How to build your brand story to establish what your brand stands for

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

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

Brand Story

It starts with doing the homework of your Brand Positioning Statement

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

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

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

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

 

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

You need rich consumer insights

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

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

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

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

Summarize into a Brand Positioning

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

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

 

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

Build a big idea that summarizes the brand promise 

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

brand positioning big idea

Turn your brand positioning and big idea into a brand concept

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

Brand Concept

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

Make sure your brand concept is tight

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

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

Brand Concept Examples

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

brand concept

The same brand concept model also works for healthcare brands

brand concept

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

brand concept

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

brand concept

From your strategic plan, take your brand purpose

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

Brand Purpose Statement

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

1. Focus on building a tight relationship with consumers

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

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

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

3. Inspire a values-driven culture to deliver happy experiences

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

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

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

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

Brand Purpose Statement

Brand Values

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

Here are the values for Gray’s Cookies.

Brand Values

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

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

Brand Story

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

Here’s how it all comes together

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

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

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

Positioning Brand Story

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

Positioning Brand Story

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

Brand Credo

 

I am excited to announce the release of my new book, Beloved Brands.

With Beloved Brands, you will learn everything you need to know so you can build a brand that your consumers will love.

You will learn how to think strategically, define your brand with a positioning statement and a brand idea, write a brand plan everyone can follow, inspire smart and creative marketing execution and analyze the performance of your brand through a deep-dive business review.

To order the e-book version of Beloved Brands, click on this link: https://lnkd.in/eUAgDgS

And, to order the paperback version, click on this link: https://lnkd.in/eF-mYPe

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

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

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

 

We help brands find growth

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

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

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

We make Brand Leaders smarter

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

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

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

Beloved Brands Graham Robertson

How can a junk business be the best consumer experience of any brand I’ve ever seen

1-800-GotJunkHaving been in our current house for 16 years, as our kids have gone from 4 up to 20 years old, we have naturally accumulated a lot of junk.

Sure they are memories, but at various stages, it has become overwhelming and we needed to create more space, to accumulate even more junk.  And repeat.

We have called 1-800-Got-Junk three times now. And as a brand guy, I’ve been mesmerized by how great of an experience it has been.

As soon as you open the door, you think “This is the type of guy, I wish my daughter would bring home, and say Dad, this is who I’m going to marry”.

Articulate, polite, college kids, smart. Almost just perfect.

They put on their little booties, and walk around the house with you. Every time you point at something, they nod, smile and write it down. Even as you apologize for how much we have, or how rough things look,  they always give the perfect response. Not only can they hold a conversation during the 2-3 hours of the visit, it seems they almost start conversations. I don’t know how they do it, but the people they hire keep smiling and talking as they cart off….junk.

And after each of the three visits, I say to my wife “How can a junk company create such a perfect culture?”

It’s all about the people.

That’s one of the mantras of 1-800-Got-Junk, but they seem to have gone beyond the cliche.

When CEO Brian Scudamore was asked how do you create such happy people, his response was simple: “We hire happy people and keep them happy”.

It doesn’t hurt that they give 5 weeks of paid vacation. Well, not only does that keep the people happy, but it allows you to recruit the best of the best.

Brian Scudamore started his company in 1989 at 18 years old, when he was in a McDonald’s drive thru, and saw a junk removal company. The company grew through the 1990s into a million dollar company, expanded through a franchise model that moved it to a $200 million in annual sales. They pick up junk. 

At various points along his personal journey, Scudamore has used a “painted picture” vision to take a step back. In 1997, he sat on a dock and tried to visualize what the company could look like in the future. His perspective changed when instead of worrying about what wasn’t possible, he began to paint a picture in his head of what was. He closed his eyes and envisioned how he wanted 1-800-GOT-JUNK? to look, feel, and act by the end of 2002.

“My painted picture contained not only tangible business achievements like the number of franchises we would have and the quality of our trucks, but also more sensory details, like how our employees would describe our company to their family members and what our customers would say they loved best about working with us.”  

Brian Scudamore, CEO of 1-800-Got-Junk

Scudamore amore still uses this technique, trying to visualize what life and your business will look like in 5 years. In 2008, as the economy started to tank, he took another huge personal reflection, writing down what he loved and what he was good at. The two lists almost matched up perfectly, as his passion and skills matched up. Then, he wrote down what he didn’t love and what he wasn’t very good at. He realized he needed to build a team around him, with individuals who could cover off his weaknesses. The overall vision is to make ordinary businesses extraordinary.  

Here’s a few of the questions that Scudamore asks of himself:

  • What is your top-line revenue?
  • How many people are on your team?
  • How would your people describe the culture of your company when talking to a family member?
  • What is the press saying about your business? Be as specific as possible: what would your local paper say about your company? What would your favorite magazine say?
  • What do your people love about your vision and where the company is headed?
  • How would a customer describe their experience with you? What would they say to their best friend?
  • What accomplishment are you most proud of? What accomplishment are your people most proud of?
  • What do you do better than anyone else on the planet?
  • Describe your office environment in detail.
  • Describe your service area. Who are your customers and how do they feel?

To really make your culture part of the brand, Scudamore has made this visualization part of the culture, with an annual release of a new painted picture, plus quarterly meetings that articulate the painted picture. He’s even cascaded this technique down to his franchise owners, where each franchise articulates what they see for themselves. This allows the culture to form around the vision.

“Do What You Love; Let Others Handle the Rest”

Brian Scudamore, CEO of 1-800-Got-Junk

If you want to learn how to show up better, we train marketing teams on how to get better Brand Plans, helping to lay out the vision, goals, issues, strategies and tactics.  

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

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

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

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

Graham Robertson Bio Brand Training Coach Consultant

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

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

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

So, why can’t we have fun?

The odd answer:  We are already fun.

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

I spent a decade thriving in creativity.

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

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

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

Boring products are where you can have the most fun.

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

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

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

I love it. 

Well done Windex team.

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

 

 

My own story on Nicoderm

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

I wasn’t buying it.

My agency really struggled. Two months went by. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Marketing should be fun.

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

 

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

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

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

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

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

Graham Robertson Bio Brand Training Coach Consultant

 

 

The 10 essential steps of the Creative Advertising process the Brand Leader must lead

When it comes to advertising, one of the biggest struggles that Brand Leaders have is when the project gets out of hand. While there are ten essential steps, the Brand Leader must keep their head in the game at all times. One slip and they run the risk of losing control of the final execution. These steps are not written from the vantage of the agency, but rather that of the client.

Creative Advertising Process

  1. Strategy Pre-Work: The brand positioning and brand plan homework make it easier to write a great creative brief. Go deep on finding the consumer insights and consumer enemy, understand the brand positioning, the big idea and then lay out a brand concept. From the brand plan, write a tightly focused brand communications plan. Only once you have done all this homework done, should you take a pen to the creative brief.
  2. Focused Creative Brief: Sit with your agency and turn your homework into a creative brief. Debate every point. Keep it focused. Think of the brief like creating a strategic box the ad must play within. The brief must have one objective, a tightly defined target market with rich consumer insights, one crystal clear desired consumer response of whether you want consumers to see, think, feel or do and then one main message that you know will motivate the consumer target will respond positively.
  3. Creative Expectations: Just after signing off on the brief, you should request an informal meeting with the creative team to help convey your vision, passion, strategy and needs to the team. This is your first chance to inspire the team and begin the push for great work. It always surprises me that the first time the marketer meets their creative team is at the first creative meeting, which is two-three weeks after the creative team started to work on your brand. That is crazy. It seems like an old-school way for the account team to control both the client and creative team, keeping them at arm’s length. I believe the best advertising comes from a highly personal relationship with your creative team.
  4. Tissue Session: When you have a completely new campaign or working on high-risk campaign, you should ask to hold an informal tissue session before the creative meeting. At the tissue session, the creative team normally presents ten roughed out advertising ideas, usually with hand drawn visuals, with a simple headline and description of a story. This is a good chance to get your hands dirty, understand where the team wants to go, either encouraging them to keep exploring further on some ideas or talk about how some ideas might not fit. Think of this meeting as your chance to see behind the creative curtain. Do not abuse this privilege by adding your ideas to the mix. Focus on big ideas and use the meeting to inspire and push for better.
  5. Creative Meeting: How you show up at the first creative meeting is crucial to the entire project. I have seen the relationship fizzle on the spot. Think of it like a first date. Be on your best behavior. Stay positive and focus on big picture decisions. Give direction and make decisions. However, do not use this time to add your own solutions. Stop thinking that your job is to fix the work you see. Do not get too wrapped up in small details, as there remains plenty of time to keep working on details. Use your feedback to inspire the team.Creative Advertising Process
  6. Feedback Memo: Work it out with the agency ahead of time that you will give a feedback memo 48 hours after the creative meeting. This gives you the chance to gather your thoughts, balancing your creative instincts with your strategic thinking. The memo should clarify details you did not have a chance to talk about in the creative meeting. Where you are stuck, frame it as a problem, but avoid giving your specific solutions. Use the memo as a chance to create a new box for the creative team, an evolution from the creative brief.
  7. Advertising Testing: The use of ad testing can depend on timing, budget or degree of risk. Where you have a new major campaign, you should potentially test 3 ideas you feel have the best chance to express your brand positioning, communicate the main benefit, break through the clutter and motivate consumers to purchase. You can use qualitative focus group feedback that will help confirm your instincts, or quantitative testing to replicate and predict how it may do in the market. However, I am a big believer that you should only use ad testing to confirm your pick, never to make your decision.  
  8. Gain Approval: It is essential to keep your boss aware at every stage. Use your first meeting with your boss to state your vision for the project. Through each update meeting, keep your boss aligned to your vision, explaining every move you make with respect to that vision. However, you will still need to sell in the ad. Be ready to fight any resisters to make the ad happen. With every great ad I ever made, there were many resistors. However, with every potential bad ad on the table, I seemed to be the only resistor trying not to make it. Own your vision and make it happen.
  9. Production: The production process can be a very complex element of the project. Remember, you have zero expertise in any production area. Do not even pretend you do. Your main role is to deliver as close to the original script that was approved, while managing the tone to ensure it fits with the brand. During the shoot, try to get more options than you need, just in case it looks different in the final edit room.
  10. Post Production: As you move to the post-production stage, you become even less of an expert. Many clients decide to stay close to their account person. I believe you should talk directly with every expert (editors) you work with. The personal approach will enable you to get the most out of each of the experts. Your greatness happens through their greatness.

As a brand leader, my bias is to be creatively led, with media trailing. Yes, it’s fine to have a lead media choice in mind. However, as for secondary media choices, I hate forcing a given media choice on the creative team, only to find out it does not work. I would rather have a range of media options and see which one works best. At the start of the process, you have a few media thoughts of where it could go. As you  see the creative, you narrow down the range to what media choices seem to work best with the creative. And once you have the creative in hand, you can then make the final media decisions. 

Creative Advertising Process

 

As brand leaders, it takes a unique skill to be able to inspire, challenge, question, direct and decide, without any expertise at all. 

 

Here’s a powerpoint presentation on how to get better at Marketing Execution, looking at both the creative and media.

 

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

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

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

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

Graham Robertson Bio Brand Training Coach Consultant

 

These 8 analytical principles will reshape the mind of every marketer

One of the biggest skill gaps for many marketers is the ability to develop an analytical story to set up smart decisions. Analytics is not just math. Marketers either struggle to dig into the data or they struggle to tell a strategic story that summarizes the mounds of data they have gathered. Too many people get into marketing for the creative nature of brand management, but if you cannot think analytically, you will get stuck at one point. You need to be able to use facts to support your opinions or what you say will come across as an empty opinion that risks leaving a room divided. Here are the 8 principles that will help to make you a smart analytical thinker. 

Analytics Thinking

Principle #1: Use facts to support opinions or else what you say comes across as an empty opinion that leaves a room divided.



One great tool to help dig deeper is called the “Five Questions Analysis” that forces you to go deeper. Start with your opinion; then ask “so what does that mean?” to get a layer deeper. Ask it again to go one more layer deeper. Keep asking it up to five times, each time using the data analysis to move from unsubstantiated opinion to action-able insight. This tool will also help you avoid getting caught off guard with those challenging questions “Did you think about…” because you have already challenged yourself to dig in deep everywhere on your brand.

Analytics Thinking

 

Principle #2: Always find comparisons. Absolute numbers by themselves are useless.

Absolute numbers by themselves are useless. A friend of mine was at a meeting with her CEO and was asked a really tough question that she should have known, but did not have. So she said “forty percent”. And then they both stared each other for ten seconds, him not knowing if that was good or bad, and her not wanting to show any hesitation. I would not recommend blurting out a number. Analytics ThinkingHowever, I always remember this story because it really says how useless one data point really is. With every number, you have to always draw out comparisons to force yourself to find data breaks that begin to tell a strategic story. Only the relative nature to a number will you find the data break that helps you tell a story. Is 60 degrees Fahrenheit (15 degrees Celsius.) warm or cold? If it were in Canada in the middle of January, it would be a record setting heat and front-page news. Conversely, if it is the high temperature for the middle of June in Florida, it might even make the national news.

Never give a number without a relative nature. The relative comparison helps ground the data, by looking at how well it does versus prior periods, competitors, forecasts, other regions, norms or the category. Is it up, down, or flat? Use comparative indexes and cross tabulations to find the data breaks, showing the correct trend line that will help you draw the right conclusions.

Principle #3: The analytical story comes to life when you see a break in the data.




Comparative indexes and cross tabulations can really bring out the data breaks and gaps that can really tell a story. Use the “so what” technique to dig around and twist the data in unique ways until you find the point in which the data actually breaks and clear meaningful differences start to show. This is where the trend is exposed and you can draw a conclusion.

Principle #4: Analysis should start by posing hypothetical conclusions that answer “Where are we” and “Why are we he

Thinking time means asking the right questions. Since the smartest strategic thinkers ask questions, I want to introduce a 360-degree strategic model with 5 strategic questions that force you to look at the brand’s core strength, consumer strategy, competitive situation, the brand’s situation and how engaged your consumer are with the brand.

  1. What is the core strength your brand can win on?
  2. How important is the decision and how involved are consumers?
  3. What is your current competitive position?
  4. How tightly connected is your Consumer to your brand?
  5. What is the current business situation your brand faces?

Strategic Thinking

The intention of the 360-degree strategic thinking model is the starting point to force your thinking and discussions with your team. Each of the five questions has four possible answers, but the model forces you to make ONE choice for each question. What I recommend is that you gather a good cross-functional team and battle out each question. Some will be easy to answer, others will challenge the team and force both the discussion and the decision. What might seem like a small debate “whether your brand is product-led or story-led, should change your entire strategy, the focus of your investment and your brand message. Whether your brand is liked or loved should force your strategic choices to look for ways to tighten the bond with your consumers. Shifting from one competitive strategy to another should be guided by your understanding of where you stand currently in the market. Whether you brand is facing poor external business results that would drive a turnaround or whether your brand is internally creating confusion across various elements would drive the need for a brand re-alignment. And finally, as brands move to the execution stage to engage their consumers, they need to understand whether the main focus will be to drive consumer involvement or whether to drive the importance of the decision. As you start to dig in on these questions, keep pushing yourself to ask even richer and richer questions.

Principle #5: Map out what do we know, against what do we assume and what do we need to find out, to help focus deep dive.

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

A good tool to get you thinking in terms of questions: separate your analysis into 5 buckets:

  1. What do we know? This should be fact based and you know it for sure.
  2. What do we assume? Your educated/knowledge based conclusion that helps us bridge between fact, and speculation.
  3. What we think? Based on facts, and assumptions, you should be able to say what we think will happen.
  4. What do we need to find out? There could be unknowns still.
  5. What are we going to do? It’s the action that comes out of this thinking.

Analytics Thinking

 

Principle #6: Like an old school reporter, two source of data or two data points on the trend line validates the truth of the story.

Avoid taking one piece of data and making it the basis of your entire brand strategy. Make sure it’s a real trend. Dig around until you can find a convergence of data that leads to an answer. Look to find 2-3 facts that start to tell a story, and allows you to draw a conclusion. The good pure logic in a philosophical argument they teach you is “premise, premise conclusion” so if you see one trend line, look for a second before drawing a conclusion.

Analytics Thinking

 

Principle #7: Use tools that can help organize and force deep dive actionable thinking. 

A Force Field analysis is best served for those brands in a sustaining position where marketing plays the role of driving innovation and creativity within a box. Always keep in mind that Drivers and Inhibitors are happening now. You can see the impact in the current year. Anything in the future gets moved down to Opportunities and Threats which are not happening but could happen. Invariably, people mix this up and things that could happen move up when they really shouldn’t.

Analytics Thinking

Principle #8: Turning analysis into story for management decisions

You have to know how to write an analytical slide that can help convince management of your analysis. A best-in-class analytical slide helps project the story up to your management team. It should include a captivating headline that summarizes the story, 2-3 key points that are rich in data, supporting visuals and most importantly you need to include an actionable recommendation based on the analysis. The biggest mistake I see is that brand leaders forget the actionable recommendation, thereby giving up their leadership on the brand to their boss.

Analytics Thinking

 

Good analytics get you to the point of “So what do you think”. From there, you will have to be a smart decision-maker.

 

Below is our workshop we run to help Brand Leaders improve their analytical thinking:

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

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

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

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

Graham Robertson Bio Brand Training Coach Consultant

 

 

The five stages of a 360-degree branding approach

 

When I started out in Marketing, I remember thinking “where does it all start and where does it finally end”.  The harsh reality is that it never ends. It just keeps going. After you execute, you should analyze, which sets up your strategic thinking that could impact how you define your brand, how you build your brand plan it then impacts next year’s execution…followed by more analysis. The best Marketers of the world are strong in all five of these stages.

Creating Beloved Brands Process

Here are the five stages of a 360-degree branding approach

1, Think strategically

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, so 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.

Since the smartest strategic thinkers ask questions, I want to introduce 5 strategic questions that force you to look at the brand’s core strength, consumer strategy, competitive situation, the brand’s situation and how engaged your consumer are with the brand.

  1. What is the core strength your brand can win on?
  2. How important is the decision and how involved are consumers?
  3. What is your current competitive position?
  4. How tightly connected is your Consumer to your brand?
  5. What is the current business situation your brand faces?

You will see in this model, that for each of the five questions, you are forced to pick ONE of the four potential choices.

Strategic Thinking

 

2. How to define your brand

Before you can randomly choose what the big idea for your brand will be, there is homework to be done around defining the brand positioning statement, to help decide who the brand will serve and what the brand will stand for. A smart brand positioning statement should narrow the target to those consumers who are most capable of loving what the brand does. The brand positioning should find the ideal balance between functional and emotional benefits. There are 4 elements that make up a Brand Positioning Statement, including who will you serve, where you play, where will you win and why consumers should believe you. These are the consumer target, marketplace definition, consumer benefit and support points.

  1. Who is your consumer target? What slice of the population is the most motivated by what your brand offers? Do not just think about whom you want, but rather who wants your brand.
  2. Where will you play? What is the competitive set that defines the space in the market your brand competes in? Positioning is always relative to whom you compete against. For instance, a brand is never fast, it is faster than everyone else.
  3. Where will you win? What is the main consumer benefit promise you will make to the consumer target, that will make your brand stand out as interesting, simple, unique, motivating and own-able? Do not talk about what you do (features). Talk about what the consumer gets (functional benefits), and how the brand makes them feel (emotional benefits).
  4. Why should they believe us? Understand what support points and features are needed to back up the main promise. These support points should close any potential doubts, questions or concerns the consumer has after hearing the main promise.

Brand Positioning

 

3, How to write Brand Plans every one can follow

Have you ever noticed that people who say, “We need to get everyone on the same page” rarely have anything written down on one page? The same people who use the term ‘fewer bigger bets’ are the same people who are fans of those cool little projects that deplete resources. People say they are good decision-makers, yet struggle when faced with two distinct choices, so they creatively find a way to justify doing both options. A strategic Brand Plan must force your hand in how you allocate your brand’s limited resources to ideas that drive the highest return. The plan must align everyone who works on the brand towards a common vision and goals. The plan is a decision-making tool to alignment on investment, deployment of people, key strategies, tactics, goals and projects. It should even guide the brand leader who wrote it, to deliver on all key decisions. When you start your Brand Plan, one of the worst possible things that you could do is open up a document and start to type away on a blank page. You will either get writers-block or assemble a complete mess. Remember back to when you wrote a term paper in College, the essay was always easier and better when you took the time to write out a rough draft format before you started the final document. To start, I recommend you use the five strategic questions that answers

  1. Where could we be
  2. Where are we
  3. Why are we here
  4. How can we get there
  5. What do we need to do.

With the answers to these five questions, you will start to see a draft outline of your brand vision, analysis, key issues, strategies, execution and measurement. Use the five strategic questions to write out 3 bullet points for each of the 5 strategic questions. Throughout the planning process, you should keep coming back to this document to ensure your plan tells the entire strategic story. Just before you get up and present to your management, use this worksheet to ensure your entire story flows well. You can even use this as your first slide of the presentation to guide the team through your strategic story.

Brand Plans

4. How to inspire creative execution:

All marketing execution must creativity deliver the brand story, to motivate consumers to see, think, act or feel differently than before they saw the brand message. While many executions are designed to satisfy short-term business needs, every execution must express the brand’s big idea in ways that builds the brand’s long-term reputation with consumers. If the market execution does not tighten the bond with consumers, it should be considered a failed business investment. The most creative brand leaders must inspire the experts who will produce smart and creative execution of the strategic plan, to win over consumers and move them to think, feel and act in ways that tightens the consumer’s bond with the brand. Brand leaders must figure out ways to judge creative ideas, make decisions, provide inspiring direction to the experts they employ. They must think with strategy and decide with instincts, with the goal to find work their consumers will absolutely love. Marketers have to know how to judge creative advertising to find the right balance of creativity and strategy, so the work that goes into the marketplace is both different and smart. Advertising has to be different enough to break through in a cluttered world, yet smart enough to motivate consumers in ways that help the brand. Here is a tool I call the ABC’s decision-making tool to help marketers judge what makes for great creative advertising:

  1. Gain the consumers’ Attention to break through
  2. Puts spotlight on Brandso it is remembered
  3. Communicatesbrand’s main message through story
  4. Sticks in the consumer’s mind, making the brand seem different

A brand leader must be the first to love the executions put into the marketplace. If they do not love the work, how can they expect their consumer to fall in love with the brand? The best decision-makers use a balance of instincts and strategy. I use a ‘Gut Instincts Checklist’, that looks at the love the ad, link to brand strategy, the ad’s ability to motivate consumers, to see if the creative idea the central driving force to gain attention, to showcase the brand, to communicate the brand’s main benefit and to help the brand stick in the consumer’s mind and heart.

Marketing Execution

5. How to analyze the performance of your brand

One of the biggest skill gaps for many Marketers is the ability to develop an analytical story to set up smart decisions. They either struggle to dig into the data or they struggle to tell a strategic story that summarizes the mounds of data they have gathered. They must use facts to support their opinions or what they say will come across as an empty opinion that risks leaving a room divided. Start with an opinion and then ask ‘so, what does that mean?’ to uncover insight that move from unsubstantiated opinion to action-able insight. Always draw out comparisons to find data breaks that begin to tell a strategic story. The smartest brand leader must analyze the performance of their brand. They must be able tell strategic stories through analytics. It is wise to constantly assess the brand’s situation with a deep-dive business review that helps the brand leader understand the marketplace, consumers, competitors, channels and the brand. This review helps figure out what is driving and inhibiting the brand’s growth, as well as identify the untapped opportunities and threats to future growth. This assessment sets up the strategic thinking on what should be the brand’s next move to win over their consumers.

analytics

 

If you wish to assess how well your marketing team is doing, here’s a tool using these same 5 stages. Click to download.

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

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

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

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

Graham Robertson Bio Brand Training Coach Consultant

 

How to build your brand around a big idea

It is crucial your brand show up consistently to your consumers. The Big Idea evolves from the brand positioning. It should organize everything.you do, including your brand promise, advertising, innovation, purchase moment or the consumer experience.

The marketplace is completely cluttered. Don’t just add your own clutter.

With today’s consumers being bombarded with 5,000 brand messages a day, the first 7 seconds that a consumer is exposed to a brand is a make-or-break moment. The brand must captivate the consumer’s mind quickly or the consumer will move on. The brand must be able to entice consumers to find out more and then motivate consumers to see, think, feel or act in positive ways that benefit the brand. I will show you how to develop a big idea that serves as the brand’s 7-second sales pitch.

The Big Idea must be interesting, simple, unique, inspiring, motivating and own-able. The backbone of the Big Idea is the brand positioning that speaks to whom your brand will serve and what consumer benefits the brand will provide. To stand out within the clutter, smart brand positioning must establish your brand as better, different or cheaper. Otherwise, your brand will not be around for long.

How to find your brand's big idea

As much as people have a hard time matching up their inner motivations with their outward projection of their own personal reputation, a brand faces a similar challenge in matching up the inner thoughts inside the brain of the organization behind the brand with the outward brand reputation owned within the minds of their consumers. In psychology, there are three constructs to the brand personality, the ego, the id and the super ego.

Brand Soul = Big Idea = Brand Reputation

In our brand apparatus, the brand soul is used to express the inner thoughts of the brand that defines ‘what you want your brand to be’. The brand reputation is ‘what consumers think of you’ which is the outward view of the brand that resides within the minds of consumers. As the ego of the human mind works to regulate the id and super ego, the brand’s big idea serves as the stabilizer between the inner motivations of those behind the brand and the outward projection. In a stabilizer role, the big idea must adjust to the actual reputation, yet send signals to steer the consumer’s mind towards a desired reputation that exists within the brand soul. A brand finds its equilibrium when the brand soul, brand reputation and big idea are the same.

How to find your brand's big idea

Step-by-step process to find your brand’s big idea

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

How to find your brand's big idea

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

Step 1: The brainstorm

With a cross-functional team that works on the brand, start the brainstorm by exposing them to all the work you have done on the brand positioning statement, including details on the target profile, brand benefits ladder work and the benefit sort work. Ask the participants to bring their knowledge, wisdom and opinions from where they sit within the organization.

Start with a brainstorm of each of the 5 areas, with 15-20 key words that describe each section. Start with the products and services and brand reputation. Then, move down to the Internal beacon and influencer reputation. Once the 4 sections are complete, brainstorm 15-20 words to describe the brand role.How to find your brand's big idea

Step 2: Narrowing down each section

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

How to find your brand's big idea

Step 3: Discovering the Idea

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

How to find your brand's big idea

Organize everything around the brand’s Big Idea

The big idea should guide everyone who works behind the scenes of the brand. Brand Leaders must manage the consistent delivery of the big idea over 5 consumer touch-points, including the brand promise, story, innovation, purchase moment and consumer experience. The big idea must guide management, customer service, sales, HR, operations and outside agencies.

How to find your brand's big idea

How you deliver against the five touch-points

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

How to find your brand's big idea

To read more about brand positioning and how the big idea works, here is our workshop that we run to help brands define themselves.

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Graham Robertson Beloved Brands

 

 

Are you treating your best customers better than your average customers? 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Old-school marketing no longer works

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

Creating Beloved Brands

The purchase funnel is now circular

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

Creating Beloved Brands

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

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

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

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

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

The pathway to brand success comes from building relationships with consumers

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

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

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

Creating Beloved Brands

The Brand Love Curve helps make strategic choices

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

Creating Beloved Brands

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

Creating Beloved Brands

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

 

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

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

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

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

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

Graham Robertson Bio Brand Training Coach Consultant

 

Oh how I yearn for the “BIG WOW” creative that seems to have left  the world of advertising

big creative execution neat vs wow

What am I missing? 

I keep looking at a lot of so-called ‘great marketing’ of today, and I think “ok”, but where oh where is the “Big Wow, oh my god I wish I made that stuff!!!”

  • Let me define BIG WOW creative ideas as the work that makes our eyes go wide and we immediately shout out “Wow!” while we secretly think “I want to make that one!!!”
  • Let me also define the “small/neat” creative as little marketing gadgets and tricks that make us say, “Hey, that’s pretty neat”.

The reality is that a brand needs both big and small creative. I have always been a fan of the small neat stuff. When I launched the dishwasher tabs, I created a sell-sheet that used elastic bands to create a 3 dimensional tab once the sel-sheet was open. Apparently, the buyer at our largest customer took that sell sheet around the office showing all the other buyers. But, that’s small/neat stuff. I enjoyed it, but never got overly excited.

Big work is exciting.

After 20 years in Brand Management, I have vivid memories of each time I saw a “BIG WOW” idea for one my brands. I can remember where I was and how it felt. I was also lucky enough to work on some amazing campaigns. I remember one of the creative guys stood up with around 30 boards under his arm for one TV ad, and I wanted to make it after he presented the 9th board. I remember seeing another in this small room that was the top floor of an antique book store. My brand team had mistakenly put in the brief “no funny ads”, yet we left that book store laughing our asses off and made one of the best ads I have ever been part of. I can remember everyone who resisted every idea I ever managed to get on air. There were always more who resisted the truly great work, while sadly, on most of the OK work we were about to make, I always seemed to be the only resistor. That should tell you something.

With all the clutter of small ideas, it seems too many brand leaders think they need lots of small ideas. Pretty soon the media market looks like a cluttered community bulletin boards where every brand is content to just have you grab their phone number.

Are the media choices getting in the way of big creative?

Everyone loves the Oreo tweet in the middle of the Super Bowl. Sure. while the moment was “pretty neat” and likely had the Oreo team giggling, it really is just a small, neat idea that went viral. Everyone giggled and shared it. But is it a Big Wow? Paying a celeb to tweet about your product is pretty cool, but it’s not really big creative. Oreo Super Bowl AdJust cutting a check. A Facebook ad that pops up on the side of your laptop in a “3/4 inch square” is about as exciting as a bench ad outside a bus stop. I am on Twitter all the time. It feels like the modern-day version of junk mail. There’s too much, all telling me I can get stuff for free. Each time I open Twitter, I just see a collection of messy stuff. Do not get me started on SEO sales people. I equate them with air-duct sales people. Maybe I am getting old and I am missing the golden age of great creative.

Oh how I miss those TV ads that offer the ideal combination of sight, sound, story telling. They can make you laugh, give you goosebumps or even make you cry. Maybe, we just in a valley of creativity as we adjust to some of these new media choices. But now, you cannot convince me that most of the work out there is pretty crappy. Sadly, it just bores me.

Are we too fixated on big data proof? 

I once approved a campaign that failed miserably in testing. It was just too different for consumers to truly grasp. But my gut feel said it was the right way to go. The campaign lasted 10 years, and doubled the market share of the brand. Sure, I was scared. It was early in my career and the resistance was incredible. I would have surely been tossed out if it failed. That level of risk/reward excitement never exists on the small stuff. Is there a conflict between taking a chance on something and needing the big data to prove that it is correct? Sometimes your gut feel knows more than the data that reflects the history of work, not the future.

Marketers tense up when the work get “too different”

Great advertising must balance the creativity and smart. Advertising has to be different enough to break through in a cluttered world, yet smart enough to motivate consumers to see, think, feel or act in ways that help the brand. One problem I see for Marketers is they tense up when the creative gets ‘too different’. In all parts of their business, Marketers relax when they can see past proof that something will work. Unfortunately, when it comes to advertising, if the ads start to look like what other brands have already done, then the advertising will get stuck in the clutter.

Marketing Execution Big Smart Ideas Wow

When it gets too familiar, it bores consumers and it will fail to break through. Brand Leaders should actually be scared when the ads seems “too familiar”. You have to push the work and take a chance to ensure your ad breaks through. The advertising must also be smart in delivering the desired brand strategy in moving consumers to see, think, feel or do, while expressing a brand positioning that can form a future brand reputation. The ideal sweet spot is being both smart and different. Smart without different will not even break through the clutter. Different but not smart might be entertaining but will not do anything for the brand. Push yourself to find Smart and Different.

My baseball analogy: “Swing for the fences. It feels amazing”

In baseball, I rarely hit home runs. I was a singles spray hitter. (an Al Oliver wannabe) I likely hit 10 over the fence in 1,000 at bats in my entire life. But I can tell you that as the ball leaves the bat, your hands turn to mush. Oh, what a feeling. Now, that is the level of excitement I want to see from the Big Wow creative. All this small stuff is terrific, but that’s just a bunt single.

I believe the Big Wow ideas will energize a team, give them the guts to take more chances. Creativity is infectious to the spirit of the team. Get your nose out of the charts and look up into the sky.  Find work that will make your hands going mush and make you scream “WOW”.

Show me some big wow stuff that will make my heart beat wildly and make me scream “WOW” again.

To read more about how to create amazing marketing execution, here is our workshop we run:

 

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

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

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

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

Beloved Brands Graham Robertson

 

How Marketers can be better strategic thinkers

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 you exert the least possible effort or waste their own money. After thinking of every possible option, strategic people 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, and they already know why that option will not work as well. And, the thing about strategic people, is they get away with it.

How to use smart strategic thinking in Marketing

 

Smart strategic thinkers see the right questions before they look for answers, while instinctual thinkers see answers before they even know the right question.

I see a big difference between strategic thinking and intuitive leaders. 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 interrupting question designed to slow everyone’s brain down, so 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.

How to use smart strategic thinking in Marketing

On the other hand, instinctual leaders 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, they 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. Intuitive leaders can be a creative mess and find themselves with a long to-do list, unable to prioritize or focus.

How to use smart strategic thinking in Marketing

Brand leaders must learn how to change brain speeds.

They must move 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 go 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.

Find your thinking time

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. Even 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. Too many marketers have their head down in the numbers they miss the obvious opportunities and threats that are right on the horizon. Strategic thinkers should assess, question and consider every element that can impact your business. Here is a simple 4-step process to run a strategic thinking meeting:

  1. Vision: Every brand and even every project should start with a longer-term vision that maps out the ideal state of where you want to go. Push yourself beyond the normal expectations. Always focus on ways to create a bond with your consumers to build a group of brand lovers.
  2. Situation: Brand leaders must know the immediate situation of the brand, so they can constantly analyze and assess the potential changes could happen with consumers, competitors, and channels that could impact the health and wealth of your brand. Without the deep and rich strategic thinking discipline, you risk moving too quickly on brand strategy, unable to see the insights that may be hidden beneath the surface. You solve the wrong problem. It is crucial to use the analysis to know how tight the bond you have created with consumers, to know where your brand sits on the brand love curve.
  3. Key Issues: Brand leaders must understand the issues in the way of the stated vision. This includes the drivers, inhibitors, risks and opportunities. Think of both immediate and longer-term issues. As stated, strategic thinkers see questions before they see solutions. In this process, frame the key issues as an interrupting and challenge question.
  4. Strategic direction: Strategies are answers to the questions that your situational analysis and key issues raised. They are never randomly selected. All this strategic thinking is wasted if you cannot make a decision. You should be an intellectual philosopher not a business leader. Do not tell yourself you are a good decision-maker if you come to a decision point and always choose both. The best brand leaders force themselves to focus. They use the word “or” more than they use the word “and”. Strategic thinkers never divide and conquer out of fear. They force themselves to make choices to focus and conquer.

Learn to change your brain speeds. Go slow with strategy and fast with execution.

To read more on How Marketers can be better strategic thinkers, click on this powerpoint presentation that forms one of our workshops. My hope is that it challenges you to think differently about your own brand situation:

Beloved Brands: We make brands stronger and brand leaders smarter.

We will unleash the full potential of your brand. We will lead a 360-degree assessment of your business, help you define your Brand Positioning, create a Big Idea that will transform your brand’s soul into a winning brand reputation and help you build a strategic Brand Plan everyone who works on the brand can follow.

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

To contact me, call me at 416 885 3911 or email me at graham@beloved-brands.com

Beloved Brands Graham Robertson