There is a difference between a disruptor brand and a challenger brand. So, get it right!

disruptorEvery day I see people mess up by randomly using the key marketing words disruptor brand and challenger brand. I guess these words seem to convey an attitude that makes people think they are buzz words. But when it comes to strategy, they are quite different. The common link is they both take on an aggressive war games approach.

The disruptor brand takes on an entire category, by appearing so new and different. Once consumers see what they offer, all the current players seem outside of what consumers now want. The disruptor brand is a blue ocean strategy, so different, they appear to be alone on an island, far away from any competitors. Current competitors have two options to the disruptor; ignore or attack back. The problem is they are not be prepared to attack back. Any attempt to try to oppress the disruptor brand brings attention to the disruptor and fuels their cause.

On the other hand, the challenger brand takes on the leading power player brand and shifts the perception of the leader, and set themselves up as the winner of this war. A challenger brand is a red ocean strategy, so close to the category leader, they are defiant in their attack. The category leader has two choices to fight the challenger brand; attack back or be killed. This is the reason I always say that a challenger brand should reposition the leader’s strength into a weakness, as it handcuffs the leader’s ability for the brand to attack back.

Evolution of brand strategy

Brands must evolve their strategy as they move from the craft brand to the power player brand

Many brands start in someone’s garage or over a kitchen table at midnight. Start-ups should deploy a craft brand strategy. To stand out, you must be utterly different to a core group of trend influencers who are frustrated with the major competitors.  

As your brand grows, you can transition to a disruptor brand strategy. Utilize your core audience of trend influencers to gain a core base of early adopters. While a craft brand attracts the attention of trend influencers, the disruptor brand must dial up their aggressive stance and call out the major brands.  

As your brand continues to grow, you can use your increased resources and power to take on a challenger brand strategy against the leader. You can use the influence of the trend influencers and early adopters to attract the early mass audience.

At the power player stage, the strategy shifts to maintaining your leadership position. You should take on a defensive strategy, to attack in response to any player who threatens your brand. While the trend influencers and early adopters played a considerable role in making the brand a household name, you have to be comfortable that your earliest brand fans will eventually leave your brand and look for what is next. 

How to find your space in the market to win

To find the competitive space in which your brand can win, I introduce a Venn diagram of competitive situations that we will use throughout this discussion.  

You will see three circles. The first circle comprises everything your consumer wants or needs. The second circle includes everything your brand does best, including consumer benefits, product features or proven claims. And, finally, the third circle lists what your competitor does best.

Your brand’s winning zone (in green), is the space that matches up “What consumers want” with “What your brand does best.” This space provides you a distinct positioning you can own and defend from attack. Your brand must be able to satisfy the consumer needs better than any other competitor can.

Your brand will not survive by trying to compete in the losing zone (in red), which is the space that matches the consumer needs with “What your competitor does best.” When you play in this space, your competitor will beat you every time.

As markets mature, competitors copy each other. It has become harder to be better with a definitive product win. Many brands have to play in the risky zone (in grey), which is the space where you and your competitor both meet the consumer’s needs in a relative tie.

There are four ways you can win the risky zone:

    • Use your brand’s power in the market to squeeze out smaller, weaker brands.
    • Be the first to capture that space to earn a reputation you can defend
    • Win with innovation and creativity to make your brand seem unique
    • Build a deeper emotional connection to make your brand seem different

Sadly, I always have to mention the dumb zone (in blue) where two competitors “battle it out” in the space consumers do not care.  One competitor says, “We are faster,” and the other brand says, “We are just as fast.” No one bothered to ask the consumer if they care about speed. Both brands are dumb.

So, what is a challenger brand?

Challenger brands must change the playing field by amplifying what your brand does best while simultaneously repositioning the power player brand you want to take down.

While your first instinct would be to attack the power player’s weakness, the smarter move is to reposition one of the power player’s well-known strengths into a perceived weakness. This strategy helps move the power player brand outside of what consumers want.

When you attack a power player brand, be ready for the leader’s potential defensive moves and anticipate a response with full force, as the power player brand has more significant resources than you. You also need to be highly confident that your attack will make a positive impact before you begin to enter into a war. The worst situation is to start a war you cannot win, as it will drain your brand’s limited resources, only to end up with the same market share after the war.

Since the power player leader tries to be everything to everyone, you can narrow your attack to slice off those consumers who are frustrated with the leading brand. Tap into their frustration to help kickstart a migration of consumers away from the leader. If you can gain these lost consumers, you can quickly change share positions.

Example of challenger brands

One of the best examples of a challenger brand that made significant gains is the Pepsi Challenge from the 1970s. It was a direct offensive attack on Coke. In blind taste tests, Pepsi was the preferred brand. Pepsi is a much sweeter taste, so in a quick hit, it was the chosen brand. Coke is an acquired and memorable taste. The blind taste test took away the Coke brand name and the emotional feelings of that brand. At the same time, Pepsi amplified its strength as the “new generation” and positioned the brand as the solution to consumers ready to reject the “old taste” of Coke. This approach was so powerful it was even a contributing factor to the launch of a sweeter “New Coke.”

Then, what is a disruptor brand? 

Disruptor brands move into a blue ocean space, all by themselves. They use a new product, distribution channel, target market or price point. They are so different they appear to be the only brand that can satisfy the consumer’s changing needs.

When successful, the disruptor brand repositions the major players, making them appear unattached to consumers.

While everyone wants a game-changer, it is a high-risk, high-reward competitive situation. The trick is you have to be “so different” to catch the consumer’s attention and mindshare. Being profoundly different increases the risk you may fail. Also, your success may invite other entrants to follow. At that point, you become the new power player of the new segment. You have to continue attacking the major players while defending against new entrants who attack your brand.

Examples of disruptor brands

Uber, Netflix, and Airbnb are contemporary brands that effectively use modern technology to create such a unique offering that they cast major category-leading brands or entire industries as outdated and outside what consumers want. Uber disrupted the taxi market, Netflix is revolutionizing the way we watch TV, and Airbnb has had a dramatic impact on hotels. These brands have a smarter ordering system, better service levels, and significantly lower prices.

To learn more about this type of thinking, you should explore my new book, Beloved Brands.

With Beloved Brands, you will learn everything you need to know so you can build a brand that your consumers will love.

You will learn how to think strategically, define your brand with a positioning statement and a brand idea, write a brand plan everyone can follow, inspire smart and creative marketing execution and analyze the performance of your brand through a deep-dive business review.

Beloved Brands book

To order the e-book version or the paperback version from Amazon, click on this link: https://lnkd.in/eF-mYPe

If you use Kobo, you can find Beloved Brands in over 30 markets using this link: https://lnkd.in/g7SzEh4

And if you are in India, you can use this link to order: https://lnkd.in/gDA5Aiw

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

At Beloved Brands, our purpose is to help brands find a new pathway to growth. We believe that the more love your brand can generate with your most cherished consumers, the more power, growth, and profitability you will realize in the future.

We think the best solutions are likely inside you already, but struggle to come out. Our unique playbook tools are the backbone of our workshops. We bring our challenging voice to help you make decisions and refine every potential idea.

We start by defining a brand positioning statement, outlining the desired target, consumer benefits and support points the brand will stand behind. And then, we build a brand idea that is simple and unique enough to stand out in the clutter of the market, motivating enough to get consumers to engage, buy and build a loyal following with your brand.

We will help you write a strategic brand plan for the future, to get everyone in your organization to follow. It starts with an inspiring vision that pushes your team to imagine a brighter future. We use our strategic thinking tools to help you make strategic choices on where to allocate your brand’s limited resources.

Our brand playbook methodology will challenge you to unlock future growth for your brand

  1. Our deep-dive assessment process will give you the knowledge of the issues facing your brand, so you can build a smart plan to unleash future growth.
  2. Find a winning brand positioning statement that motivates consumers to buy, and gives you a competitive advantage to drive future growth.
  3. Create a brand idea to capture the minds and hearts of consumers, while inspiring and focusing your team to deliver greatness on the brand’s behalf.
  4. Build a brand plan to help you make smart focused decisions, so you can organize, steer, and inspire your team towards higher growth.
  5. Advise on advertising, to find creative that drives branded breakthrough and use a motivating messaging to set up long-term brand growth.
  6. Our brand training program will make your brand leaders smarter, so you have added confidence in their performance to drive brand growth.

To learn more about our coaching, click on this link: Beloved Brands Strategic Coaching

To learn more about our training programs, click on this link: Beloved Brands Training

If you need our help, email me at graham@beloved-brands.com or call me at 416 885 3911

You have my personal promise to help you solve your brand building challenges. I will give you new thinking, so you can unlock future growth for your brand.

Signature

Graham Robertson

Founder and CMO, Beloved Brands Inc.

 

 

Align the 5 consumer touch-points to build consumer connectivity and brand love

When we think of the most beloved brands–Starbucks, Apple, Ferrari, Disney, Nike or Mercedes–it’s really hard to figure out the ONE part of the brand that really makes it great. For example on Apple, I have heard: “Apple has the best products” or “they have the best ads” or “it’s actually the experience”. At Beloved Brands, we believe you need 5 magic moments that a brand must deliver at an extremely high degree in order to become a beloved brand:

  1. Brand Promise
  2. Brand Story
  3. Innovation
  4. Purchase Moment
  5. Experience
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Brand Promise: Create a simple brand promise that separates your brand from competitors, based on being better, different or cheaper. Try to use a brand positioning exercise to figure out your brand’s value proposition–we use a brand ladder (below) where we map out the target definition, product features, rational benefits and emotional benefits. To read more, click on this hyperlink: How to write a brand positioning statement

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Brand Story: At Beloved Brands, we see Advertising as a tool for telling your brand story in a way that creates a bond with consumers, to establish your brand’s positioning and to drive change in your consumers behavior that leads to higher sales, share and profit. You should use your brand story to motivate consumers to think, feel or act, while beginning to own a reputation in the mind and hearts of consumers. Here’s a hyperlink to a story on helping you judge advertising: Judging Advertising

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Innovation: Fundamentally sound product, staying at the forefront of trends and using technology to deliver on your brand promise. The trick with innovation is keeping the serendipity of an R&D team aligned, while pushing for a balance of blue ocean against staying within the perimeters of the brand strategy. New products have to meet consumer needs and many times creating a consumer need they didn’t even know they had. 

Purchase Moment: As consumers get near the purchase, there becomes this “moment of truth” when they have to make the final decision to buy. We manage the purchase moment using a buying system that maps out how consumers move through the purchase cycle and use channels, messaging, processes to make the final decision.

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Experience: Turn the usage of your product into an experience that becomes a ritual and favorite part of their day. One of the best brand experiences is Starbucks, providing consumers with more than just coffee, but rather an escape from daily grind a hectic life. At Starbucks, you find that little moment between home life and work life, a cool atmosphere indie music and leather chairs, a barista that knows your name and your drink, you can order in Italian and one of the best things they manage to indirectly achieve–no screaming little kids.

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The brand becomes more powerful when everything is aligned under a “big idea” for your brand. In today’s crowded media world, consumers now see 6,000 brand messages every day. They have to quickly sort through those messages, rejecting most and only engaging in a few each day. It’s those brands who can communicate in a headline style idea will grab the consumers attention.

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Once you establish that big idea, you can align each of the 5 magic moments underneath that big idea. 

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Using the Big Idea map above, we can see the promise comes from the brand positioning, the brand story is told through advertising, the innovation is driven by R&D, the purchase moment is a combination of your sales team and your distribution strategy while the experience comes directly from how you manage the operations and culture of your organization. As you can start to see, everyone and every activity should be driven by the Big Idea. To show you how to use the Big Idea map, here’s the example using the Apple brand, showing how they align behind everything linked to the big idea of “simplicity”.

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

 

To read more about how to create a beloved brand, click on this presentation which is our workshop we lead around how to create a beloved brand: 

 

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

At Beloved Brands, we promise that we will make your brand stronger and your brand leaders smarter. We can help you come up with your brand’s Brand Positioning, Big Idea and Brand Concept.

custom_business_card_pile_15837We also can help create Brand Plans that everyone in your organization can follow and helps to focus your Marketing Execution. We provide a new way to look at Brand Management, that uses a provocative approach to align your brand to the sound fundamentals of brand management. 

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

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

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A Brand Vision should scare you a little, but excite you a lot!!!

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Every brand plan should start with a brand vision of where you want to be in the long term. Yet, too many brand leaders try to write their brand plans so quickly, they go directly to strategies and action plans. They never think far enough out (e.g. This is a one year plan) but rather just focus on HOW to win NOW with their get-it-done attitude.

But, if a brand vision answers “where could we be?” and the brand strategy answers “how can we get there?” then how could you ever write the strategy without knowing the vision. How can you write how to get there, if you don’t know where “there” is?

Imagine leaving the house, without knowing where you’re going.

Think of the brand vision as the end-in-mind goal of an ideal state where you would feel completely satisfied that you achieved it. To get to that idealized state, we always ask the question:

“If you woke up on January 1st, ten years from now, and you were in a great mood because of what was happening on the brand, then what are the three biggest things on your business that you would you have accomplished?

At first, we keep it as a “straw dog” vision, with 3 simple bullet points, knowing we can always word-smith it later. But we have found that we have to ask this same question 5+ times, because normally the first few answers are complete B.S., filled with corporate rhetoric, cool statements that look good but say very little and lines that try to please your boss rather than provide the authentic direction of where you could be. 

Does having a brand vision statement pay out?

Companies that have vision statements have a better sense of where they are going. And the proof that it pays off:

  • A Harvard Study across 20 industries looking at businesses showed that companies with vision statements saw their revenue grew more than four times faster; job creation was seven times higher; their stock price grew 12 times faster; and profit performance was 750% higher.
  • Newsweek looked at 1000 companies and found companies with vision statements had an average return on stockholder equity of 16.1%, while firms without them had only a 7.9% average return.
  • “Built to Last” showed that for companies with vision statements, that a $1 investment in 1926 would have returned $6,350 compared to only a return of $950 for comparable companies without a vision.

A brand vision helps to frame the overall brand plan

“Where could you be” should be a stake-in-the-ground that inspires and pushes you, while motivating others. It should scare you a little, but excite you a lot. Think of the Vision as the end in mind achievement towards your purpose. Some call them Big Hairy Audacious Goals (BHAGs). Even if it’s a one year plan, think 10 years out: if you became this one thing, you would know that you are successful. Ideally, balance the statement in the qualitative (want) and quantitative (measurable). It should be motivating and enticing to get people focused. It should be personal and speak to why you get up in the morning—supporting why you got into this business.

Things that Make a Good vision: 

  1. Easy for employees and partners to understand and rally around
  2. Think about something that can last 5-10 years or more
  3. Balance between aspiration (stretch) and reality (achievement)
  4. It’s ok to embed a financial ($x) or share position (#1) element into it as long as it’s important for framing the vision.

The watch outs for vision statements:

  1. It’s not a positioning statement.  Almost positioning neutral  Let the positioning come out in the strategy.
  2. Make sure we haven’t achieved it already.  If you are #2, then don’t put “be #2”.
  3. Don’t put strategic statements. Vision answers “where could we be” and not “how can we get there”
  4. Try to be single-minded: Tighten it up and don’t include everything!! Can you say it in an elevator. Can you actually remember it? Can you yell it at a sales meeting?

Your brand vision scare you a little, but excite you a lot. 

There is no value in having a brand vision that is easy to meet. I once had a client tell me their vision was “to be the #2 brand” and I said “what are you now” and they said “we are #2 now”.  I said “this was the easiest project I’ve ever worked on”.  Having an easy vision  won’t push you, stretch you or inspire you to work harder. A funny story: when my son was in 9th grade, his teacher asked on the first day “what grade do you hoped to achieve in the class?”  My son put a D. When I asked him why, he said “I like to over-achieve”. I would rather he put A+ and miss it, than a D and over-deliver. Imagine if he had an A- at the mid-term, the stretch vision would have motivated him to work even harder or change his habits to reach that stretch goal of an A+. Even if he fell short, he would have achieved an A. It’s better to narrowly miss a stretch vision that pushed and inspired you to work harder than to have an easy goal you cheerfully achieved. 

Below are a few examples of brand visions that will hopefully inspire you.

  • I love the Nike vision of “Crush Adidas”, written in the 1960s. I’m sure when they wrote that vision, it seemed somewhat insurmountable (scares you a little) but certainly provided a single-minded focus (excites you a lot) and steered them to actually crushing Adidas by the early 1980s, forcing Adidas to make a necessary come-back.  
  • Princess Margaret Hospital is a cancer hospital with a beautiful and inspiring vision to “conquer cancer in our lifetime”. This speaks to the ongoing on-going battle against cancer, but speaks to the purpose (the why) that everyone connected to the hospital lives and breathes everyday.
  • Lexmark took the inspiration even further by getting the employees to write the brand vision, because they are the brand. The idea of “customers for life” helps inspire and focus everyone who works for Lexmark. 

vision 2.001A well-articulated vision can really make a difference for employees, giving them both a challenge and focus to what they do each day. For service driven companies, where people are the brand it becomes essential.  Adding in brand values and even service values can help people in knowing what they should be doing each day and how they should be doing it. For a product driven brand, it can help all drive focus for all those working around the brand whether that’s ad agencies, R&D, sales or operations.

A brand vision has to stretch you, the point of uncertainty that you can actually meet it.

Slide1To see how a Brand Vision helps to frame the brand plan, read the following presentation: 

I run Brand Leader Training programs on this very subject as well as a variety of others that are all designed to make better Brand Leaders. Click on any of the topics below:

To see the training presentations, visit the Beloved Brands Slideshare site at: 

If you or team has any interest in a training program, please contact me at graham@beloved-brands.com

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How to build an Innovation Plan that fuels brand growth

Never let innovation for a brand be something that happens randomly. It should fit strategically under the brand. At Beloved Brands, we believe the best brands build everything that touches the brand around a Big Idea, that guides the 5 magic moments to create a beloved brand, including the brand promise, brand story, innovation, purchase moment and the brand experience.5 moments.001

When we take the 5 brand connectors above, we start to see how the big idea should guide every part of the organization, the promise is the positioning, the brand story becomes the marketing communication, the innovation helps frame what R&D should be focused on, the purchase moment connects the sales team to the channel strategy while the experience impacts the operations and culture of everyone in your organization.

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Taking that one step farther, we can see how the idea drives every part of your organization. If any employee connected to a brand, is not focused on their role in delivering the big Idea, they are not doing their jobs properly. Everyone should be looking to that brand idea as the beacon for how to focus their work.

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Innovation has to fit under the Big Idea. In nearly every organization, R&D is a separate function reporting up through the President, with the R&D head usually being a peer to the CMO. As the Brand Leader, beneath the CMO, you need to influence, manage and even direct your R&D counterparts to ensure they are focused on your brand strategy, We recommend every brand should have a 5-year Brand Strategy Road Map (see below) that has a combination of key elements of the brand plan such as vision, purpose, strategies and tactics matched up with the 5 connectors under the Big Idea. Slide11

The Innovation Plan

For most brands, your plan should have a separate innovation strategy that looks at new products, processes, methods and claims. The Innovation Plan falls under the Brand Plan and the strategies should align to the Brand Strategic Road Map. To build an effective Innovation Plan, we recommend that you explore the following: 

  1. The strategic role of innovation
  2. The art of being different
  3. Building an Innovation process

1. What’s the strategic role of Innovation 

As you’re looking at your brand strategy, you need to look at the brand from all sides. Here are four questions to be asking that force you to choose four possible solutions to each.

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  • What is your current share position in the market? Where you rank is a great indicator of how much power you can command in the market. You have four choices, using Marketing Warfare (Trout and Ries) you are either the Leader, Challenger, Niche or a Guerilla. The challenger type brands should to look at innovation as a strategic tool to break through with consumers and help separate itself from the leader. Conversely, the leader must quickly match every innovation the challenger puts forward to thwart them from gaining a competitive advantage.
  • What is the core strength that your brand can win on? Most brands should have a focus to what they win on, either winning on product, idea, experience or price. Product driven brands should focus on superiority, ensuring you invest in product Innovation to stay ahead of competitors. Conversely, experience brands should look at process innovation focused on making the experience even better–speed, simplicity and added service. Idea brands should build the innovation in support of building the idea, making sure that you continue to focus on “being different”. And for price brand, the innovation should drive cost out of the system.
  • How tightly connected is your consumer to your brand?Consumers move along a “Brand Love Curve”, as they become more connected to Brands, their feelings and behavior changes. We believe that brands move from Indifferent to Like It to Love It and finally to the Beloved stage. Where you are on the brand love curve should frame how you look at innovation. Brands at the indifferent stage should be looking to innovation as a tool to create some point of difference in the consumers mind, at the Like It stage you should use innovation to help separate the brand and create a following, and then as the brand moves to the Love It stage use innovation to build an emotional connection and turn your product into an experience. Finally, for a brand at the Beloved stage, you can use Innovation as a way to surprise and delight the consumer, as well as using innovation to attack yourself to improve yourself.Slide1
  • What is the current business situation that your brand faces? As your plans are designed to move your brand, you need to understand where they are before you can decide where you want to move them.

2. The art of being different

The classic launch formula we have all seen: do the basic product concept testing, hope for amoderate 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’reexcited. 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.

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

Push yourself to be different. The most Beloved Brands are different, better or cheaper. Or not around for very long.

Think about 4 possible types of launches:

  1. Good but Not Different
  2. Not Good and Not Different
  3. Different but not Good
  4. Good and Different

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  • Good 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. 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.

3. Innovation Process

It’s important that you make innovation part of the culture, with
regular brainstorming, consistent stages of approval and a certain diligence and oversight on decisions. While innovation takes creative energy, it should never be a random process (unless you are 3M)

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  • Identify New Opportunities: It’s crucial that you are constantly listening, observing and identifying consumer needs, market trends and pain points that need solving. We recommend a regular brainstorming process to ensure you have more ideas in the pipeline. Include a cross section of the organization, outside agencies and a process for creativity to ensure that you diverge to allow the group freedom for new ideas and then converge against the best ideas. Using the ideas, build concepts that you can use with consumers–a balance of qualitative and quantitative research. You want to identify  uniqueness, potential size of the opportunity, own-ability/strategic fit, and any consumer feedback that might help optimize or twist the idea. This must be a constant and regularly scheduled mining of ideas.
  • Create an innovation pipeline: We would suggest you build a 5 year pipeline of ideas. Short term ideas should go through concept refinement, in market testing and a stage-gate decision process with management. Stage-gate decisions include approval of the  execution plan and milestones from production to launch. To have a robust pipeline, you need longer term ideas that may still be in need of further concept refinement or potential technology discovery through your R&D team.  
  • Go to Market Implementation: Depending on the importance of key innovation, you should consider putting your best people on the team. With an important launch, the difference between good and great can make a huge difference. There are lots of heavy lifting on the back-end, including naming, logos, packaging, production, channel plan. From there, you need to build marketing support: advertising, presentations and in-store support. With each launch, you need to eventually hand over to a launch team, including marketing, sales, operations.

The best Innovation is creatively well planned, not randomly disorganized

Slide1Do 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. 

We make Brands better.

We make Brand Leaders better.™

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

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Do “Blue Ocean” opportunities really exist? Or is it all just “Red Ocean”?

fedex-blue-ocean-strategy-1-638People love brainstorming “blue ocean” ideas where they’ll talk about how to create their own uncontested market space and make competition irrelevant. I’ve participated in those sessions and admit they are a blast. It’s a great tool for opening up business minds that might be stuck, get them out of the usual and explore where else you could go.
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At Beloved Brands, we always start with the consumer so that we ensure we are meeting the needs of consumers rather than blindly putting things out into the marketplace that no one wants. However, the second check is the competitive nature of your positioning to make sure I’m not blindly putting things out that someone is already doing. Murder and Strategy have one thing in common, they both start with opportunity. Yes, finding those blue ocean strategies, can create opportunities.However, the reality is that most brands play in a highly competitive space where every gain you make, comes at the expense of someone else, who is also constantly trying to win. Netflix has dramatically impacted network television and movie theatres, Uber is experiencing fights across North America with Taxi companies and Municipal governments and Amazon is fighting against brands selling direct. While you might use Blue Ocean to create these type of ideas, you have to use Red Ocean when you start to run these businesses. Be prepared that anytime you take a dollar away from someone, they will fight back.

How to win in a Red Ocean world

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

The key is to find a unique selling proposition for your brand.  You don’t always need to find a rational point of difference as long as there is room to be emotionally unique.Slide04

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

Competitive Warfare

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

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

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

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

The leader uses defensive strategies

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

The challenger brand uses offensive strategies

The best offensive attack is to actually find weakness within the Leader’s strengths. Turn a perceived strength around is very powerful. Attack a weakness might be insufficient. Be careful of the Leader’s Defensive moves. Anticipate a response with full force—possibly even greater than yours. Avoid wars that drain resources and hold same share after the war. Attack on as narrow of a front as possible to ensure your resources are put to that area—which might be more force than the leader puts to that one area. Narrow attacks are effective when the leader tries to be all things to all people—enabling you to slice off a part of their business before they can defend it. Leapfrog Strategy, technology and business models are game-changers in the category.Slide2

The flanker brand stays clear of any battles

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

Guerrilla warfare wins where no one notices or cares

Pick a segment small enough that it won’t be noticed and you’ll be able to defend it. Be aggressive. Put all your resources against this small area, so that you’ll have the relative force of a major player. Be flexible and nimble. You’ll need to enter quickly to seize an opportunity that others aren’t noticing, but also be ready to exit if need be—whether the consumers change their minds or competitors see an opportunity to enter. Explore non-traditional marketing techniques to get your brand message out and your brand into the market quickly. Because you’re playing in a non-traditional market, you’ll be given leeway on the tools you use. For Guerrilla brands, it is better to be loved by the few, than liked or tolerated by many.Slide1

Marketing Warfare Rules for Success

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

In a red ocean world, you need to efficiently own your territory and ruthlessly beat your competitors.

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. 

We make Brands better.

We make Brand Leaders better.™

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

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The real reason mobile advertising doesn’t work is that it is ANNOYING AS &#%$@

I keep hearing how Brand Leaders should be spending more of their advertising dollars on Mobile Advertising. The argument goes like this: 25% of all media is now consumed on a smart phone yet only 5% of advertising dollars are spent on mobile. So based on that gap, “Brand Leaders need to get better at mobile.” That logic makes sense if you are media-centric, but if you are consumer-centric, it may not hold.

The main reason that mobile advertising is struggling is that consumers hate advertising on their cell phones. wifi-foundationAs a consumer, there’s nothing worse than looking something important up on your cell phone, having moderate reception and then some ad starts chugging on your phone….and chug chug chug..it takes 3 minutes to figure out where to click to get rid of the annoying ad. I’m not sure that I want my brand connected to such a negative experience for consumers. Yes, consumers can be annoyed by TV ads or outdoor billboards clutter the environment or plastering ads on a sports jersey can destroy spirit of the uniform. However, consumers view their cell phones as their personal space, wifi is considered a precious commodity and the limited space for mobile can sometimes make the ad more annoying than useful. Most times consumers using their phones might be quickly looking up sports scores, finding directions or phone numbers to call or they might be just escaping into social media options during their lunch hour. Rather than always interrupting that consumer, mobile advertisers should be figuring out how to be a positive part of that consumer experience. Rather than challenging Brand Leaders to be better at mobile, my challenge is for Mobile Advertisers to figure out more creative ways to deliver brand messages.

Our definition of Media includes “be where consumers are most willing to engage”

At Beloved Brands, we believe that media is an investment at touch points where consumers are most willing to engage in the story. Media should be used to create a bond with consumers, to establish your brand’s positioning, to learn about your consumers and to influence a change in your consumers behavior (think, act or feel) that leads to higher sales, share and profit. With social media, advertising has taken quite a few steps forward: more engagement, allows for two-way dialogue, empowers the consumer and has a degree of timeliness to match up to the consumers life. Unfortunately, mobile advertising has the potential to take a step back: annoying, interrupting and most of the mobile ads just feel like they are yelling at the consumer. Based on that high annoyance factor, mobile advertising currently fails when it comes to “willing to engage”. 

It’s safe to say that awareness by itself should never the end goal of media. In a crowded media world, an ad that is seen but with little engagement is almost a wasted investment. When I was running a marketing team, any plan that came to me saying “drive awareness” would be sent back for deeper thinking. It’s never enough. Media must balance efficiency and effectiveness with impact to create a change in the consumers’ behavior. Mobile must be shown to do more than drive basic awareness and find new creative ways to engage the consumers.

At Beloved Brands, we never recommend that you start with the media. While it’s tempting to get excited by the shiny new media toy of the month, we recommend that you always start with the consumer and then the brand strategy.

Where is your consumer?

I know I know. Everyone is so excited about all the new media tools and options that we tend to forget about the consumer. Last year I attended a huge show on Digital Media and after a day I kept saying “there seems to be something missing: THE CONSUMER”  It was actually shocking and annoying to me as a marketer that every speaker failed to talk about the consumer, the brands, the strategies. They just talked about their fixation on what these little media devices could do.

As brand leaders, we have to believe that everything must start and end with the consumer in mind. They are our only source of revenue that starts off every P&L statement. Never forget them. Our consumers have relationships with brands–ranging from a completely impersonal relationship all the way up to a favorite part of their day. How tightly connected your consumer is to your brand can impact both the brand strategy and media choices you’ll make. In the consumer’s mind, brands sit on a hypothetical Brand Love Curve, with brands going from Indifferent to Like It to Love It and finally becoming a Beloved brand for life. 

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You can see how the buying system above might match up to where the consumer is on that Love Curve. The problem I have with many media options, is people at the INDIFFERENT stage think they need a Facebook page (which may not generate enough of a following) and some brands at the BELOVED stage still hammer away at the 30 second TV ad (with the same message the consumer has heard for the past 10 years). Use the buying system as a tool to find forces you to look at your brand through the eyes of your consumer, it will help identify where you have gaps as a brand and provide a pathway to move your consumers through the buying system and along the Brand Love Curve so that you can build a tighter connection with your consumer.Slide1

Mobile advertising appears a useful tool at driving basic awareness or triggering quick purchases. If my brand was at the INDIFFERENT or LIKE IT stage, I may add simple mobile messages to help re-enforce what I’m saying through other media options. However, mobile needs to improve if it wants to be a media tool that really connects with consumers. If my brand is LOVED or BELOVED, I’d fear using mobile and upset my consumer. I’d likely prefer social using social media vehicles that give consumers the choice and power to engage or not. 

What is your strategy?

My fear is that some modern marketers are becoming tacticians choosing activity over strategy. Sometimes, doing something feels better than making choices what to do and what not to do. To figure out your strategic options, we recommend that you go back to the Brand Love Curve (see below), so that you can start to understand HOW to move to the next stage. A brand at the INDIFFERENT stage needs to establish itself in the consumers mind, brands at the LIKE IT stage need to separate itself from the pack and create a following, brands at the LOVE IT stage need to tug at the heartstrings of those consumers who have shown some love in order to tighten the bond and finally those brands at the BELOVED stage need to find a way to continue the magic and activate the most loyal followers turning them into fans.

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Here is a guideline for Brand Leaders to use in their plans with the 16 possible strategies to use. For instance at the Indifferent stage, you can use a mind shift, mind share, new news or a turnaround to establish your brand in the consumers mind.

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Use this as a guideline to get you started on your plan and you may need to add specific flavoring to your situation. Out of these 16 potential brand strategies, mobile advertising might be best suited to highlight new news on a brand, trigger penetration or provide simple reasons to continue to love the brand. But mobile advertising might not offer enough messaging options to change perceptions and I’m not seeing mobile tools I’d want to use to target those who already love my brand. This may be where those managing Mobile Advertising alter their tools to better fit a broader range of strategy options for Brand Leaders to utilize.

Brand Leaders need to stay focused on the consumer and the strategy, not the media options. Any media choice has to fit the strategy, never choosing the media and coming up with a strategy that utilizes the media.

Mobile Advertisers need to get more creative to deliver brand messages that don’t annoy consumers

Below is our workshop on media. We don’t come at this as media experts, but rather as a brand leader who needs to make media decisions.

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

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The 5 magic moments needed to create a beloved brand

When we think of the most beloved brands–Starbucks, Apple, Ferrari, Disney, Nike or Mercedes–it’s really hard to figure out the ONE part of the brand that really makes it great. For example on Apple, I have heard: “Apple has the best products” or “they have the best ads” or “it’s actually the experience”. At Beloved Brands, we believe you need 5 magic moments that a brand must deliver at an extremely high degree in order to become a beloved brand:

  1. Brand Promise
  2. Brand Story
  3. Innovation
  4. Purchase Moment
  5. Experience

5 things aligned to create love.001Brand Promise: Create a simple brand promise that separates your brand from competitors, based on being better, different or cheaper. Try to use a brand positioning exercise to figure out your brand’s value proposition–we use a brand ladder (below) where we map out the target definition, product features, rational benefits and emotional benefits. To read more, click on this hyperlink: How to write a brand positioning statementSlide09

Brand Story: At Beloved Brands, we see Advertising as a tool for telling your brand story in a way that creates a bond with consumers, to establish your brand’s positioning and to drive change in your consumers behavior that leads to higher sales, share and profit. You should use your brand story to motivate consumers to think, feel or act, while beginning to own a reputation in the mind and hearts of consumers. Here’s a hyperlink to a story on helping you judge advertising: Judging Advertisingrole of adv.001

Innovation: Fundamentally sound product, staying at the forefront of trends and using technology to deliver on your brand promise. The trick with innovation is keeping the serendipity of an R&D team aligned, while pushing for a balance of blue ocean against straying within the perimeters of the brand strategy. New products have to meet consumer needs and many times creating a consumer need they didn’t even know they had. 

Purchase Moment: As consumers get near the purchase, there becomes this “moment of truth” when they have to make the final decision to buy. How we manage that, is we use a buying system to map out how consumers move through the purchase cycle and use channels, messaging, processes to make the final decision.buying system.001

Experience: Turn the usage of your product into an experience that becomes a ritual and favorite part of their day. One of the best brand experiences is Starbucks, providing consumers with more than just coffee, but rather an escape from daily grind a hectic life. At Starbucks, you find that little moment between home life and work life, a cool atmosphere indie music and leather chairs, a barista that knows your name and your drink, you can order in Italian and one of the best things they manage to indirectly achieve–no screaming little kids. starbucks experience.001

The brand becomes more powerful when everything is aligned under a “big idea” for your brand. In today’s crowded media world, consumers now see 6,000 brand messages every day. They have to quickly sort through those messages, rejecting most and only engaging in a few each day. It’s those brands who can communicate in a headline style idea will grab the consumers attention.big idea.001

Once you establish that big idea, you can align each of the 5 magic moments underneath that big idea. big idea map new.001Using the Big Idea map above, we can see the promise comes from the brand positioning, the brand story is told through advertising, the innovation is driven by R&D, the purchase moment is a combination of your sales team and your distribution strategy while the experience comes directly from how you manage the operations and culture of your organization. As you can start to see, everyone and every activity should be driven by the Big Idea. To show you how to use the Big Idea map, here’s the example using the Apple brand, showing how they align behind everything linked to the big idea of “simplicity”.creating beloved brands 2015x Extract 9.001

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

To read more about how to create a beloved brand, click on this presentation which is our workshop we lead around how to create a beloved brand: 

We make Brands better.
We make Brand Leaders better.™
We offer Brand Coaching, where we promise to make your Brand better by listening to the issues, providing advice that challenges you, and coaching you along a strategic pathway to reaching your Brand’s full potential. For our Brand Leader Training, we promise to make your team of Brand Leaders better, by teaching sound marketing fundamentals and challenging to push for greatness so that they can unleash their full potential. Feel free to add me on Linked In, or follow me on Twitter at @belovedbrands If you need to contact me, email me at graham@beloved-brands.com or phone me at 416 885 39112015x gmr bio.001

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to get your entire Brand Plan on one page

Everyone always uses the phrase “we have to all get on the same page” but then they produce 57 page brand plans and expect everyone in the organization to know what’s going on. We believe that a great brand plan should fit on one page.

The role of the Brand Plan

A well-written Brand Plan helps to align an organization around the direction, the choices and the tactics that need implementing for a brand to achieve their goals. The Brand Plan unites functions such as marketing, sales, product development outlining what each group needs to do for the brand to be successful, while setting goals that operations and finance need to support. The Brand Plan gains approvalfrom senior management around spending options, strategic choices and sets forth the tactics that will be implemented. It holds senior management accountable to the plan. The Brand Plan helps frame the execution for internal stakeholders and for the various agencies who will implement programs within the plan. Execution is an expression of the strategy, and the plan must hold agencies accountable to delivering work that is on strategy. And lastly, the Brand Plan helps the Brand Manager who wrote it, stay focused to deliver what they said they would. It helps them to refer back to the strategy and the intention to ensure the Brand Manager“stays on strategy” the entire year.

The Plan on a Page

This is the plan on a page format that we use at Beloved Brands. It enables you to fit everything on your plan down onto one page that can be lamented and given out to everyone in your organization to get them on the same page. It has the brand vision, P&L forecast, analysis, key issues, strategies and tactical plan:

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We start off by asking 5 key questions and then using those answers to start the planning process. Keeping it this simple forces you to keep your answers tight and focused.

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I made it a regular to keep these 5 questions flowing on my brand, so that I could see the progress I was making.  Every 3 months, I’d take a few hours to adjust the answers to these questions. When it came time for the annual brand plan, I’d use these 5 answers as a kick off to the plan. Here’s how it matches up to the plan on a page.

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Analysis (where are we?): Once you have the overview of each part of the plan, you can then go a bit deeper.  Here’s the format we use for the summary analysis which answers what is driving growth balanced against what is holding the brand growth back. These are both happening now. And then to look into the future, we’d assess what are the major risks and opportunities.

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Key Issues (why are we here?): What is getting the way from achieving your vision/goals? Deep analysis highlights what’s driving and holding brand back, as well as future risks and untapped opportunities. Issues are asked as a question to provide the problem to which strategies become the solution. This is a great tool to help focus why you are here, asking these 4 questions that help assess your market position, your core strength, how tightly connected you are and what is the business situation you’re facing.

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Vision (where could we be?): What do you want your brand to be in the next 5-10 years? Vision gives everyone on the brand a clear direction, it should be measurable (quantitative) and motivating (qualitative). It should push you so much that it scares you a little, but excites you a lot.Slide8

Goals: What do you need to achieve? Specific measures of brand health and wealth, related to consumer/customer behavioral changes, metrics of key programs, performance targets or milestones on the pathway to the vision. It’s the brand scoreboard. Financial Forecasts: sales, A&P spending, margins, profits, market share.

Strategies (how can we get there?): Strategies are the “How” you will win the market. Choices based on market opportunities, using consumers, competitors or situational. Strategies should have a pin-pointed focus providing a breakthrough on the pathway to the brand vision. Here’s a strategic tool we use to help you focus, based on where your brand stands on the Brand Love Curve. strategy.001

Tactics (what do we need to do to execute the strategy?):  Framed completely by strategy, tactical choices deploy your limited resources against brand projects in the most efficient way to drive a high ROI. Included in this section, you’d use your Marketing Budget to focus your resources:  This would be broken out by trade spend, communication, consumer promo, new products, research.

Here’s the summary of the definitions for the Plan on a Page.

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If you’re struggling with your brand plan or need a workshop to help kickstart and focus your team, let us know how we can help.

Time to get everyone on the same page starts with a Plan-on-a-Page!!!

As you get set for your planning season, you can follow the workshop we use with clients via this Powerpoint presentation on our Beloved Brands slideshare site:

We make Brands better.

We make Brand Leaders better.™

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

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The 10 major moments in the Advertising process where Brand Leaders need to be at their best

There is still great advertising out there, but there seems to be an increasing amount of bad advertising out there.

There has been a lot of change on the agency side with the shift to digital media exposing weakness in the traditional agencies and the propping up of “experts” who know the media but not necessarily the consumer or the brand strategy. There has also been change on the client side, as Brand Leaders have been forced to step in and do more, but with less experience or training. The growth of internal creative departments puts even more pressure on the them. Clearly, there is a growing frustration among Brand Leaders who need better work to help drive better results. When it comes to advertising, the role of the Brand Leader is to consistently get good advertising on the air, and consistently keep bad advertising off the air. But my challenge to Brand Leaders: if you knew that showing up better would produce better work, do you think you could show up better.

Act like a Leader at every stage

No matter the complexity of any given project, Brand Leaders need to be strong at every stage of the advertising process going from the briefing stage to the creative presentations and from to the decision-making to the execution. Here are the 10 major moments where Brand Leaders need to be at their best.

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  1. Strategy Pre-Work: Before you even get to the Creative Brief, you should be doing your homework to determine strategic answers to these questions:
    • Who is in the consumer target? (Who is the most motivated to buy what you do?)
    • What is the benefit we are selling? (What is your main benefit?)
    • Why should they believe us? (Support points to back up what you say)
    • What’s the long-range feeling the brand evokes (What is the Big Idea for the brand?)
    • What do we want the brand communications to do for the brand?  (Strategic Choices)
    • What do want people to think, feel or do?  (Desired Response)
  2. Writing a focused Creative Brief: I recommend that you let your agency take your homework on the six questions and create a Brief from there.  Start with the desired consumer behavior, and then figure out what to say. Your brief should be focused with one tight objective, one target, one big idea, one benefit. I believe that creative advertising people are not “out of the box” thinkers, but rather “in-the-box” problem solvers, so the brief’s role is to create a box with a problem that needs solving. 
  3. Hold a Creative Expectations meeting: Right after the briefing, you should meet the creative team BEFORE they go away for a couple of weeks to write ads. This is your chance to create a first impression on your vision and the passion you have. Allow them to ask any questions about the brief, while taking the opportunity to make a few key points on what you’re looking for. As the leader, you should use this meeting to inspire and focus the creative team.
  4. Tissue Session: Use this type of meeting to see potential ideas before they are fully flushed out into scripts or final visuals. It’s ideal when you don’t have a campaign or if you think it’s a tough creative challenge. At the meeting, be open to new ways of looking at your brand and make sure you focus on Big Ideas, while as a Leader you can use this meeting to push for better work. Be fully passionate at this stage which will inspire the creative team to reach for even better work.
  5. Creative Meeting: The creative meeting is the make or break meeting to getting to great work or settling for OK. As the Leader you have to be positive, focus only on big picture, give direction, make decisions. Avoid solutions and don’t get caught up in the details. You have to be listening rather than telling. I’m seeing too many Brand Leaders coming to the meeting with pen and paper and writing down every change they want to see. That’s not leadership. No pen, no paper, just listening and providing your instincts. This is where you use your fast thinking.Slide07
  6. Feedback Memo: I recommend clients follow-up the creative meeting with a memo 24 hours later. This is where you’d put in the details and possibly challenge the team but without giving specific solutions. If the creative brief is a box” for the creative team to solve, then this memo represents a new “box” which might refine the creative brief a little bit based on what you’re now seeing. This is where you use your slow thinking to determine if it’s on strategy and has long term potential. But don’t use this slower thinking to re-think your instincts.Slide08
  7. Ad Testing: The biggest flaw of ad testing is that Brand Leaders allow the test to make the decision. I’d recommend that you pick your favorite ahead of the test and just use it to confirm your pick, not make your decision. In other words, if your chosen ad passes, you go with it. You can use the test results to make any adjustments.
  8. Gain Approval: As the Brand Leader, almost half of your job is to sell in the ad to your own management team. Every great ad I’ve ever worked on had resisters or at least challengers. Be ready to fight for your work, in order to make it happen. Many times, people above you have their own biases and want to add to your work. Those additions can sometimes make the work worse, not better. I’ve always tried to give my boss “something small” in order to get it through, but never anything big enough to change the work. One secret I learned over the years is that on difficult “sell in’s” I would take the lead account person who is normally better than Brand Leaders at selling in work. Also, if it’s bigger challenge, then take the Creative Director as well. 
  9. Production: As you go into production, the pre-pro meeting and the shoot are where you have to be on your A-game. I’ve always taken a casual approach to both, giving the experts enough room. I viewed my role as simple: manage the tone of the work to ensure it fits the brand and always get more than you need. The joke of “we can fix it in post” means you need as many options in post so the editors and creative team can work with it. The worst thing you can ever hear in post is “if we knew you wanted that, we should have shot it that way”.
  10. Post Production: I encourage clients to talk directly with and leverage every expert in the room. Try to break the ice early on with the editors so they are involved in the conversation. Don’t be one of those clients that sits on the couch and only goes through the account team. Never leave the room till you are 100% satisfied with the ad you expect and the ad you want to put on the air. 

The idea behaviors that help Brand Leaders deserve great advertising on their brand: 

  • Start and end everything you do, with the consumer in mind.
  • Start with the desired consumer behavior, and then figure out what to say.
  • Your brief is focused with one tight objective, one target, one big idea, one benefit.
  • You control the strategy, yet give the agency freedom on creative.
  • You inspire greatness from creative team, yet are unafraid to challenge for better.
  • You take creative risks to stand out, not to fit in.
  • You see big ideas that leave a legacy, not just make an ad to make the year.
  • You are willing to fight for great work, even with your boss, never settle for OK.

The best clients inspire, challenge, enable, rarely settle and fight for great advertising.

To read more about how get better advertising, follow this powerpoint presentation on our Beloved Brands slideshare site:

We make Brands better.

We make Brand Leaders better.™

We offer Brand Coaching, where we promise to make your Brand better by listening to the issues, providing advice that challenges you, and coaching you along a strategic pathway to reaching your Brand’s full potential. For our Brand Leader Training, we promise to make your team of Brand Leaders better, by teaching sound marketing fundamentals and challenging to push for greatness so that they can unleash their full potential. Feel free to add me on Linked In, or follow me on Twitter at @belovedbrands If you need to contact me, email me at graham@beloved-brands.com or phone me at 416 885 39112015x gmr bio.001

I love this daring and beautiful move by Coke

Coca-Cola-personalised-bottlesLast year, I thought it was a mistake when Coke launched personalized labels on their product. I worried about all the logistics, inventory, at shelf waste and whether consumers would really care. Well, I was wrong. It worked and Coke saw a hard-fought share gain during the feel-good promotion. I never did find a “Graham” label yet, but I have come around to really liking that promotion.  

And now, Coke has removed their label completely.

This year, Coke has removed the logos from its packaging in the Middle East, during Ramadan. The visual is somewhat startling but it serves to make a powerful statement that encourages people not to judge each other by their label. coca-cola-middle-east-no-label-ramadan-2015-750

On the other side of the can, Coke has the main message of their campaign: “Labels are meant for cans, not for people”

coke-labels-writingI love the supporting viral video

The ad is a 3-minute long video, so Coke is likely hoping that it has a lot of viral shares (1.5 million so far is a bit soft). It starts with six people at a round table completely in the dark. As they each introduce themselves and tell their personal story, we see how their appearance does not match up to the stereotype you’d expect. Once they turn on the lights, they are all surprised at how they each look.

To me, this is a daring move for Coke. It’s not always easy for brands to make political statements. For this campaign, the beauty is the lack of a “political” statement. It’s not divisive at all.The next daring move for Coke will be to roll this out in the US. Other brands have tried to play in a similar space. The most recent attempt by Starbucks with the “Race Together” campaign, where the barista wrote #racetogether on the cups of customers and were even encouraged to engage in conversations about race relations. That’s a bit much for a brand. Starbucks pulled the campaign as it was seen as too politically hot for some customers. Some people assumed Starbucks was picking sides against the Police.   

Great job Coke: This is the type of work I wish I made!!!

To read more about how to create a beloved brand, follow this powerpoint presentation on our Beloved Brands slideshare site:

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

2015x gmr bio.001