Tag Archive: brand plan

The biggest factor in getting to great advertising….is the client.

If you are a Brand Leader who struggles with advertising, you know how hard it is. I’m asked all the time, what is it that makes one Brand Leader good at advertising and another not so good? 

Simply put, great Brand Leaders are able to consistently get great advertising that drives towards their objective into the market, and equally able to keep bad advertising that does nothing for them off the air.

Some Brand Leaders blame themselves, almost surrendering to the idea of: “I’m more strategic type of marketer, and not that good at advertising”.  But I hope you don’t quit on yourself, because being good at Advertising takes experience, practice, leadership, feedback and a willingness to adjust. You can get better, if you really want to.  Slide1Some Brand Leaders blame their agency, and even fire their agency. But from my view, an OK agency can do great work on a great client. But a great agency can fail miserably with a bad client. Most clients fail to realize that the role of the Brand Leader is the most important factor in getting great ads. 

If you knew that how you showed up as a Client would get you better advertising, do you think you would actually show up differently? 

At creative meetings, do you stay big picture, avoid getting into details? When giving direction, do you avoid giving your own solutions?  When you gave your agency a brief, you put them in a box.  Now you should use your feedback as a way to put them in a new box ,a modified version of the box you created with the brief you gave them. Agencies don’t want your solutions, they just want your problems. The best agencies are problem solvers who are in the box thinkers.  As a great Brand Leader, your role is always to give them a box they can solve.

The best advertising comes from a very tight Brand strategy.  How tight is your brief?  

Do you stay focused on ONE target, ONE strategy, ONE benefit behind ONE big idea? Avoid the “just in case list” where you sneak “one more thing” onto the brief.  Narrow the Target market and tell their story with engaging insights.  Start with the desired consumer response before deciding what your brand should say.  Develop a testable Brand Concept before the brief so you know the strategy works with consumers, isolating the creative as the only thing you need to figure out.  Slide1

Are you one of the FAVORITE clients of your agency? 

As a Brand Leader, your role is inspire everyone to WANT to work on your brand, never treat them like they HAVE to work on your business. I know you pay the agency, so you might think that motivates them right away.  Not quite.  Do you meet the creative team before the first creative meeting to connect, align them with your vision and inspire them to push for great work? My guess is you don’t. You wait till that first creative meeting, and get introduced to the people who have been secretly working on your brand for the past few weeks. Are you the type of client to take creative risks, and be willing to be different to stand out?  Great advertising is a balance of control and freedom.  You should control the strategy and give freedom on the creative, but somehow the reverse happens.  Uncertain Brand Leaders give freedom on the strategy, yet they come into the advertising process with a pre-determined look and feel.   

If you meet resistance to GREAT advertising, even from your boss, are you the Brand Leader that is willing to fight anyone in the way? 

Every great ad I’ve worked on, there was almost a breaking point.  Whenever I fondly think of my old ads, I always smile when I think of that “near breaking point” that we got past.  As the Brand Leader you have to be the one to fight for great work and maneuver through that near breaking point. Your agency will take notice that you are that type of leader and they’ll want to work on your brand, willing to give you their best work. Do you resist approving Advertising that is “just OK” and “safe”?   What signal do you think it sends everyone involved? I believe that you have to LOVE your advertising, and never settle for OK.  Somewhere along the line, if you don’t love it, you’ll likely just give in. And then everything fails.  And you start again.  

If you knew that how you showed up as a Client was the biggest factor in getting better advertising, do you think you would actually show up differently?

At Beloved Brands, we run a Brand Leadership Center to train marketers in all aspects of marketing from strategic thinking, analysis, writing brand plans, creative briefs and reports, judging advertising and media. To read more on strategy, here is a workshop on HOW TO GET BETTER ADVERTISING, click on the Powerpoint presentation below:

We make Brands better.

We make Brand Leaders better.™

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

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Is it time we admit that the Apple BRAND is better than the Apple PRODUCT?

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Apple is clearly the brand of our generation. In our house, we have an iMac desktop, 2 iPads, 3 iPhones, and two MacBooks.  I love Apple. But this past spring, as my phone contract expired, I started to wonder if I get the iPhone 5S or wait for the iPhone 6.  I was a free agent, and started to look around. I looked at the Android, but like many “Apple fans”, I viewed them as the competition, like a NY Yankee fan might view the Boston Red Sox. The more I dug in, the more I realized the Android phone was quite better than the iPhone: bigger screen, faster processor, better camera.  So I bought a Samsung Galaxy Note 3. Whaaaat? That’s right. A Samsung. I felt like a cult member who snuck out of the compound one night and drooled when I saw the Samsung phone. I could see the Galaxy was light years ahead of my iPhone.  Now that I see the iPhone 6, I’m glad I bought the Samsung instead of waiting.  

Yes, the Apple iPhone 6 news kinda fizzled, but does that matter anymore?

I’m no tech expert, but the iPhone 6 feels a very incremental technology. I’m sure it does a few things I’m not aware of or could appreciate. Financial analysts were so bored by the launch, many downgraded the stock. Yes, the Apple stock price is extremely high, but maybe it’s time for the stock to stop living and dying based on the next great launch.  And maybe, it’s time for us to realize that Apple has shifted from a product driven brand to an idea driven brand.  The real reason people buy Apple is the BIG IDEA that “We make technology so SIMPLE, everyone can be part of the future”. With Apple, it has become less about how we think about the product and more how we feel about the brand. While Samsung has a better product than they do a brand, Apple now has a better brand than they do a product.  Samsung can’t get past talking features instead of benefits, offering almost zero emotional connection beyond the product.  Apple has created such an intensely tight bond with their consumers, they are more powerful than your average monopoly. Apple uses that power with the very consumers who love them, against competitors who try to imitate them and through every type of media or potential key influencer in the market. Below we have mapped out the Brand Strategy Road Map for the the Apple brand.  

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Apple isn’t really a technology leader, and likely never was. Yes, Apple had an amazing decade of new products from 2001-2011 that gave us the iPod, iTunes, Macbook Air, iPhone and iPad, but Apple is 
a quick follower who figure out the mistakes the technology leaders make and then cleans them up for the mass market. Apple exploits the fact that the first to market technologies are so badly launched (mp3 players, on-line music and tablets) the average consumer never really sees them, leaving the perception that Apple is the innovator. Apple’s product strategy is: “We bring technology that is simple and consumer friendly across a broad array of electronics products. Products have simple stylish designs, user-friendly functionality, convenience and speed.”  Apple’s brand story, told through great advertising like “Mac vs PC” is: “Technology shouldn’t be intimidating or frustrating. We make it simple enough so you can be engaged right away, do more and get more, with every Apple product you are use.”   As an example below, the  beautiful ads over the past year are less about the product features and more about how the brand makes you feel.  

 

The most Beautiful Apple Product Apple is now their P&L statement

Maybe we just need to relax on these Apple launches and admire Apple’s Profit and Loss statements.  Apple is going to sell about 80 million iPhone 6’s and I bet the iPhone 6 will be under many Christmas trees this year. Stores continue to be packed–it’s tough to even get an appointment.  The Apple retail stores have the highest sales per square foot, almost twice the #2 store, which is Tiffany’s selling diamond rings.  

Apple is now a huge mass market corporate brand, with a market capitalization of $600 billion, 3 times the value of companies like Coke, Procter & Gamble, Pfizer and IBM.  Apple has moved from the challenger type brand to the “king of the castle” brand. Back in the 1980s, IBM was the “drive the BMW, wear a blue suit with polished shoes” type brand, while Apple was “comfortable in your VW Bug, tee-shirt and sandals” brand. Apple was the alternative, anti-corporate, artist. But that’s changed. As much as Apple fought off and won against the corporate arrogant brands like IBM, Microsoft and Sony, they’ve now become that very type of corporate brand.

At Beloved Brands, we believe the more loved a brand is by it’s consumers, the more powerful and profitable that brand can be.  The best example of this model is the Apple brand. 

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In researching the Apple brand, and as a true brand geek like me, when I opened up their P&L statement I almost gushed:  I drooled over the compound annual growth rate, stared at the margin % and was in awe of how their fixed marketing spend stayed constant as the sales went through the roof.  It’s the P&L that every Brand Leader wants to leave for the next guy.  

Apple Brand > Apple Product

At Beloved Brands, we run a Brand Leadership Center to train marketers in all aspects of marketing from strategic thinking, analysis, writing brand plans, creative briefs and reports, judging advertising and media. To read more on the programs we offer, click on the Powerpoint presentation below:

We make Brands better. We make Brand Leaders better.™

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

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The best advertising comes when Brand Leaders control the strategy and give freedom on the execution.

Control the Strategy with a Tight Brief

Brand Leaders take pride in being strategic thinkers. Yet, why when it comes to Advertising, do they throw strategic thinking out the window and become masters of execution? To get great advertising, Brand Leaders should control the strategy and give freedom on the execution. Yet I see them giving up control over the strategy all the time. A good tight brief has one problem, one objective, one target and one main message.  As soon as you write a broad brief that goes beyond that, you’ve just given up control over the strategy.

  • If your brief has a broad target market, some ads will naturally fit younger and some will fit older. But it’s unlikely one ad will fit both targets. A good brief should have no more than a 5 year age gap on the target. 
  • If your brief has two benefits, the agency will come back with one ad for the first benefit and another ad for the second benefit. I hope that’s not what you wanted when you picked two benefits. Or worse yet, you’ll get the “marriage of both benefits” type ads and those are usually very lame. A good brief should have only one benefit!!!!
  • If your brief has two objectives, it will fail at both. So many briefs I see advertising objective say: “get new users and get current users to use more” (penetration and frequency).  That’s impossible in one ad. Getting new users is getting competitive users to THINK differently about your brand so they cast aside their current brand to try you just once. Yet, driving usage frequency is a message to those familiar with your brand and trying to get them to FEEL differently enough to change their behavior. I would argue it’s impossible to achieve these two things with one ad. If I’m wrong, send me an ad that does both. If you can’t find that ad, then go to your brief now, and if you have both objectives, strike out one and your brief will get better. 

Your broad brief, which might help you sleep at night, just squandered your control over the strategy. And soon you’ll be having nightmares. The role of the brief is to create a nice tight “box” that defines the problem, objective, target and main message. Since the best agency talent are “in the box” thinkers who solve problems, the best brief gives them a “box” to solve. Briefs with multiple objectives or many main benefits send the signal to agencies that you aren’t quite sure and want the agency to pick the strategy. Briefs with a long list of mandatories sends the signal that even though we don’t know the strategy, we do think we know what we want the execution should look like. A great brief is tight enough that it doesn’t even need mandatories.  

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Give freedom on execution to your Agency

Being a Brand Leader is a very odd job: you don’t do anything and you don’t really know anything. You don’t make the product, don’t sell the product and don’t make the ads. You just make decisions. However, marketing seems to attract know-it-all types that love to tell everyone what to do. I was once one of those know-it-all Brand Managers so I know that type well. And yet, only when I figured out that not knowing anything, and not doing anything put me in a more powerful position to make better decisions did I master the art of Brand Management. If the agency is a problem solver, then you are a problem giver. Think of it like great therapy. You just spill your problems and others come up with solutions and you decide on which solution works best. The only thing you have to do well, is make decisions. What a great job.  

At every stage of advertising, Brand Leaders really have 3 options: 1) approve the work 2) reject the work or 3) change the work.Slide1

From what I see, Brand Leaders rarely approve the work outright. Even though the agency would love it, it is almost unrealistic to think they could perfect the ad without any challenge from the marketer. I’ve been lucky enough to have a few ads in my career that required very little feedback. It likely means we nailed the brief. The reality is that great work is usually made collaboratively with both agency and client.  

On the flip side, Brand Leaders are sometimes too uncertain to reject the work completely. They tend to keep things alive too long. I remember on my first ad, I kept being so passive on this one idea that I hated. I never rejected it fully and the agency kept coming up with new ways to fix that ad. Here’s my advice: if you don’t love the ad, you’re not doing anyone a favor by keeping it alive. Great advertising takes a fight internally, and many times if you don’t love the work, then you won’t fight for it. Explain why you hate it and if that creates a new problem for the agency, you might be surprised at a new solution they come up with.  

It seems that most times, Brand Leaders choose the option to change the work. Do you think that’s your role in the process?  I see too many Brand Leader showing up ready to pounce on the work with a list of changes, rather than digesting it and making decisions on how to make the work better.  They’ll say: “make the lead a woman instead of a man, move the pack shot earlier, get rid of that line and change this line.” What I don’t understand is that If you didn’t feel talented enough to come up with an ad in the first place, why are you now talented enough to do something even harder: to change the work.  I’d challenge brand leaders to stop coming up with solutions and rather start finding ways to frame their problems, so they keep the agency engaged and challenged.

Being the Brand Leader on the hot seat is not easy.  

Until you gain experience in the hot seat, it is highly stressful, scary and uncertain. It can feel like your brain is spinning,so many thoughts are going around in your head and you feel pressure to say the right thing. 

Slide1Try to stop spinning by asking yourself four key questions:

  1. Do I love it? How passionate are you? If you don’t love it, how do you expect your consumer to love it? If you “sorta like” it, then it will be “sorta ok” in the end. But if you love it, you’ll go the extra mile and make it amazing. Would you be proud of this as your legacy?
  2. What is my gut reaction? What’s your immediate reaction when you reach for your instincts? Relax, slow yourself down enough to soak it in, right in the meeting. It’s easier to quickly reject out of fear than find what your gut really says. Many times, instincts get hidden away because of the job.
  3. Is it on strategy? Is the Ad an expression of what you wrote in your strategy documents? Use a process to help frame things in your mind, so you can evaluate it past how you feel. The tool I recommend is the ABC’s (attention, branding, communication, stickiness) which helps to give you something to ground yourself. Take your time with this thinking.
  4. Does the ad have long-term potential? Is it BIG IDEA, you can see lasting for 5-10 years, going across various mediums (mass, on-line, in store), capable of speaking of the entire product line up, Think about leaving a legacy beyond your time in the role, which forces you to think of campaign-ability.

When you slow it down, you’ll start to see ideas and not executions.You’ll be able to sort through what’s working and not working for your brand. Next time, instead of providing solutions to your agency with a “list of changes we want” I’d challenge you to give the agency a problem with a “list of challenges to the work”. In essence, if the original brief created a “box” for the creative team to figure out “in the box” solutions, then use  your feedback to create a “modified box” for the agency to solve, not a check list of changes you want on the ad. Never be afraid to slow it down, think it through, see where it is going or where it could go. Sometimes when we slow down our thinking, then the actions actually go faster. Great Brand Leaders think with strategy, and act with instincts.

The role of the client might be the most important factor in getting great ads. An OK agency can do great work on a great client. But a great agency will fail with a bad client. So be the best client you can be.

If you knew that being a better client got you better advertising, would you actually be able to show up better? 

At Beloved Brands, we run a Brand Leadership Center to train marketers in all aspects of marketing from strategic thinking, analysis, writing brand plans, creative briefs and reports, judging advertising and media. To read more on strategy, here is a workshop on HOW TO GET BETTER ADVERTISING, click on the Powerpoint presentation below:

We make Brands better. We make Brand Leaders better.™

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

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Can you re-train your Brain to be more Strategic?

StrategyThe phrase “you need to be more strategic” gets said daily in the corporate world. Everyone seems to proclaim they are a “strategic thinker” on their LinkedIn profile. People get promoted because they are strategic and held back in their careers at a given level because they aren’t strategic enough. Yet, has your boss ever had a real conversation about what it means to be more strategic?  Or do they just say it and you just take it?  Have you ever received training on being more strategic?  I spent 20 years at Fortune 500 companies and I never received any training, tips or feedback on being more strategic. Yet, we keep saying “strategic” all the time. 

So what is a “strategic thinker”?    

To me, the difference between a strategic thinker and a non-strategic thinker is whether you see questions first or answers first.  Both offer extreme value to a brand.  

  • Strategic Thinkers see “what if” questions before they see solutions. They map out a range of decision trees that intersect and connect by imagining how events will play out. They reflect and plan before they act. They are thinkers and planning who can see connections.
  • Non Strategic Thinkers see answers before questions. They get to answers quickly, and get frustrated in delays. They believe doing something is better than doing nothing at all. They opt for action over thinking. They are impulsive and doers who see tasks. They get frustrated by strategic thinkers.

Great Brand Leaders are a bit of a chameleon, able to balance both strategy and execution. While pure strategic people make great consultants, I wouldn’t want them running my brand. They’d keep analyzing things to death, without taking action. Every day there would be more strategies. And while tactical people get stuff done, is it the right stuff?  I want someone running my brand who is both strategic and non-strategic, almost equally so. Great Brand Leaders can talk with both types, one minute debating investment choices and then at a TV edit deciding on option A or B. Great Brand Leaders think with strategy but act with instincts.  

I think strategic thinking is a natural state, but is challenged or destroyed through our education system. Every test in school has a right and wrong answer, very little room for options or opinion. In the classroom, there is pressure to give the right answer quickly–almost without thinking about it. Teachers grill you with simple questions, and you never get to ask them deep questions. But really, we should teach students to slow down their thinking, encourage asking great questions instead of just giving simple answers, teach them how to map out scenarios to figure out the impact of potential actions.  

We need Brand Leaders who can slow down, so they can decide what to do, before they do it.  As Yogi Berra once said “if you don’t know where you are going, you might not get there”.  

There are six elements essential to good Strategy:  Vision, Focus, Opportunity, Early Win, Leverage, Gateway.  

  1. Vision: an aspirational stretch goal for the future, linked to a well-defined purpose.  A good vision should push you, and scare you a little, but excite you a lot.  
  2. Focus: alignment of your limited resources to a distinct strategic point you wish to penetrate, that creates positive momentum on a pathway towards your vision.
  3. Opportunity: something is happening in the market, making speed of execution matter, as a potential strategic opening gets taken by someone else or the opportunity may close.
  4. Early Win: break through point against where you put your focus, and you see a shift in momentum towards your vision.  It offers potential proof to everyone that this strategy will work, helping to rally others–the team, agency and even your boss.   
  5. Leverage: ability to turn the early win into creating a momentum with an even greater force of pressure, that leads to the tipping point to something bigger.
  6. Gateway: realization point where you see a shift in positional advantage or power that allows you to believe your vision is achievable.

Many Brand Leaders seem to fear focusing, yet focus is essential for strategy to work for you to get more from it, than what you put into it.  I once had a Brand Leader list their target as “18-65, current customers, potential customers and employees” and I asked “what about prisoners and tourists?”.  I constantly see Brands try to say 5 or 6 things in their message.  Brand Leaders have 74 things on their to-do lists. When we realize that every Brand has limited resources (financial, time, effort and alliances) they can apply against an endless list of opportunistic choices (target, message, strategy and activities) do we start to make choices.  Strategy is really where you apply your limited resources against pressure points you know you can break through, to gain something bigger than the sum of the resources you put into it.

Slide1All the great military leaders believe in the power of focus.  Napoleon had two basic strategies:  attack their strength first by over-whelming your opponent or attack their weakness first, forcing your opponent to use their strength to defend, dispersing the resources of their strength in doing so.  His choices depended on opportunity. His writings, still read by military experts around the world, puts emphasis on focus, economies of resources and breaking through. Brands Leaders can learn from the principles of warfare.  

Focus makes you matter most to those who care the most. Don’t blindly target consumers:  target the most motivated.  Focusing your limited resources on those consumers with the highest motivation and  propensity to buy what you are selling will deliver the highest return on investment.  In a competitive category, no one brand can do it all: brands must be better, different or cheaper to survive. Giving the consumer too many messages will confuse them as to what makes your brand unique. Trying to be everything to everyone is the recipe for being nothing.  Return on Effort (ROE) is a great tool for focusing your activity.  Doing a laundry list of activity spreads your resources so thin that everything you do is “ok” and nothing is “great”. And in a crowded and fast economy, “ok” never breaks through enough to get the early win and find that tipping point to open up the gateway to even bigger success. 

When you focus, 5 things happen to your brand: 

  1. Better Return on Investment (ROI):   With all the resources against one strategy, one target, one message, you’ll be able to move consumers enough to drive sales or push other key performance indicators in the right direction.  
  2. Better Return on Effort (ROE): It’s about getting more back than you put into the effort. Working smart helps make the most out of your people resources.
  3. Stronger Reputation: When you only do one thing, you naturally start to become associated with that one thing—externally and even internally.  Reputation is a power you can push to find deeper wins.
  4. More Competitive: As your reputation grows, you begin to own that one thing and you can better defend that positioning territory. You can expose the weakness of your competitors, attract new consumers as well as push internally (R&D, service, sales) to rally behind the newly created reputation. 
  5. Bigger and Better P&L: As the focused effort drives results, it opens up the P&L with higher sales and profits. People with money invest where they see return. 

Case Study:  Starbucks loses Focus by going after entertainment

A great case study in a brand who lost their focus is Starbucks back in 2003, as they took their corporate arrogance and large following to enter the music business. Sure they could hire great music people, but that’s not the core of the brand–either internally or externally. They lost focus on what they do really well: sell coffee in an atmosphere that helps you escape your hectic life. By 2008, people were wondering if the Starbucks bubble had begun to burst. Had they lost it? Starbucks closed stores and laid people off. Would it be the next Benneton? But the Brand used this point to successfully re-focus and build around Coffee. They closed every store for hours to re-train their barista, come out with new coffee flavours and built innovation around the coffee routine with pastries, snacks and sandwiches.  Since the re-focus (see case study below), sales are up 58% over 5 years, and margins are back up to a highly respectable 55% levels.  Slide1

Transforming your Focus into a Gateway to something bigger

Once you break through, it becomes about going beyond the break through.  Too many pure strategists over look the EARLY WIN, and think of strategy as just vision and strategic choices. But they’ve never run a Brand, and they don’t know how many others you need to keep motivated and aligned. You want that Early Win, to kick-start some momentum–slice off part of the business or population segment or have your message connect. You need this to get everyone buying into the strategy. The LEVERAGE is when you start to use the positional advantage or power the early break through has given you. Without this, the early win becomes the only win, and it’s a hollow strategy. Believe in your new power and use the power gained to push and transform your wins into even bigger wins. As you go through the process, it’s important that you not get distracted from achieving the GATEWAY that lines up to your vision. It’s easy to get tempted by new opportunities that your break through has given you, but you have to stay focused on your vision.

Case Study:  D-Day focuses the entire war effort on capturing a beach.

At a crucial point of World War 2, while Germany was fighting a war on two fronts (Russia and Britain), the Allied Forces planned D-Day for 2 years and joined in full force (Great Britain, US, Canada, Australia) to focus all their attention on one beach, on one day. Prior to the attack, there was debate, do we attack in one place that could be penetrated or in multiple spots where the Germans could would have to fight many battles?  The smart decision started with focus. If we look at D Day using the six elements of good strategy, we can see how they won:

  1. Vision: Win World War II, with a goal to re-claim Europe and stop Germany. Spread democracy.
  2. Focus: All of the Allied forces of 156,000 soldiers, landing on the Beaches of Normandy on the morning of June 6th, 1944.
  3. Opportunity: Planned excessively, debated options, looked for beaches unguarded by Germans. Russia was attacking from the East weakening/distracting Germany.
  4. Early Win: Despite heavy casualties, the Allies were able to capture the beaches and within 5 days of D Day, the allied forces were able to put 325,000 soldiers on the beaches of Normandy.
  5. Leverage: Re-claiming Paris, pushing back the German Army, turned the momentum into the Allied Forces side. The allies were able to take the Positional Power and shift it to where Germany now defending on their own territory.
  6. Gateway: A year later, the allies defeated the German Army in Berlin. The US was now able to focus and fight the Pacific war and defeat Japan.

d-dayIf we were to write a Brand Plan for D-Day, here’s what it would start to look like:  

  • Vision:Win World War II, spread ideals of democracy.
  • Goals: Re-claim Europe, maintain troops.
  • Key Issues: How do we turn the tide in the war effort in Europe? Where would the best attack point to get on to continental Europe? What are the defense technology investments needed?
  • Strategy: pin-pointed attack to gain a positional power on continental Europe.
  • Tactic:  D-Day, taking all our troops and attack the Beaches of Normandy to get back on mainland Europe and battle Germany on an equal footing. 

Case Study: Avril connects with her core audience through free mall concerts.

A great example of strategy that might not look like strategy on the surface was Avril Lavigne’s free mall concerts.  Back in 2005, Avril’s career was flat, after some early success, which is a normal path for young musicians. avrilTo kick off her album, she did a series of free mall concerts—and was criticized as desperate. She was desperate and not everyone understood the logic.  Let’s use the six elements of good strategy to assess the Avril re-launch:

  1. Vision: Be a pop superstar again, #1 album, sold out concerts.
  2. Focus: Malls are exactly where her target (11-17 female) hangs out, allowing her to focus all her energy on her core target. Positioned as giving back to her fans. 
  3. Opportunity: First star ever to give free concerts. She had a new album coming out. There were still record stores in malls.
  4. Early Win: She attracted 5k screaming 13-year-olds per mall which created an early win among her most loyal of fans: those who loved and adored her. Local news covered the story giving her added exposure. Everyone (mom and kids) was happy with the “free” gesture.
  5. Leverage: She was able to leverage the good will and energy to get these loyal fans to go buy her album in the mall record stores which helped her album debut at #1 on the charts.
  6. Gateway: Everyone knows the charts are the gateway to the bigger mass audience–more radio play, more iTunes downloads and more talk value. The comeback complete.

Avril’s strategy holds up very strong.  Not a surprise because Madonna used this same strategy for years, except replace malls for teenie-boppers with London night clubs for 20-somethings where she would drop her songs and even make random appearances.  If you were to write the Avril Brand Plan, here’s what it might look like:

  • Vision:  Recording Super Star
  • Goals:  New Album Sales, increase popularity, new recording contract
  • Key Issue:  How do we drive album sales for a slumping Avril? 
  • Strategy:  Reconnect with core teen fans to create momentum to trigger album sales
  • Tactic:  Free Mall tour to get most loyal fans to reconnect and buy the new album.

Case Study: Starbucks refocuses by building around the Coffee routine.

trbghzsds183Starbucks experienced tremendous growth through the 80s and 90s, mainly because of the their coffee. Starbucks quickly become a life ritual in the morning to wake you up. Following their “hobby” (case study above) into the entertainment field in 2003-2008, they hit the skids and faced some trouble that caused them to re-trench and focus on building around their coffee ritual again.  They rebuilt everything back around the coffee routine.  They closed their stores for an entire day to re-train every barista.  They created snacks and pastries to gain more share of requirements around coffee, launched sandwiches to stretch the coffee routine to lunch and created new versions of coffee to deepen love affair with the most loyal users.  Let’s use the six elements of good strategy to see how they did this.

  • Vision: Cherished meeting place for all your quick service food needs.  
  • Focus:  Build around the coffee ritual, but look to shift the coffee routine to both breakfast and lunch. They built a broader portfolio of products–refreshing drinks and delicious deserts, snacks and sandwiches around these two time-slots.
  • Opportunity: Starbucks had the under-utilized bricks and mortar of their restaurants going almost un-used past 11am.  Driving a broader portfolio would own more share of requirements, while moving the ritual to lunch allowed them to drive higher same store sales from the same real estate investment.  
  • Early Win:  Starbucks launched series of new products that made Starbucks seem big on innovation, including sandwiches, wraps, pastries and cookies, all with high quality and successfully connecting with the most loyal Starbucks fans. 
  • Leverage: The leverage point was turning a coffee routine into a breakfast/lunch routine, expanding the life ritual of Starbucks so that it’s now a broad-based meeting place for breakfast and a light lunch. 
  • Gateway: Starbucks is no longer seen as just for coffee, but rather an escape at any point in the day. Most Starbucks are now open till Midnight.  Sales have grown double-digit each of the past 5 years and the Starbucks brand is one of the most revered and beloved with consumers.  

If you were to write the Starbucks, here’s how it might look;

  • Vision: Cherished meeting place for all your quick service food needs
  • Goals: Increase Same store sales, greater share of requirements from Starbucks loyalists
  • Key Issue:  How do we drive significant growth of same store sales?
  • Strategy:  Move Starbucks loyalists to lunch with an expanded lunch menu.
  • Tactic:  Exotic refreshing coffee choices, light lunch menu, increase desert offerings.

Here’s a checklist to see if your strategy is fully mapped out and not left to some vague chance of success.

  • An end in mind vision, pathway that has milestones, specific goals for your program.
  • Opportunity that creates an opening for your brand to quickly take advantage of. 
  • Pin-pointed focus of your resources (effort, investment, time, partners)
  • An early win as the breakthrough point.
  • Game changing Leverage point, where there is a change in positional power and you’re able to turn a small win into something big.
  • Gateway to something bigger, defined as a win for the brand that translates into an increase in power or value.

Strategic Thinkers see “what if” questions before they see solutions.

At Beloved Brands, we run a Brand Leadership Center to train marketers in all aspects of marketing from strategic thinking, analysis, writing brand plans, creative briefs and reports, judging advertising and media. To read more on strategy, here is a workshop on HOW TO BE THINK STRATEGICALLY, click on the Powerpoint presentation below:

At Beloved Brands, we make Brands better and we make Brand Leaders better.™

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

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10 Things GREAT ADVERTISING should do for your Brand

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Advertising is very hard. In fact, it’s likely the most complex part of marketing, because it’s where everything comes together–your consumer, you brand strategy, your positioning and every opinion in your entire company.  It’s hard for a Brand Leader to manage at times and it can be hard to find that missing ad you’ve been looking for.  If you want to see a company struggling on Advertising, look at Wendy’s and the lack of consistency they’ve had since Dave Thomas.

Here is a tongue-in-cheek look at why Advertising can be difficult. Slide1

What makes some Brand Leaders GOOD at Advertising?   I love asking this question and I never really get great answers.  Usually people think “they are creative people” or “they listen well” or “they have lots of advertising experience in their background”.  All a little true, but my simple answer might be a little complex:  Simple put, they are able to consistently get good advertising on the air, and keep bad advertising off the air.  But this is actually a very complicated answer.  From my experience, I’ve rarely met an easy process for getting to great work. All the great ads ad had a long list of doubters, detractors and obstacles to maneuver or overcome. There is always a near breaking point. You should almost be scared when it goes too easily. Must mean it’s too safe.

But from what I see, the biggest reason in getting great Advertising starts with how good the Brand Leader is.  An OK agency can do great work on a great client. But a great agency will fail with a bad client.  Being good at Advertising takes time, practice, feedback and a willingness to adjust. 

slide15The Real Question to be Asking yourself: If you knew that being a better client got you better advertising, would you actually be able to show up better?  The presentation below outlines how to be better at advertising, looking at the skills, behaviors and experiences Brand Leaders need.  As a starting point here are the 10 elements you need to achieve better advertising:  

The 10 things GREAT ADVERTISING should do 

  1. Set Yourself Apart. Beloved Brands must be different, better, cheaper or not around very long. The story telling of the brand’s promise should help to separate the brand from the clutter of our minds. That starts with creative that feels different and makes the brand seem different. 
  2. Focused! A focused target, a focused message, a focused strategy against a focused communication idea and a focused media. 
  3. Keep the Idea and Communication very simple. Communication is not what is said, but what is heard. Too many people try to shout as many messages as they can in one ad. What the consumer hears: a confusing mess or nothing really. My challenge to you is to stand up on a chair and yell your main message as though you are standing on top of a mountain. If you can’t YELL it out in one breath, then your idea is too complex. The Volvo Brand Manager gets to yell “Safety” in one clean simple breath. Can you do that? 
  4. Have a Good Selling Idea. While big ideas break through, they also help you to be consistent, because you have to align your thinking to the Big Idea. You’ll see consistency over time, across mediums–paid, earned, social and search, throughout the entire brand line up of sub brands. Consumers will start to connect to the big idea
  5. Drive Engagement:  Too many Brand Leaders forget to engage the consumer. They get so fixated on saying their 7 messages that they figure the ability capture attention is just advertising fluff. But it all starts with Attention. The consumer sees 5,000 ads a day and will likely only engage in a handful. If you don’t capture their attention, no one will remember the brand name, your main message or any other reason to believe you might have.
  6. Let the Visuals do the talking. With so many ads, you need to have some visual that can capture the attention, link to your brand and communicate your message. The ‘see-say’ of advertising helps the consumers brain to engage, follow along and remember. As kids, we always love the pictures. We still do. 
  7. Sell the solution, not the product. People use brands to solve problems in their lives. They’d prefer not to have that problem than have to buy your brand. No one has ever wanted a quarter-inch drill, they just need a quarter-inch hole. 
  8. Be Relevant with the Consumer. A beloved brand finds a way to matter to those who really care. Not only in the right brand promise but in the right communication of that promise. You can’t sell carpet cleaning to someone who just has hard wood floors. 
  9. Have the Ads based on a consumer Insight. Insights are not facts about your brand. That’s just you talking AT the consumer. Insights allow you to connect and turn the ad into a conversation. Insights are something the consumer already knows but they didn’t realize that everyone felt that way. Insights enable consumers to see themselves in the situation and once you do that, the consumers might then figure the brand must be for them. 
  10. Tell the story behind the brand. Talk about your brand’s purpose. Why did you start this brand? What do you hope that the brand really does to help people? Why do you get up in the morning. Remember: people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.

Think of Advertising as the Creative expression of your brand strategy.

While it needs to accomplish a strategic task, it also projects an image of what your brand is about. Good advertising starts with a big idea—big enough to stand over time, giving the consumer a consistent touch point with the brand. The idea may need to have room for an array of support messages that build the one constant vision and positioning for the brand.

Always remember there is truth in advertising! Slide1 In fact, un-true advertising is rejected by consumers—because the consumer sees no consistency with their perception of the brand. Usually the truth is the obvious—we just don’t see it or want to deny it (e.g. Listerine is strong). Good advertising is a balance between the rational truth (task benefit oriented) and emotional truth (connection/solution focus). Un-True is not just about the facts, but positioning, tone and emotions.

People remember stories that connect with them. Whether you`re showcasing the brand`s benefits, the purpose behind the brand or the story of the brand, the best way is to frame it within a creative story.

Brand Leaders need a tool to go on How to Judge Creative.  

A very simple process is the ABCS of Advertising: Attention, Branding, Communication and Stickiness. This ABC’S method will work across any medium whether it’s TV, PR, digital or social.   

  • Attention:  You have to get noticed in a crowded world of advertising. Consumers see 6000 ads per day, in every part of their lives. 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.  
  • 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.

Brand Leaders need to be strong at every stage along the way in the Advertising Process

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As you go through this process here are 10 challenges you might not always do, but if you’re struggling with your advertising, I think you should. 

  1. Do you develop a testable Brand Concept with with rational and emotional benefits, plus support points that you know are actually motivating?
  2. How tight is your Brief? Do you narrow the Target with engaging insights? Do you focus on the desired consumer response before deciding what your brand should say? Do you focus on One Benefit and OneMessage?
  3. Do you meet creative team before the first creative meeting to connect, align them with your vision and inspire them to push for great work?
  4. Do you hold Tissue Sessions to narrow solutions before going to scripts?
  5. At creative meetings, do you stay big picture, avoid getting into details? When giving direction, do you avoid giving your own solutions and create a “new box” for the creative team to figure out the solutions?
  6. Do you take creative risks, and willing to be different to stand out?
  7. Do you manage your boss at every stage? Do you sell them, on your vision what you want?   Are you willing to fight for great work?
  8. Are you one of your Agency’s favorite clients?   Do they “want to” or do they “have to” work on your business?

Great Advertising starts with a Great Brand Leader with a Great Strategy and a willingness to take risks

At Beloved Brands, we run a Brand Leadership Center to train marketers in all aspects of marketing from strategic thinking, analysis, writing brand plans, creative briefs and reports, judging advertising and media. To read more on HOW TO BE BETTER AT ADVERTISING, click on the powerpoint presentation below:

 

At Beloved Brands, we make Brands better and we make Brand Leaders better.™

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

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Managing Others: Advice for Brand Leaders on managing and developing Marketing Talent

New Brand Managers tend to Suck

I don’t mean to sound too cynical but that statement is a reality. I used to tell my newly promoted managers that “you’ll really struggle managing others till your 5th direct report”. Becoming a good Brand Leader takes time, self assessment and maturing. New Managers get very little people manager training or coaching, and are just thrown into the fire.  A few weeks into the new Manager role, just as they are about to finally delegate, they just say “oh, I can do this faster than it will even take to explain it, so I’ll just do it myself”.  Instead, new Managers hoard all the good activities and just give the lousy easy to accomplish work to their direct reports.  

They see themselves as managing a series of tasks, and miss out on the idea they are managing someone’s career. A recent Harvard study has narrowed down what the modern leader is looking for from a boss:  they want career advice and coaching.  It’s not whether the boss is nice, funny, inspiring or challenging–not whether they are too involved or not involved enough. What really separates an OK boss from a great boss is “do you give a damn about my career?”

Think about your People in terms of Skills, Behaviors and Experiences

Most Managers focus on strengths and weaknesses, because that’s the old school method for managing people.  We even ask it during interviews and use it on year-end performance reviews.   Most new Managers figure their role is to fix the weakness so their direct report doesn’t look bad, or even worse, make them look bad as a Manager.  One shift I’d love to see Managers make is to work with their direct reports on closing Gaps, instead of fixing Weaknesses. The difference between a Gap and Weakness might seem like semantics, but I see it as a management philosophy.

  • With a “weakness”, you can’t really fix it, and it may even be dangerous to fix it because you risk changing the person too much. I’ve had managers who tried to get me act more like them and when I tried, I found that I wasn’t being true to my authentic self.  I believe that a weakness and a strength are usually directly linked. So as you work to minimize the weakness, you might be dulling the related strength at the same time. For instance, “challenge too much” came up in many of my reviews as a weakness, and it has gotten me in trouble on day 1 and year 20. Not until I had a boss coach me through my style did I learn to manage “how I challenge” and how to turn it into a strength instead of a weakness. Even as a consultant, I say my role is to challenge.
  • With a “gap”, it is something you can close through learning, coaching, application and feedback.  For instance, early on in my career, I had a gap in with advertising because I wasn’t on a brand that did much advertising. Because I lacked the experience, I lacked the right skills and behaviors. I didn’t really know how to give feedback, I didn’t really know the role of a brief and had very little knowledge of the advertising testing methods. I had good instincts, but unsure how to deliver them. Once I got significant experience, observed the right behaviours and added in various skills linked to writing a good brief, giving effective feedback or judging on what would work in the marketplace, I was able to close the gap in the advertising area. Advertising to me, was never a weakness–just a gap that needed closing. And 15 years later, I’m now training Brand Leaders on Advertising.   

When you start to think about Gaps, you can observe if your direct report is meeting the standard of their peers or the expectations for the current role. You can also make decisions on their readiness for promotion, and possibly use the Gap analysis as a way to close on a few specific areas before the promotion.  And finally, you can provide an assessment to help focus the colleague to work on to continous ways to improve.

In terms of coaching, think about three layers of coaching:    

  • The obvious Year End Review is the most formal document you’ll write on behalf of the company.  Nothing in the year-end should surprise your direct report, and every point should have been discussed many times throughout the year.  There’s nothing worse than sitting down and having no idea what your boss would say.  When I was doing reviews, I even emailed out the written review document 48 hours ahead of time, giving people the chance to digest all the thoughts and to come prepared ready to discuss each point.  (when I did “anonymous” feedback at year end, I made sure I signed my name to it)
  • The next layer down are Quarterly Reviews, which I think are essential to helping someone grow. It’s my belief that marketers can grow faster than we think–but they can only grow with timely feedback. Use these meetings to review accomplishments during the quarter, and to focus on ONE THING they are working on, get them thinking of one skill and one behaviour they were currently working on.  With great marketers, I found with good feedback they could quickly close the gap within one-quarter.
  • Use day-to-day feedback, providing consistent and regular On the Spot Feedback. With agreement on the ONE THING, it’s important that you highlight when you see examples of them closing or not closing the gap. 

Below, I break out the essential skills that every Brand Leader needs, the leadership behaviors that Great Brand Leaders exhibit and the experiences you need to gain. 

Marketing Skills

I have mapped out 32 core skills a Brand Leader needs to be successful.  I have broken down the skills under one of 8 core areas:  

  1. Seeks to Understand: skills that help use data from all sources, reports and methods.
  2. Analytical:  skills for asking the right questions and getting beneath the surface.
  3. Strategic Thinking: skills to enable you to focus, staying on strategy and guiding strategically
  4. Stays organized:  skills around projects, meetings, budgets and various functional needs
  5. Innovation: skills for brainstorming, developing and testing concepts and taking ideas to market
  6. Advertising: skills related to briefing, giving feedback and making decisions on media and creative ideas.
  7. Go to Market: skills related to working through customers, merchandising
  8. Leadership:  skills related to managing others to maximize the talent pool, working the system and managing up and sideways.

 

10530900_10154328451135332_274029533138390707_nEach of these skills can be learned with a balance of classroom training, coaching, feedback and learning by doing. The big myth in marketing is “you will learn all this on the job”.  No you won’t.  If you don’t learn how to do it right, you’ll learn to do it wrong. By the time you move up to Director, you want to make sure you can close most of the skill gaps.  As a junior marketer, there is nothing worse than reporting to someone who lacks any of the essential skills on this list. 

Leader Behaviors

I’ve also mapped out the 15 leader behaviors that you need to be a succesful Brand Leader.  I have broken down the behaviors under one of 5 core areas:

  1. Accountable to Resultsneed to see you take the lead, make things happen and make the right decisions
  2. Strategic Thinking: a great leader stays the steward of the Brand Vision, holds everyone true to the strategy and pushes for new ideas within the strategy.  
  3. Broad Influence: as you move up, this becomes more crucial but we want to see it in the more junior folks so that we know you’re worth investing in. This means you actively listen, seek out other solutions, increase your sphere of influence across various functions and come across like the owner of the Brand. 
  4. People Leadership: to be great with people, it’s less about your own personality and how much you care about your people’s careers. You need to give regular and balanced feedback for growth.  And your own leadership will be on greatest display during times of pressure–as one boss said to me during a crisis: “this is when they really need us”.  
  5. Authentic Style: It’s not how charismatic you are, how inspiring you are, but rather how well you know yourself and how truthful you show up. Great leaders show a curiosity to be a constant learner and is always trying to improve at every stage of their careers.  

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Experiences

The following experience areas are crucial for a marketer, but do take some experience before you can become proficient: 

  • Writing the Brand Plan: As you gain this experience, make sure you go deep, that the ideas are yours and not overly influenced by your boss and that you’re proud of the plan you present.  
  • Managing a Team: By the time you get to the point of leading an entire team, you’ll realize that it can be a very lonely, once you figure out you can’t be friends with your employees do you get really good at getting the most from your team. 
  • Launching a New Brand: Launching an entirely new brand is an amazing test for how broad you can think, how broad you can influence across and organization and lining up all the moving parts.  As you dig in, you might be shocked at what you didn’t know yet.
  • Leading a Brand Turnaround: To me, what separates a good marketer from a great one is their ability to turn around a business.  Most Brand Leaders who take on a turn around don’t focus on what’s really holding the brand back. Try to avoid trying to do too much and risking that nothing gets done.   What I have found in turn arounds is to layer in three separate stages so that you aren’t trying to do everything at once.  
  • Leading New Advertising: Usually when you have to lead new advertising, it means your brand has struggled in this area for a certain time.  When you have a blank slate, the ambiguity can really destroy a marketer. 
  • Leading through a Merger: I’ve been through 4 of these and I hate them. I keep hoping mergers are done, because I don’t think the Brands are winning.  But we’ll all go through them and the only advice I have is be extra careful of how you show up, be patient on the decision-making and avoid saying anything about anyone that you might one day regret. 
  • Leading Cross Functionally: I was at a senior level when I first got the chance to manage a cross functional team. Once you get outside of marketing, you’ll realize how the different functions behave–not the A-types, overly enthusiastic, decisive, action oriented leaders that we marketers are used to working with.    
  • Firing an Under-performing fellow Marketer: I know this might sound a bit morbid, but letting people go is a reality.  Marketing is a tough career, and to get better as a team you have to push as hard as you can and the reality is that not everyone can keep up.  How you go about firing someone and ensuring the company is protected and the person maintains their dignity is a tough balance to get right.  

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If you can make people better, you will be an even better Brand Leader

 

With your best people, make sure you identify the experience gaps they have and be fair to them with the next assignment. It’s far too easy to keep relying on a person’s strengths but it’s more important that you round out that person’s experience. If they advance too far without covering off those gaps, they may find themselves struggling later in the job. I’ve known newly promoted directors who had very little advertising experience coming up that all of a sudden found themselves on a desk with lots of advertising. Their team even had more experience than they did. Regular people reviews can really help identify the experience gaps that people might have.

To read about managing the careers of your Marketing Team, read the following document:

 

How loved is your brand?

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

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

 

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Stop thinking like a PRODUCT manager and think like a BRAND manager

Usually when I ask “what makes a great brand”, the first answer I get is “they have a great product”. That’s not an untrue answer, but it’s just a starting point really. The best PRODUCTS start out solving an actual problem, but as we’ve seen the best BRANDS evolve beyond just the product  eventually becoming a Big Idea. Yes, products can be very successful, without laddering up to a Brand, but they usually take a price strategy only–like Walmart, Expedia or Mcdonald’s.  If you treat your product like a commodity your consumer will treat you the same. 

brand idea evolution

Companies really only have four strategic choices:  you can be better, different, cheaper or not around for very long.  Better implies you have some ACTUAL and MEASURABLE performance advantage versus your competitor and different implies that there’s a PERCEIVED difference versus the average products. Both better and different require you to act like a brand, with a defined idea that can help defend your position. If you choose to act like a PRODUCT, that really just leaves CHEAPER as your strategic option. And choosing the strategy of being cheaper leaves you at the mercy of using pricing fluctuations, by purely supply and demand, and very rational decisions.  When you start managing a brand, consumers start to use more emotions in the decision, thinking a bit less.  

So why do we have Brands?

I love asking this question.  Usually I get a bunch of marketing type answers like driving loyalty, conveying consistency or maintaining ownership over trademarks. All good answers. But the best answer is about profit, not marketing.  Companies only invest to create a Brand if they think they can make more money from a brand, than if we just had a Product.  When you create a brand, there are 4 main ways to use the P&L to drive more profit for your brand:

  • Use the connectivity between brand and consumer to leverage premium Pricing to drive profits:  By creating a brand idea that connects, you can try to command a premium or once you have a loyal consumer, you can look for innovative ways to trade your consumers up. When consumers are emotionally connected to a brand, the price becomes more Inelastic. We can see in the market, that loyal brand fans pay a 20-30% price premium for Apple’s iPad.The more engaged employees begin to generate an even better brand experience. For instance at Starbucks, employees know the names of their most loyal of customers. Blind taste tests show consumers prefer the cheaper McDonald’s coffee but still pay 4x as much for a Starbucks. So is it still coffee you’re buying or are they paying for the Brand?
  • Use your brand’s power to drive Lower Costs: A well-run Brand can use their efficiency to lower their cost structure. If you are a hot brand, suppliers will cut their cost just to be on the roster of a beloved Brand. A brand that becomes popular will benefit from the free media through earned, social and search media. They may even find government offer subsidies to be in the community or partners willing to lower their costs to be part of the brand. For instance, a real estate owner would likely give lower costs and better locations to McDonald’s than an indifferent brand.
  • Leverage the bond with consumers to Increase your Market Share: Crowds draw crowds which spreads the base of the loyal consumers. I was walking past a store the other day and they had a line up to get into the store. We immediately became curious as to what that store offered. Competitors can’t compete–lower margins means less investment back into the brand. It’s hard for them to fight the Beloved Brand on the emotional basis leaving them to a niche that’s currently unfulfilled.
  • When you have an idea bigger than your product alone, you can enter into New Categories that fit with your idea:  We see many beloved Brands enter into new categories knowing their loyal consumers will follow because they buy into the Idea of the Brand. Starbucks has gone far beyond Coffee to where it’s now one of the biggest fast food chains in the world.  The idea is no longer tied to the product or service but rather how it makes you feel about yourself. 

Running a Brand can feel a bit less Certain than a Product

I work with Brand Leaders all the time at every level, and with many, I can sense an uneasy feeling when we shift the conversation from product to brand. It’s almost like the uncertainty of skating on ice, instead of the certainty of just walking on pavement. Managing a product is easier, but managing a brand can generate higher growth rates and margin to drive profits for your company.

Challenge yourself to shift your thinking from a product leader to more of a brand leader. As much as it can feel uneasy, shift your thinking to be more conceptual. Try to figure out the big idea of your brand.  We believe that a Brand is an idea that is worth loving. Our definition of a brand: “A Brand is a unique idea, perceived in the minds and hearts of the consumer, consistently delivered by the experience, creating a bond, power and profit, beyond what the product itself could achieve.” The challenge I have for you is that if the best brands eventually evolve to defining a Big Idea for their brand, then why not just start there? You should figure out your brand’s Big Idea and then everything in the company should feed off the Brand’s Big Idea. The Big Idea (some call it the Brand Essence) is the most concise definition of the Brand. For Volvo, it’s “Safety”, while BMW might be “Performance” and Mercedes is “Luxury”. 

Once you have your Big Idea, you should then use it to frame the 5 different connectors needed to set up a very strong bond between your brand and your consumers. Brands are able to generate love for their brand when the consumer does connect with the brand. I wish everyone would stop debating what makes a great brand and realize that all five connectors matter: promise, strategy, story, innovation and experience. The first connector is the Brand Promise, which connects when the brand’s main Benefit matches up to the needs of consumers. Once knowing that promise, everything else feeds off that Promise. For Volvo the promise is Safety, for Apple it is Simplicity and FedEx it might be Reliability. It’s important to align your Strategy and Brand Story pick the best ways to communicate the promise, and then aligning your Innovation and the Experience so that you deliver to the promise. To make sure the Innovation aligns to the Big Idea, everyone in R&D must be working towards delivering the brand promise. If someone at Volvo were to invent the fastest car on the planet, should they market it as the safe-fast car or should they just sell the technology to Ferrari. Arguably, Volvo could make more money by selling it to a brand where it fits, and not trying to change people’s minds. As for the experience, EVERYONE in the company has to buy into and live up to the Brand Promise. As you can start to see, embedding the Brand Promise right into the culture is essential to the brand’s success.

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Think like a Brand Manager

As you’re challenging yourself to think about going to Brand Thinking, here are some of the differences you might notice.  

  • Think of a Brand as an idea with many intangibles, whereas a product is usually tangible to the senses. This is where you as a Brand Leader must begin to think more conceptual and think of ideas.  
  • If we think of a Product as solving a Problem, then try to think of a Brand as fighting your consumer’s enemy.  
  • While managing a product, you’re always focused on trying to figure out the THINKING part of your consumer, and you offer very rational product features and claims, you might need to shift to start figuring out the EMOTIONAL decisions your consumer makes and finding more emotional benefits that connect with them.  
  • Instead of thinking of just the consumption of your product, start thinking of the EXPERIENCE. When I was a Brand Leader, I honestly didn’t pay too much attention to the experience.  We tend to think of that for service brands. But look at the EXPERIENCE of a product brand like Apple and see the difference it can create.
  • Brand becomes a reputation you must manage, going well beyond the legal entity and trademark.  Every brand should be using Public Relations to become part of the news cycle, helping to go beyond Advertising. Look to your most loyal consumers as a potential influencer of your reputation through social media.  
  • Start to think about becoming part of your consumers life, as a ritual, which goes beyond a routine. Be a favorite part of their day, or be an enabler to great things that happen in their life. Adjust to the days of the week of the time of the year. Leverage the calendar as a call out to how your brand might be used.  
  • A product can be debated, but a Brand will be defended.  Provide your most loyal consumers with enough love so that they love you back enough to defend you at the lunch table.  

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The more Love you can generate for your Brand, the more Power and Profits you will generate.  

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How loved is your brand?

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

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

  

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How to create and tell the story of your Brand

Sometimes, Brand Leaders write their strategic documents in such a boring way, others have a hard time following.  If you as the Brand Leader are the only one who understands your brand, then you’re in trouble. The Brand story should distill everything you know about your brand (the vision, purpose, values, objectives, strategies, tactics, target market, insights, rational and emotional benefits, reason to believe) and organize it into something that is digest-able for everyone who might touch the brand–whether that’s consumers, advocates, influencers, employees, agencies, retailers or the media. 

So what makes a good story?

Before getting into your Brand story, think of all of the great Super Hero stories of Batman, Spiderman or Wonder Woman and you see some commonality in what makes a good story in general.  For this purpose, let’s use the fundamentals of a good Super Hero story and try to match up all the brand strategic inputs you may have to help tell the story. 

The basis of the Super Hero story usually starts with a conflict of Good versus Evil. There needs to be an Enemy and a Hero.  

Most brands started as products or services that handled some functional problem in the market, but as they matured and became more closely connected to their consumers, they evolved into a Big Idea, that fulfills consumers’ emotional needs. brand idea evolutionAnother way to say it, most great PRODUCTS were invented to solve a rational PROBLEM in your consumers’ daily life. Most great BRANDS solve an emotional ENEMY in your ongoing consumers’ life. The question you likely never ask is: who is the Enemy of your consumer? The conflict and resolution sets up the Big Idea of the story.  If you are the Apple brand, then you fight off the enemy of FRUSTRATION on behalf of your consumer. Unless you work in IT, you likely find computers extremely frustrating. We have all sat at our computer wanting to pull our hair out. Spending 38 minutes to figure out how print, getting Error 6303 message that says close all files open and reboot or buying 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 consumers go through and realized it was in the way of many consumers experiencing the potential of communications through computers. 

There is a substantial back story to explain what makes up the Super Hero.

There is a clear vision for a better future, a purpose to explain why the hero does what they do, and a set of values to explain what is right and wrong.  A brand should also be able to articulate their Vision for the next 10 years, The most successful brands start with a purpose driven vision (why) and match the strategies (how) and the execution (what) to the vision.  Start with the Question of WHY do you do what you do? If you are Apple, the answer would be “At Apple, we believe in challenging the status quo, we believe in thinking differently. We challenge ourselves to make a dent in the universe.”  What do you get for your brand, when you answer the question of “why are you in this business?”.

A good Super Hero story saves someone. A good brand should as well.  Each story also has a distinct cry for help.  

As Steve Jobs said: “You’ve got to start with the customer experience and work backwards to the technology. You can’t start with the technology and then try to figure out where you’re going to sell it”  It’s important to tightly define who you will save and it starts with those who are the most motivated by what you do.  Pick a focused target market. Realizing not everyone can like you is the first step to focus on those that can love you. Too many times, Brand Leaders blindly pick an idealized target market based on size and wealth of the target, figuring that will offer the highest return. However, going after the biggest potential target can sometimes lead to failure because they are already being courted by everyone else.  And that large target when they might not like your product is just a recipe for failure. I like to challenge Brand Leaders to focus on figuring out who are the consumers that are already motivated by what you do. That’s the perfect match up to your brand.  You have to matter the most to those who really care.  Just as the super hero always responds to a cry for help, the Brand must listen to the what they are saying. The best way to frame a consumer insight is to get in the shoes of the consumer and use their voice. Insight 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 one who felt like that”.  Insight is about  “seeing below the surface”. To get deeper, keep asking yourself “so what does that mean for the consumer” until you have an “AHA moment”. What are the beliefs, attitudes or behaviors that help explain how they think, feel or act in relationship to your brand or category.  What I recommend to Brands is that they frame insights in quotes and use the word I, forcing you to be in their shoes and using their voice. For a Bank with long hours, the insight would be: “I am so busy driving my kids around, I can never get to the bank during banking hours. I wish there was a bank that worked around my life, rather than me working around the banks’ life”.

A Super Hero is different than everyone else.  

For a Brand in a competitive world, you have to realize that no one brand can do it all. You have to decide on what you want to be from four choices: better, different, cheaper or else not around for very long. usp-2-0-2Giving the consumer too many messages about your brand will confuse them as to what makes your brand unique. Trying to be everything is the recipe for being nothing. Trying to do everything to everyone makes you nothing to no one. It just spreads your resources and your message so that everything you do is “ok” and nothing is “great”. With a long to-do list, you’ll never do a great job at anything. And in a crowded and fast economy, “ok” never breaks through so you’ll never get the early win to gain that tipping point that opens up the gateway to even bigger success

There is some super power that makes them even better, without being vain. 

Just like the Super Hero knows they can help, the Brand also has to be able to tell the story of how they help out. Doing a Customer Value Proposition (CVP) helps to organize your thinking as a great tool for bringing the benefits to life.  slide1-4

  • Get all of the consumer insights and need states out. 
  • Match them up against the list of the best features the brand offers. 
  • 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 again “so if I’m the consumer, what do I get from that?”. Ask it five times and you’ll see the answers will get richer and richer each time you ask. 
  • Then find the emotional benefit by asking “so how does that make me feel?” Ask that five times as well, and you’ll begin to see a deeper emotional space you can play in and own. 

A good story is one that touches people in an emotional way. 

People tend to get stuck when trying to figure out the emotional benefits. I swear every brand out there thinks it is trusted, reliable and yet likeable. 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 Leverage this type of research and build your story around the emotions that best fit your consumer needs. Leveraging Hotspex, I’ve mapped out 8 zones in a simplistic way below

Slide1A Good Super Hero has to make difficult choices. They can’t do everything. It’s all about choices.

Every brand is constrained by resources—dollars, people and time.Focus makes you matter most to those who care. Focusing your limited resources on those consumers with the highest propensity to buy what you are selling will deliver the greatest movement towards sales and the highest return on investment for those resources. When you focus on the right choices, you end up with:

  • Better ROI: With all the resources against one strategy, one target, one message, you’ll be find out if the strategy you’ve chose is able to actually move consumers drive sales or other key performance indicators. 
  • Better ROE: Make the most out of your people resources.
  • Strong Reputation: When you only do one thing, you naturally start to become associated with that one thing—externally and even internally. And, eventually you become very good at that one thing.
  • More Competitive: As your reputation grows, you begin to own that on thing and your are able to better defend the positioning territory
  • Bigger and Better P&L: As the focused effort drives results, it opens up the P&L with higher sales and profits. And that means more resources will be put to the effort to drive even higher growth.

Strategic Thinkers see questions before they see solutions. They map out a range of “what if” decision trees that intersect and connect by imagining how events will play out. They reflect and plan before they act. They are thinkers and planners who can see connections. They use knowledge and judgment about the long-term health and wealth of the brand. 

A good story is well-organized, has a consistent tone throughout the story and has layers that support the story.  

There is a Focus to the story: Using one motivated target market and one Unique Selling Proposition based on need states allows you to drive all your resources against strategies that will move the brand towards being more connected and loved. The story has an Early Win: Able to move a motivated target towards sales and share, plus establishing the brand’s positioning with a balance of rational and emotional benefits. The brand now has momentum and growth.There is this point in the story where you can start to Leverage those early wins into something even bigger: When you can take the emotional bond and translate it into a source of power the brand can use against all the forces in the market. And there is a Gateway to something bigger: When you are able to take the brand power and drive strong growth and profits. 

If you were to write the Starbucks, here’s how it might look;

  • Vision: Cherished meeting place for all your quick service food needs
  • Goals: Increase Same store sales, greater share of requirements from Starbucks loyalists
  • Key Issue: How do we drive significant growth of same store sales?
  • Strategy: Move Starbucks loyalists to lunch with an expanded lunch menu.
  • Tactic: Light lunch menu, increase desert offerings.

The strategic way I like to organize a brand is starting with the Big Idea for your brand and then ensuring the brand promise, brand story, strategy, freshness (innovation) and the experience (culture and operations) all match up to the Big Idea. If you are Apple, this is how you’d lay out the guts of your story.  The idea is about taking the complexity out and making it so simple that everyone can be part of the future.  And then Apple lines up the promise, strategy, story, freshness and experience behind that big idea.  So if Apple is about simplicity, then my check out experience buying an Apple product better be simple.  

Slide1No Super Hero goes alone.  They always have help.

And just like running a brand, the Brand Leader needs to be able to communicate the brand story in a way that elicits help from all the employees, the agencies.   

So how do we tell the story?

Here is a story board format that you can use to frame your story, whether telling it through a Powerpoint presentation, a video or even through a two page word document.  The story makes it easy for everyone to digest and everyone to continue telling for those they influence.  If it’s to your sales colleagues, they may have to explain it to customers, if it’s to your agency, they may have to convey it to their art director, and if it’s to advocates, they to portray it to their followers.  Here’s a simple 15 questions to be asking

Slide1And if we were to layer in where each of these answers is hidden away in your plan, you can use this as a cheat sheet.

Slide1Depending on who your audience is for your story, you may wish to only use parts of this story board.  For instance, if you’re talking to the Board of Directors you would use the the top part where you talk vision and purpose and values.  If you are setting up the external communication of the brand, you’d talk target, insights and benefits.  If you’re talking about go to market execution, you’d outline the plan, strategies and how the organization executes.  Having these 15 answers allows Brand Leaders to keep the story consistent and aligned. 

 

Story Telling is the Simplest articulation of the complexities of your Brand 

 

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How loved is your brand?

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

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

 

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As a brand, you must be LIKED before you can be LOVED

So while I’m desperately trying to convince Brand Leaders that being more loved will make you a more powerfully connected brand, and enable you to drive higher profits, I feel that I have to remind everyone that Love Takes time to build, and you have to be LIKED first, before you will ever be LOVED.  To relate it with human behavior:  Yes, hearing the words “I love you” is something we all dream of, but hearing them on the first date is a bit creepy, don’t you think.  Just like in our personal relationships, we need to get to learn the brand, be able to trust and rely on the brand, and quite honestly we use our brains to figure out if it is THE ONE for us.  Then we let ourselves fall in love. 

I have created a hypothetical curve I call “The Brand Love Curve”.  In the consumer’s mind, brands sit on a Brand Love Curve, with brands going from Indifferent to Like It to Love It and finally becoming a Beloved Brand for Life. At the Beloved stage, demand becomes desire, needs become cravings, thinking is replaced with feelings. Consumers become outspoken fans.love-curve-detailed4

It’s this connection that helps drive power for your brand: power versus competitors, versus customers, versus suppliers and even versus the same consumers you’re connected with. The farther along the curve, the more power for the brand. It’s important that you understand where your brand sits on the Love Curve and begin figuring out how to move it along towards becoming a Beloved Brand.  With each stage of the Brand Love Curve, the consumer will see your brand differently. The worst case is when consumers have “no opinion” of your brand. They just don’t care. It’s like those restaurants you stop at in the middle of no-where that are called “restaurant”. In those cases, there is no other choice so you may as well just name it restaurant. But in highly competitive markets, you survive by being liked, but you thrive by being loved. Be honest with yourself as to what stage you are at, and try to figure out how to be more loved, with a vision of getting to the Beloved Brand stage.

Most brands that are truly beloved brands have taken decades if not a century to achieve such status.  It took Apple 30 years to truly break through to the masses. Yes it was loved by a few early on, but not by the many.  Those brands that quickly get to LOVE IT sometimes don’t last there, because when we poke holes in the brand we find little substance. Examples where brands quickly got to the love stage might include Cold Stone Ice Cream, Crocs, Benneton and maybe even the pop band “DEVO”.  (sorry Devo fans)

Before getting all emotional, ask yourself:  Why is your brand Stuck at the Like It stage?

There are seven possible reasons why you are at the Like It Stage:

  1. Protective Brand Leaders means Caution: While many of these brands at the Like It are very successful brands, they get stuck because of overly conservative and fearful Brand Managers, who pick middle of the road strategies and execute “ok” ideas. On top of this, Brand Managers who convince themselves that “we stay conservative because it’s a low-interest category” should be removed. Low interest category means you need even more to captivate the consumer.
  2. We are rational thinking Marketers: Those marketers that believe they are strictly rational are inhibiting their brands. The brand managers get all jazzed on claims, comparatives, product demonstration and doctor recommended that they forget about the emotional side of the purchase decision. Claims need to be twisted into benefits—both rational and emotional benefits. Consumers don’t care about you do until you care about what they need. Great marketers find that balance of the science and art of the brand. Ordinary marketers get stuck with the rational only.
  3. New Brand with Momentum: Stage 2 of a new brand innovation is ready to expand from the early adopters to the masses. The new brand begins to differentiate itself in a logical way to separate themselves from the proliferation of copycat competitors. Consumers start to go separate ways as well. Retailers might even back one brand over another. Throughout the battle, the brand carves out a base of consumers.
  4. There’s a Major Leak: If you look at the brand buying system, you’ll start to see a major leak at some point where you keep losing customers. Most brands have some natural flaw—whether it’s the concept, the product, taste profile ease of use or customer service. Without analyzing and addressing the leak, the brand gets stuck. People like it, but refuse to love it.
  5. Brand changes their Mind every year: Brands really exist because of the consistency of the promise. When the promise and the delivery of the promise changes every year it’s hard to really connect with what the brand is all about. A brand like Wendy’s has changed their advertising message every year over the past 10 years. The only consumers remaining are those who like their burgers, not the brand.
  6. Positional Power–who needs Love: there are brands that have captured a strong positional power, whether it`s a unique technology or distribution channel or even value pricing advantage. Brands like Microsoft or Wal-Mart or even many of the pharmaceuticals products don`t see value in the idea of being loved. The problem is when you lose the positional power, you lose your customer base completely.
  7. Brands who capture Love, but no Life Ritual: There are brands that quickly capture the imagination but somehow fail to capture a routine embedded in the consumers’ life, usually due to some flaw. Whether it’s Krispy Kreme, Pringles or even Cold Stone, there’s something inherent in the brand’s format or weakness that holds it back and it stays stuck at Loved but just not often enough. So, you forget you love them.

You have to answer those questions and figure out your brand before you just go to your ad agency and say “let’s be more emotional this year”.  Communication can help, but if you’re at the LIKE IT or INDIFFERENT stage, you need to begin crafting an idea that will help separate your brand from the pack. 

Here’s some thoughts for how to get to the LOVE IT stage.

  • Focus on action and drive Consideration and Purchase: stake out certain spaces in the market creating a brand story that separates your brand from the clutter. Begin to sell the solution, not just the product. Build a Bigger Following: Invest in building a brand story that helps to drive for increased popularity and get new consumers to use the brand.
  • Begin to Leverage those that already Love: Focus on the most loyal consumers and drive a deeper connection by driving the routine which should increase usage frequency. On top of that, begin cross selling to capture a broader type of usage.
  • Love the Work: It is time to dial-up the passion that goes into the marketing execution. Beloved Brands have a certain magic to them. But “Like It’ brands tend to settle for ok, rather than push for great. With better work, you’ll be able to better captivate and delight the consumers. If you don’t love the work, how do you expect the consumer to love your brand.
  • Fix the Leak: Brands that are stuck have something embedded in the brand or the experience that is holding back the brand. It frustrates consumers and restricts them from fully committing to making the brand a favourite. Be proactive and get the company focused on fixing this leak.
  • Build a Big Idea: Consumers want consistency from the brand—constant changes to the advertising, packaging or delivery can be frustrating. Leverage a Brand Story and a Big Idea that balances rational and emotional benefits helps to establish a consistency for the brand and help build a much tighter relationship.

The big lesson here is advertising alone can’t make you more loved. You have to have everything lined up behind the brand promise to create an experience that lines up to the story you want to tell.  McDonald’s might have great coffee, but they’ll never be a Cafe, if I have to sit in plastic chairs, beside a screaming 4-year-old who is throwing his french fries at his mom, or 8 teenagers hanging out behind me.  

I don’t think you can be rational and emotional at the same time

Yes, I am starting to see many Brand Leaders taking on the emotional areas of Brand Marketing, and I’m happy for it. But what I’m concerned at are creative briefs asking agencies to create ads that are big on emotions, but then heavy on facts about your brand. Before you even get to the communications stage with your agency, you have to understand where you sit on the love curve and why you are there. As most brands sit at the LIKE IT stage, they need to understand why they are there, before they can try to just be loved randomly. Just like in dating, you might have a blind spot that has nothing to do with advertising, so trying to create an ad that says “LOVE ME” might be like a jerk asking a girl to marry him.  A good piece of communication can only move one body part at a time: the head, the heart or the feet. Challenge yourself: do you want to target the HEAD so you can get consumers to think differently about you, the HEART to try to connect emotionally or the FEET where you try to drive action.

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If you think you can create an Ad that does all three, you are the worlds greatest advertiser in history. And if you can’t you should then focus on one at time. That’s where the Anthem will help reposition the brand (head) or connect emotionally (heart) and the Innovation spots should drive action (feet). The choice on where to focus should come from your brand’s strategy. At Beloved Brands, we use the Brand Love Curve to help determine where your Brand currently sits with consumers. If you’re at the Indifferent stage, you need to drive Trial (feet) or change their minds to see you differently. As you move along the curve, it becomes a balance of mind and heart, but driving towards Beloved, you need to connect emotionally. (The Heart) of consumers.

slide16The pathway to LOVE for a brand starts with an idea.  

Align everything on your brand behind that idea:  the promise, the strategy, the story, the innovation and the experience.  And it’s the idea that helps to create a strong bond with your consumers. That bond becomes a source of power for your brand, whether that power is with the very consumers who love your brand, versus retailers, suppliers, competitors, influencers, employees or even versus the media.  Once you’re able to generate power for your brand, you can then turn that into profit, whether driving price, cost control, market share or increasing the market size.

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The more love you create for your brand means more power and profit. 

 

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How loved is your brand?

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

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

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How to Develop winning CLAIMS for your Brand

usp-2-0-2Brands are either better, different or cheaper. Or not around for very long.

You have to find a unique selling proposition for your brand.  The key to being unique, is not just unique for the sake of it, but to match up what you do best with what the consumer is looking for.  Or else, you will play in the who cares zone.   A great claim must be ownable to your brand, and motivating to the consumer.  

To often, Brand Leaders start with the claim, and then try to make the most of it in everything they do.  The problem with that strategy is your claim might not be a benefit, and even if it ladders up, it might not be something that is ownable for you or motivating to the consumer.

Start with the Consumer First

Like everything in marketing, you should always start with the consumer first.  slide1-4Define your target, create motivating insights that help you connect, map out the consumers’ enemy and create a meaningful customer value proposition. 

Hold a brainstorming session with everyone who works on the brand so you can:

  1. Get all of the consumer insights and need states out. 
  2. Match them up against the list of the best features the brand offers. 
  3. 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 again “so if I’m the consumer, what do I get from that?”. Ask it five times and you’ll see the answers will get richer and richer each time you ask. 
  4. Then find the emotional benefit by asking “so how does that make me feel?” Ask that five times as well, and you’ll begin to see a deeper emotional space you can play in and own. 

For instance, no one really cares that a golf club has 5.7% more torque. (a potential claim) When you ask what do i get from that, the better answers are longer drives or lower scores or winning a tournament (rational benefits). When you ask how does that make you feel, the emotional space is more confidence in your golf swing and optimism that you’ll break 80 all the time now (emotional benefit).  

The Brand Positioning Statement
Before you get to your claims, you want to start to map out a best in class brand positioning statement, which has four key elements:

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

The more focused your decisions, the more successful you will be: decide on one target, one promise and maybe one or two reasons to believe that help to directly back up your promise. But the target shouldn’t be everyone 18-65, and don’t throw your eight best features at the wall and hopefully something sticks. And the reason to believe has to back up your promise, not be a whole new promise.

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 (a) Brand X plays in the market (b) and it gives the main benefit (c). That’s because of the following reasons to believe (d). This is what it looks like when you put them into this format:

 slide11-4The claims you are going to create should fit in the Reasons to Believe, and help to support your benefit. As I said above, don’t start with a claim and then try to create a benefit around the claim.  Sometimes in big companies, the claims team sits in the R&D group, randomly developing claims.  You as the Brand Leader need to provide the positioning work as a guideline for them to work within. 

Brainstorming and Sorting the Claims

As you look for that separation for your brand, you have to ensure it’s ownable and motivating to consumers. Otherwise you’re just talking to yourself. What you want to do is hold a brainstorming session with a cross functional team, who might be from marketing, consumer insights, R&D, regulatory, sales strategy or a professional sales team.  Add in people who have been on the brand a long time, and those who are new.  Using the work above, with the Unique Selling Proposition and the Positioning Statement derived from the Customer Value Proposition, you want to create claims that would fit in the Reasons to Believe area.  I would suggest you create potential areas to brainstorm under:

  • Product Feature Claims
  • Experiential Claims
  • Testimonial Claims
  • Emotional Satisfaction Claims
  • Psychological Claims
  • Key Influencer Support
  • Statistical Claims

Once you create a brainstorm list that matches up to your benefits, you then want to do a claims sort through market research.  Focus on the tests that help determine what is most motivating to move the consumer and what is most ownable to your brand.  (grid below)  One caveat is that you may wish to get Legal/Regulatory to go through the claims to make sure you will get approval. The key to a great lawyer is not finding out what will get rejected (anyone can do that) but to move the claim in a direction that will get approval.  I want my lawyer to say “now if you said it this way…”   

Slide1

 

Build your claims around the Benefit,

not your Benefit around your Claims

 

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How loved is your brand?

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

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

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