How to lead a brand turnaround to revitalize your business

Posted on Posted in How to Guide for Marketers

When your brand faces poor external results with a decline in sales, shrinking market share, and lower profit margins due to lower prices or rising costs, the brand leader needs to create a turnaround plan that will fix it. 

From my experience with a brand turnaround, you will need both a short-term and long-term fix. The quick fix helps address the hemorrhaging results that are impacting the bottom line of the company. 

However, most fix it situations have a more in-depth cause, hidden beneath the surface level. You will need a change management leadership style that challenges everyone and everything. You will need a new plan, which includes a new vision filled with new ideas. Explore the need for different people to join the team. Losing can be contagious to the culture of a team. You will need to create a new attitude.

turnaround strategy

Address your brand situation before you make your next move

In our Beloved Brands and B2B Brands playbooks, we outline four distinct situations your brand could face:

  1. Fuel the momentum
  2. Fix it
  3. Realignment
  4. Start-up

Apply the right strategy and leadership to the right situation you face

When business results are healthy, fuel your momentum by staying on course and attacking small weaknesses. When things are going well, everyone within your organization will resist a change plan. When the external results are abysmal, your management team will look for opportunities to turn around those results quickly. They will be impatient. Manage the short-term and long-term fix it plans at the same time. When different silos operate entirely autonomously within your organization, it causes unnecessary conflict and confusion that holds your brand back from maximizing its full potential. Build a realignment plan to get everyone moving in the same direction. Whether you are in an entrepreneurial start-up or entering into a new business from within a corporation, follow the plan for a start-up.

Start with a deep-dive business review

Before moving towards a brand turnaround, you must fully understand the situation you face. Each year, conduct a deep-dive business review to assess the health of your branded business. A smart brand strategy is a smart business strategy. You are running a live business, with a need to drive sales, manage costs, and produce profits. Without addressing the competitive and consumer factors you face, all your great strategic thinking will come collapsing down around you.  

Dig in on the five specific sections—marketplace, consumers, channels, competitors and the brand—to draw out conclusions to help set up your brand’s key issues, which you answer in the brand plan.      

 

The business review should help you understand the underlying causes happening in the market. Evaluate changing consumers needs, new competitors, changes in the retail landscape, and changes in technology. Close leaks using a brand funnel analysis. Go through every investment decision. Cut all spending that fails to drive results and reinvest in the new plan. Invest only in programs that give you an early breakthrough win and payback. Once you have the plan in place, make sure you have the right talent in place to make it happen. 

Read more on how to conduct a business review:

How to lead a deep-dive business review on your brand

The brand turnaround plan

  • Assessment indicators: Poor external results, declining sales, shrinking profitability, falling share position, and losing competitive battles. 
  • Strategy: Quick wins stop declines. Dig in deep to find underlying causes. Need long-term fixes for communication, innovation, selling and in-store 
  • Leadership style to engage: Use a transformational change management style to challenge everything and everyone.
When different functions operate in silos, you see the marketing and sales team each delivering their distinct brand messages, and the product development team invents products in a lab without any direction from brand or input from consumers. You want to make sure everyone on the team is moving in the same direction to the same brand plan. A high-functioning team must agree on the following: 
  • Target market 
  • Main consumer benefit
  • An organizing brand idea 
  • Articulation of the brand idea for each function
  • Brand vision
  • Brand purpose and values
  • Shared goals
  • Key issues 
  • Strategies
  • Execution plans and activities you will invest in
 

The quick fix plan

For any brand turnaround quick fix can buy you time with management to implement what you see as the longer-term fix it plan. Any immediate wins also give the team a much-needed boost of motivation. 

  • Find early, and obvious potential wins to stop the hemorrhaging.
  • Emphasize results to fuel a performance-driven culture. 
  • Use all early wins to boost team motivation.
  • Celebrate every victory, big or small.  
  • Eliminate wasteful spend, low margin or resource draining projects 

Invest in a brand idea that is supported by a unique brand positioning

To kickstart your brand turnaround, you need a brand positioning statement focuses on the consumer target your brand will serve and the emotional and functional benefits your brand will stand for. If you don’t position your brand the way you want, then your customers and competitors will do it for you, and you might not like their answers. A smart brand positioning statement should narrow the target to those consumers who are most capable of loving what the brand does. With your consumer in mind, your brand positioning should find the ideal balance between functional and emotional benefits.

Thoughts on bringing the brand positioning statement together:

  • Who is your consumer target? Keep your target definition focused. Never go after two target markets at the same time. Bring the target to life with need states, consumer insights, and a consumer enemy. 
  • Where will you play? Define the space you play in, measuring it against those brands you compete with. 
  • Where will you win? Narrow your benefit down to one thing. Never try to stand for too many things at once—whether too many functional benefits or too many emotional benefits. You cannot be all things to all people. Make sure you talk benefits, not features. The ideal space must be unique and motivating to the consumers while being ownable for your brand. 
  • Why should they believe us? The role of support points is to resolve any potential doubts the consumer might have when they see your main benefit. Ensure these support points are not just random claims or features that you want to jam into your brand message. They should support and fit with the main benefit.

To read more on brand positioning:

Build a new brand plan that everyone can follow

When engaging a brand turnaround, you should build a smart brand plan that gets everyone in your organization on the same page. Everyone drives against the same vision, key issues, strategies, and tactics. 

A smart brand plan makes choices on how to allocate your brand’s limited resources to drive the biggest return. The plan gains approval from senior management around spending, strategies, tactics, goals, and projects. And, your plan aligns, steers and inspires all functional areas of the organization. The plan aligns marketing, sales, finance, supply chain, product development, human resources and any outside agencies. And lastly, the brand plan even helps the Brand Manager who wrote it. You need to stay focused on delivering on what they said they would deliver.Make focused investment decisions, and take smart risks to fix the brand communication, product innovation, purchase moment, and the consumer experience. 

 

Read more on how to write a brand plan:

Our brand consulting services

This type of thinking can be found in our Beloved Brands and B2B Brands playbooks

Learn to think, define, plan, execute and analyze your brand

  • You will find strategic thinking models and examples for each of the four strategic thinking methods, looking at core strength, competitive, consumer, and situational strategies. 
  • To define the brand, I will provide a tool for writing a brand positioning statement as well as a consumer profile and a consumer benefits ladder. I have created lists of potential functional and emotional benefits to kickstart your thinking on brand positioning. We explore the step-by-step process to come up with your brand idea and bring it all together with a tool for writing the ideal brand concept. 
  • For brand plans, I provide formats for a long-range brand strategy roadmap and the annual brand plan with definitions for each planning element. From there, I show how to build a brand execution plan that includes the creative brief, innovation process, and sales plan. I provide tools for how to create a brand calendar, and specific project plans. 
  • To grow your brand, I show how to make smart decisions on marketing execution around creative advertising and media choices. 
  • When it comes time for marketing analytics, I provide all the analytical tools you need to write a deep-dive business review, looking at the marketplace, consumer, channels, competitors and the brand. Write everything so that it is easy to follow and implement for your brand.

You will learn everything you need to know so you can run your brand. My brand promise is to help make you smarter so you can realize your full potential.

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

Nike’s beautiful “Mamba Forever” tribute takes us through the life of Kobe

Posted on Posted in How to Guide for Marketers

Nike manages to produce videos that touch our hearts in surprising ways. This week, as the world watches the Kobe tributes, Nike has released a 2-minute tribute video called “Mamba Forever” that only has words on a black screen, telling his story from his childhood in Philadelphia though to the Lakers and his role as a friend, husband, and daddy. The simplicity of the video is startling. If you are a Kobe fan, you know where the video is going. As I was halfway through, I knew it would end with his role as a father. Kobe was a complex figure, much more than talent and much more than a basketball player. The video tells such a powerfully and sad story elegantly. 

kobe

Nike's tribute to Kobe Bryant

Michael Jordan's tribute speech to Kobe

For those who missed Michael Jordan’s raw speech, it is emotionally charged. Jordan even makes fun of himself about future “crying Jordan” memes he will have to see. 

Our top 10 Nike Ads

Our Beloved Brands and B2B Brands playbooks

Learn to think, define, plan, execute and analyze your brand

  • You will find strategic thinking models and examples for each of the four strategic thinking methods, looking at core strength, competitive, consumer, and situational strategies. 
  • To define the brand, I will provide a tool for writing a brand positioning statement as well as a consumer profile and a consumer benefits ladder. I have created lists of potential functional and emotional benefits to kickstart your thinking on brand positioning. We explore the step-by-step process to come up with your brand idea and bring it all together with a tool for writing the ideal brand concept. 
  • For brand plans, I provide formats for a long-range brand strategy roadmap and the annual brand plan with definitions for each planning element. From there, I show how to build a brand execution plan that includes the creative brief, innovation process, and sales plan. I provide tools for how to create a brand calendar, and specific project plans. 
  • To grow your brand, I show how to make smart decisions on marketing execution around creative advertising and media choices. 
  • When it comes time for marketing analytics, I provide all the analytical tools you need to write a deep-dive business review, looking at the marketplace, consumer, channels, competitors and the brand. Write everything so that it is easy to follow and implement for your brand.

You will learn everything you need to know so you can run your brand. My brand promise is to help make you smarter so you can realize your full potential.

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

How Netflix could die by trying to do too many things at once

Posted on Posted in How to Guide for Marketers

Over the last few years, as we loved our Netflix, we wished for more streaming services, until we got more streaming services. I now have Netflix, Amazon Prime Videos, Apple TV+, Disney +, and HBO. With NBC’s Peacock and CBS coming next, who else will there be? My TV is a mess. I’m going out of one into another. The searching, meandering, or the currently viewing doesn’t look the same on any of these devices. I now kind of want one warehousing of content I can access, one remote, one bill where I get a bundled discount, and I want them all to use the same damn software. And make it all free. With Apple and Amazon, it seems sometimes they are free, and sometimes they are selling me the content. 

We love “blue-ocean” ideas. 

In any brainstorm, it is more fun to come up with unique ways to create a unique idea, one where you can play in an uncontested market space. There is this belief that making the competition irrelevant is more inspiring than battling competitors. 

It must be a thrill creating blue-ocean ideas like Uber, Gatorade, Blackberry, Xerox, Tropicana orange juice, or Netflix.  

The problem for blue ocean brands is that as soon as they feel it is clear sailing in the open seas all by your lonesome, it is hard to transition into a competitive battle. Even for blue ocean situations, you have to realize that if you steal money from someone, they will figure out who stole it and come after you. 

The more successful you are in your space, the more likely those competitors you stole from will be launching products that replicate what you are doing. All of a sudden, your blue ocean market is a red ocean, filled with bloody competitive battles to the death.

Yes, some marketers love to ignore the competitors. I am a believer that competitors make us better. They help us sharpen our focus on what space we will own, and what space we are willing to give up. 

Fighting the competitive battles

You can see how easy it is to manage your brand in a blue ocean situation compared to how crazy things get in a competitive situation. Your winning space shrinks as you get some competitors who bring strengths that you can’t match (losing zone), and others replicate what you offer to create a tie (risky zone). With all the distracting messages coming from new competitors, it is easy to send competitive brand messages that no one cares about. (dumb zone)

The more competitors who come in, the smaller your winning zone becomes. There should be a benefit to being first into the market, as you can use your clear positioning to keep competitors out of your space, and you can use your power and innovation to win the risky zone. 

When things go wrong, you try to replicate your competitor in the space they win, instead of defending the space where you win. 

The most recent example of this is Blackberry, who was the dominant B2B smartphone. When the iPhone entered, it was fun and exciting, but not the product choice of executives. Instead of defending their space, Blackberry tried to replicate what Apple was doing. They created a touchscreen phone that never worked, they built the Blackberry Messenger (BBM) that attracted 13-year-olds to the brand, and they invested in concert series sponsorships. Pretty soon, their resources were so drained that they had no money to defend their B2B castle. 

It is not easy to decide what spaces you must own, and which ones you are willing to let go of. 

Netflix is trying to do these seven things at the same time

  1. High cost of original content creation
  2. Royalty payments on borrowed content
  3. High cost of marketing for the site or marketing the content
  4. No partnerships to drive content or carry content
  5. High cost of geographic expansion
  6. Low-prices for consumers due to shared accounts
  7. No revenues from advertising
With all the new entrants coming into the streaming marketplace, Netflix will have to decide which of these they need to do, and which of these they might let go. Thank goodness Netflix gave up on the idea of launching their own movie theaters. Let me ask you which three should Netflix focus on? 

Should Netflix be a content creator or a content carrier?

Early on, Netflix’s original content was of the highest quality in the industry, matched only by HBO or AMC. Netflix’s original shows like House of Cards, Orange Is the New Black or Making a Murderer was the early hook to attract new customers, who needed to sign up for Netflix to see the shows people were talking about. Netflix continues to pump out original content, some working well like Ozark or The Crown or The Marriage Story, but many Netflix been pumping out a large amount of material; the overall quality is slipping.

Amazon Prime entered with its own content, including The Marvelous Mrs. Mazel and Sneaky Peat. Apple TV+ launched with The Morning Show. Neither Amazon or Apple seems as focused on building as much content as Netflix. Disney + launched with their entire library of content that includes Star Wars, Pixar, National Geographic, and Marvel. 

Can Netflix win the content creation game? 

Let’s agree that there is a difference between “movie quality” and “TV show” quality. The high cost of production, writers, and actors for “movie quality” could well be a significant drain on the profits of Netflix. Being a fantastic content creator will also require Netflix to maintain a culture of creativity that will be completely different from a culture of efficiency, it might take to running a competitive streaming service. 

It looks like Disney wants to be the creator and carrier. We are yet to see what Disney will do with HBO will be the creator, and it’s still, however, to figure out where they fit in the world of streaming. Both companies have created cultures where they inspire, challenge, and reward those who create the best content we have seen. Early on, it appears Netflix has rewarded the creators of content who are grateful.  

We are yet to see moves by content creator houses like Warner Brothers, Universal Pictures, Columbia Pictures, and Paramount Pictures. NBC owns Universal, Sony owns Columbia, Viacom CBS owns Paramount, and WB remains a free agent ready for purchase. The streaming launches will tie up these content creator companies with potential streaming services. 

It looks like it will be a struggle for Netflix to win this content creation battle over the longer term.

Can Netflix win the content carrier war?

Early on, Netflix tried to balance original content creation with being a content carrier for shows like Friends, The Office, or Gray’s Anatomy. Netflix pays a royalty every time one of their users watches one of these shows. Indirectly, Netflix created a new generation of fans (my kids watch all three shows) who will now follow these shows as they move onto new networks. NBC will be using Friends and The Office to kick off NBC’s new Peacock network. 

I wouldn’t be surprised if Apple and Amazon decide their long-run plan is to be a content carrier. 

With Amazon’s Prime giving free delivery of products, and then access to movies and music, there is no way Netflix can win that distribution. Their content creation is less than Netflix, and wouldn’t be surprised if they start buying up studios, replicating what they have done with Whole Foods to enter into the food distribution. 

Apple has already signaled they are willing to give free membership when you buy a phone, watch, or device. Their content creation has been rather pathetic. With my new iPhone 11, I received a free membership, and their level content is embarrassing. I have always thought they would be smarter to buy Netflix, replicating what Apple has done with their purchase of the Beats brand. Given the size of Apple, it would be a rather easy check to write. 

We are yet to see carrier moves by Google, Samsung, or the giant telecommunications companies around the world. 

Even though Netflix was first in, there appears no easy path for Netflix to win the content carrier war.

The power of focus

The best brands focus on an identified opportunity. You have to focus your limited resources on a distinct opportunity you have identified based on a potential change in the market, including changes to consumers, competitive situations, technology, or sales channels. 

In today’s data-driven world, everyone has access to the equivalent information and, in turn, can see the same opportunities. Use speed to seize the opportunity before others can take action and before that opportunity is gone. The best brand leaders never divide and conquer. They force themselves to focus and win. The smartest brand leaders use the word “or” more often than they use the word “and.”  If you come to a decision point, and you try to rationalize doing a little of both, you are not strategic. Force yourself to make choices.

Every brand has limited resources, whether they are financial, time, people, or partnerships. Marketers always face the temptation of an unlimited array of choices, whether in the possible target market, brand messages, strategies, or tactics. The smartest brand leaders limit their choices to match up to their limited resources, to focus on those that will deliver the highest return.

The lack of focus might kill Netflix

The first myth of focus is to believe your brand will get bigger if you have a broader target market. 
The reality is too many marketers target anyone. I will always argue that it is better to be loved by a few than tolerated by many. You have to create a tight bond with a core base of brand fans, and then use that fan support to expand your following. 

Netflix is now available in 190 countries. I understand the desire to be global, but this really spreads your people resources. It takes many resources to gain entry with local governments, the launching of content in each market, language choices, content selection, and negotiation by geography. These efforts must be exhaustive on Netflix’s limited people resources. Netflix should focus on the top 10 markets. They’d better win North America and the UK, or else the other 187 markets will crumble. 

The second myth to becoming a more prominent brand is to believe a brand stands for everything. Some brands try to say everything possible with the hope the consumer hears anything. Hope is never a strategy. To be loved by consumers, a brand must stand for something with a backbone and conviction. Trying to be everything to anyone ends up becoming nothing to everyone. 

As pointed out above, it will be challenging for Netflix to win the content creation war, and extremely difficult to win the content carrier war. It might be impossible for them to win both. 

What year do you predict that advertising shows up on streaming services?

When I bring this up, people act the same way it feels to tell a 5-year-old there is no Santa Claus. You likely love Netflix and all the related streaming services because there are no ads. 

The business reason not to do advertising was to add one more reason to get people to switch over from traditional cable TV over to the streaming services. Eventually, everyone will be over. Then what? If they hate advertising, where are they going to go? Haven’t we heard this story before? 

  • “I love cable TV because there is no advertising.” 1987
  • “I love YouTube because there is no advertising.” 2001
  • “I love social media because it’s all user-generated and no advertising.” 2011

Like any website, people always say, “so how do you monetize?” A recent chart floating around the internet shows (Thanks to David Pullara for sharing) Facebook has now surpassed Netflix on a revenue per user. It will only get more difficult for Netflix, with competitors putting pressure on pricing and market share. 

Eventually, one of the streaming services will take in advertising. Amazon looks like they are practicing with Amazon-content advertising in front of their shows. 

I am not sure which year, but it will be coming this decade. You can tell your grandkids you remember when Netflix used to be commerical-free. 

Facebook and Netflix revenue

So which three things on our list of seven should Netflix focus on?

This type of thinking can be found in our Beloved Brands and B2B Brands playbooks

Learn to think, define, plan, execute and analyze your brand

  • You will find strategic thinking models and examples for each of the four strategic thinking methods, looking at core strength, competitive, consumer, and situational strategies. 
  • To define the brand, I will provide a tool for writing a brand positioning statement as well as a consumer profile and a consumer benefits ladder. I have created lists of potential functional and emotional benefits to kickstart your thinking on brand positioning. We explore the step-by-step process to come up with your brand idea and bring it all together with a tool for writing the ideal brand concept. 
  • For brand plans, I provide formats for a long-range brand strategy roadmap and the annual brand plan with definitions for each planning element. From there, I show how to build a brand execution plan that includes the creative brief, innovation process, and sales plan. I provide tools for how to create a brand calendar, and specific project plans. 
  • To grow your brand, I show how to make smart decisions on marketing execution around creative advertising and media choices. 
  • When it comes time for the analytics, I provide all the analytical tools you need to write a deep-dive business review, looking at the marketplace, consumer, channels, competitors and the brand. Write everything so that it is easy to follow and implement for your brand.

You will learn everything you need to know so you can run your brand. My brand promise is to help make you smarter so you can realize your full potential.

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

How to lead the brand planning process

Posted on Posted in How to Guide for Marketers

Have you ever noticed people who say, “We need to get everyone on the same page” rarely have anything written down on one page? The same people who use the term “fewer bigger bets” are fans of little projects that deplete resources.

People say they are good decision-makers, yet struggle when faced with two distinct choices, so they creatively find a way to justify doing both options. 

A brand plan is an opportunity to make decisions on how to allocate your brand’s limited resources to the smartest ideas that will drive the highest return. Think of the plan as a decision-making tool to align your team with the best financial investment choices and the best decisions on how to deploy your people. The plan should then align and focus everyone who works on the brand, including the leader who writes the plan. 

Brand Plan Process

Brand planning process

Start by looking at building a consumer target profile and then building a brand positioning statement that balances the functional and emotional benefits. From there, build a brand idea that will connect with consumers and employees; to help line the brand idea up to the brand promise, brand story, innovation, purchase moment and the consumer experience. Build out your strategic brand plan that steers everyone who works on the brand. Lay out the vision, purpose, values, issues, strategies, tactics and goals. As you move to marketing execution, build out a creative brief, innovation plan and channel customer plans. 

1. Brand Positioning Workshop

Start with a brand positioning statement and brand idea that sets up a brand concept that will help your brand win in the marketplace.

Detailed explanation of our brand positioning process

As part of our brand strategy consulting process, start your brand positioning workshops by defining a focused consumer target profile with consumer insights, enemies and buying behaviors. From there, use our consumer benefits ladder to move your thinking from product features to the functional consumer benefits and emotional consumer benefits. At Beloved Brands, we have created our consumer benefit cheat sheets that have 50 possible functional benefits and 40 potential emotional benefits to help your team explore, define and focus on the right benefit space for your brand. We also have tools to find support points and claims to back up your consumer benefit. The goal is to find a winning brand positioning statement in a space that is unique, ownable, and motivating to your consumers. 

Once you have the brand positioning statement as a foundation, move on to help you build a brand idea that becomes your brand’s 7-second pitch. As a checklist, a great brand idea should be interesting, simple, unique, inspiring, motivating, and ownable. Then, stretch the brand idea out across the five touchpoints to drive consistency throughout your organization, which includes the brand promise, story, innovation, purchase moment and consumer experience. Finally, take all this great work and turn it into a brand concept and a brand story that sets you up to execute and win in the marketplace.

Click any of these images below to expand

Read more on our brand positioning process

2. Strategic Brand Plans Workshop

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

Detailed explanation of our strategic plan process

At the beginning of the brand strategy consulting planning process, start with a deep-dive business review to look at every aspect of the brand, including the marketplace, consumers, channels, competitors and the brand. This analysis can include key interviews with executives and customers, as well as an audit of competitors and your brand’s work. After the review, summarize the drivers and inhibitors currently facing brand, and the potential risks and opportunities we see in the future.

Through our brand strategy consulting workshop, we use our Strategic ToolBox questions to open up your team’s thinking and help you frame the key issues facing your brand. Lay out each element of the strategic brand plan, with unique tools to inspire thinking and guide the writing of brand vision, purpose, values, key issues, strategies, and tactics. Once you finalize all the plan elements, put the strategic brand plan on one page and in a formal presentation.

Click any of these images below to expand

Read more about our brand plan process

3. Marketing Execution Planning

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

Detailed explanation of our marketing execution process

We believe the goal of any marketing execution is to tighten your bond with consumers and drive demand for your brand. From the positioning work, we stretch your brand idea across all five consumer touchpoints: promise, story, innovation, purchase moment and consumer experience. With our brand consulting process, we make sure the execution will move consumers through the stages of the purchase journey. 

To focus your agencies, start with a creative brief that takes the work of the brand positioning and the strategic brand plan. The brief will focus any outside agency in developing smart, creative advertising and media decisions. Work with sales to find programs that work at the purchase moment through retail channels, packaging, e-commerce, direct selling, customer service and merchandising. Moreover, work with product development to create an innovation process that brainstorms new ideas, turns them into concepts, looks at a testing and assessment method, and then builds and executes a launch program. 

With my 20 years of marketing experience, I can offer coaching and consulting on any marketing execution including advertising, media, innovation, in-store promotions, and internal marketing communications. 

Click any of these images below to expand

Read more on our creative brief process

 

For our brand planning process, we use our customized brand planning workbooks to help challenge and guild and push your team through each stage of the brand positioning, analytics and brand plan process. In each of the workbooks, we pose very challenging exercise that can provoke the thinking of your teams. 

Brand Consulting

Watch our video to see how our brand strategy consulting process can help your brand find growth

Play Video

This type of thinking can be found in our Beloved Brands and B2B Brands playbooks

Learn to think, define, plan, execute and analyze your brand

  • You will find strategic thinking models and examples for each of the four strategic thinking methods, looking at core strength, competitive, consumer, and situational strategies. 
  • To define the brand, I will provide a tool for writing a brand positioning statement as well as a consumer profile and a consumer benefits ladder. I have created lists of potential functional and emotional benefits to kickstart your thinking on brand positioning. We explore the step-by-step process to come up with your brand idea and bring it all together with a tool for writing the ideal brand concept. 
  • For brand plans, I provide formats for a long-range brand strategy roadmap and the annual brand plan with definitions for each planning element. From there, I show how to build a brand execution plan that includes the creative brief, innovation process, and sales plan. I provide tools for how to create a brand calendar, and specific project plans. 
  • To grow your brand, I show how to make smart decisions on marketing execution around creative advertising and media choices. 
  • When it comes time for marketing analytics, I provide all the analytical tools you need to write a deep-dive business review, looking at the marketplace, consumer, channels, competitors and the brand. Write everything so that it is easy to follow and implement for your brand.

You will learn everything you need to know so you can run your brand. My brand promise is to help make you smarter so you can realize your full potential.

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

64 analytical questions to assess your brand’s performance

Posted on Posted in How to Guide for Marketers

Too many marketers are not taking the time to dig in on the analytics. There is no value in having access to data if you are not using it. The best brand leaders can tell strategic stories through analytics. In this article we will show you 64 of the best analytical questions to assess your brand’s performance. 

Conduct a deep-dive business review at least once a year on your brand. Otherwise, you are negligent of the brand, where you are investing all your resources. Dig in on the five specific sections—marketplace, consumers, channels, competitors and the brand—to draw out conclusions to help set up your brand’s key issues, which you answer in the brand plan. We will show you 10 of our best analytical questions for each section. 

 
business review

Leading a deep-dive business review

  • Marketplace: Start by looking at analytical questions that look at the overall category performance to gain a macro view of all significant issues. Dig in on the factors impacting category growth, including economic indicators, consumer behavior, technology changes, shopper trends, and political regulations. Also look at what is happening in related categories, which could impact your category or replicate what you may see next.

  • Consumers: Use analytical questions about your consumer target to better understand the consumer’s underlying beliefs, buying habits, growth trends, and critical insights. Use the brand funnel analysis and leaky bucket analysis to uncover how they shop and how they make purchase decisions. Try to understand what they think when they buy or reject your brand at every stage of the consumer’s purchase journey. Uncover consumer perceptions through tracking data, the voice of the consumer, and market research.
  • Channels: We will show you the 10 analytical questions to help assess the performance of all potential distribution channels and the performance of every major retail customer. Understand their strategies, and how well your brand is using their available tools and programs. Your brand must align with your retail customer strategies.
  • Competitors: Dissect your closest competitors by looking at their performance indicators, brand positioning, innovation pipeline, pricing strategies, distribution, and the consumer’s perceptions of these brands. To go even deeper, you can map out a strategic brand plan for significant competitors to predict what they might do next. Use that knowledge within your brand plan.
  • Brand: Analyze your brand through the lens of consumers, customers, competitors, and employees. Use brand funnel data, market research, marketing program tracking results, pricing analysis, distribution gaps, and financial analysis. Focus on managing your brand’s health and wealth.

10 best marketplace questions

  1. How is the category doing relative to the economy?
  2. Look at the last 3-5 years and explain each of the ups and downs in the category.
  3. What is the overall value of the category? Any price changes? Major cost changes?
  4. Which sales channel, regional or geographic trends do you see? Which are growing and which are in delicate? Is it unit or price decline? Explain any underlying regional causes for the numbers are you are seeing.
  5. What category segments are growing, declining or emerging?
  6. Explain the role of each type of innovation: a) product extensions, product improvements, new formats, brand stretching, game changing technology or blue ocean? 
  7. What are the macro factors driving category growth? What is holding the category back? What are the significant open opportunities you use that you can use to your advantage? What are the risks to the categories in the next few years?
  8. What are the macro trends influencing or changing this category? What is the impact of political, economic, social or technology on the category?   
  9. Who holds the balance of power in the category: brands, suppliers, channels, or consumers?
  10. Look at other issues across the marketplace regarding any operations, inventory, mergers, technology, innovation, investments, global trade.

10 best consumer questions

  1. Who is your current target? How have you determined demographics, behavioral or psychographic, geographic, and usage occasion? Generational trends?
  2. Who are the consumers most motivated by what you have to offer?Who are your possible target consumer segments? Are they growing? How do you measure them?
  3. What drives consumer choice? What are the primary need states? How do these consumer needs line up to your brand assets? Where can you win with consumers?
  4. How is your brand performing against key shopping patterns, looking at penetration, buying rates that includes frequency of purchase and sales per trip? 
  5. How is your brand performing against key segments with regards to share and sales by channel or geography? Look at your brand performance over latest 4 weeks, 12 weeks and year to date, compared to competitors. 
  6. Map out the path to purchase and use brand funnels to assess your brand’s performance in moving through each stage. Are consumers changing at stages?  Are you failing at stages? 
  7. What is the consumer’s perceptions of your brand and your competitors? Voice of the consumer.
  8. How do consumers shop as they move through each stage of the brand funnel?
  9. What are the emerging consumer trends? How does your brand match up to potentially exploit them? Where would your competitors win?  
  10. What are the consumer’s ideal brand experiences and unmet needs we can address? 

To find better analytical questions about the consumer, read how to analyze brand funnels

10 best channel questions

  1. How is your brand doing in each of the channels? Are there any regional differences by channel? Channel shifts? 
  2. Are there new and emerging channels? Are there new channels on the horizon, not yet developed?
  3. What are the strengths, issues, opportunities and risks of each channel, to identify where you can have the most impact?
  4. Do you understand the strategies of your retail customers?
  5. Do you have the competencies to service your customers?  
  6. Who are the top 5 customers? What are their main strategies? How does your brand fit into that plan? Create a scorecard to highlight how well you are aligned to their performance.
  7. How is your brand doing within each customer? What are your brand’s strength and weaknesses?
  8. Who are your primary and secondary customers? Have you segmented and prioritized for growth versus opportunity? How large are they? What are their growth rates?
  9. How is each customer performing? How profitable is that customer?
  10. How is the relationship with the customer?  Who is the category captain of your key accounts and why?

10 best competitor questions

  1. Who are your main competitors, both direct and indirect? How do they position themselves?
  2. Describe your competitor’s operating model, culture, and organization structure. What is the culture at your competitor and what is the role culture plays in their brand? 
  3. What are your competitor’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats? 
  4. Map out the competitor’s brand plan: vision, goals, key issues, strategies, and tactics.
  5. What are your competitor’s use of communication, new products, and go-to-market strategy? How are they executing against each?  
  6. Explain all the ups and downs over time, looking at the micro and macro performance of your competitors. 
  7. What is the investment stance and expected growth trajectory of your competitor’s brand? How much and where do they invest? What are the marketing and commercial focus? What is their ROI? 
  8. How is your competitor doing regarding market share, customer market shares, investment, margins, innovation, culture, share of voice, or any regulatory advantage?    
  9. How do the competitor prices match up? How does each competitor use price?
  10. Any public materials about the competitor, including strategy and financial results?  

10 best brand questions

  1. What consumer benefit can you win with, which is ownable, unique, and motivating for consumers?
  2. How far can you “stretch” your brand into other opportunities?  
  3. What is driving your biggest gains versus prior periods? What is your biggest gap or inhibitor?
  4. What is your market share? Regionally? By channel? Where is your strength? Where is your gap?   
  5. How are you performing on key brand tracking data? Penetration? Frequency? Sales per buyer or per trip?  
  6. What are your brand’s scores on the brand funnel?    
  7. How is your program tracking data doing? Where could you improve?
  8. What are the underlying attitudes about your brand and how it fits in with the consumers’ lives? Where do consumers see you in relation to your competitors?
  9. What is driving negative perceptions and causing consumers to leave your brand?
  10. How do you describe the culture behind the brand, and how does that impact the consumer experience? Do you have alignment with the brand story and your employees? Alignment with operations, sales and innovation?

10 best marketing finance questions

  1. What is your brand’s compound annual growth rate (CAGR)? Explain the ups and downs over the past five years.
  2. What are your gross margins and contribution margins over last five years? Can you break it out by product line? Is there more pressure from price or the cost of goods? 
  3. What is your brand’s marketing budget breakout? Variable direct costs versus indirect fixed dollars? What is the break between media and creative production? Consumer spend versus trade spend?   
  4. Have you completed any pricing elasticity studies? What did you learn about your brand? If you did increase your price, what did you see in the marketplace?
  5. How is your brand’s overall strategy impacting your brand’s profits? How do your decisions on your brand’s core strength, consumer connection, competitive pressures, and situation impact your financials?
  6. How are your current brand/business performance metrics, brand’s market goals, and financials linked?
  7. Over the past 5 years, what are the programs that drive the highest and lowest ROI?
  8. How does your business model impact your overall profit? What is your focus now?
  9. What are your forecasting error rates? Is there a seasonality impact? What economic factors impact your brand’s financials? How reasonable are your inventory levels?   
  10. What financial pressures do you face on an annual or quarterly basis?   

To read more about brand profitability

4 analytical questions to summarize your assessment

  1. What’s driving growth? The top factors of strength, positional power, or market inertia, which have a proven link to driving your brand’s growth. Your plan should continue to fuel these growth drivers.
  2. What’s inhibiting growth? The most significant factors of weakness, unaddressed gaps, or market friction you can prove to be holding back your brand’s growth. Your plan should focus on reducing or reversing these inhibitors to growth. 
  3. Opportunities for growth: Specific untapped areas in the market, which could fuel your brand’s future growth, based on unfulfilled consumer needs, new technologies on the horizon, potential regulation changes, new distribution channels, or the removal of trade barriers. Your plan should take advantage of these opportunities in the future. 
  4. Threats to future growth: Changing circumstances, including consumer needs, new technologies, competitive activity, distribution changes, or potential barriers, which create potential risks to your brand’s growth. Build your plan to minimize the impact of these risks.

Summary Analysis

These questions can be found in the analytics section of our Beloved Brands and B2B Brands playbooks

Learn to think, define, plan, execute and analyze your brand

  • You will find strategic thinking models and examples for each of the four strategic thinking methods, looking at core strength, competitive, consumer, and situational strategies. 
  • To define the brand, I will provide a tool for writing a brand positioning statement as well as a consumer profile and a consumer benefits ladder. I have created lists of potential functional and emotional benefits to kickstart your thinking on brand positioning. We explore the step-by-step process to come up with your brand idea and bring it all together with a tool for writing the ideal brand concept. 
  • For brand plans, I provide formats for a long-range brand strategy roadmap and the annual brand plan with definitions for each planning element. From there, I show how to build a brand execution plan that includes the creative brief, innovation process, and sales plan. I provide tools for how to create a brand calendar, and specific project plans. 
  • To grow your brand, I show how to make smart decisions on marketing execution around creative advertising and media choices. 
  • When it comes time for the analytics, I provide all the analytical tools you need to write a deep-dive business review, looking at the marketplace, consumer, channels, competitors and the brand. Write everything so that it is easy to follow and implement for your brand.

You will learn everything you need to know so you can run your brand. My brand promise is to help make you smarter so you can realize your full potential.

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

Burger King’s moldy Whopper ad is an attention-grabbing stunt they can’t deliver on

Posted on Posted in How to Guide for Marketers

Burger King continues to push for attention with their shock-style advertising. Their latest provocative ad shows what happens to a Whopper without preservatives over time. It turns into a very ugly moldy Whopper.

Yes, the ad is a highly creative ad, that will get attention, but the reality is Burger King just can’t deliver on this promise. 

I believe managing a brand is more than just advertising. I want to see brand leaders align everything on the brand behind a brand idea, including the brand promise, brand story, product innovation, purchase moment and the consumer experience. 

 

Have a look at the Burger King moldy Whopper Ad

Creative visual. Wrong brand

While this is a very arresting visual that will certainly garner attention, it would be a smarter ad if it was for a brand who has some “fresh food” credibility. The audience who is most motivated by this message, likely isn’t going to BK, and one ad about a moldy burger might not be enough to change their mind. 

Moreover, Burger King isn’t even ready to deliver against this message. At this point, Burger King has this preservative-free Whopper in only 5% of their locations, and every other Burger King item remains loaded with preservatives. While BK has axed artificial colors and flavors from many of their burgers, chicken dishes and breakfast items still include hard-to-pronounce ingredients and BK has not set any timeline for when its entire menu will be free of artificial extras.

This message would have been better if it came from Panera, who has always marketed itself as a healthier quick-service option. Five years ago, Panera have already announced the removal of 150 artificial ingredients from its dishes. 


A brand's reputation is owned in the consumer's mind

 Above you will see one of my models for how brands use their brand idea to communicate with their consumers. 

The brand idea must manage your brand reputation. The brand reputation lives within the minds of your customers, 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 consumer challenges to the brand reputation, including continually changing consumer need states, conflicting voices from competitors, key influencers, or from your own partners. The role of the brand idea works in the middle, between the brand and the customer, acting as a stabilizer between the internal passion at the heart of the brand soul and the outward opinions of the brand reputation. 

What is Burger King’s brand idea? 

Are they really trying to be the “fresh” fast food brand? I thought they were “flame-broiled.” No, wait, I thought they were “king sized.” Where does the angry burger fit? The impossible burger? 

Oh my, I’m confused. Maybe this is just one more stunt Burger King does, before they do something else next month. 

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.

 

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. 

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. 

This moldy burger ad is a huge departure for what is already in the consumer’s mind. A dramatic change in a brand’s reputation will certainly take more than one ad. Removing preservatives from one food item and thinking you now own “fresh” is fairly naive. And if next month, BK is onto some other new message that has nothing to do with “fresh” you keep the consumer’s mind spinning around as to what the brand stands for. 

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.

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. 

There are five main touchpoints that 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.

Can BK deliver on all five touchpoints?

Consumers move into every transaction with doubt. They look to test messages with questions that look for flaws. 

Imagine you are the consumer who is most motivated by this moldy burger message. First, I’m not sure BK is in their consideration set. They’ve likely already rejected the brand. But let’s assume this ad will make them go into a BK. Here’s the risk what the consumer sees:  

  • The fries are loaded with preservatives. 
  • The floors aren’t mopped or the washrooms aren’t spotless. 
  • The 17-year-old cashier can’t answer what is in the food or doesn’t really seem to care.
  • The burger the consumer orders is already made and appears to have been sitting under hot lights for a few hours. 
If it’s just one ad, it won’t work. If BK is serious about owning fresh, they better revamp their entire menu, make sure every store is spotless, embed fresh into the culture so every employee is living the brand. I suspect BK isn’t really this serious. They’ll have a cute new ad next month. 

Quick: what does Burger King stand for?

I have no clue. King size? Have it your way? Flame broiled? Vegetarian? I’ve never known. The reason I don’t know is they are more focused on the latest tactics, and not really establish their brand behind a long-term strategy. 

We might still think of Burger King in that #2 fast food restaurant who is constantly challenging McDonald’s. That’s out of date, as BK has fallen to #7. McDonald’s certainly isn’t losing any sleep over what Burger King might be saying. McDonald’s is four times bigger than Burger King, and each location sells twice as much. 

I describe Burger King is kind like McDonald’s but is where you go if you want a close parking spot, if you don’t like people. It’s not far off. This ad certainly won’t create a long line. 

 

Brands just can't wave a magic wand and all of a sudden wake up with a new positioning

 

When I’m in front of groups, I’ll say, “I am the fastest man in the world.” I pause. And then I say, “who here believes me?” They all laugh. 

Just because a brand can say it, or just because we can fool one person ONE time, does not make it a smart brand positioning. 

The consumer gets the last say in what your brand reputation will be. They decide I am not the fastest runner, as much as they will tell Burger King they aren’t fresh.  

This type of thinking can be found in our Beloved Brands and B2B Brands playbooks

Learn to think, define, plan, execute and analyze your brand

  • You will find strategic thinking models and examples for each of the four strategic thinking methods, looking at core strength, competitive, consumer, and situational strategies. 
  • To define the brand, I will provide a tool for writing a brand positioning statement as well as a consumer profile and a consumer benefits ladder. I have created lists of potential functional and emotional benefits to kickstart your thinking on brand positioning. We explore the step-by-step process to come up with your brand idea and bring it all together with a tool for writing the ideal brand concept. 
  • For brand plans, I provide formats for a long-range brand strategy roadmap and the annual brand plan with definitions for each planning element. From there, I show how to build a brand execution plan that includes the creative brief, innovation process, and sales plan. I provide tools for how to create a brand calendar, and specific project plans. 
  • To grow your brand, I show how to make smart decisions on marketing execution around creative advertising and media choices. 
  • When it comes time for the analytics, I provide all the analytical tools you need to write a deep-dive business review, looking at the marketplace, consumer, channels, competitors and the brand. Write everything so that it is easy to follow and implement for your brand.

You will learn everything you need to know so you can run your brand. My brand promise is to help make you smarter so you can realize your full potential.

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

Old-school marketing no longer works, but the fundamentals still matter

Posted on Posted in How to Guide for Marketers

No longer can we think about consumers in a strictly functional or logical way. The best brands of today, like Tesla, Apple, Starbucks, Nike, Dove or Airbnb have found a way to capture the imagination of their consumers and take them on a journey of delightful experiences that fosters a deeper emotional and lasting relationship. These modern brands are basing their thinking on the fundamentals of marketing

Brands must treat their most cherished consumers with the respect that establishes trust, enabling consumers to open up to a point where they replace thinking with feeling. The logic of demand evolves into an emotional state of desire, needs become cravings and repeat purchases progress into rituals and turn into a favorite moment in the day. Consumers transform into the most outspoken and loyal brand fans and ambassadors. 

 

Old-school marketing no longer works, but the fundamentals of brand management matter more now than ever

The old logical ways of marketing no longer work in today’s world. These brands feel stuck in the past, talking about gadgets, features, and promotions. They will be friend-zoned by consumers and purchased only when the brand is on sale. The best brands of the previous century were little product inventions that solved small problems consumers did not even realize they had until the product came along. Old-school marketing was about bold logos, catchy jingles, memorable slogans, side-by-side demonstrations, repetitive TV ads, product superiority claims, and expensive battles for shelf space at retail stores. Every marketer focused on how to enter the consumer’s mind. 

Old-school marketers learned the 4Ps of product, place, price, and promotion. It is a useful start, but too product-focused, and it misses out on consumer insights, emotional benefits, and consumer experiences. 

The Crest brand knew that the “Look, mom, no cavities!” TV ads annoyed everyone, yet they also knew it stuck in the consumer’s brain. No one cared how nice the Tide logo looked, as long as it stood out on a crowded grocery shelf. The jingle “Plop, plop, fizz, fizz, oh what a relief it is” was often repeated to embed itself in the consumer’s memory bank. The side-by-side dish detergent advertising that showed spots on the wine glass of a competitor, to shame consumers into using Cascade. Brands that continue to follow only a logical play will fail miserably in today’s emotion-driven marketplace.

New-school brands need to build on the fundeamntals to create a passionate and lasting love for their consumers

How can brand leaders replicate Apple’s brand lovers who line up in the rain to buy the latest iPhone before they even know the phone’s features?  I see Ferrari fans who paint their faces red every weekend, knowing they will likely never drive a Ferrari in their lifetime. There are the ‘Little Monsters’ who believe they are nearly best friends with Lady Gaga. 

It was amazing to witness 400,000 outspoken Tesla brand advocates who put $1,000 down for a car that did not even exist yet. I love the devoted fans of In-N-Out Burger who order animal-style burgers off the secret menu. Every brand should want this type of passion and power with their consumers.

Consumers have changed but the fundamentals remain the same

It takes a smart strategy to balance the rational and emotional management of the brand-to-consumer relationship. These beloved brands are so exceptional because of how well they treat their most loyal consumers. They make them feel loved. Being consumer-centric has been part of the fundamentals of marketing for a centruy.  

The consumers of today must be won over. They are surrounded by the clutter of 5,000 brand messages a day that fight for a glimpse of their attention. That is 1.8 million per year or one message every 11 waking seconds. 

Consumers are continuously distracted—walking, talking, texting, searching, watching, replying—and all at the same time. They glance past most brand messages all day long. Their brain quickly rejects boring, irrelevant, or unnecessary messages. Brands must capture the consumer’s imagination right away, with a brand idea that is simple, unique. It must create as much excitement as a first-time encounter. 

Consumers are tired of being burned by broken brand promises. Once lied to, their well-guarded instincts begin to doubt first, test second, and at any point, they will cast aside any brand that does not live up to the original promise that captured them on the first encounter. A brand must be worthy of love. The best brands of today have a soul that exists deep within the culture of the brand organization. 

Brands must be consumer focused. The brand’s purpose must be able to explain why the people who work behind the scenes of the brand come to work every day so energized and ready to over-deliver on the brand’s behalf. This purpose becomes a firm conviction, with inner motivations, beliefs, and values that influences and inspires every employee to want to be part of the brand. This brand conviction must be so firm that the brand would never make a choice that directly contradicts their internal belief system. Consumers start to see, understand, and appreciate the level of conviction with the brand. 

Brands must listen, observe, and start to know the thoughts of their consumer before they even think it. Not only does the brand meet their functional needs, but the brand must also heroically beat down the consumer’s enemy that torments their life, every day. 

The brand must show up consistently at every consumer touchpoint, whether it is the promise the brand makes, the stories they tell, the innovation designed to impress consumers, the happy purchase moments or the delightful experiences that make consumers want to tell their friends the brand story. The consumer keeps track to make sure the brand delivers before the consumer is willing to commit. Only then will the consumer become willing to open up and trust the brand. 

The integrity of the soul of the brand helps tighten the consumer’s unshakable bond with that brand. Brands have to do the little things that matter, to show they love their consumer. Every time the brand over-delivers on their promise, it adds a little fuel to the romance. 

Over time, the brand must weave itself into the most critical moments of the consumer’s lives, and become part of the most cherished stories and memories within the consumer’s heart. In today’s cluttered brand world, the pathway to brand success is all about building relationships with your most cherished consumers.

A brand idea must be interesting, simple, unique, inspiring, motivating, and own-able. The brand idea must attract and move consumers

The first connection point for consumers with a brand is that moment when they see a brand idea worth engaging the brand. The brand almost jumps off the shelf, grips the audience’s attention to itself on a TV ad, or compels consumers to click on a digital ad. The brand has to generate interest very quickly.  

When the brand idea is interesting and simple, it helps the brand gain quick entry into the consumer’s mind, so they want to engage and learn more about the brand. With the consumer bombarded by 5,000 brand messages every day, the brand only has seven seconds to connect or else consumers will move on. 

That is why the brand idea should be unique and ownable to stand out amid the clutter, and the brand can see enough rich potential to build their entire business around the idea. The idea should inspire the team working behind the scenes to deliver amazing consumer experiences. The idea must be motivating to consumers, so the brand can move consumers to see, think, feel, or act in positive ways that benefit the brand. 

A brand idea must have enough longevity to last 5 to 10 years and enough flexibility to show consistency no matter what media options you choose. The idea must provide a common link across the entire product line-up. Everything you do should deliver the brand idea.

The brand has to show up the same way to everyone, no matter where it shows up. Even as the brand leader expands on the idea, whether telling the brand story over 60 seconds, 30 minutes or over the lifetime of the brand, it must tell the same story. 

When the idea works best, the most far-reaching sales rep, the scientist in the lab, the plant manager or the customer service rep must all articulate the brand idea, in the same way, using the same chosen words. Every time a consumer engages with the brand, they must see, hear and feel the same brand idea. Each positive interaction further tightens their bond with that brand.

Use your brand idea to organize everything you do

As a brand leader, you have five consumer touchpoints to align and manage, including the brand promise, brand story, product innovation, the path to the purchase moment, and the overall consumer experience. The brand idea map shows you how to align all five consumer touchpoints. This thinking is part of the new fundamentals.

  • The brand promise connects with consumers and separates your brand from competitors. The promise must position the brand as interesting and unique, utilizing brand positioning work to define the target market, the balance of functional and emotional benefits, along with key support points.
  • The brand story helps the brand stand out from the pack and gain the consumer’s consideration for purchase. The brand idea must push consumers to see, think, feel, or act differently than before they saw the brand message. 
  • Innovation must help the brand stay on top of the latest trends in technology, consumer need states, distribution, and competitive activity. A brand cannot stand still. The brand idea should act as an internal beacon to help inspire the product development team to come up with new ways to captivate consumers.
  • The purchase moment transforms the awareness and consideration into a purchase. The brand idea ensures everyone along the path to purchase delivers the same brand message, using retail and selling strategies to influence consumers. 
  • Create consumer experiences that overdeliver the promise, driving repeat purchase, and future consumer loyalty. When you partner with HR, the brand idea inspires the culture and organization, influencing hiring decisions, service values, and motivation of the operations teams who deliver the experience.

It takes a fundamentally strategic mind to figure out brand love

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.

 

20 consumer activities

The brand love curve should guide strategic and tactical decisions that go into the writing of your annual brand plan. Here are 20 potential brand activities that match up to where your brand sits on the curve and how to move your brand to the next stage. 

The fundamentals of brand management matter more now than ever.

Today’s marketers have become so busy, as they run from meeting to meeting, they have become a little overwhelmed and confused. They have no time to think. Marketing has become about ‘get stuff done,’ never taking the time to stop and ask if it is the right stuff to do. 

To build a relationship, you must genuinely court your consumer. To move your consumer from stranger to friend and onto the forever stage, you need to think all the time. With the focus on access to big data, marketers are drowning in so much data they do not even have the time to sort through it all to produce the analytical stories that help to make decisions. Marketers are so overwhelmed by the breadth of media choices and the pressure to be everywhere that the quality of the execution has suffered. 

If marketers do not love the work they create, how can they ever expect the consumer to love the brand?

My goal in writing this book is to make you a smarter brand leader so your brand can win in the market. I know your role and the challenges you face. I have been in your shoes. I will share everything I have learned in my 20 years in the trenches of brand management. Using the fundamentals of marekting will help you be successful.

This type of thinking can be found in our Beloved Brands and B2B Brands playbooks

Learn to think, define, plan, execute and analyze your brand

  • You will find strategic thinking models and examples for each of the four strategic thinking methods, looking at core strength, competitive, consumer, and situational strategies. 
  • To define the brand, I will provide a tool for writing a brand positioning statement as well as a consumer profile and a consumer benefits ladder. I have created lists of potential functional and emotional benefits to kickstart your thinking on brand positioning. We explore the step-by-step process to come up with your brand idea and bring it all together with a tool for writing the ideal brand concept. 
  • For brand plans, I provide formats for a long-range brand strategy roadmap and the annual brand plan with definitions for each planning element. From there, I show how to build a brand execution plan that includes the creative brief, innovation process, and sales plan. I provide tools for how to create a brand calendar, and specific project plans. 
  • To grow your brand, I show how to make smart decisions on marketing execution around creative advertising and media choices. 
  • When it comes time for the analytics, I provide all the analytical tools you need to write a deep-dive business review, looking at the marketplace, consumer, channels, competitors and the brand. Write everything so that it is easy to follow and implement for your brand.

You will learn everything you need to know so you can run your brand. My brand promise is to help make you smarter so you can realize your full potential.

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

A simple way to find meaningful consumer insights that connect

Posted on Posted in How to Guide for Marketers

Consumer insights are little secrets hidden beneath the surface, which explain the underlying behaviors, motivations, pain points, and emotions of your consumers. Your consumers may not even be able to explain the insight until you play it back to them. You want consumers to say, “Yeah, that’s exactly how I feel.” Brands must think of consumer insights as a potential competitive advantage, equal in importance to intellectual property.

As a brand leader, it is not about perfecting the consumer insight, but challenging yourself to always be on the lookout for insights, so you read, listen, observe, feel and summarize the little secrets you find out about consumers. Hopefully, you will have people around you who can perfect the insights. The hunt for insights is as important as the find as it puts you into a consumer centric mindset. 

 
consumer insights and observations

How to find smart ownable insights that will engage and move consumers

Go deep to understand and explain trends lying beneath the data. Think like a therapist: Listen, observe, collect, challenge, and carefully draw conclusions you can play back to the consumer for assurance. Use the voice of the consumer, social media, to listen and use our emotional cheat sheet to draw conclusions. 

Hunt through the data to draw hypothetical insights. The dictionary definition of the word insight is “seeing below the surface.” Sort through every data point, including market share information, panel data, testing and tracking results, brand funnel, customer sales, etc. With each data point, keep digging until you see a data break that needs explaining. Ask yourself, “So what does that mean for the consumer?” over and over until you see the “Why it matters” come to life and explain the cause of the consumer’s behavior.

Make sure it fits with your consumer’s life. Try to map out a day-in-the-life, weekly life or even the life stages your consumers goes through to understand their insights and pain points. Take a holistic view of the consumer, to ensure you figure out where your brand fits in with their life. Ask questions that force you to go deeper, avoiding clichés that keep you stuck at the surface level and stop you from getting to the sincere, rich, and meaningful consumer insights.

Find something that is an inspiring connection to engage and move consumers. We need to find that magic secret, going deep below to show the consumer we get them. Insights enable brands to connect with their consumers on a deeper emotional level, showing ‘we get you.’

When you do it right, smart consumer insights get consumers to stop and listen to your brand’s promise or brand story, engage in the latest innovation and believe the consumer experiences fits perfect with their life.

Our 360-degree mining for consumer insights

Building a complete picture of your consumer by looking at multiple sources is an excellent methodology to find consumer insights. Start with market data, and then add your observations, the voice of the consumer, emotional need states, and life moments:  

  1. What we can read: Use available data such as market share results, tracking studies, or category trends. Look for underlying explanations of the data breaks, drivers, inhibitors, as well as new trends among consumers, channels, and competitors. Tell the story beneath the data.
  2. What we see: Use observations of consumer reactions, coming from focus groups, product tests, advertising testing, and direct consumer engagements to add to the insights. Watch how consumers respond.
  3. What we sense: Listen to the voice of the consumer (VOC), assessing consumer comments on social media, brand reviews, and market research. Listen for specific word choices, tone, and phrases the consumer’s use.
  4. What we feel: Use observations and listening to match the emotional need states with how the use of your brand makes them feel.
  5. Day-in-the-life moments: Map out the consumer’s life with explanations of underlying behaviors, motivations, pain points, and emotions at any moment of the day or week. Conclude how parts of their life could impact their path to purchase.

Once you have completed all five areas of the 360-degree mining process, get in the consumer’s shoes, observe, listen, and understand how they think, act, feel, and behave. Be empathetic to their fears, motivations, frustrations, and desires. Learn their language and use their voice. Learn the secrets that only they know, even if they cannot explain. Insights are a great way to demonstrate “We know you” because the number one reason consumers buy a brand simply that “It is a brand for me.”

 

Case study: Consumer insights for quitting smoking

When I worked in the quit-smoking categories, I used the 360-degree mining for consumer insights. I have never smoked in my life, so all of this was new and forced me to listen, observe, and go deeper

 
  • The starting data point was, “Studies show smokers will try to quit cold-turkey over seven times before reaching for a smoking aid to help them quit.” It speaks to how hard it is to quit, and how many times it takes to achieve success. Regarding smoking aids, it shows how the product is the last resort. 
  • Adding observations from focus groups, I could see how smokers become very agitated. We held two-hour focus groups and talked non-stop about what could get them to quit smoking. In the first hour, they were polite, but after one hour without a cigarette, I could see their agitation grow to a boiling point.   
  • When I listened further, I heard them say, “I feel guilty I can’t quit” or “I know I should quit” or “Whenever I quit, I feel I’m not myself. I get so irritable that I give up” or “I wish smoking wasn’t so bad for you because quitting smoking sucks.” These are some of the underlying feelings coming out, expressed in their words. 
  • Using the emotional need states, I gravitated to the consumer’s lack of optimism or confidence to quit, how smokers feel out of control whenever they try to quit, and how they feel not themselves. 
  • Observing how quitting smoking fits into their lives, I could see how they take their misery from trying to quit out on those around them. They linked the moment of quitting smoking with their “worst version of themselves coming out” and talked about “the monster.” Some said their spouse or friends had told them they would prefer they keep smoking rather than having to deal with this terrible version of themselves.  

Consumer insight (connection point): 

“I know I should quit. I’ve tried to quit smoking so many times, it’s ridiculous. I’m not myself. I’m grouchy, irritable, and feel out of control. Quitting smoking sucks!” When I shared this secret back with smokers who want to quit, they say, “Yup, that’s exactly how I feel.” 

Consumer enemy (pain point): 

“I fear quitting smoking will bring out the monster in me, turning me into the worst version of myself.”  

How those consumer insights play out for Nicoderm

Based on those consumer insights for quitting smoking, this is a TV ad we made when I was at Johnson and Johnson. This spot was one of the highest tested spots for Ipsos consumer testing, and it won J&J’s award for best global ad back in 2009. See how we bring that “I become the worst version of myself” consumer insight to life in the TV ad. 

Nicoderm Flight Attendant TV Ad

Consumer insights should show up everywhere on the brand

Consumer insights help you connect with what’s going on with your consumer. You should use consumer insights on every new product innovation concept or every creative brief. Use them with your sales teams to help them sell or service delivery teams to help them deliver exceptional consumer experiences. . 

Read how your consumer insights work can help set up your brand positioning statement

How to create a winning brand positioning statement

See examples of how advertising can help bring consumer insights to life

This type of thinking can be found in our Beloved Brands and B2B Brands playbooks

Learn to think, define, plan, execute and analyze your brand

  • You will find strategic thinking models and examples for each of the four strategic thinking methods, looking at core strength, competitive, consumer, and situational strategies. 
  • To define the brand, I will provide a tool for writing a brand positioning statement as well as a consumer profile and a consumer benefits ladder. I have created lists of potential functional and emotional benefits to kickstart your thinking on brand positioning. We explore the step-by-step process to come up with your brand idea and bring it all together with a tool for writing the ideal brand concept. 
  • For brand plans, I provide formats for a long-range brand strategy roadmap and the annual brand plan with definitions for each planning element. From there, I show how to build a brand execution plan that includes the creative brief, innovation process, and sales plan. I provide tools for how to create a brand calendar, and specific project plans. 
  • To grow your brand, I show how to make smart decisions on marketing execution around creative advertising and media choices. 
  • When it comes time for the analytics, I provide all the analytical tools you need to write a deep-dive business review, looking at the marketplace, consumer, channels, competitors and the brand. Write everything so that it is easy to follow and implement for your brand.

You will learn everything you need to know so you can run your brand. My brand promise is to help make you smarter so you can realize your full potential.

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

Tim Horton’s doing everything except fix what is obvious to everyone

Posted on Posted in How to Guide for Marketers

For the last five years, the Tim Horton’s brand has been slipping fast. Once the pride and representation of what it means to be Canadian, Tim’s now feels anything but. This timeline coincides with the time they have been owned and operated by the cost-slashing, private equity company, 3G Capital. While Tim’s has kept robust advertising budgets and constant new product offerings, their behavior towards their franchisees has been hostile, and in turn, the franchisees’ behavior toward employees has been despicable. Wage fights, canceled coffee breaks, and layoffs have trickled into the news. How does a company that sells coffee cancel coffee breaks? The environment created by the Tim Horton’s toxic culture is impacting the consumer experience. With a disgruntled workforce, consumers rarely hear “please” or “thank you” and never see a smile. Compared to the warmth of a Starbucks experience, going to Tim’s now feels cold and hollow. The consumer experience is anything but how Canadians see themselves, and the brand continues to tumble. 

What is Tim’s doing to address the issues with their employees? So far, they have launched a meatless burger, launched into China, established a rather pathetic loyalty card, and now have a bad TV ad about a guy who sips 300 cups a day. In summary, they have done everything possible to run away from their problem, hoping it goes away. 

As leaders, we always have to keep in mind that the problems that we hope go away by themselves tend to come back by themselves even bigger. Tim’s reluctance to address the consumer experience is not helping the problem go away. 

Tim Horton's has an incredible tight bond with Canadians

It has always been oddly funny at the tight bond Canadians have had with Tim Horton’s. The same pride that Italians have with Ferrari, Canadians had with a coffee and donut shop. Ten years ago, this “True Patriot Love” ad, which used a line from Canada’s national anthem perfectly fit their brand. Now, they couldn’t get away with running this ad. 

Canadian author Pierre Berton once wrote: “In so many ways, the story of Tim Hortons is the essential Canadian story. It is a story of success and tragedy, of big dreams and small towns, of old-fashioned values and tough-fisted business, of hard work and hockey.”

 

As a Canadian, we took an odd pride in Tim Horton’s. At work, people would go on a Timmies run. Parents take a cup of coffee to the local hockey arena to watch their kids play hockey. On the way to work, people build in 5-10 minutes into their drive so they could wait in line at the Tim’s drive-thru. When Tim Horton’s went public, the stock quickly soared. I remember a friend saying they didn’t mind waiting in the drive-thru because they owned some Tim’s stock, and the value of the stock would go up more than the price of the cup of coffee they were buying that day.

One of Tim's heart-warming TV ads

The best brands manage each of the consumer touchpoints

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.

There are five main touchpoints that 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.

 

Not only should your brand idea steer all the consumer touchpoints, but it also makes an excellent audit for where you are not delivering the brand idea. For Tim Horton’s, they keep spending their effort on the brand promise and story; they have a confusing innovation, and a failure at the purchase moment and consumer experience. I see brands like Tim’s think that a new ad or new product can fix what is obviously frustrating to consumers. Tim’s keep ignoring the obvious, over and over again. Fix your relationship with your franchisees and push them to fix their relationship with their employees, and use your brand to guide a best-in-class consumer experience. 

 

Tim's fight with franchisees

Over the last decade, the relationship with Tim’s and their franchisees have gotten worse. Things got even worse in 2018 as Ontario raised the minimum wage from $11.90 an hour up to $14.00 an hour. While McDonald’s and Starbucks allowed menu price increases to help offset the wage increases, Tim’s refused. They squeezed the franchisee by an average of $7,000 an hour. In turn, franchisees responded by cutting employee benefits such as paid coffee breaks and contributions to health plans. Tim’s started to make the news for the wrong reasons: a beloved Canadian coffee brand cutting out coffee breaks for employees. One of the restaurants had their staff go on strike over a 10 cent an hour dispute. Over the last two years, there have been around 50 demonstrations against Tim Horton’s were held across Canada. As Tim Horton’s should be standing for the average Canadian, the visual of the average Canadian is fighting back against them destroys any good feelings. 

 

Tim Horton’s released a foolish statement against the protests which threw their franchisees under the bus. “These recent actions by a few restaurant owners, and the unauthorized statements made to the media by a ‘rogue group’ claiming to speak on behalf of Tim Hortons, do not reflect the values of our brand, the views of our company or the views of the overwhelming majority of our dedicated and hard-working restaurant owners.” This statement adds just more fuel to the lousy relationship between Tim’s and their franchisees. 

The Tim's brand reputation continues to hemorrhage

In May 2018, the Reputation Institute reported that Tim Hortons had fallen from 13th to 67th in its study of Canada’s most reputable companies. Digging in deeper, an Ipsos study (below) showed that 35% of consumers said their opinion of Tim’s has gone down over the past five years. That number should be setting off alarm bells for Tim Horton’s. The data shows 25% say the service has gotten worse, and 19% say the coffee has gotten worse. The coffee is still the same, but when our feelings over the brand and the consumer experience gets worse, it makes consumers re-evaluate everything about the brand. In terms of the most performance results, Tim Hortons’ sales have fallen 1.5% over the past twelve months.

Instead of fixing their problems, here's what Tim's has been doing

  • Tim’s launched one outlet in China with plans for a whopping two more. Compared to 3,000 Starbucks in China, these two locations won’t make any dent. 
  • Tim’s launched a meatless burger, even though they don’t sell a meat burger. This confusing launch made no sense. It feels like a desperate attempt to capitalize on a trend, not a long-term strategy. Months later, Tim’s discontinued the meatless burger. 
  • Tim’s also launched a meatless sausage in a wrap or a biscuit. While this launch is trying to appeal to the rapid growth of vegans and vegetarians, the meatless sausage has dairy cheese and an egg. That isn’t very smart. Months later, Tim’s discontinued the meatless sausage. 
  • Tim’s launched a new loyalty card that gives consumers a free coffee or donut every 7th purchase. The problem is that consumers have begun noticing that not every location is willing to honor the loyalty card. This poor execution goes back to the poor relationship between Tim’s and their franchisees. 
  • Tim’s launched a fake high-end cafe as a stunt in downtown Toronto. There was no Tim’s branding, but it gave the illusion of a small local cafe, yet it was selling the same products as a typical Tim’s. While the stunt was trying to say their products are good enough to sell a high-end cafe, isn’t the stunt just saying Tim’s has done such a lousy job at their brand image that people will pay more for unbranded Tim’s products than they will pay for branded Tim’s products. 
  • This year, they launched a new breakfast cereal, in a partnership with Post cereals. This won’t fix the bad customer service.

As a marketer, it is hard to watch Tim’s continue to run away from their problems as the brand continues to fall.

Marketing your brand to your own employees

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

The best brands should spend as much effort marketing internally, so everyone at your company understands and shares the idea behind your brand, as your people will be the ones who deliver your brand’s promise to your customers.

We usually think of marketing as messages directed only to the customers. For a service-oriented brand like Tim’s, I recommend equal effort in the marketing to your own employees, as they are the front-line face of your brand, and their behaviors will establish your brand’s reputation. 

Use your internal brand communications tools to drive a shared definition of the brand idea, as well as getting everyone to articulate how their role delivers that brand idea. Give the external and internal brand story equal importance to the customer experience you create for your brand. Everyone who works on the brand should use the brand idea as inspiration to guide consistent 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 customer. 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 customer. Develop a list of service values, behaviors, and processes to deliver the brand idea throughout your organization. 

Building your brand culture

Brand values form the backbone of your organization. They may come from your background, how you grew up, rules you identify with or how you see your priorities in life. Your beliefs come from your experience, helping explain why and how you choose to do business, how you treat your people, and how you conduct yourself as a leader and as a person in the community. These beliefs should be personal, ethical, or rooted in frustration for how you see things happening in the world. Your inspirations should excite team members who work behind the scenes of the brand. Inspirations should stimulate your people to go beyond the norms of effort or passion. 

For organizations, I believe it works best when your people have input into creating and building your values because they will feel included, heard, and invested in your brand’s success. Maybe that is one of my own core values in a bottom-up approach to building brands. However, the closer your values reflect the realities of what your people believe in, the more successful you will be in using those values to inspire greatness.

Tim Horton's has a long way to go to fix their culture and consumer experience

This type of thinking can be found in our Beloved Brands and B2B Brands playbooks

Learn to think, define, plan, execute and analyze your brand

  • You will find strategic thinking models and examples for each of the four strategic thinking methods, looking at core strength, competitive, consumer, and situational strategies. 
  • To define the brand, I will provide a tool for writing a brand positioning statement as well as a consumer profile and a consumer benefits ladder. I have created lists of potential functional and emotional benefits to kickstart your thinking on brand positioning. We explore the step-by-step process to come up with your brand idea and bring it all together with a tool for writing the ideal brand concept. 
  • For brand plans, I provide formats for a long-range brand strategy roadmap and the annual brand plan with definitions for each planning element. From there, I show how to build a brand execution plan that includes the creative brief, innovation process, and sales plan. I provide tools for how to create a brand calendar, and specific project plans. 
  • To grow your brand, I show how to make smart decisions on marketing execution around creative advertising and media choices. 
  • When it comes time for the analytics, I provide all the analytical tools you need to write a deep-dive business review, looking at the marketplace, consumer, channels, competitors and the brand. Write everything so that it is easy to follow and implement for your brand.

You will learn everything you need to know so you can run your brand. My brand promise is to help make you smarter so you can realize your full potential.

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

How to successfully capture attention with your advertising

Posted on Posted in How to Guide for Marketers

The best way to earn the attention of consumers within the cluttered media world is to take a risk. Do something creatively different from what consumers expect, which entertains, takes advantage of the media, and is shareable for consumers to influence others.

When judging advertising, the most important thing I look for is to ensure the creative idea within the ad that drives the attention, tells the brand story, communicates the main benefit and sticks in the consumer’s mind. When you see a story, device, copy, or a visual that does not fit with the delivery, then you have a red flag. You run the risk that the creativity of the ad works against your objectives. 

 

The ABC's of Advertising: Attention, brand link, communication stickiness

Here are four questions to ask:

  • Is it the creative idea that earns the consumer’s attention for the ad?
  • Then ask, is the creative idea helping to drive maximum brand involvement?
  • Is the creative idea setting up the communication of the main consumer benefit?
  • And, is the creative idea memorable enough to stick in the consumer’s mind and move them to purchase?

1. Be incongruent with what consumers expect

This technique is an excellent choice to help brands stand out from the clutter. Consumers notice when you are so different from what they expect or so different from what they are watching at the moment. Many brand leaders are afraid of this technique because it is a higher risk, less certain type of creative.

A great example of being incongruent is the Hathaway Shirt “Man in the eye patch” print ad. The eye patch is a simple addition to a very dull visual of a man in a shirt. David Ogilvy picked up a few eye patches on the way to the photo shoot. This unorthodox visual made the ad stand out and the brand famous. It was a lasting brand visual for decades.

 

Another fantastic ad is the “Think small” campaign for the Volkswagen Beetle. When every other car was going big, the VW Bug went small. The ad does two things to capture our minds. First, it plays on the commonly known phrase, “Think big.” Second, the extreme use of white space, with a barely visible car, is equally arresting. It delivers a message of simplicity and minimalism, with the advantages of a small car down below. AdAge magazine ranked this ad as the best ad of the twentieth century. 

 

The common link is the use of incongruent visuals and copy to draw our attention. We can learn a lot from historical ads. With the modern-day clutter of digital media, this is a recommended technique to use to gain the consumer’s attention.

How comfortable are you with polarizing advertising? Below is an incongruent ad with message is a perfect fit for the L’Oréal brand. The main headline of “This is an ad for men.” attracts our eye because it doesn’t match what we see in the main visual. It draws our eye into the body copy, “Hire more women in leadership roles. We are all worth it.” 

Oh, and sorry men, the message is meant for you, but this is actually an ad for women.  

While we can debate whether K-Mart’s delivery strategy will make any difference, the ad itself does an amazing job using incongruent creative that makes your brain think they are swearing on TV. 

2. Entertain consumers

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Another technique to gain attention is to make viewers laugh, cry, or dance. People engage media to be entertained. Make your ad part of the entertainment. Be aware of the evolution of the art of creativity to make sure you match the latest type of entertainment. As much as movies, TV, or music evolve, so should your ads. 

The Old Spice “Smell like a man” campaign’s quirky, over-the-top humor is so different, it captured immense attention and helped P&G reinvigorate the Old Spice brand. The ad uses a series of quick cuts, putting the actor in crazy circumstances. His dry, over-the-top delivery adds to the humor.

I love Budweiser’s “Wassup” campaign because it just makes you laugh. The ad offers zero message, but everyone knows Budweiser, so it is a great way to stay top of mind. The ad is highly entertaining and easily breaks through the clutter of other beer ads. The “Wassup” phrase became part of pop culture, especially among Budweiser’s 20-something core target. 

3. Use media choice to your brand’s full advantage

Put your ads where your consumers are willing to see, listen, and engage, matched with creativity to take advantage of the media choice.  

For the last decade, John Lewis, the UK department store retailer, has owned the most beloved Christmas ad of the season. It has become such fan favorites the media has leaked the launch date and song choice. These ads generate 50 million views online per year. While retailers struggle around the world, John Lewis used its emotional bond to fuel continuous growth.

With such an impulse product, McDonald’s has become the master of outdoor ads, with a playful spirit, designed to trigger your hunger for McDonald’s products. 

Brands are using social media to the full advantage. When the lights went out in the 2013 Super  Bowl, Oreo was quick to tweet this out, capturing the right humour of consumers. When KFC ran out of chicken, they got a bit creative with their apology making fun of themselves. 

4. Create shareable content

Over the last decade, everything has become about creating content that is so engaging consumers want to share it on social media. The key is to use high impact storytelling ads that are highly entertaining, deeply emotional, or inspiring enough to engage and captivate consumers.  

One of the best viral ads is for Dollar Shave. The brand created a hilarious, edgy, low-budget YouTube-driven video, which has generated millions of hits. The tagline for the ad is “Our blades are f**king great,” which will undoubtedly alienate many people. However, it will inevitably make the younger male audience quickly love them. The ad tells a quirky story of why the brand doesn’t waste money like Gillette does, setting up the idea its razors are much cheaper than Gillette’s. The ad helped launch the brand, which Unilever bought five years later for $1 billion.

One of the more modern approaches was Red Bull’s live coverage and subsequent viral videos of Felix Baumgartner jumping out of a rocket ship 24 miles above the earth. The video fits very nicely with the target market and the brand. Red Bull is a brand sponsor of many extreme sports, with this being the most extreme sport possible. While, legally, Red Bull is no longer allowed to say, “Red Bull gives you wings,” this event positively screams the brand idea, loud and clear. With millions watching the live streaming video online and over 100 million watching videos on YouTube, this stunt was a huge attention getter for Red Bull.

This type of learning can be found in our Beloved Brands and B2B Brands playbooks

Learn to think, define, plan, execute and analyze your brand

  • You will find strategic thinking models and examples for each of the four strategic thinking methods, looking at core strength, competitive, consumer, and situational strategies. 
  • To define the brand, I will provide a tool for writing a brand positioning statement as well as a consumer profile and a consumer benefits ladder. I have created lists of potential functional and emotional benefits to kickstart your thinking on brand positioning. We explore the step-by-step process to come up with your brand idea and bring it all together with a tool for writing the ideal brand concept. 
  • For brand plans, I provide formats for a long-range brand strategy roadmap and the annual brand plan with definitions for each planning element. From there, I show how to build a brand execution plan that includes the creative brief, innovation process, and sales plan. I provide tools for how to create a brand calendar, and specific project plans. 
  • To grow your brand, I show how to make smart decisions on marketing execution around creative advertising and media choices. 
  • When it comes time for the analytics, I provide all the analytical tools you need to write a deep-dive business review, looking at the marketplace, consumer, channels, competitors and the brand. Write everything so that it is easy to follow and implement for your brand.

You will learn everything you need to know so you can run your brand. My brand promise is to help make you smarter so you can realize your full potential.

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