Tag: consumer packaged goods

10 Best Super Bowl Ads ever

We have looked at all the Super Bowl Ads over the years, and used Ad Meter results to narrow the list and then our own judgement on how it did on the ABC’S: Attention, Branding Communication and Stickiness. At Beloved Brands, we believe that Marketing Execution combines Branded Breakthrough (how you say it) and Moveable Messaging (what you say). Taking this one step further, the execution has to breaks through the clutter (Attention) and link closely to the brand name (Branding). The execution must communicate the main message (Communication) and makes brand seem different (Stickiness)
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Here are the top 10 Super Bowl ads of all time. Enjoy.

Coke “Mean Joe Greene” (1979)

Bit of that 1970s “cheese” for you, but I remember this one from my teens. Strong on Communication through story-telling and Stickiness. The spot has become as iconic as the drink itself.

Apple 1984 (1984)

Great story of this ad in the Steve Jobs book–how the board never wanted to run it and they lied about the media commitment. This was one of the first big Super Bowl ads, that changed the way advertisers saw the Super Bowl slots. Movie Quality of the filming does a great job in gaining Attention and Stickiness as it has stood the test of time for 30 years. A bit weak on communication, but that might have more to do with the lack of things to say about the product, so they led more with brand image and attitude as the core distinctiveness.

McDonald’s Jordan vs Bird (1992)

This one had a lot of break through and left us with the phrase “nothing but net”. With these two celebrities at their peak, it was high on Attention, strong story telling, pretty good branding and had some phrasing that had some stickiness for years 

Cindy Crawford “New Can” (1992)

Not much needs to be said about this one, other than that they repeated this 10 years later and she still looked the same. Definitely Attention getting with a very simple message Communication that helped drive Brand link. Not a lot of stickiness for consumers.

Budweiser: WASSUP! (1999)

The simplicity of this one, but it really does capture a male-bonding insight of how guys do interact with their buddies. Hilarious ad was exceptional at Attention and certainly Stickiness as everyone was saying this phrase for a year. Didn’t really communicate much.

Budweiser 9/11 Tribute (2002)

Even after all these years, this one might bring a tear to your eye. Months after the tragedy of 9/11, this one takes the American icons of Budweiser and the Clydesdales marching through the streets of America and gives a nice salute to NYC. High on Attention, with deep emotions, strong Brand cues, and certainly the story telling aided the Communication. Even though only shown once, high on Stickiness as it still really brings back those emotions. 

Google “Parisian” (2009)

Beautiful ad that shows the power of Google as an enabling brand to your life. A great example of using quietness to drive Attention. The Branding is obviously incredible, but as it links nicely to the story telling that Communicates how Google is part of everyone’s life. The emotional feelings certainly aid the Stickiness. This is one of the best Ads I’ve ever seen. 

Snicker’s Betty White (2010)

Whatever Betty was paid, she’s made millions since because of this spot. Quickly after this one, the power of a Facebook page demanded that Betty host Saturday Night Live. A great little spot that was incredible on Attention and Stickiness. The Communication is a Big Idea for the brand and kick-started a campaign that has lasted for years, even if Snicker’s has yet to fully capture in their pool outs on this campaign.

Chrysler Eminem (2011)

I love the tone of this spot, perfect casting with Eminem–the rawness of his voice, attitude and authenticity. The repeat in 2012 using Clint Eastwood was a good spot as well, but not quite up to the Eminem version. “Imported from Detroit” is a very big idea. Love it. High on Attention and Communication. The only problem is that Chrysler hasn’t invested enough in this idea since. 

Ram “farmer” (2013)

One of my fav ads of all time, and takes such a huge artistic risk by launching such a quiet ad that really tugs at the heart, when most other brands are doing slapstick ads. The shrill voice of Paul Harvey captures the Attention, especially against all the slapstick ads. The Communication of “Americana” comes through, and whether you’re a farmer or not, if you are a hard-working American, this should be your truck!!!

 

Good luck to this year’s Super Bowl, as many of us will be watching the TV ads as much as we’re watching the game. The power of the venue as the Super Bowl out draws the final game of the other 3 sports (Baseball, Basketball and Hockey) combined. Let’s hope for a great game and maybe one great ad to add to this list.

At Beloved Brands, we run a workshops to train marketers in all aspects of marketing from strategic thinking, analysis, writing brand plans, creative briefs and reports, judging advertising and media. To see a WORKSHOP ON MARKETING EXECUTION, click on the Powerpoint presentation below:

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

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

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

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

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What type of Marketer are you? Build your career around your natural strength

It is that time of year when your mind starts to think about your career and where will you go next. You just had your performance review, salary increase or bonus check and now you’re thinking, when will I hit the big time? Here are 5 questions that you should be asking yourself at every point (at least once a year) of your career:

  1. Within your current company, how high up do you think you can realistically go
  2. Should you stay in the same industry or look at new verticals?
  3. Should you stay in pure Brand Management or venture into a subject-matter expert type roles?
  4. How long do you want to keep working?
  5. Do you stay an employee or do you take this moment to leap out on your own?

Identifying your natural strength

I have so many friends and colleagues who want to move up in their organization. I’m always up for a good career debate and probing on strengths and weakness, yet there is one question, no brand leader likes to answer: 

If I forced to pick one natural strength out of these four choices, which would you pick: Running the business, marketing execution, strategic thinking or leading people?

It should be a pretty easy question to answer, but we have trained ourselves to want to present ourselves as “generalists” and avoid the specialist label. We believe the only way to get promoted, get more money and more power is to become pretty good at all four. But that’s really a lie. I’ve met thousands of great Marketers over the years, but I’m yet to meet any that are great at all four. Everyone normally has natural strength and a natural gap. No matter how hard they work at becoming a generalist, that gap keeps showing gup. Early in my career, I was all about Marketing Execution and had some weakness at each level in leading and managing people leadership. In the back half of my career, I became more strategic, but still had that same nagging gap in leading people. 

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Let’s make this a game using the board above. We will give you 4 chips, forcing you to put one at the high, two at the middle to support the strength, and let go of one at the low. You have to have a natural lead strength and be honest about your gap.

  1. Do you like running the business and managing products
  2. Do you like marketing execution and being creative, either generating ideas or executing creativity?
  3. Are you a strategic thinker, enjoying the planning side of the business?
  4. Are you a leader of leaders, with a passion for leading people?

There is this belief that generalists rise higher and make more money. That is if you stay on the client side of Marketing. You can make just as much money and feel just as powerful by moving outside the organization and finding a place that suits your true calling. Try asking yourself this question, because I’ve asked it hundreds of time and no one ever answers it the first time. Nearly every time I hear “I’m pretty good at all four”. And then I ask 5 more times till we get the real answer.

 

Core Strength: Running the business and managing brands

  • You’re naturally a business leader, who enjoys the thrill of hitting the numbers–financial or share goals. In Myers Briggs, you might be an ENTJ/INTJ (introvert/extrovert, intuition, thinking, judgment) the “field general” who brings the intuitive logic and quick judgment to make decisions quickly to capitalize on business opportunity.
  • You like product innovation side more than advertising. You are fundamentally sound in the core elements of running a business—forecasting, analytics, finance, distribution—working each functional areas to the benefit of the products. You may have gaps in creativity or people leadership, but you’re comfortable giving freedom to your agencies or team to handle the creative execution.
  • My recommendation is to stay within Product Management as long as you can. If you find roadblocks in your current industry, go into new verticals before you venture into new career choices. Consider running businesses on behalf of Private Equity firms or venture into Entrepreneurship where you take your core strength of running a business.

Career Options for those who are strongest at running brands

  • Product Management
  • Shift across industries
  • Lead Private Equity Turnarounds
  • Lead Acquisitions
  • Entrepreneurship

Core Strength: Marketing Execution

  • You are the type of Brand Leader who is highly creative and connects more to ideas and insights than strict facts and tight business decisions. You believe facts can guide you but never decide for you. You are high on perception, allowing ambiguous ideas to breathe before closing down on them. You respect the creative process and creative people. You are intuitive in deciding what is a good or bad idea. You may have gaps in the areas of organizational leadership or strategy development that hurts you from becoming a senior leader.
  • Staying in the Marketing area, you may end up limited in moving beyond an executional role. You may be frustrated in roles that would limit your creativity. Moving into a Director level role could set you up for failure. Look to grab a subject matter expert type role in an internal advertising, media, innovation role or merchandising.
  • Going forward beyond Marketing, consider switching to the Agency side or Consult on a subject-matter expertise (Innovation, Marketing Communication or Public Relations) to build on your strengths.

Career Options for those who are strongest at Marketing Execution

  • Executional Agency
  • Subject Matter Specialist
  • Ideation Brainstorm Facilitation
  • Business Development

Core Strength: Strategic Thinking

  • You enjoy the planning more than the execution. You might fall into the INTP, where you’re still using logic and intuition, stronger at the thinking that helps frame the key issues and strategies than making the business decisions. The introvert side would also suggest that your energy comes from what’s going on in your brain, than externally. An honest assessment would suggest that managing and directing the work of others is likely not be a strength.
  • If you stay within the marketing industry, you would be very strong in a Global Brand role, General Management or even a Strategic Planning role. You need to either partner with someone who is strong at Marketing Execution or build a strong team of business leaders beneath you.
  • Going outside, you would enjoy Consulting and thought leadership which could turn into either an academic or professional development type roles. Continue building your thought leadership to carve out a specific perspective or reputation where you can monetize.

Career Options who are strongest at Strategic Thinking

  • Global Marketing
  • Consulting/Coaching
  • Thought Leadership
  • Adjunct Professor
  • Business Development
  • Writing/Speaker Series

Core Strength: Leader of People

  • You find natural strength in leading other. You are skilled in getting the most from someone’s potential. You are good at conflict resolution, providing feedback, inspiring/motivation and career management of others.
  • You are a natural extrovert and get your energy from seeing others on your team succeed. As you move up, you should surround yourself with people who counter your gaps–whether that is on strategy or Marketing Execution.
    If you find yourself better at Management than Marketing, and you should pursue a General Management role where you become a leader of leaders. You would benefit from a cross functional shift into sales or operations to gain various perspectives of the business enable you to take on a general management role in the future.
  • After you hit your peak within the corporate world, consider careers such as Executive Coaching where the focus remains on guiding people.

Career Options who are strongest at leading people

  • General Management
  • Stay within Brand Management
  • Cross functional roles
  • Partner in Entrepreneurship
  • Personal Executive Coach

Follow your natural strength to realize your full potential

Brand Careers 2016.004At Beloved Brands, we lead workshops on Careers in Brand Management to inspire teams to find their full potential as a Brand Leader. This workshop looks at building your career around your natural strength as a Marketer, we provide a full assessment that looks at skills, behaviors and experiences, we provide tips for how to succeed at every level in Marketing. Where is your career now And then we talk about ways to help build your personal brand, around an idea and a plan. Click on the Powerpoint file below to view:

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

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

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

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

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How to build an own-able and motivating Brand Positioning Statement

Brands need to stand out to win 

Marketers face limited resources that they apply to an unlimited choices. The role of the Brand Positioning Statement is to take everything you know about your brand and begin making focused decisions on who you will serve, what you will say that is unique, own-able and motivating to get consumers to think, feel and act differently to create a bond that is stronger than what the product alone could do. A good positioning statement should balance the rational and emotional benefits for the consumer. Your positioning has to reflect your internal brand soul and help shape your external brand reputation. 

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As we dig in on doing our homework on the brand, here are the 4 questions that a winning Brand Positioning Statement must address:

  1. Who is in the consumer target? 
    • Who is the most motivated to buy what you do?
  2. Where do you play?
    • Definition of the market that you compete in
  3. What are we are selling? 
    • What is your main benefit (rational/emotional)?
  4. Why should they believe us? 
    • What support points to back up the main benefit?

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The space to play. The space to win.

Where to Play: Starting with the consumer, the first step is to uncover the various consumer needs and wants, then begin matching them up with what your brand does best. By being consumer focused, you can stay on top of consumer trends and listen for the changes to any underlying needs and wants. You can also do this with regular marketing research that would include Usage and Attitude type studies, tracking data, focus groups or observing other categories to see what the consumer wants. This match up of the consumer wants and your brand benefits sets up the ideal space for your brand to play in. 

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Where to Win:  We rarely play in a blue ocean without any competitors. If you think that you can do such a good job in delivering what the consumer wants, you might be naive to ignore that a competitor may be doing it better than you are. Bringing the competitor into the mix, we can see a shrinking playing field as your competitor can match up better with certain key consumer wants, than you can. Focus on the space where you can WIN. That winning zone is the perfect match of what the consumer wants and what you do better than any competitor.

Positioning 2016.013If we look below, the winning zone has to be better, different, cheaper or else not around for very long. You want to avoid competing in the Losing Zone, going head to head with a competitor that can deliver the consumer wants better than you can. The area with the yellow arrow is a the Risky Zone, which is a relative tie. The way to win this zone is by being first, being more innovative and creative or finding the right emotional connection that makes the rational tie less relevant to the consumer decisions. At all costs, avoid the Dumb Zone, where you wage a competitive battle in a space that the consumer does not care about. When you find yourself competing in this space, you will find yourself eventually talking to yourself. 

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There are market research testing methodologies you can use to find what is most motivating to consumers and what is most own-able for your brand. There are huge consumer changes happening in the market place–with the advent of new generations and new technologies. Marketing has to change with consumers. Consumers see more brand messages than their brains can handle. Consumers are tired of being burned by faulty brand promises. Consumers now take control over the buying process. Consumers connect with brands that they believe in. Consumers reward amazing experiences over products alone.

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Who is your target?

Everything starts and ends with the Consumer in mind. Spreading your limited resources across an entire population is cost-prohibitive with low return on investment and low return on effort. While targeting everyone “just in case” might feel safe at first, it’s actually less safe because you never get to see the full impact. Realizing not everyone can like you is the first step to focusing all your attention on those that can love you. It becomes all about choices and you will be much more effective at convincing a segment of the population to choose your brand because of the assets and promise that you have that match up perfectly to what they want. Great brands don’t go after consumers, great brands get consumers to go after the brand. Positioning 2016.027The best way to get consumers motivated is to tap into their need states, by understanding what frustration points they may have. We call these consumer enemies. While products solve regular problems, beloved brands beat down the enemies that torment us every day. What are your consumer’s frustration point that they feel no one is even addressing?

To paint the picture of our consumer target, you should use Consumer Insights to help to crystallize and bring to life the consumer you are targeting. The dictionary definition of the word Insight is “seeing below the surface”. Too many people think data, trends and facts are insights. Facts are merely on the surface—so they miss out on the depth–you need to bring those facts to life by going below the surface and transforming the facts into insights. Insight is something that everyone already knows and comes to life when it’s told in such a captivating way that makes consumers stop and say “hmm, I thought I was the only who felt like that”.Positioning 2016.026 That’s why we laugh when we see insight projected with humor, why we get goose bumps when insight is projected with inspiration and why we cry when the insight comes alive through real-life drama. When Consumer Insights are done right, we get in the shoes of the consumer by starting the insight with the word “I” and we use the voice of the consumer by putting the insight in quotes. 

As part of the positioning exercise, we recommend that you put together a complete Consumer Profile that outlines the focused definition of the target, add flavor with needs, enemies and insights and then talk about where they are now and where you’d like to move the consumer in the future.

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What’s the Benefit?

The next decision is the main benefit you want to focus on. Doing a Consumer Benefits Ladder helps to organize your thinking as a great tool for bringing the benefits to life. Positioning 2016.032

The best way to work the Consumer Benefits Ladder is to hold a brainstorming session with everyone who works on the brand so you can:

    1. Leverage all the available research to brief the team, helping define the consumer target and get all the consumer insights and need states out.  
    2. List out all the features that your brand offers, and the brand assets it brings to the table. Make sure that these features are competitive advantages.
    3. Find the rational benefit by putting yourself in the shoes of the consumer and seeing the brand features from their eyes: start asking yourself over and over “so if I’m the consumer, what do I get from that?”. Ask up to 5 times and push the answers into a richer zone.
    4. Then find the emotional benefit by asking “so how does that make me feel?” As you did above, keep asking, and you’ll begin to see a deeper emotional space you can play in and own.   

Put all the information of the group brainstorm into a Consumer Benefits Ladder Worksheet. 

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Line up strategy behind your brand’s core strength

There are four options for what Core Strength your brand can win on: product, promise, experience or price. Many brand leaders have their marketing strategy wrong, when it comes to aligning everything behind the right strength. Which core strength can really impact your brand positioning. Product and experience brands have to be better, promise brands have to be different, price brands have to be cheaper. 

Here’s a simple little game that we play with executive teams. We provide them with 4 chips against the 4 choices of product, promise, experience or price. They have to put one at the highest competitive importance, two at the mid level and then force one to be at the low level. Try it and you will be surprised that your team struggles to agree. You may also find that you are at one strength now and figure it is time to shift your brand marketing to become focused on something else. Positioning 2016.016

  • Product: your main strategy should focus on being better. You have to invest in Innovation to stay ahead of competitors, remaining the superior choice in the category.
  • Promise: your strategy should focus on being different. To tell that story, you need to invest in emotional brand communication. You want to connect consumers on a deep emotional level with the concept.
  • Experience: your strategy and organization should focus on linking culture very closely to your brand. After all, your people are your product. As you go to market, invest in influencer and social media that can help support and spread the word of your experience.
  • Price: focus on efficiency and drive low-cost into the products you sell and high turns and high volume. You have to be better at the fundamentals around production and sourcing.

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Emotional Benefits

From my experience, Marketers are better at the rational benefits than they are at the emotional benefits. I swear every brand out there thinks their brand should be the trusted, reliable and yet like-able brand. As a brand, you want to own the emotional space in the consumer’s heart as much as you own the rational space in the consumer’s mind. It seems that not only do consumers have a hard time expressing their emotions about a brand, but so do Brand Managers. Companies like Hotspex have mapped out all the emotional zones for consumers. I’m not a researcher, but if you’re interested in this methodology contact Hotspex at http://www.hotspex.biz  We have taken this research method and created an Emotional Cheat Sheet for Brand Leaders. This lists out the 8 major emotional consumer zones, optimism, freedom, being noticed, being liked, comfort, be myself, be in control and knowledge.

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To own a space in the consumer’s heart, you want to own and dominate one of zones, always thinking relation to what your competitor may own. Do not choose a list of emotions from all over the map, or you will just confuse your consumer as much as trying to own a long list of rational benefits. Once you narrow the major emotional zone you can own, you can use the supporting words of the Emotional Cheat Sheet to add flavor.

Benefits sell and features tell. Stop telling consumers what you do and start telling them what they get and how it will make them feel.Positioning 2016.035

Reasons to Believe (RTB’s)

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

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

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

Claims can be an effective tool in helping to support your Reason to believe. We look at four types of claims: process, product, third person and behavioral.

Process

  • Detail how your product works differently
  • Showcase your point of difference in the production process.
  • What do you do differently within the production process
  • What added service/details do you provide in the value chain

Product

  • Usage of an ingredient that makes you bette
  • Process or ingredient that makes you safer

Third person

  • Experts in the field who can speak on the brand’s behalf.
  • Past users/clients with proof support of their stories.

Behavioral

  • Clinical tests
  • In market usage study
  • Before and after studies

Keep your positioning simple, focused and unique. Make it own-able and motivating for consumers. 

At Beloved Brands, we lead workshops to help teams find their Brand Positioning, helping the team define their target, benefits and reason to believe so they can find a space that is unique, own-able and motivating. Click on the Powerpoint file below to view:

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

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

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

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

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New Axe ad campaign trying to be the “Dove” brand for young men

71hRmSv1NvL._SL1500_The Axe consumer has grown up and now Axe wants to grow up with that consumer. When my son was 13, he started using the Axe brand. One day, I was walking past him and he asked if I wanted a spray.  I said “No, I don’t want to smell like a 13-year-old”. My son is now in University now and uses “The One” by Dolce and Gabana. Even he doesn’t want to smell like a 13-year-old. And now, Axe is showing they no longer want to be the brand for 13-year-olds. They want to grow up.

Axe has released an Ad campaign that feels a bit like Dove’s “Real Beauty” campaign. (Axe and Dove are both owned by Unilever) Unilever does a fantastic job in bringing consumer insights into their work. “Masculinity today is going through seismic changes. More than ever, guys are rejecting rigid male stereotypes,” says Matthew McCarthy, senior director of Axe and men’s grooming at Unilever. “We’ve been part of guys’ lives for decades, and Axe champions real guys and the unique traits that make them attractive to the world around them. In recent years, Internet searches by men on hair tips eclipsed female in volume. Men are curious about experimenting and trying different things and are spending more time in front of the mirror. It’s much more acceptable.”

The new Axe message is “you don’t have to be perfect, just be your best self”. The ad shows various iterations of the new modern man from brainiacs to one with a big nose, from protestors to dancing in heels or dancing in a wheel chair. Whoever you are, Axe wants you to feel good about yourself and “Find your magic”. 

The challenge for Axe is that it will take time to transform. They will have to stand by their convictions should sales slip. The Axe brand did such a great job in creating that edgy, hilarious, egomaniac, sexy teenage male positioning, the reputation of Axe is deeply engrained in our minds. Here’s the type of Ad we are normally used to seeing from Axe.

This is a good start for Axe brand. It will take time to transform the brand. My hope is they they don’t give up quickly. 

At Beloved Brands, we lead workshops on Marketing Execution that can help your brand team explore their role as a leader in the process, how to write a strategic brief, how to judge and make decisions on marketing execution and then how to give feedback to the agencies. Here’s the powerpoint file:

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

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

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

To contact us, email us at graham@beloved-brands.com or call us at416-885-3911. You can also find us on Twitter @belovedbrandsPositioning 2016.081

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How to build the best possible Brand Concept

The role of a Brand Concept is to come up with a stimulus that replicates what you will take to the market. It should help guide what the new product innovation, package design, advertising, sales messaging and the brand experience would look like. This process works for both Brand Concepts and Product Concepts.

Here’s the example of the Brand Concept that we will show you how to build. concepts.002

We start with a definition of the target consumer, then match up your brand features to the target to turn them into rational benefits (what do I get?) and emotional benefits (how does that make me feel?). The role of the positioning statement is to narrow down the options, forcing decisions on target, benefit and support points. And then we create a Big Idea headline for the brand. When we write the concept, we take the information from all the homework and create a “basic ad”. If you are undecided at this point, you might write a few concept options and use Market Research to help you choose a winner or choose elements that can create and optimized concept. 

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Do your homework first

  1. The first thing you need is to define your target consumer. We recommend using a target profile that defines the demographics, the consumer’s enemy, consumer insights that help provide a look into their mindset and motivations, what they think about the brand currently, how they shop the category or brand and how we want to impact them. Positioning 2016.026
  2. The next thing we do is the Consumer Benefits Ladder where we take the consumer work and begin matching it up to your brand, starting with features and then laddering up to the rational and emotional benefits. Here’s an example of how that would look like using our Consumer Ladder Worksheet below:Positioning 2016.030
  3. What you will see in the worksheet is that you have too much information and may use a Positioning Statement to narrow things down on the target, benefit and reasons to believe. Putting it into one statement forces you to make choices. You may consider this a “straw-dog” version that is your going in position that you may test through market research. Positioning 2016.040
  4. We recommend that you run a brainstorming session to find your brand’s BIG IDEA with a good cross functional team that works on the brand, including brand management, ad agency, product development and sales strategy. The first step of the brainstorm is to start with every participant coming up with 3 words to describe each of the following: product/service, consumer reputation, internal beacon, brand character and the role of the brand. Then for each of those 5 areas, have a vote in your group as to which are the most important words and then try to put together a sentence using those words. What you will find now, is that you will have every aspect of the brand at the tip of your tongue and then you want to come up with an overall Big Idea.   Positioning 2016.049

Here is an example of how the Big Idea tool would come together using the Apple brand.

Positioning 2016.051

The key to the process is to form the BIG IDEA after making a decision on the other 5 brand supporting points on the BIG IDEA blueprint. 

Writing the Brand Concept Statement

Too many brand leaders write elaborate concepts that include everything. In reality, you won’t be able to execute everything in the market, so why bother putting it in the concept. You want to put something that is realistic to what you might put into the marketplace. You will likely only be able to put 2 support points on the packaging, on the display materials, on your web page or in your advertising. You are using the concept to figure out what are the best things to say.

If you look at the homework you have done, you will see how easy it is to now write the Brand Concept below.The Big Idea that you created in your homework should be written in your headline. The first point of the concept should use either a consumer insight or consumer enemy to establish a quick connection with the consumer reading the concept, hoping they see themselves as facing something similar. Then deliver your brand’s main benefit in the form of a promise statement. Follow it up with two support points that back up that benefit statement. Do not put more than 2 reasons to believe in any one concept statement. Add in a support visual (optional) and a motivating call to action so you can test whether you are really moving the consumer. 

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If you are undecided on various options, then we would recommend writing 4-8 concepts and use the test as a learning stage to hear how the consumer responded to the stimulus presented. This can be done through qualitative focus groups or quantitative market research that most research houses can help with. Once you are done, the final concept can help guide the development of your marketing execution brief. 

 A Brand Concept takes everything you want to say and narrows it down to everything you should say to win in the market

We lead workshops on Brand Positioning that can help your team come up with the homework to aid the development of concepts. Here’s the powerpoint file:

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

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

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

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

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Is a Super Bowl ad a good or bad investment?

A few years ago, I would have said that “the NFL can do no wrong”. With all that has gone wrong in the past 2 years, I will now alter that statement to say “the NFL can do a lot wrong and still get away with it”. This year’s Super Bowl will be charging up $5 Million for a 30 second TV ad. While that sounds crazy, the question we should be asking: “Is advertising during the Super Bowl a good investment for a brand?”

sb-ad-rate-vs-sp-500The cost of a Super Bowl Ad is up 8.7% this year to a record $5 Million, which is up 12,500% since Super Bowl 1. During the same period the S&P 500 stock index has increased (excluding dividends) has gone up a mere 2,140%. Still sounds insane right? 

Super Bowl versus The Big Bang Theory

The #1 current network TV show is the Big Bang Theory, recently drawing 17 million viewers and charging approximately $350,000 for a 30 second spot for a media cost of 2.1 cents per viewer. Arguably, a TV ad run during the Big Bang Theory will be part of a 12 week campaign, allocating the cost of production over that 12 weeks, increasing the total cost per viewer up to 2.2 cents per viewer . 

The Super Bowl is expected to draw 125 million viewers, charging $5,000,000 for a 30 second spot for a media cost of 4.2 cents per viewer. A Super Bowl ad will be the first and likely the only time that ad is run, which means we would have to add in the production costs for the Ad, moving the total cost up from $5 million to around $6 million (assumes a production cost of $1 million), which increases the total cost per viewer up 4.8 cents per viewer. 

I would argue that a well-done Super Bowl ad brings a bigger Impact on the market. First, with the Super Bowl ads, many people now “watch the ads” as much as they watch the games. If you assume that the consumer engagement on the Super Bowl ads is double the Big Bang Theory, then we have a relative tie in the cost per viewer. On top of that, the Super Bowl ads that go viral add another 10-30 million viewers after the game, making the total cost per viewer much more efficient. We aren’t even measuring the talk value at the lunch room table on Monday when people gush over the cuteness of the Budweiser dog or laugh as they re-tell the Doritos ad. 

Compared to other video media options, the Super Bowl ads at 4.8 cents per viewer are still cheaper than the 7.5 cents per view that YouTube charges or the 9 cents per view that Facebook charges.

When to use a Super Bowl Ad

Marketing Execution has to make your brand stronger. It has to create a bond with consumers who connect with the soul of the brand, it establishes your brand’s reputation based on a distinct positioning and it influences consumers to alter their behavior to think, feel or act, making the brand more powerfully connected, eventually leading to higher sales, share and profit. Too many ads on the Super Bowl seem to be playing the game, hoping that broad awareness helps your brand. To me, broad awareness is never enough of a reason to spend money. When I was running marketing teams, and someone came to me with “drive awareness”, I’d cross it out and ask for something more.

There are 4 reasons you should advertise in the Super Bowl

  1. You are already a beloved brand, that can connect with your consumer base to make them feel more emotionally connected with your brand, so that you tighten the bond further. This tighter bond will help drive further growth and profits in the future. Every year, Budweiser brings back their Clydesdale horses, which make them a very good investment. Last year, this spot was rated the #1 ad, and generated 30 million additional YouTube views and two million Facebook shares.  
  2. You are an established brand, with a significant product launch or a new brand positioning that you want to draw quick attention to, knowing that it will trigger search and potential purchases. The Dodge Ram farmer ads from two years ago attempted to re-establish Ram as the American pick up truck, as they battle with Chevy and Ford for that space. This beautiful ad jumped out among the others making it a very good investment for the brand. 
  3. You are an impulse product that could use advertising to trigger those consumer impulses during the game. This would be the fit for the Snickers or Doritos marketing strategy, so consumers want more. You can use the Super Bowl as the kicking off point to a new campaign that you might run all spring. For instance, Snickers used Betty White in 2010 to launch the idea of “You are not yourself when you don’t have your Snickers”. Five years later, they are still running that campaign, making it a great investment.  
  4. The other reason for Super Bowl advertising might be to keep up with your competition. Last year, there were 10 car brands that advertised, many didn’t break through. Here’s the Fiat ad that did rate as one of last year’s most loved by consumers. Highly creative but also tied in new news in the way of their re-launch.  

Bad Creative makes it a completely wasted investment

With a highly engaged Super Bowl crowd, you cannot just show your average TV ad, or you risk being boo’d at a Super Bowl Party like this spot by a very small brand, Jublia, for foot fungus.  Boring product demos?  Really.  Wow. They should have saved this type of Creative for 3am on CNN, when no one is watching. Can you imagine spending $5 Million on this?

Another bad ad came from “Go Daddy” last year. I will say this brand takes a lot of chances, however this one is not based on the right insight. Everyone, including small business people, are watching the game. No consumers ever want to be portrayed as the lonely loser. 

A Super Bowl ad can be a great investment for the right strategy and execution

At Beloved Brands, we run a workshops to train marketers in all aspects of marketing from strategic thinking, analysis, writing brand plans, creative briefs and reports, judging advertising and media. To see a WORKSHOP ON MARKETING EXECUTION, click on the Powerpoint presentation below:

We make Brands stronger.

We make Brand Leaders smarter.™

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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Coke’s new Ad campaign has more fizzle than sizzle

coke-taste-the-feeling-1I have been impressed with Coke’s Marketing execution the past couple of years. I love the Coke Freestyle machines where you can customize your own drink from up to 100 options. And I have to admit loving the names on the bottle, even though I had my doubts in the beginning. All that great stuff, and yet the sales have been sluggish for the past 15 months. It’s not the activity that is at fault. It’s just that people want healthier options and Coke is now fighting against that major consumer movement away from Sugary or Aspartame drinks. Sugary cereals are going through the same crisis. But since Coke can’t “fix” the health trend, they may as well try to fix the activities–even if it’s not broken. 

With the earnings report showing that Coke’s revenue has fallen for the past 3 straight quarters, I can only imagine the CEO walking down the hall to find the CMO and say “we need your Advertising to sell more product”. 

At Beloved Brands, we believe that Advertising can only move one body part at a time: the head, the feet, the heart or the soul.Creative Brief 2016 Extract.001

Here’s a great example of a Coke ad idea called “Remove labels this Ramadan” that really touches the consumer’s soul. Even with 19 Million views, it likely didn’t sell a lot of Coke.

To me, an Advertising idea is like a magnet. When it gets too far away from the brand, it no longer moves the brand. The “share happiness” campaign was a huge umbrella idea, but likely so huge, the one thing it didn’t do is move product. 

Today, Coke announced two moves in rolling out their new “Taste the Feeling” advertising campaign. First, you will see in the work that they are clearly linking life moments with drinking Coke. Meaning the creative team was told: “we have to SELL MORE PRODUCT”. Or as I would say, the ads have to move feet.  Second, they announced they would have ONE Master Brand creative idea for all 3 Coke products, red Coke, Diet Coke and Coke Zero.

Here is the main spot Coke launched today, appropriately called Anthem.

I would say it’s an OK spot, not a great spot. For a 90 second spot called “Anthem” it lacks the emotional appeal you would expect, and it won’t really generate any viral share-ability. It has a lot of product shots, but not really the connectivity needed to move product. And I barely even noticed any Diet Coke or Coke Zero. 

To evaluate advertising, we use something we call the ABC’S, which stands for Attention, Branding, Communication and Stickiness. I’d say these score low on attention, moderate on branding, modest on communication and pretty low on stickiness. These type of spots that show a lot of consumer moments to a song usually end up as wallpaper that falls into the background of our multi-tasking lifestyle. There’s no real compelling story here.Marketing Execution 2016.055

Here’s another TV ad called “What is Coke for?”

Again, a bit generic. No emotional pull. Lots of Coke fizzle. And hard to find the Diet Coke or Coke Zero. 

The print does a better job in capturing emotion than the TV, showing how Coke fits in to various moments of your life. 

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Here’s a challenge to Coke, if you are going to name your new spot “Anthem”. make sure it is as epic as this 1971 TV ad: 

Do you think this new campaign will increase Coke’s revenue?

Here’s a workshop we run on how to get better Marketing Execution. In this workshop, we go through how to come up with an Executional brief, based on both positioning and strategy, we take you through how to judge the work and how to provide motivating feedback to your agencies.

We make Brands stronger.

We make Brand Leaders smarter.™

BBI ads for 2015.011We 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 3911Positioning 2016.081

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How to lead a deep-dive Business Review to analyze the health of your brand

You owe your brand a deep dive business review at least once a year. Otherwise, you are being negligent to your brand and will operate on the surface level, missing what’s going on beneath the surface. To go deep, you need to look at everything–including the category, consumers, channels, competitors and then your own brand.

Category

The deep dive process we recommend is to start with the overall category to assess the factors impacting growth, any macro trends you are seeing, the impact of the economic factors on your category, the changes happening in demographics, behaviors, consumption that could impact your category and then even look at related categories.

First, look at the macro trend line for both sales dollars and units. Compare growth rates local economy or other similar categories. In this case we see more dramatic double digit growth rate swings. Also compare the growth rates of dollars and units to see if there are any dramatic changes. Then, look at the trend line on price, and compare to inflation rates. Once you see the trend line, come up with 3 factors driving category growth and 3 factors holding the category back. Explain within each of the years, major things happening to explain the up/down.  Analytics 2016.042

The next important dimension is to look at the regional performance. Start by understanding the size of each region and the relative growth rates of those regions. It’s useful because the size and growth rate may influence your investment into each region. Then, look at the relative size of each region. Two ways to look at it could be the share of the national business or use a development index relative to either population or a bigger category that this sub-category plays within. (e.g. cereal relative to grocery food) Look at your performance within each region. While this is still the macro category, it’s useful to get a read on how your brand is doing at the macro level of the regions.Analytics 2016.043

Some of the different types of macro views you want to look at includes performance of size, format or benefit segments. Look at the channel performance at the category level. You can also look at macro Competitive market share trends. With each area you are looking for a break in the data to tell a story on the category.Analytics 2016.044

Consumers

For consumers you want to start by defining segments, looking at buying habits, growth trends, key insights for each segment, map out the buying system analysis, leaky bucket, consumer perceptions through tracking data and research. We recommend that you either use some type of panel or scan data if it is available or do your own tracking research to find out what’s going on with purchase behavior. We also recommend you do a brand funnel tracking to map out how you are doing at each stage of the consumer buying system. 

From the tracking data, you have to understand how your brand is doing on both penetration and the buying rate, in order to fill in the simple equation of  “Sales = (Total Population x  Penetration rate) x  Buying Rate”Inforgraphic Format.002

  • Penetration: % of households who purchased a product, shopped in a certain channel or retailer at least once during the year.
  • Buying rate or sales per buyer: Total amount of product purchased by the average buying household over an entire analysis period, expressed in dollars, units or EQ volume.
  • Purchase frequency or trips per buyer: number of times the average buying household purchases your product over a whole time period (usually a year). Purchase Frequency remains the same regardless of which sales measure is used (dollars, units or EQ volume)
  • Purchase size or sales per trip: Average amount of product purchased on a single shopping trip by your average buyer. Like the buying rate, purchase size can be calculated in terms of dollars, units or EQ volume.

Every brand should understand the details of their Brand Funnel–what’s causing any strength, weakness, changes versus last year or gaps versus competitors. A classic funnel would measure awareness, familiar, consider, purchase, repeat and loyal. At the very least, you should be measuring Awareness, Purchase and Loyalty rates. Brand funnels becomes thicker as the brand becomes more loved. It’s not just about driving particular numbers but about moving them from one stage to the next. To drive TRIAL you need to gain CONSIDERATION first (the brain) and then you need to move the consumer towards purchase and through the experience. To drive LOYALTY (the heart) you need to create experiences that deliver the promise and use tools to create an emotional bond with the consumer. AWARENESS is never enough, anyone can get that. But consideration is the point you start to see that your brand idea starts to connect and move the consumer.

The first thing you want to do (following on the chart below), you want to look at the absolute brand funnel scores (A), compare them to last year, compare to competitors and versus the category norms. Then you want to look the brand funnel ratios (B), finding the percent conversion from one stage to the next. To create the ratios, divide the absolute number by the number above it on the funnel. For instance in the example below, take the Familiar score of 87% and divide it by the Awareness score of 93% and the ratio conversion is 91%. That means that 91% of those who become Aware will move to Familiar. 

Analytics 2016.053

The data becomes even more powerful for you when you start looking at the ratios of your brand in comparison (C) to the ratios of your nearest competitor. In this second part of the analysis, the ratio becomes the focus. Compare the ratios, finding the gap (D) between the two brands at each of the stages. You will start to see where your ratio will either be stronger or weaker than the comparison brand. Analyzing the difference (E) between the 2 brands finds the biggest gaps and tells a strategic story for the gap.  

Analytics 2016.054

Channels

Look at each channel’s performance, major customers, sales performance, tools for winning used in each channel.

A great simple chart for highlighting your differences in channel strength and gaps is to look at your distribution by channel. Compare your brand to a competitor or versus the category. Share of business by each channel either in comparison to other channels or within one specific channel can help isolate data breaks. 

For each channel, chart the key insights and main issues they are facing, then brainstorm opportunities for your brand as well as the risks. From there, you can start to think about the Impact on your brand.Analytics 2016.059

Look at how the tools are being utilized. Another good deep dive is to look at each channel and look at your market share in comparison to how well you are doing on co-op ads and display ratings to see if you are getting your fair share.
The FSI is your fair share index. (share of activity divided by your market share) See if you under or over-developed against a certain activity. Draw conclusions. Compare how you’re doing in each channel and versus other periods.  

We also recommend that you create customer scorecards for your biggest 5-10 customers and track how you are doing. Start with the performance of that customer within their competitive set, then map out how you are doing with that customer in terms of sales, share or growth, then dig a layer deeper by looking at how you are doing on pricing, co-op advertising and merchandising/display ratings.

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Competitors

What is your current competitive position? Are you a Power Player with the leadership position or a Challenger brand that constantly pushes the leader?  Or are you an Island type brand competing in a place all by yourself, or a rebel brand going against the category  norms? The worst thing is to be considered a Cluttered Brands that are typically stuck in competitive dog-fights with no defined point of difference, nothing to own, nothing that connects.

Dissect competitors looking at positioning, pipeline, pricing, distribution differences, consumer perception, strategies. Look at the competitors’ market share over the past 5-10 years and analyze what you think are the top 3 factors driving and inhibiting their success. Explain the ups and downs whether it was new launches, changes in strategies or impact of a competitor to your competitor. When in a real competitive battle, map out the competitor’s brand plan as best you can: Vision, Analysis, Strategies, Tactics and even assumed budget levels.

Brand

How does the market see your brand’s core strength? You can use a benefit sort type research to help match up your brand assets to consumer need states. To ensure options are unique, you want to make sure that you are either better, different or cheaper relative to your competitors. Once you match up the needs to assets, you then want to find the best benefit statement, either rational, emotional or a combination. This is best done through concept testing to find that optimized positioning.  

  • Usage and Attitude (U & A) Market Research can really help uncover issues on your brand. Some brands keep looking back at a study from 5 years ago, and miss out on the major changes that have happened in the marketplace since.  Here’s the benefits of this type of U&A research Broad view of the who, what, when, where and how overall consumer dynamics of your category or market.
  • Identify what the consumer may see as your brand’s core strength: product, promise, experience and price.
    Identify what are the key drivers of both trial and brand loyalty
    Understand how consumer behavior and usage changes by brand
  • Why consumers buy specific brands and what it is that makes those brands distinctive, outlining the rational and emotional benefits.
  • Identify any perceived gaps in the consumers mind between the brand promise, consumer expectation and the overall brand performance.
  • How does the brand match up in the consumers’ mind, relative to the other competitors.
  • Overall vantage of various consumer segments, looking at lifestyle and demographic dimensions, how they consume media, overall attitudes on key drivers or brand benefits.
  • Map out the consumer buying system looking at how they become aware, what makes them consider, what type of search they do, factors they use to decide, what influences repeat purchase, how they build products into their routines and what triggers them to become brand fans.

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You can also use program tracking (Advertising Tracking)  to show how well you are doing behind key marketing activities. You will also be able to get scores that match up to the brand funnel such as Awareness (aided, unaided), purchase scores (share of last 5 purchases) and purchase intention.  The brand funnel data helps tell where you are on Brand Love Curve:

  • Indifferent: Skinny funnels throughout. Fuel awareness to kick-start the funnel.
  • Like It: Funnel narrows at purchase. Close leak by getting message closer to sale.
  • Love It: Robust funnels, but may have a leak at loyal. Continue to feed the love among loyalists.
  • Beloved Brands have ideal funnels, but should track and attack any weakness before it is seen by others.  

Summary of Review

Here’s an example of how you might bring it all together in a summary, with a big issue for each section of the review we just outlined and bring it together into an overall Brand Issue.

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Brand Health

For your brand to determine “where are we”, you need to use brand health as a signal of the future brand wealth. While the wealth measures can be seen easily, the deep dive review helps to uncover the health measures that you can’t always easily see. Looking deeper uncovers new questions.

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Summarize your deep dive review into the Brand Health, both internal and external.

  • Internal Health: What is the internal beacon that helps all employees understand and live the brand? How much has been communicated about the strategy? The idea of the brand has to be embedded right into the culture in a consistent manner. They have to realize their impact of the brand on the end customer.
  • External Health: Connecting with consumers is a source of power for brands. Understand the brand funnel and how your consumer sees your brand, going through the brand funnel through awareness, trial, repeat to brand loyalty. Build on your strengths and attack your weaknesses

Leads to added Brand Wealth

  • Internal Wealth: Everyone focused on Profit and Value. Assets, IP, culture, contracts, ownership. Lining up and delivering the brand promise to a clear set of objectives, helps employees see that they are contributing to and sharing in the brand wealth. Everyone should understand where and how they impact profitability.
  • External Wealth: Healthy win in the marketplace. Beloved Brands can leverage success into power and drive wealth. Beloved Brands are more efficient, higher sales, lower costs, better margins, higher over all profits.

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Dig in deep to find the true issues that linger beneath the surface of your brand.

Here is our workshop on leading a deep dive business review including good analytical principles, assessing health and wealth of the brand, turning facts into insight, helping to set up strategic choices and turning the analytics into projections and analytical stories.

We make Brands stronger.

We make Brand Leaders smarter.™

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

BBI Creds Deck 2016.014

 

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Six principles of good analytical thinking for Brand Leaders

For Brand Leaders to keep moving up, you need to be good at all parts of marketing–skills, behaviors and experiences. As you manage your career, try to close gaps in each. The key skills you include brand analytics, strategic thinking, brand planning, decision-making and execution. One of the biggest skill gaps I see is the ability to do deep dive analytics and turn it into an analytical story that can set up decisions. From what I see, most people either don’t know how to dig in or when they dig in, they struggle to tell the story from the mounds of data they have gathered.

To help challenge your thinking, here are “Six principles of good analytical thinking for Brand Leaders”

Analytics 2016.011Principle #1: Use facts to support opinions or else what you say comes across as an empty opinion that leaves a room divided.



One tool I use is the “5 Questions tool” where you start with your hypothesis and then ask “so what does that mean” 5 times, each time helping analysis move from unsubstantiated opinion to action-able insight.

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The benefit of this type of tool is it helps avoiding getting caught off guard when your senior management starts asking questions. Once you do that, I like to organize my thinking, like a newspaper (if those still exist) with a Headline, Opinion and 2-3 data points.Analytics 2016.014

Principle #2: Absolute numbers by themselves are useless. Always find comparisons.






Only when given a relative nature to something important do you find the data break that tells a story. Is 50 degrees Fahrenheit warm or cold? If it’s Ottawa Canada and it’s December 24th it HOT and it is front page news. If it’s Los Angeles on June 5th, it is COLD and front page news.

Back in the early 1900s, there was a famous baseball player whose name was Frank “Home Run” Baker. Yet, oddly enough, the most Home Runs he ever hit in a year was 12. You might think his name is sarcastic or wonder how the heck can he get the nickname “Home Run”. Because in a relative dead ball era of baseball, he won the home run crown four consecutive seasons starting in 1911 with 11, 10, 12 and 9 home runs.  Yes Babe Ruth would hit 54 and 60 home runs less than 10 years later but the ball had changed. The absolute number of home runs does not matter–because relatively speaking, Frank Baker was the best home run hitter of his generation and deserves to be called “Home Run” Baker.

Only when given a relative nature to something important do you find the data break that tells a story. You have to ground the data with a comparison, whether that’s versus prior periods, competitors, norms or the category. Every time you talk about a number, you have to talk about in relative terms—comparing it to something that is grounded: vs last year, vs last month, vs another brand, vs norm or vs England’s share. Is it up down, or flat? Never give a number without a relative nature—or your listener will not have a clue.Analytics 2016.016

Principle #3: The analytical story comes to life when you see a break in the data.




Comparative indexes and cross tabulations can really bring out the data breaks and gaps that can really tell a story. Use the “so what” technique to dig around and twist the data in unique ways until you find the point in which the data actually breaks and clear meaningful differences start to show. This is where the trend is exposed and you can draw a conclusion.

Example of finding data breaks

  • Distribution overall held at 82% throughout the year. At the macro level, it looks like there is no issue at distribution at all)
    Distribution on 16 count fell only a little bit over the year going from 74% to 71%. Even at one layer down—the count size—there’s still very little break in the data
  • Distribution on 16 count at Convenience stores went from 84% to 38% in the last 2 months. As we are starting to twist the data, it shows a dramatic and quick drop at the Convenience channel.  As you start to dig around you might find out that the biggest Convenience Customer, 7-11, delisted the brand recently.

Principle #4: Like an Old School Reporter, two source of data help frame the story.

Avoid taking one piece of data and making it the basis of your entire brand strategy. Make sure it’s a real trend. Dig around until you can find a convergence of data that leads to an answer. Look to find 2-3 facts that start to tell a story, and allows you to draw a conclusion. The good pure logic in a philosophical argument they teach you is “premise, premise conclusion” so if you see one trend line, look for a second before drawing a conclusion.

Principle #5: Deep analysis requires slower thinking time so you don’t misjudge situation.

The best Brand Leaders know when to be a strategic thinker and when to be an action thinker. Strategic thinkers see “what if” questions before seeing solutions, mapping out a range of decision trees that intersect and connect by imagining how events will play out. They take time to reflect and plan before acting, helping you move in a focused efficient fashion. They think slowly, logically, always needing options, but if go too slow, you will miss the opportunity window.

A good tool to get you thinking in terms of questions: separate your analysis into 5 buckets:

  1. What do we know? This should be fact based and you know it for sure.
  2. What do we assume? Your educated/knowledge based conclusion that helps us bridge between fact, and speculation.
  3. What we think? Based on facts, and assumptions, you should be able to say what we think will happen.
  4. What do we need to find out? There could be unknowns still.
  5. What are we going to do? It’s the action that comes out of this thinking.

Analytics 2016.026One of the best analysis you can do is the simple “where are we” page. It has 5 simple questions that make you think:

  1. Where are we?
  2. Why are we here?
  3. Where could we be?
  4. How can we get there?
  5. What do we need to do to get there?

Before you start your planning process, take a few hours to sit down at your desk and outline a few points for each point. You will start to see how the overall brand plan flows. These 5 questions start to map out your overall analysis, the key issues, the vision, strategy and tactics. 

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Principle #6: Use tools that can help organize and force deep dive thinking in key areas.

A Force Field analysis is best served for those brands in a sustaining position where marketing plays the role of driving innovation and creativity within a box. Always keep in mind that Drivers and Inhibitors are happening now. You can see the impact in the current year. Anything in the future gets moved down to Opportunities and Threats which are not happening but could happen. Invariably, people mix this up and things that could happen move up when they really shouldn’t.

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The best thing about the force field is you can easily take it into an action plan, because you want to keep the drivers going and overcome the inhibitors Then take advantage of the opportunities and minimize or eliminate any serious threats. It’s a great simple management tool.

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Good analytics get you to the point of “So what do you think”. From there, you will have to be a good decision-maker.

Here is our workshop on leading a deep dive business review including good analytical principles, assessing health and wealth of the brand, turning facts into insight, helping to set up strategic choices and turning the analytics into projections and analytical stories.

We make Brands stronger.

We make Brand Leaders smarter.™

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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Brand Finance 101: If you want to succeed in Marketing, get better at Finance

Anyone who does not include “profit” in their definition of brand likely has never run a brand before. To me, a product is the basic commodity you sell but a brand creates a BOND, POWER and PROFIT, beyond what the product alone could achieve. The only reason you would ever add more investment to create a brand is because you believe you can get more back from that investment. We believe that the more LOVED a brand is by consumers, the more POWERFUL and PROFITABLE that brand will be. 

If you wish to succeed in Brand Management, you have to understand Accounting and Finance. If you just like the activity of Marketing, then you won’t get promoted past Brand Manager.

Dissecting the Financial Statement

When your Finance Manager hands your brand’s Profit and Loss (P&L) statement, you want to start digging in on it to understand the basic trends.  P&L.001

  1. The first thing you should do is look at Gross Margins % by dividing the overall gross margin by the overall sales. Doing that, we can see on this P&L the gross margin % is down from 43% to 37%. We’d want to gig deeper to figure out if it’s either overall pricing has been cut or the costs are up. On the pricing, investigate whether it is an increase in trade spend, decrease in the prices across the board or a shift in the sales mix to lower priced items. On the cost of goods, there could be decisions around raw material costs, supplier charges, foreign exchange or production costs.
  2. Next, look at Contribution Margins % by dividing overall contribution income (bottom line income) by overall sales. We can see in our example above that the Contribution Margin % has fallen from 26% to 17%. Not only is there is there a problem at the top line margin, but gross margin is not covering off the increase in spend.
  3. With that change in Contribution Margin %, the next thing I would want to see is a comparison between the sales growth rate and the spend growth rate.We can see here that sales are growing at a healthy 12%, however total spend is outpacing sales growth with 22% spend increase. We are now seeing two issues with profits: Above the falling gross margin plus the high increases in below the line spend. Always remember that Marketers have limited resources……to apply against unlimited choices. The more you focus that spend, the better you will see your strong return on investment.

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The 8 ways brand leaders can drive brand profit

Jack Welch, the former CEO of General Electric was notorious for asking his employees “how do you add value?”  I would take that one step further by asking “which of the 8 ways to add profit are you currently working on”. That would be a sign of  a very focused Brand Leader. Here are  eight ways the Brand Leader can drive profits:

  1. Pricing
  2. Trading the consumer up or down
  3. Product Costs
  4. Marketing Costs
  5. Stealing other users
  6. Getting current users to use more
  7. Enter new categories
  8. Create new Uses for your brand 

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1.  Pricing

While many marketers think of price as a defensive reaction, most times to counter inflation or something happening in the trade channels, marketers should refocus and start using price as a weapon to drive Brand Value. Beloved Brands seem more capable at driving profits through pricing, but they also are careful to ensure the premium does not become excessive to create backlash.

  • Price Increase: You can do a price increase if the market or brand allows you. It likely has to be based on passing along cost increases. Factors that help are whether you are a healthy brand or it’s a healthy market as well as the power of your brand vs. competition and channel.
  • Price Decrease: Used when fighting off competitor, if you need to react to a sluggish economy or channel pressure. Another reason to decrease price is if you have a competitive advantage around cost, whether that’s manufacturing, materials or distribution.

There are watch outs for price changes. It’s difficult to execute especially if it has to go through retailers. You need to understand power relationships–how powerful are the retailers. Many times, price changes are scrutinized so badly by retailers that you must have proof of why you are doing it. It’s likely your Competitors will over-react. So your assumptions you used to go with the price increase will change right after. And finally, it’s not easy to change back.Brand Finance 2016.026

2.  Trading the consumer up or down

Aside from price increases, another strategy would to create a range of products that allows you to reach up or down to a new set of consumers.  You need to ensure that you are doing this for the right reason or it could backfire on you.  

  • Trading Up: If you have a range of products, sometimes it can be beneficial to get consumers to trade up. Can you carve out a meaningful difference to create a second tier that goes beyond your current brand? Do your brand image/ratings allow it?
  • Trading DownRisky, but you see un-served market, with minimal damage to image/reputation of the brand. In a tough economy, it might be better to create a value set of products rather than lower the price on your main products.

There are a few watch outs around trying to trade up or down: Premium skus can feel orphaned at retail world—on the shelf or missing ads or displays. Managing multiple price levels can be difficult—what to support, price differences etc. For all the effort you go to, make sure your margins stay consistently strong through the trading up or down. Be careful that you don’t lose focus on your core business. You can’t be all things to everyone. The final concern is what it does your Brand’s image, especially risky when trading downward.

3.  Product costs

Managing cost as a weapon to enhance the Brand’s Value. It can be either your cost of goods or the marketing costs.  As marketers, we sometimes think cost is someone else’s job.  But it’s an effective weapon that marketers should be utilizing.  

  • Cost of Goods Decreases: You are able to use the power of your brand to drive power over your suppliers; you find cheaper potential raw materials, process improvement or find off-shore manufacturing.
  • Cost of Goods Increases: Make sure that you manage the COGs as they increase. Watch out for suppliers trying to pass along costs. But realize that with new technology, investing in brand’s improved image, going after premium markets, offering new benefit or a format change, that cost of good increases could be a reality.

The watch outs with managing costs: with cuts, make sure the product change is not significantly noticeable. You should understand any potential impact in the eyes of your consumer on your brand’s performance and image. Can the P&L cover these costs, either increased sales or efficiency elsewhere? Managing your margin % is crucial to the long-term success of your brand.Brand Finance 2016.028

4. Marketing costs

As marketers sometimes we get protective of the amount, hoping to have as much money as we can to carry out the activities on our priority lists.  But we should be looking at marketing costs from the view-point of the CEO, with a focus on making sure every program drives profit.  

  • Marketing Cost Decrease: To counter changes in the P&L (price, volume or cost), it’s very tempting to look to short-term P&L management or look at changes in go-to-market model. Where a brand stands on the product life cycle or how loved the brand is can really impact the selling costs. Even though we think that Beloved Brands have endless spending, they actually likely have a lower investment to sales ratio.
  • Marketing Cost Increase: When you’re in Investment mode, defensive position trying to hold share against an aggressive competitor or when you see a proven payback in higher sales–with corresponding margins.

Always be in an ROI mindset: Manage your marketing costs as though every DOLLAR has to efficiently drive sales. Realize that short-term cuts can carry longer term impact. Competitive reaction can influence the impact of investment stance–like a price change, your competitor might over-react to your increases in spending.

5. Stealing other users

Externally, the Share and Volume game are traditional tools for brand. Either stealing other users or getting current users to use more.

  • Offensive Share Gains: Use it when you have a significant Competitive Advantage or you see untapped needs in the market. Or opportunistic, use first mover advantage on new technology.
  • Defensive Share Stance: Hold the fort until you can catch up on technology, maintain profitability, loyal base of followers needs protecting.

Be careful when trying to gain share. A Beloved Brand has a drawing power where it does gain share without having to use attack modes. Attacking competitors can be difficult. It could just become a spend escalation with both brands just going at it. After a share war that’s not based on a substantive reasoning (eg. technology change), there might end up with no winners, just losers. Many times, the channel will try to play one competitor against another for their own gain. Watch out what consumers you target in a competitive battle: some may just come in because of the lower price and go back to their usual brand.Brand Finance 2016.032

6. Getting users to use more

Going after frequency is a different strategy.  

  • Share of Requirements:  In many categories, even loyal consumers will work within a competitive set of favourite brands. A good strategy is to provide a reason (claim, experience, emotion) for loyal consumers to stay with your brand.  
  • Get Current Users to Use More: When there is an opportunity to turn loyal users into creating a potential routine. Changing behaviours is more difficult than enticing trial. It’s a good strategy to use, when your there’s real benefit to your consumer using more. It’s hard to just get them to use more without a real reason.

There has to be a real benefit connected to using more or it might look hollow/shallow. Driving routines is a challenge. Even with “lifesaving” medicines, the biggest issue is compliance. Find something in their current life to help either ground it or latch onto. When I worked on Listerine, people only used mouthwash 20-30 times a year compared to 700+ brushing occasions. So we focused on connecting rinsing with Listerine to the twice daily brushing routine.

7. Enter new categories  

When there is an untapped or under-served need. There could be a significant changing demographic that impacts your base. Or you are able to translate/transfer your reputation to a new user group. There should be something within your product/brand that helps fuel the brand post trial. Trial without repeat, means you’ll get the spike but then bust. Substantial investment required. Don’t let it distract from protecting the base loyal users.

8. Create new uses

Format Line Extensions that take your experience or name elsewhere. Able to leverage same benefit in convenient “on the go” offering. Make sure current brand is in order before you divert attention, funding and focus on expansion area. Investment needed, could divert from spend on base business. Be careful because the legendary stories (Arm and Hammer) don’t come along as much as we hope.

Here are lessons learned for driving more profits for your brand.

  1. Higher volume helps you exert pressure on costs. That could be supply costs, operations costs, and distribution over even media costs.
  2. Get more for less from the trade. You can begin exerting power over the sales channels to your advantage–trimming variable trade costs with retailers while demanding more display, prime real estate, coop advertising and more control over pricing. ROI on trade programs.
  3. Smarter more efficient management: manage your inventories, meet customer expectations, control pricing and drive cheaper costs. Make better choices.
  4. Growth means you start outgrowing any fixed costs. This includes start-up costs, sales force, product plants or R&D costs.
  5. Lower Cost of Capital: More certainty means lower risk and you can re-invest, knowing the ROI will be quicker and stronger.

 Love = Power + Profit

To get better at Brand Finance, here is our Workshop we run to help Brand Leaders understand Accounting.

We make Brands stronger.

We make Brand Leaders smarter.™

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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