How to manage your B2B brand

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Too many people think that brand management matters most to a consumer brand, and they under-estimate the value of marketing for B2B brands. And many of these people are running B2B brands. They treat marketing as a support function, hiring a low-cost marketing coordinators to support their sales team, and do basic packaging for new launches and run a few basic trade magazines.

B2B marketing is not just about selling products, but about building and selling your brand’s reputation. The role of a B2B brand is to create unique idea for your brand, perceived in the minds and hearts of your customer, consistently delivered by the experience, creating a bond, power and profit beyond what the product itself could achieve. Too many B2B companies believe they just SELL PRODUCTS. However, you should be building and managing your reputation of your brand. Whereas basic products and services solve small problems, I like to think that a brand beats down the enemy that your customer faces every day. For instance, FedEx fights the enemy of “business moving too slowly” while IBM fights “unsolvable problems” for their customers. What is your customer’s enemy that you can solve for them?

The more loved a brand is by its customers, the more powerful and profitable that brand will be. With a connected brand, it helps to warm up sales leads–many times they’ll already know your reputation before you call. A brand can connect with customers so that pure pricing becomes less of a factor. If the customer is satisfied and connected on one piece of business, they’ll look to you to solve other problems for them.

Start with a Big Idea

The best brands use a Big Idea to help explain themselves in 7 seconds, and use that Big Idea to help extrapolate that same brand story into 60 seconds or even 30 minutes, depending on the situation. In a crowded branded marketplace, Big Ideas help simplify your brand message so it’s easily understood and remembered, own-able in the customers’ mind and heart and motivating enough to change consumer beliefs and behavior. That big idea should transform your brand message into a brand reputation.

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Below is the tool we use to figure out a brand’s Big Idea which revolves around five areas that help define the brand: 1) Brand’s character 2) Products and Services the brand provides 3) Internal Beacons that people internally rally around when thinking about the brand and 4) Consumer reputation of the Brand and 5) the role of the brand in connecting with consumers. How we use this tool is we normally brainstorm 3-4 words in each of the four distinct sections and turn create sentences for each. Then looking collectively, we begin to frame the brand’s Big Idea with a few words or a phrase to which the brand can stand behind. The tool works! 

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Once you have your Big Idea, you should then use it to frame the 5 different connectors needed to set up a very strong bond between your brand and your customers.

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Build your brand around a big idea that’s simple to understand and big enough to create a lasting impression with consumers. Create a simple brand promise that separates your brand from competitors, based on being better, different or cheaper. Use your brand story to motivate customers to think, feel or act, while beginning to own a reputation in the mind and hearts of consumers. You need a fundamentally sound product, with innovation that keeps your brand at the forefront of trends and using technology to deliver on your brand promise. The purchase  moment is where customers 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 work life so that your customers always turn to you first.

Whereas B2B brands currently treat marketing as a support function, once you have your big idea you can see how for a B2B brand, that the idea should drive every part of your organization and that your brand’s experience will be supported by the culture, people and operations which then transforms that idea into a brand reputation. Below you can see how that Big Idea should be a beacon for your top-to-top leadership, your sales team, the problem solvers, customer service team and the experience delivery team.

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Everyone in your organization must be saying the same message. For a B2B brand, marketing’s role is to make sure that the external and internal story are given equal importance so that everyone in your organization must be communicating and delivering the same big idea to customers that they see in trade magazines, at trade shows or in the sales materials.

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Like any brand, there are really only four choices: you can be better, different, cheaper or else not around for very long. For B2B, when your product is a commodity, you have to find a way to use service levels as a way to find your point of difference. When you start to treat your own brand like a commodity or believe that you are, that’s when you’re in trouble. What you want to do is use that Big Idea to create an internal culture and use that culture to build your brand’s reputation as the way to help separate you in the marketplace. As you build your culture, you’ll see that you can begin to use culture as a way to stand out and then you’ll evolve to where you see culture becomes the backbone that delivers the brand experience. At the ideal stage where you become a beloved brand you see that culture and brand become one as your own people become the most outspoken fans of the brand. 

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Your brand is your reputation and it can never be a commodity

Click below on the Powerpoint version of the B2B Brand Workshop we run for clients.

We make Brands better.

We make Brand Leaders better.™

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

GR bio Jun 2016.001

 

How to find your brand’s ideal Consumer target profile

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in How to Guide for Marketers
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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.

Who is your ideal consumer target?

Everything starts and ends with the consumer in mind. We believe that spreading your limited resources across an entire population is cost-prohibitive and will provide you with a low return on investment and low return on effort, that will eventually drain your brand. While targeting everyone “just in case” might feel safe at first, it is actually less safe because you never get to see the full impact of the resources you apply. Too many Marketers seems to think that the way to make your brand bigger is to be able to appeal to a bigger, broader target. Positioning 2016 ExtractWe take a different approach believing that instead of going after who you want the most, we recommend that you should go after those consumers who are the most motivated by what you do. To get Brand Leaders to focus their target, we show three types of targets: selling target, marketing target and program target.

  • Selling Target: Of course you should sell to anyone who wants to buy. I just wouldn’t spend my money against this large of a target. You can always reactively sell to anyone who engage and show interest in your brand, regardless if they fit your ideal target. However, as every brand is constrained by limited resources, we just don’t recommend that you spend your limited marketing resources against this large of a target, especially when you have seen no signs that they will respond enough to provide an efficient pay back.
  • Marketing Target: The best marketers know exactly who is their ideal consumer. In the new world of Marketing, we can know more and more about these people. We recommend that you focus your limited resources on those consumers that are the most motivated by what your brand offers, those most likely respond to your brand story or your product offering, which then provides you with the fastest and highest return on investment and return on effort.
  • Program Target: Specific campaign target that you hope to move to think, feel or do with your specific marketing program.

A few years ago, I was working with bank who told me that their target market for a first time mortgage (home loan) was 18-65, new customers, current customers and employees. Sarcastically, I said, “You have forgotten tourists and prisoners”. As I pressed to help them narrow their consumer target, they pushed back saying that they didn’t want to alienate anyone “just in case” someone outside the usual target wanted a home loan. While the odd 64-year-old might be tired of renting for the past 40 years and wanting to finally buy their first home, they would not be offended if there was a 32 year old in the advertising. The reality is that first time home owners are usually in their late 20’s or early 30’s, and they usually spend 6-12 months looking for a house. No one buys a house on impulse. And no one ever wanted a mortgage, without buying a house. The target should be: “28-33, already considering buying a house within the next year and nervous about their debt load.” Imagine the difference that focused target market will make in the brand message and in the media choices you might make now. For instance, instead of just randomly advertising to everyone on mass media, you can focus your resources where the consumer would be most open to your message. You could advertise on real estate websites, take out billboard ads outside of the new housing developments and buy radio ads on Saturday when people are looking at new homes. The focused target market helps focus your resources on those consumers most likely to respond to your brand messages.

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. The best brands don’t go after consumers, they create a desire and connection, to get consumers to go after the brand. The best way to get consumers motivated is to tap into their need states, to understand their frustration points they may have and to connect by showing that you understand them. Motivating someone to buy your brand should start with the consumer not your product. You have to understand consumers, to match your brand up to their needs, wants and desires. Done right, if you can make consumers want to buy, then you will never have to sell.

Who is your consumer’s enemies that you will fight?

While regular products solve regular problems, the most beloved brands beat down the enemies that torment consumers every day. What are your consumer’s frustration point that they feel no one is even noticing or addressing? For instance, the Disney brand fights off the consumer enemy of “growing up”, while Volvo fights off the consumer enemy of “other drivers” or Starbucks fights off the consumer enemy of a “hectic life”. Shifting from solving a rational consumer problem to beating down a consumer enemy is the starting point to reaching into the emotional state of your consumer. Positioning 2016 Extract 2

Put yourself in the shoes of your Starbucks consumer, who is a 38-year-old mom with two kids. She wakes up at 6:15 am, not only to get ready for work, but to get everyone in the house ready for their day. She drops off one kid at daycare, the other at public school and then rushes into the office for 8:30 am. She drives a van, not because she wants to but because it is a great transportation choice for carrying all the equipment needed for after-school activities, including soccer, dance, tutoring and ice hockey. It never stops. No one is really old enough to thank her, the only appreciations are random moments of celebration or a hug at the end of a long day. Just after getting both to bed, she slinks into her bed exhausted. What is her enemy? Her enemy is the hectic life that she leads. If only she had a 15-minute moment to escape from it all. She doesn’t want to run from it, because she does love her life. She just needs a nice little break. A place where there is no play land, but rather nice leather seats. There are no loud screams, just nice acoustic music. There are no happy meals, just nice pastries have a European touch. Not only does she feel appreciated, but the cool 21-year-old college student not only knows her name but knows her favorite drink. Starbucks does an amazing job in understanding and fighting off the consumer’s enemy, giving her a nice 15-minute moment of escape in the middle of her day. Yes, the Starbucks product is coffee, but the Starbucks brand is about moments. Starbucks provides a personal moment of escape from a hectic life, between work and home. If you want to show that you better understand your consumer’s pain points, think of how you would project the enemy to the consumer that you are fighting on their behalf.

Consumer Insights

We think of Consumer Insights as secrets that we have discovered and then use to our brand’s advantage. To paint the picture of our consumer target, you should use Consumer Insights to help to crystallize secrets, thoughts and stories that bring the consumer to life. The dictionary definition of the word Insight is “seeing below the surface”. Too many people think data, trends and facts are insights. I always do this little test asking if this is an insight: “Consumers in Brazil brush their teeth 4x a day compared with only 1.8 times per day for Americans”. All we know is one piece of data and if we don’t find out more, we might make a mistake. It might be that Brazilians stand closer to each other, or they eat spicier foods or they have a lack fluoride in their water system, or Brazilians believe they are the most beautiful people on the planet.

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The dictionary definition of the word Insight is “seeing below the surface”. To get deeper, when you come across a data point, you have to keep looking, listening, and asking yourself “so what does that mean for the consumer” until you have an “AHA moment”. You have to understand beneath the surface to turn the data point into knowledge and even wisdom about the consumer.

You can start with observations, trends, market facts and research data, but only when you start asking the right questions do you get closer to where you can summarize the insight. Look and listen for the consumer’s beliefs, attitudes and behaviors that help explain how they think, feel or act in relationship to your brand or category. Because the facts are merely on the surface, you have to dig, or you will miss out on the depth of the explanation of the underlying feelings within the consumers that caused the data. Think beyond the specific category insights and think about life insights or even societal trends that could impact changing behavior.

Get in the consumer’s shoes, then observe, listen and understand how they think, act, feel and behave. You have to know their fears, motivations, frustrations and desires. Learn their secrets, that only they know, even if they can’t explain. Learn to use their voice. Build that little secret into your message, using their language, so they’ll know you are talking to them. We call this little secret the consumer insight. Good insights get in the SHOES of your consumer and use their VOICE. We force every insight to be written starting with the word “I” to get the Marketer into the shoes of the consumer and force them to put the insight in quotes to use their voice.Creative Brief 2016.035

When portrayed with the brand’s message, whether on packaging, an advertisement or at the purchase moment, the consumer insight is the first thing that consumers connect with. When consumers see the insight portrayed, we make them think: “That’s exactly how I feel. I thought I was the only one who felt like that.” This is what engages consumers and triggers their motivation and desire to purchase. The consumers think we must be talking to them, even if it looks like we are talking to millions. If we want consumers to believe the brand is for them, then the insight is the first signal that says “we get you, you should listen to us”. It is not easy to explain a secret to a person who doesn’t even know how to explain their own secret. Try it with a friend and you will fail miserably. Imagine how hard it is to find that secret and portray it back to an entire group of consumers. Safe to say, consumer insights are hard to find.

Knowing the secrets of your consumers is a very powerful asset. An insight should ONLY connect with the audience you are talking to. I hate when people say, “We don’t want to alienate others”. The best brand communication should be like whispering an inside-joke that only you and your friend get. Yes, when we target, we actually do want to alienate others. That’s the only way we will truly connect. Your ability to harness those secrets into creating insights that are arresting or intriguing, fuels the creative spirit as you tell your brand’s story, launch new innovation and move the consumer through to the purchase moment. After all, there is one source of revenue, not the product you sell, but the consumers who buy. In a tough competitive market, your ability to harness the secrets of your consumers that only you know, is a huge potential competitive advantage.

How do you define your consumer?

At Beloved Brands, we lead workshops to help teams build their Brand Positioning Statement, helping the team find the target, main benefits, reason to believe.  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.

 

GR bio Jun 2016.001

How to find the ideal Consumer Benefit for your brand

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What is the right consumer benefit?

The 4 elements of a winning Brand Positioning statement include who you will serve, where you play, where you will win then why the consumer should they believe us. Simply put, that’s the target, category, main benefit and support points.

Before you just write out a random brand positioning statement, we recommend that you dig deeper on doing the homework that helps uncover options and then focuses you on the best possible space to own. Positioning has a sense of ambiguity and uncertainty, which means randomness is only an intuitive guess on your part. Having a process that grounds your thinking will ensure you are owning the best space. I always think the positioning statement takes everything you know about the brand and narrows the focus to only those things that matter. The homework helps to lay out everything you know, and then your decision making helps to focus on the elements that matter.

  1. Who is in the consumer target? What slice of the population will be the most motivated to buy what you do? The first thing to decide is the consumer target, which should be your first point of focus, so that you can find the slice of the population that will be the most motivated by what you do. The mistake for many Marketers is they think about who you want, and they forget to ask who wants you. Who is the most motivated to buy what you do?
  2. Where do you play? What is the frame of reference that helps to define the space in the marketplace that you compete in? We then frame the positioning by determining the category you play in, defining the competitors you will position yourself against. No one really operates in a blue ocean space, as positioning is always relative to some other choice the consumer can make.
  3. Where do you win? We then need to determine the main promise you will make to the consumer target, in the sense of a benefit for the consumer, both the rational and emotional. Think about what does the customer get, and how does it make them feel?
  4. Why should they believe us? Finally, we will look to understand what support points are needed to back up the main promise you are making. These support points have to support the main benefit, not just random claims or features that you want to jam into your brand message.
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The homework is hard, but the output provides clarity when you begin writing a brand positioning statement that will help focus you on what is unique, own-able, and motivating to consumers. One of the biggest mistakes brands make is speaking at the consumer with features (what you do) and not benefits (what they get). The old saying is, “features tell, but benefits sell”. Stop telling consumers what you do and start telling them what they get and how it will make them feel.

The first thing you want to do is to know up 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.

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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.

  • 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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Just like any decision, it’s hard to just pick one. But if you start to think about it more and more, you will see how different each of these four choices really are.

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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. 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:

  • Leverage all the available research to brief the team, helping define the consumer target and get all the consumer insights and need states out.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
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Put all the information of the group brainstorm into a Consumer Benefits Ladder Worksheet. You can put more on this list than you can use, either using market research to help narrow your focus or making tough decisions on what you where you want to go.

What are the 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.

We always recommend that you speak with consumers in terms of benefits, not features. They don’t care what you do, until you care about what they get. Put yourself in their shoes and start asking “so what do I get?” to help frame the rational benefit and “how does I feel?” to find the emotional benefit. You will become a much more powerfully connected brand.

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At Beloved Brands, we lead workshops to help teams build their Brand Positioning Statement, helping the team find the target, main benefits, reason to believe.  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.

GR bio Jun 2016.001

 

Who is your consumer’s enemies that you will fight on their behalf?

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Beloved Brands Explained

While regular products solve regular problems, the most beloved brands beat down the enemies that torment consumers every day. Positioning-2016.027What are your consumer’s frustration point that they feel no one is even noticing or addressing? For instance, the Disney brand fights off the consumer enemy of “growing up”, while Volvo fights off the consumer enemy of “other drivers” or Starbucks fights off the consumer enemy of a “hectic life”. Shifting from solving a rational consumer problem to beating down a consumer enemy is the starting point to reaching into the emotional state of your consumer.

Starbucks fights off the enemy of the hectic life

Put yourself in the shoes of your Starbucks consumer, who is a 38-year-old mom with two kids. She wakes up at 6:15 am, not only to get ready for work, but to get everyone in the house ready for their day. She drops off one kid at daycare, the other at public school and then rushes into the office for 8:30 am. She drives a van, not because she wants to but because it is a great transportation choice for carrying all the equipment needed for after-school activities, including soccer, dance, tutoring and ice hockey. It never stops. No one is really old enough to thank her, the only appreciations are random moments of celebration or a hug at the end of a long day. Just after getting both to bed, she slinks into her bed exhausted. What is her enemy? a03e0da8-fac7-11e3-acc6-12313b090d61-medium-1Her enemy is the hectic life that she leads. If only she had a 15-minute moment to escape from it all. She doesn’t want to run from it, because she does love her life. She just needs a nice little break. A place where there is no play land, but rather nice leather seats. There are no loud screams, just nice acoustic music. There are no happy meals, just nice pastries have a European touch. Not only does she feel appreciated, but the cool 21-year-old college student not only knows her name but knows her favorite drink. Starbucks does an amazing job in understanding and fighting off the consumer’s enemy, giving her a nice 15-minute moment of escape in the middle of her day.

Yes, the Starbucks product is coffee, but the Starbucks brand is about moments. Starbucks provides a personal moment of escape from a hectic life, between work and home. They fight off the consumer enemy of the hectic life.

Apple fights off the enemy of frustration

Unless you work in IT, you likely find computers extremely frustrating. We have all sat at our computer wanting to pull our hair out. computer-frustrationExamples of computer frustration includes spending 38 minutes to figure out how print, getting error message 6303 that says “close all files open and reboot” or if you have ever bought a new computer and you need to load up 13 disks and 3 manuals to read before you can even email your friend to tell them how amazing your computer is. Apple has recognized the frustration that consumers go through and capitalized on the enemy of frustration with PCs with the famous TV campaign of “Hi I’m a Mac,….and I’m a PC”, helping to demonstrate the many issues around computer set up, viruses and trying to make the most of your computer.  As soon as you open the box you can use the new computer, Macs are intuitive, aligned to how consumers think, not how IT people think. You can even take classes to learn.

Yes, the Apple product is about computers tablets and phones, but the Apple brand makes technology so simple that everyone can be part of the future. They fight off the consumer enemy of frustration with technology.

If you want to show that you better understand your consumers, how would you project the enemy that you are fighting on their behalf.

 

Understanding the consumer is the first step in writing a winning brand positioning statement. To read more on brand positioning, here’s our workshop we run for brand teams:

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 416-885-3911You can also find us on Twitter @belovedbrands. 

GR bio Jun 2016.001

How to make your Creative Brief smarter

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in How to Guide for Marketers

 

The best Marketing Execution is creative, but never random. It is well-organized and lines up to the brand’s strategy. The creative brief acts as the bridge between the brand strategy and the execution in the market. The role of a brand is to create a unique idea that transforms the brand’s soul into a reputation that is perceived in the minds and hearts of the consumer, consistently delivered by the experience, creating a bond, power and profit, beyond what the product alone could achieve. Marketing Execution can play a critical role in making the brand stronger.

  • Great Marketing Execution should create a bond with consumers who connect with the soul of the brand.
  • Great Marketing Execution should establish your brand’s reputation based on a distinct positioning.
  • Great Marketing Execution should influence consumers to alter their behavior, making the brand more powerfully connected, eventually leading to higher sales, share and profit.

If you are creating Marketing Execution that doesn’t alter behavior or doesn’t help lead the brand on a pathway to higher profits, then you are wasting the hard-earned money of the brand.

 

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Control the strategy. Give freedom on execution

Brand leaders have this backwards, giving freedom on the strategy with various options in the brief, and yet control the execution with a long list of mandatories and direction on style of advertising. In my 25 years of marketing, every great Creative Advertising person I met was a problem solving “in-the-box” type thinker, not a blue sky “out-of-the-box” thinker. Never give them a blank slate or blank canvas and ask them to come up with an ad. But never give them a solution. If they are “in the box thinkers” then the role of the Creative Brief is to create a box for them to solve.

 

A creative brief creates the box to play in.

While it hard to come up with the ideal brand strategies, sometimes it’s even harder to stay on strategy throughout the execution of the marketing activities. Many think the only intended audience of the creative brief is the creative team at your agency. Write it for yourself to keep you focused on your strategy, write it for your boss that might not be in the room when the creative work is presented, write it for other agencies to align with the main creative work and write it for the next brand leader on your desk to keep them focused on the strategy you have created.

Some think that a creative brief takes everything you know about your brand and only puts down those pieces of information relevant to the strategic choice you have made. In a way it does, but remember that it’s called a “brief” for a reason. Most brand leaders struggle to focus. It should force you to make choices in what you put in the brief. What you need the brief to do is to focus on a slice of the population (target), create something that gets them to take an action (desired response) that make the brand stronger (result). The brief lays out what to say (main message), how to talk to them to trigger that action (tone) and re-enforces why we can do it and others can’t. (positioning). As you create the box for the creative team, here are the rules of the box you create:

  • one clearly defined and narrow target
  • one benefit
  • one or two reason to believe
  • one strategic objective
  • make the consumers think, feel or do
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Before you start writing a creative brief without doing your homework.

At Beloved Brands, we use six questions as a deep-dive homework to set up a Brand Communications Strategy.

  1. Who is in the consumer target?  (Who is the most motivated to buy?)
  2. What are we are selling?  (What is your main benefit?)
  3. Why should they believe us?  (Support points to back up what you say)
  4. What’s the long range feeling the brand evokes? (What is the Big Idea/Soul for the brand?)
  5. What do we want the advertising to do for the brand? (Strategic Choices)
  6. What do want people to think, feel or do? (Desired Response)
  7. Where will you deliver the message?(Media Plan)
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Transforming your Advertising Strategy homework into a Creative Brief

As we move from the home work you have done above into the briefing stage, here are 12 headlines you can use to help frame your creative brief:

  1. Why Are We Advertising
  2. What’s the Consumer Problem We are Addressing
  3. Who are you talking to?
  4. Consumer Insights
  5. What does our consumer think now?
  6. What do you want your consumer to think/feel/do? (Desired Response)
  7. What should we tell them? (Stimulus: benefit)
  8. Why should they believe us?
  9. Brand Positioning Statement
  10. Tone and Manner
  11. Media Options
  12. Mandatories

Once you answer the seven questions on the homework, you can use those answers to begin to populate your creative brief:

 

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A well written creative brief takes everything you know about the brand and strategically desire, and distils it down to 1 page. Here’s an example of a good creative brief:

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Where Brand Leaders make mistakes on the Creative Brief

Why are we Advertising?

The first area is at the top of the brief with the advertising objective.

  • An unfocused objective: Drive TRIAL of Grays Cookies AND get current users to USE MORE often.
  • A focused objective: Drive trial of Grays Cookies by positioning it as “The good tasting Healthy cookie”

I see too many briefs that have both penetration and usage frequency as one objective. Stop this, it’s TWO STRATEGIES that leads you to two targets, two objectives, two messages and possibly two different media options. Your agency will come back with one ad that does penetration and one for frequency and this gives up control of the strategy to the agency and even to you who now picks the best creative work, not the best strategy.

 

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What’s the Consumer Problem we are addressing?

The next flaw I see is leading with a product driven brief, not a consumer driven brief.

  • A product driven Brief misses the consumer problem we are addressing: Gray’s market share is still relatively small. It is held back by low awareness and trial and the product usage is not on par with the category.
  • A consumer driven Brief lays out a clear consumer problem we are addressing. I’m always watching what I eat. And then BAM, I see a cookie and I’m done. As much as I look after myself, I still like to sneak a cookie now and then.

The best ads are rooted in consumer insights so you can connect and move the consumer in a way that benefits your brand. We recommend that you start with the consumers enemy—every product started by solving a problem, but every brand fights off an enemy in the consumers life.

Who are you talking to?

Brand Leaders tend to pick too broad of a target and as we mentioned in the homework, this just spreads your limited resources.

  • A broad target Brief: 25-55 year olds, current users and potential users. They shop mainly at Grocery and some Mass. They use 24.7 cookies a month
  • A highly targeted Brief: “Proactive Preventers”. Suburban working women, 35-40, who are willing to do whatever it takes to stay healthy. They run, workout and eat right. For many, Food can be a bit of a stress-reliever and escape even for people who watch what they eat.

Having a 30 year age gap is too wide: your agency will give you one ad for 25 year olds and one for 55 year olds. You want CREATIVE options, not STRATEGIC options. We recommend a maximum 5 year age gap to give your ad focus. Going after current and new users is an unfocused strategy that just spreads your resources.

Consumer Insights

Consumer insights adds real flavor to the target, and with great advertising is what creates that first connection that we “get the consumer”. But consumer insights are not facts and stats. You have to go a layer beneath the surface. Consumer insight is an enlightening discovery about consumer’s underlying needs and motivations. 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.

  • A bad “stats driven” Brief: Gray’s product taste drives high trial to purchase (50%) compared to other new launches (32%). Consumers only use Gray’s 9.8 cookies per month compared to the Category Leader at 18.3 cookies.
  • An insights driven Brief: “I have tremendous will-power. I work out 3x a week, watch what I eat and maintain my figure. But we all have weaknesses and cookies are mine. I just wish they were less bad for you”

We recommend that you frame your insight by starting with the word “I” to force yourself into their shoes and put the insight in quotes to force yourself to use their voice. Bring insights into the brief as ways to tell the story to the creative team, so they can build stories that connect with your consumer. The best ads are those where you can almost see the insight shining through the work.

 

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What do we want consumers to think, feel or do? (Desired Response)

When getting into execution mode, think about the desired response before planning the stimulus. Too many Brand Leaders start with the stimulus. But, you should start with the response and let that guide what you’re going to tell them.

  • A bad Brief wants the advertising to do everything: We want them to THINK that Grays Cookies are unique. We want them to FEEL they can stay in control with Grays and it will keep them feeling successful in living their healthy lifestyle. And we want them to TRY Grays and see if they like the great taste.
  • A Better Brief is focused on accomplishing ONE thing: We want them to FEEL they can stay in control with Grays.

You should choose ONE of think, feel or act, not a combination. Good advertising can only move one body part at a time—so you have to decide, or else your agency will show you creative options for each of these strategies and the best ad will decide your brand strategy.

 

What should we tell them? (Stimulus)

As we work with brands, we try to get them focused on what the consumer gets from what you do, not just talking about yourself. The golden rule for getting someone to like you is talk about them, not you.

  • A feature oriented Brief: Grays Cookies are the perfect modern cookie, only 100 calories and less than 2g of Fat. For those looking to lose weight, the American Dietician Society recommends adding Gray’s to your diet. You can find Gray’s at all leading grocery stores.
  • A Benefit focused Brief: With Grays Cookies you can still have a great tasting cookie without the guilt.

Speak in terms of benefits, not features. Focus your stimulus on what consumers get (rational benefit) or how consumers feel (emotional). Try to narrow what you TELL consumers to ONE THING, not a laundry list of things. If you tell them too much, they’ll hear NOTHING.

 

Mandatories

The best briefs have few mandatories. I’ve seen Brand Leaders write long Mandatories lists, that makes it so prescriptive the agency ends up backed into a creative corner.

  • A Bad prescriptive attempt to control the Creative: Avoid humor, as a sarcastic tone will not work with our target market. Preference is for real customer testimonials supported by before/after with our 90 day guarantee tagged on. Ensure brand shown in first 7 seconds. Use Snookie, as our spokesperson. Ad setting in pharmacy will add credibility.
  • Good attempt to give Freedom to the Creative: The line: “best tasting yet guilt-free pleasure” is on our packaging. At least 25% of Print must carry the Whole Foods logo as part of our listing agreement. Include the Legal disclaimer on the taste test and the 12 week study.

If you think the first list is fictional, it’s not. I’ve seen every one of those mandatories in creative briefs. With the second list, you’ll notice that none of them steer the creative advertising ideas.

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Some simple rules for a good Creative Brief:

  • Target the people most motivated by what you do best. Don’t just randomly target competitive users that are most desirable to us, without knowing if we can actually win them over. Spreading your resources against a target so broad, everyone will think you message is for someone else.
  • Use what we stand for to show consumers what they get from us.  Don’t just tell what we do, so that it makes us appear the best in the category. Consumers don’t care what you do, they selfishly and rightfully so care about what they get.
  • Focus on getting consumers to do only one thing at a time: think, feel or do. Make a choice instead of  trying to get new users to buy and getting current users to use more at the same time.  Trying to drive trial and usage at the same time will leave consumers confused as to what to think, do or feel.
  • Use the creative work to tell the brand story in a way we love and believe in.  Great advertising is NOT about making sure we get all our key messages into the creative. With so many messages, people won’t know what you stand for, and you’ll never get a reputation for anything.
  • Connect with our target where they are most likely to engage with our brand story.  While efficient media is important, focusing solely on efficiency and ROI might lead us to staying beneath the consumer’s radar. Consumers hear 7000 efficiently placed messages a day, and quickly reject boring messages all day long. They likely will connect and engage with 5 messages a day. Will it be yours?

Trying to be everything to anyone, makes you nothing to everyone

To read more on Creative Briefs, follow this presentation

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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Use a Consumer Benefits Ladder to focus your brand message

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in How to Guide for Marketers

One of the biggest flaws I see Marketers making is when their brand communication talks about what their brand does instead of what the consumer gets. They mistakenly try to jam in as many brand messages as possible, with a strange belief that if we say A LOT to a busy consumer mind, they will at least hear something. Not true. When you say a lot, nothing gets through.

In a Marketing role, it is easy to get fixated on your own brand. I’ve been there. All day long, you talk about you brand. Every meeting is about your brand. You present to management about your brand. You wake up and go to bed thinking about your brand. Also, your brand pays you. Keep in mind, there is only one source of revenue, and that’s your consumer.

The best Brand Leaders are fixated on their consumer, not their brand. 

I always like to ask Brand Leaders: “Do you represent your brand to your consumer or do you represent your consumer to the brand?” Yes, I get stunned looks of confusion when I ask that. But it’s an important question as to your mindset of how you do your job. My challenge to you is to start thinking like your consumer and be their representative to your brand. You’ll notice the work gets better, you’ll see clearer paths to growth and you’ll start to create a brand that the consumer loves rather than just likes. When this happens, sales go up and the P&L spits out higher profitability. Because the more loved the brand, the more powerful position it occupies and the more profit it can generate from that source of power.

The Consumer Benefits Ladder

We use a Consumer Benefits Ladder that starts with the consumer, defining the target adding the consumer enemy and insights to help add flavor about your consumer. We then outline the key features of your brand (what you do), then ladder up to the rational benefits (as a consumer “what do I get?”) and then ladder up to the emotional benefits (as a consumer “how does this make me feel?”)

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The ladder forces the Brand Leader to think about consumer benefits, instead of features. The Consumer Benefits Ladder helps you brainstorm possible messages that you may test with consumers. It can help organize the possible brand messages or it can be a decision-making tool as you begin focusing on the most important, compelling brand messages. This will help set your brand up with a unique, own-able, motivating brand positioning statement.

Who is your consumer target?

What do consumers want? 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. The 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. Positioning 2016.026Facts 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”. 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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Brand Features

What does your brand do? As you start looking at your own brand, you should look at four types of key features to see if there is a starting point for your story. Here are some questions that will help your brainstorming:

Product/Service

  • Is there something natural in your product that you can take advantage of, that makes you show up to your consumer in a way that is better or different than your competition?
  • What are the specific performance indicators that you brand is better? (e.g.  faster, longer-lasting, stronger, more consistent, easier/simpler, healthier)
  • Is there a specific ingredient (or lack of ingredient) or a specific process that would make your product better than your competition?
  • Is there an experience or service that comes from your product that makes you show up to consumers as either better or different than your competition?
  • Do you have any specific innovations and creativity that may help your product show up better or different than your competition?

Process

  • Detail how your product works differently and how that shows up to the consumer.
  • Showcase your point of difference in the production process that could make you better/different than your competition.
  • What do you do differently than your competitor within the production process?
  • What added service/details do you provide in the value chain

Third person

  • Do you have any consumer evidence (ratings, rankings, consumer satisfaction, awards) that could support a key feature?
  • Are there any stories from consumers, that  set up support for a key feature?
  • Is there any expert in the field who can speak on the brand’s behalf?

Behavioral

  • Any clinical test results or in-market usage results that could support your brand features.
  • In-Market sales, share, growth results that would support brand strength, power or momentum.
  • Any evidence in brand funnel scores (highest loyalty) that would support brand features.
  • Before and after studies

Benefits

What do consumers get? (Rational Benefits) For each feature you list, you want to put yourself in the shoes of the consumer and ask “so what do I get?”  If your brand works faster, then consumers can get on with their day. If your brand is low calorie, then it’s easier of consumers to lose weight. The challenge here is to ensure that each benefit you stand behind makes you show up as better, different or cheaper than your competitors. Looking at the venn diagram, you have to begin finding the zone where you are meeting the consumers needs and doing it better than any competitor. You can see the two zones to avoid: the losing zone is where you try to play in the space where your competitor is better than you, and the dumb zone where your consumer just does not even care. The dumb zone can be avoided by using this consumer benefits ladder process.

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How do consumers feel? (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. It seems Marketers want “emotional advertising” but that has to start with an emotional brief. 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.

Features tell. But Benefits sell.

Stop telling consumers what you do and start telling them what they get and how it will make them feel.

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Worksheet Example

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:

  • Leverage all the available research to brief the team, helping define the consumer target and get all the consumer insights and need states out.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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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At Beloved Brands, we lead workshops to help teams build their Creative Brief, helping the team find the target, main benefits, reason to believe.  Click on the Powerpoint file below to view:

We run workshops that help Brand teams make better decisions on the way to smarter action plans

We are big believers in the workshop process. We think it’s the best way to get the decision makers in the room, push for alignment, make decisions and drive the team towards action. The most noticeable point of difference we offer is that we will challenge you with new ideas to get your brand and your team in a better position for future growth. As the facilitator, I bring my executive experience into the room, ready to challenge the thinking and pushing for better answers. It’s like having another VP Marketing in the room.

While anyone can recommend a strategy, we recommend a realistic strategy that drives towards action. Quite frankly, I’m not big on consultants that just bring in big presentations that just sit on the shelf and never make it to the market. They cost a lot, take a long time, and in general they are written by consultants that have never run a business. Even Ad Agencies can recommend strategy, but they usually bring an agency bias and just give strategies that set up work they want to make–whether it drives growth for your business or not. I’ve run many businesses and I understand the pressure you’re facing on driving growth.

My personal promise to you is that I will get your brand in a better position for future growth

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

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in How to Guide for Marketers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

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

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

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

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

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10 things that good Advertising should do

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in How to Guide for Marketers

Marketing Execution 2016.006People always ask me “So what is it that makes a Brand Leader good at advertising?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Marketing Execution 2016.019It’s such a simple yet complicated answer. Almost as simple and complicated as David Ogilvy’s line “Clients get the work they deserve”. I know that is true, in every way that it is meant. I always ask Brand Leaders, “if you knew that how you showed up actually impacts the advertising, do you think you might show up differently?” I hope the answer is yes. But I’m not sure they do. Those great at advertising get it.

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

The 10 things good advertising should do

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

  1. Set yourself apart. Beloved Brands must be different, better, cheaper. Or they are not around for very long.   The story telling of the brand’s promise should help to separate the brand from the clutter of other brands that are stuck in our minds. And that starts with creative that feels different and of course makes the brand seem different.
  2. Focused! A focused target, a focused message, a focused strategy against a focused communication idea, a focused media.  The whole discipline of marketing is founded on focus, and yet Brand Leaders struggle most in this area.  They always want that “just in case” option.  Marketing Execution 2016.031
  3. Keep the idea and communication very simple. Communication is not what is said, but what is heard. Too many people try to shout as many messages as they can in one ad. What does the consumer hear? A confusing mess. By throwing multiple messages you are just making the consumer do the work of deciding the most important message, because you couldn’t figure it out. My challenge to you is to stand up on a chair and yell your main message as though you are standing on top of a mountain.  If you can’t YELL it out in one breath, then your idea is too complex. Or just too long. The Volvo Brand Manager gets to yell “Safety” in one clean simple breath. Can you do that?
  4. Have a good selling idea. While Big Ideas break through, they also help you to be consistent, because you have to align your thinking to the Big Idea. You’ll see consistency over time, across mediums–paid, earned, social and search–and you’ll see it throughout the entire brand line up of sub brands. Consumers will start to connect to the big idea and they’ll begin to relate your brand with that big idea. Look at your ad:  does it have a big idea?
  5. Drive engagement: Too many Brand Leaders forget to engage the consumer. They get so fixated on saying their 7 messages that they figure the ability to capture attention is just advertising fluff. But it all starts with attention. The consumer sees 5,000 ads a day and will likely only engage in a handful.   If you don’t capture their attention, no one will remember the brand name, your main message or any other reason to believe you might have.
  6. Let the Visuals do the talking. With so many ads, you need to have a key visual that can capture the attention, link to your brand and communicate your message. The ‘see-say’ of advertising helps the consumers brain to engage, follow along and remember. As kids, we always love the pictures. We still do.
  7. Sell the solution, not the product. Consumers use brands to solve problems in their lives.  Your brand will be more powerful if it solves the problems of life. Figure out the consumers’ enemy and conquer it on their behalf. Consumers don’t care about what you do, until you care about what they need. No one has ever wanted a quarter-inch drill, they just need a quarter-inch hole.
  8. Be Relevant with the Consumer. A beloved brand finds a way to matter to those who really care.  It’s not only the right brand promise that matters, but the right communication of that promise. You can’t sell carpet cleaning to someone who only has hard wood floors. And you can’t sell a golf ball that goes 20 yards farther to someone who despises golf.
  9. Make ads that are based on a consumer insight. Insights are not facts about your brand. That’s just you talking AT the consumer. Insights are something the consumer already knows but they didn’t realize that everyone felt that way. Insights enable consumers to see themselves in the situation and once you do that, the consumers might then figure the brand must be for them. Insights allow you to connect and turn the ad into a conversation.
  10. Tell the story behind the brand. There should be richness in your brand’s purpose. Why did you start this brand? How does your brand help people? Why do you get up in the morning? Remember:  people don’t buy what you do as much as they buy why you do it.

 

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The ABC’S of Advertising

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

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

 

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Be a Better Client

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

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

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

Advertising must do something for your brand. It must make the consumer think, feel or act differently than before they saw the ad.

 

To see the Beloved Brands workshop training presentation on getting Marketing Execution click no the link 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. 

Brand Careers 2016.107

How to be a great Brand Leader: Do absolutely nothing

Posted on 2 CommentsPosted in How to Guide for Marketers

To inspire greatness from your experts, give them your problems to solve. Never your solutions.

Article that we wrote for Advertising Age.

Very early on in my brand management career, I was at a dinner party with my in-laws, who began to grill me on what I did for a living. Brand management has never been easy to explain to those outside the industry. “So, are you the guy who comes up with the funny ads? No. Ad-AgeAre you the guy who designs the cool new products? No.” After about 10 failed questions, they finally said, “So what do you do?” And I said “Nothing. I don’t really do anything. But I’m good at it.” They laughed, but they were likely scared that their daughter was marrying someone doomed to fail.

Remember when George from Seinfeld said, “Jerry, this show is about nothing.” That’s how I felt as a brand manager. Like George, I think what made me really good at my job is that I did nothing. Absolutely nothing. Over my 20 years of brand management, whenever I walked into a meeting, I used to whisper to myself, “You are the least knowledgeable person in the room. Use that to your advantage.”

The power was in the ability to ask clarification questions. When I was in with the scientists — following my C+ in tenth-grade chemistry — I was about as smart as the consumers I represented. I needed to make sure all the science was easy to explain. With my ad agencies, I finally figured out that I never had to solve problems. I just gave them my problems to solve. It became like therapy. Plus, with six years of business school — without one art class — what do I know about art? I was smart enough to know that I needed to make the most out of the experts I was paying.

While we don’t make the product, we don’t sell the product or create the ads, we do touch everything that goes into the marketplace and we make every decision. All of our work is done through other people. Our greatness as a brand leader has to come from the experts we engage, so they will be inspired to reach for their own greatness and apply it to our brand. Brand management has been built on a hub-and-spoke system, with a team of experts surrounding the generalist brand leader.

BBI Creds Deck 2016.002When I see brand managers of today doing stuff, I feel sorry for them. They are lost. I just saw that the CEO of Uber designed his own logo. Doesn’t he have better things to do? Brand leaders are not designed to be experts in marketing communications, experts in product innovation, or experts in selling the product. They are trained to be generalists — knowing enough to make decisions, but not enough to actually do the work.

Fifteen years ago, ad agencies broke apart the creative and the media departments into separate agencies, forcing the brand leader to step in and be the referee on key decisions. Right after that, the explosion of new digital media options that mainstream agencies were not ready to handle forced the brand leader to take another step in.

With the increasing speed of social media, brand leaders have taken one more step in. Three steps in, and brand leaders can’t find a way to step back again. Some brand leaders love stepping in too far so they can control the outcome of the creative process. However, if you are now doing all the work, then who is critiquing the work to make sure it fits the strategy? Pretty hard to think and do at the same time.

Brand leaders need to take a step back and let the creativity of execution unfold. I always say that it is okay to know exactly what you want, but you should never know until the moment you see it. As the client, I like to think of marketing execution as the perfect gift that you never thought to buy yourself. How we engage our experts can either inspire greatness or crush the spirit of creativity. From my experience, experts would prefer to be pushed than held back. The last thing experts want is to be asked for their expertise, and then told exactly what to do. There is a fine line between rolling up your sleeves to work alongside the experts and pushing the experts out of the way.

It is time to step back and assume your true role as a brand leader. Trust me, it is a unique skill to be able to inspire, challenge, question, direct and decide, without any expertise at all.

After all, I am an expert in doing nothing.

To read the original article that we wrote for Advertising Age, click on this link

Ad Age Article: How to Be a Great Brand Leader: Do Absolutely Nothing

At Beloved Brands, we lead workshops on everything connected to Brand Management, including 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

 

Brand Careers 2016.107

How to be successful in the Brand Manager role

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in How to Guide for Marketers

Brand Careers 2016.031Most new brand managers mistakenly think this role is about managing because they finally get a chance to manage a direct report. However, the bigger part of this role is the transition you need to make as you move from do-er to owner. Yes, you’ll get your first change to manage a direct report, but many times that effort can be a distraction from your chance to continue to learn and grow. Many brand managers are disheartened to find out they are a disaster with their first direct report, but I always remind them that they’ll finally get better by the fifth direct report.

Here are the five success factors for Brand Managers:

1. Ownership

A great Brand Manager takes ownership of the brand. Many BMs struggle with the transition from being the helper to being the owner. As you move into the job, you have to get away the idea of having someone hand you a project list. Not only should you have to make the project list, you should come up with the strategies from which the projects fall out of. Brand Careers 2016.049A great Brand Manager talks in ideas in a telling sense, rather then an asking sense. It is great to be asking questions as feelers, but realize that most people are going to be looking to you for decisions. They will be recommending you will be deciding. When managing upwards be careful of asking questions—try to stick to solutions. You just gave up your ownership. Your director wants you to tell them what to do, and debate from there.

2. Strategic direction

A great Brand Manager provides a vision & strategies to match up to. Bring a vision to the brand. Push yourself to a well-articulated 5-10 year brand vision great. But a vision can be as simple as a rallying cry for the team. But you have to let everyone know where you want to go. The strategy that matches up to the vision becomes the road map for how to get there. As the brand owner, you become the steward of the vision and strategy. Everything that is off strategy has to be rejected. Communication of strategy is a key skill. Learn to think in terms of strategic pillars, with 3 different areas to help achieve your overall strategy. Having pillars constantly grounds you strategically, and is an easy way for communicating with the various functions. Each function may only have 1 strategic pillar but seeing how it all fits in is motivating.

3. Managing others
A great Brand Manager spends the effort to make their ABM as good as can be. Most BMs struggle with their first five direct reports. The key is to keep self evaluating and looking for ways to improve with each report. Most BMs struggle to shift from “do-er” to “coach. They think they can do it faster, so they may as well do it. They just become the “super ABM”. Many BMs fail to share the spot light, so it becomes hard to showcase the ABM. But the work of your ABM reflects 100% of how good of a manager you are. ABMs need feedback to get better—both the good and bad. I see to many BMs not giving enough feedback. And so many afraid of “going negative” so the ABM is left in the dark or left thinking they are doing a good job. Great BMs take the time to teach up front, give the ABM some room to try it out and then give hands-on feedback in real time. BBI Creds Deck 2016.002Use weekly meetings to give both positive feedback and address gaps. Brand Mangers should do QUARTERLY sit down performance reviews with their ABMs, who have the capacity to learn faster than annual reviews allows for.

4. Working the system
A great Brand Manager gets what they want and need. The organization is filled with groups, layers, external agencies, with everyone carrying a different set of goals and motivations. You can see how the organization works and appreciating what are are the motivations of various key stakeholders. You then use that knowledge to begin to work the system.You are starting to see key subject matter experts giving you their best. You understand their personal motivations and find a way to tap into those motivations as a way to ask people for their best. It might be an odd step, but from my experience a really motivating step. Very few people ask for “your best”.

5. Dealing with Pressure
A great Brand Manager can handle pressure: ambiguity, results, relationship time. Ambiguity is one of the hardest pressures. As a leader, patience and composure help you sort through the issues. The consequences of not remaining composed are a scared team and choosing quick decisions with bad results. Another big pressure is when the results don’t come in, it can be frustrating. BBI ads for 2015.010Reach for your logic as you re-group. Force yourself to course correct, rather then continuing to repeat and repeat and repeat. Challenge team to “this is when we are needed” You will see pressure in relationships. Be pro-active in making the first move to build a relationship. Try to figure out what motivates and what annoys the person. Understand and reach for common ground, which most times is not that far away. At every level there is time pressure. It is similar to the ambiguity. Be organized, disciplined and work the system so it doesn’t get in your way. Be calm, so you continue to make the right decisions. Use time to your advantage.

The ten reasons that Brand Managers fail:

  1. Struggle to make decisions
  2. Not analytical enough
  3. Can’t get along
  4. Not good with ambiguity
  5. Too slow and stiff
  6. Bad people Manager
  7. Poor communicators, with manager, senior management or partners
  8. Never follow their Instincts
  9. Can’t think strategically or write strategically
  10. They don’t run the brand, they let the brand run them.

The reality is everyone will have 1 or 2 of these potential points, just naturally. You have to use your time as a Brand Manager to work on closing them.  Especially if they come up in your performance review. At the Brand Manager stage, I hope you love the magic of marketing. Let it breathe and let it come to life. It is easy to lose your passion and try to do what your boss wants or do things to make short term numbers so you can get promoted. Those don not really work long term. My advice is do not just do the job, do it with all your passion. If you don’t love the work you do, then what consumer would ever love your brand.

Brand Manager role should be an amazing experience for you. Make the most of it.

At Beloved Brands, we lead workshops on everything connected to Brand Management, including 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

Brand Careers 2016.107