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Tag Archive: Communication

How to drive more Attention in your Brand Communication

Slide1I always use my instincts as my first gut reaction of the advertising.  When the agency shows me an ad, I don’t want any set up, don’t read the brief, don’t tell me “this is really funny”.  Unless we are prepared to buy a 30 second spot to explain our ad and put it right in front of our Ad, then we must watch the work as though we are the consumer.  But even after 20 years and hundreds of spots, I don’t rely on just my instincts.  I do the thinking time.  And the tool I usually turn to is the ABC’S.  I want to make sure we create an ad that attracts  Attention, it’s about the Brand, it Communicates the brand story and Sticks in the consumers mind.   

  • Attention:  You have to get noticed in a crowded world of advertising.  Consumers see 6000 ads per day, and will likely only engage in a few.  If your brand doesn’t draw attention naturally, then you’ll have to force it into the limelight.
  • Branding:  Ads that tell the story of the relationship between the consumer and the brand will link best.  Even more powerful are ads that are from the consumers view of the brand.  It’s not how much branding there is, but how close the brand fits to the climax of the ad.
  • Communication:  Tapping into the truths of the consumer and the brand, helps you to tell the brand’s life story. Keep your story easy to understand. Communication is not just about what you say, but how you say it—because that says just as much.
  • Stickiness:  Sticky ads help to build a consistent brand/consumer experience over time.   In the end, brands are really about “consistency” of the promise you want to own.  Brands have exist in the minds of the consumer. 
How to Drive more Attention

Buying media and putting something on air does not attract attention for your ad.  All those testing or tracking results start with Attention for a reason, your Brand Link scores are a ratio of those that the ad captured.  Driving more branding of a poorly engaging ad doesn’t really do much.  

You have to EARN the consumers’ attention.  Most of the media options still, are passive mediums where the consumer is more engaged in the content, and the advertising needs to be interruptive.  No consumer has ever said “what are you doing tonight Bill?”.   “Well Bob, I’m going home, grab a bite to eat and watch some TV ads”.  The best way to grab Attention is to take a risk and do something not done before. Here are the best ways to attract attention.

  1. Be Incongruent:  This is a great technique to get noticed is by being a bit off kilter or different from what they are watching.  A lot of brand leaders are afraid of this, because they feel it exposes them.  Avoid being like “wallpaper”   If you want a high score on “made the brand seem different”, it starts with acting different.   
  2. Resonate:  Connect with the consumer in the true way that they see themselves or their truth about how they interact with the brand.
  3. Entertain them:  Strike the consumers emotional cord, by making them laugh, make them cry, or make them tingle.  From the consumers view—they interact with media to be entertained—so entertain them.
  4. The Evolution of the Art of Being Different:  As much as Movies,  TV music continues to evolve, so do ads. As much as your art has to express your strategy, it needs to reflect the trends of society to capture their attention.  Albino fruit flies mate at twice the rate of normal fruit flies.  Be an albino fruit fly!!!
  5. Location Based:  Be where Your consumers are open and willing to listen.  The Media choice really does impact attention.  Make sure your creative makes the most of that media choice.  
  6. Be Part of the Content:  As much as consumers are engaged in the content, not the advertising, then having your brand front and center and part of the story can be a great vehicle for driving attention. Watching a movie and seeing them using a Mac makes the product seem cool, or driving a red Mini Cooper in the Italian Job made me want that car.  Or creating content on line that engages like Toyota’s Swagger Wagon or the brilliant BMW Films site from 10 years ago.   
  7. Be Sharable:  We are seeing so many amazing story-telling ads getting passed around on social media vehicles.  Most are designed for that very reason, many of them 2-3 minutes in length.  These long videos are great for engaging the consumer emotionally.  

This Dodge Ram “Farmer” ad is a great use of being incongruent.  This extremely quiet spot, was aired during the Super Bowl, when all the other ads are loud, slapstick style ads.  The use of photography only, the great voice of Paul Harvey with “so god made a Farmer” gives you shivers.  

 

 

Budweiser’s Wazzup ad was so different that it jumped off the TV screen.  The language was authentic, connecting with how guys tend to talk to each other, when no one else is around. 

 

 

Lynx ads are so entertaining they become content you want to watch.  This spot from the mid 90s with Jennifer Anniston is hilarious.  

 

 

 

Toyota’s Swagger Wagon videos have been shared by millions, highly entertaining but extremely insight driven of how former “cool people” turn into parents and their motivations change.  

 

 

To this day, there has still never been an on-line idea as powerful as BMW Films for creating on-line content.  What BMW did was give famous directors $1 Million each to make short “films” that make the BMW car the center point of the spots.   These are highly engaging, shareable videos.  These were 10 years ago now, and I keep hoping someone beats these one day.   Here’s Guy Ritchie’s version, with his good friend Clive Owen and wife Madonna.  

 

 

 

You have to earn their Attention, before telling them the rest of your story.  

 

Here’s an article that goes a little deeper on the ABC’S:  How to Judge Advertising Copy: Approve the Good. Reject the Bad.

 

To see a training presentation on Get Better Advertising: 

 

If you are in the mood to see stories on great advertising, here’s a few other stories:

 

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Is K-Mart’s “Ship My Pants” a good Ad?

I have to confess, it’s a very cute ad.  It makes me giggle every time.  I’ve shown it to my teenage kids, I’ve posted it on Facebook and Twitter.  And I’ve watched it again and giggled more.  But is it a good ad?   And I guess the bigger question might be is it the right ad for K-Mart?

Here’s the ad:

Is it a Good Ad?

The test of a good ad that I use is the ABC’S of Advertising which is Attention, Branding Communication and Stickiness.  

  • Attention:  A+  This ad definitely captures attention with a high degree of humor.  It’s as funny as a Seinfeld episode.  And for those of us, like me, it has that sharing power set up perfectly for social media.
  • Branding:  C+  The ad doesn’t do that great of a job with the brand.  And right now, K-Mart is definitely at the Indifferent stage of the Brand Love Curve, so what it really needs is to help separate the brand from the pack.  Other than scoring for “this brand is funny”, this doesn’t really separate K-Mart out from the pack?   I’d likely give this a higher score if the brand was targeted to a younger audience or if it was in an edgier category, the joke would have been a perfect fit for (e.g.  EB Games or West 49)
  • Communication:  B+   If K-Mart’s only objective is to establish that it does shipping, then it would be A+, but because of the vast needs for the brand, I’m a bit surprised they can turn K-Mart around by offering free shipping.  This does nothing to separate the brand:  LL Bean can ship pants, but LL Bean has pants I want shipped.   The other weird part of the communication is that 90% of the visuals are IN the store yet the real big win is there’s an on-line play.  If it’s IN the store, most items in a mass merchandiser store are so small that you don’t need them shipped.   So I’m saying mixed.
  • Stickiness:  A  It certainly sticks and the amount of sharing and talk value it has generate helps. It may be polarizing to certain segments of the mass audience–some may be offended–so it may stick for the wrong reason with the wrong circumstances.

So overall, I’d rate the ad a solid B+ to A=.  Very funny Ad.  

But, is it the right Ad for K-Mart?

Let’s look at the K-Mart strategy through the lens of the 5 sources of connectivity that help connect the brand with consumers including the brand promise, the strategic choices you make, the brand’s ability to tell their story, the freshness of the product or service and the overall experience and impressions it leaves with you.

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Brand Promise: The promise as stated is you can now get all the great stuff at K-Mart shipped right to your house.  Who is the target?   Based on the tone of the ad, you would think it’s such a younger audience, but does a younger audience shop at K-Mart.  I know there will be people say “well with this funny ad, maybe now kids will shop there?”   Really?   Is that how you think advertising works?  

Strategy:  I’m not quite getting the strategy here.  K-Mart is nearly bankrupt and has not had a true reason for being for  the last 40 years.  Brands are either different, better or cheaper.   Wal-Mart beats it on price, Target beats it on style.  

Story:  The is trying to deliver the brand promise, but the tone feels wrong.  As Ted Mathews, author of Brand: It Ain’t the Logo* (*It’s what people think of you.) said “The K-Mart ad is completely off-brand character.  It will alienate the last remaining 50+ customers they have.  This is what happens without a Brand Foundation.  

Innovation:  This is 2013.  E-Commerce isn’t really innovative is it?  The idea that I can order pants on-line and have them shipped to my house might have been innovative around 1997.   But nowadays, buying pants on-line doesn’t exactly say “Hey Everyone K-Mart is really innovative”.  

Experience:  If there was a brand death pool, K-Mart would be near the top of the list.  Every time I drive by one, only then am I reminded that they still exist.  And then I say “why?”.  As I watched this ad, my first reaction was “yeah, but they are still crappy pants that no one wants”.  It reminds me of the Woody Allen joke:  “this steak is awful and the portions are so small”.  Yes I can ship the pants, but quite frankly, I don’t want the pants.  

Using these 5 Connections, I would say that, other than a funny gag, the ad does nothing to connect consumers with the K-Mart Brand. 

Ship My Pants: Good Ad, Wrong Brand

 

Follow me on Twitter @GrayRobertson1 

Follow Ted Mathews on Twitter @WeWantTed

 

To read more about getting Better Advertising, follow this presentation:

 

Other Stories You Might Like
  1. How to Write a Creative Brief.  The creative brief really comes out of two sources, the brand positioning statement and the advertising strategy that should come from the brand plan.  To read how to write a Creative Brief, click on this hyperlink:  How to Write a Creative Brief
  2. How to Write a Brand Plan:  The positioning statement helps frame what the brand is all about.  However, the brand plan starts to make choices on how you’re going to make the most of that promise.  Follow this hyperlink to read more on writing a Brand Plan:  How to Write a Brand Plan
  3. Consumer Insights:  To get richer depth on the consumer, read the following story by clicking on the hyper link:  Everything Starts and Ends with the Consumer in Mind

 

Brand LeadershipI run the Brand Leader Learning Center,  with programs on a variety of topics that are all designed to make better Brand Leaders.  To read more on how the Learning Center can help you as a Brand Leader click here:   Brand Leadership Learning Center

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To reach out directly, email me at graham.robertson@beloved-brands.com

About Graham Robertson: The reason why I started Beloved Brands Inc. is to help brands realize their full potential value by generating more love for the brand.   I only do two things:  1) Make Brands Better or 2) Make Brand Leaders Better.  I have a reputation as someone who can find growth where others can’t, whether that’s on a turnaround, re-positioning, new launch or a sustaining high growth.  And I love to make Brand Leaders better by sharing my knowledge.  Im a marketer at heart, who loves everything about brands.  My background includes 20 years of CPG marketing at companies such as Johnson and Johnson, Pfizer Consumer, General Mills and Coke.  My promise to you is that I will get your brand and your team in a better position for future growth. Add me on LinkedIn at http://www.linkedin.com/in/grahamrobertson1 so we can stay connected.

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Special K Case Study: Moving From Indifferent to Beloved

Cereal is one of those categories filled with a touch of magic, many of the beloved brands coming out of the “Mad Men” days of TV advertising.  Brands like Corn Flakes, Cheerios, Rick Krispies and Froot Loops all have a certain wholesome charm.  But while those brands have ‘historical equity’ it’s not really an equity that can drive sales.  I’d say these brands are in a bit of a time warp, a throwback to simpler times when Cartoons were only on Saturday mornings.

Special K was an Indifferent Brand
One lonesome Original Flavor of Cereal

One lonesome Original Flavor of Cereal

I worked in the cereal business back in the 1990′s and we never thought anything about Special K.  It just sat there with a very small and dying share.  Basically, it was just the one flavor of cereal.  Zero innovation.  just Rice Krispies crushed differently.  Trust me, I was on the General Mills side and no competitors were worried about Special K.

The brand idea for Special K has been connected with weight loss since the mid 80s.  The ads were focused on 110 calories–which is just a feature, not a benefit for the consumer.  And honestly, if you look at most cereals, they’ll say 120-140 calories on the box.  Here’s what the Special K ads looked like in 1996 and you’ll see why the brand was fairly flat.

This is a classic example that no one cares what you do until you care what they want.  No one at Special K was putting themselves in the shoes of the consumer and asking “so what do I get?” or “how does this make me feel?”   It was implied, but it was buried in the woman looking at herself in the mirror.

The Brand Love Curve

In the consumer’s mind, brands sit on a Brand Love Curve, with brands going from Indifferent to Like It to Love It and finally becoming a Beloved Brand for Life.  At the Beloved stage, demand becomes desire, needs become cravings, thinking is replaced with feelings.  Consumers become outspoken fans.

Love Curve Detailed

Special K was clearly an Indifferent Brand.  There was very little consumer opinion, and for those who did buy Special K, they weren’t exactly the most ardent fans of the brand.  Not only was the original flavor fairly bland, but everything about the brand was bland.  Special K needed to stand for something.  It needed an idea.  They were dancing around the idea of weight loss but not really bringing the benefit to life.

Beloved Brands Start with an Idea

The most beloved brands are based on an idea that is worth loving. It is the idea that connects the Brand with consumers.  And under the Brand Idea are 5 Sources of Connectivity that help connect the brand with consumers and drive Brand Love, including 1) the brand promise 2) the strategic choices you make 3) the brand’s ability to tell their story 4) the freshness of the product or service and 5) the overall experience and impressions it leaves with you.  Everyone wants to debate what makes a great brand–whether it’s the product, the advertising, the experience or through consumers.  It is not just one or the other–it’s the collective connection of all these things that make a brand beloved.

The Re-Birth of Special K

Around 2000, Special K made a dramatic turn in the market.  With all the diet-crazed consumers looking for new solutions, Special K had a stroke of brilliance when someone figured out that if you ate Special K twice a day for just two weeks, you could lose up to 6 pounds in 2 weeks.  While all the other diet options felt daunting, this felt pretty easy to do.

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While Special K had spent decades dancing around the weight loss idea, now they had a Brand Promise that was benefit focused and empowering:  With Special K, just twice a day for 2 weeks, you can lose 6 pounds or better yet, drop a jean size.  They stopped talking about the product and starting talking in the voice of the consumer.

The brilliant strategy is around the usage occasion of the second meal each day.  Cereal had been a category that grew +3% for years, steady only with population growth and some demographics around boomers and echo generations.  But now, there was finally a reason to eat cereal twice in one day.

The communication of the Brand Story become about empowering women to take control using the Two Week Challenge.   Here’s a very empowering ad around the “Drop a Jean Size” idea.

With a Brand Idea bigger than just a cereal, Special K’s innovation rivalled that of Apple.  It started with the launch of Berry Special K that thrust the brand into a good tasting cereal, and has since added bars, shakes and water.  Most recently, they’ve now launched potato chips (only 80 calories for 20 chips) and a Breakfast Sandwich option.  it just goes to show you that it’s not about ‘out of the box’ ideas, but rather how you define the box.  All these product launches are aligned to the idea of empowering women to maintain their weight.  The diversified line up beyond cereal helps off-set any sales softness on cereal.  This year, they’ve just announced they are re-looking Special K’s original recipe to keep the cereal share strong.  

Special-K-Products

And rounding out the Brand Experience is to take the challenge on-line, gives women a community of encouragement to help achieve their personal weight loss goals.  Special K has also launched App for smart phones to help monitor weight goals.  

MY SPECIAL K

IS YOUR PLACE FOR POSITIVE CHANGE

Sign up and start your free, personalized plan today. We’ll keep track of your goals, offer helpful tools and tips and keep you motivated as you work towards your best you.

http://www.specialk.com/mealplan/notstarted

Special K has also tapped into time of year occasions around New Years and spring to re-enforce the brand messages.

Some great lessons for other brands.
  • Speaking to a specific target (women 25-45) and in their voice makes you a more powerfully connected brand.
  • Everything starts and ends with the consumer in mind:  Consumers don’t care what you do until you care what they want.  Be benefit focused.
  • Build around a brand idea:  It’s not out of the box thinking, it’s just re-defining the box to be a bigger idea.
Take Your Own Brand Challenge and Add Some Love to Your Brand

 

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

Other Stories You Might Like
  1. How to Write a Creative Brief.  The creative brief really comes out of two sources, the brand positioning statement and the advertising strategy that should come from the brand plan.  To read how to write a Creative Brief, click on this hyperlink:  How to Write a Creative Brief
  2. How to Write a Brand Plan:  The positioning statement helps frame what the brand is all about.  However, the brand plan starts to make choices on how you’re going to make the most of that promise.  Follow this hyperlink to read more on writing a Brand Plan:  How to Write a Brand Plan
  3. Consumer Insights:  To get richer depth on the consumer, read the following story by clicking on the hyper link:  Everything Starts and Ends with the Consumer in Mind

 

Brand LeadershipI run the Brand Leader Learning Center,  with programs on a variety of topics that are all designed to make better Brand Leaders.  To read more on how the Learning Center can help you as a Brand Leader click here:   Brand Leadership Learning Center

 

Pick your Social Media vehicle and follow us by clicking on the icon below

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To reach out directly, email me at graham.robertson@beloved-brands.com

About Graham Robertson: The reason why I started Beloved Brands Inc. is to help brands realize their full potential value by generating more love for the brand.   I only do two things:  1) Make Brands Better or 2) Make Brand Leaders Better.  I have a reputation as someone who can find growth where others can’t, whether that’s on a turnaround, re-positioning, new launch or a sustaining high growth.  And I love to make Brand Leaders better by sharing my knowledge.  Im a marketer at heart, who loves everything about brands.  My background includes 20 years of CPG marketing at companies such as Johnson and Johnson, Pfizer Consumer, General Mills and Coke.  My promise to you is that I will get your brand and your team in a better position for future growth. Add me on LinkedIn at http://www.linkedin.com/in/grahamrobertson1 so we can stay connected.

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How to Judge Advertising Copy: Approve the Good. Reject the Bad.

Over the years, I’ve seen so many Brand Leaders who love Advertising, yet just don’t love their own advertising.  

I’ve always found this odd.  These Brand Leaders use their instincts on other brands’ work but can’t find those same instincts on their own work.  They are likely the ones sending Super Bowl ads around the office, yet they are the first to crap all over the work of their own agency.  

What really holds back most Brand Leaders from greatness is they actually under-estimate their own role in the process of getting to great advertising.  How they show up does more to make or break an ad than even how the agency shows up.   slide1-1After all, the Brand Leader gets the “final say” on every aspect of the ad–brief, script, director, casting, music, budget and final edit.  The agency can only recommend.  What the Brand Leader does with that “final say” can make or break the ad.  

If you knew that how you show up to your agency got better work for you, do you think you would show up differently?

In terms of giving feedback at that first creative meeting, a Brand Leader can really only do three things.

      1. Approve an ad
      2. Reject an Ad
      3. Give direction on how to make the Ad better 

If you’re sitting in the hot seat, how will you know?  It’s not easy to sit in the hot seat as the decision maker.  I’ve seen some Brand Leaders use all instinct, and no fundamentals.  They miss the most basic of things.  While other Brand Leaders strictly use fundamentals and forget to use their instincts.  They miss the magic or are the first to put together a Frankenstein from various things on the brief.  

Clients aren’t Ready

I come at this discussion from the client side.  I’ve never worked at an agency in my life.  But I have 20 years of CPG experience and have been in the shoes of the Brand Leader at every level.  I feel comfortable to say that Clients are not ready.    

Here’s the problem with the math.  Most brands make 1 campaign per year, and in your first 2-3 years as an Assistant Brand Manager, you might get a few comments in at the meeting. Then all of a sudden, you’re now the newly promoted Brand Manager and expected to lead the campaign.  As bright as you might be, you have never been on the hot seat and you might not be ready to give feedback to the agency.  Even your boss, who will coach you and judge your performance might have made 5 ads in their career.  Across from you sits a creative team, a creative director and a Group Account Director, who each might have 10+ years of experience and each work on 20+ campaigns per year.  

And what you have to say at the meeting will make or break your ad.  If you aren’t nervous at that meeting, good for you.  And good luck.  Because, you should be nervous. 

Slide1

How well prepared are you?  An ill prepared Brand Leader will more than likely deliver a poor ad.   How many hours of training have you had on giving direction to a creative team?   How many times did you role-play giving feedback to the agency?  How good was the coaching you received on your feedback?  Not only do you need the fundamentals through solid training, but you likely need someone coaching you through a role-playing exercise.  

How will you show up?  Are you ready?  Or will you just be another brilliant Brand Leader who can’t seem to make a great ad on their own brand?

Judging the Ad:

The Creative Meeting is not Easy.  You’ve got to balance, the head, the heart and the gut against the good of the brand.  Take your time and sort it through asking the following questions:

  1. Do you love what it can do for your brand?  If you don’t love it, how do you expect your consumer to love it?  A great ad has to have everyone’s heart and soul put into it.  If you “sorta like” it, then it will be “sorta ok” in the end.  If you love it, you will fight for it.  (The Heart) 
  2. Is it on strategy?  Is the Advertisement an expression of what you have been writing in your strategy documents?   Is it doing what we hoped it would do?  I love the ABCS technique (outlined below) because it helps me to frame things in my mind, so I can evaluate it past how I feel.  I think you need something to ground yourself.  (The Head)  If  there is something in your gut says it’s off, it likely is.  (The Gut)
  3. Is it long-term Idea?  Is a big enough idea that fits with the brand, does the hard work you want to do for the brand and can last 5 years.  Think about leaving a legacy—which forces you to think of campaign-ability.  (The Brand)  Look at the Creative Brief and if the ad is not on strategy, then it has to be rejected   Advertising is an expression of strategy.  If it’s not on strategy, it has no value.  

I once was in the midst of fighting for an Ad campaign as it was going up through the approval ranks of my own senior management.  It was a very odd campaign.  Yet I loved it.  One night, I was out for a walk with my wife and she said “what if it gets rejected”.  And I said “it will be the end of me”.   She thought I was crazy and said “you can’t think that way”.  And I said “I have to think that way”.  The question of whether you love it or not, is not a “sort of” question.   You have to be all-in, ready to battle for it’s life.  If you don’t love the work, how do you expect your consumer to love the brand?   The campaign was approved, and it doubled the business over the next 10 years.  

The ABC’S of Advertising 

Here’s a potential tool you can take into the room that is very easy to follow along.  You want to make sure that your ad delivers on the ABC’S which means it attracts  Attention, it’s about the Brand, it Communicates the brand story and Sticks in the consumers mind.  

  • Attention:  You have to get noticed in a crowded world of advertising.  Consumers see 6000 ads per day, and will likely only engage in a few.  If your brand doesn’t draw attention naturally, then you’ll have to force it into the limelight.
  • Branding:  Ads that tell the story of the relationship between the consumer and the brand will link best.  Even more powerful are ads that are from the consumers view of the brand.  It’s not how much branding there is, but how close the brand fits to the climax of the ad.
  • Communication:  Tapping into the truths of the consumer and the brand, helps you to tell the brand’s life story. Keep your story easy to understand. Communication is not just about what you say, but how you say it—because that says just as much.
  • Stickiness:  Sticky ads help to build a consistent brand/consumer experience over time.   In the end, brands are really about “consistency” of the promise you want to own.  Brands have exist in the minds of the consumer. 
Attention

Buying media and putting something on air does not attract attention for your ad.  Why would consumers want to listen to what you have to say.  You have to EARN the consumers’ attention.  The best way to grab Attention is to take a risk and do something not done before. Here are the 5 ways to attract attention.

  1. Be Incongruent:  This is a great technique to get noticed is by being a bit off kilter or different from what they are watching.  A lot of brand leaders are afraid of this, because they feel it exposes them.  Avoid being like “wallpaper”   If you want a high score on “made the brand seem different”, it starts with acting different.   kitkat
  2. Resonate:  Connect with the consumer in the true way that they see themselves or their truth about how they interact with the brand.
  3. Entertain them:  Strike the consumers emotional cord, by making them laugh, make them cry, or make them tingle.  From the consumers view—they interact with media to be entertained—so entertain them.
  4. The Evolution of the Art of Being Different:  As much as Movies,  TV music continues to evolve, so do ads. As much as your art has to express your strategy, it needs to reflect the trends of society to capture their attention.  Albino fruit flies mate at twice the rate of normal fruit flies.  Be an albino fruit fly!!!
  5. Location Based:  Be where Your consumers are open and willing to listen.  The Media choice really does impact attention.  Make sure your creative makes the most of that media choice.  
Branding

There is an old advertising saying “half of all advertising is wasted, but we aren’t sure which half”.  Coincidently, the average brand link is 50%.  Our goal should always be to get higher.  The best Branding comes when you connect the Brand to the Climax of the ad.   It’s not about how much branding or how early the branding arrives.  

  1. Be Part of the Story:  in the spirit of big ideas, how do you tell a story, using your brand.  It’s not how much branding you use, but rather how closely connected the brand to the climax of your ad.
  2. Is it the Truth:  It sounds funny, but if there is a disconnect between what you say, and what you are….then the brand link won’t be there.  People will discard the ad.
  3. Own the Idea Area:  Be a bit different—make sure that what you do sets you apart from anyone else. 
  4. Repeat:  don’t be afraid of building your brand—and the simplest way to get branding is to repeat and repeat and repeat.
Communication

Communicating is about selling.  Keep in mind, communication is not what is said, but what is heard.  The best way to Communicate is through Story Telling that involves the brand.  The modern-day world of the internet allows richness in story telling.  

  1. Start a Dialogue:  If you can do a good job in connecting with the consumer, the branding idea can be a catalyst that enables you to converse with your consumer.
  2. What are you Selling?  You have to keep it simple—you only have 29 seconds to sell the truth.  Focus on one message…keep asking yourself “what are we selling”.drill
  3. Powerful Expression:  try to find one key visual that can express what you are selling.  This visual can be leveraged throughout
  4. Find Your “More Cheese”:  Many times its so obvious what people want, but we just can’t see it or articulate it. 
  5. Sell the Solution—not the Problem:  Brands get so wrapped up in demonstrating the problem, when really it is the solution that consumers want to buy. 
Stickiness

We all want our ads to stick.  You need to adopt a mindset of “will this idea last for 5 years”.  The Best way to Stick is to have an idea that is big enough.  You should sit there and say is this a big idea or just an ad?

  1. Dominant Characteristic:  things that are memorable have something that dominates your mind (e.g.:  the red-head kid)
  2. How Big Is the Idea?  Its proven that a gold-fish will get bigger with a bigger bowl.  The same for ideas.
  3. Telling Stories:   While visuals are key to communicating, in the end people remember stories—that’s how we are brought up—with ideas and morals that are designed to stick. 
  4. Always Add A Penny:  With each execution, you have a chance to add something to the branding idea.  Avoid duplicating what you’ve done…and try to stretch as much as you can. 
  5. Know Your Assets:  There has to be something in your ad that stick Know what that is and then use it, in new executions or in other parts of the marketing mix.

Slide1

If you don’t love the work, how do you expect your consumer to love your Brand.

To see a training presentation on Get Better Advertising: 

 

If you are in the mood to see stories on great advertising, here’s a few other stories:

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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 things that Good Advertising Should Do

Brand LeadershipPeople always ask me “So what is it that makes a Brand Leader good at advertising?”

I used to think they must be more creative.  Or they are more in touch with creative people.   Or better yet, they are a visionary.  

I never really thought these answers satisfied me.  Advertising is so much more than that. 

In fact there are many things around advertising that have nothing to do with the creative.  There needs to be a great Brand Plan, the Creative Brief should be tight yet rich with insight.  Brand Leaders have to manage the process and stay on strategy and they should have an ability to select the right media.  They should take risks.  They have to be able to handle the stress of ambiguity against deadlines, and the pressure to make the numbers in the face of art.  Advertising is half art, half science.  They have to be able to give some freedom on execution, yet maintain a tight control on the strategy.  

Brand Leaders must be good at giving good feedback, maybe even a bit fussy on details.  Be nice though.  They have to love the work and bring that emotion to the table.  What about motivating the team?  Not just motivating the creatives, but the planners, the account people, the editors and even the directors.   Someone who is great at Advertising has to make decisions.  They have to be able to walk in the shoes of the consumer, yet still live at the desk of the brand.  They must have the ability to gain alignment with their own team and yet gain approval from the senior management of the company.  They have to be able to sell the work.  At all stages.  The list goes on and on.  

There are just so many things that are required to get good advertising.  Being creative is a great start.  But it is more.  

So after thinking about this question for a few years, I finally nailed it:  

A Brand Leader that is good at advertising is able to consistently get good advertising on the air, and keep bad advertising off the air.  

It’s such a simple yet complicated answer.  Almost as simple and complicated as David Ogilvy’s line “Clients get the work they deserve”.  I know that is true, in every way that it is meant.  I always ask Brand Leaders, “if you knew that how you showed up actually impacts the advertising, do you think you might show up differently?”  I hope the answer is yes.  But I’m not sure they do.  Those great at advertising get it.  

Sadly, there is an equally long list of things that make Brand Leaders bad at advertising.  These days, there is so much learning on the job that people end up as the decision-maker in the room, sitting there trying to lead the advertising when they haven’t even properly trained on how to do it.   Malcolm Gladwell says you’re an expert when you’ve had 10,000 hours.  And yet, there are Brand Leaders are thrust into leading an Ad Campaign with 20, 30 or maybe 100 hours.  And no training.  Even those who are supposed to teach you haven’t been trained.  So you are both learning.  How can you consistently get good advertising on the air,  managing such a complicated process when you’re still learning.  On the job.    

The 10 Things Good Advertising Should Do

Here’s a starting point for you when you’re judging creative.  

  1. Set Yourself Apart.  Beloved Brands must be different, better, cheaper.   Or they are not around for very long.   The story telling of the brand’s promise should help to separate the brand from the clutter of other brands that are stuck in our minds.  And that starts with creative that feels different and of course makes the brand seem different. 
  2. Focused!   A focused target, a focused message, a focused strategy against a focused communication idea, a focused media.  The whole discipline of marketing is founded on focus, and yet Brand Leaders struggle most in this area.  They always want that “just in case” option.  
  3. Keep the Idea and Communication very simple.  Communication is not what is said, but what is heard. Too many people try to shout as many messages as they can in one ad.  What does the consumer hear?  A confusing mess.  By throwing multiple messages you are just making the consumer do the work of deciding the most important message, because you couldn’t figure it out.  My challenge to you is to stand up on a chair and yell your main message as though you are standing on top of a mountain.  If you can’t YELL it out in one breath, then your idea is too complex.  Or just too long.  The Volvo Brand Manager gets to yell “Safety” in one clean simple breath.   Can you do that?  
  4. Have a Good Selling Idea.  While Big Ideas break through, they also help you to be consistent, because you have to align your thinking to the Big Idea.  You’ll see consistency over time, across mediums–paid, earned, social and search–and you’ll see it throughout the entire brand line up of sub brands.  Consumers will start to connect to the big idea and they’ll begin to relate your brand with that big idea.  Look at your ad:  does it have a big idea?
  5. Drive Engagement: Too many Brand Leaders forget to engage the consumer.   They get so fixated on saying their 7 messages that they figure the ability capture attention is just advertising fluff.  But it all starts with Attention.  The consumer sees 5,000 ads a day and will likely only engage in a handful.   If you don’t capture their attention, no one will remember the brand name, your main message or any other reason to believe you might have.  
  6. Let the Visuals do the talking.  With so many ads, you need to have a key visual that can capture the attention, link to your brand and communicate your message.   The ‘see-say’ of advertising helps the consumers brain to engage, follow along and remember.  As kids, we always love the pictures.  We still do.  
  7. Sell the solution, not the product.  Consumers use brands to solve problems in their lives.  Your brand will be more powerful if it solves the problems of life.   Figure out the consumers’ enemy and conquer it on their behalf.  Consumers don’t care about what you do, until you care about what they need.  No one has ever wanted a quarter-inch drill, they just need a quarter-inch hole. 
  8. Be Relevant with the Consumer.   A beloved brand finds a way to matter to those who really care.  It’s not only the right brand promise that matters, but the right communication of that promise.    You can’t sell carpet cleaning to someone who only has hard wood floors.   And you can’t sell a golf ball that goes 20 yards farther to someone who despises golf.  
  9. Make Ads that are based on a consumer Insight.  Insights are not facts about your brand.  That’s just you talking AT the consumer.   Insights are something the consumer already knows but they didn’t realize that everyone felt that way.  Insights enable consumers to see themselves in the situation and once you do that, the consumers might then figure the brand must be for them.  Insights allow you to connect and turn the ad into a conversation.  
  10. Tell the story behind the brand.  There should be richness in your brand’s purpose.  Why did you start this brand?   How does your brand help people?   Why do you get up in the morning?   Remember:  people don’t buy what you do as much as they buy why you do it. 
The ABC’S of Advertising

Another way to rephrase this list is through the ABC’S:  Attention Branding Communication and Stickiness.  

  • Attention:  You have to get noticed in a crowded world of advertising.  Consumers see 6000 ads per day, and will likely only engage in a few.  If your brand doesn’t draw attention naturally, then you’ll have to force it into the limelight.
  • Branding:  Ads that tell the story of the relationship between the consumer and the brand will link best.  Even more powerful are ads that are from the consumers view of the brand.  It’s not how much branding there is, but how close the brand fits to the climax of the ad.
  • Communication:  Tapping into the truths of the consumer and the brand, helps you to tell the brand’s life story. Keep your story easy to understand. Communication is not just about what you say, but how you say it—because that says just as much.
  • Stickiness:  Sticky ads help to build a consistent brand/consumer experience over time.   In the end, brands are really about “consistency” of the promise you want to own.  Brands have exist in the minds of the consumer. 

To read more on How to get Better Advertising, here’s a presentation to follow:

Be a Better Client

If how you show up to the agency will produce better advertising work  Then show up right.  

Agencies should be treated like trusted partners, not suppliers.   Slide1Engage them early asking for advice, not just telling them what to do and when.  If you tell an agency what to do, there will only be one answer “YES”.  But if you ask them what to do, there are three answers:  yes, no or maybe.   Seek their advice beyond advertising.   Build a relationship directly with the creative teams. Be more than “just another client”.  

Getting great advertising is a balance of freedom and control.  Most Marketers allow too much FREEDOM on the strategy but want to exhibit CONTROL on the creative.   It should be the reverse, you should control the strategy and give freedom on creative.  Don’t go into a creative meeting with a pre-conceived notion as to what the ad should look like.  Creative people are “in the box” problem solvers.   What they don’t want a) blank canvas b) unclear problem and c) your solutions to the problem.  Let them be in the box and find the solution for you.  That’s what motivates them the most.  

Here’s a presentation to help you be a better client.

 

If you are in the mood to see other great advertising, here’s a few other stories:

 

To see a training presentation on getting Better Advertising: 

 

Other Stories You Might Like
  1. How to Write a Creative Brief.  The creative brief really comes out of two sources, the brand positioning statement and the advertising strategy that should come from the brand plan.  To read how to write a Creative Brief, click on this hyperlink:  How to Write a Creative Brief
  2. Judging Advertising:  Here’s some thoughts around how to judge advertising using the ABC’S method:  Attention, Branding, Communication, Stickiness.   To read more click on:   Judging Advertising
  3. Turning Brand Love into Power and Profits:  The positioning statement sets up the promise that kick starts the connection between the brand and consumer.  There are four other factors that connect:  brand strategy, communication, innovation and experience.   The connectivity is a source of power that can be leveraged into deeper profitability.  To read more click on the hyper link:  Love = Power = Profits

 

Brand LeadershipI run the Brand Leader Learning Center,  with programs on a variety of topics that are all designed to make better Brand Leaders.  To read more on how the Learning Center can help you as a Brand Leader click here:   Brand Leadership Learning Center

 

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About Graham Robertson: The reason why I started Beloved Brands Inc. is to help brands realize their full potential value by generating more love for the brand.   I only do two things:  1) Make Brands Better or 2) Make Brand Leaders Better.  I have a reputation as someone who can find growth where others can’t, whether that’s on a turnaround, re-positioning, new launch or a sustaining high growth.  And I love to make Brand Leaders better by sharing my knowledge.  Im a marketer at heart, who loves everything about brands.  My background includes 20 years of CPG marketing at companies such as Johnson and Johnson, Pfizer Consumer, General Mills and Coke.  My promise to you is that I will get your brand and your team in a better position for future growth. Add me on LinkedIn at http://www.linkedin.com/in/grahamrobertson1 so we can stay connected.

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10 “Stop It’s” to avoid failing on the Customer Experience

The most Beloved Brands create a brand experience that lives up to even over-delivers against the brand’s promise.  I always like to remind myself that the customer is the most selfish animal on the planet, and deservedly so, because they have given you their hard-earned money.  Brand Leaders are always fixated on driving demand to increase share and sales.  Yet they usually only reach for marketing tactics like advertising, special promotion or new products.  It takes years to get customers to change their behavior and move away from their favorite brand and try yours.  Yet it takes seconds of bad service for you to lose a customer for life.

There are five sources of connection for a brand 1) Brand Promise:  Positioning 2) Strategy:  Plan  3) The Brand Story:  Communication 4) Freshness:  Innovation and finally 5) The Experience:  impacted by the culture and operations. As Brand Leaders, we tend to think someone else is managing the customer experience.  But it’s all part of the brand and you should be constantly managing the customer experience so it over-delivers against the brand promise.  The brand promise is not just for great external communication.  It equally acts as an internal beacon for the company’s culture to look to for how to behave and so the organization is set up to deliver.

Here’s 10 things you can Stop Doing:

Bad Service Rule #1:  Stop It with the attitude of “I’m in shirts not ties”.  It can be extremely frustrating walking up to an employee of a store who has no clue about anything but their own little world.  And even worse when they just point and say “go over there”.  The better service is those who take the extra step by jumping in and helping and those know what’s going on in every part of the brand–not just their own world.   Try asking someone at Whole Foods where something is and they will walk you right over to the product you’re asking about and ask if you need anything else.

Bad Service Rule #2:  Stop It when you make the customer do the work.  The airlines have been shifting all their work over to customers for years–boarding pass, bag tag and now even lifting your suitcase up onto the conveyor belt.  While it might help you control your costs in the short-term, you’ll never be a Beloved Brand and you’ll never be able to charge a premium price for your services.  Instead, in a highly price competitive marketplace, you just end up passing those cost savings onto to the customer in lower prices.  No wonder most airlines are going bankrupt.

Bad Service Rule #3:  Stop It when you feel compelled to bring up the fine print when dealing with a customer problem.  Last week I had a computer problem, but I felt extra confident because I had paid extra money to get the TOTAL service plan.  Yet with my first computer problem I was told the TOTAL service plan did not include hardware,software, water damage or physical damage.  With a computer, what else is there?   As a consumer, I had gone through the brand funnel–from consideration to purchase–and made a choice to buy your brand.  Yet, at the first sign of my frustration with your brand you are deciding to say to me “don’t come back”.  I had a problem with my iPod a few years ago and returned it to the Apple store.  They went into the back room and got a new iPod for me and said “would you like us to transfer all your songs over?”.  I was stunned.  Apple took a problem and turned me into a happy customer who wanted to spend even more money with them.

Bad Service Rule #4:  Stop It when you send a phone call to an answering machine.  We’ve all experienced this and secretly many of us have done this.  Now if you know you’re going to get a machine, it’s OK to say “is it OK if you get their machine”.   But willingly sending a caller into a machine is just plain lazy and it says you just don’t care.  Treat them with the respect that a paying customer has earned with you and make sure there is a human on the other line.

Bad Service Rule #5:  Stop It with processes that make it look like you’ve never been a customer before.  While brand leaders tend to think they own the strategy and advertising, it is equally important that you also own the customer experience.  While the positive view of the purchase process is driven by a brand funnel, you should also use a “Leaky Bucket” analysis to understand where and why you are losing customers.   It is hard work to get a customer into your brand funnel, it is great discipline to move them through that brand funnel by ensuring that every stage is set up to make it easy for the customer to keep giving you money.  Step into the shoes of your customers and experience the brand through their eyes on a regular basis so you can effectively manage the experience.  When you find leaks to the brand funnel, find ways to close them so you can hang on to the customers you’ve worked so hard to get into the doors.

Bad Service Rule #6:  Stop It with the trying to win every customer interaction.  Last year after Christmas I was lucky enough to be 34th in the return line.  For some reason they put the most angry person they could find to manage the returns line.  With every customer, this guy was hell-bent on trying to break the customer’s spirit so they’d avoid returning the product.   As I watched, I felt like I was headed into a police interrogation.  On the other hand, if you want to see a comfortable returns policy, try returning something at Costco.  They take the stance that they are on the side of their “members” and help you go up against the big bad manufacturers.  If you don’t have your receipt, they’ll print it out for you.  At Costco, the returns process is where they earn that $50-100 membership price.  Just maybe you should start treating your customers like members and see if it forces you to see things differently.

Bad Service Rule #7:  Stop It when you are explaining your problems instead of listening to the customer’s problems.  When a place is completely messed up, some people feel compelled to tell you how stupid they think this is. Unfortunately, this constantly complaining ‘why me’ attitude can quickly become systemic and contagious within the culture.  It takes an effort to turn the culture around–laying in service values, driving process that helps reward good service, and driving personal accountability within everyone.

Bad Service Rule #8:  Stop It with the hollow apologies that seems like you are reading from a manual.  No one wants to deal with people who just feel like they are going through the motions.  It’s crucial that you set up a culture that is filled with authentic people who have a true passion for customers.  TD Bank retail staff does an exceptional job in being real with customers.  When you consider that they hire from the same pool of talent as all the other banks, it’s obviously the culture of caring about their customers that really makes the difference in separating their customer experience from others.

Bad Service Rule #9:  Stop It when you try using my complaint call as a chance to up-sell me  The only up-sell is to get me to come back again.   Last month, I had an issue with my internet being way too slow.  When I called my local service provider, instead of addressing how bad their current service was, the first response was to try selling me a better service plan that with a higher monthly fee and a higher priced modem.  And then all of a sudden, they tried to sell me a home security system.   If a customer is a point of frustration, why would they want to pay you even more money for a bad service.  You haven’t earned my business.  The best in class service is the Ritz Carlton who proactively look to turn customer problems into a chance to WOW the customer.  It’s built right into the culture as employees are encouraged to brainstorm solutions and empowered with up to $2,000.  Instead of up-selling, the Ritz spends the extra effort to ensure you’re satisfied with the service you’ve already paid for.

Bad Service Rule #10:  Stop It when it just becomes a job for you and you forget the passion you have for the business.  When your team starts to feel like they have no power, they just start to show up as pencil-pushing bureaucrats.  There’s no passion left–as it’s been sucked out by a culture with a complacent attitude and a bunch of check in-check out types who follow the job description and never do anything beyond it.  Ask yourself “why do you come to work” and if the answer doesn’t show up in your work, then you know that the culture needs a complete overhaul.  If you don’t love the work, then how do you expect your customer to love the brand?  

Brand = Culture

Beloved Brands create an exceptional customer experience.  They know it’s not just about advertising and innovation.  As a consumer, I’ve become spoiled by the best of the brands who raise the bar and continue to surprise and delight me.  Think of how special you feel when you are dealing with Disney, Starbucks and Apple.  And compare that to how demoralized you feel when dealing with the airlines, utilities and electronics shops.  For the Beloved Brands, they understand that Culture and Brand are One.  The Brand becomes an internal beacon for the culture—and the brand’s people have to genuinely be the strongest most outspoken fans who spread the brand’s virtues.

As you look at your own customer experience, take a walk in your customers shoes and see where your customer would rate you.   Are they with you because they love you and want to be with you or because they have to be with you?  Even though they like the product, they may be indifferent to your brand.  And they’ll be gone at the first chance at an alternative.  And as a brand leader, your brand is likely stuck on a rational promise, unable to separate yourself from competitors and instead you are left competing on price and promotion.

  • Begin by holding the culture up the lens of the brand DNA and ensure the right team in place to deliver against the needs of the brand.
  • Start finding ways to create a culture that is more consumer centric (customer first)
  • Begin to push the culture to create a unique delivery of the product experience.  Use Leaky Bucket analysis to take a walk in yoru customers shoes and to address weaknesses.
  • Set up forums for innovation—that create an energy through the culture and one that starts to take risks on the best ideas.
  • Use a purpose driven vision, with a set of beliefs and values to challenge the team to create and deliver that experience.
  • Begin using power of a loved brand to attract and retain the best.  Find fans of the brand who will become your front line spokespeople.  They bring that passion for the brand.  Just ask the guys in the blue shirts at the Apple stores.

Here’s a presentation on what makes a Beloved Brand:

 

To read How Beloved Brands fall from grace, follow this link:  how-beloved-brands-fall-from-grace

 

About Graham Robertson: I’m a marketer at heart, who loves everything about brands.  My background includes 20 years of CPG marketing at companies such as Johnson and Johnson, Pfizer Consumer, General Mills and Coke. The reason why I started Beloved Brands Inc. is to help brands realize their full potential value by generating more love for the brand.   I only do two things:  1) Make Brands Better or 2) Make Brand Leaders Better.  I have a reputation as someone who can find growth where others can’t, whether that’s on a turnaround, re-positioning, new launch or a sustaining high growth.  And I love to make Brand Leaders better by sharing my knowledge. My promise to you is that I will get your brand and your team in a better position for future growth.  To read more about Beloved Brands Inc., visit http://beloved-brands.com/inc/   or visit my Slideshare site at http://www.slideshare.net/GrahamRobertson/presentations where you can find numerous presentations on How to be a Great Brand Leader.  Feel free to add me on Linked In at http://www.linkedin.com/in/grahamrobertson1  or on follow me on Twitter at @GrayRobertson1

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How Come the “Occupy” Brand Never Reached Beloved Status?

The Wall Street Occupy movement felt grass roots, authentic and natural. The rest feel contrived and confused.

Forget your political affiliations or how mad you are.  I’m actually a liberal minded person.  Will we remember the “Occupy” brand five years from now?   If it’s the Left’s answer to the Tea Party, has it achieved the same connection and passion with their followers?     A clear and confused NO!!!

In NYC, the Occupy Wall Street had some early passion and it started to make the news.  People were clearly upset that during the recessions of the last few years, mad that the rich didn’t suffer, and even more mad that the evil bankers didn’t suffer.  The stats around 99-1 are very interesting and highlight a problem with Capitalism if not controlled.   Capitalism still has a place, but needs checks and balances.

With Occupy, people moved quickly to Love It stage, but with no direction, most have fallen back down to Indifferent.

In terms of looking at Occupy as a brand, let’s keep in mind that Brands move from Indifferent to Like It to Love and then a Brand for Life.  It seems that Occupy, quickly connected with a nerve among the people and moved quickly to the Like It stage, gaining very quick awareness.   Polls in early October showed strong support for the movement—much stronger than the Tea Party.   But then what?   Occupy as a brand is really just an idea at this point, but has yet to really turn into a movement.   It’s something that people want to latch onto.  It’s a promise, a concept, the hope of a movement.   All Brands are really just a promise—but it’s the best of brands can take that promise and clearly articulate their difference and then deliver that promise in a consistent manner.   Occupy can’t right now, and is at risk of diminishing to the point where people once connected at the early days are just falling back into the Indifferent camp.   The Occupy brand appears to be losing steam.  More recent polls have shown a steady decline and people are ready to move on.

So where did things go so wrong, in such a short period?

  1. No Consistent Message:  The early Occupiers refused to lay down the core message.   Because it was a grass roots movement, they didn’t want to dictate to others how they should feel.   They welcomed all, with all types of bitter messages.  So what happens to a brand that has a vague message or too many messages?   Nothing gets through to the consumer.   That’s advertising 101.  Even those who moved to the Like It stage were looking for direction that would take them to the Love it Stage.   But there was nothing.   Even the Wikipedia page on the Occupy movement can’t really articulate it in one sentence.  On the other hand, The Tea Party has one defining message:  Taxes are Too High and our Government is wasting our money.   They’ve stuck to it, refusing to get into political debates connecting to social policies, abortion, capital punishment etc.   That gives the people who are mad about taxes something to stay connected to.  The Tea Party movement now looks like it has a lasting power as a brand.
  2. The Occupy Brand Spread Too Fast, Too soon to where it didn’t Make Sense Anymore.   The Occupying Wall Street which is the symbolic place of evil bankers and CEO’s walking off with the money makes sense.  But that message resonates less when it spreads to Occupy Toronto where that same thing didn’t happen, or Occupy Portland or Occupy Vancouver or even Occupy Kingston Ontario.   While I’m sure the Occupy movement was excited to see it spread to so many places, it does feel like a retailer spreading their franchises too fast too soon.
  3. Those Occupying Changed Dramatically and it Impacts the Emotional Connection:   The original Occupy Wall Street projected a groundswell of “Average Americans” upset with the system.   People who had been burned and were “mad as hell and not going to take it”.  More recently, we’ve started to see Unions get involved—I get that they aren’t in the 1%, but they’ve shared and benefited in the same way as the bankers and CEOs.  Bail outs to Auto Giants kept Union jobs alive at $38 an hour to watch a machine put molding on the side of Buick.   The entry of Unions looks bad on the original groundswell idea.  And recently, there’s been a drug overdose in Vancouver and looting reported in many cities near the occupations.   It now looks like a bunch of Teenagers or Hippies, not your “Average Americans”.  This change makes it harder for the average person to stay emotionally connected and while people were at the Like It Stage looking to move to the Love It stage, many are now falling back to the Indifferent.   Polls now show most people support “clearing out the occupiers” in their cities.

    This sign says so much about the Authenticity of the movement.

  4. The Occupy Brand Never got to the Action Stage:   Classic marketing plans have a vision and mission, which is half articulated.   But what about the strategies, tactics and executional plan?    People are protesting that change is needed, but then no action plan is developed to make change happen?   People are screaming that the gap between rich and poor in the US is real and something needs to be done.   If Occupy wants to be a brand that continues, it needs an action plan.   Looking at the traditional brand funnel, they’ve generated the awareness and consideration but that’s purely a rational connection for consumers.  There is nothing to enable consumers to really take action.   Are they using social media?   Have they connected into a political movement with a leader, policies, candidates and even a few wins?   Is there a bill being sent forth in the name of the Occupy movement?    The Tea Party has all that and it’s what is keeping their consumers connected to their brand.  The Tea Party scored points among their followers this summer by forcing Obama into a corner of cutting spending.

    The Occupy movement was all about the head but no generated no real Action, never getting to the heart.

Unfortunately, the Occupy Brand looks like it’s a leaderless, rudderless brand in free fall.  There’s nothing for consumers to hang on to.  People are back to Indifferent.  And sadly, it could be gone by Christmas when we begin to drive that wheel of capitalism again–one more attempt to spend our way out of the recession.   In 9 more years, on one of those “Decade In Review” shows,  someone will mention “Occupy” as the big thing of 2011 and we’ll all smile and say “oh yeah, I remember that”. 

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GAP Clothing: The fall from BELOVED all the way to INDIFFERENT

GAP Clothing was once a BELOVED Brand, back in the middle of the 1990s.  It was loved by consumers, envied by marketers and revered in the retailing world.  In 1990, it celebrated it’s 1000th store opening and was the place to go for stylish trendy clothing at a reasonable price.    At one point, GAP had an Inventory Rotation of “8 seasons” per year, just to keep up with the consumer’s desire to see new products as they walked through the GAP stores for the umpteenth time.  Consumers couldn’t get enough of GAP.

Fast forward to 2011, GAP Clothing sales are down 19% this year and down over 25% since the peak of 2005.  And they’ve just announced the closing of 200 stores–which will continue the downward spiral.   Who cares about inventory turns when people aren’t even walking into the stores?

This year,  GAP filed a lawsuit against GAP Adventures saying they felt having the co-existance of the two brand names  “caused confusion in the marketplace”.   Considering that GAP Adventures is having a record year and is one of the most BELOVED brands in the adventure travel business, you would think GAP Clothing would think that confusion was a good thing.   For GAP Clothing to be complaining about being mixed up with GAP Adventures feels like George Castanza complaining about being mixed up with George Clooney.

In the 90s, Gap was Beloved Beyond Many. But in 10 years since, they've fallen to Like It and Now to Indifferent. Walk past a store and see if you care.

Brands ride THE LOVE CURVE, going from Indifferent to Like It to Love It and then it becomes a Brand For Life–at each stage gaining a more emotional consumer connection with the brand.   GAP Clothing rode this curve all through the 70s and 80s and by 1995, it had achieved the enviable “Brand For Life” status, which very few brands achieve.

Hard to be a Cool Teen when they also sell Maternity Clothes.

But GAP got greedy and forgot what made them great: trendy fashion for a stylish generation at a reasonable price. And who is the spokesperson for fashion:  the coolest people on earth…TEENAGERS of course.   Every generation of Teens believes they are the most important people on earth and they want products that speak out for their generation.  It’s all about them.   They influence Music, Movies, TV Shows and Clothing and believe each has to speak directly to them and for them.   Imagine being 15 in the late 90s, you’re walking in your favourite mall, trying to be as cool as can be, heading for your favourite clothing store.  All of a sudden, you look up and your favourite clothing brand is now flanked by BABY GAP on one side and GAP MATERNITY on the other side.   How could this brand speak for the teen generation, when your 2 year old nephews or your pregnant Aunt  are wearing the same clothes you’re wearing?  GAP also forgot about feeding that desire for leading edge, trendy clothing–the whole reason for that “8 seasons” rotation of inventory.  Go into a GAP store this year, and you’ll realize how boring and drab the products have become.  In terms of the LOVE CURVE, GAP Clothing has slid from the BELOVED status to Like It all the way down to INDIFFERENT.  No teenager today likes GAP.   They don’t even care.  Are you kidding me?   Duh.

New Logo that lasted a week. That's embarassing.

GAP is so confused as to what to do next.   So what do brands do when they are confused?   Well, they should look themselves right in the mirror, challenge themselves at the executive leadership team to address the issues directly with an honest assessment and a high willingness to change.  That’s the ideal.  Instead GAP did what a lot of brands do:  they changed their logo.  Oh god!!!  The logo change only lasted one week–such uproar that they pulled it so fast, no one really saw it.  So what did they do next?   They closed 200 stores.   Very strategic.   Bu-bye GAP.   Say hello to Benneton, Wranglers and Doc Martins  when you get to the obsolete stage.

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