Consumers have changed dramatically, impacting what it takes to win

Posted on Posted in How to Guide for Marketers

Consumers now see 5,000 brand messages per day, far too many for their brains to handle. They filter out the irrelevant advertising and gravitate only to those brands that capture their minds and their hearts. They are constantly distracted—working, walking, talking, texting, driving, searching, and clicking—rarely doing one thing at a time.

Consumers are tired of being burned by faulty brand promises.

Their instinct is to doubt first, test second, and at any point, be willing to cast aside those brands that do not live up to their original promise. They stay loyal to brands that speak directly with them and those that offer the most amazing experiences that exceed their expectations.

Consumers take control of the buying process, literally at their fingertips. They know that they matter more than they ever have before. Right at the moment, they openly voice their pleasure and displeasure to their friends, empowered knowing the influence they bring. They explore rationally but engage emotionally with brands they believe in. Be the brand who adds clarity to the clutter, not more clutter of your own.

In today’s marketing world, brand love is the new currency. The best brands have a base of loyal brand fans.

The best brands of this century build everything they do around a Big Idea that creates a bond with a group of motivated “brand lovers” who then become a coveted asset for the brand to leverage. Think of brand love as stored energy that can be unleashed at any moment to help accelerate a brand’s positive momentum. These brand lovers can be leveraged to successfully enter new categories, to defend the brand against any attack, and to drive awareness and influence with their network.

Brands must generate insight-driven stories that capture the hearts of their consumers. They need to build innovative new products that surprise their most loyal users. The best brands must manage ubiquitous purchase moments, catering to whenever, wherever, and however their consumer wants to buy, not just how the brand chooses to sell. The best brands build amazing experiences that over-deliver every consumer expectation, adding energy to the bond consumers have with their brand. Instead of shouting their message at every possible consumer, the best brands confidently whisper to their group of motivated brand lovers, who then whisper with influence to their friends on behalf of the brand.

The role of a brand is to create a tight bond with consumers, leading to a power and profit beyond what the product alone could achieve.

Brands are no longer just logos on top of a product. While a product is something we can touch, a brand is an idea that can be understood, experienced, and cherished. While a product may have a rational connection, a brand forms an emotional bond with a loyal base of brand lovers. While a product solves small little problems the consumer did not even know they had, a brand beats down the consumer’s enemy that torments them every day. While a product is consumed and used when needed, a brand is experienced and becomes a ritual built into the favorite parts of the consumer’s day or life. While a product is a legally protected design, a brand is a carefully managed and protected reputation. While a product is tucked away in the cupboard to use, later on, a brand is worthy of display, whether it is on our counter, our feet, our desk, or held with pride in our hand.

The best brands find their sweet spot when the brand idea, brand soul, and consumer reputation are all the same.

Brand Idea

The first moment a consumer will connect with a brand is when they see an idea worth engaging in. They will buy those brands that turn engagement into consideration and interest. Every time the consumer uses that brand, they will compare it to the original idea they bought into, to see if it lives up to that promise. They will feel let down when the brand fails to deliver and cast the brand aside when it fails too often. To win in today’s cluttered world, Brand Leaders must create a Big Idea for their brand that captivates the consumer’s attention. The Big Idea must be interesting, simple, unique, motivating, and own-able. Brand Leaders must ensure that everything they do—the brand promise, brand story, innovation, purchase moment, and consumer experience—lines up to deliver that idea.

The smartest Brand Leaders in today’s world are able to consistently manage everyone who works on the brand to create a consistent brand reputation in the consumer’s mind. This reputation has to perfectly reflect the brand’s soul, what I call the brand DNA. The DNA must explain the purpose, values, passions, motivations, and beliefs of those who lead and work on the brand. Simply put, the DNA answers the question of, “Why you get up in the morning to do what you do”. Brand Leaders are now responsible for building the internal team culture and organization behind the brand, using this brand DNA as a rallying cry to guide everyone in delivering the brand promise.

As much as consumers have changed, the fundamentals of brand management matter more now than ever.

I believe that the fundamentals of Brand Management are essential for brands to create a tight bond with their consumers so they can win in today’s cluttered brand world. Too many Marketers have become distracted by the tactics of a growing number of media choices and distribution options. They have become taskmasters, focused more on doing, than managing and leading. They have lost sight of the fundamentals of strategic thinking, brand positioning, brand planning, creative execution, and analytics.

Beloved Brands marketing model


How to think strategically:

Too many Marketers are so busy, they do not even have time to think. The best Brand Leaders do the necessary critical strategic thinking to find ways to win in the market. Strategic thinking is an essential foundation, to force Marketers to ask big questions that challenge and focus brand decisions. I will show you five ways to enhance your strategic thinking, using the brand strength finder, engagement strategy, consumer strategy competitive strategy, and situational strategy. You will learn how to set a vision for your brand, focus your limited resources on breakthrough points, take advantage of opportunities you see in the market, find early wins that can be leveraged to give your brand a positional power to drive growth and profits for your brand.

How to define your brand:

Too many Marketers are trying to be everything to anyone. This is the usual recipe for becoming nothing to everyone. The best Brand Leaders target a specific motivated consumer audience and then define their brand around a Big Idea that is interesting, simple, unique, motivating, and own-able. I will show you how to write a classic Brand Positioning statement with four key elements: target market, competitive set, main benefit, and reason to believe (RTBs). You will learn how to build a Big Idea that leads every aspect of your brand, including the brand promise, brand story, innovation, purchase moment and experience. I will give you the tool for how to write a winning brand concept.

How to write brand plans every one can follow:

Too many Marketers are focused on a short-term to-do list, not a long-term plan. The best Brand Leaders write Brand Plans that everyone in the organization can follow, including senior management, sales, R&D, agencies, and the operational teams. I will teach you how to write each element of the Brand Plan, including brand vision, purpose, values, goals, key Issues, strategies, and tactics. I provide examples that will give you a framework to use on your own brand. You will learn to build execution plans including a brand communications plan, innovation plan, and in-store plan.

How to inspire creative execution:

Too many Marketers are becoming task-masters and stepping over the line into execution. The best Brand Leaders inspire experts to produce smart and creative execution. I will provide tools and techniques for judging and making decisions on creative ideas from your agency. For judging execution, I use the ABC’S tool, believing the best executions must drive Attention (A), Branding (B), Communication (C), and Stickiness (S). I will provide a checklist for you to use when judging executions and then show you how to provide direction to your Agency to help inspire and challenge great execution.

How to analyze the performance of your brand:

Too many Marketers are not taking the time to dig in on the analytics. There is no value in having access to data if you are not using it. The best Brand Leaders are able to tell strategic stories through analytics. I lay out the smart analytical principles to help you tell analytical stories through data to challenge strategic thinking, build Brand Plans, and gain alignment for strategies. We will show you how to build a deep-dive business review, looking at the category, consumers, competitors, channels, and brand. I will teach how to turn your analysis into a presentation for management, showing the ideal presentation slide format.