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 and find their most significant frustration pain point they feel no one is even noticing or addressing. 

The Starbucks consumer

Put yourself in the shoes of the Starbucks consumer, 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. 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. 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?

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Now, you can get our ideal brand plan format

  • Get our ideal Brand Plan in a downloadable PowerPoint file that includes formatted blank slides with key marketing definitions where you can insert your own brand plan.
  • We include slides for vision, purpose, analysis, key issues, strategies, brand positioning statement, and execution plans.
  • You will get the one-page brand plan and brand strategy roadmap. 

You can find Beloved Brands and B2B Brands on Amazon, Rakuten Kobo or Apple Books

To purchase Beloved Brands or B2B Brands, click on the icon where you buy your books 

Beyond the MBA is our virtual brand management training program designed for the real world

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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. 

 

Brand power

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. 

click to enlarge

Now, you can get our ideal brand plan format

  • Get our ideal Brand Plan in a downloadable PowerPoint file that includes formatted blank slides with key marketing definitions where you can insert your own brand plan.
  • We include slides for vision, purpose, analysis, key issues, strategies, brand positioning statement, and execution plans.
  • You will get the one-page brand plan and brand strategy roadmap. 

You can find Beloved Brands and B2B Brands on Amazon, Rakuten Kobo or Apple Books

To purchase Beloved Brands or B2B Brands, click on the icon where you buy your books 

Beyond the MBA is our virtual brand management training program designed for the real world

You will learn how to think strategically, figure out brand positioning, write brand plans, make decisions on marketing execution and analytical skills.

This is your opportunity to gain access to world-class brand management training

marketing training
Play Video

Click on the arrow above to view a quick video outlining our brand management training program

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.

 

brand idea map

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

click to enlarge

Now, you can get our ideal brand plan format

  • Get our ideal Brand Plan in a downloadable PowerPoint file that includes formatted blank slides with key marketing definitions where you can insert your own brand plan.
  • We include slides for vision, purpose, analysis, key issues, strategies, brand positioning statement, and execution plans.
  • You will get the one-page brand plan and brand strategy roadmap. 

You can find Beloved Brands and B2B Brands on Amazon, Rakuten Kobo or Apple Books

To purchase Beloved Brands or B2B Brands, click on the icon where you buy your books 

Beyond the MBA is our virtual brand management training program designed for the real world

You will learn how to think strategically, figure out brand positioning, write brand plans, make decisions on marketing execution and analytical skills.

This is your opportunity to gain access to world-class brand management training

marketing training
Play Video

Click on the arrow above to view a quick video outlining our brand management training program

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

Posted on Posted in Beloved Brands Explained

poppyRemembrance 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.

This year marks the 101st anniversary of the end of the war.

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.

Remembrance Day

 

Bell Poppy Ad for Remembrance Day

This new 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.

 

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.

This Remembrance Day, wear a poppy. Lest we forget.

 

 

 

Should brands take a stand? (No)

Posted on Posted in Beloved Brands Explained

politicsI realize the new Edelman report is encouraging brands to take a stand. Of course, consumers of 2018 want you to take a stance, they want to know who to boycott and trash on Twitter. For most politically minded people, politics in 2018 has become similar to cheering for a sports team.

My advice: be careful.

When the stance you take fits with your brand’s values, it will work. When it seems like a leader of the brand taking a personal stance, it seems shallow and tends to fail.

There is a big difference between a values-driven belief and a personal political stance. 

For instance, Patagonia is pro-environment, so it works for them to take a stance on environmental issues. They have earned the right to speak out on fighting for public lands or the environment. It’s not an ad to them; it’s part of who they are. Their consumers see that stance as a perfect fit. It is natural that most hikers are environmentalists.

Patagonia

Another great example when it works is with Nike, who wanted to show they have their athletes backs, so taking a stance to support Colin Kaepernick’s kneeling works. The younger consumers are fans of the great athletes who are outspoken on politics, such as Kaepernick, Serena Williams or Lebron James. While there was the early talk of a Nike boycott, the actual Nike consumers loved it.

The former CEO of Starbucks, Howard Schultz, is extremely political, likely much more than the Starbucks brand or those who work for him. He has made numerous attempts to take a political stance, such as the #racetogether campaign, but his customers rejected many of those campaigns saying “you just sell coffee.” Given only 55% of people vote, many don’t want to be reminded of politics at a time when they are trying to escape.

#racetogether

The Chick-fil-a CEO has taken many political stances, opposite to those of Shultz. He is against gay marriage and has made a very pro life stance. Again, they sell chicken, and it doesn’t fit with the brand.

Chick-Fil-A

In the Kendel Jenner Pepsi ad, they tried to take a stance or two stances at once, by being for world peace and pro-police and managed to upset everyone. If you are going to play the middle of the road on politics, that might be even worse, so you may as well not say anything.

Pepsi

When there is no natural fit with your brand, stay quiet. Very quiet.

Looking at the Edelman data, while people want to know your stance, the same amount says they want to buy a brand because of their position, and will not buy it. While you can argue that’s an equal win-loss, if you sell ketchup, and lose customers because of your stance, you can’t expect the rest of your consumers to start using twice as much. Again, make sure it fits.

edelman

 

With such a divided electorate, it is too dangerous for brands to take political sides.

As a person, I love that people have political convictions and applaud them for speaking out. I loved that millions marched. It was truly inspirational. facebook politicsNow, if you enjoy speaking out, go for it. Your choice. I know you think I am wrong. I have tried to hint to friends that they should tone down their inflammatory Facebook posts, but to no avail. They seem to need that therapeutic. It is perfectly OK for an individual, buried somewhere on your personal Twitter or Facebook feed with your 334 followers. Have fun.

Higher profits gives you more of an opportunity to make an impact that matches up with your values 

Brand’s only exist because companies figure they can make more money than if they sold the product alone. If having a conviction makes you more profits, I say, “Have more conviction!!!” However, if it costs you money, be smarter. Higher profits will allow you to make a difference quietly. If Nike makes more money supporting Kaepernick, they should do it. If Patagonia can make more money taking an environmental stance, then keep doing it. The math for Nike works because younger consumers are attracted to that message, and they spend significantly more on shoes than older consumers who might boycott Nike.

The only political stance I will ever take in public: go vote.

Make sure your brand’s stance fits with your brand values

 

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

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

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

Beloved Brands book

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

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

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

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Signature

Graham Robertson

Founder and CMO, Beloved Brands Inc.

 

The playbook for how Apple became a $1 trillion brand

Posted on Posted in Beloved Brands Explained
Apple has built everything around the idea of simplicity, which they use in their brand promise, communication, innovation, purchase moment, and the experience. Starting in 1997, they gradually shifted from a craft type brand to a disruptor brand to a challenger brand and today Apple is a power player brand. While the innovation is not at the same pace as ten years ago, they have done an amazing job in creating desire among consumers, transforming that desire into brand power, which has created a base for profitable growth. This week, Apple became the first company to reach the $1 trillion mark.    

The strategic thinking behind Apple

Apple started out 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 almost went bankrupt

In 1996, the brand bordered on bankruptcy. It was just another computer company without any real point of difference. Years of overlooked opportunities, flip-flop strategies, and a mind-boggling disregard for market realities caught up with the company. The Windows 95 launch by Microsoft had severely eroded Mac’s technology edge. Apple was rapidly becoming a minor player in the computer business with shrinking market shares, price cuts, and declining profits. 

Apple looked like it would not survive, as it was a poorly run organization through the early 1990s. Executives made terrible decisions with inconsistent strategies and, most importantly, there was no brand idea for what Apple should be. After Steve Jobs came to Apple in 1997, he shifted the focus to rebuilding around the brand idea of “Apple makes technology so simple that everyone can be part of the future.” He took a consumer-first approach in a market dominated by an obsession with gadgets, bits, and bytes. 

The disruptor version of Apple

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. And they made CDs feel disconnected from consumers and a thing of the past.

The challenger version of Apple

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.

Apple becomes the power player

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 brand 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 the brand is for everyone. How long can Apple stay on top before someone starts to disrupt or challenge them?

How Apple completed its turnaround plan:

1. Set a vision of what you want

Apple’s vision was to make it easy to get everyone to be part of technology in the future. The  main issue was how to create Apple fans then mobilize them to spread the word to the masses.

2. Invest resources in a strategic program

Apple invested and aligned everything behind a brand idea defined as “Apple makes technology so simple; everyone can be part of the future.” The company uses this brand idea at every touchpoint, including the brand positioning, communication, innovation, purchase moment and experience. 

3. Focus on an identified opportunity

For decades, Apple consistently focused on empathizing with—and taking advantage of—the consumer’s frustration with technology. In the 1980s, Apple attacked IBM personal computers as being too complicated. In 2005, they used “I’m a Mac, and I’m a PC” advertising to attack Microsoft. Each time, they used its “consumer-first” mentality to transform leading-edge technology into accessible consumer technology.

4. Leverage a breakthrough market impact

Apple takes a fast-follower stance that takes current technology and makes it simple to use. Every Apple platform, including desktops, laptops, phones, watches, tablets, and music streaming delivers the brand idea of “simplicity.” Apple deploys high profile launch hype to use vocal Apple advocates to spread the word to their friends.

5. Performance result that pays back

Apple created a consumer bond with their brand fans to enter new categories. Apple is now the most beloved consumer-driven brand, with premium prices, stronger market share, sales, and profits. And, Apple has used brand love to help drive a remarkable 40x revenue growth over 10 years, skyrocketing from $5.7 billion in 2005 to $240 billion in 2015. This rapid growth helps cover the high costs of advertising and R&D, giving Apple very healthy operating margins, up over 35%. All this strategic effort has increased Apple’s market capitalization approaches $1 trillion.

The Apple Brand Plan

Vision: 

Apple wants everyone in the world to be part of the future.

Goals:

Continue aggressive sales growth, geographic expansion into China, launch a major new consumer-friendly technology each year.

Key issues: 

  1. How do we convey Mac’s superior user experience versus the traditional PC?
  2. How do we enter the music industry and increase the availability of online music to support our iPod?

Strategies: 

  1. Apple will launch a full communications assault to challenge the PC/Microsoft Windows dominant position by finding flaws in the PC to contrast with Mac computers’ simplicity to steal significant market share by enticing frustrated PC consumers to buy a Mac.
  2. Apple will launch a full assault against the entire music industry with a disruptive innovator stance to show how iTunes provides higher quality digital music on your iPod much cheaper, faster and smarter than CDs to gain an entry point into the music industry.

Tactics:

TV advertising to highlight new features and challenge competitors.Launch innovation each year including phones, tablets, online music, watches and personal computers. Launch specific products for China. Increase retail space around the world. Build out the e-commerce program.

How Apple builds everything behind the “simplicity” brand idea

The brand idea for Apple is “making technology so simple that everyone can be part of the future.”  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.  

They have done a great job in taking that brand idea and stretching it across their brand story through advertising, and their innovation plan (as they have entered many new technology categories). Apple has 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. 

Apple’s advertising has delivered “simplicity” since the 1970s 

Their advertising has been relatively consistent for over 40 years and incredibly connected with consumers. The early print ads of the 1970s talked about how we designed the computer, so you don’t have to worry about the details. 

The “1984” TV ads for the Mackintosh launch spoke about the freedom from machines. Although the message was a little ahead of its time, it fit with simplicity. 

The brilliance of the side-by-side “Mac versus PC” TV ads epitomized the brand idea by making the PC seem overly complicated and frustrating while setting up the Mac as the simple alternative. 

Apple builds product innovation around simplicity 

Apple has taken many failed technology ideas like online music, tablets, or mp3 players, and turned them into consumer-friendly platforms such as iTunes, iPads, and iPods. With each new product, Apple uses launch hype to generate excitement to spark the enthusiasm of the early adopters who spread the word. Also, Apple has successfully taken its cherished brand fans into new categories.  

Purchasing Apple products is very simple, including its own retail store experience  

Apple uses simplicity to manage the purchase moment through its retail stores, making sure the experience is simple and straightforward. All staff carry a credit card machine and complete the transaction very quickly. No lines or cash registers. Simplicity shines through the store layout, with the genius bar for one-on-one tech questions and support and the training area to teach classes. The brand also puts every Apple product on display to allow consumers to take them for a test drive.  

Even when Apple products are in other stores, the brand has used its power with that retailer to create a distinct store-within-a-store concept, which replicates a similar look and experience from Apple’s own retail locations.   

Apple obsesses about the consumer experience 

As Steve Jobs famously said, “You have to start with the customer experience and work backward to the technology.” Apple even believes opening your Apple products should be like unwrapping a gift. 

The brand wants the consumer to be able to use any Apple product right away rather than spending hours loading software or setting up your machine. Regarding product integration, Apple products work together, and they work the same way, which makes it very simple for consumers when they move from one Apple product to another. 

Apple has used brand love to command power and enable them to drive both revenue and profits

Apple has used brand love to help drive a remarkable 40x revenue growth over 10 years, going from 5.7 in 2005 billion up to $240 billion in 2015. 

This type of rapid growth helps cover costs of Advertising and R&D, giving Apple very healthy operating margins that are up over 35%. All this has increased Apple’s market capitalization to $1 Trillion.

 

You will find this type of thinking in my book, Beloved Brands.

Beloved Brands Book

I wrote my book, Beloved Brands, as the playbook for how to build a brand your consumers will love.

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

  • How to think strategically
  • Write a brand positioning statement
  • Come up with a brand idea
  • Write a brand plan everyone can follow
  • Write an inspiring creative brief
  • Make decisions on marketing execution
  • Conduct a deep-dive business review
  • Learn finance 101 for marketers

Available on Amazon, Apple Books or Kobo

We have the paperback and e-book version on Amazon. Click here to order: https://lnkd.in/eF-mYPe  

We are also on Apple Books, which you can click here to order: https://lnkd.in/e6UFisF

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

At Beloved Brands, we help build brands that consumers love and we make brand leaders smarter.

🎈Help create a brand positioning statement that motivates consumers to buy and gives your brand an ownable competitive advantage.

🎈 Build a marketing plan that forces smart focused decisions to help organize, steer, and inspire your team towards higher growth

🎈Align your marketing execution behind a brand idea that tightens our bond with consumers and moves them through their buying journey

🎈Use a deep-dive 360-degree assessment of your brand’s performance to trigger richer thinking before you write your brand plan

🎈Our brand training program will help realize the full potential of your brand leaders, so they are ready to grow your brand.

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

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

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

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

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How to align the internal and external connections of your brand.

Posted on Posted in Beloved Brands Explained

The brand idea should help capture the attention of consumers. It should define the brand and manage its reputation. The brand idea should steer everyone who works behind the scenes of the brand. It should stand between the brand soul and brand reputation. A brand finds itself in equilibrium when the brand reputation, brand idea, and brand soul are the same. 

The brand idea must represent your brand soul

The brand soul defines the moral fiber for why everyone who works on the brand “wakes up each day to deliver greatness on behalf of the brand.” The brand soul must be an inspiration to align the team behind a common purpose, cause, or excitement for why they do what they do. Just like the soul of a human, every brand brings a unique combination of unexplainable assets, culture, motivations, and beliefs. Support your brand purpose with a set of values and beliefs, deeply held in the heart of everyone who works behind the scenes of the brand.

From the outside eye, the complexity of an organization can appear to be a complete mess. Many organizations are filled with silos of conflicts that get in the way of what the brand stands for. There are varying opinions on where the brand should go next. Everyone in your organization must be able to describe the brand in the same way.  This includes the most remote sales rep, the technician in the lab, the ad agency or the CEO.

When a brand is in trouble, the first thing I ask is, “Describe the brand in seven seconds for me.” When I start to hear conflicting answers or confusion, I know the team lacks alignment. If you cannot consistently describe your brand within the walls of your organization, how could you ever expect consumers to hold a consistent reputation in their minds?

When the brand does something in conflict with the brand soul, a healthy organization should resist and possibly even reject that action as outside of the cultural norms and beliefs of the brand. To accept something that goes against the brand’s soul would put the culture at risk.

I have met brand leaders who would rather fail than give up on their principles and beliefs. They say, “I don’t want to sell out just to be successful.” I respect their conviction because they understand themselves. A brand should be extremely personal to trigger the passion of everyone who works on the brand.

The brand idea must manage your brand reputation

The brand reputation lives within the minds of your consumers, out in the crazy, unstructured, unorganized, and cluttered real world. While a brand tries to project itself out to the market, a brand reputation meanders and adjusts to the constant changes and complexities of the marketplace.

There are constant challenges to the brand reputation, including continually changing consumer need states, conflicting voices from competitors, key influencers, or retailer partners.

The role of the brand idea works in the middle, between the brand and the consumer, acting as a stabilizer between the internal passion at the heart of the brand soul and the outward opinions of the brand reputation.

The brand idea blueprint

I created a brand idea blueprint, which has five areas that surround the brand idea.

On the internal brand soul side, describe the products and services, as well as the cultural inspiration, which is the internal rallying cry to everyone who works on the brand. On the external brand reputation side, define the ideal consumer reputation and the reputation among necessary influencers or partners. The brand role acts as a bridge between the internal and external sides.

  • Products and services: What is the focused point of difference your products or services can win on because they meet the consumer’s needs and separate your brand from competitors?
  • Consumer reputation: What is the desired reputation of your brand, which attracts, excites, engages, and motivates consumers to think, feel, and purchase your brand?
  • Cultural inspiration: What is the internal rallying cry that reflects your brand’s purpose, values, motivations, and will inspire, challenge, and guide your culture? 
  • Influencer reputation: Who are the key influencers and potential partners who impact the brand? What is their view of the brand, which would make them recommend or partner with your brand?
  • Brand role: What is the link between the internal sound and the external reputation?

The brand idea should 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. 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.

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.

The five touchpoints

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.

 

How the brand idea stretches across the five consumer touchpoints

  • Brand promise: Use the brand idea to inspire a simple brand promise that separates your brand from competitors. Us it to project 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 establishes 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 the usage into a consumer experience that becomes a ritual and favorite part of the consumer’s day. The brand idea guides the culture of everyone behind the brand to deliver the experience   

 

Evolve your competitive strategy move from craft brand to power player

Posted on Posted in Beloved Brands Explained

Brands must evolve their compeitive strategy as they move from the 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.

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 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 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?

click to enlarge

Now, you can get our ideal brand plan format

  • Get our ideal Brand Plan in a downloadable PowerPoint file that includes formatted blank slides with key marketing definitions where you can insert your own brand plan.
  • We include slides for vision, purpose, analysis, key issues, strategies, brand positioning statement, and execution plans.
  • You will get the one-page brand plan and brand strategy roadmap. 

You can find Beloved Brands and B2B Brands on Amazon, Rakuten Kobo or Apple Books

To purchase Beloved Brands or B2B Brands, click on the icon where you buy your books 

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You will learn how to think strategically, figure out brand positioning, write brand plans, make decisions on marketing execution and analytical skills.

This is your opportunity to gain access to world-class brand management training

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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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Now, you can get our ideal brand plan format

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  • We include slides for vision, purpose, analysis, key issues, strategies, brand positioning statement, and execution plans.
  • You will get the one-page brand plan and brand strategy roadmap. 

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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.

 

To learn more, here’s a presentation on how to create a beloved brand:

 

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

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

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

Beloved Brands book

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

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

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

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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