3 simple steps for how to build your brand’s Big Idea

Posted on Posted in How to Guide for Marketers

Building the Big Idea

We have come up with the Big Idea Blueprint that allows you to define your brand’s Big Idea. How it works is we start by brainstorming the 5 areas that surround the Big Idea. On the internal side, we describe the products/services and the internal beacon. On the external side, we describe the ideal consumer reputation and the brand character. We also look at the brand role, as the enabler to help bridge the internal and the external.


Step One: Brainstorming Words

With a cross-functional team of those who work on the brand, and you expose them to all the work you have done on the brand positioning with the target profile, brand benefits ladder and the brand positioning. Also, provide them with any necessary background research that was done. Most importantly, ask them to bring their knowledge, wisdom and opinions they have from where they sit in the organization.

We recommend that you start off by brainstorming each section, starting with the internally focused products and services, followed by the mirrored externally driven brand reputation. Then, you should move down to internally driven brand beacon, followed by the mirrored externally driven brand character. You should start to see that these match up, or at least should be reflective of each other. You should ask the team to brainstorm up to 15-20 key words that describe each area. Once that is done, brainstorm 15-20 words that start to describe the brand role, which starts to bride the internal and the external.

  • Products and Services: What is the focused point of difference that your brand can win on, because it meets consumer needs, while separating your brand from competitors?
  • Consumer Reputation: What is the desired outward reputation of the brand, that attracts, excites, engages and motivates consumers to think, feel and purchase your brand?
  • Internal Beacon: What is the internal rallying cry that reflects your purpose, values, motivations helping to inspire, challenge and guide the culture, including everyone’s focus and daily behaviors?
  • Brand Character: What is the set of emotional characteristics, and personality traits that help consumers connect passionately and identify with the brand on a deeper self-reflective level?
  • Brand Role: What is the link between consumer and brand, reflecting the way we service, support and enable our consumers to ensure they make the most of our brand offering?


Step Two: Constructing phrases from the best words

Ask for a vote to narrow down to the best 3-4 words for each section. Divide your group into 2-3 mini groups and then assign the task of taking the winning words and building key phrases that will begin to summarize each area. With different versions of each section from the mini-groups, you can narrow down to what feels like the best version of each of the five areas. You will begin to see a focus around certain areas and key words. Importantly, the groups will move towards alignment. It also serves to stimulate the creative writing juices on the team, which will help in step three.


Step Three: Finding the Big Idea

Using the five areas to inspire you surrounding the Big Idea, get each of the mini-teams to try to write a summary Big Idea statement that captures everything you have worked on. Try to get a few different versions of the Big Idea. Hopefully, with the teams fully focused on the brand and with all the creative energy in the room, you will get a couple of good versions that you can play with after the meeting.

If you are still working on brand concepts, you can even take the best versions of the Big Idea forward into Market Research testing as part of a concept test. You should also vet them internally with key members of your organization.


Organize everything around the brand’s Big Idea

The Big Idea should guide everything that the consumer touches. You will need to manage the consistent delivery of the Big Idea over five consumer touch-points, including the brand promise, story, innovation, purchase moment and brand experience. This means everyone that works on those, whether management, agencies, customer service, sales, HR and operations all should be looking at the Big Idea as a guiding beacon for decisions.

  • Brand Promise: Use the Big Idea to inspire a simple brand promise that separates your brand from competitors, based how it is better, different or cheaper. This helps to inspire the brand positioning.
  • Brand Story: Bring your brand story to life to motivate consumers to think, feel or act, while beginning to own a reputation in the mind and hearts of consumers. This helps to focus all the brand communications across all media choices.
  • Innovation: Build a fundamentally sound product, while staying at the forefront of trends and technology to help deliver on your brand promise. This helps to steer the product development and R&D teams to stay true to the Big Idea.
  • Purchase Moment: The moment of truth as consumers move through the purchase cycle and use channels, messaging, processes to make the final decision. This helps push the sales team and focus how you set up the retail channels to drive towards the sale.
  • Consumer Experience: Turn the usage of your product into an experience that becomes a ritual and favorite part of the consumer’s day. The people at the organization deliver the consumer experience. The Big Idea can steer the values and expected behaviors that help frame organizational culture and the operations team.

The Big Idea helps guide every aspect of Brand Management. When you begin to blow this out one step further, you can start to see where everyone in your organization should align and understand how they can deliver the brand’s Big Idea.  If you are in finance at Volvo, you should be thinking about how to make safe cars cheaper, if you’re in HR at Starbucks, you should be hiring people that deliver moments and if you’re working at the Genius Bar at Apple, you have to make sure your language choices are simple so that it is easy for consumers to understand. Every sales rep coast to coast should be living the Big Idea. It has to permeate through he organization, reaching everyone who touches the brand.


Here’s how it would look for Gray’s Cookies. This should allow you to run every part of your brand organization.



To read more on Brand Positioning, here is the workshop we take brand leaders through to help make them smarter.

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

At Beloved Brands, we promise that we will make your brand stronger and your brand leaders smarter. 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 use workshop sessions to help your team create a winning brand positioning that separates your brand in the market, write focused brand plans that everyone can follow and we help you find advertising that drives growth for your brand. We will make your team of Brand Leaders smarter so they can produce exceptional work that drives stronger brand results. Our Beloved Brands training center offers 10 training workshops to get your team of brand leaders ready for success in brand management–including strategic and analytical thinking, writing brand plans, positioning statements and creative brief, making decisions on creative advertising and media plans.

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.


Is Samsung a beloved brand? Not quite, but it’s really likeable.

Posted on Posted in Beloved Brands in the Market

Samsung is a classic product-driven brand, but has struggled to reach that next level where it becomes an idea brand.  I know the first thing people will say:  Does it matter if they love Samsung?  Well, my argument is that the more beloved the brand, the more power it can command and the more profit it can generate.  Profit has to matter, right?  

I like Samsung Products a lot!  But there’s not Brand Idea

Samsung-LogoSamsung has amazing products.  The TV’s are fantastic, high quality good designs and good prices.  The laundry products appear to be best in class, going beyond LG.   And the Samsung phones are amazing–leading Android technology with many consumers saying they are ahead of Apple.  The leading market share backs that up.  

But what’s the unifying idea behind Samsung?   Has Samsung created such a following that their most loyal consumers wouldn’t even look at another competitor?  Would they follow Samsung into a new category just because they buy into the brand?  Does Samsung elicit that crazed passion we see in Apple consumers?  This week, Apple launched a pretty good new phone, and we saw the usual line ups, running consumers and even a fight this time.  

There are enough Apple haters, but are they Samsung lovers?  

Samsung tried last year to go head-to-head with the Apple brand by mocking Apple, which tapped nicely into those who are sick of Apple and their fan club.  But there was very little in the ad that made us love Samsung.  

The problem for Samsung is they keep talking features and not benefits.  Even in that ad above, the only thing you take away is you can share song lists and you get a bigger screen.  There’s no talk of benefits, either rational or emotional.  In a technology battle, features are easy to duplicate but benefits are harder to replicate.  And the ad has no real brand idea, likely because the folks at Samsung don’t seem to know what their brand idea is.  

Where is Samsung on the Brand Love Curve?

In the consumer’s mind, brands sit on a hypothetical Brand Love Curve, with brands going from Indifferent to Like It to Love It and finally becoming a Beloved Brand for Life.  Knowing where you on the curve allows you to understand how much connectivity and power your brand has in the marketplace.

At the Beloved stage, demand becomes desire, needs become cravings, thinking is replaced with feelings.  Consumers become outspoken fans.  It’s this connection that helps drive power for your brand: power versus competitors, versus customers, versus suppliers and even versus the same consumers you’re connected with.  And with that power, you can generate more profit for your brand–through higher prices, lower cost, new categories or market share.  It’s important that brands understand where they sit on the Love Curve and begin figuring out how to move it along towards becoming a more Beloved Brand.  

While filled with fantastic products, the Samsung brand feels stuck at “Like It”.  Part of what separates “Like” from “Love” is the lack of the emotional connection.  When consumers start feeling more and thinking less, it shifts the discussion from just the product features to connecting to the brand idea.  slide1

The question that has to be bugging Samsung is How loyal and passionate is the Samsung consumer base?  If Samsung loses the technological advantage behind Android (which is slightly out of their control) then will they lose their customer base as well?  The head-to-head comparison with Apple might have Samsung winning on share, but Apple’s brand love still generates profit margins almost 4x that of Samsung.  And when Apple launches a new phone, we see line ups, people running to get into the store and even a reported fist fight in line.  Samsung would die for the connectivity with their consumer base and die for those margins.

Most beloved brands are based on an idea worth loving

It is the idea that connects the Brand with consumers.  And under the Brand Idea are 5 sources of connectivity that help connect the brand with consumers and drive Brand Love, including

      1. brand promise
      2. strategic choices you make
      3. brand’s ability to tell their story
      4. freshness of the product or service
      5. overall experience and impressions it leaves with you.  

Everyone wants to debate what makes a great brand–whether it’s the product, the advertising, the experience or through consumers.  It is not just one or the other–it’s the collective connection of all these things that make a brand beloved.  

Looking at those 5 connections, Samsung promises high quality, modern products at a good price.  And they deliver.  They do a great job on product freshness–especially in TVs and most recently phones and appliances.  But that’s where Samsung gets stuck:  they are just a promise and a product.  They fail on the Samsung story where we can’t see a unifying brand idea to help tell a consistent story across the Samsung brand.  And once we see them start turning their features into benefits for the consumer, we’ll start to see Samsung control the end experience for that consumer.  All beloved brands create an experience beyond the product, and it’s that experience that keeps consumers loyal and engaged with the brand.  

Samsung could learn from Apple

The Apple brand idea is all about simplicity.  The people at Apple take the technology out of the technology to make it so simple that everyone can be part of the future.  They align all their new products to this promise, whether it’s iPhones, Mac Books or iPads.  Apple lines up the story through advertising, social media and the use of key influencers.  And the retail stores deliver the experience of simplicity.


Samsung could also learn from the now famous Steve Jobs quote that you  “You’ve got to start with the customer experience and work back toward the technology – not the other way”.  If Samsung were to get into the shoes of the consumer and see the world through their eyes, they might start talking benefits, they might find a brand idea that unifies all the Samsung product lines and they might find that experience to take Samsung to the next level.

Hey Samsung:  Stop being just the “next best product feature” and find a brand idea to build around.    


For a presentation on how to write a Positioning Statement, follow:


email-Logo copyABOUT BELOVED BRANDS INC.:  At Beloved Brands, we are only focused on making brands better and making brand leaders better.Our motivation is that we love knowing we were part of helping someone to unleash their full potential.  We promise to challenge you to Think Different.  We believe the thinking that got you here, will not get you where you want to go.  Our President and Chief Marketing Officer, Graham Robertson is a brand leader at heart, who loves everything about brands.  He comes with 20 years of experience at companies such as Johnson and Johnson, Pfizer Consumer, General Mills and Coke, where he was always able to find and drive growth.  Graham has won numerous new product and advertising awards. Graham brings his experience to your table, strong on leadership and facilitation at very high levels and training of Brand Leaders around the world.  To reach out directly, email me at graham@beloved-brands.com 

At Beloved Brands, we love to see Brand Leaders reach their full potential.  Here are the most popular article “How to” articles.  We can offer specific training programs dedicated to each topic.  Click on any of these most read articles:

Ask Beloved Brands to run a workshop to find your brand positioning or ask how we can help train you to be a better brand leader.

How to run a brand with the Brand Leader front and center

Posted on Posted in How to Guide for Marketers

People outside of marketing tend to think marketing is rather easy.
It’s just a bunch of TV ads, sell sheets, twitter accounts, new products and spending endless money without any ROI or responsibility.  People debate the value of marketing. During a downturn, it is the first thing that gets cut. Some companies have even begun separating product from brand–what a mistake. The two have to be one, not two. Other companies are sales led, selling what they have, with marketing following what sales needs.  And there’s even recent debate going on that the CEO should drive the brand. The CEO should focus on being the CEO. Why hire talented, high-priced marketers if you’re just going to over-rule them and micro-manage the brand. Shouldn’t the CEO stick to doing their own job, driving the results for the shareholders and inspiring greatness for everyone in the company.

Instead of driving marketing down, it is time to build Brand Management back up and placing them front and centre within your organization. Everything in the company should feed off the Brand DNA.  The Brand DNA (some call it the Brand Essence) is the most succinct definition of the Brand.  For Volvo, it’s Safety, while BMW might be Performance and Mercedes is Luxury. The tool I use to determine a Brand’s DNA revolves around the Brand’s personality, the products and services the brand provides, the internal beacons that people internally rally around when thinking about the brand and consumer views of the Brand. What we normally do is brainstorm 3-4 words in each section and then looking collectively begin to frame the Brand’s DNA with a few words or a phrase to which the brand can stand behind.


The Brand DNA should help frame 1) Brand Plan that drives the business for the upcoming year or the next 5 years 2) Brand Positioning that connects to the consumer through marketing communications 3) Customer Value Proposition that links the consumer needs to the benefits of the brand 4) Go-To-Market strategy that frames the distribution and the selling process 5) Cultural Beacons that help define the brand internally through values, inspiration and challenge and finally 6) Business Results, with each brand offering a unique way that it makes money. Each of these six needs feed off the Brand DNA, look to the definition as a guideline for how to align to the brand.  

When you begin to blow this out one step further, you can start to see where the complexity comes into play with each of the six areas have their own needs that should still feed off that Brand DNA.

  • The planning area should help to frame the Brand Plan which is a combination of a one year Brand Plan and a 3-5 year strategic plan. The Vision and Mission provide the future direction, objectives align to the Business needs and Brand Funnel objectives and Strategies and Tactics help to drive towards those objectives.  Included as well should be a Calendar and Budgets. For a tutorial on how to write a Brand Plan, click on the following link:  How to Write a Brand Plan
  • From the DNA, map out a positioning statement that can help frame the Marketing Communications plan. That includes the creative big idea, the media mix, earned media (PR, Events) social media, key influencers (e.g. Doctors or Contractors or Bloggers).  As well, the positioning frames the identity which could include logo, language, look and feel and brand book. My hope is that you don’t change this very often. Looking at the complexity of the Brand Management system outlined here, it baffles me that Brands facing tough times reach for changing their logo so quickly when so many other factors could be driving the issues. For a tutorial on writing Creative Briefs, click on:  How to Write an Effective Creative Brief
  • The Go-To-Market plan should also feed off the Brand DNA and come out of the Brand Plan. The Distribution strategy and needs should match up to the needs of the brand, including decisions around Key Account focus, pricing, sku mix, promotion and the possible role of new products. In a fast-moving category like cereal or gum, or a high technology driving category like computers, phones or TVs, both share a high need for product innovation. For brands that require in store selling, you should also include the In-store experience which could be demonstration, signage or trial as well as possible selling messages for sales people on the floor of the distribution channel. These messages should feed directly from the brand messages.
  • The Customer Value Proposition outlines the relationship of the consumer needs to the Benefits offered by the Brand. First, map out the 2-3 consumer insights that epitomize the needs of your consumer target. When you list out the main features that you can offer, you’ll start to begin to match up these features into a zone where you see benefits. With each feature, put yourself in the shoes of your consumer and say “so what do I get” and push yourself until the benefits come alive.  Remember, your consumer doesn’t care what you do until you begin caring what they need.  Try to find a balance of rational (thinking) and emotional (feeling) benefits and provide those to everyone that might touch the brand. Within this area, you should track insights, target segments, use a brand review to find the changes within the consumer. The brand funnel provides a great tool for measuring brand health with Awareness, Consideration, Trial, Purchase, Repeat and Loyalty. To me, it’s like keeping track of your internal health such as Blood Pressure or Cholesterol scores.
  • The R&D plan should feed off the Brand DNA and develop products that match the brand.  Too many times, R&D is in their own world, trying to invent things that have nothing to do with where the brand sits.  They expect marketing to be able to sell their inventions.  Even in a technology driven business, Apple is driven first by the consumer.  Steve Jobs really understood that you don’t just sell what you have.
  • Brand also drives the Culture and the DNA should provide a beacon for the People to follow.  The brand story told within the company is even more important than what you might tell the market through your advertising.    Talent management means hiring the right people and providing the right training.   Too many companies are cutting back on training.   Remember that better people produce better work that drives better results.   Keep investing in your people and the business results will come.  Empower your people to get the most from their ideas.  Leverage values, inspirational touch points and processes to inspire and challenge them on achieving greatness.
  • Brand drives the Business Results.  Slide1 The more loved a brand, the more tightly the connection it has with their consumers.  This connection becomes a source of power that the brand can wield in the market to drive higher growth rate and profitability.   The Brand Leader is responsible for driving the P&L, driving sales and share, managing the forecast and costs for an efficiently run brand.  The Brand Leader must figure out the levers of the P&L it can use to drive more profits.  For a tutorial on driving profits through your brand, click on:  How to Drive Profits through Your Brand

Putting the Brand Leader front and centre will allow you to leverage the Brand DNA into each of the areas of your business, whether that’s marketing, sales, R&D, finance or human resources.  Brand should be at the centre of this hub, with each area looking to the Brand DNA as a beacon of how they can do their job most effectively in helping the brand drive long-term growth and profitability.

To read more on this subject, read the following presentation:

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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