How to find your brand’s big idea">How to find your brand's big idea

How to find your brand’s big idea

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Organize everything you do around your brand’s big idea

With today’s consumers being bombarded with 5,000 brand messages a day, the first 7 seconds that a consumer is exposed to a brand is a make-or-break moment. The brand must captivate the consumer’s mind quickly or the consumer will move on. The brand must be able to entice consumers to find out more and then motivate consumers to see, think, feel or act in positive ways that benefit the brand. I will show you how to develop a big idea that serves as the brand’s 7-second sales pitch. The Big Idea must be interesting, simple, unique, inspiring, motivating and own-able. The backbone of the Big Idea is the brand positioning that speaks to whom your brand will serve and what consumer benefits the brand will provide. To stand out within the clutter, smart brand positioning must establish your brand as better, different or cheaper. Otherwise, your brand will not be around for long.

How to find your brand's big idea

As much as people have a hard time matching up their inner motivations with their outward projection of their own personal reputation, a brand faces a similar challenge in matching up the inner thoughts inside the brain of the organization behind the brand with the outward brand reputation owned within the minds of their consumers. In psychology, there are three constructs to the brand personality, the ego, the id and the super ego. In our brand apparatus, the brand soul is used to express the inner thoughts of the brand that defines ‘what you want your brand to be’. The brand reputation is ‘what consumers think of you’ which is the outward view of the brand that resides within the minds of consumers. As the ego of the human mind works to regulate the id and super ego, the brand’s big idea serves as the stabilizer between the inner motivations of those behind the brand and the outward projection. In a stabilizer role, the big idea must adjust to the actual reputation, yet send signals to steer the consumer’s mind towards a desired reputation that exists within the brand soul. A brand finds its equilibrium when the brand soul, brand reputation and big idea are the same.

How to find your brand's big idea

How to find your brand’s big idea

Your big idea that becomes your 7-second pitch. I created the Big Idea Blueprint so you can define your brand’s Big Idea. How it works is you start by brainstorming the 5 areas that surround the Big Idea. On the internal Brand Soul side, you have to describe the products & services as well as the internal beacon that drives everyone who works on the brand. On the external brand reputation side, describe the ideal consumer reputation and the influencer/partner reputation. Then look at the brand role, as the enabler to bridges the internal and external sides.

How to find your brand's big idea

  1. Products and Services: What is the focused point of difference that your products or services can win on, because they meet consumer needs, and separates your brand from competitors?
  2. Consumer Reputation: What is the desired reputation of the brand, that attracts, excites, engages and motivates consumers to think, feel and purchase your brand?
  3. Internal Beacon: What is the internal rallying cry that reflects your brand’s purpose, values, motivations helping inspire, challenge and guide the culture? These words should come from your brand’s soul.
  4. Influencer Reputation: Who are the key influencers and potential partners who impact the brand? What is their view of the brand that would make them recommend or partner with your brand?
  5. Brand Role: What is the link between the consumer and the brand, reflecting the way the brand services, supports and enables the consumers to make the most out of your brand? The brand role links the internal and external sides.

Big Idea Brainstorm

With a cross-functional team that works on the brand, start the brainstorm by exposing them to all the work you have done on the brand positioning statement, including details on the target profile, brand benefits ladder work and the benefit sort work. Ask the participants to bring their knowledge, wisdom and opinions from where they sit within the organization. Start with a brainstorm of each of the 5 areas, with 15-20 key words that describe each section. Start with the products and services and brand reputation. Then, move down to the Internal beacon and influencer reputation. Once the 4 sections are complete, brainstorm 15-20 words to describe the brand role.How to find your brand's big idea

Next, vote to narrow down the list to the best 3-4 words for each section. You will begin to see a focus around certain themes and key words. Then divide your large group into mini groups and give them the task of taking the winning words and building phrases that summarize each section. Most importantly, this process will help the team move towards alignment.

How to find your brand's big idea

With all five areas complete, hopefully the team will feel inspired to use their creative energy to come up with the Big Idea, as a summary statement that captures everything you have just worked on. Try to get a few different versions of the Big Idea that you can continue to play with after the meeting. Keep pushing until you have a clearly focused big idea that bridges the internal brand soul and the external brand reputation. Equally, consumers and your internal staff should feel that it fits with where you want the brand to go.

How to find your brand's big idea

Organize Everything Around the Brand’s Big Idea

The big idea should guide everyone who works behind the scenes of the brand. Brand Leaders must manage the consistent delivery of the big idea over 5 consumer touch-points, including the brand promise, story, innovation, purchase moment and consumer experience. Whether in management, customer service, sales, HR, operations an outside agency, everyone should be looking to the big idea to guide and focus their decisions.

How to find your brand's big idea

  • Brand Promise: Use the Big Idea to inspire a simple brand promise that separates your brand from competitors, to project your brand as better, different or cheaper, expressing the brand’s positioning.
  • Brand Story: The brand story must come to life to motivate consumers to think, feel or act, while influencing the brand’s reputation that is held in the minds and hearts of the consumer. The story should align all brand communications across all media options.
  • Innovation: Build a fundamentally sound product, staying at the forefront of trends and technology to deliver innovation. This helps steer the product development and R&D teams to stay true to the Big Idea.
  • Purchase Moment: The Big Idea must move consumers through the brand funnel to make the final purchase decision. This helps steer the sales team and sets up retail channels to drive towards the sale.
  • Consumer Experience: Turn the usage of your product into a consumer experience that becomes a ritual and favorite part of the consumer’s day. The Big Idea guides the culture and everyone who work behind the brand, to deliver amazing experiences.

How to find your brand's big idea

 

To read more about brand positioning, here is our workshop that we run to help brands define themselves.

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

 

Are you treating your best customers better than your average customers? You should be.">Creating Beloved Brands

Are you treating your best customers better than your average customers? You should be.

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in How to Guide for Marketers

I always ask this brand leaders this question, and I rarely get the right answer.

Unfortunately I usually hear, “No, we all our customers the same”or “Our system does not really allow us to treat customers differently or “We have never thought like that”.

My 19 year-old daughter, who is waitressing while going to University intuitively knows she should treat her regular customers better than everyone else. She knows it leads to bigger tips!  Then why don’t marketing professionals do it?

Are you crazy? You should be treating your best customers better. They are your “regulars”.

As a consultant, I have been lucky to travel many times around the world. I have accumulated millions of points for Air Canada. I even have the Visa Card that collects points for Air Canada. While they are a better airline than United or Delta, I can safely say that I am not treated any better than the average Air Canada passenger. Now, as a Canadian, I am relatively stuck. Or as I say sometimes, “I am in points prison” which means I have collected so many points now, that it is hard to quit the program, even if I desperately want to. Last year, after one more frustration with Air Canada, I finally asked one of their representatives “So what do I get for being such a loyal customer?” And her answer floored me: “Sorry sir, we treat all our customers the same”.

I started to wonder: So I collect all these miles so I can go on free trips with an airline that I tend to hate. Maybe I am the crazy one.

Old-school marketing no longer works

The old logical ways of marketing no longer work in today’s world. These brands feel stuck in the past talking about gadgets, features and promotions. They will clearly be ‘friend-zoned’ by consumers, to be purchased only when the brand is on sale. The best brands of the last century were little product inventions that solved small problems consumers did not even realize they had until the product came along. Old-school marketing was dominated by bold logos, catchy jingles, memorable slogans, side-by-side demonstrations, repetitive TV ads, product superiority claims and expensive battles for shelf space at retail stores. Every Marketer focused on how to enter the consumer’s mind. Marketers of the last century were taught the 4P’s of product, place, price and promotion. It is a useful start, but too product-focused and it misses out on consumer insights, brand promise, emotional benefits and consumer experiences. The Crest brand knew their “Look mom, no cavities” TV ads annoyed everyone, but knew it stuck in the consumer’s brain. No one cared how nice the Tide logo looked, as long as it stood out on a crowed grocery store shelf. The jingle “Plop, plop, fizz, fizz, oh what a relief it is” was repeated often to embed itself in the consumer’s memory bank. The side-by-side dish detergent ad showed spots on the wine glass of a competitor, just to shame consumers into using Cascade. Brands that continue to follow a logical play only, will fail miserably in today’s emotion-driven marketplace.

Creating Beloved Brands

The purchase funnel is now circular

Old School was just about getting consumers into the purchase funnel and let the rest of the people in the organization satisfy them. Knowing some consumers would fall out of the funnel, our role was to keep getting more and more people into that funnel. The new purchase funnel is a circle, where the biggest brand fans drive awareness and consideration for that brand. The best brand needs to find ways to create such happy moments for these influential ‘brand lovers’ that will make them want to tell everyone in their network. Instead of just yelling to everyone at the top of the purchase funnel, you should be whispering to your most loyal brand fans, so they whisper to their friends.

Creating Beloved Brands

Brands need to build a passionate and lasting love with their consumers.

How can brand leaders replicate Apple’s brand lovers who line up in the rain to buy the latest iPhone before they even know the phone’s features, the Ferrari fans who paint their faces red every week, even though they know they will likely never drive a Ferrari in their lifetime, the ‘Little Monsters’ who believe they are nearly best friends with Lady Gaga, the 400,000 outspoken Tesla brand advocates who put $1,000 down for a car that does not even exist yet or the devoted fans of In-N-Out Burger who order animal-style burgers off the ‘secret menu’ that no one else knows about? Every brand should want this type of passion and power with their consumers. It takes a smart strategy to balance the rational and emotional management of the brand-to-consumer relationship. Yes, these brands are all special. What makes them so special is how well they treat their most loyal consumers. They make them feel loved.

The consumers of today must be cherished and ‘won-over’. Consumers are surrounded by a clutter of 5,000 brand messages a day that fight for a glimpse of their attention. That is 1.8 Million per year, or one message every 11 waking seconds. Consumers are constantly distracted—walking, talking, texting, searching, watching, replying—most times at the same time. They glance past most brand messages all day long. Their brain quickly rejects boring, irrelevant or unnecessary messages. Brands must capture the consumer’s imagination right away, with a big idea that is simple, unique, inspires and creates as much excitement as a first-time encounter.

Consumers are tired of being burned by faulty brand promises. Once lied to, their well-guarded instincts begin to doubt first, test second, and at any point, they will cast aside any brand that does not live up to the original promise that captured them on the first encounter. A brand must be worthy of love. The best brands of today have a soul that exists deep within the culture of the brand organization. The brand’s purpose must be able to explain why the people who work behind the scenes of the brand come to work everyday so energized and ready to over-deliver on the brand’s behalf. This purpose becomes an immovable conviction, with inner motivations, beliefs and values that influences and inspires every employee to want to be part of the brand. This brand conviction must be so strong; the brand would never make a choice that is in direct contradiction with their inner belief system. Consumers start to see, understand and appreciate the level of conviction with the brand.

Brands must listen, observe and start to know the thoughts of their consumer before they even think it. Not only does the brand meet their functional needs, the brand must heroically beat down the consumer’s ‘enemy’ that torments their life, every day. The brand must show up consistent at every consumer touch-point, whether it is the promise they make, the stories they tell, the innovation designed to surprise consumers, the happy purchase moments or the delightful consumer experiences that make consumers want to tell their friends about. The consumer keeps track in the back of their mind to make sure it all adds up before they commit. Only then, will the consumer become willing to open up and trust the brand. The integrity behind the brand helps tighten the consumer’s unshakable bond with the brand. Brands have to do the little things that matter, to show they love their consumer. Every time the brand over-delivers on their promise, it adds a little fuel to the romance each and every time. Over time, the brand must weave itself into the most important moments of the consumer’s lives, and become part of the most cherished stories and memories within their heart.

The pathway to brand success comes from building relationships with consumers

The best brands of today engage in a strategy that follows a very similar path to the rituals of a courtship. Through the eyes of consumers, brands start as complete strangers and if successful, they move into something similar to a trusted friendship. As the consumer begins to open up, they allow their emotions to take over and without knowing, they begin to love the brand. As the brand weaves itself into the best moments of the consumer’s life, the consumer becomes an outspoken fan, an advocate and one of the many ‘brand lovers’ who cherish the brand. From the strategic mind of the marketer, this follows a very similar pattern to the strategies of a successful courtship. The brand could move into a position where the consumer sees it as a forever choice.

To replicate how brand building matches up with the building of a relationship, I created the Brand Love Curve, as consumers move through five stages that includes unknown, indifferent, like it, love it and onto the beloved brand status.

It takes a strategic mind to figure out brand love
I first came up with the idea when I ran a marketing department with 15 different brands that exhibited various degrees of success. Honestly, it w as hard for me to keep track of where each brand stood. I did not want to apply a one-size-fits-all type of strategy to brands who had dramatically different needs. I could have used some traditional matrix with market share versus category growth rates, or stuck with revenue size or margin rates. But every day on the job, I came back to the idea about how tightly connected the specific brand was with their consumer. I could clearly see that those brands that delivered a stronger bond with their consumer outperformed those brands that did not have that kind of connection. I wanted a unique way I could map out the level of emotional bond between brands and consumers.

Creating Beloved Brands

The Brand Love Curve helps make strategic choices

I started to see how the Brand Love Curve influenced the strategic choices that will create success for the brand. For ‘unknown’ brands, the strategic focus should be to stand out so consumers will notice the brand within a crowded brand world. For ‘indifferent’ brands, the strategy must establish the brand in the consumer’s mind so they can see a clear point of difference. At the ‘like it’ stage, the strategy is to build a trust with each happy, and find ways for consumers to connect to the brand emotionally in ways that motivate them to buy and want to be part of a movement or a following. At the ‘Love It’ stage, the focus shifts to tug at heartstrings that will tighten bonds with the most loyal brand fans. At the ‘Beloved’ stage, the strategic challenge is to create outspoken loyal fans, which will whisper to their friends on the brand’s behalf.

Creating Beloved Brands

The Brand Love Curve can also inspire how you write your annual brand plan, with an inspirational emotional brand vision and purpose to guide the team, or the selection of strategies that are suited to where the brand sits on the curve. Here are 20 potential brand strategies that you should focus on, based on where your brand sits on the curve.

Creating Beloved Brands

The tighter the bond you can create with your consumers, the more power and profit you can generate for your brand.

 

To learn more, here’s a presentation on how to create a beloved brand:

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

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

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

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

Graham Robertson Bio Brand Training Coach Consultant

 

Six questions to ask before you start your brand’s Media Plan">Media Plans

Six questions to ask before you start your brand’s Media Plan

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in How to Guide for Marketers

Media is a business investment that showcases the creative execution of your brand story to help connect your brand with consumers at the most impactful where consumers are willing to engage in your brand story. Balance your media choices by looking at efficiency, quality, impact and fit with the brand. The efficiency of the media math starts with reach and frequency. Reach is the number or percent of different household or persons the ad will be exposed to at least once, over a specific period of time, while frequency is the number of times that household or person is exposed to the ad within a specific period of time. Be careful relying on efficiency alone, balancing the efficiency with the quality of the media choices. Set aside a portion of your media budget and used on driving impact to drive early attention to a new campaign.

Media Plans
Media Planning Questions

  1. What is the size of your budget? Budget is always the starting point to your media planning. The size of your media budget will really depend on your brand’s current profit situation, the projected potential return on investment (ROI) behind your creative execution, the future opportunities to invest behind and the degree of competitiveness you need to defend against. Assess the media ROI by linking your business results directly to the brand funnel results. You can use test markets with various media spend levels to gain the data you need to prove the media investment story. One major factor with media investment is the balance of the fixed overhead costs of producing creative assets versus the variable media costs of reaching consumers. The same thinking would go into the fixed overhead people costs related to content development or social media management. Focus on fewer media choices will ensure the cost of creative resources do not inhibit your ability to reach consumers. Trying to be everywhere drains your resources and just means you will have a low impact everywhere.
  2. What is brand’s core strength? The decision on whether your brand will be story-led, product-led, experience-led or price-led really impacts your brand message and in turn the media choices that will amplify that message. Product-led brands must show why you are better, with a superiority message and media choices that enable you to demonstrate what makes your brand superior. Story-led brands must tell the back-story on what makes your brand different, whether that is an idea, purpose, core belief or a stance, and the media must be able to amplify your story to those consumers will connect with the story. For experience-led brands, you must be able to prove how your people create an experience that is better. This is usually a slower build, in managing influencers, review sites, social media and word-of-mouth to really amplify your brand message that connects to an amazing experience. The price-led brands need to leverage media that can help drive call-to-action brand messaging that fuels the foot traffic needed to push fast-moving items that offset the lower margins.
  3. Where will your consumers engage? Who is your target consumer? Are you looking at a broad mass target or a tight specific target around type of consumer or specific product usage? What are the possible adjacent or related products and services that you can leverage? What part of the consumer’s life will they will watch, listen, learn, engage, decide and act? Your media choices should align with potential related life moment, whether those are parts of the day, week, year or even life moments. Consumers use media for certain reasons, whether to be smarter, stay aware, escape, express themselves, connect with others, go places, buy things or do things. Your brand should align with the brain moods of how your consumer use media, so you match up to where and when they will be most receptive to your brand message.
  4. How tightly connected is your brand with your consumer? As we outlined in the strategic chapter, where your brand sits on the brand love curve should influence your strategic choices, because the more love you can create should drive more power and profit for your brand. I also believe the brand love curve can influence your execution, as unknown brands need media choices to help the brand be seen by the right consumers, indifferent brands need a media choice that will help consumers think about the brand, liked brands should drive happy purchases, brands at the love it stage should use media that helps the consumer feel differently about the brand and brands at the beloved stage should mobilize their brand lovers to influence others within their network.
  5. Where on brand funnel will you exert impact? A brand funnel should match up to how consumers evolve with your brand, moving through awareness, consideration, search, buy, satisfy, repeat, loyal or fans. Knowing what stage of the funnel you wish to impact should drive both the creative message and the media choice. For an unknown/indifferent brand, the focus will be on the early parts of the funnel to drive awareness and move them to consider and buy. At the like it stage, the message and media choices should be driving purchase and repeat purchase. At the love it stage, it becomes about turning repeat purchases into routines and rituals so the consumers become loyal. At the beloved stage, it becomes about turning your fans into influencers that drive awareness for other consumers. The brand funnel is not really a funnel anymore, but a big circle as brand fans do as much to drive awareness among new users as the brand does.
  6. What is the best media option that delivers the creative execution? You really should make media decisions together with your creative. I have found that not all creative ideas work against all media choices, just because the media numbers say they will. This is the reason you should ask to see each creative idea in a TV ad format, long copy print format and billboard. It allows you to see where the creative idea has the biggest potential, and then begin matching those up to the right media choice. Before decide on media, ask to see what the creative ad would look like. Make the decision together.

How to inspire great marketing execution 

We lead workshops to train marketing teams on all types of marketing topics. Here’s the workshop we run on Marketing Execution.  Click on the Powerpoint file below to view:

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

A new way for Brand Leaders to think about how their consumers engage with on-line media

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in How to Guide for Marketers

Too many Marketers are thinking about where the media is. They should be thinking about where their consumers are.

Even when your consumers are on-line, you should be aligned to what are they doing and the mood they are in when they are doing it. Last year, I saw a Rolex pre-roll ad on YouTube. My god people, that is not where Rolex should ever be. If you just go for pure efficiency and reach, you are completely missing the real opportunity of targeting your consumers on line. Not only do you have to find your consumers, you have to find them in the right mood so they are willing to engage with your brand.

The reality is today’s consumers live on their phones, tablets and laptops. While there are many ways to reach consumers, your agency likely recommends the most efficient balance of reach and frequency. However, I would challenge you to look at potential sites that fit your brand, both from a functional and emotional stance.

Here are the 8 reasons consumers use the internet:

  1. Be smarter
  2. Stay aware of what’s going on
  3. Escape the stress at some point in the day
  4. Express themselves
  5. Connect with others
  6. Go places, either local or around the world
  7. Buy things they desire
  8. Do things and control the variables.

Align your brand with the consumer mood states that matches up with one of the 8 ways that consumers use the internet.

As consumers move around the internet, their emotional mood state changes. I have matched up the 8 functional ways of how consumers use the internet, with their emotional mood states. You will notice I have used the 8 emotional zones I use for determining Brand Positioning.

Match up your brand emotional positioning with the consumer’s emotional mood when they are on-line.

If your brand is trying to own the ‘staying in control’ zone, do not use sites where consumers are in the mood to escape or express themselves such as Tumbler or Instagram. Conversely, a brand trying to own the ‘get noticed’ space should not be on the Economist or The Weather Network. There are enough sites that allow you to line your brand up perfectly.

When consumers want to be smarter, they ‘google it’ or look at subject matter expert sites. When consumers want to stay aware, they reach for their favorite on-line news site or scan social media news feeds. When consumers are in the mood to feel free, they try to escape, whether a 5 minute break at work or the subway going home after a long day, they look to escape with Youtube or Bleacher Report.

The line is getting blurry when consumers want to express themselves. While they might start with 140 characters on Twitter, they duplicate the post on Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest as they are in the mood to get noticed. One of the most obvious reasons for the internet is to connect with others, feeding their mood to be liked. They use email, texting or Facebook.

Consumers reach for their phone when they want to do things, checking the weather, looking up restaurant reviews or buying tickets to an event. While these consumers are looking to have fun, they use tools to stay in control, so nothing gets in the way of having fun. When consumers want to buy things to fulfill a craving or desire to reward themselves, they want it now and use transactional sites such as Amazon or eBay. Moreover, they go straight to a favorite retailer’s e-commerce site. When consumers want to go somewhere, they use Waze for driving directions or Uber to hail a ride. If they want to go on a vacation, they use Expedia to book a flight, explore things to do using TripAdvisor, or look up cool places to stay using Airbnb. These consumers are in the mood to explore but also find comfort.

Where are consumers when they are in the mood that matches up with your brand’s desired emotional space?

 

Here are five media questions for the future

Here are some challenging thoughts for us going forward.

1. Will people watch even more TV in the future?

Sounds crazy, but with more tablets and instant internet access, the future will see us watching even more TV programming. Consumers love anything on video. But, it will not be traditional network TV. We are already seeing a huge consumer shift to streaming TV, whether Netflix, special channels, on-demand viewing and Youtube videos. Advertising has yet to figure out how it will fit into these new TV options.

2. How can brands capture young adults?

With two college-aged kids, I can tell you they never watch network television, never read newspapers and never listen to the radio. Yet, they are constantly connected, using Netflix, texting, SnapChat and Instagram. One of the most interesting insights about this group is, ‘They never go on-line, mainly because they never go off-line’. They put their lives on-line and expect instant access to everything. They are constantly multi-tasking, prefer apps over software, newsfeed over news stories. While high profile beloved brands can easily reach them, low involvement or indifferent brands will have a hard time reaching them.

3. Can newspapers or magazines even survive?

Newspapers and magazines appear lost. For too long, they linked their brand to the actual format and moved on-line too slowly. For many, news now is now instant, ubiquitous and more casual/social. Instead of seeking out news, consumers now filter news. Journalists are struggling to capture readers and print companies are struggling to capture consumers to their on-line versions, as fake news, Twitter feeds and social media are dominating traditional print. Can these print companies figure out new revenue and profit models with on-line versions?

4. Are there too many social media options?

Early innovation in social media led to divergence of options. Yet, they are become more similar than different. Potential power plays could see mergers where the strongest brands squeeze out other players—the first being Microsoft’s purchase of LinkedIn. Other than high profile brands, many Brand Leaders struggle to come up with relevant content that can engage their targets. Imagine who might be next.

5. Can Brand Leaders figure out how to win in the new world?

Brand Leaders are more confused than they ever have been. The exploding of media options has led to an explosion of agencies, each battling each other for a share of the spend, rather than directing the Marketer with clear advice. Big traditional agencies have struggled as they move into digital and social, forcing the Brand Leaders to look to smaller agencies or even internal options. The biggest issue I see is that Marketers have become too involved, they are now doers taking on parts of subject matter experts rather than staying in the generalist decision maker role. For Brand Leaders, the changes are speeding up. Just as they are used to digital, there is a dramatic shift to social, and then another dramatic you shift to mobile. The problem is that unless you are a consumer of the media options, you will struggle with it. Every Brand Leader must have the curiosity to personally engage in new media options as a consumer, before they can judge it as a Marketer. You will learn more about these media choices by trying them out, than you will reading a presentation in a boardroom.

Here is a workshop we run on Marketing Execution that looks at both the creative and media sides of  reaching consumers.

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.

 

New John Lewis 2016 Christmas ad finally released and it falls a little flat

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Beloved Brands in the Market

images

I feel like a little kid who races downstairs only to be disappointed by my gift. And then I feel bad about it. I am one of those who love the John Lewis Christmas ads and starts to think about it around early October.

And yet, this year, I just feel “blah”.

Once a year, brand fans await the latest installment of the John Lewis Christmas ad. So much attention, that it creates media hysteria trying to predict when it will be launched. John Lewis took advantage of that hype to use three little 10-second teasers with #BounceBounce to build up the anticipation.

The ad is OK, but not great.

It’s cute, but not brilliant.

It falls a little flat, compared to previous John Lewis ads.

Here is the ad, and before I lose you I have put all the John Lewis Christmas ads below for you to compare with.

 

Pretty simple story. Kid likes to bounce on things. Dad builds a trampoline. Animals come out and bounce on it. Dog sees them and is jealous. Dog bounces on the trampoline before the kid gets to it. Kid disappointed?  Mom and Dad disappointed? No one seems happy.

 

How do you feel about it? Is it just me?

The people at John Lewis felt that last year’s spot was “too sad” and they didn’t want to do “sad-vertising” anymore. Personally, I loved last year’s spot. It did bring a tear to my eye, but in a good way. John Lewis has also said they are trying to tap into the insight that 2016 has been a tough year, with Brexit and the US elections. Wouldn’t a more elaborate story be a better escape for consumers?

 

John Lewis has created a legacy around Christmas that is tough to live up to

I have worked on campaigns that lasted 10 years and 5 years. The hardest thing for a Marketer is to stay on track, yet try to beat last year’s spot. It is very hard to be creatively different, yet stay in line with the campaign. marketing-execution-2017-extract-9-001Those fight against each other. Since 2009, John Lewis has wiggled a little each year. But what they have not done yet, is sold out to the pressure. Each year, the ads have been highly creative, the ads that created the magic simply through the eyes of the children in the ads. The emphasis has always been on giving. You will see there is not a lot John Lewis branding in any of these ads, but there is a certain degree of ownership.

 

Rachel Swift, head of brand marketing at John Lewis, says “It is has become part of our handwriting as a brand. It’s about storytelling through music and emotion. The sentiment behind that hasn’t changed – and that is quite intentional. The strategy behind our campaigns is always about thoughtful gifting.”

Let’s use that summary to see how well the 2016 spot lives up to the John Lewis ads of the past?

  • There is not much of a story.
  • It is not very emotional at all.
  • It is not really about thoughtful gifting.
  • No one in the ad even seems happy.

In my view, 2016 ad falls flat and now I have to turn my attention to other retailers to see what they do. My hope is someone does something extra special. Right now John Lewis is the gold standard for Christmas ads and this latest puts them at risk that another retailer easily outshines them.

 

 

The history of John Lewis Ads

Here is last year’s spot, that might have gone overboard on sad. But I truly loved it.

Yes, the man on the moon is a metaphor (sorry, there really isn’t a man on the moon) for reaching out and giving someone a gift. For me, this ad quickly reminds me of when my own kids are on the phone or FaceTime with my mom. There is a certain magic in the innocence and simplicity when the very young talk with older people. They both seem to get it, maybe sometimes more than the in-between ages where the innocence of Christmas is lost within their busy schedules.

 

Here are the John Lewis spots from the last few years and you can tell me which one you like the best.

2014:  Monty the Penguin:

 

Here is the one from 2011, about the boy who couldn’t wait for Christmas. You will notice this year’s Man on the Moon feels very similar.

 

This is also a great one from 2010

 

And you can see the one from 2009.

 

In 2012, the “snowman” ad felt bit too dark for me with the tone feeling like a slight miss for John Lewis. I felt they were trying too hard.  Maybe feeling the pressure to keep the campaign alive by being different when really the consumer just wants the fast-becoming-familiar-John-Lewis-magic each year.

 

I also found the 2013 ad a bit of a departure, going to animation and utilizing on-line and in-store media. This campaign seems trying too hard to capitalize on their success. Doesn’t feel like a fit.

 

I guess I’ll have to wait for the 2017 John Lewis Christmas ad!  🙁

 

Christmas is 8 weeks away. Expect to see this spot a lot on your social media feed. But, also expect the other UK retailers to compete as they did last year. Here is a link to the 7 best Holiday ads for last year:

Our 7 favorite Holiday ads of 2015. Have your say.

 

Passion in Marketing Execution Matters. If you don’t love it, how do you expect your consumer to love it? If you “sorta like” it, then it will be “sorta ok” in the end. But if you love it, you’ll go the extra mile and make it amazing. To read more about how to drive your Marketing Execution, here is our workshop that shows everything you need to know, to have the smarts of strategy, the discipline of leadership and the passion of creativity to generate brand love in today’s modern world.

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

At Beloved Brands, we promise that we will make your brand stronger and your brand leaders smarter. 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 use workshop sessions to help your team create a winning brand positioning that separates your brand in the market, write focused brand plans that everyone can follow and we help you find advertising that drives growth for your brand. We will make your team of Brand Leaders smarter so they can produce exceptional work that drives stronger brand results. Our Beloved Brands training center offers 10 training workshops to get your team of brand leaders ready for success in brand management–including strategic and analytical thinking, writing brand plans, positioning statements and creative brief, making decisions on creative advertising and media plans.

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

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The “Gut Instincts Check List” to help you judge Advertising

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in How to Guide for Marketers

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If you think the idea that one needs a checklist for your gut feeling of something sounds crazy, then you likely have never been a Brand Manager before. You might not get this article.

As a Brand Leader, our brains can be all over the place, running from a forecasting meeting to talking with a scientist about a new ingredient to trying to do a presentation for management. And all of a sudden, we jump into a creative meeting and we need to find our instincts. All of a sudden, they are completely lost. We might come into the room still thinking about the financial error we just discovered, or what our VP wants from this ad. We might still be thinking about whether we should have known the market share in the food channel when our VP asked for it and we said you had to look it up.

I see many Brand Leaders show up in a confused state, unable to lead the process and incapable of making a decision. The check list is designed to get you back to where you should be. Relax. Smile. Have fun. If you did all the work on the positioning, the brand strategy and the brief, this is supposed to be your reward. The creative advertising should express all the work you have done. If great advertising is like the perfect gift that you never thought to get yourself, then you have to be in the right mindset to receive your gift. It should be a complete surprise, but as soon as you see it for the first time, you know it is just perfect.

 

Here are 8 key questions that will help you reach down inside to find your instincts that might feel lost:

 

1. Do you love the ad? Do you want this to be your legacy? (Your Passion)

What is your first reaction? If you don’t love it, how do you expect your consumer to love it? If you “sorta like” it, then it will be “sorta ok” in the end. But if you love it, you’ll go the extra mile and make it amazing. Ask if you would you be proud of this as your legacy. Your feedback to your agency should be “I get that the ad could be effective, but I just don’t love it. And I want to make sure that I love it before we make it.” There is no reason ever to put out crap in the current crowded cluttered world of brand messaging. Ask for something better. A good agency should respect that.

2. Does the ad express what you wrote in your brand strategy? (Fit with plan)

Does it work? What is your immediate reaction when you reach for your instincts? Many times, instincts get hidden away because of the job. Relax, be yourself in the zone, so you can soak it in, right in the meeting. The goal of great advertising is to find that space where it is creatively different enough to break through the clutter and smartly strategic to drive the desired intentions of the consumer.  From what I have seen, Brand Leaders tense up when the creative gets “too different” yet they should be scared when it seems “too familiar”.  Be careful that you don’t quickly reject out of fear.

3. Will the ad motivate consumers to do what you want them to do? (See, Think, Feel, Act)

In the Creative Brief, you should have forced a decision on one desired outcome that you wanted for your consumer. Just one. If you are offering something new, the ad should be about the visualization in order to stimulate awareness. If you are trying to get consumers to their mind about your brand, the ad should get them to think differently about your brand. If you are trying to tighten the bond with your consumer, the ad should get consumers to feel something different. And finally, where you are trying to drive the consumer to purchase, the ad should prompt an action. Just as you should force yourself to have one objective in the brief, you can only have one objective in the Ad.

4. Is the Big Idea the driving force behind all the creative elements? (Express Big Idea)

The Creative Idea has to express the brand’s Big Idea through the work. It should be the Creative Idea of the Advertising that does the hard work to draw the Attention, tell the Brand story, Communicate benefit and Stick. Make sure that you see a Creative Idea coming through and make sure that Creative Idea is a fit with your brand’s Big Idea that you spent so much effort developing. Make the Creative Idea flows through the ad and is central to every aspect of the ad. If there is no Creative Idea that holds everything together, you should reject the work immediately.

5. Is the ad interesting enough to break through the clutter? (Gain Attention)

Will this Ad get noticed in a crowded media world?  Keep in mind as to what type of brand you are, relative to the involvement and importance. The lower the involvement, the harder it will be to break through that clutter. Higher involvement brands have it much easier as the consumers are naturally drawn to them, and these brands add one more distraction to the lower involvement type brands.  With the consumers seeing 7,000 ads per day, if your brand doesn’t draw attention naturally, then you’ll have to force it into the limelight. Embrace creativity. Do not fear it.

6. Is the brand central to the story of the ad? (High on Branding)

Will people recall your brand as part of the ad?  You should be trying to see where the Creative Idea helps to tell the story of the relationship between the consumer and the brand. Even more powerful are the Ads that show the consumers view of the brand through interesting consumer insights. Make sure you don’t just jam your brand awkwardly into various elements of the brand. It has been proven that it is not how much branding there is, but about how close the brand fits to the climax of the ad. Avoid the type of ads that run away from your brand, where your brand is not even central to the story. These ads think that making your boring brand a part of a creative ad will help your brand seem less boring. It won’t work. Embrace the advertising tries to  make your brand seem as interesting as possible, because the ad finds a way to connect the brand with the consumer.

7. Does the ad communicate your brand’s main benefit? (Communicates what you need)

There is a Marketing myth out there that if I tell the consumer a lot of different things, then maybe they will at least hear one of them. Try that at a cocktail party next time and you will soon learn how stupid this myth really is. Tell them ONE thing over and over, and the consumer will remember what your brand stands for. Just ask Volvo.  To make your one thing more interesting, tap into the insights of the consumer to helps tell the brand’s life story and focus on the ONE main message you laid out in the brief. Keep your story easy to understand, not just about what you say, but how you say it.

8. How campaign-able is the ad? Does it work across various mediums, with all products? Will it last over time? (Stickiness)

To build a consistent experience over time to drive a consistent reputation in the minds and hearts of the consumer, you want to look for an Advertising idea that can last 3-5 years, that will work across any possible medium (paid, earned, social), that will work across your entire product line up as well as new launches in the future. Think of being proud enough in the work to leave a legacy for your successor. Force your brain into the longer term.

If you feel a lot of pressure from being in the hot seat as the client in a Creative Meeting, you should. 

For many Brand Leaders, being on the hot seat in the creative meeting feels like your brain is spinning. Too many thoughts in your head will get in the way of smart thinking. What you do with that pressure will the make or break between being OK at advertising and great at advertising. I always say to Brand Leaders, “If you knew that being a better client would make your execution better, could you actually show up better?”

The style and tone in which you give feedback to an agency can make an ad better, or destroy it before it’s ever made. Be a passionate brand leader, open with your feelings, challenge the work to be better, take chances, reward effort and celebrate successes together.

In most Marketing careers, we are only on the hot seat for such a short period. We make so few ads that can have such dramatic impact on our brand. As a junior Marketer, we might be observing our boss on the hot seat, and you can’t yet feel what it is like till you are there. As we move beyond the hot seat to a Senior Marketing role, we will miss the days of those pressure moments. Make the most of it. Enjoy it.

Advertising should be fun. If you are having fun, so too will the consumer. 

To read more on Marketing Execution, here is the workshop we take brand leaders through to help make them smarter.

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

At Beloved Brands, we promise that we will make your brand stronger and your brand leaders smarter. 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 use workshop sessions to help your team create a winning brand positioning that separates your brand in the market, write focused brand plans that everyone can follow and we help you find advertising that drives growth for your brand. We will make your team of Brand Leaders smarter so they can produce exceptional work that drives stronger brand results. Our Beloved Brands training center offers 10 training workshops to get your team of brand leaders ready for success in brand management–including strategic and analytical thinking, writing brand plans, positioning statements and creative brief, making decisions on creative advertising and media plans.

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

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How to run the creative Advertising process before it runs you

Posted on 1 CommentPosted in How to Guide for Marketers

As the Brand Leader, you play the most crucial role in getting amazing Marketing Execution. Keep in mind that an OK agency can do great work on a great client. But a great Agency can fail with a bad client. In that regard, the client matters the most. If you knew that being a better client would make your execution better, could you actually show up better? The biggest challenge for most Brand Leaders is to stay focused on your vision at every stage, always inspire and yet challenge.

It can be a very complex process. Make sure you run the process before it runs you.

Here are the 10 steps in the creative Advertising process that you need to manage: 

  1. Strategy Pre Work: This is the homework you do before you even write the brief. Go deep on finding the consumer insights and consumer enemy. Understand the brand positioning, the Big Idea and then lay out a Brand Concept. From your Brand Plan, and then know how the overall brand strategy plays out into the Brand Communications Plan. Only once you have all the homework done, should you take a pen to the creative brief.
  2. Focused Brief: Sitting with your Agency, map out a Creative Brief that will create the right box that the ad must play. From your homework you should have a tight objective, insights, strategic desired response, knowledge of what main benefit will resonate and what support points (RTB) should move forward into the advertising.
  3. Creative Expectations: It always surprises me that the first time Brand Leaders meet the creative team is at the first creative meeting. This seems like an old-school way for the Account team to control both the client and the creative team. However, I believe the best advertising is highly personal. You will need a personal relationship with the creative team. Just after signing off on the brief, you should request to meet the creative team to help convey your vision, passion, strategy and needs to the team. This is a great chance to inspire and push for great work.
  4. Tissue Session: When you have a completely new campaign or one that has a high risk to it, I would recommend having a tissue session before the creative meeting. This is where the creative team can present 10-20 ideas that are not really fully fleshed out. It is a good chance to focus the team, either encouraging them to keep exploring further or talk about how it might not fit. Focus on big ideas, push for better.
  5. Creative Meeting: How you show up as the Brand Leader at the first creative meeting can make a huge difference. Think of it like a first date. You have to stay positive and only focus only on big picture. You will need to give direction and make decisions. However, do not use this time to add your own solutions. Don’t get too wrapped up in the details as there is plenty of time to keep working those. Stay inspiring as there is a long road ahead of you.
  6. Feedback Memo: We recommend that you work it out with the Agency ahead of time that you will give a feedback memo 48 hours after the creative meeting. This gives you the chance to gather your thoughts, balancing your instincts and your strategic thinking. In the memo, you can ask or clarify the details that you did not talk about in the creative meeting. However, even at this stage, you should avoid giving YOUR specific solutions. Use the feedback memo as a chance to create a new box, that continues to evolve from the creative brief.
  7. Ad Testing: The use of Ad Testing can depend on how timing, budget or degree of risk. Where you have a new major campaign, you should potentially test 3 ideas that you feel have the best chance to project your brand positioning, communicate the main benefit, break through with consumers and motivate them to purchase. You can use either qualitative focus group style feedback that will help your instincts, or quantitative testing that will replicate how it might do in the market. However, you should use testing to confirm your pick, not make your decision.
  8. Gain Approval: Even though we have this as the eighth step, you should keep your boss aware at each stage, especially the creative brief and first creative meeting stage. They should be aligned with the feedback you give. However, you will still need to sell in the Ad. Be ready to fight any resisters to make it happen. With every great ad I ever made had a share of resistors. However, with every bad ad, I seemed to be the only resistor trying not to make it.
  9. Production: The production process can be a very complex project. Remember that you have zero real expertise in this area. Don’t even pretend you do. Stay engaged, listen and make decisions. Your main role is to manage the tone to ensure that it fits with the brand. First, you always should deliver as close to the original spot that was approved. Think of this as the base version that you know your boss will approve. Once you get that, you can then explore how to make it even better. I always thought that we should get more than we need, just in case it looks different by the time we get to the final edits.
  10. Post Production: As you move to the post production stage, you become even less of an expert. Many clients stay close to their account person. I have always believed you should talk directly with and leverage every expert you come across. Stand with the editor and ask questions. The added personal approach will enable you to get the most out of each of the experts.

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To read more on How to lead the Marketing Execution, here is our workshop that we lead on Analytical Thinking.

 

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

At Beloved Brands, we promise that we will make your brand stronger and your brand leaders smarter. 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 use workshop sessions to help your team create a winning brand positioning that separates your brand in the market, write focused brand plans that everyone can follow and we help you find advertising that drives growth for your brand. We will make your team of Brand Leaders smarter so they can produce exceptional work that drives stronger brand results. Our Beloved Brands training center offers 10 training workshops to get your team of brand leaders ready for success in brand management–including strategic and analytical thinking, writing brand plans, positioning statements and creative brief, making decisions on creative advertising and media plans.

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

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Airbnb nails the brand experience marketing better than the rest

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Beloved Brands in the Market

bnb_billboard_01-2000x1125I have always been a traveller, more than a tourist. I would love to live everywhere in the world. I don’t need a hotel. Back in the 1990’s, I figured out that it was better to rent a place for a week, and live there, not really just visit. However, this is completely pre-technology. My first venture was in Peebles Scotland, where I found an amazing place through the classified section of the newspaper. Do you even know where Peebles is?  I didn’t until I saw the wee little classified ad in the Toronto Star. I then met the person, saw photos and hand them cash. I had an amazing time. The flat was the top half of a house, in a small village 30 minutes south of Edinburgh. Then throughout the 1990’s, I found a place in Menton, France, then Brugges Belgium, then Igls, Austria and finally, Whangarei, New Zealand. Still no technology. It was not really easy finding these gems around the world. It was like finding a needle in a haystack. But, ever so rewarding when I did find them. I’ve been so lucky to have stayed in so many great places.

Airbnb takes all the hard work I was doing and puts it right in front of the consumer. Screen Shot 2016-07-18 at 6.44.58 AMYou can sort by city, even down to the neighborhood, sort by the type of residence, specify a few needs (e.g. wifi) and then put in your price range. With most, you can see 15-20 photos to give  you an idea. You can also see reviews, but they need help in that department to ensure honesty.  (e.g. It looks like everyone hands out 4’s and 5’s). You make your choice, select the dates, provide government I.D. to ensure it is really you and then off your offer goes to the owner. Moments later, or when they wake up, the reply saying yes. There is a bit of hunting that goes on, but it is so much easier than everything I used to do. My next trip is to Australia later in the year, with a beach front condo in Bondi Beach in Sydney for a week and then we have a harbor front view booked for Cairnes. Just perfect. So much easier booking with Airbnb.

Don’t just go there. Live there.

Airbnb has nailed the creation of the big idea of “Don’t just go there. Live there.” It replaces their original big idea of “Imagine a world where you can belong anywhere”, which felt a bit dreamy and disconnected from the reality of the product they were offering. Airbnb’s own data says that 86% of the consumers who use Airbnb are  pick the platform because they want to live more like a local. Exactly the same reasoning I was looking up places in newspapers. That insight of living rather than visiting inspired the brand’s latest and largest marketing campaign, “Live There.”

At Beloved Brands, we have created a model that shows how to take your big idea down to every part of your business through 5 consumer touch-points: brand promise, brand story, innovation, purchase moment and the consumer experience.

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While Airbnb has created a great experience with their system, they are taking it a step further with their advertising and their smart use of partnerships around the world to express the brand’s point of difference versus hotels. The latest advertising really caught my attention as they nailed the insight that speaks to those of us who want to live there. According to Airbnb, 52 percent of these younger-minded U.S. travelers find crowds at major tourist attractions to be more stressful than doing a tax return, while 47 percent don’t like to be labeled as tourists when they go to a new place. Such an arresting spot.

 

 

In a partnership with the Art Institute of Chicago, they were able to recreate Van Gogh’s famous bedroom to be rented for $13 a night on Airbnb. While it showcases the museum, for Airbnb, it really brings their brand experience to life, saying anything is possible.

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Next, to embed the brand experience through the culture, Airbnb built their new office in Singapore around the actual homes on Airbnb to showcase the vast diversity of destinations on offer through the community-driven platform. These include an apartment in Batignolles, Andy Warhol-inspired art loft in Bangkok, a caravan in Cornwall, a villa in Kuta, amongst others.

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“Airbnb has never been a traditional workplace. At Airbnb, we want to create the sense of travel when we welcome people into our office,” said Airbnb Asia-Pacific regional director Julian Persaud. “Simply having photos of unique accommodation and far-off places are not enough, we want our employees and guests to experience the feeling you get when you travel.”

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As a sports fan, Airbnb partnered with the Air Canada Center in my hometown of Toronto to provide an amazing experience for a couple. They converted one of the executive suites at the arena into a place to stay for a couple. They saw a hockey and basketball game, then skated on the ice and shot on the court. Have a look:

 

 

What can you do to bring your brand experience to life?

To read how to create a beloved brand, read the following presentation:

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

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

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

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

 

Beloved Brands Graham Robertson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to be a great Assistant Brand Manager…and of course, get Promoted

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in How to Guide for Marketers

In my 20 years of CPG marketing, I must have interviewed 1,000 potential Assistant Brand Managers. I was lucky to have hired some of the best, who have gone on to have very strong marketing careers. I became notorious for asking for some of the toughest questions, some even bizarre. I always asked an analytical question to see if they could piece together lots of data and tell a story that made sense. I’d ask a creative question to see if they had a certain flare and pride in the output. I’d ask a problem solving question, some very hard, no real right answer, but I wanted to see how they actually think. And finally, I wanted to know that they had done something at a very high level–it didn’t matter what–but I wanted to know they could make it happen, whatever it was in. Getting that first ABM job is NOT EASY!  I had many failed interviews over the years that I began to wonder if it would ever happen. I remember one interview ended after about 8 minutes when she found out I didn’t have any experience. Thank god, I stuck with it.

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But even after gruelling interviews, only about 50% of Assistant Brand Managers get promoted to Brand Manager. So what separates the ok ABM from the great ABM that gets promoted?  There are two factors that I have seen in a consistent manner:  #1:  They get what they need and #2:  What they need is the right thing to do.  Very simply put, great ABMs get both.   The rest either fail on #1 or #2.    

Keep in mind there are some core marketing values you want to adopt over the years as an ABM that will serve you well in your career.

  • 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.
  • Know your business: Don’t get caught off-guard. Make sure you are asking the questions and carrying forward the knowledge.
  • Open communication: No surprises. Keep everyone aware of what’s going on. Present upwards with an action plan of what to do with it.
  • Listen and decide: It is crucial that we seek to understand and equally important that we give direction or push towards the end path.
  • We must get better: When we don’t know something, speak in an “asking way”, but when we know, speak in a “telling way”.
  • We control our 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.
  • Regular feedback for growth: Always seek out and accept feedback, good or bad, as a lesson for you. Not a personal attack or setback.

The Five Factors that Separate Ok ABMs from the Great ABMs are:

  1. A great ABM is able to tell stories, where others just see data: There is tons of data all over—share results, tracking, test scores, etc. One of the most critical skill an ABM can work on is developing stories with the data. It’s one thing to have the data point, but another to have thought it through and know what it means, and what action you will take on this data. Look for patterns or data breaks, ask questions, start putting together stories and challenge the stories. Use stories backed up by data to sell your recommendations. Never give a data point without a story or action. You risk letting someone else take your data and run with it or tell a story different from yours.
  2. A great ABM takes action and moves before being asked: Most of the projects for ABMs are already set by your manager. When you are new, it’s comfortable to wait for your projects. But don’t get in the habit of waiting for someone to create your project list. But a great ABM starts to push ideas into the system and create their own project list. Some of the best ideas come with a fresh set of eyes and we need a continual influx of new ideas. We also start to see the ABM making good decisions, on their own, and communicating to their boss. Not asking permission but telling what they want to do and look for the head nod. Know what’s in your scope and align with your manager.
  3. A great ABM can get what they want: Instead of just functionally managing the steps of the project, great ABM’s “make it happen”: faster, bigger and better. Faster means you understand what are the important milestones that need to be hit. Manage the bottle necks: the task that have the longest completion time, that impact the entire project. Sometimes you need to push with an inflexible but motivating fist to get it done.
    Bigger means you want to do more than is required. You find that magic to make it even have a bigger impact. Creative solutions or motivating others to do more. Better means you have to take the same people and get them to give their best ideas or their best effort or their best work. Guaranteed you will meet many points of resistance. Every project will. Solving these and still getting the most you can, is what separates the great ABMs from the rest.
  4. A great ABM puts their strategic thoughts forward. You need to be a strategic thinker—asking the right questions to ensure you are focused on the right area, where you can gain a positional power that leads to higher growth and profit for your brand. Ensure you are staying strategic and not just falling in love with some execution not aligned to your brand’s strategy. It’s so easy to be lost in your own “cool” projects. At the ABM level, showing that you can keep things aligned to the strategic is just as important as being strategic. Speak up and represent your strategic thinking. Standing up for your thoughts shows that you are in the game, that you are thinking, and that you believe in your strategic thoughts. Silent ABMs never last.
  5. A great ABM is accountable in the ownership of their work: Accountability is the stepping stone to ownership. And the ownership of the brand is a sign you can be a Brand Manager. We need to see that before giving you your own brand.
    Great ABMs motivate but don’t delegate. If you have to step in, then jump in. You cannot let things slip or miss. You have to stay on top of the timelines and lead those on your project teams. You have to be action oriented, and solution focused. You can never allow your team to get stuck. Be the hub of communication to all team members, and to key stakeholders, including upwards to your manager.

If you can do those better than your peers, then you’ll get promoted. Conversely, if you’re missing any one of these, you might not get there. I hope your boss gives you a quarterly review because I believe ABMs can grow so fast that you need those regular check-ins. If you just get an annual review, you won’t go as fast. Ask for feedback, cherish it, and use the next 90 days to build on a strength or eliminate a gap.

One thing to keep in mind is the Idiot Curve. The basic rule is: You get dumber before you get smarter.   

Brand Careers 2016.026
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When you first land the ABM job, there’s just so much to learn, it’s like drinking from a fire hose. I find it takes 3 months to get back to being just as smart as you were on the first day. It’s over-whelming at first, and yet you see all these other ABMs doing it so that’s even more intimidating. But the idiot curve is inevitable. It just shows up differently for each person. No matter how hard you fight it, you have to ride the curve. (But, please fight through the curve, you have to for your survival) The idiot curve normally lasts up to 3 months, and then things just start to click. And you’ll experience it in a new and exciting way you can’t even predict.  

ABM roles are hard, but all the work you do now will pay off the rest of your career.  

Here’s a presentation on how to have a successful Marketing Career.

 

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.

GR bio Jun 2016.001

A client’s view on what makes a great Advertising agency

Posted on 3 CommentsPosted in How to Guide for Marketers

It seems that clients are firing ad agencies very quickly these days.  

I’m half way old enough that I’m straddling the fence on whether agencies are as good as the old days. But it seems that there are pitches going on constantly, and yet no one is really wanting to look themselves the mirror and say “Am I part of the problem?”

I’ve been brought in a few times to look at the situation. The first thing I normally tell the Brand Leader is “you have to fire yourself first” and then see if the agency is still bad. The best clients respect the process, the agency and their own judgment. And yet, most Brand Leaders under-estimate the role the client plays in getting to great creative. As a Brand Leader, if you knew that showing up better would get you better advertising, do you think you could?  If there are 100 steps in every advertising development stage and you show up OK at each step, how are you possibly thinking you’ll end up with a GREAT ad at the end?  

What makes for a great Advertising Agency?

I come at this from the vantage of a client, having spent 20 years working as a Brand Leader.  I’m not an Ad Agency guy,but I’ve seen some great agencies and some not so good.  Here is my list of what makes a great Agency:

  1. They work for you, not your boss. While your boss pays them and has the final say, the best agencies still know you are the client. Nothing worse than a client service person constantly trying to go above your head. The best way for an agency to earn your trust is to consistently demonstrate that they work for you. That trust will earn them a seat, along side you, at the table of your boss. You will know they have your back and will support your recommendation, not cave at the whim of your boss.    
  2. They understand your goals, your issues and your strategies. They write briefs that are on your brand strategy and deliver work that expresses your brand strategy. Yes, the modern agency struggles to write advertising strategies that align to the Brand’s strategy. Just as though clients are not trained enough in the areas of strategy and planning, I see the same thing on the Agency side. As margins are squeezed, the first casualty is strategic planning. Yet, that might be one of the most important. I’d prefer to have a great strategic planner on the brand than have 5 client services people each show up taking notes at meetings.  
  3. They make work that drives demand and sells more widgets, not work that just win awards. Awards are part of the agency world–helping to motivate creative people and establishing the agency reputation in the market. I once had an agency person say: “we can’t write that strategy because it will make for boring work”. The balance of winning awards and selling more widgets always has to side with selling more widgets. I’m really tired of agencies starting off creative meetings with the “we are so excited” line. You want an agency that comes into a room and says “we have an ad for you that will sell more of your product”.  
  4. They give options. And they don’t always 100% agree. Come on agencies. We are in year 100 of making ads and you haven’t figured out yet that the clients like options. Each option has to deliver the strategy. Nothing worse than agencies who tear apart the brief and deliver options for each part of the brief. (e.g. here’s one for the younger audience, here’s one that does fast really well and here’s one that does long-lasting) That’s not creative options, that’s now strategic options.Marketing Execution 2016.025 We collectively decide on the strategy before the creative process begins, not meander the strategy during the creative process. As clients, options give us comfort. But even more importantly, options treat us with respect that we can still make the right decision.  
  5. Agencies are not territorial. They are transparent allowing you open and free access to their planners and creative people. It’s really the account people here. Good account people allow you to communicate directly with the creative team. Most great creative teams that I have worked with want direct access to the client, rather than have it be filtered through a series of contact reports.  
  6. They adjust and easily take feedback. Agencies serve at the pleasure of the client. Every client is unique and the best agencies adjust to that style. Not only the company but even the individual. I used to sit with my Account leader every quarter and go through how we can each get better. Some clients aren’t even doing annual agency performance reviews.  
  7. They are positive and already motivated to work on your brand. While I do encourage clients to motivate their agencies, it’s much easier to motivate someone who is already motivated.  When I see a 25-year old account person openly complaining, I see that as a problem with the culture of the agency, not a problem for the client to have to figure out. I’m now on the service side as a consultant, and we can never openly complain.  
  8. They teach. When I was a new Brand Manager, my client services person (Leslie Boscheratto) taught me more about advertising than any client should have to learn. In fact, I’m still embarrassed at how little I knew, yet thrilled at how much I learned from that team at Bates back in the mid 90s.  
  9. They act like you are their only client. And you feel important to them, no matter what share your budget is of the overall agency. Why sign you up as a client and then keep reminding you that they have Coke, Budweiser or Dove. When you are with me, treat me as though I’m the most important client in the world.  
  10. Trusted Advisor: They are a trusted advisor who will give you real advice, not just on advertising but on your performance and on the overall brand.  Most senior agency folks have seen plenty of clients come and go. Never be afraid to find a quiet moment with your agency person and ask two simple questions: “what can I do better” and “what do your best clients do that I could learn from”.

You’ll notice the one thing missing from my list is “They Make Great Work”.  That’s a given because that’s the only reason you hire an agency. Yes, some agencies make better work than others. But even those agencies that make great work, also make bad work. And if we were to look at why, it would likely start with the relationship, processes or interactions. So if the client can fix what they are doing wrong and the agency can show up right, then you should be able to make good work together.  

Making great advertising should be simple, but it is very hard to do. 

Here’s a presentation on How to get better Marketing Execution

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

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

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

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

Beloved Brands Graham Robertson