Non-Marketing people really need to stop defining what marketing people do.

I suppose that everyone who has a TV and can critique Super Bowl ads or those with a Twitter account thinks they can now say they are a marketer expert. Sadly, we have let far too many people use the word “MarketingMarketing”or “Brand” in their title. The commentary that I see coming from non marketers is borderline cringe-worthy or hilarious. I have to tell you that the comments are silly.

  • When I read, “Marketers need to think more about the consumer” I think you’ve never met a real marketer. The best marketers starting doing that around 1915. I guess somehow this is now popular among non-marketers.
  • When I hear,  “Marketers should analyze data”, again, I’m thinking what incompetent marketers have you been hanging around with. That’s been a major part of the job since 1950. Sure, big data. But I have been working any data from share report data to Ipsos tracking data to weekly Walmart sales tracking data.
  • When I read, “The CEO should be in charge of the brand”, I think “Well then the CEO should be in charge of the IT system”. Sure, in charge, but they should be smart enough to delegate to the experts who will make their brand stronger. From my experience, the best marketing led organizations have bottom up recommendations, empowering the brand manager to tell their directors what they want to do, who then support them in moving that up to the VP and President. The worst organizations are when the CEO walks down the hall and asks “Why are we not on Instagram? My 15-year-old daughter was just showing me how cool it is this weekend”. This is likely the reason why the average tenure of a CMO is under 24 months at this point. They are likely sports coaches, hired to be fired, by the impatience of getting results.
  • When I hear, “Marketing needs to be more than just advertising” once again, you just don’t understand the job….typically advertising is 10-15% of the job.The best marketers determine the strategy, figure out the brand promise, brand communication, product innovation, purchase moment and consumer experience…they touch all, decide all, but they let their experts run each of those touch points.

Marketers don’t just “do marketing”.

I am glad so many want to be in Marketing. But you really should have to earn your way into it. Go interview for a job, get rejected a few times, push to really get in there and then learn like ton for a few years. I spent 20 years in marketing. I could not believe how much I learned  in my first five years, then even more in the next five, then way more in the following five and absolute insane amount in those last five years. I’ve now been a consultant for over five years and I swear I know twice as much as I learned in the first 20.

Marketing is not just an activity. The best marketers have to think, define, plan, execute and analyze, using all parts of your brain, your energy and your creativity.

OK, my rant is over.

 

To learn more, here’s a presentation on how to create a beloved brand:

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

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

Graham Robertson Bio Brand Training Coach Consultant

Can Whole Foods survive? I hope so. But, unless they change, I doubt it.

Whole Foods has lost 14 million customers the past 2 years. The people they irritated the most: their core customers who used to love the brand. Amazon, who recently bought them, sure has their work cut out to fix what has been messed up. Here are the four main reasons why customers have left Whole Foods.

  1. They got rid of freshly prepared market and used pre-prepared foods,that upset their core customers.
  2. They now carry “unhealthy” and non-organics products such as Cliff Bars, that upset their core customers.
  3. They desperately launched discount “365” brand, did nothing for their core customers.
  4. Mainstream retailers offered same organic products at lower prices. Their non-core customers left Whole Foods.

Notice a trend? Whole Foods does not seem to care about their care customers.

Would you invest in Whole Foods right now?

I remember 20 years ago, someone told me that Blockbuster would go bankrupt once on-line movies would take off. My immediate response was “No way!!!” I had just spent 45 minutes lined up at my local Blockbuster to rent “Usual Suspects” for the third time. How could a brand with so much demand completely fall off the face of the earth?

Now I am starting to wonder if Whole Foods will be around in 20 years? Strategic Thinking Whole Foods I sure hope so. I am a big fan of their brand and all the work they have done. Whole Foods has been the dominant player in ‘organic’ grocery stores the past 20-30 years. They have done everything right. They brought a clear brand positioning, a big idea, a fantastic culture that oozes off the walls of their stores and exhibited through every employee you engage with in the stores. They nail branding as well as Apple, Tesla or Nike. They built an army of outspoken brand fans and they are a beloved brand.

Would you invest in Whole Foods right now? Their market capitalization has fallen from $24 Billion to $9 Billion the last 2 years. None of their moves have re-assured investors that their future is bright.

Is Whole Foods a victim of their own success? 

For the past 70 years, the average grocery stores have served the local community within a 10 minutes drive, with 20,000 skus across 10 aisle grocery stores. The business model of traditional stores pumped out ridiculously high volumes at ridiculously low margins. At the retailer’s head office, the buyers had to beat down manufacturers like P&G, J&J, Coke, Kellogg’s and Kraft. They pushed high listing fees and high trade spend to get any displays or flyer ads. Even after all this work, Grocery stores traditionally make only 20-25% gross margins and then make only 2-4% operating profits. Over the last 10 years Kroger has averaged 22% gross margins and 2.7% operating margins. These are very typical numbers for a grocery retailer.

Whole Foods started as a rebellious disruptor to the grocery category.

Strategic Thinking Whole Foods Rebel BrandWhole Foods came along and figured out they could sell organic raspberries at $5.99  instead of $2.99 for normal raspberries and they could sell organic bacon for $9.99 instead of 3.99. They knew that not everyone would pay, but enough would. Instead of high volume, low margin, they went for modest volume with a much higher margin. Whole Foods averages 35% gross margins (+13% higher than Kroger) and 5.3% operating profit (double that of Kroger).

Up until the year 2000, Whole Foods only had 100 locations, capable enough to own a niche position as a rebel brand, yet small enough to fly under the radar of the bigger grocery players. If you notice the Venn diagram to the right, rebel brands own a niche that is far enough away from the mainstream players, to avoid being seen as a direct competitor. For these rebel brands, they believe it is better to be loved by a few than tolerated by many. These brands take all that passion of their consumers and build around it. At this point, Whole Foods owned organic, and the traditional grocery stores were fine to let Whole Foods own the ‘yoga enthusiasts’.

Most brands start as a rebel brands. They win over the trend influencers, satisfying those consumers who do not want what the mainstream brands offer. The rebel brand takes the aggressive stance against the mainstream, finding flaw in the way they do business.  They stand out as a completely different and a better choice to a core group of trend influencers who are frustrated with all the competitors in the marketplace. This consumer group becomes the most motivated consumers to buy into your new idea. Rebel brands must bring these on board and use their influence on others, as the brand begins their journey from rebel brands to island brands to challenger brands and then onto the Power Player brand. Below is a chart that outlines that evolution, and you can see how to use the different consumer types from the trend influencers and early adopters at the beginning and then finding the mass audience as the brand gets bigger and more powerful.

Brand Innovation

After 2000, the move to organic foods hit a tipping point of acceptance within the mainstream audience. Whole Foods took advantage of this shift and invested in rapid expansion across North America. Whole Foods moved to the next stage of what I call the “Island Brand” stage, where you are so different you are on your own. For the health-conscience consumers, Whole Foods success left the traditional grocery stores in a position where they disconnected from what these consumers want. During this time, Whole Foods expanded from 100 to 430 stores, with forecasts of up to 1,200 stores. Whole Foods had gone from a niche player that traditional grocery brands were willing to ignore to a major threat that pushed the traditional brands to make a counter move.

Strategic Thinking Whole FoodsAs organic moved to the mainstream the traditional grocery store responded by bringing in organic foods into their stores. Most traditional grocery chains report that 25-35% of their fresh food has become organic. These grocery stores are charging 15-25% lower prices than Whole Foods, yet still loving the added margins it gives them.

Simply marketing lesson, no one will ever travel farther and pay more, for something they can get close by at a cheaper price.

As a result, Whole Foods has lost customers to the traditional players. According to Barclays analysts, “Whole Foods has lost about 14 million of its customers over the last 18 months. The magnitude of the traffic declines … is staggering. As most retailers know — once traffic has been lost, those patterns rarely reverse”. Did Whole Foods move to the mainstream too quickly, trying to use the groundswell towards organic among mass consumers to move to a challenger position?

Whole Foods next move was a dumb one.

The history of warfare can be characterized by Generals who over-reacted and under-reacted. Both would lose. Whole Foods made the poor decision to launch a lower price, lower service, and lower margin version of itself called “365”.  I always find it frustrating to watch brands who face an attack and then try to act more like the competitor attacking them, rather than backing up a bit and being themselves. When in a competitive battle, especially against those who own the traditional space who you have attacked, never act like your competitor. Instead of staying themselves, the move to “365” acts more like their competitors.

I do not believe these 365 stores can win. They are a hybrid store which is confusing. They will not attract the mainstream consumer who want their organic foods at lower prices, but still wants to buy Diet Coke and Frosted Flakes. They will not win with the core health trend influencer audience who want more, not less.

How will the 365 stores make money?  Low volume and lower margins is a recipe for bankruptcy.

If they can’t win the mass audience, do they still have the health trend influencers? 

We are seeing local healthy grocery stores pop up around North America ready to offer the health trend influencers more. Due to “costs” Whole Foods has made some moves that will irritate this audience.  They got rid of their freshly prepared market and now use pre-prepared foods. There are now swirling questions about whether their food choices are 100% organic. Whole Foods uses their own standards of judging good/bad food options. Whole FoodsAlso, Whole Foods uses national distribution on most items, not through local farmers. On top of that, Whole Foods carries fairly mainstream brand choices such as Cliff Bars with 28% sugar or Kellogg’s Special K. This confuses or frustrates the health trend setter segment who do not want to see those types of brands in their grocery store.

This leaves Whole Foods potentially without a positioning to stand behind and without a core audience to build around. When you try to be everything to anyone, you end up nothing to everyone. Whole Foods have lost who they are. They could take the advice of Oscar Wilde who once said: “Be yourself, everyone else is taken”.

The problem I see for Whole Foods is they have been spiraling downward with losing sales base, yet they seem unable or unwilling to make the right changes. I would not invest, would you?  While brands start as rebel brands, no matter what stage your brand reaches, when the world around you collapses, I recommend the best thing a brand can do is return back to the rebel status and re-start their brand. Instead of going mainstream with lower price/lower service options like the launch of their “365 store”, Whole Foods should go back to their rebellious roots and go even healthier, go even more local, add high end services back. Make it a full experience the health trend influencers want. Instead of trying to drive high volume from their current audience, they should add higher margin services. Be more like who they were 20 years ago.

When you lose your way, return to the rebel position and kick-start your brand again.

 

At Beloved Brands, we run a Brand Leadership Center to train marketers in all aspects of marketing from strategic thinking, analysis, writing brand plans, creative briefs and reports, judging advertising and media. To read more on strategy, here is a workshop on How to create beloved brands, 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

Beloved Brands Graham Robertson

 

 

 

When your brand is liked, but not loved

308040_478690928818846_943242162_nAs we dive deeper into brand love, we need to set up the Brand Love Curve as a core foundation that we use in every part of this book. In the consumer’s mind, brands sit on a Brand Love Curve, with brands going from “Indifferent” where consumers have no opinion to the “Like It” stage where consumers have a rational connection up to the “Love It” stage where consumers start to crave it and develop an emotional connection and finally up to becoming a “Beloved Brand” for life, where consumers are outspoken fans with a deeply emotional cult-like connection to the brand. Slide1

 

Don’t feel bad about being at the “Like It” stage, because that’s where most brands sit. But it does mean that you might not be making the most out of the potential of your brand. You have been able to carve out a niche and be a chosen brand against a proliferation of other brands in the category. You have good shares, moderate profits and most brand indicators are probably reasonably healthy. It’s just that no one loves you. You are likely not really doing enough in your marketing to create a bond with consumers. Consumers see your brand as a functional and rational choice. They tried it and it makes sense so they buy it feeling that it meets a basic need. But, consumers don’t have much of an emotional connection or feeling about the brand. You you are seen as ordinary, which is just a little bit better than indifferent.

There are seven reasons why you are at the “Like It” stage:

  1. Protective brand leaders leads to “caution”:  While many of these brands at the Like It are successful, they get stuck because of overly conservative and fearful Brand Managers, who pick middle of the road strategies and execute “ok” ideas. On top of this, Brand Managers who convince themselves that “we stay conservative because it’s a low-interest category” should be removed. Low interest category does not mean you just give up. It means you need to do even more to captivate the consumer.
  2. Rational thinking marketers means “boring”: Those marketers that believe they are strictly rational are inhibiting their brands. They lack passion. Boring brand leaders produce boring brands. dont be boring.001The brand managers get so jazzed on claims, comparatives, product demonstration and doctor recommended, that they forget about the emotional side of the purchase decision. Claims need to be twisted into benefits—both rational and emotional benefits. Consumers don’t care about you do until you care about what they need. Great marketers find that balance of the science and art of the brand. Ordinary marketers get stuck with the rational only. 
Don`t get stuck with just features and claims. Match them up to consumer needs and create rational benefits and then dial them up to emotional benefits.
  3. New brand with momentum: Stage 2 of a new brand innovation is ready to expand from the early adopters to the masses. The new brand begins to differentiate itself in a logical way to separate themselves from the proliferation of copycat competitors. Consumers start to go separate ways as well. Retailers might even back one brand over another. Throughout the battle, the brand carves out a base of consumers. As your new brand continues to gain momentum, now is the time to layer in the emotional benefits, look to find a small growing army who love the brand.
  4. There’s a major Leak:  If you look at the brand buying system, you’ll start to see a major leak at some point where you keep losing customers. Most brands have some natural flaw—whether it’s the concept, the product, taste profile, ease of use or customer service. Without addressing the leak, the brand gets stuck. People like it, but refuse to love it.
  5. Brand changes their mind every year:  Brands need consistency. When the promise and the delivery of the promise changes every year it’s hard to really connect with the brand. A brand like Wendy’s has changed their advertising message every year over the past 10 years. The only consumers remaining are those who like their burgers, not the brand.
  6. Positional Power so you think “who needs love?”:  There are brands that have captured a strong positional power, whether it`s a unique technology or distribution channel or even value pricing advantage. Brands like Microsoft or Walmart or even many of the pharmaceuticals products don`t see value in the idea of being loved. The problem is when you lose the positional power, you lose your customer base completely.
  7. Brands who capture love, but don’t impact the life ritual: There are brands that quickly capture the imagination of consumers but somehow fail to capture a routine embedded in the consumers’ life. Whether it’s Krispy Kreme, Pringles or even Cold Stone Ice Cream, there’s something inherent in the brand’s format or weakness that holds it back. It might be loved, but just not often enough. Out of sight, out of mind, means you almost forget you love them.

Here are the indicators that your brand is at the “Like It” stage:

  • Low conversion to purchase: While the brand looks healthy in terms of awareness and tracking scores, the brand keeps losing out to the competition as the consumer goes to the purchase stage. It usually requires a higher trade spend to close that sale which cuts price and margins.
  • Brand doesn’t feel different enough: An important advertising tracking score to watch is “made the brand seem different” which helps separate the brand from the pack. When you’re a rational message, you won’t see this score break through.
  • Stagnant market shares: When you’re a liked brand, gains you make are offset by losses on something else. Your brand team is content when they hold onto their share, content to grow with the category.
  • High private label sales: If you only focus on the ingredients and the rational features of the product, the consumer will start to figure out they can get the same thing with the private label and the share starts to creep up to 20% and higher.

Here’s some challenges for how to get to the “Love It” stage:

  1. Build a bigger following by driving deeper consideration and purchase:  Begin to sell the brand’s benefits as solutions, not just the product. Invest in building an emotional brand story that helps to drive increased popularity and entices new consumers.
  2. Begin to leverage those people that already love:  Focus on the most loyal consumers and drive a deeper connection by driving the routine which should increase usage frequency.  On top of that, begin cross selling to capture a broader type of usage for the brand.
  3. Love the work: It is time to dial up the passion that goes into the marketing execution. The most beloved brands have a certain magic to them. However, “Like It’ brands tend to settle for ok, rather than push for great. With better work, you’ll be able to better captivate and delight the consumers. If you don’t love the work, how do you expect the consumer to love your brand.
  4. Fix the leak: Brands that are stuck have something embedded in the brand or the experience that is holding back the brand. It frustrates consumers and restricts them from fully committing to making the brand a favorite.  Be proactive by fixing the leak.
  5. Build a Big Idea: Consumers want consistency from the brand as constant changes to the advertising, packaging or delivery can be frustrating. Build everything around a big idea, including the brand story, the innovation and experience to establish a consistency for the brand and help build a much tighter relationship.

Brands at the “Like It” stage get complacent. You need to disrupt the marketing team to focus on driving passion into the work. You need find a better balance between rational and emotional benefits. 

Find your love by showing more love for your consumers

Here’s a workshop we run on creating a beloved brand. We hope it provokes you to think differently so you can see how you can unleash the full power and profitability of your brand.

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.

BBI ads for 2015.003

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

New 2015 Bio .001

 

The ads that have defined the Apple brand

macvpc

The most beloved brand of today is Apple, which has created a cult-like status to drive towards the masses, giving the brand a bond unlike any brand in our history. Apple is based on the Big Idea that Apple makes technology so simple that everyone can be part of the future. The promise to support that idea is to make things so simple, everyone can feel smarter & more engaged. The Apple story starts whit he belief that technology shouldn’t be frustrating. You should be engaged right away, do more and get more.apple big idea map.001

Apple also wields the most power in the market, with consumers lined up behind every new launch, the media giving Apple over 2 billion worth of free media each year and a retail store network that has twice the sales per square foot of any retailer in the world. Apple is now a huge mass market corporate brand, with a market capitalization of $700 billion, 3 times the value of companies like Coke, Procter & Gamble, Pfizer and IBM. They have the Profit and Loss statement that every Brand Leader wants with high margins, relatively low marketing costs, growing market shares and quick entry into every new market.

I recently saw the new “Steve Jobs” movie, which I would highly recommend. I believe he is the marketing genius of our generation–albeit equally flawed in how he treated people. People at Apple used a term “Reality Distortion Field” to describe how it felt to work with Steve Jobs. The movie really captured the good and bad of the reality distortion field: the good is that he had an incredible vision to see things others couldn’t and the bad is he had delusions to read into things that others didn’t. Overall, Jobs was able to get people to produce results that they had believed impossible. The movie uses 3 major launches to anchor the story of Steve Jobs, which triggered my thinking to look at the 3 major Apple ads that defined the brand.

1984

At the time, it was called the best ad ever. What it did very well was express the brand’s vision for the future, even if that vision was ahead of its time. While it didn’t sell many Macs at the time, that was likely due to issues around others parts of the marketing mix such as price and product. I also see it part of Jobs’ “reality distortion field” with the entire market, where he saw things going and it would take another 15 years to catch up to his vision.

Think Different

Upon the return of Jobs to Apple in 1997, his first product launch was the iMac, but the “Think Different” idea really captured how he saw the brand’s purpose and challenger attitude. As much as this was advertising, I believe it an even better internal message to the culture and organization that he wanted to build and how he saw their role was to change the world at the impact level of the world’s greatest leaders ever. There were two versions, one in the voice of Richard Dreyfuss and the other in the voice of Jobs himself. When you see the original copy of the ad below, tell me this doesn’t read like Apple’s true internal beacon you could hang on the walls of the head office. That’s why I prefer the voice of Jobs, almost as though he’s holding his team accountable for achieving what seems to be the impossible in the future.

“Think Different”

Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes.

The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them.

About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They invent. They imagine. They heal. They explore. They create. They inspire. They push the human race forward.

Maybe they have to be crazy.

How else can you stare at an empty canvas and see a work of art? Or sit in silence and hear a song that’s never been written? Or gaze at a red planet and see a laboratory on wheels?

We make tools for these kinds of people.

While some see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.

“I’m a Mac”

The Mac vs PC campaign serves to express Apple’s clear point of distinction with their main competitor and carving out Apple’s big idea around “simplicity”.  With 66 ads made in this campaign, each one points out a new difference between Macs and PCs. This campaign is one of my favorites of all time. At Beloved Brands, we teach brand leaders how to judge advertising using our ABC’S tool:  Attention, Branding, Communication and Stickiness. This campaign easily achieves all 4, the humor grabs your attention, the iconic side-by-side technique over 66 spots serves to establish the brand and the communication of simplicity and the inevitable answer at the end of each ad helps stick the overall message that Macs are clearly better.

What’s your favorite Apple Ad?

Here’s a workshop we run on helping brand leaders make better advertising. We hope it provokes you to think differently so you can see how you can unleash the full power and profitability of your brand.

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.

BBI ads for 2015.003For 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 3911New 2015 Bio .001

 

 

Boring people make boring brands that die

dont be boring.001

You have to love WHAT you do and live WHY you do it.

Being boring will kill your brand. Not just boring people, but boring minds. Marketers in the new world need to be fueled by their passion and put everything they have into their work. They need to be guided by an underlying purpose for why they do what they do. Brand Leaders need to learn how to be a visionary, creative, emotional, demanding brand driven leader, and avoid being a boring, rational, product driven manager. Everyday, you need to get to the point where you say “I love it”, which is the best bar for making great work. If you don’t love what you do, how do you expect your consumer to love your brand. Where passion meets purpose, you will find that passion is dialed up to  new level when you know why you do what you do. It will consume you, energize you, fuel you and push you to go from good to great.

Brand Love is the new currency.

The more LOVED a brand is by consumers, the more POWERFUL and PROFITABLE that brand will be. Brands move along the BRAND LOVE CURVE, increasing the bond they have with consumers as they move from ‘Indifferent’ to ‘Like It’ to ‘Love It’ and finally to the ‘Beloved Brand’ stage. Boring brands get stuck at ‘Indifferent’ or ‘Like It’, while the most beloved brands are interesting, engaging and break through the clutter. The tight bond beloved brands create with consumers becomes a source of power that makes your brand more powerful in every point of negotiation, whether that is with the very consumers that love you, who feel more and think less, with competitors who can’t figure out how to duplicate the emotional bond you have created, with suppliers just dying to be part of your team, with any form of media who want to showcase your story and with any key influencer that wants to spread your story. Once you have power, and win every negotiation point, the money will flow in, with higher price points, lower costs, more share and an easy entry into new categories.Beloved Brands Summary Tools.002

Consumers love Ideas. They like products.

In a crowded branded marketplace, where we see 5000 brand messages a day, consumers connect with BIG IDEAS that help simplify brand messages in ways that is easily understood and remembered. Boring brands sell products, while beloved brands create big idea that are own-able in the consumers’ mind and heart and served up in a motivating enough message that changes consumer beliefs and behaviors. The role of the BIG IDEA is to simplify the brand message with an outward expression of the BRAND SOUL, which is a collection why you do what you do (purpose) what is important to you (values) and how you can help consumers (role).Beloved Brands Summary Tools.004

Consumers love brands who love them

For beloved brands, everything has to start and end with the consumer in mind. Boring brands get stuck talking about themselves all the time, almost forgetting about the consumer. They talk endlessly about features and claims. Boring brands try to be everything to everyone, and end up nothing to anyone. Beloved brands get in the shoes of your consumer and speak in their voice. You need to define a very focused target market, and using consumer insights and consumer enemy to connect with consumers. Boring brands are consumed while beloved brands are experienced. When consumers experience the brand, they either accept or reject it based on how it matches up to the Big Idea. Consumers who are continually satisfied become loyal and develop a bond with brand. Consumers transform this bond into a reputation they spread. The idealized state for a brand is when the brand reputation perfectly matches up to the brand soul. To ensure delivery of the brand’s Soul, you need to line up all 5 consumer touch points underneath simple Big Idea. Create a simple brand promise that separates your brand from competitors, based on being better, different or cheaper. Use your brand story to motivate consumers to think, feel or act, while beginning to own a reputation in the mind and hearts of consumers. A fundamentally sound product, staying at the forefront of trends and using technology to deliver on your brand promise. The moment of truth as consumers move through the purchase cycle and use channels, messaging, processes to make the final decision. Turn the usage of your product into an experience that becomes a ritual and favorite part of their day. 

big idea map new 2015.001

The desire to be loved guides your brand’s strategy and execution

Boring brand leaders get stuck in the analytics, but a good brand funnel system should allow  you to measure and track brand love. Brand funnel 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. We can see below how you can use voice of consumer and market indicators to determine where you are on the brand love curve.

measuring brand love.001

We use where you are on the Brand Love Curve to focus your brand on what strategy to guide your next move. This can help provide your overall focus of the strategy. Brands at the Indifferent stage should be trying to establish the brand in the consumers mind, but those at the Like It stage that want to go to the next stage have to create a bigger following by trying find a way to separate your brand from others. Brands at the Love It stage should tug at heartstrings of their consumers to tighten bond with your most loyal. And those brands at the Beloved stage should be trying to continue the magic and get loyalists to speak on your behalf. We’ve mapped out 16 core brand strategies to help guide your brand plans.love strategies.001Once you know the overall strategy, you can begin mapping where your consumer stands on the Brand Love Curve and begin layering in the execution. We use a consumer buying system that reflects the brand funnel and provide executional options to power each part of the buying system. Brands at the indifferent stage should focus on managing the awareness-consideration-search, while brands at the Like It stage should be looking to separate your brand from others and close the deal at the purchase moment. As it moves to the Love It stage, it becomes about turning satisfied consumers into repeating and loyal, while the Beloved stage turns loyalty into outspoken fans that then drive awareness for other consumers. We see the power of the most beloved brands using social media as a tool for influencing awareness among new potential users. I’m still in shock when I see loved brands continue to spend 100% of their money on awareness driving TV ads with a basic product message. WE KNOW WHAT YOU DO–YOU HAVE TOLD US FOR 40 YEARS!!!ad execution.003

When judging execution, you should THINK with strategy and GO with your instincts. Great marketing should attract attention, be about the brand, communicate the story, and stick in the consumers mind. Boring brand leaders get stuck over thinking things and forget their instincts. Or they think about what others will think. The best brand leaders find ways to balance their thinking and instincts, to follow their passion. When thinking, we recommend you ask two questions: Is it on strategy and does it have long-term potential to help the brand?  When going with instincts, you should ask “do you love it and try to assess your gut feel for if it’s good. Strategy is based on slow reflective thinking and instincts are fast responsive thinking. Learn to do both.

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We hope we’ve shown you how brand love can carry throughout every part of running your brand. Follow your passion by loving everything you do. Let your purpose guide your energy every day by living why you do it.

Stop being boring. Get people to fall in love with your brand

Here’s a workshop we run on helping brands find brand love. We hope it provokes you to think differently so you can see how you can unleash the full power and profitability of your brand.

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.BBI ads for 2015.003

For our brand leader training, we promise to make your team of brand leaders better, by teaching sound marketing fundamentals and challenging to push for greatness so that they can unleash their full potential. Feel free to add me on Linked In, or follow me on Twitter at @belovedbrands If you need to contact me, email me at graham@beloved-brands.com or phone me at 416 885 3911

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The best Political Ad this year is for a guy not even in the race (yet)

29913743001_4538072987001_video-still-for-video-4538052437001At Beloved Brands, we look at all types of brands and see what we can learn. We’ve done a few on politics this year, but you’ll notice that we never pick sides. If you can’t see straight when reading a branding article about politics, I suggest you stop reading. I’m just a marketer so this article will only talk about political brands, not about the policies of politics. Plus, I’m Canadian so I’m not even a voter in the US–I can remain objective.

Yes, the Donald Trump brand has clearly captivated America, dominated the media, polarized the electorate and rallied those who hate politics. What I like best about Trump is that his campaign has a Big Idea: Trump has a focused 7-second Big Idea brand message, that’s easily explained and understood. “Make America great again”. But Trump’s communication strategy has been largely based on provocative comments in the media, his Twitter handle and some great one-liners at the debates.

But the best ad I’ve seen this year has to go to someone not even in the race:  Joe Biden. This ad ran during the Democratic Debate last night and again this morning during the morning newscast. It’s paid for by DraftBiden, a super-PAC trying to garner momentum behind his candidacy for President.

Joe is a great storyteller, with amazing natural warmth. This ad uses one of Joe’s speeches, telling a story of his dad and how the lessons he learned impacts his fight for the average working American. It reminds me of the Dodge Ram’s “God Made a Farmer” Super Bowl ad, which used a similar style of photos over top of a Paul Henry’s voice. The quietness of the ad captures your attention and the story holds your attention. It’s not really going to change your view on Joe Biden, or Hillary Clinton. It’s targeted to Joe’s biggest supporters to get them to hold off committing to a candidate until Joe makes his inevitable entrance into the race.

Interestingly enough, this ad is a replacement for another emotional ad, using Joe’s voice telling another story. But Draft Biden pulled the ad after an aide to the vice president expressed Biden’s desire for the ad not to run, saying it tread on “sacred ground.”  It featured the story of Biden’s personal experience with tragedy after the death of his first wife, Neilia, and 1-year-old daughter Naomi in a 1972 car crash. Watch below and you can see how this might be a bit “too personal”.

Politically, Joe is likely the backup plan should Hillary Clinton stumble. But these are beautiful ads.

Below is a workshop we run on “How to get great Advertising”: 

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.

BBI ads for 2015.003

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 3911New 2015 Bio .001

Volvo owns one word in describing their brand: Safety

images“If you want to build a brand, you must focus your efforts on owning a word in the prospects’ mind. A word nobody else owns”  – Al Ries

I went to see Al Ries speak a few years ago and he challenged all marketers to get your brand down to one word. It sounded great, until I went back to my desk and started trying it out on my brands. At best I was able to get it down to a few words or a quick catch phrase. As I sat there frustrated, I realized that the effort to try to get it down to one word is a great catalyst that gets you down to a few words. That’s a hell of a lot better than the excessively long-winded 5-page briefs or the long list of RTB’s (Reason to Believe) people want to jam in a TV ad.

For a long time, we’ve thought that brands just exist to convey a degree of consistency in the consumers mind. Yes, that helps to own a position in the marketplace. But more and more, we are also starting to realize that consistency of message acts as an internal beacon for everyone in the organization to follow.

I am always pushing everyone to focus: focus on a tight target, own one main benefit area that no one else can own and then shout it from the mountain top. The challenge here of getting what your brand stands for down to one word would be the ultimate. I’d encourage you to take this on a test run and see where you get. But the bigger point is to, learn from how obsessed Volvo is around safety.

When you ask consumers one word to describe Volvo, without hesitation they say “Safety”.  

headerI am yet to see any other brand that is so focused against one word like Volvo is with safety. For Volvo safety is not just a claim or demo in their TV ads, but is everything they do. But the real beauty for Volvo is their obsession with safety.

  • Volvo was long ahead of the marketplace. Volvo first started the safety angle in the 1940s and became completely obsessed in through the 1960s long before consumers cared about safety when no one was even wearing seat belts. But the market place has since caught up.  
  • Car and Driver reports safety as the #1 benefit that consumers are looking for in a new car.
  • Volvo’s purpose in making safety a priority. In 1958, Volvo came up with the 3-point seat belt. Even with a patent they could have enforced and made millions, Volvo decided to share the technology with all the other car manufacturers because they believed so strongly in it. That really speaks to Volvo’s conviction and authenticity.
  • Volvo has always been way ahead of car safety regulations. In fact, as safety became a priority with consumers, regulators looked at what Volvo was doing as the standard and then made Volvo’s advancements mandatory across other companies.  In the 1990s, Volvo was ahead of the curve on the introduction of air bags and side-air bags.  
  • In TV ads, we got so used to seeing the crash test dummy ads re-enforcing Volvo’s ownership over safety.
  • Volvo continues to set the standard for safety today. The IIHS (Insurance Institute of Highway Safety) had 3 Volvo models in the 10 Top Safety Picks, the most of any car brand. The Euro NCAP collision test has recognize Volvo V40 as the best car they’ve ever tested, giving it the top rating of five stars in the Euro NCAP collision test.

Volvo_S80_safetyMost impressive to me that highlights Volvo’s obsession with safety is to look internally at the long list of R&D advancements over the past 70 years.

  • 1944 Safety cage
  • 1944 Laminated windscreen
  • 1957 Anchor points for 2–point safety belts front
  • 1958 Anchor points for 2–point safety belts rear
  • 1959 3–point front safety belts standard
  • 1964 First rearward–facing child safety seat prototype tested
  • 1966 Crumple zones front and rear
  • 1966 Safety door–locks
  • 1969 Inertia reel safety belts
  • 1971 Reminder safety belt
  • 1972 3–point safety belts – rear
  • 1972 Rearward–facing child safety seat
  • 1974 Multi-stage impact absorbing steering column
  • 1974 Bulb integrity sensor
  • 1975 Braking system with stepped bore master cylinder
  • 1978 Child safety booster cushion
  • 1982 “Anti–submarining” protection
  • 1986 Three–point safety belt centre rear seat
  • 1990 Integrated child safety cushion in centre rear seat
  • 1991 Side Impact Protection System
  • 1991 Automatic height adjusting safety belt
  • 1992 Reinforced rear seats in estate models
  • 1995 Integrated child safety cushion outer rear seats
  • 1997 Roll Over Protection System
  • 1998 Whiplash Protection System
  • 1998 Inflatable Curtain
  • 2001 Volvo Safety Concept Car
  • 2002 Roll Stability Control
  • 2003 New Front Structure called Volvo Intelligent Vehicle Architecture
  • 2003 Rear seat belt reminders
  • 2003 Intelligent Driver Information System
  • 2003 Inauguration of Volvo’s Traffic Accident Research Team in Bangkok
  • 2004 Blind Spot Information System
  • 2005 Door Mounted Inflatable Curtain
  • 2006 Personal Car Communicator
  • 2006 Collision Warning with Brake Support
  • 2007 Power Park Brake
  • 2007 Driver Alert Control
  • 2009 City Safety – Automatically stop car at speeds below 19 mph (31 km/h) if obstruction is detected in front of car
  • 2010 Pedestrian Detection with auto brake
  • 2012 Pedestrian airbag

True leader push themselves by attacking the brand even before competitors have a chance. Volvo is continuing to push themselves with a very visionary challenge for the year 2020 that’s squarely directed internally within Volvo. 

Volvo brand vision: Nobody should die or be seriously injured in a Volvo.  

That speaks volumes to the obsession they’ve had for the past 70 years and to the obsessive focus for the future of Volvo!

At Beloved Brands, we use the Big Idea as a way to simplify and explain the Brand Soul. As consumers face 5,000 brand messages every day and having a simple Big Idea allows the consumer to connect with it. We can see above how Volvo lives and breathes Safety in every part of their organization. The more work you do as a marketer to ensure everything lines up behind your big idea, you’ll be able to move your brand to the place where your brand’s reputation and your brand’s soul are the same. 

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What can you learn from this for your brand?

Below is a presentation of our workshop we run on brand positioning:

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.BBI ads for 2015.005

For our brand leader training, we promise to make your team of brand leaders better, by teaching sound marketing fundamentals and challenging to push for greatness so that they can unleash their full potential. Feel free to add me on Linked In, or follow me on Twitter at @belovedbrands If you need to contact me, email me at graham@beloved-brands.com or phone me at 416 885 3911

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The 7 essential elements for good strategic thinking

Beloved Brands Summary Tools.003As the speed of marketing has increased, many brand leaders have become so fixated on getting things done quickly that they don’t take the time to do the strategic thinking needed to ensure they are choosing the right pathway. The best Brand Leaders know when to be a strategic thinker and when to be an action thinker.

Strategic thinkers methodically see questions before answers. They 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. Time to reflect and plan before acting help you move in a focused efficient fashion. Think slowly, logically, always needing options, but if go too slow, you will miss the opportunity window.

“Action” thinkers instinctually see answers before they know the right questions. They see answers before even knowing the right questions, using instincts and impulse. Any delays will frustrate you, believing that doing something is better than nothing at all. This “make it happen” mode gets things done, but if you go too fast, your great actions will be solving the wrong problem.

Find your balance by thinking slowly with strategy and thinking quickly with your instincts.

The 7 essential elements of good strategic thinking

  1. Vision: An aspirational stretch goal for future, linked to a well-defined purpose. It should push you. It should scare you a little, but excite you a lot.  
  2. Focus: Alignment of your limited resources to a distinct strategic point you wish to penetrate, creating positive momentum on a pathway towards your vision.
  3. Opportunity: Something happening in the market, as a potential strategic opening based on trends in the market (e.g. consumer behavior, technology).
  4. Speed: Like in sports, time and space of the opportunity matter. As soon as you see the opportunity, you must act quickly before others see the same opportunity.
  5. Early win: Break through point where you see a shift in momentum towards your vision. It offers potential proof to everyone that this strategy will work, helping rally others–the team, agency and even your boss.   
  6. Leverage: Ability to turn the early win into creating a momentum, that leads to the tipping point where you achieve more in return than the effort put in.
  7. Gateway: Realization point where you see a shift in positional advantage or power that allows you to believe your vision is achievable.

The Power of Focus

Many Brand Leaders seem to fear focusing, yet focus is essential for strategy to work for you to get more from it, than what you put into it. I once had a Brand Leader list their target as “18-65, current customers, potential customers and employees” and I asked “what about prisoners and tourists?”. I constantly see Brands try to say 5 or 6 things in their message. I see brand leaders with 74 things on their to-do lists. When we realize that every Brand has limited resources (financial, time, effort and alliances) they can apply against an endless list of opportunistic choices (target, message, strategy and activities) do we start to make choices. Strategy is really where you apply your limited resources against pressure points you know you can break through, to gain something bigger than the sum of the resources you put into it.

strat thinking.002Focus makes you matter most to those who care the most. Don’t blindly target consumers:  target the most motivated. Focusing your limited resources on those consumers with the highest motivation and  propensity to buy what you are selling will deliver the highest return on investment. In a competitive category, no one brand can do it all: brands must be better, different or cheaper to survive. Giving the consumer too many messages will confuse them as to what makes your brand unique. Trying to be everything to everyone is the recipe for being nothing. Return on Effort (ROE) is a great tool for focusing your activity.  Doing a laundry list of activity spreads your resources so thin that everything you do is “ok” and nothing is “great”. And in a crowded and fast economy, “ok” never breaks through enough to get the early win and find that tipping point to open up the gateway to even bigger success. strat thinking.001

When you focus, 5 things happen:

  1. Better Return on Investment (ROI):  With all the resources against one strategy, one target, one message, you’ll be able to move consumers enough to drive sales or push other key performance indicators in the right direction.  
  2. Better Return on Effort (ROE): It’s about getting more back than you put into the effort. Working smart helps make the most out of your people resources.
  3. Stronger Reputation: When you only do one thing, you naturally start to become associated with that one thing—externally and even internally.  Reputation is a power you can push to find deeper wins.
  4. More Competitive: As your reputation grows, you begin to own that one thing and you can better defend that positioning territory. You can expose the weakness of your competitors, attract new consumers as well as push internally (R&D, service, sales) to rally behind the newly created reputation. 
  5. Bigger and Better P&L: As the focused effort drives results, it opens up the P&L with higher sales and profits. People with money invest where they see return. 

think and go.001Strategic Thinkers see “what if” questions before they see solutions. Ask the right questions to set up the right strategy.

Below is a presentation of a workshop that we run on how to think strategically:

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.

BBI ads for 2015.003

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

New 2015 Bio .001