How to Guide for Marketers

New Gillette ad: Right message. Wrong brand.

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Gillette

The new Gillette ad has sparked quite a stir to start the year. As a marketer, I’ve been in the position where you make what you think is an excellent piece of work, and wait for the consumer to say it works. The reality of any risk you take is that some work, some don’t. Twelve million views are great, but 673,000 giving it a thumbs down on Youtube, and many of the negative comments floating around Youtube and Twitter.

To my fellow men: make no mistake, this is the right message. Maybe you shouldn’t have been the target. If it was intended to inspire change in men, it might not be working.

Would this same message work better if women were the target? Would men have maybe listened a bit better if the message said “hey women, you deserve better”

Purpose is never a strategy

I see people putting “this is a great example of a brand purpose strategy.” What is a brand purpose strategy? That sounds a little shallow. You can’t have a brand purpose strategy if you don’t have a brand purpose. Moreover, you can’t just make up a brand purpose that wasn’t your brand purpose last year, or fifty years ago, or it will feel fake.

Last year, Pepsi put out the infamous Kendell Jenner “save the world” ad, that flopped. It likely would have been fine if it was another brand. However, with Pepsi, it felt fake. For the past 50 years, Pepsi has used Michael Jackson, Britney Spears and Beyonce to “get people to dance and smile” and all of a sudden, they want to save the world?

Gillette has spent the past 50 years adding one more blade every couple of years, putting rubber in certain places on the blade and calling it a system. While they have “The best, a man can be” I’ve always thought that tagline was a bit of a cheesy 1970s, left over from the disco era. For all those purpose-loving folks; be careful, because if all you have is a hammer, everything starts to look like a nail. Gillette is a product-driven brand. Everything they do is about technology. You can’t just tack on a brand purpose to a product-driven brand and hope it works.

A brand is not what you say it is. A brand is what your consumer says it is.

Even if you want it to be, that doesn’t make it so.

To paraphrase the CEO of Patagonia, one of the most purpose-driven brands around: “Purpose is never a strategy.”

If it’s just a strategy, you make brand purpose seem very shallow.

Have a look at the new Gillette ad: 

If the goal of the ad was to inspire men to be better versions of themselves, it’s not working. The majority of the backlash seems to be coming from men. I’ve worked on many brands focused on inspiring change, whether to quit smoking or adopt a new health routine. You cannot lecture, guilt or tell people to change. It would be best if you used a very gentle helping hand to move people through the stages of change. Even then, you have to expect resistance.

Maybe the brand is wrong. Perhaps the target is wrong.

Maybe this message should be towards women, not men. Use the same theme, same storyline, but instead of “you can be better” it could be “you deserve better.” If this was for Olay or Always, would men resist the idea as much? Could the message get out there for men to see, almost without the ability to challenge.

I love the #LikeAGirl campaign for Always.

The right message for our times. The right message for both women and men to hear. However, would this same ad have worked better on a different brand?

The bad news is about a month from now, and the financial-driven P&G will force the team to change up the brand message.

As a man, let’s not let Piers Morgan or the Twitter Cowboys speak for us. We actually should be better.

Don’t give up. This type of message is needed. Maybe another brand can take the torch and carry it.

This is what I wrote 3-4 years ago when Always launched #LikeAGirl

Always “Like a Girl” ad will re-define stereotypes

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

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

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

Beloved Brands book

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

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

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

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Graham Robertson signature

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to Guide for Marketers

How brand archetypes can shape the brand role and personality

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Brand archetypes have done a fantastic job in borrowing from the archetypes of psychology. brand archetypesThe 12 different choices can help brands think about what role they want their brand to play, with various word choices to help drive your overall brand idea.

The brand idea blueprint

Let me back you up, before we get into the role of archetypes in the brand discussion. I created a brand idea blueprint, which has five areas that surround the brand idea. 

On the internal brand soul side, describe the products and services, as well as the cultural inspiration, which is the internal rallying cry to everyone who works on the brand. On the external brand reputation side, define the ideal consumer reputation and the reputation among necessary influencers or partners. The brand role acts as a bridge between the internal and external sides. 

  • Products and services: What is the focused point of difference your products or services can win on because they meet the consumer’s needs and separate your brand from competitors?
  • Consumer reputation: What is the desired reputation of your brand, which attracts, excites, engages, and motivates consumers to think, feel, and purchase your brand? 
  • Cultural inspiration: What is the internal rallying cry that reflects your brand’s purpose, values, motivations, and will inspire, challenge, and guide your culture?  
  • Influencer reputation: Who are the key influencers and potential partners who impact the brand? What is their view of the brand, which would make them recommend or partner with your brand? 
  • Brand role (archetype): What is the link between the internal soul and the external reputation?

Brand Idea

Using archetypes to determine the brand role

Borrowing from the world of psychology, where they use personality archetypes to describe people, we can use brand archetypes to help you figure our the role of your brand, which adds to your brand idea. When a brand offers spiritual, freedom or knowledge they fit with the explorer, sage or innocent archetypes. Brands delivering stability, structure and control fit with the ruler, creator or caregiver. Brands that take risks, create an impact or reach for achievement, they fit with the hero, rebel or magician. Then, brands that focus on belonging or connections, they may look to everyman, lover or jester.

Types of Archetypes

  • Creator: The artist and dreamers, who are imaginative, expressive and innovative. They believe they can see a better future.
  • Ruler: Industry leader, who are confident, responsible and authoritative. They promise power, control and stability to their consumers.
  • Caregiver: The helping hand, who is selfless, empathetic and nurturing. They offer protection, safety and support.
  • Everyman: The approachable brand who is down-to-earth, dependable and honest. They offer a sense of belonging and comfort.
  • Jester: The carefree brand who is joyful, carefree and unusual. They give consumers permission to have fun and be happy.
  • Lover: The idealistic dreamer who is passionate, magnetic and committed. They exude passion and create desire with their consumers.
  • Innocent: The romantic dreamer brands, who is optimistic, wholesome and pure. They want a safer and more beautiful world.
  • Sage: Trusted advisor and teacher, who is wise, articulate and open-minded. They promise wisdom, wanting to help their followers.
  • Explorer: The self-discovery brand, who is worldly, independent, and purpose-driven. They promise freedom, innovation and experiences.
  • Magician: The visionary brand who is unrelenting, driven and charismatic. They offer a transformative knowledge and new experiences.
  • Rebel: The anti-establishment brand who is unconventional, defiant and free-spirited. The promise of a disruptive revolution.
  • Hero: The winner brand, who is determined, skillful, and selfless. They fight off the enemy with the promise of triumph and success.

Here are the examples for some of the world’s most famous brands.

brand archetypes

And, for B2B brands, here are some examples to show how this model works equally well for B2B.

brand archetypes

How to find your brand idea 

Step 1: Keywords brainstorm for each of the five areas

With a cross-functional team working on the brand, start off with a brainstorm of keywords for each of the five areas around the brand idea. Expose the team to the work you have done on the brand positioning statement, including details on the target profile, consumer benefits ladder work, and the consumer benefits sort. Ask participants to bring their knowledge, wisdom, and opinions from where they sit within the organization. 

The first step is generating 15-20 words that describe each of the five areas.      

brand idea

Step 2: Turn keywords into key phrases for each of the five areas

Next, get the team to vote to narrow down the list to the best 3-5 words for each section. You will begin to see certain themes and keywords. Take those selected words and build phrases to summarize each section.

Step 3: Summarize it all to create a brand idea

Once you have phrases for all five areas, the team should feel inspired to use their creative energy to come up with the brand idea. Find a summary statement that captures everything around the circle. Try to get a few different options for the brand idea you can test with both consumers and employees. 

Here’s how the brand map comes together:

Brand Idea

And here is an example for a B2B brand:

Brand Idea

To back up and learn about brand positioning, click on this link below:

How to build a brand positioning statement

 

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

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

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

Beloved Brands book

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

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

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

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Graham Robertson signature

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to Guide for Marketers

Tapping into your consumer’s need for a life change

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Everyday we hear change, change, and more change. Talk at the lunch table will be about the changes we are going to make in our lives next year. We start thinking about resolutions. change modelWhile we constantly think of ways to improve ourselves, most people hate change.

We think about change more than we take action for change. Psychologists estimate that 95% of the thoughts we will have today, are the same thoughts we had yesterday. How’s that for change? Brands can help consumers move through a model of change.

When it comes to change, I have always mapped out four types of consumers, based on whether they are proactive or reactive mindset and whether they are trying to prevent or repair a problem.

Proactive consumers are driven by knowledge; reactive consumers are driven by an event. Preventers are willing to change the lifestyle; repair type consumers want to directly address the issue at hand, without changing their overall lifestyle.

Mapping this out, we see four potential types of consumers:

  • Proactive Preventers do what it takes to maintain their overall health. They watch what they eat, workout, do things in moderation and maintain overall good health. Their change is usually triggered by information about new learnings in the healthcare field. Consumer BehaviorThey’d be early adopters to new trends. What lies in their motivation could be a combination of overall health values or something in their family history that might motivate them to maintain such a healthy lifestyle.
  • Reactive Preventers change their ways and shift their life completely based on a trigger in their life. It could be an event that happened directly to them or someone close to them. The change is an awakening that makes them re-look everything in their life and then they realize they are no longer invincible. They might start connecting the lifestyle to the event and they want to make the change overall.
  • Proactive Repair consumers have the need for change triggered by knowledge. It could be a news story or key influencers provide them with new information that makes them undertake the change before things happen. Many times people get so busy they didn’t realize what happened and then the trigger makes them re-look and fix it before things happen. The trigger could be having a baby or turning 40 or just a realization that things got out of control.
  • Reactive Repair consumers are usually those who experience something bad and then they feel forced to make a change. It could be the first major health scare. The change is isolated to the cause of the event.

Change model

Ever notice when someone is going to quit smoking they might say “on February 1st, I’m going to quit” or “I’m going on my diet on Monday”. It might sound silly but what they are doing is following the Preparation Stage of a Change Model. They put a stake in the ground so they can spend some time mentally getting ready for the change. As we come up on January 1st, we will see people go on diets, quit smoking, join a gym, start following a new routine.

It is also why marketers want to own New Year’s Eve.

change model

The most common change model has 5 stages:

  • Pre-Contemplation: Consumers might know they have a problem, but have no intention of taking action in the foreseeable future. May have failed before.
  • Contemplation: Consumers recognize their behavior is a problem. They begin searching for solutions that fit with their needs and abilities to succeed.
  • Preparation: Consumers intend to take action in immediate future. They lock in a date, arrange plan/tools and take other small steps that may help success.
  • Action: As the big day has arrived, all the motivation built up in preparation stage will help the first day, and hopefully past the fifth day.
  • Maintenance: The biggest challenge at this stage is to make it through potential failure points, linked to your old lifestyle/routines. For longterm success, it’s important to build new routines in your life.

How Marketing can match up to the change model

At the early stages, you need to find some way to trigger consumers into the consideration of the need for change. For the proactive consumers, take advantage of their mindset by trying to trigger a need for change. Drive the awareness of the problem and outline risks, dangers and issues of non action.  For the reactive consumers, use influencers such as peers or healthcare professionals to help dialup the seriousness of the need for change.

As consumers move to the contemplation stage, they try to get themselves ready. Show positive easy solutions and make change feel doable. Use your brand to help them visualize what change will look like, and set up the idea that they are capable. Change their minds about their confidence level with something new.

As consumers move to the preparation stage, they look for information to help their journey and reenforce their capability for achieving success. Own search, as consumers turn to the internet before they turn to healthcare professionals. By helping consumers early on, you may hold onto them throughout the change journey. Use the entry point to introduce the idea of a coach or self-help group. As consumers feel reluctant to take action, they worry they may fail. The coach or group can help add confidence they are not in this alone. Professional, peer, counsellor or online support can be highly effective with daily motivational tips to keep going.

Moving to action

Just before the action stage, help them set realistic goals. Baby steps might be necessary early on, so the consumer can experience a degree of success and feel motivated to keep going. Early failure could send them into the relapse before the change kicks in. They say it’s twenty-one days to change a habit, but it’s usually a lot longer with all the temptations around.

The change doesn’t end until you get through the maintenance stage. The consumer needs to build change into their life. Even a year later, consumers could find an event that triggers them into a relapse. A lot of vices are connected with stress. For many, comfort food or a coffee and a cigarette just feel great when things get highly stressful. So a new level of life stress can see the consumer reaching for old habits.  Compliance is never an easy thing–even the most serious of heart medications can struggle with compliance.

change model

Keep awareness strong at all stages.

Depending on the potential size of the business, you may wish to cover all parts of the change model with a constant level of brand awareness. Stay visible so when the consumer looks for solutions, you brand is the first point of consideration.

Consumer insights for quitting smoking 

When I worked in the quit-smoking categories, I used the 360-degree mining for consumer insights. I have never smoked in my life, so all of this was new and forced me to listen, observe, and go deeper.

  • The starting data point was, “Studies show smokers will try to quit cold-turkey over seven times before reaching for a smoking aid to help them quit.” It speaks to how hard it is to quit, and how many times it takes to achieve success. Regarding smoking aids, it shows how the product is the last resort.
  • Adding observations from focus groups, I could see how smokers become very agitated. We held two-hour focus groups and talked non-stop about what could get them to quit smoking. In the first hour, they were polite, but after one hour without a cigarette, I could see their agitation grow to a boiling point.   
  • When I listened further, I heard them say, “I feel guilty I can’t quit” or “I know I should quit” or “Whenever I quit, I feel I’m not myself. I get so irritable that I give up” or “I wish smoking wasn’t so bad for you because quitting smoking sucks.” These are some of the underlying feelings coming out, expressed in their words.
  • Using the emotional need states, I gravitated to the consumer’s lack of optimism or confidence to quit, how smokers feel out of control whenever they try to quit, and how they feel not themselves.
  • Observing how quitting smoking fits into their lives, I could see how they take their misery from trying to quit out on those around them. They linked the moment of quitting smoking with their “worst version of themselves coming out” and talked about “the monster.” Some said their spouse or friends had told them they would prefer they keep smoking rather than having to deal with this terrible version of themselves. 

Consumer insight (connection point):

  • “I know I should quit. I’ve tried to quit smoking so many times, it’s ridiculous. I’m not myself. I’m grouchy, irritable and feel out of control. Quitting smoking sucks!” When I shared this secret back with smokers who want to quit, they say, “Yup, that’s exactly how I feel.”

Consumer enemy (pain point):

  • “I fear quitting smoking will bring out the monster in me, turning me into the worst version of myself.” 

consumer insights

 

Having worked in the quit smoking business for years, here’s a TV ad that shows just how hard change really is. People quit 6-8 times on their own before reaching for the help of a quit smoking product. We capitalized on that fact to show a side-by-side demonstration of the difference when using Nicoderm.

 

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

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

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

Beloved Brands book

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

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

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

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Graham Robertson signature

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to Guide for Marketers

What makes a great ad agency

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It seems that clients are firing their ad agency very quickly these days. After 70 years of clients and agencies trying to work together, neither can really figure each other out. It seems pitches are always happening, and yet no one is really wanting to look themselves the mirror and say “Am I part of the problem?”

Let’s put this out here: the percent of great people on the client side is around equal to that of the agency side; neither is better. The percent of poor performers on both sides is also the same; neither is worse. As for any relationship not working, you both own 50% of the problem.ad agency

Before we even get started, I want to make sure every brand leader realizes they may have hired the agency, but until they can inspire the people who work on their brand, they have not yet officially hired the people at the agency. If you knew that being a better client would get you better work, would you show up differently? Would you show up as a better client?

Be a better client

Brand leaders need to take a step back and let the creativity of execution unfold. I always say that it is okay to know exactly what you want, but you should never know until the moment you see it. As the client, I like to think of marketing execution as the perfect gift that you never thought to buy yourself. How we engage our experts can either inspire greatness or crush the spirit of creativity. From my experience, experts would prefer to be pushed than held back. The last thing experts want is to be asked for their expertise and then told exactly what to do. There is a fine line between rolling up your sleeves to work alongside the experts and pushing the experts out of the way.

It is time to step back and assume your true role as a brand leader. Trust me, it is a unique skill to be able to inspire, challenge, question, direct and decide, without any expertise at all.

I come at this from the vantage of a client, having spent 20 years working as a brand leader. I am not an ad agency guy, but I have seen some great agencies and some not so good.

Here is my list what makes a great ad agency:

1. Understands my goals, issues, and strategies.

I want an agency who write briefs and creative work that expresses my brand strategy. In today’s world, people on both sides–client and agency–are more focused on making cool stuff than creating work that delivers the strategy. Not enough are trained in strategic thinking, brand planning, and creative briefs.

As margins are squeezed on both sides, we are losing the “strategic planner” who is the interruptive voice in the room to make sure the strategy lines up to the consumer. I’d prefer investing in a great strategic planner instead of five client service people show up at every meeting. Even the best brand leaders struggle to translate their brand plan, into a creative brief. We need those strategic planners to help set up better insights and creative strategy.

2. Make advertising that builds my brand, not work that just win awards

I get that awards are part of the agency world, to reward exceptional work. I wish more award choices would focus more on moving brands forward. The best in marketing, see it as a puzzle, where they start by understanding the consumer, then figure out what connects and moves the consumer, and finally, what will trigger our consumer to move in a way that fits our strategy.

Stop getting so excited about stuff. Get about excited about what stuff does.

Instead of coming into the room with the “we are so excited” line, I want an agency to come into a room and say “we have an ad for you that will creatively accomplish the goal you laid out in your brand plan.” Then show me how you did it.

3. Gives me creative options, not strategic options

Come on agencies, clients want options. Get over it.

The difference for me is that I want creative options, not strategic ones. Each option has to deliver the strategy, not just various parts of the creative brief. There is nothing worse than agencies who tear apart the brief and deliver options for each part of the brief. As a client, I want a brief with a tightly defined target, one objective, one main message. There can be no tearing apart a big wide creative brief. As clients, options give us comfort. But even more importantly, options treat us with respect that we can still make the right decision.

As an aside, it’s somewhat crazy that ten agency people in a room all agree on which option is the recommended. If the same ten ordered pizza, we’d likely end up with 7 pizzas. I want an agency who is comfortable enough to show their disagreement candidly.

4. Don’t be territorial

As a client, I want free and open access to planners and creative people. The best account people allow the client to communicate directly with the creative team. Most great creative teams I have worked with want direct access to the client, rather than have it be filtered through a series of carefully written contact reports.

5. Be fast and cheap when we need fast and cheap

Sometimes, I want the world’s most celebrated Michelin star chef to create a masterpiece. Other times, we need microwave pizza.

There is a reason why big agencies lost most of their client’s digital or social media: eight people in every meeting, 12-week timelines and need to hire the best photographer, director or writer for everything. We need it by 4pm today! If you were faster, cheaper and responsive, there would be no specialty agencies and no internal creative shops.

6. Be willing to teach

When I was a new brand manager, I was lucky enough that my client services person (Leslie Boscheratto) taught me more about advertising than any client should have to learn. In fact, I’m still embarrassed how little I knew, yet thrilled at how much I learned from that team at Bates back in the mid-90s.

The media world is ten times as complex today as it was in the mid-90s. Brand leaders are more confused than ever. Every day, marketers have to hear: “you should be doing…xyz” coming directly from those with a vested interest, who are trying to sell xyz (their specialty) as the only way to go.

  • “You should be doing more mobile.”
  • “You should do more paid search.”
  • “Hey, you should do more social media.”
  • “You should do more digital.”
  • “You should be doing content, not advertising.”
  • “But, you should keep TV.”
  • “You should use more influencers, not advertising.”

I was lucky to have one media agency back in the day, who would provide a holistic media recommendation. Where is that objective voice of reason, who has no dog in the race? Your client needs and wants your help. No one else is helping them.

7. Work for me, not my boss

While your boss pays them and has the final say, the best agencies still know you are the client. Nothing worse than a client service person continually trying to go above your head.

I am a big believer in bottom-up marketing. The person who knows the brand situation the best should be the brand manager. If the VP believes they don’t, then get a new brand manager, instead of stepping in to do their job. The brand manager should tell the VP what to do not the other way around.

Same with the agency. Stop thinking the brand manager is just a speed bump to get to the VP. The best way for an agency to earn the trust of the client is to demonstrate that they work for the brand manager. Once you have that trust, it will earn you a seat at the table of their boss.

Oh, by the way, if the brand manager is viewed as really, really good…who do you think is the first person we ask if the agency is any good: that’s right, the person you’ve viewed as a speed bump. Not smart on your part.

 

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

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

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

Beloved Brands book

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

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

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

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Graham Robertson signature

 

 

 

 

How to Guide for Marketers

Seven Resolutions for Brand Leaders

Posted on

As we approach the new year, it’s a great time to come back fresh from the break and challenge yourself to get better. In the words of T.S. Eliot: “For last year’s words belong to last year’s language and next year’s words await another voice.” resolutionsHere are seven resolutions you should try:

#1: Take a walk in your consumer’s shoes.

See and experience your brand as consumers do. It’s not just about doing research and finding consumer insights. I know it sounds pedestrian, but google your brand, try to buy it, open it and use it. Bring the consumer into everything you do tightening the connection. Consumers do not care what you do until you care about what they want. In 2019, be the type of marketer who represents the consumer to your brand and then watch your work get better.

Most marketers think of the type of consumers they want to attract. Why not change your thinking and go after those consumers who are already motivated by what your brand offers? So instead of asking, “Who do we want?” you should be saying, “Who wants us?”

I use seven fundamental questions to define and build a profile of your ideal consumer target:

  1. What is the description of the consumer target?
  2. What are the consumer’s main needs?
  3. Who is the consumer’s enemy who torments them every day?
  4. What are the insights we know about the consumer?
  5. What does the consumer think now?
  6. How does the consumer buy?
  7. What do we want consumers to see, think, do, feel or whisper to their friends?

Consumer Target

#2: Ask bigger questions and you will get bigger answers.

The best strategic minds see questions before they see solutions.

I want to introduce you to my ThinkBox strategic thinking model. I have borrowed this idea from sports. For instance, before a shot in golf, the ThinkBox forces you to look at your golf score versus your opponent, the type of shot that works best with your swing, the wind condition, or how well you are playing that day. Then, use your PlayBox to visualize the golf shot, think and feel your way through your swing, then trust your shot.

strategic thinking

With a brand, the ThinkBox, before taking action, you should look at your brand’s core strength, the bond you have with your consumers, the brand’s competitive position, and the brand’s business situation. Once you have done the thinking, use the PlayBox to see the impact, think and feel your way, then trust your instincts.

I have set the Brand ThinkBox up so that each of the four questions uses a forced choice to make decisions, where you must focus on one answer for each question.

  1. What is the core strength that will help your brand win?
  2. How tightly connected is your consumer to your brand?
  3. What is your current competitive position?
  4. What is the current business situation your brand faces?

strategic thinking

Core strength

Start with your brand’s core strength. Decide which of four choices you will lead with: product, brand story, consumer experience or price. Your core strength will change your entire strategy, including the brand messages and the focus of your investment. In the next chapter, I will outline an excellent process for how to choose your brand’s core strength and then show you how to write smart, strategic objective statements around your core strength.

Strategic Thinking

Consumer Strategy

Next, you have to look at your consumer strategy. Start by determining where your brand currently sits on the brand love curve, whether your brand is unknown, indifferent, like it, love it, or at the beloved stage. The goal is to tighten the bond with your consumer and move them from one stage to the next. In a later chapter, I will show you how to use brand funnel data, the voice of the consumer and market dynamics to determine where your brand sits on the brand love curve. I will outline distinct game plans for each stage.

Consumer Strategy

Competitive Strategy

Regarding the competitive strategy, you must choose from one of four different types of competitive situations you find your brand operating within. The power players are the dominant leader in the category and take a competitive defensive stance. The challenger brands have gained enough power to battle head-to-head with the market leader. The disruptor brands have found a space so different they can pull consumers away from the significant category players. Craft brands aggressively go against the category with a niche target market and a niche consumer benefit. They are small and stay far away from the market leaders. Each competitive situation leads to different strategy choices.

Competitive Strategy

Situational Strategy

A brand must look at the situational strategy, which starts with understanding your brand health, looking at both internal and external factors. Choose one of four potential situations: whether you keep the momentum going, face a business turnaround situation, realign everyone behind a strategy, or your brand is a start-up. With each situation, it leads to distinct strategies, and even leadership styles to deploy.

#3: Create more love for your brand, and you’ll drive more power and profits for your Brand.  

The tighter the bond a brand creates with their consumers, the more powerful the brand will become with all stakeholders. Think of brand love as stored energy a brand can unleash in the form of power into the marketplace. You can use that power with consumers, competitors, new entries, employees, influencers, media, suppliers and channel partners.

Power over the consumers

These beloved brands command power over the very consumers who love them, as consumers feel more and think less. These consumers pay price premiums, line up in the rain, follow the brand as soon as it enters new categories and relentlessly defend the brand to any attackers. They cannot live without the brand.

Power over the channels

Beloved brands have power over channel customers, who know their consumers would switch stores before they switch brands. Stores cannot stand up to the beloved brand; instead, they give the brand everything in negotiations. The beloved brand ends up with stronger store placement, better trade terms and better promotions from retail partners.

Power over the competition

The competitors, whether current competitors or new entries, cannot match the emotional bond the beloved brand has created with their brand fans. The beloved brand has the monopoly on emotions, making the consumer decisions less about the actual product and more about how the experience makes consumers feel. Unless a new brand has an overwhelming technological advantage, it will be impossible to break the emotional bond the consumer has established with the beloved brand.

Power over the media

The beloved brand also has a power over the media whether it is paid, earned, social or search media. With paid media, the beloved brand gets better placement, cheaper rates and they are one of the first calls for possible brand integrations. The beloved brand is considered newsworthy, so they earn more free media via mainstream media, expert reviews and bloggers.

Power over the company’s culture

Beloved brands even have power over employees, who want to be part of the brand. They are brand fans, who are proud to work on the brand. They embody the culture on day 1 and want to help the brand achieve success.

Brand love means brand profits

With all the love and power the beloved brand generates, it becomes easy to translate that stored power into sales growth, profit, and market valuation.

Here are the eight ways a brand can drive profits:

  1. Premium pricing
  2. Trading up on price
  3. Lower cost of goods
  4. Lower sales and marketing costs
  5. Stealing competitive users
  6. Getting loyal users to use more
  7. Entering new markets
  8. Finding new uses for the brand.

#4: Focus makes your brand bigger, not smaller

Focus your limited resources on a distinct opportunity you have identified based on a potential change in the market, including changes to consumers, competitive situation, technology or sales channels.

In today’s data-driven world, everyone has access to the equivalent information and in turn, can see the same opportunities. You must use speed to seize the opportunity before others can take action, and then that opportunity is gone. The best brand leaders never divide and conquer. They force themselves to focus and win. The smartest brand leaders use the word “or” more often than they use the word “and.” If you come to a decision point, and you try to rationalize doing a little of both, you are not strategic. Force yourself to make choices.

Every brand has limited resources, whether they’re financial, time, people, or partnerships. Marketers always face the temptation of an unlimited array of choices, whether in the possible target market, brand messages, strategies, or tactics. The smartest brand leaders limit their choices to match up to their limited resources, to focus on those that will deliver the highest return. 

Many marketers struggle to focus. 

  • Myth 1: The most prominent myth of marketing is to believe that your brand will get bigger if you have a broader target market.
  • Reality: Too many marketers target anyone. I will always argue it is better to be loved by a few than tolerated by many. You have to create a tight bond with a core base of brand fans, and then use that fan support to expand your following. 
  • Myth 2: The second myth to becoming a more prominent brand is to believe a brand stands for everything. Some brands try to say everything possible with the hope the consumer hears anything. 
  • Reality: Hope is never a strategy. To be loved by consumers, a brand must stand for something with a backbone and conviction. Trying to be everything to anyone just ends up becoming nothing to everyone.
  • Myth 3: Your brand will be bigger if you try to be everywhere, whether in every sales channel or on every possible media option.
  • Reality: If you went to Las Vegas and put a chip on every square, you would be bankrupt before midnight. The worst marketers lack focus because they fear missing out on someone or something. By trying to be everywhere, the brand will drain itself and eventually end up being nowhere.

Every brand has limited resources, whether they’re financial, time, people, or partnerships. Marketers always face the temptation of an unlimited array of choices, whether in the possible target market, brand messages, strategies, or tactics. The smartest brand leaders limit their choices to match up to their limited resources, to focus on those that will deliver the highest return. 

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

  1. Stronger return on investment (ROI): When you focus your dollars on the distinct breakthrough point or against a program that you know will work, you will see the most positive and efficient response in the marketplace. 
  2. Better return on effort (ROE): You must make the most efficient use of your limited people resources. Find the Big Easy! Focus on the ideas with the most significant impact that is the easiest to execute. Avoid those ideas that are small and difficult to implement. While you may not always have the data to calculate your ROI, you should have the instincts to figure out your return on effort (ROE). 
  3. Stronger reputation: When you limit your audience and brand message, you will have a better chance to own that reputation among that core target audience. 
  4. More competitive: When you focus your message to a specific target audience, your brand will start to create a space in the market you can defend against others from entering that space.
  5. More investment behind the brand: When you focus and deliver business results, your management team will ask you to do that again. They will give you more money and more people resources. Even with increased resources, you must take the same focused approach. 

#5: At every turn, ask yourself “DO I LOVE IT?”

We can never settle for O.K. Each time we reject O.K., the work gets better. It makes our expectations higher. When you have to love your work, you will fight for it, with your agency, your boss or anyone in the way.

No longer can we think about 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.

Brands must treat their most cherished consumers with the respect that establishes trust, enabling consumers to open up to a point where they replace thinking with feeling. The logic of demand evolves into an emotional state of desire, needs become cravings and repeat purchases progress into rituals and turn into a favorite moment in the day. Consumers transform into the most outspoken and loyal brand fans and ambassadors.

#6: Find your space in the market to win

To find the competitive space in which your brand can win, I introduce a Venn diagram of competitive situations that we will use throughout this chapter.

Competitive Strategy

You will see three circles. The first circle comprises everything your consumer wants or needs. The second circle includes everything your brand does best, including consumer benefits, product features or proven claims. And, finally, the third circle lists what your competitor does best.

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

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

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

There are four ways you can win the risky zone:

    • Use your brand’s power in the market to squeeze out smaller, weaker brands.
    • Be the first to capture that space to earn a reputation you can defend
    • Win with innovation and creativity to make your brand seem unique
    • Build a deeper emotional connection to make your brand seem different

Sadly, I always have to mention the dumb zone (in blue) where two competitors “battle it out” in the space consumers do not care.  One competitor says, “We are faster,” and the other brand says, “We are just as fast.” No one bothered to ask the consumer if they care about speed. Both brands are dumb.

#7: Care more about the careers of your people

The best way to connect with your team is to care about their careers. If you are authentic with how you approach their development, they’ll listen to your advice, follow your lead and give more effort than ever. And when they feel they are getting the training and development needed to be successful, they’ll likely stay longer with your company. If you help them add skills and motivation, their on-the-job performance will be even better. When the work gets better, the brand’s results will be better.

For you the equation is simple: Smarter people leads to better work, which leads to stronger growth for your brand.

I hope you try one of these resolutions for 2019 and see the difference.  

 

 

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

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

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

Beloved Brands book

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

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

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

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Graham Robertson signature

 

How to Guide for Marketers

5 career questions marketers should ask themselves once a year

Posted on

brand management

Right after your year-end performance review is a great time to reflect on where you are in your career, where to go next and what is your longer-term plan? Here are five career questions to ask, at least once a year:

  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?

Answer honestly before going out into the job market. Use these answers to frame your career strategy. Think of these questions as a starting point to your personal branding or how you might position yourself on your LinkedIn profile.

Within your current organization, 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 within a large organization, 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. Once you have peaked, how long do you think you can remain successful within your current company before you get squeezed out? Moreover, you might want to proactively take action at 45, rather than reactively be forced to take effect at 52.

Should you stay in the same industry or look at new verticals?

If you’re in consumer packaged goods, those in brand management still have the power to drive the brands. However, once you leave CPG, marketing’s role can get diminished to more of a supporting role. It can become a marketing communications function–either communicating the product or service, which the marketer has little control over. With less control over the pure direction of the business or brand, marketing becomes a bit more of a do-er support function rather than a strategic role which leads the business.

Should you stay in pure brand management or venture into a subject-matter expert type roles?

This quest sets up 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 instead of the general manager role. 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 brands.

How long do you want to keep working?

You will eventually have to start asking this question. Part of this decision will depend on your finances and your family situation. When I was 25, I would have hoped I’d retire at 55 on an island. However, at 45, I found myself asking “so what do I want to do for the next 15 years?” I had no clue about the answer. It was scary. Now that I’ve found my second career as a consultant, I want to work till I’m 70!

Do you stay an employee or do you take this moment to leap out on your own?

Many marketing careers peak in your 40s. Staying an employee at 50 puts you at risk of eventually being laid off by a 38-year-old one day. As I hit my 40s, it became harder for me to sit through a performance review with a straight face.
Being on your own gives you an absolute power to be your own boss. I love it.  However, when anyone asks me if they should, my immediate reaction is to say “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, when I told her about ten 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. Also, it can be a very lonely experience–which surprised an introvert like me.  It took me 18 months to get used to the working alone feeling — no one to talk about the latest celebrity scandals or football game.

Before you ever go on your own, here are two new questions for you:

  1. How do you like looking for a job? As a consultant, we are always looking for our next assignment.
  2. How do you like sales? I remember a wise sales leader once told me, “If you hate sales, start in sales and move up to management. Every other profession will end up in sales.” As a consultant, we are always selling. Consulting is my first real sales job and my first service role. Both took time for me to adjust.

 

 

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

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

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

Beloved Brands book

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

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

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

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Graham Robertson signature

 

 

 

How to Guide for Marketers

Use blowfish marketing to make your brand seems bigger

Posted on

blowfish marketingBlowfish Marketing uses a focused target market, focused brand message, focused strategy and activities to those you know will drive your brand’s growth.

A blowfish marketing strategy makes yourself seem bigger than you are. For start-ups or a smaller niche players, you need to look like a real player to be noticed and purchased. Blowfish Marketing takes your entire marketing budget and puts it against one target market who you know you can move. You have to talk about one simple message you know will be the most motivating to your target. Choose to do far less activities so each activity has enough resources to be meaningful. Put all of your money behind one media choice, one geography, one channel that you know will drive your strategy. To those who see and engage your brand, they will think you are much bigger than you really are. No matter how much money you have, challenge yourself to think and act like a blowfish.

Blowfish Marketing Elements

  • Use a tight target market you know will respond
  • Focus on a tight brand message you know will engage and move consumers
  • Make sure your strategy focuses on a specific outcome
  • Limit the activities to those you know will work
  • Focus on a short timing window, specific media choices and specific retail channels.

Many marketers struggle to focus

The most prominent myth is your brand will get bigger if you have a broader target market.

The reality is too many marketers target anyone. I will always argue it is better to be loved by a few than tolerated by many. Create a tight bond with a core base of brand fans.  Then use that fan support to expand your following.

The second myth to becoming a more prominent brand is to believe a brand stands for everything. Some brands try to say everything possible with the hope the consumer hears anything.

The reality is that hope is never a strategy. To be loved by consumers, a brand must stand for something with a backbone and conviction. Trying to be everything to anyone just ends up becoming nothing to everyone.

The third myth is that your brand will be bigger if you try to be everywhere.  Whether that means you are in every sales channel or on every possible media option.

The reality is the worst marketers lack focus because they fear missing out on someone or something. By trying to be everywhere, the brand will drain itself and eventually end up being nowhere. If you went to Las Vegas and put a chip on every square, you would be bankrupt before midnight.

Every brand has limited resources, whether they’re financial, time, people, or partnerships. Marketers always face the temptation of an unlimited array of choices. Those choices show up with the possible target market, brand messages, strategies, or tactics. The smartest brand leaders use blowfish marketing to limit their choices to match up to their limited resources. They focus on those choices that will deliver the highest return.

Target market

One of the biggest mistakes I see marketers make is picking too broad of a target market. A tight target market  decides who is in the target and who is not in the target. 

Scared marketers target “everyone.” There seems to be an irrational fear of leaving someone out. Spreading your brand’s limited resources across an entire population is completely cost-prohibitive. Targeting everyone “just in case” might feel safe at first. However, it is riskier because you spread your resources so broadly you never see the full impact you want to see. This fear of missing out (FOMO) gives your brand a lower return on investment. Eventually, you will drain your brand’s limited resources. Please focus.

Every time I go to the airport, I see the shoeshine person looking down at people’s feet, qualifying potential customers based on whether they are wearing leather shoes. It reminds me how simple it is to target those consumers who are the most motivated by what you do. Sure, they could be missing out on the very few people who have leather shoes in their suitcase. However, using a focused approach to profile consumers is a smart way to maximize your return on effort. If shoeshiners can narrow the focus of their target to people wearing leather shoes, why is it so difficult for you to narrow down your target to those who care the most about what your brand does?  

Instead of going after who you want, blowfish marketing goes after those who want you 

If you have a golf ball that goes longer than any other golf ball, go after those golfers who already hit it long and want to hit it even longer. If you have a new recipe for chicken noodle soup, go after those who love chicken noodle soup. And if you are selling a mortgage, go after those consumers who want to buy a house. Damn, that sounds simple. Then why do I see golf marketers go after people who hate golf, soup marketers go after those who don’t give a damn about soup and banks trying to sell mortgages to everyone.

To illustrate this point of focus, I look at three types of potential target markets:

target market

Selling target:

This is pretty much everyone, as you sell to anyone who comes in the door and wants to buy, regardless if they fit your ideal target. However, “everyone” should never be a marketing target. You are spreading your resources so thin your message will miss out on really capturing those consumers most likely to respond, which provides an efficient payback.

Marketing target:

You should focus your limited resources on those consumers who have the highest likelihood of responding positively to your brand positioning,  advertising, and new product innovation. A tighter target market provides the fastest and highest return on investment. 

Program target:

When working on a specific campaign, narrow the target even further. Focus on people you want to stimulate to see if you can get them to see, think, feel or do things that will benefit your brand. A specific program target is smart when launching a new product or aligning with a promotional time of year (including back-to-school or Christmas).

To read more about how to build a brand positioning statement, click on this link:

How to build a brand positioning statement

Take on a Craft brand strategy

Craft brands must win a small space in the marketplace that offers something unique to a highly engaged target. These brands succeed when they are far enough away from major competitors that the leaders ignore them because craft brands stay hidden away. 

craft brands

Craft brands build themselves behind a micro-benefit, including gluten-free, low fat, locally grown, organic or ethically sourced. These craft brands take an antagonistic approach to the rest of the category, portraying every other brand in the category as old-school, overly corporate, unethical, flawed in the manufacturing or the use of ingredients. Many times, these brands take a very aggressive marketing stance, calling out the other brands as unethical or stupid. Craft brands believe it is better to be loved by the few than liked or tolerated by many.

Examples of Craft brands

A fantastic of example a craft brand is Five Guys Burgers, which uses fresh, high-quality beef and a commitment not to begin cooking your burger until you order it. The portions are more substantial than typical fast food, and they charge super-premium prices. Five Guys have gone in the opposite direction to most fast food restaurants, whose meals seem frozen and microwaved. Five Guys has expanded rapidly with word of  mouth helping the brand earn a reputation as “the best burger.” Now that Five Guys has become a global brand, McDonald’s has to figure out an adequate competitive response. 

Another excellent example of a craft brand is Dollar Shave, which launched as an online subscription model for razor blades. Dollar Shave uses smart sourcing and a direct-to-consumer distribution model. This efficient model eliminates costs and allows the brand to sell razors at a fraction of the cost you pay for Gillette. For consumers, the price of razor blades has gotten out of control, no matter how much innovation the leaders try to portray. Dollar Shave’s advertising openly mocked Gillette, yet it started in such a small niche, so Gillette ignored them. While year one sales were only $30 million, without a competitive response from Gillette, Dollar Shave continued to grow year-by-year, until Unilever recently purchased the brand for $1 billion.  

Write a focused brand plan with the power of threes

I believe in “the power of threes.” As I said earlier, your brand plan should help you make decisions on where to focus and allocate your limited resources.

As a guideline, for an annual plan, I recommend you focus on the top three strategies, then focus on the top three tactics for each strategy. 
That means nine significant projects for your brand to focus your limited resources on during the year. Compare the subtle difference with what happens when you try to do five strategies with five tactics: the plan quickly explodes into 25 projects. That would cripple your brand’s limited resources. What if you never get to the twenty-fifth project but it was the most important project? With fewer projects, you will be able to execute everything with full passion and brilliance.

brand plans

I see too many marketers with a long list of things they need to do. They are so busy; they have no time to think about what matters to their brand. What ends up happening is they have very little passion for any one particular project; they’re just trying to get everything done. This thinking is not the ideal behavior a brand needs to become a beloved brand.

To read more about how to build a smart brand plan everyone can follow, click on this link:

How to build a smart brand plan everyone can follow

Blowfish Marketing focuses your activities

The principles of focus mean you have to limit the execution ideas to those that will best match your brand’s limited resources.

Here is a tool that will allow you to assess the potential return on effort (ROE) for possible marketing activities. I call it the “big easy” execution decision-making grid.

Take each execution plan and hold a creative brainstorm. Put each tactical idea on a Post-It note. Then plot the ideas onto the grid as to whether the idea will have a big impact versus small impact on your business results, and whether the idea will be easy to execute versus difficult to execute.

The top ideas rise to the big easy quadrant in the top-right corner. The goal of this tool is to narrow down your focus to the best three activities for each plan while eliminating those ideas that are potential resource drains. While you may not always have access to the data to find the ROI before launching a program, you should be able to use your instincts and judgment to assess ROE.

tactics

Blowfish Marketing focuses media choices

There is a term called zero-based marketing budgeting, which starts off each new year assuming all brand budgets are zero and the brand must prove their case to earn its budget level. While it makes perfect sense in theory, with 20 years of experience with marketing budgets, this is not an easy concept to implement. One risk I see is that a zero-based budget could lead to short-term and highly transactional advertising.

A brand needs to balance brand-building activities, which add to the long-term connection with consumers with transactional call-to-action messaging intended to trigger purchases. For instance, if you tell me “Buy two, get one free” for five straight years, your consumers will eventually forget why they should buy your product at all, let alone two. There is a degree of uncertainty in making investment decisions. Get comfortable with your instincts to balance the degree of ambiguity to make the smart decision.

When you feel the risk/reward of the media investment is unknown, it might be wise to start with a smaller investment level. Use what I call a “blowfish” media plan so that, among those you target, you appear to be a large brand. Pick a tight target market with a limited media choice or geographic focus to replicate how a more substantial media investment would appear. When the unknown is very high, get smarter by using test markets with various media spend levels to gain the necessary consumer response data before you make a full investment.

When you use Blowfish Marketing to focus, five amazing things happen to your brand:

  1. Stronger return on investment (ROI): When you focus your dollars on the distinct breakthrough point or against a program that you know will work, you will see the most positive and efficient response in the marketplace.
  2. Better return on effort (ROE): You must make the most efficient use of your limited people resources. Find the Big Easy! Focus on the ideas with the most significant impact that is the easiest to execute. Avoid those ideas that are small and difficult to implement. While you may not always have the data to calculate your ROI, you should have the instincts to figure out your ROE.
  3. Stronger reputation: When you limit your audience and brand message, you will have a better chance to own that reputation among that core target audience.
  4. More competitive: When you focus your message to a specific target audience, your brand will start to create a space in the market you can defend against others from entering that space.
  5. More investment behind the brand: When you focus and deliver business results, your management team will ask you to do that again. They will give you more money and more people resources. Even with increased resources, you must take the same focused approach.

Like a blowfish, you need to appear bigger than you are

 

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

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

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

Beloved Brands book

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

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

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

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Graham Robertson signature

 

 

How to Guide for Marketers

Apple’s new holiday ad encourages us all to find our own voice

Posted on

apple holiday adApple’s new holiday ad really nails the current state we are in, where people are getting more and more comfortable in sharing their views with the hope they catch someone’s mind.

Apple’s new holiday ad is a beautiful animation about a girl who endlessly tells her own story, yet lives in fear anyone will ever read it. While we all wonder what to say, we really worry if anyone out there wants to hear.

I would encourage you to find your voice, bang out some words, and believe that the world needs to hear from you. Put your own words into the air, and see them catch someone’s imagination. Nice job Apple. I love Apple’s new holiday.

Here it is:

As someone who wrote a book this year, this ad really struck a chord with me. I wrote quite many versions of my book over the past few years. Many times I became frustrated by too many thoughts, or my mind raced with so many unstructured views, trying to piece it all together. I discovered that a blog story is as simple as strumming a guitar with some words, banging out the words within 30 minutes. However,  a 225-page book that covers EVERYTHING feels like piecing together an orchestra. And then hoping all those words and thoughts connect.

 

To get your holiday spirits flowing, here are the best Christmas ads I’ve ever seen.

I’ve searched far and wide to find the best Christmas ads of all time, from around the world. Have a look below at 18 ads from the UK, Germany, Portugal, US, Australia, Poland, Argentina and Canada. If you have any others, please send them over. I’d love to see them.

The best Christmas ads I have ever seen

Here is my own story told through my Beloved Brands book

beloved brands bookMy goal in writing the Beloved Brands playbook is to make you a smarter brand leader. I want you to be able to help your brand win in the market. I know your role and the challenges you face, and have been in your shoes. And, I will share everything I have learned in my 20 years in the trenches of brand management. I want to help you be successful. This book is intended as an actionable “make it happen” playbook, not a theory or opinion book.

It takes a fundamentally sound marketer to figure out how to win with brand love. In this crazy cluttered world of brands, the fundamentals of brand management matter more now than ever.

To build a relationship, you must genuinely court your consumer. To move your consumer from stranger to friend and onto the forever stage, you need to think all the time. With the focus on access to big data, marketers are drowning in so much data they do not even have the time to sort through it all to produce the analytical stories that help to make decisions. Marketers are so overwhelmed by the breadth of media choices and the pressure to be everywhere that the quality of the execution has suffered.

If marketers do not love the work they create, how can they ever expect the consumer to love the brand?

The more loved your brand, the more powerful and profitable your brand will be. While old-school marketers were yelling their message to every consumer, today’s brand leaders must build relationships and create a bond with their most cherished consumers. We will explore the concept of a brand idea, showing how it helps connect with consumers and organize everything you do on your brand. An overview of the brand love curve will steer your strategic thinking and your execution decisions.

You will learn to think, define, plan, inspire and analyze

beloved brands book

1. How to think strategically

Strategic Thinking is the foundation of Brand Management. I will take you through the five elements of smart strategic thinking, including setting a vision, investing in a strategic program that focuses on an identified opportunity, and how to leverage a breakthrough market impact into a performance result. I will show how to turn smart thinking into strategic objective statements you can use in your Brand Plans. And, I will set up the four types of strategy, looking at your brand’s core strength, consumers, competitors and looking the situation.

strategic thinking

Your brand’s core strength

Our core strength model forces you to select one of four possible options as your brand’s lead strength: the product, brand story, experience, or price. Each choice has a distinct strategic focus, brand communications, and desired reputation. I will show how the model comes to life with numerous brand examples and a case study on Starbucks as they build a reputation around their commitment to exceptional consumer experience.

Strategic Thinking

How tight is your bond with consumers?

Consumer strategy is about building a bond with your target consumer. I use the brand love curve to demonstrate specific game plans for each stage of the curve, whether your brand is at the unknown, indifferent, like it, love it or the beloved stage. This model sets up 20 potential strategies. A case study on Special K shows how they evolved from an indifferent brand to a beloved brand.  Consumer Strategy

What is your competitive strategy?

Competitive strategy leverages your brand positioning to win in the market. Brands must evolve their strategy as they move from a craft brand to a disruptor brand to a challenger brand all the way up to the dominant power player. Each of the four choices offers a different target focus, unique strategies, and tactics.

Competitive Strategy

Situational strategy

Before initiating your plan, you must understand what is happening internally, within your own company. You can learn four distinct situations, including fueling the momentum, fix it, re-alignment or a start-up. Each has different indicators and recommended strategies, as well as advice on the leadership style to engage.

2. How to define your brand positioning

Everything must start with the consumer target you will serve. I will show how to develop a consumer profile that includes a segmented definition, consumer insights, consumer enemies, need states and the desired response that matches your overall strategy.

Competitive Strategy

You will learn the four elements of a brand positioning statement including the target you serve, the category you play in, the space you serve that will help you win, and deal-closing support points. The best positioning balances functional and emotional benefits. You will access a tool to choose from more than 100 benefits.

consumer benefits

To become a successful and beloved brand, you need a Brand Idea that is interesting, simple, unique, inspiring, motivating and own-able. I will introduce a tool to help build your Brand Idea, and how to build a winning Brand Concept.

brand concept

Use the brand idea to organize everything you do around five consumer touch-points, including the brand promise, brand story, innovation, purchase moment and the consumer experience. The brand idea should organize your brand positioning, advertising, media, product innovation, selling, retailing and the consumer experience. Learn how to build a brand credo and brand story, and learn from Ritz-Carlton and Apple case studies.

3. How to write Brand Plans

Use a one-page format to simplify and organize your brand plan, so everyone in your organization can follow it with ease. You will learn how to find your brand vision, purpose, key issues, strategies, execution tactics, and measurements.

brand plans

Once you draft your brand plan, it’s time to build separate execution plans with crystal clear strategies for those who will execute on your brand’s behalf. I will show how to complete a brand communication plan, execution plan and sales plan.

4. How to inspire marketing execution

The bridge between your brand plan and marketing execution is the creative brief. I will show how to write a world-class brief using a recommended format. We will review smart and bad examples of a brief, broken out on a line-by-line basis. I also introduce a mini-brief for when you are time-pressed.

creative brief

I will take you through the 10 steps to inspiring greatness from those experts you engage. Then, I will introduce a predictive model that measures branded breakthrough and a motivating message to consumers.

Advertising Process

This section outlines principles for achieving Attention, Brand link, Communication, and Stickiness—the model I call the ABC’s. I will show examples of some of the best ads in the history of branding, to support those principles. I hope it will challenge your thinking about your brand’s advertising.Advertising Decisions

Six questions help you frame your media plan. Factors to consider include your brand’s budget size, your brand’s core strength and how tightly connected your brand is with consumers. Then identify which point on the consumer journey you wish to impact, where your consumers are most willing to engage your message and what media choices best fit with your creative execution.

Media Decisions

5. How to analyze your brand’s performance

The deep-dive forces you to take a 360-degree view of your brand by looking into the marketplace, consumers, channels, competitors, and the brands. You will learn some of the best analytical tools, including consumer tracking, customer scorecards, brand funnels, and the leaky bucket. I provide the 50 best analytical questions to get you started, and a format for how to bring it all together into a business review presentation.

Brand Analytics

Learn what you need to know about brand finance, including the eight ways you can drive profit. Learn how to dissect an income statement and use the key formulas you need to know including return on investment (ROI), growth, forecasting, cost of goods sold (COGS), and compound annual growth rate (CAGR).

Brand Finance

Who should read the Beloved Brands playbook?

Marketing pros and entrepreneurs, this book is for you. Whether you are a VP, CMO, director, brand manager or just starting your marketing career, I promise you will learn how to realize your full potential. You could be in brand management working for an organization or an owner-operator managing a branded business.

Beloved Brands is a toolbox intended to help you every day in your job. Keep it on your desk and refer to it whenever you need to write a brand plan, create a brand idea, develop a creative brief, make advertising decisions or lead a deep-dive business review. You can even pass on the tools to your team, so they can learn how to deliver the fundamentals needed for your brands.

beloved brands

This book is also an excellent resource for marketing professors, who can use it as an in-class textbook to develop future marketers. It will challenge communications agency professionals, who are looking to get better at managing brands, including those who work in advertising, public relations, in-store marketing, digital advertising or event marketing.

If you are an entrepreneur who has a great product and wants to turn it into a brand, you can use this book as a playbook. These tips will help you take full advantage of branding and marketing, and make your brand more powerful and more profitable.

Click on this site below to order our Beloved Brands book

What you will get from the Beloved Brands playbook

In past two decades, what makes brands successful has changed, and you must change with it. You will learn the fundamentals of managing your brand, with brand love at the core. I will show you how to improve your thinking to unleash your full potential as a brand leader.

To order Beloved Brands, you can find the paperback and ebook versions on Amazon by clicking here: https://lnkd.in/eF-mYPe

If you use Kobo: https://lnkd.in/g7SzEh4

And if you are in India: https://lnkd.in/gDA5Aiw

You will learn how to think, define, plan, execute and analyze, and I provide every tool you will ever need to run your brand. You will learn everything you need to know so you can run your brand. My brand promise is to help make you smarter so you can realize your full potential.

Signature

Graham Robertson

Founder and CMO, Beloved Brands Inc.

How to Guide for Marketers

How the Beloved Brands playbook can work for you

Posted on

beloved brands bookMy goal in writing the Beloved Brands playbook is to make you a smarter brand leader. I want you to be able to help your brand win in the market. I know your role and the challenges you face, and have been in your shoes. And, I will share everything I have learned in my 20 years in the trenches of brand management. I want to help you be successful. This book is intended as an actionable “make it happen” playbook, not a theory or opinion book.

It takes a fundamentally sound marketer to figure out how to win with brand love. In this crazy cluttered world of brands, the fundamentals of brand management matter more now than ever.

To build a relationship, you must genuinely court your consumer. To move your consumer from stranger to friend and onto the forever stage, you need to think all the time. With the focus on access to big data, marketers are drowning in so much data they do not even have the time to sort through it all to produce the analytical stories that help to make decisions. Marketers are so overwhelmed by the breadth of media choices and the pressure to be everywhere that the quality of the execution has suffered. 

If marketers do not love the work they create, how can they ever expect the consumer to love the brand?

The more loved your brand, the more powerful and profitable your brand will be. While old-school marketers were yelling their message to every consumer, today’s brand leaders must build relationships and create a bond with their most cherished consumers. We will explore the concept of a brand idea, showing how it helps connect with consumers and organize everything you do on your brand. An overview of the brand love curve will steer your strategic thinking and your execution decisions.

You will learn to think, define, plan, inspire and analyze

beloved brands book

1. How to think strategically

Strategic Thinking is the foundation of Brand Management. I will take you through the five elements of smart strategic thinking, including setting a vision, investing in a strategic program that focuses on an identified opportunity, and how to leverage a breakthrough market impact into a performance result. I will show how to turn smart thinking into strategic objective statements you can use in your Brand Plans. And, I will set up the four types of strategy, looking at your brand’s core strength, consumers, competitors and looking the situation.

strategic thinking

Your brand’s core strength

Our core strength model forces you to select one of four possible options as your brand’s lead strength: the product, brand story, experience, or price. Each choice has a distinct strategic focus, brand communications, and desired reputation. I will show how the model comes to life with numerous brand examples and a case study on Starbucks as they build a reputation around their commitment to exceptional consumer experience. 

Strategic Thinking

How tight is your bond with consumers?

Consumer strategy is about building a bond with your target consumer. I use the brand love curve to demonstrate specific game plans for each stage of the curve, whether your brand is at the unknown, indifferent, like it, love it or the beloved stage. This model sets up 20 potential strategies. A case study on Special K shows how they evolved from an indifferent brand to a beloved brand.  Consumer Strategy

What is your competitive strategy?

Competitive strategy leverages your brand positioning to win in the market. Brands must evolve their strategy as they move from a craft brand to a disruptor brand to a challenger brand all the way up to the dominant power player. Each of the four choices offers a different target focus, unique strategies, and tactics.

Competitive Strategy

Situational strategy

Before initiating your plan, you must understand what is happening internally, within your own company. You can learn four distinct situations, including fueling the momentum, fix it, re-alignment or a start-up. Each has different indicators and recommended strategies, as well as advice on the leadership style to engage.

2. How to define your brand positioning

Everything must start with the consumer target you will serve. I will show how to develop a consumer profile that includes a segmented definition, consumer insights, consumer enemies, need states and the desired response that matches your overall strategy.

Competitive Strategy

You will learn the four elements of a brand positioning statement including the target you serve, the category you play in, the space you serve that will help you win, and deal-closing support points. The best positioning balances functional and emotional benefits. You will access a tool to choose from more than 100 benefits.

consumer benefits

To become a successful and beloved brand, you need a Brand Idea that is interesting, simple, unique, inspiring, motivating and own-able. I will introduce a tool to help build your Brand Idea, and how to build a winning Brand Concept.

brand concept

Use the brand idea to organize everything you do around five consumer touch-points, including the brand promise, brand story, innovation, purchase moment and the consumer experience. The brand idea should organize your brand positioning, advertising, media, product innovation, selling, retailing and the consumer experience. Learn how to build a brand credo and brand story, and learn from Ritz-Carlton and Apple case studies. 

3. How to write Brand Plans

Use a one-page format to simplify and organize your brand plan, so everyone in your organization can follow it with ease. You will learn how to find your brand vision, purpose, key issues, strategies, execution tactics, and measurements.

brand plans

Once you draft your brand plan, it’s time to build separate execution plans with crystal clear strategies for those who will execute on your brand’s behalf. I will show how to complete a brand communication plan, execution plan and sales plan. 

4. How to inspire marketing execution

The bridge between your brand plan and marketing execution is the creative brief. I will show how to write a world-class brief using a recommended format. We will review smart and bad examples of a brief, broken out on a line-by-line basis. I also introduce a mini-brief for when you are time-pressed.

creative brief

I will take you through the 10 steps to inspiring greatness from those experts you engage. Then, I will introduce a predictive model that measures branded breakthrough and a motivating message to consumers.

Advertising Process

This section outlines principles for achieving Attention, Brand link, Communication, and Stickiness—the model I call the ABC’s. I will show examples of some of the best ads in the history of branding, to support those principles. I hope it will challenge your thinking about your brand’s advertising.Advertising Decisions

Six questions help you frame your media plan. Factors to consider include your brand’s budget size, your brand’s core strength and how tightly connected your brand is with consumers. Then identify which point on the consumer journey you wish to impact, where your consumers are most willing to engage your message and what media choices best fit with your creative execution.

Media Decisions

5. How to analyze your brand’s performance

The deep-dive forces you to take a 360-degree view of your brand by looking into the marketplace, consumers, channels, competitors, and the brands. You will learn some of the best analytical tools, including consumer tracking, customer scorecards, brand funnels, and the leaky bucket. I provide the 50 best analytical questions to get you started, and a format for how to bring it all together into a business review presentation. 

Brand Analytics

Learn what you need to know about brand finance, including the eight ways you can drive profit. Learn how to dissect an income statement and use the key formulas you need to know including return on investment (ROI), growth, forecasting, cost of goods sold (COGS), and compound annual growth rate (CAGR).

Brand Finance

Who should read the Beloved Brands playbook?

Marketing pros and entrepreneurs, this book is for you. Whether you are a VP, CMO, director, brand manager or just starting your marketing career, I promise you will learn how to realize your full potential. You could be in brand management working for an organization or an owner-operator managing a branded business. 

Beloved Brands is a toolbox intended to help you every day in your job. Keep it on your desk and refer to it whenever you need to write a brand plan, create a brand idea, develop a creative brief, make advertising decisions or lead a deep-dive business review. You can even pass on the tools to your team, so they can learn how to deliver the fundamentals needed for your brands. 

beloved brands

This book is also an excellent resource for marketing professors, who can use it as an in-class textbook to develop future marketers. It will challenge communications agency professionals, who are looking to get better at managing brands, including those who work in advertising, public relations, in-store marketing, digital advertising or event marketing. 

If you are an entrepreneur who has a great product and wants to turn it into a brand, you can use this book as a playbook. These tips will help you take full advantage of branding and marketing, and make your brand more powerful and more profitable. 

Click on this site below to order our Beloved Brands book

What you will get from the Beloved Brands playbook

In past two decades, what makes brands successful has changed, and you must change with it. You will learn the fundamentals of managing your brand, with brand love at the core. I will show you how to improve your thinking to unleash your full potential as a brand leader. 

To order Beloved Brands, you can find the paperback and ebook versions on Amazon by clicking here: https://lnkd.in/eF-mYPe

If you use Kobo: https://lnkd.in/g7SzEh4

And if you are in India: https://lnkd.in/gDA5Aiw

You will learn how to think, define, plan, execute and analyze, and I provide every tool you will ever need to run your brand. You will learn everything you need to know so you can run your brand. My brand promise is to help make you smarter so you can realize your full potential. 

Signature

Graham Robertson

Founder and CMO, Beloved Brands Inc.

How to Guide for Marketers

How to use price as part of your brand strategy toolkit

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I see too many brand leaders living in fear of touching the price of their brand. Many marketers think of price as a defensive response to counter inflation or a competitive reaction at the retail shelf. The smartest brand leaders use price as a weapon to drive brand value. Let me show you how you can use price to drive more profit back to your brand. Instead of just cutting price when your brand needs some quick sales, you should be using price as part of your brand strategy.

priceAnyone who does not include “profit” in their definition of a brand has never run a brand before. To me, a product is a basic commodity you sell. A brand creates a bond that leads to a power and profit beyond what the product alone can achieve. 

If you want to succeed in brand management, you have to understand brand finance. After all, you are running a business. If you just like the activity of marketing, then you should become a subject matter expert, because if you cannot work the finances of your brand, you will not get promoted past brand manager. 

How to use premium pricing

It is crucial to understand the price/quality relationship of your brand and look for ways to increase the  perception of quality. When you find a unique position, which you know motivates consumers, it can differentiate you from competitors. Then you can use the motivation to tighten the bond with your consumers. 

price

The chart shows a relatively long-term direct correlation between perceived value and price. An indifferent brand has low perceived value and will end up with a much lower price point. A beloved brand can use its emotional connection to drive perceived value and ensure the price premium is perceived as good value. For instance, consumers are undoubtedly willing to pay $5 for a Starbucks latte, $500 for an iPad or $100,000+ for a Mercedes. The same consumers will price shop on brands where they have no feelings. A beloved brand has an inelastic price, which means the quantity demanded does not change very much when the price changes.

Price increase:

Simply put, brands can execute a price increase when the market or consumers allow the brand to do so. A beloved brand will have an easier time pushing through a price increase as it can use the power of its brand versus consumers, competitors, or channels. When pushing a price increase through retail channel partners, brands usually require proof it will work or that costs have gone up. Factors that help the brand story include the health of the brand and market.  

Price decrease:

Use this tactic when battling a competitor, in reaction to sluggish economic conditions or retail channel pressure. You can also use an aggressive price decrease when you have a cost advantage, whether that’s manufacturing, materials or distribution. When you have that cost advantage, it may make sense to deploy a lower price to deplete the resources of your competitor.

Price changes always carry a risk of a competitive overreaction. Always consider various potential competitive reactions when doing your financial analysis. Be careful. As difficult as it is to implement a price change, it is almost impossible to change it back.  

Build a pricing system to match your brand strategy

Rather than using price as a defensive tool, every brand should manage a pricing strategy that matches their brand strategy. Below is a potential pricing system with five critical questions around price strategy, how to determine and execute your brand’s price, how to build parameters to govern your price corridors, then how to monitor pricing. The complexity of the system can depend on how important or how variable the price is to your brand. You should revisit your price strategy annually, as part of your deep dive business review.

price

Trade the consumer up or down

Another strategy is to create a range of products at various price levels, with a good/better/best approach that allows the brand to reach up or down to a new segment of consumers. Make sure that you are doing this for the right reason or it could backfire on you.

Trading consumers up on price:

Make sure your brand can carve out a meaningful difference to create a second or third tier, so consumers can see an apparent reason for wanting to move up. Many brands will deploy a good/better/best approach to pricing. When your brand secures trust or a bond with the consumer, it will be easier to use your brand reputation and product performance to move loyal consumers up to the next level.

Trading consumers down:

When the brand sees a potential unserved market, it can trade consumers down when the move will bring minimal damage to the brand image or reputation. In a tough economy, creating a lower-priced set of products can be a smarter strategy than lowering the overall price of your main brand. Once the economy bounces back, you can discontinue the lower-priced product option.

There are a few cautions around trying to trade consumers up or down. Be careful not to lose focus on the brand’s core business or image. Stay focused because brands struggle when they try to be all things to everyone. When trading down, try to take costs out of the product to ensure margins rates stay consistent. For a mass brand going through retail channels, it can be challenging to manage multiple price levels. The products with lower sales may receive poor shelf placement and miss out on retailer-merchandising tools.

Price Calculations

Financial calculations for a price increase will impact both revenue and profits. You should do an elasticity market research test to find out how your brand will perform.

price

In this example, the price goes from $2.50 up to $2.75, only a 10% price increase. I assumed the cost of goods remained flat and I used a forecasted sales decline on units sold. The sales revenue falls slightly, but the profit goes up 4.6%.

Eight ways to drive brand profits 

          1. Premium pricing
          2. Trade loyal consumers up to a higher price
          3. Lower cost of goods
          4. Lower marketing and selling costs
          5. Steal competitive users
          6. Get loyal users to use more
          7. Enter into new markets
          8. Find new uses for the brand

Profit = (Price – Cost) x (Market Share x Market Size)*

profit

To go deeper on brand finance, follow this link to our Brand Finance 101, written by a fellow marketer:

Brand Finance 101

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

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

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

Beloved Brands book

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

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

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

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Signature

Graham Robertson

Founder and CMO, Beloved Brands Inc.