Category Archive: How to Guide for Marketers

UK retailers always do the best Christmas ads. Who won this year?

Slide1Every year, UK retailers battle to see who can do the best Christmas TV ad.  Over the last decade, John Lewis has been the clear winner.  However, everyone has been playing catch up and finding their own creative ways (and major investments) to stand out. The production values resembles that of a Netflix movie. Here are the top 5, and then vote on who you think is the winner at the end

John Lewis:  “Monty the Penguin”

This year’s John Lewis ad is a nice throw-back, almost a hint to the innocence of yesteryear. The kid in the ad has no video games, cell phones or wifi issues. There’s a bit of old-school romance and a cute twist at the end.  But for John Lewis, it’s also a throw-back to the ads of 2009-2011, those years when the John Lewis Christmas ads really broke through with an innocence, simplicity and nice twist.  This year’s “Monty the Penguin” follows that formula, as it follows the life of a boy preparing for Christmas, with a great old song (John Lennon’s “Real Love”) covered by with a young singer (Tom Odell).

Boots “Christmas”

This is a very simple ad and with quite the dose of reality. Too many times, we are running around trying to buy something for someone. When in all honestly, the gift is not always the gift–but rather it’s your appearance that makes all the difference. In this ad we see many journeys, with a nice little tear at the end as we realize what the journey was for–to see mom (sorry British folks, I guess I should say “mum”)

Sainsbury “Christmas is for Sharing”

There was talk all year, that Sainsbury was going for it. And we can see the exceptional production values in this ad. Sadly, even with all that, I”m just OK on it. It feels like it’s trying too hard. And I think they were. But nonetheless, it’s highly engaging and highly emotional. I’m sure it will be well-loved by many. Maybe I’m just a fan of the small moment made big, instead of the big moment made small. 

Marks & Spencer: “Magic and Sparkle”

The UK loves their fairies–and they seem a bit darker than what we are used to. These two little fairies (magic and sparkle) do come across a little dark at first in a competitive spirit but come together to create a nice little bit of magic. It’s a good ad, maybe not in the league of the other four on here.

Mulberry: “Win Christmas”

I know I said you get to vote, but this wins it for me. Not just the ad, but the big idea behind WIN CHRISTMAS. I’m one of four kids and I know it’s all about the win. So what beats a beautiful portrait, a puppy that waves or a unicorn? A new bag from Mulberry!!!  That’s what. 

Have your say on which Ad you like best

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 HOW TO CREATE A BELOVED BRAND, click on the Powerpoint presentation below:

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:

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

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If you want to accelerate your career in 2015, then start thinking of yourself as a Brand

How come you do such a good job marketing brands, but a bad job marketing yourself? At this time of year, it is natural to think about what’s next in your career.

Most brand leaders I see tend to only go after those jobs that come to them, relying on being called by a recruiter or seeing postings on job sites. That’s how 16 year olds look for a summer job, not how leaders manage their careers. Other brand leaders take a “selling approach” where they apply to as many jobs as they see (even if they aren’t their ideal jobs) and hope for the best, treating the job like the prize instead of believing they are the prize. That’s more selling than marketing.  Why not treat yourself like a brand?

Start by analyzing your strengths

I believe in the idea of loving what you do and living why you do it. The tool below can be used to help you find that sweet spot that matches what you are good at with what you love. Too many people build their career on what they are good at–they did well in accounting so they became an accountant. But that is a recipe for spending 40 years in a career you don’t really like. On the other hand, going after what you love, without the talent can be a pipe-dream you never achieve.

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The advantage of using this type of tool is that it allows you to re-define yourself away from job titles. For instance, in my career I was always better at marketing communications than I was at product innovation–which has my consulting career focused on finding that winning brand positioning, creating brand concepts and acting as an advertising coach. But I won’t be inventing the next app or gadget anytime soon.

The next tool to use is the personal strength finder.  This model helps you to force some choices.  The idea is that for each of the 4 options below, only one can be considered HIGH, two at the MIDDLE score and you have to force yourself to put one at the LOW.  While we all say we are generalists, that’s never really true. I’ve met many that are OK at all 4, but have never met anyone great at all. This tool forces you to be one of four types of Brand Leaders: 

  1. Managing Products
  2. Creating Ideas
  3. Strategic Thinking
  4. Leadership of People.

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Find your Unique Selling Proposition

Just like the brands you manage, take the analysis above to start forming a brand positioning for yourself that makes you stand out as unique. As a marketer you start with what consumers look for, so what you want to do is try to understand what employers are looking for. You need to find that USP that matches up the employer needs up to your strengths where you are better than your peers. 

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Once you find your USP, find a way to turn it into a big idea. As I reached senior levels in marketing, I knew I was better at strategy/communication, better at brand turnarounds and had an a more aggressive type leadership style. When I looked at what employers were looking for, it matched up nicely to brands looking to re-invigorate growth on their brands. I positioned myself as “I can find growth where others couldn’t” knowing the only reason an employer would bring in someone from the outside is the previous leader couldn’t figure it out. As I’ve moved into consulting, my current big idea (below) is “provoking you to think differently” believing that a client needs new thinking, because the thinking that brought you this far might not be enough to get you where you want your brand to be.

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Map out a Brand Plan for yourself

I bet you don’t have a brand plan. Why not? Use the time over the break to start mapping out your own brand plan and you might be surprised where this disciplined approach takes you. Write a vision for yourself by thinking about where you want to be in the next 10 years. Reach down deep to create a purpose for yourself supported by a list of values that are important to you. Set goals for yourself in 2015, and list out the potential strategies and tactics you’ll use to accelerate your career in the right direction. 

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Treat yourself like a Brand and use marketing fundamentals to manage your career

To read more, including looking at a deep dive assessment of your personal situation and how to create your own Brand, follow this Powerpoint presentation:

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:

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

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Challenge your thinking to focus your brand strategy

Yogi Berra once said: “If you don’t know where you’re going, you might not get there.” That really fits with brand planning. Many brands I see don’t even know where they are–either have their head in the sand in denial, or have a team mis-aligned in debate.  But if plans move brands, then if you don’t understand where you are, then how can you decide where you want to move them. So in marketing terms, we’d say “if you don’t know where you are, you might not know where to go next”. 

Here are five questions that will help focus your plan

At the start of every planning cycle, I would take a few hours, put the feet up on the desk and put down 2-3 bullet points for each of the following questions.

1. Where are we?

2. Why are we here?

3. Where could we be?

4. How can we get there?

5. What do we need to do?

Answering these questions really helps to focus your thinking because you can see the guts of the macro brand plan before you even start to dig in. It will give you the starting point on your situation analysis, map out the key issues, frame the vision/purpose/goals, lay out the strategies/tactics that will enable you to hit your vision and then provide a top-line look around how you might execute.  

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And if you want to take those questions and answers further, you can build a plan-on-a-page using the 6 key areas as outlined below:

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Here are four questions that will help focus your brand strategy

As you’re looking at your brand strategy, you need to look at the brand from all sides. 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?

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  1. What is your current share position in the market?  Where you rank is 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.
    • Niche:  An attack in an open area where the Leader is not that well established.
    • Guerilla: Going into an area where it’s too small for the Leaders to take notice or are unable to attack back.
  2. What is the core strength of your brand?  Most brands should have a focus to what they win on, either winning on product, idea, experience or price.   Slide1
    • Product Brands:  your strategy should focus on superiority, ensure that you invest in Innovation to stay ahead of competitors, and likely focus on rational advertising that makes sure you leave consumers knowing you are the best. In a crowded market, it has become increasingly difficult to win on product alone. Thirty years ago, P&G pushed this at every opportunity, but technology gaps have closed. And even P&G has successful switched to focusing more on being different and less on being better. That leads us to choose more of the idea brand below.
    • Concept/Idea Brands:  your strategy should focus on being different.  To tell that story, you need to invest in brand communication. You want to connect consumers emotionally to your brand idea. Apple builds everything on their brand around the idea that “apple makes it so simple that everyone can be part of the future”, whether that’s the easy-to-use products, concept focused advertising or the stores that help them execute the idea.  Are the products great?  Yes, but not likely better.  Just different.
    • Experience Brands: your strategy and organization should focus on linking culture very closely to your brand. After all, your people are your product. You want to build values and align the culture to those values. And as you go to market, invest in influencer and social media that can help support and spread the word of your experience.
    • Price Brands:  your strategy has to focus on efficiency and drive low-cost into the products you sell and high turns and high volume. You have to be better at the fundamentals around production and sourcing. Use call-to-action type advertising to help keep the turns very high. McDonald’s of the 1970s perfected this model, but we’ve since seen WalMart take it to the next level. You might not like all that WalMart does from an ethical point of view, but it’s on strategy and helps you get toilet paper cheaper. What consumers don’t notice at Walmart is their obsession with retail turns. On average Walmart sells through their stock within 28 days, compared to other retailers who might average 100 days. You rarely see slow-moving items and rarely see clearance items.
  3. How tightly connected is your brand to the consumer? Consumers move along a “Brand Love Curve”, as they become more connected to Brands, their feelings and behavior changes. Slide1There are four phases of the Brand Love Curve, moving from Indifferent to Like It to Love It and finally to the Beloved stage.
    1. Indifferent: At this stage, consumers are either not aware, confused or not interested in your product.  You treat your brand like a commodity, and your consumer treats you the same way, sticking with their current brand. Promotional pricing becomes your only weapon. As brands only have 4 real choices in survival–better, different, cheaper or not around for very long–I would not bet on these surviving long-term.
    2. Like It: At this stage, brand satisfy the consumers’ basic needs.  They use it, see it as a very functional, rational choice. To survive without emotion, you must have a better product or service offering. Your lack of connection means no relative power and you risk substitution as you battle for every penny earned. If you are leapfrogged with something better, your brand dies a quick death.
    3. Love It: Here we start to see brands building loyalty with consumers. There is an emotional connection and you become the consumers’ favorite brand, possible building into their routines. We see power shift to the brand, as it can use this emotional connection to charge premium prices, enter new categories and build added volume through heavier usage.
    4. Beloved:  At this stage, consumers become fans of the brand.  Here consumers are un-relenting in their conviction, they are possessive and outspoken, seeing the brand as a personal choice.  It goes beyond routine and becomes a ritual, not just a favorite brand but a favorite part of the day. These brands do everything right, align their brand promise, strategy, story, innovation and experience behind the big idea they stand for. Slide1 

4. What is the current situation your brand faces? As your plans are designed to move your brand, you need to understand where they are before you can decide where you want to move them.

  • Continued Momentum: Sales growth and profitability in good shape, team is aligned on direction for the future. Underlying brand metrics and relationships beyond organization are strong. Keep business going strong. Fuel growth drivers, while resisting temptation for wholesale change
  • Turnaround: Continuing decline in sales, being attacked by competitors or category shrinking. Margin squeeze, either due to price/cost or the shrinking sales line. Downward momentum over 2-3 years. Lack of alignment, internally or externally, on the solutions for the future. Need to get business back on track. Change the direction: new people, new plan, new ideas, new attitude.
  • Re-Focus: Circumstances on business have changed, driven through either external market forces or internal dynamics to the point where there is now a lack of alignment on the direction or next steps for the brand. Alignment around Brand (positioning, plan) and Culture (values, behaviors)
  • Start Up: Getting a new brand into he market, or launching a current brand into new categories of innovation. Organization needs setting up (team, culture, structure, values, behaviors) Need for focused strategic Investment choices to get brand going. Moving from blank slate to big idea, plan and team. Focus Focus Focus!

Strategic Thinkers ask “what if” questions before they see solutions. 

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 for Brand Leaders to make them better Strategic Thinkers and write better Brand Plans. To view, click on the Powerpoint presentation below:

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:

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

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Why Brand Matters

You can make more money by investing in your Brand

The reason that most business’ choose not to invest in a brand, is they “can’t afford it”. But really, by investing in a BRAND, you can make more MONEY! Use the connectivity between brand and consumer to leverage premium Pricing. Use your brand’s power to drive Lower Costs. Leverage the bond with consumers to Increase your Market Share. When you have an idea bigger than your product alone, you can enter into New Categories that fit with your idea. Here are the 8 ways a BRAND can make you more MONEY!!!  Companies only invest to create a Brand if they think they can make more money from a brand, than if we just had a Product.  Slide1What you want to do is create a strong bond between your consumer and your brand. Once you have that bond, you can use it as a source of power versus all the stake holders of the brand.  If we think back to porter’s model, the brand’s bond gives you added power over customers, suppliers, competitors and even the very consumers you have the bond with.  Beyond Porter’s forces, the brand would also generate added power with the media, key opinion leaders and employees.  Once you have power, you can drive growth and profit, using that power to drive up price, drive down costs, gain market share and enter new categories.  

  • Use the connectivity between brand and consumer to leverage premium Pricing to drive profits:  By creating a brand idea that connects, you can try to command a premium or once you have a loyal consumer, you can look for innovative ways to trade your consumers up. When consumers are emotionally connected to a brand, the price becomes more Inelastic. We can see in the market, that loyal brand fans pay a 20-30% price premium for Apple’s iPad.The more engaged employees begin to generate an even better brand experience. For instance at Starbucks, employees know the names of their most loyal of customers. Blind taste tests show consumers prefer the cheaper McDonald’s coffee but still pay 4x as much for a Starbucks. So is it still coffee you’re buying or are they paying for the Brand?
  • Use your brand’s power to drive Lower Costs: A well-run Brand can use their efficiency to lower their cost structure. If you are a hot brand, suppliers will cut their cost just to be on the roster of a beloved Brand. A brand that becomes popular will benefit from the free media through earned, social and search media. They may even find government offer subsidies to be in the community or partners willing to lower their costs to be part of the brand. For instance, a real estate owner would likely give lower costs and better locations to McDonald’s than an indifferent brand.
  • Leverage the bond with consumers to Increase your Market Share: Crowds draw crowds which spreads the base of the loyal consumers. I was walking past a store the other day and they had a line up to get into the store. We immediately became curious as to what that store offered. Competitors can’t compete–lower margins means less investment back into the brand. It’s hard for them to fight the Beloved Brand on the emotional basis leaving them to a niche that’s currently unfulfilled.
  • When you have an idea bigger than your product alone, you can enter into New Categories that fit with your idea:  We see many beloved Brands enter into new categories knowing their loyal consumers will follow because they buy into the Idea of the Brand. Starbucks has gone far beyond Coffee to where it’s now one of the biggest fast food chains in the world.  The idea is no longer tied to the product or service but rather how it makes you feel about yourself. 

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You need to Focus your brand behind one Core Strength

Every brand needs focus.  Brands are either better, different or cheaper–or else not around for very long.  The problem I see is that brands try to be everything to everyone, and you end up being nothing to no one. Strategically, before going further, you have to decide on what core strength you will win on:  product, concept/idea, price or the experience.  The model below is a good tool that can help your team focus on what it does best.  

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  • If you’re the PRODUCT driven brand of the category, you need to focus on driving innovation on both product and claims as a way to maintain superiority over your competition. You want R&D closely aligned to your brand’s Big Idea and you have to invest to continue the pipeline.  The marketing may take more of a rational approach. Currently, Samsung is one of the best product driven brands, whether it’s phones, TVs or appliances. Their one weakness is the inferior laptops they’ve tried to push on the market.
  • On the other hand, if you are a CONCEPT driven brand, you need to focus on being different. The problem is when these types of brands get distracted by trying to be better or just as good as the PRODUCT driven brand they compete with. The CONCEPT brands need emotional advertising and more creative approaches to connect with consumers. Apple is a great concept driven brands, creating an idea of simplicity that goes across their entire product line and experienced in their retail stores.
  • With EXPERIENCE brands, who focus on the people/culture as being the guts of your brand. You need to be purpose driven and values based, projecting why you do what you do.  Invest in training to instil values and project who you are through social media. With Hotels all competing on price and pillow feather counts, Ritz-Carlton is all about service, that meets the unexpressed needs of consumers.  Ritz-Carlton has a service credo with supporting service values. And they are so good at service, you can now take a 3-day Ritz-Carlton training program on how they do it.  
  • If you are the LOW PRICE brand, focus on efficiency and cost cutting to drive lower prices.  Make up for the lower margin by driving higher volumes, with call-to-action type advertising.  And you better be good at all the production, forecasting and sourcing.  WalMart does this better than anyone, even going as far as crushing every union movement.  To show you how good they are at operations, WalMart’s turns at shelf average 28 days, while most other department stores average 75-100 days. You rarely see the word “clearance” at Walmart. 

You need to Build your Brand by lining up all 5 Connector to your Big Idea

While you need a lead strength from the model above, once you decide on were you want to go, you need to create an IDEA and then line up each of the 5 elements of a brand:  promise, strategy, story, freshness and experience.   Slide1

  1. The brand’s promise sets up the positioning, as you focus on a key target with one main benefit you offer.  Brands need to be better, different or cheaper. Or else not around for very long. ”Me-too” brands have a short window before being squeezed out. How relevant, simple and compelling the brand positioning is impacts the potential love for the brand.
  2. The most beloved brands create an experience that over-delivers the promise. How your culture and organization sets up can make or break that experience. Hiring the best people, creating service values that employees can deliver against and having processes that end service leakage. The culture attacks the brand’s weaknesses and fixes them before the competition can attack.  With a Beloved Brand, the culture and brand become one.
  3. Brands also make focused strategic choices that start with identifying where the brand is on the Brand Love Curve going from Indifferent to Like It to Love It and all the way to Beloved status. Marketing is not just activity, but rather focused activity–based on strategy with an ROI mindset. Where you are on the curve might help you make strategic and tactical choices such as media, innovation and service levels.
  4. The most beloved brands have a freshness of innovation, staying one-step ahead of the consumers.  The idea of the brand helps acting as an internal beacon to help frame the R&D.  Every new product has to back that idea.  At Apple, every new product must deliver simplicity and at Volvo, it must focus on safety.  
  5. Beloved brands can tell the brand story through great advertising in paid media, through earned media either in the mainstream press or through social media.  Beloved Brands use each of these media choices to connect with consumers and have a bit of magic to their work.

As we talked about the Apple brand, here’s an illustration of how well Apple lines up behind their big idea.

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You need to Transform your Brand by going Beyond Product

As you’re challenging yourself to think about going to Brand Thinking, here are some of the differences you might notice.  

  • Think of a Brand as an idea with many intangibles, whereas a product is usually tangible to the senses. This is where you as a Brand Leader must begin to think more conceptual and think of ideas.  
  • If we think of a Product as solving a Problem, then try to think of a Brand as fighting your consumer’s enemy.  
  • While managing a product, you’re always focused on trying to figure out the THINKING part of your consumer, and you offer very rational product features and claims, you might need to shift to start figuring out the EMOTIONAL decisions your consumer makes and finding more emotional benefits that connect with them.  
  • Instead of thinking of just the consumption of your product, start thinking of the EXPERIENCE. When I was a Brand Leader, I honestly didn’t pay too much attention to the experience.  We tend to think of that for service brands. But look at the EXPERIENCE of a product brand like Apple and see the difference it can create.
  • Brand becomes a reputation you must manage, going well beyond the legal entity and trademark.  Every brand should be using Public Relations to become part of the news cycle, helping to go beyond Advertising. Look to your most loyal consumers as a potential influencer of your reputation through social media.  
  • Start to think about becoming part of your consumers life, as a ritual, which goes beyond a routine. Be a favorite part of their day, or be an enabler to great things that happen in their life. Adjust to the days of the week of the time of the year. Leverage the calendar as a call out to how your brand might be used.  
  • A product can be debated, but a Brand will be defended.  Provide your most loyal consumers with enough love so that they love you back enough to defend you at the lunch table.  

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

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 CREATE A BELOVED BRAND, click on the Powerpoint presentation below:

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:

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

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Managing Your Career: Finding and using your Core Strength as a Brand Leader

Brand Leaders always pride themselves on being generalists, and as we move up, we have to be. But the reality is that we are naturally better in some areas than others, and at very senior levels that can help guide your career choices. Here’s a very simple tool I have created to help guide your thinking to see where your natural strength lies, within one of four choices:  1) Managing Products 2) Creating Ideas 3) Strategic Thinking or 4) Leadership of People.  Grade yourself, or ask others to help you, whether you are High, Medium or Low at each of them.  But to this game, we only let you put ONE at the high and you should force ONE score as low.  

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Where is your Strength?

  • Managing Products:  You’re naturally a business leader, who enjoys the thrill of hitting the numbers–your financial or share goals for the year. In Myers Briggs, you might be an ENTJ/INTJ (introvert/extrovert, intuition, thinking, judgment) the “field general” who brings the intuitive logic and quick judgement to make decisions quickly to capitalize on the business opportunity. You like the innovation side more than the advertising. You are fundamentally sound at all the core elements of running a business:  forecasting, analytics, finance, distribution, working each of the functional areas to the benefit of the products. You may have some gaps in creativity or people leadership, but you’re comfortable giving freedom to your agencies or team to handle coming up with ideas.  My recommendation is that you stay within Brand Management as long as you can.  If you find roadblocks in your current industry, go into new verticals before you venture into new career choices. If you go outside, consider running businesses on behalf of Private Equity companies or even venture out into Entrepreneurship where you take your core strength of running a business to making it on your own.Slide1
  • Strategic Thinking:  You enjoy the planning more than the execution. You might fall into the INTP, where you’re still using logic and intuition, but you are stronger at the thinking that helps frame the key issues and strategies than the tactical solutions to the problems. The introvert side would also suggest that your energy comes from what’s going on in your brain, more than what others are saying. If you stay within industry, you’d be very strong in a global brand role, general management or even a strategic planning role. You need to either partner with a strong executer or build a strong team of business leaders beneath you. Going outside, you’d enjoy consulting and thought leadership which could turn into academic or professional development type roles.  
  • Creative Concepts/Ideas:  You are the type of Brand Leaders open to new thinking, highly creative and you connect more to ideas and insights than strict facts and tight decisions. You believe facts can guide you but never decide for you. They are high on perception, allowing ambiguous ideas to breathe before closing down on them.  They respect the creative process and people.  They are intuitive but opt for how something feels as they use their instincts for what is a good or bad idea. You may have gaps on organization and strategy that hurts you from being a senior leader.  Going forward beyond Marketing, you might opt to switch to agency side or find a subject-matter expert role (Innovation, Marketing Communication or Public Relations) that better suits your strengths.
  • Leadership of People:  You find natural strength in leading others–getting the most from someone’s potential.  You’re good at conflict, providing feedback, inspiring/motivation. You are a natural extrovert, where you get your energy from seeing others on your team succeeding, almost more than yourself. As you move up, you should surround yourself with people who counter your gaps–whether that’s on strategy or execution. You might find yourself better at Management than Marketing, and you should pursue a General Management role. You also would benefit from a cross functional shift into a sales function.  After you hit your peak, consider careers such as executive coaching. 

I realize that most senior leaders will struggle to come down to their ONE key area of strength and you might find yourself more of a combination.  For instance, I had a hard time deciding between Strategy and Creativity, and have managed to find some balance in my second career as a Brand Coach as well as an Advertising Coach.  But I am not quite comfortable enough in presenting Creative Ideas on behalf of an Agency, nor do I just want the purity of strategy.  If you find yourself debating two, that still can provide you with some focus as a combination of strengths to take forward into your career. 

Here are Five Soul-Searching Career Questions You need to Be Asking yourself throughout your Career

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

You have to answer these questions honestly before going out into the market, looking for a job. These answers help frame the strategy for the roles you’d consider. Think of these questions as a starting point to your Personal Branding. To read more, including looking at a deep dive assessment of your personal situation and how to create your own Brand, follow this Powerpoint presentation:

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

 

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How to find your brand’s EMOTIONAL BRAND POSITIONING

How loved is your brand?

We believe a brand’s source of power is the emotional feelings it generates. With that power comes added profitability. Slide1In 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.   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.

Start with the Consumer and Map out their Emotional Insights

Beloved Brands know who their customer is and who it is not.  Everything starts and ends with the Consumer in mind.  To demonstrate knowledge of that target, defining consumer insights help to crystallize and bring to life the consumer you are targeting. The dictionary definition of the word Insight is “seeing below the surface”. When insight is done right, it is what first connects us to the brand, because we see ourselves in the story. Insight is not something that consumers didn’t know before. It’s not data or fact about your brand that you want to tell. That would be knowledge not insight. Too many people think data, trends and facts are insights.  Facts are merely on the surface and miss out on the depth of thinking. You need to bring those facts to life by going below the surface and transforming the facts into insights. Insight is actually something that everyone already knows and 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 who felt like that”. That’s why we laugh when we see insight projected with humor, why we get goose bumps when insight is projected with inspiration and why we cry when the insight comes alive through real-life drama.  

Think beyond specific category insights and think about Life Insights or even Societal Trends that could impact changing consumer behavior. Consumer Insights come to life when you get in shoes of consumers (start the insight with the word “I”) and you use the consumers’ voice (put the insight in quotes)

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What’s the Emotional Benefit?

To get to that emotional benefit, we recommend that you do up a Customer Value Proposition (CVP) helps to organize your thinking as a great tool for bringing the benefits to life.  Hold a brainstorming session with everyone who works on the brand so you can:

    1. Define your consumer target and Brainstorm all of the consumer insights
    2. Match them up against the list of the best features the brand offers.
    3. Find the rational benefit by putting yourself in the shoes of the consumer and seeing the brand features from their eyes: start asking yourself over and over again “so if I’m the consumer, what do I get from that?”.   Ask it five times and you’ll see the answers will get richer and richer each time you ask.
    4. Then find the emotional benefit by asking “so how does that make me feel?”  Ask that five times as well, and you’ll begin to see a deeper emotional space you can play in and own.

This tool is designed to get you out of talking about yourself (your claims) and gets you talking about what the consumer gets (the benefits)  For instance, no one really cares that a golf club has 5.7% more torque.  When you ask what do i get from that, the better answers are longer drives or lower scores or winning a tournament.   These are rational benefits.  When you ask how does that make you feel, the emotional space is confidence and optimism.  This is the emotional benefit.  Slide1

People 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:

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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 CVP.  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.  

Bringing Emotion to Life

Here’s how well Apple has brought “Freedom” to life.  You’ll not really hear any functional benefits within this type of Ad.  Poetry matched against the beauty of the world is a perfect demonstration of FREEDOM–making Apple seem interesting, exciting and alive.  

While knowledge might sound boring, by sticking to that strategy, here’s how well Google has done. Embedded within the story line, Google is used as an enabler of knowledge–making you smarter, wiser and competent.

 

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 GET BETTER ADVERTISING, click on the Powerpoint presentation below:

 

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:

 

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

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5 Crucial Career Questions to Ask yourself in the most honest soul-searching start to what’s next

Slide1Too many brilliant Brand Leaders forget to apply the same fundamental principles of Branding to themselves. It seems that at the senior levels (Director, VP) while we are at the most vulnerable part of our career, we become a bit complacent. Having been in the job market, having seen many peers going through dramatic job and life changes, I continue to see great Brand Leaders do a bad job marketing themselves. Before you do anything, you should assess your situation by asking some of the toughest questions:

  1. Within your current company, how high up do you think you can realistically go?  Be very honest. I’ve always believed that by your 40th birthday, you might have peaked or at best have one more level left to climb. Yes, there are exceptions, but you can’t plan to be one of the exceptions. The problem is that once you have peaked, how long do you realistically think you can remain successful within your current company, before you get squeezed out.  And you might want to proactively take action at 45, rather than reactively be forced to take action at 55.  
  2. Should you stay in the same industry or look at new verticals?  If you’re in CPG, Brand Management still has the power to drive the brands you work on. But once you leave CPG, marketing’s role gets diminished, usually becoming a marketing communications function–either communicating the product innovation or service, which as a Marketer you might have little control over. With less control over the pure direction of the business or even brand, marketing becomes a bit more of a do-er support function who explains what has already been done by the brand, rather than a strategic marketer who leads the business. What you’ll also find is that as you move out of CPG, the talent levels that will fall under you goes down considerably. And then you have to jump in, going lower than you are used to in prior CPG roles.  
  3. Should you stay in pure Brand Management or venture into a subject-matter expert type roles? This is one of the harder decisions you will make, because once you make it, you might not be able to turn back. It is human nature to want to label people–and this is one of the struggles you will face in managing your career, especially if you become a Subject Matter Expert. If you move out of Brand Management, and it doesn’t work out, it might be harder to convince future employers that you are still a generalist who can drive their brands.  
  4. How long do you want to keep working?  As you get older, you’ll have to start asking this. Part of this decision will depend on your own personal finances and your family situation. When I was 25, I would have hoped I’d retire at 55 on an island.  But at 45, I found myself asking “so what do I want to do for the next 15 years?”  I had no clue of the answer.  And it was scary.   
  5. Do you stay an employee or do you take this moment to leap out on your own? If most marketing careers peak in your 40s, still being an employee at 50 puts you at risk of being laid off by a 38-year-old one day. As we get older, you will find that it becomes harder to sit through a performance review. Being on your own gives you a certain power to be your own boss. I went out on my own a few years ago and love it.  But when anyone asks me if they should, my immediate reaction is to say “that it’s not for everyone”. I want to make sure you are serious about it, and not getting me to try to talk you into it. It will be you who has to jump off the cliff.  I still remember the phone call with my wife, where I told her about 10 times “I’m going to do it”. I was more preparing myself for it, than telling her. It can feel very risky but once you realize that you are betting on yourself you will know you can do it. The lifestyle is great, but you’re on the clock 24/7.  And it can be a very lonely experience–which surprised an introvert like myself.  It took me 18 months to get used to the being alone feeling.

You have to answer these questions honestly before going out into the market, looking for a job. These answers help frame the strategy for the roles you’d consider. Think of these questions as a starting point to your Personal Branding.  To read more, including looking at a deep dive assessment of your personal situation and how to create your own Brand,  follow this Powerpoint presentation:

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

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Check List of 10 things that Great Advertising should do

When you are in the midst of an advertising project, and you’re feeling stuck as a Brand Leader use this simple check list to find out where things might be missing for you.  The best Advertising should do these 10 things: 

  1. Set Yourself Apart.  Beloved Brands must be different, better, cheaper or not around very long.   The story telling of the brand’s promise should help to separate the brand from the clutter of our minds. That starts with creative that feels different and makes the brand seem different. 
  2. Focused!   A focused target, a focused message, a focused strategy against a focused communication idea and a focused media.  
  3. Keep the Idea and Communication very simple.  Communication is not what is said, but what is heard. Too many people try to shout as many messages as they can in one ad.  What the consumer hears:  a confusing mess or nothing really.  My challenge to you is to stand up on a chair and yell your main message as though you are standing on top of a mountain.  If you can’t YELL it out in one breath, then your idea is too complex.  The Volvo Brand Manager gets to yell “Safety” in one clean simple breath.   Can you do that?  
  4. Have a Good Selling Idea.  While big ideas break through, they also help you to be consistent, because you have to align your thinking to the Big Idea.  You’ll see consistency over time, across mediums–paid, earned, social and search, throughout the entire brand line up of sub brands.  Consumers will start to connect to the big idea
  5. Drive Engagement: Too many Brand Leaders get so fixated on saying their 7 messages that they figure the ability capture attention is just advertising fluff.  But it all starts with Attention.   The consumer sees 5,000 ads a day and will likely only engage in a handful.   If you don’t capture their attention, no one will remember the brand name, your main message or any other reason to believe you might have.
  6. Let the Visuals do the talking.  With so many ads, you need to have some visual that can capture the attention, link to your brand and communicate your message.   The ‘see-say’ of advertising helps the consumers brain to engage, follow along and remember.  As kids, we always love the pictures.  We still do.  
  7. Sell the solution, not your product.  People use brands to solve problems in their lives.  They’d prefer not to have that problem than have to buy your brand.  No one has ever wanted a quarter-inch drill, they just need a quarter-inch hole. 
  8. Be Relevant with the Consumer. A beloved brand finds a way to matter to those who really care. Not only the right brand promise but in the right communication of that promise. You can’t sell carpet cleaning to someone who just has hard wood floors.  
  9. Based on a consumer Insight.  Insights are not facts about your brand.  That’s just you talking AT the consumer.   Insights allow you to connect and turn the ad into a conversation.  Insights are something the consumer already knows but they didn’t realize that everyone felt that way.  Insights enable consumers to see themselves in the situation and once you do that, the consumers might then figure the brand must be for them.  
  10. Tell the story behind the brand.  Talk about your brand’s purpose.  Why did you start this brand?   What do you hope that the brand really does to help people?   Why do you get up in the morning.  

Advertising Sweet Spot when the Creative Idea drives the Attention, Branding, Communication and Stickiness

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 GET BETTER ADVERTISING, 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

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Here’s how a BIG WIDE BRIEF gets you Lousy Advertising

Great Advertising comes from a Balance of Freedom and Control.  

Slide1One of the worst part about the current state of Brand Management is that most Brand Leaders allow too much freedom on the strategy, but want to have full control over the creative execution. It seems odd because Brand Leaders should be doing the opposite.  

Brand Leaders should control the Strategy and give freedom on the Execution.  

While clients are always asking agencies to see a range of work, what I think they really mean is to see a range of “creative” options, not “strategic” options.  But when you write such a BIG WIDE BRIEF, what you get is a range of strategic options that address various parts of your BIG WIDE BRIEF.  Right away, you give up control over the strategy.  

A Good Brief Should Be Brief, Not Long!  

My simple rule of thumb is that a good briefs should have:

  • one objective
  • one desired consumer response
  • one target tightly defined
  • two consumer insights to tell the story
  • one main benefit
  • one or two main reasons to believe
  • zero creative mandatories

Look at your most current brief and take your pen and stroke things off your BIG WIDE BRIEF!  Once you make your brief smaller and tighter, you’ll see how clearer things will become.  Get rid of the “just in case” lists of things. Stop putting things your boss wants. Stop putting things global wants in your brief. While putting those things into your brief might help you sleep at night, it won’t get you better work and will eventually cause you nightmares.  Before even getting to the brief stage, make sure you do all your homework with an Advertising Strategy that answers the following questions:

  1. Who do we want to sell to?  (Who is your Target Consumer?)
  2. What are we selling?  (What is your main Benefit?) and why should they believe us?  (Reason To Believe)
  3. What do we want the Advertising to do for the brand?  (Strategic Choices)
  4. What do want people to think, feel or do?  (Desired Response)
  5. What’s the long-range feeling the brand evokes (The Big Idea)

The brief should isolate the task to coming up with creative solutions to the defined strategic problem. Never use the advertising process and what ad wins the copy test to come up with your brand strategy.  The strategy frames the execution–the execution never determine the strategy.  

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Stop the BIG WIDE BRIEF and focus your Strategy

The first flaw of a BIG WIDE BRIEF is the Advertising Objective where I’m seeing lists of 3-4 objectives instead of just one objective. Right away, the brief is headed in the wrong direction. Too many briefs have both penetration AND usage frequency listed as one objective. That’s two separate strategies that leads to two targets, two messages and possibly two different media options. Here’s how different these two strategies really are:

  • Penetration ads get someone with very little experience with your brand to consider dropping their current brand to try you once and see if they like you.
  • Usage Frequency ads get someone who knows your brand already, motivating them to change their current behavior so they can fit your brand into more parts of their life.

I see this all the time. Your agency will come back with one ad that does penetration and one that drives frequency and call that a creative range. You just gave up control over the strategy and now the best ad execution decides your brand strategy.

The next flaw of the BIG WIDE BRIEF is an unfocused Target Market. I once worked with a Brand who had their target listed as:  18-65, current customers, new potential customers and employees. My first response was “why did you leave out prisoners and tourists?”.  They were worried about alienating some consumers. Isn’t alienating a synonym of Targeting?  Good advertising should alienate. I expect Beats by Dre advertising to target 17-year-old urban kid with his hat on backwards. I still want those damn headphones. I don’t feel alienated. At Beloved Brands, we recommend a maximum 5-year age gap (e.g. 35-40) in your target definition to ensure that your Ads are focused.  Many briefs have a 20-year age gap (e.g. 30-50) and that is too wide—your agency will give you one ad for 30 year olds and one for 50 year olds—and you just gave up control over the strategy one more time. When thinking of your target, you have to matter most to those who care the most about what you’re selling. It will be easier to move them towards your brand by making them feel special.  Trying to matter to everyone will just confuse the most motivated and leave them feeling like they don’t matter any more than those who don’t even care.Slide1

The third flaw of the BIG WIDE BRIEF is the Desired Consumer Response. Great advertising can only move one body part at a time: the head, the heart, the feet or the soul. Pick one. As more brands are trying to move to “emotive” advertising, you still have to remember that your brand strategy is dependent on where your brand stands now, before you can use Advertising to try to move your brand to a new place.  At Beloved Brands, we use a hypothetical Brand Love Curve to map out where the brand is now, as brands move from Indifferent to Like It to Love It and finally to the Beloved stage.  If you’re a NEW brand or at the INDIFFERENT stage, you should be focused on the HEAD, so that you can get Consumers to THINK differently about your brand.  It is rare that a brand can move so quickly to the love it stage (Beats by Dre might be one exception).  Put it this way, while everyone in life wants to hear the words “I love you”, it’s kinda creepy and meaningless if you hear it on the first date. If your brand is at the LIKE IT stage, focus on moving the FEET so you can drive ACTION to get consumers to buy and create a following.  If you are at the LOVE IT stage you can focus on the HEART and get current Loyal users to connect emotionally and LOVE you even more. Advertising alone cannot make a consumer love your brand–they have to love you before you tell them to love you. If you are at the BELOVED stage, focus on the SOUL and get those who love your brand to FEEL a part of the Brand. If you don’t decide what body part your ad should focus on, the agency will likely show you a range of emotional and rational ads, and once you pick the safe rational choices you’ve always picked, you’ll only be demoralizing your creative team.

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The final flaw of BIG WIDE BRIEFS is too many Messages. The current generation of Brand Leaders try to say as much as possible. I’m not always sure why, but you need to stop believing that “if we tell them more than they’ll retain more”.  No, the 100 years of marketing says that if you say too much, there is a risk that they’ll hear nothing. What if I told you that in today’s crowded world of advertising, the consumer now sees about 6000 brand messages per day?  Would you still want to give them 5 messages?  I hope not.  Narrow down your message to say ONE THING only.  When list of messages, the agency will likely give you one of those crappy “marriage of benefits” ads just to make you happy.  Or the agency will pick out ONE of the benefits and put the rest into some list that gets read within the ad. Now you’ll be happy with the list, but really you’ve just given up control of what the ONE thing is you want to say.  The only other possible solution is they just get the Voice Over talent to read the script at an even faster pace than normal.  When I was a month into my job as an ABM, at a voice edit the agency told me that our voice over talent made about $500k a year.  I said “what makes him so good?” and the account executive said “he has this unique talent to be able to speak twice as fast as other voice overs and still remain clear, so he’s in very high demand”.  That’s not a good sign for our industry, is it?  Slide1

On the flip side, the current generation of Brand Leaders are trying to control the Creative with a long list of Mandatories.  A well-written brief should have ZERO mandatories. Mandatories feel like a cover up for the insecurity of a badly written brief. The best Brand Leaders give freedom on the creative execution. At the first creative meeting, you should be surprised by the Creative work, but like it as soon as you see it.  You shouldn’t have a clue what the ad will look like. Stop the long list of Mandatories, that makes it so prescriptive the agency ends up backed into a creative corner. Why bother having an agency then?  

Use the Brief to control the Strategy and give freedom on the Execution

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 GET BETTER ADVERTISING, 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 3911Slide1

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The biggest factor in getting to great advertising….is the client.

If you are a Brand Leader who struggles with advertising, you know how hard it is. I’m asked all the time, what is it that makes one Brand Leader good at advertising and another not so good? 

Simply put, great Brand Leaders are able to consistently get great advertising that drives towards their objective into the market, and equally able to keep bad advertising that does nothing for them off the air.

Some Brand Leaders blame themselves, almost surrendering to the idea of: “I’m more strategic type of marketer, and not that good at advertising”.  But I hope you don’t quit on yourself, because being good at Advertising takes experience, practice, leadership, feedback and a willingness to adjust. You can get better, if you really want to.  Slide1Some Brand Leaders blame their agency, and even fire their agency. But from my view, an OK agency can do great work on a great client. But a great agency can fail miserably with a bad client. Most clients fail to realize that the role of the Brand Leader is the most important factor in getting great ads. 

If you knew that how you showed up as a Client would get you better advertising, do you think you would actually show up differently? 

At creative meetings, do you stay big picture, avoid getting into details? When giving direction, do you avoid giving your own solutions?  When you gave your agency a brief, you put them in a box.  Now you should use your feedback as a way to put them in a new box ,a modified version of the box you created with the brief you gave them. Agencies don’t want your solutions, they just want your problems. The best agencies are problem solvers who are in the box thinkers.  As a great Brand Leader, your role is always to give them a box they can solve.

The best advertising comes from a very tight Brand strategy.  How tight is your brief?  

Do you stay focused on ONE target, ONE strategy, ONE benefit behind ONE big idea? Avoid the “just in case list” where you sneak “one more thing” onto the brief.  Narrow the Target market and tell their story with engaging insights.  Start with the desired consumer response before deciding what your brand should say.  Develop a testable Brand Concept before the brief so you know the strategy works with consumers, isolating the creative as the only thing you need to figure out.  Slide1

Are you one of the FAVORITE clients of your agency? 

As a Brand Leader, your role is inspire everyone to WANT to work on your brand, never treat them like they HAVE to work on your business. I know you pay the agency, so you might think that motivates them right away.  Not quite.  Do you meet the creative team before the first creative meeting to connect, align them with your vision and inspire them to push for great work? My guess is you don’t. You wait till that first creative meeting, and get introduced to the people who have been secretly working on your brand for the past few weeks. Are you the type of client to take creative risks, and be willing to be different to stand out?  Great advertising is a balance of control and freedom.  You should control the strategy and give freedom on the creative, but somehow the reverse happens.  Uncertain Brand Leaders give freedom on the strategy, yet they come into the advertising process with a pre-determined look and feel.   

If you meet resistance to GREAT advertising, even from your boss, are you the Brand Leader that is willing to fight anyone in the way? 

Every great ad I’ve worked on, there was almost a breaking point.  Whenever I fondly think of my old ads, I always smile when I think of that “near breaking point” that we got past.  As the Brand Leader you have to be the one to fight for great work and maneuver through that near breaking point. Your agency will take notice that you are that type of leader and they’ll want to work on your brand, willing to give you their best work. Do you resist approving Advertising that is “just OK” and “safe”?   What signal do you think it sends everyone involved? I believe that you have to LOVE your advertising, and never settle for OK.  Somewhere along the line, if you don’t love it, you’ll likely just give in. And then everything fails.  And you start again.  

If you knew that how you showed up as a Client was the biggest factor in getting better advertising, do you think you would actually show up differently?

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 GET BETTER ADVERTISING, 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

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