How to go deeper on the analysis of your Brand

 

Too many times, marketers come to conclusions based on pure instincts and put them forward to their management team and the set of peers who might agree or disagree. The problem with instincts is that because it’s really just an opinion, with nothing to substantiate it. And even if you are right, you’ll have a hard time convincing others, so anyone with a counter view, retains their own opinion and the team remains divided. Even if they go along with it, they remain a quiet dissenter just waiting for it to fail and waiting to say “I told you so”.

When you don’t go deep on your thinking, I call it surface thinking.  I equate “surface thinking” to “surface cleaning”.  When your mother is coming over to visit in half an hour, you “surface clean” by quickly take everything and jam into the drawers or closets where she won’t be able to see.  You never really clean up. The same thing holds with “surface thinking”. Yes, you think, but it stays at the opinion level. You don’t dig in to the data, you don’t listen to others or go do the necessary research to back up your opinion. You never really go deep enough to uncover the deep rich insightful conclusions. And everyone knows it. 

Opinions are great.  Every leader should have one and be able to articulate their views. But it’s best when you can layer it in fact.  One good rule for communicating your opinion is something I learned in my first year Logic class: Premise, Premise, Conclusion. Try it out, next time you’re engaged in debate. Just make sure the premise is backed by fact.      

So what happens when you just do “surface thinking”:

  1. The programs bomb, and because you don’t know what elements of the program really failed, you throw out the entire program—the strategy was wrong, the tactics didn’t do what you hoped, the goals weren’t set up right and even the agency did a bad job. You throw it all out, and might even fire the agency.
  2. There’s management doubt from your boss and your peers. They can clearly see you don’t go deep, so they remain unconvinced or even confused. They might confront you with their own opinion, but then we just end up with two talking heads that refuse to go deep. But, to protect themselves against a strategy they aren’t quite sure of, they subconsciously short-change you on investment or even on support from their team. 
  3. When you just operate at the surface level, when you’re debating a topic, instead of the team going deep and seeking out real and rich facts to support one side or the other, the conversation moves sideways instead of deep.  What you’ll notice is you’ll be talking about distribution at the surface level, and because no one in the room wants to  go deep, they say “well what about the new cheery flavor, I took it home and my wife didn’t like it, are we sure it’s going to work” or “this new golf shirt for the sales meeting is very cool, I want one of these puppies”. The leadership team spins, round and round, never diving deep enough to solve the issues, just casually moves on to new issues. This is how bad decisions or no decisions get made. 

How to go deeper

The best way go deep on your analysis, ask “so what does that mean” at least five times and watch the information gets richer and deeper. 

Slide1

 

Looking at the Gray’s Cookie example above, intuitively, it makes sense that going after Health Food Stores could be one option put on the table. But to say you need to be better, without digging in remains an unsubstantiated opinion. As you dig deeper, you see that going after Health Food stores, who are highly independent is labor intensive and the payback is just not there. Yes, you’re way under-developed.  But it’s more expensive than other options. When you bring the option of going after mass into the mix, which is head office driven, you start to see a higher return on the investment. This is just a fictional example, but look how the thinking gets richer at each stage. Force yourself to keep asking “so what does this mean” or “why” pushing the analysis harder and harder. 

Thinking time questions that will help you go deeper

The first analysis is “What do we know?” with 5 key questions to help you sort through your analysis:

  1. What do we know? This should be fact based and you know it for sure.
  2. What do we assume? Your educated/knowledge based conclusion that helps us bridge between fact, and speculation.
  3. What we think? Based on facts, and assumptions, you should be able to say what we think will happen.
  4. What do we need to find out? There may be unknowns still.
  5. What are we going to do? It’s the action that comes out of this thinking.

It forces you to start grouping your learning, forces you to start drawing conclusions and it enables your reader to separate fact (the back ground information) from opinion (where you are trying to take them)

The second type of analysis is “Where are we?” with 5 key questions to help you sort through your analysis:

  1. Where are we?
  2. Why are we  here? 
  3. Where could we be?
  4. How can we get there?
  5. What do we need to do to get there?

These questions help frame your thinking as you go into a Brand Plan.  The first question helps the analysis, the second with the key issues, the third frames the vision and objectives, the fourth gets into strategy and tactics and the fifth gets into the execution. My challenge to you: update it every 3-6 months, or every time you do something major. You’ll be surprised that doing something can actually impact “where are we?” on the analysis.  

The deeper the thinking, the smarter the leader

 

 

To read more on how to Create a Beloved Brand

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 use a brand strategy roadmap to guide your brand’s future success

Every brand should have a brand strategy roadmap that includes the vision, purpose, values, key issues, strategies, and tactics. As well, it should layer in the brand idea to deliver a consistent brand across the five consumer touchpoints. To ensure you have a long-range plan everyone can follow, you should get your brand strategy roadmap down to one page.  

Get your long-range plan on one page

Have you ever noticed people who say, “We need to get everyone on the same page” rarely have anything written down on one page? The same people who use the term “fewer bigger bets” are fans of little projects that deplete resources.

People say they are good decision-makers, yet struggle when faced with two distinct choices, so they creatively find a way to justify doing both options.

Always look at a long-range plan as an opportunity to make decisions on how to allocate your brand’s limited resources to the smartest ideas that will drive the highest return. Think of the brand strategy roadmap as a decision-making tool to align your team with the best financial investment choices and the best decisions on how to deploy your people. The brand strategy roadmap should then align and focus everyone who works on the brand, including the leader who writes the plan.

The brand strategy roadmap combines our brand idea map where we show how the big idea lines up across the 5 consumer touch-points and the long-term plan elements.

Long-range strategic plan

Align the brand idea across five consumer touchpoints

Today’s market is a cluttered mess. The consumer is bombarded with brand messages all day, and inundated with more information from influencers, friends, experts, critics, and competitors. While the internet makes shopping easier, consumers must now filter out tons of information daily. Moreover, the consumer’s shopping patterns have gone from a simple, linear purchase pattern into complex, cluttered chaos.

Five main touchpoints reach consumers, including the brand promise, brand story, innovation, purchase moment, and consumer experience. Regardless of the order, they reach the consumer; if the brand does not deliver a consistent message, the consumer will be confused and likely shut out that brand.

While brands cannot control what order each touchpoint reaches the consumer, they can undoubtedly align each of those touchpoints under the brand idea.

Here’s how the brand idea stretches across the five consumer touchpoints

  • Brand promise: Use the brand idea to inspire a simple brand promise that separates your brand from competitors, and projects your brand as better, different, or cheaper, based on your brand positioning.
  • Brand story: The brand story must come to life to motivate consumers to think, feel, or act while it works establishes the ideal brand’s reputation to be held in the minds and hearts of the consumer. The brand story should align all brand communications across all media options.
  • Innovation: Build a fundamentally sound product, staying at the forefront of trends and technology to deliver innovation. Steer the product development teams to ensure they remain true to the brand idea.
  • Purchase moment: The brand idea must move consumers along the purchase journey to the final purchase decision. The brand idea helps steer the sales team and sets up retail channels to close the sale. 
  • Consumer experience: Turn the usage into a consumer experience that becomes a ritual and favorite part of the consumer’s day. The brand idea guides the culture of everyone behind the brand to deliver the experience.         

Long-range strategic plan

Build a rough plan with the brand strategy roadmap elements

Start off your long-range plan with a rough copy of all the planning elements.

Long-range strategic plan

Lay out the long-range plan

  • Vision: The vision in the brand strategy roadmap should answer the question, “Where could we be?” Put a stake in the ground that describes an ideal state for your future. It should be able to last for five to 10 years. The vision gives everyone clear direction. It should motivate the team, written in a way that scares you a little and excites you a lot.
  • Brand purpose: The purpose has to answer the question, “Why does your brand exist?” It’s the underlying personal motivation for why you do what you do. The purpose is a powerful way to connect with employees and consumers, giving your brand a soul.
  • Values: The values you choose should answer, “What do you stand for?” Your values should guide you and shape the organization’s standards, beliefs, behaviors, expectations, and motivations. A brand must consistently deliver each value.
  • Goals: Your goals in the brand strategy roadmap should answer, “What will you achieve?” The specific measures can include consumer behavioral changes, metrics of crucial programs, in-market performance targets, financial results, or milestones on the pathway to the vision. You can use these goals to set up a brand dashboard or scoreboard.
  • Situation analysis: Use your deep-dive business review to answer, “Where are we?” Your analysis must summarize the drivers and inhibitors currently facing the brand, and the future threats and untapped opportunities.

Then set an action plan to include in the brand strategy roadmap

  • Key issues: The key issues answer the question, “Why are we here?” Look at what is getting in your way of achieving your brand vision. Ask the issues as questions, to set up the challenges to the strategies as the answer to each issue.
  • Strategies: Your strategy decisions must answer, “How can we get there?” Your choices depend on market opportunities you see with consumers, competitors, or situations. Strategies must provide clear marching orders that define the strategic program you are investing in, the focused opportunity, the desired market impact and the payback in a performance result that benefits the branded business.
  • Tactics: The tactics answer, “What do we need to do?” Framed entirely by strategy, tactics turn into action plans with clear marching orders to your teams. Decide on which activities to invest in to stay on track with your vision while delivering the highest ROI and the highest ROE for your branded business.

Bring the long-range plan and brand idea together

When you combine the planning elements with the brand idea map, you can complete the brand strategy roadmap.

 

To learn more, here is our workshop we run on how to write brand plans.

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.

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

 

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.

The best solutions are likely inside you already, but struggle to come out. Our unique engagement tools are the backbone of our strategy workshops. These tools will force you to think differently so you can freely generate many new ideas. At Beloved Brands, we bring our challenging voice to help you make decisions and refine every potential idea.

We help brands find growth

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 big 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. Finally, the big idea must influence employees to personally deliver an outstanding consumer experience, to help move consumers along the journey to loving 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. We work with your team to build out project plans, creative briefs and provide advice on marketing execution.

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

We make Brand Leaders smarter

We believe that investing in your marketing people will pay off. With smarter people behind your brands will drive higher revenue growth and profits. With our brand management training program, you will see smarter strategic thinking, more focused brand plans, brand positioning, better creative briefs that steer your agencies, improved decision-making on marketing execution, smarter analytical skills to assess your brand’s performance and a better management of the profitability of the brand.

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

Graham Robertson bio

What to do when your Brand is stuck at “Like It”?

Don’t feel bad. Most brands are at the Like It stage

You have been able to carve out a niche and be a chosen brand against a proliferation of brands in the category. And you have good shares, moderate profits and most brand indicators are reasonably healthy.  It’s just that no one loves you. There’s nothing wrong with being a Liked brand. All the power to you. But just know that you might be leaving good money on the table.  

Beloved = Power = Growth = Profit

The Brand Love Curve

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

With each stage of the Brand Love Curve, the consumer will see your brand differently. The worst case is when consumers have “no opinion” of your brand. They just don’t care. It’s like those restaurants you stop at in the middle of no-where that are called “restaurant”. In those cases, there is no other choice so you may as well just name it restaurant. But in highly competitive markets, you survive by being liked, but you thrive by being loved. Be honest with yourself as to what stage you are at, and try to figure out how to be more loved, with a vision of getting to the Beloved Brand stage. 

The Like It Stage

At the Like It stage, the funnel is fairly strong at the top but quickly narrows at purchase and has a very weak bottom part of the brand funnel. As people see your brand as a good rational choice, they might consider it and use it, but it lacks separation from the other brands and it’s missing that emotional connection. Brands stuck here usually focus on what they do (features) and not what the consumer wants (benefits)  In the funnel, you’ll see pretty strong awareness and consideration but you’ll lose out at the purchase stage and have no real repeat or loyalty at all.  You’ll notice fairly high trade spend just so you can keep your share going–and you use price as a weapon to close the deal. The best strategy here is to begin to Separate Your Brand from the clutter of the market, by establishing a brand promise based on benefits–rational and emotional. A brand like Dove was at the Like It stage back in the 1990s. Only when they could shift from talking about themselves to talking about the consumers would they be able to establish more love for their brand.  

Consumers see your brand as a functional and rational choice they make. They tried it and it makes sense so they buy it, use it and they do enjoy it. It meets a basic need they have. They likely prefer it versus another brand, but they think it is better, cheaper or easier to use. Or your mom told you to use it.  But, consumers don’t have much of an emotional connection or feeling about the brand. Where Indifferent is really bad, you’re ordinary, which is just a little bit better. Overall, consumers see you brand in the “it will do” space.

The Five Sources of Brand Love

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.

Why is your Brand stuck at the Like It Stage:

If your brand is stuck at Like It, look to the five sources of love to see if you have a weakness.  

  1. Protective Brand Leaders means Caution: While many of these brands at the Like It are very successful brands, they get stuck because of overly conservative and fearful Brand Managers, who pick middle of the road strategies and execute “ok” ideas. They do a bad job at either telling the story or launching new products. On top of this, Brand Managers who convince themselves that “we stay conservative because it’s a low-interest category” should be removed. Low interest category means you need even more to captivate the consumer.
  2. We are rational thinking Marketers: Those marketers that believe they are strictly rational are inhibiting their brands. The brand managers get all jazzed on claims, comparatives, product demonstration and doctor recommended that they forget about the emotional side of the purchase decision. Claims need to be twisted into benefits—both rational and emotional benefits. Consumers don’t care about what you do until you care about what they need. Great marketers find that balance of the science and art of the brand. Ordinary marketers get stuck with the rational only. The promise stays very rational, and the execution of the brand story becomes rather bland.  
  3. New Brand with Momentum: As a new brand, you might not have found a way to use a unique brand promise to separate yourself from other competitors. Stage 2 of a new brand innovation is ready to expand from the early adopters to the masses. The new brand begins to differentiate itself in a logical way to separate themselves from the proliferation of copycat competitors. Consumers start to go separate ways as well. Retailers might even back one brand over another. Throughout the battle, the brand carves out a base of consumers.
  4. There’s a Major Leak:  If you look at the brand buying system, you’ll start to see a major leak at some point where you keep losing customers. Most brands have some natural flaw—whether it’s the concept, the product, taste profile ease of use or customer service. Without analyzing and addressing the leak, the brand gets stuck. People like it, but refuse to love it. That leak could be in the freshness or experience stage.  
  5. Brand changes their Mind every year: Brands really exist because of the consistency of the promise. When the promise and the delivery of the promise changes every year it’s hard to really connect with what the brand is all about. A brand like Wendy’s has changed their advertising message every year over the past 10 years. The only consumers remaining are those who like their burgers, not the brand. The story never gets told in a consistent manner that delivers the brand promise. It fails to catch on, so instead of just fixing the communication the brand also changes the brand promise.  
  6. Positional Power–who needs Love: there are brands that have captured a strong positional power, whether it`s a unique technology or distribution channel or even value pricing advantage.  Brands like Microsoft or Wal-Mart or even many of the pharmaceuticals products don`t see value in the idea of being loved. The problem is when you lose the positional power, you lose your customer base completely. The brand with just positional power becomes complacent and lazy–with a culture that does not create a brand experience that surpasses the promise. 
  7. Brands who capture Love, but no Life Ritual: There are brands that quickly capture the imagination but somehow fail to capture a routine embedded in the consumers’ life, usually due to some flaw. Whether it’s Krispy Kreme, Pringles or even Cold Stone, there’s something inherent in the brand’s format or weakness that holds it back and it stays stuck at Loved but just not often enough.  So, you forget you love them. The strategy of linking the brand’s promise to the other connection points of the brand.  

Indicators that you’re at the Like It Stage

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

Why would you want to get to the Love It Stage

As you become more loved, you can use that love consumers have for your brand to drive more power for your brand.  That power may be against retailers, other competitors, suppliers, media and key influencers.   As well as a power over the very consumers that love your brand.  With more power, a more loved Brand has 8 ways it can add profit. 

Slide1

In terms of pricing, you can charge premiums and any change in pricing is relatively more Inelastic.  Loyal consumers, weakened channels pay premiums, and trading up where offered.  More engaged employees deliver better experience—even more premiums. This gives your brand an opportunity to drive higher margins.

With costs, a more loved brand becomes more Efficient and Powerful. You’ll be able to achieve Economies of scale. Suppliers cut costs due to volume & wanting brand in portfolio. Efficient media spend, free media through search, earned and social. Gov’t willingly subsidize. Partners give favorable terms.  This gives your brand lower costs–both in terms of product costs and marketing costs.  

A more loved brand can drive market share by pushing the Momentum and finding that Tipping Point. Crowds draw crowds. Power of media (search + social + earned) keeps brand in the conversation with heavy influence. Competitors can’t respond to the momentum. You can steal share from weakened competitors who have no love, or get current users to use even more.  

A more loved brand can enter new markets. Loyalists Will Follow Wherever: Loyal users will follow where brand goes, and doors will open to new ventures. The idea of brand no longer tied to product, but to how brand makes you feel. 

As the brand is more loved, the P&L statement looks a lot stronger–higher markets, lower costs, higher share and new market entries all add up to much higher profitability.  It’s worth finding that love.  

How to get to past the Like It stage

  • Focus on action and drive Consideration and Purchase: stake out certain spaces in the market creating a brand story that separates your brand from the clutter. Begin to sell the solution, not just the product. Build a Bigger Following:  Invest in building a brand story that helps to drive for increased popularity and get new consumers to use the brand.
  • Begin to Leverage those that already Love:  Focus on the most loyal consumers and drive a deeper connection by driving the routine which should increase usage frequency. On top of that, begin cross selling to capture a broader type of usage.
  • Love the Work: It is time to dial-up the passion that goes into the marketing execution. Beloved Brands have a certain magic to them. But “Like It’ brands tend to settle for ok, rather than push for great. With better work, you’ll be able to better captivate and delight the consumers. If you don’t love the work, how do you expect the consumer to love your brand.
  • Fix the Leak: Brands that are stuck have something embedded in the brand or the experience that is holding back the brand. It frustrates consumers and restricts them from fully committing to making the brand a favorite. Be proactive and get the company focused on fixing this leak.
  • Build a Big Idea: Consumers want consistency from the brand—constant changes to the advertising, packaging or delivery can be frustrating. Leverage a Brand Story and a Big Idea that balances rational and emotional benefits helps to establish a consistency for the brand and help build a much tighter relationship.

So be content with being Liked.  But just realize that you’re leaving profits behind for someone else to capture.  

If you are stuck at Like It, then you are leaving money on the table

 

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. Consumer Insights: To get richer depth on the consumer, read the following story by clicking on the hyper link:  Everything Starts and Ends with the Consumer in Mind

 

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 use brand funnel data to assess your brand’s health

A classic brand funnel would measure awareness, familiar, consider, purchase, repeat and loyal. They tell you where you are now, and where you can go next. Brand Funnels determine where a brand sits on the Brand Love Curve. Indifferent brands have very skinny brand funnels with low awareness, low purchase and negligible repeat and loyalty. Brands that are liked have high awareness and sales, but without an emotional connection, they almost have no loyalty. The beloved brands had the most robust brand funnels, with strong awareness, purchase, repeat and loyalty scores. 

How to use brand funnels to determine brand health

At the very least, you should be measuring Awareness, Purchase and Loyalty rates.  While sales, share and profits are the obvious measurements of a brand, they are easy to see but are the end result.

How to analyze your brand using Brand Funnels

Every brand should understand the details of their Brand Funnel, knowing what is causing any strength, weakness, changes versus last year or gaps versus competitors. A classic brand funnel should measure awareness, familiar, consider, purchase, repeat and loyal. At the very least, you should be measuring awareness, purchase and repeat. It is not just about driving particular numbers on the funnel, but moving consumers from one stage of the funnel to the next. How to determine your brand’s health using brand funnels

The first thing to do is look at the absolute brand funnel scores (A), comparing them to last year, to competitors or versus category norms. Then look at the brand funnel ratios (B), finding the percent your brand is able to convert from one stage of the funnel to the next. To create the ratios, divide the absolute number by the number above it on the funnel. In the example, take the familiar score of 87% and divide it by the awareness score of 93% to determine the conversion ratio of 91%. That means 91% of those who are aware become familiar.

Breaking down the Brand Funnel ratios

The brand funnel becomes more powerful when you start looking at the ratios.

How to determine your brand’s health using brand funnels

The first thing to do is lay out the ratios scores (C) of your brand versus your nearest competitor. Then, find ratio gaps (D) by subtracting the competitor’s ratio scores from your brand’s ratio scores. In the example, the first ratio moving from aware to familiar would create a -7% ratio gap (91% – 97%) which means your brand trails your competitor by 7%. You will start to see where your ratio will either be stronger or weaker than the comparison brand. Finally, you should start analyzing the difference (E) between the two brands and tell a strategic story to explain each gap. Looking at the example, you can see Gray’s and Dad’s have similar scores at the top part of the funnel, but Gray’s starts to show real weakness (-23% and -51% gap) as it moves to repeat and loyalty. This creates a gap you need to fix through your Brand Plan.

How to determine your brand’s health using brand funnels

Putting meaning to the Brand Funnel results

The brand funnel data explains where your brand sits on the Brand Love Curve. Indifferent brands have skinny funnels throughout. Your plan for indifferent brands should fuel awareness and consideration to kick-start the funnel. For Like It brands, the brand funnels are solid at the top but quickly narrow at the purchase stage. These brands need tools to close potential leaks and trigger consumers at the purchase moment. Love It stage brands have a fairly robust funnel, but may have a smaller leak at loyal. The plan should continue to feed the love and turn repeat into a routine. The most beloved brands have robust brand funnels. These brands should continuously track their funnel and attack weakness before exploited by competitors.

How to determine your brand’s health using brand funnels

How tightly connected is your consumer to your brand?

Consumer strategy has to work to tighten the bond with consumers and establish a core group of brand lovers. Where the brand sits on the Brand Love Curve can really impact the strategic focus for the brand. All brands start at the Unknown stage, before they are launched. Brands at the Indifferent stage act like commodity products without any connection to consumers, They have little awareness. Consumers see them as basic products and have no real opinion about these brands. Brands at the Like It stage have carved out a rational point of difference in the consumers mind to help generate solid aided awareness but they are yet to translate that product success into a consumer routine. Brands that reach the Love It stage are very successful brands with strong awareness, market share and repeat purchase. They have generated an emotional bond with a select target that has led to a growing base of brand fans. Finally, at the Beloved stage, the brand becomes iconic and highly regarded by consumers. Consumers become brand lovers, similar in feelings to what we see with fans of sports teams or celebrities. They are outspoken, possessive and will defend the brand at any point.

how to create a beloved brand

 

Use brand funnels to track and manage the health of your brand

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

 

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.

The best solutions are likely inside you already, but struggle to come out. Our unique engagement tools are the backbone of our strategy workshops. These tools will force you to think differently so you can freely generate many new ideas. At Beloved Brands, we bring our challenging voice to help you make decisions and refine every potential idea.

We help brands find growth

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 big 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. Finally, the big idea must influence employees to personally deliver an outstanding consumer experience, to help move consumers along the journey to loving 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. We work with your team to build out project plans, creative briefs and provide advice on marketing execution.

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

We make Brand Leaders smarter

We believe that investing in your marketing people will pay off. With smarter people behind your brands will drive higher revenue growth and profits. With our brand management training program, you will see smarter strategic thinking, more focused brand plans, brand positioning, better creative briefs that steer your agencies, improved decision-making on marketing execution, smarter analytical skills to assess your brand’s performance and a better management of the profitability of the brand.

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

 

 

Beloved Brands Graham Robertson

 

How to conduct a Key Issues review

From my consumer-packaged-goods marketing days, I learned the discipline of asking the right questions, before moving to figure out the solution. Strategic Thinkers see “what if” questions before they see solutions. They first dive deep to make sure they understand what is truly happening. Then 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. So it fits that you should do the work to figure out the right questions on the business before figuring out the right answers.  

The right questions are the Key Issues.

The 5 Steps to Doing a Key issues deck:

  1. Start with ‘Straw Dog’ Vision Statement to help frame where you want to go.  
  2. Analysis: Top 3 Drivers, Inhibitors, Risk & Opportunities.
  3. Summarize the Brand Health vs. Wealth, cutting it at both Internal and External. 
  4. Then using the ‘straw dog’ vision as a beacon and the analysis to explain what’s happening; Brainstorm all the things getting in the way of you achieving your vision.  You might come up with a list of 10=20 issues.  Group them, narrow them, sort them.  
  5. Vote to Narrow to the top 3-5 Key Issues. 

Slide1

Straw-dog vision statement

A straw dog vision is really a big huge goal. Put yourself in your shoes 5-10 years out, and ask yourself what would the 3 things you want to have achieved on that date? What would give you a sense of accomplishment?  I use the ‘straw dog’ version more as a place holder at this point, and would keep re-fining the vision through the long-range strategic planning process. The role of the vision within the Key Issues process is to open yourself up beyond the current day-to-day muck and get you to think bigger. This allows the issues to become bigger and more strategic. 

Force field analysis

There are a few possible options you can use, but for real live businesses, I prefer the Force FIeld analysis:  What are the factors currently driving your business? What are the factors inhibiting your business? The drivers are about momentum that you are seeing on your business and you want to keep going. The inhibitors are the things holding you back and need to be reversed or knocked down.  Always keep in mind, these two factors are happening now. 

When you then layer in the Opportunities and Threats, these are not happening, but could happen. The opportunities could be things such as new markets you want to enter, new technologies or an untapped area you’re seeing. You want to raise these ideas and opportunities to management in an assertive selling way. Threats have to be real, not pie in the sky maybe’s. These could be competitors coming into the market, changes in regulations and changing customer behavior.  

Slide1

Actions coming out of the Force Field

  • For drivers, you want to Continue/Enhance: Stay focused on things going right, keep accelerating and driving them.   Continuous improvement.
  • For inhibitors, you want to Minimize/Reverse. Close the leaks, develop turnaround plans or re-focus the team against the trend.
  • You want to Take Advantage of the Opportunities. Build plans to mobilize the brand to see if the opportunity is a winning space for the brand.
  • For the Threats, you want to Avoid or build Contingency plans. Identify and measure the risk, explore plans to avoid. Fill the gap before a competitor.

For new businesses that are yet in the market, I might switch it up so that Drivers become Strengths that speaks to the assets we’re bringing to the market and Inhibitors become Weaknesses that showcase potential gaps in the business. Another good analysis for a brand that is impacted severely by the environment is a PEST analysis where you look at the Political, Economic, Social and Technological.  

Deep dive on each driver and each inhibitor

Narrow down your list of inhibitors and then a best-in-class deck would blow out the details around each driver and inhibitor with a page or two for each.  Looking at the example below, of a one-page explanation behind an Inhibitor, you want 4 key attributes on the one pager:

  • List out the Driver/inhibitor
  • Use a key visual or chart that showcases the data and facts behind the driver/inhibitor.  
  • Tell the fact-based story with 2-3 argument points.  
  • In the box at the bottom, you should call out a potential action to address this driver and inhibitor. 

Slide1

Brand Health and Wealth

A great analysis I recommend is to do a Brand Health vs Brand Wealth. Think of the wealth as things you can see connected to things like sales, shares, margins or profits. For Health, it’s the things you can’t see, like trial, repeat, processes etc.  just like a human, you can’t judge the health just by looking at someone. You need to dig deep and understand below the surface. Breaking it this way gives us four key boxes

Slide1

  • External Health: Connecting with consumers is a source of power for brands. Understand the brand funnel and It’s impact on the results. How your consumer sees your brand, starting at awareness, trial, repeat all the way down the brand funnel to brand loyalty. Build on your strengths and attack your weaknesses
  • External Wealth: Healthy win in the marketplace. Beloved Brands can leverage success into power and drive wealth.   Beloved Brands are more efficient, higher sales, lower costs, better margins, higher over all profits. 
  • Internal Health: What is the internal beacon that helps  all employees get it and live it.  The idea of the brand has to be embedded right into the culture in a consistent manner. They have to realize their impact on the end customer.
  • Internal Wealth:  Everyone focused on Profit and Value.  Assets, IP, culture, contracts, ownership. Lining up and delivering the brand promise to a clear set of objectives, helps employees see that they are contributing to and sharing in the brand wealth. Everyone should understand where and how they impact profitability. 

A great example of why breaking it out this way is crucial is Apple in Q4 of 2012. If we look at traditional measures, Apple had their highest sales ever, share  increased across all products, margins reached an all-time high, and yet we have to look at the Brand Health to see the stock price came crumbling down. Apple’s innovation has slowed down, the intensity of feelings among the most loyal consumers has slipped due to challenges from Samsung and they seem to lack an internal alignment going forward. Clearly the wealth of Apple exceeds the health, so the stock price began to reflect.

Key Issues

Start by looking at the Vision and Analysis and ask: what are the things getting in our way of achieving that Vision?  You might hold a brainstorm with your team and start with 20 things getting in the way.  Narrow it down, by starting to group things, elevate up to the next level or two and challenge to find the over-arching issue that might be made up of a few visible issues.  As a guideline, there should be 3-5 key issues per brand. The crucial part of key issues is getting to the right level. If you have less, you are likely not detailed or specific enough, and if you have more…you should try to elevate some up to see if you can capture the bigger picture.   Play around with it, until it feels at the right level.
Since business has a history of using warfare examples, here are three ranges of key issues for what the U.S. government might have been looking at for the Iraq war:
  • Too Low:  How do we get more helicopters into Iraq?  This is too specific or too small.  Think about it, if there are other ways to get to the same goal (e.g. you could get more tanks) then the issue is too small.
  • Too High:  How do we drive Peace in the Middle East?  This is aspiration, but unrealistic.  If it feels too much to chew off, then it’s too big of an issue. 
  • Just Right:  What’s the most effective way to change Regimes in Iraq?  This talks closer to the overall objective…but with enough room to give strategic alternatives

The power of three’s:  

When I do these workshops, I force my teams tio use three’s whether it’s the driver and inhibitors or more importantly the Key Issues.  I like to see the teams focus more.  Forcing it down to 3 only might push them to look at the over-arching issues by looking bigger causes and issues than they first look at.

But most importantly, we ask the Key Issues in question format because the answer to that question is the strategy.  So, if you narrow it down to the biggest 3 issues that lines you up to having 3 big strategies.  I also recommend 3 tactics per strategy. That means, the Brand will have 9 major projects to spread the financial and people resources.  Even if you had 5 strategies and 5 tactics under each, you’d exponentially be up to 25 key projects.  I would bet that the quality on the execution of the 9 would exceed the execution of the 25 on the other brand.

Asking the big questions leads to big strategies and big results

 

Here’s a learning session on Key Issues with a full case study using Gray’s cookies.  

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

Special K Case Study: Moving from indifferent to beloved

Cereal is one of those categories filled with a touch of magic, many of the beloved brands coming out of the “Mad Men” days of TV advertising. Brands like Corn Flakes, Cheerios, Rick Krispies and Froot Loops all have a certain wholesome charm. But while those brands have ‘historical equity’ it’s not really an equity that can drive sales. I’d say these brands are in a bit of a time warp, a throwback to simpler times when Cartoons were only on Saturday mornings.

Special K was an indifferent brand

I worked in the cereal business back in the 1990’s and we never thought anything about Special K. It just sat there with a very small and dying share. Basically, it was just the one flavor of cereal. Zero innovation. Just Rice Krispies crushed differently. Trust me, I was on the General Mills side and no competitors were worried about Special K.

The brand idea for Special K has been connected with weight loss since the mid 80s. The ads were focused on 110 calories–which is just a feature, not a benefit for the consumer. And honestly, if you look at most cereals, they’ll say 120-140 calories on the box.

This is a classic example that no one cares what you do until you care what they want. No one at Special K was putting themselves in the shoes of the consumer and asking “so what do I get?” or “how does this make me feel?” It was implied, but it was buried in the woman looking at herself in the mirror.

The Brand Love Curve

In the consumer’s mind, brands sit on a Brand Love Curve, with brands going from Indifferent to Like It to Love It and finally becoming a Beloved Brand for Life. At the Beloved stage, demand becomes desire, needs become cravings, thinking is replaced with feelings. Consumers become outspoken fans.

Brand Love Curve

 

Special K was clearly an Indifferent Brand. There was very little consumer opinion, and for those who did buy Special K, they weren’t exactly the most ardent fans of the brand. Not only was the original flavor fairly bland, but everything about the brand was bland. Special K needed to stand for something. It needed an idea. They were dancing around the idea of weight loss but not really bringing the benefit to life.

Brand Love Curve

Beloved Brands start with an idea

The most beloved brands are based on an idea that is worth loving. It is the idea that connects the Brand with consumers. And under the Brand Idea are 5 Sources of Connectivity that help connect the brand with consumers and drive Brand Love, including 1) the brand promise 2) the strategic choices you make 3) the brand’s ability to tell their story 4) the freshness of the product or service and 5) the overall experience and impressions it leaves with you. 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.

Strategic Thinking Big Idea

The Re-Birth of Special K

Around 2000, Special K made a dramatic turn in the market. With all the diet-crazed consumers looking for new solutions, Special K had a stroke of brilliance when someone figured out that if you ate Special K twice a day for just two weeks, you could lose up to 6 pounds in 2 weeks. While all the other diet options felt daunting, this felt pretty easy to do.

 

 

Strategic Thinking Big Idea

While Special K had spent decades dancing around the weight loss idea, now they had a Brand Promise that was benefit focused and empowering: With Special K, just twice a day for 2 weeks, you can lose 6 pounds or better yet, drop a jean size. They stopped talking about the product and starting talking in the voice of the consumer.

The brilliant strategy is around the usage occasion of the second meal each day. Cereal had been a category that grew +3% for years, steady only with population growth and some demographics around boomers and echo generations. But now, there was finally a reason to eat cereal twice in one day.

The communication of the Brand Story become about empowering women to take control using the Two Week Challenge. Here’s a very empowering ad around the “Drop a Jean Size” idea.

With a Brand Idea bigger than just a cereal, Special K’s innovation rivalled that of Apple. It started with the launch of Berry Special K that thrust the brand into a good tasting cereal, and has since added bars, shakes and water. Most recently, they’ve now launched potato chips (only 80 calories for 20 chips) and a Breakfast Sandwich option. it just goes to show you that it’s not about ‘out of the box’ ideas, but rather how you define the box. All these product launches are aligned to the idea of empowering women to maintain their weight. The diversified line up beyond cereal helps off-set any sales softness on cereal. This year, they’ve just announced they are re-looking Special K’s original recipe to keep the cereal share strong.

 

Special-K-Products

And rounding out the Brand Experience is to take the challenge on-line, gives women a community of encouragement to help achieve their personal weight loss goals. Special K has also launched App for smart phones to help monitor weight goals. Special K has also tapped into time of year occasions around New Years and spring to re-enforce the brand messages.

Some great lessons for other brands.

  • Speaking to a specific target (women 25-45) and in their voice makes you a more powerfully connected brand.
  • Everything starts and ends with the consumer in mind: Consumers don’t care what you do until you care what they want.  Be benefit focused.
  • Build around a brand idea: It’s not out of the box thinking, it’s just re-defining the box to be a bigger idea.

Take your own brand challenge and add some love to your brand

 

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

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

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

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

 

Beloved Brands Graham Robertson

Be a Better Brand Leader by saying “Let’s cut to the Chase” more often

Cut to the chase and avoid the spin

Stop being that brand that keeps spinning and gets nothing done.  Within most brand portfolios, there are those problem brands that just seem to spiral downward out of control.  They spin, and spin and spin.  Nothing gets done. Decisions don’t get made. They try something. It doesn’t work immediately. So they change course. And spin some more. Everyone thinks they have the answer, but no-one shares the same answer. And more spin.

What’s missing is a leader who will stand up to everyone on the team say “LET’S CUT TO THE CHASE”

Cut to the Chase with the The 40/70 Rule

I love the Colin Powell rule that when you are facing a tough decision, you need at least 40% of the information, but oddly enough, you should make the decision with no more than 70%. Once you’re in that 40-70% zone, go with your gut and make the decision.  

If you make a decision with less than 40% of the information, you are shooting from the hip and you will make too many mistakes. The 70% part of the decision-making rule is what surprises many Brand Leaders. They often think that they need more than seventy percent of the information before they can make a decision. A lot of Brand Leaders want as much data as they can. Many times they hope the data will make the decision for them. But if you want the data to make the decision, then why do we need you in the Brand Leader role? Why don’t we just put the Market Research person in your job?  We could pay them less and just go with the data output from the research 100% of the time.

But, in a highly competitive market, if you wait to get more than seventy percent, then the opportunity has usually passed and someone else has beaten you to the punch. A key element that supports Powell’s rule is the notion that intuition is what separates the great leaders from the average ones. Intuition is what allows us to make tough decisions, but many of us ignore our gut.  Relying on too much information can stiffen a leader, paralyzing the team to seek out more data. They become afraid to make decisions. Always keep in mind that marketing is half science and half art. Don’t forget about the art. People who want certainty in their decisions end up working for other people, not leading.

So, next time you feel your team has 40-70% of the information say “LET’S CUT TO THE CHASE” and see if you can push them to making the best decision they can make.  

Cut to the chase with tough questions

One of the big spin factors is lack of alignment. Everyone at the table has their own view of what needs to be done. The team ends up paralyzed with indecision. A team moving together towards a common strategy, even if it is only a pretty good strategy, is much smarter than a team moving in three directions, with each thinking they have an amazing strategy.

Align first on the Key Issues of the Brand. In terms of analysis, there are so many ways to do it but my preference is to use a force-field analysis of Drivers and Inhibitors. Basically, drivers are what is pushing the brand and inhibitors is what’s holding it back. These are happening NOW. Then add in the a future looking analysis of Risks and Opportunities. These could happen in the future. The simplicity of this analysis helps the next stage of your brand plan, and set up the Key Issues which are focused on finding ways to continue/enhance the growth drivers, minimize or reverse the inhibitors, avoid the risks and take advantage of the opportunities.

Here’s an example of How to do a Key Issues Deck. This is something I do with clients all the time and after a 1 or 2 day session, they can feel they are aligned.

 

Ask the Tough Questions of the team. Tough questions make a team pause and start thinking instead of just doing. I always frame the Key Issues in question form, believing the answers to those questions become the strategy. But I believe that 90% of your effort should go into asking the big challenging questions that startle and yet motivate the team. The better the question you ask, the better the strategy. For instance, if I wanted to lose a few pounds, I could ask the question: “how can I lose weight?” which is not really a good enough question to generate rich insightful strategies. But if I were to ask a better question: “what exercise program would help me successfully lose 10 pounds and work with my busy life?” all of a sudden better strategies start coming to the surface.  

Use these tough questions that force tough solutions by saying to your team: “LET’S CUT TO THE CHASE”

Cut to the chase and find your difference

Part of the spin zone brands go through is they never find their own point of difference. They over-react to what competitors are doing, copying them hoping to neutralize what advantage they have. But by trying to be everything that the competitor is doing, they end being nothing really.   

The most Beloved Brands are either better, different or cheaper. Or else not around for very long. In a crowded market, it’s really hard to be genuinely be significantly better. And unless your entire company is set up to be more efficient than everyone else, it really leaves different. But as you push for being different, you want to be smart and different. Use this venn diagram to brainstorm points of difference.   

Then challenge the team to find their Good and Different. Use the very simple map below to see where your ideas fall. 

  • Good But Not Different: These do very well in tests mainly because consumers have seen it before and check the right boxes in research. In market, it gets off to a pretty good start—since it still seems so familiar. However, once challenged in the market by a competitor, it falters because people start to realize it is no different at all. So they go back to their usual brand and your launch starts to go flat.  This option offers limited potential.
  • Good But Different: These don’t always test well. Consumers don’t really know what to make of it.   Even after launched, it takes time to gain momentum, having to explain the story with potential investment and effort to really make the difference come to life. But once consumers start to see the differences and how it meets their needs, they equate different with “good”. It begins to gain share and generates profits for the brand. This option offers long-term sustainability.
  • Not Good and Not Different:  These are the safest of safe. Go back into the R&D lab and pick the best one you have–even if it’s not very good. The tallest of midgets. They do pretty well in test because of the familiarity. In market, it gets off to a pretty good start, because it looks the same as what’s already in the market. But pretty soon, consumers realize that it’s the same but even worse, so it fails dramatically. What appears safe is actually highly risky. You should have followed your instincts and not launched. This option is a boring failure.
  • Different but Not that Good: Sometimes we get focused on the product first: it offers superior technology, but not really meeting an unmet need. So we launch what is different for the sake of being different. It does poorly in testing. Everyone along the way wonders why we are launching. But in the end, consumers don’t really care about your point of difference. And it fails. The better mousetrap that no one cares about.

Look to the grid above and say “LET’S CUT TO THE CHASE” and push your team to find something that is Good and Different.

What is Your “Let’s Cut to the Chase” Moment?

To read more about how to create a Beloved Brand:

 

 

 

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

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