Today’s best brands win thanks to the passionate and lasting love they establish with their most cherished consumers.

">Creating a beloved brand

Today’s best brands win thanks to the passionate and lasting love they establish with their most cherished consumers.

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in How to Guide for Marketers

 

Brand Love is now a strategy.

No longer should a brand think about their consumers in a strictly functional or logical way. The best brands of today, like Tesla, Apple, Starbucks, Nike, Dove or Airbnb have found a way to capture the imagination of their consumers and take them on a journey of delightful experiences that fosters a deeper emotional and lasting relationship. These brands treat their most cherished consumers with a respect that establishes a trust, that enables consumers to open up to a point where thinking is replaced with feelings, the logic of demand evolves into an emotional state of desire, needs become cravings and repeat purchases progress into rituals that turns into a favorite moment in the day. Consumers transform into the most outspoken and loyal brand fans.

The old logical ways of marketing are not working in today’s world. These brands feel stuck in the past talking about gadgets, features and promotions. They will clearly be ‘friend-zoned’ by consumers, to be purchased only when the brand is on sale. The best brands of the last century were little product inventions that solved small problems consumers did not even realize they had until the product came along. Old-school marketing was dominated by bold logos, catchy jingles, memorable slogans, side-by-side demonstrations, repetitive TV ads, product superiority claims and expensive battles for shelf space at retail stores. Every Marketer focused on entering the consumer’s mind. Marketers of the last century were taught the 4P’s of product, place, price and promotion. It is a useful start, but too product-focused and it misses out on consumer insights, brand promise, emotional benefits and consumer experiences. The Crest brand knew their “Look mom, no cavities” TV ads annoyed everyone, but knew it stuck in the consumer’s brain. No one cared how nice the Tide logo looked, as long as it stood out on a crowed grocery store shelf. The jingle “Plop, plop, fizz, fizz, oh what a relief it is” was repeated often to embed itself in the consumer’s memory bank. The side-by-side dish detergent ad showed spots on the wine glass of a competitor, just to shame consumers into using Cascade. Brands that continue to follow a logical play only, will fail miserably in today’s emotion-driven marketplace.

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

Consumers must be cherished and ‘won-over’. Today’s consumers are surrounded by a clutter of 5,000 brand messages a day that fight for a glimpse of their attention. That is 1.8 Million per year, or one message every 11 waking seconds. Consumers are constantly distracted—walking, talking, texting, searching, watching, replying—most times at the same time. They glance past most brand messages all day long. Their brain quickly rejects boring, irrelevant or unnecessary messages. Brands must capture the consumer’s imagination right away, with a big idea that is simple, unique, inspiring and creates as much excitement as a first-time encounter.

Consumers are tired of being burned by faulty brand promises. Once lied to, their well-guarded instincts begin to doubt first, test second, and at any point, they will cast aside any brand that does not live up to the original promise that captured them on the first encounter. A brand must be worthy of love. The best brands of today have a soul that exists deep within the culture of the brand organization. The brand’s purpose must be able to explain why the people who work behind the scenes of the brand come to work everyday so energized and ready to over-deliver on the brand’s behalf. This purpose becomes an immovable conviction, with inner motivations, beliefs and values that influences and inspires every employee to want to be part of the brand. This brand conviction must be so strong, the brand would never make a choice that is in direct contradiction with their inner belief system. Consumers start to see, understand and appreciate the level of conviction with the brand. Consumers become willing to open up, they identify with the brand and they trust the brand. The integrity behind the brand helps tighten the consumer’s unshakable bond with the brand.

how to create brand loveBrands must listen, observe and start to know the thoughts of their consumer before they even think it. Not only does the brand meet their needs, the brand must heroically beat down the consumer’s ‘enemy’ that torments their life, every day. The brand must show up consistent at every consumer touch-point, whether it is the promise they make, the stories they tell, the innovation designed to surprise consumers, the easy purchase moments or the delightful consumer experiences that make consumers want to tell their friends about. The consumer keeps track in the back of their mind to make sure it all adds up before they commit. Only then, will the consumer trust the brand. Brands have to do the little things that matter, to show they love their consumer. Every time the brand over-delivers on their promise, it adds a little fuel to the romance each and every time. Over time, the brand must weave itself into the most important moments of the consumer’s lives, and become part of the most cherished stories and memories within their heart.

how to create a beloved brand

Brands need to foster a passionate and lasting love with their consumers.

How can brand leaders replicate Apple’s brand lovers lined up in the rain to buy the latest iPhone before they even know the phone’s features, the Ferrari fans who paint their faces red every week, even though they know they will likely never drive a Ferrari in their lifetime, the ‘Little Monsters’ who believe they are nearly best friends with Lady Gaga, the 400,000 outspoken Tesla brand advocates who put $1,000 down for a car that does not even exist yet or the devoted fans of In-N-Out Burger who order animal-style burgers off the ‘secret menu’ no one else knows about? Every brand should want this type of passion and power with their consumers.

The more ‘brand love’ created, the more brand power generated

Brand love becomes a source of energy that gives the beloved brand a power over the very consumers who love them. The competition crumbles, as they are unable to replicate the emotional bond consumers have with the beloved brand. Channel retailers become powerless in negotiations with the beloved brand, once they realize their own consumers would switch stores before they will switch brands. Suppliers serve at the mercy of the beloved brand, as the high volumes efficiently drive down production costs, which back the supplier into a corner before they offer up most of those savings just to stay a supplier. The beloved brand has a power over the media, whether it means better placement through paid media, more news coverage through earned media, a mystique over key influencers and more talk value through social media or at the lunch table. The beloved brand even has power over employees, who want to work there, not have to work there. They are fellow brand fans, proud to work extra hard on the brand they love.

 

The more ‘brand love’ created, the more brand profits realized

Beloved brands achieve higher profit margins. First, they leverage their brand love with consumers to ensure a price premium is never perceived as excessive. Consumers gladly pay $5 for a Starbucks latte, $500 for an iPad or $100,000+ for a Mercedes. Beloved brands use a good/better/best price strategy to trade cherished consumers up to higher price items. Mercedes sees C class drivers who paid $40,000 as future S Class drivers who will pay over $150,000. A well-run beloved brand uses their high volume to drive efficiency and their brand power to pressure suppliers to lower their costs. A beloved brand has a higher response to marketing programs, that means a more efficient marketing investment. The beloved brands use their momentum to drive higher volume growth. They get loyal users to use more, as consumers build the beloved brand into their life’s routines and daily rituals. The beloved brand can enter new categories, as they know their loyal consumers will follow the brand. Finally, there are more creative opportunities for the beloved brand to find more uses or usage occasions for the beloved brand to fit into the consumer’s life.

The more loved a brand is by consumers, the more powerful and profitable that brand will be.

I wish all Marketers understood this formula. I see agencies tell their clients that brands need to be more emotional. Maybe they would win the argument more if they could demonstrate the resulting power and resulting profit that could transform the argument into the language of the clients.

How can you create a passionate and lasting love with your consumers?

To read more on creating brand love, here is the workshop we run for our clients.

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

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

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

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

Beloved Brands Graham Robertson

 

How to use rebellious innovation to create a beloved brand

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how to use innovation to create a beloved brandMost brands start out as a single product. Early on, brands are desperate and engage more in selling than marketing. They have this mistake that they should appeal to anyone who might buy. The brand begins to meander to meet the needs of any potential customer that walks in the door. The brand’s external reputation quickly becomes “whatever you want it to be”. Once you try to be anything to anyone, you will end up nothing to everyone. The brand has become a cluttered mess in the marketplace, unable to build one consistent brand reputation. Internally, the employees can no longer even explain the brand in a consistent manner. The most remote sales reps have a different message from each other, which does not at all match to the scientist in the lab or the latest TV advertising. Even in the boardroom, various functional leaders now hold a different version of the brand. Internally, the brand will now be a cluttered mess. These innovative brands completely mis-read the power of creating a brand. Brands must use a big idea to establish a consistent delivery of the brand while effectively managing all 5 touch points. While brand communication can drive the brand’s promise into the marketplace, the product must deliver or even over-deliver on the consumer’s expectations of the on that promise.

For new brands, I recommend that you look to start as a rebel brand that goes against the entire marketplace, then gradually move to an island brand on its own. Once you have a loyal following, you can then move into a challenger role that can go head to head with a power player brand that is in the leader position.

 

Rebel Brands

The rebel brand takes the aggressive stance that everyone in the market is stupid, to stand out as a completely different and better choice to a core group of trend influencers who are frustrated with all the competitors in the marketplace. This group becomes your most motivated consumers to buy into your new idea. You must bring these on board and use their influence to begin your journey.

How to use innovation to create a beloved brand

At the rebel stage, you must take a high risk, high reward chance on who you will be. At this early stage, the brand should not worry about the mass audience, because most times, they will naturally resist ‘brands that are very different’ as they do not yet see the problem. Playing it safe will be your own destruction. Later on, the mass consumers will follow ‘trend leaders’ who not only identify new solutions, but will eventually use their influence to create new problems in the mass audience. Please never use the word “alienate” when determining your target market. You should naturally alienate those who are not yet ready. Not only does a great brand say who it is for, it should equally say who it is not for. Be careful, you do not try to be mass too soon, or you will lose your base, while not even getting the mass audience.

How to use innovation to create a beloved brand

 

The rebel brand must own a small niche, that is far enough away from the market leaders to avoid getting squashed before your brand can gain any real traction. If you can find a path to expand, having a loyal following of early brand lovers gives you strength to move forward. If you end up staying a niche such as In-N-Out burger, you can solidify your defense of that niche.

Island Brands

I describe Island brands as so different, they are on their own. These are what the marketing industry calls “blue ocean” ideas. You must mobilize your audience of the early trend influencers to gain a core base of early adopters into your franchise. While the rebel brand might gain appeal by calling everyone stupid, the island brand tries to use their modern point of difference to pull consumers away from the leaders, by making the leaders seem detached from the needs of the consumer.

Uber did such a great job at the island brand stage of making the taxi industry appear disconnected from the needs of the consumers, setting up Uber as the only solution. Uber now had the power of an island brand that could take this power into a power player position to defend their castle. Instead, Uber made two crucial errors in judgment.  They diversified their business too quickly into other “quick delivery” models that confuses what the brand stands for. Second, they tried to own the product, price and experience all at once. A brand must lead with one core strength. Sadly, they have allowed themselves to be defined as the ‘price’ brand, when they had an opportunity to own the more lucrative experience brand. What will happen next: Uber’s lower margins will not be able to afford top quality drivers, enabling brands like Lyft to come in and offer a better consumer experience. This could be fatal. Time will tell.

Challenger Brand

People mix up challenger brand and rebel brand. They get excited by the attitude and conviction of the challenger stance of the rebel brand. To me, a challenger brand has used their influence of the trend setters and early adopters to shift from an island brand into a mass brand earned that has earned a hard-fought proximity that allows it to go head-to-head with the power player leader. The challenger brands turn your competitor’s strength into a weakness, pushing them outside of what consumers want, while creating a new consumer problem for which your brand becomes the solution

The idea is to amplify what you do best as an attempt to move the power player’s main strength into a weakness and push them into that disconnected place for some consumers. We love these brand stories, like Mac versus PC, Pepsi versus Coke and Avis versus Hertz. What we fail to tell you are all the assaults of the power player back on the challenger brand that usually keeps them in their place. This is a transition stage for the brand, to see if they can become a true beloved brand of the masses. What will really separate the brand is how much emotion they can fuel into their own brand. While Apple is not the #1 portable computer, they certainly have the most passion to allow them to charge twice the price of the PCs. Also, the Mac stance enabled Apple to sell more iPhones, iPads and iTunes. While people still think of Apple as a rebellious brand, they really have become the “IBM of 2017”, the corporate mega-giant they once battled in the 1980s.

While everyone thinks innovation is logical science, I see a close link with emotional passion

I use where a brand sits on the Brand Love Curve to guide a lot of marketing decisions. We use the Brand Love Curve to get in the shoes of the consumer and understand how they see your brand. There are five stages, unknown, indifferent, like it, love it and finally the beloved stage. These stages replicate the relationship status humans might have as they move from strangers to acquaintances to friends, to a stage of love and onto what we hope is forever. I am a big believer that the Brand Love Curve can guide every brand decision. As well, the more love you can create the more power the brand can generate, and from that comes more growth and profit.

Where your brand sits on the Brand Love Curve can also guide the innovation stance.

  • Indifferent: Focus on the product innovation, with a big idea that can explain and organize each consumer touch point. Go after leading trend influencers in that market, who already see problem and will be the most motivated by what your brand has to offer. Early wins among early brand lovers will help fuel momentum. It will intrigue early adopters to follow.
  • Like It: Use the innovation to separate yourself from competitors, to extrapolate the problems, gaps or frustrations consumers see in mass brands. This sets up your brand as the only solution. Increase investment in brand communication and the purchase moment to tighten the bond with an early group of brand lovers who can be used to influence the broader consumer base.
  • Love It: Use innovation to create experiences and become part of the consumer’s life. Layer in emotion and explore peripheral products around the routine to turn repeat usage in life rituals. Invest to stay ahead of any challenger brands. At this stage, you can use your connection with a loyal base of brand lovers to enter new categories to extend the brand’s big idea across a bigger portfolio of products.
  • Beloved: Extend brand beyond core product. Use innovation to surprise and delight the most base of brand lovers. Attack potential gaps in the current offering with product improvements. Continue to perfect the entire portfolio to gain an equal strength across most product lines. You want to be able to use your brand lovers to have them satisfy all their needs through your brand.

Just as you need to be careful to going after a mass audience too fast, you need to carefully understand the level of bond you have with your current customers before you can understand where you can take them.

To ensure your business leads with innovation, it must become part of the culture. Instill an innovation process to turn random thoughts into action. Here’s the process I recommend:

How to use innovation

Below is our workshop we use to help brands Creating a beloved brand. My hope is that it challenges you to think differently about your own brand situation:

 

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

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

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

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

Beloved Brands Graham Robertson

 

Three simple ways Marketers can get better advertising

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http://beloved-brands.com/learn/Most marketers appear confused as to what their role should be in getting great advertising. Having spent 20 years in the world of CPG marketing, I have seen it all when it comes to clients–the good, the bad and the ugly.

There is usually one brand person on the “hot seat” for getting a great ad, and then a bunch around them who either give input or approve. Everyone on the client side knows it, but most on the agency do not know it. They assume the person approving the ad is their client. That’s completely wrong, especially when the person on the “hot seat” is very good. While you are talking to the “approver” in the room, the smart person on the hot seat will carry influence over the person approving outside the room. You might end up surprised.

Here are 3 ways to get better advertising. 

  1. You should control the strategy but give freedom to the execution.
  2. A great client can get great work from an OK agency. But an awful client can get awful work from the best agency in the world.
  3. Stop thinking that your role is to change whatever work is presented to you.

1. Control the strategy, but give freedom on to the execution.

Too many Marketers have this backwards. They give freedom on the strategy with various possible strategic options layered within the Creative Brief and then they attempt to try to control the creative outcome by writing a long list of tangled mandatories.

The reality of advertising is that clients want options to pick from, and agencies hate giving options to pick from. This is where things get off the rails. The client decides to write options INTO the brief. And the agency presents a bunch of work, yet miraculously all 12 people on the agency side agree on which one is the best one.

I have seen briefs that say “18-65, current users, competitive users and employees”. I have seen briefs with 8 objectives throughout the brief. I have seen briefs that say “we want to drive trial among competitive users, while re-enforcing the brand benefits to our current users to drive up penetration and we want a tag for our new lemon flavor at the end”. Ugly!!!!

How to get better advertising creative briefs

When you write a big-wide Creative Brief with layers of possible strategic options within the brief, the Agency just peels the brief apart and gives you strategic options. For instance, if you put a big wide target market of 18-65, the Agency will presents one idea for 18-25, another for 25-40 and a third for 40-65. If you put two objectives into the brief, asking to drive trial and drive usage, you will get one ad that drives trial and one ad that drives usage. Ta-dah, you have options. However, now you are picking your brand strategy based on which ad you like best. Wow, what the brand leader now says is “I like that 18-25 year old one, but could I also like that drive trial one. Could you mold those  two together?” If you are up against your media date or the agency is over-budget on this project, the answer you might hear back is “sure”.

This means is you are really picking your brand strategy based on which ad idea you like best. That is wrong. Pick your strategy first and use the creativity of execution to express that strategy.

Make tough decisions of what goes into the creative brief to narrow down to:

  • one objective
  • one desired consumer response
  • one target tightly defined
  • one main benefit
  • up to two main reasons to believe

Avoid the ‘Just in Case’ list by taking your pen and stroking a few things off your creative brief! It is always enlightening when you tighten your Creative Brief.

As for the creative, it is completely OK to know exactly what you want, but you cannot know until you actually see it. The best creative advertising should be like that special gift you never thought to get yourself, but was just perfect once you saw it. What I see is a brief with a list of mandatories weaved throughout the brief that begin to almost write the ad itself.

Years ago, I was on the quit smoking business (Nicoderm) and received word that my team had told the agency to “eliminate any form of humor, because quitting smoking is very serious”. I can appreciate how hard it is to quit smoking, but levity can help demonstrate to consumers that we understand how hard it is to quit. After some disastrous work, I finally stepped in and said “what about some humorous ads?”  Here’s the spot we final made. This ad turned a declining Nicoderm business into a growth situation and won J&J’s best global ad of 2008.

 

There is no way we could have written that ad. After a few grueling months of creative, I remember seeing that script on the table and before we were half way through the reading of the script, I thought “we gotta make this ad”.

2. A great client can get great work from an OK agency. But an awful client can get awful work from the best agency in the world.

I never figured this one out till much later in my career. For an average Brand Manager, you will only be on the “hot seat” for so long in your career. Ugh. I wish it was not true. I loved advertising. However, coming up through the CPG world, most brands only do 1-2 big campaign ads per year.  And, if you do a pool-out of a successful spot, it is just not as fun. Finding that gem must be a similar exhilaration that a detective has in solving a crime. The reality is that you spend 2-3 years as an Assistant offering your advice to a table that does not want to listen. And most brand managers will spend  5 years on the “hot seat” where you are either a Brand Manager or Marketing Director. Then you are approving stuff outside the room.

Yyou likely will only make 5+ ads where you turn nothing into something. If you are lucky. I had one campaign that ran 10 years and another ran 5 years. Trust me, the true excitement was really on that first year. Depends on the size of your agency, but they might make 20, 50 or 100+ new campaign spots each year. The math is that your agency can mess up your ONE spot and still win agency of the year. The client matters way more to the equation than you might realize. A great client can get good-to-great work from an OK agency. Equally so, a really bad client can get disastrous work from the world’s greatest advertising minds.

I want to ask you one simple question and you have to be honest: “If you knew that being a better client would get you better advertising, do you think you would show up better?” Do you think you show up right now?

Brand Training Marketing Execution Advertising
As part of our Brand Management training program, we teach marketers how to get better Marketing Execution. Click above to learn more.

 

Your main role in the advertising function is to provide a very tight brand strategy, to inspire greatness from the creative people and to make decisions”. Too many clients treat their agency in ways that they have to make great work because we hired them. True. But remember the math. If they make 99 great spots this year and one god awful spot (yours) who has more at stake in this math?  You or your agency. Sure, you can fire them. But they take their 99 spots on the street and secure more clients. You on the other hand, will be put into a ‘non-advertising’ role for the rest of your career. People behind your back will say “they are really smart on the strategy, but not so good with the agency”.

Stop thinking your agency has to work for you and try to inspire them to want to work for you. All of our work is done through other people. Our greatness as a Brand Leader has to come from the experts we engage, so they will be inspired to reach for their own greatness and apply it on our brand. Brand Management has been built on a hub-and-spoke system, with a team of experts surrounding the generalist Brand Leader. When I see Brand Managers of today doing stuff, I feel sorry for them. They are lost. Brand Leaders are not designed to be experts in marketing communications, experts in product innovation and experts in selling the product. You are trained to be a generalist, knowing enough to make decisions, but not enough to actually do the work. Find strength being the least knowledgeable person in every room you enter.

3. Stop thinking that your role is to change whatever work is presented to you.

A typical advertising meeting has client on one side and agency on the other. Client has a pen and paper (or laptop) feverishly taking notes. I never bring anything to a creative meeting. As soon as the creative person says the last tag-line, all of a sudden, there is a reading of the list of changes about to happen. “Make the boy’s shirt blue instead of red. Red is our competitor. Can we go with a grandmother instead of the uncle because we sell lots of cheese to  older females. Can we add in our claim with a super on it. I know we said in the brief it’s about usage, but can we also add in a “try it” message for those who have never used it before. And lastly, can we change the tagline?  I will email some options. That’s all I have.”

how to get better advertising marketing trainingWow. Stop thinking that the creative meeting is just a starting point where you can now fix whatever work is presented to you. You hired an agency because you do not have the talent to come up with great ads. Yet, now you think you are talented enough to do something even harder: change the ad. I have learned over the years that giving the agency my solutions will make the work worse. Giving them my problems makes the ads better. Just like being surprised by a great ad in the first place, if you just state your problem, and let them come back with solutions, you might be surprised at how they were able to handle your concerns without completely wrecking the ad.

I once heard a brand leader describe the creative part of the ad as “their part” and the copy-intensive brand sell as “our part”. I never thought about it that way. And I wish I could get it out of my head. An ad should flow naturally like a well-tuned orchestra. The creative should work as ONE part. The creative idea should be what attracts attention, the creative idea should be what naturally draws attention to the brand, the creative idea should help communicate the brand story and the creative idea should be what sticks in the mind of the consumer. There is no us or them part of the ad.

Lastly, I want brand leaders to stop thinking that Advertising is like a bulletin board where you can pin up one more message. Somehow Marketers have convinced themselves that they can keep jamming one more message into their ad. The consumer’s brain does not work that way. They see 5,000 brand messages a day. They may engage in 5-10 a day. When they see your cluttered messy bulletin board, their brain naturally rejects and moves on. Not only are you not getting your last message through, you are not getting any messages through. Start to think of Advertising like standing on top of a mountain and just yelling one thing.

If you knew that showing up better would get you better work, would you show up better?  You should. 

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

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

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

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

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

Beloved Brands Graham Robertson

How to be successful at the Brand Manager level

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I have hired so many marketers over my 20 year career who I thought would be amazing. They were all appeared eager for success, brilliant, hard-working and dedicated. But in reality, only about 50% of Assistant Brand Managers would get promoted to Brand Manager and less than 15% of Brand Managers would ever make it to the Director level. What caused the best to stall at a certain level?

Whenever I promoted someone to Brand Manager, I kept an eye on their first three months. They usually expected the job to be much easier than it really was. I knew they would struggle. The biggest area where most struggled was in taking ownership. Newly promoted Brand Managers kept looking for someone else to make the decisions for them. Many times, we gave a newly promoted Brand Manager a role without a person under them, because I realized that learning to be an owner and a manager at the same time was really hard. Most people struggle the first time they have to manage someone. In fact, many times, you might struggle with your first five direct reports. Keep learning and improving each time.

I have given a lot of thought over the years to what makes a great brand manager and here the 5 factors you need to be successful at the Brand Manager level.

1. Ownership

A great Brand Manager takes ownership over the brand. Many Brand Managers struggle with the transition from being the helper to becoming the owner. As you move into the job, you have to get away from the idea of that someone else will 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 come from. A great Brand Manager talks nicely in a telling sense, rather then an asking sense. It is perfectly fine habit to be asking questions of your team, but most people on your team are going to be looking to you to make the decisions. They will be recommending and you will be deciding. When managing upwards be careful of asking too many questions of your boss. Once you ask your boss a question, you just gave up your ownership. Your director wants you to tell them what you want to do, and debate from there. I used to tell my Brand Managers, when you think you know the answer, speak in a telling way. When you think you don’t know the answer, speaking in an asking way. This helps set up the right level of debate.

2. Strategic Direction

A great Brand Manager provides a vision and the strategies to lead everyone who works on the brand. As the brand owner, you become the steward of the vision and strategy. You must bring an inspiring vision to the brand that becomes your personal rallying cry for your team that lets everyone know where you want to go. You must choose strategies that match up to your vision. As a leader, everything that is off strategy must to be rejected by you. Learn to think in terms of strategic pillars, with 3 different strategies you can easily communicate. This is a great way to keep the various functions aligned. Each function may only have 1 strategic pillar that matters to them, but they are most motivated when they can see how it all fits together.

 

How to be a successful Brand Manager

 

3. Managing others

A great Brand Manager takes the time to make their Assistant Brand Manager (ABM) as good as they can possibly be. From what I have seen, most Brand Managers struggle with their first five direct reports, yet they somehow expect to be perfect on their first. To get better, you must keep self evaluating and looking for ways to improve on your own management with each report you lead. Most Brand Managers struggle to shift from the ‘do-er’ role that made them successful into a ‘coach’ role that will make their direct report successful. Instinctively, they think they can just do it faster, so they may as well do it. Sadly, each time you do what you ABM should do, you just become the ‘super ABM’. Also, many Brand Managers fail to share the spot light, so it becomes hard to showcase the ABM. As you mature, you have to realize that the great 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 too many Brand Managers not giving enough feedback. They become so afraid of ‘going negative’, the ABM is left in the dark or worse, they are left to believe they are doing a good job. Great Brand Managers take the time to teach up front, give the ABM some room to try it out and then great Brand Managers give hands-on feedback in real time. Use weekly meetings to give both positive feedback and identify gaps the ABM needs to be addressing. Brand Mangers should also do QUARTERLY sit down performance reviews with their ABMs. I believe a great ABM has the capacity to learn faster than annual reviews allows for. There should be zero surprises on the annual performance review. Or else, you have been negligent in your management of the ABM.

4. Working the system

A great Brand Manager gets what they need. The organization is filled with a complex system of functions, groups, layers of bosses, various goals and external agencies. Everyone comes with their own set of goals and motivations. You must be able to see how the organization works and appreciate the motivations of the various key stakeholders on your team. You must get the most out of your key subject matter experts. You must understand everyone’s personal motivations and then find a way to tap into those motivations as a way to to ask people for their best. The best brand managers actually ask people for their best work. One other thing I learned over the years is to say “you should be proud” instead of “thank you”.  This helps acknowledge the subject matter expert helped themselves, not helped you.

 

how to be a successful brand manager

 

5. Dealing with pressure

A great Brand Manager can handle pressure. The four key pressure points are ambiguity, results, relationship and time. 

  • Ambiguity is one of the hardest pressures to deal with, because we cannot see it. But we can certainly feel it. As a leader, patience and composure helps you sort through the unknown. The consequences of not remaining composed is that your team behind you will feel scared. Not being able to deal with ambiguity can lead to quick decisions that deliver bad results. Stay patient and calm. I relish ambiguity. It is where the best debate can happen, where choices for direction are made and where a calm leader can set themselves apart from those in panic mode.
  • If the results do not come in, it can be highly frustrating. There becomes this “what happened” and potential blame game. This is the time to reach for your logic as you re-group, not your emotion. Do not change your vision, but be open to change your plan for how to get there. Force yourself to course correct, rather then continuing to repeat and repeat and repeat. Keep your team motivated through the turnaround, with a thought of “this is when we are needed the most.” Listen, then decide where you go next.
  • The other big pressure point for Brand Manager is the relationships around the office you need to maintain. You need to have great relations with sales, supply chain and your agencies. Any friction is on you to resolve. Be pro-active in making the first move to reach out and build a strong relationship with everyone around you. Ask people what motivates them and what annoys them. Understand their concerns and reach for common ground, which most times is not as far away as either of you might initially think. Be open to debate, rather than just shutting people down. Listen for their input. I had a boss who always said “whenever people are fighting, you are usually both half right”. You must listen to figure out which part they are right and how that can impact your choices.
  • Time Pressure can be very demanding. A great Brand Manager must be organized, disciplined and be able to work the system so it doesn’t get in their way. Just because you feel overly-busy, you still need to stay calm and make the right decisions. Learn to change brain speeds, so that you think slowly with strategy and quickly with execution. Organize your week, to fit your own thinking time. I always used Monday mornings to get things done. I used Monday afternoons to check in with my team. I liked having Wednesday or Thursday to either do the creative or strategic exercises with the team. Your week might look different than mine. Have you ever organized your week to fit how you like to work?  You can also use time pressure to your advantage to push to get things done. Just make sure you are calm in how you push, not panicked. Lastly, if you want to know why I insist that your brand plan should only have 3 strategies and 3 tactics for each strategy, the decisions you make to narrow your strategic focus on what really matters, will make sure your to-do list is do-able and does not kill you. The hero that tries to complete the biggest to-do list, will never get promoted to Director.

Ten reasons brand managers fail

  1. Struggle to make decisions
  2. Not analytical enough
  3. Can’t get along
  4. Not good with ambiguity
  5. Too slow and stiff
  6. Bad people manager
  7. Poor communicators, with manager, senior management or partners
  8. Never follow their instincts
  9. Can’t think strategically or write strategically
  10. They don’t run the brand, they let the brand run them.

To become a smarter Brand Manager, we offer a Brand Management Training program. We offer 9 different workshops for your marketing team. To find out more, click on this presentation:

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

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

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

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

Beloved Brands Graham Robertson

A brand’s Big Idea must be interesting, simple, unique, inspiring, motivating and own-able. 

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in How to Guide for Marketers

When the Big Idea is interesting and simple, it helps the brand gain quick entry into the consumer’s mind, so they will want to engage and learn more about the brand. With the consumer being bombarded by 7,000 brand messages every day, the brand only has 7-seconds to connect or else consumers will move on. When the idea is unique and own-able, it stands out from the clutter, and the brand can see enough potential to build their entire business around the idea. When the idea is motivating to consumers, the brand gains an ability to move consumers to see, think, feel or act in positive ways that benefit the brand.

Can you describe your brand in 7 seconds? Does everyone in your company say the same thing? 

The idea should be big enough to last 5 to 10 years, flexible enough to show up the same no matter what media options the brand uses. The idea must provide a common link across the entire product line-up. The idea should inspire the team working behind the scenes to deliver amazing consumer experiences. Brand Leaders must work to create and build a reputation that matches up to the idea.

The brand has to show up the same way to everyone, no matter where it shows up. Even as the Brand Leader expands on the idea, whether telling the brand story over 60-seconds, 30-minutes or over the lifetime of the brand, the brand must tell the same story. When the idea works best, the most far-reaching sales rep, the scientist in the lab, the plant manager or the customer service people must all articulate the brand’s Big Idea in the same way, using the same chosen words. Every time a consumer engages with the brand, they must see, hear and feel the same Big Idea. Each positive interaction further tightens their bond with the brand.

Align the Big Idea across five consumer touch-points

There are 5 consumer touch-points that need to be aligned and managed, including the brand promise, brand story, product innovation, the path to the purchase moment and the overall consumer experience. I have created the Big Idea Map to help align all 5 consumer touch-points. As today’s consumers naturally doubt and test the brands to see if they deliver, every time the consumer interacts with the brand, they should experience the same Big Idea that attracted them to the brand on day 1. When all five consumer touch-points line up to deliver the same Big Idea, the bond with the consumer will continue to tighten.

  • The Brand Promise connects with consumers and separates the brand from competitors. The promise must position the brand as interesting and unique, utilizing brand positioning work that defines the target market, the balance of functional and emotional benefits, along with key support points.
  • The role of the Brand Story is to help the brand stand out from the pack and gain the consumer’s consideration for purchase. The Big Idea must push consumers to see, think, feel or act differently than before they saw the brand message.
  • Innovation must help the brand stay on top of the latest trends in technology, consumer need states, distribution and competitive activity. A brand cannot stand still. The Big Idea should act as an internal beacon to help inspire the product development to come up with new ways to captivate consumers.
  • The Purchase Moment transforms the awareness and consideration into purchase. The Big Idea ensures everyone along the path to purchase is delivering the same brand message, using retail and selling strategies to influence consumers through direct selling, retail channels or e-commerce.
  • Create Consumer Experiences that over-delivers the promise, driving repeat purchase and future consumer loyalty. Partnering with Human Resources, the Big Idea acts an internal beacon to the brand’s culture and organization, influencing the hiring, service values and motivation of the operations teams who deliver the experience.

Here is our brand positioning workshop we use to help brands find their unique space they can win. From there, we build a Big Idea to help articulate your brand in 7 seconds.

 

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

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

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

How to answer “So, tell me about yourself” in 7 seconds

Posted on 1 CommentPosted in How to Guide for Marketers

In today’s economy, you should always be looking for a job, when you don’t have a job, and when you do have a job. I know it can be draining, but at least be constantly listening. Before you contemplate phoning your head hunter list, here’s 5 questions to help frame your thinking.

  • Within your current company, how high up do you think you can realistically go
  • Should you stay in the same industry or look at new verticals.
    Should you stay in pure Brand Management or venture into a subject-matter expert type roles?
  • How long do you want to keep working?
  • Do you stay an employee or do you take this moment to leap out on your own?
  • Do your homework on your personal brand

From what I have seen, Marketers are better at marketing their brands and products than they are at marketing themselves. It is time to start thinking of yourself as a brand and how you will want to market yourself to get the job you want.

What is your core strength?

While every Brand Leader claims to be a generalist, we normally each have a lead desire and lead strength:

  • Do you like running the business and managing products
  • Do you like marketing execution and being creative, either generating ideas or executing creativity?
  • Are you a strategic thinker, enjoying the planning side of the business?
  • Are you a leader of leaders, with a passion for leading people?

If you had to force yourself to choose one, which one would you pick?

What is it that makes you unique?

There are tons of candidates on the street, many without jobs and many others who are in jobs beneath their capability. What makes you stand out. Think like a Marketer. Your hiring Manager is the target market. Think of what they want for the role, what you bring and what potential competitors bring, in order to find your unique selling proposition. When I was at the VP level looking, I realized that I was likely replacing someone they were dissatisfied so I positioned myself as a “turnaround leader”. But not every job or every leader is the same and your goal is not just to find a job, but to find the right role. Be honest in who you are.

Take it a step further and do up your own Benefits Ladder, where you map out what the employer is looking for, what features you bring, how those translate into rational and emotional benefits. Classic marketing that we fail to do, when we are the brand.

So now, the dreaded question: Tell me about yourself.

Think of this like your 7 second brand speech, where you give a summation of your brand’s big idea. Here’s the tool we have created as help that answers how you define yourself, what is the primary benefit you provide and what is the secondary benefit you provide. Then wrap it up with an expected result.

My answer was always: “As a brand leader, I find growth where others couldn’t and I create motivated brand teams that deliver great work to drive results.” Answering all four questions within a 7 second span.

But taking that further, I then lined up proof points to each part of the 7 second speech, thus becoming my 30 minute interview. I could line up 3 situations that answer the interviewers question, but then be able to tie that back to my big idea.

This 30 minute speech on one page can set up the stories you put on your resume or Linked In page. It can be a nice one-pager that you review before the interview.

So next time someone says “So, tell me about yourself”, you will know how to answer

To read more about Brand Careers, follow this presentation below. We have mapped out every skill and behavior your need to be successful as well as what it takes to thrive at each job level in Marketing.

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

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

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

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

 

How to find the competitive space in the market your brand can win and own

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Brands need to stand out from the pack. They must be better, different, cheaper or else they will not be around for very long. To find the competitive space your brand can win, I want to introduce the venn diagram I will use to show each type of competitive situation you will play in. The first circle should list out everything the consumer wants, the second circle then lists out everything your brand does best and finally the third circle lists out everything your competitor does best.

To find your brand’s winning zone, you match up what consumers want with what your brand does best. This is the ideal space for your brand to find and then own.

Your brand will not survive the losing zone where your brand tries to play in the space where your competitor does it better than your brand. While you can battle your competitor in the short term, you will eventually lose by going into the space where they can beat you.

As markets mature, with competitors copying each other, it becomes harder to be ‘better’ with a definitive product win, leaving you to play in the risky zone, which is the space where you and your competitor are both meeting the consumers needs in a relative tie. The tie is important to understand, because brands can still win the tie by making their brand seem ‘different’ enough so that consumers perceive the brand to be better. Perception becomes reality. The way to win the risky zone is to be the first to capture and defend the space or win with innovation and creativity or find ways to build a deeper emotional connection.

Sadly, I do have to always mention the dumb zone, where two competitors “battle it out” in the space where consumer do not care. One competitor says, “We are faster” and the other thinks, “We are just as fast”. All of a sudden a competitive war start. Yet, no one bothered to ask the consumer if they care.

In brand management, we never experience pure isolation. Even in a so-called blue ocean situation quickly turns to red ocean. The moment we think we are alone, someone is watching thinking they can do it better than we can. To win the competitive battle, you have to find a unique selling proposition for your brand, that distinguishes you from others. Ignoring the competition, believing all that matters is the consumer, is a naive way to lose. Competitors force us to sharpen our focus, tightening our language on the brand positioning we will project to the market.

The Consumer Benefits Ladder

The Consumer Benefits Ladder helps turn your brand’s features into consumer benefits. You should stop thinking about what your brand does and start thinking about what your consumer gets.

The 4 steps to build a Consumer Benefits Ladder:

  • Leverage all available research to brief the team, helping define the Consumer Target Profile with consumer insights, need states and the consumer enemy.
  • Brainstorm all the possible Brand Features that your brand offers, plus any brand assets. Make sure that these features give your brand a competitive advantage.
  • Move up to the Functional Benefits by putting yourself in the shoes of the consumer and for each feature on your list, ask “so if I am the consumer, what do I get from that?” Challenge yourself to come up with better benefits by asking the question up to 5 times, pushing the answers into a richer zone.
  • Then move up to the Emotional Benefits by looking at each functional benefit and then ask “so if I am the consumer, how does that make me feel?” As you did in step 3, keep asking the question until you see a deeper emotional space that you can play in and own.

Sorting through the benefits

When you conduct the benefits brainstorm on your brand, use the Consumer Benefits Ladder worksheet to focus the team’s thinking. Like any brainstorm, you will end up more choices than you can use. Here is an example of the output of a Consumer Benefits Ladder worksheet for Gray’s Cookies.

Narrow down the list by sorting through the benefits to find those that are the most motivating to consumers and own-able for your brand. You can use the grid on the next page to evaluate. You will notice that the zones match up to the venn diagrams I showed in the Strategic Thinking chapter.

  • You can see on the grid how The ‘Guilt free’ consumer benefit offers the highest potential as it is highly motivating and highly own-able for the brand. This is the winning zone.
  • The consumer benefit of ‘New favorite cookie’ is highly motivating, but falls into the losing zone, as it would be owned by the power player competitor brands in the category.
  • The ‘Feel more confident’ benefit falls into the risky zone. To win this zone, the brand would need to use speed-to-market, creativity or leveraging emotional marketing.
  • Avoid the dumb zone, where the benefit shows up low on motivating and potential ownership. In this case, ‘More comfort in choices’ is neither motivating or own-able.

Go find your winning space

 

Here is a workshop we run on Brand Positioning that looks at both the creative and media sides of  reaching consumers.

At Beloved Brands, we make brands stronger and brand leaders smarter.

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

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

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

 

A new way for Brand Leaders to think about how their consumers engage with on-line media

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in How to Guide for Marketers

Too many Marketers are thinking about where the media is. They should be thinking about where their consumers are.

Even when your consumers are on-line, you should be aligned to what are they doing and the mood they are in when they are doing it. Last year, I saw a Rolex pre-roll ad on YouTube. My god people, that is not where Rolex should ever be. If you just go for pure efficiency and reach, you are completely missing the real opportunity of targeting your consumers on line. Not only do you have to find your consumers, you have to find them in the right mood so they are willing to engage with your brand.

The reality is today’s consumers live on their phones, tablets and laptops. While there are many ways to reach consumers, your agency likely recommends the most efficient balance of reach and frequency. However, I would challenge you to look at potential sites that fit your brand, both from a functional and emotional stance.

Here are the 8 reasons consumers use the internet:

  1. Be smarter
  2. Stay aware of what’s going on
  3. Escape the stress at some point in the day
  4. Express themselves
  5. Connect with others
  6. Go places, either local or around the world
  7. Buy things they desire
  8. Do things and control the variables.

Align your brand with the consumer mood states that matches up with one of the 8 ways that consumers use the internet.

As consumers move around the internet, their emotional mood state changes. I have matched up the 8 functional ways of how consumers use the internet, with their emotional mood states. You will notice I have used the 8 emotional zones I use for determining Brand Positioning.

Match up your brand emotional positioning with the consumer’s emotional mood when they are on-line.

If your brand is trying to own the ‘staying in control’ zone, do not use sites where consumers are in the mood to escape or express themselves such as Tumbler or Instagram. Conversely, a brand trying to own the ‘get noticed’ space should not be on the Economist or The Weather Network. There are enough sites that allow you to line your brand up perfectly.

When consumers want to be smarter, they ‘google it’ or look at subject matter expert sites. When consumers want to stay aware, they reach for their favorite on-line news site or scan social media news feeds. When consumers are in the mood to feel free, they try to escape, whether a 5 minute break at work or the subway going home after a long day, they look to escape with Youtube or Bleacher Report.

The line is getting blurry when consumers want to express themselves. While they might start with 140 characters on Twitter, they duplicate the post on Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest as they are in the mood to get noticed. One of the most obvious reasons for the internet is to connect with others, feeding their mood to be liked. They use email, texting or Facebook.

Consumers reach for their phone when they want to do things, checking the weather, looking up restaurant reviews or buying tickets to an event. While these consumers are looking to have fun, they use tools to stay in control, so nothing gets in the way of having fun. When consumers want to buy things to fulfill a craving or desire to reward themselves, they want it now and use transactional sites such as Amazon or eBay. Moreover, they go straight to a favorite retailer’s e-commerce site. When consumers want to go somewhere, they use Waze for driving directions or Uber to hail a ride. If they want to go on a vacation, they use Expedia to book a flight, explore things to do using TripAdvisor, or look up cool places to stay using Airbnb. These consumers are in the mood to explore but also find comfort.

Where are consumers when they are in the mood that matches up with your brand’s desired emotional space?

 

Here are five media questions for the future

Here are some challenging thoughts for us going forward.

1. Will people watch even more TV in the future?

Sounds crazy, but with more tablets and instant internet access, the future will see us watching even more TV programming. Consumers love anything on video. But, it will not be traditional network TV. We are already seeing a huge consumer shift to streaming TV, whether Netflix, special channels, on-demand viewing and Youtube videos. Advertising has yet to figure out how it will fit into these new TV options.

2. How can brands capture young adults?

With two college-aged kids, I can tell you they never watch network television, never read newspapers and never listen to the radio. Yet, they are constantly connected, using Netflix, texting, SnapChat and Instagram. One of the most interesting insights about this group is, ‘They never go on-line, mainly because they never go off-line’. They put their lives on-line and expect instant access to everything. They are constantly multi-tasking, prefer apps over software, newsfeed over news stories. While high profile beloved brands can easily reach them, low involvement or indifferent brands will have a hard time reaching them.

3. Can newspapers or magazines even survive?

Newspapers and magazines appear lost. For too long, they linked their brand to the actual format and moved on-line too slowly. For many, news now is now instant, ubiquitous and more casual/social. Instead of seeking out news, consumers now filter news. Journalists are struggling to capture readers and print companies are struggling to capture consumers to their on-line versions, as fake news, Twitter feeds and social media are dominating traditional print. Can these print companies figure out new revenue and profit models with on-line versions?

4. Are there too many social media options?

Early innovation in social media led to divergence of options. Yet, they are become more similar than different. Potential power plays could see mergers where the strongest brands squeeze out other players—the first being Microsoft’s purchase of LinkedIn. Other than high profile brands, many Brand Leaders struggle to come up with relevant content that can engage their targets. Imagine who might be next.

5. Can Brand Leaders figure out how to win in the new world?

Brand Leaders are more confused than they ever have been. The exploding of media options has led to an explosion of agencies, each battling each other for a share of the spend, rather than directing the Marketer with clear advice. Big traditional agencies have struggled as they move into digital and social, forcing the Brand Leaders to look to smaller agencies or even internal options. The biggest issue I see is that Marketers have become too involved, they are now doers taking on parts of subject matter experts rather than staying in the generalist decision maker role. For Brand Leaders, the changes are speeding up. Just as they are used to digital, there is a dramatic shift to social, and then another dramatic you shift to mobile. The problem is that unless you are a consumer of the media options, you will struggle with it. Every Brand Leader must have the curiosity to personally engage in new media options as a consumer, before they can judge it as a Marketer. You will learn more about these media choices by trying them out, than you will reading a presentation in a boardroom.

Here is a workshop we run on Marketing Execution that looks at both the creative and media sides of  reaching consumers.

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

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

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

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

 

64 of the best analytical questions to understand your brand’s performance

Posted on 1 CommentPosted in How to Guide for Marketers

Leading a deep-dive Business Review

To start the deep-dive Business Review, dig in on these 5 sections: Category, Consumers, Channels, Competitors and Brand.

  • 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 or political regulations. Also look at what is happening in related categories that could impact your own category or replicate what you may see next.
  • Consumer: Define your consumer target, knowing the consumer’s underlying beliefs, buying habits, growth trends and key insights. Use the brand funnel analysis and leaky bucket analysis to uncover how they shop the category and how they make purchase decisions. Uncover consumer perceptions through tracking data or market research.
  • Channels: Look at the performance of all potential distribution channels and every major retail customer. Understand their strategies, as well as their available tools and programs. To be successful, your brand must align with the customer strategies.
  • Competitors: Dissect your closest competitors by looking at their performance indicators, brand positioning, innovation pipeline, pricing strategies, distribution and the perceptions of consumers. Map out a strategic Brand Plan for major competitors to predict what they might do next. Use that knowledge within your brand’s own plan.
  • Brand: Understand the view of the 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. You need to manage your brand’s health and wealth.

While other parts of the planning process are about focus, the deep-dive business review must look at all parts of the business to see beneath the surface level. You might find some treasures and you may find something really ugly that needs fixing. But, if you don’t look, you won’t know.

Here are 10 probing questions to kick-start your Category review

  1. How is the category doing relative to the economy?
  2. Look at the last 5 years and explain each of the ups and downs in the category.
  3. What is driving category growth? What is holding the category back? What are the big open opportunities to take advantage of? What are the risks to the categories in the next few years?
  4. What category segments are growing, declining or emerging?
  5. What macro trends are influencing/changing this category?
  6. What is the role of innovation? How fast does it change? What innovations are transforming the category?
  7. What are you seeing in terms of regional or geographic trends?
  8. Who holds the balance of power in the category: brands, suppliers, channels or consumers?
  9. Look at other issues: Operations, inventory, mergers, technology, innovation, investments, global trade.
  10. What is the overall value of the category? How is the category performing financially? Any price changes? Major cost change?

Here are 10 probing questions to kick-start your consumer review

  1. Who are your possible target market consumer segments? Are they growing? How are you measuring them?
  2. Who are the most motivated consumers by what you have to offer?
  3. Who is your current target? How have you determined demographics, behavioral or psychographic, geographic and usage occasion? Generational trends?
  4. How is your brand performing against the target segment? Share, sales, panel data, funnel data, tracking scores? By channel or geography?
  5. What drives consumer choice? What are the main need states? How so these needs line up to your brand assets?
  6. Map out the brand funnel and assess your brand’s performance in moving through each stage. Are consumers changing at stages? Are you failing at stages?
  7. What are the emerging consumer trends? How does your brand match up, to potentially exploit? Where would your competitors win?
  8. What is the ideal brand experience and unmet needs you can attach your brand to?
  9. What are the emotional and functional needs? How is the brand performing against them? How are you doing in tracking studies to meet these needs?
  10. What are consumers’ perceptions of your brand and your competitors?

Here are 10 probing questions to kick-start your channels review

  1. How are the channels performing? Are there regional differences by channel? Are there any channel shifts happening?
  2. Are there new/emerging channels? Are there existing channels not being developed?
  3. What are the strengths/weaknesses of each channel?
  4. Do you understand the strategies of your channel customers?
  5. Do you have the competencies to service your customers?
  6. Who are your primarily and secondary customers? Have you segmented and prioritized on growth vs opportunity? How large are they? What are their growth rates?
  7. How is each channel performing?
  8. How are brands doing within each channel? What are the main reasons for each brand’s channel strength/weakness?
  9. Who is the category captain within your key accounts and why?
  10. Who are the top 5 customers? Main strategies? How do we fit into that strategy?

Here are 10 questions to kick-start your competitor review

  1. Who are the main competitors? How are they positioning themselves?
  2. What is your competitor’s use of communication, new products and go-to-market strategy? How are they effectively executing against it?
  3. What is your competitor’s operating models, culture and organization? What brands are they focused on as a company?
  4. What are your competitor’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats?
  5. How is your competitor doing in terms of customer share, market share, P&L, margins, innovation, culture, regulatory advantage
  6. Map out the competitors Brand Plan: vision, goals, strategies and tactics.
  7. What is the culture at your competitor and what is the role of the culture in their brand?
  8. What is the investment stance and expected growth trajectory of competitor’s brand? How/where do they invest? What is the marketing and commercial focus? What is their ROI?
  9. What is the competitors brand strength/equity? What drivers/attributes do they own?
  10. Any public materials about the competitor, including strategy and financial results?

10 probing questions to assess your brand’s power

  1. Where do you play? How do you win? What is your current point of difference? Is it own-able, unique and motivating for consumers?
  2. What is your biggest gain versus prior periods? What is your biggest gap?
  3. What is your market share? Regionally? Channel? Where is your strength? Where is your gap?
  4. How are you doing on key brand tracking panel data? Penetration? Frequency? Sales per Buyer? Dollars per trip?
  5. What are your scores against the brand funnel?
  6. How is your program tracking data doing? Where could you improve?
  7. How far can you “stretch” your brand into other opportunities?
  8. What is your current operating model?
  9. What is your culture? To what extent does your culture enable and support your brand and business strategy? Is there an alignment to the brand promise and strategy by employees?
  10. What is the innovation process and capability of the organization?

10 probing questions to assess Brand Wealth

  1. Your CAGR? (Compound Annual Growth Rate)
  2. What are your contribution margins over last 5 years? Margins broken out by product line?
  3. What is your budget breakout? Working dollars versus non-working dollars? Media versus production? Consumer versus trade?
  4. Pricing Elasticity studies?
  5. How are you performing overall and by line of business?
  6. What are your current brand/business performance measures?
  7. What programs are driving the highest ROI?
  8. What is driving your profit? What are you focusing on right now?
  9. What are your forecasting error rates? Fill rates?
  10. What are the financial pressures you face? Quarterly results?

4 more questions that Summarize the analysis to tackle in your Brand Plan

  1. What is driving growth? Focus on the top factors of strength, positional power or market inertia that has a proven link to driving your brand’s growth. Your plan must continue to fuel these drivers.
  2. What is inhibiting growth? Focus on the top factors of weakness, unaddressed gaps or market friction that can be proven to be holding back your brand’s growth. Your plan should focus on reducing or reversing these inhibitors to growth.
  3. What are the opportunities for growth? Specific untapped areas in the market that could fuel your brand’s future growth, based on unfulfilled consumer needs, new technologies on the horizon, potential regulation changes, new distribution channels or the removal of trade barriers. Your plan should take advantage of these opportunities in the future.
  4. What are the potential threats to future growth? Changing circumstances including consumer needs, new technologies, competitive activity, distribution changes or potential barriers that create potential risks to your brand’s growth. Within your plan, look for ways to minimize the impact of these risks.

To read more about conducting a deep-dive Business Review, here is our training workshop we use to help Brand Leaders get better in this area

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

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

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

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

 

Consumers of today have changed dramatically, impacting what it now takes for brands to win.

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in How to Guide for Marketers

The consumers in today’s world now see 7,000 brand messages per day, far too many for their brains to handle. They filter out the irrelevant advertising and gravitate only to those brands that capture their minds and their hearts. Consumers are constantly distracted—working, walking, talking, texting, driving, searching and clicking—rarely doing one thing at a time. Consumers are tired of being burned by faulty brand promises. Their instinct is to doubt first, test second, and at any point they are willing to cast aside those brands that do not live up to their original promise. They stay loyal to brands that speak directly with them and those that offer the most amazing experiences that exceed their expectations. Consumers take control of the buying process, literally at their finger tips. They feel empowered knowing that they matter more than they ever have before. Right in the moment, they openly voice their pleasure and displeasure to their friends, empowered knowing the influence they bring. Consumers may explore rationally, but engage emotionally with brands they believe in.

In today’s Marketing world, Brand Love is the new currency. The best brands have a base of loyal brand fans.

The best brands of this century build everything they do around a Big Idea that creates a bond with a group of motivated “brand lovers” who then become a coveted asset for the brand to leverage. Think of brand love as stored energy that can be unleashed at any moment to help accelerate a brand’s positive momentum. These brand lovers can be leveraged to successfully enter new categories, to defend the brand against any attack and to drive awareness and influence with their network.

Brands must generate insight-driven stories that capture the hearts of their consumers. They need to build innovative new products that surprise their most loyal users. The best brands must manage ubiquitous purchase moments, catering to whenever, wherever and however their consumer wants to buy, not just how the brand chooses to sell. The best brands build amazing experiences that over-deliver every consumer expectation, adding energy to the bond consumers have with their brand. Instead of shouting their message at every possible consumer, the best brands confidently whisper to their group of motivated brand lovers, who then whisper with influence to their friends on behalf of the brand.

The role of a brand is to create a tight bond with consumers, leading to a power and profit beyond what the product alone could achieve.

Brands are no longer just logos on top of a product. While a product is something we can touch, a brand is an idea that can be understood, experienced and cherished. While a product may have a rational connection, a brand forms an emotional bond with a loyal base of brand lovers. While a product solves small little problems the consumer did not even know they had, a brand beats down the consumer’s enemy that torments them every day. While a product is consumed and used when needed, a brand is experienced and becomes a ritual built into the favorite parts of the consumer’s day or life. While a product is a legally protected design, a brand is a carefully managed and protected reputation. While a product is tucked away in the cupboard to use later on, a brand is worthy of display, whether it is on our counter, our feet, our desk or held with pride in our hand.

The best brands find their sweet spot when the Big Idea, Brand DNA and Consumer Reputation are all the same.

The first moment a consumer will connect with a brand is when they see an idea worth engaging in. They will buy those brands that turn engagement into consideration and interest. Every time the consumer uses that brand, they will compare it to the original idea they bought into, to see if it lives up to that promise. They will feel let down when the brand fails to deliver and cast the brand aside when it fails too often. To win in today’s cluttered world, Brand Leaders must create a Big Idea for their brand that captivates the consumer’s attention. The Big Idea must be interesting, simple, unique, motivating and own-able. Brand Leaders must ensure that everything they do—the brand promise, brand story, innovation, purchase moment and consumer experience—lines up to deliver that idea.

The smartest Brand Leaders in today’s world are able to consistently manage everyone who works on the brand to create a consistent brand reputation in the consumer’s mind. This reputation has to perfectly reflect to the brand’s soul, what I call the brand DNA. The DNA must explain the purpose, values, passions, motivations and beliefs of those who lead and work on the brand. Simply put, the DNA answers the question of, “Why you get up in the morning to do what you do”. Brand Leaders are now responsible for building the internal team culture and organization behind the brand, using this brand DNA as a rallying cry to guide everyone in delivering the brand promise.

As much as Marketing has changed, the fundamentals of Brand Management matter more now than ever.

I believe that the fundamentals of Brand Management are essential for brands to create a tight bond with their consumers so they can win in today’s cluttered brand world. Too many Marketers have become distracted by the tactics of a growing number of media choices and distribution options. They have become task masters, focused more on doing, than managing and leading. They have lost sight of the fundamentals of strategic thinking, brand positioning, brand planning, creative execution and analytics.

  • How to think strategically: Too many Marketers are so busy, they do not even have time to think. The best Brand Leaders do the necessary critical strategic thinking to find ways to win in the market. Strategic thinking is an essential foundation, to force Marketers to ask big questions that challenge and focus brand decisions. I will show you five ways to enhance your strategic thinking, using the brand strength finder, engagement strategy, consumer strategy competitive strategy and situational strategy. You will learn how to set a vision for your brand, focus your limited resources on breakthrough points, take advantage of opportunities you see in the market, find early wins that can be leveraged to give your brand a positional power to drive growth and profits for your brand.
  • How to define your brand: Too many Marketers are trying to be everything to anyone. This is the usual recipe for becoming nothing to everyone. The best Brand Leaders target a specific motivated consumer audience and then define their brand around a Big Idea that is interesting, simple, unique, motivating and own-able. I will show you how to write a classic Brand Positioning statement with four key elements: target market, competitive set, main benefit and reason to believe (RTBs). You will learn how to build a Big Idea that leads every aspect of your brand, including the brand promise, brand story, innovation, purchase moment and experience. I will give you the tool for how write a winning brand concept.
  • How to write Brand Plans every one can follow: Too many Marketers are focused on a short-term to-do list, not a long-term plan. The best Brand Leaders write Brand Plans that everyone in the organization can follow, including senior management, sales, R&D, agencies and the operational teams. I will teach you how to write each element of the Brand Plan, including the brand vision, purpose, values, goals, key Issues, strategies and tactics. I provide examples that will give you a framework to use on your own brand. You will learn to build execution plans including a brand communications plan, innovation plan and in-store plan.
  • How to inspire creative execution: Too many Marketers are becoming task-masters and stepping over the line into execution. The best Brand Leaders inspire experts to produce smart and creative execution. I will provide tools and techniques for judging and making decisions on creative ideas from your agency. For judging execution, I use the ABC’S tool, believing the best executions must drive Attention (A), Branding (B), Communication (C) and Stickiness (S). I will provide a check list for you to use when judging executions and then show you how to provide direction to your Agency to help inspire and challenge great execution.
  • How to analyze the performance of your brand: Too many Marketers are not taking the time to dig in on the analytics. There is no value in having access to data if you are not using it. The best Brand Leaders are able to tell strategic stories through analytics. I lay out the smart analytical principles to help you tell analytical stories through data to challenge strategic thinking, build Brand Plans and gain alignment for strategies. We will show you how to build a deep-dive business review, looking at the category, consumers, competitors, channels and brand. I will teach how to turn your analysis into a presentation for management, showing the ideal presentation slide format.

To get smarter about Brand Management, read more on how to define your brand. Here is a Powerpoint workshop on Brand Positioning.

 

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

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

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

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