How to use the Creative Brief as the bridge from planning to execution

The tighter the creative brief, the better the advertising will be. The brief narrows down the focus of your advertising to a strategic objective, target, consumer insight, main message and support points.  All the information for the brief are found in the brand plan and positioning work.

Every client I have ever met wants options back from their agency. Yet, every Agency person hates giving options. As you not an advertising expert, it is natural to have some uncertainty around what type of creative we want. However, Brand Leaders want creative options, not strategic options. And, before writing a brief, you better have just spent all your effort on developing a winning strategy. You do not want to mess it up at the briefing stage.

Creative Brief

Brand Leaders should control the strategy, but give freedom on execution to the experts who will execute on your behalf.

Too many marketers have this backwards, preferring to give freedom on strategy with a big wide brief, with various possible strategic options unknowingly layered within the Creative Brief. When you write a big-wide creative brief with layers of options within the brief, the agency just peels the brief apart into separate layers of the brief and gives you strategic options. If you ever choose your strategy based on what creative you like, then you just gave up control over the strategy to your art director and copywriter.

For instance, if you put a big wide target market of 18-65 years old, your agency will assume you are struggling to decide on a target. They believe it would be impossible to deliver creative that connects with 3 different generations. So they present three separate ads, one ad for 18-25 years old, another for 25-40 years old and a final spot for 40-55 years old. What happens if you like the creative to the younger audience because it was full of optimism and energy, but the smartest strategic target should have been the older target? Well, you just picked your target consumer based on which ad you liked best.

Make sure you focus

When you fail to decide on one main message, your agency will struggle with message priority. They will show you a few different spots, with different lead messages. When you pick the ad based on a cute dog in the spot, then you just chose your brand’s main message based on which ad you liked best. Keep in mind that the consumer sees 5,000 brand messages a day. When you overwhelm the consumer’s brain with multiple messages, their brain will just shut down and move on to the other 4,999 messages. Brand Leaders have to stop believing Advertising is like a bulletin board, where they can just tag on one more message onto the ad.

Finally, there is the case where you put multiple objectives into the brief. You want to drive awareness, trial and increase usage frequency. Those three objectives bring three different targets, three distinct main messages and likely three unique media choices. Your agency will present separate ads for each objective. When you pick the ad you like based on a cool song, you just chose your strategic objective based on which ad you liked best.

If you think you are doing your agency a favor by providing them a big wide brief, you are not.

The agency will see you as confused, and believe they are helping you out by showing you options of which element of your strategy would look like. They think that each new creative option will serve to make decisions on the brief that should have made before you wrote the brief.

Think this is hyperbole? Trust me, I have seen briefs with 8 objectives, plenty of targets that inferred ‘everyone’ and bullet point lists of potential main messages. I have seen some of the world’s best agencies accept those briefs. I encourage you to go through your own briefs and tear them apart. Stroke out 30% of the crap on your brief, and your brief will get better. You will be shocked how clear the task is for your agency becomes. Your job at the creative meeting just got easier. It is an enlightening experience to take your pen and stroke things off your brief.

The true role of a creative brief is to make decisions to narrow the focus, whether it is the target market, strategic objectives, main message and media. The Creative Brief sits between planning and marketing execution to force decision-making. Make the tough decisions to narrow the brief down to:

  • One strategic objective
  • One tightly defined consumer target
  • One desired consumer response
  • One main message
  • Up to two main reasons to believe

The Creative brief defines “the strategic box” for the creative to play within

Here are four things a good creative person does not want from you:

  1. A Blank canvas: Creative people would prefer a business problem to solve, not a wide-open request for advertising options. They hate spinning around in never-ending circles. They hate not pleasing their client. With no direction, they fear the next 10 meetings where you say, “Nope, I’m not feeling that one”.
  2. An unclear problem: Creative people want a tightly defined and focused problem to generate great work that solves your problems and meets your needs. Most creative people are multi-tasking projects, and will likely gravitate to the work that has a clear objective. You run the risk of not getting the best energy from the creative mind you are engaging.
  3. Long list of mandatories: Do not create a tangled web of mandatories that almost write the ad itself. This is one of those dirty little secrets I want to expose, so you don’t repeat the same mistake. Some Brand Leaders have an idea of the creative outcome they want, but even more important, they know the type of creative they don’t want. The long checklists of mandatories traps the creative team into taking various elements in the mandatory list and build a Frankenstein type ad.
  4. Your Creative Solutions: Creative people find it demotivating to be asked for their expertise (solving problems) and then not be fully utilized (given your answer). I remember early on in my career when I stepped over the line and tried to control the creative. When I saw the work at the next meeting, I said, “Yeah, that sure is crappy isn’t it”. I have learned to think of the best creative like someone getting you the perfect gift you never thought to get for yourself. Don’t buy yourself the gift. You might hate it.

Let your creative people solve problems

Most great creative advertising people I have met are problem solvers, not inventors. I would describe them as ‘in-the-box’ creative thinkers, not blue sky “out-of-the-box” dreamers. If they want a good problem to solve, then give them your problems, but never your solutions. Never give your creative team a blank slate or blank canvas and ask them to come up with an ad. Use the Creative Brief is to create the right box for them to solve.

Advice for writing smarter Creative Briefs:

  1. Define a tight target: Do not spread your limited resources against a target so broad that leaves everyone thinking your message is for someone else. Target the people who are the most motivated by what you do best, and make your brand feel personal. The best thing a brand can do is make consumers think, “This is for me”.
  2. Drive one objective at a time: Build advertising that gets consumers to do only one thing at a time, whether you want them to see, think, do, feel or influence their friends. Force yourself to make a decision that links with the brand strategy.
  3. Drive one main message at a time: If you put so many messages into your ad, consumers will just see and hear a cluttered mess. They will not know what you stand for, and you will never build a reputation for anything.
  4. Talk benefits not features: Start a conversation that shows what the consumers get or how they will feel. Do not just yell features at the consumer. Use your brand’s Big Idea to simplify and organize the brand messaging.

Here’s our workshop on how to write a creative brief:

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

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

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

Beloved Brands book

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

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

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

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Signature

Graham Robertson

Founder and CMO, Beloved Brands Inc.

When pressed for time, write a “mini brief” instead of no brief at all

The mini Creative Brief

With social media, digital advertising and search media, things are moving faster than ever. You still need a Creative Brief. However, you might need to try our Mini Creative Brief. Opportunities come to brand leaders need quick decisions and even faster execution. And, so many times I am seeing teams spinning around in circles of execution and I ask to see the brief and the answer is quickly becoming “Oh we didn’t have time to do a creative brief. We just did a phone call”. You always need to take the time to write it down. Our Mini Creative Brief has a strategic objective, clear target, consumer insights, the desired response and what we’ll tell them.

Elements of communication strategy

First off, I would hope that every brand has the discipline to do an advertising strategy that should answer the following seven key questions.

  1. Who do we want to sell to?  (Target)
  2. What are we selling?  (Benefit)
  3. Why should they believe us?  (Reason to Believe)
  4. What is your organizing Big Idea? (7-second brand)
  5. What do we want the advertising to do?  (Strategy)
  6. What do want people to think, feel or do?  (Response)
  7. Where will we deliver the message? (Media Plan)

Once you have these seven questions answered you should be able to populate and come to a main creative brief. To read more about writing a full creative brief follow this link:  How to Write an Effective Creative Brief

Back when we only did TV and a secondary medium it was easier to have a Creative Brief. We would spend months on a brief and months ago making the TV ads. The brief got approved everywhere, up to the VP or President level. But now the problem is when you’re running around like a chicken with its head chopped off, you decide to wing it over the phone with no brief. It’s only a Facebook page, a digital display ad going down the side of the weather network or some twitter campaign Who needs a brief.

If I could recommend anything to do with brand communication: ALWAYS HAVE A BRIEF.

The Mini Creative Brief

The Mini Creative Brief focuses on the most important elements of the brief, you must have:

  • Objective: What do we hope to do, what part of the brand strategy will this program.   Focus on only one objective.
  • Target:  Who is the intended target audience we want to move to take action against the objective?  Keep it a very tight definition.
  • Insight:  What is the one thing we know about the consumer that will impact this program.   For this mini brief, only put the most relevant insight to help frame the consumer.
  • Desired Response: What do we want consumers to think, feel or do?   Only pick one of these.
  • Stimulus:  What’s the most powerful thing you can say to get the response you want.

When you go too fast, it sometimes takes too long

If you choose to do it over the phone, you are relying 100% on your Account Manager to explain it to the creative team. Then, days later when they come back with the options, how would you remember what you wanted. If you have a well-written communications plan, this Mini Brief should take you anywhere from 30-60 minutes to write this. The Mini Creative Brief will keep your own management team aligned to your intentions, as well as give a very focused ASK to the creative team. And, when you need to gain approval from your boss for the creative, you will be able to better sell it in with Mini Brief providing the context.

Pressed for time? Next time, try using the Mini Creative Brief

 

To read more on Creative Briefs, follow this presentation

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

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

The best solutions are likely inside you already, but struggle to come out. Our unique engagement tools are the backbone of our strategy workshops. These tools will force you to think differently so you can freely generate many new ideas. At Beloved Brands, we bring our challenging voice to help you make decisions and refine every potential idea.

We help brands find growth

We start by defining a brand positioning statement, outlining the desired target, consumer benefits and support points the brand will stand behind. And then, we build a big idea that is simple and unique enough to stand out in the clutter of the market, motivating enough to get consumers to engage, buy and build a loyal following with your brand. Finally, the big idea must influence employees to personally deliver an outstanding consumer experience, to help move consumers along the journey to loving your brand.

We will help you write a strategic brand plan for the future, to get everyone in your organization to follow. It starts with an inspiring vision that pushes your team to imagine a brighter future. We use our strategic thinking tools to help you make strategic choices on where to allocate your brand’s limited resources. We work with your team to build out project plans, creative briefs and provide advice on marketing execution.

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

We make Brand Leaders smarter

We believe that investing in your marketing people will pay off. With smarter people behind your brands will drive higher revenue growth and profits. With our brand management training program, you will see smarter strategic thinking, more focused brand plans, brand positioning, better creative briefs that steer your agencies, improved decision-making on marketing execution, smarter analytical skills to assess your brand’s performance and a better management of the profitability of the brand.

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

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

Graham Robertson bio

 

How to make your Creative Brief smarter

 

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. 

Positioning 2016.112

When your brand is liked, but not loved

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Find your love by showing more love for your consumers

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

We make Brands stronger.

We make Brand Leaders smarter.™

We offer brand coaching, where we promise to make your brand better by listening to the issues, providing advice that challenges you, and coaching you along a strategic pathway to reaching your brand’s full potential.

BBI ads for 2015.003

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

New 2015 Bio .001

 

The ads that have defined the Apple brand

macvpc

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

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

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

1984

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

Think Different

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

“Think Different”

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

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

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

Maybe they have to be crazy.

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

We make tools for these kinds of people.

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

“I’m a Mac”

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

What’s your favorite Apple Ad?

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

We make Brands stronger.

We make Brand Leaders smarter.™

We offer brand coaching, where we promise to make your brand better by listening to the issues, providing advice that challenges you, and coaching you along a strategic pathway to reaching your brand’s full potential.

BBI ads for 2015.003For our brand leader training, we promise to make your team of brand leaders better, by teaching sound marketing fundamentals and challenging to push for greatness so that they can unleash their full potential. Feel free to add me on Linked In, or follow me on Twitter at @belovedbrands If you need to contact me, email me at graham@beloved-brands.com or phone me at 416 885 3911New 2015 Bio .001

 

 

Boring people make boring brands that die

dont be boring.001

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

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

Brand Love is the new currency.

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

Consumers love Ideas. They like products.

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

Consumers love brands who love them

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

big idea map new 2015.001

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

Boring brand leaders get stuck in the analytics, but a good brand funnel system should allow  you to measure and track brand love. Brand funnel becomes thicker as the brand becomes more loved. It’s not just about driving particular numbers but about moving them from one stage to the next. To drive TRIAL you need to gain CONSIDERATION first (the brain) and then you need to move the consumer towards purchase and through the experience. To drive LOYALTY (the heart) you need to create experiences that deliver the promise and use tools to create an emotional bond with the consumer. AWARENESS is never enough, anyone can get that. But consideration is the point you start to see that your brand idea starts to connect and move the consumer. We can see below how you can use voice of consumer and market indicators to determine where you are on the brand love curve.

measuring brand love.001

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

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

ad execution.002

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

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

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

We make Brands stronger.

We make Brand Leaders smarter.™

We offer brand coaching, where we promise to make your brand better by listening to the issues, providing advice that challenges you, and coaching you along a strategic pathway to reaching your brand’s full potential.BBI ads for 2015.003

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

New 2015 Bio .001

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We make Brands stronger.

We make Brand Leaders smarter.™

We offer brand coaching, where we promise to make your brand better by listening to the issues, providing advice that challenges you, and coaching you along a strategic pathway to reaching your brand’s full potential.

BBI ads for 2015.003

For our brand leader training, we promise to make your team of brand leaders better, by teaching sound marketing fundamentals and challenging to push for greatness so that they can unleash their full potential. Feel free to add me on Linked In, or follow me on Twitter at @belovedbrands If you need to contact me, email me at graham@beloved-brands.com or phone me at 416 885 3911New 2015 Bio .001

Volvo owns one word in describing their brand: Safety

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Beloved Brands Summary Tools.004

What can you learn from this for your brand?

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

We make Brands stronger.

We make Brand Leaders smarter.™

We offer brand coaching, where we promise to make your brand better by listening to the issues, providing advice that challenges you, and coaching you along a strategic pathway to reaching your brand’s full potential.BBI ads for 2015.005

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

New 2015 Bio .001

The 7 essential elements for good strategic thinking

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

Strategic thinkers methodically see questions before answers. They see “what if” questions before seeing solutions, mapping out a range of decision trees that intersect and connect by imagining how events will play out. Time to reflect and plan before acting help you move in a focused efficient fashion. Think slowly, logically, always needing options, but if go too slow, you will miss the opportunity window.

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

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

The 7 essential elements of good strategic thinking

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

The Power of Focus

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

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

When you focus, 5 things happen:

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

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

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

We make Brands stronger.

We make Brand Leaders smarter.™

We offer brand coaching, where we promise to make your brand better by listening to the issues, providing advice that challenges you, and coaching you along a strategic pathway to reaching your brand’s full potential.

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

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How to write a “mini” Creative Brief, when pressed for time

 

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As the media landscape has exploded with so many more options the speed of action has become so important in the world of social media or digital options. Too many Brand Leaders are going with the “phone call brief”. So many times I’m seeing teams spinning around in circles out of control and I ask to see the brief and the answer is quickly becoming “Oh we didn’t have time to do a creative brief”.  

You always need to take the time to do a brief. If you are pressed for time, then write a MINI CREATIVE BRIEF.

First, every brand should have a most recent brand communications strategy and most recent creative brief they can use to offer most of the information for the mini-brief.

To read more on how to write a Brand Communications strategy, follow this hyperlink: How to write a Brand Communication Strategy  And, If you need to learn how to write a creative brief here’s a hyperlink: How to write a Creative Brief

From the brand communications strategy and the main Creative Brief, you should be able to find the elements you need to write a “mini brief”. It will likely take you 30 minutes to write, but will save you hours down the road when your boss or senior leaders ask “so where is the brief”.  

Focusing on the most important elements of the brief, you must have:

  • Objective: What do we hope to accomplish, what part of the brand strategy will this program address. Focus on only one objective.  
  • Target: Who is the intended target audience we want to move to take action against the objective?  Keep it a very tight definition.  
  • Insight: What is the one thing we know about the consumer that will impact this program.   For this mini brief, only put the most relevant insight to help frame the consumer.  
  • Desired Response: What do we want consumers to think, feel or do?   Only pick one of these. 
  • Stimulus: What’s the most powerful thing you can say to get the response you want.

You should always keep a creative brief on hand, as the information can help you brief any agency that you use for any of the 5 types of media: paid, earned, social, search and home.

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Going too fast sometimes takes too long

If you choose to do it over the phone, you’re relying on the Account Manager to explain it to the creative team. Days later when they come back with the options, how would you remember what you wanted. If you have a well-written brand communications plan, this Mini Brief should take you 30 minutes to write this. The Mini Brief will keep your own management team aligned to your intentions, as well as give a very focused ASK to the creative team. When you need to gain approval for the creative, you’ll be able to better sell it in with Mini Brief providing the context.  

Next time pressed for time, try using the mini Creative Brief

Below is a presentation of a workshop that we run on How to write a Creative Brief:

We make Brands stronger.

We make Brand Leaders smarter.™

We offer brand coaching, where we promise to make your brand better by listening to the issues, providing advice that challenges you, and coaching you along a strategic pathway to reaching your brand’s full potential.BBI ads for 2015.003

For our brand leader training, we promise to make your team of brand leaders better, by teaching sound marketing fundamentals and challenging to push for greatness so that they can unleash their full potential. Feel free to add me on Linked In, or follow me on Twitter at @belovedbrands If you need to contact me, email me at graham@beloved-brands.com or phone me at 416 885 3911New 2015 Bio .001