LEGO: An amazing Customer Service letter to a seven year old boy

lego-secrets-brand-longevityWhen you are 7, the Lego brand is much more important to them than Starbucks or Apple is to an adult. For generations, Lego has been a beloved brand for those inventive minds who liked to create complex objects from very simple bricks. Current Lego products are a little more complex, but the idea of Lego remains the same.

This customer story involves a 7-year old boy who lost his Lego when he took it on a family trip to the mall. Kids lose a toy all the time. But he was so upset that he wrote a letter to Lego, telling them the story and asking for a replacement. He lost just one figure in his Lego kit (Jay ZX) but to him it’s the most important thing in his life.

Hello, my name is Luka. With all my money I got for Christmas I bought the Ninjago kid of the Ultrasonic Raider. The number is 9449. It is really good. My daddy just took me to Sainburys and tole me to leave the people at home, but I took them and lost Jay ZX at the shop as it fell out of my coat. I am really upset I have lost him. Daddy said to send you an email to see if you will send me another one. I promise I won’t take him to the shop again if you can.

Thank you.  Luka

Someone at Lego, made the brilliant decision to send the boy some replacement product and send the following letter. While strategy is important, it is the many little things of a brand can really make a difference in exhibiting the passion of the company.

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For Lego, in the world of social media, this type of story does wonders for continuing the magic of their brand. And it’s a great example of going above and beyond. What I like in the letter is how they please the boy, but also give a solid wink to the parent who is likely the bigger target of this letter. The dad ended up tweeting about the story, lots of viral hits and then picked up in the mainstream media including TV and newspapers in the UK, US and Canada. And now millions are reading about this story (including you right now.)

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When you reach the beloved brand stage, the strategies become all about continuing the magic of the brand. That might mean attacking yourself on product innovation or finding new ways to surprise and delight your consumer base. There are legendary customer service stories that come from Nordstrom’s, the high-end retailer that add to the mystique of the Nordstrom brand. One story involved a Nordstrom employee who found luggage and a plane ticket for a flight that was taking off soon. Figuring the customer was on their way to the airport, the employee got in his car and drove to airport to meet the customer. The second story involves a customer in Alaska returning tires that he bought at the store that was the prior tenant to the Nordstrom store. After much debate, they decided to take the tires back, even though it’s not a product they carry.

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.

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Can Uber survive their own disasters?

IMG_0713.0.0We’d all likely agree that Uber thrust itself into the marketplace with one of the most recent disruptive technologies. It was such a brilliant idea, where you can order a car, track exactly where it is and when it will pick you up and then pay for it via your smart phone. But will they even survive?  This week, Apple announced that they had purchased Didi for $1 Billion, Uber’s biggest rival in China. While I’m a huge Apple fan, they never really invent stuff, they look to enter categories with easy entry and where consumers are being under-served. Maybe this is just a sign that Apple has too much cash or they want to replace lost sales in China.

While Uber might have launched a great App, they sure are bad at managing their brand. Here are mistakes they have made the past year.

Brands have four choices: better, different, cheaper or not around for long

When Uber first came out, I thought “wow, that’s so much better than a Taxi cab”.  Yet the fixation on price has treated ride-sharing like a commodity. In Uber’s mind, they want to use the efficiency of the App to drive out the weak. Just like Twitter, they are yet to figure out the way to become profitable. However, what is their long-term vision for becoming a profitable brand?

Here’s a quote from an Uber spokesperson: “Shock, horror, Uber makes a loss. This is hardly news and old news at that. It’s the case of business 101: you raise money, you invest money, you grow (hopefully), you make a profit and that generates a return for investors.”  That’s more like Business Arrogance 101, sounding like Twitter, who after 10 years has yet to convince us that it will be around for 15 or 20 years.

The risk here for Uber is you treat yourself like a commodity, yes, you will drive every other competitor out of the market. But after you do, you will be a commodity.

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Uber has yet to define their brand, and exactly what their core strength will be

There are four options for what CORE STRENGTH your brand can win on: product, promise, experience or price. Many brand leaders have their marketing strategy wrong, when it comes to aligning everything behind the right strength. 

  • Product: your main strategy should focus on being better. You have to invest in Innovation to stays ahead of competitors, remaining the superior choice in the category.
  • Promise: your strategy should focus on being different. To tell that story, you need to invest in emotional brand communication. You want to connect consumers on a deep emotional level with the concept.
  • Experience: your strategy and organization should focus on linking culture very closely to your brand. After all, your people are your product. As you go to market, invest in influencer and social media that can help support and spread the word of your experience.
  • Price: focus on efficiency and drive low-cost into the products you sell and high turns and high volume. You have to be better at the fundamentals around production and sourcing.
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I keep trying to figure out where Uber should play. At first, I thought what an amazing EXPERIENCE. I love ordering, love watching the little car on my phone and love getting out of the car. Just like Netflix, the Uber brand could have been all about the brand experience. However, while Netflix has created their own content (House of Cards) while Uber has had a hard time recruiting higher quality drivers, hurting the experience. In the last month, I’ve had two Uber drivers get lost and one car in disastrous smelly condition, really questioning the whole brand experience.  The Airbnb brand would be a role model of a brand that has taken the experience to new levels. But, that leaves me to say Uber is a price brand, similar to how we’d peg Expedia. I can use a car-sharing app to get Uber, Lyft, Juno, or a taxi. I don’t see any significant difference between any of the services, each of which arrives quickly, charges similar fares, and offers clean cars and knowledgeable drivers. Sounds like Uber is fast becoming a commodity, focused on price. Maybe they will end up being the Expedia, who competes as a price-commodity with about 15 other hotel/travel brands.

Don’t go to war with City Hall

Of course, all these disruptive technologies are going to upset someone. Netflix had to work directly with governments around the world to gain entry. Netflix stayed patient and tried to work behind the scenes market by market. Still a work in progress. Uber took on the completely different tact, continuing to directly challenge City Hall. In Toronto recently, Uber took out a very aggressive Petition Campaign, pitting voters against City Hall. In the end, the Toronto City counsel voted to keep Uber, but with 3 major stipulations: 1) Uber had to charge the same price as Taxis. 2) Uber had to pay a licensing fee 3) Uber had to do a better job in regulating their drivers. After those 3 stipulations, that leaves Uber without any competitive advantage.  The taxis have apps, and now with everything equal, the Taxi companies have a long list of experienced drivers, a local brand name and service values. Uber might have won the approval of City Hall, but they just lost big time.

While Toronto is just one city, Uber is going head to head with City Hall around the world. Even the wins are turning out to be losses. While all my Facebook friends were happy with the win for Uber, I was sitting there with my mouth open thinking “what a destruction of the Uber brand”.

Uber has not created Service Values

Uber’s President recently re-designed his own logo. The old logo seemed good enough. What he should have been doing is working hard to create an Uber culture, backed by service values that the company could have built a superior brand experience. With Experience Brands, your strategy and organization should focus on linking culture very closely to your brand. After all, your people are your product. As you go to market, invest in influencer and social media that can help support and spread the word  of your experience. Wells Fargo bank offers comfortable banking, Ritz-Carlton uses impeccable customer service to really separate itself, Emirates Airlines who take service to new heights (and prices accordingly) and Starbucks creates an escape with indie-music, cool servers, leather chairs and a touch of Europe. Each of these brands operate in high commodity type businesses, yet they each use precision based service guided by tight service values that line up to a brand purpose.

Uber is forgetting that a brand is a reputation

Every week, there seems to be a bad story about Uber. When that Uber driver went on a shooting rampage last month, I must have heard “Uber driver” 50x a day. Uber, Uber, Uber. Every time I hear Uber executives quoted, they seem mad at the entire Universe.

When a woman tweeted Uber, claiming that she had been choked by her driver. According to an email leaked to Gawker, Kalanick immediately emailed his PR team, blaming the media for suggesting that Uber is “somehow liable for these incidents that aren’t even real in the first place,” and then instructing them to “make sure these writers don’t come away thinking we are responsible even when these things do go bad.”

You are supposed to manage these stories, not get just get angry at them.

The race to convergence of the Automobile market

It’s still hard to imagine what driving will be like in the year 2030. I have no clue, so it’s safe to say my only input will be to say “Wow, this is really cool”.  When markets converge, there are many sub-categories working really hard in the hopes that they will be the ultimate winner. Here are the various sub-categories that are converging:

  • Electric Automobiles. (Tesla)
  • Self-Driving Automobile Software. (Apple or Google or Microsoft)
  • Self-Driving Automobiles. (Mercedes, BMW, Audi, Toyota, Honda)
  • Efficient production of mass produced automobiles. (Toyota, Honda)
  • Design and Styling of the inside of automobiles. (Mercedes, BMW)
  • Ride sharing Apps. (Who cares)

 

I have put in brackets who might win. This convergence could set up partnerships you could imagine, such as Apple and Tesla or Google and Toyota. A year ago, I would have thought that the ride-sharing Apps would be at the centre of the power structure of the market. BTW, the real winner of this convergence might be 15 years old and designing cool things in his garage. Unless Uber can stop treating this like a commodity, they will just end up the next Expedia where no one really cares what App you use.

Uber has no competitive advantage. They have a hyper focus on price, not the experience potential. They lack any service values that will establish a brand culture. And they have an arrogant attitude that will make many cheer on their demise. Maybe Apple really does know something. Or maybe they just had a spare billion sitting around doing nothing.

Uber is one more cool App, with bad management of the execution. I’m predicting Uber becomes the next Pet Rock that we will soon forget.

 

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

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

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

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

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Case studies for how the most beloved brands fell from grace

Very few beloved brands stay on top for long. We live in the moment, so it is hard to imagine that Starbucks, Amazon, Google, Uber, Tesla, Apple or Nike would ever collapse. While there are no signs any of those brands will, history tells you that a few of them will falter. Staying at the top is just as hard as getting there. Just ask former beloved brands that have fallen from grace, including Blackberry, Gap Clothing, Kodak, Cadillac or Benneton.

Brands usually have a turning point, based on a decision they have made or a decision they avoided making. They lose touch with the reality of their marketplace. They ignore competitors, stop listening to consumers or fail to attack themselves.

The Brand Love Curve

I created the Brand Love Curve to address the emotional bond I was seeing between brands and consumers. I was in charge of a Marketing department that had 20 different brands all operating at various levels of success.

Honestly, it was hard for me to keep track of where each brand was and I did not want to apply one-size-fits-all type strategies to brands that had different needs. The beauty of the Brand Love Curve is that it starts with the most important part of the brand: THE CONSUMER. Everything in Marketing has to start and end with the consumer in mind. It assesses the brand’s performance solely on how tightly connected consumers are with your brand. And, the more connected the brand, the easier it was to Market. It commanded more power and generated more profit.

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The stages of the Love Curve

When I looked at my own portfolio of brands, I started to noticed that the biggest difference was how tightly connected some brands were with their consumer. And, I would refer to the poor performing brands as “indifferent” where consumers did not really care about the brand and then I called the best brands “beloved” because consumers were emotionally engaged. I started to see the difference. It was obvious that I could clearly see that brands with a stronger bond had it easier and that almost everything on those brands was better.

Loved Brands have a huge advantage

Launches of new products were easier because consumers were more accepting. Retailers gave these brands preferential treatment because they knew their consumers wanted them. My own people were more excited to work on these brands. They thought it was a career advancement to get the chance to be part of the beloved brand.  

I could see beloved brands had better share results, better consumer tracking scores and in many cases better margins. It was easier to get price increases through. It seemed everyone in the organization cared about these beloved brands. My agencies bragged about the work they did on these beloved brands.

As I kept exploring this idea, the idea of the Brand Love Curve came to me and I started to map where each our 20 brands sat on this hypothetical curve. As the consumer start with a new brand, they are indifferent, then they started to like it, then loved it, and finally it would become a beloved brand. The goal becomes to move along the curve towards the beloved status.

As I worked with the Brand Love Curve,  I started to see the link between where the brand sat on the curve and our strategy choices available, we started to see there was a difference in the balance of rational and emotional benefits, which impacted our advertising and media planning. I could start to see how the Brand Love Curve could really drive every part of how we manage the brand. The goal became how do we move the brand along the curve because as we discussed in the previous section, if brand love helps your brand become more powerful and profitable, then any degree of added love was a good thing.

Beloved brand become iconic, famous and highly regarded with consumers.

Consumers become equal to fans, similar to fans of sports teams or celebrities. They become outspoken, possessive and will defend the brand at any point. The brand becomes a self expression of the consumers, a ritual or favorite part of the day. People have conversations about these brands, whether on social media or at the lunch table. The emotional connection becomes so strong, that consumers feel more and think less. Demand becomes desire, needs become cravings, thinking is replaced with feelings. Consumers become blind to pure logic and deaf to rational product based competitors. 

These brands have strength on every part of the robust brand funnel, near perfect awareness levels, high purchase intentions, high repeat and high loyalty. The voice of the customer is very strong. The brand listens to ensure they are attacking any weakness before it can be exploited. The brand has a big idea, with every consumer touch point easily tying back and re-enforcing the big idea. It has a sense of power and uses it quietly against all stakeholders from consumers to competitors and retailers, while leveraging it with key influencers and media. The brand is driving every lever of their profit statements to continue strong sales growth and healthy margins, driving price premiums, lower costs, higher market shares and leveraging the core base of brand fans to enter new categories.

 

The 5 ways that Beloved Brands fall from grace

1. Beloved Brands forget who they are and what made them famous.

Benetton is great example of a brand who forgot what made them famous. In 1990, Benetton could do no wrong. Business schools wrote case studies of their success and Ad Agencies held them up as the brand of envy for all clients to learn from.benetton-ad-1991 They had shock-value advertising campaigns that people talked about at the lunch table and there was a Benetton store in every mall. Their colorful and stylish fashion was the desire of the core teenage crowd.

Benetton’s brand promise was providing European fashions at an affordable price. But the arrogance of the “can do no wrong” brand quickly faded. While they were so busy creating shock-value advertising and arrogantly talking of their brand as it were art itself they forgot about the fashion part of the business. Benetton started to look like a hollow promise of cool ads with not-so-cool clothing. Also, Benetton expanded so broadly and so fast, they opted for franchises instead of maintaining ownership over the distribution.

The managing of the large franchise network became a drain on the company and there’s a belief that not being close to the consumers in the stores hurt their ability to listen to what teenagers were saying and wearing. With a fickle teenage target, Benetton quickly went from a must-have to a has-been brand.

2. Brands that struggle to keep up with the times.

The Beloved Brands of General Motors–Cadillac, Oldsmobile and Corvette–not only peaked in the 1970’s, but found themselves stuck their as well. The 70’s were one of those decades with such a distinct look with Disco, perms, gold chains and the 3-piece suit, that most things connected to the 70’s were completely rejected in the 1980’s. Not-Your-Fathers-Oldsmobile

The Oldsmobile was a classic American family car who sales soared through the 1970’s. By the mid-80’s, in an effort to try to capture a new generation, they used the infamous tagline of “Not your father’s Oldsmobile” which only re-enforced that it WAS your father’s Oldsmobile.The near-bankruptcy of General Motors can be traced back to the 1970’s when the brands peaked and yet felt stuck in a time-warp forever. GM failed to keep up in design, and failed to change as gas prices rose dramatically. They found themselves attacked on the lower end from the Japanese cars like Toyota and Honda and at the higher end from German brands like Mercedes, Porsche, Audi and BMW.

3.They make the wrong strategic choices because they think of themselves before the consumer.

Gap Clothing got greedy and forgot what made them great: trendy American fashion for a stylish generation at a reasonable price. And who is the spokesperson for fashion: the coolest people on earth: TEENAGERS of course. Every generation of Teens believes they are the most important people on earth and they want products that speak for their generation. It’s all about them.gap They influence Music, Movies, TV Shows and Clothing and believe each has to speak directly to them and for them. Imagine being 15 in the late 90’s, you’re walking in your favorite mall, trying to be as cool as can be, heading for your favorite clothing store.

All of a sudden, if kids looked up, they saw favorite clothing brand flanked by BABY GAP and GAP MATERNITY. How could this brand speak for the teen generation.  Your 2-year-old nephews are wearing a mini-version of what you’re wearing. Or even worse, your pregnant Aunt is wearing the stretchy version. GAP made the mistake of putting their name on all their line extensions, which most fans of Master Brands thinks strengthens the brand but it actually runs the risk of actually weakening the brand. GAP also forgot about feeding that desire for leading edge, trendy clothing–the whole reason for that “8 seasons” rotation of inventory. Go into a GAP store this year, and you’ll realize how boring and drab the products have become. No teenager today loves GAP or even thinks much about GAP. They are totally indifferent. Fast forward to 2011, GAP Clothing sales are down 19% this year and down over 25% since the peak of 2005. They have just announced the closing of 200 stores–which will continue the downward spiral

4. If you are Afraid to attack yourself, expect an attack from someone else. .Kodak was such a revered brand for so long. But they refused to attack themselves. This opened up so many windows of attack from others. The first attack came in the traditional film business from low-priced Fuji film. Kodak did nothing to stop Fuji for fear of eroding their margin, letting Fuji gain a 17% share of the film market.Untitled-2 The second attack came from new entrants into the digital camera market before Kodak was ready to enter. Kodak invented the first digital camera as early as 1975. They never launched the product. Kodak feared the digital camera threatened Kodak’s photographic film business. In 1990 Kodak finally laid out a plan to enter the digital camera market. But, they took another decade to finally enter the market.

The world was changing, yet Kodak executives still could not fathom a world without traditional film. However, they saw little incentive to deviate into the digital camera space. The third attack came once Kodak entered the digital camera space.  Kodak entered at the high-end of the market and for a brief moment was the #1 digital camera. But Kodak failed to recognize how quickly the digital camera market would become commoditized. They did cut their prices, but couldn’t lower their cost of goods fast enough to keep up with the Japanese manufacturers. Kodak’s traditional film business was dying. The result: Bankruptcy. Interestingly enough, at the time of their bankruptcy, Kodak released 1000’s of patents for sale. Kodak’s refusal to act on the right innovation in a timely fashion killed the Kodak brand. They failed to attack themselves only to let others attack and ultimately destroy them.

5. Lose focus and let the experience slide. 

A recent case study in a brand experience not living up to expectations is the Blackberry. It’s a classic case where they grabbed early share as the category innovator and then forgot to keep making improvements to the overall experience. maxresdefault-1The list of problems for blackberry is long: major service outages, keyboard that sticks, small screen size, bad cameras, poor quality speaker-phone, slow internet browser and when the screen freezes you have to take the battery out and re-boot. In my last few months as an angry blackberry user, I was taking the battery out 5x a day.

The leaders at Blackberry believed they were invincible almost laughing when Apple launched the iPhone. These guys would next launch a tablet without any Apps on it. Oh man! What I think Blackberry’s biggest failure is not mapping out the customer experience and attacking every possible weakness. And, the blackberry experience has just not kept pace with Android and Apple. As a result, the RIM share price is down 95% since its peak of 2008.

How to maintain beloved brand status

Focus on maintaining the magic and love the brand has created with the core brand fans. 

Focus most of your attention on those who love you the most. Treat them special. Listen to your consumer, giving them a voice at the table, with the brand being responsive as it can. Market the Big Idea, sell the innovation and the experience. Continue to invest in product innovation and brand experience. Leverage both into telling the overall brand story, using the big idea to push the marketing effort in two separate layers: tell the master brand story about the big idea and the related experience, tell the specific product innovation stories linking how they support and build on the brand’s big idea.

Perfect the experience 

For those who love the brand, it is no longer just about the product, it becomes about the experience. Build a culture and organization around the brand that will keep finding new ways to surprise and delight consumers. Perfect every possible touchpoint with the consumer. Attack the brand before it can be attacked by others: However, many times, the biggest competitor for these brands is the brand itself. The constant goal has to be about getting better. Any degree of complacency will set the brand up for future attacks. Never become complacent or these brands will be replaced by challenger brands wanting to achieve the beloved status.

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Broaden the offering and broaden the audience

Take advantage of your brand’s loyal following to launch peripheral products that build on the routine. Capture more share of wallet of your most loyal consumers.To ensure you are a brand that goes beyond the current generation of consumers, begin thinking about how to spread your brand to other age groups. A lot of fashion brands and restaurant brands have been trapped into the current generation and lose the status as styles change.

The most beloved brands must keep the love alive, attack yourself, and use your fans as spokespeople. 

 

Here’s a presentation on what makes a Beloved Brand:

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

At Beloved Brands, our purpose is to help brands find a new pathway to growth. We believe that the more love your brand can generate with your most cherished consumers, the more power, growth and profitability you will realize in the future.

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

We help brands find growth

We start by defining a brand positioning statement, outlining the desired target, consumer benefits and support points the brand will stand behind. And then, we build a big idea that is simple and unique enough to stand out in the clutter of the market, motivating enough to get consumers to engage, buy and build a loyal following with your brand. Finally, the big idea must influence employees to personally deliver an outstanding consumer experience, to help move consumers along the journey to loving your brand.

We will help you write a strategic brand plan for the future, to get everyone in your organization to follow. It starts with an inspiring vision that pushes your team to imagine a brighter future. We use our strategic thinking tools to help you make strategic choices on where to allocate your brand’s limited resources. Then, we work with your team to build out project plans, creative briefs and provide advice on marketing execution.

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

We make Brand Leaders smarter

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

To learn more about our training programs, click on this link: Beloved Brands Training

If you need our help, email me at graham@beloved-brands.com or call me at 416 885 3911

 

Graham Robertson Beloved Brands

 

What gets in the way of you loving the work you do?

love workWhen I was a Brand Manager and my son was in kindergarten at the time, I once said that our lives were very similar.  We make stuff that we want to put on our fridge.  It stuck with me because I started to look at work and wonder if it was “fridge worthy”? Would I be proud enough of this to put it up on the fridge at home. In other words, did I love it?

I’ve always stressed to my team “you have to love what you do, that has to be the benchmark on whether we approve things–do you love it?” And one day, one of fridge artmy Group Marketing Directors said to me “Loving it seems a bit unrealistic, why do we have to love it?  Why not just like it”.  Great question. I suppose not all marketers think this way, and I’m fine with that.  If you think I’m crazy, that’s fine. Stop reading. I just wish I competed with you.  

If you love it, you’ll fight for it. You’ll believe in it so much, you’ll fight all the way to the top of your organization to make it happen. You’ll work harder for it. The work will inspire you and give you energy. You’ll stay up till 3am working on it. You will want to make sure it’s perfect, knowing details matter. You will inspire everyone working on the project to share your vision. If you love what you do, the consumer will know. Think of the most beloved brands, whether it is Disney, Starbucks, Apple or Ferrari and look how much energy the people working there put into the brand. In fact, show me a brand where people working there settle for good and I will show you an OK brand that struggles for its existence.  

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The more connectivity you have with your consumer, the more power your brand has. And with that power, comes faster growth and deeper profits.  Your relationship between your brand and your consumer has to be treated like a real relationship. As Oscar Wilde said “never love anyone who treats you like you are ordinary”.  In a brand sense, “if you don’t love the work you do, then how do you expect the consumer to love your brand”.

The answer for that Director of mine:  “If you love your work, they will love you back.” 

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What gets in your way of Loving it?
  1. Not enough Time: Oddly time forces most people to make quick approvals of things and opt for next time.not-ok My first recommendation is to build in longer time cycles so you can have room in the schedule to keep pushing for work you love. But my second recommendation is to use the pressure of time to put pressure on everyone on your team. Rather than approving work you think is OK, next time, just stare at everyone and say “yes but I just don’t love it.  And I need to love it” and see if you can inspire the team to push even harder, even in the face of a deadline. I’ve always looked at deadlines as my ally and use it to my advantage to get what I want.  Not to cave and settle for OK.  
  2. Risk vs Fear: The best of marketing ideas have risk to them. If you eliminate all risk, then you also eliminate any big wins. good-vs-differentA great idea should scare you a little, but excite you a lot. Given, we see 6,000 brand messages a day, you have to find a way to stand out. To be a great brand, you must be better, different or cheaper–and that different shows up in the work that you do. Looking at the grid beside us, the obvious answer is “Good and Different”. When you are not different, it just falls flat, consumers don’t connect and they end up feeling blah about the brand.  Push yourself to find a difference not in your brand’s positioning but in the brands execution. Take a chance, even if it feels risky. The middle of the road might feel safe, but it also where you find dead animals run over in the night.  A great story is the lesson Steve Jobs and the color “Beige”.  When Jobs was launching the original Mac back in the late 1970s, he wanted to make sure the color was different.  The plastic mould company presented him with 2,200 variations of beige until he picked one. While the behavior of Jobs were obsessive, his virtues show up in his work. Would Apple be Apple if he didn’t push.  
  3. Do you care enough?  If you don’t care, you should give up your desk to someone who does. I know it sounds harsh. But the role of Brand Leader is very difficult. You are competing in a finite market, with very talented people at the competition who seem to care about beating you every day. If you only sort of care, then is this really the job for you?  Push yourself, find ways to inspire yourself.  
  4. Are you able to motivate partners? As Brand Leaders, we never really make anything. We think we only have one weapon which is that of decision-making. I’ve heard some Brand Leaders say, I can really only say “yes” or I can say “no” to the work that comes to my desk. That’s so not true. Your primary role is to motivate everyone who touches your brand. Not just those you directly deal with (Your team, account people at the agency or your sales people) but those who you don’t directly deal with. If someone talks about your brand at the kitchen table, then they are part of the Brand team. That means sound editors, producers or actors. As a leader if you want to motivate everyone, then make it personal. Deal with everyone on a face to face basis. Once the brief is approved, how many of you are saying, I want to take the Creative Team to lunch just to get to know them?  When you walk into an edit studio, shake hands with the sound editor and stand near them. Because in this meeting, you might need them on your side. When you go to the shoot, talk to the actors directly. Make it personal. Let everyone know what you’re trying to do, how important it is to you, and how happy you are to have them on your team. That’s inspiring.  Most Brand Leaders only work on one major campaign per year.  But everyone on your team likely works on 40 or 60 or even 80.  What are you doing to make sure that your work is the one they love the most this year?  Just like our hurdle above asking you the brand leader “do you love it”, then how do you make sure everyone who touches your work shares in your love. Leadership should be called Follower-ship because it’s not about being out front, but rather when you turn around “are people following you?”   
  5. Strategy versus Execution. Execution in marketing is all about the Brand Leader’s balance between control and freedom.  What I find odd is that most Brand Leaders give too much freedom where they should be exhibiting control and tries to exhibit too much control where they should be giving freedom. Brand Leaders should control the Strategy, giving very little wiggle room.  And yet Brand Leaders write such broad-based strategies with a broad target, many benefits, and a long list of “just in case” reasons to believe. It’s almost as though they figure, I’ll write so many things it will give the agency options. That just means you gave up control of your strategy. You want a tight strategy, with very little wiggle. On the other hand, Brand Leaders exhibit control over the execution.  “We don’t want humor, we’d like to use a popular song, we don’t like the color red and we want to make sure it doesn’t offend anyone”.  The list of mandatories on the brief is long.  My recommendation is that if you write a very tight strategy, you should be willing to give freedom to the execution.  
The Brand Love Curve

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

 As a Leader, you will find that if you have passion, people will follow. It’s inspiring and it’s contagious.  Challenge yourself to set a new bench mark to love what you do. Reject OK because OK is the enemy of greatness.     

Another article you might enjoy is to see how Love for your brand can translate into more power for your brand and in turn more profits.  Click on: Love = Power = Profit

Love what you do.  Live why you do it.  

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@beloved-brands.com 

 

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 more love for your brand or ask how we can help train you to be a better brand leader.

Apple: What goes up, might come down

 

The Apple brand of today is still healthy, the stores are still packed and sales are still strong. But the fear is that if Apple’s innovation over the next 18 months looks like Apple’s innovation of the past 18 months, then the Apple brand may be at its peak, no longer on the climb.   

My hope is that Apple finds their way and regains the momentum of the brand that has surprised and delighted us like no other brand. But my fear is they become another Sony that rests on their laurels and coasts for the next decade. I’m a big Apple fan, typing away on my MacBook Air with my iPad mini and iPhone close by and my iMac sitting on my desk. But it sure does feel like Sony of the early 1990’s. There’s talk of geographic expansion into China, but that might take their eyes off the real need: we need to see real innovation. Enough of the incremental BS. What do you have that will surprise me beyond my wildest dreams?

Five Connectors of a Beloved Brand

To be a Beloved Brand, you must have an idea that’s worth loving.  Under the Brand Idea are 5 sources of connectivity (see diagram below) that help connect the brand with consumers and drive Brand Love, including

  1. Brand promise
  2. Strategic choices
  3. Ability to tell their story
  4. Freshness of the product or service
  5. Overall experience and impressions it leaves with you.  

Everyone wants to debate what makes a great brand–whether it’s the product, the advertising or the experience.   It is not just one or the other, but the collective connection of all five that make a brand beloved.  If one of them weakens against the brand promise, it puts the entire brand at risk.

Slide1

The big idea behind Apple is complexity made simple. Since every great brand tackles an enemy of the consumer, Apple takes on the frustration and intimidation that consumers have with technology. The Apple brand promise is we make it easier to love technology, so that you can experience the future no matter who you are.  

Problem #1:  Has Apple Broken their Promise? 

Over the last decade, Apple has done an amazing job in creating products that take the most complicated of technology and deliver it so that anyone can use it. Apple takes the technology out of technology so we can all benefit. That’s right–“so we can all benefit”.  Apple is now a brand owned by the Masses. Yes, the masses rely on the innovators for advice, but Apple caters as much to my 70-something mother (iPad owner) as it does to my 14-year old daughter (iPhone user).  

There are 4 instances in the past 18 months where Apple has gotten off track:  

  1. Apple Maps were a disaster in more ways than one. The first week of iPhone 5 owners was largely filled with the most loyal Apple users, the innovators who will influence the rest of us. And the maps disaster was the first major flaw of the post-jobs era that people were waiting for.   
  2. Siri remains a disaster. Siri does not deliver the promise as it adds frustration, not solves it. Siri is a nice little toy that combined with Apple’s auto-correct takes my enunciation and turns into words I’ve never dreamed of saying. I end up having to re-type the mistakes of Siri, which defeats the whole purpose behind voice recognition.  If these were brakes on a car, it would be re-called for the safety of society. It’s unlike Apple to release such a bad product.   
  3. Retina Display is not a mass play. The launch of iPad 3 feels odd. They kept the iPad 2 out in the market and didn’t even put the #3 on the iPad 3. It feels like something the niche Apple brand would have done, but now that you are a mass brand, you must cater to your consumer.  
  4. Apple TV has done nothing really. While a few friends have it, I hear no one talking about it. A quiet Fizzle.  

USP 2.0

Strategically, these 4 innovations were some of the big plays by Apple in the past 18 months. And where do they fall on the test of uniqueness? The Maps puts you in the losing zone where you are competing with Google Maps in the zone where they kick your ass.  Retina Display ends up being a niche play for photographers or fussy consumers, but for the rest of us it is in the “who cares”, certainly not worth an extra $150 compared to the iPad 2. And Siri is not on the map, because it’s just an under-delivery that while it’s an innovation that leads the consumer, it only ends up frustrating them even more.   

Problem #2: Is Apple still making a dent in the universe?

What caused Apple to rise so fast during the first decade of the century was innovation–the iPod followed by iTunes, the iMac vs the PC, the iPhone and then the iPad revolutionized the way we interact socially. In many cases, Apps have replaced software.   Wow, Wow and Wow!!!

Slide1

But, the last 15 months has been a period of incrementalism.  In 2012, we saw iPad 3, iPhone 5 and iPad Mini and the fear among investors is that 2013 might be iPad 4, iPhone 6 and iPad Mini 2. Slightly better, slightly lighter, but just as expensive. There becomes less and less of a reason to trade up. And sadly, at risk, less and less of a reason to love the brand. Technology is about leap-frog. And the world will not stand still in the next year. Brands like Google and Samsung are ready to leap.  

Steve Jobs always talked about “Making a dent in the Universe” and people bought in and followed. Apple’s beauty has always been to give us what we never imagined.  And yet, now we are starting to not only imagine it, but predict it.  Everyone saw the iPad Mini coming. In fact, we asked for it and Apple merely succumbed to our request. Technology is supposed to surprise us with advances that not only meet our needs but cater to the needs we didn’t even know we had. Apple has to get that back.  

Is Apple still making a dent in the Universe?  

Problem #3: Apple must quiet the “Anti” Apple Segment

Haters are always going to hate. In the technology space, the innovators and early adopters are those who tell the rest of us what to think and do. These consumers are constantly looking for the “technology fraud” and it feels as though some are starting to call Apple on it. The Samsung advertising has capitalized on this insight, openly mocking the iPhone5 launch. The only way Apple can shut this down is with action on the technology front. If Apple’s next product is the iPad Mini with Retina display or  the iPad4 comes with a better battery life than this group will become even more outspoken.

There are so many parodies of Apple being shared by millions that not only mock the technique of the advertising but the incrementalism of their technology.  This only fuels the haters.  

Problem #4: Leadership Style

When Tim Cook took on the Apple brand, people worried but became re-assured that he had been running the Apple brand for a while. The brand was on a high after an amazing decade under Steve Jobs, and as a leader he faced a “sustaining success” leadership challenge. Keep the momentum going. Can anyone re-live that visionary relentless pursuit of perfection that Jobs brought to the role.  

Now it appears that Cook faces a “re-alignment” challenge. Cook needs to re-invigorate the R&D at Apple to push for innovation that goes beyond expectations. Making a dent in the universe means pushing for greatness, not settling for OK incremental-ism. Cook has quickly fired all those connected to the Maps fiasco. But, he has to look at himself in the mirror for wondering how it got out past him. The pressure is definitely on. The questions of 18 months ago are back:  

Can Tim Cook do it?   
The World and the stock market are watching Apple.

To read How to Create and Run a Beloved Brand, read the following presentation:


Positioning 2016.112

LEGO: Best customer service letter ever

When you are a 7-year-old kid, Lego is likely twice as important to them than Starbucks or Apple is to you. For generations, Lego has been a Beloved Brand for those inventive minds who liked to create complex objects from very simple bricks. Current Lego products are a little more complex, but the idea of Lego remains the same.   

This customer story involves a 7-year old boy who lost his Lego when he took it on a family trip to the mall. He was so upset that he wrote Lego a letter, telling them the story and asking for a replacement. Someone at Lego, made the brilliant decision to send the boy some replacement product and the following letter.  

Slide1

For Lego, in the world of social media, this type of story does wonders for continuing the magic of their brand. And it’s a great example of going above and beyond. What I like in the letter is how they please the boy, but also give a solid wink to the parent who is likely the bigger target of this letter.  The dad ended up tweeting about the story and now millions are reading about this story (including you)

When you reach the Beloved Brand stage, the strategies become all about continuing the magic of the brand. That might mean attacking yourself on product innovation or finding new ways to surprise and delight your consumer base. There are legendary customer service stories that come from Nordstrom’s, the high-end retailer that add to the mystique of the Nordstrom brand.  One story involved a Nordstrom employee who found luggage and a plane ticket for a flight that was taking off soon. Figuring the customer was on their way to the airport, the employee got in his car and drove to airport to meet the customer. The second story involves a customer in Alaska returning tires that he bought at the store that was the prior tenant to the Nordstrom store. After much debate, they decided to take the tires back, even though it’s not a product they carry.

 

To read how to create and run a Beloved Brand, read the following presentation:

 

 

Positioning 2016.112

 

 

Write a better Positioning Statement by going to war with your consumer’s enemy

The most beloved brands are based on an idea that is worth loving. 

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

The best Brand Ideas start with the conquering of the Enemy of your Consumers

As people start writing positioning statements, they normally start off with some feature oriented things they do better than others. And it normally just sounds like a category feature that everyone basically does.  It’s like saying a car drives. You end up with boring, undifferentiated, features that you’ve said for years.  Consumers don’t care about what you do until you begin caring about consumers need.  

And when Brand Leaders feel stuck I like to ask them: “who is your consumer’s enemy?”  Once you answer that, you’ll see the ideas get richer. Use the attack of the enemy to generate a bigger idea which then acts as a focal point to set up your brand promise. You will start to notice that the answers get better because you are connecting with your consumer because it helps solve something in their lives.  You are now in the consumers shoes. 

Here’s a few examples of how it might work:

  • Apple: The enemy of most people who have ever turned on a computer is Frustration. Nothing ever seems to work and we end up overwhelmed and feeling incompetent. Along comes Apple who attacks Frustration by making everything so simple. Everything Apple does is about simplicity, not about technology. Apple makes me feel smarter. Apple makes it easy for anyone to download songs, edit photos or even just start using their computer on day 1, right out of the box. Taking that one step further, Apple’s brand promise is “we make it easier to love technology, so that you can experience the future.”  
  • Starbucks: Back in the 70’s, people loved taking a moment early in the morning to sit with their coffee and morning newspaper.  Folgers made millions on the tagline “The Best Part of Waking Up is Folger’s in Your Cup”. Fast forward one generation and the new enemy is the insane hectic lives that we all live. We rush to get the kids off to school, rush to work, rush to grab a sandwich and work through lunch so we rush to every kid event that night and then slither into bed at 11:15 pm. Starbucks attacks that hectic life with and the big idea becomes a bit of “me time”. Starbucks has created a bit of an escape with a euro-flare, people who know your name, a drink customized to your own desires, a few indulgent treats and a nice leather chair to sit with your best friend.  The Starbucks brand promise is “we give you a moment in your day where you can just escape and spoil yourself” 
  • Special K: For all of us who have gained a few pounds over the years, we keep going on diets and failing over again. It’s just too difficult for us to make such a life style change. Diets are just too hard. And we are left wearing our “fat pants”. The enemy is not being able to squeeze into your favorite pair of jeans anymore. Special K came along and created the 2-week challenge to attack the enemy,  offering the easiest diet that anyone can do. Just replace two meals a day with Special K and you’ll be able to lose weight. It’s that easy. The brand promise is “With the Special K Challenge, it’s a diet so easy that anyone can drop a Jean size in two weeks.” 
So who is your Consumer’s Enemy? And how do you turn the attack on that enemy into a Brand Idea?  

Here’s a presentation on what makes a Beloved Brand:

 

To read and Article on How Brand Love creates Brand Power, follow this link: Brand Love

 

Positioning 2016.112

 

How the most beloved brands fall from grace

 

 

Very few beloved brands stay on top for long. 

The reason I created the Brand Love Curve is that I wanted to find a unique way to talk about the emotional bond I was seeing between brands and consumers.

I first came up with the idea when I was in charge of a Marketing department that had 20 different brands all operating at various levels of success. Honestly, it was hard for me to keep track of where each brand was and I did not want to apply one-size-fits-all type strategies to brands that had different needs. Sure I could have used some of the traditional tools such as Boston Consulting Group matrix with market share versus category growth rates, or I could have looked at various other dimensions related to revenue size, margin rates, competitive advantage or various other metrics.

The beauty of the Brand Love Curve is that it starts with the most important part of the brand: THE CONSUMER. Everything in Marketing has to start and end with the consumer in mind. It assesses the brand’s performance solely on how tightly connected consumers are with your brand. The more connected the brand, the easier it was to Market. It commanded more power and generated more profit.

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When I looked at my own portfolio of brands, I started to noticed that the biggest difference was how tightly connected some brands were with their consumer. I started to refer to the poor performing brands as “indifferent” where consumers did not really care about the brand and then I called the best brands “beloved” because consumers were emotionally engaged. I started to see the difference. I could clearly see that brands with a stronger bond had it easier and that almost everything on those brands was better. Launches of new products were easier because consumers were more accepting. Retailers gave these brands preferential treatment because they knew their consumers wanted them. My own people were more excited to work on these brands, thinking it was a career advancement to get the chance to be part of the beloved brand.  I could see that beloved brands had better share results, better consumer tracking scores and in many cases better margins. It was easier to get price increases through. It seemed that everyone in the organization cared about these beloved brands. My agencies bragged about the work they did on these beloved brands. As I kept exploring this idea, the idea of the Brand Love Curve came to me and I started to map where each our 20 brands sat on this hypothetical curve. As the consumer start with a new brand, they were indifferent, then they started to like it, then loved it, and finally it would become a beloved brand. The goal becomes to move along the curve towards the beloved status.

As I worked with the Brand Love Curve,  I started to see the link between where the brand sat on the curve and our strategy choices available, we started to see there was a difference in the balance of rational and emotional benefits, which impacted our advertising and media planning. I could start to see how the Brand Love Curve could really drive every part of how we manage the brand. The goal became how do we move the brand along the curve because as we discussed in the previous section, if brand love helps your brand become more powerful and profitable, then any degree of added love was a good thing.

At the beloved stage, the brand becomes iconic that is famous and highly regarded with consumers. Consumers become equal to fans, similar to fans of sports teams or celebrities. They become outspoken, possessive and will defend the brand at any point. The brand becomes a self expression of the consumers, a ritual or favorite part of the day. People have conversations about these brands, whether on social media or at the lunch table. The emotional connection becomes so strong, that consumers feel more and think less. Demand becomes desire, needs become cravings, thinking is replaced with feelings. Consumers become blind to pure logic and deaf to rational product based competitors. These brands have strength on every part of the robust brand funnel, near perfect awareness levels, high purchase intentions, high repeat and high loyalty. Voice of the customer is very strong, and the brand listens to ensure they are attacking any weakness before it can be exploited. The brand has a big idea, with every consumer touch point easily tying back and re-enforcing the big idea. The brand has a sense of power and uses it quietly against all stakeholders from consumers to competitors and retailers, while leveraging it with key influencers and media. The brand is driving every lever of their profit statements to continue strong sales growth and healthy margins, driving price premiums, lower costs, higher market shares and leveraging the core base of brand fans to enter new categories.

The most beloved brands we have tracked includes Apple, Starbucks, Nike, Google and Mercedes. In a sense, these brands are flawless in their strategy and execution—fully respected, desired and cherished, while wielding the power in the marketplace to create extremely profitable and valuable brands. Some of the world’s newest challengers for beloved brands status includes Uber, Whole Foods, Netflix, Beats by Dre and Tesla. Impressed by how fast they have risen in the market, but not yet flawless, only time will tell if they can survive near the top.

Staying at the top is just as hard as getting there. Just ask former beloved brands that have fallen from grace, including Blackberry, Gap Clothing, Kodak, Cadillac or Benneton.

 

The 5 ways that Beloved Brands fall from grace

  1. Beloved Brands forget who they are and what it was that made them famous. Benetton is great example of a brand who forgot what made them famous. In 1990, Benetton could do no wrong. Business schools wrote case studies of their success and Ad Agencies held them up as the brand of envy for all clients to learn from.benetton-ad-1991 They had shock-value advertising campaigns that people talked about at the lunch table and there was a Benetton store in every mall. Their colorful and stylish fashion was the desire of the core teenage crowd. Benetton’s brand promise was providing European fashions at an affordable price. But the arrogance of the “can do no wrong” brand quickly faded. While they were so busy creating shock-value advertising and arrogantly talking of their brand as it were art itself they forgot about the fashion part of the business. Benetton started to look like a hollow promise of cool ads with not-so-cool clothing. Also, Benetton expanded so broadly and so fast, they opted for franchises instead of maintaining ownership over the distribution. The managing of the large franchise network became a drain on the company and there’s a belief that not being close to the consumers in the stores hurt their ability to listen to what teenagers were saying and wearing. With a fickle teenage target, Benetton quickly went from a must-have to a has-been brand.
  2. Brands that struggle to keep up with the times. The Beloved Brands of General Motors–Cadillac, Oldsmobile and Corvette–not only peaked in the 1970’s, but found themselves stuck their as well. The 70’s were one of those decades with such a distinct look with Disco, perms, gold chains and the 3-piece suit, that most things connected to the 70’s were completely rejected in the 1980’s. Not-Your-Fathers-OldsmobileA brand like Cadillac was the ultimate luxury brand, so revered that people would describe the best brand of any category as “it’s the Cadillac of….” but that has since been replaced by “it’s the Mercedes of…..” Cadillac’s unit sales peaked in 1973 just as gas prices began to rise and the look of those huge gas-guzzlers. It no longer fit the desires of the Yuppies of the 1980’s who were now opting for sleeker luxury with Mercedes and BMW. The Corvette brand had done a nice job transitioning from the 50’s of James Dean through the 60’s and 70’s, always remaining as an icon of sophisticated American cool. But Corvette failed to update their 1970’s brand look until 1984, which was too late to escape the stigma and giggles of those who looked at the drivers as having a “mid-life crisis”. Consumers of the 80’s were now driving smaller and sleeker sports cars like the RX7, 280Z and later on the Miata. And finally, the Oldsmobile was a classic American family car who sales soared through the 1970’s. By the mid-80’s, in an effort to try to capture a new generation, they used the infamous tagline of “Not your father’s Oldsmobile” which only re-enforced that it WAS your father’s Oldsmobile. I believe that the near-bankruptcy of General Motors can be traced back to the 1970’s when the brands peaked and yet felt stuck in a time-warp forever. GM failed to keep up in design, and failed to change as gas prices rose dramatically. They found themselves attacked on the lower end from the Japanese cars like Toyota and Honda and at the higher end from German brands like Mercedes, Porsche, Audi and BMW.
  3. They make the wrong strategic choices because they think of themselves before the consumer. Gap Clothing got greedy and forgot what made them great: trendy American fashion for a stylish generation at a reasonable price. And who is the spokesperson for fashion: the coolest people on earth: TEENAGERS of course. Every generation of Teens believes they are the most important people on earth and they want products that speak for their generation. It’s all about them.gap They influence Music, Movies, TV Shows and Clothing and believe each has to speak directly to them and for them. Imagine being 15 in the late 90’s, you’re walking in your favorite mall, trying to be as cool as can be, heading for your favorite clothing store. All of a sudden, you look up and your favorite clothing brand is now flanked by BABY GAP on one side and GAP MATERNITY on the other side. How could this brand speak for the teen generation, when your 2-year-old nephews are wearing a mini-version of what you’re wearing or your pregnant Aunt is wearing the stretchy version? GAP made the mistake of putting their name on all their line extensions, which most fans of Master Brands thinks strengthens the brand but it actually runs the risk of actually weakening the brand. GAP also forgot about feeding that desire for leading edge, trendy clothing–the whole reason for that “8 seasons” rotation of inventory. Go into a GAP store this year, and you’ll realize how boring and drab the products have become. No teenager today loves GAP or even thinks much about GAP. They are totally indifferent. Fast forward to 2011, GAP Clothing sales are down 19% this year and down over 25% since the peak of 2005. They have just announced the closing of 200 stores–which will continue the downward spiral.
  4. If you are Afraid to attack yourself, expect an attack from someone else. Kodak was such a revered brand for so long, but their refusal to attack themselves opened up so many windows of attack from others. The first attack came in the traditional film business from low-priced Fuji film. Kodak did nothing to stop Fuji for fear of eroding their margin, letting Fuji gain a 17% share of the film market.Untitled-2 The second attack came from new entrants into the digital camera market before Kodak was ready to enter. Even though Kodak had the first digital camera as early as 1975, the product was dropped internally for fear it would threaten Kodak’s photographic film business. In 1990 Kodak finally laid out a plan to enter the digital camera market but took another decade to enter the market. The world was changing, yet Kodak executives still could not fathom a world without traditional film which gave them little incentive to deviate into the digital camera space. The third attack came once Kodak entered the digital camera space.  Kodak entered at the high-end of the market and for a brief moment was the #1 digital camera. But Kodak failed to recognize how quickly the digital camera market would become commoditized. They did cut their prices, but couldn’t lower their cost of goods fast enough to keep up with the Japanese manufacturers. Kodak was losing $60 for every camera sold at the same time as their traditional film business was dying. The result: Bankruptcy. Interestingly enough, at the time of their bankruptcy, Kodak released 1000’s of patents for sale. It’s not a question of innovation that killed Kodak, it’s a refusal to act on the right innovation in a timely fashion. They failed to attack themselves only to let others attack and ultimately destroy them.
  5. Lose focus and let the experience slide. A recent case study in a brand experience not living up to expectations is the Blackberry. It’s a classic case where they grabbed early share as the category innovator and then forgot to keep making improvements to the overall experience. maxresdefault-1The list of problems for blackberry is long: major service outages, keyboard that sticks, small screen size, bad cameras, poor quality speaker-phone, slow internet browser and when the screen freezes you have to take the battery out and re-boot. In my last few months as an angry blackberry user, I was taking the battery out 5x a day. The leaders at RIM believed they were invincible almost laughing when Apple launched the iPhone. These guys would next launch a tablet without any Apps on it. Oh man! What I think Blackberry’s biggest failure is not mapping out the customer experience and attacking every possible weakness. It’s a classic case of technology first and then thrust it into the marketplace and hope it sells. The blackberry experience has just not kept pace with Android and Apple. As a result, the RIM share price is down 95% since its peak of 2008.

Maintaining beloved brand status

  1. Focus on maintaining the magic and love the brand has created with the core brand fans. Focus most of your attention on those who love you the most. Treat them special. Listen to your consumer, giving them a voice at the table, with the brand being responsive as it can. Market the Big Idea, sell the innovation and the experience. Continue to invest in product innovation and brand experience. Leverage both into telling the overall brand story, using the big idea to push the marketing effort in two separate layers: tell the master brand story about the big idea and the related experience, tell the specific product innovation stories linking how they support and build on the brand’s big idea.
  2. Perfect the experience: For those who love the brand, it is no longer just about the product, it becomes about the experience. Build a culture and organization around the brand that will keep finding new ways to surprise and delight consumers. Perfect every possible touchpoint with the consumer. Attack the brand before it can be attacked by others: The biggest competitor for these brands is the brand itself. The constant goal has to be about getting better. Any degree of complacency will set the brand up for future attacks. Never become complacent or these brands will be replaced by challenger brands wanting to achieve the beloved status.
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  3. Broaden the offering and broaden the audience: Take advantage of your brand’s loyal following to launch peripheral products that build on the routine. Capture more share of wallet of your most loyal consumers.To ensure you are a brand that goes beyond the current generation of consumers, begin thinking about how to spread your brand to other age groups. A lot of fashion brands and restaurant brands have been trapped into the current generation and lose the status as styles change.

The most beloved brands must keep the love alive, attack yourself, and use your fans as spokespeople. 

 

Here’s a presentation on what makes 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. 

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Love = Power = Profit

The Brand Love Curve

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

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

The most beloved brands are based on an idea that is worth loving.

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

Generating Love for the Brand

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.
The most beloved brands create an experience that over-delivers the promise. How your culture and organization are set up can make or break that experience. Hiring the best people, creating service values that employees can deliver against and having processes that eliminate service leakage. The culture attacks the brand’s weaknesses and fixes them before the competition can attack. With a Beloved Brand, the culture and brand become one.
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.
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. .
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.

 

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Using Apple as an example, which is the most valuable brand on the planet, the big idea behind Apple is complexity made simple. Since every great brand tackles an enemy of the consumer, Apple takes on the frustration and intimidation that consumers have with technology. The Apple brand promise is we make it easier to love technology, so that you can experience the future no matter who you are. Apple has done an amazing job in creating products that take the most complicated of technology and deliver it so that anyone can use it. People criticize Apple for not being that leading edge of technology saying they just copy. But they don’t get what Apple is about. Whereas every other geeky computer company starts with the technology and forces consumers to figure it out, Apple takes that same technology and makes it so simple–whether that’s the iPhone iPad or the Mac which have made technology accessible for anyone. Apple knows how to tell their story, starting with the launch meeting–last week’s iPad Mini launch was covered for days in the mainstream media. You could even watch it live on-line. Apple has made great ads over the years, but they know how to work the media–whether that’s on CNN, technology magazines or through social media such as Twitter and Facebook. Apple manages the Brand Experience to perfection–starting with the excitement of launches to the helpfulness of the genius bar to the out-of-box start-up of any of the Apple products. As much excitement as Apple generates, they always seem to over-deliver. Look how giddy people get over their iPhones and iPads. All these contribute to the Love for the Apple brand and generates a loyal following.

 

Using the Love to Generate Power

The 12 forces of a Beloved Brand map out how a beloved brand can leverage the power generated from being loved.

 

A Beloved Brand with a loyal group of followers has so much more power–starting with a power over the very consumers that love them. These consumers feel more than they think–they are e-rational responding to emotional cues in the brand. They’ll pay a premium, line up in the rain for new products and follow the brand to new categories. Look at the power Starbucks has with their base of consumers, making their Starbucks moment one of their favorite rituals of the day and how consumers have now added sandwiches and wraps to those rituals. All day long, Starbucks has a line up of people ready for one of their favorite moments of their day.

Using Porter’s 5 forces, we can see that the love also gives Beloved Brands power over channels, substitutes, new entrants, or suppliers. People rather switch stores than switch brands. Apple has even created their own stores, which generate the highest sales per square foot of any retailer. These brand fans are outspoken against competitors and suppliers will do what it takes to be part of the brand. In Apple’s case, Intel has given them the lead on new chip technology.

Beloved Brands have a power over employees that want to be part of the brand and the culture of the organization that all these brand fans are proud to project. People at Starbucks love working there and wear that green apron with a sense of pride. Brand fans know the culture on day 1 and do what it takes to preserve it.

Beloved Brands have a power over the media whether that’s paid, earned, social or search media. Apple generates over a billion dollars of free media via the mainstream media and social media. Competitors complain about Apple getting a positive media bias–they are right, they do. Even for paid media,beloved brands get better placement, cheaper rates and they’ll be the first call for an Integration or big event such as the Super Bowl or the Olympics. Nike did such a great job with social media during the London Olympics that people thought they were the main shoe sponsor–when it was Adidas.

Beloved Brands have a power over key influencers whether it’s doctors recommending Lipitor, restaurant critics giving a positive review for the most beloved restaurant in town or Best Buy sales people selling a Samsung TV. They each become fans of the brand and build emotion into their recommendation. They become more outspoken in their views of the brand. And finally beloved the Beloved Brand makes its way into conversation at the lunch table or on someone’s Facebook page. The brand fans are everywhere, ready to pounce, ready to defend and ready to say “hey, you should buy the iPhone”. The conversation comes with influence as crowds follow crowds. This conversation has a second power, which creates a badge value. People know it will generate a conversation and are so proud to show it off. After all, they are in the club. All twelve of these forces combine to generate further power for the brand.

Using the Love and Power to generate Profits

 

 

With all the love and power the Beloved Brand has generated for itself, now is the time to translate that into growth, profit and value. The Beloved Brand has an Inelastic Price.  The loyal brand fans pay a 20-30% price premium and the weakened channels cave to give deeper margins.  We will see how inelastic Apple’s price points are with the new iPad Mini.   Consumers are willing to trade up to the best model.  The more engaged employees begin to generate an even better brand experience. For instance at Starbucks, employees know the names of their most loyal of customers. Blind taste tests show consumers prefer the cheaper McDonald’s coffee but still pay 4x as much for a Starbucks. So is it still coffee you’re buying?

A well-run Beloved Brand can use their efficiency to lower their cost structure.  Not only can they use their growth to drive economies of scale, but suppliers will cut their cost just to be on the roster of a Beloved Brand.  They will benefit from the free media through earned, social and search media.  They may even find government offer subsidies to be in the community or partners willing to lower their costs to be part of the brand.  For instance, a real estate owner would likely give lower costs and better locations to McDonald’s than an indifferent brand.

Beloved Brands have momentum they can turn into share gains. Crowds draw crowds which spreads the base of the loyal consumers. Putting name Disney on a movie generates a crowd at the door on day 1. Competitors can’t compete–lower margins means less investment back into the brand. It’s hard for them to fight the Beloved Brand on the emotional basis leaving them to a niche that’s currently unfulfilled.

Beloved Brands can enter into new categories knowing their loyal consumers will follow  because they buy into the Idea of the Brand.  The idea is no longer tied to the product or service but rather how it makes you feel about yourself.  Nike is all about winning, whether that’s in running shoes, athletic gear or even golf equipment.

The formula for a Beloved Brand is simple: Beloved = Power = Growth = Profit

Apple has been able to take all the love they generate with consumers and transform it into a power that they’ve been able to drive into their P&L, with 25-fold gains in revenue, increases in gross margins and can move all their ratios into the right space.  As a result, Apple is now the most valuable company in the world.

 

How loved is your brand?

We believe a brand’s source of power is the emotional feelings it generates. With that power comes added profitability.

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

 

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

We offer brand coaching, where we promise to make your brand better by listening to the issues, providing advice that challenges you, and coaching you along a strategic pathway to reaching your brand’s full potential. For our brand leader training, we promise to make your team of brand leaders better, by teaching sound marketing fundamentals and challenging to push for greatness so that they can unleash their full potential. Feel free to add me on Linked In, or follow me on Twitter at @belovedbrands If you need to contact me, email me at graham@beloved-brands.com or phone me at 416 885 3911

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Target Market: Why not just target everyone?

“You have to start with the customer experience and work backwards to the technology.  You cannot start with the technology and try to figure out where you are going to sell it”                                                      

Steve p. Jobs

I once had a Brand Leader tell me that their target was “18-65, new potential customers, current customers and employees”.  My response was “you’ve left out tourists and prisoners?”  It took me another hour to talk them into potentially focusing their limited investment on a group of people who might be most likely to buy their product. That Brand Leader was a Bank selling first time mortgages.  While there could be an 18-year-old or a 64½ year old that might be buying a mortgage for the first time, it’s actually not likely.  In fact 18-65 is the opposite of a target.  I did manage to talk them into a 28-33 year old target, which gave us the chance to build insights about all the life-changes these consumers were going through (careers, babies, need for more space) that allowed us to develop Advertising Creative around moments that the consumer goes through and we focused the media in places where the 28-33 year olds would most likely see our ads. That would have been missed with the broader 18-65 target range–we would have spread our dollars so thin that no one would have seen it, and we would have spread our message so broadly that no one would have felt any connection to it.

A good brand strategy has four key elements: 

  1. FOCUS all your energy and investment to a particular strategic focal point or purpose. Match up your brand assets to pressure points you can break through, maximizing your limited resources—either financial resources or effort. Make tough choices and choose to be loved by the few rather than tolerated by the many.
  2. You want that EARLY WIN, to kick-start of some momentum. Early Wins are about slicing off parts of the business or population where you can build further. Without the early win, you’ll likely seek out some new strategy even a sub-optimal one. Or someone in management will say “it’s not working”. You don’t want either of those–so the early win helps keep people moving towards the big win.
  3. LEVERAGE everything to gain positional advantage or power that helps exert even greater pressure and gains the tipping point of the business that helps lead to something bigger.  This is where strategy provides that return on Effort–you get more than the effort you are putting into it.
  4. Seeing beyond the early win, there has to be a GATEWAY point, which is the entrance or a means of access to something even bigger. It could be getting to the masses, changing opinions or behaviours.  Return on Investment or Effort.

Since Every brand has limited resources—marketing dollars, people resources to carry out programs and any share in the market, whether that’s share of voice, shelf, display, recommendations–you never want to waste these resources by spreading them so thinly on everyone.  When you turn to your brand P&L, your CEO and finance people will expect you to deliver an appropriate ROI, or that investment will start to get smaller because they’ll give your dollars to someone else that can deliver a higher ROI.  And yet, even with that, you still refuse to focus? If you had to lift up a car, would you rather 8 football players each standing 3 feet apart or a simple $89 car jack. I’d take the jack because lifting up at a key focal point gives you an early win as you start to watch that car start moving up, the leverage point of the jack holds that 3000-pound car in the air so you can change your tire without even breaking a sweat (the gateway) and you can now drive away. Those poor football players would begin shaking after a few minutes.

Spreading your limited resources across an entire population is cost prohibitive. While targeting everyone “just in case” might safe at first, it’s actually less safe because you never get to see the full impact. Realizing not everyone can like you is the first step to focusing all your attention on those that can love you. Be honest in assessing your brand’s assets and then match those assets up to who is most likely to be motivated enough to buy your brand. That’s when you start to define the target, and then take your resources and do your best to get them to buy.

Who is the Consumer Target and What do they want?

Try to balance the target based on demographics (age, sex, income) and psychographics (behaviours, attitudes and values). Yes, people criticize relying on demographics, but when you go to market, traditional media usually sells their media based on demographics (e.g. TV target is 18-34 years old).  With new media, whether that’s search, display or social media it allows you to focus more on psychographics and match up to whats most important to the consumer. In terms of the creative, I always challenge people to narrow the target down to a 5 year range (eg. 28-33 years old) to give the creative the appropriate tone and feel. For every part of the buying system connected to your brand, take a walk in the shoes of the person who is paying their hard-earned money for the brand you offer, whether that’s a customer, consumer, purchaser, contractor or medical professional. I always think of my consumer as the “most selfish animal on the planet” just to ensure I’m doing the most I can to satisfy that selfishness. After all, the selfishness is well deserved, since they have money spend. Understand and meet those needs.

What do they want?
Consumers don’t care what you can do, until you care about what they need. 
They will only pay you money, if you give them something. That sounds simple. But, keep in mind they will pay you even more money if you give them what they need. And they’ll start to do that over and over again if they get even more from your brand. That means moving your brand from just features up to benefits and all the way up to emotional benefits. Ask consumers what they want. Listen. Don’t start with what you’re selling.   Put yourself in their shoes and ask yourself over and over again “so what do I get from that” until you’ve come up with something powerful. Speak in terms of benefit, not features.

And remember, no one ever really wanted a quarter-inch drill; they just needed a quarter-inch hole.  Sell the hole, not the drill. 

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

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

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

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

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