How to use a Big Idea to capture the consumer’s mind and heart

Posted on Posted in How to Guide for Marketers

[sg_popup id=”9″ event=”onload”][/sg_popup]A Big Idea for your brand ensures consistency in the consumers mind as they notice, test, decide and experience the brand. The brand needs to be able to tell their story in 7 seconds, 60 seconds, 30 minutes and over the lifetime of the brand.

Have you ever gone to a party where you “weren’t yourself” that night? That’s when the outer projection of your image does not match with your inner views of what you are comfortable with. It is the same thing for brands. A brand finds equilibrium when the internal BRAND SOUL, matches up perfectly to the external REPUTATION that it creates in the market place. The role of the BIG IDEA is to unite these two and ensure you are working every touch-point of the internal organization and external consumer face with the same brand messaging. 

The Big Idea should serve to simplify the brand message with an outward expression of the Brand Soul, which reflects the purpose, values, beliefs and motivations that form the brand culture.

In this crowded marketplace, the first connection point for consumers has to be the Big Idea as they are only willing to give a brand 7 seconds to capture their attention. As consumers experience the brand for the first time, they either accept or reject idea whether it matches up to their expectations based on their first impression from the big idea. Consumers who are continually satisfied with the brand experience start to become loyal and develop a bond with brand. They will build routines or rituals around the brand. Should the brand become one of their favorites, we will see consumers transform their brand love into a reputation they spread within their social network.

Are you starting to see that the Big Idea has to not only be the first connection point for consumers, but rather every connection point? The Big idea must be unique, own-able and motivating. It must gain a quick entry, be layered easily and have longevity over the life of the brand. 

How to use a Big Idea Brand Concept

While I love the JUST DO IT tagline for Nike, that is a creative big idea, not a strategic big idea.The “Just Do it” tagline does not guide the design of next year’s shoe, the overall experience you are trying to create with the brand, it does not help decide who to hire to work the retail stores, or what celebrity athlete to hire. The strategic Big Idea for Nike is: “Nike pushes your athletic boundaries beyond what you thought was possible, so you can win on your own terms.” A slogan never drives your brand strategy. But a great brand strategy should drive your slogan. We need to stop thinking that Brand Strategy is only about the external consumer view, as it is equally about the internal culture and operations. Next time your ad agency says “Let’s vet the brand concept past our creative people”, you should say “sure, let me invite our HR manager to attend that discussion”. By the way, if you are an ad agency, have you ever asked to speak to someone in HR?  

Here are four examples of strategic Big Ideas, that would help me to communicate with consumers, build innovation, manage the purchase moment and build experiences around the brand:

How to use a Big Idea Brand Concept

Creating the Big Idea

To ensure we have an idea that is big enough to guide every part of the organization, we start by describing the brand as to the products and services that we sell and matches that up to the external brand reputation among consumers. We describe what internal beacons are within the brand that would help guide the entire internal brand culture and organization that supports the brand as well as the brand character as it touches consumers. We would also describe the role of the brand, about how it connects the brand with consumers, the link between the internal soul and the external reputation. 

The Big Idea Blueprint below shows everything that must be considered for creating the Big Idea.

How to use a Big Idea Brand Concept

 

To describe the product we recommend that you  start by figuring out exactly what you do, in the most passionate words that would excite you and your consumers. This should be matched up to the Brand Reputation to ensure the external and internal alignment. You should assess how your most engaged and loyal consumers would view your offering, to ensure it attracts, excites and engages them in a way that changes their behavior. From there, you should move to the Internal Brand Beacon, which helps to create an internal rallying cry for everyone to follow that reflects the purpose, values, motivations to deliver the brand you created. This should be matched up to the Brand Character, which are the emotional characteristics, and personality traits that help consumers connect passionately with the brand. The role of the brand serves as the bridge between the internal and external brand. Assume a role for how you can ensure consumers can get the most from what you do.

Step One

Using our fictional Grays Cookie brand, under the five sections of the Big Idea blue print, we brainstorm 10-15 words for each area, then vote to narrow down to the best 3-4 words.

How to use a Big Idea Brand Concept

 

 

Step Two

Take the best 3-4 words for each section and build key phrases that summarize each area.

How to use a Big Idea Brand Concept

 

This forces you to almost write a big idea for each unique section of the Blue Print. It also serves to stimulate the creative writing juices on the team, which will help in step three

Step Three

Using the 5 areas to inspire you, try to write a summary Big Idea statement that captures everything you have worked on.

How to use a Big Idea Brand Concept

 

Creating a Brand Concept

When writing the Brand concept you should use the work from the Brand Positioning Statement and the Big Idea blue print.

How to use a Big Idea Brand Concept

 

 

If you have done a good amount of work on the Brand Positioning and created a Big Idea, you will see how easy it is to write winning concepts.

When writing the brand concept, the main headline should capture the big idea of your brand. Obviously the headline is the first thing consumers see, so it should contain the big idea that you want your brand to stand behind. Use the opening statement of the concept to connect quickly with your target consumers by starting with their enemy or insight. I love using the enemy because it can be a very arresting way to really make the consumer say “That’s me”. Bring the main benefit to life in a compelling promise statement. I prefer it to have an emotional/rational balance in the promise. At the very least, the emotion modifies the rational. The promise statement then forces us to bring in the two reasons to believe (RTBs) to help back that up. Avoid a laundry list of support points, only putting what you could realistically put into an advertisement or package. I like to add a motivating call to action at the end to help prompt purchase intent. Adding a supporting visual is optional, but it helps connect with consumers. 

How to use a Big Idea Brand Concept

 

At Beloved Brands, we lead workshops to help teams find their Brand Positioning, helping the team define their target, benefits and reason to believe so they can find a space that is unique, own-able and motivating. Click on the Powerpoint file below to view:

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

At Beloved Brands, we promise that we will make your brand stronger and your brand leaders smarter. We can help you come up with your brand’s Brand Positioning, Big Idea and Brand Concept. We also can help create Brand Plans that everyone in your organization can follow and helps to focus your Marketing Execution. We provide a new way to look at Brand Management, that uses a provocative approach to align your brand to the sound fundamentals of brand management. 

We will make your team of Brand Leaders smarter so they can produce exceptional work that drives stronger brand results. We offer brand training on every subject in marketing, related to strategic thinking, analytics, brand planning, positioning, creative briefs, customer marketing and marketing execution. 

To contact us, email us at graham@beloved-brands.com or call us at 416-885-3911. You can also find us on Twitter @belovedbrands

Beloved Brands Graham Robertson 

10 Best Super Bowl Ads ever

Posted on Posted in Beloved Brands in the Market

 

We have looked at all the Super Bowl Ads over the years, and used Ad Meter results to narrow the list and then our own judgment on how it did on the ABC’S: Attention, Branding Communication, and Stickiness. At Beloved Brands, we believe that Marketing Execution combines Branded Breakthrough (how you say it) and Moveable Messaging (what you say). Taking this one step further, the execution has to breaks through the clutter (Attention) and link closely to the brand name (Branding). The execution must communicate the main message (Communication) and makes brand seem different (Stickiness)


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Here are the top 10 Super Bowl ads of all time. Enjoy.

 

Coke “Mean Joe Greene” (1979)

Bit of that 1970s “cheese” for you, but I remember this one from my teens. Strong on Communication through story-telling and Stickiness. The spot has become as iconic as the drink itself.

Apple 1984 (1984)

Great story of this ad in the Steve Jobs book–how the board never wanted to run it and they lied about the media commitment. This was one of the first big Super Bowl ads, that changed the way advertisers saw the Super Bowl slots. Movie Quality of the filming does a great job in gaining Attention and Stickiness as it has stood the test of time for 30 years. A bit weak on communication, but that might have more to do with the lack of things to say about the product, so they led more with brand image and attitude as the core distinctiveness.

 

McDonald’s Jordan vs Bird (1992)

This one had a lot of breakthrough and left us with the phrase “nothing but net”. With these two celebrities at their peak, it was high on Attention, strong storytelling, pretty good branding and had some phrasing that had some stickiness for years 

 

Cindy Crawford “New Can” (1992)

Not much needs to be said about this one, other than that they repeated this 10 years later and she still looked the same. Definitely, Attention-getting with a very simple message Communication that helped drive Brand link. Not a lot of stickiness for consumers.

 

Budweiser: WASSUP! (1999)

The simplicity of this one, but it really does capture a male-bonding insight of how guys do interact with their buddies. Hilarious ad was exceptional at Attention and certainly Stickiness as everyone was saying this phrase for a year. Didn’t really communicate much.

 

Budweiser 9/11 Tribute (2002)

Even after all these years, this one might bring a tear to your eye. Months after the tragedy of 9/11, this one takes the American icons of Budweiser and the Clydesdales marching through the streets of America and gives a nice salute to NYC. High on Attention, with deep emotions, strong Brand cues, and certainly the storytelling aided the Communication. Even though only shown once, high on Stickiness as it still really brings back those emotions. 

 

Google “Parisian” (2009)

Beautiful ad that shows the power of Google as an enabling brand to your life. A great example of using quietness to drive Attention. The Branding is obviously incredible, but as it links nicely to the story telling that Communicates how Google is part of everyone’s life. The emotional feelings certainly aid the Stickiness. This is one of the best Ads I’ve ever seen. 

 

Snicker’s Betty White (2010)

Whatever Betty was paid, she’s made millions since because of this spot. Quickly after this one, the power of a Facebook page demanded that Betty host Saturday Night Live. A great little spot that was incredible on Attention and Stickiness. The Communication is a Big Idea for the brand and kick-started a campaign that has lasted for years, even if Snicker’s has yet to fully capture in their pool outs on this campaign.

 

Chrysler Eminem (2011)

I love the tone of this spot, perfect casting with Eminem–the rawness of his voice, attitude, and authenticity. The repeat in 2012 using Clint Eastwood was a good spot as well, but not quite up to the Eminem version. “Imported from Detroit” is a very big idea. Love it. High on Attention and Communication. The only problem is that Chrysler hasn’t invested enough in this idea since. 

 

Ram “farmer” (2013)

One of my fav ads of all time, and takes such a huge artistic risk by launching such a quiet ad that really tugs at the heart, when most other brands are doing slapstick ads. The shrill voice of Paul Harvey captures the Attention, especially against all the slapstick ads. The Communication of “Americana” comes through, and whether you’re a farmer or not, if you are a hard-working American, this should be your truck!!!

 

Good luck to this year’s Super Bowl, as many of us will be watching the TV ads as much as we’re watching the game. The power of the venue as the Super Bowl out draws the final game of the other 3 sports (Baseball, Basketball, and Hockey) combined. Let’s hope for a great game and maybe one great ad to add to this list.

At Beloved Brands, we run workshops to train marketers in all aspects of marketing from strategic thinking, analysis, writing brand plans, creative briefs and reports, judging advertising and media. To see a WORKSHOP ON MARKETING EXECUTION, click on the Powerpoint presentation below:

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

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

The best solutions are likely inside you already, but struggle to come out. Our unique engagement tools are the backbone of our strategy workshops. These tools will force you to think differently so you can freely generate many new ideas. At Beloved Brands, we bring our challenging voice to help you make decisions and refine every potential idea.

We help brands find growth

We start by defining a brand positioning statement, outlining the desired target, consumer benefits and support points the brand will stand behind. And then, we build a big idea that is simple and unique enough to stand out in the clutter of the market, motivating enough to get consumers to engage, buy and build a loyal following with your brand. Finally, the big idea must influence employees to personally deliver an outstanding consumer experience, to help move consumers along the journey to loving your brand.

We will help you write a strategic brand plan for the future, to get everyone in your organization to follow. It starts with an inspiring vision that pushes your team to imagine a brighter future. We use our strategic thinking tools to help you make strategic choices on where to allocate your brand’s limited resources. We work with your team to build out project plans, creative briefs and provide advice on marketing execution.

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

We make Brand Leaders smarter

We believe that investing in your marketing people will pay off. With smarter people behind your brands will drive higher revenue growth and profits. With our brand management training program, you will see smarter strategic thinking, more focused brand plans, brand positioning, better creative briefs that steer your agencies, improved decision-making on marketing execution, smarter analytical skills to assess your brand’s performance and a better management of the profitability of the brand.

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

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

 

Beloved Brands Graham Robertson

 

What type of Marketer are you? Build your career around your natural strength

Posted on Posted in How to Guide for Marketers

It is that time of year when your mind starts to think about your career and where will you go next. You just had your performance review, salary increase or bonus check and now you’re thinking, when will I hit the big time? Here are 5 questions that you should be asking yourself at every point (at least once a year) of your career:

  1. Within your current company, how high up do you think you can realistically go
  2. Should you stay in the same industry or look at new verticals?
  3. Should you stay in pure Brand Management or venture into a subject-matter expert type roles?
  4. How long do you want to keep working?
  5. Do you stay an employee or do you take this moment to leap out on your own?

Identifying your natural strength

I have so many friends and colleagues who want to move up in their organization. I’m always up for a good career debate and probing on strengths and weakness, yet there is one question, no brand leader likes to answer: 

If I forced to pick one natural strength out of these four choices, which would you pick: Running the business, marketing execution, strategic thinking or leading people?

It should be a pretty easy question to answer, but we have trained ourselves to want to present ourselves as “generalists” and avoid the specialist label. We believe the only way to get promoted, get more money and more power is to become pretty good at all four. But that’s really a lie. I’ve met thousands of great Marketers over the years, but I’m yet to meet any that are great at all four. Everyone normally has natural strength and a natural gap. No matter how hard they work at becoming a generalist, that gap keeps showing gup. Early in my career, I was all about Marketing Execution and had some weakness at each level in leading and managing people leadership. In the back half of my career, I became more strategic, but still had that same nagging gap in leading people. 

Brand Careers 2016.011

Let’s make this a game using the board above. We will give you 4 chips, forcing you to put one at the high, two at the middle to support the strength, and let go of one at the low. You have to have a natural lead strength and be honest about your gap.

  1. Do you like running the business and managing products
  2. Do you like marketing execution and being creative, either generating ideas or executing creativity?
  3. Are you a strategic thinker, enjoying the planning side of the business?
  4. Are you a leader of leaders, with a passion for leading people?

There is this belief that generalists rise higher and make more money. That is if you stay on the client side of Marketing. You can make just as much money and feel just as powerful by moving outside the organization and finding a place that suits your true calling. Try asking yourself this question, because I’ve asked it hundreds of time and no one ever answers it the first time. Nearly every time I hear “I’m pretty good at all four”. And then I ask 5 more times till we get the real answer.

 

Core Strength: Running the business and managing brands

  • You’re naturally a business leader, who enjoys the thrill of hitting the numbers–financial or share goals. In Myers Briggs, you might be an ENTJ/INTJ (introvert/extrovert, intuition, thinking, judgment) the “field general” who brings the intuitive logic and quick judgment to make decisions quickly to capitalize on business opportunity.
  • You like product innovation side more than advertising. You are fundamentally sound in the core elements of running a business—forecasting, analytics, finance, distribution—working each functional areas to the benefit of the products. You may have gaps in creativity or people leadership, but you’re comfortable giving freedom to your agencies or team to handle the creative execution.
  • My recommendation is to stay within Product Management as long as you can. If you find roadblocks in your current industry, go into new verticals before you venture into new career choices. Consider running businesses on behalf of Private Equity firms or venture into Entrepreneurship where you take your core strength of running a business.

Career Options for those who are strongest at running brands

  • Product Management
  • Shift across industries
  • Lead Private Equity Turnarounds
  • Lead Acquisitions
  • Entrepreneurship

Core Strength: Marketing Execution

  • You are the type of Brand Leader who is highly creative and connects more to ideas and insights than strict facts and tight business decisions. You believe facts can guide you but never decide for you. You are high on perception, allowing ambiguous ideas to breathe before closing down on them. You respect the creative process and creative people. You are intuitive in deciding what is a good or bad idea. You may have gaps in the areas of organizational leadership or strategy development that hurts you from becoming a senior leader.
  • Staying in the Marketing area, you may end up limited in moving beyond an executional role. You may be frustrated in roles that would limit your creativity. Moving into a Director level role could set you up for failure. Look to grab a subject matter expert type role in an internal advertising, media, innovation role or merchandising.
  • Going forward beyond Marketing, consider switching to the Agency side or Consult on a subject-matter expertise (Innovation, Marketing Communication or Public Relations) to build on your strengths.

Career Options for those who are strongest at Marketing Execution

  • Executional Agency
  • Subject Matter Specialist
  • Ideation Brainstorm Facilitation
  • Business Development

Core Strength: Strategic Thinking

  • You enjoy the planning more than the execution. You might fall into the INTP, where you’re still using logic and intuition, stronger at the thinking that helps frame the key issues and strategies than making the business decisions. The introvert side would also suggest that your energy comes from what’s going on in your brain, than externally. An honest assessment would suggest that managing and directing the work of others is likely not be a strength.
  • If you stay within the marketing industry, you would be very strong in a Global Brand role, General Management or even a Strategic Planning role. You need to either partner with someone who is strong at Marketing Execution or build a strong team of business leaders beneath you.
  • Going outside, you would enjoy Consulting and thought leadership which could turn into either an academic or professional development type roles. Continue building your thought leadership to carve out a specific perspective or reputation where you can monetize.

Career Options who are strongest at Strategic Thinking

  • Global Marketing
  • Consulting/Coaching
  • Thought Leadership
  • Adjunct Professor
  • Business Development
  • Writing/Speaker Series

Core Strength: Leader of People

  • You find natural strength in leading other. You are skilled in getting the most from someone’s potential. You are good at conflict resolution, providing feedback, inspiring/motivation and career management of others.
  • You are a natural extrovert and get your energy from seeing others on your team succeed. As you move up, you should surround yourself with people who counter your gaps–whether that is on strategy or Marketing Execution.
    If you find yourself better at Management than Marketing, and you should pursue a General Management role where you become a leader of leaders. You would benefit from a cross functional shift into sales or operations to gain various perspectives of the business enable you to take on a general management role in the future.
  • After you hit your peak within the corporate world, consider careers such as Executive Coaching where the focus remains on guiding people.

Career Options who are strongest at leading people

  • General Management
  • Stay within Brand Management
  • Cross functional roles
  • Partner in Entrepreneurship
  • Personal Executive Coach

Follow your natural strength to realize your full potential

Brand Careers 2016.004At Beloved Brands, we lead workshops on Careers in Brand Management to inspire teams to find their full potential as a Brand Leader. This workshop looks at building your career around your natural strength as a Marketer, we provide a full assessment that looks at skills, behaviors and experiences, we provide tips for how to succeed at every level in Marketing. Where is your career now And then we talk about ways to help build your personal brand, around an idea and a plan. Click on the Powerpoint file below to view:

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

At Beloved Brands, we promise that we will make your brand stronger and your brand leaders smarter. We can help you come up with your brand’s Brand Positioning, Big Idea and Brand Concept. We also can help create Brand Plans that everyone in your organization can follow and helps to focus your Marketing Execution. We provide a new way to look at Brand Management, that uses a provocative approach to align your brand to the sound fundamentals of brand management. 

We will make your team of Brand Leaders smarter so they can produce exceptional work that drives stronger brand results. We offer brand training on every subject in marketing, related to strategic thinking, analytics, brand planning, positioning, creative briefs, customer marketing and marketing execution. 

To contact us, email us at graham@beloved-brands.com or call us at 416-885-3911. You can also find us on Twitter @belovedbrandsBBI Creds Training 2016 red.019

 

New Axe ad campaign trying to be the “Dove” brand for young men

Posted on Posted in How to Guide for Marketers

71hRmSv1NvL._SL1500_The Axe consumer has grown up and now Axe wants to grow up with that consumer. When my son was 13, he started using the Axe brand. One day, I was walking past him and he asked if I wanted a spray.  I said “No, I don’t want to smell like a 13-year-old”. My son is now in University now and uses “The One” by Dolce and Gabana. Even he doesn’t want to smell like a 13-year-old. And now, Axe is showing they no longer want to be the brand for 13-year-olds. They want to grow up.

Axe has released an Ad campaign that feels a bit like Dove’s “Real Beauty” campaign. (Axe and Dove are both owned by Unilever) Unilever does a fantastic job in bringing consumer insights into their work. “Masculinity today is going through seismic changes. More than ever, guys are rejecting rigid male stereotypes,” says Matthew McCarthy, senior director of Axe and men’s grooming at Unilever. “We’ve been part of guys’ lives for decades, and Axe champions real guys and the unique traits that make them attractive to the world around them. In recent years, Internet searches by men on hair tips eclipsed female in volume. Men are curious about experimenting and trying different things and are spending more time in front of the mirror. It’s much more acceptable.”

The new Axe message is “you don’t have to be perfect, just be your best self”. The ad shows various iterations of the new modern man from brainiacs to one with a big nose, from protestors to dancing in heels or dancing in a wheel chair. Whoever you are, Axe wants you to feel good about yourself and “Find your magic”. 

The challenge for Axe is that it will take time to transform. They will have to stand by their convictions should sales slip. The Axe brand did such a great job in creating that edgy, hilarious, egomaniac, sexy teenage male positioning, the reputation of Axe is deeply engrained in our minds. Here’s the type of Ad we are normally used to seeing from Axe.

This is a good start for Axe brand. It will take time to transform the brand. My hope is they they don’t give up quickly. 

At Beloved Brands, we lead workshops on Marketing Execution that can help your brand team explore their role as a leader in the process, how to write a strategic brief, how to judge and make decisions on marketing execution and then how to give feedback to the agencies. Here’s the powerpoint file:

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

At Beloved Brands, we promise that we will make your brand stronger and your brand leaders smarter. We can help you come up with your brand’s Brand Positioning, Big Idea and Brand Concept. We also can help create Brand Plans that everyone in your organization can follow and helps to focus your Marketing Execution. We provide a new way to look at Brand Management, that uses a provocative approach to align your brand to the sound fundamentals of brand management. 

We will make your team of Brand Leaders smarter so they can produce exceptional work that drives stronger brand results. We offer brand training on every subject in marketing, related to strategic thinking, analytics, brand planning, positioning, creative briefs, customer marketing and marketing execution. 

To contact us, email us at graham@beloved-brands.com or call us at416-885-3911. You can also find us on Twitter @belovedbrandsPositioning 2016.081

Coke’s new Ad campaign has more fizzle than sizzle

Posted on Posted in Beloved Brands in the Market

coke-taste-the-feeling-1I have been impressed with Coke’s Marketing execution the past couple of years. I love the Coke Freestyle machines where you can customize your own drink from up to 100 options. And I have to admit loving the names on the bottle, even though I had my doubts in the beginning. All that great stuff, and yet the sales have been sluggish for the past 15 months. It’s not the activity that is at fault. It’s just that people want healthier options and Coke is now fighting against that major consumer movement away from Sugary or Aspartame drinks. Sugary cereals are going through the same crisis. But since Coke can’t “fix” the health trend, they may as well try to fix the activities–even if it’s not broken. 

With the earnings report showing that Coke’s revenue has fallen for the past 3 straight quarters, I can only imagine the CEO walking down the hall to find the CMO and say “we need your Advertising to sell more product”. 

At Beloved Brands, we believe that Advertising can only move one body part at a time: the head, the feet, the heart or the soul.Creative Brief 2016 Extract.001

Here’s a great example of a Coke ad idea called “Remove labels this Ramadan” that really touches the consumer’s soul. Even with 19 Million views, it likely didn’t sell a lot of Coke.

To me, an Advertising idea is like a magnet. When it gets too far away from the brand, it no longer moves the brand. The “share happiness” campaign was a huge umbrella idea, but likely so huge, the one thing it didn’t do is move product. 

Today, Coke announced two moves in rolling out their new “Taste the Feeling” advertising campaign. First, you will see in the work that they are clearly linking life moments with drinking Coke. Meaning the creative team was told: “we have to SELL MORE PRODUCT”. Or as I would say, the ads have to move feet.  Second, they announced they would have ONE Master Brand creative idea for all 3 Coke products, red Coke, Diet Coke and Coke Zero.

Here is the main spot Coke launched today, appropriately called Anthem.

I would say it’s an OK spot, not a great spot. For a 90 second spot called “Anthem” it lacks the emotional appeal you would expect, and it won’t really generate any viral share-ability. It has a lot of product shots, but not really the connectivity needed to move product. And I barely even noticed any Diet Coke or Coke Zero. 

To evaluate advertising, we use something we call the ABC’S, which stands for Attention, Branding, Communication and Stickiness. I’d say these score low on attention, moderate on branding, modest on communication and pretty low on stickiness. These type of spots that show a lot of consumer moments to a song usually end up as wallpaper that falls into the background of our multi-tasking lifestyle. There’s no real compelling story here.Marketing Execution 2016.055

Here’s another TV ad called “What is Coke for?”

Again, a bit generic. No emotional pull. Lots of Coke fizzle. And hard to find the Diet Coke or Coke Zero. 

The print does a better job in capturing emotion than the TV, showing how Coke fits in to various moments of your life. 

coke-taste-the-feeling-4

coke-taste-the-feeling-7

coke-taste-the-feeling-10

Here’s a challenge to Coke, if you are going to name your new spot “Anthem”. make sure it is as epic as this 1971 TV ad: 

Do you think this new campaign will increase Coke’s revenue?

Here’s a workshop we run on how to get better Marketing Execution. In this workshop, we go through how to come up with an Executional brief, based on both positioning and strategy, we take you through how to judge the work and how to provide motivating feedback to your agencies.

We make Brands stronger.

We make Brand Leaders smarter.™

BBI ads for 2015.011We offer brand coaching, where we promise to make your brand better by listening to the issues, providing advice that challenges you, and coaching you along a strategic pathway to reaching your brand’s full potential. For our brand leader training, we promise to make your team of brand leaders better, by teaching sound marketing fundamentals and challenging to push for greatness so that they can unleash their full potential. Feel free to add me on Linked In, or follow me on Twitter at @belovedbrands If you need to contact me, email me at graham@beloved-brands.com or phone me at 416 885 3911Positioning 2016.081

Six principles of good analytical thinking for Brand Leaders

Posted on Posted in How to Guide for Marketers

For Brand Leaders to keep moving up, you need to be good at all parts of marketing–skills, behaviors and experiences. As you manage your career, try to close gaps in each. The key skills you include brand analytics, strategic thinking, brand planning, decision-making and execution. One of the biggest skill gaps I see is the ability to do deep dive analytics and turn it into an analytical story that can set up decisions. From what I see, most people either don’t know how to dig in or when they dig in, they struggle to tell the story from the mounds of data they have gathered.

To help challenge your thinking, here are “Six principles of good analytical thinking for Brand Leaders”

Analytics 2016.011Principle #1: Use facts to support opinions or else what you say comes across as an empty opinion that leaves a room divided.



One tool I use is the “5 Questions tool” where you start with your hypothesis and then ask “so what does that mean” 5 times, each time helping analysis move from unsubstantiated opinion to action-able insight.

Analytics 2016.013

The benefit of this type of tool is it helps avoiding getting caught off guard when your senior management starts asking questions. Once you do that, I like to organize my thinking, like a newspaper (if those still exist) with a Headline, Opinion and 2-3 data points.Analytics 2016.014

Principle #2: Absolute numbers by themselves are useless. Always find comparisons.






Only when given a relative nature to something important do you find the data break that tells a story. Is 50 degrees Fahrenheit warm or cold? If it’s Ottawa Canada and it’s December 24th it HOT and it is front page news. If it’s Los Angeles on June 5th, it is COLD and front page news.

Back in the early 1900s, there was a famous baseball player whose name was Frank “Home Run” Baker. Yet, oddly enough, the most Home Runs he ever hit in a year was 12. You might think his name is sarcastic or wonder how the heck can he get the nickname “Home Run”. Because in a relative dead ball era of baseball, he won the home run crown four consecutive seasons starting in 1911 with 11, 10, 12 and 9 home runs.  Yes Babe Ruth would hit 54 and 60 home runs less than 10 years later but the ball had changed. The absolute number of home runs does not matter–because relatively speaking, Frank Baker was the best home run hitter of his generation and deserves to be called “Home Run” Baker.

Only when given a relative nature to something important do you find the data break that tells a story. You have to ground the data with a comparison, whether that’s versus prior periods, competitors, norms or the category. Every time you talk about a number, you have to talk about in relative terms—comparing it to something that is grounded: vs last year, vs last month, vs another brand, vs norm or vs England’s share. Is it up down, or flat? Never give a number without a relative nature—or your listener will not have a clue.Analytics 2016.016

Principle #3: The analytical story comes to life when you see a break in the data.




Comparative indexes and cross tabulations can really bring out the data breaks and gaps that can really tell a story. Use the “so what” technique to dig around and twist the data in unique ways until you find the point in which the data actually breaks and clear meaningful differences start to show. This is where the trend is exposed and you can draw a conclusion.

Example of finding data breaks

  • Distribution overall held at 82% throughout the year. At the macro level, it looks like there is no issue at distribution at all)
    Distribution on 16 count fell only a little bit over the year going from 74% to 71%. Even at one layer down—the count size—there’s still very little break in the data
  • Distribution on 16 count at Convenience stores went from 84% to 38% in the last 2 months. As we are starting to twist the data, it shows a dramatic and quick drop at the Convenience channel.  As you start to dig around you might find out that the biggest Convenience Customer, 7-11, delisted the brand recently.

Principle #4: Like an Old School Reporter, two source of data help frame the story.

Avoid taking one piece of data and making it the basis of your entire brand strategy. Make sure it’s a real trend. Dig around until you can find a convergence of data that leads to an answer. Look to find 2-3 facts that start to tell a story, and allows you to draw a conclusion. The good pure logic in a philosophical argument they teach you is “premise, premise conclusion” so if you see one trend line, look for a second before drawing a conclusion.

Principle #5: Deep analysis requires slower thinking time so you don’t misjudge situation.

The best Brand Leaders know when to be a strategic thinker and when to be an action thinker. Strategic thinkers see “what if” questions before seeing solutions, mapping out a range of decision trees that intersect and connect by imagining how events will play out. They take time to reflect and plan before acting, helping you move in a focused efficient fashion. They think slowly, logically, always needing options, but if go too slow, you will miss the opportunity window.

A good tool to get you thinking in terms of questions: separate your analysis into 5 buckets:

  1. What do we know? This should be fact based and you know it for sure.
  2. What do we assume? Your educated/knowledge based conclusion that helps us bridge between fact, and speculation.
  3. What we think? Based on facts, and assumptions, you should be able to say what we think will happen.
  4. What do we need to find out? There could be unknowns still.
  5. What are we going to do? It’s the action that comes out of this thinking.

Analytics 2016.026One of the best analysis you can do is the simple “where are we” page. It has 5 simple questions that make you think:

  1. Where are we?
  2. Why are we here?
  3. Where could we be?
  4. How can we get there?
  5. What do we need to do to get there?

Before you start your planning process, take a few hours to sit down at your desk and outline a few points for each point. You will start to see how the overall brand plan flows. These 5 questions start to map out your overall analysis, the key issues, the vision, strategy and tactics. 

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Principle #6: Use tools that can help organize and force deep dive thinking in key areas.

A Force Field analysis is best served for those brands in a sustaining position where marketing plays the role of driving innovation and creativity within a box. Always keep in mind that Drivers and Inhibitors are happening now. You can see the impact in the current year. Anything in the future gets moved down to Opportunities and Threats which are not happening but could happen. Invariably, people mix this up and things that could happen move up when they really shouldn’t.

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The best thing about the force field is you can easily take it into an action plan, because you want to keep the drivers going and overcome the inhibitors Then take advantage of the opportunities and minimize or eliminate any serious threats. It’s a great simple management tool.

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Good analytics get you to the point of “So what do you think”. From there, you will have to be a good decision-maker.

Here is our workshop on leading a deep dive business review including good analytical principles, assessing health and wealth of the brand, turning facts into insight, helping to set up strategic choices and turning the analytics into projections and analytical stories.

We make Brands stronger.

We make Brand Leaders smarter.™

We offer brand coaching, where we promise to make your brand better by listening to the issues, providing advice that challenges you, and coaching you along a strategic pathway to reaching your brand’s full potential. For our brand leader training, we promise to make your team of brand leaders better, by teaching sound marketing fundamentals and challenging to push for greatness so that they can unleash their full potential. Feel free to add me on Linked In, or follow me on Twitter at @belovedbrands If you need to contact me, email me at graham@beloved-brands.com or phone me at 416 885 3911

BBI Creds Deck 2016.014

How to answer “So, tell me about yourself” in 7 seconds

Posted on Posted in How to Guide for Marketers

Welcome to the job-hunting season.

In the modern economy, you should always be looking for a job, when you don’t have a job, and when you do have a job. I know it can be draining, but at least be constantly listening. Before you contemplate phoning your head hunter list, here’s 5 questions to help frame your thinking.

  1. Within your current company, how high up do you think you can realistically go
  2. Should you stay in the same industry or look at new verticals
  3. Should you stay in pure Brand Management or venture into a subject-matter expert type roles?
  4. How long do you want to keep working?
  5. Do you stay an employee or do you take this moment to leap out on your own?

Do your homework on your brand

From what I have seen, Marketers are better at marketing their brands and products than they are at marketing themselves. It is time to start thinking of yourself as a brand and how you will want to market yourself to get the job you want.

What is your core strength? 

While every Brand Leader claims to be a generalist, we normally each have a lead desire and lead strength:

  1. Do you like running the business and managing products
  2. Do you like marketing execution and being creative, either generating ideas or executing creativity?
  3. Are you a strategic thinker, enjoying the planning side of the business?
  4. Are you a leader of leaders, with a passion for leading people?

If you had to force yourself to choose one, which one would you pick?

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What is it that makes you unique?

There are tons of candidates on the street, many without jobs and many others who are in jobs beneath their capability. What makes you stand out. Think like a Marketer. Your hiring Manager is the target market. Think of what they want for the role, what you bring and what potential competitors bring, in order to find your unique selling proposition. When I was at the VP level looking, I realized that I was likely replacing someone they were dissatisfied so I positioned myself as a “turnaround leader”. But not every job or every leader is the same and your goal is not just to find a job, but to find the right role. Be honest in who you are.

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Take it a step further and do up your own Benefits Ladder, where you map out what the employer is looking for, what features you bring, how those translate into rational and emotional benefits. Classic marketing that we fail to do, when we are the brand.

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So now, the dreaded question:  Tell me about yourself.

Think of this like your 7 second brand speech, where you give a summation of your brand’s big idea. Here’s the tool we have created as help that answers how you define yourself, what is the primary benefit you provide and what is the secondary benefit you provide. Then wrap it up with an expected result.

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My answer was always: “As a brand leader, I find growth where others couldn’t and I create motivated brand teams that deliver great work to drive results.”  Answering all four questions within a 7 second span. But taking that further, I then lined up proof points to each part of the 7 second speech, thus becoming my 30 minute interview. I could line up 3 situations that answer the interviewers question, but then be able to tie that back to my big idea. 

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This 30 minute speech on one page can set up the stories you put on your resume or Linked In page. It can be something you review before the interview. If you want to get creative, one thing I do as a consultant is bring a laminated “brand placemat”. This would be a great tool to bypass the resume or a great leave behind for the hiring manager.

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So next time someone says “So, tell me about yourself”, you will know how to answer

To read more about Brand Careers, follow this presentation below. We have mapped out every skill and behavior your need to be successful as well as what it takes to thrive at each job level in Marketing.

 

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

At Beloved Brands, we promise that we will make your brand stronger and your brand leaders smarter. We can help you come up with your brand’s Brand Positioning, Big Idea and Brand Concept. We also can help create Brand Plans that everyone in your organization can follow and helps to focus your Marketing Execution. We provide a new way to look at Brand Management, that uses a provocative approach to align your brand to the sound fundamentals of brand management.

We will make your team of Brand Leaders smarter so they can produce exceptional work that drives stronger brand results. We offer brand training on every subject in marketing, related to strategic thinking, analytics, brand planning, positioning, creative briefs, customer marketing and marketing execution.

To contact us, email us at graham@beloved-brands.com or call us at 416-885-3911. You can also find us on Twitter @belovedbrands.

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How to use your brand’s core strength to win

Posted on Posted in How to Guide for Marketers

There are four options for what CORE STRENGTH your brand can win on: product, promise, experience or price. Many brand leaders have their marketing strategy wrong, when it comes to aligning everything behind the right strength. 

  • Product: your main strategy should focus on being better. You have to invest in Innovation to stays ahead of competitors, remaining the superior choice in the category.
  • Promise: your strategy should focus on being different. To tell that story, you need to invest in emotional brand communication. You want to connect consumers on a deep emotional level with the concept.
  • Experience: your strategy and organization should focus on linking culture very closely to your brand. After all, your people are your product. As you go to market, invest in influencer and social media that can help support and spread the word of your experience.
  • Price: focus on efficiency and drive low-cost into the products you sell and high turns and high volume. You have to be better at the fundamentals around production and sourcing.

Here’s a simple little game that we play with executive teams. We provide them with 4 chips against the 4 choices of product, promise, experience or price. They have to put one at the highest competitive importance, two at the mid level and then force one to be at the low level. Try it and you will be surprised that your team struggles to agree. You may also find that you are at one strength now and figure it is time to shift your brand marketing to become focused on something else. 

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Product Brands

With Product Brands, your main strategy should focus on being better. You have to invest in Innovation to stay ahead of competitors, remaining the superior choice in the category. Here, it works to focus on rational advertising that makes sure you re-force with consumers that you are the best. However, in a crowded market, it has become increasingly difficult to win on product  alone—as many brands are operating in a parity situation. Two great product brands are Five Guys with the best burger and Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse who has a unique cooking technique that products the best steak. These brands talk mainly about the great product. In fact, looking at the Five Guys brand, they have almost completely let go of experience or pricing. The restaurants are almost run down, and the price of a 5 Guys burger is about twice the going rate. But the product is absolutely amazing and is drawing fans in droves across the world. For years, Proctor & Gamble pushed this strategy at every opportunity across Tide, Ivory, Pampers and Always. But technology gaps have closed they have been forced to switch some of their brands to focusing more on being different and less on being better. The problem for product type brands is they struggle to be emotionally engaging and while consumers might love the product, they do not necessarily love the brand. While you can run an amazing business this way, if a competitor catches up to you on product or if you wish to move your loyal base into other products, it is not as easy as being a concept or experience brand.

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Promise Brands

With Promise Brands, your strategy should focus on being different. To tell that story, you need to invest in emotional brand communication. You want to connect consumers  on a deep emotional level with the concept. Brands in this space include Apple who builds around the concept of simplicity, Virgin stands out in new categories by challenging the status quo and generally accepted ways of doing things and W Hotels combine the nightlife feel, so you never have to leave the Hotel. With these brands, they still need to make sure that the product delivers at a level expected within the concept. If it fails to deliver, there may be a sense of hollowness to the concept that brings the brand down. Instead of calling these loved brands, I call these brand lust, where our initial feelings are the same as love, only to be disappointed by the product experience.

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Experience Brands

With Experience Brands, your strategy and organization should focus on linking culture very closely to your brand. After all, your people are your product. As you go to market, invest in influencer and social media that can help support and spread the word  of your experience. Wells Fargo bank offers comfortable banking, Ritz-Carlton uses impeccable customer service to really separate itself, Emirates Airlines who take service to new heights (and prices accordingly) and Starbucks creates an escape with indie-music, cool servers, leather chairs and a touch of Europe. Each of these brands operate in high commodity type businesses, yet they each use precision based service guided by tight service values that line up to a brand purpose.core strength.004

Price Brands

With Price Brands, your strategy has to focus on efficiency and drive low-cost into the products you sell and high turns and high volume. You have to be better at the fundamentals around production and sourcing. Use call-to-action type advertising to help keep the turns very high. McDonald’s of the 1970s perfected this model, but we’ve since seen Walmart take it to the next level. You might not like all that Walmart does from an ethical point of view, but it’s on strategy and helps you get toilet paper cheaper. What consumers don’t notice at Walmart is their obsession with retail turns. On average Walmart sells through their stock within 28 days, compared to other retailers who might average 100 days. You rarely see slow-moving items and rarely see clearance items. Brands like Uber, Amazon and Netflix have combined an amazing experience at a very low-cost. These inventive brands have recently figured out ways to use technology to eliminate a lot of waste in the value chain.

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So, what is your strength you will win on?

Below is our Beloved Brands Workshop we run on Strategic Thinking:

We make Brands stronger.

We make Brand Leaders smarter.™

We offer brand coaching, where we promise to make your brand better by listening to the issues, providing advice that challenges you, and coaching you along a strategic pathway to reaching your brand’s full potential. For our brand leader training, we promise to make your team of brand leaders better, by teaching sound marketing fundamentals and challenging to push for greatness so that they can unleash their full potential. Feel free to add me on Linked In, or follow me on Twitter at @belovedbrands If you need to contact me, email me at graham@beloved-brands.com or phone me at 416 885 3911

BBI Creds Deck 2016.014

The consumer has changed dramatically. Have you changed enough?

Posted on Posted in How to Guide for Marketers

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Marketing has changed dramatically and if you are not changing with it, then you will not be able to unleash the full potential of your brand nor will you be able to unleash your own full potential as a Brand Leader. When I say that Marketing has changed, people think I am about to talk about the change in media options over the last 15 year, with the opening up of digital, social and search. Sure, that has changed the way we do things, but is really at the surface level. Starting at the turn of this century, we began witnessing a deeper underlying change happening with consumers, who have begun rewarding those brands who exceed their expectations, who have gravitated towards brands that treat them as though they are special, and who have become loyal to brands that open up and establish a higher purpose worthy of connecting with.

Consumers ended the last century tired of the crap that brands kept promising, jaded by the tricks brands used to get them to buy, leaving them feeling burned by over-promise and under-delivery. Consumers now want and expect more. Consumers want to be appreciated and they are willing to love the brand that will treat them like they are the only person that matters. Everything a brand does, should start and end with the consumer in mind. Brands are shifting from fighting for a space in the mind of the consumer to fighting for a place in the consumers heart. It is about becoming one of the favorite parts of the consumers’ day, not just pure product performance. The change in media is merely an enabler to the underlying change, but not a driver. The best brands of today are loved.The media options have had a dramatic influence on the consumers lifestyle–the number of messages, multi-tasking and being tired of being burned. The change in the consumer should drive your Media Planning more than the change in media

  1. Consumers see more brand messages than their brains can handle. 
    • In the year 2015, consumers see up to 7,000 brand messages every day. The fastest thing our brains now do is reject advertising messages. The digital ads on every website you visit, at the top, on the side, on the bottom, drop down boxes. Whenever you turn on Facebook, every google search you make. Take the subway and see hundreds or drive to work and see the same. We now surf messages quickly and only engage in a few each day. Life was much simpler in the last century when consumers saw a few billboards on the way home from work, had dinner and watched Seinfeld on TV seeing a few ads each night. But, in the current world, your consumer is being bombarded by brands. Are you doing anything to change the way you approach consumers to ensure you are gaining their attention?
  2. Consumers are constantly multi-tasking—driving, walking, talking.
    • Even with 7,000 messages a day, consumers are barely watching. FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) means people are constantly multi-tasking. I rarely watch a TV show without my laptop or phone nearby. Most people sleep beside their phone and read updates as soon as they awake. Even with laws against texting and driving, I see it every day. And walk downtown in a straight line and you are bound to walk into someone “walking and texting”. Once you gain the consumers attention, you have to find a way to engage them to stay with your brand. What are you doing to hold the attention of your consumer to avoid them being distracted away?
  3. Consumers are tired of being burned by faulty brand promises.
    • Consumer marketing is a little over 100 years now and hopefully consumers have become much more sophisticated in their decision-making. Last century, we saw too many brands over-promise and under-deliver. But brand reputations are now being made and equally dying based on the consumers ability to do their homework. They do their own research, they can ask friends or read on-line reviews. If they are burned by a brand, they quickly spread the message. Have you figured out a brand promise that you can deliver beyond the purchase moment? Have you created an experience that will get purchasers to become brand fans?
  4. Consumers now take control and action over the buying process.
    • Consumers now control what they buy. They are not sold to. Last century it was all about selling. In the current world, it’s all about buying. They are taking full control over the buying process–gaining awareness about brands from friends, only considering after doing their own research to validate what they are hearing and then they figure out the ideal pathway to the purchase moment. They read labels, read reviews and make up their own minds. They pose questions to friends for advice. Putting 100% of your budget on a 30 second TV no longer works. Have you figured out how to co-manage the path to the purchase moment along side the consumer to help them consider, search, purchase and experience your brand?
  5. Consumers connect with brands they believe in.
    • Consumers now want and expect more. They line up to brands that line up to their values and expectations. Consumers want to be appreciated and they are willing to love the brand that will treat them like they are the only person that matters. Ethics and behavior now matter. We are seeing the ethics of brands like Volkswagen and GM destroying the brand reputation. We are seeing Chipotle facing small regional safety crisis points, with the news spreading like wild-fire and the brand is dying before our eyes. Consumers have full access to information and they are not just buying what you do, but why you do it. The most loved brands are based on a big idea that consumers connect with, yet that idea has to reflect the brand’s soul. Have you figured out your brand purpose and then figured out how to build your stated brand purpose into your brand story, your product innovation and the brand experience? Have you figured out how to make the brand purpose be part of the purchase moment as a deal closer to a tie between two brands?
  6. Consumers reward amazing experiences over products alone.
    • Last century, consumers just bought products like Tide, Kodak and Pampers. Most of them we learned about on quick 30 second TV ads that followed a similar formula screaming “we are the best”, shown every half hour trying to drive awareness. But consumers are connecting at a deeper level with brands that offer an experience that over-delivers the promise. With Starbucks, it’s more about the “moments” than it is about the “coffee”. Everyone keeps pointing to the fact Starbucks coffee finishes middle of the pack in blind taste tests. But you cannot replicate the experience of nice leather chairs, cool music, great conversations, amazing culture of people. We are starting to see that the new product is becoming the experience, and while claims supported the product, it is the organization’s culture that supports the experience. Have you figured out to create an experience around your brand that brings it life beyond the product itself? 
  7. Consumers explore rationally, but stay emotionally.
    • In this 21st century economy, the winning brands are those who can create strong emotional bonds with their consumers. While brands might gain entry into the consumers mind in the first 7 seconds, consumers are now emotionally engaging with brands. Research companies like Hotspex show that over 50% of brand decisions are emotionally based. To achieve Brand Love,  brand needs a Big Idea that expresses your brand’s soul and serves to connect with consumers while shaping the internal culture of the brand. Brands need Focus in the choices a brand makes in terms of vision, strategy, positioning and execution. And brands need to show Passion in everything to drive creativity that connects with consumers and precision that helps create brand experiences that exceed expectations. The best brands build every touchpoint around the Big Idea including the promise, brand story, innovative products, ubiquitous purchase moments and brand experiences. How will you use Big Ideas, focus and passion to really create a bond with your consumers to turn them into brand fans that love your brand?

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What is it that creates a bond between the consumer and the brand? You need to be able to describe your brand to CONSUMERS in 7 seconds, 60 seconds, 30 minutes and over the lifetime of the brand, always telling the same story. 

  • In today’s crowded branded marketplace, the modern consumers see 7,000 brand messages a day. The fastest thing our brains do is reject brand messages. Brands need an entry point to gain permission to the consumer’s brain. Can you explain your brand in 7 seconds?
  • After decades of being burned by false promises, modern consumers are naturally cynical and constantly doubting brands. They test the brand by asking detailed questions. Brands need a solid story that closes off any doubts consumers may have. Can you explain your brand in 60 seconds?
  • Modern consumers like to take control over their buying process as they move from consideration to search and finally to a purchase moment. Brands need to move with consumers through to the purchase moment. Can you explain your brand in 30 minutes?
  • As the modern consumer experiences the brand, they either accept or reject the promise. Consumers are more loyal to brands they share a common purpose and shared values. Brands need to create experiences that match the brand story. Can you describe your brand over the lifetime of the brand, always telling the same story?

What are you doing to deal with the changing consumer?  

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Below is our Beloved Brands Workshop we run on Strategic Thinking:

We make Brands better.

We make Brand Leaders better.™

We offer brand coaching, where we promise to make your brand better by listening to the issues, providing advice that challenges you, and coaching you along a strategic pathway to reaching your brand’s full potential. For our brand leader training, we promise to make your team of brand leaders better, by teaching sound marketing fundamentals and challenging to push for greatness so that they can unleash their full potential. Feel free to add me on Linked In, or follow me on Twitter at @belovedbrands If you need to contact me, email me at graham@beloved-brands.com or phone me at 416 885 3911

BBI Creds Deck 2016.014

Do your own damn performance review!!!

Posted on Posted in How to Guide for Marketers

This time of year is when you sit down with your boss and have the dreaded annual performance review. 

It’s likely dreaded for a reason. You hate getting feedback and your boss hates giving feedback. These days performance reviews feel like a bit of jockeying. When you do you self-evaluation, you avoid putting anything that can be used against you. And when your boss does your evaluation, they will avoid putting anything that will imply a promotion, raise or even maintaining your employment. Maybe it’s time that we think of the performance review as a necessity of the job, but we should stop thinking this is big defining career moment that will help you. If you have a great boss, use it to your advantage. Some of my bosses took it seriously, many did not. In my 20 years of working, half of my performance reviews were worthwhile, and considering I had one manager for 7 years who did an excellent job for me, that leaves 13 other years where the reviews did very little for me. I recommend you take control of your own career and never be at the mercy of others.

If you are managing your career, then give yourself a Performance Review

We look at Marketing Careers over 4 different levels: Assistant Brand Manager (ABM), Brand Manager (BM), Marketing Director and VP Marketing. Companies may use various titles, but the ABM is generally a do-er or contributor to strategy, while the BM is the owner of the plan and the go-to person on the brand. Usually the Director manages a broader team and the VP oversees the entire marketing team. 

We have mapped out at the 32 essential skills that a Brand Leader needs, at every level. What I have found is that marketing is about learning the fundamentals and then use your experience to continuously improve. As much as your company self-assessment is guarded and careful, when you do your own, you have to be very honest with yourself to identify what you need to work on.

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When it comes to Analytics you should be mastering this as an Assistant Brand Manager and Brand Manager, but you have to continue to use these skills throughout your career. While digging into every aspect of the business helps you learn the basic analytics, what separates great marketers on analytics are those who can transform all those numbers into an analytical story that helps set up a decision point.

Brand Planning is usually owned by the Brand Manager. But honestly it can take a few years to become competent at writing plans. If not done well, planning can get out of control. The goal of a brand plan is to get everyone on the same page, to ensure everyone is moving in the direction that is outlined in the brand plan. There are so many elements of a plan you need to get comfortable with, from creating a brand vision that motivates everyone, to purpose and values and onto strategy and tactics. To ensure action comes out of the plan, the Brand Leader should be creating specific project plans for each element of the plan.

While positioning is one of the core strategic functions of marketing, it is rare for a marketer to be involved in positioning their brand. Most are taking the positioning from the previous marketer. Positioning is really about simplifying everything on the brand, down to something that is focused and digestible for consumers. A good positioning has a focused target market, one main benefit and two reasons to believe. From that positioning, you can create a Brand Concept or even move forward to writing a Creative Brief that can help execution. Too many brand leaders lack the ability to write a brief and it’s impacting marketing execution.

Any type of advertising requires brand leaders to use judgement and make decisions. The decisions should be balanced with strategic thinking and gut feel for the creative choices and media options. While we all have natural instincts even before we get into marketing, being able to articulate those over a complex network of advertising experts and over a long project timeline are very difficult. Practice these skills early in your career on smaller projects and perfect them as you move to more complex and bigger projects. With a large advertising project, the brand leader has to work through the ad agency that would include 3 distinct groups–account team, creative team and strategic planner. Then moving towards production, you need to oversee a series of subject matter experts including producers, directors, sound technicians and actors. You have to stay true to your vision at every stage of the project. I have found that with each new project right up to the VP level, you should be continuously looking to improve. How you make decisions, how you motivate others and how you communicate will either make or break the advertising projects you are leading.

New products can vary in their degree of complexity. The simplest ones are incremental launches using the same brand name, and using the same production and distribution channels. The more complex type new products involve a new brand name, a new technology, new distribution channels, new production, government regulation, determining the projected sales, costs and support needed.

One big growing weakness is the go-to-market execution that involves the marketing and sales teams to work together. Over 20 years ago, it was very common that marketers did a stint or two in the sales department. As the roles have become more senior and specialized, it has become more difficult to move people between the roles. This has created silos between Sales and Marketing, leaving the marketer with a perception that they live in an “ivory tower”. There is a skill in learning how to influence the sales team, ensuring that your marketing and sales are working together to make the brand stronger. At any stage, you should be constantly getting into the stores and meeting with sales people. As you get more senior, you should learn how to present to buyers.

In terms of Leadership and Managing you need to hold your team to a consistently high standard of work in strategic thinking and planning. Then you need to hold your team to a consistently high standard of work in execution in the market. In terms of people management, you need to be seen as actively interested in helping your team to manage their careers. Teach, guide and direct your team members for higher performance. Training and development provides on-going skills development to make the team better.

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We have also mapped out 15 leader behaviors for you to also use as a self-evaluation, looking at the behaviors that separate great Brand Leaders from the pack. A great Brand Leader is accountable to results, strong on people leadership, a solid strategic thinker, carries broad influence and brings an authentic style. Leadership behaviors are harder for us to self-evaluate. I would recommend you have casual conversations with those you can trust to give you feedback. There is a term called “blind spots”, where people who you work with know that you have a weak, but you don’t know.

Identify your own gaps

We recommend that you go through each of the dimensions and give yourself a score in relation to your peers. A score of 5 means you are one of the best in your department in a given area, a 4 is above average, 3 means you are average and the scores of 1’s and 2’s would mean you have a gap. Force the scores so that you can clearly identify 3 skills and 3 leader behaviors as being a relative gap to your peers. Based on where you are with your career, I recommend you end up using the year to close Then as you build your own personal plan for the year, map out a plan of attack for the coming year. 

2015 brand careers.019Don’t worry, we all have gaps. At every level of my own career, I had some major gaps. Many I wasn’t even aware of and some I was even in denial. Only as I moved up to Director and VP level was I able to close some of the gaps. For example, I struggled throughout my career when dealing with the sales team, was never a great negotiator and always weak when it came to managing up. Maybe if I had one more self-evaluations along the way, I could have closed the gaps sooner.

We all have gaps. What are going to do about closing your gaps?

Below is a Powerpoint presentation of a workshop we run on Managing your Brand Career. I hope that it challenges you to think differently and identify some areas you can improve for next year.

We make Brands stronger.

We make Brand Leaders smarter.™

We offer brand coaching, where we promise to make your brand better by listening to the issues, providing advice that challenges you, and coaching you along a strategic pathway to reaching your brand’s full potential. For our brand leader training, we promise to make your team of brand leaders better, by teaching sound marketing fundamentals and challenging to push for greatness so that they can unleash their full potential. Feel free to add me on Linked In, or follow me on Twitter at @belovedbrands If you need to contact me, email me at graham@beloved-brands.com or phone me at 416 885 3911

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