Tag Archive: brand plan

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.

Slide15

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. 

 

Slide1

 

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…”   

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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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Beautiful “Like a Girl” ad by P&G that re-defines stereotypes, will definitely move you

d7291c2d01784756_Always_Run_Like_a_Girl.xxxlargeMost days I can safely say “we are just marketers” but every once in a while, I see that we can actually have a cultural impact. We can use our platform to stand up for consumers, in this case teenage girls, and in fact, all women will be moved by this video. A new 3 minute video by the ALWAYS team at P&G is making its way around the internet this weekend with millions of views already.  My hope is that it gives you goosebumps, tears or gets you think differently.  

The insight that P&G’s team found was that somewhere in the adolescence stage, girls self-confidence plummets.  In the video, they ask both men and women over the age of 15 to depict what “like a girl” looks like, and both sexes show a stereotype and a negative association with WEAK.  And then, they ask 8-10 year old girls to “run like a girl” and they just show how they would NORMALLY run.  The insight is that somewhere between 10 and 15, girls start to see “like a girl” as an insult.  The Always brand challenges us to re-define “like a girl”.  Here’s a look:  

 

It’s one more example of where Procter and Gamble is moving, to emotionally connect with consumers.  Click on this article to see how P&G is making this change:  P&G has become really good at Emotional Advertising

I’m a dad of a 16-year-old girl, and I can see this insight.  I remember playing football in the backyard when my daughter was around 10 and she picked up the football and threw a perfect spiral about 20 yards.dove1 I just stood in awe. She’s an amazing athlete, a Dennis Rodman type basketball player who leaves nothing on the court. In 6th and 7th grade she was the regional shot put champion. And then in 8th grade, she didn’t even go out for her school team.  She was fighting those stereotypes at a very hard age to “be a girl”.  The Dove Outdoor campaign from last year really hit home with girls quitting sports in their teens because of confidence.  In today’s world of Instagram and Twitter, from what I see everyday, it’s harder than ever to get to 20 feeling good about yourself. 

Getting on the side of your consumer makes your consumer say “this brand is for me” and “this brand gets me”.  Unilever was the first CPG brands to get on the side of consumers with the Dove “real beauty” campaign–still a gold standard that many of us aspire to.

 

But in reality, CPG brands should still look beyond CPG to push themselves.  Watching Nike’s “if you let me play” ad from 1995, you can see the inspiration of this work.   This is for all the women who kick ass in sports, including my daughter.

 

Doing this type of advertising takes guts. At this point, the video is viral and gaining momentum.  This type of work comes straight out of insights gathered by the team. Insight is not something that consumers never knew before. That would be knowledge or news, but not insight. It’s not data or fact about your brand that you want to tell. Real insight goes a layer or two deeper to help with the cause and effect. Oddly enough, Insight is something that everyone already knows. Here is my definition: 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 who felt like that”.  This Always ad strikes that chord of women and connects with women.  

Many of us wish we could do this type of work. But how does it happen?  I don’t work at P&G but here are my guesses.  They spent more money on GATHERING insights than they did on TESTING the work.  Put it this way:  while testing your Ads might make you sleep better at night, gathering insights will make you dream more.  The brief did not say “I want a 30 and 15 second ad, plus give me a print ad I can use in-store”.  There were no claims or demo requests, and they didn’t jam in a claim at 2 minutes and 23 seconds into the video. There was no debate over pack shots, of which sku to use.  My guess is that not everyone at P&G bought into this and the work had to be sold in, to various levels by someone that believed in it.  Every great ad I was ever part of met major resistance, even doubt and rejection. That doesn’t mean you give up.  You should be more afraid of the ads where EVERYONE in your company likes the ad you want to make.    

 

If you watch this video and as a Brand Leader you say I wish I could do that, ask yourself what’s getting in your way?   The answer might be YOU!!!  

 

 

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Do you think FAST or think SLOW? Here’s why Brand Leaders need do both.

facebook adWhen I ask a room of Brand Leaders “do you think fast or think slow?” what do you think the prevailing answer would be. Like them, your immediate answer would be they think fast.  There’s a bias in marketing that we are supposed to think fast, so it’s only natural to say “yes, I’m a fast thinker”.  We even have a cultural bias to believe that fast thinkers get ahead in life, and slow ones fall behind.  From the 2011 book by Daniel Kahneman “Thinking, Fast and Slow” he talks about the two different ways that the brain forms thoughts:  

  • Fast Thinkers:  instinctual, automatic, emotional, stereotypic, subconscious
  • Slow Thinkers:  logical, deeper thinking, effortful, logical, calculating, conscious

We all do a bit of both fast and slow, but we each have a natural disposition for one lead style. I’ve seen enough Myers Briggs results to realize that ENTJ (Extraversion, iNtuition, Thinking, Judgment)  is the prevailing result for Brand Leaders.  ENTJ_meme3.357224143_stdAnd if you are ENTJ, it likely means you’re a slow logical thinker, but a quick decision maker. Even though you are willing to voice your opinion quickly, you should really be taking the time to think things through.  When you try to go too fast, you’re not at your best. As a Brand Leader, you’re also likely surrounded by fast thinkers (from your ad agency, sales colleagues, R&D people and even your boss looking for a decision) and that puts you into a choice:  do you speed up for them or do you slow them down?  

Are you a Strategic Thinker?

Of course you’ll say yes, but are you really?  Everyone has it on their LinkedIn profile.  But not everyone in marketing is strategic.  From what I’ve seen, most are tactical executors, not deep conceptual thinkers.  

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.  I’m a strategic person, and pathetic at trivia questions but can stay up all night debating concepts of politics, religion and of course Marketing.

Non-Strategic Thinker see answers before they see questionsThey get to answers quickly, and will get frustrated in delays. They opt for action over thinking, believing that doing something is better than doing nothing. They are impulsive and doers who see tasks. They can be frustrated by strategic thinkers. They use instincts and driven about the short-term health and sales of the brand.

The Best Brand Leaders balance strategy and execution

If you think too much, you’re dead.  You might miss an opportunity.  Or worse yet, you might over think it.  So the simple advice is  don’t go too fast, but don’t go too slowly. You are running a live business, not some a Socrates major laying on the grass of a University.  

There are three main areas of conflict for strategic thinkers:  Action, Sales Team and your Agencies.  

  1. Your brand in is in a live market so there is a propensity for Action.  We are faced with a problem and so everyone immediately turns to you and asks “what is your solution?” Never be that Ready, Fire Aim type of leader.But your action must have the proper focus, so that you are not just spreading your resources (investment, people and time) randomly, but rather well thought against what will provide the biggest return. As the Brand Leader, you can’t just react to everything, take your time and think things through. 
  2. Strategic thinkers can have a conflict with Sales people.  Sales people are no less strategic, but they place ahigher value in relationship than many marketers.  In fact, they may be strategizing about their relationship with Wal-Mart instead of your individual brand. They have to work within the needs and opinions of their buyers and balance the shorter term risk with the longer term strategic gains. Many Sales Leaders focus on the next six months, while Brand Leaders focus on six months and beyond.  Sitting down with sales people and finding the middle ground will find a mutual benefit to both. Most marketers believe that everything is relatively negotiable, while most sales people see everything as negotiated.  
  3. Brand Leaders have a conflict with agencies.  Agencies tend to be more emotional than Brand Leaders and value pride in their work, more than the brand leader—Agency people want to make work they can be show off.  Not only do they show it off for pride, they show it off for more business. Also, agencies are filled with fast thinkers, who value instincts and feelings ahead of pure logic.  When I ask Brand Leaders “how liked are you by your agency” they find it an odd question because you feel you are paying them so you should get good service and they should be courting you. Here’s a secret I learned mid way through my career:  the more emotionally engaged you are with your agency, the better the work will be.  Yes, you can replace your current agency, but you’ll just run into it again with your next agency.  You should want to be one of your agency’s favorite brands to work on.  

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The best athletes in team sports have an ability to slow the game down. Larry Bird in basketball, Joe Montana in Football or Wayne Gretzky in hockey were never the most gifted athletes in their sport, but were given extra time and space by those defending them because they slowed the game down and then made quick decisions.  They were playing Chess while everyone was playing Checkers.  You need to find a way to slow the game down, so that you can make quick decisions.  

Slow it Down so you can move faster

When we are in a heated debate with our teenage kids, it’s natural to say something inflammatory to make a point. And I find myself saying “did that comment make this go faster or take longer?”  Considering now that my kids are debating my inflammatory comment, I know it took longer.  If only in that moment, I could think things through slower, then it would go faster.  But my only solution to teenagers is wait for them to turn 22.  

Here’s my advice on how to slow things down a bit, so that you can move things faster.

  • Find your own thinking time: About 90% of my best ideas were thought of in a car, not at a desk. I’d try to block off time in my busy calendar just to think. Sounds crazy but you need it. I’d go for walks at lunch or a drive to get away from it all. The more I did, the more I realized that my first thoughts weren’t always my best thoughts. Steve Jobs was notorious for going for a walk with someone. Instincts are not always at the tip of your tongue. You need to find a way to reach your subconscious mind, where your best thoughts might be. 
  • Proactively, do the deep thinking BEFORE the decision time comes: During the quiet periods, I would dig deep into the analytics, no matter what my level. I keep telling everyone that at every level, I wrote a monthly summary report on my brands, forcing me to stay on top of the brand. Every six months, I’d answer six simple questions: 1) where are we? 2) why are we here? 3) where could we be? 4) how do we get there? and 5) what are we doing to get there? Usually it was 2 or 3 bullets per question but it allowed me to stay planful yet flexible, knowing yet ready and on top of my game. You know it’s going slow motion because of how much thinking you do beyond the meeting, but everyone else thinks you’re moving fast. 
  • Next time you’re in a meeting, spend your time and energy asking great questions, not giving great answers: As the Brand Leader you are the thinker and decision maker on the team, surrounded by subject matter experts who know everything. The big secret about Brand Leaders we don’t always want to share is we don’t really know anything about anything. And that puts you in a very powerful position. I used to go into every meeting believing I’m the least knowledgeable person in the room, which is an advantage because I’m the one asking questions, not giving answers. Not only is it respectful to your experts, when you shift to this type of model, you’ll see that it’s a powerful way to move the group of experts. As a consultant, I’m paid for answers, and while my answers are good, my questions are even better.
  • Connect with your the “people” at your agency:  I bet you wait till your first creative meeting to have your first conversation with the creative people. What I found more useful was to have lunch with the creative team the day after the brief was released, mainly to give them a chance to ask any questions, but really just to get to know them. Keep it informal and relaxed.  At every stage of the production, talk to the experts, not with directives, but just to get to know them.  They’ll work harder for someone who talks to them?   Do you talk to the editor?  No one ever does. I did. And then when I needed to try something that my agency didn’t think could be done, I’d hear “let me give it a shot” by the editor. When you are your agencies favorite client, things go so easily and by slowing things down, it goes faster. Send thank you notes at each major stage, pride notes at each major win, and encouragement notes at each major bump. They show you’re human and emotional. 
  • Use THREE different types of Feedback for agencies: When giving feedback to your agencies, map out three levels of thinking time for the feedback and tell them ahead of time what you plan on doing:
      1. feedback during the presentation which is just pure gut reaction–it doesn’t mean much at all
      2. feedback following the presentation which is just your big picture instinct
      3. feedback 24 hours later which is well-thought through and detail oriented.
  • I’m not sure why the agency gets 3 weeks to come up with ideas but they want your instant feedback right away. Remember, agencies are fast thinkers and brand Leaders are slow thinkers.  Use the 3 levels of feedback to your advantage. Don’t mix the three levels of feedback up and be clear with everyone as to the expected process. Build it into the time line.  If agencies are smart, they’d present work creative ideas on a Thursday and allow their client the Friday to talk it through with the team and the weekend to think it over before getting final feedback on the Monday. You’ll get better ads if you let your clients think things through.    
  • Proactively Meet your sales people regularly, not just when there’s a problem or conflict.  Get to know their needs and come to them proactively with solutions that are a win for them, their customer and your brand.   I used to have quarterly lunches with each major account lead and just listen to their issues they were having.  It put me in a position of preparedness for when I needed to take action. 

By the way, I’m a quick-thinking creative INTP, so I needed to train myself to slow things down and do the thinking to go beyond just using my instincts, especially in a corporate setting where risk is avoided.  As Abe Lincoln said “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”

 

You will move faster if you take your time, slow it down and think.

 

Here’s a presentation on Strategic Thinking:

To read more about the Brand Leadership Center, click on this link: Brand Leadership Center  At Beloved Brands we offer a unique learning session on Strategic Thinking. Everyone in marketing thinks they are strategic. But what is it that makes someone strategic and how can you use that thinking in the role of a Brand Leader. With our Strategic Thinking program, Brand Leaders will learn how the elements of strategic thinking–focus, early win, leverage and gateway. They’ll look at this from a consumer/customer view, competitive strategy as well as visionary strategy. Through workshop breakouts, we’ll be able to try it out on their own business with hands-on coaching to help them improve their own strategies.  Here’s the outline:

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How to match up the internal and external connections of your brand.

There are too many Brands where what gets said inside the corporate office is completely different than what gets said in the marketplace.  Moreover, there are brands who only view “messaging” as something Brand does in TV ads or through logos.  At its most simple state, if you say “simple” on TV ads, then consumers should experience simplicity right away, your R&D people better be looking into new simple technologies, your technical service department should speak in simple common language, your payment check out better be simple and everyone in your entire company should be working towards simple.  This is why Apple is such a great brand.  

It starts with the Big Idea of your Brand

I’ve always heard how Brand is the hub of the organization and everything should revolve around the Brand. While it makes sense, it’s just talk unless you are managing your business based on your brand’s Big Idea throughout every inch of your organization. Everyone connected to the brand, should fully understand the brand’s Big Idea. And when I say “everyone”, I’m talking about everyone in the entire organization, including Sales, Finance, Production, R&D, HR and Marketing, as well as everyone outside the organization that’s agencies or employees at your retailers.

The Brand’s Big Idea (some call it the Brand Essence) is the most concise and inspiring definition of the Brand. For Volvo, it’s “Safety”, while BMW might be “Performance” and Mercedes is “Luxury”. Volvo has stood for safety for almost 60 years, long before safety even registered with consumers. Here is the Tool I use to figure out a Brand’s Big Idea.  The model revolves around four quadrants that surround and yet help to define the Brand:

  1. Brand’s personality: human descriptors that express the brand’s style, tone and attitude.
  2. Products and Services: features, attributes, and functional characteristics that are embedded in what we sell.
  3. Internal Beacons: the internal views or purpose of the brand, why people believe their brand can win, what inspires, motivates and challenges.
  4. Consumer Views: honest assessment of how the consumer sees the brand, the good and bad.  

big ideaHow this tool works best with a team is that we normally brainstorm 3-4 words in each of the four quadrants and then try to form those words into a sentence for each quadrant. After all 4 quadrants are filled, we then looking collectively, we begin to frame the brand’s Big Idea with a phrase that embodies the entirety of the brand. As I facilitate sessions using this tool, it’s almost magical as we see the brand really come to life.

The Five Brand Connectors

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.

  1. The brand’s promise sets up the positioning, as you focus on a key target with one main benefit you offer.  Brands need to be better, different or cheaper. Or else not around for very long. ”Me-too” brands have a short window before being squeezed out. How relevant, simple and compelling the brand positioning is impacts the potential love for the brand.
  2. The most beloved brands create an experience that over-delivers the promise. How your culture and organization sets up can make or break that experience. Hiring the best people, creating service values that employees can deliver against and having processes that end service leakage. The culture attacks the brand’s weaknesses and fixes them before the competition can attack.  With a Beloved Brand, the culture and brand become one.
  3. Brands also make focused strategic choices that start with identifying where the brand is on the Brand Love Curve going from Indifferent to Like It to Love It and all the way to Beloved status. Marketing is not just activity, but rather focused activity–based on strategy with an ROI mindset. Where you are on the curve might help you make strategic and tactical choices such as media, innovation and service levels.
  4. The most beloved brands have a freshness of innovation, staying one-step ahead of the consumers.  The idea of the brand helps acting as an internal beacon to help frame the R&D.  Every new product has to back that idea.  At Apple, every new product must deliver simplicity and at Volvo, it must focus on safety.  
  5. Beloved brands can tell the brand story through great advertising in paid media, through earned media either in the mainstream press or through social media.  Beloved Brands use each of these media choices to connect with consumers and have a bit of magic to their work.

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Using the Brand’s Big Idea to Create a Brand Strategic Road Map

Having the brand road map on one page can help align everyone that works on a brand.   This is especially useful when managing a Branded House or Master Brand where there are various people in your organization that each run a small part of the brand.  The road map helps guide everyone and keep everyone aligned. Here’s the one I use that has all the key elements that help define the brand, at the center-point is the Big Idea and the 5 key connectors we talked about—promise, strategy, story, freshness and experience.

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Key Elements of the Brand Strategy Road Map

  • Brand Vision:   End in Mind Achievement.  What do you want the brand to become?  Think 10 years out: if you became this one thing, you would know that you are successful.  Ideally it is Qualitative (yet grounded in something) and quantitative (measurable) it should be motivating and enticing to get people focused.  
  • Purpose: Start with what’s in you:  Why do you exist?  Why do you wake up in the morning?   What’s your purpose or cause behind your brand?   Very personal and connects to your own story.  In the spirit of Simon Sinek:  “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it”.
  • Brand Values How do you want your people to show up?   What type of service do you want?  How much emphasis on innovation?   What type of people do you want to hire?  What behavior should be rewarded and what behavior is offside.  Having the right Brand Values will help you answer these questions.   The Brand Values become an extension of what the Brand Leader wants the brand to stand for.
  • Goals: While the vision serves as a 10-year big goal, it’s also important to have annual goals to push and challenge everyone in the organization.  It’s a great way to ensure milestones on the pathway to the vision are being hit. Goals should be S.M.A.R.T. (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-sensitive)
  • Strategies: These are potential choices you must make in HOW to get to the vision. Good strategy has focus, early win, leverage and a gateway to something even bigger. There are four main types of strategy: 1) consumer oriented 2) competitive oriented 3) operational and 4) financial. My recommendation is that Master Brands have 3-5 key strategies, but never more.  This forces you to focus.  
  • Tactics: Activities and executions that fit under the strategies. This could be advertising, media, sales, events, social media and professional influence.   I recommend focusing on 3 key tactical areas per strategy, continuing to make sure that you focus.  

The Big Idea helps Guide the Brand’s Management

 The Big Idea should help frame 

  • Brand Plan that drives the business for the upcoming year or the next 5 years 
  • Brand Positioning that connects to the consumer through marketing communications Slide1
  • Customer Value Proposition that links the consumer needs to the benefits of the brand 
  • Go-To-Market strategy that frames the distribution and the selling process 
  • Cultural Beacons that help define the brand internally through values, inspiration and challenge and finally 
  • Business Results, with each brand offering a unique way that it makes money.  

So if the brand’s Big Idea really works well to drive the organization, then if you are in finance at Volvo, you should be thinking about how to make safe cars cheaper, if you are in HR at Starbucks, you should be hiring people that deliver moments and if you are working at the Genius Bar at Apple, you have to make sure your language choices are simple and easy for every type of consumer to understand. Taking this even beyond the organization, if you are working at Dick’s sporting goods, you should know what makes Taylor Made such a great golf club. Everything should float down and throughout every inch of the organization from the brand’s Big Idea.

When you begin to blow this out one step further, you can start to see where everyone in your organization should align and understand how they can deliver the brand’s Big Idea.  Slide1

Telling the Brand’s Story Internally:

 

Use the Big Idea to set up the Culture through Brand Values

In managing your Brand’s Big Idea you must manage the Brand Story internally which helps creates the experience through the culture, innovation pathway, and service levels, and then manage the Brand Story externally establishing the brand’s positioning through advertising, logo/packaging and in-store.Slide1

Great Brand Leaders should be looking at the culture as an opportunity to win in the market place.  No matter how good your promise is, if your company is not set up to deliver that promise, everything comes crashing down.  The brand story told within the company is even more important than what you might tell the market through your advertising.

Managing organizational culture is very challenging.  The Big Idea should provide an internal beacon for all the People in the organization to follow and deliver the brand promise.  As you move along the Brand Love Curve from Indifferent to Like It to Love It and on to Beloved status, you need to make sure the culture keeps pace with where the brand is.

While the Big Idea can provide the internal beacon, it might not be enough to capture all the behaviors.  Brand Values should come from the Big Idea, and act as guideposts to ensure that the behavior of everyone in the organization is set to deliver upon the Brand’s promise.  How do you want your people to show up?   What type of service do you want?  How much emphasis on innovation?   What type of people do you want to hire?  What behavior should be rewarded and what behaviors are offside.  Having the right Brand Values will help you answer these questions. The Brand Values become an extension of what the Brand Leader wants the brand to stand for.


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A great example of Brand Values is the Virgin Group of Companies defines what each value is, but also what it shouldn’t be.  I love that Fun means enjoyment but not incompetent and Value means simple but not cheap.

Having values is one thing, but the other component of Culture is the right people leadership.  Use the values to help people deliver upon the right behaviors, skills and experiences.  Leaders must embody the Brand’s DNA and live by the values.  Employees will be watching the Leaders to ensure they are living up to the words on the wall. Leaders need to believe that by investing in their people, the business results will come.  Better people produce better work and that drives better results. Talent management means hiring the right people and providing the right training.   Too many companies are skimping on training and development, which is equivalent to cutting back on your Research and Development department.  

Every communication to employees, whether in a speech or memo, should touch upon the Brand Values, by highlighting great examples of when employees have delivered upon a Brand Value.  Leverage values, with inspirational touch points and processes to inspire and challenge them on achieving greatness.  The culture will only change when everyone makes the decision to make the change.  

Aligning brand with culture is essential for the long-term success of the brand. Brand Leaders should look to the overall Culture as an Asset to make your Brand Experience more powerful.  

 

Telling the Brand’s Story Externally:

 

Use the Big Idea connect with consumers of the Brand

Once you have your Brand’s Big Idea, it should inspire you to seek out a Creative Idea, from which everything should come from.  The best brands use a Master Brand anthemic spot to help tell the overall story of the Brand.  But even more so, the Creative Idea should help with any specific product spots around the Innovation you’re bringing to the market.

Taking that a step further, you can use it to begin crafting your media plan, by launching with the Anthemic Spot, and layering in your specific product messages.  As you look to continue to stay connected with your consumer, you should keep coming back to regular intervals of the Anthem spot.  Too many brands, who are failing, try to do both at the same time. They try to create a lofty “Brand Spot” with their agency and just as they start to like it, they ask “can we jam in some news about our new faster widget” message in the middle, or maybe even do a 5 second tag with it.   Slide1

As you look at the Creative Advertising you want to ensure you take the Big Idea into how the Advertising delivers the rand messaging. The best ads attract ATTENTION, tell the BRAND story, COMMUNICATE the main benefit of the brand and STICK over time.  Leveraging the BIG IDEA and matching up a CREATIVE IDEA, you should make sure it’s the CREATIVE IDEA that does the hard work to a) Earn the consumers’ ATTENTION  b) Draw and hold attention on the BRAND c) tells the brand story in a way that COMMUNICATES the benefit and s)  STICKS with the consumer and builds consistency of  brand experience over time.  It’s the ABC’s of Good Advertising.

Slide1Once you align everything to the Brand’s BIG IDEA, you’ll 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.

 Use your Brand’s Big Idea to Align internal and external dimensions of your Brand

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

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

 

*first exposed to the Big Idea and DNA concept at Level5 

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The 10 most abused words in Marketing

 

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On a daily basis I hear Marketing buzz words bantered about and it becomes obvious people say them and don’t really even know what they mean. I think people use the sacred marketing words like relevant, equity or insights, because they figure no one will challenge them. And of course, everyone puts “strategic thinker” on their Linked In profile. The problem I see is that a generation of Brand Leaders have not been properly trained and it’s starting to show. For the past 20 years, companies have said “on the job” training is good enough. But now the lack of training is starting to show up. The mis-use of these words can be linked to the lack of understanding of the fundamentals of marketing.

Here are the 10 words mis-used and even abused by Marketers.

Relevant

When I was running the marketing department at J&J, I jokingly banned this word because it was so abused.  I found that when a marketer would say “we need to make sure it’s relevant”, the room would go silent.  Then there’s a pause and someone would add their own brilliance “yeah, we have to be relevant”.  The room went silent again.  So then I would usually ask a simple question “so what do you mean relevant?” and it seemed to stump most of my marketers. Relevant has become the marketing equivalent of the word “nice”, because people say it so much now, they have no clue what they mean by it.  My mom, Megan Fox and my new iPhone speakers are all “nice”.  Yes, of course, marketing should be relevant. But what exactly do YOU mean when YOU say the word relevant?  Write that answer down and use that instead of just saying “we need to be relevant”.

Consumer Insights

Most briefs that I see don’t really have a consumer insight.  I see facts about the consumer (consumers brush their teeth 1.6 times per day), wishful thinking (half of those who try our product love it and say they’ll buy it again) or even behaviors (consumers like to work out and watch what they eat).  None of these are really insights at all.  Insight My definition of Insight is Quite Different.  Insight is not something that consumers never knew before.  That would be knowledge or news, but not insight.  It’s not data or fact about your brand that you want to tell.  Real insight goes a layer or two deeper to help with the cause and effect.  Oddly enough, Insight is something that everyone already knows.  Here is my definition:  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 who felt like that”.  The dictionary definition of the word Insight is  “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. And how do you serve up the insight in a way that captivates consumers. If you’re working on helping consumers Quit Smoking, it’s not an insight to say “people try to quit 7 times on their own before asking for help.”  You need to go a layer deeper.  Get in the shoes of that consumer and use their voice and you’ll find an insight like:  “I know I should quit.  I’ve tried to quit so many times, it’s ridiculous., I’m not myself, I’m grouchy, irritable and I feel out of control. Quitting Smoking Sucks and I can’t do it on my own anymore.”

Brand equity

The term was first coined in the 1980s, as part of the RJR Nabisco take-over when they couldn’t explain why they were willing to pay a higher price than the pure book value of the assets. The word has strayed since in two different directions–those like Brand Finance and Interbrand who still use it to correctly attribute it to the VALUE of the brand and those who mis-use the word when they attribute to the HEALTH of the brand. Where it gets abused is when it has become  a catch-all statement for the “unexplainable”.  They’ll say “the final scene of the TV is really emotional and should really drive the equity of this brand”.  We look at Brand Health and Brand Wealth separately and then use the model to predict future success of the brand. As Brand Leaders, it’s actually important to keep them separate so that the actions you take hit the right spot on keeping your brand healthy and wealthy.  But Brand Equity is about the wealth side, linked to Value.  There are 8 ways to drive Brand Value: Pricing, Trading the consumer up or down, Product Costs, Marketing Costs, Stealing other users, Getting current users to use more, Enter new categories and Create new Uses for your brand.  Those are not ambiguous at all.   To read more, click on 8 Simple Ways that Brand Leaders can impact Profits

Target market

I’m in shock at how Marketers list out their target market on the creative brief.  I once read a brief with a target that said “18-65, new customers, current customers and even employees”.  That pretty much covers everyone but prisoners and tourists.  A well-defined target should be a combination of demographics (age, income level, male/female) and psychographics (attitude, beliefs and behaviors).  I actually try to put an age demographic on every brief.  Call me old-fashioned or just realistic.  The media you buy, the talent you put in the ad, the stores you choose to sell to, or even the claims you make are likely going to have an age component, so you’re just kiddng yourself by saying “we are more about psychographics than demographics”.  When it comes to age, I try to push for a maximum of a 5 year gap.  This doesn’t mean you won’t sell to people outside of this target, but it does help give focus to you. 

Alienate

This word drives me bonkers and it seems to be growing or at least I keep hearing it. The best brands have focus, the worst don’t.  The best marketing programs also have focus, and the worst don’t.  If you want to be a great marketer, you must have focus–defined target, positioning, strategies and  execution. Stop being so worried and cautious that you alienate older consumers or your current consumers so much that you water down your marketing programs so much we have no clue who you’re talking to  or what you’re even saying.  As long as you are staying consistent and true to the brand, no one should be alienated by what you have to say and who you say it to.

Benefits

There’s an old selling expression:  “features tell and benefits sell”.  But I’m seeing that Marketers have become so obsessed with shouting their message as loud as they can, most brand communication is wall-to-wall claims about how great you are.  Brand Leaders should be organizing their Customer Value Proposition into rational and emotional benefits.   What I recommend you do is list out the brand features and put yourself in the shoes of your consumer and ask “what do I get?” (for rational benefits) and “how does that make me feel?” (for the emotional benefits).  Your brand’s communication should be a combination of the two. Here’s an article on how to write a benefit driven Positioning statement: How to write a winning Brand Positioning Statement

Brief

It’s called a brief, because it’s…BRIEF.  mini briefI saw a creative brief last year that was 8 pages long. And even that length, I couldn’t find one benefit or one consumer insight.  Every brief should be one page maximum. I’ve done a 1000 briefs at this point, and it’s relatively easy to nail the one page brief.  Here’s how to write a creative brief:  How to write an Effective Creative Brief

Brand

Too many companies have now separate Brand from Product marketing, especially on the Master Brand type companies.  The “Brand” department handles PR, brand advertising, websites and events.  The “product” department handles new products, pricing, distribution, and product-oriented or promotion-oriented advertising.  Brand and Product should NEVER be separated.  It’s crazy.  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.”    To have a successful brand, you need to connect with consumers based on a BIG IDEA for your brand and then line up the 5 connectors behind that big Idea.   You need to make sure the Brand Promise connects 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. 

New Media

New Media is around 15-20 years old now. I’m not sure I hear the term “new media” on Mad Men when they talk TV ads, but that’s how crazy it sounds at this point.  A better way to look at today’s Media is to manage all 5 types: Paid, Earned, Search, Social and Home media.  Paid is what we think of the traditional media (TV, Print, OOH, Radio and Digital options). With EARNED media, you need to create and manage the news cycle with mainstream news, expert reviews and blogs.  SEARCH Engine Optimization balances earned, key words and paid search.  SOCIAL is about engaging users where they are expressing themselves through sharing and influencing. HOME media is where you host your website where you can use as a source of information, influence or even closing the sale.  

Strategic

To me, the difference between a strategic thinker and a non-strategic thinker is whether you see questions first or answers first. 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. d-dayThey are thinkers and planning who can see connections. Non Strategic Thinkers see answers before questions. They get to answers quickly, and will get frustrated in the delays of thinking. They think doing something is better than doing nothing at all. They opt for action over thinking. They are impulsive and doers who see tasks. They are frustrated by strategic thinkers.  But to be a great marketer, you must be a bit of a chameleon. While pure strategy people make great consultants, I wouldn’t want them running my brand. They’d keep analyzing things to death, without ever taking action. And while tactical people get stuff done, it might not be the stuff we need done. I want someone running my brand who is both strategic and non-strategic, almost equally so. You must be able to talk with both types, at one minute debating investment choices and then be at a voice recording deciding on option A or B. You need to make tough choices but you also have to inspire all those non-strategic thinkers to be great on your brand instead of being great on someone else’s brand.

 

It’s OK to use these 10 words, as long as you use them right.  

 

 

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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