal user of your brand, they’ll speak with passion and conviction, carrying a great influence in that purchase decision. 
Slide1

The modern Brand Leader gets the power of being a loved brand. When your brand is loved, demand becomes desire, needs become cravings and thinking is replaced by feeling.  Consumers become outspoken fans ready to speak out and battle competitive users. This connection between beloved brands and their consumer becomes a source of power for that brand to use.  In today’s world of Brands, the most Loved are the most powerful.  Brands like Starbucks, Google and Whole Foods aren’t using TV advertising, but instead they are taking their brand experience to social media and influencing their most loyal brand lovers to spread the word. People post a picture of their Pumpkin Latte on Facebook and now 137 people now want one. Equally, if they complain about their phone, it evokes similar negative feelings or doubt in us about the same phone. 

The old school thinking is what gets measured gets done. Old School media has always been about efficiency and the ROI (Return on Investment).  But New School media is about Impact and ROE (Return on Effort). The influence of social media is like the new “invisible hand” that you know is there, but can’t always measure. Yes, TV is and always will be the most efficient medium. It’s easy to stick with what you know and has a whole system of measurements.  But TV is an announcement medium, not an influence medium.TV is best used for broad awareness and new news. But it’s not as good at influencing as social media.There are loved brands who still spend 95% of their ad budget on TV. Yet, their TV ads tell us nothing new and fail to move the brand forward. The better spend would be take all that stored energy within their most loyal users and get them to influence their network of friends. Your most loyal consumers become the medium for attracting new users.  

It’s not just demographics but emotional-graphics

As a consumer, I use many of social media tools available, but it seems my mood changes when I switch from one tool to another. Not thinking about it, but I have different emotional expectations from each social media tool I use. When I’m on Linked In, I am hoping to advance my career–I seek out knowledge, leads on jobs or see connections who may help me get ahead. But on a second’s notice I switch over to Facebook looking for an escape where I can connect with old friends, post photos of my recent trip to Hawaii or comment on some issue that my friends are talking about. I click over to Twitter and I retweet a funny meme that makes me laugh or Tweet about something crazy I saw on the way to work. I switch over to the Weather Network to see if my Golf Game on Saturday will be free of rain, and click on a Huffington Post article about something stupid Bieber did last night. Then I go back to work. I may not realize it, but I have satisfied many of my emotional needs–thirst for knowledge (Linked In), need for control (weather), wanting to be liked and noticed (Facebook) as well as wanting to be free (Twitter) and finally a little of being myself (Huffington Post). 

At Beloved Brands, we believe that passion matters, both with the consumer and brands. The more emotional connection that brands can create with consumers, the more powerful that brand will be. Brand Leaders tend to get stuck when trying to figure out the emotional benefits. It seems that not only do consumers have a hard time expressing their emotions about a brand, but so do Brand Managers. Companies like Hotspex Research have mapped out all the emotional zones for consumers. I’m not a researcher, but if you’re interested in this method contact Hotspex at http://www.hotspex.biz  Leverage this type of research and build your story around the emotions that best fit your consumer needs. Leveraging the Hotspex work, we’ve mapped out 8 zones in a simple way below in what we call our “Emotional Cheat Sheet” for Brands:

Slide10

 

Within each of the zones, you can find emotional words that closely align to the need state of your consumer and begin building the emotional benefits within your Customer Value Proposition. How it works is you have to figure out which emotional zone your brand can own through research or using instincts. And just like a rational position, you can’t try to own them all. Force yourself to stay within a zone that may include 1 or 2 of the emotional need states.  If we think of the world’s leading car companies, Volkswagen’s quirkiness allows you to be comfortable with being yourself, Volvo’s safety features makes you feel knowledgeable and in control, yet a Mini Cooper’s spunky styles gets you noticed or be liked and the power of the Dodge Charger allows you to feel free and feel optimistic on the road. 

Match up your Brand’s emotional zone to social media site’s emotional zone

Once you figure out what emotional zone your brand can own, we recommend that your lead social media vehicle should play in that same emotional zone. The Dodge Charger might be better off showcasing their brand on Youtube and having an outspoken voice on Twitter. Volvo better own every safe word on Google, make sure their Wikipedia page accurately reflects their brand’s record. Volkswagen could use a provocative voice on the Huffington Post or own Trip Advisor. Using our “Emotional Cheat Sheet, we’ve mapped out where some of the leading social media and digital sites fall.  

Slide1

For Brand Leaders to get it, they should be living in the space of social media. It’s a great chance for Brand Leaders to get in the shoes of your consumer, see how they live, hear what’s important to them, use their rich language and feel what they think about your brand. Be active and be engaged. You’d better hurry though, because pretty soon what we see in front of us as new school media will be old pretty soon. And then you’ll be completely out of it.

Use social media to take a walk in the shoes of your consumers

To see a more in depth presentation please read the Powerpoint presentation below which is a Workshop to show brand leaders how to use Media Planning to generate more power and profit for their brand.

We make Brands better.

We make Brand Leaders better.™

We offer Brand Coaching, where we promise to make your Brand better by listening to the issues, providing advice that challenges you, and coaching you along a strategic pathway to reaching your Brand’s full potential. For our Brand Leader Training, we promise to make your team of Brand Leaders better, by teaching sound marketing fundamentals and challenging to push for greatness so that they can unleash their full potential. Feel free to add me on Linked In, or follow me on Twitter at @belovedbrands If you need to contact me, email me at graham@beloved-brands.com or phone me at 416 885 3911

Slide19

 

Continue Reading

10 ways how to make your brand more loved

Where is your brand on the Brand Love Curve?

In the consumer’s mind, brands sit on the Brand Love Curve, with brands going from Indifferent to Like It to Love It and finally becoming a Beloved Brand. At the Beloved stage, you will see that demand becomes desire, needs become cravings, thinking is replaced with feelings. Consumers become outspoken fans. It’s this connection that helps drive power for your brand: power versus competitors, versus customers, versus suppliers and even versus the same consumers you’re connected with. The farther along the curve, the more power for the brand. It’s important that you understand where your brand sits on the Love Curve and begin figuring out how to move it along towards becoming a Beloved Brand.

With each stage of the Brand Love Curve, the consumer will see your brand differently. The worst case is when consumers have “no opinion” of your brand. They just don’t care. But in highly competitive markets, you survive by being liked, but you thrive by being loved. Be honest with yourself as to what stage you are at, and try to figure out how to be more loved, with a vision of getting to the Beloved Brand stage.

Here are the indicators of why you might be stuck at the Like It stage.

  • Low conversion to sales: While the brand looks healthy in terms of awareness and equity scores, the brand is successful in becoming part of the consumer’s consideration set, but it keeps losing out to the competition as the consumer goes to the purchase stage. It usually requires a higher trade spend to close that sale which cuts price and margins.
  • Brand doesn’t feel different: A great advertising tracking score to watch is “made the brand seem different” which helps to separate itself from the pack, many times speaking to the emotional part of the messaging.
  • Stagnant shares: Your brand team is happy when they hold onto their share, content to grow with the category.
  • High private label sales: If you only focus on the ingredients and the rational features of the product, the consumer will start to figure out they get the same thing with the private label and the share starts to creep up to 20% and higher.

Before you get started you might evaluate what has your brand stuck at the Like It stage.

  • Protective brand leaders means caution: While many of these brands at the Like It are very successful brands, they get stuck because of overly conservative and fearful Brand Managers, who pick middle of the road strategies and execute “ok” ideas. On top of this, Brand Managers who convince themselves that “we stay conservative because it’s a low interest category” should be removed. Low interest category means you need even more to captivate the consumer.
  • You see yourself as a rational thinking marketer: Those marketers that believe they are strictly rational are inhibiting their brands. The brand managers get all jazzed on claims, comparatives, product demonstration and doctor recommended that they forget about the emotional side of the purchase decision. Claims need to be twisted into benefits—both rational and emotional benefits. Consumers don’t care about you do until you care about what they need. Great marketers find that balance of the science and art of the brand. Ordinary marketers get stuck with the rational only
  • It’s a new brand with momentum: Stage 2 of a new brand innovation is ready to expand from the early adopters to the masses. The new brand begins to differentiate itself in a logical way to separate themselves from the proliferation of copycat competitors. Consumers start to go separate ways as well. Retailers might even back one brand over another. Throughout the battle, the brand carves out a base of consumers.
  • There’s a major leak: If you look at the brand buying system, you’ll start to see a major leak at some point where you keep losing customers. Most brands have some natural flaw—whether it’s the concept, the product, taste profile ease of use or customer service. Without analyzing and addressing the leak, the brand gets stuck. People like it, but refuse to love it.
  • Brand changes their mind every year: Brands really exist because of the consistency of the promise. When the promise and the delivery of the promise changes every year it’s hard to really connect with what the brand is all about. A brand like Wendy’s has changed their advertising message every year over the past 10 years. The only consumers remaining are those who like their burgers, not the brand.
  • You believe that you have positional power, so who needs Love:there are brands that have captured a strong positional power, whether it`s a unique technology or distribution channel or even value pricing advantage. Brands like Microsoft or Wal-Mart or even many of the pharmaceuticals products don`t see value in the idea of being loved. The problem is when you lose the positional power, you lose your customer base completely.
  • The Brand has captured some love, but no life ritual:There are brands that quickly capture the imagination but somehow fail to capture a routine embedded in the consumers’ life, usually due to some flaw. Whether it’s Krispy Kreme, Pringles or even Cold Stone, there’s something inherent in the brand’s format or weakness that holds it back and it stays stuck at Loved but just not often enough. So, you forget you love them.

Here are the 10 ways that you can move your brand along the journey to being a beloved brand.

#1  Everything you do should start and end with the consumer in mind.

#2  Focus everything on where your brand can win.

#3 Be seen as unique—both in positioning and execution.

#4 Connect with consumers based on insights that get in the SHOES of your consumer and use their VOICE.

#5 Build a big idea that you can shout from the mountain.

#6 Connect with your consumers on a deeply emotional level.

#7 Beloved brands don’t just solve basic problems, they beat down the consumer’s enemy.

#8 Focus all your resources against those strategic pressure points that provide the greatest return.

#9 Execute with passion. If you don’t love your work, how do you expect your consumer to love your brand?

#10 Use your brand idea to build an experience that over-delivers the brand promise you made.

To see a more in depth presentation please read the powerpoint presentation below which is a Workshop to show brand leaders how to create a beloved brand so they can generate more power and profit for their brand.

We make Brands better.

We make Brand Leaders better.™

We offer Brand Coaching, where we promise to make your Brand better by listening to the issues, providing advice that challenges you, and coaching you along a strategic pathway to reaching your Brand’s full potential. For our Brand Leader Training, we promise to make your team of Brand Leaders better, by teaching sound marketing fundamentals and challenging to push for greatness so that they can unleash their full potential. Feel free to add me on Linked In, or follow me on Twitter at @belovedbrands If you need to contact me, email me at graham@beloved-brands.com or phone me at 416 885 3911

Slide19

Continue Reading

You deserve better advertising

Slide1While that’s a very famous tongue-in-cheek quote from David Ogilvy, it should be a kick in the butt to clients. It suggests that if you suck as a client, you will get advertising that sucks. It’s likely true. As I’m coaching clients on advertising, I like to ask a very difficult question: If you knew that being a better client got you better advertising, would you actually be able to show up better? When it comes to advertising, the role of the Brand Leader is to consistently get good advertising on the air, and equally consistently keep bad advertising off the air. So what is it that makes some brand leaders good at advertising?

Before we figure what makes someone good at advertising, let’s figure out what makes someone suck

Theory #1: you blame yourself

  • You never find your comfort zone: You are convinced you’re not good at advertising. No experience, feel awkward or had a bad experience. You think you’re strategic, not tactical. You are skeptical, uptight, too tough and too easily annoyed.
  • You don’t know if it’s really your place to say something: You figure the ad agency is the expert—that’s why we pay them—so you give them a free reign (aka no direction). Or worse, you give them the chance to mess up, and blame them later.
  • You settle for something you hate, because of time pressure, or you don’t know why: You don’t really love it, but it seems ok for now. The agency says if we don’t go for it now, we’ll miss our air date and have to give up our media to another brand.
  • You can’t sell it in to management: you need to make sure if it’s the right thing to do, you are able to sell the idea in. Tell them how it works for your brand—and how it delivers the strategy.

Being a good client takes experience, practice, leadership and a willingness to adjust. Don’t write yourself off so quickly. Learn how to be a good client.

Theory #2: You Blame your Agency

  • You hate the brief: Agency writes a brief you don’t like—or you box them into a strategy. If either of you force a strategy on the other, then you’re off to a bad start.
  • Creative team over sells you: you get hood-winked with the “we are so excited” speech: You’re not sure what you want, so you settle for an OK ad in front of you—the best of what you saw. Ask yourself what’s missing before you buy an ad.
  • You lose connection with the agency: Keep your agency motivated so that you become the client they want to make great work on, rather than have to work on.
  • You lose traction through the production and edit: Talent, lighting, directors and edits—if the tone changes from the board to edit, then so does your ad.

An OK agency can do great work on a great client. But a great agency will fail with a bad client. Next time you want to fire your agency, maybe focus on yourself for improvement, because you’ll bring the same flaws to the next agency.

Theory #3: You Blame your Brand

  • The “I work on a boring Brand” argument. You think only cool brands like Nike, Apple, Ikea etc. are so much easier to work on. However, think again, because your boring brand has so much room to maneuver, it should be even easier.
  • You are too careful and think we can’t swing too far: Good ads either go left or right, not in the middle of the road. Consumers might not notice your “big shift”.
  • Advertising roulette: Where brand managers haven’t done the depth of thinking or testing, briefing is like a game of chance. Brands go round and round for years.
  • Your strategy Sucks: You figure if we don’t have a great strategy, a good ad might help. A great strategy makes an ad, but an Ad will never make a great strategy.

It’s one thing to be a “fan” of advertising in general, but we need to see you be a “fan” of YOUR advertising.

Be a better client

Here are eight ways to challenge yourself to show up better at every stage of the advertising process

  1. Do you develop a testable Brand Concept with rational and emotional benefits, plus support points that you know are actually motivating?
  2. How tight is your brief? Do you narrow the target and add engaging insights? Do you focus on the desired consumer response before deciding what your brand should say? Do you focus on one benefit and one message?
  3. Do you meet creative team before the first creative meeting to connect, align them with your vision and inspire them to push for great work?
  4. Do you hold tissue sessions to narrow solutions before going to scripts?
  5. At creative meetings, do you stay big picture, avoid getting into details? When giving direction, do you avoid giving your own solutions and but rather try to create a “new box” for the creative team to figure out the solutions?
  6. Do you take creative risks, and are you willing to be different to stand out?
  7. Do you manage your boss at every stage? Do you sell them, on your vision what you want?   Are you willing to fight for great work?
  8. Are you one of your agency’s favorite clients? Do they “want to” or do they “have to” work on your business? If they love you, they’ll work harder for you and do better work. They are only human. They will never tell you this, but I’m a former client so I will: if you want better work–it’s pretty simple–show up better. 

Slide1

Be better at every stage 

  • When doing the strategy pre-work, dig in deep and do the work on insights, create a Big Idea and lay out the brand Concept. Even consider testing the concept to know that it motivates consumers. Never use the advertising process to figure out the brand strategy. 
  • Create a focused creative brief to create the box for the creative team, that has one objective, two insights, the desired response, one main benefit, two support points. 
  • Hold a creative expectations meeting to give a first impression on your vision, passion. Inspire and focus creative team. Do not take a hands off approach and avoid meeting the creative team, assuming your account team has conveyed EVERYTHING. 
  • Use a tissue session to explore ideas. Use this when you don’t have a campaign. Be open to new ways of looking at your brand. Focus on Big Ideas, without getting into the weeds. Be willing to push for better ideas if you don’t see them at the tissue session.
  • When in the creative meeting, be a positive minded client, focus only on big picture, give direction, make decisions. Avoid giving your solutions. No Details. Ask yourself: are you inspiring?
  • Use a feedback memo that is 24-48 hours after the creative meeting for more detailed challenges but without giving specific solutions. Use this to create a new box. Do not use this memo to say new thoughts that were not in the creative meeting or in the management meetings you had. If it is a new thought, pick up the phone and talk about it with your account person first. Slide01
  • If you use ad testing, you can use either quantitative or qualitative depending on time and budget. I always recommend that you use it to confirm your pick, not make your decision.
  • When gaining approval internally, sell it in!!!  That’s part of your role is to fight for the work you love. Be ready to fight resisters to make it happen. My rule of thumb is to bring the senior account person when that person has a good relationship with my boss and even use them to help sell it in (since they are better trained at selling) and then bring the most senior creative person when the creative work needs selling. 
  • Through the production stages, your role is to manage the tone to fit the brand. Think of this like managing the kitchen of your house–you have to live in it, so you have to live with every decision. Always, get more than you need so you can use it later. 
  • With post production, talk directly with and leverage every expert you come in contact with. The more you connect and empower them, the harder they’ll fight for what you need. 

Get the advertising you deserve

At Beloved Brands, we run a Brand Leadership Center to train marketers in all aspects of marketing from strategic thinking, analysis, writing brand plans, creative briefs and reports, judging advertising and media. To read more on strategy, here is a workshop on HOW TO THINK STRATEGICALLY, click on the Powerpoint presentation below:

We make Brands better.

We make Brand Leaders better.™

We offer Brand Coaching, where we promise to make your Brand better by listening to the issues, providing advice that challenges you, and coaching you along a strategic pathway to reaching your Brand’s full potential. For our Brand Leader Training, we promise to make your team of Brand Leaders better, by teaching sound marketing fundamentals and challenging to push for greatness so that they can unleash their full potential. Feel free to add me on Linked In, or follow me on Twitter at @belovedbrands If you need to contact me, email me at graham@beloved-brands.com or phone me at 416 885 3911

Slide19

 

Continue Reading

Competitive Brand Strategy

At Beloved Brands, we always start with the consumer so that we ensure we are meeting the needs of consumers rather than blindly putting things out into the marketplace that no one wants. However, the second check is the competitive nature of your positioning to make sure I’m not blindly putting things out that someone is already doing. Murder and Strategy have one thing in common, they both start with opportunity. There is talk this week of Apple getting into the car business. Yes, I’ll await with excited breath at what it looks and feels like–I can predict that it will carry stylish designs, take every car technology and make it simple enough for everyone to use and provide top of the line quality in workmanship. It will come at a significant premium. Wait a second, it’s a Mercedes. Apple has only done well in categories where technology geeks can’t see straight enough to simplify their product enough for the average person to buy it. Apple has won by offering simplicity in the face of frustration. Yes, there is frustration with Chevrolet and Chrysler but Apple won’t be priced in the Chevy range. That’s not the case with Mercedes. 

Brands have four choices:  better, different, cheaper of not around for long

The key is to find a unique selling proposition for your brand.  You don’t always need to find a rational point of difference as long as there is room to be emotionally unique.

Slide04Map out everything your consumer wants–all the possible need states. Then map out all the benefits that you and your competitors can do better than anyone else–both functional and emotional zones.  You want to find that intersecting zone where what you can do best matches up to a need state of the consumer.  Then find a way to serve that need state to the best of your ability and transform it into an even bigger deal than first meets the eye. Avoid the intersecting zone where your competitor is better than you and please avoid that zone where you and your competition foolishly battle in an area that “no one cares” about.   The battle ground zone is where both you and your competition can satisfy the consumer need at an equal rate.  To win in this situation, you need to get creative and find ways to out-execute or find some emotional connection that changes the game and makes you the clear winner.

Competitive Warfare

At the start of any strategy definition, you should ask “where are we?” Here are four questions to be asking that force you to choose four possible solutions to each.

  1. What is your current share position in the market?
  2. What is the core strength that your brand can win on?
  3. How tightly connected is your consumer to your brand?
  4. What is the current business situation that your brand faces?

This article focuses on question one which speaks to where you rank in the market, which a great indicator of how much power you can command in the market.  You have four choices, using Marketing Warfare (Trout and Ries) you are either the Leader, Challenger, Niche or a Guerilla.

  • Leader (defensive): Leader of category or sub-category defending their territory by attacking itself or even attacking back at an aggressive competitor.
  • Challenger (offensive): Challenger’s attack on the leader to exploit a weakness or build on your own strength.
  • Flanking: An attack in an open area where the Leader is not that well established.
  • Guerrilla (Niche): Go to an area where it’s too small for the Leaders to take notice or are unable to attack back.

The leader uses defensive strategies

Defensive strategies should be pursued by the leader. Not only the market share leader, but the perceived leader in the consumers’ mind. Attacking yourself is the best defense. Identify and close leaks in service, experience or products. Introduce new products superior to your current. Challenge the culture to step it up to continually get better and stay ahead of the competitors. Can’t be complacent or you’ll die. The Leader blocks all offensive moves. Keep an eye on your competitors moves—and adjust your own brand to ensure you defend against their attacks. Attack back with an even greater force than the one attacking you. Demonstrate your brand power. Leverage all the brand power you’ve mustered to maintain your positional power.Slide1

The challenger brand uses offensive strategies

The best offensive attack is to actually find weakness within the Leader’s strengths. Turn a perceived strength around is very powerful. Attack a weakness might be insufficient. Be careful of the Leader’s Defensive moves. Anticipate a response with full force—possibly even greater than yours. Avoid wars that drain resources and hold same share after the war. Attack on as narrow of a front as possible to ensure your resources are put to that area—which might be more force than the leader puts to that one area. Narrow attacks are effective when the leader tries to be all things to all people—enabling you to slice off a part of their business before they can defend it. Leapfrog Strategy, technology and business models are game-changers in the category.

Slide2

The flanker brand stays clear of any battles

The flanker strategies go to uncontested areas, in the safety where the leader is not competing. Make sure you are the first in this area. Speed and surprise can help win the uncontested area before the Leaders take notice. Make your move quickly and stealthfully. Follow through matters, to defend the area you’ve won. Others may follow—whether it’s the leader trying to use their might or copy cats looking for an early win. You can win with new targets, price points (premium or value), distribution channels, format or positioning. Flanking, while lower risk of attack from the leader, is a higher risk with consumers because innovation is always riskier because consumers might not like the concept.

Guerrilla warfare wins where no one notices or cares

Pick a segment small enough that it won’t be noticed and you’ll be able to defend it. Be aggressive. Put all your resources against this small area, so that you’ll have the relative force of a major player. Be flexible and nimble. You’ll need to enter quickly to seize an opportunity that others aren’t noticing, but also be ready to exit if need be—whether the consumers change their minds or competitors see an opportunity to enter. Explore non-traditional marketing techniques to get your brand message out and your brand into the market quickly. Because you’re playing in a non-traditional market, you’ll be given leeway on the tools you use. For Guerrilla brands, it is better to be loved by the few, than liked or tolerated by many.

Slide1

Marketing Warfare Rules for Success

  1. Speed of attack matters. Surprise attacks, but sustained speed in the market is a competitive advantage.
  2. Be organized and efficient in your management. To operate at a higher degree of speed, ensure that surprise attacks work without flaw, be mobile enough.
  3. Focus all your resources to appear bigger and stronger than you are. Focus on the target most likely to quickly act, focus on the messaging most likely to motivate and focus on areas you can win.   Drawn out dog fights slows down brand growth. Never fight two wars at once.
  4. Use early wins to keep momentum going and gain quick positional power you can maintain and defend counter-attacks.
  5. Execution matters. Quick breakthrough requires creativity in your approach and quality in execution.
  6. Expect the unexpected. Think it through thoroughly. Map out potential responses by competitors.

Use competitive strategy to find your point of difference

Bringing our blog to life through video

000f51eAt Beloved Brands, we have created a new video Series called BELOVED BRANDS 180. Each video will be 180 seconds (3 minutes) in length and our goal is to get Brand Leaders to do a 180 on their thinking. We want them to think different, because the thinking that got you this far, might not be enough to get to where you want to go next. Today’s video topic is “How to write a brand positioning statement”. Brand positioning statements provide the most useful function of taking everything you know about your brand, everything that could be said about the consumer and making choices to pick one target that you’ll serve and one brand promise you will stand behind.  While we think this brand positioning statement sets up the creative brief, it should really set up everything the brand does–equally important for internal as everyone should follow to what the positioning statement says.  

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

At Beloved Brands, we run a Brand Leadership Center 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 THE BRAND LEADERSHIP CENTER, click on the Powerpoint presentation below:

We make Brands better.

We make Brand Leaders better.™

We offer brand coaching, where we promise to make your brand better by listening to the issues, providing advice that challenges you, and coaching you along a strategic pathway to reaching your brand’s full potential. For our brand leader training, we promise to make your team of brand leaders better, by teaching sound marketing fundamentals and challenging to push for greatness so that they can unleash their full potential. Feel free to add me on Linked In, or follow me on Twitter at @belovedbrands If you need to contact me, email me at graham@beloved-brands.com or phone me at 416 885 3911

Slide1

Continue Reading

How to lead the brand planning process

As Yogi Berra once said “if you don’t know where you’re going, you might not get there.”

The same could be said about brands, who try to execute blindly without knowing where they are going. From what we see, the best executed brands are also the best planned brands. Strategy is about focusing, by applying your limited resources of investment, time and people against an unlimited array of choices. You must narrow your focus to get the highest payback against what you put in.

The Beloved Brands planning process includes four key phases: 1) Deep-dive business review 2) Key issues 3) Brand positioning and 4) Brand plan

Stage 1: The deep-dive business Review 

We provide brand leaders with a full range of analytical tools to look at every part of the brand, providing a complete review for management. We teach brand leaders good analytical principles about telling stories with facts to gain more support for your analysis. We look at every part of the health and wealth of a brand looking at the category, consumer, channels, brand, competitors. Slide05We teach how analysis turns fact into insight and how data breaks set up strategic choices. We look at how to turn analytical thinking into projections. And then we help to build an analytical story and presentation that’s ready for management review.

To read our presentation on Analytics, click on this PowerPoint:

A typical agenda for a business review should consist of:

  • Category: factors impacting growth, trends, economic, changes happening in demographics, behaviors, consumption. Look at related categories.
  • Consumer: define segments, buying habits, growth trends, key insights for each segment, buying system analysis, leaky bucket, consumer perceptions through tracking data and research.
  • Channels: look at each channel’s performance, major customers, sales performance, tools for winning used in each channel.
  • Competitors: dissect competitors looking at positioning, pipeline, pricing, distribution differences, consumer perception, strategies. Complete a brand plan for each competitor.
  • Brand: look at internal and external health and wealth of brand. Use financial analysis, brand funnel data, market research perceptions. Look at advertising results, pricing strategies, distribution gaps and do a complete leaky bucket analysis.

To read how to conduct a business review, click on this hyper link: How to lead a Business Review on your brand

One model we use to summarize where your brand stands is to ask four key questions:

  1. What is your current share position in the market?
  2. What is the core strength that your brand can win on?
  3. How tightly connected is your consumer to your brand?
  4. What is the current business situation that your brand faces?

For each of those four questions, we offer four possible answers to help narrow where you are, using the model below:  

Slide1

To read the connected story and more depth on this model, follow this hyperlink: Challenge your thinking to focus your brand strategy

Stage 2: The key issues 

We coach brand leaders on how to frame the most important strategic questions that set up their strategic brand plans. We leverage the summation of the business review to frame the drivers, inhibitors, risks and opportunities. From there we set a “straw dog” brand vision, then brainstorm all the issues getting in the way of achieving that brand vision. We begin to see key issues themes and use strategic summation tools to make sure we’ve looked at all parts of the business. We coach on the writing of a key issues deck for management approval. A typical agenda for a key issues presentation would look like:

  • Health and wealth of brand: look factors driving the internal health and wealth and the external health and wealth of the brand.
  • What’s driving growth and how will we continue to enhance? Stay focused on things going right, accelerate against them. Continuous improvement.
  • What’s inhibiting growth and how will we minimize or reverse? Close the leaks, develop turnaround plans or re-focus the team against the trend.
  • What opportunities for growth will we take advantage of? Build plans to mobilize the brand to see if the opportunity is a winning space for the brand.
  • What are the risks to future growth to avoid and what are the Contingency plans? Identify and measure the risk, explore plans to avoid.   Fill the gap before a competitor.

Slide10

We believe brand leaders should spend more time on asking great strategic questions, believing that the thinking you put into those questions will help frame better strategy choices. Here’s a story on that subject: Strategic thinkers see questions, before they see answers. Non-strategic thinkers see answers before questions.

Stage 3: Create a winning brand positioning

We coach brand leaders on creating a brand idea and brand positioning that will help your brand win in the market. We use a workshop style process that helps your team find a winning brand positioning, pushing the emotional benefits. We can validate with consumers through a testable brand concept. We’ll work to create a Big Idea that frames the external and internal promise of your brand. We’ll leave you with an execution ready creative brief to hand to your agency. You should revisit the positioning each year, matched up to the consumer insights of your business review as well as your competitive review to make sure that you’re winning in the marketplace. A typical agenda for brand positioning would be: 

  • Who do we want to sell to? (Target Market): Who do we want to sell to? Segmentation performance, broken out by demographics, psychographics, buying patterns. Use consumer insights to tell story based on category insights and think about Life Insights or even Societal Trends that could impact changing consumer behavior. Define the consumer enemy.Slide09
  • What are we selling?  (main Benefit) and why should they believe us?  (Reason To Believe) Using a Customer Value Proposition Ladder: Define consumer target: need states, enemies and insights. Product features: Product-focused strengths, claims, differences or unique offerings. Rational benefits: In consumer’s voice, answer, “so, what do I get?” Emotional benefits: Look at rational benefit, asking, “so how does that make me feel?” using emotional Cheat Sheet belowSlide10
  • And then to execute that positioning in the market place, ask: what do we want the Advertising to do for the brand?  (Strategic Choices) Where your Brand sits on the Brand Love Curve sets up your Strategic Choices. When Indifferent, you want to establish your brand in the mind of consumers so that you can drive awareness and consideration with new user. At Like It, you should create following by separating yourself and drive the rational & emotional benefits to close sale. When at Love It stage, you want to tug at the Heart and tighten the connection using emotion. When Beloved, you need to continue the magic and maintain the love with your most loyal users
  • What do want people to think, feel or do?  (Desired Response): Use a Buying System to focus your Advertising Strategy and how you’ll use your Media options
  • What’s the long-range feeling the brand evokes (The Big Idea): The big idea connects with the consumer and guide the promise, strategy, story, Innovation & Culture.

To read more on how to write a brand positioning statement, follow this hyperlink: How to write a winning Brand Positioning Statement

Stage 4: Write a brand plan everyone can follow

We coach brand leaders to build highly focused strategic brand plans that everyone in your organization can follow. We use a workshop style process to help your team lay out a long-range strategic road map and brand plan that everyone in your organization can follow. We’ll help your team prepare brand plans for review. We then work with your team to create actionable project plans for each tactic with goals, milestones and budget. A typical agenda for a one-year brand plan would include: 

  • Vision: What do you want your brand to be in the next 5-10 years? Vision gives everyone on the brand a clear direction, it should be measurable (quantitative) and motivating (qualitative). It should push you so much that it scares you a little, but excites you a lot.
  • Purpose: Why does your brand exist? Keep asking yourself why you do this, to find the personal motivation hidden in the brand. Articulating your purpose can be a very powerful way to connect with both employees and consumers, giving your brand a soul.
  • Goals: What do you need to achieve? Specific measures of brand health and wealth, related to consumer/customer behavioral changes, metrics of key programs, performance targets or milestones on the pathway to the vision. It’s the brand scoreboard.
  • Financial Forecasts: sales, A&P spending, margins, profits, market share.
  • Key Issues: What is getting the way from achieving your vision/goals? Deep analysis highlights what’s driving and holding brand back, as well as future risks and untapped opportunities. Issues are asked as a question to provide the problem to which strategies become the solution.
  • Strategies: How can we get there? Strategies are the “How” you will win the market. Choices based on market opportunities, using consumers, competitors or situational. Strategies should have a pin-pointed focus providing a breakthrough on the pathway to the brand vision.
  • Tactics: What do we need to do to execute the strategy? Framed completely by strategy, tactical choices deploy your limited resources against brand projects in the most efficient way to drive a high ROI.
  • Marketing Budget to achieve Results: broken out by trade spend, communication, consumer promo, new products, research.

We take all this information and put it on a Plan on a Page, outlined below:

Slide17

The best run brands spend the time needed to plan things out. Many brands who try to cut corners on the planning process end up with confused or random execution–sometimes working, sometimes not. Every brand is constrained by resources–no brand has enough money, time or people to execute everything they want to do. The best brand leaders make choices and use the word “or” as they force choices, rather than “and” as they try to do everything. Focus makes you matter most to those who care the most. Don’t blindly target consumers:  target the most motivated.  Focusing your limited resources on those consumers with the highest motivation and  propensity to buy what you are selling will deliver the highest return on investment. In a competitive category, no one brand can do it all: brands must be better, different or cheaper to survive. Giving the consumer too many messages will confuse them as to what makes your brand unique. Trying to be everything to everyone is the recipe for being nothing to anyone. Return on Effort (ROE) is a great tool for focusing your activity. Doing a laundry list of activity spreads your resources so thin that everything you do is “ok” and nothing is “great”.And in a crowded and fast economy, “ok” never breaks through enough to get the early win and find that tipping point to open up the gateway to even bigger success. Here are the benefits to the Brand by focusing your efforts: 

Better Return on Investment (ROI): With all the resources against one strategy, one target, one message, you’ll be able to move consumers enough to drive sales or push other key performance indicators in the right direction.

Better Return on Effort (ROE): It’s about getting more back than you put into the effort. Working smart helps make the most out of your people resources.

Stronger Reputation: When you only do one thing, you naturally start to become associated with that one thing—externally and even internally.  Reputation is a power you can push to find deeper wins.

More Competitive: As your reputation grows, you begin to own that one thing and you can better defend that positioning territory. You can expose the weakness of your competitors, attract new consumers as well as push internally (R&D, service, sales) to rally behind the newly created reputation.

Bigger and Better P&L: As the focused effort drives results, it opens up the P&L with higher sales and profits. People with money invest where they see return.

Video workshop on leading the planning process

000f51eAt Beloved Brands, we have created a new video Series called BELOVED BRANDS 180. Each video will be 180 seconds (3 minutes) in length and our goal is to get Brand Leaders to do a 180 on their thinking. We want them to think different, because the thinking that got you this far, might not be enough to get to where you want to go next. Today’s video topic is Mapping out the annual brand planning process. Our Beloved Brands process takes you through all 4 phases of planning: 1) Deep-dive business review 2) Key issues 3) Brand positioning and 4) Brand plan 

Everything you’ve just read is summed up in a 3 minute video. 

To see all this come together in a presentation format, follow the PowerPoint presentation below:

If you need help with your planning process, feel free to contact us to help get your team moving in the right direction. 

At Beloved Brands, we run a Brand Leadership Center 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 THE BRAND LEADERSHIP CENTER, click on the Powerpoint presentation below:

We make Brands better.

We make Brand Leaders better.™

We offer brand coaching, where we promise to make your brand better by listening to the issues, providing advice that challenges you, and coaching you along a strategic pathway to reaching your brand’s full potential. For our brand leader training, we promise to make your team of brand leaders better, by teaching sound marketing fundamentals and challenging to push for greatness so that they can unleash their full potential. Feel free to add me on Linked In, or follow me on Twitter at @belovedbrands If you need to contact me, email me at graham@beloved-brands.com or phone me at 416 885 3911

Slide1

Continue Reading