Non-Marketing people really need to stop defining what marketing people do.

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Beloved Brands Explained

I suppose that everyone who has a TV and can critique Super Bowl ads or those with a Twitter account thinks they can now say they are a marketer expert. Sadly, we have let far too many people use the word “MarketingMarketing”or “Brand” in their title. The commentary that I see coming from non marketers is borderline cringe-worthy or hilarious. I have to tell you that the comments are silly.

  • When I read, “Marketers need to think more about the consumer” I think you’ve never met a real marketer. The best marketers starting doing that around 1915. I guess somehow this is now popular among non-marketers.
  • When I hear,  “Marketers should analyze data”, again, I’m thinking what incompetent marketers have you been hanging around with. That’s been a major part of the job since 1950. Sure, big data. But I have been working any data from share report data to Ipsos tracking data to weekly Walmart sales tracking data.
  • When I read, “The CEO should be in charge of the brand”, I think “Well then the CEO should be in charge of the IT system”. Sure, in charge, but they should be smart enough to delegate to the experts who will make their brand stronger. From my experience, the best marketing led organizations have bottom up recommendations, empowering the brand manager to tell their directors what they want to do, who then support them in moving that up to the VP and President. The worst organizations are when the CEO walks down the hall and asks “Why are we not on Instagram? My 15-year-old daughter was just showing me how cool it is this weekend”. This is likely the reason why the average tenure of a CMO is under 24 months at this point. They are likely sports coaches, hired to be fired, by the impatience of getting results.
  • When I hear, “Marketing needs to be more than just advertising” once again, you just don’t understand the job….typically advertising is 10-15% of the job.The best marketers determine the strategy, figure out the brand promise, brand communication, product innovation, purchase moment and consumer experience…they touch all, decide all, but they let their experts run each of those touch points.

Marketers don’t just “do marketing”.

I am glad so many want to be in Marketing. But you really should have to earn your way into it. Go interview for a job, get rejected a few times, push to really get in there and then learn like ton for a few years. I spent 20 years in marketing. I could not believe how much I learned  in my first five years, then even more in the next five, then way more in the following five and absolute insane amount in those last five years. I’ve now been a consultant for over five years and I swear I know twice as much as I learned in the first 20.

Marketing is not just an activity. The best marketers have to think, define, plan, execute and analyze, using all parts of your brain, your energy and your creativity.

OK, my rant is over.

 

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

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

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

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

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

Graham Robertson Bio Brand Training Coach Consultant

Six questions to ask before you start your brand’s Media Plan">Media Plans

Six questions to ask before you start your brand’s Media Plan

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in How to Guide for Marketers

Media is a business investment that showcases the creative execution of your brand story to help connect your brand with consumers at the most impactful where consumers are willing to engage in your brand story. Balance your media choices by looking at efficiency, quality, impact and fit with the brand. The efficiency of the media math starts with reach and frequency. Reach is the number or percent of different household or persons the ad will be exposed to at least once, over a specific period of time, while frequency is the number of times that household or person is exposed to the ad within a specific period of time. Be careful relying on efficiency alone, balancing the efficiency with the quality of the media choices. Set aside a portion of your media budget and used on driving impact to drive early attention to a new campaign.

Media Plans
Media Planning Questions

  1. What is the size of your budget? Budget is always the starting point to your media planning. The size of your media budget will really depend on your brand’s current profit situation, the projected potential return on investment (ROI) behind your creative execution, the future opportunities to invest behind and the degree of competitiveness you need to defend against. Assess the media ROI by linking your business results directly to the brand funnel results. You can use test markets with various media spend levels to gain the data you need to prove the media investment story. One major factor with media investment is the balance of the fixed overhead costs of producing creative assets versus the variable media costs of reaching consumers. The same thinking would go into the fixed overhead people costs related to content development or social media management. Focus on fewer media choices will ensure the cost of creative resources do not inhibit your ability to reach consumers. Trying to be everywhere drains your resources and just means you will have a low impact everywhere.
  2. What is brand’s core strength? The decision on whether your brand will be story-led, product-led, experience-led or price-led really impacts your brand message and in turn the media choices that will amplify that message. Product-led brands must show why you are better, with a superiority message and media choices that enable you to demonstrate what makes your brand superior. Story-led brands must tell the back-story on what makes your brand different, whether that is an idea, purpose, core belief or a stance, and the media must be able to amplify your story to those consumers will connect with the story. For experience-led brands, you must be able to prove how your people create an experience that is better. This is usually a slower build, in managing influencers, review sites, social media and word-of-mouth to really amplify your brand message that connects to an amazing experience. The price-led brands need to leverage media that can help drive call-to-action brand messaging that fuels the foot traffic needed to push fast-moving items that offset the lower margins.
  3. Where will your consumers engage? Who is your target consumer? Are you looking at a broad mass target or a tight specific target around type of consumer or specific product usage? What are the possible adjacent or related products and services that you can leverage? What part of the consumer’s life will they will watch, listen, learn, engage, decide and act? Your media choices should align with potential related life moment, whether those are parts of the day, week, year or even life moments. Consumers use media for certain reasons, whether to be smarter, stay aware, escape, express themselves, connect with others, go places, buy things or do things. Your brand should align with the brain moods of how your consumer use media, so you match up to where and when they will be most receptive to your brand message.
  4. How tightly connected is your brand with your consumer? As we outlined in the strategic chapter, where your brand sits on the brand love curve should influence your strategic choices, because the more love you can create should drive more power and profit for your brand. I also believe the brand love curve can influence your execution, as unknown brands need media choices to help the brand be seen by the right consumers, indifferent brands need a media choice that will help consumers think about the brand, liked brands should drive happy purchases, brands at the love it stage should use media that helps the consumer feel differently about the brand and brands at the beloved stage should mobilize their brand lovers to influence others within their network.
  5. Where on brand funnel will you exert impact? A brand funnel should match up to how consumers evolve with your brand, moving through awareness, consideration, search, buy, satisfy, repeat, loyal or fans. Knowing what stage of the funnel you wish to impact should drive both the creative message and the media choice. For an unknown/indifferent brand, the focus will be on the early parts of the funnel to drive awareness and move them to consider and buy. At the like it stage, the message and media choices should be driving purchase and repeat purchase. At the love it stage, it becomes about turning repeat purchases into routines and rituals so the consumers become loyal. At the beloved stage, it becomes about turning your fans into influencers that drive awareness for other consumers. The brand funnel is not really a funnel anymore, but a big circle as brand fans do as much to drive awareness among new users as the brand does.
  6. What is the best media option that delivers the creative execution? You really should make media decisions together with your creative. I have found that not all creative ideas work against all media choices, just because the media numbers say they will. This is the reason you should ask to see each creative idea in a TV ad format, long copy print format and billboard. It allows you to see where the creative idea has the biggest potential, and then begin matching those up to the right media choice. Before decide on media, ask to see what the creative ad would look like. Make the decision together.

How to inspire great marketing execution 

We lead workshops to train marketing teams on all types of marketing topics. Here’s the workshop we run on Marketing Execution.  Click on the Powerpoint file below to view:

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

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

 

 

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

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

 

Graham Robertson Bio Brand Training Coach Consultant

Can Whole Foods survive? I hope so. But, unless they change, I doubt it. ">Whole Foods

Can Whole Foods survive? I hope so. But, unless they change, I doubt it. 

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in How to Guide for Marketers

Would you invest in Whole Foods right now?

I remember 20 years ago, someone told me that Blockbuster would go bankrupt once on-line movies would take off. My immediate response was “No way!!!” I had just spent 45 minutes lined up at my local Blockbuster to rent “Usual Suspects” for the third time. How could a brand with so much demand completely fall off the face of the earth?

Now I am starting to wonder if Whole Foods will be around in 20 years? Strategic Thinking Whole Foods I sure hope so. I am a big fan of their brand and all the work they have done. Whole Foods has been the dominant player in ‘organic’ grocery stores the past 20-30 years. They have done everything right. They brought a clear brand positioning, a big idea, a fantastic culture that oozes off the walls of their stores and exhibited through every employee you engage with in the stores. They nail branding as well as Apple, Tesla or Nike. They built an army of outspoken brand fans and they are a beloved brand.

Would you invest in Whole Foods right now? Their market capitalization has fallen from $24 Billion to $9 Billion the last 2 years. None of their moves have re-assured investors that their future is bright.

Is Whole Foods a victim of their own success? 

For the past 70 years, the average grocery stores have served the local community within a 10 minutes drive, with 20,000 skus across 10 aisle grocery stores. The business model of traditional stores pumped out ridiculously high volumes at ridiculously low margins. At the retailer’s head office, the buyers had to beat down manufacturers like P&G, J&J, Coke, Kellogg’s and Kraft. They pushed high listing fees and high trade spend to get any displays or flyer ads. Even after all this work, Grocery stores traditionally make only 20-25% gross margins and then make only 2-4% operating profits. Over the last 10 years Kroger has averaged 22% gross margins and 2.7% operating margins. These are very typical numbers for a grocery retailer.

Whole Foods started as a rebellious disruptor to the grocery category.

Strategic Thinking Whole Foods Rebel BrandWhole Foods came along and figured out they could sell organic raspberries at $5.99  instead of $2.99 for normal raspberries and they could sell organic bacon for $9.99 instead of 3.99. They knew that not everyone would pay, but enough would. Instead of high volume, low margin, they went for modest volume with a much higher margin. Whole Foods averages 35% gross margins (+13% higher than Kroger) and 5.3% operating profit (double that of Kroger).

Up until the year 2000, Whole Foods only had 100 locations, capable enough to own a niche position as a rebel brand, yet small enough to fly under the radar of the bigger grocery players. If you notice the Venn diagram to the right, rebel brands own a niche that is far enough away from the mainstream players, to avoid being seen as a direct competitor. For these rebel brands, they believe it is better to be loved by a few than tolerated by many. These brands take all that passion of their consumers and build around it. At this point, Whole Foods owned organic, and the traditional grocery stores were fine to let Whole Foods own the ‘yoga enthusiasts’.

Most brands start as a rebel brands. They win over the trend influencers, satisfying those consumers who do not want what the mainstream brands offer. The rebel brand takes the aggressive stance against the mainstream, finding flaw in the way they do business.  They stand out as a completely different and a better choice to a core group of trend influencers who are frustrated with all the competitors in the marketplace. This consumer group becomes the most motivated consumers to buy into your new idea. Rebel brands must bring these on board and use their influence on others, as the brand begins their journey from rebel brands to island brands to challenger brands and then onto the Power Player brand. Below is a chart that outlines that evolution, and you can see how to use the different consumer types from the trend influencers and early adopters at the beginning and then finding the mass audience as the brand gets bigger and more powerful.

Brand Innovation

After 2000, the move to organic foods hit a tipping point of acceptance within the mainstream audience. Whole Foods took advantage of this shift and invested in rapid expansion across North America. Whole Foods moved to the next stage of what I call the “Island Brand” stage, where you are so different you are on your own. For the health-conscience consumers, Whole Foods success left the traditional grocery stores in a position where they disconnected from what these consumers want. During this time, Whole Foods expanded from 100 to 430 stores, with forecasts of up to 1,200 stores. Whole Foods had gone from a niche player that traditional grocery brands were willing to ignore to a major threat that pushed the traditional brands to make a counter move.

Strategic Thinking Whole FoodsAs organic moved to the mainstream the traditional grocery store responded by bringing in organic foods into their stores. Most traditional grocery chains report that 25-35% of their fresh food has become organic. These grocery stores are charging 15-25% lower prices than Whole Foods, yet still loving the added margins it gives them.

Simply marketing lesson, no one will ever travel farther and pay more, for something they can get close by at a cheaper price.

As a result, Whole Foods has lost customers to the traditional players. According to Barclays analysts, “Whole Foods has lost about 14 million of its customers over the last 18 months. The magnitude of the traffic declines … is staggering. As most retailers know — once traffic has been lost, those patterns rarely reverse”. Did Whole Foods move to the mainstream too quickly, trying to use the groundswell towards organic among mass consumers to move to a challenger position?

Whole Foods next move was a dumb one.

The history of warfare can be characterized by Generals who over-reacted and under-reacted. Both would lose. Whole Foods made the poor decision to launch a lower price, lower service, and lower margin version of itself called “365”.  I always find it frustrating to watch brands who face an attack and then try to act more like the competitor attacking them, rather than backing up a bit and being themselves. When in a competitive battle, especially against those who own the traditional space who you have attacked, never act like your competitor. Instead of staying themselves, the move to “365” acts more like their competitors.

I do not believe these 365 stores can win. They are a hybrid store which is confusing. They will not attract the mainstream consumer who want their organic foods at lower prices, but still wants to buy Diet Coke and Frosted Flakes. They will not win with the core health trend influencer audience who want more, not less.

How will the 365 stores make money?  Low volume and lower margins is a recipe for bankruptcy.

If they can’t win the mass audience, do they still have the health trend influencers? 

We are seeing local healthy grocery stores pop up around North America ready to offer the health trend influencers more. Due to “costs” Whole Foods has made some moves that will irritate this audience.  They got rid of their freshly prepared market and now use pre-prepared foods. There are now swirling questions about whether their food choices are 100% organic. Whole Foods uses their own standards of judging good/bad food options. Whole FoodsAlso, Whole Foods uses national distribution on most items, not through local farmers. On top of that, Whole Foods carries fairly mainstream brand choices such as Cliff Bars with 28% sugar or Kellogg’s Special K. This confuses or frustrates the health trend setter segment who do not want to see those types of brands in their grocery store.

This leaves Whole Foods potentially without a positioning to stand behind and without a core audience to build around. When you try to be everything to anyone, you end up nothing to everyone. Whole Foods have lost who they are. They could take the advice of Oscar Wilde who once said: “Be yourself, everyone else is taken”.

The problem I see for Whole Foods is they have been spiraling downward with losing sales base, yet they seem unable or unwilling to make the right changes. I would not invest, would you?  While brands start as rebel brands, no matter what stage your brand reaches, when the world around you collapses, I recommend the best thing a brand can do is return back to the rebel status and re-start their brand. Instead of going mainstream with lower price/lower service options like the launch of their “365 store”, Whole Foods should go back to their rebellious roots and go even healthier, go even more local, add high end services back. Make it a full experience the health trend influencers want. Instead of trying to drive high volume from their current audience, they should add higher margin services. Be more like who they were 20 years ago.

When you lose your way, return to the rebel position and kick-start your brand 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 create beloved brands, click on the Powerpoint presentation below:

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

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

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

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

Beloved Brands Graham Robertson

 

 

 

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

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in How to Guide for Marketers

big creative execution neat vs wow

What am I missing? 

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

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

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

Big work is exciting.

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

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

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

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

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

Are we too fixated on big data proof? 

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

Marketers tense up when the work get “too different”

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

Marketing Execution Big Smart Ideas Wow

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

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

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

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

Beloved Brands Graham Robertson

 

How Marketers can be better strategic thinkers">

How Marketers can be better strategic thinkers

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in How to Guide for Marketers

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

How to use smart strategic thinking in Marketing

 

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

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

How to use smart strategic thinking in Marketing

On the other hand, instinctual leaders just jump in quickly to find answers before they even know the right question. Their brains move fast, they use emotional impulse and intuitive gut feel. These people want action now and get easily frustrated by delays. They believe it is better to do something than sit and wait around. They see strategic people as stuck running around in circles, as they try to figure out the right question. Instead, they choose emotion over logic. This “make it happen” attitude gets things done, but if they go too fast, their great actions may solve the wrong problem. Without proper thinking and focus, an action-first approach might just spread the brand’s limited resources randomly across too many projects. Intuitive leaders can be a creative mess and find themselves with a long to-do list, unable to prioritize or focus.

How to use smart strategic thinking in Marketing

Brand leaders must learn how to change brain speeds.

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

Find your thinking time

You should block off a few hours each week, put your feet up on the desk, and force yourself to ask really difficult questions. Pick one problem topic for each meeting you book, and even invite a peer to set up a potential debate. The goal is not to brainstorm a solution, but to come up with the best possible question that will challenge the team. Even go for walks at lunch or a drive somewhere just to get away from it all. My best thinking never came at my desk in front of my computer. Too many marketers have their head down in the numbers they miss the obvious opportunities and threats that are right on the horizon. Strategic thinkers should assess, question and consider every element that can impact your business. Here is a simple 4-step process to run a strategic thinking meeting:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Beloved Brands Graham Robertson

 

Build your entire brand strategy behind your core strength">Build your entire brand strategy behind your brand’s core strength

Build your entire brand strategy behind your core strength

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in How to Guide for Marketers

What is the core strength that your brand can win on?

To be loved, a brand must know who they are and then stand with pride, conviction and confidence. The problem for many brands is they try to have a few core strengths, so they end up having no real perceived strength that stands out.

This model has four possible options for what core strength your brand should choose to win with: product, brand story, experience or price. For many Marketers, their first response is to want to pick two or three core strengths, but the model forces you to pick just one. Here’s the game I have created to help make the choice. You have 4 chips, you must place one chip where you believe you have the highest competitive advantage to win with, then two chips at the mid level that back up and support the core strength. Finally, the game forces one chip to be at the low, almost a throw-away weakness that will not be part of the strategy.

Build your entire brand strategy behind your brand’s core strength

For Apple, their core strength is their brand story around ‘simplicity’. They support that core strength with a great product and consumer experience. However, they never win on price, charging a price premium and never discount.

Product led Brands

When Product Innovation is your key strength, your main strategy should focus on being better. The brand must invest in continuous innovation to stay ahead of competitors, being the leader in technology, claims and new formats. The brand must defend against any challengers. The promise and experience should be built around the product. The brand should leverage product-focused mass communication, directly calling attention to the superiority and benefit differences in the product versus the competitors. Bring the “how it is built” into the brand story, to highlight and re-enforce the point of difference. Use rational selling to move consumers through the buying stages. Use product reviews and key influencers to support the brand. One watch out for product led brands is the struggle to build and drive an emotional connection with consumers. As the brand matures, it must layer a big idea on top of the product, to enable the consumer to connect on a deeper level. There are some amazing product brands, such as Samsung, Tide, Five Guys or Ruth’s Chris who create consumer loyalty, but still lack that emotional connection.

Rolex has done an amazing job in building emotion into their product led brand. The language choices they use such as ‘crafted from the finest raw materials’ or ‘assembled with scrupulous attention to detail’ helps convey their commitment to the design and production of the Rolex. Rolex epitomizes prestige and success. On marketing program that has helped Rolex create an emotional bond is one they first resisted—the official clock for Wimbledon. Both Rolex and Wimbledon place an enormous emphasis on the values of tradition and excellence. The fact that Rolex is one of the few companies with a presence on the courts is further testament to the strength of the partnership.

Product led brands core strength

Story led Brands

When the Brand Story is your brand’s key strength, the strategy should focus on finding a way to be different. To tell that story, invest in emotional brand communication that connects motivated consumers with the big idea on a deeper emotional level. Then line up everything (story, product, experience) under the big idea. Story led brands should leverage a community of core “brand lovers” who can then talk about the brand story and influence others within their network. These brands should use a soft sell approach to influence the potential consumer. Do not bring price to the forefront, as it can take away from the idea. Some of the store-led brands includes Dove, Nike, W Hotels and Virgin, the greatest story-led brand has been Apple.

Most recently, the Tesla brand appears to have borrowed a lot of Apple’s principles, building around the story of “saving the planet with innovation”. Tesla uses many innovative approaches, including the visionary charm of their founder, Elon Musk, to create a movement beyond a brand. He has become a spokesperson for a generation of consumers who want to save the planet. Even the most ardent Tesla brand lovers see the brand as a movement. The 400,000 consumers who put down $1,000 for a car that does not yet exist are pretty much investing in the movement, more than the car.

Idea led brand core strength

Consumer experience led Brands

When the Consumer Experience is your brand’s lead strength, the strategy and organization should focus on linking culture very closely to your brand. Your people are your product. As you go to market, be patient in a slower build as the quick mass media approach might not be as fast or efficient. Invest in influencer and social media that can help support and spread the word of your experience. Effective tools include word of mouth, earned media, social media, on-line reviews, use of key influencers and testimonials. Use the brand purpose (“Why you do what you do”) and brand values to inspire and guide the team leadership. Align the operations team with service behaviors that deliver the brand’s big idea. Focus on building a culture and organization with the right people, who can deliver incredible experiences. Invest in training the face of the brand. Too much marketing emphasis on price can diminish the perceived consumer experience. Some of the best experience brands includes Ritz-Carlton, Emirates airline, Airbnb, Amazon, Netflix and Starbucks.

In a blind taste test, Starbucks coffee finishes middle of the pack. Starbucks view themselves as in the ‘moments’ business. They build everything around the consumer experience. The brand stresses the importance of the culture with their staff and use service values to deliver incredible guest experiences. Starbucks offers the perfect moment of escape between home and work, supported by a unique combination of Italian coffee names, European pastries, cool friendly staff, nice leather seats and indie music that creates an amazing atmosphere that cannot be beat.

Price led Brands

When Price is your brand’s lead strength, focus on driving efficiency to drive the lowest possible cost structure. These brands should use ‘call to action’ Marketing to keep high turns and high volume. It is all about cash flow with fast moving items that delivers high turns and high volume to cover off the lower prices. Invest in the fundamentals around production and sourcing to maintain the low cost competitive advantage. Use the brand’s power to win negotiations. Price brands need to own the low price positioning and fiercely attack any potential challengers. The brand usually needs good solid products, however consumers are willing to accept a lower consumer experience. Many price brands struggle to drive any emotional connection with consumers brand. It can be hard to maintain ‘low price’ while fighting off the perception that the brand is ‘cheap’. It is hard for consumers to love the price brands, even though they rely on them when needed. Walmart is one of the best price brands. No one is more efficient at retail. While their competitors sell through their inventory in 100-125 days, Walmart sells through theirs in 29 days, 1 day before they even have to pay for it. Their outward sales pitch is price, but their internal organization and culture is clearly driven by driving efficiency with fast-moving items. They use their power to bully their suppliers, who give in just to be part of Walmart’s high sales volumes. Walmart has made failed attempts to create any emotional connection. The battle in the future for Walmart will be Amazon, who does extraordinary customer service and smart pricing. It will be a tough battle for Walmart as Amazon is one of the most beloved brands on the planet.

Build your entire brand strategy behind your core strength

As you take this model a step further, this should guide your overall brand positioning angle on whether you should strive to be better, different or cheaper. The product led brands should be building a story around how they make it better than everyone else, while the story led brands can tell the story, idea or purpose behind the brand. As you move to the experience, the focus should be on how the people make the brand different and finally, while you can just yell price, you might be much more effective if you tell the story behind how you can offer the same as others at a much lower cost.

Build your entire brand strategy behind your core strength

Brands that cannot decide which of the four to build around will find themselves in trouble. Trying to be everything to anyone is the recipe for being nothing to everyone. A great case study example is Uber. You could argue for all 4 possibilities. And while you might think that is game-changing, I think it is dumb. Uber has squeezed the prices on taxis so low that they are squeezing their own margins so low. Plus, they believe the way to win is saturating the market to dominate it before anyone else can enter. Let’s play that out a bit. If you have been using Uber quite a while, you will notice that the quality of drivers is going way down. I have had friends say their driver showed up in a cut off tank top, got lost 2-3 times and definitely did not have a shower this morning. That is risk of trying to be a price brand because that is the quality driver that Uber can afford. Then along comes Lyft, who focuses primarily on the consumer experience. Same app, higher price level, and a driver who is fully trained with higher standards. They emphasis quality experience to their drivers and their consumers, thereby boxing Uber into being a price brand longer term. By not focusing on the experience position, Uber left it open for someone else to grab. The profit squeeze then hits, even cheaper drivers and then Uber could end up the Walmart of taxi cabs.

Pick one strength. Build everything you do behind it.

To read more on how to create a beloved brand, click on this powerpoint presentation that forms one of our workshops. My hope is that it challenges you to think differently about your own brand situation:

 

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

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

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

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

Beloved Brands Graham Robertson

 

 

How influencer marketing helps break through the clutter">Marketing Influencers

How influencer marketing helps break through the clutter

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in How to Guide for Marketers

 

Influencer marketing is not new. But, it is substantially better with today’s social media world.

Pre-social media, I launched a confectionary product, where we sent samples (in the mail) to every captain of the high school football team, every head-cheerleader and every student body President. It worked like a charm. Within the first month of our launch, we were the #1 brand in the mint category. No competitors saw it coming. I am not even sure we did.

I have to tell you that as a former VP marketing, I used to reject any brief or plan that said “drive awareness”.  It was my pet peeve. I only earn my salary if the brand makes money. Last I checked, we don’t make any money from awareness. So I used to ask one simple question: “So if we get awareness, what do we get next?”. I would get various answers but I would try to steer them towards:  “Well, I hope it tempts the consumer to want to try our brand”. I’d then hand back the brief and say “Put that as the objective then”.

Awareness is a crappy objective. Awareness has no movement. I can buy awareness. As a marketer, my marketing must have some type of action–to get consumers to think, feel or do–differently than before they saw our marketing. I want marketing that has movement and that creates a bond, whether an immediate one or over time.

Influencer Marketing breaks through the clutter

Sure, influencer marketing does drive awareness, but when done right, it drives awareness with an action. The best influencer marketing has a finger wagging at the consumer–telling them what to think, feel or do–without the consumer really even knowing. The world is cluttered. There is more marketing crap out there than ever. Doing a TV ad or digital ads just adds more clutter to the crap we sift through on a daily basis. Aligning to an influencer who the consumer is willing to listen to helps break through and accelerate our brand’s potential for success

Brands are now all about relationships

No longer should a brand think about their consumers in a strictly functional or logical way. The best brands of today capture the imagination of their consumers and take them on a journey of delightful experiences that fosters a deeper emotional and lasting relationship. These brands treat their most cherished consumers with a respect that establishes a trust, that enables consumers to open up to a point where thinking is replaced with feelings, the logic of demand evolves into an emotional state of desire, needs become cravings and repeat purchases progress into rituals that turns into a favorite moment in the day. Consumers become outspoken and loyal brand fans.

Influencer Marketing breaks through the clutter

 

The pathway to brand success is now all about building relationships

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

To replicate how brand building matches up with the building of a relationship, I have created the Brand Love Curve, as consumers move through five stages including unknown, indifferent, like it, love it and onto the beloved brand status. This Brand Love CurveBrand Love Curve is an anchor used throughout the book to help guide the choices a brand should make to move the relationship along to the next stage. Where the brand sits on the curve guides the decisions the brand leader will make on the brand strategy and tactics, brand communication including advertising, public relationship and social media, the product innovation and the building of the culture that fuels the consumer experience with the brand. The vision of every brand should be to move the relationship with your consumers to the next stage, to become more loved by consumers, which increases the power and profit potential for the brand.

You have to understand where your brand is today to decide where you want to go next

Even with all these cool new toys available, if you are a Marketer, you need to keep thinking. Long ago there, there was an innovation adoption curve that maps out various types of consumers from innovators to early adopters to early majority to late majority to the late adopters. Depending on the type of product category, we all likely sit at various parts of the curve. I am an early adopter on golf clubs, but pretty much a late adopter on hair styles!  My 18 year old daughter would be an innovator around anything connected to make up, while my 20 year old son knows all the great new shows I should watch.

 

Depending on where your brand sits on the brand love curve, you might deploy different types of influencers to match up to the type of consumer you are going after.

Creating Beloved Brands Marketing Influencers

  • For trend influencer type consumers, they always want the leading edge stuff and be first to try within their social set. They might dig in deep to the wise experts who they trust or rely on in the category. For cars, technology, fashion, entertainment or foodie brands, this might be the leading bloggers or expert reviews. Marketers with something revolutionary to the category, should be targeting and briefing these wise experts to ensure they fully understand your brand story and point of difference to increase their willingness to recommend the new products. The earliest stages of your own product development, the more impactful the voice of the wise experts will be. There is a reason why rumors fuel all the speculation of new products. You have to make sure the wise experts know before anyone else does.
  • The early adopter consumers rely on their innovator friends for the details of new brands. But they will also look to the social icons to see if they are using the product. This gives them an assurance that this new brand is about to hit a tipping point and they want to become users who are out ahead of the curve (pardon the pun).
  • As the brand moves to the masses, whether early or late mass consumers, we see that they look for the advice of trusted peers who they respect to know enough about the latest and greatest. They also look to the early brand lovers, who have fallen so deeply in love with the brand, they become outspoken advocates who want to influence their friends. This gives them evidence that the brand does deliver upon their promise. So they feel comfortable to jump in on this trend.

The traditional marketing is not working so well. Old-school marketing used to yell at all consumers hoping some would try it. It was all about the brand funnel, going from aware to purchase and loyal. Now, we must cultivate our harem of ‘brand lovers’ to create the most amazing consumer experiences that will prompt them talk about their favorite brand. Brands need to learn to whisper to those who love the brand their most, so they will whisper with influence to their own network. I always ask brand leaders “do you treat your best customers the best?”.  I keep hearing “No, we treat them all pretty much the same”. I quietly say in my head:  ARE YOU FREAKING CRAZZZZZY!!!”

Marketing Influencers

 

It is crucial that brand leaders understand exactly where they are on the curve, because the same reason the innovators and early adopters came into your brand is the same reason they may quickly leave.

Four types of brands

Most brands start out as a single product. Early on, brands are desperate and engage more in selling than marketing. They have this mistake that they should appeal to anyone who might buy. The brand begins to meander to meet the needs of any potential customer that walks in the door. The brand’s external reputation quickly becomes “whatever you want it to be”. Once you try to be anything to anyone, you will end up nothing to everyone. The brand has become a cluttered mess in the marketplace, unable to build one consistent brand reputation. Internally, the employees can no longer even explain the brand in a consistent manner. The most remote sales reps have a different message from each other, which does not at all match to the scientist in the lab or the latest TV advertising. Even in the boardroom, various functional leaders now hold a different version of the brand. Internally, the brand will now be a cluttered mess. These innovative brands completely mis-read the power of creating a brand. Brands must use a big idea to establish a consistent delivery of the brand while effectively managing all 5 touch points. While brand communication can drive the brand’s promise into the marketplace, the product must deliver or even over-deliver on the consumer’s expectations of the on that promise.

 

For new brands, I recommend that you look to start as a rebel brand that goes against the entire marketplace, then gradually move to an island brand on its own. Once you have a loyal following, you can then move into a challenger role that can go head to head with a power player brand that is in the leader position.

Rebel Brands

The rebel brand takes the aggressive stance that everyone in the market is stupid, to stand out as a completely different and better choice to a core group of trend influencers who are frustrated with all the competitors in the marketplace. This group becomes your most motivated consumers to buy into your new idea. You must bring these on board and use their influence to begin your journey.

 

How to use innovation to create a beloved brand

At the rebel stage, you must take a high risk, high reward chance on who you will be. At this early stage, the brand should not worry about the mass audience, because most times, they will naturally resist ‘brands that are very different’ as they do not yet see the problem. Playing it safe will be your own destruction. Later on, the mass consumers will follow ‘trend leaders’ who not only identify new solutions, but will eventually use their influence to create new problems in the mass audience. Please never use the word “alienate” when determining your target market. You should naturally alienate those who are not yet ready. Not only does a great brand say who it is for, it should equally say who it is not for. Be careful, you do not try to be mass too soon, or you will lose your base, while not even getting the mass audience.

 

How to use innovation to create a beloved brand

The rebel brand must own a small niche, that is far enough away from the market leaders to avoid getting squashed before your brand can gain any real traction. If you can find a path to expand, having a loyal following of early brand lovers gives you strength to move forward. If you end up staying a niche such as In-N-Out burger, you can solidify your defense of that niche.

To read more on the 4 types of brands, click on this link:

How to use rebellious innovation to create a beloved brand

 

As marketers, we always have to be thinking before we decide whether we should engage a certain tactical tool within our tool kit. My hope is that this challenges  your thinking and opens you up to see how influencer marketing can fit your brand.

To read more on how to create a beloved brand, click on this powerpoint presentation that forms one of our workshops. My hope is that it challenges you to think differently about your own brand situation:

 

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

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

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

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

Beloved Brands Graham Robertson

 

 

New Lego Mosaic allows you to make your face out of Lego

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Beloved Brands in the Market

 

Lego is all about imagination. The brand is one of the best illustrations of the difference between a product and a brand. While the product is a mere brick, the brand idea of ‘imagination’ comes to life through the magical play value that Lego creates with kids, as they can really do whatever they want with those little bricks.lego mosaic photo face london store

In London’s new Lego store, the brand uses a traditional photo booth to scan your face and then produce a personalized box of lego bricks that will help you recreate your own face using their bricks.

This is an amazing consumer experience. It would be the perfect gift for someone and the perfect experience that consumers will want to share with their own little world. The next step for Lego will be to create an on-line so you can send in your photo–whether it is  your kid, spouse or even your dog and have it made into lego.

Here’s a video that shows the entire process come to life:

 

The Lego brand is all about imagination. The brand reaches 100 million kids around the world. As today’s parents fight the temptations of video games, they are trying to return to simpler games that forces their kids to think. As a result, the Lego brand has seen revenue growth of 10 to 25% per year this decade.

Lego brings imagination to life

This is one of my all time favorite print ad campaigns. No copy at all, yet it has a defined target, a consumer insight, a consumer benefit and an easy to distinguish big idea of “Bringing imagination to life” that defines the Lego brand.  Amazing.

 

The pathway to brand success is now all about building relationships

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

The brand could move into a position where the consumer sees it as a forever choice. lego brandTo replicate how brand building matches up with the building of a relationship, I have created the Brand Love Curve, as consumers move through five stages including unknown, indifferent, like it, love it and onto the beloved brand status. This Brand Love Curve is an anchor used throughout the book to help guide the choices a brand should make to move the relationship along to the next stage. Where the brand sits on the curve guides the decisions the brand leader will make on the brand strategy and tactics, brand communication including advertising, public relationship and social media, the product innovation and the building of the culture that fuels the consumer experience with the brand. The vision of every brand should be to move the relationship with your consumers to the next stage, to become more loved by consumers, which increases the power and profit potential for the brand.

A brand like Lego is one of the most beloved brands around the world. The brand does an amazing job at surprising and delighting their most cherished brand fans. The last few year, Lego has even brought their brand to life through the Lego movie. That looked like a high risk brand move, but has been incredibly successful with a core audience. Lego also uses amazing in-store displays of their brand to tempt their fans into wanting to try the more challenging puzzles they offer.

Lego uses imagination to inspire new ways to delight their brand fans

Here is one of our workshop we run on how to create a beloved brand. I hope some of the ideas here can inspire you on your own brand.

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

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

 

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

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

Beloved Brands Graham Robertson

Today’s best brands win thanks to the passionate and lasting love they establish with their most cherished consumers.

">Creating a beloved brand

Today’s best brands win thanks to the passionate and lasting love they establish with their most cherished consumers.

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in How to Guide for Marketers

 

Brand Love is now a strategy.

No longer should a brand think about their consumers in a strictly functional or logical way. The best brands of today, like Tesla, Apple, Starbucks, Nike, Dove or Airbnb have found a way to capture the imagination of their consumers and take them on a journey of delightful experiences that fosters a deeper emotional and lasting relationship. These brands treat their most cherished consumers with a respect that establishes a trust, that enables consumers to open up to a point where thinking is replaced with feelings, the logic of demand evolves into an emotional state of desire, needs become cravings and repeat purchases progress into rituals that turns into a favorite moment in the day. Consumers transform into the most outspoken and loyal brand fans.

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

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

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

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

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

how to create a beloved brand

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

How can brand leaders replicate Apple’s brand lovers lined up in the rain to buy the latest iPhone before they even know the phone’s features, the Ferrari fans who paint their faces red every week, even though they know they will likely never drive a Ferrari in their lifetime, the ‘Little Monsters’ who believe they are nearly best friends with Lady Gaga, the 400,000 outspoken Tesla brand advocates who put $1,000 down for a car that does not even exist yet or the devoted fans of In-N-Out Burger who order animal-style burgers off the ‘secret menu’ no one else knows about? Every brand should want this type of passion and power with their consumers.

The more ‘brand love’ created, the more brand power generated

Brand love becomes a source of energy that gives the beloved brand a power over the very consumers who love them. The competition crumbles, as they are unable to replicate the emotional bond consumers have with the beloved brand. Channel retailers become powerless in negotiations with the beloved brand, once they realize their own consumers would switch stores before they will switch brands. Suppliers serve at the mercy of the beloved brand, as the high volumes efficiently drive down production costs, which back the supplier into a corner before they offer up most of those savings just to stay a supplier. The beloved brand has a power over the media, whether it means better placement through paid media, more news coverage through earned media, a mystique over key influencers and more talk value through social media or at the lunch table. The beloved brand even has power over employees, who want to work there, not have to work there. They are fellow brand fans, proud to work extra hard on the brand they love.

 

The more ‘brand love’ created, the more brand profits realized

Beloved brands achieve higher profit margins. First, they leverage their brand love with consumers to ensure a price premium is never perceived as excessive. Consumers gladly pay $5 for a Starbucks latte, $500 for an iPad or $100,000+ for a Mercedes. Beloved brands use a good/better/best price strategy to trade cherished consumers up to higher price items. Mercedes sees C class drivers who paid $40,000 as future S Class drivers who will pay over $150,000. A well-run beloved brand uses their high volume to drive efficiency and their brand power to pressure suppliers to lower their costs. A beloved brand has a higher response to marketing programs, that means a more efficient marketing investment. The beloved brands use their momentum to drive higher volume growth. They get loyal users to use more, as consumers build the beloved brand into their life’s routines and daily rituals. The beloved brand can enter new categories, as they know their loyal consumers will follow the brand. Finally, there are more creative opportunities for the beloved brand to find more uses or usage occasions for the beloved brand to fit into the consumer’s life.

The more loved a brand is by consumers, the more powerful and profitable that brand will be.

I wish all Marketers understood this formula. I see agencies tell their clients that brands need to be more emotional. Maybe they would win the argument more if they could demonstrate the resulting power and resulting profit that could transform the argument into the language of the clients.

How can you create a passionate and lasting love with your consumers?

To read more on creating brand love, here is the workshop we run for our clients.

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

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

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

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

Beloved Brands Graham Robertson

 

How to use rebellious innovation to create a beloved brand

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in How to Guide for Marketers

how to use innovation to create a beloved brandMost brands start out as a single product. Early on, brands are desperate and engage more in selling than marketing. They have this mistake that they should appeal to anyone who might buy. The brand begins to meander to meet the needs of any potential customer that walks in the door. The brand’s external reputation quickly becomes “whatever you want it to be”. Once you try to be anything to anyone, you will end up nothing to everyone. The brand has become a cluttered mess in the marketplace, unable to build one consistent brand reputation. Internally, the employees can no longer even explain the brand in a consistent manner. The most remote sales reps have a different message from each other, which does not at all match to the scientist in the lab or the latest TV advertising. Even in the boardroom, various functional leaders now hold a different version of the brand. Internally, the brand will now be a cluttered mess. These innovative brands completely mis-read the power of creating a brand. Brands must use a big idea to establish a consistent delivery of the brand while effectively managing all 5 touch points. While brand communication can drive the brand’s promise into the marketplace, the product must deliver or even over-deliver on the consumer’s expectations of the on that promise.

For new brands, I recommend that you look to start as a rebel brand that goes against the entire marketplace, then gradually move to an island brand on its own. Once you have a loyal following, you can then move into a challenger role that can go head to head with a power player brand that is in the leader position.

 

Rebel Brands

The rebel brand takes the aggressive stance that everyone in the market is stupid, to stand out as a completely different and better choice to a core group of trend influencers who are frustrated with all the competitors in the marketplace. This group becomes your most motivated consumers to buy into your new idea. You must bring these on board and use their influence to begin your journey.

How to use innovation to create a beloved brand

At the rebel stage, you must take a high risk, high reward chance on who you will be. At this early stage, the brand should not worry about the mass audience, because most times, they will naturally resist ‘brands that are very different’ as they do not yet see the problem. Playing it safe will be your own destruction. Later on, the mass consumers will follow ‘trend leaders’ who not only identify new solutions, but will eventually use their influence to create new problems in the mass audience. Please never use the word “alienate” when determining your target market. You should naturally alienate those who are not yet ready. Not only does a great brand say who it is for, it should equally say who it is not for. Be careful, you do not try to be mass too soon, or you will lose your base, while not even getting the mass audience.

How to use innovation to create a beloved brand

 

The rebel brand must own a small niche, that is far enough away from the market leaders to avoid getting squashed before your brand can gain any real traction. If you can find a path to expand, having a loyal following of early brand lovers gives you strength to move forward. If you end up staying a niche such as In-N-Out burger, you can solidify your defense of that niche.

Island Brands

I describe Island brands as so different, they are on their own. These are what the marketing industry calls “blue ocean” ideas. You must mobilize your audience of the early trend influencers to gain a core base of early adopters into your franchise. While the rebel brand might gain appeal by calling everyone stupid, the island brand tries to use their modern point of difference to pull consumers away from the leaders, by making the leaders seem detached from the needs of the consumer.

Uber did such a great job at the island brand stage of making the taxi industry appear disconnected from the needs of the consumers, setting up Uber as the only solution. Uber now had the power of an island brand that could take this power into a power player position to defend their castle. Instead, Uber made two crucial errors in judgment.  They diversified their business too quickly into other “quick delivery” models that confuses what the brand stands for. Second, they tried to own the product, price and experience all at once. A brand must lead with one core strength. Sadly, they have allowed themselves to be defined as the ‘price’ brand, when they had an opportunity to own the more lucrative experience brand. What will happen next: Uber’s lower margins will not be able to afford top quality drivers, enabling brands like Lyft to come in and offer a better consumer experience. This could be fatal. Time will tell.

Challenger Brand

People mix up challenger brand and rebel brand. They get excited by the attitude and conviction of the challenger stance of the rebel brand. To me, a challenger brand has used their influence of the trend setters and early adopters to shift from an island brand into a mass brand earned that has earned a hard-fought proximity that allows it to go head-to-head with the power player leader. The challenger brands turn your competitor’s strength into a weakness, pushing them outside of what consumers want, while creating a new consumer problem for which your brand becomes the solution

The idea is to amplify what you do best as an attempt to move the power player’s main strength into a weakness and push them into that disconnected place for some consumers. We love these brand stories, like Mac versus PC, Pepsi versus Coke and Avis versus Hertz. What we fail to tell you are all the assaults of the power player back on the challenger brand that usually keeps them in their place. This is a transition stage for the brand, to see if they can become a true beloved brand of the masses. What will really separate the brand is how much emotion they can fuel into their own brand. While Apple is not the #1 portable computer, they certainly have the most passion to allow them to charge twice the price of the PCs. Also, the Mac stance enabled Apple to sell more iPhones, iPads and iTunes. While people still think of Apple as a rebellious brand, they really have become the “IBM of 2017”, the corporate mega-giant they once battled in the 1980s.

While everyone thinks innovation is logical science, I see a close link with emotional passion

I use where a brand sits on the Brand Love Curve to guide a lot of marketing decisions. We use the Brand Love Curve to get in the shoes of the consumer and understand how they see your brand. There are five stages, unknown, indifferent, like it, love it and finally the beloved stage. These stages replicate the relationship status humans might have as they move from strangers to acquaintances to friends, to a stage of love and onto what we hope is forever. I am a big believer that the Brand Love Curve can guide every brand decision. As well, the more love you can create the more power the brand can generate, and from that comes more growth and profit.

Where your brand sits on the Brand Love Curve can also guide the innovation stance.

  • Indifferent: Focus on the product innovation, with a big idea that can explain and organize each consumer touch point. Go after leading trend influencers in that market, who already see problem and will be the most motivated by what your brand has to offer. Early wins among early brand lovers will help fuel momentum. It will intrigue early adopters to follow.
  • Like It: Use the innovation to separate yourself from competitors, to extrapolate the problems, gaps or frustrations consumers see in mass brands. This sets up your brand as the only solution. Increase investment in brand communication and the purchase moment to tighten the bond with an early group of brand lovers who can be used to influence the broader consumer base.
  • Love It: Use innovation to create experiences and become part of the consumer’s life. Layer in emotion and explore peripheral products around the routine to turn repeat usage in life rituals. Invest to stay ahead of any challenger brands. At this stage, you can use your connection with a loyal base of brand lovers to enter new categories to extend the brand’s big idea across a bigger portfolio of products.
  • Beloved: Extend brand beyond core product. Use innovation to surprise and delight the most base of brand lovers. Attack potential gaps in the current offering with product improvements. Continue to perfect the entire portfolio to gain an equal strength across most product lines. You want to be able to use your brand lovers to have them satisfy all their needs through your brand.

Just as you need to be careful to going after a mass audience too fast, you need to carefully understand the level of bond you have with your current customers before you can understand where you can take them.

To ensure your business leads with innovation, it must become part of the culture. Instill an innovation process to turn random thoughts into action. Here’s the process I recommend:

How to use innovation

Below is our workshop we use to help brands Creating a beloved brand. My hope is that it challenges you to think differently about your own brand situation:

 

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

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

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

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

Beloved Brands Graham Robertson