How marketers should deploy the right leadership style for the right brand situation

Situational leadership in marketing means identifying the right situation for when to be a strategic thinker, an instinctual thinker ora task master. The challenge is we each bring a natural style and have to learn the other two with experience. It is all about situational leadership.

situational leadership

 

Strategic Thinkers

Strategic leaders see ‘what-if’ type questions before they look for potential solutions. They are able to map out a range of decision trees that intersect, by imagining how events will play out in the future. They think of every option before taking action.

The trick to being strategic is to think slowly with strategy. If you move too quickly on brand strategy, you will be unable to see the insights beneath the surface, and you risk solving the wrong problem.

5 ways to slow your brain down to think strategically

The risk to just deploying the one leadership style is if strategic thinkers just think too long, they spiral around, unable to decide, and miss the opportunity window.

  1. Find your own thinking time. Walks at lunch or a drive somewhere to get away from it all. Block hour-long “thinking meetings” with yourself.
  2. Organize your week to fit your thinking pace. Talk “big ideas” on a Friday morning so you can take the weekend to think. Schedule quick updates on Monday afternoon that clears your mind for the week.
  3. Do the deep thinking before the decision time comes. Always be digging deep into the analytics to stay aware, prepare yourself, no matter your level.
  4. Next time in a meeting, ask the best questions. Too many leaders try to impress everyone with the best answers. Next time, try to stump the room with the best questions that slow down your team and force them to think.
  5. Proactively meet your partner teams. Get to know the needs of your sales teams or agency account leaders, and not wait for a problem or conflict. Come to them proactively with possible solutions so you both win.

Instinctual Thinkers

Instinctual leaders jump right in because their gut already sees the right answer solution. They move fast, using emotional, impulse and intuitive gut feel. They choose emotion over logic. This “gut feel” fosters high creativity.

The trick to be instinctual, you must think quickly on execution. Without intuitive freedom, you will move too slowly, overthink and second-guess yourself. You risk destroying the creativity of the right solution.

5 ways to speed up your brain to think instinctually

  1. Have fun, and be in the moment: Relax, smile, have fun, stay positive. If you get too tense, stiff, too serious, it can impact the team negatively.
  2. Focus on first impressions. Don’t let the strategy get in your way of seeing what you think of the creativity. This allows you to see it how your consumer might see it. You still have time to think strategically about it after your instincts.
  3. Put yourself in the shoes of the consumer. You have to represent your consumer to the brand. Try to react and think as they might. Learn to observe and draw insights.
  4. Do not make up concerns that are not there. While you need to be smart, don’t cast every possible doubt that can destroy creativity. Too many brand leaders destroy creativity one complaint at a time.
  5. Let it simmer for a while, before rejecting. You always have the option to reject an idea. Why not let it breathe a little, see it you can make it even better. If it gets better, you win. If not, you can still reject it, without any risk.

Task Masters

Task masters stay in control to get things done, keep things on time and on budget. They are always in full control, organized and on time. They never lose sight of the end goal, efficiently knock down roadblocks, to keep everyone else on track with time and budgets.

To be a successful task master,  it is to realize there is a business to run. Without staying focused on the end goal, strategic thinking and creative instincts are wasted, resulting in missed opportunities.

You can overly rely on the task master, the risk is you end up with hollow thinking, OK creativity and OK business results.

5 ways to be more of a task master

  1. Set high standards for you and the team: Hold the team to consistently high standards of work in analytics, strategic thinking, planning and execution in the market (advertising, innovation, purchase moment and brand experience)
  2. People leadership: Provide a team vision, consistently motivate others, be genuinely and actively interested in helping your team manage their careers.
  3. Lead the process: Organize, challenge and manage the processes so your team can focus on thinking, planning and executing. Guide the team to get things done on time. on budget and on forecast.
  4. Hit deadlines: Never look out of control or sloppy. Marketers have enough to do, that things will just stockpile on each other. In Marketing, there are no extensions, just missed opportunities.
  5. Know your business: Don’t get caught off-guard. Make sure you are asking the questions and carrying forward the knowledge.

Finding that balance

As a leader, it is crucial for you to deploy the right leadership style in the moment, to be able to maneuver. Your brain should operate like a race car driver, slow in the corners and fast on the straight away. Change brain speeds, think slowly when faced with difficult strategy and think quickly with your best instincts on execution.

When you are in a team situation, try to recognize the natural styles of each of your team members. Make sure the team is well balanced, to ensure someone is the thinker, someone has the intuition to break through the clutter and then someone is the task master. Appreciate what each person brings to the table, leverage their natural strengths and ensure you be honest about your own style.

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 use the Creative Brief as the bridge from planning to execution

         The tighter the creative brief, the better the advertising will be. The brief narrows down the focus of your advertising to a strategic objective, target, consumer insight, main message and support points.  All the information for the brief are found in the brand plan and positioning work.

         Every client I have ever met wants options back from their agency. Yet, every Agency person hates giving options. As you not an advertising expert, it is natural to have some uncertainty around what type of creative we want. However, Brand Leaders want creative options, not strategic options. And, before writing a brief, you better have just spent all your effort on developing a winning strategy. You do not want to mess it up at the briefing stage.

Creative Brief

Brand Leaders should control the strategy, but give freedom on execution to the experts who will execute on your behalf.

Too many marketers have this backwards, preferring to give freedom on strategy with a big wide brief, with various possible strategic options unknowingly layered within the Creative Brief. When you write a big-wide creative brief with layers of options within the brief, the agency just peels the brief apart into separate layers of the brief and gives you strategic options. If you ever choose your strategy based on what creative you like, then you just gave up control over the strategy to your art director and copywriter.

For instance, if you put a big wide target market of 18-65 years old, your agency will assume you are struggling to decide on a target. They believe it would be impossible to deliver creative that connects with 3 different generations. So they present three separate ads, one ad for 18-25 years old, another for 25-40 years old and a final spot for 40-55 years old. What happens if you like the creative to the younger audience because it was full of optimism and energy, but the smartest strategic target should have been the older target? Well, you just picked your target consumer based on which ad you liked best.

Make sure you focus

When you fail to decide on one main message, your agency will struggle with message priority. They will show you a few different spots, with different lead messages. When you pick the ad based on a cute dog in the spot, then you just chose your brand’s main message based on which ad you liked best. Keep in mind that the consumer sees 5,000 brand messages a day. When you overwhelm the consumer’s brain with multiple messages, their brain will just shut down and move on to the other 4,999 messages. Brand Leaders have to stop believing Advertising is like a bulletin board, where they can just tag on one more message onto the ad.

Finally, there is the case where you put multiple objectives into the brief. You want to drive awareness, trial and increase usage frequency. Those three objectives bring three different targets, three distinct main messages and likely three unique media choices. Your agency will present separate ads for each objective. When you pick the ad you like based on a cool song, you just chose your strategic objective based on which ad you liked best.

If you think you are doing your agency a favor by providing them a big wide brief, you are not.

The agency will see you as confused, and believe they are helping you out by showing you options of which element of your strategy would look like. They think that each new creative option will serve to make decisions on the brief that should have made before you wrote the brief.

Think this is hyperbole? Trust me, I have seen briefs with 8 objectives, plenty of targets that inferred ‘everyone’ and bullet point lists of potential main messages. I have seen some of the world’s best agencies accept those briefs. I encourage you to go through your own briefs and tear them apart. Stroke out 30% of the crap on your brief, and your brief will get better. You will be shocked how clear the task is for your agency becomes. Your job at the creative meeting just got easier. It is an enlightening experience to take your pen and stroke things off your brief.

The true role of a creative brief is to make decisions to narrow the focus, whether it is the target market, strategic objectives, main message and media. The Creative Brief sits between planning and marketing execution to force decision-making. Make the tough decisions to narrow the brief down to:

  • One strategic objective
  • One tightly defined consumer target
  • One desired consumer response
  • One main message
  • Up to two main reasons to believe

The Creative brief defines “the strategic box” for the creative to play within

Here are four things a good creative person does not want from you:

  1. A Blank canvas: Creative people would prefer a business problem to solve, not a wide-open request for advertising options. They hate spinning around in never-ending circles. They hate not pleasing their client. With no direction, they fear the next 10 meetings where you say, “Nope, I’m not feeling that one”.
  2. An unclear problem: Creative people want a tightly defined and focused problem to generate great work that solves your problems and meets your needs. Most creative people are multi-tasking projects, and will likely gravitate to the work that has a clear objective. You run the risk of not getting the best energy from the creative mind you are engaging.
  3. Long list of mandatories: Do not create a tangled web of mandatories that almost write the ad itself. This is one of those dirty little secrets I want to expose, so you don’t repeat the same mistake. Some Brand Leaders have an idea of the creative outcome they want, but even more important, they know the type of creative they don’t want. The long checklists of mandatories traps the creative team into taking various elements in the mandatory list and build a Frankenstein type ad.
  4. Your Creative Solutions: Creative people find it demotivating to be asked for their expertise (solving problems) and then not be fully utilized (given your answer). I remember early on in my career when I stepped over the line and tried to control the creative. When I saw the work at the next meeting, I said, “Yeah, that sure is crappy isn’t it”. I have learned to think of the best creative like someone getting you the perfect gift you never thought to get for yourself. Don’t buy yourself the gift. You might hate it.

Let your creative people solve problems

Most great creative advertising people I have met are problem solvers, not inventors. I would describe them as ‘in-the-box’ creative thinkers, not blue sky “out-of-the-box” dreamers. If they want a good problem to solve, then give them your problems, but never your solutions. Never give your creative team a blank slate or blank canvas and ask them to come up with an ad. Use the Creative Brief is to create the right box for them to solve.

Advice for writing smarter Creative Briefs:

  1. Define a tight target: Do not spread your limited resources against a target so broad that leaves everyone thinking your message is for someone else. Target the people who are the most motivated by what you do best, and make your brand feel personal. The best thing a brand can do is make consumers think, “This is for me”.
  2. Drive one objective at a time: Build advertising that gets consumers to do only one thing at a time, whether you want them to see, think, do, feel or influence their friends. Force yourself to make a decision that links with the brand strategy.
  3. Drive one main message at a time: If you put so many messages into your ad, consumers will just see and hear a cluttered mess. They will not know what you stand for, and you will never build a reputation for anything.
  4. Talk benefits not features: Start a conversation that shows what the consumers get or how they will feel. Do not just yell features at the consumer. Use your brand’s Big Idea to simplify and organize the brand messaging.

Here’s our workshop on how to write a creative brief:

 

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

 

How strategic thinking can help your brand win in the market.

I will outline the five elements of smart strategic thinking. Strategy starts with having a vision of the future. This sets up questions, that outline the major issues in the way of the vision. From there,  you must allocate resources against your strategic programs that fill an identified focused opportunity you see in the marketplace. When successful, the strategy must generate a market impact that can be leveraged into a performance result, making the brand more powerful or more profitable.

I always joke that strategic people share similar traits to those we might consider lazy, cheap, or conniving. Rather than just dive into work, strategic people will spend an extraordinary amount of time thinking of all the possible ways for them to get more out of something, while exerting the least possible effort or wasting their own money. After thinking of every possible option, they have this unique talent to make a firm decision on the best way forward. They are great at debate because it appears they already know the other options you might raise. They already know why that option will not work as well. .

Strategic Thinking

Are you naturally Strategic or Instinctual?

I see a big difference between strategic thinking and intuitive leaders. Smart strategic thinkers see the right questions before they look for answers. Instinctual thinkers see answers before they even know the right question.

Strategic thinkers see “what-if” type questions before they look for potential solutions. Have you ever been a meeting and heard someone say, “That’s a good question”? This is usually a sign someone has asked an interruptive question designed to slow everyone’s brain down.  They take the time to reflect and plan before they act, to force them to move in a focused and efficient way. Strategy is the thinking side of marketing, both logical and imaginative. Strategic people are able to map out a range of decision trees that intersect, to imagine how events will play out in the future. The risk is that if they think too long, they just spiral around, unable to decide. They miss the opportunity window.

Instinctual Thinkers

On the other hand, instinctual thinkers just jump in quickly to find answers before they even know the right question. Their brains move fast; they use emotional impulse and intuitive gut feel. These people want action now and get easily frustrated by delays. They believe it is better to do something than sit and wait around. They see strategic people as stuck running around in circles, as they try to figure out the right question. Instead, these instinctual leaders choose emotion over logic.

This “make it happen” attitude gets things done, but if they go too fast, their great actions may solve the wrong problem. Without proper thinking and focus, an action-first approach might just spread the brand’s limited resources randomly across too many projects. Instinctual leaders can be a creative mess and find themselves with a long to-do list, unable to prioritize or focus.

Changing brain speeds 

Brand leaders must learn to change brain speeds. Go slowly when faced with difficult strategy and quickly with their best instincts on execution. A brand leader’s brain should operate like a racecar driver, slow in the difficult corners and fast on the straightaway. You must slow down to think strategically. Did you ever think that the job might get in the way of thinking about how to do your job better? With wall-to-wall meetings, constant deadlines, and sales pushes, you have to create your own thinking time.Strategic Thinking

You should block off a few hours each week, put your feet up on the desk, and force yourself to ask really difficult questions. Pick one problem topic for each meeting you book and even invite a peer to set up a potential debate. The goal is not to brainstorm a solution, but to come up with the best possible question that will challenge the team. Go for walks at lunch or a drive somewhere just to get away from it all. My best thinking never came at my desk in front of my computer. If you have your head down in the numbers you will miss the obvious opportunities and threats that are right on the horizon. To be more strategic, you should assess the situation, frame questions that challenge your thinking, and consider every element that could have an impact on your brand.

How to slow your brain down and think strategically

  1. Find your own thinking time. Go for walks at lunch or a drive somewhere to get away from it all. Block hour-long “thinking meetings” with yourself.
  2. Organize your week to fit your thinking pace. For instance, maybe talk “big ideas” on a Friday morning so you can take the weekend to think.  Schedule quick updates on Monday afternoon that clears your mind for the week.
  3. Do the deep thinking before the decision time comes? Always be digging deep into the analytics to stay aware, prepare yourself, no matter your level.
  4. Next time in a meeting, spend your energy asking the best questions. Too many leaders try to impress everyone with the best answers. Next time stump the room with the best questions that slow down the team so they think.
  5. Proactively meet your partner team. Get to know their needs, rather than wait for a problem or conflict. Come to them proactively with possible solutions so you both win.

Five elements of smart strategic thinking

Everyone says they are a strategic thinker, but not many Marketers really are. Early in my career, I confess that I was more of an instinctual marketer. So, I know the effort and discipline it takes to slow the brain down and evolve into a strategic thinker. Here are four elements of strategic thinking to help slow your brain down.

Strategic Thinking

1. Always set a vision of what you want for your brand

A strategic thinker thinks about the future to map out a vision for five or ten years from now. A vision sets aspirational stretch goals for the future, linked to a well-defined end result or purpose. Within the vision, you should focus on finding ways to create a bond with your consumers that will lead to a power and profit beyond what the product alone could achieve. With every vision, you should write the statement in a way that should scare you a little, but excite you a lot.

The vision should steer everyone who works on the brand. In fact, I believe every little project should have its own little vision that is closely linked to the overall brand vision to help determine what success looks like on that project. As Yogi Berra famously said, “If you do not know where you are going, how will you know if you get there?”

To be a visionary, you must be able to visualize the future. Imagine that it is five or ten years from now. You wake up in the most amazing mood. Think about your personal life and your business, and start to imagine the ideal of what you want. Start to write down the things that have you in such a great mood. Visualize your perfect future and write down the most important things you want to achieve, and begin brainstorming a vision for the future. Even think about language that will inspire, lead and steer your team towards that vision.

Always ask questions

To challenge how to make your vision happen, you must ask interruptive questions of what is the way of you achieving your vision. As the definition of strategic thinking talks about asking questions, the smart strategy must ask questions that frame the issues that are in the way of what you want to achieve. Look to come up with an interruptive type question that will make everyone on the brand stop and think. The brainstorm I use is to list out everything in the way of the vision—trying to come up with at least 20; then narrow down to the three biggest issues you see, and frame it as a big question for the team to solve.

Strategic Thinking

2. Deployment of your brand’s available strategic options

A brand has options to build programs behind the brand’s core strength, build the consumer relationship with one of the five consumer touch-points, battle competitors on positioning, address situational opportunities and engage consumers as you go to market.

3. Focus your brand’s resources against an identified opportunity

The biggest myth of marketing is to believe that a bigger target market is the path to becoming a bigger brand. Too many marketers target anyone. It is better to be loved by a few than tolerated by many. You have to create a tight bond with a core base of brand lovers, and then use that base of lovers to expand the following.

The second myth is to believe that if you stand for everything, it will make your brand stronger. There are brands that say they are faster, longer lasting, better tasting, stronger, cheaper, and have a better experience. They mistakenly think that whatever the competitor does best, they will try to do it better. They will say everything possible with the hope the consumer hears something. Hope is never a strategy. To be loved by consumers, a brand must stand for something with a backbone and conviction that it will never go against what it states. Trying to be everything to anyone just ends up becoming nothing to everyone.

The third myth is to try to be everywhere, whether that means in every channel of distribution or on every possible media option. The worst marketers lack focus because of their fear of missing out on someone or something. By trying to be everywhere, the brand will drain itself and eventually end up being nowhere.

Focus your limited resources

Every brand is constrained by limited resources, whether financial, time, people, or partnership resources. Yet marketers always face the temptation of an unlimited array of choices, whether those choices are in the possible target market, brand messages, strategies, or tactics. The smartest brand leaders are able to limit their choices to match up to their limited resources. They focus on those choices that will deliver the greatest return.

Strategic Thinking

The best brand leaders never divide and conquer. They force themselves to focus and conquer with the confidence of strategic thinking. The smartest brand leaders use the word “or” more often than they use the word “and.” If you come to a decision point, and you try to rationalize in your own brain that it is okay to do a little of both, then you are not strategic.

For a strategy to work, brands must see an opportunity, to find an opening in the marketplace based on a change in consumer needs, new technology, competitive opening, or new channels. In today’s electronic world, everyone has access to the same information and in turn can see the same opportunities. You must use speed to seize the opportunity before others can react or else the opportunity will be gone.

4. Leverage the breakthrough to create an impact in the marketplace

Many underestimate the need for an early win. I see this as a crucial breakthrough point where you start to see a small shift in momentum towards the vision. There are always doubters to every strategy. The results of the early win are crucial proof to show everyone the strategy will work. This helps change the minds of the doubters—or at least keep them quiet—so that everyone can stay focused on this breakthrough point.

The magic of strategy happens through leverage, where you can use the early win as an opening or a tipping point where you start to see a transformational power that allows you to get more or achieve more results in the marketplace than you put into the strategy.

5. Performance result that pays back and opens a gateway for more growth

The final element of smart strategic thinking is the gateway opening that a marketplace win allows the brand to achieve more growth for the brand. There has to be a shift in positional power in the marketplace that allows you to achieve your vision, drive business results and make gains in terms of a future pathway to even more consumer connection, power and profit for the brand.

For a brand, the end result must either be more power or more profit. In terms of power, a brand can become powerful versus the consumers they serve, the competitors they battle, the channels they sell through, the suppliers who make the products or ingredients, influencers in the market, any media choices and the employees who work for the brand. In terms of profit, there are eight ways a brand can add to their profitability. Those are through premium pricing or trading consumers up on price, through lower cost of goods or lower sales and marketing costs, through stealing competitive users or getting loyal users to use more and by entering new markets or finding new uses for the brand.

As a strategy must pay back to the brand, you should know which power and profit driver your strategy is focused against. Jack Welch, former CEO of GE was notorious for asking employees he would meet, “So how do you add value?” Do you know how you add value? You should.

Strategic Thinking

How Apple re-built their brand around ‘simplicity’

In 1996, the Apple brand was bordering on bankruptcy. They were basically just another computer company, without any real point of difference. Years of overlooked opportunities, flip-flop strategies, and a mind-boggling disregard for market realities caught up with Apple, Windows 95 has seriously eroded the Mac’s technology edge. Apple was rapidly becoming a minor player in the computer business with shrinking market shares, price cuts and declining profits.

Apple looked like it would not survive.

This was the year before even contemplating the return of Steve Jobs. This really showcases how badly Apple was run through the 1990s. They were making bad decisions with inconsistent strategies and most importantly, there was no big idea for what Apple stood for. After Steve Jobs came into Apple in 1997, everything he did was built around the big idea of “making technology so simple that everyone can be part of the future.” He took a consumer first approach in a market that was all about the gadgets, bits and bytes.   Strategic Thinking

Apple’s Smart Strategic Thinking

Here are the five elements of smart strategic thinking that allowed Apple to complete their turnaround plan.

  1. Vision of what you want for your brand: Apple wants everyone to be part of technology in the future. The challenging question for Apple: how can we strengthen and leverage our bond with our most loyal Apple users to help the brand grow.
  2. Deployment of your brand’s available strategic options: Apple needed to drive the ‘simplicity’ big idea into the mass market by using their brand love to influence others. Every brand message, product innovation, consumer experience, purchase moment must drive home ‘simplicity’
  3. Focus of your brand’s resources against an identified opportunity: Focus on a “consumer first” mentality that transforms leading-edge technology into “consumer accessible technology”. Apple has been able to capitalize on consumer frustration with technology that has prevented the mass consumers from experiencing everything that technology can offer. The famous “I’m a Mac and I’m a PC” ads brilliantly focused on the antagonist consumer enemy of “frustration” to which Apple’s simplicity is the solution.
  4. Leverage the breakthrough to create a market impact: Take a fast follower stance on, making technology easy to use, with consumer-friendly laptops, phones and tablets. High profile launch hype to generate excitement, transforming early adopters into vocal Apple activists to spread the word.
  5. Performance result that pays back and opens a gateway for more growth: Apple created a consumer bond around the Big Idea of “making technology simple” leveraging tight connection with their brand fans to enter new categories. Apple is now the most beloved consumer-driven brand, with premium prices, stronger market share, sales and profits.

The impact on Apple’s Performance Results

Apple has used brand love to help drive a remarkable 40x revenue growth over 10 years, going from 5.7 in 2005 billion up to $240 billion in 2015. This type of rapid growth helps cover costs of Advertising and R&D, giving Apple very healthy operating margins that are up over 35%. All this has increased Apple’s market capitalization to over $500 Billion.

Apple’s Revenue and Profit Growth (2005-2015)

Strategic Thinking

Strategic Thinking Workshop

To read more on Strategic Thinking, click on the Powerpoint file below to view:

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 build your brand story to establish what your brand stands for

I have created a fool-proof method for building your brand story. It does need you to do some homework before you get started. For this, you will need your brand positioning statement, consumer insights and enemies, your brand’s big idea, your brand purpose and your brand values. If you have built up a brand concept, you should be able to take that concept into a brand story.

However, only a fool would start their brand story with a blank piece of paper. You will likely end up with a randomized chance at success.

Brand Story

It starts with doing your homework of your Brand Positioning Statement

Most of the meat of a good concept comes from the work you do with a positioning statement. Make sure you go deep to understand who you are selling to and what you are selling. Brand Positioning Statements give the most useful function of taking everything you know about your brand, everything that could be said about the consumer and making choices to pick one target that you’ll serve and one brand promise you will stand behind. A best in class positioning statement has four key elements:

      • Target Market (1)
      • Definition of the market you play in (2)
      • Brand Promise (emotional or rational benefit) (3)
      • The Reason to Believe (RTB) the brand promise (4)

The classic way to write a Brand Positioning Statement is to take the elements above and frame them into the following: For the target market (1) Brand X plays in the market (2) and it gives the main benefit (3). That’s because of the following reasons to believe (4).

How to write a brand concept statement brand positioning target market marketing training

 

The ideal positioning has a tightly defined target based on demographics and psychographics as well as moments in life they may be going through relative to your brand. There should be a brand promise that has a balance of emotional and rational benefits and then supporting reasons to believe (RTBs) that back up the main promise. Don’t just throw out random claims you have but make sure the RTB’s fill in any gaps in the promise.

You need rich consumer insights

While a concept doesn’t directly call out the target, the best way to connect quickly with the target is to lead off with a really impactful insight or problem they might be facing, that lets them know you get them. I always end up with debate over people of what an insight is. How to write a brand concept statement brand positioning target market marketing training

Too many people think data, trends and facts are insights. Facts are merely on the surface—so they miss out on the depth–you need to bring those facts to life by going below the surface and transforming the facts into insights. To demonstrate knowledge of that target, defining consumer insights help to crystallize and bring to life the consumer you are targeting. The dictionary definition of the word Insight is “seeing below the surface”. When insight is done right, it is what first connects us to the brand, because we see ourselves in the story. Insight is not something that consumers didn’t know before. It’s not data or fact about your brand that you want to tell. That would be knowledge not insight.

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

Added to the insight, a concept can really come to life when you lead off with the consumer’s enemy.  Beloved Brands help consumers counter a problem in their life. Who is the Enemy of your consumer? Picking the enemy gives your brand focus and another way of bringing insight into your brand positioning.

Summarize into a Brand Positioning

This is how the positioning tool should lead you to a brand positioning statement that takes into account the target, category, benefit and support points.

How to write a brand concept statement brand positioning target market marketing training

 

For more information on Brand Positioning statements, follow this step by step process in this link: How to Write a Brand Positioning Statement

Build a big idea that summarizes the brand promise 

Once you have a brand positioning statement, you need to figure your brand’s big idea. There is value in turning your positioning into a 7 second pitch. What is your “SHOUT FROM THE MOUNTAIN”.  It forces you to want to scream just ONE THING about your brand—keep it simple. You can’t scream a long sentence.

brand positioning big idea

Turn your brand positioning and big idea into a brand concept

Too many brand leaders write elaborate concepts that include everything. In reality, you won’t be able to execute everything.  There’s no value in getting a brand concept to pass a test and then be unable to execute:  narrow it down to one simple benefit and 2 RTBs.(reasons to believe) Looking at the example below, taking the information from the brand concept from above using Gray’s Cookies, here’s how to map it into a concept.

Brand Concept

 

  • The main headline should capture the Big Idea of your brand. The headline will be the first thing consumers see, influencing how they will engage with the concept.
  • Start every concept with a consumer insight (connection point) or consumer enemy (pain point). If you can captivate the consumer to make them stop and think, “That’s exactly how I feel,” they will be more engaged with your concept. The enemy or insight must set up the brand promise.
  • The promise statement must bring the main benefit to life, with a balance of emotional and functional benefits. For Gray’s, I combined the ‘great taste’ functional benefit and ‘stay in control’ emotional benefit.
  • Support points should close off any gaps consumers may have after reading the main benefit. An emotional benefit may require functional support to cover off any doubt created in the consumers mind.
  • Complete the concept with a motivating call-to-action to prompt the consumer’s purchase intent which is a major part of concept testing.
  • Adding a supporting visual that fits is optional

Make sure your brand concept is tight

Anything more than this, you are just cheating yourself. Yes, you might have a better score, but you might not be able to execute it in the market. If you haven’t narrowed down your claims or RTB’s, maybe you need a claim sorting research before you get into the brand concept testing.

Be realistic about the brand concept you build. Too many marketers try to jam everything into the brand concept, trying to “pass the test” but then after they get a winning score, they realize that they can’t execute the brand concept that just won.  You should think of your brand concept as you would a 30 second TV ad or a digital billboard.

Brand Concept Examples

You can build a brand concept for any type of brand. Here’s an example of a B2B brand concept.

brand concept

The same brand concept model also works for healthcare brands

brand concept

It can work for build a brand concept for a tech brand:

brand concept

And finally, it can work for building a brand concept for a service oriented business as well.

brand concept

From your strategic plan, take your brand purpose

Every brand should have a 5 year plan, and every 5 year plan should have a good discussion of your brand purpose and the values, beliefs and motivations that support that purpose.

Brand Purpose Statement

While the diagram above looks rather crazy at first, this is a great tool for finding your brand’s purpose. This is a complex Venn diagram with four major factors, that matches up what the consumer wants, the core values that can steer your team that works behind the scenes of the brand, loving what you do and the ability to build a successful brand and business. Find your brand purpose, on the intersection of your meeting consumer needs, fulfilling you personal passion, standing behind your values, success and consumers. The reason I love this crazy Venn diagram is that the intersection of these four circles helps to crystallize the four things you need to do to use build a create a beloved brand.

1. Focus on building a tight relationship with consumers

The best brands know their consumers as well as you know your brand. Use consumer insights, enemies and needs. Build your brand plan and positioning around consumer benefits—what they get and how it makes them feel. Ask yourself, how do you describe your ideal relationship with your consumers?

2. Build around a unique, own-able and motivating big idea

The big idea is what consumers connect with first. The big idea then builds a bond as each touch-point to help deliver that big idea. Use the big idea to organize everything those working on the brand should do to deliver the benefit for your consumers—through the brand promise, story, innovation, the purchase moment and consumer experience. Behind the big idea are the elements of the brand positioning. What is the Big Idea of the brand that should inspire everyone who works behind the scenes of the brand?

3. Inspire a values driven culture to deliver happy experiences

The culture of the organization must steer the people who will deliver the experience. Your people become the face of the brand, as they deliver happy experiences that satisfy your consumers. Your people will be a major source of creating loyalty with consumers. What are the core beliefs of the brand that shape the organization as to the standards, behaviors, expectations? 

4. Use exceptional execution to become your consumer’s favorite brand

What separates good from great is the passion your people put into the work that reaches consumers. Whether it is your advertising, innovation, sales or the consumer experience you create, I believe that “I love it” is the highest bar for great work. You should create a culture where people never settle for OK when greatness is attainable. What is it that makes someone who works on your brand push themselves beyond the job, to deliver exceptional execution?

Here’s an example of how the model comes together to find your brand’s purpose.

Brand Purpose Statement

Brand Values

Once you have the purpose outlined, we urge brands to add your brand’s values and beliefs that support that purpose. What are the core beliefs of the brand that shape the organization as to the standards, behaviors, expectations? The values are the backbone of the organization. The brand can never go against a value. And the must be able to stand up to and consistently deliver each value. Take it a step further with motivations and inspirations. What are the needs and desires that inspires those who work behind the brand. the motivations are the fuel to the energy of the organization. The brand must stimulate the brand’s people to take actions beyond the norms of work, where it becomes passion.

Here’s the values for Gray’s Cookies.

Brand Values

Now, you have enough ammunition to build a brand story.

You can take your brand’s big idea, positioning statement, brand purpose and values to tell your brand story.

Brand Story

  • Start with the headline by turning your brand’s big idea into a promise statement that summarizes what you want to stand for
  • Match up your brand purpose to the consumer insights to show why it matters.
  • Use your brand’s core belief as a means to connect, and layer in what you do to support that belief
  • Explain what makes your brand different, and use claims that support your difference
  • Tell your consumers how you want to connect with your them, and the promise you will make to them.
  • Use the Big Idea to summarize your brand story

Here’s how it all comes together

Taken all the homework into account, here are a few examples of how the brand story comes together. This is an example you can use for a consumer driven brand:

Keep in mind, this is strategic writing and an ideal strategic structure. To really enhance your story at the next level, hire a copy writer that can really bring it to life.

Here’s an example of a brand story for a B2B business:

Positioning Brand Story

And here is an example of a brand story for a healthcare brand

Positioning Brand Story

Once you have the comfort of your brand story, you can take these elements into other communication vehicles. One great tool for driving the culture is a brand credo document. Here’s an example of how that comes together.

Brand Credo

 

To learn more about Positioning Statement, here’s our workshop we use to help brands define themselves. :

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

The six ways for Marketers to go from good to GREAT

 

GREAT Brand Leaders focus, represent the consumer, match fundamentals with instinct, inspire others, create other great leaders and leave a legacy.

1.GREAT Brand Leaders push to make focused choices.

Everyone says they are good decision makers, but very few are. If you present an either-or situation to many brand leaders, they struggle with the decision. So they try to find a way to say, “Let’s do a little of both”. A great brand leader knows decision-making starts with the choices where you have to pick one, not both. Brands only exist to drive more profit than if we just sold the product without a name on it.

Marketing has to be all about ROI (Return on Investment). For the best Brand Leaders, ROI should come naturally. It simply means you get more back, than what you put into it. Marketers always have limited resources (financial, time, people, partnerships). They apply those resources against an unlimited number of possible choices (target, positioning, strategies or tactics). The only way the equation works is when you limit the number of possible choices to match the limited resources. You can’t do everything so you have to do the most important things.Success in Marketing

Don’t tell yourself that you are good at making decisions if you come to a decision point and you always choose BOTH. Strategic thinkers never DIVIDE and conquer. They make choices to FOCUS and conquer

FOCUS, FOCUS, FOCUS!!!

Focus on a tight consumer target, to find those already highly motivated to buy what you have to sell. Get them to love you, rather than targeting everyone and get them to like you. The leading brands within each category are more loved than the pack of brands struggling to figure themselves out. It is better to be loved by a few than tolerated by everyone.

I once talked to a bank whose target was 18-65, current customers, new customers and employees. That’s not a target. How can you have an adequate ROI if you are spreading your limited resources against EVERYONE? As a brand, we always try to matter. Well, if you matter to anyone, then you have to matter to those who care the most.

To be GREAT, focus on creating a tightly defined reputation that sets your brand up to own an area.

A brand has four choices: better, different, cheaper or not around for very long. Giving the consumer too many messages about your brand will confuse them as to what makes your brand unique. Trying to be everything to everyone is the recipe for being nothing to anyone. Today, consumers receive 5,000 brand messages a day. Wow. As a consumer, how many of those 5,000 do you engage with and digest each day? Maybe a few? Then why as a Marketer, are you trying to shout 3 or 4 messages? It is really odd for you to think that the way to enter an overwhelmed crowded brain is to give more messages and not less. Slow down and keep it simple. Great Brand Leaders find a way focus on one message.

When I ask a room full of Marketers, tell me one word that defines Volvo, half the room yells “SAFETY”. Volvo has been singularly focused on the safety since the 1950s. Not just externally, but internally.  The safety positioning guides every decision. That is focus.

If I asked your team for one word that describes your brand, would I get the same word?  Why not?

Penetration versus usage frequency

I see too many brand plans have both penetration (getting new users to use) and frequency (getting current users to use more) in their plan. Do you want to get more people to eat your brand or those that already do to eat more? A Penetration Strategy gets someone with very little experience with your brand to likely consider dropping their current brand to try you once and see if they like it.

A Usage Frequency Strategy gets someone who knows and uses your brand in the way they choose, to change their current behavior in relationship to your brand, either changing their current life routine or substituting your brand into a higher share of the occasions. These are very different strategies. And it is a choice you must make. I see so many Brand Plans and Creative Briefs with both penetration and usage frequency strategies. Go look at your plan and see if you are really making choices. Because if you’re not, then you are not making decisions, you’re just making a very long to-do list that will exhaust your resources.

When you focus, four things happen for your brand:

  1. Better return on investment (ROI)
  2. Better return on effort (ROE)
  3. Stronger reputation
  4. More competitive
  5. More investment behind the brand

Next time you are faced with a decision, make the choice. Don’t pick both, just in case you are wrong. All you are doing is dividing your limited resources by spreading them across both choices—which turns limited resources into sparse resources. Without the right support, you won’t see the expected movement on your brand and instead of putting more resources behind the right ideas you then put even less. I always say that a strategic person would never get the “steak and eggs” but rather would choose twice the steak. When faced with choices, a GREAT brand leader picks one, never both.

2. GREAT Brand Leaders represent the consumer to the Brand.

Everything starts and ends with the consumer in mind. I always ask Brand Leaders: “Do you represent your brand to your consumer or do you represent your consumer to the brand?” It is an important question as to your mindset of how you do your job. Start thinking like your consumer and be their representative to your brand. There is only one source of revenue on your financial statements. It is not the products you sell, but it is the consumer who buys your brand.

When you think like your consumer, you will notice the work gets better, you will see clearer paths to growth and you will start to create a brand that the consumer loves rather than just likes. Marketing is about creating a tight connection with your consumer. The more love you generate for your brand, the more powerful position it occupies in the marketplace and the more profit it can generate from that source of power.

You have to get in the consumer’s shoes, observe, listen and understand their favorite parts of the day. You have to know their fears, motivations, frustrations and desires. Learn their secrets, that only they know, even if they can’t explain. Learn to use their voice. Build that little secret into your message, using their language, so they’ll know you are talking to them. We call this little secret the consumer insight. When portrayed with the brand’s message, whether on packaging, an advertisement or at the purchase moment, the consumer insight is the first thing that consumers connect with.

When consumers see the insight portrayed, we make them think: “That’s exactly how I feel. I thought I was the only one who felt like that.” This is what engages consumers and triggers their motivation and desire to purchase. The consumers think we must be talking to them, even if it looks like we are talking to millions.

Consumer Insights are secrets that we discover and use to our brand’s advantage.

It is not easy to explain a secret to a person who doesn’t even know how to explain their own secret. Try it with a friend and you will fail miserably. Imagine how hard it is to find that secret and portray it back to an entire group of consumers. Safe to say, consumer insights are hard to find. The dictionary definition of the word Insight is “seeing below the surface”. To get deeper, when you come across a data point, you have to keep looking, listening asking yourself “so what does that mean for the consumer” until you have an “AHA moment”.

You can start with the observations, trends, market facts and research data, but only when you start asking the right questions do you get closer to where you can summarize the insight. Look and listen for the consumer’s beliefs, attitudes and behaviors that help explain how they think, feel or act in relationship to your brand or category. Because the facts are merely on the surface, you have to dig, or you will miss out on the depth of the explanation of the underlying feelings within the consumers that caused the data. Think beyond the specific category insights and think about life insights or even societal trends that could impact changing behavior.

Good insights get in the SHOES of your consumer and use their VOICE. We force every insight to be written starting with the word “I” to get the Marketer into the shoes of the consumer and force them to put the insight in quotes to use their voice.

3. GREAT Brand Leaders are fundamentally sound, even when using their instincts.

I am a huge believer that marketing fundamentals matter. In fact, we train Brand Leaders on all the fundamentals of marketing including strategic thinking to writing brand plans and creative briefs. But that’s a starting point to which you grow from. If you don’t use fundamentals in how you do your job, you will and should be fired.

Great Brand Leaders know when to be a strategic thinker and when to be an action thinker. Strategic thinkers see “what if” questions before seeing solutions, mapping out a range of decision trees that intersect and connect by imagining how events will play out. They take time to reflect and plan before acting, helping you move in a focused efficient fashion. They think slowly, logically, always needing options, but if go too slow, you will miss the opportunity window.

Action thinkers see answers before even knowing the right questions, using instincts and impulse. Any delays will frustrate them, believing that doing something is better than nothing at all. This “make it happen” mode gets things done, but if you go too fast, your great actions will be solving the wrong problem. Always find the right balance by thinking slowly with strategy and thinking quickly with your instincts.

A good Brand Leader does a good job of bringing fundamentals into how they do their job. They know how to back up the fundamentals by gathering the right facts to support their arguments. GREAT Brand Leaders are able to take it to the next level and bring those same fundamentals and match them against their instincts. They have a gut feel for decisions they can reach into and bring out at the boardroom table based on the core fundamentals, the experience they bring from past successes and failures as well as this instinctual judgement.

It’s not that great marketers have better instincts. It is that great marketers are able to believe in their instincts and bring instincts into their decision making. They use their head, their gut and their heart to decide the pathway on finding greatness in Marketing.

4. GREAT Brand Leaders find their greatness in the greatness of others.

I think what made me really good at my job is that I did nothing. Absolutely nothing. Over my 20 years of Brand Management, whenever I walked into a meeting, I used to whisper to myself: “You are the least knowledgeable person in the room. Use that to your advantage.” The power was in the ability to ask clarification questions.

When I was in with the scientists, following my C+ in 10th grade Chemistry, I was about as smart as my consumer that I represent. I needed to make sure all the science was easy to explain. With my ad agencies, I finally figured out that I never had to solve problems. I just gave them my problems to solve. It became like therapy. Plus, with six years of business school without one art class, what do I know about art. I was smart enough to know that I needed to make the most out of the experts I was paying.

Get comfortable with the idea that you don’t do anything

While we don’t make the product, we don’t sell the product or create the Ads, we do touch everything that goes into the marketplace and we make every decision. All of our work is done through other people. Our greatness as a Brand Leader has to come from the experts we engage, so they will be inspired to reach for their own greatness and apply it on our brand. Brand Management has been built on a hub-and-spoke system, with a team of experts surrounding the generalist Brand Leader. When I see Brand Managers of today doing stuff, I feel sorry for them. They are lost. Brand Leaders are not designed to be experts in marketing communications, experts in product innovation and experts in selling the product. You are trained to be a generalist, knowing enough to make decisions, but not enough to actually do the work.

Fifteen years ago, Ad Agencies broke apart the creative and the media departments into separate agencies. This forced Brand Leaders to step in and be the referee on key decisions. Right after that, the explosion of new digital media options that mainstream agencies were not ready to handle forced the Brand Leader to take another step in. With the increasing speed of social media, Brand Leaders have taken one more step in. Three steps in and Brand Leaders can’t find a way to step back again. Some Brand Leaders love stepping in too far so they can control the outcome of the creative process. However, if you are now doing all the work, then who is critiquing the work to make sure it fits the strategy? Pretty hard to think and do at the same time.

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

It is time to step back and assume your true role as the Brand Leader. Trust me, it is a unique skill to be able to inspire, challenge, question, direct and decide, without any expertise at all. After all, I am an expert in doing nothing.

5. GREAT Brand Leaders create other GREAT Brand Leaders on their team.

Great Brand Leaders focus on their people first, believing that is the best way to drive results. The formula is simple: the smarter the people, the better the work they will produce and in turn the stronger the results will be. Invest in training and development. Marketing Training is not just on the job, but also in the classroom to find ways to challenge their thinking and give them added skills to be better in their jobs.

Great Brand Leaders know that marketing fundamentals still matter. There is a lot of evidence in the market that the classic fundamentals are falling, whether it is strategic thinking, writing a brand plan, writing a creative brief or judging great advertising. As things move faster, Marketers seem more willing to let go of the fundamentals.

However, as the speed increases that should be even more of a reason o reach for your fundamentals. People are NOT getting the same learning and development they did in prior generations of Marketing. Investing in training, not only makes your people smarter, but it is motivating for them to know that you are investing in them.

Great Brand Leaders find ways put the spotlight on their people. It is time to let them own it and let them Shine. Make it about them, not you. Great Brand Leaders find ways to challenge your team and yet recognize when the work.

6. GREAT Brand Leaders have a desire to leave a legacy.

I am always asked so what does it take to be great at marketing, and I’ll always jokingly say, “Well, they aren’t all good qualities”. The best marketers I have seen have an ego that fuels them. The best Marketers are like thorough-bred race horse. Use your ego in the right way, so that it shows up as confidence and a belief in yourself. I can tell you that out of the ten great projects I worked on throughout my career, each met major resistance at some point. It was my confidence that helped me over-come roadblocks whether they cam from peers or bosses.

I always challenge Brand Leaders to think of the next person who will be in their chair, and what you want to leave them. When you create a Brand Vision, you should think 10 years from now, advertising campaigns should last at least 5 years and the strategic choices you make should gain share and drive the brand to a new level. Yet, the reality is you will be in the job for 2-4 years. When you write a Brand Plan, you should think of the many audiences like senior leaders, ad agencies and those that work on your brand, but you also should think about the next Brand Leader.

What will you do, to leave the brand in a better position than when you took it on?

What will be your legacy on your brand?

Great Brand Leaders always push for greatness and never settle for OK

Here’s a free copy of our e-book on “How to achieve success in Marketing”.

https://www.slideshare.net/GrahamRobertson/free-e-book-how-to-achieve-success-in-marketing

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 Beloved Brands

 

How to build your marketing career behind your core strength

Just like a brand, we each bring a core strength as a marketing leader. It may be based on your natural skills, your leader behaviors or the experiences you have had in your past. It can also be impacted by where your passion lies. You should map out the future of your marketing career based on your core strength, whether that is running the business, marketing execution, strategic thinking or people leadership.

One of the toughest question I ask is to pick your #1 strength as a Marketer from these four potential choices:

  • You like running the business and managing products
  • You have a passion for marketing execution
  • Strategic thinker, writes strong Brand Plans
  • Leader of leaders, gets the best out of others

I know it must be a tough question, because everyone refuses to pick just one. Even if you are well-rounded, explore what might rise or fall based on skills, feedback, success, passion, or interest. While you have been trained and have learned to be a generalist, it might be time to re-focus on a specific strength.

Let’s take it a step further. Here’s a game you can play to force your thinking. Look below at the diagram. You have 4 chips. You have to put one on the highest strength, two on the medium and force one to be at the lowest.

Marketing Career Core Strength

If you still say, “I’m pretty good at all 4” then push yourself, I might not believe you. No one is equally great at all four. I want you to know what you are best at. As you make your next move, each choice may lead you to 4 different career choices.

If you like running the business, your career choices could be Product Management, Private Equity or New Industries. If you are into the Marketing Execution, you should explore switching to an Agency role, maybe a brainstorming ideation leader or become a Subject Matter Expert. And, if you are a Strategic Thinker, you could move into becoming a Consultant, Professor or go into a Global role. Finally, if you feel your strength is on the people leadership side, you can keep moving up to GM, explore the Entrepreneur world or become a Personal Coach.

When your strength is running the business

You’re naturally a business leader, who enjoys the thrill of hitting the numbers–financial or share goals. In Myers Briggs, you might be an ENTJ/INTJ (introvert/extrovert, intuition, thinking, judgment) the “field general” who brings the intuitive logic and quick judgment to make decisions quickly to capitalize on business opportunity. Marketing Career Core Strength
You like product innovation side more than advertising. You are fundamentally sound in the core elements of running a business—forecasting, analytics, finance, distribution—working each functional areas to the benefit of the products. And, you may have gaps in creativity or people leadership, but you are comfortable giving freedom to your agencies or team to handle the creative execution.

My recommendation is to stay within Product Management as long as you can. If you find roadblocks in your current industry, consider new verticals before you venture into new career choices. You should consider running businesses on behalf of Private Equity firms or venture into Entrepreneurship, where you can leverage your core strength of running a business.

When your biggest strength is Marketing Execution

You are the type of Brand Leader who is highly creative and connects more to ideas and insights than strict facts and tight business decisions. And, you likely believe facts can guide you but never decide for you. You are high on perception, allowing ambiguous ideas to breathe before closing down on them. You respect the creative process and creative people. Moreover, you are intuitive in deciding what is a good or bad idea. You may have gaps in the areas of organizational leadership or strategy development that hurts you from becoming a senior leader. You likely see answers before questions and frustrated by delays.

Marketing Career Core StrengthStaying in the Marketing area, you may end up limited in moving beyond an executional role. You may be frustrated in roles that would limit your creativity. Moving into a Director level role could set you up for failure. Look to grab a subject matter expert type role in an internal advertising, media, innovation role or merchandising.

Going forward beyond Marketing, consider switching to the Agency side or Consult on a subject-matter expertise (Innovation, Marketing Communication or Public Relations) to build on your strengths.

When you are naturally a strategic thinker

You enjoy the planning more than the execution. You might fall into the INTP, where you’re still using logic and intuition, stronger at the thinking that helps frame the key issues and strategies than making the business decisions. The introvert side would also suggest that your energy comes from what’s going on in your brain, than externally. An honest assessment would suggest that managing and directing the work of others is likely not be a strength.Marketing Career Core Strength

If you stay within the marketing industry, you would be very strong in a Global Brand role, General Management or even a Strategic Planning role. You need to either partner with someone who is strong at Marketing Execution or build a strong team of business leaders beneath you.

Going outside, you would enjoy Consulting and thought leadership which could turn into either an academic or professional development type roles. Continue building your thought leadership to carve out a specific perspective or reputation where you can monetize.

When your biggest strength is leading people

You find a natural strength in leading others. You are skilled in getting the most from someone’s potential. And, you are good at conflict resolution, providing feedback, inspiring/motivation and career management of others. You are a natural extrovert and get your energy from seeing others on your team succeed. As you move up, you should surround yourself with people who counter your gaps–whether that is on strategy or Marketing Execution.

Marketing Career Core StrengthIf you find yourself better at Management than Marketing, and you should pursue a General Management role where you become a leader of leaders. You would benefit from a cross functional shift into sales or operations to gain various perspectives of the business enable you to take on a general management role in the future.

After you hit your peak within the corporate world, consider careers such as Executive Coaching where the focus remains on guiding people.

Be honest with your future marketing career, to take full advantage of your core strength

To challenge your thinking with your marketing career, here is our presentation

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

When pressed for time, write a “mini brief” instead of no brief at all

The mini Creative Brief

With social media, digital advertising and search media, things are moving faster than ever. You still need a Creative Brief. However, you might need to try our Mini Creative Brief. Opportunities come to brand leaders need quick decisions and even faster execution. And, so many times I am seeing teams spinning around in circles of execution and I ask to see the brief and the answer is quickly becoming “Oh we didn’t have time to do a creative brief. We just did a phone call”. You always need to take the time to write it down. Our Mini Creative Brief has a strategic objective, clear target, consumer insights, the desired response and what we’ll tell them.

Elements of communication strategy

First off, I would hope that every brand has the discipline to do an advertising strategy that should answer the following seven key questions.

  1. Who do we want to sell to?  (Target)
  2. What are we selling?  (Benefit)
  3. Why should they believe us?  (Reason to Believe)
  4. What is your organizing Big Idea? (7-second brand)
  5. What do we want the advertising to do?  (Strategy)
  6. What do want people to think, feel or do?  (Response)
  7. Where will we deliver the message? (Media Plan)

Once you have these seven questions answered you should be able to populate and come to a main creative brief. To read more about writing a full creative brief follow this link:  How to Write an Effective Creative Brief

Back when we only did TV and a secondary medium it was easier to have a Creative Brief. We would spend months on a brief and months ago making the TV ads. The brief got approved everywhere, up to the VP or President level. But now the problem is when you’re running around like a chicken with its head chopped off, you decide to wing it over the phone with no brief. It’s only a Facebook page, a digital display ad going down the side of the weather network or some twitter campaign Who needs a brief.

If I could recommend anything to do with brand communication: ALWAYS HAVE A BRIEF.

The Mini Creative Brief

The Mini Creative Brief focuses on the most important elements of the brief, you must have:

  • Objective: What do we hope to do, what part of the brand strategy will this program.   Focus on only one objective.
  • Target:  Who is the intended target audience we want to move to take action against the objective?  Keep it a very tight definition.
  • Insight:  What is the one thing we know about the consumer that will impact this program.   For this mini brief, only put the most relevant insight to help frame the consumer.
  • Desired Response: What do we want consumers to think, feel or do?   Only pick one of these.
  • Stimulus:  What’s the most powerful thing you can say to get the response you want.

When you go too fast, it sometimes takes too long

If you choose to do it over the phone, you are relying 100% on your Account Manager to explain it to the creative team. Then, days later when they come back with the options, how would you remember what you wanted. If you have a well-written communications plan, this Mini Brief should take you anywhere from 30-60 minutes to write this. The Mini Creative Brief will keep your own management team aligned to your intentions, as well as give a very focused ASK to the creative team. And, when you need to gain approval from your boss for the creative, you will be able to better sell it in with Mini Brief providing the context.

Pressed for time? Next time, try using the Mini Creative Brief

 

To read more on Creative Briefs, follow this presentation

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

 

If your brand is afraid of Amazon, then you should be terrified of Alibaba

Now begins the North American battle of Amazon vs Walmart, with the winner to take on Alibaba on the world’s retailer stage.

alibabaI love watching the Kentucky Derby, especially those horses that start off slow, then pick it up on the back straight, and then basically fly past everyone on the last turn, like they are standing still. That’s how I feel about watching the Alibaba brand.

The joint venture between Walmart and Google is a signal that both might be a little bit scared of Amazon. 

But, Alibaba is using their dominance in the world’s largest market (China) to pick up all that speed in the back straight and likely beat both Amazon and Walmart.

Walmart is a tough competitor. They won’t go down without a fight.

Obviously, Amazon has a huge advantage in the US, but things are about to get really ugly as Walmart and Amazon attempt to destroy each other. 

But, if you have ever dealt with Walmart, you would have to be an idiot to ever count them out. Their culture focuses on the relentless fixation on fast-moving items that helps drive cash flow. Sure, Walmart beats up their vendors over price–but that’s mainly to drive sell through. If your brand moves slow, there is no debate–you are told to speed up your sales, and if you don’t, you are gone.

I remember when Walmart starting sending us their weekly sales data. My first thought was “Wow, this is true partnership, amazing data, thanks Walmart”. Then the questions started to come. “Your 250ml cherry flavored cough syrup is not selling fast enough, what will you do to accelerate turns”. We lowered the price. Or even worse, “Your Listerine Pocketpaks product accounts for the highest theft of any product in our stores, fix it”. We changed the packaging, just because they asked us.   In the bricks and mortar space, while most department store retailers sell through their inventory in 130-150 days. Walmart sells through their inventory in 29 days. That’s cash flow.

I expect Walmart will go lower on price than Amazon can tolerate. What retailer owned the low price positioning before Walmart?  Sears. If you go compare prices at Walmart and Sears, you will see why Sears stores are empty and about to go bankrupt.

Does the Google partnership help Walmart?  A little. But both better step it up fast. If Walmart loses to Amazon, the case study class starts off with “Walmart should have started their on-line war with Amazon in 2002, not 2017.”

Even if Amazon can tolerate lower prices and eventually beats Walmart, it will do some damage to their profits. Amazon will experience lower margins, squeezed cash flow, and a divided consumer base. It will further open the possibility of seeing Alibaba entering the US market.

Why Alibaba will win

Alibaba, valued at $420 Billion has seen an 80% increase in the market capitalization in the past twelve months. In the same period, Amazon has seen a 20% increase, still with a slight lead at $465 Billion. 

Here are 5 reasons why Alibaba will eventually win the global e-commerce retail space:

  1. Alibaba can utilize their home-field advantage. Alibaba is dominating the Chinese market, which is the #1 e-commerce population in the world. China has 500 million active on-line users, is twice the size of the US market. Walmart and Amazon will divide up the US market.
  2. Alibaba has a business model that delivers higher profitability. Alibaba’s business model, with no listing fees, with the bulk of their revenue coming from keywords and digital-advertising is closer to the social media model. This gives Alibaba significantly higher margins than Amazon. 
  3. Alipay payment system.  Alibaba launched a digital payment system in 2004, just for their own customers. Along with WePay, it has become the accepted method of payment in China. They have moved to a cashless and even cardless payment world. 
  4. Alibaba will ride the growth curve of the Chinese Economy. Despite the recent slowdown, China’s economy is still growing at almost three times the rate of the US – around 7% over the last couple of years, compared to less than 2.5%.The US has a growing trade deficit – it imports more than it exports – while China imports significantly less than it exports, resulting in a trade surplus.
  5. Alibaba’s sales will benefit from the growth of the Chinese Middle Class. In the last ten years, the average income for China has tripled. It is expected that from 2012 to 2022, those in China making more than $34K US will increase from 3% currently up to 9%, and those in the growing middle class ($16K to $34K) will increase from 14% up to 54%.

So when will Alibaba move west? Likely after the Walmart vs Amazon dust settles. By 2020, I would expect both Walmart and Amazon to be weakened. Whoever wins will have to take on a very healthy, highly profitable, cash-rich Alibaba. Realistically, Alibaba could end up two or three times the size of Amazon.Then it will be like watching that horse in the Kentucky Derby, with Alibaba rounding the final turn on the way to the finish line.

To read more on competitive strategy, click on this link: 

Competitive Brand Strategy

 

In retail, the smart money should be on Alibaba for the win.  

 

To learn about strategic thinking, follow this powerpoint slide presentation. 

 

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

Beloved Brands is a brand strategy and marketing training firm that is focused on the future growth of your brand and your people.

It is our fundamental belief that the more loved your brand is by your most cherished consumers, the more powerful and profitable your brand will be. We also believe that better marketing people will lead to smarter strategy choices and tightly focused marketing execution that will higher growth for your brands.

With our workshops, we use our unique tools force you to think differently and help unleash new strategy solutions to build around. I believe the best solutions lay deep inside you already, but struggle to come out. In every discussion, I bring a challenging yet understanding voice to bring out the best in you and help you craft an amazing strategy.

We will help you find a unique and own-able Big Idea that will help you stand out from the clutter of today’s marketplace. The Big Idea must serve to motivate consumers to engage, buy and build a loyal connection with your brand. Equally, the Big Idea must work inside your organization, to inspire all employees who work behind the scenes to deliver happy experiences for consumers.

We will help build a brand plan everyone can follow. It starts with an inspiring vision to push your team. We then force strategy choices on where to allocate your limited resources. With our advice on brand execution, we can steer the brand towards brand love and brand growth.

To learn more about our coaching, click on this linkBeloved Brands Strategic Coaching

At Beloved Brands, we deliver brand training programs that make brand leaders smarter so they are able to drive added growth on your brands. 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 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 Beloved Brands

 

If you want to do great work in Marketing, go work on a boring product. 

I started my career in kids cereals and every time I tried to do something interesting, I was told “No, we can’t do that” or my VP looked at me sideways like I was crazy.

I kept thinking, my god, “This category is supposed to be the most fun category to work in”. 

So, why can’t we have fun?

The odd answer:  We are already fun.

So then I went to work in healthcare marketing, on Benadryl, Listerine, Reactine, Nicoderm and Band Aid. 

I spent a decade thriving in creativity.

I had fun. Lots and lots of fun. And we made great work.

We needed to be interesting just to stand out. Management welcomed creativity, almost with a relief.  

One of my colleagues summed up what we do: “We make a mountain out of a mole hill”.

Boring products are where you can have the most fun.

This is where the best Marketers thrive. Making boring products interesting.

2017 has been a boring year for Marketing. Lots of little gadgets, but man, I’ve been craving big creative ideas all year. And, I’ve been constantly disappointed. 

Today, I want to celebrate Windex, a severely boring product, that created a 2 and 1/2 minute video that will certainly make you cry. 

I love it. 

Well done Windex team.

You have taken a boring-ass product and made it really interesting. 

 

 

My own story on Nicoderm

When I worked on Nicoderm, someone on my brand team told me “Quitting smoking is very serious, so we should have a serious ad”.

I wasn’t buying it.

My agency really struggled. Two months went by. 

They presented me some of the work, and I thought “my god, it’s dull”.

The Agency secretly told me they hated the work and wanted me to take off the handcuffs that the work must be serious. 

They gave me permission to trash it, so that we opened up fun as a possibility. I did.

The next round, we had too many great ideas, and we were in a position where we were able to pick one among them.

This is the ad that won J&J’s global ad of the year in 2007. 

You don’t need to be serious, to communicate something serious.

Marketing should be fun.

If we don’t love the work, how do we expect the consumer to love our brand?

 

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

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

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

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

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

Graham Robertson Bio Brand Training Coach Consultant

 

 

The skills, behaviors and experiences needed to be a great Marketer

As you manage your own Marketing Career, you assess your skills, behaviors and experiences, to figure where your gaps that you should address. A marketer must build their capability around key skill areas strategy, analytics, positioning, planning and execution. The best marketers must exhibit leadership behaviors that take ownership and inspire others. And, they run their business like an owner. They can exhibit broad leadership across the entire organization. Finally, many of the more complicated areas of marketing takes experience. Over the years, I found myself saying “you almost screw up the first five times, you…” And, I started to realize, that message fit with advertising, managing others, brand planning, launching new brands, and leading beyond your own team. 

Nail the obvious

Let me start with the expected behaviors for success at any level of Marketing. Trust me, if you do not hit these, you will likely annoy someone enough to get rid of you. These are non-negotiable and if you miss continuously, they could become potentially career-limiting moves.  

What is non-negotiable:

  • Hit deadlines: Never look out of control or sloppy. Marketers have enough to do, that if you begin to miss deadlines, things will just stockpile on each other. Do not try to constantly negotiate extensions. There are no extensions, just missed opportunities.
  • Know your business: Avoid getting caught off-guard with questions that you cannot answer, such as P&L (sales, growth, margins, spend) market share (latest 52, 12, 4 weeks for your brand all major competitors) and your sales forecasts. Make sure you are asking the questions and carrying forward the knowledge.
  • Be open with communication: There should be no surprises, especially with your boss. Keep everyone aware of what’s going on. When you communicate upwards, always have the situation, implications, options and then quickly followed by an action plan of what to do with it.
  • Listen and then decide: It is crucial that you seek to understand to the experts surrounding you, before you make a decision. Early in your career, use your subject matter experts to teach you. As you hit director or VP, use them as an advisor or sounding board to issues/ideas. They do want you to lead them,  so it is important that you listen and then give direction or push them towards the end path.
  • Take control of your destiny: We run the brands, they do not run us. Be slightly ahead of the game, not chasing your work to completion. Proactively look for opportunity in the market, and work quickly to take advantage. When you don’t know something, speak in an “asking way”, but when you know, speak in a “telling way”.
  • Able to use regular feedback for growth: Always seek out and accept feedback, good or bad, as a lesson for you. Do not think of it as a personal attack or setback. Identify gaps you can close, never think of them as weaknesses that hold you back. You should be constantly striving to get better.

Here is a presentation that can help you manage your career in Brand Management.

The crucial marketing skills

At Beloved Brands, we use a 360 degree view, where you need to be able to analyze, think, define, plan and then execute. And then repeat.

1. Analyze performance

  • Digs deep into data, draws comparisons and builds a story toward the business conclusionBrand Careers Skills Behaviors Experiences
  • Able to lead a best-in-class 360-degree deep-dive business review for the brand
  • Understands all sources of brand data—share, brand funnel, consumption, financials
  • Writes analytical performance reports that outlines the strategic implications

2. Think Strategically

  • Thinks strategically, by asking the right interruptive questions before reaching for solutions
  • 360-degree strategic thinking: core strength, consumers, competitors, situation, engagement
  • Able to lead a well-thought strategic discussion across the organization
  • Makes smart strategic decisions based on vision, focus, opportunity, early win and leverage

3. Define the brand

  • Defines ideal consumer target, framed with need states, insights and enemies
  • Consumer centric approach to turn brand features into functional and emotional benefits
  • Finds winning brand positioning space that is own-able and motivates consumers
  • Develops a big idea for brand that can lead every consumer touchpoint

4. Create Brand Plans

  • Leads all elements of a smart brand plan; vision, purpose, goals, issues, strategies, tactics.
  • Turns strategic thinking into smart strategic objective statements for the brand plan
  • Strong in presenting brand plans to senior management and across organization
  • Develops smart execution plans that delivers against the brand strategies

5. Inspire creative execution

  • Writes strategic, focused and thorough creative briefs to inspire great work from experts
  • Can lead all marketing projects on brand communication, innovation, selling or experience
  • Able to inspire greatness from teams of experts at agencies or throughout organization
  • Makes smart marketing execution decisions that tightens bond with consumers

Taking this a step further, you can use the assessment tool to identify gaps in your team.

Brand Careers Skills Behaviors Experiences

The leader behaviors

1. Accountable for results

  • Holds everyone accountable to the goals of their tasks
  • Makes it happen, get things done, don’t let details/timeline slip
  • Stays on strategy, eliminates ideas that are not focused against vision/strategy.
  • Works the system behind the brand, from sales to finance to operations to HR

2. People leadership

  • Manages core team: focus, communication, solutions, results, let others shine.
  • Interested in their people’s development and career development
  • Coaches, teaches, guides the team for higher performance.
  • Provides honest assessments to their people and upwards.

3. Broad influence

  • Active listener, seeks opinions, makes decisions, owns strategy.
  • Controls brand strategy, yet flexible to new ideas on the execution.
  • Carries influence throughout organization.
  • Thinks of others beyond themselves, empathy to pressures/challenges others are facing.

4. Authentic style

  • Aware of their impact on others within and beyond their team.
  • Exhibits leadership under pressure: results, ambiguity, change, deadlines.
  • Consistency in leadership in how they show up.
  • Flexibility in leadership: admits mistakes, challenges self, adjusts to new ways.

5. Runs business like an owner

  • Acts like a ‘Brand CEO’ accountable to the long-range health and profits of the business.
  • Makes smart decisions that adds to the health of brand, not their career or personal wealth.
  • Makes the right choices, good for the company, consumers, customers, market, society.
  • Lives and breathes the culture of those who work behind the scenes of the brand.

The necessary experiences 

Many of the hardest experiences a Marketer must go through almost takes 3-5 opportunities for the Brand Leader to really nail.  I remember how challenging it was for me the first time I launched a new advertising campaign.  Can I confess now that it was a complete disaster? I had no clue what the major steps were and no one on my side who could teach me. I was lucky that my client service person helped me through every step. Over the years, I would get better and better, learning something new each time. I then struggled the first time I managed a person for the first time. Then I struggled to launch a new brand. It is starting to sound like I was a disaster at everything. Well, I might be over-exaggerating, but I can tell you that i got better each time. And you will as well. 

The experiences that you need learn at each stage of the way include:

  1. Write Brand Plans: Writing a brand plan takes experience. I recommend you should learn some of the same skills through writing brand recommendations, writing a brand review or writing a section of the brand plan. Leading a Brand Turnaround: When the results are not meetings the expectations of the business, the pressure goes up exponentially and the scrutiny intensifies. If there is a hint of concern, senior leaders will roll up their sleeves and get involved.
  2. Launching new advertising: Launching a big new campaign from scratch involves a lot of crucial steps to manage, while dealing with the ambiguity of what makes a great creative and smart media choices. On top of that, it is essential to keep the agency motivated, while keeping your boss aligned.
  3. Managing a team: Managing can be such a challenge that when I worked at J&J, when we promoted someone to Brand Manager, we usually tried to avoid giving them a direct report. Most people mess up their first direct report. A similar pattern happens: excited to have someone do the little stuff they hate doing, then the person struggles so the manager does it themselves and gets mad at the person who can’t do it, then begins to think their direct report is incompetent. On the other hand, the direct report thinks their boss refuses to train them, gives them little feedback and is a control freak. Firing a Marketer: This sounds like a strange experience to put on the list, but it is one of the most difficult decisions you will have to make. I wish you never would have to fire one, but the reality is that you will. To make sure you are making the right decision, you really need to understand the role and be able to measure that person against the criteria for what they can and cannot do.
  4. Launching a new brand: While managing a brand is difficult enough, creating a brand from scratch involves every element of marketing from the concept to the product to naming to production, selling, shipping, advertising, displaying, promoting, and analyzing the performance. You better be great at Marketing before taking on a launch from scratch.
  5. Leading across organization: As you move into more senior leadership roles, a great way to extend your breadth across the organization is to take on more cross-functional roles, whether special projects or moving into a cross functional role. This allows you to begin seeing every corner of the organization through the eyes of other team players in sales, HR, operations and finance. 

Here is a tool to track your experiences from an entry-level up to a senior role. I tell Marketers that you should try to have a good balance as you move up, so you can avoid having any experience gaps when you hit a senior level. 

Brand Careers Skills Behaviors Experiences

Here is a presentation that can help you manage your career in Brand Management.

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. We use our challenging voice to help you make decisions and refine every potential idea.

We start by defining a brand positioning statement, outlining the desired target, consumer benefits and support points the brand will stand behind. And then, we build a 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, so they can unleash their full talent potential. 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 Brand Training Coach Consultant