Top 5 things Brand Leaders should be worried about

Are You Worried Enough?

Everywhere you look, people are telling you not to worry so much. There has become such a “Don’t worry, be happy” mentality. You can buy books on it, go on-line for tips, take a yoga class or attend seminars that are all designed to help you worry less. These might be band-aid solutions. Because if you are no longer worried and you never took any action against those worries, you might sleep better in the short run, but your brand might fall completely apart while you’re sleeping. So oddly enough, I’m here to ask you: Are you actually worried enough? And with that worry, are you taking the right action against the things that matter???

5 things you should be worried about:

  1. The underlying brand health numbers? Most leaders track sales and share, pushing hard on a quarterly basis. But, just like a slim person that works out and runs who can have high blood pressure and cholesterol, a brand can have the same internal health issues. Slide1Brand Funnels can help you analyze where your brand really stands, against awareness, consideration, purchase and loyalty, whether looking at absolute scores, ratios, comparisons with competitors or tracking over time. The Funnel also helps identify where you are on the Brand Love Curve and can help choose your brand strategy:  Indifferent brands have skinny funnels throughout. You should fuel the  awareness to kick-start the funnel and drive some sales.  At the Like It stage, the Funnel tends to narrows at purchase. Creating a more emotional connection will keep the consumer engaged right through the funnel to the purchase and make you a little more loved than just liked.  At the Love It stage, you should have robust funnels, but may still see a leak at the loyalty stage. Closing the leak and building a stronger loyal following will turn your brand into a Beloved Brand. Beloved Brands have the most ideal funnels, but you should still track and attack any weaknesses you discover before competitors can attack them. If you know the health of your brand, you’ll sleep better at night.  
  2. How aligned is everyone on your team? I’m a strategy guy, but even I can tell you that a team moving in one direction against a good strategy is better than a stagnant team still in search of the amazing strategy or moving in two or three distinct directions. Part of the problem I see with executive teams is the Leader of each functional area comes with their own bias: The finance leader thinks the brand should maintain margins and go for a lower share. The operations leader wants less skus and a more efficient plant. The sales leader wants more volume, even if it means cutting the price. And the marketing leader wants more advertising to drive share. Each answer has merit, but they are never brought together behind one plan. Strategy is about making choices. But even with a choice, unless the teams are aligned, key members will just be anticipating the failure of the choice. If you have an aligned team, you’ll rest a lot easier on the drive home each night.  
  3. What your competitors are doing? It’s important that you’re constantly tracking where your competitors are–not under-estimating them or over-reacting to their tactics. You should understand the competitors actions deeply. USP 2.0A great practice in a real competitive battle is to do up a full brand plan of how you anticipate they will act. That would include budgets, goals, market research, strategies and tactics. Once you find your unique selling proposition, you must work hard to maintain ownership over it.  Brands have to be either unique, better or cheaper. Or else, not around for very long. In a highly competitive and combative category, use the strategies of Marketing Warfare: 1) Defensive: Leader of category or sub-category defending their territory by attacking itself or even attacking back at an aggressive competitor. 2) Offensive: Challenger’s attack on the leader to exploit a weakness or build on your own strength. 3) Flanking: An attack in an open area where the Leader is not that well established. 4) Guerrilla: Going into an area where it’s too small for the Leaders to take notice or are unable to attack back. Constantly analyzing and attacking the competition will keep you one step ahead.  
  4. What your brand will look like 5 years from now? While you are feeling pressure to make the current quarter, if you keep going quarter-by-quarter, you’ll start to feel like a mouse who is constantly running just to make that next quarter. But every 90 days, you’re missing that long-term vision, purpose and brand values that can help guide your organization in driving the brand’s growth.  Does everyone in your organization know the brand vision? Does everyone know and live the Brand’s DNA, weaving it into everything that you do. Once you establish your Brand’s DNA, it should drive every part of your brand organization–brand plan, communications, people, R&D, profitability and sales organization. Everything should drive the relationship between your brand and consumer.   If you know where your brand’s direction and get everyone moving towards that common direction, trust me, you’ll feel a hell of a lot better as the leader.  Slide1
  5. How good are your people? A good leader recognizes that they are only as good as their people.  The better your people, the better the work, and that means the better results. You should evaluate your team against skills, behaviors and experiences. To drive effective Brand Leaders, a good rule would be 10% of the time should be on training–not just at junior levels but right up to the Brand Leaders. Many companies are cutting back on training, and you’ll start to see the gaps in your people.  Using the 10% rule would mean up to 20 training days–that would be used against strategic thinking, analytics, planning, leading and managing. But if you’re only doing 2-3 days of off-site training or the training you’re doing is to meet corporate compliance, then you’ll notice that the performance of your people just won’t be there. Who will replace the best people on your team? Who will replace you? That should concern you. What’s happening in marketing these days is we hire a bright person and just throw them into the job. While “learning on the job” is a reality in marketing, there needs to be a balance with coaching and training. If you’re relying on bosses to do the training, you have to realize that manager never received any training either so how competent are they to teach?  And if you’re worried about investing in training and then the person quits, you might actually realize that maybe if you invested in training you might drive up the retention. A recent study shows that 52% of employees say they would leave a role because of their direct manager, and two-thirds are convinced their managers don’t know what motivates them to be more productive. A constant revolving door will not create great work or the results you’re looking for. To read more on what makes great Brand Leaders, follow the link to the Brand Leadership Learning Center   If you have great people on your team, you’ll get much better results on the business, and you can find that work-life balance you’ve always wanted.  

So the question I have for is “Are You Worried Enough?” And what are you doing about it?

 

Slide1

 

To read more about how to create a Beloved Brand:

 

Skills to challenge your Brand Leaders:  

  1. How to Write a Brand Plan:  The positioning statement helps frame what the brand is all about.  However, the brand plan starts to make choices on how you’re going to make the most of that promise.  Follow this hyperlink to read more on writing a Brand Plan:  How to Write a Brand Plan
  2. How to Write a Creative Brief.  The creative brief really comes out of two sources, the brand positioning statement and the advertising strategy that should come from the brand plan.  To read how to write a Creative Brief, click on this hyperlink:  How to Write a Creative Brief
  3. How to Write a Brand Positioning Statement.  Before you even get into the creative brief, you should be looking at target, benefits and reason to believe.   To read how to write a Brand Positioning Statement, click on this hyperlink:  How to Write an Effective Brand Positioning Statement
  4. Turning Brand Love into Power and Profits:  The positioning statement sets up the promise that kick starts the connection between the brand and consumer.  There are four other factors that connect:  brand strategy, communication, innovation and experience.   The connectivity is a source of power that can be leveraged into deeper profitability.  To read more click on the hyper link:  Love = Power = Profits 

 

 

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

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

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

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

Positioning 2016.112

How to run a brainstorm meeting

“Creativity is intelligence having fun”  Albert Einstein

Brainstorming should be a regular part of running your Brand.

To stay in a healthy creative space, I would suggest that each brand team should be having some type of brainstorm (big or small) once a month. You need a constant influx of ideas–promotions, advertising, social media, naming, new products, events, PR, saving money and of course as part of your brand planning. They can be a quick 30 minutes as part of a weekly meeting just to get some quick ideas or a whole afternoon to solve a problem that’s been nagging at the group. Or a team building offsite meeting that goes all day. 

There are advantages to having regular brainstorms:

  • Team will stay fresh and open. Brand jobs can eat you up, forecasting, deadlines, reports can all make you stale. Having regular intervals of ideation, helps to disrupt the work flow to motivate and engage the team.
  • Keeps the best ideas near the surface. At the end of a good brainstorm, you have some great ideas that bubble up, not all of which you can immediately use. These ideas tend to keep coming up, and that’s OK. Sometimes they are rejected because they are higher risk or resource dependent. But after a few sessions of getting comfortable with these ideas, you might start to see new ways to make them do-able instead of seeing why they can’t happen.
  • As the Leader of the team, it sends the message that while we are strategic, we win by being more creative, faster, and better on execution. It’s so easy to get stiffer as you move up the career ladder and be the one on the team finding fault with every idea. Just because you are starting to know right from wrong, doesn’t mean you need to crush every idea. Having the brainstorming forum allows the newly experienced brand people the chance to bring ideas forward and it sends the signal that you are an open leader and you value the opinions of your junior staff.
  • The process the team learns doing the brainstorms becomes part of their everyday job. Even on small problems, they’ll come up with a list of possible solutions, use some criteria to judge, narrow down the list to the best idea, and then be prepared with their recommendation. They’ll be able to show their leader they’ve looked at the issue from all sides, and considered other ideas. Marketers that fixate on one solution to fix the problem tend to fail more than succeed.

The warm up

Every session should have a warm up, either 5 minutes or 15 minutes. It gets people out of the rut of the day-to-day, and opens up the brains. One that I’ve used is this very simple innocent photo of the kids selling Lemonade and ask them to come up with as many ideas as they can to the question of “What ways can these two make more money?”. I offer a reward of cookies to the team with the most ideas and to the best idea. In 5 minutes, teams should be able to list 50 or 100 ideas. Gets out of a lot of crap ideas but it gets rid of them rejecting ideas before saying them. To get to 100, you have to listen to the group and build on someone’s idea. Eliminate the “yeah but….” I get them to circle the top 3 ideas for each group, which forces them to get used to making decisions. One observation I’ll usually make is that the best ideas are usually found in the list beyond 20 or even beyond the 50 mark, emphasizing that you need 100 good ideas to get to 5 great ideas.

Draw out the rule that “AVOID THE YEAH BUT…” because we have a process for ideating and one for making decisions. With a bunch of leaders in the room, normally you have to re-assure them that they should trust the process. The alternative to the “yeah but” is building on the idea with “here’s a different take”.

The trick to a good brainstorm is very simple: Diverge, Converge, Diverge Converge.

Diverge #1:

Divide the room up into groups of 5-7 people. I prefer to assign one leader who will be writing the ideas, pushing the group for more, throwing in some ideas of their own. A great way for the leader is to say “here’s a crazy idea, who can build on this or make it better”.  But if you catch the leader stalling, debating the ideas, then you should push that leader.  At this stage you are pushing for quantity not quality. If you have multiple groups in the room, do a rotation where the leader stays put and the group changes. I like having stations, where each station has a unique problem to solve.

Converge #1:

There’s a few ways you can do this.

  • You can use voting dots where each person gets 5 or 10 dots and they can use them any way they want. For random executional ideas, this is a great simple way.
  • If there is agreed upon criteria, you can do some type of scoring against each criteria. High, medium, low.
  • USP 2.0If you are brainstorming product concepts or positioning statements, you might want to hold them up to the lens of how unique they are.
  • For things like naming, positioning or promotions, the leader can look at all the ideas and begin grouping them into themes. They might start to discuss which themes seem to fit or are working the best, and use those themes for a second diverge.
  • For Tactics to an annual plan, you can use a very simple grid of Big vs Small and Easy vs Difficult. In this case, you want to find ways to land in THE BIG EASY. The reason you want easy is to ensure it has a good return on effort, believing effort and investment have a direct link.  

Slide1

Diverge #2

The second diverge is where the magic actually happens. You’ve got the group in a good zone. They have seen which ideas are meeting the criteria. Take the list from Converge #1 and push it one more time. Make it competitive among the groups, with a $25 prize, so that people will push even harder.  

  • If you narrowed it to themes, then take each theme and push for more and better ideas under each of the themes  
  • If you looked at concepts or tactics, then take the best 8-10 ideas and have groups work on them and flush them out fully with a written concept, and come back and present them to the group.  
  • If using the grid above, then take the ideas in the big/difficult and brainstorm ways to make it easier. And if it’s small and easy, brainstorm ways to make it bigger.

Converge #2: Decision Time

Once you’ve done the second diverge, you’ll be starting to see the ideas getting better and more focused. Now comes decision time. You can narrow down to a list of ideas to take forward into testing or discussion with senior management. You can take them forward to cost out. You can prioritize them based on a 12 or 24 month calendar. You can vote using some of the techniques above using voting dots. Or you can assign a panel of those who will vote. But you want to walk away from the meeting with a decision.

Turn the idea into a project

Trust that the process gets you into the right zone and make these ideas now a project. Once you have a decision on the best ideas, you want to use the energy and momentum in the room to make the ideas a reality:

  • assign an owner and support team
  • get them to agree upon goals, issues to resolve
  • get them to map out a timeline (milestones)
  • outline potential resource needs (budget, people, outside agencies)

Let brainstorming bring an energy and passion into your work.

“Love what you do” Steve Jobs

 

To read more about how the love for a brand creates more power and profits:

 
Other Stories You Might Like
  1. How to Write a Creative Brief. The creative brief really comes out of two sources, the brand positioning statement and the advertising strategy that should come from the brand plan. To read how to write a Creative Brief, click on this hyperlink: How to Write a Creative Brief
  2. How to Write a Brand Plan: The positioning statement helps frame what the brand is all about. However, the brand plan starts to make choices on how you’re going to make the most of that promise. Follow this hyperlink to read more on writing a Brand Plan: How to Write a Brand Plan
  3. Turning Brand Love into Power and Profits: The positioning statement sets up the promise that kick starts the connection between the brand and consumer. There are four other factors that connect:  brand strategy, communication, innovation and experience. The connectivity is a source of power that can be leveraged into deeper profitability. To read more click on the hyper link: Love = Power = Profits 

 

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

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

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

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

Positioning 2016.112

 

 

How to drive Innovation into your brand

“Everything that can be invented has been invented.”

Charles H. Duell, Commissioner, US Patent Office,  1899


While that quote from 114 years ago may have missed out on the airplane, radio, TV, microwave, car, computer, internet, nearly every cpg product and of course my beloved iPhone. Maybe the sentiment of the quote was just about 100 years too early. In the last decade, most of the great innovation has been relegated to social media and electronics. I hope this century brings us much more than just Facebook, BBM and Twitter.  In the consumer goods area, we must be on the 197th version of “new” cherry flavoured bubble gum since 1955, we’ve now seen hundreds of “new” peach yoghurt and I hope I never see another “new” laundry soap telling us that their little blue beads get their clothes really clean.

Generating love for the Brand

Under the Brand Idea are 5 sources of connectivity that help connect the brand with consumers and drive Brand Love, including the brand promise, the strategic choices you make, the brand’s ability to tell their story, the freshness of the product or service and the overall experience and impressions it leaves with you. Everyone wants to debate what makes a great brand–whether it’s the product, the advertising, the experience or through consumers. It is not just one or the other–it’s the collective connection of all these things that make a brand beloved.

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

 

New Products can help separate a brand as well as keep it fresh. For a Beloved Brand, freshness is essential in attacking your own brand before someone can attack you.  New products that truly solve a consumer problem in a unique way are rare. This is the generation of marketing incrementalism. On most brand plans I see “launch innovative new products”  sits comfortably in the #3, 4 or 5 slot on the plan, while #1 is fix the advertising and #2 is get more distribution.  

Stages of Innovation

There are four key stages to innovation:  1) Invention 2) Differentiation 3) Experience and 4) Perception. The marketing is different at each phase.

Stage 1: Invention of the Core Product: The challenge of a truly new product is to finding something that is truly different: a new technology, delivery, format or process. Rarely, do we get to work on a game changing “invention”. Stage 1 of a new product usually focuses all of their efforts on launching and explaining why it is needed. The product at this stage is usually just the core product, not yet perfected, higher costs and limited sales with no profits. The advertising is about awareness and the message is simple:  you have this problem, we solve that problem. There’s an effort to the distribution, because many customers are risk averse and afraid of new products. Consumers are willing to pay a little more to solve the problem, they overlook all the flaws and limitations, and they think “why didn’t I think of this”. While some consumers love the new product already, most consumers still sit at the sceptical and indifferent stage.  

Stage 2: Product Proliferation means Differentiation: With a little bit of success in the market comes copy cats. With more consumers buying, there becomes room for some differentiation, but mostly limited to product still: new features and added services on top of the core product. They might have found a way to make things cheaper, easier to use or better tasting. Prices come down and brands offer more variety.  Distribution becomes a battle ground and getting full distribution becomes the goal.  Customers try to line up behind certain brands–looking for preferential treatment. The advertising is about consideration and purchase, trying to stake out certain spaces, shifting from product to brand and separating your brand from others. Brands now sell the solution, not just the product. And consumers start to choose, one brand over another. While some consumers prefer one brand over another, most consumers are at the like it stage.

Stage 3: It’s all about the Experience: In order to establish leadership or challenge for leadership, brands begin to talk about the experience consumers will have with their product. It becomes no longer about the brand or product but about the consumer and how your brand fits into their life. Brands look to use positioning strategies to separate themselves, focusing on key targets, with unique benefits–a balance of emotional and rational benefits.  Advertising brings the consumer front and centre, trying to establish a routine with your brand in it.  Brands try to move to the love it stage, some do, but most will be stuck still at the like it stage. Those that get stuck are forced into value and focusing on price, promotions or value.  The brands that reach the love it stage can command a premium, drive share  and establish leadership in the category.

Stage 4:  Managing the Perception: As the market matures, any share point movements become difficult to gain any traction on real quality so the shift moves to perceived quality.  Strategy shifts to brand personality where tone and manner in the execution are paramount so that Consumers connect with the brand and begin to see themselves in the brand. Brands push to become a Beloved Brand, where demand becomes desire, needs become cravings, thinking is replaced with feelings and Consumers become outspoken fans. The brand becomes powerful, with power over distribution because consumers would switch stores before they switch brands and power over competitors who are stuck trying to establish their own point of difference. Profits are at their highest–revenue, margins are both strong and spending is focused and efficient on maintaining the relationship. While at the top of the mountain, with firm leadership in the category, the brand is always at risk of losing that leadership. Challenge yourself to continuously stay at the top. Avoid becoming complacent.

Ask Gap Clothing, Cadillac, IBM computers, Levis, Sony or Kodak who have each reached the Beloved Stage only to be replaced by new products and brands and moved back down the love curve towards Indifferent. Most recently, Blackberry. Only 18 months ago, people jokingly used the term “crackberry” to describe their addictions. No longer.

The four stages can easily be matched up to the Brand Love Curve and help establish strategic focus for the brand. At the Invention stage, consumers remain indifferent until you build awareness and explain how your product solves a problem in my life.  At the Differentiation stage, some like it, but you are now facing proliferation and attack forcing your brand to stake out a claim.  At the experience stage, you need to become part of your consumers life and balance the emotional and rational benefits that can move you to the love it stage. And finally, you have to tightly manage the Perceptions to become that Beloved Brand for Life stage, it’s about connecting with consumers so they see themselves through your brand. You need to establish your personality and begin to wield the power of being a Beloved Brand.

But be careful. Without Innovation, very few brands remain at the top for very long.   

 

To read more about how the love for a brand creates more power and profits:

For a presentation on how to write a Positioning Statement, follow:

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

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

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

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

Positioning 2016.112

10 ways great advertising impacts your brand

People always ask me, “so what is it that makes a Brand Leader good at advertising execution? I used to think they must be more creative. Or they are more in touch with creative people. Or better yet, they are a visionary. I never really thought these answers satisfied me. Advertising is so much more than that.advertising

In fact there are many things around advertising that have nothing to do with the creative. There needs to be a great Brand Plan that inspires great strategy, the Creative Brief should be tight, yet rich with insight. Brand Leaders have to manage the process and stay on strategy and they should have an ability to select the right media. They should take risks. They have to be able to handle the stress of ambiguity against deadlines, and the pressure to make the numbers in the face of art. Advertising is half art, half science. They have to be able to give some freedom of execution, yet maintain a tight control on the strategy.

Brand Leaders must be good at giving good feedback, maybe even a bit fussy about details. Be nice though.  They have to love the work and bring that emotion to the table. What about motivating the team?  Not just motivating the creatives, but the planners, the account people, the editors and even the directors. Someone who is great at Advertising has to make decisions. They have to be able to walk in the shoes of the consumer, yet still, live at the desk of the brand. The best brand leaders must have the ability to gain alignment with their own team and yet gain approval from the senior management of the company. They have to be able to sell the work.  At all stages. The list goes on and on.

There are just so many things that are required to get good advertising. Being creative is a great start. But it is more.

So after thinking about this question for a few years, I finally nailed it:  

Brand leaders must consistently get good advertising on the air and keep bad advertising off the air

It’s such a simple yet complicated answer. Almost as simple and complicated as David Ogilvy’s line “Clients get the work they deserve”. I always ask Brand Leaders, “if you knew that how you showed up actually impacts the advertising, do you think you might show up differently?” I hope the answer is yes. But I’m not sure they do. Those great at advertising get it.

Sadly, there is an equally long list of things that make Brand Leaders bad at advertising. These days, there is so much learning on the job that people end up as the decision-maker in the room, sitting there trying to lead the advertising when they haven’t even properly trained on how to do it. Malcolm Gladwell says you’re an expert when you’ve had 10,000 hours. And yet, there are Brand Leaders are thrust into leading an Ad Campaign with 20, 30 or maybe 100 hours. And no training. Even those who are supposed to teach you haven’t been trained.  So you are both learning. How can you consistently get good advertising on the air, managing such a complicated process when you’re still learning. On the job.

10 things smart and creative advertising should do for your brand

Here’s a starting point for you when you’re judging creative.

  1. Set yourself apart. Beloved Brands must be different, better, cheaper. Or they are not around for very long. The storytelling of the brand’s promise should help to separate the brand from the clutter of other brands that are stuck in our minds. And that starts with creative that feels different and of course makes the brand seem different.
  2. Focused! A focused target, a focused message, a focused strategy against a focused communication idea, a focused media. The whole discipline of marketing is founded on focus, and yet Brand Leaders struggle most in this area. They always want that “just in case” option.
  3. Keep the idea and communication very simple. Communication is not what is said, but what is heard. Too many people try to shout as many messages as they can in one ad. What does the consumer hear? A confusing mess. By throwing multiple messages you are just making the consumer do the work of deciding the most important message because you couldn’t figure it out. My challenge to you is to stand up on a chair and yell your main message as though you are standing on top of a mountain.  If you can’t YELL it out in one breath, then your idea is too complex. Or just too long. The Volvo Brand Manager gets to yell “Safety” in one clean simple breath. Can you do that?
  4. Have a good selling idea. While Big Ideas breakthrough, they also help you to be consistent because you have to align your thinking with the Big Idea. You’ll see consistency over time, across mediums–paid, earned, social and search–and you’ll see it throughout the entire brand line up of sub-brands. Consumers will start to connect to the big idea and they’ll begin to relate your brand to that big idea. Look at your ad:  does it have a big idea?
  5. Drive engagement: Too many Brand Leaders forget to engage the consumer. They get so fixated on saying their 7 messages that they figure the ability capture attention is just advertising fluff. But it all starts with Attention. The consumer sees 5,000 ads a day and will likely only engage in a handful.   If you don’t capture their attention, no one will remember the brand name, your main message or any other reason to believe you might have.
  6. Let the visuals do the talking. With so many ads, you need to have a key visual that can capture the attention, link to your brand and communicate your message. The ‘see-say’ of advertising helps the consumers brain to engage, follow along and remember. As kids, we always love the pictures. We still do.
  7. Sell the solution, not the product. Consumers use brands to solve problems in their lives. Your brand will be more powerful if it solves the problems of life. Figure out the consumers’ enemy and conquer it on their behalf. Consumers don’t care about what you do until you care about what they need. No one has ever wanted a quarter-inch drill, they just need a quarter-inch hole.
  8. Be relevant to the consumer. A beloved brand finds a way to matter to those who really care.  It’s not only the right brand promise that matters, but the right communication of that promise. You can’t sell carpet cleaning to someone who only has hardwood floors. And you can’t sell a golf ball that goes 20 yards farther to someone who despises golf.
  9. Make ads that are based on a consumer insight. Insights are not facts about your brand. That’s just you talking AT the consumer. Insights are something the consumer already knows but they didn’t realize that everyone felt that way. They enable consumers to see themselves in the situation and once you do that, the consumers might then figure the brand must be for them. Insights allow you to connect and turn the ad into a conversation.
  10. Tell the story behind the brand. There should be richness in your brand’s purpose. Why did you start this brand? How does your brand help people? Why do you get up in the morning? Remember: people don’t buy what you do as much as they buy why you do it.

Better Adverting Results Marketing Execution Training

The ABC’S of Advertising

Another way to rephrase this list is through the ABC’S: Attention Branding Communication and Stickiness.  

  • Attention: You have to get noticed in a crowded world of advertising. Consumers see 6000 ads per day, and will likely only engage in a few. If your brand doesn’t draw attention naturally, then you’ll have to force it into the limelight.
  • Branding: Ads that tell the story of the relationship between the consumer and the brand will link best. Even more powerful are ads that are from the consumer’s view of the brand. It’s not how much branding there is, but how close the brand fits the climax of the ad.
  • Communication: Tapping into the truths of the consumer and the brand, helps you to tell the brand’s life story. Keep your story easy to understand. Communication is not just about what you say, but how you say it—because that says just as much.
  • Stickiness:  Sticky ads help to build a consistent brand/consumer experience over time. In the end, brands are really about “consistency” of the promise you want to own. Brands have to exist in the minds of the consumer.

Better Adverting Results Marketing Execution Training

Be a Better Client

If how you show up to the agency will produce better advertising work  Then show up right.  

Agencies should be treated like trusted partners, not suppliers. Engage them early asking for advice, not just telling them what to do and when. If you tell an agency what to do, there will only be one answer “YES”. But if you ask them what to do, there are three answers:  yes, no or maybe. Seek their advice beyond advertising.   Build a relationship directly with the creative teams. Be more than “just another client”.

Getting great advertising is a balance between freedom and control. Most Marketers allow too much FREEDOM on the strategy but want to exhibit CONTROL on the creative. It should be the reverse, you should control the strategy and give freedom to creative.  Don’t go into a creative meeting with a pre-conceived notion as to what the ad should look like. Creative people are “in the box” problem solvers. What they don’t want a) blank canvas b) unclear problem and c) your solutions to the problem.  Let them be in the box and find the solution for you. That’s what motivates them the most.

To see the Beloved Brands workshop training presentation on getting Marketing Execution click no the link below: 

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.

Brand Management: How to be a great Brand Leader

It seems that marketing these days is more about “doing” than it is about “thinking”.  

“Activity Based Marketing” has replaced strategic brand management. Marketers are content if they are doing something, regardless if it is the right something. Everyone I interact with is too busy doing stuff, running from meeting to meeting, chasing the to do list. Marketers today are so busy, that they don’t have time to think. If you want to be a great marketer, you need to be carving out time to sit back in your chair and say “what’s next”.   

Are you Strategic?  

I know you want to say yes.  And I’m sure it’s on your Linked In profile.  So you must be. But if you are doing more activity than you are doing the thinking, then you aren’t really operating strategically. You are too busy chasing your own tail. Strategic Thinkers see “what if” questions before they see solutions. They map out a range of decision trees that intersect and connect by imagining how events will play out. They reflect and plan before they act. They are thinkers and planners who can see connections. Non Strategic Thinkers see answers before questions. They get to answers quickly, and will get frustrated in delays. They opt for action over thinking, believing that doing something is better than doing nothing. They are impulsive and doers who see tasks. They can be frustrated by strategic thinkers. Look back at the past week and ask “are you acting strategically?”

Are You a Fundamentally Sound Marketer?

No matter how bright you are, if you haven’t been properly trained, then you aren’t realizing your full potential.  You likely are struggling with writing your brand plan, you aren’t quite sure what has to go onto the creative brief and you aren’t sure how to give an agency feedback. You’re not sure which media option makes the most sense for your brand. These days, marketing has become a completely “on the job” training ground. There’s very few fundamentals being taught. You are given a desk and a brand and told that “we think marketers learn on the job” and “we think it’s your boss who should be teaching you”. Since there has been a few generation of marketers who haven’t been trained, it’s very likely that your boss isn’t quite sure of the fundamentals of brand management.

If you are a bright, but you think you are lacking the fundamentals, you are not alone.    

Are you running the brand? Do you act like an owner?

Brand Manager has to have a mindset that reflects the CEO, accountable for growth, costs, profit and shareholder wealth. A great marketer runs the brand, rather than letting the brand run them.  The starting ground for running the brand is to have your finger on the pulse of the brand and make sure everything revolves around that pulse. Everything in the company should feed off the Brand DNA. The Brand DNA (many call it the Brand Essence) is the most succinct definition of the Brand.  For Volvo, it’s Safety, while BMW might be Performance and Mercedes is Luxury. The Brand’s DNA has an external and an internal.  Externally, you should be looking at the consumers’ view and the brand personality you’re trying to project outward to them. Internally, the products and the internal brand beacon should help align everyone working on the brand.   

The classic role of Brand Management is that the Brand Leader is at the hub and everything revolves around that Brand Leader. But in reality, they aren’t really revolving around the Brand Leader.  They are revolving around the Brand DNA and it’s just that the Brand Leader owns that DNA and uses it as a lens to judge all the activity around the Brand. That is the starting point of strategy.

Everything revolves around the Brand DNA

The Brand DNA should help frame 

  1. Brand Plan that drives the business for the upcoming year or the next 5 years 
  2. Brand Positioning that connects to the consumer through marketing communications 
  3. Customer Value Proposition that links the consumer needs to the benefits of the brand 
  4. Go-To-Market strategy that frames the distribution and the selling process 
  5. Cultural Beacons that help define the brand internally through values, inspiration and challenge and finally 
  6. Business Results, with each brand offering a unique way that it makes money. Each of these six needs feed off the Brand DNA, look to the definition as a guideline for how to align to the brand.  

 

When you begin to blow this out one step further, you can start to see where the complexity comes into play with each of the six areas have their own needs that should still feed off that Brand DNA.

 

Use the Brand Plan to drive the direction of the brand

The planning area should help to frame the Brand Plan, which is a combination of a one year Brand Plan and a 3-5 year strategic plan.  The Vision and Mission provide the future direction, objectives align to the Business needs and Brand Funnel objectives and Strategies and Tactics help to drive towards those objectives.  Included as well should be a Calendar and Budgets.  For a tutorial on how to write a Brand Plan, click on the following link:  How to Write a Brand Plan

 

From the DNA, map out a positioning statement that can help frame the Marketing Communications plan.  That includes the creative big idea, the media mix, earned media (PR, Events) social media, key influencers (e.g. Doctors or Contractors or Bloggers). As well, the positioning frames the identity which could include logo, language, look and feel and brand book. My hope is that you don’t change this very often.   Looking at the complexity of the Brand Management system outlined here, it baffles me that Brands facing tough times reach for changing their logo so quickly when so many other factors could be driving the issues. For a tutorial on writing Creative Briefs, click on:  How to Write an Effective Creative Brief

Staying on strategy is just as hard as coming up with the strategy 

If you don’t have time to think, then how do you know what you’re doing is the right thing to do?   The Go-To-Market plan should also feed off the Brand DNA and come out of the Brand Plan.  The Distribution strategy and needs should match up to the needs of the brand, including decisions around Key Account focus, pricing, sku mix, promotion and the possible role of new products.  In a fast-moving category like cereal or gum, or a high technology driving category like computers, phones or TVs, both share a high need for product innovation.  For brands that require in store selling, you should also include the In-store experience which could be demonstration, signage or trial as well as possible selling messages for sales people on the floor of the distribution channel.  These messages should feed directly from the brand messages.

The R&D plan should feed off the Brand DNA and develop products that match the brand.  Too many times, R&D is in their own world, trying to invent things that have nothing to do with where the brand sits.  They expect marketing to be able to sell their inventions.  Even in a technology driven business, Apple is driven first by the consumer.  Steve Jobs really understood that you don’t just sell what you have.

Brand also drives the Culture and the DNA should provide a beacon for the People to follow. The brand story told within the company is even more important than what you might tell the market through your advertising. Talent management means hiring the right people and providing the right training. Too many companies are cutting back on training. Remember that better people produce better work that drives better results. Keep investing in your people and the business results will come.  Empower your people to get the most from their ideas.  Leverage values, inspirational touch points and processes to inspire and challenge them on achieving greatness.

Managing the Brand

Brand drives the Business Results. The more loved a brand, the more tightly the connection it has with their consumers. This connection becomes a source of power that the brand can wield in the market to drive higher growth rate and profitability. The Brand Leader is responsible for driving the P&L, driving sales and share, managing the forecast and costs for an efficiently run brand. The Brand Leader must figure out the levers of the P&L it can use to drive more profits. For a tutorial on driving profits through your brand, click on:  How to Drive Profits through Your Brand

Leading the Brand

Putting the Brand Leader front and centre will allow you to leverage the Brand DNA into each of the areas of your business, whether that’s marketing, sales, R&D, finance or human resources. The Brand Leader should be at the centre of this hub, with each area looking to the Brand DNA as a beacon of how they can do their job most effectively in helping the brand drive long-term growth and profitability.

Here’s a robust summary on Brand Management that looks at it through 8 areas:  

      1. Beloved = Power = Growth = Profit
      2. Brand DNA and Vision
      3. Brand Promise
      4. Brand Analytics
      5. Brand Plan
      6. Execution
      7. Managing
      8. Leading

 

 

Positioning 2016.112

 

 

Everything starts and ends with the consumer in mind

As Brand Leaders, our days get busy, running from meeting to meeting, trying to deliver our numbers, gain share and hit our forecasts. We have a few new products that are long over due and now we’re trying to make the most of them. Finance has found a potential cost savings from the plant but it’s unsure if it will be off-set by a one time surcharge. We have a presentation at Wal-Mart next week and think we’ll walk away with a new listing. We have a new claim from the R&D team that we think delivers superiority versus our closest competitor. And finally, we have the go-ahead to do a new ad, but we think our senior managers will insist that we make the ad to their exact requirements and that it delivers their new vision statement. This is an average day in marketing. Except, we have not thought once about the consumer.  Maybe that’s the norm when we get so busy or face pressures to make the numbers.  

I always like to ask Brand Leaders: “Do you represent your brand to your consumer or do you represent your consumer to the brand?” Yes, I get stunned looks of confusion when I ask that. But it’s an important question as to your mindset of how you do your job. My challenge to you is to start thinking like your consumer and be their representative to your brand. You’ll notice the work gets better, you’ll see clearer paths to growth and you’ll start to create a brand that the consumer loves rather than just likes.  When this happens, sales go up and the P&L spits out higher profitability. Because the more loved the brand, the more powerful position it occupies and the more profit it can generate from that source of power.    

Take a walk in the shoes of your consumer: With most of us, when we first fell in love with marketing, there were two key elements that got our juices going: strategic thinking and consumer behavior. Marketing brings these two elements together in a very challenging way. You should be thinking about your consumer every day, all day. Yes, you need to hit your sales and share goals. But your consumers are your only source of revenue and you have to know them intimately.  Solving a consumer challenge feels like the biggest Rubik’s Cube we can find. The reason I mention this is if you want to connect with your team and motivate them, then start talking about the consumer and you’ll see their engagement go up.  This is what they love. Be curious about your consumer, constantly watching changes in the marketplace.

Live and breathe insights about your consumers. strategy adInsight is not something you just do when you’re spending the hour that you write your creative brief. You should be gathering insight at every chance you can, and unleashing that knowledge throughout every day. Insight is not something that your consumers never knew before. That would be knowledge not insight. It’s not data or fact about your brand that you want to tell. That helps, but you have to go a layer deeper to find your insights. Oddly enough, Insight is something that everyone already knows. Insight comes to life when it’s told in such a captivating way that makes consumers stop and say “hmm, I thought I was the only who felt like that”. That’s why we laugh when see the way that insight is projected with humor, why we get goose bumps when insight is projected with inspiration and why we cry when the insight comes alive through real-life drama.  

Get in the shoes of those consumers and you’ll quickly realize that consumers do not care about what you do, until you care about what they want. Instead of mentioning a feature, force yourself to ask “If I’m the consumer so what do I get” five times to see if you can get to the richness of the functional benefits. Then look at that functional benefit and ask “so how does that make me feel”. Stop talking features and start talking benefits–both the rational and emotional.   No one has ever wanted a 1/4 inch drill, they just want a 1/4 inch hole.   

Consumers are busier than ever. Whether it’s working late, trying to balance everything or doing too much, they have so little time. People are multi-tasking, texting while driving or on the TV while watching TV—which is up 35% this year.  Traditional ways with a 30 second ad and a billboard aren’t having the same effect in today’s world. The average consumer is exposed to over 6,000 advertising message per day. The consumers’ brain sorts through the clutter until finds something that might fill their needs. Imagine your boring logical message, well thought and all, breaking through to that consumer. Even with the fast paced life, most consumers are bored with life and just want something to entice them. The simplest way to challenge boredom is to like everything you do unconditionally, but if this bored consumer meets up with a boring brand, it will be rejected very quickly. You have to matter to those consumers that really care. And you have to know what connects with them to get the way to stand out.   

Living in the consumers shoes is contagious. When you start asking about how the consumer buys, what they are thinking about now or what do we want them to think, you’ll notice others on your team following your cues and start thinking like a consumer. It will be energizing. When you ask “will our consumer love this” it sets the bar very high. Here’s my simple challenge for you: If you don’t love the work you do, how do you expect the consumer to love your Brand. The best filter for your work is the consumer. It’s more important than what Wal-Mart thinks or what your boss likes/doesn’t like. When looking at new products, the R&D team should be more obsessed with what the consumer wants than what they might be capable of coming up in their lab. As Steve Jobs famously said “You’ve got to start with the customer experience and work back toward the technology – not the other way around.”

Brand Leaders Play It Far Too Safe to Find True Love.  Brand Leaders choose the safety of logic and facts instead of getting too deep or going all emotional with their consumer.  And, most brands end up liked but never end loved. My mom wanted me to be an actuary. Apparently, an actuary has one of the longest life expectancies, can make quite a bit of money and they live the ideal work-life balance. Sounds like the perfect job, but I just couldn’t do it. What’s lacking in the life of an actuary is the ability to have fun at work or drive all your passion into your work to create something big. You can make a real difference. So if you’re not going to be an actuary…then stop acting like one when you’re the Brand Leader. We can’t afford to keep doing just the usual, we can’t get stuck in logic and we can’t just satisfy needs. We need to push to go beyond greatness at every touch point with our selfish and bored consumers. We need to cultivate a deep emotional relationship with our consumer and we need to entice craving and desire.  

Everything starts and ends with the consumer in mind.  

To read about how to Create Beloved Brands, read this:

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

Manage your own career with an honest self-evaluation

This time of year is when you sit down with your boss and have the dreaded annual performance review. It’s likely dreaded for a reason. You hate getting feedback and your boss hates giving feedback. It’s very common. These days performance reviews feel like a bit of jockeying. When you do you Self Evaluation, you avoid putting anything that can be used against you. And when your boss does your Evaluation, they will avoid putting anything that will imply a promotion, raise or even maintaining your employment.   

In general, the feedback gets worse when you move up. I think the Manager figures “they know what’s going on and am I really going to make a difference?” It’s almost easier to give that eager green Assistant Brand Manager feedback then it is to give a Senior Brand Manager, Director of VP good solid feedback.  

If you are managing your career, then give yourself feedback

Are you lucky enough to have a boss that puts a lot into the review? Does your boss focus on ways to help you to genuinely improve? Is there a plan you can follow that challenges you and yet help you to be successful? Does your boss care about your long-term career success? I sure hope so. I encourage Brand Leaders to be fully engaged in the careers of their team. The leader has to buy into the idea that the better the people, the better the work and in turn the better the results. For information on how to conduct a performance review, read the following story: How to Conduct a Performance Review.   

If you manage your career, (Managing Your Career from ABM to VP of Marketing) then you have to be willing to give yourself the most honest feedback you can. Below is a Tool I’ve used in coaching executives that will help to give yourself a Self Evaluation against the dimensions that would make up 1) Leading and Managing and 2) Brand Stewardship.

Go through each of the dimensions and give yourself a score in relation to your peers. A score of 5 means you’re the best in the department in a given area, a 3 means you are average and the scores of 1’s and 2’s would mean you have a gap. We all have gaps. The real question is what are going to do about closing that gap.   

Leading and Managing

This covers areas related to how well you lead your team: holding them to a high standard, coaching, motivating and showing up consistently.  

  • Hold your team to a consistently high standard of work in strategic thinking and planning.
  • Hold your team to a consistently high standard of work in execution in the market.
  • People Leadership: your team knows the team vision and is consistently motivated by where you want to go.
  • People Management: seen as actively interested in helping your team to manage their careers.
  • Coaching: Teach, guide and direct your team members for higher performance.
  • Training and Development: provides on-going skills development to make the team better.
  • Motivation and Recognition: you are seen to actively provide positive commentary to team players, one on one and in public.
  • Consistent Communication: Both written and spoken, big and small. Easily approachable and makes time to wander.
  • Actively Listens to Team: asks the big strategic questions, not the small tactical details
  • Leadership during times of pressure: results, ambiguity, change and deadlines.

Brand Stewardship

This would look at how you do in terms of the marketing of the brand. That looks at strategic thinking, quality of the output, processes and how well you show up to peers.

  • Takes the time each week to engage in deeper Strategic Thinking to ensure it’s not just about execution.
  • Has Crafted a Team Vision to help align & motivate team. Stewart of the Direction of the Brand and Gatekeeper to all things strategic
  • Challenges Team to stay on strategy, yet provides motivation for creative solutions.
  • Consistency in the Quality of marketing outputs:  Advertising/Media, Innovation/New Products and In-store/Promotion
  • Relationship with Agencies, able to motivate for better work.
  • Consistently in the relationships you’ve built with the Sales Team
  • Broad Influence beyond your team with core stakeholders:  R&D, Finance, HR, global.
  • Organization of the work flows. Your team gets things done on time.  Deadlines, on budget, on forecast.
  • Processes:  you organize, challenge and manage the processes so your team can execute.
  • Manages Up: Once aligned with the team you are able to effectively gain support from those above.  Seen as one to fight for your team.
Identifying Your Own Gaps

Using the two elements of the review above, identify what are the 3 areas from the Self Evaluation that you feel you need the most focus on? Then as you build your own personal plan for the year, ask yourself what is your objective/goal for each of those 3 areas. And then map out a plan of attack for the coming year? It might feel a bit crazy, but going through the process should help you identify where you need the most help. If you’re reluctant in sharing this with your boss, fearing how it might be used against you, then reach out to a friend and seek their advice. If you’re not comfortable with that, feel free to bounce some of your thoughts off me. I do this with many Brand Leaders. And don’t worry, we all have gaps. I struggled at different times in my career when dealing with the sales team and it took me a while to master the art of managing up. You might be able to learn from some of my mistakes.  

To download a copy of the self evaluation, you can find a word version at: 

To read more on managing your career, read the following presentation:

I run Brand Leader Training programs on this very subject as well as a variety of others that are all designed to make better Brand Leaders. Click on any of the topics below:

To see the training presentations, visit the Beloved Brands Slideshare site at: http://www.slideshare.net/GrahamRobertson/presentations

If you or team has any interest in a training program, please contact me at graham@beloved-brands.com

BBI Creds Deck 2016.014

 

Brand = Culture: How organizational culture can help your brand win

Most people think that that Brand is what the Marketers do. And Culture should be left to the Human Resources department. But in reality, everyone is responsible for both Brand and Culture. Creating a Branded Culture might be a great chance for Marketing and HR to be working together, and find ways to involve everyone from the Brand. The new Brand Leader has to understand that marketing is more than just TV ads and more than just Facebook likes. Brand is about the experience that consumers walk away with. If I am going through the drive-through at 4am or on the phone with customer service or getting an email with a Visa “special offer” from the Bank where I have my Visa, I am in constant judgment of your brand.  

5 ways that brands connect

Brands are able to generate love for their brand when the consumer does connect with the brand. I wish everyone would stop debating what makes a great brand and realize that all five connectors matter: promise, strategy, story, innovation and experience. The first connector is the Brand Promise, which connects when the brand’s main Benefit matches up to the needs of consumers.  Once knowing that promise, everything else feeds off that Promise. For Volvo the promise is Safety, for Apple it is Simplicity and FedEx it might be Reliability. It’s important to align your Strategy and Brand Story pick the best ways to communicate the promise, and then aligning your Innovation and the Experience so that you deliver to the promise. To ensure the Innovation is aligned, everyone in R&D must be working towards delivering the brand promise. You don’t create a new brand promise based on what you invent.  If someone at Volvo were to invent the fastest car on the planet, should they market it as the safe-fast car or should they just sell the technology to Ferrari. Arguably, Volvo could make more money by selling it to a brand where it fits, rather than trying to change people’s minds. As for the experience, EVERYONE in the company has to buy into and live up to the Brand Promise. As you can start to see, embedding the Brand Promise right into the culture is essential to the brand’s success.      

Slide1

It starts with the Brand DNA

Everything in the company should feed off the Brand DNA. The Brand DNA (some call it the Brand Essence) is the most succinct definition of the Brand.  For Volvo, it’s “Safety”, while BMW might be “Performance” and Mercedes is “Luxury”. The Tool I use to determine a Brand’s DNA revolves around the Brand’s personality, the products and services the brand provides, the internal beacons that people internally rally around when thinking about the brand and consumer views of the Brand. What we normally do is brainstorm 3-4 words in each section and then looking collectively begin to frame the Brand’s DNA with a few words or a phrase to which the brand can stand behind.  

Slide1

The DNA helps guide the Brand’s Management

The Brand DNA should help frame 1) Brand Plan that drives the business for the upcoming year or the next 5 years 2) Brand Positioning that connects to the consumer through marketing communications 3) Customer Value Proposition that links the consumer needs to the benefits of the brand 4) Go-To-Market strategy that frames the distribution and the selling process 5) Cultural Beacons that help define the brand internally through values, inspiration and challenge and finally 6) Business Results, with each brand offering a unique way that it makes money. Each of these six needs feed off the Brand DNA, look to the definition as a guideline for how to align to the brand.

When you begin to blow this out one step further, you can start to see where the complexity comes into play with each of the six areas have their own needs that should still feed off that Brand DNA.

 

The DNA sets up the Brand Values

Great Brand Leaders should be looking at the culture as an opportunity to win in the market place. No matter how good your promise is, if your company is not set up to deliver that promise, everything comes crashing down. The brand story told within the company is even more important than what you might tell the market through your advertising.

Managing organizational culture is very challenging. The DNA should provide an internal beacon for all the People in the organization to follow and deliver the brand promise. As you move along the Brand Love Curve from Indifferent to Like It to Love It and on to Beloved status, you need to make sure the culture keeps pace with where the brand is. 

Slide1

While the DNA can provide the internal beacon, it might not be enough to capture all the behaviors.  Brand Values should come from the DNA, and act as guideposts to ensure that the behavior of everyone in the organization is set to deliver upon the Brand’s promise. How do you want your people to show up? What type of service do you want?  How much emphasis on innovation? What type of people do you want to hire? What behavior should be rewarded and what behavior is off-side.  Having the right Brand Values will help you answer these questions. The Brand Values become an extension of what the Brand Leader wants the brand to stand for.

A great example of Brand Values is the Virgin Group of Companies defines what  each value is, but also what it shouldn’t be. I love that Fun means enjoyment but not incompetent and Value means simple but not cheap.

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The Right People leadership matters

Having values is one thing, but the other component of Culture is the right  people leadership.  Use the values to help people deliver upon the right behaviors, skills and experiences. Leaders must embody the Brand’s DNA and live by the values. Employees will be watching the Leaders to ensure they are living up to the words on the wall. Leaders need to believe that by investing in their people, the business results will come.  Better people produce better work and that drives better results. Talent management means hiring the right people and providing the right training. Too many companies are skimping on training and development, which is equivalent to cutting back on your R&D.   

Every communication to employees, whether in a speech or memo, should touch upon the Brand Values, by highlighting great examples of when employees have delivered upon a Brand Value. Leverage values, with inspirational touch points and processes to inspire and challenge them on achieving greatness. The culture will only change when everyone makes the decision to make the change.  

Brand Leaders should look to culture as an asset to make your Brand Experience more powerful.  

 

To download a copy of this article and share with your team, you can find a pdf version at (good for airplane reading): 

Do you want to be an amazing Brand Leader?  We can help you.  

Read more on how to utilize our Brand Leadership Learning Center where you will receive training in all aspects of marketing whether that’s strategic thinking, brand plans, creative briefs, brand positioning, analytical skills or how to judge advertising. We can customize a program that is right for you or your team.  We can work in person, over the phone or through Skype. Ask us how we can help you. 

 

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Focus your target by making sure you matter to those who care the most

“Selling to people who actually want to hear from you is more effective than interrupting strangers who don’t. “  Seth Godin

Strategy is all about making choices

Many Brand Leaders think they are good decision makers. Most Linked In profiles start by saying “I’m a strategic thinker”. But the flaw is they keep trying to be everything to everyone. The most important element of Marketing Strategy is the exact area where most Marketers struggle: FOCUS! I still see a fear among many marketers to make choices–whether it’s a target market, brand positioning or strategies or the allocation of spend.  Good decision-making starts with forcing yourself to use the word “or” instead of keep using the word “and”. If you aren’t making choices, then you aren’t really making decisions. So forget about decision making and start focusing on making choices. 

Find those who are the most motivated by what you do

I once talked to a Brand Leader who said that they had done their homework on their target and had come to the decision that it was “18-65, current customers, new customers and employees” My response was “why have you eliminated Tourists and Prisoners?” He laughed but I could see him starting to think “hmm, why not”. In that 18-65 age target, there are 3 generations who do not really understand each other. People write books about these generations.  Yet somehow you’re going to tell me you think you can find one common way of communicating with them. Now if I told you the Brand Leader was at a Bank, selling ‘first time mortgages’, then how crazy is 18-65? Yes, I know there could be some 64-year-old consumer who is really tired of renting for the last 43 years, but I’m sure they would understand that the bank targets a 32-year-old in their ads. Trying to sell to those that ‘might’ is not as powerful as selling to those that ‘will’.  

The most obvious target is those consumers already motivated to buy what you have to sell.   

Pick a focused Target Market: While it’s tempting to sell to everyone.  Focus your resources on those most likely to buy. Realizing not everyone can like you is the first step to focus on those that can love you.  Whether you are a niche player focused on guerilla tactics, or the number two player attacking the category leader having a focused target market is crucial. I see a difference between a “buying target” which is those consumers who currently buy the product naturally without your effort and a “strategic target” of those consumers who you want to get to act–whether it’s considering, purchasing or continuing to buy. Rest assured that the buying target will not likely leave you because they aren’t in the strategic target–whether that’s in your TV ad or as part of your promotions. Think of it this way, anyone can still buy, but who do we think is most likely going to be influenced and motivated by what we have to sell.

Pick a focused Brand Positioning: Start with the target market you just picked–and assess their need states to see where you can best match up.

Beloved Brands are either better, different or cheaper. Or they are not around for much longer. There’s too much pressure to be a copy cat brand–your channel might be the first to reject you, but if not, the consumer surely will. The winning zone is to match up what your consumer wants and what you do best. Avoid taking your competitor on in the space that they are better than you or you’ll get your butt handed to you. Where you are both trying to meet the needs of the consumer and are equal in performance, be careful that the leader may win, unless you can find ways to connect emotionally, be more innovative or find ways to provide superior execution. But even then, this space is a risky place to play.

Know your consumer, and live on their insights

Insight is not something that consumers never knew before. That would be knowledge not insight. Insight is not data or fact about your brand that you want to tell. Insights are not statistics about the demographics, shopping patterns or purchase behavior.

Oddly enough, Insight is something that everyone already knows. Insight comes to life when it’s told in such a captivating way that makes consumers stop and say “hmm, I thought I was the only who felt like that”. That’s why we laugh watching Seinfeld, when see the way that insight is projected with humor, why we get goose bumps during a movie when insight is projected with inspiration and why we cry during a romantic comedy when the insight comes alive through real-life drama.  Because they’ve captured how we already feel.

The dictionary definition of the word Insight is “seeing below the surface”. To get deeper, keep asking yourself “so what does that mean for the consumer” until you have an “AHA moment”. What are the beliefs, attitudes or behaviors that help explain how they think, feel or act in life, as it pertains to the relationship to your brand or category.   It’s not just data, trends and facts are insights. Facts are merely on the surface—so they miss out on the depth of the explanation of the underlying trends or feelings that caused the data.  (e.g.  In 1964, US teenagers saw the Beetles as an ‘escape’ from reality after the JFK assassination) Insights help tell the story, paint the picture or inspire the creative juices. Insights need to be interesting or intriguing. My challenge is to think beyond specific category insights and think about Life Insights or even Societal Trends that could impact changing behaviour.

We managed to talk the banker into a more reasonable target of 28-33, within a year of purchasing their first home. This target is going through so much life changing moments that at times they feel overwhelmed with all the change. Insights help bring more life to the target.

  • “Things in my life seem to be moving so fast–marriage, career, baby and now a house. I’m a feeling a bit overwhelmed but I guess it’s time for me to start growing up fast”
  • “I really have no business buying a house. I have no clue what I’m doing. I’m just trying to fake it.  Everything is so scary. And now the bank wants to know if i want fixed or variable. I felt so stupid asking what’s the difference”

Why focus on a defined Target?

Every brand is constrained by resources—dollars, people and time. Even the richest Brand Leaders complain about the lack of resources. Focus makes you matter most to those who actually might care.  Focusing your limited resources on those consumers with the highest propensity to buy what you are selling will deliver the greatest movement towards sales and the highest return on investment for those resources. I was leading a session and I asked who the key targets were.  The first answer was pretty good.  Then people around the room kept saying “well, what about…” and “we can’t forget…” and “we don’t want to alienate…” And the President says in serious tone: “we target everyone, because it could be anyone really”.

In a competitive category, no one brand can do it all. Focus makes you decide whether to be better, different or cheaper. Giving the consumer too many messages about your brand will confuse them as to what makes your brand unique. Trying to be everything is the recipe for being nothing. I was lucky that my first marketing job at General Mills was managing child cereals, where each quarter, I had to do a promotion on 5 different cereals. So, twenty times per year, I had to work with the 2 x 2 inch corner of the cereal box and put a message that would make a 5-year-old scream at their Moms to buy the cereal.  That taught me a lot about focusing my messaging.

Trying to do everything spreads your resources and your message too thin, so that everything you do is “ok” and nothing is “great”. With a long to-do list, you’ll never do great at anything. And in a crowded and fast economy, “ok” never breaks through so you’ll never get the early win to gain that tipping point that opens up the gateway to even bigger success. I once had a director working for me, who kept spinning around never getting anything done. His team was complaining that every time they started a new project, he’d come up with new ideas.  I sat down with him and asked him to bring his project list for the up-coming quarter. He came in with 83 projects!!! I said “how do we narrow this list down to five”. He looked at me like I was insane.

Trying to be everything means you end up being nothing.  

When you focus, four things happen:

  1. Better ROI: With all the resources against one strategy, one target, one message, you’ll be find out if the strategy that you have chosen is able to actually moves consumers, drives sales or enhances other key performance indicators. Did you actually get done what you wanted to get done? If you spread those resources, you may never see any movement and then figure your strategy is wrong.
  2. Strong Reputation: When you only do one thing, you naturally start to become associated with that one thing. With consumers, you get the reputation as the “fast one” or the “great tasting”. And internally, as people in the company start to align to your one thing, eventually you become very good at that one thing. Look at Volvo with “safety”. Every Volvo consumer message for 30 years is about safety. And internally, everyone at Volvo is fixated on safety, coming out with new safety innovations ahead of everyone else. Yes, Volvo’s have leather seats, go pretty fast, have a CD player and even come in multiple colors. But they don’t feel the need to have to say it.
  3. More Competitive: As your reputation grows, you begin to own that one thing and your are able to better defend the positioning territory. As categories mature, brands start to stake claims and if you’ve got something that’s unique, relevant and motivating, you’ll be able to own it. To win, you have to be either different, better or cheaper. Or you won’t be around for very long.  Defend your point of difference.
  4. Bigger and Better P&L: As the focused effort drives results, it opens up the P&L with higher sales and profits. With a better ROI, you get to go back to management and say “it worked” and they’ll say “ok, let’s increase the investment”. And that means more resources will be put to the effort to drive even higher growth. As you efficiently drive the top-line, the P&L opens up a bit and becomes easier for a brand leader to work with.

So if you’re a Brand Leader and you know that by focusing you’ll get a higher ROI which means even more resources and you know you’ll get a reputation and a position you can defend….then, why won’t you focus?

You have to matter the most to those who care the most

 

To see a training presentation on getting to a Better Creative Brief read the following: 

 

 

Positioning 2016.112

Ten Resolutions for Brand Leaders in 2013

Happy New Year!!!   

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”.

#1:  Take a walk in your consumer’s shoes. See the brand as they do. It’s not just about doing research and finding consumer insights. It’s about experiencing the brand as your consumer does. Bringing the consumer into everything you do tightening the connection. Consumers do not care what you do, until you care about what they want. In 2013, be the spokesperson who represents the consumer to your team and watch the work get better. When doing TV ads or digital ads, realize that the consumer now sees 5,000+ brand messages per day: Would this capture their attention, would they get it and would they do anything with it? Read the following article that puts the consumer front and center in what we do: Everything Starts and Ends with the Consumer

#2:  Ask bigger questions, get bigger answers. As a senior Brand Leader, it is easy to get so wrapped up in the details of the execution that you’re making the non-strategic decisions on behalf of the team. You have just really become the “senior” Senior Brand Manager that really annoys your team. Instead of providing the team with a vision, challenging on strategy or teaching the team, you’re telling them to make the flash bigger and change the sell sheet to purple. Instead of telling people what to do, why not challenge yourself to sit back slightly and ask the really tough challenging questions.  You’ll know you’ve asked a really tough question when you don’t even know the answer. To figure out the best questions, read:  Ask Bigger Questions, Get Bigger Answers

#3: Create more love for your brand and you’ll drive more power and profits for your Brand.   Brand Leaders are too logical for their own good. So much so that it’s holding their brand back from being great. To create more love for your brand, there are 5 sources of connectivity that help connect the brand with consumers and drive Brand Love, including the brand promise, the strategic choices you make, the brand’s ability to tell their story, the freshness of the product or service and the overall experience and impressions it leaves with you.  Once you have the connection with your consumers, use that power with retailers, media, competitors and even the very consumers that love you.  With added power, you’ll be able to drive bigger profits, with inelastic price, more efficiency in costs and consumers will follow your brand with every new product launch or category you enter.  Realize the magic formula and find more growth for your brand in 2013:  Love = Power = Growth = Profit.  To read more about this, follow this link:  Brand Love = Power = Profit

#4: Focusing makes your Brand Bigger. Lack of focus makes it Smaller. I still see Brand Leaders struggling to focus. They want as broad of a selling target they can find so they can speak to everyone, yet in reality they speak with no one. They want so many messages, mainly because they don’t know what the consumer wants, so they just say everything they can think of. And they choose every media option because they don’t even know where they are, so they try to be everywhere. When you don’t make a choice, you don’t make a decision. Great marketers make choices–they use the word “or” instead of “and”. They apply their limited resources against the biggest potential win–with a focused target, focused message and focused medium to shout it in. They look bigger than they are to those who are the most motivated to already buy. To challenge yourself to focus, read:  Brand Focus Makes You Bigger

#5:  At every turn, ask yourself “DO I LOVE IT?” Reject all work that is “just ok” because OK is the enemy of Great.  Moving your brand from indifferent to Like It is relatively easy:  good product, smart investment and doing the basics right. But moving from “Like It” to “Love It” can be a herculean task. If you want your consumer to love your brand, you have to love the work you do. Look at the love Apple projects to its consumers through the magic of design, branding and marketing. Never let something out that’s “just ok”.  If you’re indifferent, then you’re brand will be as well. Challenge yourself in 2013 to lead yourself with passion equal to logic and find a way to love the work you do.  Read the following article at:  Reject OK because OK is the Enemy of Greatness

#6: Find your point of difference by being different. Brand Leaders always try to find that nugget as their point of difference. They get so logical and then try to make it a big deal in the consumers mind, even though many times the consumer does not care. And yet, these same Brand Leaders play it so safe that their work looks and feels just like everyone else. In 2013, push yourself to be different in your execution.  If the consumer sees 5,000 brand messages a day, they’ll only be attracted to something they’ve never seen before.  All the ‘me-too’ messages will be lost in a sea of sameness.  Whether it is new products, a new advertising campaign or media options push yourself to do something that stands out. Don’t just settle for ok. Always push for great.  If you don’t love the work, how do you expect your consumer to love your brand?  The opposite of different, is indifferent and who wants to be indifferent. Read the following link:  The Art of Being Different

#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 i how you approach their development, they’ll do listen to your advice, follow your lead and give more effort than ever. If they feel they are getting the training and development needed, they’ll likely stay longer with your company. If they have added skills and motivation, their performance will be even better and if the work gets better, then the results will be better. For you the equation is simple: The better the people, the better the work and in turn the better the results. To read more on how to help with their careers, read the following link:  Managing Your Marketing Career (Free Download)

#8: Create a culture around your brand—Brand should be everyone’s job, not just marketing.  There are hundreds and sometimes thousands of people impacted by the vision, mission and values you set out for the brand. While most people will think the Brand Manager leads the brand, it’s the collective wisdom of all those who touch it. From Sales People negotiating on the brands behalf to HR people who pick the right people to various Agencies, right down to the Editor who works just one day on your brand.  Motivate them, embrace them, challenge them, lead them, follow them and reward them. Great people make great work and great work leads to great brands. In 2013, challenge yourself to realize that you need more than just you living the brand, you need everyone living and breathing it. The best case study on how to drive the brand right into the culture is Ritz Carlton: Ritz Carlton

#9: Be a better client and get better work: I get asked a lot: “So what is it that makes someone good at advertising?”.  I always think people are looking for some type of magical answer, but the answer I give is always very simple yet if you think about it very complex: “They can consistently get good advertising on the air and keep bad advertising off the air”. It all starts with being a better client thought. As David Ogilvy said “Clients get the work they deserve”. If you are your agency’s best client, you are much more likely to get the best of their work. To get better, read an article on the Worst Type of Clients

#10: Be a better Brand Leader. Be more Consumer focused and live as though Everything Starts and Ends With the Consumer in Mind. That’s why you got into this business isn’t it? Follow Your Instincts and use the gut feel of Marketing. If you have more fun, so to will the consumer. Revel in Ambiguity and be more patient with Ideas. It’s ok not to know for a little bit because that’s when the best answers come to the surface.  Actively Listen and  use more questions than answers. Focus on the People and the Results will come. Here is an article for you: Eight Brand Leader Behaviors

I really hope you try one of these out in 2013. And I hope you see the difference.  

Here’s to a Great Year in 2013!

To find ways to make your brand more loved, read the following presentation:

 

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

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

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

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

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