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Tag Archive: Brand

Taco Bell takes on McDonald’s Head On. First with Ronald McDonald and now telling consumers to “move on from your old Egg McMuffin”

urlWow, these latest Taco Bell ads take a lot of guts!!!!  The new ads from Taco Bell take on the golden arches head on by using long time icon Ronald McDonald.  Not quite the mascot, but if you watch below you will see how inventive and cute this spot is.  I sure hope Taco Bell has the word “cheeky” in the creative brief because they sure are nailing it. In a highly competitive fast food category, Taco Bell does stand out as being different–not just in the food items they offer, but in the creatively aggressive advertising.  A great lesson for Brand Leaders, you really have four choices:  different, better, cheaper or not around for very long.  Having gone into an empty Burger King at the dinner hour last month, my prediction is that they are taking the “not around for very long” strategy.  Here’s Taco Bell and here’s what different looks like: 

 

And here’s the latest with a little jingle that calls out the Egg McMuffin as so yesterday (he takes down his Loverboy poster), and asks consumers “move on”.

 

 

 

As I said earlier in the week, I love McDonald’s.  Click here to read a story about how McDonald’s takes a wonderful Advertising idea…and makes a complete disaster out of it 

Great job Taco Bell.  Keep being Different

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

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

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:

 

 

 

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McDonald’s takes a wonderful Advertising idea…and makes a complete disaster out of it

Mcdonalds-logoI love McDonald’s.  And no I’m not in a cranky mood.  Spring has sprung.  And I loved their “Ask McDonald’s” idea last year.  But this latest stuff, is just awful.   For some reason, McDonald’s in Canada has decided they feel so insecure they need to tell us that they actually use meat, potatoes and chicken in their food.  I think we all knew they sort of do, but no one is really thinking this is Ruth’s Chris quality or even Five Guys quality.  You get what you pay for and that’s ok.  I love how open McDee’s has become and have changed my order once I saw my favourite Angus burger was 780 calories.  

I remember one night I ended up playing poker with a Cattle Farmer and around 2am, I asked him “how good is the quality of McDonald’s beef?” and he said you can always tell the McDonald’s guy at the auction because he’s the guy in the front row getting all excited when they walk out a limping mal-nourished cow.

The Wonderful Idea:  Wow

About a year ago, in McDonald’s “we use meat” campaign, they released a very cute, warm-hearted video that attempts to answer consumers questions, openly and honestly.

The question was “why does your food look different in the advertising than what it does in store?”  This is a great video that shows the how and why they do certain things, a cute way to show how trustworthy McDonald’s is.  A year ago, I talked about this as one of the best uses of social media I had seen.  As it passed around on Facebook and Twitter, it generated over 10 million views.  Have a look:

 

That’s a beautiful video and I can safely say I’m jealous that I didn’t make that.  That’s how good it is.

As a marketer, when you do something right, you should immediately ask “how can we do that again?”.  I know this inhibits creativity bla bla bla, but don’t you want to get another 10 million positive minded views.  I know the temptation is to build on the idea, but this might be a great case where stepping sideways might have been just as good.  But it seems McDonald’s got some great results and then got a bit arrogant, figuring being honest can never be wrong.  Well, sorta. 

The Awful Pool Out:   Yikes

As the old saying goes, “if you ever saw how saussages were made, you may never eat them again”.   The same could be said for chicken nuggets, so here’s the next question McDonald’s decided to take head on with the question:  “What is legitimately in McNuggets, is there pink goop?”   This video takes guts, to make, but also to watch.  I didn’t want to watch it.  So yes, I no longer have a visual of pink goop in my head but now I have this visual of ground up chicken in a blender.

 

 

I don’t think consumers want to see hanging chicken in a plant setting, the de-boning line, ground up chicken in a big blender, battered and frozen chicken.  I know this helps close some urban legend about McDonald’s, but this video makes me want to eat less McNuggets, not more.

One simple question:  Will this video make you want to eat more Nuggets, less Nuggets, or the same amount?   I think I’ll keep eating McNuggets 5x a year, as long as I can get this video out of my head by then.

It gets even worse:  This is what’s on TV

OK, I can see how these videos are getting past around on line.  But this is the TV ad that McDonald’s created to send viewers to their website.  The problem with the video is that it uses a classic problem/solution style TV ad, but only talks about the problem, making you do the work to go find out the solution.  

 

The take away from this ad is not good.  If I’m too lazy to go on line, I’d be worried you’re adding to the mythology than helping.  I hear pink goop, I hear beaks, and I don’t want to learn more.  I’m predicting this sells less chicken McNuggets.  

I commend McDonald’s for their Honesty.  But not for their lack of sound judgement. 

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

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

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:

 

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Take a look at Google’s inspiring new office space. Imagine the impact of this crazy space on your Brand’s output

abd76f7c-f9ac-497f-ad9c-12b5c2310de7HiResWhat does the design of an office space have to do with a brand?   If you get to the mindset where you start to think of your people as your brand, then where they work, how they work and creative energy they bring to their work matters more than the widget you are selling as a result.  Great Brand Leaders should be looking at the culture as an opportunity to win in the market place.  No matter how good your promise is, if your company is not set up to deliver that promise, everything comes crashing down.  The brand story told within the company is even more important than what you might tell the market through your advertising.  Managing organizational culture is very challenging.  As you move along the Brand Love Curve from Indifferent to Like It to Love It and on to Beloved status, you need to make sure the culture keeps pace with where the brand is.

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When I started working back in the mid 90s, I worked for General Mills where we had this confined area where we must have jammed around 15 offices and another 12 cubicles for our department.   iStock_000000707086XSmall-e1279431675643The cubicle walls were an ugly turquoise, almost falling down, some stained, and we had just enough space for a chair and computer.   There’s no way this atmosphere inspired any creativity.  In fact, in such a drab atmosphere, it crushed any good ideas.  It was pure cubicle hell.

For a few decades now, companies have been getting more and more creative with their office space.  It started with “cute” names for meeting rooms, then went to “crash zones”, then to funky chairs.  Google has taken this to a new level with the launch of their new office in Toronto.  As you look at these photos, I urge you to take some of these ideas as possible inspiration for your own office space.

The center point of most company culture’s starts with the cafeteria.  Here’s what Google

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Taking a modern approach to the old diner booth, these set up great spots for a quick informal meeting.  

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To inspire creativity, Google takes Play to the next level, with a pool table, video games a tent for meetings and a putting green on the roof top.  

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To watch a video of the new Google Toronto office space, watch below.  

 

 

What I want to do is challenge Brand Leaders to start to think of the people on their team as the core part of the Brand, even if you have a patent.  As brands struggle to find their competitive advantage and uniqueness, maybe it will come from your people.  

The Better your People, the Better the work.  And the Better the results you see.  

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

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

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:

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How your Brand’s Big Idea should drive every part of your Organization

bbi adI’ve always heard marketers say how Brand is the hub of the organization.  While it makes sense, it’s just talk unless you are managing your business based on the Brand’s Big Idea throughout every inch of your organization.  Everyone that works on the brand, should understand the Brand’s Big Idea and figuring out how they can back up the brand’s promise

We believe that a Brand is an idea that is worth loving. Our definition of a brand:  “A Brand is a unique idea, perceived in the minds and hearts of the consumer, consistently delivered by the experience,  creating a bond, power and profit, beyond what the product itself could achieve.”  Most brands started as products or services that handled some functional problem in the market, but as they matured and became more closely connected to their consumers, they evolved into a Big Idea, that fulfills consumers’ emotional needs. 

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It starts with the Big Idea of your Brand

The challenge I have for you is that if the best brands eventually evolve to defining a Big Idea for their brand, then why not just start there?   You should figure out your brand’s Big Idea and then everything in the company should feed off the Brand’s Big Idea.  The Big Idea (some call it the Brand Essence) is the most concise definition of the Brand.  For Volvo, it’s “Safety”, while BMW might be “Performance” and Mercedes is “Luxury”.  Below is the Tool I use to figure out a Brand’s Big Idea revolves 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 section 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.big idea

As an example Apple’s Big Idea is about “taking the complexity and make everything simple enough, so that everyone will be part of the future”.  Accordingly, everything in the organization should line up to delivering a simple experience whether that’s the day they turn on the product, installing an App on an iPhone or when they show up at the store to ask questions from the Genius Bar. 

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

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

If we look at how the Apple Brand takes their Big Idea of “taking complexity and making it simple enough that everyone will be part of the future”

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The Big Idea helps Guide the Brand’s Management

The Big Idea should help frame 1) Brand Plan that drives the business for the upcoming year or the next 5 years 2) Brand Positioning that connects to the consumer through marketing communications 3) Customer Value Proposition that links the consumer needs to the benefits of the brand 4) Go-To-Market strategy that frames the distribution and the selling process 5) Cultural Beacons that help define the brand internally through values, inspiration and challenge and finally 6) Business Results, with each brand offering a unique way that it makes money.   Each of these six needs feed off the Brand’s Big Idea look to the definition as a guideline for how to align to the brand.

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When you begin to blow this out one step further, you can start to see where everyone in your organization should align and understand how they can deliver the brand’s Big Idea.  If you’re in finance at Volvo, you should be thinking about how to make safe cars cheaper, if you’re in HR at Starbucks, you should be hiring people that deliver moments and if you’re working at the Genius Bar at Apple, you have to make sure your language choices are simple and easy to understand.

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Once you align everything to the Brand’s Big Idea, you’ll create a strong bond with your consumers.  That bond becomes a source of power for your brand, whether that power is with the very consumers who love your brand, versus retailers, suppliers, competitors, influencers, employees or even versus the media.  

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Once you’re able to generate power for your brand, you can then turn that into profit, whether driving price, cost control, market share or increasing the market size.

You should align and manage every part of your Organization around your Brand’s Big Idea

 

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

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

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:

*Brand DNA first seen at Level5 Strategy Group

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Six Habits of Great Brand Leaders

facebook adHaving spent 20 years in the CPG world of marketing, I’ve seen almost a thousand Brand Leaders over the years.  On the way up, I tried to emulate what I thought were the best traits and avoid what I saw as weaknesses.  And at the senior level of marketing, I hired tons of Brand Leaders, promoted many and even had to fire a few along the way.  I’ve been a Brand Coach the past few years, working closely with Brand Leaders.  And I consistently see these six habits at any level, that separate those that are GREAT from those that are just GOOD.

Habit #1:  GREAT Brand Leaders push for focused choices, using the word “or” and rarely using the word “and”.  

Everyone says they are good decision makers, but very few are.  If you present an either-or situation to most brand leaders, they struggle with the decision, so they say “let’s do a little of both”.  But in reality, what separates out a great brand leader from the pack, is great brand leaders know that decision-making starts with the choices where you have to pick one, not both. At the core of business, Brands only exist to drive more profit than if we just sold the product itself.  It’s all about ROI (Return on Investment).  Forget the mathematical equation, ROI just means you get more out of it than you put into it.  Every brand is constrained by money, people, speed and ideas.  It becomes all about focus, leverage and finding that gateway point where you realize more from what you do, it than what you put into it.

FOCUS, FOCUS, FOCUS!!!

  1. To be GREAT, you need to focus on a tight consumer target to make sure you can get them to do what you hope and love you for it.  A new way to think is to find those consumers that are already  highly motivated to buy what you have to sell and get them aboutus_roi_70812766-300x228to love you, rather than targeting everyone and get them to like you.  Look at how marketing testing is set up:  we test among the mass market and see how many we can persuade to use your product. The reality is that leading brands within each category are more loved than the pack of brands struggling to figure themselves out.  It’s better to be loved by a few than tolerated by everyone.  I once talked to a bank whose target was 18-65, current customers, new customers and employees.  That’s not a target.  How can you have a ROI if you’re spreading your limited resources against EVERYONE?  The only thing missing from that target is tourists and prisoners.  You have to matter to those who care the most.
  2. To be GREAT you need to focus on creating a tightly defined reputation that sets your brand up to own an area.  You really only have four choices: better, different, cheaper or not around for very long.  Giving the consumer too many messages about your brand will confuse them as to what makes your brand unique.  Trying to be everything to everyone is the recipe for being nothing to no one.  Today they estimate that consumers receive 7,000 brand messages a day.  Wow.  How many of those 7,000 do you engage with and digest each day?  Maybe 5.  And yet, in your creative brief you think 3 or 4 messages is the way to go.  You have to focus on one message. When you ask a room full of Brand Leaders, tell me one word that defines the Volvo brand:  half the room yells out SAFETY.  Volvo has been singularly focused on the safety positioning since the 1950s not just externally but internally the safety positioning guides every decision.  That’s focus.
  3. You need to focus on very few strategies.  The most simple strategies center around Penetration (getting new users) or frequency (getting current users to use more).  Do you want to get more people to eat your brand or those that already do to eat more?  That’s a choice you must make, yet I see so many Brand Plans with both.  Even worse is when I see creative briefs with both.  These are two different unrelated strategies. When you look for new users, you have to convince someone who already knows about your brand and get them to change their minds away from their current brand.  When you try to get more usage, you have to convince someone who has already decided how to use your brand, to use it differently, changing their habits or rituals.  Brands need to understand where they sit before picking strategies.  Go look at your plan and see if you are making choices.  Because if you’re not, then you’re not making decisions.  

When you focus, four things happen for your brand:  better Return on Investment (ROI); better Return on Effort (ROE); stronger reputation; more competitive and an aligned organization that helps create an experience that delivers your reputation.  So next time you are faced with a decision, make the choice. Don’t pick both, just in case you are wrong.  All you are doing is depleting your resources by spreading them across both choices.  And you’ll never see any movement on your brand so you’ll never find out if you were right or wrong.  Make the choice.  blog ad 1

Habit #2:  GOOD Brand Leaders represent the Brand to the Consumer, but GREAT Brand Leaders represent the consumer to the Brand

Everything starts and ends with the consumer in mind.  I always like to ask Brand Leaders:  “Do you represent your brand to your consumer or do you represent your consumer to the brand?”   Yes, I get stunned looks of confusion when I ask that.  But it’s an important question as to your mindset of how you do your job. bbi twitter ad My challenge to you is to start thinking like your consumer and be their representative to your brand.  You’ll notice the work gets better, you’ll see clearer paths to growth and you’ll start to create a brand that the consumer loves rather than just likes.  When this happens, sales go up and the P&L spits out higher profitability.  Because the more loved the brand, the more powerful position it occupies and the more profit it can generate from that source of power.  

Able to walk in their shoes and speak in their voice?  Get in the shoes of those Consumers and you’ll quickly realize that consumers do not care about what you do, until you care about what they want.  You should be thinking about your consumer every day, all day.  Yes, you need to hit your sales and share goals.   But your consumers are your only source of revenue and you have to know them intimately.  Live and breathe insights about your consumers.

Habit #3:  GOOD Brand Leaders are fundamentally sound with their facts, but GREAT Brand Leaders are fundamentally sound with their instincts.  

I am a huge believer that marketing fundamentals matter–in fact I train Brand Leaders on everything from strategic thinking to writing brand plans and creative briefs.  But that’s a starting point to which you grow from.  If you don’t use fundamentals in how you do your job, you will and should be fired.  So Good Brand Leaders do a good job of bringing fundamentals into how they do their job.  They know how to back up the fundamentals by gathering the right facts to support their arguments.  But GREAT Brand Leaders are able to take it to the next level and bring those same fundamentals and match them against their instincts.  They have a gut feel for decisions they can reach into and bring out at the boardroom table based on the core fundamentals, the experience they bring from past successes and failures as well as this instinctual judgement.  It’s not that great marketers have better instincts, it’s that great marketers are able to believe in their instincts and not shut them down because of what the facts might say.

 

Habit #4:  GOOD Brand Leaders try to do it all themselves.  GREAT Brand Leaders don’t do anything by themselves but they inspire others to do great work

I was one of those Brand Leaders that spent the first part of my career trying to do everything, and the second half of my career trying to do nothing.  inspireI wasn’t slacking off but I finally figured out that the secret was to inspire others.  I fully admit that I was much more successful when I learned to do nothing, but do it really well.  Instead of giving people answers to follow, give them the problems that requires their expertise in solving.

As Brand Leaders, we don’t really know much about anything.  We know a little about this and that.  But purposefully, we are generalists.  And then if we surround ourselves with experts, we owe it to ourselves to ask for their help. Put another way:  when you tell people what to do, there is one simple answer: YES.  When you ask people what they would do, you open yourself to hundreds of solutions you might not even have imagined.  

The next time you have a problem, instead of giving the best answer to the experts, try to come up with the best question and then listen.

Habit #5:  The GREAT Brand Leaders create GREAT Brand Leaders on their team.  

While you might think that having a great product, the right strategy and a winning TV ad will drive your brand, the long-term success of your brand is dependent is how good your people are.  plan adIf you have great Brand Leaders, they will be on top of your business, they will make the necessary strategic course corrections, they will create better executions that connect with consumers and drive profitable growth for your brand. One of the best ways to drive long-term business results from your brands is to make sure you have a strong marketing team in place.  GREAT Brand Leaders understand the very simple equation:  better people means better work and that means better results.

Habit #6:  GREAT Brand Leaders have a desire to Leave a Legacy

I’m always asked so what does it take to be great at marketing, and I’ll always jokingly say “well, they aren’t all good qualities”.  The best marketers I have seen have an ego that fuels them.  That’s not a bad thing, as long as you can manage it and the ego doesn’t get out of control.  I always challenge Brand Leaders to think of the next person who will be in their chair, and what you want to leave them.  When you create a Brand Vision, you should think 10 years from now, advertising campaigns should last at least 5 years and the strategic choices you make should gain share and drive the brand to a new level.  Yet, the reality is you will be in the job for 2-4 years.  When you write a Brand Plan, you should think of the many audiences like senior leaders, ad agencies and those that work on your brand, but you also should think about the next Brand Leader.  What will you do, to leave the brand in a better position than when you took it on?  What will be your legacy on your brand?   

Always Push for Great and Never Settle for OK

 

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

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

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:

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10 Ads that just might make you Cry

imagesIn a world of big data, we tend to forget that Advertising is half art, and half science.  While I respect analytics, I also admire instincts.  As Brand Leaders, we are after growth and profit for our brands.  Yes, advertising should persuade, sell or create an idea in the consumers mind.   But for the most Beloved Brands, it also should connect and create a bond with consumers.  Because that bond gives the brand power, not just with the very consumers it connects with, but the retailers, suppliers or against the competitors.  And from that power, it can drive stronger share, command a price premium or enter new categories, all leading to higher growth and profits.  Here are some ads that create a nice bond with their consumers, and each of them tightly connected to what the brand does for the consumer.

Budweiser “Trainer”

The most popular Super Bowl ad this year was the “Puppy” spot, but if you ask me, it pales in comparison to this spot.  Nicely told story.

Sick Kids Hospital

One of the best hospitals for children in the world, Sick Kids does a good job in using “quiet” as an attention grabber.  I was busy in another room when I first heard this song and it made me go into our TV room to see what the ad was.  Sometimes we re-do songs to make them sound exactly the same, but sometimes it can be even more powerful to re-do them in a unique way. 

John Lewis “Christmas 2011″

Every Christmas, British retailer John Lewis has been releasing campaigns around Christmas.  To me, this one is the best, especially the ending. John Lewis is an employee-owned retailer, with a very unique culture that delivers on the brand.  To read more on John Lewis, follow this link:  John Lewis story

Google Super Bowl 2010 “Parisian”

If you’re a sucker for a good romantic comedy, this should work on you.The irony of Google, is they have done some of the best Ads this century–most notably the Google Parisian spot, which they aired during the Super Bowl a few years ago.  That spot was deeply engaging, showing how much we rely on Google in our lives.   I love this spot.  There’s quite a few good google ads out there.  If you want to see more….ummm….just google them.

Thai Insurance “Deaf Dad”

A very beautifully told story about a teenage daughter who maybe struggles to understand what her dad offers and doesn’t offer.  While overly dramatic, it brings a nice sweet twist in the end.

Canadian Tire “Bike Ad”

We can all remember our first bike and how special it is. In Canada, Canadian Tire was that store, prior to Wal-Mart entering the market.  Sadly, Canadian Tire can no longer deliver on this promise, because it now resembles Wal-Mart–no longer where you go for your first bike, but rather a place to buy Tide when it’s on sale.

Budweiser 9/11 Tribute (2002)

Even after all these years, this one might bring a tear to your eye. Only a few months after the tragedy of 9/11, as it pre-occupied our minds, this ad takes the American icons of Budweiser and the Clydesdales marching through the streets of America and gives a nice salute to NYC.

Bell “Dieppe”

It’s a bit dated now, but back in the mid 90s we were still excited we could call from anywhere.  I’ve been to that beach in Dieppe and it does command such intense feelings.  While this is just an ad, I do wish that utilities would try harder to connect with consumers at every stage of the consumer’s buying journey.  We see many tributes to the soldiers, but this one unique thanks one who served long ago.  

Pfizer

A beautiful little spot that leads you to think the ad is about a juvenile delinquent, when really it’s a good kid doing something nice for his sister. 

Google India “Happy Birthday”

Here is a new Google ad where there is no English at all and yet the story is easy to follow.  If you want, you can turn on the Closed Captioning by hitting the tiny CC button at the bottom right of the video.  I watched it without understanding one word that was spoken and I was able to follow along.  And i cried.

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Hopefully a few of these spots made you cry.  And if you need cheering up now, here’s 5 ads that might give you a bit of a chuckle.  5 Ads that will make you burst out laughing

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That was not the Best Super Bowl…for ads either

superbowl-2014-logoWell, we know from the start that was not the best game.  I would say the half time show was great and hopefully Bruno Mars gained some new fans around the world.  But for those of us watching the TV ads, they weren’t that good.  There were quite a few mediocre ones, and a few copy cats of their own campaigns but not as good as the prior year ads.  I’m a big fan of Advertising, so trust me I wanted to like them more than I did. There just wasn’t an ad that we’ll talk about for five years, not like the Betty White Snickers ad or the Dodge Farmer Ad.  If you liked the ads better than I did, feel free to tell me which ones and why.

Here are the best ones:

Coke “America”

I really liked the Coke ad.  It’s quiet, but I think it stands out among all the gag style ads where brands appear to be trying too hard.  It has sparked some controversy on-line with a few people objecting to “America the Beautiful” being sung in various languages. But Coke is as global of a company as you can find.  So this not only speaks to Americans but all those around the world looking at Coke as being that link to America.  I’d give this a solid A, mainly because I think it takes guts to do this ad.

 

Doritos “Finger” 

This is a very good ad, fitting with the personality of the brand, and a cute gag that is sure to make us all laugh. It also involves the brand nicely.  I’d give it an A-.  It’s cute, but we might not remember this one a year from now.

 

Heinz “Bottle”

It’s great to see Heinz make a move onto the big stage.  They’ve struggled the past few decades, once we figured out their taste could be duplicated. But this really ties in perfectly to the heritage of the brand, and even given a new modern twist.  It’s cute and let’s give it a nice B+.

 

Budweiser “Puppy”

This one seems to be winning all the on-line votes for best ad, that might be indicative that there was nothing great. I might be over-thinking this one, but doesn’t it seem a lot like last year’s Budweiser spot where the horse kept running back to the owner.  While last year’s brought a tear to my eye, this one just made me smile. I’m going a solid B.

 

Here’s last year’s Budweiser ad.  Don’t you think it’s similar, and better. Still makes me cry.

Budweiser “Home Coming”

This was pretty good, just not amazing. I’m not sure it tugged at the heart enough.  Feels like we’ve seen others over the years that were better. I’d give it a solid B.

 

The rest of the ads were C’s and D’s, maybe a few F’s.  Here’s to a better game for next year, and better ads.  I realize we aren’t going to get Dodge “Farmer”.  To me, this is one of our best ads of the century so far. Here’s what an A+ looks like.

 

Here’s to next year’s game.  May it bring better football and better ads.


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RETURN ON LOVE (R.O.L.): A new way to look at the power of Brands

I know in this world of big data, everyone wants an exact measurement of everything you do.  It’s all about immediate Return on Investment (R.O.I.) and that does make sense given the economy.  If you can’t measure it, then don’t do it.  

But I want everyone to have just a little bit of faith.  Keep in mind, marketing is still half art and half science.  You have to have some instincts in your decision-making but also creativity to ensure you stand out and connect.  There’s a reason Apple made their desktops look like furniture, Starbucks started doing red cups at Christmas and Nike makes TV ads that give us goose bumps, not because of the immediate ROI it produces, but rather the love it creates between the consumer and the brand.  They were in fact, investing in the Return on Love (R.O.L.), knowing all that love would be the fuel to driving power and profit in the long run.  

R.O.L. leads to more R.O.I.

The big idea behind RETURN ON LOVE is that the work you do on the brand is first and foremost focused on creating a strong bond between your consumer and your brand.    Once you have that bond, you can use it as a source of power versus all the stake holders of the brand.  If we think back to porter’s model, the brand’s bond gives you added power over customers, suppliers, competitors and even the very consumers you have the bond with.  Beyond Porter’s forces, the brand would also generate added power with the media, key opinion leaders and employees.  Once you have power, you can drive growth and profit, using that power to drive up price, drive down costs, gain market share and enter new categories.  

Look at the brands mentioned above:  Apple, Nike and Starbucks.  They are some of the most beloved brands with a very strong, emotional and loyal bond with their consumers.  And each has used that strong bond to wield power in the market.  Starbucks took their loyal morning coffee drinkers into the lunch-hour. Nike has been able to use emotional to gain share and tame dominant Adidas brand.  And Apple has used power to drive price, share gains, new categories and even cost management.  These brands then used this power to drive profit, Apple is the best example, where sales have gone up 10-fold and at the same time, margins went from 10% to 40%.  

If your finance person asks “so what is the ROI on this”, I’m not recommending you say “we are focused on ROL buddy, not ROI” but what you should say is “we are investing in building a bond with our consumer that will give us more power that we can then wield much greater profit for our brand”  

Love = Connectivity = Power = Profit

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5 Ways Brands can CONNECT with consumers

I keep hearing brand experts debate that it’s not the advertising, it’s the product, or the new one is it’s the company culture–people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.  Debate all you want, to get to a Beloved Brand, you need all 5 of the following ways to be working very hard to CONNECT with customers  

  1. The brand’s promise sets up the positioning, as you focus on a key target with one main benefit you offer.  Brands need to be either better, different or cheaper.  Or else not around for very long.  “Me-too” brands have a short window before being squeezed out.  How relevant, simple and compelling the brand positioning is impacts the potential love for the brand.  Apple goes above just their product with a promise of simplicity that allows everyone to experience the future through technology.
  2. The most beloved brands create an experience that over-delivers the promise.  How your culture and organization are set up can make or break that experience.  Hiring the best people, creating service values that employees can deliver against and having processes that eliminate service leakage.  The culture attacks the brand’s weaknesses and fixes them before the competition can attack.  With a Beloved Brand, the culture and brand become one.  I love the Starbucks experience that has been created with coffee as the base, but they have gone so deeper to enable magical moments for their consumer.
  3. Brands also make focused strategic choices that start with identifying where the brand is on the Brand Love Curve going from Indifferent to Like It to Love It and all the way to Beloved status.   Marketing is not just activity, but rather focused activity–a focused target, a focused message, focused strategic choices, focused activities always with an ROI mindset.  Where you are on the curve might help you make strategic and tactical choices such as media, innovation and service levels.  Slide1Find those who are most motivated to buy what you do best.  I love how Volvo is so singularly focused on the safety message since 1954.   Yes they have leather seats and a great radio, but the message is always safety first.
  4. The most beloved brands have a freshness of innovation, staying one-step ahead of the consumers.  The idea of the brand helps acting as an internal beacon to help frame the R&D.  Every new product has to back that idea.  At Apple, every new product must deliver simplicity and at Volvo, the innovation must deliver the safety promise.
  5. Beloved brands can tell the brand story through great advertising in paid media, through earned media either in the mainstream press or through social media.  Beloved Brands use each of these media choices to connect with consumers and have a bit of magic to their work.  John Lewis out of the UK, is an employee-owned store growing double digits right through the recession because of their commitment behind amazing story telling around the simple message of the gift of giving.

12 ways to turn the CONNECTION into generating POWER for your Brand

A brands connection between consumer is a power.  And that power translated itself into 12 forces of a power that a Beloved Brand wields, (show below).

A Beloved Brand with a loyal group of followers has so much more power–starting with a power over the very consumers that love them.   These consumers feel more than they think–they are e-rational responding to emotional cues in the brand.   They’ll pay a premium, line up in the rain for new products and follow the brand to new categories.   Look at the power Starbucks has with their base of consumers, making their Starbucks moment one of their favorite rituals of the day and how consumers have now added sandwiches and wraps to those rituals.  All day long, Starbucks has a line up of people ready for one of their favorite moments of their day.

Using Porter’s 5 forces, we can see that the love also gives Beloved Brands power over channels, substitutes, new entrants, or suppliers.   People rather switch stores than switch brands.  Apple has even created their own stores, which generate the highest sales per square foot of any retailer.  These brand fans are outspoken against competitors and suppliers will do what it takes to be part of the brand.  In Apple’s case, Intel has given them the lead on new chip technology.

Beloved Brands have a power over employees that want to be part of the brand and the culture of the organization that all these brand fans are proud to project.  People at Starbucks love working there and wear that green apron with a sense of pride.  Brand fans know the culture on day 1 and do what it takes to preserve it.

Beloved Brands have a power over the media whether that’s paid, earned, social or search media.  Apple generates over a billion dollars of free media via the mainstream media and social media.  Competitors complain about Apple getting a positive media bias–they are right, they do.  Even for paid media,beloved brands get better placement, cheaper rates and they’ll be the first call for an Integration or big event such as the Super Bowl or the Olympics.   Nike did such a great job with social media during the London Olympics that people thought they were the main shoe sponsor–when it was Adidas.

Beloved Brands have a power over key influencers whether it’s doctors recommending Lipitor, restaurant critics giving a positive review for the most beloved restaurant in town  or Best Buy sales people selling a Samsung TV.  They each become fans of the brand and build emotion into their recommendation.  They become more outspoken in their views of the brand. And finally beloved the Beloved Brand makes its way into conversation at the lunch table or on someone’s Facebook page.  The brand fans are everywhere, ready to pounce, ready to defend and ready to say “hey, you should buy the iPhone”.  The conversation comes with influence as crowds follow crowds.  This conversation has a second power, which creates a badge value.  People know it will generate a conversation and are so proud to show it off.  After all, they are in the club. All twelve of these forces combine to generate further power for the brand.

The next time you’re meeting your brand leader, ask them how they are turning all the work marketing is doing into generating power for the brand?   They’ll likely be stumped, but without this power, there is no real reason to have a brand.  The love you generate between customer and brand should start to replicate the power of a monopoly.  Who would you rather invest in right now, Apple or your local utility?  

8 Ways to turn CONNECTION and POWER into more PROFITS for your brand

With all the love and power the Beloved Brand has generated for itself, now is the time to translate that into growth, profit and value. The Beloved Brand has an Inelastic Price.  The loyal brand fans pay a 20-30% price premium and the weakened channels cave to give deeper margins.  We will see how inelastic Apple’s price points are with the new iPad Mini.   Consumers are willing to trade up to the best model.  The more engaged employees begin to generate an even better brand experience.  For instance at Starbucks, employees know the names of their most loyal of customers.  Blind taste tests show consumers prefer the cheaper McDonald’s coffee but still pay 4x as much for a Starbucks.  So is it still coffee you’re buying?

A well-run Beloved Brand can use their efficiency to lower their cost structure.  Not only can they use their growth to drive economies of scale, but suppliers will cut their cost just to be on the roster of a Beloved Brand.  They will benefit from the free media through earned, social and search media.  They may even find government offer subsidies to be in the community or partners willing to lower their costs to be part of the brand.  For instance, a real estate owner would likely give lower costs and better locations to McDonald’s than an indifferent brand.  Apple get a billion dollars worth of free media, with launches covered on CNN for 2 weeks prior the launch and carried live like it’s a news event.

Beloved Brands have momentum they can turn into share gains.   Crowds draw crowds which spreads the base of the loyal consumers.  Putting the Disney name on a movie generates a crowd at the door on day 1.  Competitors can’t compete–lower margins means less investment back into the brand.  It’s hard for them to fight the Beloved Brand on the emotional basis leaving them to a niche that’s currently unfulfilled.  Walk past an Apple store 15 minutes before it’s open and you’ll see a crowd waiting to get in–even when there are no new products.

Beloved Brands can enter into new categories knowing their loyal consumers will follow  because they buy into the Idea of the Brand.  The idea is no longer tied to the product or service but rather how it makes you feel about yourself.  Nike is all about winning, whether that’s in running shoes, athletic gear or even golf equipment.  When Starbucks went for pastries and sandwiches the consumer quickly followed.

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The Return on Love (R.O.L.)  The new measure that turns connectivity into money

To read more about how the love for a brand creates more power and profits:

 
 Slide1

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

 

 

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Miley Cyrus six months later: If you’re over 22 you’re not the target

urlIt’s now been six months since Miley created a storm of controversy at the MTV Awards.  While I didn’t see it live, everyone on my Facebook had an opinion of it all day the next day.  The only issue is nearly everyone on my Facebook is over 40. Then you watch the news cycle and see all the news stations all day trashing Miley and talking about how inappropriate it was. But everyone on these news stations was also over 40.

The issue is that if you’re over 40, you’re not in the target market.

So then I asked my 15-year-old daughter what she thought of the whole “Miley thing”.  She said “she’s just trying to show that she’s a grown up and make a living”.

My daughter is in the target market.  And she gets what Miley was trying to do.  And she was willing to defend her. 

A beloved brand knows who is in their target, and who is not in their target.  I hear so many non-beloved brands say “we can’t alienate…” But before you say alienate next time, keep in mind that target and alienate are pretty much synonymous.

Miley is very Strategic

Beloved Brands find a way to separate themselves.  With traditional brands, you have to be better, different or cheaper. Or else not around for very long.  With music, there’s so much talent out there, so really those who make it are “different”.  And Miley has a very good voice but she’s smart enough to know that’s not enough.  She gets that:  ‘Every time I do anything, I want to remember, this is what separates me from everybody else.’

While all the controversy was going on, Miley called the MTV Award performance a “strategic mess”.  I know it caused this storm of outrage but that’s not really the first time in music history.  

Elvis-and-Ed-300x244When Elvis first performed on Ed Sullivan, they would not show him below the waist because of his gyrating hips.  The Beatles long hair caused a stir, Rolling Stones getting arrested in Toronto, Madonna singing about being a virgin in a wedding dress or kissing Britney Spears on stage.  Pick your age and you likely think the one prior to your generation was “kind of silly” and the one after was “completely offensive”.

So let’s look at this strategically.  

There are Four Principles of Good Strategy: 1) Focus 2) Early Win 3) Leverage point and 4) Gateway to something bigger.

  • FOCUS all your energy to a particular strategic point or purpose.  Match up your brand assets to pressure points you can break through, maximizing your limited resources—either financial resources or effort.  Focus on one target.   Focus on one message.  And focus on very few strategies and tactics.  Less is more. 
  • You want that EARLY WIN, to kick-start of some momentum. Early Wins are about slicing off parts of the business or population where you can build further.  This proves to everyone the brand can win—momentum, energy, following.
  • LEVERAGE everything to gain positional advantage or power that helps exert even greater pressure and gains the tipping point of the business that helps lead to something bigger.  Crowds follow crowds. 
  • See beyond the early win, there has to be a GATEWAY point, the entrance or a means of access to something even bigger.   It could be getting to the masses, changing opinions or behaviours.  Return on Investment or Effort.

Here’s how Miley did in terms of strategy:  

  • Focus:  Miley’s target audience is the Hannah Montana audience, who were 10-15 when she was on that show and are now 15-20.  She focused on the biggest teen show, the MTV Awards, well-known for crazy antics and perfectly timed to spur on her album sales, of which the first single had already hit #2.  You can do anything on the MTV Awards because only the kids are watching anyway.  She knew exactly what she was doing.  
  • Early Win:  In the music industry, it’s fairly obvious that no news is bad news.  Miley thought this out and was even quoted as saying “make the talk about it for 2 weeks rather than 2 seconds”. While others did outrageous things that night.  Sadly, Miley wasn’t the craziest performance that night. Poor Lady Gaga came up in a g-string and yet, no one talked about her at all.  For 48-hours, it was hard to see the win and even I was wondering if she could manage the storm.  People were worried she had lost it. But, after the 40 year olds were done complaining about her, the 15 year olds came to her defence on twitter, where none of the 40-year olds could see.  In each subsequent interview, she came across as intelligent and….strategic. She did a great job on Saturday Night Live, making fun of herself and even saying “I’m not going to do Hannah Montana, but I can give you an update. She was murdered.”  All part of the transformation away from child star into a 20-something singer.  
  • Leverage:  She was able to leverage the energy to get these loyal fans to go buy her music.  She kept the controversy going with the launch of the “Wrecking Ball” video where she was buck naked.  Within 24 hours, the video was downloaded 19 million times and the song quickly shot to #1. 
  • Gateway:  Everyone knows the music charts are the gateway to the bigger mass audience–more radio play, more iTunes downloads and more talk value. And Bigger concert sales. Miley’s album sales were through the roof and she was named MTV Artist of the Year for 2013.  She was also named #1 Sexiest Woman by Maxim Magazine.  The re-invention of her new image complete.  Oddly enough, Miley finished #3 in the voting for Time Magazine’s Person of the Year.   Odd because there is no more mainstream publication than Time. 

Does this seem like an insane person out of control, or someone who knows exactly what she was doing?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SE2L9QYrJH8

Miley is a very smart strategic “grown up”


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Why CMO’s are demanding more Creativity

CMO’s realize that it’s harder and harder to get a real competitive point of difference.  More and more, creativity in execution can help separate a brand.  But the issue is that brand management teams have gotten so conservative, the CMO feels stuck when they ask for more creativity and the team doesn’t respond. You have to create a culture of creativity where people feel safe to raise ideas.  

A Team’s culture can suck the creativity right out of Everyone

When we first walk through the doors into the marketing world, we are so gung-ho with an infinite number of ideas, that are all over the place.  These junior marketers just ooze with passion.  That’s why we hired them.  So we chain them to the desk and say “no”, “can’t” and “that will never happen” to about 90% of their ideas.   And we suck the life out of them, tell them that they are getting much more “strategic” and then promote them to Brand Manager.  At Brand Manager, we instil the fear of god into them that if they mess up anything they’ll be held accountable.  Accountable means don’t try anything stupid.  And we tell them to “stay on strategy” which is code for “play it safe”.  It’s all about ownership.  By the time we promote them to Director, they know what to do, and what NOT to do.  This is code for BORING and the USUAL.  

And the CMO takes the reigns, looks at all their first share book, the numbers look flat.  They look at their competitors taking risks, especially compared to their own team’s work.  So they figure out quickly, that making dramatic changes to the product will take time and investment.  More advertising costs money. So the simplest answer is to stand in front of the group and say “WE NEED MORE CREATIVITY” 

Here’s the problem: Teams get so stuck Following the Usual

But the problem is the team has been set up to reject creativity in favor of the safe and trusted options.  The classic launch formula: do the basic product concept testing, hope for a moderate pass.   Then meet with sales and explain how this is almost identical to the launch we did last year, and builds on the same thing we just saw our competitor do.  Re-enforce that the buyer hinted that if we did this, we’d get on the shelves pretty easily.  Go to your ad agency, with a long list of mandatories and an equally long list of benefits they can put in the ad.   Tell the agency you’re excited.   They’ll tell you they’re excited as well.  Ask for lots of options, as a pre-caution because time is tight and we’re not sure what we want.  Just hope the agency clearly understood the 7-page brief.  Test all the ads, even a few different endings, and then let the research decide who wins.  That way, no one can blame you.  Do up a safe media plan with mostly TV, some small but safe irrelevant secondary media choice.  Throw in a web site to explain the 19 reasons why we launched.   Maybe even a game on the website.  Ah, we have our launch. 

Given the current economy, shouldn’t we be taking more risks to stand out rather than playing it safe right down the middle of the road?  

This type of launch though is almost a guaranteed formula for success, because it follows last year’s launch to a tee and will be done hundreds of brands this year.  You convince yourself, you had to play it safe because sales are down, margins are tight and you will do something riskier next year once this launch is done.   What looks like a guaranteed success will likely get off to a pretty good start and then flat-line until it will be discontinued three brand managers from now.  You’ll never be fired because you never did anything wrong.  But you’ll just be part of the team that’s frustrated by the status quo of the team’s performance.  And you’ll all under “why is this happening”

At some point, to break through in a cluttered market, you’ve got to do something different to stand out:  now, more than ever.   It might feel like a risky move, but it’s almost riskier not to take that chance.

Push the team to Find your love in the art of being different

Push yourself to be different.  The most Beloved Brands are different, better or cheaper.  Or not around for very long.   Here’s a very simple model for creativity, there are four choices:

Slide1Good But Not Different (the launch outlined above) 

These do very well in tests mainly because consumers have seen it before and check the right boxes in research.   In market, it gets off to a pretty good start—since it still seems so familiar.   However, once challenged in the market by a competitor, it falters because people start to realize it is no different at all.  So they go back to their usual brand and your launch starts to go flat.  This option offers limited potential.

Not Good and Not Different:

These are the safest of safe.  Go back into the R&D lab and pick the best one you have–even if it’s not very good.   The tallest of midgets.  They do pretty well in test because of the familiarity.   In market, it gets off to a pretty good start, because it looks the same as what’s already in the market.  But pretty soon, consumers realize that it’s the same but even worse, so it fails dramatically.   What appears safe is actually highly risky.  You should have followed your instincts and not launched.  This option is a boring failure.

Different but Not that Good

Sometimes we get focused on the product first:  it offers superior technology, but not really meeting an unmet need.  So we launch what is different for the sake of being different.  It does poorly in testing.  Everyone along the way wonders why we are launching.   But in the end, consumers don’t really care about your point of difference.  And it fails.  The better mousetrap that no one cares about.

Good But Different:

These don’t always test well:  consumers don’t really know what to make of it.   Even after launched, it takes time to gain momentum, having to explain the story with potential investment and effort to really make the difference come to life.  But once consumers start to see the differences and how it meets their needs, they equate different with “good”.   It begins to gain share and generates profits for the brand.   This option offers long-term sustainability.

It will be up to you to figure out how to separate good from bad.   One caution is letting market research over-ride your own instincts.  As Steve Jobs said:  “it’s hard for consumers to tell you what they want when they’ve never seen anything remotely like it.   Yet now that people see it, they say OH MY GOD THAT’S GREAT”

We always tracked many numbers (awareness, brand link, persuasion etc), but the one I always wanted to know was “made the brand seem different”.  Whether it is new products, a new advertising campaign or media options push yourself to do something that stands out.   Don’t just settle for ok.  Always push for great.  If you don’t love the work, how do you expect your consumer to love your brand?  The opposite of different, is indifferent and who wants to be indifferent.      

In case you need any added incentive:  Albino fruit flies mate at twice the rate of normal fruit flies.   Just because they are different!   And the place where most ground hogs are run over is right in the middle of the road.  

Push the team to Find Difference through Brainstorming

The trick to a good brainstorm is very simple:   Diverge, Converge, Diverge Converge.

Diverge #1:  Quantity over Quality

Divide the room up into groups of 5 people.   I prefer to assign one leader who will be writing the ideas, pushing the group for more, throwing in some ideas of their own. A great way for the leader is to say “here’s a crazy idea, who can build on this or make it better”.  But if you catch the leader stalling, debating the ideas, then you should push that leader.  At this stage you are pushing for quantity not quality.  If you have multiple groups in the room, do a rotation where the leader stays put and the group changes.  I like having stations, where each station has a unique problem to solve.

Converge #1:  Focus on picking the best Strategic Ideas

There’s a few ways you can do this.

  • You can use voting dots where each person gets 5 or 10 dots and they can use them any way they want.  For random executional ideas, this is a great simple way.
  • If there is agreed upon criteria, you can do some type of scoring against each criteria.  High, medium, low.
  • USP 2.0If you are brainstorming product concepts or positioning statements, you might want to hold them up to the lens of how unique they are.
  • For things like naming, positioning or promotions, the leader can look at all the ideas and begin grouping them into themes.  They might start to discuss which themes seem to fit or are working the best, and use those themes for a second diverge.
  • For Tactics to an annual plan, you can use a very simple grid of Big vs Small and Easy vs Difficult.  In this case, you want to find ways to land in THE BIG EASY.  The reason you want easy is to ensure it has a good return on effort, believing effort and investment have a direct link.  

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Diverge #2:  Make the Ideas even better, richer.

The second diverge is where the magic actually happens.  You’ve got the group in a good zone.   They have seen which ideas are meeting the criteria.  Take the list from Converge #1 and push it one more time.  Make it competitive among the groups, with a $25 prize, so that people will push even harder.  

  • If you narrowed it to themes, then take each theme and push for more and better ideas under each of the themes  
  • If you looked at concepts or tactics, then take the best 8-10 ideas and have groups work on them and flush them out fully with a written concept, and come back and present them to the group.  
  • If using the grid above, then take the ideas in the big/difficult and brainstorm ways to make it easier.   And if it’s small and easy, brainstorm ways to make it bigger.

Converge #2:  Decision Time

Once you’ve done the second diverge, you’ll be starting to see the ideas getting better and more focused.  Now comes decision time.  You can narrow down to a list of ideas to take forward into testing or discussion with senior management.  You can take them forward to cost out.  You can prioritize them based on a 12 or 24 month calendar.   You can vote using some of the techniques above using voting dots.  Or you can assign a panel of those who will vote.  But you want to walk away from the meeting with a decision.

Let Brainstorming bring an energy and passion into your work.

 

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