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How to Land an Assistant Brand Manager job


bbi adTwenty years ago, I graduated from business school and started as an Assistant Brand Manager (ABM) at General Mills.  I never admitted it back then, by it was really hard to get that ideal ABM position.  Prior to going back for my MBA, I had tried numerous times to get a job and kept failing.  One interview ended after 5 minutes because she looked at my resume and found out I had no CPG experience.  How could I, if I was going for an entry level position?  
While things have changed tremendously over those twenty years, many of the same principles for landing that job remain the same.  To start with here is the job you’ll be Applying for How to be a Great ABM   If that’s how you’ll be judged in the few months, than that’s how you’ll be judged in the Interview Process.

The first lesson I can tell you is there are more people who want to be an Assistant Brand Manager than there are jobs.   For every ABM, there are hundreds who want that role.  And that’s continuing to tighten in the tough economy as many places are going without.  So how bad do you really want this job?   Do you want it more than everyone else?   And will you do what it takes to get that job?  I remember interviewing so many times and not getting the job–I must have gone through 100 interviews before I finally landed the right job.   I remember one time, after 3 minutes the hiring manager looked at my résumé and said “you have zero marketing experience, this won’t work”.  That one still stings after twenty years, but made me want it even more.
Slide1Persistence is the key.  If you are only half trying, then I have very little sympathy for you.  If you are completely immersed in the effort, trust me, keep pushing because you will eventually break through.

While this article is with my biases, at least you’ll get a vantage from a former CPG executive who was heavily involved in the recruiting hundreds of ABMs.

There are five ways you can get in:

  • MBA: This was the #1 source of our ABMs. It gave us the chance to have a consistency in our recruiting efforts, allowed us to have a focused timing for the hiring and even a consistency in starting dates so we could measure and compare ABMs. One of the silent secrets no one can say is that an MBA ensures that ABMs are late 20s, rather than 22–which makes it easier for them to work with the sales teams. Now, people always ask me: “Do I need an MBA?” My answer is “No, but it sure helps”. It allows you to be part of the formal recruiting process, get in front door and be judged by that very process, rather than just a one-off hiring manager who is in a panic and doesn’t know what they want. My question to you is “Can you do an MBA?” because if you can, I’d recommend it.
  • Head Hunter and Recruiters: This was our second source for ABMs, especially when we needed ABMs outside of the formal recruiting process. There are some Headhunters that specifically fill ABM roles and you should make sure you are connected with them. If you are lucky, you can get a head hunter who gives you tips on your resume or feedback on your interview. Ask for the feedback. Stay in touch regularly.
  • Networking: As the economy has gotten worse, some companies have cut back on the use of Head Hunters and opted for using a “finder’s fee” to employees that recommend someone. So if you can connect with ABMs that already work at the company, they have an incentive to actually get you hired. The advantages to networking is they’ll tell you the hiring manager, process and interview tips. They’ll also alert you to when someone quits. I would recommend you write down the 10-20 companies you want to work for, and get networking with other ABMs, BMs or the HR manager.
  • Experience in the Company: A generation ago, many started off in sales and then moved over to marketing. It still can happen, but it’s becoming less common. If you try this route, push to get over the marketing quickly so you don’t get stuck in a role you don’t want.
  • Job Posting: Don’t wait for the postings, or you’ll be missing out on most of the jobs. The HR department puts up the job posting, either because the company has exhausted all other methods. The posting doesn’t always mean there is a job, but HR using it to fill the resume bank. The new method for hiring is to go on to Linked In and put “We are Hiring” in job groups
Align your resume to the job!
  • Write your resume for the job you want, not as a way to tell who you are and your life story: I’ve reviewed 1000s of resumes.  Don’t put “VP student union” on your LinkedIn, put “Pursuing a Career in Brand Management”.  You have to shift to be forward looking, not past. 
  • Make your resume look like you can do the job.  Re-arrange all your experience so that it lines up to the job you want. Have you done some of the things we need you to do?   Analytics, creativity, project management, leading others, making decisions, pressure to deliver numbers, fast past environment, dedicated to completing the task at hand, achieving results. 
  • Focus your resume.  Get rid of the stuff on your resume that has nothing to do with the job you want.  It feels like it’s just your insecurity wanting to keep it on there, and like any communication, less is more. 
  • Make your biggest accomplishment, no matter what it is (eg. champion chess player, captain of the hockey team, dean’s list or won a case competition) a center point on your resume and that you link it to the job you want in the future. 
Interview like you want that Job!
  • In the interview, find an energy level in telling your stories.  Every answer should tie back to fitting with the job you are going for.  Have each story linked to part of the job and how it would help you when you are working there.
  • Forward Looking Answers:  Answer the questions in a way that nails down what they want to hear, not what you necessarily want to say.  Yes, tell your story, but realize that you’ve got to connect to being able to do the job.
  • Know your audience, you might interview with HR, mid level managers and senior managers.  Your story, tone and interaction might change based on who you are meeting with.  You need to get a consensus in the hiring process—so you need to impress each one, in a unique way that makes them back you in the meeting.
  • Ask really good questions—could be lined up to the skills, or what might be part of your criteria for taking the job. But never ever say “nope, I’m good, I have all I need to know”.   This shifts it to a dialogue where you engage.  If you can make it conversational and not interrogation, that makes it even better. 
  • Close the interview by “almost” asking for the job.  Lay out the 1-2 main points of why you would be a success.  If it is a consensus style interview where they’ll be re-grouping on the decision, these two points are what you want them to bring up in that meeting in support of you for the position.  

Here are the Interview Questions that I used to Ask:

  1. Tell me a time you used numbers to sell an idea?    You better have your story tight because your answer will be questioned one or two more levels to see if you really know your stuff.  Great Marketers can tell stories with analysis.
  2. What’s the most creative thing you’ve ever done?  It really doesn’t matter what it was, but how far did you push yourself out of your comfort zone to find the creative solution.  Your passion for your idea should come through.    
  3. What’s the thing you’re most proud of?  When I read a resume, I want to see big accomplishments beyond your work experience or school.  Football, chess, travelling the world or charity work etc.  I want to hear your story and your pride come through.  Great Marketers accomplish things, and I want to know that you have a history of accomplishments.  Don’t tell just what you did, tell me what you ACCOMPLISHED!  
  4. Tell me a time when you’ve convinced your boss of something they thought wouldn’t work.   I want to see if you can make it happen.  This will show your leadership, selling skills, and willingness to push.  A great Marketer can get what they want.. 
  5. If you were Tim Tebow’s Agent, how would you maximize his value as a spokesperson?  I always took something in the pop culture news and asked how you would handle it.  I was looking to see how curious you are and how you could take something with very little subject matter expertise and put together a plan.  A great Marketer has a curiosity and can form opinions quickly.  This lets me see your thinking.  Pop culture is a great area that goes beyond books.   
  6. If you were on a team that solved a serious healthcare problem for Society, what factors would you use to price it on the global level?   This is a very thick question with many issues, especially adding in the global issue.  I want to see you think through those issues and layer those issues into your answer.  How do you handle the differences between North America and the Third World?   How important is profitability vs R&D vs compassion?   How would you leverage government, key influencers and where would that fit into your answer.  Great marketers can handle ambiguity and there is a lot within this case.  
  7. From your previous Interview with our company, what’s the biggest mistake you made and how would you now change that?   Great marketers are constantly pushing themselves to improve.  That starts with your own personal assessment.  I want to see that you have thought about it and now see a better solution.  It also puts you under a bit of unexpected pressure to see how you handle that.  
  8. What questions do you have for me?  To me this is one of the most important sections.  It demonstrates how engaged you are in the process.  The quality of your questions will help to separate you.  Have five great questions done ahead of time, ask about 2-3 each interview.  Ask deep questions, not surface questions.  Turn each answer into a conversation starter. 

Act like you want the job.  Show a bit of spunk and energy through the interviews.  Marketing jobs are a bit different.  Take a Red Bull before the interview.  Be leaning forward, make eye contact, be comfortable and dynamic in your personality.

Best of luck to you in your job search. Go for it and don’t give up.

Here’s a presentation on Successful Marketing Careers:  

 

 

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

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

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

 

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How your Brand’s Big Idea should drive every part of your Organization

bbi adI’ve always heard marketers say how Brand is the hub of the organization.  While it makes sense, it’s just talk unless you are managing your business based on the Brand’s Big Idea throughout every inch of your organization.  Everyone that works on the brand, should understand the Brand’s Big Idea and figuring out how they can back up the brand’s promise

We believe that a Brand is an idea that is worth loving. Our definition of a brand:  “A Brand is a unique idea, perceived in the minds and hearts of the consumer, consistently delivered by the experience,  creating a bond, power and profit, beyond what the product itself could achieve.”  Most brands started as products or services that handled some functional problem in the market, but as they matured and became more closely connected to their consumers, they evolved into a Big Idea, that fulfills consumers’ emotional needs. 

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It starts with the Big Idea of your Brand

The challenge I have for you is that if the best brands eventually evolve to defining a Big Idea for their brand, then why not just start there?   You should figure out your brand’s Big Idea and then everything in the company should feed off the Brand’s Big Idea.  The Big Idea (some call it the Brand Essence) is the most concise definition of the Brand.  For Volvo, it’s “Safety”, while BMW might be “Performance” and Mercedes is “Luxury”.  Below is the Tool I use to figure out a Brand’s Big Idea revolves around four areas that help define the Brand 1) Brand’s personality 2) Products and Services the brand provides 3) Internal Beacons that people internally rally around when thinking about the brand and 4) Consumer Views of the Brand.  What we normally do is brainstorm 3-4 words in each of the four section and then looking collectively begin to frame the Brand’s Big Idea with a few words or a phrase to which the brand can stand behind.big idea

As an example Apple’s Big Idea is about “taking the complexity and make everything simple enough, so that everyone will be part of the future”.  Accordingly, everything in the organization should line up to delivering a simple experience whether that’s the day they turn on the product, installing an App on an iPhone or when they show up at the store to ask questions from the Genius Bar. 

Once you have your Big Idea, you should then use it to frame the 5 different connectors needed to set up a very strong bond between your brand and your consumers.

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

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

If we look at how the Apple Brand takes their Big Idea of “taking complexity and making it simple enough that everyone will be part of the future”

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The Big Idea helps Guide the Brand’s Management

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

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When you begin to blow this out one step further, you can start to see where everyone in your organization should align and understand how they can deliver the brand’s Big Idea.  If you’re in finance at Volvo, you should be thinking about how to make safe cars cheaper, if you’re in HR at Starbucks, you should be hiring people that deliver moments and if you’re working at the Genius Bar at Apple, you have to make sure your language choices are simple and easy to understand.

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Once you align everything to the Brand’s Big Idea, you’ll create a strong bond with your consumers.  That bond becomes a source of power for your brand, whether that power is with the very consumers who love your brand, versus retailers, suppliers, competitors, influencers, employees or even versus the media.  

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Once you’re able to generate power for your brand, you can then turn that into profit, whether driving price, cost control, market share or increasing the market size.

You should align and manage every part of your Organization around your Brand’s Big Idea

 

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

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

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

*Brand DNA first seen at Level5 Strategy Group

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Worst Ad Ever: I promise I would never let you make this ad

If you made this ad, you should be fired.  If you are the Brand Leader, this did nothing for the Lexus brand.  If you are the agency, you let your client down–and likely they are now about to get fired. 

 

Advertising looks easy, but it’s not.  

Good Advertising is not random, it is well planned. The best Advertising is an expression of strategy, that should have a goal for the brand.  It should also have a target market, supported by a key consumers insight that connects with the target.  And it should serve up the main benefit through the advertising.   bbi twitter adAdvertising is commercial art, which really means it’s half art and half science, but it is never all art.  That’s called a museum, not my TV set. Advertising is not “out of the box” creativity, in fact it is a form of “in the box” creativity, where the strategy and creative brief create a box for the creatives to find a solution.  The best creative people at agencies are not blue sky thinkers, but rather problem solvers.  

I come at this from the vantage of a fellow client.  I’m not an Ad Agency guy, never having worked a day at an agency in my life.  But I do give coaching on Advertising for clients, and I’d never ever let you make this spot.  In my role, I get asked a lot:  “So what is it that makes someone good at advertising?”.  I always think people are looking for some type of magical answer, but the answer I give is always very simple yet if you think about it very complex:  “They can consistently get good advertising on the air and keep bad advertising off the air”.  

This Lexus ad should have been rejected!  When I look at the Lexus ad above, I should almost be able to write the brief and at least answer these questions:

  1. Who Do We want to sell to?  (target)
  2. What are we selling?  (benefit)
  3. Why should they believe us?  (RTB)
  4. What Do We want the Advertising to do?  (Strategy)
  5. What do Want people to do?  (Response)
  6. What do we want people to feel?   (Brand Equity)

I have no idea of the target, the benefit or what they hope the advertising does.  I don’t even know what they want people to do.  Lexus competes with 3 other brands with very well-defined brand positions:  BMW is all about performance, Mercedes owns luxury and Volvo screams safety all the time. While Lexus came into the market with stylish designs and at a new reasonable price, I’m no longer sure what the brand stands for.  (Lexus is my favourite car I’ve ever owned so far)  

Finding your Difference is not easy

good-vs-different-1I’m always pushing to make ads that are unique, but there is a fine line you have to walk between good-different and bad-different. To be good and different, you need to make what you do really interesting.  This Lexus ad is somewhat different (more weird than different), but it is awful. The ad has nothing to do with the consumer, nothing to do with the brand. It hides the product so much that you would think the client and agency both feel there’s nothing really great to say about the brand.  Can you find advertising that shows how much consumers love the brand?       

The car brand that consistently does Different-Good is Volkswagon who finds unique ways to showcase how much love their consumer feels for their brand. Here’s a couple of great examples for VW:

The ABC’S of Advertising 

Here’s a potential tool you can take into the room that is very easy to follow along.  You want to make sure that your ad delivers on the ABC’S which means it attracts  Attention, it’s about the Brand, it Communicates the brand story and Sticks in the consumers mind.  

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

Buying media and putting something on air does not attract attention for your ad.  Why would consumers want to listen to what you have to say.  strategy adYou have to EARN the consumers’ attention.  The best way to grab Attention is to take a risk and do something not done before. Here are the 5 ways to attract attention.

  1. Be Incongruent:  This is a great technique to get noticed is by being a bit off kilter or different from what they are watching.  A lot of brand leaders are afraid of this, because they feel it exposes them.  Avoid being like “wallpaper”   If you want a high score on “made the brand seem different”, it starts with acting different.   kitkat
  2. Resonate:  Connect with the consumer in the true way that they see themselves or their truth about how they interact with the brand.
  3. Entertain them:  Strike the consumers emotional cord, by making them laugh, make them cry, or make them tingle.  From the consumers view—they interact with media to be entertained—so entertain them.
  4. The Evolution of the Art of Being Different:  As much as Movies,  TV music continues to evolve, so do ads. As much as your art has to express your strategy, it needs to reflect the trends of society to capture their attention.  Albino fruit flies mate at twice the rate of normal fruit flies.  Be an albino fruit fly!!!
  5. Location Based:  Be where Your consumers are open and willing to listen.  The Media choice really does impact attention.  Make sure your creative makes the most of that media choice.  
Branding

There is an old advertising saying “half of all advertising is wasted, but we aren’t sure which half”.  Coincidently, the average brand link is 50%.  Our goal should always be to get higher.  The best Branding comes when you connect the Brand to the Climax of the ad.   It’s not about how much branding or how early the branding arrives.  

  1. Be Part of the Story:  in the spirit of big ideas, how do you tell a story, using your brand.  It’s not how much branding you use, but rather how closely connected the brand to the climax of your ad.
  2. Is it the Truth:  It sounds funny, but if there is a disconnect between what you say, and what you are….then the brand link won’t be there.  People will discard the ad.
  3. Own the Idea Area:  Be a bit different—make sure that what you do sets you apart from anyone else. 
  4. Repeat:  don’t be afraid of building your brand—and the simplest way to get branding is to repeat and repeat and repeat.
Communication

Communicating is about selling.  Keep in mind, communication is not what is said, but what is heard.  The best way to Communicate is through Story Telling that involves the brand.  The modern-day world of the internet allows richness in story telling.  

  1. Start a Dialogue:  If you can do a good job in connecting with the consumer, the branding idea can be a catalyst that enables you to converse with your consumer.
  2. What are you Selling?  You have to keep it simple—you only have 29 seconds to sell the truth.  Focus on one message…keep asking yourself “what are we selling”.drill
  3. Powerful Expression:  try to find one key visual that can express what you are selling.  This visual can be leveraged throughout
  4. Find Your “More Cheese”:  Many times its so obvious what people want, but we just can’t see it or articulate it. 
  5. Sell the Solution—not the Problem:  Brands get so wrapped up in demonstrating the problem, when really it is the solution that consumers want to buy. 
Stickiness

We all want our ads to stick.  You need to adopt a mindset of “will this idea last for 5 years”.  The Best way to Stick is to have an idea that is big enough.  You should sit there and say is this a big idea or just an ad?

  1. Dominant Characteristic:  things that are memorable have something that dominates your mind (e.g.:  the red-head kid)
  2. How Big Is the Idea?  Its proven that a gold-fish will get bigger with a bigger bowl.  The same for ideas.
  3. Telling Stories:   While visuals are key to communicating, in the end people remember stories—that’s how we are brought up—with ideas and morals that are designed to stick. 
  4. Always Add A Penny:  With each execution, you have a chance to add something to the branding idea.  Avoid duplicating what you’ve done…and try to stretch as much as you can. 
  5. Know Your Assets:  There has to be something in your ad that stick Know what that is and then use it, in new executions or in other parts of the marketing mix.

Yes, the Lexus ad is beautiful shot, likely very expensive–both in production and media.  But it’s so subtle, it won’t catch attention, there’s no way it’s going to brand link or really communicate.  Strike that, since I’m still not sure what the ad is communicating, there’s no way it will communicate.  Add all that up and it won’t stick at all.

At Beloved Brands, ask us how we can act as a Creative Coach for you, helping you and your agency get to great creative Advertising

 

To see a training presentation on Get Better Advertising: 

 

If you are in the mood to see stories on great advertising, here’s a few other stories:

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

 
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10 Ads that just might make you Cry

imagesIn a world of big data, we tend to forget that Advertising is half art, and half science.  While I respect analytics, I also admire instincts.  As Brand Leaders, we are after growth and profit for our brands.  Yes, advertising should persuade, sell or create an idea in the consumers mind.   But for the most Beloved Brands, it also should connect and create a bond with consumers.  Because that bond gives the brand power, not just with the very consumers it connects with, but the retailers, suppliers or against the competitors.  And from that power, it can drive stronger share, command a price premium or enter new categories, all leading to higher growth and profits.  Here are some ads that create a nice bond with their consumers, and each of them tightly connected to what the brand does for the consumer.

Budweiser “Trainer”

The most popular Super Bowl ad this year was the “Puppy” spot, but if you ask me, it pales in comparison to this spot.  Nicely told story.

Sick Kids Hospital

One of the best hospitals for children in the world, Sick Kids does a good job in using “quiet” as an attention grabber.  I was busy in another room when I first heard this song and it made me go into our TV room to see what the ad was.  Sometimes we re-do songs to make them sound exactly the same, but sometimes it can be even more powerful to re-do them in a unique way. 

John Lewis “Christmas 2011″

Every Christmas, British retailer John Lewis has been releasing campaigns around Christmas.  To me, this one is the best, especially the ending. John Lewis is an employee-owned retailer, with a very unique culture that delivers on the brand.  To read more on John Lewis, follow this link:  John Lewis story

Google Super Bowl 2010 “Parisian”

If you’re a sucker for a good romantic comedy, this should work on you.The irony of Google, is they have done some of the best Ads this century–most notably the Google Parisian spot, which they aired during the Super Bowl a few years ago.  That spot was deeply engaging, showing how much we rely on Google in our lives.   I love this spot.  There’s quite a few good google ads out there.  If you want to see more….ummm….just google them.

Thai Insurance “Deaf Dad”

A very beautifully told story about a teenage daughter who maybe struggles to understand what her dad offers and doesn’t offer.  While overly dramatic, it brings a nice sweet twist in the end.

Canadian Tire “Bike Ad”

We can all remember our first bike and how special it is. In Canada, Canadian Tire was that store, prior to Wal-Mart entering the market.  Sadly, Canadian Tire can no longer deliver on this promise, because it now resembles Wal-Mart–no longer where you go for your first bike, but rather a place to buy Tide when it’s on sale.

Budweiser 9/11 Tribute (2002)

Even after all these years, this one might bring a tear to your eye. Only a few months after the tragedy of 9/11, as it pre-occupied our minds, this ad takes the American icons of Budweiser and the Clydesdales marching through the streets of America and gives a nice salute to NYC.

Bell “Dieppe”

It’s a bit dated now, but back in the mid 90s we were still excited we could call from anywhere.  I’ve been to that beach in Dieppe and it does command such intense feelings.  While this is just an ad, I do wish that utilities would try harder to connect with consumers at every stage of the consumer’s buying journey.  We see many tributes to the soldiers, but this one unique thanks one who served long ago.  

Pfizer

A beautiful little spot that leads you to think the ad is about a juvenile delinquent, when really it’s a good kid doing something nice for his sister. 

Google India “Happy Birthday”

Here is a new Google ad where there is no English at all and yet the story is easy to follow.  If you want, you can turn on the Closed Captioning by hitting the tiny CC button at the bottom right of the video.  I watched it without understanding one word that was spoken and I was able to follow along.  And i cried.

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Hopefully a few of these spots made you cry.  And if you need cheering up now, here’s 5 ads that might give you a bit of a chuckle.  5 Ads that will make you burst out laughing

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

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

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

Ask Beloved Brands to help coach you on Advertising or ask how we can help train you to be a better brand leader.
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New holiday ad from Apple will bring a sweet tear to your eye

applelogoThere have been some great Christmas ads over the years and this latest from Apple is a very nice spot.  I love this ad.  Not just for the emotion it conveys but for the use of the brand as the hero in the ad.  The iPhone does create a little bit of magic.  Last year, I created my own photo book using the Apple’s on-line service.  It turned all the photos I take into a beautiful album.  If you are looking for a Christmas gift for a loved one, I would recommend you give it a shot.  It’s very easy. If I can do it, so can you .  Here’s the link:  Printing a Photo Book

In this 90 second TV ad, it shows a typical teenager hanging onto this iPhone constantly, and then from there, the magic happens.  

Enjoy.

If you like this story…

Last month I posted a Google Ad that makes everyone cry. It’s from India and does such a good job incorporating Google as an enabler.  Click here: New Google Ad Will Make You Cry

John Lewis to me is the King of all Christmas Ads.  Here’s story I did last month on the 2013 ad, but showing all the Christmas Ads that they’ve done.  My favourite of the ads is the 2011 version.  Click here:  New John Lewis Christmas Ad

You might also enjoy reading about brands that are using consumer insight as the basis of their advertising.  So many Brand Leaders think your job is to represent the brand to the consumer.  What if you were to represent the consumer to the brand?   Would your work look different?  Click on this story to read more:   5 Great Ads Based on a Unique Consumer Insight

And if you want to know how to write a better creative brief, here’s a simple step by step process to help you.  Click on this story to read more:  How to write an Effective Creative Brief

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

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

email-Logo copyABOUT BELOVED BRANDS INC.:  At Beloved Brands, we are only focused on making brands better and making brand leaders better.Our motivation is that we love knowing we were part of helping someone to unleash their full potential.  We promise to challenge you to Think Different.  gr bbi picWe believe the thinking that got you here, will not get you where you want to go.  Our President and Chief Marketing Officer, Graham Robertson is a brand leader at heart, who loves everything about brands.  He comes with 20 years of experience at companies such as Johnson and Johnson, Pfizer Consumer, General Mills and Coke, where he was always able to find and drive growth.  Graham has won numerous new product and advertising awards. Graham brings his experience to your table, strong on leadership and facilitation at very high levels and training of Brand Leaders around the world.  To reach out directly, email me at graham.robertson@beloved-brands.com or follow on Twitter @grayrobertson1

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

Ask Beloved Brands to help train you on Advertising that will help you to be a better brand leader.
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Captivating Ad about Working Women rivals Dove’s “Real Beauty”

pantene.jpg.CROP.promo-mediumlargeA new ad from the Pantene in the Philippines is making its way around social media, with a message that compliments and even rivals the powerful messages of Dove’s “Real Beauty”.  The ad takes on the stereotyping labels that women face in the work place.

I’ve been a huge fan of the Dove campaign, about “real beauty” because they have created a huge idea that is worth loving.  doveThe creativity of the work breaks through the clutter with insights that make women stop and say “that is exactly how I feel”.  I’m always trying to push Brand Leaders to go more emotional and push for a big huge idea their brand can stand behind.  It’s always too easy for the Brand Leader to stay 100% logical, to put in claims and side-by-side demos and playing it safe.  But in the words of Marianne Williamson:  “Your playing small does not serve the world.”

This new Pantene spot has entered into the same space, but more focused on the work place and the image women need to fight.  It’s less about “inner” beauty and more about the “outer” stereotypes.

As a husband to a very successful career woman, I love this.  And as the father of a 15 year-old daughter, this has hope that women continue to break through against the stereotypes put on them.  

“Be Strong and Shine”

If you like this story…

You might also enjoy reading about brands that are using consumer insight as the basis of their advertising.  So many Brand Leaders think your job is to represent the brand to the consumer.  What if you were to represent the consumer to the brand?   Would your work look different?  Click on this story to read more:   5 Great Ads Based on a Unique Consumer Insight

And if you want to know how to write a better creative brief, here’s a simple step by step process to help you.  Click on this story to read more:  How to write an Effective Creative Brief

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

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

email-Logo copyABOUT BELOVED BRANDS INC.:  At Beloved Brands, we are only focused on making brands better and making brand leaders better.Our motivation is that we love knowing we were part of helping someone to unleash their full potential.  We promise to challenge you to Think Different.  gr bbi picWe believe the thinking that got you here, will not get you where you want to go.  Our President and Chief Marketing Officer, Graham Robertson is a brand leader at heart, who loves everything about brands.  He comes with 20 years of experience at companies such as Johnson and Johnson, Pfizer Consumer, General Mills and Coke, where he was always able to find and drive growth.  Graham has won numerous new product and advertising awards. Graham brings his experience to your table, strong on leadership and facilitation at very high levels and training of Brand Leaders around the world.  To reach out directly, email me at graham.robertson@beloved-brands.com or follow on Twitter @grayrobertson1

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

Ask Beloved Brands to help train you on Advertising that will help you to be a better brand leader.
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The most Beloved Ads of 2013, with story-telling dominating the list.

Slide1As I watched all the great ads this year, I kept getting goose bumps and a few tears….not as many laughs as other years.  The biggest trend I see is the power of story telling with long ads that have the potential to be shared with friends through social media vehicles like Facebook and Twitter.  Even on this Beloved Brands blog, the google ad from India, has been viewed by 250,000 people and counting.  

I know Brand Leaders are still stuck on the 30 second ad, showing it with a frequency that drives consideration and purchase intention of your brand.  For many brands, that still is the primary method.  Let these story telling ads challenge your thinking though, and maybe inspire you to dip your toe into this area, or if the thought takes you further, jump into the deep end.  You don’t have to be Nike or Apple to tell stories.  You can see a brand like Dodge, likely considered by many as a mid-of-the-road brand and they’ve made the idea of farmers to be inspiration and a celebrated part of America.  

Here are the most Beloved Ads for 2013  

Dodge “God Made a Farmer”

Paul Henry’s voice is chilling.  The photography is brilliant.  It’s beautiful.  This is a Super Bowl ad, that doesn’t look like a Super Bowl ad.  The use of quiet is a great device to arrest your audience, especially when things are loud.  The specific call out of farmers is a focus I love, with no worry it will alienate the non-farmers.    This spot just screams “America”.  In my view, this is one of the best ads of the century so far.

Google India “Re Union”

This powerful ad has gone viral making people around the world cry, whether on a subway, at work or at your home computer.  A very simple story of a lost friendship.  Google has done an amazing job with advertising like the Parisian spot a few years ago.  The power for Google is showing how much we rely on Google for everyday things in life.

Dove “Drafting Board”

Dove’s real beauty campaign has taken the simple bar of soap and created a brand that stands up for Women.   This powerful video (more than an ad) tells the story of how women see their flaws more than others do.   It’s a great inspiring and challenging message.

Budweiser “Baby Clydesdale”

One more Super Bowl ad for you, and another very powerful yet simple story of raising a horse.   The horse running back to his trainer brings a sweet tear to your eye.

Sick Kids Hospital “You Got It”

I’m from Toronto, and while the current news is dominated by Mayor Rob Ford, I want to remind you that Toronto is also home to Sick Kids Hospital, one of the world’s best children’s hospitals in the world.   Like the Dodge ad, this ad uses a quiet arresting song to capture attention.  I was in the kitchen when this ad first came on and the song brought me to the TV.

Volvo Trucks

A very simple stunt, beautifully shot and aligned to what the brand stands for:  safety.  This captured tons of news attention and passing through social media.

John Lewis “Bear and the Hare”

Year after year, UK retailer John Lewis has created amazing Christmas ads. This  cute story will capture the imagination of children and the retailer has linked in the “Bear and the Hare” story by selling the books in store and creating an on-line tool to send Christmas cards to your friends.

K Mart “Ship My Pants”

I put this in with mixed reasons.  It’s a fantastic ad, highly creative and I know it is universally well-loved.  But it’s for the wrong retailer against a bad strategy.  I’m a bit tired of people saying “that ad will make me shop at K Mart”.  No it won’t.  Because when you get there, you’ll find a store not delivering the expected experience and bad quality pants that you won’t want shipped.  On top of that, it’s now 2013 and on-line shipping is pretty common among all retailers so there’s no real point of difference here.  If this was 1997 for L.L. Bean, maybe the ad would work.  But it’s cute and people like cute.  So enjoy.

Bud Light “Ramsay”

I’m a passionate football fan, and these ads are so insightful to the football fan.  The idea that we would put up with something we hate, like Ramsay” just to make sure we win is a great ad.   Bud Light has done quite a few of these ads to keep them fresh.  These are quiet little ads, likely won’t win any awards, might not sell that much more beer, but it’s a great tool to keep Bud Light as a part of the game.

True Move “Giving”

This ad from Thailand has gone viral around the world.  Another great story that makes people share.

Apple “Camera”

Interestingly enough, while Samsung and every other smart phone company were yelling, Apple was whispering.  This very quiet ad, might have flown under the radar, but it’s just a perfect demonstration of how we FEEL about our phone.  And how it is now such a part of our lives. 

If you think we missed one or a few of your favourites from this year, post them below.  

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

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

email-Logo copyABOUT BELOVED BRANDS INC.:  At Beloved Brands, we are only focused on making brands better and making brand leaders better.Our motivation is that we love knowing we were part of helping someone to unleash their full potential.  We promise to challenge you to Think Different.  gr bbi picWe believe the thinking that got you here, will not get you where you want to go.  Our President and Chief Marketing Officer, Graham Robertson is a brand leader at heart, who loves everything about brands.  He comes with 20 years of experience at companies such as Johnson and Johnson, Pfizer Consumer, General Mills and Coke, where he was always able to find and drive growth.  Graham has won numerous new product and advertising awards. Graham brings his experience to your table, strong on leadership and facilitation at very high levels and training of Brand Leaders around the world.  To reach out directly, email me at graham.robertson@beloved-brands.com or follow on Twitter @grayrobertson1

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

Ask Beloved Brands to help train you to be a better brand leader.
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New Google Ad will make you cry, without understanding a word that is said

bbi adI remember this old P&G advertising guy who always said “you know you have a good spot if you can turn the sound off and still get the ad”.  Try that one time and see if it works because it’s very hard.  

Here is a new Google ad where there is no English at all and yet the story is easy to follow.  If you want, you can turn on the Closed Captioning by hitting the tiny CC button at the bottom right of the video.  I watched it without understanding one word that was spoken and I was able to follow along.  And i cried. 

The ad is beautifully shot, and feels more like a mini-movie than a TV ad.  Well, it is 3 minutes and 32 seconds.  They stay authentic to the culture, with great visuals, music and language.  The story is simple–about two friends who have not seen other since their childhoods. 

The ad shows how much we rely on Google for looking up, finding, tracking  or just checking any little thing that makes our lives just a little bit easier.  bbi twitter adIt captures our attention, getting millions of likes already as it’s being passed around social media networks like Facebook and Twitter.  it involves the brand throughout without too much branding.  The tears generated at the end makes you want to pass it on, so they can experience what you just did.  Well done.  

The irony of Google, is they have done some of the best Ads this century–most notably the Google Parisian spot, which they aired during the Super Bowl a few years ago.  That spot was deeply engaging, showing how much we rely on Google in our lives.  I love this spot. 

If you like this story…

You might also enjoy reading about brands that are using consumer insight as the basis of their advertising.  So many Brand Leaders think your job is to represent the brand to the consumer.  What if you were to represent the consumer to the brand?   Would your work look different?  Click on this story to read more:   5 Great Ads Based on a Unique Consumer Insight

And if you want to know how to write a better creative brief, here’s a simple step by step process to help you.  Click on this story to read more:  How to write an Effective Creative Brief

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

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

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

At Beloved Brands, we act as Advertising Coaches. Here’s some of the services that we offer for clients.  To read more, click on Brand Coaching Services

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New John Lewis Christmas Ad (2013), from the company that does the Best Christmas ads

John Lewis, Christmas 2013

They use beautiful music, a movie-like storyline that demonstrates the beauty of gift giving, stretched out over 90 seconds.    No words are needed to tell the story.  They are not loaded with so much branding that they would turn you off before inviting you in.  The John Lewis ads take you on a journey with a slight twist at the end as they tug at the heart and bring a reminder of what the season is all about:  the gift of Giving. 

Here is the one for 2013, that is a whopping 2 minutes and 10 seconds that was launched on-line before TV.  It’s already enjoyed tons of free media in the UK.  Here it is:

This year’s ad has 3 million YouTube hits already after the first two days (still early Nov) and you can likely expect it to reach 25 million by Christmas.  John Lewis has taken the ad on-line selling the book “The Bear and the Hare” or get a chance to design a Christmas card that can be shared with friends.

johnlewis xmas card

The John Lewis Christmas Series

John Lewis has been doing these Christmas ads for years now.  People, including myself, are now starting to look for them.  I know when you run a long running campaign, it takes a lot of creativity to keep it going.  It has a nice song and a twist at the end.  My only complaint is that they are moving away from what first gave me goose bumps. 

For me best one was 2011, about the boy who couldn’t wait for Christmas

This is also a great one from 2010

And you can see the one from 2009.

Last year’s 2012 John Lewis Christmas ad was a bit different.  A bit too dark for me, a bit disconnected from the John Lewis brand or the campaign.  While a nice story, I think it’s a miss.  

Have your Say

My fav is 2011, but all are great and well loved.  Now is your chance to vote for which of the John Lewis ads is your favorite.  

 

I can’t wait for next year’s ad
If you like this story…

A new Ad from Apple will likely bring a tear to your eye.  In this spot, a teen appears to be constantly hanging onto to his iPhone and from there, the magic happens.  New Apple Holiday Ad will bring a tear to your eye

You might also enjoy reading about brands that are using consumer insight as the basis of their advertising.  So many Brand Leaders think your job is to represent the brand to the consumer.  What if you were to represent the consumer to the brand?   Would your work look different?  Click on this story to read more:   5 Great Ads Based on a Unique Consumer Insight

And if you want to know how to write a better creative brief, here’s a simple step by step process to help you.  Click on this story to read more:  How to write an Effective Creative Brief

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

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

email-Logo copyABOUT BELOVED BRANDS INC.:  At Beloved Brands, we are only focused on making brands better and making brand leaders better.Our motivation is that we love knowing we were part of helping someone to unleash their full potential.  We promise to challenge you to Think Different.  gr bbi picWe believe the thinking that got you here, will not get you where you want to go.  Our President and Chief Marketing Officer, Graham Robertson is a brand leader at heart, who loves everything about brands.  He comes with 20 years of experience at companies such as Johnson and Johnson, Pfizer Consumer, General Mills and Coke, where he was always able to find and drive growth.  Graham has won numerous new product and advertising awards. Graham brings his experience to your table, strong on leadership and facilitation at very high levels and training of Brand Leaders around the world.  To reach out directly, email me at graham.robertson@beloved-brands.com or follow on Twitter @grayrobertson1

 

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

Ask Beloved Brands to help train you on Advertising that will help you to be a better brand leader.
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How good do your Brand Plans look for next year?

BBI Learning LogoAs many of you hit Q4 and pushing as hard as you can to drive sales as hard as you can to make the year or at least make your latest estimate,  it might be time to wonder how good your plans are for next year.  

A well-written Brand Plan helps to align an organization around the direction, the choices and the tactics that need implementing for a brand to achieve their goals. The Brand Plan unites functions such as marketing, sales, product development outlining what each group needs to do for the brand to be successful, while setting goals that operations and finance need to support. The Brand Plan gains approval from senior management around spending options, strategic choices and sets forth the tactics that will be implemented. It holds senior management accountable to the plan. The Brand Plan helps frame the execution for internal stakeholders and for the various agencies who will implement programs within the plan. Execution is an expression of the strategy, and the plan must hold agencies accountable to delivering work that is on strategy. And lastly, the Brand Plan helps the Brand Manager who wrote it, stay focused to deliver what they said they would. It helps them to refer back to the strategy and the intention to ensure the Brand Manager “stays on strategy” the entire year.

The questions you should be asking when you look at your plan: 

Are you trying to do too much?  

The biggest flaw of most plans is they try to do everything, which just spreads your limited resources–both financial and people resources–across too many projects.  You end up doing OK in everything, yet never great at anything.   So you never really see a return on that investment.  If you went to Vegas and put a chip on every number, you’d walk away broke.  With your plan, you have to make the choices on those activities that will drive the biggest return on your limited resources.    My rule of thumb for a one year plan is to have a maximum of 3 strategies with 3 tactics per strategy, which means you’ve got only 9 key projects you need to do next year to be successful.  Contrary to that, if you had 5 strategies and 5 tactics per,  you’d now have 25 projects that just deplete your resources and exhaust your team’s efforts.  One of the biggest flaws in a plan is trying to drive both penetration for new customers and getting current customers to use more.  Of course you want that, but getting that in the same brand plan will never happen.  

How aligned is your plan?

Too many times, plans are a disjointed collection of small projects that don’t really add up to a strategy.   The vision helps guide where you want your brand to be in the next 5-10 years.  You should brainstorm things that are getting in the way of that vision, which helps align you around the top key issues your business is facing.  Your strategies should directly line up to these key issues and then have tactics line up to your strategies.  There should be a flow to a well-written plan so that everything sings to the same song-sheet.   Every part of that plan that is not aligned to that flow, should stand out as a sore thumb.  The importance of good flow to a plan is more pronounced when you realize the entire organization has to align behind the plan, not just the marketing team, but every functional area–especially sales, product development, executional agencies and every employee working on that plan.  

How Deep was the Thinking?

I’m a big believer in using my instincts.  But equally so, I’m a big believer in digging in deep and uncovering the real issues on the brand.  My biggest pet peeve is when we make too many assumptions.   A great analysis you should be doing before writing a plan is to figure out the drivers and inhibitors that are happening now on your business as well as the risks and opportunities that could happen in the future on your business.  Look at your market data, listen to your customers and consumers, do the needed market research and challenge everything.  I love doing Brand Funnels because it helps you see what’s slightly beneath the surface on your business.  It’s the equivalent of blood pressure and cholesterol where you can–the health measures in our body you can’t see.  The same thing with Brand Funnels where you can see how well you’re doing on converting your awareness into purchase and your purchase into repeat business–relative to how you were doing last year and relative to your competitors.  

How many B.S. Buzz words are in your plan?

Too many times, plans are a disjointed collection of small projects that don’t really add up to a strategy.  As a brand leader, you should be the first to call B.S. when you see “drive awareness” and “be relevant” and “create more loyalty”.   All those are great ideas, but let’s be real.  Driving awareness gets you no revenue.  What do you get when you drive awareness?   You get in the consideration set to purchase.  Put that instead. Every brand should be trying to be relevant, but that is the fattest word in marketing.  It’s like saying “nice”.  My best friend is “nice” but Jessica Alba is “nice”.  But not the same type of nice.  I banned the use of the word relevant because once a marketer uses that word, their brain shuts off.  Drill down beyond the buzz word and tell me what your type of relevant you want is, and then put that in your plan.   Loyalty takes more than just marketing–you have to align your entire organization to delivering a brand promise, a story, innovation and an experience.  It goes beyond a marketing tactic, so yes it’s good to have as part of your plan, but if its just a program then I call “BS”.

If you are not happy with your plan, what do you plan to do about it?

Here are some tips to help you to get to a better plan.  

Writing the Plan

Most people get stuck in writing a Brand Plan, because they sit at the computer frozen with writers cramp, over-thinking what to put down, uncertain how to frame it all and unsure how to even write. In the most simplistic of terms, here are the main elements of a Brand Plan and how simple you should keep it:

  • We have some long-term thoughts on where the brand can go (vision) and the special assignment to get us on our way. (mission) And that help shape the things we want to achieve with our brand. (goals) To get started, the brand has different options (strategies) for how to get there and programs that most effectively deliver the choice you make (tactics)
  • We try to find a slice of the population (target) to get them to take an action (expected result) that makes our brand bigger. We then find out what to say and how to talk to them to trigger that action (main message) We need to re-enforce why we can do it and others can’t (support)
  • We then create the most motivating stimulus (product, advertising, sales promotion etc.) to get them to take action and put it in part of their life where they are most likely to hear it and act on it (the medium, launch or channel etc.)

If it is that easy, why do we struggle and how do we screw it up. Maybe it is the fancy buzz words that get in our way of our intention. Instead, start with what you want to do in the plan, not the buzz words of vision, mission or strategy, because those words can get in your way.

One thing I like to do is use 5 key questions to help frame the Brand Plan, the answers help frame everything you need in a brand plan. The five questions to ask yourself are: 1) Where are we? 2) Why are we here? 3) Where could we be? 4) How can we get there? and 5) What do we need to do to get ready?  With these 5 questions answered, it can get you on your way towards a situation analysis, mapping of the key issues, statements of vision, mission and goals, choices around strategies and tactics as well as the execution and measurements:

From there, you could easily write a Brand Plan as matched up and outlined below:

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

I like to put the Key Issues into question format, as a rhetorical question (eg. Key Issue: How do I drive more distribution for Listerine?), because the answer to these questions becomes my strategies (Leverage New products to gain added Distribution in the Food channel).  The better the questions, the better the strategies.  

Not enough plans use a vision and mission statement. They are essential in helping to frame the direction of the brand. Think of the Vision Statement as the end in Mind Achievement, thinking 5-10 years out of what do you want your brand to become. It can be a balance of qualitative and quantitative. And it should be motivating and enticing enough to motivate people to get behind it. The Mission Statement becomes the “special assignment” and is tightly connected to the vision, but is more likely a 1-3 year direction—if a vision is a destination, then a mission is a major milestone on the path towards that vision. While a vision focuses on the future state, the mission focuses on the movement the brand must undertake to go from present day to future state.

In terms of writing of the Brand Plan, my recommendation is focus on the top 3 strategies and then map out 3 tactics per strategy. That’s a total of 9 tactics per year, which is plenty to put all your money behind. Having only 9, allows you to do a great job at each of the tactics, focuses your money on the top tactics that will drive the highest return on investment and effort. Just imagine if you had 5 strategies and 5 tactics per–you’ve just gone from the top 9 tactics up to the top 25 tactics. It might feel like you are covering more, but really you’re just spreading your money too thin and not really doing a great job at any of them. Too many brands end up with a “To Do” list that’s long at the start of the year and mysteriously unfinished at the end of the year.

A good brand plan should have a consistency from the vision all the way down to the execution. It should flow. Think of a band playing in perfect harmony. When you write something that does not fit, it should stand out like a “Tuba” player, trying to play his own song. It’s misfit to the plan. As you near completion of your plan, go through your document and see if you can spot misfits. Find the Tubas!

Lastly, I recommend organizations come up with a common format for plans across all plans. Freedom in formats just forces Brand Managers to try to come up with the coolest of power point slides. I’d rather have my Brand Managers putting their creative juices into tactics that get into the marketplace rather than doing cool slides. And while Brand Plans might use 10 or 20 slides (no more than that) ideally you can find a way to get your entire “Plan on one page” making it easier for everyone to follow along.

Use the Plan to Guide Everyone, including Yourself

To read more on How to Write a Brand Plan, read the presentation below:

email-Logo copyABOUT BELOVED BRANDS INC.:  At Beloved Brands, we are only focused on making brands better and making brand leaders better.Our motivation is that we love knowing we were part of helping someone to unleash their full potential.  We promise to challenge you to Think Different.  We believe the thinking that got you here, will not get you where you want to go.  grOur President and Chief Marketing Officer, Graham Robertson is a brand leader at heart, who loves everything about brands.  He comes with 20 years of experience at companies such as Johnson and Johnson, Pfizer Consumer, General Mills and Coke, where he was always able to find and drive growth.  Graham has won numerous new product and advertising awards. Graham brings his experience to your table, strong on leadership and facilitation at very high levels and training of Brand Leaders around the world.  To reach out directly, email me at graham.robertson@beloved-brands.com or follow on Twitter @grayrobertson1 

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