Explaining our love affair with chocolate

chocolateConnecting chocolate with love is easy. Chocolate contains phenylethylamine, the same chemical released in the brain when we fall in love. Eating chocolate can give some people a natural “high” which is often related to the feeling of being in love. It’s a similar addiction that coffee uses to create your morning brand rituals.

Some of the world’s chocolate bar brands are the most beloved and powerful brands in the world. Consumers are passionate about their choices, mainly because chocolate bars usually serve an extremely personal purpose. It could be a pick-me-up in the afternoon, a celebration for when something good happens or recovery when something terrible happens. It is our escape–a guilty pleasure. Chocolate bars connect us back with our youth and give us those childhood feelings of joy.

chocolate

Brand love explained

I created the brand love curve, which shows the differences in how consumers feel about a brand as they move through five stages. It defines their feelings as unknown, indifferent, like it, love it and onto the beloved brand status.

For unknown brands, the strategic focus should be to stand out so consumers will notice the brand within a crowded brand world. For indifferent brands, the strategy must establish the brand in the consumer’s mind so they can see a clear point of difference. At the like it stage, the strategy is to separate the brand from the pack, creating happy experiences that build a trusted following. And, at the love it stage, the focus shifts to tugging at heartstrings to tighten the bond with the most loyal brand fans. Finally as your brand moves to the beloved brand stage, the strategic challenge is to create outspoken, loyal brand fans who are willing to whisper to their friends on the brand’s behalf.

When did you first love your favourite chocolate brand?

However, do you remember when you tried a Snickers or Reese Peanut Butter Cups for the first time? You likely just kept picking one out from the check-out counter until one became a favorite brand. There’s no logic in your chocolate bar choice–strictly an emotional decision or as Hotspex says an e-rational decision. You likely fell in love with your brand before you could even think. Hearing “NO” from your parents made you want it even more. I know my weakness was that Orange Aero bar….or was it the Big Turk…..or the Caramilk bar.  There aren’t any bad options in my mind.

Tough to break into the chocolate business

An odd fact about chocolate bars is that consumers have been making the same choices for about 50 years now. The top 10 chocolate bars today in your market are the same top 10 chocolate bars in the 1950s; just the order is different. If you look at the top brands (see below) you’ll see that almost all of them launched in the 1920s and 1930s. The only “new” chocolate bar to breakthrough is Twix, which began 50  years ago, and still yet to crack the big time.

chocolate

Cracking the top 10

There have been many attempts to crack the top 10 but all massive failures.  The factors inhibiting new brands from succeeding:

  • Distribution is tightly controlled by powerful companies like Nestle,  Mars, Hershey, and Cadbury that it’s almost impossible to break through and displace the older brands
  • The amount of advertising dollars spent on key brands is prohibitive of other brands being able to afford it.
  • You make your first brand choices at such a young age that you choose one of the big brands near the check out stand.
    There have been many great ads over the year. The most consistent brand has to be Kit Kat, which started using the tagline of “Have a Break…have a Kit Kat” back in 1957. Now, that’s a big idea!

 

The last few Super Bowls have produced two of the best chocolate bar ads.  The Betty White Snickers ad was a huge hit, not only during the Super Bowl, but the viral support it spun her into the Saturday Night Live host later that spring.

This year, the M&M’s Naked Guy, not really a big idea but a cute execution.

Necessary ingredients to create brand love

  • Everything must be about the consumer: You need to know your consumers as well as you know your brand. Dig deep to understand and appreciate the consumer insights, enemies and needs. Emphasize consumer benefits, not features. Since consumers always wonder, “What’s in it for me?” communicate what they get from you and talk about how your brand makes them feel.
  • Dare to be different: Your brand needs to stand out as being better, different, cheaper, or else it won’t be around for very long. Be the brand that defines your unique value, rather than adding more clutter to the mountain of clutter.
  • Build everything you do around your brand idea: Your brand idea is the first point of connection and creates the lasting impression. The brand idea is the reason consumers first buy. Every time your brand delivers, the bond tightens just a little more. Whenever you fail to deliver, the consumer goes into doubt mode, wondering if they will stay with your brand.
  • Breakthrough focus: You must focus your brand’s limited resources to key breakthrough points you believe will tighten the bond with your consumers, putting the brand in a more powerful position to drive higher profits. You have to know your consumer, know what your brand stands for and be willing to focus on the strategies that will pay back in building the brand.
  • Passion matters: You must exhibit incredible passion in the marketing execution, consistently focused on surprising your consumers, with a goal of becoming one of their favorite brands. Always remember “I love it” is the highest bar you can set for achieving great work. If you do not love the work, how can you ever expect your consumer to love your brand?

brand love

Brand love generates brand power

The tighter the bond a brand creates with their consumers, the more powerful the brand will become with all stakeholders. Think of brand love as stored energy a brand can unleash in the form of power into the marketplace. You can use that power with consumers, competitors, new entries, employees, influencers, media, suppliers and channel partners.

These beloved brands command power over the very consumers who love them, as consumers feel more and think less. These consumers pay price premiums, line up in the rain, follow the brand as soon as it enters new categories and relentlessly defend the brand to any attackers. They cannot live without the brand.

Beloved brands have power over channel customers, who know their consumers would switch stores before they switch brands. Stores cannot stand up to the beloved brand; instead, they give the brand everything in negotiations. The beloved brand ends up with stronger store placement, better trade terms and better promotions from retail partners.

brand profit

Brand love means brand profits

With all the love and power the beloved brand generates, it becomes easy to translate that stored power into sales growth, profit, and market valuation. Here are the eight ways a brand can drive profits:

  1. Premium pricing
  2. Trading up on price
  3. Lower cost of goods
  4. Lower sales and marketing costs
  5. Stealing competitive users
  6. Getting loyal users to use more
  7. Entering new markets
  8. Finding new uses for the brand.

Beloved brands can use higher prices and lower costs to drive higher margins

Most beloved brands can use their loyal brand lovers to command a premium price, creating a relatively inelastic price. The weakened channel customers cave in during negotiations to give the brand richer margins. Satisfied and loyal consumers are willing to trade up to the next best model. A well-run beloved brand can use their high volume to drive efficiency helping to achieve a lower cost of goods structure.

Not only can they use their growth to drive economies of scale, but suppliers will cut their cost just to be on the roster of the beloved brand. The beloved brand will operate with a much more efficient marketing spend, using their power with the media to generate lower rates with plenty of free media. Plus, the higher sales volumes make the beloved brand’s spend ratios much more efficient. The consumer response to the marketing execution is much more efficient, giving the brand a higher return on investment.

Beloved brands use higher shares of a bigger market to drive higher volume

The beloved brands use their momentum to reach a tipping point of support to drive higher market shares. They can get loyal users to use more, as consumers build the beloved brand into life’s routines and daily rituals.

It is easier for the beloved brands to enter new categories, knowing their loyal consumers will follow. And finally, there are more opportunities for the beloved brand to find more uses to increase the number of ways the beloved brand can fit into the consumer’s life.

 

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.

How strategy can help Start Ups to start right

Entrepreneurs are a different breed.  They have an energy, that has them running full blast with no time to spare.  They have a determination to push as hard as they can to find funding, patents, production and customers.  They are willing to do what it takes and will work to nail down every possible detail on their own.  It’s exhaustive.  And yet, until they sell something they have no revenue to cover all their effort and costs.  All they have is optimism and hope.

I run my own business. Every day I face the same issues you face.  

Entrepreneurs face a ton of pressure. Every friend I meet up with that asks about “starting my own business”, I explain what it’s like, I pause and look them right in the eye and say “it’s not for everyone”. I don’t say that to discourage them, but rather allow them to keep thinking. I mean seriously: a real entrepreneur would just snicker at that comment.

The biggest obstacle is dealing with the pressure.

How you handle that pressure helps to sort out whether you’ll be successful or not.  You have to stay focused on the vision you have for your business. While there are “revenue temptations”, once you deviate off your path it’s harder to get back on that path. Stay focused.

It’s the Idea that counts

It seems to me that most entrepreneurs love watching the “Shark Tank” or “Dragon’s Den”. While it’s reality TV, it’s good entertainment. It provides one great lesson. The winners have an IDEA, beyond just a product. Yes, the product is essential, but if you don’t know who you are, what you can do, who you can serve and how you can serve them, then you will fail.  

When I started my business, one of my mentors said “what are you selling” and my answer was “I’m selling me”. His answer floored me when he said “well then I’m not buying, because I don’t know you and I only buy ideas”. Three weeks later, I came back with the idea of Beloved Brands, and how I would help leaders find more love for their brand, because I can clearly lay out the path from how loved a brand is to how powerful it is and from that power it can make more money. A simple equation:  Love = Power = Profit. While no one wants to buy Graham Robertson, every business leader wants a pathway to making more money.

Most successful brands in history started off as a product that solves a rational problem in the consumers’ life. It’s very likely that the entrepreneur sold the product directly to customers. Over time, they created a logo, narrowed down on a promise based on what was working, they executed better than the competition and gravitated towards creating some type of experience. After a while, the consumer took all this marketing stuff and determined the Idea of the brand. The second generation of the entrepreneur had to do market research to figure out what came naturally to the entrepreneur. And when they figured it out, they realized as the brand become more loved along the way, the brand become an idea that fulfills consumers’ emotional needs.

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To me, a beloved brand is an idea that’s worth Loving. As a brand generates more love, it gains a positional power versus market forces. It can leverage that power to drive higher rates of growth and higher profits.

But that’s the history of brands. So why not learn from history, and instead of slowly evolving towards an idea, why not just start there and own the evolution, and matching up that logo, promise, execution and experience to the idea.

Get to the idea faster. And you’ll be able to sell that idea with your product.  So, what’s your idea?

Be Strategic

Strategic Thinkers see “what if” questions before they see solutions.  They map out a range of decision trees that intersect and connect by imagining how events will play out.  They reflect and plan before they act. They are thinkers and planners who can see connections.  Slide1Non Strategic Thinkers see answers before questions. They get to answers quickly, and will get frustrated in delays. They opt for action over thinking, believing that doing something is better than doing nothing. They are impulsive and doers who see tasks. They can be frustrated by strategic thinkers.

My challenge to all entrepreneurs is while it’s tempting to push hard, you have to stay strategic. Don’t get into the situation where your feet are moving faster than your brain.

Start Up the Right Way

When you decide to go out on your own, you might be starting with some random product you came up with. But now you need a vision of where you want to go. As Yogi Berra said “if you don’t know where you’re going, you might not get there”.

Why are you doing this? Push yourself to start with what’s in you:  The most successful brands start with a purpose driven vision (why) and match the strategies (how) and the execution (what) to the vision.

What does success look like? Think of your Vision as an end in mind Achievement towards your purpose. What do you want the brand to become? Think 10 years out: if you became this one thing, you would know that you are successful. Ideally it is Qualitative (yet grounded in something) and quantitative (measurable)  It should be motivating and enticing to get people focused. It should be personal and speak to why you get up in the morning—why you got into this business.

I always like to say “if you woke up on January 1st, 2025 and things on your brand were going well, tell me the 3-5 things that you’d quickly point to as part of that success”. It’s a big huge goal.

Focus! Focus! Focus! Focus!

Yes, I’m empathetic to the entrepreneur who is facing zero revenues and sees that “revenue temptation” in front of them.  It’s ok to go for it, but quickly get back on track. Think of it like a quick detour or hobby. But you have to stay focused.

A good entrepreneur knows who they are selling to, what they are selling, how to sell it and what activities are the best choices. And they don’t deviate.

There are four areas you need to focus:

  • Pick a focused Target Market: While it’s tempting to sell to everyone.  Focus your resources on those most likely to buy. Realizing not everyone can like you is the first step to focus on those that can love you.
  • Pick a focused Brand Positioning: Start with the target market you just picked, and assess their need states to see where you can best match up. Beloved Brands are either better, different or cheaper. Or they are not around for much longer.
  • Pick a Focused Strategy: Brands need to understand where they sit before picking strategies. Evaluate the health of your brand using the Brand Funnel to understand where you are strong and should keep pushing or where you have a weakness (a Leak) that you need to close.
  • Focused Activities: While everyone talks ROI, I talk ROE as well. Return on Effort forces you to prioritize all your activities.

Stay aligned to your plan, and don’t be tempted away from your focus.  When you focus, five things happen.

  1. Better ROI: With all the resources against one strategy, one target, one message, you’ll be find out if the strategy you’ve chose is able to actually move consumers drive sales or other key performance indicators.
  2. Better ROE: Make the most out of your people resources.
  3. Strong Reputation: When you only do one thing, you naturally start to become associated with that one thing—externally and even internally. And, eventually you become very good at that one thing.
  4. More Competitive: As your reputation grows, you begin to own that on thing and your are able to better defend the positioning territory
  5. Bigger and Better P&L: As the focused effort drives results, it opens up the P&L with higher sales and profits. And that means more resources will be put to the effort to drive even higher growth.

At Beloved Brands, we run a one day workshop called “Start Up and Start Right”. It allows you to gain your focus, which makes it easier to articulate your brand’s idea, whether using that to selling your idea into customers or gaining investors to back your idea. Both customers and investors see thousands of ideas every year. Just like “The Shark Tank” and “Dragon’s Den”, they need to see an idea, they need to see someone who is well-organized behind a plan that will be successful. Not many will succeed if they are sloppy and all over the place. They buy the idea!  As a fellow entrepreneur, I know what you’re facing and would love to help get you started in the right direction.  

So, let’s get started!

 

To read more on How to Write a Brand Plan, read the presentation below:

Positioning 2016.081

At Beloved Brands, we love to see Brand Leaders reach their full potential.  Here are the most popular article “How to” articles.  We can offer specific training programs dedicated to each topic.  Click on any of these most read articles:

Love Affair with Chocolate Bars

It is easy to connect chocolate with Love.  Chocolate contains phenylethylamine, the same chemical that is released in the brain when we fall in love. Eating chocolate can give some people a natural “high” which is often related to the feeling of being in love.  It’s a similar addiction that coffee uses to create your morning brand rituals.  

Some of the world’s chocolate bar brands are the Most Beloved and Powerful Brands in the world.  Consumers are passionate about their choices, mainly because Chocolate bars usually serve an extremely personal purpose.   It could be a pick-me-up in the afternoon, a celebration for when something good happens or a recovery when something bad happens.  It’s our own personal escape–a guilty pleasure.  Chocolate Bars also helps us connect us back with our youth and give us those childhood feelings of joy.

The premise of the Brand Love Curve Love Curve Detailedis that consumers usually start off at the Indifferent stage, move to Like It then Love It and then consumers will make it their Brand for Life.  But do you remember when you tried a Snickers or Reese Peanut Butter Cups for the first time?   You likely just kept picking one out from the check-out counter until one became a favorite brand.  There’s no logic in your chocolate bar choice–strictly an emotional decision or as Hotspex says an E-rational decision.  You likely fell in love with your brand before you could even think. Hearing “NO” from your parents made you want it even more.   I know my weakness was that Orange Aero bar….or was it the Big Turk…..or the Caramilk bar.  There aren’t really any bad options in my mind.

An odd fact about chocolate bars is that consumers have been making the same choices for about 50 years now.   The top 10 chocolate bars today in your market are the same top 10 chocolate bars in the 1950s, just the order is different.   If you look at the top brands (see below) you’ll see that almost all of them were launched in the 1920s and 1930s.   The only “new” chocolate bar to breakthrough is Twix, which was launched 45 years ago, and still yet to really crack the big time.  

There have been many attempts to crack the top 10 but all massive failures.  The factors inhibiting new brands from succeeding:

  1. Distribution is so tightly controlled by the powerful companies like Nestle, Hershey and Cadbury that  it’s almost impossible to break through and displace the older brands
  2. The amount of advertising dollars spent on key brands is prohibitive of other brands being able to afford it.
  3. You make your first brand choices at such a young age that you choose one of the big brands near the check out stand.

There have been many great ads over the year.  The most consistent brand has to be Kit Kat, which started using the tag line of “Have a Break…have a Kit Kat” back in 1957.  Now, that’s a big idea!   It’s been used ever since across all geographies–here’s one from the UK. 

 

The last few Super Bowls have produced two of the Best Chocolate Bar ads.  The Betty White Snickers bar was a huge hit, not only during the Super Bowl, but such viral support it spun her into the Saturday Night Live host later that spring.

This year, the M&M’s Naked Guy, not really a big idea but a cute execution.

Maintaining Beloved Brand Status

  1. Keep the brand’s promise front and center on who you are.  You need to be either better, different or cheaper.   Challenge yourself to stay relevant, simple and compelling.
  2. Keep challenging the status quo to maintain an experience that over-delivers the promise.  Create a culture that attacks the brand’s weaknesses and fixes them before the competition can attack.  With a Beloved Brand, the culture and brand become one.
  3. Make focused strategic choices that starts with being honest with yourself.  Find a way to listen to your consumers and stay ahead of the trends.  Watch for dramatic shifts because they can really open a door for a competitor.  It’s easier said than done, but don’t be afraid to attack yourself even if it means cannibalizing your current business.  A good defense starts with a good offense.
  4. The most beloved brands have a freshness of innovation, staying one-step ahead of the consumers.  The idea of the brand helps acting as an internal beacon to help frame the R&D.  Every new product has to back that idea. .
  5. Keep the brand story clear and simple through great advertising in paid media, but also through earned media either in the mainstream press or through social media.

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Here’s a presentation on what makes a Beloved Brand:

 

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