The best marketers see how the marketing math of their brand work

Posted on Posted in How to Guide for Marketers

As we execute, we must be able to see the marketing math, and how it links back to the market impact and the performance result. There is marketing math connected to the strategy and the execution. Challenge yourself to see the math pathway to your brand’s success. 

As marketers must sort through the strategic possibilities, the best marketers are able to narrow in on choices that will have the most significant market impact. A smart strategy turns an early breakthrough win into a shift in momentum, positional power, or tipping point where you begin to achieve more in the marketplace than the resources you put in.

Many underestimate the need for an early win. I see this as a crucial breakthrough point where you start to look at a small shift in momentum towards your vision. While there will always be doubters to every strategy, the results of the early win provide compelling proof to show everyone the plan will work. You can change the minds of the doubters—or at least keep them quiet—so everyone can stay focused on the breakthrough point. 

The magic of strategy happens through leverage, where you can use the early win as an opening or a tipping point where you start to see a transformational power that allows you to make an impact and achieve results in the marketplace. A smart strategy should trigger the consumer to move along the buying journey from awareness to buy and onto loyalty, and it can help tighten the consumer’s bond with the brand.  

See the marketing math giving your brand a pathway to success

The best way to measure the market impact is to use a brand funnel analysis, which also provides clues to the circumstances for your next decisions. 

A classic brand funnel would measure awareness, familiar, consider, purchase, repeat and loyal. They tell you where your brand is now, and when analyzed with intelligence, brand funnels can provide hints as to  where you can go next. The brand funnel analysis can help you determine where your brand sits on the brand love curve, which outlines how consumers build a bond with a brand, as they move through five stages: unknown, indifferent, like it, love it, and onto the beloved brand status. Our brand love curve sets up the brand strategy of where to go next.

As consumers move along their journey, they form a tighter bond with the brand. 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.

consumer strategy

Brand funnel analysis

Every brand should understand the details of its brand funnel, the best tool for measuring your brand’s underlying health. It is the equivalent to knowing your blood pressure or cholesterol scores. A classic brand funnel should measure awareness, familiarity, consideration, purchase, repeat, and loyalty. At the very least, you should measure awareness, purchase, and repeat. It is not just about understanding the absolute scores on the funnel but rather the ratios that explain how good of a job you are doing in moving consumers from one stage of the funnel to the next. 

I will show you how the robustness of your brand’s funnel explains where your brand sits on the brand love curve. The broader the funnel, the better connected your brand is with consumers.


brand funnel analysis
brand funnel analysis

Brand funnel analysis using absolute scores

  • A: On the chart above, the first thing to do is look at the absolute brand funnel scores. There are many types of comparisons you can do, whether you compare to last year, competitors, or category norms. Then look at the brand funnel ratios, which is the percentage score for how well your brand can convert consumers from one stage of the funnel to the next. To create ratios, divide the absolute score by the score above it on the funnel. In the example above, take the familiar score of 87% and divide it by the awareness score of 93% to determine a conversion ratio of 91%. This means 91% of aware consumers are familiar
  • B: For the second chart above, lay out the absolute scores and the ratios in a horizontal way to allow a comparison. You will notice these are the same scores as “A” and “B” in the previous chart. The crucial numbers for Gray’s Cookies are the ratios of 91%, 94%, 77%, 25%, and 12% at the top of the chart. Then bring in a close competitor (Devon’s) with their absolute and ratios scores to allow a direct comparison.

Brand funnel analysis using ratios

  • C: Then find the ratio gaps by subtracting the competitor’s ratio scores from your brand’s ratio scores. In the example, the first ratio gap is -7% ratio gap (91% – 98%) which means Devon’s does a 7% better job in converting consumers from awareness to familiar than Gray’s Cookies. 
  • D: As you create ratio gaps along the bottom, you can see where your ratio is either stronger or weaker than the comparison brand. 
  • E: Finally, start analyzing the significant gaps between the two brands and tell a strategic story to explain each gap. Looking at the example, you can see Gray’s and Devon’s have similar scores at the top part of the funnel, but Gray’s starts to show real weakness (-23% and -51% gap) as it moves to repeat and loyalty. You need to address and fix these gaps with your brand plan.

Matching up your data to the brand love curve

Indifferent brands have very skinny brand funnels with low awareness, low purchase and negligible repeat and loyalty. Brands that are liked but not loved, have high awareness and sales, without an emotional connection, they almost have no loyalty. And finally, at the beloved brands had the most robust brand funnels, with strong awareness, purchase, repeat and loyalty scores. 

brand funnel analysis

See the performance result through profitability analysis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Visualize the numbers beneath your creativity

As you engage with the creativity of your marketing execution that delivers your strategy, I want to challenge you to see the marketing math. In terms of market impact, what element of the brand funnel will the creative solutions help to solve, whether you are focused on awareness, search, purchase, repeat, loyal or becoming a brand fan? When you think of the performance result, which of the eight ways to add more profit will your creativity solve, whether you are focused on price, cost, market size or market share? 

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How your brand idea should steer everyone who works on the brand

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When your brand idea is interesting and simple, it helps to gain quick entry into the consumer’s mind, so they will want to engage and learn more about the brand. With the consumer being bombarded by 5,000 brand messages every day,  think about having 7-seconds to connect, or else you risk having consumers move on. 

When your brand idea is unique, it stands out from the clutter, and you can see enough potential to build your entire business around the idea. The idea must motivate consumers to see, think, feel, or act in positive ways that benefit your brand.

The brand idea must represent the inner brand soul of everyone who works on the brand, inspiring employees to deliver the brand promise and amazing experiences. Finally, the it must be ownable, so no other competitor can infringe on your space, and you can confidently build your brand reputation over time.

The brand idea blueprint

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

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

How to find your brand idea

Step 1: Keywords brainstorm for each of the five areas

With a cross-functional team working on the brand, start off with a brainstorm of keywords for each of the five areas around the brand idea. Expose the team to the work you have done on the brand positioning statement, including details on the target profile, consumer benefits ladder work, and the consumer benefits sort. Ask participants to bring their knowledge, wisdom, and opinions from where they sit within the organization.The first step is generating 15-20 words that describe each of the five areas.

Step 2: Turn keywords into key phrases for each of the five areas

Next, get the team to vote to narrow down the list to the best 3-5 words for each section. You will begin to see certain themes and keywords. Take those selected words and build phrases to summarize each section.

Step 3: Summarize it all to create a brand idea

Once you have phrases for all five areas, the team should feel inspired to use their creative energy to come up with the brand idea. Find a summary statement that captures everything around the circle. Try to get a few different options you can test with both consumers and employees.

Use the brand idea to steer everyone who works on the brand

The best brands consistently deliver. Use a cross-functional team, including salespeople, R&D, human resources, finance, and operations. Their participation is one way to gain their buy-in. But that’s not where it stops. 
Use your internal brand communications tools to drive a shared definition. Get everyone to articulate how their role delivers the idea. Give the external and internal brand story equal importance to the consumer experience you create for your brand.
Everyone who works on the brand should use the idea as inspiration, and to guide decisions and activities across every function of your organization. It is the people within the brand organization who will deliver the brand idea to the consumer. Everyone needs a common understanding of and talking points for the brand.
When you work on a brand that leads to the customer experience, your operations people will be responsible for the face-to-face delivery of your brand to the consumer. Develop a list of service values, behaviors, and processes to deliver the brand idea throughout your organization. 

Helping organize how you show up

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

Five main touchpoints reach consumers, including the brand promise, brand story, innovation, purchase moment, and consumer experience. Regardless of the order, they reach the consumer; if the brand does not deliver a consistent message, the consumer will be confused and likely shut out that brand. While brands cannot control what order each touchpoint reaches the consumer, they can undoubtedly align each of those touchpoints under the brand idea.

Build a brand credo document

Having spent time at Johnson & Johnson, I was lucky to see how their credo document has become an essential part of the culture of the organization. Not only does it permeate throughout the company but you will also likely hear it quoted in meetings on a daily basis. It is a beautifully written document and ahead of its time.

Brand Credo
Brand culture

Use the brand idea to align every media choice.

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

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The difference between a disruptor brand and a challenger brand

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Every day I see people mess up by randomly using the key marketing words disruptor brand and challenger brand. I guess these words seem to convey an attitude that makes people think they are buzz words. But when it comes to strategy, they are quite different. The common link is they both take on an aggressive war games approach.

To be a disruptor brand, you must take on an entire category, by appearing so new and different. Once consumers see what they offer, all the current players seem outside of what consumers now want. The disruptor brand is a blue ocean strategy, so different, they appear to be alone on an island, far away from any competitors. Current competitors have two options to the disruptor; ignore or attack back. The problem is they are not be prepared to attack back. Any attempt to try to oppress the disruptor brand brings attention to the disruptor and fuels their cause.

On the other hand, the challenger brand takes on the leading power player brand and shifts the perception of the leader, and set themselves up as the winner of this war. A challenger brand is a red ocean strategy, so close to the category leader, they are defiant in their attack. The category leader has two choices to fight the challenger brand; attack back or be killed. This is the reason I always say that a challenger brand should reposition the leader’s strength into a weakness, as it handcuffs the leader’s ability for the brand to attack back.

Evolution of brand strategy

Brands must evolve their strategy as they move from the craft brand to the power player brand

Many brands start in someone’s garage or over a kitchen table at midnight. Start-ups should deploy a craft brand strategy. To stand out, you must be utterly different to a core group of trend influencers who are frustrated with the major competitors.  

As your brand grows, you can transition to a disruptor brand strategy. Utilize your core audience of trend influencers to gain a core base of early adopters. While a craft brand attracts the attention of trend influencers, the disruptor brand must dial up their aggressive stance and call out the major brands.  

As your brand continues to grow, you can use your increased resources and power to take on a challenger brand strategy against the leader. You can use the influence of the trend influencers and early adopters to attract the early mass audience.

The most successful brands end up a conglomerate

At the power player stage, the strategy shifts to maintaining your leadership position. You should take on a defensive strategy, to attack in response to any player who threatens your brand. While the trend influencers and early adopters played a considerable role in making the brand a household name, you have to be comfortable that your earliest brand fans will eventually leave your brand and look for what is next. 

How to find your space in the market to win

To find the competitive space in which your brand can win, I introduce a Venn diagram of competitive situations that we will use throughout this discussion.  

You will see three circles. To start, look at the first circle that comprises everything your consumer wants or needs. Next, layer in the second circle that includes everything your brand does best, including consumer benefits, product features or proven claims. And, finally, the third circle lists what your competitor does best.

Your brand’s winning zone (in green), is the space that matches up “What consumers want” with “What your brand does best.” This space provides you a distinct positioning you can own and defend from attack. You must be able to satisfy the consumer needs better than any other competitor can.

Your brand will not survive by trying to compete in the losing zone (in red), which is the space that matches the consumer needs with “What your competitor does best.” When you play in this space, your competitor will beat you every time.

Competing in a mature market

As markets mature, competitors copy each other. It has become harder to be better with a definitive product win. Many brands have to play in the risky zone (in grey), which is the space where you and your competitor both meet the consumer’s needs in a relative tie.

There are four ways you can win the risky zone:

  1. First, use your brand’s power in the market to squeeze out smaller, weaker brands.
  2. Second, be the first to capture that space to earn a reputation you can defend
  3. Next, you can win with innovation and creativity to make your brand seem unique
  4. Finally, you can build a deeper emotional connection to make your brand seem different

The dumb zone

Sadly, I always have to mention the dumb zone (in blue) where two competitors “battle it out” in the space consumers do not care.  One competitor says, “We are faster,” and the other brand says, “We are just as fast.” No one bothered to ask the consumer if they care about speed. Both brands are dumb.

What is a challenger brand?

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

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

Focus your attack

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

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

Example of challenger brands

One of the best examples of a challenger brand that made significant gains is the Pepsi Challenge from the 1970s. It was a direct offensive attack on Coke. In blind taste tests, Pepsi was the preferred brand. Pepsi is a much sweeter taste, so in a quick hit, it was the chosen brand. Coke is an acquired and memorable taste. The blind taste test took away the Coke brand name and the emotional feelings of that brand. 

At the same time, Pepsi amplified its strength as the “new generation” and positioned the brand as the solution to consumers ready to reject the “old taste” of Coke. This approach was so powerful it was even a contributing factor to the launch of a sweeter “New Coke.”

What is a disruptor brand?

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

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

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

Examples of disruptor brands

Uber, Netflix, and Airbnb are contemporary brands that effectively use modern technology to create such a unique offering. They cast major category-leading brands or entire industries as outdated and outside what consumers want.

Uber disrupted the taxi market, Netflix is revolutionizing the way we watch TV, and Airbnb has had a dramatic impact on hotels. These brands have a smarter ordering system, better service levels, and significantly lower prices. It leaves the previous leaders struggling to fight back.

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LA 2028 Olympics wants to show the real LA to the world

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LA 2028 has released their logo and launch video, giving us a first glimpse of how their idea that they’ll “show the world the real LA.”
First, there is always a keen debate over the Olympic logo. Uniquely, the LA 2028 Olympics committee will use multiple logos that will reflect the diversity of LA. You can see the “A” changes to represent various Los Angeles-based athletes and creators’ personalities and styles. Over the next eight years, we might see many different logos.

It seems to be a new trend to play with logos. Watch the past year of Apple ads and you might see ten different treatments. 

Fittingly LA, the launch taps into a list of stars that includes singer Billie Eilish, gymnast Gabby Douglas, movie star Reese Witherspoon, graffiti artist Chaz Bojórquez, YouTube star Lilly Singh, and a team of hopeful Olympic athletes.

Considering how many version of LA we might have in our heads, whether it is the Dodgers, Rams, Lakers or Kings, they have found a distinct look and feel. I like the variety as well. 

LA 2028 launch video

Moreover, they have launched a video that speaks to their brand idea of “showing the real LA to the world.” 

LA 2028 Olympics
Play Video

The video feels a bit too safe, which takes away from the promise of showing the real LA. The visuals start OK, but then it shifts into a generic Nike ad. First, I would prefer it if they used an edgier voice-over. Second, they should use an engaging music track that could deliver the REAL LA. 

I believe the brand idea of “show the real LA to the world” is an amazing opportunity that should open up creative teams to deliver even better creativity than this opening video. 
Brand Idea: 9.5 / 10
Logo: 9.0 / 10
Video: 7.0 / 10

My bias is #WeTheNorth

Nothing beats the Toronto Raptors video that showcases the real Toronto to the world. The tone is defiantly edgy, competitively challenging, and continues to represent the fans of the Toronto Raptors. We have eight more years. Maybe LA 2028 can do something this good. This video is a 10 out of 10!!!

Play Video

click to enlarge

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How to write a strategy statement to use in your brand plan

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As you build your plan, this article will help you build your strategy statements and we provide a few strategy statement examples to demonstrate how it is done. 

When I was in business school, I had a marketing professor who would say 15 times per class, “It is all about choices. It is all about choices.” Your brand strategy statement makes those choices. 

Your brand plan is a great tool to make tough decisions. You have to apply your brand’s limited resources of dollars, time, people, and partnerships against an unlimited number of choices. It is easy to get distracted by creative options. 

However, brand leaders must use the brand plan process to limit their choices down to those that move your brand along the pathway towards your stated brand vision. Choose the strategic options that provide the highest return on effort (ROE) or the highest return on investment (ROI). 

Your strategy statement in your brand plan answer, “How can we get there?” 

I will show you how to write your strategy statements. We use five elements of strategy that includes laying out a vision, investing limited resources into strategic programs, bringing a focus on an identified opportunity, making a market impact, and realizing the performance result that makes your brand stronger and wealthier.

Here are the five elements that make up smart strategic thinking:

  1. First, set a vision of what you want for your brand. A vision sets aspirational stretch goals for the future, linked to a clear result or purpose. Your vision should scare you a little and excite you a lot. It should steer everyone who works on the brand on the final outcome.
  2. Second, state where you will invest resources in a strategic program. Think through the options of where you could invest to move your brand into a more powerful and profitable position. Invest to solidify the brand’s core strength. Build a brand idea that tightens the consumer bond. Battle competitors on positioning. Address the situational challenges and opportunities.
  3. Next, make sure you focus on an identified opportunity. Focus your limited resources on a distinct opportunity you have identified. Look for a potential change in the market, including changes to consumers, competitive situation, technology, or sales channels. 
  4. Then, leverage the breakthrough market impact. A smart strategy turns an early breakthrough win into a shift in momentum, positional power, or tipping point where you begin to achieve more in the marketplace than the resources you put in.
  5. Finally, state how the performance result pays back. The shift in positional power in the marketplace moves your brand toward your vision. Create a future pathway to building a consumer bond, brand power, and brand profitability. 

How to turn your strategic thinking into strategic objective statements

Let’s look at how to turn your smart strategic thinking into writing a strategic objective statement. It will help provide specific marching orders to everyone who works on the brand. Below is the classic way to lay out a brand vision, key issue question and the strategic objective statement. 

The process covers all five elements of smart strategic thinking. You can see the brand vision, and key issue statement covers the first strategic element. However, you need the strategic objective statement to cover off the remaining four other strategic elements, including the program investment, focused opportunity, market impact, and the performance result.

Here’s how that strategic objective statement breaks down: 

A: Program investment: The statement calls out the investment in a strategic program, with crystal clear marching orders to the team, leaving no room for doubt, confusion, or hesitation. In this example, the strategic program is to “Create an elevated VIP consumer experience.” 

B: Focused opportunity: The breakthrough point where the brand will exert pressure to create a market impact. In this example, the focused opportunity is to “Reward our most loyal consumers.” 

C: Market impact: Achieves a specific desired market impact with a stakeholder you will attempt to move, whether it is consumers, sales channels, competitors, or influencers. In this example, the desired impact is to “Turn the consumer’s regular usage into a higher frequency ritual.” 

D: Performance result: Drive a specific performance result linked to the market impact, either making the brand more powerful or more profitable. In this example, “Tightening their bond with our brand.”

This unique strategic model will force you to pick answers to build a strategy statement with marching orders for those who follow your plan. As you build your brand plan, I recommend you use these four elements of smart strategic objective statements to ensure you structure the thinking. 

Strategy statement example using Special K

  • Advertise Special K’s brand idea of “empowering women” (a) focused on women who are frustrated by “lose and gain” diet fads (b), to move new consumers from awareness to trial (c) and gain share (d).
  • Build a low-calorie innovation plan across the entire grocery store (a) focused on our most loyal Special K lovers (b), to drive trial of new items (c) and successfully enter new markets (d).

Take the strategy statement example into the Special K brand plan

If you took the strategic thinking model and began to outline a brand plan for Special K, these would be the core elements:

  • Vision: Be the delicious and healthy choice food brand across every tempting category of the grocery store.
  • Goals: Increase share in the cereal category. Successfully enter one new grocery category per year. Drive net promoter score and strengthen usage frequency and loyalty scores.
  • Key Issues: 1) How do we build an overall brand story to connect and develop a core base of brand lovers? 2) How do we take the “empowering women” brand idea into new food categories?
  • Strategies: 1) Advertise Special K’s brand idea of “empowering women,” focused on women who are frustrated by “lose and gain” diet fads, to move new consumers from awareness to trial and gain share. 2) Build a low-calorie innovation plan across the entire grocery store focused on our most loyal Special K lovers, to drive trial of new items and successfully enter new markets.
  • Tactics: New master brand advertising to project brand idea. Continue to improve shakes and potato chips product lines. Launch into breakfast snacks. Explore product innovation into pitas and pizzas.

Competitive strategy statement example using the Apple brand

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

Building those strategy statements into the Apple Brand Plan

If you took the strategic thinking model and began to outline a brand plan for the Apple brand, these would be the core elements:Vision: Apple wants everyone in the world to be part of the future.

  • Goals: Continue aggressive sales growth, geographic expansion into China, launch new consumer-friendly technology each year.
  • Key issues: 1) How do we convey Mac’s superior user experience versus the traditional PC? 2) How do we enter the music industry and increase the availability of online music to support our iPod?
  • Strategies: 1) Apple will launch a full communications assault to challenge the PC/Microsoft Windows dominant position by finding flaws in the PC to contrast with Mac computers’ simplicity to steal significant market share by enticing frustrated PC consumers to buy a Mac. 2) Apple will launch a full assault against the entire music industry with a disruptive innovator stance to show how iTunes provides higher quality digital music on your iPod much cheaper, faster and smarter than CDs to gain an entry point into the music industry.
  • Tactics: TV advertising to highlight new features and challenge competitors. Launch innovation each year including phones, tablets, online music, watches, and personal computers. Launch specific products for China. Increase retail space around the world. Build out the e-commerce program.

Here’s how it can all come together into building out your brand plan:

To read how to write a brand plan:

To keep you going on your thinking on your own brand, here’s some examples of a few different options for strategy statements, with a focus on different types of strategy such as your brand’s core strength, consumer strategy, competitive strategy, and situational strategy.

Get our Brand Plans template

  • Our Brand Plan PowerPoint file includes ideal slides for vision, purpose, analysis, key issues, strategies, brand positioning statement, and execution plans.
  • Provides formatted blank slides with key marketing definitions where you can insert your own brand plan.
  • Access to our one-page brand plan and our one-page Brand Strategy Roadmap.

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

To purchase our Beloved Brands playbook, click on the icon where you buy your books 

Build your marketing skills with our post on how to create a brand positioning

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

A simple way to help you create your personal profile

Posted on Posted in How to Guide for Marketers

Your personal profile can be a lead tool for telling your brand story, whether on your LinkedIn profile, on your personal blog, or at any industry events. You can work on a long and shorter version of the bio.

Everyone should have a personal profile to tell their brand story

  • Start with your desired reputation by thinking of a personal vision statement for how you wish to be viewed five or ten years from now. 
  • Talk about the difference you make, whether it is in your job or business you are leading. 
  • Outline your background qualifications, including employment history, notable awards, or education degrees. 
  • Layer in other unique experiences, publications, event participation, or charity involvement. 
    To end, as we would with a brand, provide your stated promise declaration, which is your purpose behind your vision. Using your promise is a compelling way to end your profile.

Four Questions to define your personal brand

  1. How do you define yourself, by where in the marketplace you see yourself having the biggest impact? 
  2. What is the primary benefit you provide your target, whether they are potential prospects? 
  3. What is the secondary benefit you provide your target, whether they are potential prospects? 
  4. What is the expected result you deliver, that matches up to your target’s potential goals? 


Brainstorm worksheet

This model is a great way to summarize yourself, based on what you have done over the last few years. Make sure your definitions are more forward-looking with an aspiration for what you want to be, not stuck in what you have been. Once you get that done, you can then begin to piece it all together and see what your own 7-second pitch might start to look like. Keep tightening that pitch until it flows. 

Use your personal brand idea to establish consistency across every media choice you use

In today’s cluttered media world, use your personal brand idea to help organize all types of marketing communication efforts, including your brand story, sales material, networking, creating your own home page or blog, managing the search of yourself, portraying your personal brand through social media, and looking to establish yourself through any influence marketing.
When telling your brand story, you now have many media options available, including white papers, blog posts, LinkedIn updates, networking meetings, or delivering presentations at industry events. Tell the same brand story, with consistent layers of brand messaging. There is nothing wrong with repetition, primarily if you use various media options to make it more engaging.

click to enlarge

Now, you can get our ideal brand plan format

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New Nike Offline shoes, designed to unplug and unwind while at home

Posted on Posted in How to Guide for Marketers
Nike work from home shoes

What do you think of the new Nike Offline shoe? 

Are they so ugly, they are kinda cute, or just plain ugly? Nike believes that with all those people working from home in 2020, and with the mental health benefit of taking time to unplug and disconnect, the Nike Offline ultra-comfort shoes are the answer. Maybe if you are working from home, the appearance of your footwear doesn’t matter. The new Nike Offline is designed for when “doing nothing” is the most important thing for you to recharge.

Click any of these photos to enlarge for close up

Do you think Nike Offline is a good idea or bad?

Fashion seems to be in the eye of the beholder. Are these shoes so ugly they are cute, or this ugly-croc-like shoe a complete misfit for Nike? 

We are living unprecedented times, and consumers are willing to recognize the effort brands make during 2020 to do whatever we can to adjust to our current times. As someone working 100% from home right now, I think I have worn shorts 100 days in a row. As Nike Offline shoes are positioned as the ultimate comfort shoe to help deal with any anxiety issues, consumers will appreciate the effort to help consumers deal with the anxiety and uncertainty of 2020. 

Once we return to normal, these shoes might get lost in the back of your closet. And when you clean your closet in 2025, it might give you a chuckle to remember back to the nutty summer of 2020. 

My verdict: Nike Offline shoes are a cute short-term tactical idea that does not fit the longer-term Nike brand strategy.

click to enlarge

Now, you can get our ideal brand plan format

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

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

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

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

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

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

marketing training
Play Video

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

The world’s first drive-thru art exhibit built for the coronavirus

Posted on Posted in How to Guide for Marketers

This weekend, I was lucky to attend “Gogh by car,” which is the world’s first drive-thru art exhibit. The organizers intended to launch a regular art exhibit this spring, but then the coronavirus hit. Instead of giving up, they came up with something incredibly creative. They let ten cars into the drive-thru art exhibit every hour.

People are feeling stuck in their homes, yet still looking for something safe and clean. Tickets to this event sold out fast, and I jumped at the opportunity.

“We have been working around the clock to come up with innovative approaches that will make the Immersive Van Gogh exhibit safe for our audiences while keeping our artists, contractors, and staff employed at their pre-COVID salaries,” said co-producer Svetlana Dvoretsky.

“We recognize the devastating impact that coronavirus continues to have on the livelihood of artists and the cultural industry; and will continue to do our part to support artists and make art accessible during these extraordinary circumstances. We believe strongly in the resilience of culture in this great city.”

Have a look at one of my videos from the Gogh by Car drive-thru exhibit

Drive-thru art exhibit
Play Video

As a consumer, the creativity of this drive-thru art exhibit was shocking. We had an absolute blast. Making use of technology, yet with full respect for the art, they were able to bring Van Gogh’s work to life. The moving windmills, the brush strokes of the sky, and the vibrant colors against a 20-foot screen. I kept thinking of the first time I saw Cirque de Soleil, and this felt equally shockingly good. That’s the type of creativity I love. 

We drove our car into a warehouse in downtown Toronto, one of ten cars. They stopped by our car selling drinks and merchandise, and we purchased Van Gogh masks. It is 2020. The show lasted about 35 minutes, perfectly accompanied by fitting music. The cost was quite high at $95 Canadian ($72 US or 60 Euros) but certainly worth it. I sure hope someone comes up with a Monet version of this show. 

A second video from the Gogh by Car drive-thru art exhibit

Drive-thru art exhibit
Play Video

Click on any of these Gogh by Car photos to expand

As we open back up, consumers don't want you to completely change your brand; they just want a safer, cleaner version of the brand they have always loved

As consumers move out of the quarantine, they are looking for alternatives where they can escape crowds into their own bubble of isolation. Consumers also want to eliminate any personal touch with others. Yet, contradicting all the fear inside them, these lonely, isolated consumers crave ideas that will allow them to avoid feeling stuck so they can have fun again. 

The Gogh by Car drive-thru art exhibit nailed all three elements of the sweet spot. We were in our car feeling safe from the usual crowds of an art exhibit and we avoided any direct contact. Yet, we got out for a nice evening to avoid feeling stuck inside the house watching Netflix. I love the creativity the producers of the event used to bring their event to life in 2020. 

click to enlarge

Now, you can get our ideal brand plan format

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

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

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

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

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

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

marketing training
Play Video

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

Non-marketers should stop telling marketers how to do their jobs

Posted on Posted in How to Guide for Marketers

Every marketer in the world has suffered the stop-by at the desk, having to listen to the dumbest ideas ever. The finance person, plant manager, even the CEO all stop by and say, “You know what would be a great idea…” And we have to listen and smile, and then say “great idea” no matter how dumb or lame the idea is. This is the curse of being a marketer because non-marketers always tell us how to do our jobs. 

No one ever tells a pilot, “I hear the Pittsburgh airspace is good today” or tells a surgeon about a new scalpel their taxidermist uncle uses. I don’t even think accountants get non-accountants stop by their desk and tell them how to do accounts payables. 

I suppose that everyone who has a TV and can critique Super Bowl ads or those with a Twitter account can believe they can now say they are a marketing expert. And every marketer has to endure the ideas of the non-marketers.

The commentary that I see coming from non-marketers is borderline cringe-worthy or hilarious.

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

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

Do you even know what marketers do?

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

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

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

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

Marketers don’t just “do marketing.” We run a business

I am glad so many want to be in Marketing. But you really should have to earn your way into it. Go interview for a job, get rejected a few times, push to really get in there, and then learn like a ton for a few years. 

I spent 20 years in marketing. I could not believe how much I learned in my first five years, then even more in the next five, then way more in the following five and absolute insane amount in those last five years. I’ve now been a consultant for ten years, and I swear I know twice as much as I learned in the first 20. It is a never-ending learning process. 

Marketing is harder than it looks. 

We are not experts in anything. While marketers don’t make the product, we don’t sell the product or create the ads, we do touch everything that goes into the marketplace, and we make every decision. All of our work is done through other people. Our greatness as a brand leader has to come from the experts we engage, so they will be inspired to reach for their own greatness and apply it to our brand. 

Brand management has been built on a hub-and-spoke system, with a team of experts surrounding the generalist brand leader. Marketing is not just an activity. The best marketers have to think, define, plan, execute, and analyze, using all parts of your brain, energy, and creativity.

This is everything a marketer must be able to do

brand management

The crucial skills marketers need

To achieve your full potential in your career, brand leaders must know how  to think strategically, define the brand positioning, build a brand plan that everyone can follow, inspire creative marketing execution that drives brand growth, and analyze the performance of the business.  

  1. Concerning strategic thinking, you need to use challenging and interruptive questions, take a holistic view of the brand, lead strategic debates on the issues, and make smart strategic decisions.
  2. To define your brand, you must know how to find the consumer target, understand the potential functional and emotional benefits, create an ownable and motivating brand positioning statement, then build out a brand idea that guides every consumer touchpoint on the brand. 
  3. To write a brand plan, you need are to lead all elements of the plan, turn your strategic thinking into strategic objective statements, present to senior management, and develop smart execution plans. 
  4. For marketing execution, you must be able to write a brief, lead the project management aspect of any marketing execution, inspire the experts, and make smart decisions. 
  5. When it comes to analytics, you need to know the sources of data, be able to dig into the analysis, lead a deep-dive business review, and write an analytical performance report.
 
Beloved Brands marketing model

click to enlarge

Now, you can get our ideal brand plan format

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

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

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

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

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

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

marketing training
Play Video

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

Apple’s ‘work from home’ video absolutely nails the consumer insights

Posted on Posted in How to Guide for Marketers

One of my favorite types of ads is the “consumer insights on film” as these connect with exactly how we feel about a situation. Apple’s latest ‘work from home’ video absolutely nails those consumer insights.

What is a Consumer Insight? Our definition for consumer insights is the little secrets hidden beneath the surface, that explain the underlying behaviors, motivations, pain points and emotions of your consumers. 

Consumer insights come to life through your advertising when told in such a captivating way that makes consumers stop and say “Hmmm, that’s exactly how I feel. I thought I was the only one who felt like that.” That’s why we laugh when seeing the way that consumer insight is projected with humor. That is why we get goose bumps when a consumer insight is projected with inspiration. And, that’s why we cry when the consumer insight comes alive through real-life drama.

Have a look at Apple's new work from home video

The Apple video is a raw demonstration of what we are going through as we work from home. Lots of little insights we can all relate to as we each experience the realities of work from home.  After a couple of days, it already has 13 million views. 

Explore our 360-degree mining tool 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. Here’s an example using consumers who are trying to quit smoking. 

Consumer Observations

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.

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.

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.

What we feel: Use observations and listening to match the emotional need states with how the use of your brand makes them feel.

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.

The power of observation

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. 

Understanding the emotions

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.” 

Watch our quit smoking ad which demonstrates these consumer insights

Play Video

Build your insights right into the brief

Every brand concept should start with the consumer insights that connects the consumer. You should also make sure you have those consumers insights build into the creative brief. You will notice that our brief is half consumer, half brand, which is an indication that your creative delivery connects the consumer with the brand. 

If you want insightful work, like Apple’s work from home video, you need to do all the thinking and work to capture how consumers feel. Gather all the nuggets and display them on film, on a poster, your content stories or your new products. 

Consumer Insights

Now, you can get our ideal creative brief format

  • Get our Creative Brief template, Media Brief template, and our Mini Brief template in a downloadable PowerPoint file.
  • This includes a ready-to-use formatted blank slide with key marketing definitions where you can insert your own creative brief, media brief and mini brief for specific projects.

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

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

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

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

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

marketing training
Play Video

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