Who is the enemy that torments your consumers every day?

Posted on Posted in Beloved Brands Explained
Consumer Insight

Who is your consumer’s enemy? While products solve small problems, the best brands beat down the enemy that torments their consumers every day. Put yourself in the shoes of your consumer. What is their most significant frustration pain point?

The Starbucks consumer

Let’s get in the shoes of the Starbucks consumer. She is a 38-year-old mom with two kids. She wakes up at 6:15 a.m. to get ready for work and get everyone in the house prepared for their day. Then, she drops off one kid at daycare at 7:30 a.m., the other at the public school at 7:45 a.m. then rushes to the office by 8:30 a.m. And, she drives a van, not because she wants to but because it is excellent for carrying equipment for after-school activities, including soccer, dance, tutoring and ice hockey. Her only tokens of appreciation are hugs at the end of a long day. Just after getting both kids to bed, she collapses into her bed, exhausted.

Who is the enemy of the Starbucks consumer? A hectic life

While Starbucks helps consumers who don’t have enough time in life, the Starbucks brand beats down the enemy of the hectic life that torments consumers everyday.  

The Starbucks brand fights the consumer enemy, by providing a 15-minute moment of escape between work and home. Starbucks has no children’s playground, just lovely leather seats. No loud screams, just soft acoustic music. The cool 21-year-old college student not only knows their name but their favorite drink. 

Your consumer’s enemy

The enemy should open you up into a creative space a bit more which allows you to be more emotional in your work. 

While the Tide product helps consumers with the problem grass stains, the Tide brand battles the enemy of the judgment of their mother in law, who torments them with guilt. 

While the Volvo product addresses safety concerns, the Volvo brand beats down the fear that consumers have of the mindless drivers who torment them every day on the roads.

If you want to understand your consumer’s pain points, think of how you would project their enemy and express how your brand fights that enemy on their behalf. Shifting from solving a rational consumer problem to beating down an emotional consumer enemy is the starting point to reaching into the emotional need state of your consumer. 

Disney fights off the consumer enemy of “growing up.” Nike fights the consumer enemy of “losing.” Apple fights off the consumer enemy of “frustration with computers.”

Apple fights off the enemy of frustration

Unless you work in IT, you likely find computers extremely frustrating. 

We have all sat at our computer, wanting to pull our hair out. Examples of computer frustration include spending 38 minutes to figure out how to print, getting error message 6303 that says “close all files open and reboot,” or if you have ever bought a new computer and you need to load up 13 disks and three manuals to read before you can even email your friend to tell them how amazing your computer is. 

Apple has recognized the frustration that consumers go through. They capitalized on the enemy of frustration with PCs with the famous TV campaign of “Hi I’m a Mac,….and I’m a PC”, helping to demonstrate the many issues around computer set up, viruses, and trying to make the most of your computer.  As soon as you open the box, you can use the new computer. Macs are intuitive, aligned to how consumers think, not how IT people think. You can even take classes to learn.

Yes, the Apple product is about computers, tablets, and phones. The Apple brand beats down the consumer’s frustration with technology that torments them every time they grab their phone or turn on their computer. This sets up the brand idea that Apple makes technology so simple that everyone can feel part of the future.  

How can you project your consumer's enemy that you are fighting on their behalf?

Build your marketing skills with our post on How to write a Brand Concept

One of the most important skills marketers need to know is the fundamentals of writing a brand concept. Read our step-by-step process for how to create a brand concept that brings your brand to life. Learn how to lay out the brand concept with the brand idea, consumer insights, main message, support points and call-to-action. 

Beloved Brands is the playbook to keep at your fingertips

Our readers tell us they reach for Beloved Brands a few times each week as a reference toolkit to help them with the day-to-day management of their brand. 

With Beloved Brands, we want to challenge you with questions that get you to think differently about your brand strategy. Our process for defining your brand positioning will open your mind to new possibilities for how you see your brand. 

We will show you how to write a brand plan that everyone can follow and knows precisely how they can contribute to your brand’s success. 

We will show you how to run the creative execution process, show you how to write an inspiring brief, and make decisions to find both smart and breakthrough work. 

You will learn new methods to analyze the performance of your brand with a deep-dive business review. 

Over 90% of our Amazon reviews receive five-star ratings, and Beloved Brands has spent numerous weeks as a #1 bestseller in brand management. 

Go beyond Porter’s Model to understand the 8 sources of brand power

Posted on Posted in Beloved Brands Explained

When I was in business school, I learned about Michael Porter’s model as a way to understand the five forces that outline an industry attractiveness and competitive intensity. Porter’s Model a great starting point to get you to think more strategically and how you can win through power. However, I want to show you how brand leaders can go beyond Porter’s Model and start to see other sources of power, which reinforces our idea that the more loved a brand is by consumers, the more powerful and profitable that brand will be. I see brand love as a stored energy that can be used to drive further power and profitability. 

 

How tightly connected is your consumer to your brand?

 

I first came up with the idea of a brand love curve when I ran a marketing department with 15 different consumer brands, which exhibited various degrees of success. Honestly, it was hard for me to keep track of where each brand stood. I did not want to apply a one-size-fits-all strategy to brands with dramatically different needs. I could have used some traditional matrix with market share versus category growth rates or stuck with revenue size versus margin rates. Every day on the job, I noticed brands that had created a stronger bond with their consumer outperformed brands that lacked such a close connection. I started to refer to the high-performance brands as “beloved” because I could see how emotionally engaged consumers were with the brand. 

At the other end of the scale, I referred to the inferior performance brands as “indifferent” because consumers did not care about them. They failed to stand for anything in the consumer’s mind; they were not better, different, or cheaper. I could see how these brands were unable to create any connection with their consumers – and they faced massive declines. 

Beloved brands have it easier

Everything seemed to work better and easier for beloved brands. New product launches were more impactful because the brand’s loyal consumers were automatically curious about what was new. Retailers gave these the beloved brands preferential treatment because they knew their consumers wanted them. With a beloved brand, retailers knew their consumers would switch stores before they switch brands. Everyone in my organization, from the President to the technician in the lab, cared more about these beloved brands. No one seemed to care about the indifferent brands. Internal brainstorm sessions produced inspiring ideas on beloved brands, yet people would not even show up for brainstorms on indifferent brands. 

I found that everyone wants to be part of a beloved brand

Our agencies bragged about the work they did on beloved brands. Even my people were more excited to work on these beloved brands, believing a move to the beloved brand was a big career move while being moved to an indifferent brand was a career death sentence. 

These beloved brands had better performance results and better consumer tracking scores on advertising. They saw a stronger return on marketing investment, with a better response to marketing programs, higher growth rates, and higher margins. The overall profitability fuelled further investment into beloved brands. 

It takes a strategic mind to figure out brand love

What would you rather have; a monopoly or a brand that is loved by consumers? Who has greater margins and profits; the monopoly utility company or Apple, Amazon, Netflix or Nike? 

To show the differences in how consumers feel about a brand as they move through five stages, I created the brand love curve. It defines consumers’ 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. At the love it stage, the focus shifts to tugging at heartstrings to tighten the bond with the most loyal brand fans. At 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.

The tighter the bond a brand creates with its 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.

 

Porter's Model talks about how competitive rivalry can lead to power

Let’s take a spin with Porter’s Model and see how a beloved brand plays out

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.

As your brand moves to the loved and beloved stages, the power shifts from the buyers to the brand. We see that consumers start to feel more and think less. They become outspoken brand fans who can’t live without the brand. Your brand is becoming a favorite part of their life, built into their normal routines. These brand fans defend you, sell you and crave you at times.

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. 

The competitors, whether current competitors or new entries, cannot match the emotional bond the beloved brand has created with their brand fans. The beloved brand has a monopoly on emotions, making the consumer decisions less about the actual product and more about how the experience makes consumers feel. Unless a new brand has an overwhelming technological advantage, it will be impossible to break the emotional bond the consumer has established with the beloved brand.
Suppliers serve at the mercy of the beloved brand. The high volumes drive efficiencies of scale that drive down production costs, backing the supplier into a corner before they offer up most of those savings. Plus, the supplier becomes willing to give in, so that they can use the beloved brand as a selling tool for their supplier services to other potential brands.

Going beyond Porter's Model to assess the power of a brand

The beloved brand also has power over the media whether it is paid, earned, social, or search media. With paid media, the beloved brand gets better placement, cheaper rates and they are one of the first calls for possible brand integrations. The beloved brand is considered newsworthy, so they earn more free media via mainstream media, expert reviews, and bloggers. 

Being a famous, beloved brand helps bypass the need for search engine optimization (SEO). The beloved brands become part of the conversation whether it is through social media or at the lunch table at work. Beloved brands can use their homepage website to engage their most loyal users, inform the market of upcoming changes, allow consumers to design their version of the brand, and then sell the product directly to brand lovers.

The beloved brands have power over key influencers, whether they are doctors recommending a drug, restaurant critics giving a positive review, or salespeople at electronics shops pushing the beloved brands. These influencers become fans of the beloved brand and build their own emotions into their recommendations.

Beloved brands even have power over employees, who want to be part of the brand. They are brand fans, who are proud to work on the brand. They embody the culture on day 1 and want to help the brand achieve success.

Brand love means brand profits

In the simplest of economics, a beloved brand will use their consumer desire to create more demand which drives up the volume and the price. 

When we look at accounting, a beloved brand can drive higher margins because they can command a premium price and can use their volume to drive lower costs. The beloved brand wins on volume because of the share of the market and the ability to expand that market size. That drives down the costs–both product related and marketing costs. 

The 8 ways a beloved brand drives higher 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 beloved brands use their growth to drive economies of scale, but suppliers will cut their cost to be on the roster of the beloved brand. The beloved brand will operate with 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. 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.

A century ago the best stock performers were commodities and monopolies. Today the best stock performers are the beloved brands whether it’s Apple Amazon Netflix or Tesla. I would rather run to beloved brand than a monopoly. 

Beloved Brands is the playbook to keep at your fingertips

Our readers tell us they reach for Beloved Brands a few times each week as a reference toolkit to help them with the day-to-day management of their brand. 

With Beloved Brands, we want to challenge you with questions that get you to think differently about your brand strategy. Our process for defining your brand positioning will open your mind to new possibilities for how you see your brand. 

We will show you how to write a brand plan that everyone can follow and knows precisely how they can contribute to your brand’s success. 

We will show you how to run the creative execution process, show you how to write an inspiring brief, and make decisions to find both smart and breakthrough work. 

You will learn new methods to analyze the performance of your brand with a deep-dive business review. 

Over 90% of our Amazon reviews receive five-star ratings, and Beloved Brands has spent numerous weeks as a #1 bestseller in brand management. 

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Forget the 4 P’s. Embrace the 5 consumer touchpoints

Posted on Posted in Beloved Brands Explained

Most of us started learning about marketing by looking at the 4 P’s: product, price, place, and promotion. In my first marketing class, the professor used a famous brand as an example and showed how they started with a product, decided on the price, set up the distribution channel, and then promoted the product. It is a great starting point for your first marketing class, but it just does not go far enough. It is a rather static model. 

However, most importantly, it doesn’t start with the consumer. That always bothered me. Whether I can convince you or not to let go of something so engrained, I want to show you how you can run your brand with the five consumer touchpoints-including the brand promise, brand story, innovation, purchase moment, and the consumer experience.

Yes, a brand still needs a product, a price, distribution, and promotion. I have seen people adding P’s. Some marketers are laying claim to be the fifth P, and I have even seen up to eight P’s. The 4 P’s are obsessed with what you do, and mistakenly starts you on the path of always thinking about YOU YOU YOU! My biggest concern with the 4 P’s is that it almost ignores the consumer.

Make everything you do about your consumer

Over my 20 years, I believe the only source of revenue is the consumer, not the product. Yes, we sell the product, but someone buys our brand. Maybe we should change the first line on the P&L to purchases instead of sales. It’s just about the mindset of how you wish to run your brand. I believe that everything has to start and end with the consumer in mind. Here is a choice, do you represent your brand to the consumer, or do you represent your consumer back to the brand? I have met both and believe that those who represent their consumer are the best marketers.  

The consumer's world has changed dramatically

With old-school marketing, the brand would advertise on TV to drive awareness and interest, use bright, bold packaging in-store with reinforced messages to close the sale. If the product satisfied consumers’ needs, they would repeat and build the brand into their day-to-day routines.

Today’s market is a cluttered mess. The consumer is bombarded with brand messages all day, and inundated with more information from influencers, friends, experts, critics, and competitors. While the internet makes shopping easier, consumers must now filter out tons of information daily. Moreover, the consumer’s shopping patterns have gone from a simple, linear purchase pattern into complex, cluttered chaos. 

Five main touchpoints reach consumers, including the brand promise, brand story, innovation, purchase moment, and consumer experience. Regardless of the order, they reach the consumer; if the brand does not deliver a consistent message, the consumer will be confused and likely shut out that brand. While brands cannot control what order each touchpoint reaches the consumer, they can undoubtedly align each of those touchpoints under the brand idea. With a 4 P’s mentality, this is how messy things get for the consumer. It becomes impossible to organize everything, so the consumer begins to see consistency. 

Brand leaders must manage the consistent delivery of the brand idea over every consumer touchpoint. Whether people are in management, customer service, sales, HR, operations, or an outside agency, everyone should be looking to the brand idea to guide and focus their decisions.

Use your brand idea to organize everything the consumer touches

With today’s consumers being bombarded with 5,000 brand messages a day, the first seven seconds a consumer engages with a brand is a make-or-break moment. The brand must captivate the consumer’s mind quickly, or the consumer will move on The brand must be able to entice consumers to want to find out more, then motivate consumers to see, think, feel, or act in positive ways that benefit the brand. I will show you how to develop a brand idea that serves as your brand’s seven-second sales pitch. It is essential for every brand.

Building a brand idea your consumer can love

To me, the brand idea simplifies everything, not just for the consumer but for everyone working on the brand. The dictionary definition of the word “idea” means a thought, opinion, belief, or mental impression. A brand idea must be all those things. A brand must get consumers to agree on the brand reputation and get employees who work behind the scenes of the brand to agree and deliver. Let’s assume they are the same thing. What we are creating is the most significant, most prominent, and yet most succinct definition of the brand. To become a successful and beloved brand, you need a brand idea that is interesting, simple, unique, inspiring, motivating, and ownable. I don’t even know how you can run a brand if you can’t clearly define it in 7-10 seconds. 

 

Use your brand idea to organize everything you do that maches up to the five consumer touchpoints

  • Brand promise: Use the brand idea to inspire a simple brand promise that separates your brand from competitors, and projects your brand as better, different, or cheaper, based on your brand positioning. 
  • Brand story: The brand story must come to life to motivate consumers to think, feel, or act while establishing the ideal brand’s reputation to be held in the minds and hearts of the consumer. The brand story should align all brand communications across all media options.
  • Innovation: Build a fundamentally sound product, staying at the forefront of trends and technology to deliver innovation. Steer the product development teams to ensure they remain true to the brand idea. 
  • Purchase moment: The brand idea must move consumers along the purchase journey to the final purchase decision. The brand idea helps steer the sales team and sets up retail channels to close the sale.  
  • Consumer experience: Turn usage into a consumer experience that becomes a ritual and favorite part of the consumer’s day. The brand idea guides everyone who works on the brand to deliver great experiences.         
 

Let's look at how Apple builds everything their brand idea

The brand idea for Apple is “making technology so simple that everyone can be part of the future.” Steve Jobs insisted they take a consumer-first mentality, as they transform leading technology advancements into “consumer-accessible” technology, helping fuel the perception among the mass audience that Apple is an innovative leader.

Apple has done a great job in taking that simplicity brand idea and stretching it across their brand story through advertising, and their innovation plan (as they have entered many new technology categories). They have also used their brand idea to guide how they manage the purchase moment (to make sure their retail outlets are easy for consumers), and how they create happy experiences for consumers. And when they don’t nail the ideal consumer experience, they go out of their way to help out. They also have the genius bar and on-site lessons, which help increase the knowledge of consumers.

 

Build out your brand story by bringing the brand idea to life

You should use your brand idea to help you make creative and media decisions together. You will see the ads in context to figure out the best combinations for your brand. Also, you will be able to see the possible breadth of each creative idea, which can provide a clue to the campaign’s longevity. In today’s cluttered media world, the brand idea should help organize all four types of media, including paid, earned, shared, and owned.  

Build your innovation around the consumer needs

Use your brand idea to guide the product development team to manage innovation ideas at the exploratory stage, (beyond five years), pipeline ideas (two to five years) and go-to-market launch plans (within the next two years). As the brand leader, you need to influence, manage, and even direct your product development team to ensure they focus on the brand strategy. 

Use a stage-gate innovation system with regular brainstorming, and consistent stages of approval, that have diligence and oversight on decisions. Identify new opportunities through continually observing and finding unmet consumer needs, market trends, and pain points, which new product ideas can solve. 

  • Use regular brainstorming to build a robust pipeline of ideas. From the best innovation ideas, develop concepts to test with consumers, measuring new ideas on uniqueness, motivation to purchase, ownability, potential size, and strategic fit with the brand. Listen to consumer feedback to optimize, adjust, or pivot the learning into new ideas.  
  • Build an innovation pipeline, pushing the best ideas through concept refinement, using market testing and a decision process with management. Approvals include execution plan and milestones from production to launch. Drive a robust pipeline, with a balance of lower risk launches and higher risk exploratory ideas. 

  • Create a go-to-market launch plan with project management, including name, logos, packaging, production, and channels. Build marketing support for advertising, launch presentations, and retail plans.

Managing your purchase moment by lining up with how consumers wish to buy your brand

Choose your business model based on how your customer wants to buy, not how you want to sell. Yes, one of the P’s is distribution, but if you think like a consumer, you might choose more than one. A great case study is the Apple brand, which now uses all seven of these business models, as they sell to both consumers and businesses, sell both products and services, sell directly, through retailers, and their own retail stores. Apple allows customers to engage the brand in whichever way the customers choose to purchase.

Hema stores in China are laid out to accommodate how the consumer wishes to purchase

I had a chance to visit a Hema store in China, which is Alibaba’s “new retail” intended to be the perfect blend of offline and online. It puts the consumer in the driver’s seat to shop how they want. Hema by Alibaba is the most innovative grocery store is in China

You can online, go pick it up or get it delivered within 30 mins. Or Shop in person, and get it delivered. Third, pick out the food yourself, hand it over, get it cooked by a chef, and enjoy it with your family. This concept felt similar to Marche in Switzerland or a few degrees beyond what Whole Foods do with cooked options. They are using technology to take it a few steps further.

What Hema has done is gone through the purchase journey and mapped out how the consumer wants to engage at every stage–including discover, learn, shop, buy, made, and deliver before consuming. 

 

Hema store in action

Have a look at the video of Alibaba's Hema store

Manage the consumer experience through your people and culture

Your brand idea should steer the internal culture to inspire and steer everyone who works behind the scenes of the brand. Brand leaders must manage the consistent delivery of the brand idea over every consumer touchpoint. Everyone should be looking at the brand idea to guide and focus their decisions. More companies need to focus on their internal brand to make sure management, customer service, sales, HR, operations, or an outside agency are all moving in the same direction.

The best brands consistently deliver because the best brands spend as much effort in marketing to themselves because they know it is their people who will deliver the brand. When you build your brand idea, I recommend you use a cross-functional team, including salespeople, R&D, human resources, finance, and operations. Their participation is one way to gain their buy-in. But that’s not where it stops.

Use your internal brand communications tools to drive a shared definition of the brand idea. Get everyone to articulate how their role delivers that brand idea. Give the external and internal brand story equal importance to the consumer experience you create for your brand.

Everyone who works on the brand should use the brand idea as inspiration, and to guide decisions and activities across every function of your organization. It is the people within the brand organization who will deliver the brand idea to the consumer. Everyone needs a shared understanding of and talking points for the brand.

When you work on a brand that leads to the customer experience, your operations people will be responsible for the face-to-face delivery of your brand to the consumer. Develop a list of service values, behaviors, and processes to deliver the brand idea throughout your organization.

Ritz-Carlton has created a culture of "wow stories" at the purchase moment

A great story that makes its way around the Ritz-Carlton world. A guest who had just left the hotel called to say that their son had left his stuffed giraffe in the room. The boy could not stop crying. The only thing these distraught parents could think of to tell their son is that the giraffe was staying on the vacation a little longer. So the staff found the giraffe and overnighted it to the boy. Most luxury hotels would have done that. But that was not enough for Ritz-Carlton.

Knowing what the Mom had told their son about staying on a bit longer, the staff also included a photo album of the giraffe enjoying his extra stay. They took photos sitting by the pool, getting a massage in the spa with cucumbers on his eyes, and laying out on the beach. Imagine how the parents felt. And the signal it sends to them about the Ritz-Carlton staff. Imagine how many friends they may share that story with.

To inspire each other, everyone at Ritz-Carlton goes through a daily line up where they share wow stories, both local stories, and stories from other hotels around the world. This line up keeps everyone in line, but it also keeps people fully engaged. 

Harvard did a study on Employee Engagement, stating that the average company had 29% of their employees who were fully engaged and they labeled this group as the ‘Super Stars’. Using the same criteria, Ritz Carlton has 92% of their staff are considered fully engaged. No wonder they are able to win so many service awards and no wonder they can create such an experience for their consumers. They have fully created a culture that now defines the brand.

Use a brand credo document to steer everyone who works behind the scenes of the brand

  • Start with your brand idea and turn it into an inspiring promise statement, which explains to your people how they can positively impact your customers.
  • Use your brand’s core point of difference to outline the expectations of how everyone can support and deliver the point of difference. For instance, a great exercise is to get every department to articulate its role in delivering the brand idea.
  • Connect with your people by tapping into personal motivation for what they can do to support your brand purpose, brand values, and core beliefs. Make it very personal.

Your brand idea can highlight the flaws of the consumer experience

The other beauty of having a crystal clear brand idea is that everything that goes against that brand idea almost acts as an obvious virus. Looking below, here are four examples of where Apple is missing out on “simplicity,” which puts the brand idea at risk. These should trigger action plans to build into your brand plan.

Using the leaky bucket tool to assess how your consumer shops

Every marketer should regularly shop their own category. It is shocking when you see such bad service, open inadequate packaging, or meander around a website; you can tell the marketer has never purchased their own brand. While many think marketing is about putting consumers into the funnel, you should also be analyzing why your consumers can fall out of the funnel at any moment. This tool forces you to look at the various stages a consumer goes through as they move along the brand love curve, and then analyze why they exit your brand.

T-Mobile built a new structure to create consumer-focused teamwork to deliver a better consumer experience

What T-Mobile figured out was customers were opting to use the self-serve options for the easy customer service issues, which meant those that reached the customer service reps were all difficult to solve. T-Mobile restructured its teams, moving from a one-on-one customer service approach to a team approach. Each rep was now part of a team, and they could access peers or tech specialists to solve these difficult challenges. They also had access to coaches, who were super reps and could join in and provide solutions.

 

If you are fixated using your 4 P's approach, you will miss out on the consumer centric focus that modern brands like Apple, T-Mobile, Alibaba, and Ritz-Carlton are using to achieve success

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Build your marketing skills with our post on how to define your Brand Positioning

One of the most important skills marketers need to know is the fundamentals of creating a brand positioning that will set up your brand to win in the marketplace. Read our step-by-step process to learn how to define your brand with a balance of functional benefits and emotional benefits. The ideal brand positioning matches what consumers want with what your brand does best.

A Remembrance Day ad that will bring a tear to your eye

Posted on Posted in Beloved Brands Explained

Remembrance Day is a special day in Canada. We take a moment of silence at 11 am on the 11th day of the 11th month, to commemorate the very moment that World War One ended. To show our appreciation, we wear a poppy upon our lapel.

The history of Remembrance Day in Canada

In Canada, every kid in school learns about “In Flanders Fields,” a poem written during the First World War by Canadian physician Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae (November 30, 1872 – January 28, 1918). He was a Canadian physician, author, artist, and soldier during World War I. He served as a surgeon during the Second Battle of Ypres, in Belgium. McCrae was inspired to write “In Flanders Fields” on May 3, 1915, after presiding over the funeral of a friend and fellow soldier Alexis Helmer, who died in the Second Battle of Ypres.

According to legend, fellow soldiers retrieved the poem after McCrae, initially dissatisfied with his work, discarded it. “In Flanders Fields” was first published on December 8 of that year in the London-based magazine Punch. The red remembrance poppy has become a familiar emblem of Remembrance Day due to the poem In Flanders Fields.

These poppies bloomed across some of the worst battlefields of Flanders in World War I, their brilliantly red color became a symbol for the blood spilled in the war. McCrae died of pneumonia months before the end of the war, while still working at a hospital for Canadian soldiers in Belgium.

Bell Poppy Ad for Remembrance Day

This Bell ad tells a beautiful story from the eyes of a little girl, as she learns about Remembrance Day and does something very touching for a veteran. It’s a very Canadian storyline, and I hope you can appreciate every little subtlety in this ad. There are no words, and you have to pay close attention to every detail. In the ad, a little girl peers out a school bus window and sees a veteran selling poppies by the side of the road.

It prompts her to google “what is a poppy,” which starts her on the learning process about Remembrance Day. The little girl emails someone in Belgium, asking if they are near Flanders Field, a link to the poem above. Then a letter arrives, presumably from the person in Belgium. The little girl takes the note to the veteran, giving it to him in a very touching tribute and a beautiful moment.

Remembrance Day ad
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Bell Dieppe ad

Bell Canada has a long history of paying tribute to our veterans. Below is an ad from the mid-90s, used for Remembrance Day and the anniversary of D Day. Back in the mid 1990s, we were still excited that we could call from anywhere. In the ad, a young 20-year-old visiting Dieppe phones home to Canada to talk to his grandfather, just to say “thank you.” Dieppe holds a special place for Canadians. Two years before D-Day, 6,000 Canadians tried to land on the beach at Dieppe, but less than half survived. We see many tributes to the soldiers, but this one sends a chill through me every time I watch.

Remembrance Day ad
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This remembrance day, wear a poppy. Lest we forget

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Evolve your competitive strategy from a craft brand to power player

Posted on Posted in Beloved Brands Explained

Every brand starts with a competitive strategy as a craft brand

Brands must evolve their competitive strategy as they move from a craft brand to the power player brand. Many brands start in someone’s garage or over a kitchen table at midnight. Start-ups should deploy a craft brand strategy. To stand out, you must be utterly different to a core group of trend influencers who are frustrated with the major competitors. You must be willing to take a “high risk/high reward” strategy. It is O.K. if your brand alienates those who are not yet ready to take on something new. Playing it too safe will lead to your destruction. Do not worry about the mass audience, and avoid trying to be too big, too fast.

As your brand grows, you can transition to a disruptor brand strategy. Utilize your core audience of trend influencers to gain a core base of early adopters. While a craft brand attracts the attention of trend influencers, the disruptor brand must dial up its aggressive stance and call out the major brands. Use your significant point of difference to pull consumers away from the category-leading brands to make them seem detached from the needs of the consumer.

Competitive strategy evolves to take on the power player leader

As your brand continues to grow, you can use your increased resources and power to take on a challenger brand strategy against the leader. You can use the influence of the trend influencers and early adopters to attract the early mass audience. With a significant consumer base, more brand power, and increased financial resources, your brand must gain hard-fought proximity, allowing you to go head-to-head with the power player leader. The challenger brand should turn the leader’s strength into a weakness, pushing it out of what consumers want, while creating a new consumer problem for which your brand becomes the solution.

At the power player stage, the competitive strategy shifts to maintaining your leadership position. You should take on a defensive strategy, to attack in response to any player who threatens your brand. While the trend influencers and early adopters played an essential role in making the brand a household name, you have to be comfortable that your earliest brand fans will eventually leave your brand and look for what is next. They may even call you a “sell-out.” Stay focused on the mass audience.

How Apple evolved their competitive strategy from the innovative craft brand to a power player

Apple started as a classic craft brand in the 1970s and 1980s, positioning their Macintosh as the computer for the “rest of us.” The brand stayed niche with a “making computers simpler” message against IBM personal computers. It focused on a niche consumer who favored the intuitive and artistic side of personal computers, as opposed to IBM’s business computers.  

Apple evolved in 2001 to a disruptor brand strategy, when iTunes completely disrupted the music industry. iTunes gave consumers the ability to have 10,000 songs in their pocket, buying one song at a time with perfect digital quality. They made CDs feel disconnected from consumers and a thing of the past.

In 2006, Apple used its market power and substantial resources to deploy a challenger strategy, with the “I’m a Mac” TV ads to go head-to-head with Microsoft. Apple repositioned every one the potential Microsoft strengths into a frustration point for consumers. The ads set up Mac as the only solution for consumers. 

Since 2012, Apple has become a power player brand, with stock prices continuing to climb beyond their wildest dreams. It is now a brand for the masses. The company attacks itself internally to stay at the top. Apple takes a fast-follower stance on technology, which frustrates those who loved Mac in the early days. While Apple’s early brand lovers from the 1980s may be disappointed with the Apple of today, the brand must now play to the mass audience and let the true influential innovators, who once loved them, find someone else to love. In 2016, Apple’s most substantial growth came from the 55+ age segment, a clear sign that the brand is for everyone. How long can Apple stay on top before someone starts to disrupt or challenge them?

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How to use competitive strategy to win over your consumer’s heart

Posted on Posted in Beloved Brands Explained

You must decide if you will position your brand to be better, different, or cheaper. Otherwise, you will not be around for very long. 

A winning brand position matches what consumers want with what your brand does best, always better than your competitors. I will outline four types of competitive brand strategy situations: the power player, challenger brand, disruptor brand and the craft brand. You must identify and choose one competitive situation, which best fits where you are today, and where you want to go next.

To find the competitive space in which your brand can win, I introduce the Venn diagram of competitive situations. Looking below, the first circle should list out everything the consumer wants. The second circle then lists everything your brand does best. And, finally, the third circle lists everything your competitor does best.

competition

To win, brands have to find the space where they are better, different, cheaper…or else they will not around for very long.

To find your brand’s winning zone, you should match up what consumers want with what your brand does best. This provides you a distinct space that you can own and defend from attack. To maintain ownership over that space, your brand should always be able to satisfy the needs of the consumer better than anyone else can.

Your brand will not survive in the losing zone, which is the space that matches up the consumer needs with the area where your competitor does it better than your brand. It is dangerous to try to play in this space, because over the long term, your competitor will beat you.

Brands can win the risky zone

As markets mature, competitors copy each other. It becomes harder to be better with a definitive product win, and that leaves you to play in the risky zone, which is the space where you and your competitor both meet the consumer’s needs in a relative tie. The tie is important to understand, because brands can still win the tie when they make their brand seem different enough that consumers perceive their brand to be better. Perception becomes reality. The four ways to win the risky zone is to leverage your brand’s power in the market to squeeze out lesser brands, or to be the first to capture and defend the space, or to win with innovation and creativity, or find ways to build a deeper emotional connection.

Sadly, I do have to always mention the dumb zone where two competitors “battle it out” in the space where consumers do not care. One competitor says, “We are faster” and the other thinks, “We are just as fast”. A competitive war starts up, yet no one bothered to ask the consumer if they care.

Competitive situations

Brands rarely experience competitive isolation. Even in a blue ocean situation, the euphoria of being alone quickly turns to a red ocean, cluttered with the blood from nasty battling competitors. The moment we think we are alone, a competitor is watching and believing they can do it better than we can. When you ignore your competition, believing only the consumer matters, you are on a naive pathway to losing. Competitors can help sharpen our focus and tighten our language on the brand positioning we project to the marketplace.

Regarding marketing war games, I will use this Venn diagram to map out four types of competitive brands: 

  1. Power players
  2. Challenger brands
  3. Disruptor brands
  4. Craft brands. 

Power Player brands

Power players lead the way as the share leader or perceived influential leader of the category. These brands command power over all the stakeholders, including consumers, competitors, and retail channels.

Regarding positioning, the power player brands own what they are best at and leverage their power in the market to help them own the position where there is a tie with another competitor. 

Owning both zones helps expand the brand’s presence and power across a bigger market. These brands can also use their exceptional financial situation to invest in innovation to catch up, defend, or stay ahead of competitors.

Power player brands must defend their territory by responding to every aggressive competitor’s attacks. 

They even need to attack themselves by vigilantly watching for internal weaknesses to close any potential leaks before a competitor notices. Power player brands can never become complacent, or they will die.    

 

One of the best contemporary power player brands is Google, which has managed to dominate the search engine market. The company’s extreme focus and smart execution gained market power and squeezed out Microsoft and Yahoo. Focused on providing knowledge for consumers, Google has continued to expand its services into a bundle of products with e-mail, maps, apps, docs, cloud technology, and cell phones. Regarding advertising dollars, the combination of Google and Facebook now accounts for over 80% of all digital advertising spending. We are currently entering the digital duopoly age with influence shared between these two power player brands. 

Challenger brands

Challenger brands must change the playing field by amplifying what your brand does best while simultaneously repositioning the power player brand you want to take down. 

While your first instinct would be to attack the power player’s weakness, the smarter move is to reposition one of the power player’s well-known strengths into a perceived weakness. This strategy helps move the power player brand outside of what consumers want.

When you attack a power player brand, be ready for the leader’s potential defensive moves and anticipate a response with full force, as the power player brand has more significant resources than you. Be highly confident that your attack will make a positive impact before you begin to enter into a war. The worst situation is to start a war, you cannot win, as it will drain your brand’s limited resources, only to end up with the same market share after the war. 

Since the power player leader tries to be everything to everyone, you can narrow your attack to slice off those consumers who are frustrated with the leading brand. Tap into their frustration to help kickstart a migration of consumers away from the leader. If you can gain these lost consumers, you can quickly change share positions. 

One of the best examples of a challenger brand that made significant gains is the Pepsi Challenge from the 1970s. It was a direct offensive attack on Coke. In blind taste tests, Pepsi was the preferred brand. Pepsi is a much sweeter taste, so in a quick hit, it was the chosen brand. Coke is an acquired and memorable taste. The blind taste test took away the Coke brand name and the emotional feelings of that brand. At the same time, Pepsi amplified its strength as the “new generation” and positioned the brand as the solution to consumers ready to reject the “old taste” of Coke. This approach was so powerful it was even a contributing factor to the launch of a sweeter “New Coke.” 

Disruptor brands

Disruptor brands move into a blue ocean space, alone. They use a new product, distribution channel, target market, or price point. They are so different that they appear to be the only brand that can satisfy the consumer’s changing needs.

When successful, the disruptor brand repositions the major players, making them appear unattached to consumers. 

While everyone wants a game-changer, it is a high-risk, high-reward competitive situation. The trick is you have to be “so different” to catch the consumer’s attention and mindshare. Being profoundly different increases the risk you may fail. Also, your success may invite other entrants to follow. At that point, you become the new power player of the new segment. You have to continue attacking the major players while defending against new entrants who attack your brand.

Uber, Netflix, and Airbnb are contemporary brands that effectively use modern technology to create such a unique offering that they cast major category-leading brands or entire industries as outdated and outside what consumers want. Uber disrupted the taxi market, Netflix is revolutionizing the way we watch TV, and Airbnb has had a dramatic impact on hotels. These brands have a smarter ordering system, better service levels, and significantly lower prices.

Craft brand

Craft brands must win a small space in the marketplace that offers something unique to a highly engaged target. These brands succeed when they are far enough away from major competitors that the leaders ignore them because craft brands stay hidden away. 

Craft brands build themselves behind a micro-benefit, including gluten-free, low fat, locally grown, organic or ethically sourced. These craft brands take an antagonistic approach to the rest of the category, portraying every other brand in the category as old-school, overly corporate, unethical, flawed in the manufacturing or the use of ingredients. Many times, these brands take a very aggressive marketing stance, calling out the other brands as unethical or stupid. Craft brands believe it is better to be loved by the few than liked or tolerated by many.

A fantastic of example a craft brand is Five Guys Burgers, which uses fresh, high-quality beef and a commitment not to begin cooking your burger until you order it. The portions are more substantial than typical fast food, and they charge super-premium prices. Five Guys have gone in the opposite direction to most fast food restaurants, whose meals seem frozen and microwaved. Five Guys expanded rapidly with word-of-mouth helping the brand earn a reputation as “the best burger.” Now that Five Guys has become a global brand, McDonald’s has to figure out an adequate competitive response. 

Another excellent example of a craft brand is Dollar Shave, which launched as an online subscription model for razor blades. Dollar Shave uses smart sourcing and a direct-to-consumer distribution model. This efficient model eliminates costs and allows the brand to sell razors at a fraction of the cost you pay for Gillette. For consumers, the price of razor blades has gotten out of control, no matter how much innovation the leaders try to portray. Dollar Shave’s advertising openly mocked Gillette, yet it started in such a small niche, so Gillette ignored them. While year one sales were only $30 million, without a competitive response from Gillette, Dollar Shave continued to grow year-by-year, until Unilever recently purchased the brand for $1 billion. 

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

Posted on Posted in Beloved Brands Explained

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

When I read, “Marketers need to think more about the consumer” I think you’ve never met a real marketer. The best marketers starting doing that around 1915. I guess somehow this is now popular among non-marketers.

When I hear,  “Marketers should analyze data”, again, I’m thinking what incompetent marketers have you been hanging around with. That’s been a major part of the job since 1950. Sure, big data. But I have been working any data from share report data to Ipsos tracking data to weekly Walmart sales tracking data.

Do you know what marketers do?

When I read, “The CEO should be in charge of the brand”, I think “Well then the CEO should be in charge of the IT system”. Sure, in charge, but they should be smart enough to delegate to the experts who will make their brand stronger.

From my experience, the best marketing led organizations have bottom up recommendations, empowering the brand manager to tell their directors what they want to do, who then support them in moving that up to the VP and President.

The worst organizations are when the CEO walks down the hall and asks “Why are we not on Instagram? My 15-year-old daughter was just showing me how cool it is this weekend”. This is likely the reason why the average tenure of a CMO is under 24 months at this point. They are likely sports coaches, hired to be fired, by the impatience of getting results.

When I hear, “Marketing needs to be more than just advertising” once again, you just don’t understand the job….typically advertising is 10-15% of the job.The best marketers determine the strategy, figure out the brand promise, brand communication, product innovation, purchase moment and consumer experience…they touch all, decide all, but they let their experts run each of those touch points.

Marketers don’t just “do marketing”

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

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

OK, my rant is over.

 

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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

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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

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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.

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The Ferrari brand sells more merchandise than it does cars

Posted on Posted in Beloved Brands Explained
Ferrari is one of the most desired luxury car brands in the world. To Italians around the world, the Ferrari brand screams the passion they hold for the Italian culture. As other brands hope to claim their value by selling more, Ferrari makes their money by actually selling fewer cars. This is a great case study for marketers to build desire for your brand. With all the pent-up desires, Ferrari sells more merchandise than it does cars. While most marketers ask “what consumers do we want to get” when thinking of a target market, I ask a slightly different question of “who wants us?” You should be looking for those who are already motivated and bringing them in first. Then use them to help fuel passion for your brand. Once you have the most motivated consumers, you can tap into their desires and build a tight bond with these brand fans. That bond becomes a source of power for the brand to drive its profits.

Ferrari is such a unique brand. Here are the three pillars of their success:

  1. Ferrari spends nothing on advertising, everything on the F1 race: They put all their money into the Scuderia Ferrari F1 racing team, knowing that a win in front 500 million viewers each week fuels that desire for the brand. While Ferrari was the dominant winning team from 2000-2007, most recently they have struggled on the track behind Mercedes. Scuderia is Italian for a stable reserved for racing horses, closely linked the prancing horse in the Ferrari logo. Ferrari supplies engines for 4 of the F1 race teams. No matter what part of the world, whether in Australia, Britain or Brazil, it is the screaming Ferrari fans with their faces painted red, who are the most passionate among the crowd. The passion of these fans will continue to fuel Ferrari on the race track to catch up with Mercedes. They have to. It is crucial to the brand’s success.
  2. Ferrari stands for Italian passion: The brand idea is “Italian Excellence that makes the world dream”  They clearly understand the brand’s role in tapping into the pride of Italians around the world. Most fans of Ferrari will never own a car. It will be a lifelong dream. Instead, these brand fans will buy tee shirts, hats, sunglasses, key chains and anything that projects their association with the brand. The branded merchandise accounts for $2.5 billion in sales each year, slightly more than the revenue from selling cars.
  3. Ferrari limits production on cars:  Since back in the 1990s, Ferrari has found tremendous success in using the pent-up desire to fuel their success. While everyone should want a Ferrari, not everyone should have one.  This keeps the price high. By focusing on extraordinary vehicle design and exclusivity, Ferrari is able to sell luxury cars with high-profit margins. Increasing profitability with high margins has been a key driver of revenue growth for Ferrari. Ferrari reported EBITDA margins of 25%, which is quite high as compared to other luxury car manufacturers as well as the industry average.

The purpose behind the Ferrari brand is clear

“We build cars, symbols of Italian excellence the world over, and we do so to win on both road and track. Unique creations that fuel the Prancing Horse legend and generate a “World of Dreams and Emotions”. Very motivating to consumers in the marketplace, as well as internally, for everyone who works on the Ferrari brand. Luca Cordero di Montezemolo, the former Chairman of Ferrari talked about the link between the history and traditions. “I want to maintain the link with the past, with the tradition and with the history but don’t want to be in the prison of the history. I want to be in the prison of the future.”

The two issues for Ferrari in the future:

  1. How will they improve their performance on the F1 track, to beat Mercedes, and keep the passion of their fans alive?
  2. With changing regulations on fuel emissions, around the world, how can the brand advance on Hybrid technology so that it can maintain its standing as a modern car?
It looks like as we head into the F1 season of 2017, there will be pressure for the Ferrari brand to step up their performance on the track. All those fans with their faces painted red want victories.

For marketers, who are your most motivated consumers and how can you turn them into passionate brand fans?

   

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How severely damaged is the Toronto Maple Leafs brand?

Posted on Posted in Beloved Brands Explained

leafs-badI think the Leafs should be a little worried about the health of their brand. While they have been bad for the entire century so far, this year feels even more disconnected and puts them at risk, if things are not fixed. There are major signs of brand health issues, which usually show up in advance of any issues with brand wealth. But I think with a quick shot of the optimism drug over the summer, the crazy Leaf fans will be hooked again.

Here are the brand health issues that should raise concern:

Leaf game not shown on TV? Last Saturday, Hockey Night in Canada decided not to air the Leafs game on the main network for the first time in forty years. With TV media, there are so many games on TV and on-line, that the big Saturday night game is not the same. In fact, the biggest risk now is that I can see 82 games of any team I want.  

No sell out? This past Monday, the Leafs failed to sell out for the first time in 15 years. While giving up a little revenue for not selling out, the bigger risk here is that if tickets are going for $30, then it takes away the mystique of going to the game. The good news is the Leafs have announced they won’t raise ticket prices. I love that they actually felt compelled enough to announce this, which shows the true power of the brand.  

Fans cheering for the Leafs to lose: Not only are the Leafs tanking this season to get a good draft pick, but the fans are also cheering for the opponents so that the Leafs do lose. If the Leafs are bad again next year, the fans may again cheer against the Leafs. If this goes on for 5 years, do these fans go find another team?

Fans are mad at the current team: Fans are so enraged at the current crop of Leafs that they continue to boo the best players and have thrown sweaters on the ice in dis-respect of the team. The players took it upon themselves to “not salute the fans” as their retribution. It’s never good to go to war with the fans when the only thing you have is fans. 

The Leafs brand is on pause this year. The fans are on hold, waiting to see what happens next. I believe if the Leafs get rid of a few players, draft a big name (even if it’s not McDavid) and get a big name coach, they would create the perception that they are moving in the right direction. As we discuss below, the Leafs are not really focused on winning the cup, but rather giving the illusion and optimism that they “could” win the cup. 

The success of the Leafs brand defies logic

When we look at the most valuable sports franchises around the world, whether it’s Ferrari, Manchester United, Real Madrid, New York Yankees, Los Angeles Lakers or New England Patriots, they usually have one thing in common:  THEY WIN.  And in most cases, they win a lot. We’ve never really found out what happens to those brands when they lose.  And then there’s the Toronto Maple Leafs who recently joined the ranks of the most valued brands, now worth an estimated $1.2 Billion. 

  • The last time the Leafs won a hockey championship was 1967, when Lyndon Johnson was President, The Beatles were releasing the Sgt Pepper’s album and Wal-Mart only had 24 stores (all still in Arkansas). It was even 8 years before Justin Bieber’s mom would be born.
  • The Leafs have made the playoffs once since 2004. None of their current players were even in the league in 2004. And they are the only NHL team not to make the playoffs during those years.
  • There were two major work stoppages in the NHL in 2005 and 2012–one wiped out an entire season, the other a half season. In both of those years, the value of the Leafs jumped up. And yet, since 2004, the value of the Toronto Maple Leafs has gone up from $280 Million to $1.2 Billion.

So clearly for the Leafs, actually playing and winning the games doesn’t really matter to value of the Leafs brand. Yes, Apple’s market value has gone up at a faster pace, but they’ve launched iTunes, iPod, iPhone, iPad and the Macbook during that time.  

Most great brands have a vision for the future: what’s the Leafs brand vision?

Like any sports team, the Leafs will state their vision of “we want to win the Stanley Cup”. It sounds good. It’s what you’re supposed to say. Proof for what the real vision might be in the fact that for past 15 years they were owned by a pension fund and they rewarded their President financially, not for how the Leafs did on the ice, but how well the Leafs did off the ice. And now they are owned by a media conglomerate who sees the Leafs as content to get the millions of insane Leafs fans watching in person, on TV and on-line. I believe a more appropriate Brand Vision for the Leafs is “to be the most beloved sports franchise” or even a stretch “to be the most valued sports franchise in the world”. 

Does winning matter?  Yes, but it’s a strategy to help the vision of being the most loved or most valuable sports franchise. It’s the “how” you get to the vision, but not the vision itself. The hook is to appear that you are doing the right things to try to win the cup–enough to keep the fan base engaged.

Holding the Leafs up to the principles of a beloved brand

I once had an economics professor who said: “economics proves that what happens in real life can actually happen in theory”. Well, I usually use the Apple brand to prove how the theories of Beloved Brands work, but let’s take the Leafs brand on a test run and see how they line up.

First, we believe that consumers connect with brands based on a “big idea”. That’s the tough question for the Leafs: what is their big idea? Is it the heritage/history, being the home team of the biggest hockey market or the great underdog story?  At times, it’s been the “loveable losers”, where the mediocre/good players like Palmateer or Vaive become legends in the community. But that’s still not enough to make the brand that connected. The big idea during Steinbrenner’s Yankees was “we will do whatever it takes to win–at any cost” whereas the Montreal Canadiens are all about “we maintain the pride and dignity of history and we’ll do what’s right in our pursuit of victory”. It’s hard to truly see a big idea to connect with the Leafs. While most fans have this nagging feeling in the back of their mind that the Leafs will never win in their lifetime, I believe they cheer for the Leafs “to stay engaged enough just in case there is that once in a lifetime chance to win the cup”. So the Leafs are more like a potential “once in a lifetime eclipse” that fans want to see or even a lottery ticket. The only other sports brand like the Leafs are the loveable Chicago Cubs.  If the Leafs are that “eclipse”, I’ve always debated that if they ever do win the Cup, would more people keep watching or would people stop watching. The Toronto Blue Jays may prove that once they won the World Series, the Toronto fans were like “great, so what’s next” and moved on. My guess is that I’ll never know the answer to this question, as I don’t expect the Leafs to ever win the cup.  

Once you have the brand idea for your brand, you need to map out the 5 Brand Connectors to help deliver that brand idea: the brand promise, strategy, brand story, innovation and a culture that helps deliver the promise.  

 

 

Arguably, the Leafs might be defying all 5 of these sources of connectivity. 

Brand Promise: 

Most beloved sports teams can say “we promise to deliver an on-field team that will always be competitive enough to win a championship”. The Yankees, Man U, Ferrari, the Canadiens, and Real Madrid can easily say that. The Leafs promise to “win a championship” feels hollow. If that was their promise, the brand would be a complete failure. Fans would walk away and the value of the team would fall. Well, at least for a normal team. When fans get excited about the Leafs, the world feels better, they are happy and optimistic for the future.

The real promise

The real promise for the Leafs is “we’ll make you feel good even if the pursuit of victory is greater than the victory itself.” Maybe if you have that underdog spirit in your own life, you see hope in the Leafs where no one else sees hope. But the problem for this year is that when they lose, that optimism comes crashing down. A friend of mine who is a Leafs fan had a baby a few weeks ago, and posted on Facebook “when do you break it to the kid that the Leafs won’t win a Championship in his lifetime?” Sadly, that kid will be a Leaf fan. He now bleeds blue. And will pay thousands of dollars towards the Leafs coffers over his lifetime. 

Strategy:

In terms of players, the Leafs have relied the last 15 years on signing free agents. But in managing the brand, they focus on hyping up the players, they build up the optimism at the beginning of each year and keep the fan base engaged with constant communication and stay reasonably competitive to at least give hope for getting in the playoffs. The Leafs managed to keep the fan base hooked by constantly feeding them optimism. The problem this year is that they’ve fallen so far out of the playoffs the talk of re-build has the fans confused. Those players they’ve hyped turned out to be jerks, who won’t salute the fans, refuse interviews and don’t even try on the ice. It’s hard for the Leafs to hype players that aren’t well-liked. 

Brand Story:

As I was growing up, the Leafs always successfully connected the past (Johnny Bower, Bobby Baun or Daryl Sitler) to the current team. The stories stressed the values of toughness, hard work and how the underdog always over-achieved in the face of adversity. That story fits nicely to the Leaf teams of the 90s with Doug Gilmour, Wendel Clark and Felix Potvin who went to the semi-finals in back to back years. However, today’s current Leaf teams are the opposite:  over-hyped, over-paid and under-achieving players like Kessel and Phaneuf, certainly not aligned to the values of toughness and hard work. 

Innovation:

For a sports team, freshness comes through the signing of new players and then building optimism around those players. The problem is the salary cap and the current roster has the team trapped. The tanking to get a draft pick has been a good strategy as it will provide someone (McDavid or even Strome) that they can build around. You will see this summer that the Leafs will build all the optimism of a rebuild around the youthful team. And fans will buy into it.   

Experience:

There are only two ways to experience the brand–either in person or on TV. Going to a Leaf game has a buzz and excitement to it. The tickets are usually so expensive that it is so rare for the average person to get to go. The TV games are rooted in history: “Hockey Night in Canada” at 7 pm has been one of the highest-rated TV shows since the 1950s. And so this year, we’ve now seen two things happen. Last Saturday, for the first time since the early 1970s, the Leafs were not shown on Hockey Night in Canada, with the CBC choosing the Montreal Canadiens game. It’s all about ratings, even though the network that shows the games owns the Leafs. And this past Monday, the Leaf game wasn’t a sellout, and on StubHub, you can easily get tickets for $25. So while this is your chance to finally go to a game, no one really wants to even go.

How the Leafs make money

Like any brand, there are really only 8 ways to make more money:  premium pricing, trading up with price, lower cost of goods, efficient spending, stealing share. getting loyal users to use more, entering new markets and finding new uses for the brand.

 

Pricing:

Ticket prices for the Leafs are the highest in the NHL–an average of $375 over 42 home games, which is three times the average ticket price for Detroit Red Wings or even six times the price for Tampa Bay. Getting tickets to a game is nearly impossible for the average fan. Every game is a sell-out. It’s a 40-year wait for Leaf season tickets. These end up in people’s wills. The ACC also uses the strong luxury box and platinum ticket sales to trade the business consumers up on price–so not only are they paying $1,000, but they also have to order enough food and drinks to support a luxury box. If the Leafs look at an extended downturn on a play or even a 5-year turnaround, it likely won’t impact the average price but it may impact the # of sell-outs–especially as the Leafs just experienced their first non-sellout in 15 years.  

Costs: 

Control of costs works in favor of the Leafs. The NHL has a salary cap that holds teams to $60 Million per year, which is 6% of the team’s brand value. For the other hockey teams worth $200 Million, that’s 30% of their brand value. That’s a huge competitive advantage for the Leafs–still defies why they can’t win. There’s no real need for “marketing costs” as every game is on TV, with normal exceptionally strong ratings. While the ratings are only in Canada, they are such a dominant ‘country brand’ that it makes the local market all of Canada, which means it has access to 30 Million people. The Leafs receive added earned media with 2 sports TV stations, 3 radio stations, and 3 major Newspapers constantly covering every move the team makes. Both sports stations hold a daily live show at lunchtime. 

Share:

The Leafs dominate the media landscape but end up sharing that revenue with the NHL. It’s estimated that 70% of the league revenues come from Canada–my guess is that most of that comes from the Leafs. For the Leafs merchandise sales are very strong. The Leafs announced it was changing its third jersey to be a replica of the 1967 jersey. Which means all those fans have to go out and drop another $129 on a new jersey. This past year, the Leafs have added a sports bar to the ACC, just outside the arena that has hundreds of TVs and seating for two thousand people. With a roster currently filled with unpopular players, the Leafs need a few popular players for the fans to put a name on the back to really drive up the merchandise sales.

Market Size:

The Leafs have expanded the size of the market by driving sponsorship and even creating Leafs TV. The team’s sponsorship drive is incredible–carrying an astounding 50+ sponsors on its roster–including separating out the banking category into Core Banking, Wealth Banking, Credit Card banking, which allows them to get money from three separate banks. Sponsorship is a money machine. The Leafs TV expands the brand for the most loyal followers to connect even more. The Leafs have also launched a bar attached to their stadium that holds another 2,200 fans who drink and eat during the 2 and 1/2 hour game. If the crowd shrinks or the Leafs lose early each time, this bar will be clearing out by the 2nd period. 

Income statement: 

In 2011 with the world facing a global recession, following up on a 29th place finish in the standings, the Leafs revenue went up ELEVEN PERCENT!!!  And then they raised ticket prices. Because of the player strike a few years ago, player costs have gone down from $69 million to $57 million. Revenue up, costs down–that’s a P&L the people of Price Waterhouse dream about. A lot of the value is now connected to how much money will be made in the future. The NHL just signed a 10-year labor contract giving the Leafs cost certainty and a 5-year media deal giving the Leafs revenue certainty. While I still don’t think the Leafs will win a championship in the next 10 years, I would bet they will hit $2 Billion.  

It’s not easy being a Leaf Fan. Yet like a drug, it’s not easy to stop being a Leaf fan.

 

 

 

 

The Always “Like a Girl” ad will re-define stereotypes

Posted on Posted in Beloved Brands Explained

The Always “like a girl” connects on a deeper level with women. The work builds on what was started by Nike and Dove.

Most days I can safely say “we are just marketers,” but every once in awhile, I see that we can have a cultural impact. We can use our platform to stand up for consumers, in this case, teenage girls, and in fact, all women will be moved by this video.

This 3-minute video by the ALWAYS team at P&G is making its way around the internet this weekend with millions of views already. I hope that it gives you goosebumps, tears or gets you to think differently.

Always Like a Girl

The insight that P&G’s team found was that somewhere in the adolescence stage, girls self-confidence plummets. In the video, they ask both men and women over the age of 15 to depict what “like a girl” looks like, and both sexes show a stereotype and a negative association with WEAK. Moreover, then, they ask 8-10-year-old girls to “run like a girl,” and they show how they would NORMALLY run. The insight is that somewhere between 10 and 15, girls start to see “like a girl” as an insult. The Always brand challenges us to re-define “like a girl.”

Always "Like a girl"

Always Like a Girl
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As a dad of an athletic girl, I can see this insight. I remember playing football in the backyard when my daughter was around 10, and she picked up the football and threw a perfect spiral about 20 yards. I just stood in awe. In 6th and 7th grade she was the regional shot put champion. Also, then in 8th grade, she didn’t even go out for her school team. She was fighting those stereotypes at a tough age to “be a girl.”  In today’s world of Instagram and Twitter, from what I see every day, it’s harder than ever to get to 20 feeling good about yourself.

It's one more example of where Procter and Gamble are moving to connect emotionally with consumers.

Always "Like A Girl" builds on the work by Dove

Getting on the side of your consumer makes your consumer say “this brand is for me” and “this brand gets me.” Unilever was the first CPG brands to get on the side of consumers with the Dove “real beauty” campaign–still, a gold standard that many of us aspire to.

 

Dove Real Beauty
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Always "Like a Girl" feels inspired by Nike's "If you let me play"

However, in reality, CPG brands should still look beyond CPG to push themselves. You are watching Nike’s “if you let me play” ad from 1995, you can see the inspiration of this work. This ad is for all the women who kick ass in sports, including my daughter.

If you let me play
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Doing this type of advertising takes guts. At this point, the video is viral and gaining momentum. This type of work comes straight out of insights gathered by the team. Insight is not something that consumers never knew before. That would be knowledge or news, but not insight. It’s not data or fact about your brand that you want to tell. Real insight goes a layer or two deeper to help with the cause and effect. Oddly enough, Insight is something that everyone already knows. Here is my definition: Insight 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.”

Always "Like a Girl" will definitely strike a chord that will connect with women.

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