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

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

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

Strategic Thinking

Are you naturally Strategic or Instinctual?

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

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

Instinctual Thinkers

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

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

Changing brain speeds 

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

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

How to slow your brain down and think strategically

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

Five elements of smart strategic thinking

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

Strategic Thinking

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

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

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

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

Always ask questions

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

Strategic Thinking

2. Deployment of your brand’s available strategic options

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

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

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

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

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

Focus your limited resources

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

Strategic Thinking

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Strategic Thinking

How Apple re-built their brand around ‘simplicity’

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

Apple looked like it would not survive.

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

Apple’s Smart Strategic Thinking

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

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

The impact on Apple’s Performance Results

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

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

Strategic Thinking

Strategic Thinking Workshop

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

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

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

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

We help brands find growth

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

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

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

We make Brand Leaders smarter

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

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

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

Beloved Brands Graham Robertson

3 simple steps for how to build your brand’s Big Idea

Building the Big Idea

We have come up with the Big Idea Blueprint that allows you to define your brand’s Big Idea. How it works is we start by brainstorming the 5 areas that surround the Big Idea. On the internal side, we describe the products/services and the internal beacon. On the external side, we describe the ideal consumer reputation and the brand character. We also look at the brand role, as the enabler to help bridge the internal and the external.

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Step One: Brainstorming Words

With a cross-functional team of those who work on the brand, and you expose them to all the work you have done on the brand positioning with the target profile, brand benefits ladder and the brand positioning. Also, provide them with any necessary background research that was done. Most importantly, ask them to bring their knowledge, wisdom and opinions they have from where they sit in the organization.

We recommend that you start off by brainstorming each section, starting with the internally focused products and services, followed by the mirrored externally driven brand reputation. Then, you should move down to internally driven brand beacon, followed by the mirrored externally driven brand character. You should start to see that these match up, or at least should be reflective of each other. You should ask the team to brainstorm up to 15-20 key words that describe each area. Once that is done, brainstorm 15-20 words that start to describe the brand role, which starts to bride the internal and the external.

  • Products and Services: What is the focused point of difference that your brand can win on, because it meets consumer needs, while separating your brand from competitors?
  • Consumer Reputation: What is the desired outward reputation of the brand, that attracts, excites, engages and motivates consumers to think, feel and purchase your brand?
  • Internal Beacon: What is the internal rallying cry that reflects your purpose, values, motivations helping to inspire, challenge and guide the culture, including everyone’s focus and daily behaviors?
  • Brand Character: What is the set of emotional characteristics, and personality traits that help consumers connect passionately and identify with the brand on a deeper self-reflective level?
  • Brand Role: What is the link between consumer and brand, reflecting the way we service, support and enable our consumers to ensure they make the most of our brand offering?

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Step Two: Constructing phrases from the best words

Ask for a vote to narrow down to the best 3-4 words for each section. Divide your group into 2-3 mini groups and then assign the task of taking the winning words and building key phrases that will begin to summarize each area. With different versions of each section from the mini-groups, you can narrow down to what feels like the best version of each of the five areas. You will begin to see a focus around certain areas and key words. Importantly, the groups will move towards alignment. It also serves to stimulate the creative writing juices on the team, which will help in step three.

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Step Three: Finding the Big Idea

Using the five areas to inspire you surrounding the Big Idea, get each of the mini-teams to try to write a summary Big Idea statement that captures everything you have worked on. Try to get a few different versions of the Big Idea. Hopefully, with the teams fully focused on the brand and with all the creative energy in the room, you will get a couple of good versions that you can play with after the meeting.

If you are still working on brand concepts, you can even take the best versions of the Big Idea forward into Market Research testing as part of a concept test. You should also vet them internally with key members of your organization.

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Organize everything around the brand’s Big Idea

The Big Idea should guide everything that the consumer touches. You will need to manage the consistent delivery of the Big Idea over five consumer touch-points, including the brand promise, story, innovation, purchase moment and brand experience. This means everyone that works on those, whether management, agencies, customer service, sales, HR and operations all should be looking at the Big Idea as a guiding beacon for decisions.

  • Brand Promise: Use the Big Idea to inspire a simple brand promise that separates your brand from competitors, based how it is better, different or cheaper. This helps to inspire the brand positioning.
  • Brand Story: Bring your brand story to life to motivate consumers to think, feel or act, while beginning to own a reputation in the mind and hearts of consumers. This helps to focus all the brand communications across all media choices.
  • Innovation: Build a fundamentally sound product, while staying at the forefront of trends and technology to help deliver on your brand promise. This helps to steer the product development and R&D teams to stay true to the Big Idea.
  • Purchase Moment: The moment of truth as consumers move through the purchase cycle and use channels, messaging, processes to make the final decision. This helps push the sales team and focus how you set up the retail channels to drive towards the sale.
  • Consumer Experience: Turn the usage of your product into an experience that becomes a ritual and favorite part of the consumer’s day. The people at the organization deliver the consumer experience. The Big Idea can steer the values and expected behaviors that help frame organizational culture and the operations team.

The Big Idea helps guide every aspect of Brand Management. When you begin to blow this out one step further, you can start to see where everyone in your organization should align and understand how they can deliver the brand’s Big Idea.  If you are in finance at Volvo, you should be thinking about how to make safe cars cheaper, if you’re in HR at Starbucks, you should be hiring people that deliver moments and if you’re working at the Genius Bar at Apple, you have to make sure your language choices are simple so that it is easy for consumers to understand. Every sales rep coast to coast should be living the Big Idea. It has to permeate through he organization, reaching everyone who touches the brand.

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Here’s how it would look for Gray’s Cookies. This should allow you to run every part of your brand organization.

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

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

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

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

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Airbnb nails the consumer experience better than the rest

bnb_billboard_01-2000x1125Airbnb does an amazing job in delivering an amazing consumer experience. They deliver on their big idea of Don’t just go there. Live there. I have always been a traveler, more than a tourist. And, I would love to live everywhere in the world. I don’t need a hotel.

I have always found it better to rent a place for a week, and live there. And, I hate staying hotels, like a tourist. My first venture was in Peebles Scotland, in 1992. I found an amazing place through the classified section of the newspaper. Do you even know where Peebles is? Wait, do you even know what a classified section is? Then, I met the person, went through a photo album. And, then handed them the cash. I had an amazing time. The flat was the top half of a house, in a small village 30 minutes south of Edinburgh. Then throughout the 1990’s, I found a place in France, Belgium, Austria and New Zealand.

Still no technology. It was not really easy finding these gems around the world. It was like finding a needle in a haystack. But, ever so rewarding when I did find them. I’ve been so lucky to have stayed in so many great places.

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

Don’t just go there. Live there.

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

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

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

We help brands find growth

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

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

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

We make Brand Leaders smarter

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

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

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

Graham Robertson bio

 

 

How to find your brand’s ideal Consumer target profile

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As part of the positioning exercise, we recommend that you put together a complete Consumer Profile that outlines the focused definition of the target, add flavor with needs, enemies and insights and then talk about where they are now and where you’d like to move the consumer in the future.

Who is your ideal consumer target?

Everything starts and ends with the consumer in mind. We believe that spreading your limited resources across an entire population is cost-prohibitive and will provide you with a low return on investment and low return on effort, that will eventually drain your brand. While targeting everyone “just in case” might feel safe at first, it is actually less safe because you never get to see the full impact of the resources you apply. Too many Marketers seems to think that the way to make your brand bigger is to be able to appeal to a bigger, broader target. Positioning 2016 ExtractWe take a different approach believing that instead of going after who you want the most, we recommend that you should go after those consumers who are the most motivated by what you do. To get Brand Leaders to focus their target, we show three types of targets: selling target, marketing target and program target.

  • Selling Target: Of course you should sell to anyone who wants to buy. I just wouldn’t spend my money against this large of a target. You can always reactively sell to anyone who engage and show interest in your brand, regardless if they fit your ideal target. However, as every brand is constrained by limited resources, we just don’t recommend that you spend your limited marketing resources against this large of a target, especially when you have seen no signs that they will respond enough to provide an efficient pay back.
  • Marketing Target: The best marketers know exactly who is their ideal consumer. In the new world of Marketing, we can know more and more about these people. We recommend that you focus your limited resources on those consumers that are the most motivated by what your brand offers, those most likely respond to your brand story or your product offering, which then provides you with the fastest and highest return on investment and return on effort.
  • Program Target: Specific campaign target that you hope to move to think, feel or do with your specific marketing program.

A few years ago, I was working with bank who told me that their target market for a first time mortgage (home loan) was 18-65, new customers, current customers and employees. Sarcastically, I said, “You have forgotten tourists and prisoners”. As I pressed to help them narrow their consumer target, they pushed back saying that they didn’t want to alienate anyone “just in case” someone outside the usual target wanted a home loan. While the odd 64-year-old might be tired of renting for the past 40 years and wanting to finally buy their first home, they would not be offended if there was a 32 year old in the advertising. The reality is that first time home owners are usually in their late 20’s or early 30’s, and they usually spend 6-12 months looking for a house. No one buys a house on impulse. And no one ever wanted a mortgage, without buying a house. The target should be: “28-33, already considering buying a house within the next year and nervous about their debt load.” Imagine the difference that focused target market will make in the brand message and in the media choices you might make now. For instance, instead of just randomly advertising to everyone on mass media, you can focus your resources where the consumer would be most open to your message. You could advertise on real estate websites, take out billboard ads outside of the new housing developments and buy radio ads on Saturday when people are looking at new homes. The focused target market helps focus your resources on those consumers most likely to respond to your brand messages.

Realizing not everyone can like you is the first step to focusing all your attention on those that can love you. It becomes all about choices and you will be much more effective at convincing a segment of the population to choose your brand because of the assets and promise that you have that match up perfectly to what they want. The best brands don’t go after consumers, they create a desire and connection, to get consumers to go after the brand. The best way to get consumers motivated is to tap into their need states, to understand their frustration points they may have and to connect by showing that you understand them. Motivating someone to buy your brand should start with the consumer not your product. You have to understand consumers, to match your brand up to their needs, wants and desires. Done right, if you can make consumers want to buy, then you will never have to sell.

Who is your consumer’s enemies that you will fight?

While regular products solve regular problems, the most beloved brands beat down the enemies that torment consumers every day. What are your consumer’s frustration point that they feel no one is even noticing or addressing? For instance, the Disney brand fights off the consumer enemy of “growing up”, while Volvo fights off the consumer enemy of “other drivers” or Starbucks fights off the consumer enemy of a “hectic life”. Shifting from solving a rational consumer problem to beating down a consumer enemy is the starting point to reaching into the emotional state of your consumer. Positioning 2016 Extract 2

Put yourself in the shoes of your Starbucks consumer, who is a 38-year-old mom with two kids. She wakes up at 6:15 am, not only to get ready for work, but to get everyone in the house ready for their day. She drops off one kid at daycare, the other at public school and then rushes into the office for 8:30 am. She drives a van, not because she wants to but because it is a great transportation choice for carrying all the equipment needed for after-school activities, including soccer, dance, tutoring and ice hockey. It never stops. No one is really old enough to thank her, the only appreciations are random moments of celebration or a hug at the end of a long day. Just after getting both to bed, she slinks into her bed exhausted. What is her enemy? Her enemy is the hectic life that she leads. If only she had a 15-minute moment to escape from it all. She doesn’t want to run from it, because she does love her life. She just needs a nice little break. A place where there is no play land, but rather nice leather seats. There are no loud screams, just nice acoustic music. There are no happy meals, just nice pastries have a European touch. Not only does she feel appreciated, but the cool 21-year-old college student not only knows her name but knows her favorite drink. Starbucks does an amazing job in understanding and fighting off the consumer’s enemy, giving her a nice 15-minute moment of escape in the middle of her day. Yes, the Starbucks product is coffee, but the Starbucks brand is about moments. Starbucks provides a personal moment of escape from a hectic life, between work and home. If you want to show that you better understand your consumer’s pain points, think of how you would project the enemy to the consumer that you are fighting on their behalf.

Consumer Insights

We think of Consumer Insights as secrets that we have discovered and then use to our brand’s advantage. To paint the picture of our consumer target, you should use Consumer Insights to help to crystallize secrets, thoughts and stories that bring the consumer to life. The dictionary definition of the word Insight is “seeing below the surface”. Too many people think data, trends and facts are insights. I always do this little test asking if this is an insight: “Consumers in Brazil brush their teeth 4x a day compared with only 1.8 times per day for Americans”. All we know is one piece of data and if we don’t find out more, we might make a mistake. It might be that Brazilians stand closer to each other, or they eat spicier foods or they have a lack fluoride in their water system, or Brazilians believe they are the most beautiful people on the planet.

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The dictionary definition of the word Insight is “seeing below the surface”. To get deeper, when you come across a data point, you have to keep looking, listening, and asking yourself “so what does that mean for the consumer” until you have an “AHA moment”. You have to understand beneath the surface to turn the data point into knowledge and even wisdom about the consumer.

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

Get in the consumer’s shoes, then observe, listen and understand how they think, act, feel and behave. You have to know their fears, motivations, frustrations and desires. Learn their secrets, that only they know, even if they can’t explain. Learn to use their voice. Build that little secret into your message, using their language, so they’ll know you are talking to them. We call this little secret the consumer insight. Good insights get in the SHOES of your consumer and use their VOICE. We force every insight to be written starting with the word “I” to get the Marketer into the shoes of the consumer and force them to put the insight in quotes to use their voice.Creative Brief 2016.035

When portrayed with the brand’s message, whether on packaging, an advertisement or at the purchase moment, the consumer insight is the first thing that consumers connect with. When consumers see the insight portrayed, we make them think: “That’s exactly how I feel. I thought I was the only one who felt like that.” This is what engages consumers and triggers their motivation and desire to purchase. The consumers think we must be talking to them, even if it looks like we are talking to millions. If we want consumers to believe the brand is for them, then the insight is the first signal that says “we get you, you should listen to us”. It is not easy to explain a secret to a person who doesn’t even know how to explain their own secret. Try it with a friend and you will fail miserably. Imagine how hard it is to find that secret and portray it back to an entire group of consumers. Safe to say, consumer insights are hard to find.

Knowing the secrets of your consumers is a very powerful asset. An insight should ONLY connect with the audience you are talking to. I hate when people say, “We don’t want to alienate others”. The best brand communication should be like whispering an inside-joke that only you and your friend get. Yes, when we target, we actually do want to alienate others. That’s the only way we will truly connect. Your ability to harness those secrets into creating insights that are arresting or intriguing, fuels the creative spirit as you tell your brand’s story, launch new innovation and move the consumer through to the purchase moment. After all, there is one source of revenue, not the product you sell, but the consumers who buy. In a tough competitive market, your ability to harness the secrets of your consumers that only you know, is a huge potential competitive advantage.

How do you define your consumer?

At Beloved Brands, we lead workshops to help teams build their Brand Positioning Statement, helping the team find the target, main benefits, reason to believe.  Click on the Powerpoint file below to view:

 

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

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

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

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

 

GR bio Jun 2016.001

How to find the ideal Consumer Benefit for your brand

What is the right consumer benefit?

The 4 elements of a winning Brand Positioning statement include who you will serve, where you play, where you will win then why the consumer should they believe us. Simply put, that’s the target, category, main benefit and support points.

Before you just write out a random brand positioning statement, we recommend that you dig deeper on doing the homework that helps uncover options and then focuses you on the best possible space to own. Positioning has a sense of ambiguity and uncertainty, which means randomness is only an intuitive guess on your part. Having a process that grounds your thinking will ensure you are owning the best space. I always think the positioning statement takes everything you know about the brand and narrows the focus to only those things that matter. The homework helps to lay out everything you know, and then your decision making helps to focus on the elements that matter.

  1. Who is in the consumer target? What slice of the population will be the most motivated to buy what you do? The first thing to decide is the consumer target, which should be your first point of focus, so that you can find the slice of the population that will be the most motivated by what you do. The mistake for many Marketers is they think about who you want, and they forget to ask who wants you. Who is the most motivated to buy what you do?
  2. Where do you play? What is the frame of reference that helps to define the space in the marketplace that you compete in? We then frame the positioning by determining the category you play in, defining the competitors you will position yourself against. No one really operates in a blue ocean space, as positioning is always relative to some other choice the consumer can make.
  3. Where do you win? We then need to determine the main promise you will make to the consumer target, in the sense of a benefit for the consumer, both the rational and emotional. Think about what does the customer get, and how does it make them feel?
  4. Why should they believe us? Finally, we will look to understand what support points are needed to back up the main promise you are making. These support points have to support the main benefit, not just random claims or features that you want to jam into your brand message.
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The homework is hard, but the output provides clarity when you begin writing a brand positioning statement that will help focus you on what is unique, own-able, and motivating to consumers. One of the biggest mistakes brands make is speaking at the consumer with features (what you do) and not benefits (what they get). The old saying is, “features tell, but benefits sell”. Stop telling consumers what you do and start telling them what they get and how it will make them feel.

The first thing you want to do is to know up your brand’s core strength.

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. Which core strength can really impact your brand positioning. Product and experience brands have to be better, promise brands have to be different, price brands have to be cheaper.

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Here’s a simple little game that we play with executive teams. We provide them with 4 chips against the 4 choices of product, promise, experience or price. They have to put one at the highest competitive importance, two at the mid level and then force one to be at the low level. Try it and you will be surprised that your team struggles to agree. You may also find that you are at one strength now and figure it is time to shift your brand marketing to become focused on something else.

  • Product: your main strategy should focus on being better. You have to invest in Innovation to stay 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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Just like any decision, it’s hard to just pick one. But if you start to think about it more and more, you will see how different each of these four choices really are.

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The next decision is the main benefit you want to focus on. Doing a Consumer Benefits Ladder helps to organize your thinking as a great tool for bringing the benefits to life. The best way to work the Consumer Benefits Ladder is to hold a brainstorming session with everyone who works on the brand so you can:

  • Leverage all the available research to brief the team, helping define the consumer target and get all the consumer insights and need states out.
  • List out all the features that your brand offers, and the brand assets it brings to the table. Make sure that these features are competitive advantages.
  • Find the rational benefit by putting yourself in the shoes of the consumer and seeing the brand features from their eyes: start asking yourself over and over “so if I’m the consumer, what do I get from that?”. Ask up to 5 times and push the answers into a richer zone.
  • Then find the emotional benefit by asking “so how does that make me feel?” As you did above, keep asking, and you’ll begin to see a deeper emotional space you can play in and own.
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Put all the information of the group brainstorm into a Consumer Benefits Ladder Worksheet. You can put more on this list than you can use, either using market research to help narrow your focus or making tough decisions on what you where you want to go.

What are the emotional benefits?

From my experience, Marketers are better at the rational benefits than they are at the emotional benefits. I swear every brand out there thinks their brand should be the trusted, reliable and yet like-able brand. As a brand, you want to own the emotional space in the consumer’s heart as much as you own the rational space in the consumer’s mind. It seems that not only do consumers have a hard time expressing their emotions about a brand, but so do Brand Managers. Companies like Hotspex have mapped out all the emotional zones for consumers. I’m not a researcher, but if you’re interested in this methodology contact Hotspex at http://www.hotspex.biz We have taken this research method and created an Emotional Cheat Sheet for Brand Leaders. This lists out the 8 major emotional consumer zones, optimism, freedom, being noticed, being liked, comfort, be myself, be in control and knowledge.

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To own a space in the consumer’s heart, you want to own and dominate one of zones, always thinking relation to what your competitor may own. Do not choose a list of emotions from all over the map, or you will just confuse your consumer as much as trying to own a long list of rational benefits. Once you narrow the major emotional zone you can own, you can use the supporting words of the Emotional Cheat Sheet to add flavor.

We always recommend that you speak with consumers in terms of benefits, not features. They don’t care what you do, until you care about what they get. Put yourself in their shoes and start asking “so what do I get?” to help frame the rational benefit and “how does I feel?” to find the emotional benefit. You will become a much more powerfully connected brand.

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At Beloved Brands, we lead workshops to help teams build their Brand Positioning Statement, helping the team find the target, main benefits, reason to believe.  Click on the Powerpoint file below to view:

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

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

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

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

GR bio Jun 2016.001

 

Who is your consumer’s enemies that you will fight on their behalf?

While regular products solve regular problems, the most beloved brands beat down the enemies that torment consumers every day. Positioning-2016.027What are your consumer’s frustration point that they feel no one is even noticing or addressing? For instance, the Disney brand fights off the consumer enemy of “growing up”, while Volvo fights off the consumer enemy of “other drivers” or Starbucks fights off the consumer enemy of a “hectic life”. Shifting from solving a rational consumer problem to beating down a consumer enemy is the starting point to reaching into the emotional state of your consumer.

Starbucks fights off the enemy of the hectic life

Put yourself in the shoes of your Starbucks consumer, who is a 38-year-old mom with two kids. She wakes up at 6:15 am, not only to get ready for work, but to get everyone in the house ready for their day. She drops off one kid at daycare, the other at public school and then rushes into the office for 8:30 am. She drives a van, not because she wants to but because it is a great transportation choice for carrying all the equipment needed for after-school activities, including soccer, dance, tutoring and ice hockey. It never stops. No one is really old enough to thank her, the only appreciations are random moments of celebration or a hug at the end of a long day. Just after getting both to bed, she slinks into her bed exhausted. What is her enemy? a03e0da8-fac7-11e3-acc6-12313b090d61-medium-1Her enemy is the hectic life that she leads. If only she had a 15-minute moment to escape from it all. She doesn’t want to run from it, because she does love her life. She just needs a nice little break. A place where there is no play land, but rather nice leather seats. There are no loud screams, just nice acoustic music. There are no happy meals, just nice pastries have a European touch. Not only does she feel appreciated, but the cool 21-year-old college student not only knows her name but knows her favorite drink. Starbucks does an amazing job in understanding and fighting off the consumer’s enemy, giving her a nice 15-minute moment of escape in the middle of her day.

Yes, the Starbucks product is coffee, but the Starbucks brand is about moments. Starbucks provides a personal moment of escape from a hectic life, between work and home. They fight off the consumer enemy of the hectic life.

Apple fights off the enemy of frustration

Unless you work in IT, you likely find computers extremely frustrating. We have all sat at our computer wanting to pull our hair out. computer-frustrationExamples of computer frustration includes spending 38 minutes to figure out how print, getting error message 6303 that says “close all files open and reboot” or if you have ever bought a new computer and you need to load up 13 disks and 3 manuals to read before you can even email your friend to tell them how amazing your computer is. Apple has recognized the frustration that consumers go through and capitalized on the enemy of frustration with PCs with the famous TV campaign of “Hi I’m a Mac,….and I’m a PC”, helping to demonstrate the many issues around computer set up, viruses and trying to make the most of your computer.  As soon as you open the box you can use the new computer, Macs are intuitive, aligned to how consumers think, not how IT people think. You can even take classes to learn.

Yes, the Apple product is about computers tablets and phones, but the Apple brand makes technology so simple that everyone can be part of the future. They fight off the consumer enemy of frustration with technology.

If you want to show that you better understand your consumers, how would you project the enemy that you are fighting on their behalf.

 

Understanding the consumer is the first step in writing a winning brand positioning statement. To read more on brand positioning, here’s our workshop we run for brand teams:

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 416-885-3911You can also find us on Twitter @belovedbrands. 

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Forget the 4 P’s. Focus on the 5 touch-points of consumer connectivity

 

The 4 P’s

Most of us started learning about marketing by looking at the 4 P’s:  Product, Price, Promotion and Place. While I’ve seen people adding P’s, a fifth one and even have seen up to eight P’s. I guess it’s a fairly easy way to teach marketing. It’s an OK way to learn, but it seems to treat marketing like an activity and not really a strategy. The 4 Ps are obsessed with what you do, and start you on the path of always thinking about YOU YOU YOU!  The 4 P’s almost ignore the consumer.   Over my 20 years, I learned that the only source of revenue was the consumer, not the product. Sure, we sell the product. Or, better yet, someone buys our brand. It’s just about mindset of how you wish to run your brand. I believe that everything had to start and end with the consumer in mind. We will show you below how we start with the consumer and map out the 5 touch-points of consumer connectivity–the promise, brand story, innovation, purchase moment and brand experience.

 

The natural evolution of brands

It’s true that most brands do start off as a product or service that helps to address some type of problem the consumer has in their lives. Early on it’s about a selling activity where you push your brand onto the target market and hope they buy. As the brand evolves, you start to establish an identity for the brand that gets well-known, you start narrowing what you’re naturally best at down to a promise and begin executing and building your experience around the promise. As you keep evolving, the Brand starts to shift towards becoming an Idea that helps solve the consumer’s emotional problems.

    • Apple is not just a computer or cell phone. It’s based on an idea of “simplicity that deals with the frustration over technology”.
    • Dove is not just a soap or hand cream, but all about the idea of “real beauty that allows women to feel comfortable with who they are”.
    • Starbucks is not just a coffee and pastries, but an “escape from a hectic day”

While a lot of the Beloved Brands have taken 20 years or even 90 years to earn their status, you can advance your brand faster by starting off as an idea. It becomes less about product and more about the big idea from day 1. It becomes less about hopeful tactics and more about insightful strategy.  You’ll be able to build around the idea rather than getting stuck in the constraints of what your product does. An idea helps you connect with consumers and that connection gives your brand added power, and the power can be used to drive higher growth and profits.

A Beloved Brand is based on an idea that’s worth loving.

 

The 5 touch-points of consumer connectivity

The biggest problem I have with the 4 P’s is that it builds the brand from your the vantage point of the company, not the vantage of the consumer who actually matters the most. I would rather start with the consumer and then build your brand, based on a promise that motivates consumers, a brand story that engages consumers, an innovation plan that keeps the consumer connected, mapping out what the consumer goes through to the purchase moment and building a consumer experience that helps the brand connect with their consumers.

When we think of the most beloved brands–Starbucks, Apple, Ferrari, Disney, Nike or Mercedes–it’s really hard to figure out the ONE part of the brand that really makes it great. For example on Apple, I have heard: “Apple has the best products” or “they have the best ads” or “it’s actually the experience”. At Beloved Brands, we believe you need 5 magic moments that a brand must deliver at an extremely high degree in order to become a beloved brand:

  1. Brand Promise
  2. Brand Story
  3. Innovation
  4. Purchase Moment
  5. Experience
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  1. Brand Promise: Create a simple brand promise that separates your brand from competitors, based on being better, different or cheaper. Try to use a brand positioning exercise to figure out your brand’s value proposition–we use a brand ladder where we map out the target definition, product features, rational benefits and emotional benefits.
  2. Brand Story: At Beloved Brands, we see Advertising as a tool for telling your brand story in a way that creates a bond with consumers, to establish your brand’s positioning and to drive change in your consumers behavior that leads to higher sales, share and profit. You should use your brand story to motivate consumers to think, feel or act, while beginning to own a reputation in the mind and hearts of consumers.
  3. Innovation: Fundamentally sound product, staying at the forefront of trends and using technology to deliver on your brand promise. The trick with innovation is keeping the serendipity of an R&D team aligned, while pushing for a balance of blue ocean against straying within the perimeters of the brand strategy. New products have to meet consumer needs and many times creating a consumer need they didn’t even know they had.
  4. Purchase Moment: As consumers get near the purchase, there becomes this “moment of truth” when they have to make the final decision to buy. How we manage that, is we use a buying system to map out how consumers move through the purchase cycle and use channels, messaging, processes to make the final decision.
  5. Experience: Turn the usage of your product into an experience that becomes a ritual and favorite part of their day. One of the best brand experiences is Starbucks, providing consumers with more than just coffee, but rather an escape from daily grind a hectic life. At Starbucks, you find that little moment between home life and work life, a cool atmosphere indie music and leather chairs, a barista that knows your name and your drink, you can order in Italian and one of the best things they manage to indirectly achieve–no screaming little kids.

The brand becomes more powerful when everything is aligned under a “big idea” for your brand. In today’s crowded media world, consumers now see 6,000 brand messages every day. They have to quickly sort through those messages, rejecting most and only engaging in a few each day. It’s those brands who can communicate in a headline style idea will grab the consumers attention.

Once you establish that big idea, you can align each of the 5 magic moments underneath that big idea.

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Using the Big Idea map above, we can see the promise comes from the brand positioning, the brand story is told through advertising, the innovation is driven by R&D, the purchase moment is a combination of your sales team and your distribution strategy while the experience comes directly from how you manage the operations and culture of your organization. As you can start to see, everyone and every activity should be driven by the Big Idea. To show you how to use the Big Idea map, here’s the example using the Apple brand, showing how they align behind everything linked to the big idea of “simplicity”.

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The most beloved brands are strong on all of the 5 touch-points of consumer connectivity

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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Ritz-Carlton: Meeting the “unexpressed” needs of guests

 

 

Impeccable service separates Ritz-Carlton

Ritz-Carlton does a lot of things right to earn the high prices they are able to charge–the best locations, beautiful rooms, nice beds and great meals. But in reality, every luxury hotel has to deliver against these or they’ll be quickly out of business. Recognizing that any great brand has to be better, different or cheaper to win, Ritz-Carlton focuses their attention on impeccable service standards to separate themselves from other Hotels. What Ritz-Carlton has done so well is operationalize it so that culture and brand are one.RitzCarlton.svg

I was lucky enough to be able to attend the Ritz-Carlton Training session, and as a Brand Leader, the thing that struck me was the idea of meeting the “unexpressed” needs of guests. As highly paid Marketers, even with mounds of research, we still struggle to figure out what our consumers want, yet Ritz-Carlton has created a culture where bartenders, bellhops and front desk clerks instinctively meet these “unexpressed needs”. Employees carry around note pads and record the expressed and unexpressed needs of every guest and then they use their instincts to try to surprise and delight these guests.

Employees are fully empowered to create unique, memorable and personal experiences for our guests. Unique means doing something that helps to separate Ritz-Carlton from other hotels, memorable forces the staff to do something that truly stands out. And personal is defined as people doing things for other people. Isn’t that what marketers do? So what’s getting in our way?

They bake it right into the Ritz-Carlton culture

The phrase that Ritz-Carlton uses with their staff is “Radar is on and Antenna is Up” so that everyone can be looking for the unexpressed needs. These could be small wins that delight consumers in a big way:

  • A couple arrives at the hotel, wife is six months pregnant. Normal service would be to observe and do nothing–at best help with the bags. But at Ritz-Carlton, antenna up means they get a special pillow for sleeping and alcohol free sparkling cider instead of champagne.
  • A business guest who was staying at a hotel for 4 weeks and the staff printed up business cards with the guest name, hotel address and phone number so that he could give them out during his stay.

But like any hotel, things do go wrong. The staff is encouraged to use these moments to not only address the problem and fix it but also try to surprise and delight guests turning a problem into a potential wow moment. With everyone’s antenna’s up, when a problem does arise they quickly brainstorm and use everyone’s input.

  • A guest who had just left the hotel called to say that their son had left his stuffed giraffe in the room. The boy could not stop crying.2012-05-17-Joshiepic5 The only thing these distraught parents could think of to tell their son, is that the giraffe was staying on the vacation a little longer. So the staff, found the giraffe and overnighted it to the boy. Most luxury hotels would have done that. But that was not enough for Ritz-Carlton. Knowing what the Mom had told their son about staying on a bit longer, the staff also included a photo album of the giraffe enjoying his extra stay, including photos of the giraffe sitting by the pool, in the spa with cucumbers on his eyes, and laying out on the beach. It’s not that the album would make the boy excited, because he was excited just to have his favorite giraffe back. But imagine how the parents felt and the signal it sends to them about the Ritz-Carlton staff and how many friends they may share that story with.
  • An activity coordinator noticed that one of them had a real passion for ballet. Over the week, the activity coordinator even came in before her shift every day to give the girl a private ballet class. She wanted to do something special for the young guest, and decided to teach her a special dance for her parents. On their last day, she arranged for a performance at the Jazz Club, with special music and lighting for the performance. The couple was very grateful and could not believe how much love and passion the activity coordinator had put into making their daughter’s stay so memorable. To complete the experience, they gave the guests a CD with pictures and videos of their daughter’s performance so they could share it with family and friends on their return home

To inspire each other, everyone at Ritz-Carlton goes through a daily line up where they share wow stories, both local stories and stories from other hotels around the world. This line up keeps everyone in line, but it also keeps people fully engaged. Harvard did a study on Employee Engagement, stating that the average company had 29% of their employees who were fully engaged and they labelled this group as the Super Stars. Using the same criteria, Ritz-Carlton has 92% of their staff considered fully engaged. No wonder they are able to win so many service awards and no wonder they can create such an experience for their consumers. They’ve fully created a culture that now defines the brand.

So what can brand leaders learn from Ritz-Carlton?

  1. How can marketers challenge themselves to meet the unexpressed needs of guests? As Henry Ford said: “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” So what’s getting in your way? Are you over-thinking things? Are you too worried about the short-term results that you’re not even seeing or hearing the unexpressed needs? Are you so analytical that you need to see the data first and never really reach for your instincts which might challenge the data or even fill in the missing gaps in the data?0da472d
  2. How do you get your antenna’s up so that you and your team are always watching, listening and thinking? As you run from meeting to meeting, filling in forecasting templates and spending evenings pretty-ing up your presentation for senior leaders, how many times a week do you talk to consumers, how many times do you walk into a store or what social media tools do you monitor and listen to. Do you ever sit with customer service for an afternoon? Do you read through the complaints? And while it’s great that you do this once in a while, how do you operationalize it with your team. Can you set aside time so that you’re doing regular store visits or a quick brainstorm on observations once a week.
  3. How can Marketers push ourselves to wow the Consumer? The Ritz-Carlton staff is constantly trying to wow their guests, in either a small or big way believing that both make a difference. Are you pushing yourself to surprise your consumer? Are you trying to wow your consumer? Are you rejecting OK work to force everyone to reach for Great? Do you have a standard for the work that exceeds that of your consumer, after all if you don’t love the work then how do you expect your consumer to love your brand?

Do something this week that meets the unexpressed needs of a Customer just to see what it feels like. It might feel pretty damn powerful.

 

To read about how to create a Beloved Brand, click on the presentation below:

 

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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Laying out your 5-year plan with a Brand Strategy Roadmap

What the final Brand Strategy Roadmap should look like

Having the brand road map on one page can help align everyone that works on a brand. This is especially useful when managing a Branded House or Master Brand where there are various people in your organization that each run a small part of the brand. The road map helps guide everyone and keep them aligned. Here’s the one I use that has all the key elements that help define the brand:

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The Brand Strategy Roadmap combines With our Brand Roadmap the Brand Idea Map where we take the brand’s big idea and show it lines up across the 5 consumer touch-points and the long-term Brand Plan elements.

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Big Idea Map

As we map out how consumers buy and experience brands, we have created 5 main consumer touch-points that will impact their decisions on whether to engage, buy, experience and become a fan. Our five consumer touch-points we use are:

  1. Brand Promise: Brands need to create a simple brand promise that separates your brand from competitors, based on being better, different or cheaper.
  2. Brand Story: Use your brand story to motivate consumers to think, feel or act, while beginning to own a reputation in the mind and hearts of consumers.
  3. Innovation: Fundamentally sound product, staying at the forefront of trends and using technology to deliver on your brand promise.
  4. Purchase Moment: The moment of truth as consumers move through the purchase cycle and use channels, messaging, processes to make the final decision.
  5. Brand Experience: Turn the usage of your product into an experience that becomes a ritual and favorite part of their day. 

To ensure a consistency in how consumers view your brand, whether that is the first touch-point or the most recent, all 5 touch-points should be aligned under the brand’s Big Idea.  

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Strategic Plan Elements

  • Vision: What do you want your brand to be in the next 5-10 years? Vision gives everyone on the brand a clear direction, it should be measurable (quantitative) and motivating (qualitative). It should push you so much that it scares you a little, but excites you a lot.
  • Purpose: Why does your brand exist? Keep asking yourself why you do this, to find the personal motivation hidden in the brand. Articulating your purpose can be a very powerful way to connect with both employees and consumers, giving your brand a soul.
  • Values: core beliefs of the brand that shape the organization as to the standards, behaviors, expectations. The brand has to be able to stand up to and consistently deliver each value.
  • Goals: What do you need to achieve? Specific measures of brand health and wealth, related to consumer/customer behavioral changes, metrics of key programs, performance targets or milestones on the pathway to the vision. It’s the brand scoreboard.
  • Key Issues: What is getting the way from achieving your vision/goals? Deep analysis highlights what’s driving and holding brand back, as well as future risks and untapped opportunities. Issues are asked as a question to provide the problem to which strategies become the solution.
  • Strategies: How can we get there? Strategies are the “How” you will win the market. Choices based on market opportunities, using consumers, competitors or situational. Strategies should have a pin-pointed focus providing a breakthrough on the pathway to the brand vision.
  • Tactics: What do we need to do to execute the strategy? Framed completely by strategy, tactical choices deploy your limited resources against brand projects, the most efficient way to drive a high ROI.

Here’s what Apple’s draft of their strategic plan looks like:

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House of Brands

When working with a house of brands, where you have multiple brand names under one corporate name (P&G, Kraft, General Mills and Johnson and Johnson) the brand plan would look different.  The big differences are the teams are smaller and the culture of each team usually follows that of the corporate name.

Here’s a good example of a Brand Plan that would fit within the House of Brands and here is the related story on How to Write a Brand Plan

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Use your Brand Strategic Roadmap to gain agreement, make focused decisions and  keep everyone aligned

 

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

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

 

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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In advertising, what comes first: the MEDIA choice or the CREATIVE idea?

Of course the consumer always comes first. However, as you begin the advertising process, Brand Leaders need to figure out whether the creative determines the media choice you make or the media choice helps frame the creative. When I started in marketing, way back in the mid 90s, life was a little simpler because the media and the creative were both under one agency roof. The meetings were simple: you’d see your various TV script options, give some feedback and then the room would go silent and the account person would say “now let’s look at the media plan” and the media person would take you through a 15 page presentation on where else the idea of your TV script could go. You would see some magazine, OOH and even some sampling idea. Back then, there was no internet advertising yet.

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Then one day, our media folks from our agency were spun off, had a new name, moved offices and had a new President. It now just meant we had two presentations and the Brand Leader now had to make sense of things and try to piece it together. About a year into that new relationship, I was sitting there confused and asked the question: “So what comes first, the media choice or the creative idea?” The room went silent for about 5 minutes. Then of course both sides talked over each other, both saying it was them that came first.  

All Marketing Execution has to do something to the brand–getting the consumer to think, act or feel differently about your brand. Media is an investment against your strategy and creative is an expression of your strategy. Both media and creative are only useful if they connect with consumers. Great advertising must connect through very insightful creative that expresses the brand’s positioning and told in a way that matters to those who care the most. Great advertising must be placed within the consumers’ life where it will capture their attention and motivate them in the expressed desired way to meet the strategy. So really, the consumer comes first and strategy comes second. Media and creative need to work to jointly capture the consumer and deliver the strategy.  

With separate agencies, the problem now rests with Brand Leaders to figure it out. While one could theoretically argue that if the Creative Idea of the advertising is so big, it should work in every medium. That’s just not always true in reality. Some ideas just work better in certain mediums. Yet the media people could also theoretically argue that if you go for the most efficient and effective media option, the media will do the work for you. That’s also not true. The best overall advertising should work focus on what has the most impact and what has the highest efficiency.  

Here’s a solution for Brand Leaders 

The three questions you always need to keep in your head at all times: 1) where is your consumer 2) where is your brand and 3) how does the creative idea work? 

1.  Where is your consumer?

You should really understand who your consumer is, and who they are not. You need to make sure you understand the insights about them, because it’s those insights within your creative that allow you to connect with them. They’ll say “they get me”. You should always be mapping out a day in the life of your consumer. Get in their shoes and say “what does my consumer’s day look like and how will my message fit or interrupt their life?” Take a “be where they are approach” to your media. 

2.  Where is the Brand?

First thing you have to do is consider where your brand is on the Brand Love Curve where brands go from Indifferent to Like It to Love It and all the way to Beloved. At INDIFFERENT, it’s about announcement style such as mass media, LIKE IT becomes about separating yourself from the competition while LOVE IT and BELOVED you’ll start to see the growing importance of event marketing to core users or social media as a badge of honor to share with others.

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3.  How does the Creative work? (The ABC’S)

The best advertising should draw ATTENTION, be about the BRAND, COMMUNICATE the main message and STICK in the consumers head long beyond the ad.

  • Attention: You have to get noticed in a crowded world of advertising. Consumers see 7,000 brand messages per day, and will likely only engage in a few. If your brand doesn’t draw attention naturally, then you’ll have to force it into the limelight.
  • Branding: Ads that tell the story of the relationship between the consumer and the brand will link best. Even more powerful are ads that are from the consumers view of the brand. It’s not how much branding there is, but how close the brand fits to the climax of the ad.
  • Communication: Tapping into the truths of the consumer and the brand, helps you to tell the brand’s life story. Keep your story easy to understand. Communication is not just about what you say, but how you say it—because that says just as much.
  • Stickiness: Sticky ads help to build a consistent brand/consumer experience over time. In the end, brands are really about “consistency” of the promise you want to own. Brands have exist in the minds of the consumer. 
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In the reality of advertising, not every ad execution will be able to do all four of the ABC’S.  When I’m in the creative room, I try to think about which of the two ABC’S are the most critical to my strategy. If it is a new product, I want all four, but I have to have: Attention and Communication. If the brand is in a competitive battle I have to have Brand and Communication.  If the brand is a leader and beloved, I need to make sure the advertising is about the Brand and that it Sticks.   

What I recommend you do:

In a sense, you have to work the creative and media together. But that’s impossible. So what I do is hold off on making any media decisions until you see the creative idea and how it is expressed in a few media options. With all the potential media options now available, I ask for 3 executions for each creative option:

        1. Video version
        2. Billboard 
        3. Long Copy Print

Sounds simple, but here’s the logic. With those 3, I can now imagine how the advertising might work across all possible media options. 

  • The “Video” allows me to imagine how the creative would work for traditional 30-second TV ad, a 60-second movie theatre ad, 2 or 3 minute viral video for sharing or even a video you could put on a website.
  • The “Billboard” allows me to imagine how it would work with traditional media options such as out-of-home billboard, bus shelter, in-store poster, packaging copy and the back cover of a magazine.  Or if we want to look at digital, it could be a digital billboard, Facebook photo, website cover.
  • The “Long Print” allows me to imagine what how it might work with a print ad, side panel of packaging, brochures, public relations story-line,  social media feed or even a blog on your website.  

With 3 simple asks against each creative idea, it covers off most of the traditional media options, even covering the digital media. So now as the Brand Leader goes to their Media Agency, they will know how the creative idea would work against any of their recommendations. 

Obviously, we always recommend that you focus. So we’ll likely recommend a lead traditional media and a lead digital and lead social option. You need to make the most out of your limited resources of dollars, time, people and partnerships. However, if we want a creative idea to last 5 years, seeing it work across this many media options gives me a comfort that should I need that option, I know the creative idea will work.

The media math from a client’s view

While the media agency owns the media math that blows your mind, here is some simple client side media math. As clients, we have to make the most of our budgets. 

  • Your production budget should be around 5-10% of your overall advertising plan. If you have small budgets, that may creep up to 20%, but that’s it. Every time you do a new piece of creative, the production dollars go up and the media dollars go down. I’d recommend you focus on one main traditional media and have only one secondary option. This keeps your spend focused. 
  • When it comes to social media, keep in mind there is no free media options. Instead of financial capital, you are now exhausting people capital. Just like the traditional options, I would recommend one lead social media and one secondary focus. Do not try to be all things to all people.  
  • The other reason to focus is to ensure you do great executions and not just “ok”.  Pick the media that maximizes the power of the creative. Don’t exhaust the team by spreading them against too many activities.   
  • Allow 80 to 90% of your media spend be on the highly effective highly efficient media plan. That means 10-20% of your media spend can now go against high IMPACT creative ideas that you know will break through.  

Work with both the creative and media at the same time, figuring out what gives the highest return on your investment

 

To see a training presentation on getting Better Marketing Execution: 

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

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

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

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

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