July 30, 2015
The role of Brand Communication is to change consumer behavior to drive the brand’s bond, power and profit.
The worst thing you can ever do is start in on a creative brief without doing your homework. At Beloved Brands, we use six questions to do your home work and use the answers to to these questions to set up a Brand Communications Strategy
- Who is the consumer target you are selling to? (Who is the most motivated to buy what you do?)
- What are 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)
Question 1: Who is the consumer target you are selling to?
Brand Leaders always think about who they want, but rarely who wants them. A good way to challenge yourself is to ask: “who is the most motivated to buy what you do? You can’t sell a golf ball to people who hate golf and you can’t get people with hardwood floors to buy carpet cleaning.
Beloved Brands know who their customer is and who it is not. Everything starts and ends with the Consumer in mind. Spreading your limited resources across an entire population is cost prohibitive–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.
To demonstrate knowledge of that target, defining consumer insights 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.
When insight is done right, it is what first connects us to the brand, because we see ourselves in the story. Insight is not something that consumers didn’t know before. It’s not data or fact about your brand that you want to tell. That would be knowledge not insight. 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”. 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.
Question 2: What are you selling?
This is where we talk benefit, and it should usually be a combination of rational and emotional.
Hold a brainstorming session with everyone who works on the brand so you can:
- Get all of the consumer insights and need states out.
- Match them up against the list of the best features the brand offers.
- 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 again “so if I’m the consumer, what do I get from that?”. Ask it five times and you’ll see the answers will get richer and richer each time you ask.
- Then find the emotional benefit by asking “so how does that make me feel?” Ask that five times as well, and you’ll begin to see a deeper emotional space you can play in and own.
Some CVPs can end up very cluttered, but the more focused you can make it the easier it will be for you to choose which one you will stand behind, and which one benefit you’ll communicate.
That’s right: JUST ONE BENEFIT! Agencies use so many tricks to get it down to the ONE THING. Examples of this could be a postcard or a bumper sticker, or silly questions like “what would you say to get someone to marry you” or say in an elevator. My favourite is to get people to stand up on a chair and “SHOUT FROM THE MOUNTAIN” what your benefit is. It forces you to want to scream just ONE THING about your brand—keep it simple. You can’t scream a long sentence. And if you are into math, another way to look at this is through a simple function, where the probability of success (P) is directly linked to the inverse of the numbers of messages (M) you have in your ad: P = 1 divided by 1 to the power of M. My guess is that if you find this last formula motivating, maybe marketing isn’t for you.
People tend to get stuck when trying to figure out the emotional benefits. I swear every brand out there thinks it is trusted, reliable and yet likeable. 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 Leverage this type of research and build your story around the emotions that best fit your consumer needs. Leveraging Hotspex, I’ve mapped out 8 zones in a simplistic way below:
Within each of the zones, you can find emotional words that closely align to the need state of the consumer and begin building the emotional benefits within your CVP. It almost becomes a cheat sheet for Brand Managers to work with. But you want to just own one emotional zone, not them all.
Question 3: Why should they believe us?
It seems that whenever we tell people something, they want to know more. This is where we use our Support points to back up what you say.
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.
Question 4: What’s the long-range feeling the brand evokes?
This is where we start to build the brand’s reputation. And we ask “what is the Big Idea for the brand? Everyone talks about the 7 second elevator pitch, but it’s not easy to get there. I suppose you could ride up and down the elevator and try telling people. That may drive you insane.
The Big Idea (some call it the Brand Essence) is the most concise definition of the Brand. For Volvo, it’s “Safety”, while BMW might be “Performance” and Mercedes is “Luxury”. Below is the Tool I use to figure out a Brand’s Big Idea revolving around four areas that help define the Brand 1) Brand’s personality 2) Products and Services the brand provides 3) Internal Beacons that people internally rally around when thinking about the brand and 4) Consumer Views of the Brand. What we normally do is brainstorm 3-4 words in each of the four sections and then looking collectively begin to frame the Brand’s Big Idea with a few words or a phrase to which the brand can stand behind.
Question 5: What do we want the brand communications to do for the brand?
We recommend that you usse the Brand Love Curve to frame your strategy
In the consumer’s mind, brands sit on a Brand Love Curve, with brands going from Indifferent to Like It to Love It and finally becoming a Beloved Brand for Life. At the Beloved stage, demand becomes desire, needs become cravings, thinking is replaced with feelings. Consumers become outspoken fans.
It’s this connection that helps drive power for your brand: power versus competitors, versus customers, versus suppliers and even versus the same consumers you’re connected with. The farther along the curve, the more power for the brand. It’s important that you understand where your brand sits on the Love Curve and begin figuring out how to move it along towards becoming a Beloved Brand. With the power of connection, the brand can leverage that power into increased growth and profits.
To figure out your strategic options, you need to understand where you are on the Brand Love Curve, 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.
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.
Use this as a guideline to get you started on your plan and you may need to add specific flavoring to your situation. As you’ll see, if your brand is at the Indifferent stage, you can’t easily cross sell and you certainly can’t get loyalists to influence others, since you have no real loyalists.
Question Six: What do want people to think, feel or do?
When people think about brand communication too many brand leaders start with what they want to say (the stimulus) but forget about what they want to be heard and what they hope the consumer does (the desired response).
This should set up your Brand Communication so that it can change consumer behavior to drive drive the brand’s bond, power and profit.
To read more about writing a Creative Brief, follow this Powerpoint presentation on running your career in brand management.
Also, if you’re interesting in training programs for brand management, feel free to contact us to learn about our one day or three day boot camps for brand leaders. Here’s more information.
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