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The delusion of Mergers hurts the brands

6-merger-slide1-304-1M&A (Mergers and Acquisitions) talk around the Kraft-Heinz deal has dominated the business news. For most of us outsiders, it seemed like a surprise. We knew something was up with Heinz after the purchase by 3G Capital private equity group. But for Kraft, it seems like there has already been 30+ years of mergers starting with Kraft and General Foods in 1989, then adding Nabisco and Cadbury only to then split those two companies back out into two separate companies: Kraft and Mondelez. Since the split, the Kraft business is flat, the Mondelez continues to decline, likely both companies hurt by the changing diet of consumers as they cut high fat, high sugar products from their diet.

During my 20 year career, I went through three mergers. Each mergers used a different “merger” rule: one went fast, one went slow and one went clumsy. They say it takes 2 years for a merger to work. From my experience it takes longer.  Prior to the merger, everyone wastes a lot of time speculating what is going to happen, lots of lunch table chit chat and good people leave in anticipation. Headhunters are now pouncing on the people at Kraft. When the merger finally hits, you spend a lot of time on things not related to growing the brands. You have to train senior leaders above you and sales people beside on the “new” brand. Usually, everyone is trying to appear as smart as they can, but in reality for the next year, they ask the most elementary questions. As people jockey for power, some the brightest and best people I’ve ever worked with turn into school children–gossiping, maneuvering, changing their personality to fit in with key people, and some feeling/appearing demoralized and defeated.

Most M&A research studies estimate that the overall failure rate is at least 50 percent. In surveys with executives conducted in recent years, the percentage of companies that failed to reach the goals of the merger was 83 percent. With those statistics known, you would expect leaders to avoid the M&A activity, yet the trend of mergers and acquisitions has been constantly increasing over the past 20 years. Moreover, the number of mergers and acquisitions and the sums of money invested in them have shattered the record almost every year! Even though acquisitions cost billions, the purchase is much easier to do than executing merger. We see the lack of planning, the realization that synergies are not what you expected, the major differences in the culture becomes clear, negotiation assumptions and mistakes prove costly, and quick decisions made impact the overall motivation.

Here’s a list of the top mergers in history

M&A

The reasons most M&A’s happen is the same reason they fail

  • Our business is struggling, their business is doing well: So if your business is struggling, you need a turnaround, not the distraction from a merger. The effort undertaken during a merger will only make your business struggle even more. And you acquired a high growth, which means you’re likely buying high at a price premium. That will be hard for you to realize. This premium is generally so high that even successful management activities after the acquisition do not provide ROI (return on investment) and do not remedy the valuation “error.” The only thing left to do is to cut costs, both in people and marketing usually resulting in the struggling business doing even worse and the newly acquired business starting to flatten out.  
  • Allow us into new markets (new categories, new channels, new geographies). Yes, now your newly merged company will be in new markets, but it doesn’t necessarily translate that your brands will gain easy entry into those markets. At the shelf, retailers may hold your companies share of shelf so that means if you want your new brand in, you have to take out skus of your newly acquired brand. All that means is that as your brand takes time to gain any momentum in the new market it is entering, any gain is offset by a dramatic loss of sales of the brand you took off the shelf. A second risk to entering into markets is the merger may have cost the talent with the knowledge of the new market–and now inexperienced leaders are making decisions about markets they know very little about. With the Heinz-Kraft deal, 60% of Heinz sales are beyond North America, but 2% of Kraft. They have already tried to spin this great myth that this opens up new markets for the old Kraft brands. I want to see them try to sell Velveeta, Jello or Cheez Whiz in France or Italy. Sounds good on the books, but not in reality. 
  • Imagine the power of us together: the size, clout and efficiencies. In a business driven or dominated by retail, that power can certainly help. Where there are large manufacturing or union costs, the efficiency can be leveraged for lower costs. layoff-in-newspaperBut when all you have is efficiency, it becomes obsessive and you look everywhere to cut costs in order to pay off the merger. The first round is easy: close redundant plants and warehouses, eliminate duplicate sales people. And you see results. But since every business must show incremental profit to show the merger a success, the second round of synergies that are harder to show. Now you cut brand support–reduce marketing spend, starting re-organizing teams to reduce people, squeeze suppliers for cost reduction. It can work in the short term, but while the organization becomes obsessive about synergies, who is focused on the growth? If the top-line doesn’t grow,you will eventually run out of places to cut. And becoming this huge conglomerate can make you slow to respond, stodgy, risk-averse and ripe with bureaucracy. This starts to sound like the old Kraft General Foods of the 90s and early 2000s, who closed successful businesses, got rid of some great talent through the years and are known as one of the most risk-averse conglomerates around. My big worry about the new Heinz-Kraft is how to make sure the new company can move with the agility needed in this ever changing marketplace. 
  • We will acquire a technology or expertise we don’t have. At first, it makes sense that you can buy the technology or expertise of your competitor, but likely it comes at a premium with no guarantee for success. If it’s a technology buy, you can certainly use it in your own product since you bought it. But we like to say that brands have four choices:  better, different, cheaper or not around for very long. Now you’ll have both brands appearing almost the same. It’s very challenging to run two brands in one category–I know from experience. The biggest issue is that the two brands start to resemble each other to the point of duplication–if this worked here why won’t it work there. The same technology under the hood, the same distribution strategies and the same ad agency produces similar ads. The best case study for this was when Ford bought Mazda and used identical parts for cars yet tried to appeal to different targets at different price points. On the other case, when you acquire talent, you also acquire a distinct culture you need to make sure you continue. There are many cases where companies purchased an innovative R&D team and failed because that team was mis-managed and lost that innovative spirit. Case in point was Ford’s purchase of Volvo, almost destroying the brand’s spirit of innovation in safety. Both the Volvo and Mazda brands did much better after escaping Ford. Oddly enough, is it any coincidence that the Ford brand is now one of the best performing brands in the market?  It will interesting to see what happens with Apple and Beats by Dre as that deal highly favored Beats, and it’s Apple’s first real attempt at M&A. 
  • Ego Play: Many times the personal interests of senior management are not always aligned with those of the stockholders. The CEO and management team see personal advantages in the merger, such as greater empowerment and control of a larger organization, improvement of the social-management status, and higher salaries and benefits. With wide-eyed optimism, they convince themselves that they can do a better job managing the brands they acquire, they tell themselves they can find more growth and cut costs at the same time. Ego can get in the way of good strategic thinking. Companies can get in bidding wars and corporate ego sees the price get out of hand. They get so deep into the deal, they have to have it–at all costs. In any transaction, when things get emotional the seller wins.
  • Our cultures are a perfect match: Very rarely do we hear this as the primary reason. Yes, we hear it in the press release and at the opening day rally, but as many of us have gone through a few of these, we know that 5 senior leaders meeting 5 other senior leaders and working out a deal is not usually a good indicator that the cultures are a good fit. Even if they say so. Business culture is an odd thing and should not be under-estimated. Usually a merger never allows the due-diligence to find out about whether the cultures fit.  

mergers-acquisitions-22744864Who benefits from Mergers

  • The brands don’t benefit. And the consumer misses out as well. With a distracted company sorting through the merger and trying to make the numbers, it’s usually innovation that gets delayed or cut. With demand for synergies, production costs/warehouse costs likely impacts ingredient choices and freshness options. Sadly, many times the product just isn’t the same as it used to be. 
  • Brand Leaders don’t benefit. They have to re-work and re-work plans for new management. And usually the discussions are a step back in the degree of strategic challenge the first year or two. You get questions like “so tell me how this brand works?” or “have we always done it that way?”.  As synergies happen, we see options like re-structuring the marketing team to group brands together. That means less attention can be paid to each brand or the details beneath. Brand budgets are scrutinized and cut–usually sticking to the safest options in the plan and eliminating creative ideas that that carry risk.  
  • The HR team doesn’t benefit. While they are seen as the “evil group” in a merger, they are usually under the most pressure to cut head count and deliver the bad news, while coincidently being challenged to find a new culture from these two companies that don’t fit nicely together.  This group bears the brunt of the merger. 
  • Shareholders: The statistics show that the shareholders of the seller benefits more than the shareholder of the buyer. Considering, mergers can come out of nowhere fast, this is just a crap shoot as to which company stock you hold. But it really does speak to the premium paid in these deals. As they say in Real Estate, never buy high. 
  • Investment Banks and McKinsey Consulting: At the whim of the leaders, both groups receive huge fees for doing the deal and executing the merger plan. Oddly enough, neither group seems to be at risk or on the hook if the deal or the merger go bad. They just keep moving on to the next deal. 
  • Senior Leaders in the short-term. With the approval to move forward, they increase their status within every touch point–with retailers, with peers, with agencies and in the business community. They likely benefited financially from the merger–either higher salary bump or bonuses. In the longer term, they are on the hot seat to make this deal pay off, and with a 50% failure rate, they likely won’t last. 

Yes mergers are as much of a reality as baseball trades. Like in baseball, managers think we can do more with that asset (brand or player) than they are doing. But more and more, just as the best sports teams are winning because of the organic development of their players, the same holds true for brands. Focus on growing your brands, choosing the right consumer driven strategies and executing with intelligence and passion. Stay focused on your own business instead of drooling over others.  

While the grass always looks greener on the other side of the fence, make sure your own business is in good shape.

 

To see a more in depth presentation please read the powerpoint presentation below which is a Workshop to show brand leaders how to create a beloved brand so they can generate more power and profit for their brand.

We make Brands better.

We make Brand Leaders better.™

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

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How severely damaged is the Toronto Maple Leafs brand?

leafs-badI think the Leafs should be a little worried about the health of their brand. While they have been bad for the entire century so far, this year feels even more disconnected and puts them at risk, if things are not fixed. There are major signs of brand health issues, which usually shows up in advance of any issues with brand wealth. But I think with a quick shot of the optimism drug over the summer, the crazy Leaf fans will be hooked again.

Here’s the brand health issues that should raise concern:

  • Leaf game not shown on TV?  Last Saturday, Hockey Night in Canada decided not to air the Leafs game on the main network for the first time in forty years. With TV media, there are so many games on TV and on-line, that the big Saturday night game is not the same. In fact, the biggest risk now is that I can see 82 games of any team I want.  
  • No sell out? This past Monday, the Leafs failed to sell out for the first time in 15 years. While giving up a little revenue for not selling out, the bigger risk here is that if tickets are going for $30, then it takes away the mystique of going to the game. The good news is the Leafs have announced they won’t raise ticket prices. I love that they actually felt compelled enough to announce this, which shows the true power of the brand.  
  • Fans cheering for the Leafs to lose: Not only are the Leafs tanking this season to get a good draft pick, the fans are cheering for the opponents so that the Leafs do lose. If the Leafs are bad again next year, the fans may again cheer against the Leafs.  If this goes on for 5 years, do these fans go find another team?
  • Fans are mad at the current team: Fans are so enraged at the current crop of Leafs that they continue to boo the best players and have thrown sweaters on the ice in dis-respect of the team. The players took it upon themselves to “not salute the fans” as their retribution. It’s never good to go to war with the fans, when the only thing you have is fans. 

The Leafs brand is on pause this year. The fans are on hold, waiting to see what happens next. I believe if the Leafs get rid of a few players, draft a big name (even if it’s not McDavid) and get a big name coach, they would create the perception that they are moving in the right direction. As we discuss below, the Leafs are not really focused on winning the cup, but rather giving the illusion and optimism that they “could” win the cup. 

The success of the Leafs brand defies logic

When we look at the most valuable sports franchises around the world, whether it’s Ferrari, Manchester United, Real Madrid, New York Yankees, Los Angeles Lakers or New England Patriots, they usually have one thing in common:  THEY WIN.  And in most cases, they win a lot. We’ve never really found out what happens to those brands when they lose.  And then there’s the Toronto Maple Leafs who recently joined the ranks of the most valued brands, now worth an estimated $1.2 Billion. 

  • The last time the Leafs won a hockey championship was 1967, when Lyndon Johnson was President, The Beatles were releasing the Sgt Pepper’s album and Wal-Mart only had 24 stores (all still in Arkansas). It was even 8 years before Justin Bieber’s mom would be born.
  • The Leafs have made the playoffs once since 2004. None of their current players were even in the league in 2004. And they are the only NHL team not to make the playoffs during those years.
  • There were two major work stoppages in the NHL in 2005 and 2012–one wiped out an entire season, the other a half season. In both of those years, the value of the Leafs jumped up. And yet, since 2004, the value of the Toronto Maple Leafs has gone up from $280 Million to $1.2 Billion.

So clearly for the Leafs, actually playing and winning the games doesn’t really matter to value of the Leafs brand. Yes, Apple’s market value has gone up at a faster pace, but they’ve launched iTunes, iPod, iPhone, iPad and the Macbook during that time.  

Most great brands have a vision for the future: what’s the Leafs brand vision?

Like any sports team, the Leafs will state their vision of “we want to win the Stanley Cup”. It sounds good. It’s what you’re supposed to say. Proof for what the real vision might be in the fact that for past 15 years they were owned by a pension fund and they rewarded their President financially, not for how the Leafs did on the ice, but how well the Leafs did off the ice. And now they are owned by a media conglomerate who sees the Leafs as content to get the millions of insane Leafs fans watching in person, on TV and on-line. I believe a more appropriate Brand Vision for the Leafs is “to be the most beloved sports franchise” or even a stretch “to be the most valued sports franchise in the world”. 

Does winning matter?  Yes, but it’s a strategy to help the vision of being the most loved or most valuable sports franchise. It’s the “how” you get to the vision, but not the vision itself. The hook is to appear that you are doing the right things to try to win the cup–enough to keep the fan base engaged.

Holding the Leafs up to the principles of a beloved brand

I once had an economics Professor who said “economics proves that what happens in real life can actually happen in theory”. Well, I usually use the Apple brand to prove how the theories of Beloved Brands work, but let’s take the Leafs brand on a test run and see how they line up.

First, we believe that consumers connect with brands based on a “big idea”. That’s the tough question for the Leafs: what is their big idea? Is it the heritage/history, being the home team of the biggest hockey market or the great underdog story?  At times, it’s been the “loveable losers”, where the mediocre/good players like Palmateer or Vaive become legends in the community. But that’s still not enough to make the brand that connected. The big idea during Steinbrenner’s Yankees was “we we will do whatever it takes to win–at any cost” where as the Montreal Canadiens are all about “we maintain the pride and dignity of history and we’ll do what’s right in our pursuit of victory”. It’s hard to truly see a big idea to connect with the Leafs. While most fans have this nagging feeling in the back of their mind that the Leafs will never win in their lifetime, I believe they cheer for the Leafs “to stay engaged enough just in case there is that once in a lifetime chance to win the cup”. So the Leafs are more like a potential “once in a lifetime eclipse” that fans want to see or even a lottery ticket. The only other sports brand like the Leafs are the loveable Chicago Cubs.  If the Leafs are that “eclipse”, I’ve always debated that if they ever do win the Cup, would more people keep watching or would people stop watching. The Toronto Blue Jays may prove that once they won the World Series, the Toronto fans were like “great, so what’s next” and moved on. My guess is that I’ll never know the answer to this question, as I don’t expect the Leafs to ever win the cup.  

Once you have the big idea for your brand, you need to map out the 5 Brand Connectors to help deliver that big idea: the brand promise, strategy, brand story, freshness of Innovation and a culture that helps deliver the promise.  

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Arguably, the Leafs might be defying all 5 of these sources of connectivity. 

  • Brand Promise: Most beloved sports teams can say “we promise to deliver an on-field team that will always be competitive enough to win a championship”. The Yankees, Man U, Ferrari, the Canadiens and Real Madrid can easily say that. The Leafs promise to “win a championship” feels hollow. If that was their promise, the brand would be a complete failure. Fans would walk away and the value of the team would fall. Well, at least for a normal team. When fans get excited about the Leafs, the world feels better, they are happy and optimistic for the future. The real promise for the Leafs is “we’ll make you feel good even if the pursuit of victory is greater than the victory itself.” Maybe if you have that underdog spirit in your own life, you see hope in the Leafs where no one else sees hope. But the problem for this year is that when they lose, that optimism comes crashing down. A friend of mine who is a Leafs fan had a baby a few weeks ago, and posted on Facebook “when do you break it to the kid that the Leafs won’t win a Championship in his life time?” Sadly, that kid will be a Leaf fan. He now bleeds blue. And will pay thousands of dollars towards the leafs coffers over his life time. 
  • Strategy: In terms of players, the Leafs have relied the last 15 years on signing free agents. But in managing the brand, they focus on hyping up the players, they build up the optimism at the beginning of each year and keep the fan base engaged with constant communication and stay reasonably competitive to at least give hope for getting in the playoffs. The Leafs manage to keep the fan base hooked by constantly feeding them optimism. The problem this year is that they’ve fallen so far out of the playoffs the talk of re-build has the fans confused. Those players they’ve hyped turned out to be jerks, who won’t salute the fans, refuse interviews and don’t even try on the ice. It’s hard for the Leafs to hype players that aren’t well liked. 
  • Brand Story: As I was growing up, the Leafs always successfully connected the past (Johnny Bower, Bobby Baun or Daryl Sitler) to the current team. The stories stressed the values of toughness, hard work and how the underdog always over-achieved in the face of adversity. That story fit nicely to the Leaf teams of the 90s with Doug Gilmour, Wendel Clark and Felix Potvin who went to the semi finals in back to back years. However, today’s current Leaf teams are the opposite:  over-hyped, over-paid and under-achieving players like Kessel and Phaneuf, certainly not aligned to the values of toughness and hard work. 
  • Freshness: For a sports team, freshness comes through the signing of new players and then building optimism around those players. The problem is the salary cap and the current roster has the team trapped. The tanking to get a draft pick has been a good strategy as it will provide someone (McDavid or even Strome) that they can build around. You will see this summer that the Leafs will build all the optimism of a rebuild around the youthful team. And fans will buy into it.   
  • Experience: There are only two ways to experience the brand–either in person or on TV. Going to a Leaf game has a buzz and excitement to it. The tickets are usually so expensive that it is so rare for the average person to get to go. The TV games are rooted in history: “Hockey Night in Canada” at 7pm has been one of the highest rated TV shows since the 1950s. And so this year, we’ve now seen two things happen. Last Saturday, for the first time since the early 1970s, the Leafs were not shown on Hockey Night in Canada, with the CBC choosing the Montreal Canadiens game. It’s all about ratings, even though the network that shows the games owns the Leafs. And this past Monday, the Leaf game wasn’t a sell out, and on StubHub you can easily get tickets for $25. So while this is your chance to finally go to a game, no one really wants to even go.

How the Leafs make money

Like any brand, there are really only 8 ways to make more money:  premium pricing, trading up on price, lower cost of goods, efficient spending, stealing share. getting loyal users to use more, entering new markets and finding new uses for the brand.

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Pricing: Ticket prices for the Leafs are the highest in the NHL–an average of $375 over 42 home games, which is three times the average ticket price for Detroit Red Wings or even six times the price for Tampa Bay. Getting tickets to a game is nearly impossible for the average fan. Every game is a sell-out. It’s a 40 year wait for Leaf seasons tickets. These end up in people’s wills. The ACC also uses strong luxury box and platinum ticket sales to trade the business consumers up on price–so not only are they paying $1,000, they also have to order enough food and drinks to support a luxury box. If the Leafs look at an extended downturn on play or even a 5-year turnaround, it likely won’t impact average price but it may impact the # of sell outs–especially as the Leafs just experienced their first non-sellout in 15 years.  

Costs: Control of costs works in the favour of the Leafs. The NHL has a salary cap that holds teams to $60 Million per year, which is 6% of the team’s brand value. For the other hockey teams worth $200 Million, that’s 30% of their brand value. That’s a huge competitive advantage for the Leafs–still defies why they can’t win. There’s no real need for “marketing costs” as every game is on TV, with normal exceptionally strong ratings. While the ratings are only in Canada, they are such a dominant ‘country brand’ that it makes the local market all of Canada, which means it has access to 30 Million people.The Leafs receive added earned media with 2 sports TV stations, 3 radio stations and 3 major Newspapers constantly covering every move the team makes. Both sports stations hold a daily live show at lunch time. 

Share: The Leafs dominate the media landscape but end up sharing that revenue with the NHL. It’s estimated that 70% of the league revenues come from Canada–my guess is that most of that comes from the Leafs. For the Leafs merchandise sales are very strong. The Leafs announced it was changing its third jersey to be a replica of the 1967 jersey. Which means all those fans have to go out and drop another $129 on a new jersey. This past year, the Leafs have added a sports bar to the ACC, just outside the arena that has hundreds of TVs and seating for two thousand people. With a roster currently filled with unpopular players, the Leafs need a few popular players for the fans to put a name on the back to really drive up the merchandise sales.

Market Size: The Leafs have expanded the size of the market by driving sponsorship and even creating Leafs TV. The team’s sponsorship drive is incredible–carrying an astounding 50+ sponsors on its roster–including separating out the banking category into Core Banking, Wealth Banking, Credit Card banking, which allows them to get money from three separate banks. Sponsorship is a money machine. The Leafs TV expands the brand for the most loyal followers to connect even more. The Leafs have also launched a bar attached to their stadium that holds another 2,200 fans who drink and eat during the 2 and 1/2 hour game. If the crowd shrinks or the Leafs lose early each time, this bar will be clearing out by the 2nd period. 

Income statement: In 2011 with the world facing a global recession, following up on a 29th place finish in the standings, the Leafs revenue went up ELEVEN PERCENT!!!  And then they raised ticket prices. Because of the player strike a few years ago, player costs have gone down from $69 million to $57 million. Revenue up, costs down–that’s a P&L the people of Price Waterhouse dream about. A lot of the value is now connected to how much money will be made in the future.  The NHL just signed a 10 year labor contract giving the Leafs cost certainty and a 5 year media deal giving the Leafs revenue certainty. While I still don’t think the Leafs will win a championship in the next 10 years, I would bet they will hit $2 Billion.  

It’s not easy being a Leaf Fan. Yet like a drug, it’s not easy to stop being a Leaf fan.

 

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To see a more in depth presentation please read the powerpoint presentation below which is a Workshop to show brand leaders how to create a beloved brand so they can generate more power and profit for their brand.

We make Brands better.

We make Brand Leaders better.™

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

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10 ways how to make your brand more loved

Where is your brand on the Brand Love Curve?

In the consumer’s mind, brands sit on the Brand Love Curve, with brands going from Indifferent to Like It to Love It and finally becoming a Beloved Brand. At the Beloved stage, you will see that 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 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. 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.

Here are the indicators of why you might be stuck at the Like It stage.

  • Low conversion to sales: While the brand looks healthy in terms of awareness and equity scores, the brand is successful in becoming part of the consumer’s consideration set, but it keeps losing out to the competition as the consumer goes to the purchase stage. It usually requires a higher trade spend to close that sale which cuts price and margins.
  • Brand doesn’t feel different: A great advertising tracking score to watch is “made the brand seem different” which helps to separate itself from the pack, many times speaking to the emotional part of the messaging.
  • Stagnant shares: Your brand team is happy when they hold onto their share, content to grow with the category.
  • High private label sales: If you only focus on the ingredients and the rational features of the product, the consumer will start to figure out they get the same thing with the private label and the share starts to creep up to 20% and higher.

Before you get started you might evaluate what has your brand stuck at the Like It stage.

  • 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.
  • You see yourself as a rational thinking marketer: 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
  • It’s a 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • You believe that you have positional power, so 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.
  • The Brand has captured some 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.

Here are the 10 ways that you can move your brand along the journey to being a beloved brand.

#1  Everything you do should start and end with the consumer in mind.

#2  Focus everything on where your brand can win.

#3 Be seen as unique—both in positioning and execution.

#4 Connect with consumers based on insights that get in the SHOES of your consumer and use their VOICE.

#5 Build a big idea that you can shout from the mountain.

#6 Connect with your consumers on a deeply emotional level.

#7 Beloved brands don’t just solve basic problems, they beat down the consumer’s enemy.

#8 Focus all your resources against those strategic pressure points that provide the greatest return.

#9 Execute with passion. If you don’t love your work, how do you expect your consumer to love your brand?

#10 Use your brand idea to build an experience that over-delivers the brand promise you made.

To see a more in depth presentation please read the powerpoint presentation below which is a Workshop to show brand leaders how to create a beloved brand so they can generate more power and profit for their brand.

We make Brands better.

We make Brand Leaders better.™

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

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You deserve better advertising

Slide1While that’s a very famous tongue-in-cheek quote from David Ogilvy, it should be a kick in the butt to clients. It suggests that if you suck as a client, you will get advertising that sucks. It’s likely true. As I’m coaching clients on advertising, I like to ask a very difficult question: If you knew that being a better client got you better advertising, would you actually be able to show up better? When it comes to advertising, the role of the Brand Leader is to consistently get good advertising on the air, and equally consistently keep bad advertising off the air. So what is it that makes some brand leaders good at advertising?

Before we figure what makes someone good at advertising, let’s figure out what makes someone suck

Theory #1: you blame yourself

  • You never find your comfort zone: You are convinced you’re not good at advertising. No experience, feel awkward or had a bad experience. You think you’re strategic, not tactical. You are skeptical, uptight, too tough and too easily annoyed.
  • You don’t know if it’s really your place to say something: You figure the ad agency is the expert—that’s why we pay them—so you give them a free reign (aka no direction). Or worse, you give them the chance to mess up, and blame them later.
  • You settle for something you hate, because of time pressure, or you don’t know why: You don’t really love it, but it seems ok for now. The agency says if we don’t go for it now, we’ll miss our air date and have to give up our media to another brand.
  • You can’t sell it in to management: you need to make sure if it’s the right thing to do, you are able to sell the idea in. Tell them how it works for your brand—and how it delivers the strategy.

Being a good client takes experience, practice, leadership and a willingness to adjust. Don’t write yourself off so quickly. Learn how to be a good client.

Theory #2: You Blame your Agency

  • You hate the brief: Agency writes a brief you don’t like—or you box them into a strategy. If either of you force a strategy on the other, then you’re off to a bad start.
  • Creative team over sells you: you get hood-winked with the “we are so excited” speech: You’re not sure what you want, so you settle for an OK ad in front of you—the best of what you saw. Ask yourself what’s missing before you buy an ad.
  • You lose connection with the agency: Keep your agency motivated so that you become the client they want to make great work on, rather than have to work on.
  • You lose traction through the production and edit: Talent, lighting, directors and edits—if the tone changes from the board to edit, then so does your ad.

An OK agency can do great work on a great client. But a great agency will fail with a bad client. Next time you want to fire your agency, maybe focus on yourself for improvement, because you’ll bring the same flaws to the next agency.

Theory #3: You Blame your Brand

  • The “I work on a boring Brand” argument. You think only cool brands like Nike, Apple, Ikea etc. are so much easier to work on. However, think again, because your boring brand has so much room to maneuver, it should be even easier.
  • You are too careful and think we can’t swing too far: Good ads either go left or right, not in the middle of the road. Consumers might not notice your “big shift”.
  • Advertising roulette: Where brand managers haven’t done the depth of thinking or testing, briefing is like a game of chance. Brands go round and round for years.
  • Your strategy Sucks: You figure if we don’t have a great strategy, a good ad might help. A great strategy makes an ad, but an Ad will never make a great strategy.

It’s one thing to be a “fan” of advertising in general, but we need to see you be a “fan” of YOUR advertising.

Be a better client

Here are eight ways to challenge yourself to show up better at every stage of the advertising process

  1. Do you develop a testable Brand Concept 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 and add engaging insights? Do you focus on the desired consumer response before deciding what your brand should say? Do you focus on one benefit and one message?
  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 but rather try to create a “new box” for the creative team to figure out the solutions?
  6. Do you take creative risks, and are you 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? If they love you, they’ll work harder for you and do better work. They are only human. They will never tell you this, but I’m a former client so I will: if you want better work–it’s pretty simple–show up better. 

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Be better at every stage 

  • When doing the strategy pre-work, dig in deep and do the work on insights, create a Big Idea and lay out the brand Concept. Even consider testing the concept to know that it motivates consumers. Never use the advertising process to figure out the brand strategy. 
  • Create a focused creative brief to create the box for the creative team, that has one objective, two insights, the desired response, one main benefit, two support points. 
  • Hold a creative expectations meeting to give a first impression on your vision, passion. Inspire and focus creative team. Do not take a hands off approach and avoid meeting the creative team, assuming your account team has conveyed EVERYTHING. 
  • Use a tissue session to explore ideas. Use this when you don’t have a campaign. Be open to new ways of looking at your brand. Focus on Big Ideas, without getting into the weeds. Be willing to push for better ideas if you don’t see them at the tissue session.
  • When in the creative meeting, be a positive minded client, focus only on big picture, give direction, make decisions. Avoid giving your solutions. No Details. Ask yourself: are you inspiring?
  • Use a feedback memo that is 24-48 hours after the creative meeting for more detailed challenges but without giving specific solutions. Use this to create a new box. Do not use this memo to say new thoughts that were not in the creative meeting or in the management meetings you had. If it is a new thought, pick up the phone and talk about it with your account person first. Slide01
  • If you use ad testing, you can use either quantitative or qualitative depending on time and budget. I always recommend that you use it to confirm your pick, not make your decision.
  • When gaining approval internally, sell it in!!!  That’s part of your role is to fight for the work you love. Be ready to fight resisters to make it happen. My rule of thumb is to bring the senior account person when that person has a good relationship with my boss and even use them to help sell it in (since they are better trained at selling) and then bring the most senior creative person when the creative work needs selling. 
  • Through the production stages, your role is to manage the tone to fit the brand. Think of this like managing the kitchen of your house–you have to live in it, so you have to live with every decision. Always, get more than you need so you can use it later. 
  • With post production, talk directly with and leverage every expert you come in contact with. The more you connect and empower them, the harder they’ll fight for what you need. 

Get the advertising you deserve

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

We make Brands better.

We make Brand Leaders better.™

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

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What the #*$& is wrong with McDonald’s? Here’s five things wrong.

imagesI’ve been confused about McDonald’s marketing the past year, mainly because it appears that McDonald’s is confused about their marketing. That coincides with poor business results, in a downward trend for each of the past 9 months, with February’s numbers showing a deepening issue–down 4% versus last year. “Consumer needs and preferences have changed,” the company said in Monday’s statement. “McDonald’s current performance reflects the urgent need to evolve with today’s consumers, reset strategic priorities and restore business momentum.”

McDonald’s are in desperate need for a RE-FOCUS, so they can get everyone focused on what matters the most. There needs to be an alignment of the team, a return behind their strengths and a return to the fundamentals. The issue with the culture at McDonald’s is that it’s very top-down insular culture with very little outside thinking–which is great when things are going well, but will be tough to battle through when things aren’t going so well.  

Here’s the top 5 potential things wrong with McDonald’s. 

McDonald’s is not aligned with the trend towards healthy eating. 51JW1207ZALThat’s obvious, but that was also equally obvious the past 5 years ago when they grew an average of 10% a year, even +13% the year after the “Super Size Me” movie came out. Also, there are a few examples of indulgent brands that have done well (e.g. 5 Guys), in countering the health trend, to use it as a regular escape from your diet.McDonald’s scored high marks for putting calories on their menu, but bad publicity when they fought NYC on the size of drinks they serve. So while this might be part of the decline, I’m not sure this is the main reason for the decline. McDonald’s should be able to still find growth in this market. 

McDonald’s lacks a product-identity of what it’s now the best at. I’m older so I still think of it as a fast-food burger & fries place. But the menu has become so diverse, I’m no longer sure consumers know what McDonald’s is all about. Without a main product identity where it can win, McDonald’s runs the risk of being second fiddle to everyone they compete against–second fiddle to 5 Guys on burgers, to Dairy Queen on Shakes, to Chick-Fil-A on chicken, to Starbucks on Coffee and Subway on sandwiches. A great case study for McDonald’s is what happened with Starbucks in 2009, where they closed every Starbucks for a day to re-train baristas and send a signal that they are a coffee place. Here’s what I wrote about the Starbucks Case Study: The Starbucks Come Back story: Losing their focus, only to regain it!!!  McDonald’s should re-claim the stake that they are the best burger. They should have done this the past 12-24 months before allowing 5 Guys to get to 1500 locations. They need to own the burger. 

Slide1No one wants to know how sausage is made. I know the internet is attacking McDonald’s all the time about using bleach in their burgers and pink goop in their chicken but we don’t really need McDonald’s mass media to tell us their burgers are made from 100% real beef and their chicken is made from 100% real chicken. I always assumed it was, but now that you bring attention to it, you’re kind of grossing me out. McDonald’s took it a step farther with this on-line video they produced.  Here’s what I wrote last spring: McDonald’s takes a wonderful Advertising idea…and makes a complete disaster out of it  While they might think this video works to explain what their brand is about, I find this video makes me never want a nugget again in my life. As CNN reports below, it’s not pink goop, it’s beige goop and it sure doesn’t make you hungry.   Looking at the options above, McDonald’s should be focused on the heart and the soul of their consumers. McDonald’s needs less attention on the product and more on the magic of the idea of the brand–as the fun little escape for lunch place. 

The experience is now slow and not really that cheap. Ray Kroc’s McDonald’s that grew so fast in the 1960s and 70s was vested in the strong values of quality, service, cleanliness and value. People were trained the McDonald’s way and as a customer you benefited from fast, friendly service and franchises were expected to keep a clean, well-run restaurants. The last few times I’ve been, the speed has been disastrous–you order and then wait 5-10 minutes for them to yell out your number. There is no way the service is friendly–as I rarely hear manners from a McDonald’s employee. Manners are free and can go a long way in making a difference.  

mccafe-headerThe McCafe branding and restaurant re-design. Here’s an article I wrote on McDonald’s launch into the coffee market two years ago: Can McDonald’s win the Coffee War? Not a chance. But two years later, it’s even more important to realize that not only is Starbucks winning, but the investment McDonald’s has put into the coffee launch has taken away from investing in their core fast food business. McDonald’s put major capital into putting fake fireplaces into most locations–major costs that still resemble a plastic play-land. The thing that drives me most crazy about the McCafe is they are hiding what they really are: the golden arches, Ronald McDonald’s, the Big Mac and french fries. While McDonald’s should keep a good coffee, it’s time to re-focus back on being a fast food destination. Get rid of the McCafe branding BS and just make it a product that McDonald’s has, not a separate brand logo that competes with the McDonald’s logo. 

As a new CEO takes the helm, it is time for McDonald’s to re-focus. There is a need for some creativity and investing back in creating a food experience that McDonald’s can win on. Re-train staff to be friendlier and faster for consumers Create magical brand advertising that bonds with consumers. My hope is that McDonald’s can get there–as it’s one of the hall of fame brands out there.

McDonald’s needs to find a reason for their consumers to love it again

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

We make Brands better.

We make Brand Leaders better.™

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

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Competitive Brand Strategy

At Beloved Brands, we always start with the consumer so that we ensure we are meeting the needs of consumers rather than blindly putting things out into the marketplace that no one wants. However, the second check is the competitive nature of your positioning to make sure I’m not blindly putting things out that someone is already doing. Murder and Strategy have one thing in common, they both start with opportunity. There is talk this week of Apple getting into the car business. Yes, I’ll await with excited breath at what it looks and feels like–I can predict that it will carry stylish designs, take every car technology and make it simple enough for everyone to use and provide top of the line quality in workmanship. It will come at a significant premium. Wait a second, it’s a Mercedes. Apple has only done well in categories where technology geeks can’t see straight enough to simplify their product enough for the average person to buy it. Apple has won by offering simplicity in the face of frustration. Yes, there is frustration with Chevrolet and Chrysler but Apple won’t be priced in the Chevy range. That’s not the case with Mercedes. 

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

The key is to find a unique selling proposition for your brand.  You don’t always need to find a rational point of difference as long as there is room to be emotionally unique.

Slide04Map out everything your consumer wants–all the possible need states. Then map out all the benefits that you and your competitors can do better than anyone else–both functional and emotional zones.  You want to find that intersecting zone where what you can do best matches up to a need state of the consumer.  Then find a way to serve that need state to the best of your ability and transform it into an even bigger deal than first meets the eye. Avoid the intersecting zone where your competitor is better than you and please avoid that zone where you and your competition foolishly battle in an area that “no one cares” about.   The battle ground zone is where both you and your competition can satisfy the consumer need at an equal rate.  To win in this situation, you need to get creative and find ways to out-execute or find some emotional connection that changes the game and makes you the clear winner.

Competitive Warfare

At the start of any strategy definition, you should ask “where are we?” Here are four questions to be asking that force you to choose four possible solutions to each.

  1. What is your current share position in the market?
  2. What is the core strength that your brand can win on?
  3. How tightly connected is your consumer to your brand?
  4. What is the current business situation that your brand faces?

This article focuses on question one which speaks to where you rank in the market, which a great indicator of how much power you can command in the market.  You have four choices, using Marketing Warfare (Trout and Ries) you are either the Leader, Challenger, Niche or a Guerilla.

  • Leader (defensive): Leader of category or sub-category defending their territory by attacking itself or even attacking back at an aggressive competitor.
  • Challenger (offensive): Challenger’s attack on the leader to exploit a weakness or build on your own strength.
  • Flanking: An attack in an open area where the Leader is not that well established.
  • Guerrilla (Niche): Go to an area where it’s too small for the Leaders to take notice or are unable to attack back.

The leader uses defensive strategies

Defensive strategies should be pursued by the leader. Not only the market share leader, but the perceived leader in the consumers’ mind. Attacking yourself is the best defense. Identify and close leaks in service, experience or products. Introduce new products superior to your current. Challenge the culture to step it up to continually get better and stay ahead of the competitors. Can’t be complacent or you’ll die. The Leader blocks all offensive moves. Keep an eye on your competitors moves—and adjust your own brand to ensure you defend against their attacks. Attack back with an even greater force than the one attacking you. Demonstrate your brand power. Leverage all the brand power you’ve mustered to maintain your positional power.Slide1

The challenger brand uses offensive strategies

The best offensive attack is to actually find weakness within the Leader’s strengths. Turn a perceived strength around is very powerful. Attack a weakness might be insufficient. Be careful of the Leader’s Defensive moves. Anticipate a response with full force—possibly even greater than yours. Avoid wars that drain resources and hold same share after the war. Attack on as narrow of a front as possible to ensure your resources are put to that area—which might be more force than the leader puts to that one area. Narrow attacks are effective when the leader tries to be all things to all people—enabling you to slice off a part of their business before they can defend it. Leapfrog Strategy, technology and business models are game-changers in the category.

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The flanker brand stays clear of any battles

The flanker strategies go to uncontested areas, in the safety where the leader is not competing. Make sure you are the first in this area. Speed and surprise can help win the uncontested area before the Leaders take notice. Make your move quickly and stealthfully. Follow through matters, to defend the area you’ve won. Others may follow—whether it’s the leader trying to use their might or copy cats looking for an early win. You can win with new targets, price points (premium or value), distribution channels, format or positioning. Flanking, while lower risk of attack from the leader, is a higher risk with consumers because innovation is always riskier because consumers might not like the concept.

Guerrilla warfare wins where no one notices or cares

Pick a segment small enough that it won’t be noticed and you’ll be able to defend it. Be aggressive. Put all your resources against this small area, so that you’ll have the relative force of a major player. Be flexible and nimble. You’ll need to enter quickly to seize an opportunity that others aren’t noticing, but also be ready to exit if need be—whether the consumers change their minds or competitors see an opportunity to enter. Explore non-traditional marketing techniques to get your brand message out and your brand into the market quickly. Because you’re playing in a non-traditional market, you’ll be given leeway on the tools you use. For Guerrilla brands, it is better to be loved by the few, than liked or tolerated by many.

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Marketing Warfare Rules for Success

  1. Speed of attack matters. Surprise attacks, but sustained speed in the market is a competitive advantage.
  2. Be organized and efficient in your management. To operate at a higher degree of speed, ensure that surprise attacks work without flaw, be mobile enough.
  3. Focus all your resources to appear bigger and stronger than you are. Focus on the target most likely to quickly act, focus on the messaging most likely to motivate and focus on areas you can win.   Drawn out dog fights slows down brand growth. Never fight two wars at once.
  4. Use early wins to keep momentum going and gain quick positional power you can maintain and defend counter-attacks.
  5. Execution matters. Quick breakthrough requires creativity in your approach and quality in execution.
  6. Expect the unexpected. Think it through thoroughly. Map out potential responses by competitors.

Use competitive strategy to find your point of difference

Bringing our blog to life through video

000f51eAt Beloved Brands, we have created a new video Series called BELOVED BRANDS 180. Each video will be 180 seconds (3 minutes) in length and our goal is to get Brand Leaders to do a 180 on their thinking. We want them to think different, because the thinking that got you this far, might not be enough to get to where you want to go next. Today’s video topic is “How to write a brand positioning statement”. Brand positioning statements provide the most useful function of taking everything you know about your brand, everything that could be said about the consumer and making choices to pick one target that you’ll serve and one brand promise you will stand behind.  While we think this brand positioning statement sets up the creative brief, it should really set up everything the brand does–equally important for internal as everyone should follow to what the positioning statement says.  

At Beloved Brands, we love to see Brand Leaders reach their full potential.  Here are the most popular article “How to” articles.  We can offer specific training programs dedicated to each topic.  Click on any of these most read articles:

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 see a workshop on THE BRAND LEADERSHIP CENTER, click on the Powerpoint presentation below:

We make Brands better.

We make Brand Leaders better.™

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

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How to lead the brand planning process

As Yogi Berra once said “if you don’t know where you’re going, you might not get there.”

The same could be said about brands, who try to execute blindly without knowing where they are going. From what we see, the best executed brands are also the best planned brands. Strategy is about focusing, by applying your limited resources of investment, time and people against an unlimited array of choices. You must narrow your focus to get the highest payback against what you put in.

The Beloved Brands planning process includes four key phases: 1) Deep-dive business review 2) Key issues 3) Brand positioning and 4) Brand plan

Stage 1: The deep-dive business Review 

We provide brand leaders with a full range of analytical tools to look at every part of the brand, providing a complete review for management. We teach brand leaders good analytical principles about telling stories with facts to gain more support for your analysis. We look at every part of the health and wealth of a brand looking at the category, consumer, channels, brand, competitors. Slide05We teach how analysis turns fact into insight and how data breaks set up strategic choices. We look at how to turn analytical thinking into projections. And then we help to build an analytical story and presentation that’s ready for management review.

To read our presentation on Analytics, click on this PowerPoint:

A typical agenda for a business review should consist of:

  • Category: factors impacting growth, trends, economic, changes happening in demographics, behaviors, consumption. Look at related categories.
  • Consumer: define segments, buying habits, growth trends, key insights for each segment, buying system analysis, leaky bucket, consumer perceptions through tracking data and research.
  • Channels: look at each channel’s performance, major customers, sales performance, tools for winning used in each channel.
  • Competitors: dissect competitors looking at positioning, pipeline, pricing, distribution differences, consumer perception, strategies. Complete a brand plan for each competitor.
  • Brand: look at internal and external health and wealth of brand. Use financial analysis, brand funnel data, market research perceptions. Look at advertising results, pricing strategies, distribution gaps and do a complete leaky bucket analysis.

To read how to conduct a business review, click on this hyper link: How to lead a Business Review on your brand

One model we use to summarize where your brand stands is to ask four key questions:

  1. What is your current share position in the market?
  2. What is the core strength that your brand can win on?
  3. How tightly connected is your consumer to your brand?
  4. What is the current business situation that your brand faces?

For each of those four questions, we offer four possible answers to help narrow where you are, using the model below:  

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To read the connected story and more depth on this model, follow this hyperlink: Challenge your thinking to focus your brand strategy

Stage 2: The key issues 

We coach brand leaders on how to frame the most important strategic questions that set up their strategic brand plans. We leverage the summation of the business review to frame the drivers, inhibitors, risks and opportunities. From there we set a “straw dog” brand vision, then brainstorm all the issues getting in the way of achieving that brand vision. We begin to see key issues themes and use strategic summation tools to make sure we’ve looked at all parts of the business. We coach on the writing of a key issues deck for management approval. A typical agenda for a key issues presentation would look like:

  • Health and wealth of brand: look factors driving the internal health and wealth and the external health and wealth of the brand.
  • What’s driving growth and how will we continue to enhance? Stay focused on things going right, accelerate against them. Continuous improvement.
  • What’s inhibiting growth and how will we minimize or reverse? Close the leaks, develop turnaround plans or re-focus the team against the trend.
  • What opportunities for growth will we take advantage of? Build plans to mobilize the brand to see if the opportunity is a winning space for the brand.
  • What are the risks to future growth to avoid and what are the Contingency plans? Identify and measure the risk, explore plans to avoid.   Fill the gap before a competitor.

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We believe brand leaders should spend more time on asking great strategic questions, believing that the thinking you put into those questions will help frame better strategy choices. Here’s a story on that subject: Strategic thinkers see questions, before they see answers. Non-strategic thinkers see answers before questions.

Stage 3: Create a winning brand positioning

We coach brand leaders on creating a brand idea and brand positioning that will help your brand win in the market. We use a workshop style process that helps your team find a winning brand positioning, pushing the emotional benefits. We can validate with consumers through a testable brand concept. We’ll work to create a Big Idea that frames the external and internal promise of your brand. We’ll leave you with an execution ready creative brief to hand to your agency. You should revisit the positioning each year, matched up to the consumer insights of your business review as well as your competitive review to make sure that you’re winning in the marketplace. A typical agenda for brand positioning would be: 

  • Who do we want to sell to? (Target Market): Who do we want to sell to? Segmentation performance, broken out by demographics, psychographics, buying patterns. Use consumer insights to tell story based on category insights and think about Life Insights or even Societal Trends that could impact changing consumer behavior. Define the consumer enemy.Slide09
  • What are we selling?  (main Benefit) and why should they believe us?  (Reason To Believe) Using a Customer Value Proposition Ladder: Define consumer target: need states, enemies and insights. Product features: Product-focused strengths, claims, differences or unique offerings. Rational benefits: In consumer’s voice, answer, “so, what do I get?” Emotional benefits: Look at rational benefit, asking, “so how does that make me feel?” using emotional Cheat Sheet belowSlide10
  • And then to execute that positioning in the market place, ask: what do we want the Advertising to do for the brand?  (Strategic Choices) Where your Brand sits on the Brand Love Curve sets up your Strategic Choices. When Indifferent, you want to establish your brand in the mind of consumers so that you can drive awareness and consideration with new user. At Like It, you should create following by separating yourself and drive the rational & emotional benefits to close sale. When at Love It stage, you want to tug at the Heart and tighten the connection using emotion. When Beloved, you need to continue the magic and maintain the love with your most loyal users
  • What do want people to think, feel or do?  (Desired Response): Use a Buying System to focus your Advertising Strategy and how you’ll use your Media options
  • What’s the long-range feeling the brand evokes (The Big Idea): The big idea connects with the consumer and guide the promise, strategy, story, Innovation & Culture.

To read more on how to write a brand positioning statement, follow this hyperlink: How to write a winning Brand Positioning Statement

Stage 4: Write a brand plan everyone can follow

We coach brand leaders to build highly focused strategic brand plans that everyone in your organization can follow. We use a workshop style process to help your team lay out a long-range strategic road map and brand plan that everyone in your organization can follow. We’ll help your team prepare brand plans for review. We then work with your team to create actionable project plans for each tactic with goals, milestones and budget. A typical agenda for a one-year brand plan would include: 

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

We take all this information and put it on a Plan on a Page, outlined below:

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The best run brands spend the time needed to plan things out. Many brands who try to cut corners on the planning process end up with confused or random execution–sometimes working, sometimes not. Every brand is constrained by resources–no brand has enough money, time or people to execute everything they want to do. The best brand leaders make choices and use the word “or” as they force choices, rather than “and” as they try to do everything. Focus makes you matter most to those who care the most. Don’t blindly target consumers:  target the most motivated.  Focusing your limited resources on those consumers with the highest motivation and  propensity to buy what you are selling will deliver the highest return on investment. In a competitive category, no one brand can do it all: brands must be better, different or cheaper to survive. Giving the consumer too many messages will confuse them as to what makes your brand unique. Trying to be everything to everyone is the recipe for being nothing to anyone. Return on Effort (ROE) is a great tool for focusing your activity. Doing a laundry list of activity spreads your resources so thin that everything you do is “ok” and nothing is “great”.And in a crowded and fast economy, “ok” never breaks through enough to get the early win and find that tipping point to open up the gateway to even bigger success. Here are the benefits to the Brand by focusing your efforts: 

Better Return on Investment (ROI): With all the resources against one strategy, one target, one message, you’ll be able to move consumers enough to drive sales or push other key performance indicators in the right direction.

Better Return on Effort (ROE): It’s about getting more back than you put into the effort. Working smart helps make the most out of your people resources.

Stronger Reputation: When you only do one thing, you naturally start to become associated with that one thing—externally and even internally.  Reputation is a power you can push to find deeper wins.

More Competitive: As your reputation grows, you begin to own that one thing and you can better defend that positioning territory. You can expose the weakness of your competitors, attract new consumers as well as push internally (R&D, service, sales) to rally behind the newly created reputation.

Bigger and Better P&L: As the focused effort drives results, it opens up the P&L with higher sales and profits. People with money invest where they see return.

Video workshop on leading the planning process

000f51eAt Beloved Brands, we have created a new video Series called BELOVED BRANDS 180. Each video will be 180 seconds (3 minutes) in length and our goal is to get Brand Leaders to do a 180 on their thinking. We want them to think different, because the thinking that got you this far, might not be enough to get to where you want to go next. Today’s video topic is Mapping out the annual brand planning process. Our Beloved Brands process takes you through all 4 phases of planning: 1) Deep-dive business review 2) Key issues 3) Brand positioning and 4) Brand plan 

Everything you’ve just read is summed up in a 3 minute video. 

To see all this come together in a presentation format, follow the PowerPoint presentation below:

If you need help with your planning process, feel free to contact us to help get your team moving in the right direction. 

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 see a workshop on THE BRAND LEADERSHIP CENTER, click on the Powerpoint presentation below:

We make Brands better.

We make Brand Leaders better.™

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

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Personal Branding: How to create your own brand plan

Slide1If you’ve ever been in a job so long that you don’t have an updated resume or Linked In profile, you’re in a dangerous place. In today’s economy, you want to stay aware, keep current and always be on the look out for what’s next. As we push the personal branding, you should be able to articulate your own brand in 7 seconds, 60 seconds and 30 minutes, all shaping and telling the same story. Start off your next interview with a 7 second pitch that describes yourself (e.g. I’m a marketer that finds growth where others can’t), follow that with a 60 second articulation of what that means, and use the rest of the interview to layer in the elements of your 30 minute story. 

Finding your Big Idea

Everyone talks about the 7 second elevator pitch, but it’s not easy to get there. I suppose you could ride up and down the elevator and try telling people. That may drive you insane. 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”. Below is the Tool I use to figure out a Brand’s Big Idea revolving around four areas that help define the Brand 1) Brand’s personality 2) Products and Services the brand provides 3) Internal Beacons that people internally rally around when thinking about the brand and 4) Consumer Views of the Brand.  What we normally do is brainstorm 3-4 words in each of the four sections and then looking collectively begin to frame the Brand’s Big Idea with a few words or a phrase to which the brand can stand behind.

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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.

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Creating a Personal Brand Plan

You need to build a Brand Plan that focuses your efforts in the market place. Use a traditional brand plan format, to include vision, purpose, values, goals, issues, strategies and tactics to create a plan. Here are some definitions to help trigger your thinking.

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And now when you bring these two documents together you can create your own personal Brand Plan on one page. Below is my document that we use for our “Beloved Brands” personal brand. You should try this out using your own brand and you’ll use the strategies to focus your tactical efforts.

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Manage your personal brand as though you would the brand you work on

To read more about personal branding, here’s a few more articles to trigger your interest. Click on the title to read the story:

Managing Your Career: Finding and using your Core Strength as a Brand Leader

Tools to help you describe your brand in 7 seconds, 60 seconds and 30 minutes

5 Crucial Career Questions to Ask yourself in the most honest soul-searching start to what’s next

And here’s a link to our Beloved Brands presentation on personal branding:

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 see a workshop on THE BRAND LEADERSHIP CENTER, click on the Powerpoint presentation below:

We make Brands better.

We make Brand Leaders better.™

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

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How to lead a Business Review on your brand

2015 logo profile pic versionBefore engaging in your brand planning process, it is a good discipline to start off by doing a deep dive analysis on everything on your business. And I mean everything.  

Yes, everything!!!

When I was at J&J, we had the luxury of getting our Assistant Brand Managers (ABM) to spend 6 weeks looking at everything on the brand and then getting them to present it to the marketing leadership team. Here’s a little secret: it sounds a little cruel, but we hinted that the business review was a “bit of a test” that would impact your career trajectory. If you give an A-type personality from the best MBA programs a month to dig in and you hint that it’s a “test”, you get some of the best brand reviews ever!  These ABMs also spent a full day each month digging into the monthly consumption and sales numbers and writing up a monthly report which helped keep us on track all year. When I became a Brand Manager, I said “thank god I’m no longer have to do all that analysis, and I can now spend more time just thinking”. But as I moved up to Director level and up to the VP level, I started to lose touch with what was really happening on the brands. So, rather than just pass on the ABM’s monthly report to my boss, I would block off a morning and do up my own monthly report. I dug in on the share data, looking for breaking points in the trend line, questioning any splits I would see after breaking out the regions, channels or sizes. Many times, I’d come up with new conclusions not considered and I’d pass them back down. With that analytical training as an ABM matched up against my experience, I found I could go faster than I used to–because I knew what to look for.

The lesson I learned, is that to free yourself up to do the thinking, you need to first dig in and do the questioning. 

As Abraham Lincoln said, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree, and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe”

At Beloved Brands, we believe in digging deep and we live the six principles for good analytics: 

  1. Opinions without fact to back them up are just opinions and can leave a room divided:  you will gain more support for your analysis by telling analytical stories through data.
  2. Absolute numbers by themselves are useless: only when given a relative nature to something important do you find the data break that tells a story. Slide1
  3. The analytical story comes to life when you see a break in the data: comparative indexes and cross tabulations can really bring out the data breaks and gaps that can really tell a story. 
  4. Like an old-school reporter, two sources of data help frame the story: Avoid taking one piece of data and making it the basis of your entire brand strategy. Make sure it’s a real trend.
  5. Deep analysis requires thinking time:  Asking these 5 questions can force the deeper richer thinking: What do we know? What do we assume?  What we think? What do we need to find out? What are we going to do? 
  6. Use tools that can help organize and force deep dive thinking in key areas:  SWOTs or Force Field type tools help organize your thinking and frame the discussion for others.

Deep Dive Business Review

  1. Category: factors impacting growth, trends, economic, changes happening in demographics, behaviors, consumption. Look at related categories.
  2. Consumer: define segments, buying habits, growth trends, key insights for each segment, buying system analysis, leaky bucket, consumer perceptions through tracking data and research
  3. Channels: look at each channel’s performance, major customers, sales performance, tools for winning used in each channel
  4. Competitors: dissect competitors looking at positioning, pipeline, pricing, distribution differences, consumer perception, strategies. Complete a brand plan for each competitor.
  5. Brand: look at internal and external health and wealth of brand. Use financial analysis, brand funnel data, market research perceptions. Look at advertising results, pricing strategies, distribution gaps and do a complete leaky bucket analysis.
  6. Health and Wealth of Brand: look at factors driving the internal health and wealth and the external health and wealth of the brand.
  7. What’s driving growth: summation of the top 3 factors of strength, positional power or inertia that can be a proven link to growth.
  8. What’s inhibiting growth: summation of top 3 factors of weakness, un-addressed gaps or friction holding back the growth of the brand.
  9. Opportunities for growth: specific untapped areas that would fuel future growth, based on unfulfilled needs, new technologies, regulation changes, removal of trade barriers.
  10. Risk to future growth: changing circumstances create potential risk to your growth pattern, based on changes in consumer needs, threat of substitutes, barriers to trade, customer preference, or attacking your weaknesses

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At Beloved Brands we teach brand leaders good analytical principles about telling stories with data to gain more support for your analysis. We look at every part of the health and wealth of a brand looking at the category, consumer, channels, brand, competitors. We teach how analysis turns fact into insight and how data breaks set up strategic choices. We look at how to turn analytical thinking into projections. And then we help to build an analytical story and presentation that’s ready for management review.

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Here is the Workshop that we run to help brand leaders be better at analytical thinking and help them to create better analytical stories. You’ll see how we are able to dig into every aspect of the brand as we provide tools for assessing the overall category to dissecting the competitor, how to analyze what’s happening with consumers and channels and then how to do a complete assessment behind the data of the brand. You have all this information, you should really use it.

       

In a world of BIG DATA, it’s only BIG if you know how to use it.

At Beloved Brands, we love to see Brand Leaders reach their full potential.  Here are the most popular article “How to” articles.  We can offer specific training programs dedicated to each topic.  Click on any of these most read articles:

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 see a workshop on THE BRAND LEADERSHIP CENTER, click on the Powerpoint presentation below:

We make Brands better.

We make Brand Leaders better.™

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

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Bringing our blog to life through video

000f51eAt Beloved Brands, we have created a new video Series called BELOVED BRANDS 180. Each video will be 180 seconds (3 minutes) in length and our goal is to get Brand Leaders to do a 180 on their thinking. We want them to think different, because the thinking that got you this far, might not be enough to get to where you want to go next. Today’s video topic is “How to write a brand positioning statement”. Brand positioning statements provide the most useful function of taking everything you know about your brand, everything that could be said about the consumer and making choices to pick one target that you’ll serve and one brand promise you will stand behind.

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Video on “How to write a winning brand positioning statement”

Bringing our blog to life through video

000f51eAt Beloved Brands, we have created a new video Series called BELOVED BRANDS 180. Each video will be 180 seconds (3 minutes) in length and our goal is to get Brand Leaders to do a 180 on their thinking. We want them to think different, because the thinking that got you this far, might not be enough to get to where you want to go next. Today’s video topic is “How to write a brand positioning statement”. Brand positioning statements provide the most useful function of taking everything you know about your brand, everything that could be said about the consumer and making choices to pick one target that you’ll serve and one brand promise you will stand behind.  While we think this brand positioning statement sets up the creative brief, it should really set up everything the brand does–equally important for internal as everyone should follow to what the positioning statement says.

 

Finding your uniqueness

Brands are either better, different or cheaper.  Or not around for very long.  The key is to find a unique selling proposition for your brand.  You don’t always need to find a rational point of difference as long as there is room to be emotionally unique.  

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Map out everything your consumer wants–all the possible need states. Then map out all the benefits that you and your competitors can do better than anyone else–both functional and emotional zones.  You want to find that intersecting zone where what you can do best matches up to a need state of the consumer.   Then find a way to serve that need state to the best of your ability and transform it into an even bigger deal than first meets the eye.   Avoid the intersecting zone where your competitor is better than you and please avoid that zone where you and your competition foolishly battle in an area that “no one cares” about.   The battle ground  zone is where both you and your competition can satisfy the consumer need at an equal rate.  To win in this situation, you need to get creative and find ways to out-execute or find some emotional connection that changes the game and makes you the clear winner.  

The Brand Positioning Statement

A best in class positioning statement has four key elements: 

      • Target Market (a)
      • Definition of the market you play in (b)
      • Brand Promise (emotional or rational benefit) (c)
      • 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:   

Slide11Looking at the example above for Gray’s Cookies (fictional brand), the target is proactive preventers, who want to do everything for their health, including sacrificing what they eat.  That’s all about a consumer that wants control. The main benefit is guilt free control, with the balance of taste and health in the cookie.

The biggest thing you have to do is make tough decisions.  Find the target of those you can get to love you, rather than trying to sell to everyone that might one day like you.   Match up your benefits to the need states of the consumer.  And leverage where you are on the Love Curve to determine how much emotion you are able to build into your Brand Positioning Statement.

Who is Your Target?

Beloved Brands know who their customer is and who it is not.  Everything starts and ends with the Consumer in mind.  Spreading your limited resources across an entire population is cost prohibitive–low return on investment and low return on effort.  While targeting everyone “just in case” might feel safe at first, it’s actually less safe because you never get to see the full impact.  Realizing not everyone can like you is the first step to focusing all your attention on those that can love you.  It becomes all about choices and you will be much more effective at convincing a segment of the population to choose your brand because of the assets and promise that you have that match up perfectly to what they want.Slide06

To demonstrate knowledge of that target, defining consumer insights help to crystallize and bring to life the consumer you are targeting. The dictionary definition of the word Insight is“seeing below the surface”.   Too many people think data, trends and facts are insights.  Facts are merely on the surface—so they miss out on the depth–you need to bring those facts to life by going below the surface and transforming the facts into insights.

When insight is done right, it is what first connects us to the brand, because we see ourselves in the story.  Insight is not something that consumers didn’t know before.  It’s not data or fact about your brand that you want to tell.   That would be knowledge not insight.   Insight is something that everyone already knows and comes to life when it’s told in such a captivating way that makes consumers stop and say “hmm, I thought I was the only who felt like that”.  That’s why we laugh when we see insight projected with humor, why we get goose bumps when insight is projected with inspiration and why we cry when the insight comes alive through real-life drama.  

What’s the Benefit?

The next decision is the main benefit you want to focus on.  Doing a Customer Value Proposition (CVP) helps to organize your thinking as a great tool for bringing the benefits to life.  

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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.   

Some CVPs can end up very cluttered, but the more focused you can make it the easier it will be for you to choose which one you will stand behind, and which one benefit you’ll communicate.  Slide1That’s right: JUST ONE BENEFIT!  Agencies use so many tricks to get it down to the ONE THING.  Examples of this could be a postcard or a bumper sticker, or silly questions like “what would you say to get someone to marry you” or say in an elevator. My favourite is to get people to stand up on a chair and “SHOUT FROM THE MOUNTAIN” what your benefit is.  It forces you to want to scream just ONE THING about your brand—keep it simple.  You can’t scream a long sentence.  And if you are into math, another way to look at this is through a simple function, where the probability of success (P) is directly linked to the inverse of the numbers of messages (M) you have in your ad:   P = 1 divided by 1 to the power of M.  My guess is that if you find this last formula motivating, maybe marketing isn’t for you.

Emotional Benefits

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. Within each of the zones, you can find emotional words that closely align to the need state of the consumer and begin building the emotional benefits within your CVP.  It almost becomes a cheat sheet for Brand Managers to work with.  But you want to just own one emotional zone, not them all.  

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Reasons to Believe (RTB’s)

If we borrow from classic logic below, they teach you to one conclusion and two premise.  I took one logic class and sat there for 13 straight weeks of premise-premise conclusion.  Easy class, but the lesson has stuck with me:

      • All fish live in water (premise)
      • Tuna are fish (premise)
      • Therefore, tuna live in the water (conclusion)

In a positioning statement, the brand benefit would be the conclusion.   And the Reason to Believe (RTB) would be the supporting premise.  I say this for a few reasons.  First, the RTB should never be the conclusion.  The consumer doesn’t care about what you do, until they get something from it.  The benefit has to come from the consumers’ shoes.  Second, if pure logic teaches two premises are enough to draw any conclusion, then you really only need two RTBs.   Brands with a laundry list of RTBs are not doing their job in making a decision on what the best support points are.  You either force the ad agency to decide what are the most important or the consumer to decide.  By deferring, you’re weakening your argument.

While this helps with HOW to write a positioning statement, ask Beloved Brands how we can help really bring the concepts to life with a workshop with your team as well as writing of the final concept options.  We promise to bring magic to the concept which will help get you into the right positioning.   For more reading on how to turn this positioning statement into a concept, follow this link:  How to write a winning Brand Concept statement

Now go find your brand’s point of difference

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 see a workshop on BRAND STRATEGY, click on the Powerpoint presentation below:

We make Brands better.

We make Brand Leaders better.™

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

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