Personal Branding: How to create your own brand plan

Posted on Posted in How to Guide for Marketers

Slide1If you’ve ever been in a job so long that you don’t have an updated resume or Linked In profile, you’re in a dangerous place. In today’s economy, you want to stay aware, keep current and always be on the look out for what’s next. As we push the personal branding, you should be able to articulate your own brand in 7 seconds, 60 seconds and 30 minutes, all shaping and telling the same story. Start off your next interview with a 7 second pitch that describes yourself (e.g. I’m a marketer that finds growth where others can’t), follow that with a 60 second articulation of what that means, and use the rest of the interview to layer in the elements of your 30 minute story. 

Finding your Big Idea

Everyone talks about the 7 second elevator pitch, but it’s not easy to get there. I suppose you could ride up and down the elevator and try telling people. That may drive you insane. The Big Idea (some call it the Brand Essence) is the most concise definition of the Brand. For Volvo, it’s “Safety”, while BMW might be “Performance” and Mercedes is “Luxury”. Below is the Tool I use to figure out a Brand’s Big Idea revolving around four areas that help define the Brand 1) Brand’s personality 2) Products and Services the brand provides 3) Internal Beacons that people internally rally around when thinking about the brand and 4) Consumer Views of the Brand.  What we normally do is brainstorm 3-4 words in each of the four sections and then looking collectively begin to frame the Brand’s Big Idea with a few words or a phrase to which the brand can stand behind.

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Once you have your Big Idea, you should then use it to frame the 5 different connectors needed to set up a very strong bond between your brand and your consumers.

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Creating a Personal Brand Plan

You need to build a Brand Plan that focuses your efforts in the market place. Use a traditional brand plan format, to include vision, purpose, values, goals, issues, strategies and tactics to create a plan. Here are some definitions to help trigger your thinking.

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And now when you bring these two documents together you can create your own personal Brand Plan on one page. Below is my document that we use for our “Beloved Brands” personal brand. You should try this out using your own brand and you’ll use the strategies to focus your tactical efforts.

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Manage your personal brand as though you would the brand you work on

And here’s a link to our Beloved Brands presentation on personal branding:

At Beloved Brands, we run a Brand Leadership Center 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 THE BRAND LEADERSHIP CENTER, click on the Powerpoint presentation below:

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

GR bio Jun 2016.001

 

 

Making brand leaders better at running the brand financials

Posted on Posted in How to Guide for Marketers

Great Brand Leaders, not only drive demand, they drive profitable demand.

Slide1A lot of marketers enter in marketing as a career because they weren’t into the numbers part of business. However, the reality is that to run a brand you have to be good at running the P&L. The only reason that brands exist is that you can create a bond, power and profit, beyond what the product itself could achieve. At Beloved Brands, we believe that passion matters because the more loved a brand is by consumers the more powerful and profitable that brand can be. So in everything you do as a brand leader, even as you are launching new products, creating new advertising or writing a great brand plan, you have to have profit front and center in everything you do. Yet, there are far too many Brand Leaders who can’t run the P&L. These Brand Leaders hit the mid-point of their career and then we realize that they aren’t very good with numbers and all of a sudden, a fast track career for the super star Brand Manager completely stalls. As you’re looking up to the director level jobs, challenge yourself to get better with finance.

Looking at the P&L

Here’s my Finance 101 that can help  simplify your role with the P&L. This is meant for the Brand Manager level who is aspiring to continuing to move up.  But regardless of level, if you secretly are weak in the P&L area, this might help you.  Slide1

While it’s important to learn every line of the P&L, where Brand Leaders can have the biggest impact is on the Net Sales, the Gross Margin and the Contribution Margin.  The Net Sales line is simply Gross Sales minus the Trade Spend. Some income statements have brought the trade spend up to the sales line, while others have left it down in the cost line. Check with your company’s or country’s way of doing it.  In many industries, the trade terms are dictated by the channels.  While I would want to say the more Beloved Brands have a power over the channels, many times they still aren’t able to turn that power into lowering the trade spend.  If the trade spend is out of your control, you should be working with sales to ensure you are maximizing the value in programs that you are getting for the trade spend.  

Net Sales is the Unit Sales times Net Price. For unit sales, you’ll have to either drive the market share or enter new markets. That’s where the marketing programs you leverage drive faster growth relative to the spend. And for price, you can increase price or get consumers to trade up to a premium price within your portfolio.  The overall brand image you drive will usually be one of the biggest impacts on price. The more love you create for the brand, the more inelastic the price. 

Gross Margin is Net Sales minus Cost of Goods.  Just like above this can be impacted by how high of a price premium you can drive for the brand, or whether you can lower your Cost of Goods without impacting the quality of the product.  As a Brand Manager, this becomes your primary focus for “profit” as you feel the below the line costs are out of you control, so you don’t pay much attention to them.   However, as you get up to the Director or VP level, you get involved in discussions about marketing spend, R&D and the goals for the bottom line contribution margin levels.  This is where your strength or weakness in running the P&L begins to really show up.  

The ways brand leaders can Drive the P&L

Looking at the above P&L lines, in a slightly different way you really have 8 different areas that you can impact the Profit:

    • With Price, you can increase/decrease the price or you can get consumers to trade up to a premium line or down to a value line.   
    • When looking at Costs, you’re either driving the product costs or the marketing costs. You’re trying to minimize the costs without impacting the brand or the impact on the brand.
    • Driving the Market Share is a focus on either stealing other users or getting your current users to use more. 
    • The Market Size is all about entering new categories or finding new uses for your current brand.  

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Using Price as a weapon to drive brand value.  It can be a price change, up or down, or it could be trying to get consumers to trade up or down.

  • Price Increase: You can do a price increase if the market or brand allows you. It likely has to be based on passing along cost increases. Factors that help are whether you are a healthy brand or it’s a healthy market as well as the power of your brand vs competition and channel.
  • Price Decrease: Used when fighting off competitor, if you need to react to a sluggish economy or channel pressure. Another reason to decrease price is if you have a competitive advantage around cost, whether that’s manufacturing, materials or distribution.

There are watch outs for price changes. It’s difficult to execute price changes especially if it has to go through retailers. You need to understand power relationships–how powerful are the retailers. Many times, price changes are scrutinized so badly by retailers that you must have proof of why you are doing it. Also, it’s quite likely your Competitors will (over) react. So your assumptions you used to go with the price increase will change right after. And finally, it’s not easy to change back.

  • Trading Up: If you have In a range of products, sometimes it can be beneficial to get consumers to trade up. Can you carve out a meaningful difference to create a second tier that goes beyond your current brand? Does your brand image/ratings allow it?
  • Trading Down: Risky, but you see unserved market, with minimal damage to image/reputation of the brand. In a tough economy, it might be better to create a value set of products rather than lower the price on your main products.

When looking at Price Increases, here’s a formula to help get you started on your analysis for gaining approval.  

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Beloved Brands seem more capable at driving profits through pricing, but they also are careful to ensure the premium does not become excessive to create backlash. There are a few watch outs around trying to trade up or down: Premium skus, can feel orphaned at retail world—on the shelf or missing ads or displays. Managing multiple price levels can be difficult—what to support, price differences etc. For all the effort you go to, make sure your margins stay consistently strong through the trading up or down. Be careful that you don’t lose focus on your core business. Can’t be all things to everyone. The final concern is what does it do your Brand’s image, especially risky when trading downward.

Managing cost as a weapon to enhance the Brand’s Value. It can be either your cost of goods or the potential selling costs.

  • Cost of Goods Decreases: You are able to use the power of your brand to drive power over your suppliers, you find cheaper potential raw materials, process improvement or find off-shore manufacturing.
  • Cost of Goods Increases: Make sure that you manage the COGs as they increase. Watch out for suppliers trying to pass along costs. But realize that with new technology, investing in brand’s improved image, going after premium markets, offering new benefit or a format change, that cost of good increases could be a reality.

The watch outs with managing costs: with cuts, make sure the product change is not significantly noticeable. You should understand any potential impact in the eyes of your consumer on your brand’s performance and image. Can the P&L cover these costs, either increased sales or efficiency elsewhere. Managing your margin % is crucial to the long-term success of your brand.

  • Selling Cost Decrease: To counter changes in the P&L (price, volume or cost), it’s very tempting to look to short-term P&L management or look at changes in go-to-market model. Where a brand stands on the product life cycle or how loved the brand is can really impact the selling costs. Even though we think that Beloved Brands have endless spending, they actually likely have a lower investment to sales ratio.
  • Selling Cost Increase: When you’re in Investment mode, defensive position trying to hold share against an aggressive competitor or when you see a proven payback in higher sales–with corresponding margins.

Here’s a simple margin calculation to get you going:Slide1

Always be in an ROI mindset: Manage your marketing costs as though every DOLLAR has to efficiently drive sales. Realize that short-term cuts can carry longer term impact. Competitive reaction can influence the impact of investment stance–like a price change, your competitor might over-react to your increases in spending.

Externally, the Share and volume game are traditional tools for brand. Either stealing other users or get current users to use more.

  • Offensive Share Gains: Use it when you have a significant Competitive Advantage or you see untapped needs in the market. Or opportunistic, use first mover advantage on new technology.
  • Defensive Share Stance: Hold the fort until you can catch up on technology, maintain profitability, loyal base of followers needs protecting.

Be careful when trying to gain share. A Beloved Brand has a drawing power where it does gain share without having to use attack modes. Attacking competitors can be difficult. It could just become a spend escalation with both brands just going at it. After a share war that’s not based on a substantive reasoning (eg. technology change), there might end up with no winners, just losers. Many times, the channel will try to play one competitor against another for their own gain. Watch out what consumers you target in a competitive battle: some may just come in because of the lower price and go back to their usual brand.

  • Get Current Users to Use More: When there is an opportunity to turn loyal users into creating a potential routine. Changing behaviours is more difficult than enticing trial. It’s a good strategy to use, when your there’s real benefit to your consumer using more. It’s hard to just get them to use more without a real reason.

There has to be a real benefit connected to using more or it might look hollow/shallow. Driving routines is a challenge. Even with “life saving” medicines, the biggest issue is compliance. Find something in their current life to help either ground it or latch onto. When I worked on Listerine, people only used mouthwash 20-30 times a year compared to 700+ brushing occasions. So we focused on connecting rinsing with Listerine to the twice daily brushing routine.

Increase the Size of the Market by Finding New Users or Creating New Uses.

  • Find New Users: When there is an untapped or under-served need. There could be a significant changing demographic that impacts your base. Or you are able to translate/transfer your reputation to a new user group. There should be something within your product/brand that helps fuel the brand post trial. Trial without repeat, means you’ll get the spike but then bust. Substantial investment required. Don’t let it distract from protecting the base loyal users.
  • Create New Uses: Format Line Extensions that take your experience or name elsewhere. Able to leverage same benefit in convenient “on the go” offering. Make sure current brand is in order before you divert attention, funding and focus on expansion area. Investment needed, could divert from spend on base business. Be careful because the legendary stories (Arm and Hammer) don’t come along as much as we hope.

As you look to either grow by share or new categories the two crucial calculations for you are Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) and Return on Investment (ROI) 

For CAGR, here is a calculation tool:

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And for Return on Investment (ROI):

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Show Your Work:  Just like in grade school where you get extra points for showing your work, the same thing goes when taking senior leaders through your assumptions.  

There is only one reason we have brands: to make more money than if we just had products.

To view a copy of How to drive Profits into your Brand, click below:

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

We make Brands better.

We make Brand Leaders better.™

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The 10 real reasons that Target failed in Canada

Posted on Posted in Beloved Brands in the Market

target5Having lost nearly $1 billion in its first year in Canada, and facing more multimillion-dollar losses, Target announced on Thursday it would discontinue its operations in Canada and close its 133 stores. While the news of them closing should not be a surprise, the speed in which they left feels pretty shocking. They didn’t even make the 2-year anniversary of the new store.

1. Target just wasn’t different. 

Brands really only have four choices: they can better, different, cheaper or not around for long. For Target in the US, they have always taken the “different” positioning–focused on cool suburban moms, broader offering. But in Canada, Target basically became Wal-Mart with red paint. They never found a way to separate themselves to be seen as different enough to get “new consumers” to try it out and yet they seemed to disappoint those potential loyal consumers who had already bought into the US version of Target. 

2. The suburban positioning already taken in Canada

In the US market, Wal-Mart grew up through the 70s and 80s as a small town or even a rural brand, providing the opportunity for Target to become the suburban version of Wal-Mart. But even looking at pure demographics, Canada has the biggest middle class population in the world, the population is very concentrated to six main cities, where as in the US there are many small towns scattered throughout. When Wal-Mart entered Canada, they purchased the retail footprint of Woolco, which was a suburban brand. The Wal-Mart strategy in Canada closely resembled what Target had done in the US: going after suburban moms, new/fresh stores, big wide/clean aisles making for a better shopping experience than in the Wal-Mart stores in the US.

3. The Low priced clothing for cool moms positioning was already taken in Canada

joe_freshLoblaws is the biggest food retailer and are known for a) copying great retailers around the world b) attacking their competitors viciously. While originally a grocery store, the Loblaws stores have become a mass merchandiser store where you can get the same low-priced clothing for the cool moms, via the JOE FRESH brand. This took away a potential competitive advantage for Target to leverage.

4. Target invested too much and too fast in new locations and new employees

Target launched 133 stores and hired 17,000 employees in Canada–almost half of Wal-Mart’s footprint in Canada, who have been here for 20 years. Taking on the leases of Zellers and then fixing up their locations was costly and crippling to the operations.Target tried to do way too much too soon–hurting their ability to deliver the same experience they are delivering in the US. Target had two strategic choices at launch: a) pick limited locations and do it right or b) cover everywhere in Canada as a preventative strategy against competitive attacks. They decided to be everywhere, and as we can see did a very bad job. They should have staggered their launch by starting with Toronto only, expanding to key markets as they established themselves and managed to create a loyal following. Operations were awfully sloppy. The procurement system was so poorly run that empty store shelves were not uncommon. Given the empty stores, it’s hard to really blame a run on merchandising.o-TARGET-CANADA-EMPTY-SHELVES-facebook

5. Target had no money left to actually drive demand

The best thing about Target is you could get a great parking spot, there were no crowds in the aisles and you didn’t have to line up to pay. Why? Because, there was no one there. As all the money went into the bricks and mortar of creating new stores, they had very little money left over for marketing. In the 18 months since launch, there was very little hype, no great advertising, no wonderful launch events, no press coverage, very little on social media. They never created the demand needed to drive revenue.

6. They didn’t have the same selection as their US stores

The most loyal Target shoppers in Canada had experienced the Target store in the US for years, whether they were cross border shopping or going to Target when they were vacationing in Florida, Arizona or California. And the biggest complaint they had about Target Canada is the lack of product breadth on the shelves. They were expecting the identical offering they saw in Target US. But that’s not a reality. Target is JUST a retailer at the mercy of what the manufacturers offer in Canada. There are numerous factors that impact the variety when it comes to Canadian manufacturers–the biggest being the relative size of listing fees that Canadian retailers demand are so big that launching smaller small skus just doesn’t make sense in Canada. The difference in government regulations will also alter what products can be available for sale.

7. Target US sales dropped the minute they announced they were going into Canada

Target is a very US centric brand, with Canada representing their first attempt at International–and it might be their last. As soon as they launched, they faced declining sales and share in the US. It was unrelated, but now Target management faced two issues at once–a turnaround strategy to solidify US sales and a launch strategy internationally. Anytime you divert your attention, you’re likely to mess one of them up, and the Canadian launch suffered. 

8. The dropping Canadian dollar messed up their financial contributions

Screen Shot 2015-01-18 at 11.48.38 PMWhat is not mentioned very often is that the Canadian Dollar has fallen from relative parity when they were considering launching two years ago to 0.83 cents. That has a two-fold impact: the reporting of sales and profits internationally just took a 17% hit due to exchange and the imported items from the US just saw a big cost increase that will bite into the margins. With those loyal Target shoppers already upset that the Canadian and US prices are not equal, there was very little opportunity for Target to cover the impact of the dollar in their P&L. 

9. Target saw very little risk to leaving

When they made the decision to exit Canada, they did so very quickly and from reading everything said this week by Target, they showed very little remorse. The opening of their press release started by telling the US manufacturers that this statement had zero impact on the US stores or their standing with manufacturers in the US. Rather than bite the full financial bullet, Target has asked for somewhat of a bankruptcy protection, like Chapter 11 in the US. I guess the question is “why are they asking for any protection?”.  Yes, they said they would create a trust that would cover 16 weeks of severance pay for “most” of their employees. The “most” line caught my eye, which feels similar to that classic “Up to 70% off everything in store”. We shall see how fairly they treat ALL 17,000 employees. And will the protection get them out of leasehold agreements that leave malls empty and scrambling to fill them and will they treat the uniquely Canadian manufacturers the same as they treat their US manufacturers. 

10. Their loyal consumers embraced Target more than Target embraced their consumers

When consumers care more than the brand, that brand is in trouble. And from what I can see, there still are many loyal Target consumers who are disappointed in the news. At Beloved Brands, we believe passion matters, because the more loved a brand is by consumers, the more powerful and profitable that brand will be. Target did very little to create love with consumers. Their promise lacked any real difference and they failed to tell their story to the Canadian marketplace. There was zero magic in the way they connected with consumers and zero magic in the experience in the stores. 

Let this be a lesson to the next retailer who will venture into Canada

At Beloved Brands, we run a Brand Leadership Center 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 THE BRAND LEADERSHIP CENTER, click on the Powerpoint presentation below:

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 3911Positioning 2016.081

 

How to communicate your brand story internally, by turning your “Big Idea” into a Brand Credo

Posted on Posted in How to Guide for Marketers

Does your brand have a brand credo? How do you communicate your brand story internally?

With most brands I meet up with, I ask “what is the big idea behind your brand?” Slide12-2
and I rarely get a great answer. When I stand in front of the bigger brand team and ask that question, with the best brands I get one answer, and with struggling brands, I can guarantee I’ll get multiple conflicting answers. That’s not healthy. I always say that brands should be able to explain themselves in 7 seconds, 60 seconds and 30 minutes, all laddering up to the same message. There are too many Brands where what gets said inside the corporate office is completely different than what gets said in the marketplace. Moreover, there are brands that only view “messaging” as something Brand does in TV ads or through logos. How do you communicate what your brand stands for when you’re with R&D, HR, or finance? I recommend you create your own Brand Credo, which should come directly from your brand’s Big Idea. Here’s how:

Start with finding the Big Idea of your Brand

I’ve always heard how Brand is the hub of the organization and everything should revolve around the Brand. While it makes sense, it’s just talk unless you are managing your business based on your brand’s Big Idea throughout every inch of your organization. Everyone connected to the brand, should fully understand the brand’s Big Idea. And when I say “everyone”, I’m talking about everyone in the entire organization, including Sales, Finance, Production, R&D, HR and Marketing, as well as everyone outside the organization including agencies or employees at your retailers.

We’ve explained the Big Idea tool a few times, but here’s a refresher. The Brand’s Big Idea (some call it the Brand Essence) is the most concise and inspiring definition of the Brand. For Volvo, it’s “Safety”, while BMW might be “Performance” and Mercedes is “Luxury”. Volvo has stood for safety for almost 60 years, long before safety even registered with consumers. Here is the Tool I use to figure out a Brand’s Big Idea.  The model revolves around four quadrants that surround and yet help to define the Brand:

  1. Brand’s personality: human descriptors that express the brand’s style, tone and attitude.
  2. Products and Services: features, attributes, and functional characteristics that are embedded in what we sell.
  3. Internal Beacons: the internal views or purpose of the brand, why people believe their brand can win, what inspires, motivates and challenges.
  4. Consumer Views: honest assessment of how the consumer sees the brand, the good and bad.  

big ideaHow this tool works best with a team is that we normally brainstorm 3-4 words in each of the four quadrants and then try to form those words into a sentence for each quadrant. After all 4 quadrants are filled, we then looking collectively and begin to frame the brand’s Big Idea with a phrase that embodies the entirety of the brand. As I facilitate sessions using this tool, it’s almost magical as we see the brand really come to life. You have to have a bit of faith that the work around the big circle provides you with an inspiration for what the big idea really is. Executives love this exercise and it works.  This is the Big Idea completed for my own brand: Beloved Brands.Slide1

 

Simplify your Brand’s Big Idea into a Credo that motivates and steers everyone

Slide1Having spent time at Johnson and Johnson, the Credo document is an essential part of the culture of the organization. Not only does it permeate throughout the company, you will likely find it quoted in meetings on a daily basis. It’s a beautifully written document and ahead of its time. The original author was General Robert Wood Johnson in 1943. What is most fascinating from a brand vantage is that the first responsibility is to the healthcare professionals and consumers who rely on the J&J products. He understood their importance above and beyond anything else. The second and third tenants were to employees and the community with the final tenant being the stockholders. Yes, business must make a profit. But as the document suggests there is a belief that if you cover off the first three, the shareholder should benefit–but should never be placed ahead. Keep in mind, this was written when there was only one shareholder–Mr Johnson himself–but he knew that the company would be going public the next year. He wanted to use this Credo document to steer the culture based on his values.

Like any company these days, J&J has veered off course either through business decisions or ethics. But having that document allows them to take action.

If you have the energy to write such a document go for it. But Ritz-Carlton has created a much simpler Credo example they use to steer their brand experience through their people. Recognizing that any great brand has to be better, different or cheaper to win, Ritz ritzcredo1Carlton focuses their attention on impeccable service standards to separate themselves from other Hotels.  What Ritz Carlton has done so well is operationalize it so that culture and brand are one. 

I was lucky enough to be able to attend the Ritz Carlton Training session, and as a Brand Leader, the thing that struck me was the idea of meeting the “unexpressed” needs of guests.  As highly paid Marketers, even with mounds of research, we still struggle to figure out what our consumers want, yet Ritz Carlton has created a culture where bartenders, bellhops and front desk clerks instinctively meet these “unexpressed needs”.  Employees carry around note pads and record the expressed and unexpressed needs of every guest and then they use their instincts to try to surprise and delight these guests.

Employees are fully empowered to create unique, memorable and personal experiences for our guests.  Unique means doing something that helps to separate Ritz Carlton from other hotels, memorable forces the staff to do something that truly stands out.   And personal is defined as people doing things for other people. The Ritz-Carlton Credo does a nice job articulating who they are and provides some support for their Big Idea, but does not go far enough. 

Slide1Looking at the Beloved Brands Credo example, we believe that a well-articulated credo should answer:

  • What is you brand’s big idea? What is the one thing that you do better, different or cheaper than anyone else?
  • What are the two ways you can bring that big idea to life (proof points, values, beliefs, tone) that helps to separate your brand from the pack?

The Beloved Brands Credo leads off with the big idea of making brands and brand leaders better. While a lot of consultants can claim that, we think our belief about brands that helps separate us. We link the passion of the work to the love of your brand which can then be harnessed for growth and profits. What also separates us is how we challenge brand leaders, not just in our tone but with new ideas, models and systems that are all linked to fundamentally helping brands and brand leaders unleash their full potential.

To read more click on this hyper link:  Tools to help you describe your brand in 7 seconds, 60 seconds and 30 minutes

Communicating your brand story internally is as crucial as any external communication to the market

At Beloved Brands, we run a Brand Leadership Center 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 THE BRAND LEADERSHIP CENTER, click on the Powerpoint presentation below:

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 3911Slide1

Strategic thinkers see questions, before they see answers. Non-strategic thinkers see answers before questions.

Posted on Posted in How to Guide for Marketers

Everyone thinks they are strategic. Yet, these same people can’t even explain what “being strategic” means.

There are a lot of marketers trying to move from mid-level management into the more senior roles, as either Director or VP. They tell me they are “strategic”. Of course they are. Who isn’t strategic these days? Everyone seems to proclaim they are a “strategic thinker” on their LinkedIn profile. People get promoted because they are strategic and held back in their careers at a given level because they aren’t strategic enough. Yet, has your boss ever had a real conversation about what it means to be more strategic?  Or do they just say it and you just take it? Have you ever received training on being more strategic?  I spent 20 years at Fortune 500 companies and I never received any training, tips or feedback on being more strategic. Yet, we keep saying “strategic” all the time. Slide1

When I ask people “so, what does it mean to be strategic?”, I normally end up with lots of awkward pauses and then they give me some type of answer about making the right choices. Well, “making the right choices” could be strategic, but it might be tactical as well. They tell me they have vision of where to go. That’s only part of strategy. Good strategy has vision, focus, opportunity, early wins, leverage and ability to find a gateway to something bigger. Good strategy provides some type of return (connectivity, financial, change in power, shift in position) that is bigger than the effort put in.

To me, the difference between a strategic thinker and a non-strategic thinker is whether you see questions first or answers first. Both offer extreme value to a brand.  

  • Strategic Thinkers see “what if” questions before they see solutions. They map out a range of decision trees that intersect and connect by imagining how events will play out. They reflect and plan before they act. They are thinkers and planning who can see connections.
  • Non Strategic Thinkers see answers before questions. They get to answers quickly, and get frustrated in delays. They believe doing something is better than doing nothing at all. They opt for action over thinking. They are impulsive and doers who see tasks. They get frustrated by strategic thinkers.

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The best Brand Leaders I’ve seen are a bit of a chameleon, as they are able to balance both strategy and execution–or put another way, both questions and answers. While pure strategic people make great consultants, I wouldn’t want them running my brand. They’d keep analyzing things to death, asking questions over and over, without ever taking action. Every day there would be more strategies. And while tactical people get stuff done, is it the right stuff?  I want someone running my brand who is both strategic and non-strategic, almost equally so. Great Brand Leaders can talk with both types, one minute debating investment choices and then at a TV edit deciding on option A or B. Great Brand Leaders think with strategy but act with instincts.  

For many marketers, there are things that get in the way of being strategic.

  • There is always a conflict between strategic thinking and taking action. In many companies, there is a mistaken attitude that doing something is better than doing nothing. The problem is that without proper focus, taking random action just spreads resources randomly. (time, investment, people, partners) 
  • Many marketers have a conflict with their own sales team that can take them off strategy.  Sales people are not less strategic, but place a higher value in relationship than many marketers. They have to work within the needs and opinions of their buyers and balance shorter term risk with strategic gains.
  • When dealing with agencies, Brand Leaders can lose track of their strategy by being talked into a great ad. Agencies are more emotional than brand leaders and value pride more than the brand leader—Agency people want to make work they can show off. And no matter what, the real brand that Agencies manage is their own first, and your brand second.

Slow down your thinking. Slow Thinking is logical, deeper thinking, effortful, logical, calculating and many times part of the conscious. I see too many Brand Leaders who are so smart, they go too quickly through their strategy, choosing the obvious options and because they never stop to ask the great questions they never force the deeper thinking needed for strategy. Fast Thinking is more Instinctual, automatic, emotional, subconscious and gut reaction.You should use fast thinking when doing your execution. When it comes to execution, these same Brand Leaders see so much execution risk they slow things down and over-think every part of the execution. They worry if it will work in market or even whether their boss will approve it. As much as quick strategic causes Brand Leaders to miss out on the deeper strategic issues, slowing down on execution causes you to over-think and miss out on great creative ideas.

Slide1If you want to demonstrate to senior management that you are strategic, instead of showing that you have the best answers, try showing them that you have the best questions. When you are with your team, instead of looking to tell them what to do at every turn, ask them great questions that make them think. When your agency presents creative advertising ideas, instead of giving them detailed feedback that fixes the ad, see if you can use questions to move them in the direction you want.

If you wish to be more strategic, slow down, ask richer deeper questions that challenge those around you.

At Beloved Brands, we run a Brand Leadership Center 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 THE BRAND LEADERSHIP CENTER, click on the Powerpoint presentation below:

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

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No brand does Social Media better than Taylor Swift

Posted on Posted in Beloved Brands in the Market

B2WXKxRIUAA8EY-Yes, every star these days has millions of fans following them on Twitter and Instagram. But it’s what Taylor Swift does with her following that really separates her out from the pack, and helps turn her into a Beloved Brand.  I know you want to be cynical and think “well, she likely has a team of people”.  Yes she does, but she has the vision, direction and final say for how her brand is portrayed. Justin Bieber might have similar followers, but in between throwing eggs at the neighbor’s house or driving too fast, the most interesting thing he ever tweets is “Hello Chicago” on the morning of his concert or dropping the names of other celebrities that he’s hanging out with. It reminds me of Michael Jackson back in the 1980s–everyone was using video, but MJ was just using it better than everyone. 

I’m not a fan of TSwizzle’s music, but she does an amazing job portraying herself as an average girl living a celebrity life. She tries to do “normal things” that someone her age would do for her friends, and in this case she treats her fans as though they are her friends.The creative programs Taylor does choose give you a feeling that it’s not just about awareness, but rather about connecting. She uses surprise and delight marketing in many of the things she does, which is a great tool that bridges “pop star” lifestyle with the “average girl” image.   

Here are 5 brilliant and highly creative on-line moves by Taylor Swift that connect her on a deeper level with her followers:

1. Taylor woke up and flew to Ohio to surprise a fan by going to her bridal shower. She appears like a long-lost friend, hugging everyone and talking with ease among her “friends”.

2. While very small in nature, she has been well-known to just lurk around and comment on randomly comment on people’s Instagram page. Imagine how huge it is when her name randomly show up one day.  She’s even taken it a step further by providing advice to fans on Instagram–the type of advice that a friend would provide. 

Taylor-Swift-gives-love-advice-to-young-fan-on-Instagram

3. This year, “Swiftmas” gifts to fan, where they actually studied the social media pages of certain fans to give them gifts that were relevant to that person’s life–just like a friend–plus long hand-written notes. She visited one long-term fan with gifts for her son–spending two hours with the family. Just watch the reaction of these fans. This video has over 14 million hits.

4.  Taylor wrote a compassionate and supporting note on Instagram to a Fan who was bullied. Bullying is a very important topic and this note generated tons of positive PR for Taylor.

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5.  Visiting a Boston’s Children’s Hospital. What shows up in this video is how casual Taylor is–from having an un-tuned guitar to not overly prepared what to sing to a viral filming of the visit. 

Through each of these programs, Taylor Swift appears very open, authentic and genuine in her approach to fans. She grew up in such a video/on-line/social media world, that taking selfies, tweeting about waking up late and commenting people’s Instagram pages are just very “normal” things to do.

Taylor Swift uses Social Media to show up as”just an average girl”

Last year, I wrote about How Miley Cyrus used controversy to gain attention in a very strategic manner.  To read more on that, click on this hyper link:  Managing the Miley Cyrus Brand

At Beloved Brands, we run a Brand Leadership Center 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 THE BRAND LEADERSHIP CENTER, click on the Powerpoint presentation below:

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

 

Positioning 2016.112

Tools to help you describe your brand in 7 seconds, 60 seconds and 30 minutes

Posted on Posted in How to Guide for Marketers

Slide1The reality of branding is you will have various moments when you have to define your brand–sometimes you get 7 seconds, but other times you might be asked to expand, and expand yet again. What I coach my clients on is:  can you define your brand in 7 seconds, 60 seconds and 30 minutes? Regardless of the length of your story everything must feed off a simple BIG IDEA that defines you–and then you must build your story under that BIG IDEA. In too many situations I see, the story meanders and changes as it gets bigger.  

When do you need a 7 second pitch?  

  • In advertising, it should be the idea line at the end of the TV ad, the billboard ad in Times Square or the button on Facebook.
  • Internally, this is the rallying cry to R&D to focus their innovation, to HR on building the culture and to Senior Leaders for how to define the brand to everyone in the company.
  • In sales, this is your opening line to the store manager or the dentist you’re trying to get to recommend your product.
  • Start of the job interview, you should lead off with a 7 second pitch that describes yourself (e.g. I’m a marketer that finds growth where others can’t)

When do you need 60 second pitch?  

  • If you’re with your agency and you’re trying to describe the big idea for your brand, you sometimes need to elaborate to help paint the picture.
  • At the end of the job interview as you’re summarizing 2-3 points under the big idea of your personal brand, as you go for the close as to why they should hire you.
  • In sales, as you go beyond your opener, it helps to build on the big idea and frame what might be a discussion.  And as you go for the close, use the 2 minute pitch.
  • If you’re pitching new business, this could be your opening and/or your close at the end of a presentation.

When do you need a 30 minute pitch?

  • Most times when you’re pitching new business, you’ll get the opportunity to use a Powerpoint presentation. Many times, it’s a bit more formal and helps the pitch stay organized.
  • If you’re in front of investors and trying to tell why they should invest in your brand.
  • As you’re presenting a new direction on your brand, it’s a great tool to use with senior leaders if you’re trying to secure funding behind a new strategy, or with the entire organization if you’re trying to rally support.

Here’s how to find the 7 second elevator pitch: what’s your big idea?

Everyone talks about the 7 second elevator pitch, but it’s not easy to get there. I suppose you could ride up and down the elevator and try telling people. That may drive you insane. 

The Big Idea (some call it the Brand Essence) is the most concise definition of the Brand.  For Volvo, it’s “Safety”, while BMW might be “Performance” and Mercedes is “Luxury”.  Below is the Tool I use to figure out a Brand’s Big Idea revolving around four areas that help define the Brand 1) Brand’s personality 2) Products and Services the brand provides 3) Internal Beacons that people internally rally around when thinking about the brand and 4) Consumer Views of the Brand.  What we normally do is brainstorm 3-4 words in each of the four sections and then looking collectively begin to frame the Brand’s Big Idea with a few words or a phrase to which the brand can stand behind.big idea

As an example of how we use the tool, here’s a completed one using Beloved Brands. Our big idea is:  We make brands better. We make brand leaders better.™

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Here’s how to find the 60-second pitch: why should I buy you?

Once you have your Big Idea, you should then use it to frame the 5 different connectors needed to set up a very strong bond between your brand and your consumers.

 

Slide1Brands are able to generate love for their brand when the consumer does connect with the brand. I wish everyone would stop debating what makes a great brand and realize that all five connectors matter: promise, strategy, story, innovation and experience. The first connector is the Brand Promise, which connects when the brand’s main Benefit matches up to the needs of consumers.  Once knowing that promise, everything else feeds off that Promise.  For Volvo the promise is Safety, for Apple it is Simplicity and FedEx it might be Reliability.  It’s important to align your Strategy and Brand Story pick the best ways to communicate the promise, and then aligning your Innovation and the Experience so that you deliver to the promise.  To make sure the Innovation aligns to the Big Idea, everyone in R&D must be working towards delivering the brand promise.  If someone at Volvo were to invent the fastest car on the planet, should they market it as the safe-fast car or should they just sell the technology to Ferrari.  Arguably, Volvo could make more money by selling it to a brand where it fits, and not trying to change people’s minds.  As for the experience, EVERYONE in the company has to buy into and live up to the Brand Promise.  As you can start to see, embedding the Brand Promise right into the culture is essential to the brand’s success.  

  1. The brand’s promise sets up the positioning, as you focus on a key target with one main benefit you offer.  Brands need to be either better, different or cheaper.  Or else not around for very long.  ”Me-too” brands have a short window before being squeezed out.  How relevant, simple and compelling the brand positioning is impacts the potential love for the brand.
  2. The most beloved brands create an experience that over-delivers the promise.  How your culture and organization sets up can make or break that experience.  Hiring the best people, creating service values that employees can deliver against and having processes that end service leakage.  The culture attacks the brand’s weaknesses and fixes them before the competition can attack.  With a Beloved Brand, the culture and brand become one.
  3. Brands also make focused strategic choices that start with identifying where the brand is on the Brand Love Curve going from Indifferent to Like It to Love It and all the way to Beloved status.   Marketing is not just activity, but rather focused activity–based on strategy with an ROI mindset.  Where you are on the curve might help you make strategic and tactical choices such as media, innovation and service levels.
  4. The most beloved brands have a freshness of innovation, staying one-step ahead of the consumers.  The idea of the brand helps acting as an internal beacon to help frame the R&D.  Every new product has to back that idea.  At Apple, every new product must deliver simplicity and at Volvo, it must focus on safety.  .
  5. Beloved brands can tell the brand story through great advertising in paid media, through earned media either in the mainstream press or through social media.  Beloved Brands use each of these media choices to connect with consumers and have a bit of magic to their work.

As you take this to a summation stage, here’s an example of the 60 second pitch, which is my summary of why you should use Beloved Brands.  You’ll see it builds on the 7 second pitch above.

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How to find the 30 minute Brand story: Telling your brand story

There are a few different ways to do the 30 minute pitch story.

The first way is to build a Brand Strategy Road Map which combines your long-range strategic plan with the Big Idea and 5 connectors underneath.  Here’s an example using the “Beloved Brands” brand. The beauty of this document is that it easily fits everything on one page, ready to share with anyone that touches the brand. Slide1

 

The second way is story telling.  If you are struggling to tell the story and building a presentation, here’s a simple format that involves answering 15 questions related to the brand. Play around with the specific order, but if you answer these 15 questions you can tell everything you need to about the brand. This should also keep you lined up to the Big Idea, especially as that is the first question to answer.

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The third way is a pitch presentation which would include

  • Your Big Idea
  • How you can help the customer, detailed benefits.
  • What experience do you bring to the table
  • What clients have to say
  • Who you are: Biography
  • What are your beliefs that set you apart

Here is the 30 minute pitch presentation for Beloved Brands:

You should align and manage every part of your Organization around your Brand’s Big Idea

At Beloved Brands, we run a Brand Leadership Center 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 THE BRAND LEADERSHIP CENTER, click on the Powerpoint presentation below:

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

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Your #1 New Year’s Resolution should be to make your people better

Posted on Posted in How to Guide for Marketers

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If you are looking for a personal New Years resolution, you can try to quit smoking or take up yoga.  But if you’re searching for that next big leadership move:  Focus this year on making your people better. The better the people, the better the work gets and in turn the better the results get.  Having better people will make you a better overall leader.  

The greatest myth of marketing is that it is 100% learned on the job. That was likely started in the 90’s as corporations began cutting back on training–that’s really the last time that marketers received the training they needed.

Being a great Brand Leader takes a balance of coaching from a well-trained leader, teaching in a class room setting and learning on the job.Too many times, courses are more for leadership  and less for marketing.That makes for great leaders that are bad marketers. More and more, we are seeing marketing teams thrust new marketers into their roles without any training at all. In fact, their bosses and even their bosses boss likely hasn’t really received any training. So who is really teaching you, on the job, if the person with you isn’t well-trained? Who is training you how to do a positioning statement, how to write a brief, writing brand plans and how to give feedback to an ad agency? Without these marketing fundamentals, how can you have a team of great marketers?

As you move up, you start to realize that you can’t do everything, and you’re really only as good as your team. The thing I’ve always said is that better people create better work and that means better results. The question you should be asking is are they good enough? Maybe it’s time to invest in making your people better, so that you can be freed up for more leadership, higher level strategic thinking and focusing on driving the vision of the team, rather than caught in the weeds of re-writing copy on a coupon.

As the Leader, here are 3 key questions to be asking your:

  1. Does your team of brand leaders think strategically and can they turn that thinking into a brand plan everyone can follow?
  2. Are they doing the deep dive Analytics needed and can they turn that thinking into an analytical story that everyone understands?
  3. Are they able to get brand communication into the market that can establish a winning brand positioning and drive the sales and profit needed?

How strategic is your team?

Strategic thinking is not just whether you are smart or not. You can be brilliant and not strategic at all. Strategic Thinkers see “what if” questions before they see solutions. They map out a range of decision trees that intersect and connect by imagining how events will play out. They reflect and plan before they act. Slide1They are thinkers and planners who can see connections. On the other hand, Non Strategic Thinkers see answers before questions. They opt for action over thinking, believing that doing something is better than doing nothing. They are impulsive and doers who see tasks. With the explosion of marketing media, we are seeing too many of the new Brand Leaders becoming action-oriented do-ers and not strategic thinkers. They don’t connect their actions to maximizing the results on the brand. They do cool stuff they like not strategic things that help grow the business and add profit to the Brand. I see too many of today’s Brand Leaders focused on activity, rather than strategy. In terms of strategy, what you want for your team is to ensure they know:

  • How to THINK STRATEGICALLY, helping them to make focused choices on the pathway to their vision.
  • The role of BRAND STRATEGY in creating a bond, power and profit, beyond what the product itself could achieve.
  • The THREE TYPES OF STRATEGY including consumer, competitive and situational strategy.
  • How to create BRAND PLANS that everyone in your organization can follow.

Here’s a powerpoint workshop we run for brand leaders to make them better Strategic Thinkers and write better Brand Plans.  We coach Brand Leaders to think more strategically, looking at brand, consumer, competitive, and situational strategy, helping them to create brand plans everyone can follow.

How analytical is your team?

How good is your team’s analytical thinking? I hate when brand leaders do that “surface cleaning” type analysis. I call it surface cleaning when you find out that someone is coming to your house in 5 minutes so you just take everything that’s on a counter and put it in a drawer really quickly. I can tell very quickly when someone doesn’t dig deep on analysis. When it comes to analytical thinking you need to make sure that your Brand Leaders have: 

  • Principles of Good Analytics Gain more support for your analysis by telling Slide1analytical stories through data.
  • Health and Wealth of the Brand Assess brand situation looking category, consumer, channels, brand and competitors
  • Analytical stories get Decision Makers to “what do you think” stage Analysis turns fact into insight and data breaks form the story that sets up strategic choices.
    Turn analytical thinking into projections Extrapolating data into the future, starts with what you are see in the current.
  • Monthly Brand Report Keep everyone on the team informed, engaged and aware of the strategic thinking

Here’s a powerpoint workshop we run to help Brand Leaders be better at Analytical Thinking and help them to create better Analytical Stories.  We coach Brand Leader on the principles of good analysis, how to assess health and wealth of the brand and turning your analytical thinking into strategic stories, projections and reports.

How good is your team at Advertising?

How good is your team’s Advertising and Marketing Communications into the market?  Can your Brand Leaders write a Creative Brief? The best Advertising is well planned, not some random creative thing that happens. Slide1The value of a creative brief is focus! Like a good positioning statement, you’re taking everything you know and everything you could possibly say, and starting to make choices on what will give you the greatest return on your media dollars. If you’re not making choices then you’re not making decisions. Unlike other creativity, advertising is “In the Box” creativity. Making great advertising is very hard. Good marketers make it look simple, but they have good solid training and likely some good solid experience. As Brand Leaders sit in the room, looking at new advertising ideas, most are ill-prepared as to how to judge what makes good advertising and what makes bad. In terms of Advertising, it’s crucial that your team know:

  • The crucial role of the BRAND LEADER in getting amazing Advertising
  • How to write a tightly focused ADVERTISING STRATEGY to set up a Brief that delivers great work
  • How to make ADVERTISING DECISIONS so you can choose great ads and reject bad ads
  • How to provide COPY DIRECTION that inspires and challenges to get great Advertising

Here’s a powerpoint workshop we run for brand leaders Brand Leaders to help make them better at getting effective Advertising on their brands. We look at the role Brand Leader, in developing advertising strategy, making decisions and giving effective direction to an agency.

The better your people, the better the work which means the better the results 

At Beloved Brands, we run a Brand Leadership Center 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 THE BRAND LEADERSHIP CENTER, click on the Powerpoint presentation below:

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

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Miley Cyrus six months later: If you’re over 22 you’re not the target

Posted on Posted in Beloved Brands Explained

urlIt’s now been six months since Miley created a storm of controversy at the MTV Awards.  While I didn’t see it live, everyone on my Facebook had an opinion of it all day the next day.  The only issue is nearly everyone on my Facebook is over 40. Then you watch the news cycle and see all the news stations all day trashing Miley and talking about how inappropriate it was. But everyone on these news stations was also over 40.

The issue is that if you’re over 40, you’re not in the target market.

So then I asked my 15-year-old daughter what she thought of the whole “Miley thing”.  She said “she’s just trying to show that she’s a grown up and make a living”.

My daughter is in the target market.  And she gets what Miley was trying to do.  And she was willing to defend her. 

A beloved brand knows who is in their target, and who is not in their target.  I hear so many non-beloved brands say “we can’t alienate…” But before you say alienate next time, keep in mind that target and alienate are pretty much synonymous.

Miley is very Strategic

Beloved Brands find a way to separate themselves.  With traditional brands, you have to be better, different or cheaper. Or else not around for very long.  With music, there’s so much talent out there, so really those who make it are “different”.  And Miley has a very good voice but she’s smart enough to know that’s not enough.  She gets that:  ‘Every time I do anything, I want to remember, this is what separates me from everybody else.’

While all the controversy was going on, Miley called the MTV Award performance a “strategic mess”.  I know it caused this storm of outrage but that’s not really the first time in music history.  

Elvis-and-Ed-300x244When Elvis first performed on Ed Sullivan, they would not show him below the waist because of his gyrating hips.  The Beatles long hair caused a stir, Rolling Stones getting arrested in Toronto, Madonna singing about being a virgin in a wedding dress or kissing Britney Spears on stage.  Pick your age and you likely think the one prior to your generation was “kind of silly” and the one after was “completely offensive”.

So let’s look at this strategically.  

There are Four Principles of Good Strategy: 1) Focus 2) Early Win 3) Leverage point and 4) Gateway to something bigger.

  • FOCUS all your energy to a particular strategic point or purpose.  Match up your brand assets to pressure points you can break through, maximizing your limited resources—either financial resources or effort.  Focus on one target.   Focus on one message.  And focus on very few strategies and tactics.  Less is more. 
  • You want that EARLY WIN, to kick-start of some momentum. Early Wins are about slicing off parts of the business or population where you can build further.  This proves to everyone the brand can win—momentum, energy, following.
  • LEVERAGE everything to gain positional advantage or power that helps exert even greater pressure and gains the tipping point of the business that helps lead to something bigger.  Crowds follow crowds. 
  • See beyond the early win, there has to be a GATEWAY point, the entrance or a means of access to something even bigger.   It could be getting to the masses, changing opinions or behaviours.  Return on Investment or Effort.

Here’s how Miley did in terms of strategy:  

  • Focus:  Miley’s target audience is the Hannah Montana audience, who were 10-15 when she was on that show and are now 15-20.  She focused on the biggest teen show, the MTV Awards, well-known for crazy antics and perfectly timed to spur on her album sales, of which the first single had already hit #2.  You can do anything on the MTV Awards because only the kids are watching anyway.  She knew exactly what she was doing.  
  • Early Win:  In the music industry, it’s fairly obvious that no news is bad news.  Miley thought this out and was even quoted as saying “make the talk about it for 2 weeks rather than 2 seconds”. While others did outrageous things that night.  Sadly, Miley wasn’t the craziest performance that night. Poor Lady Gaga came up in a g-string and yet, no one talked about her at all.  For 48-hours, it was hard to see the win and even I was wondering if she could manage the storm.  People were worried she had lost it. But, after the 40 year olds were done complaining about her, the 15 year olds came to her defence on twitter, where none of the 40-year olds could see.  In each subsequent interview, she came across as intelligent and….strategic. She did a great job on Saturday Night Live, making fun of herself and even saying “I’m not going to do Hannah Montana, but I can give you an update. She was murdered.”  All part of the transformation away from child star into a 20-something singer.  
  • Leverage:  She was able to leverage the energy to get these loyal fans to go buy her music.  She kept the controversy going with the launch of the “Wrecking Ball” video where she was buck naked.  Within 24 hours, the video was downloaded 19 million times and the song quickly shot to #1. 
  • Gateway:  Everyone knows the music charts are the gateway to the bigger mass audience–more radio play, more iTunes downloads and more talk value. And Bigger concert sales. Miley’s album sales were through the roof and she was named MTV Artist of the Year for 2013.  She was also named #1 Sexiest Woman by Maxim Magazine.  The re-invention of her new image complete.  Oddly enough, Miley finished #3 in the voting for Time Magazine’s Person of the Year.   Odd because there is no more mainstream publication than Time. 

Does this seem like an insane person out of control, or someone who knows exactly what she was doing?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SE2L9QYrJH8

Miley is a very smart strategic “grown up”


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Do you want a team of amazing Brand Leaders?  We can help you.  

Read more on how to utilize our Brand Leadership Learning Center where you will receive training in all aspects of marketing whether that’s strategic thinking, brand plans, creative briefs, brand positioning, analytical skills or how to judge advertising.  We can customize a program that is right for you or your team.  We can work in person, over the phone or through Skype.  Ask us how we can help you. 

  

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 brainstorming workshop or ask how we can help train you to be a better brand leader.

Why CMO’s are demanding more Creativity

Posted on Posted in How to Guide for Marketers

CMO’s realize that it’s harder and harder to get a real competitive point of difference.  More and more, creativity in execution can help separate a brand.  But the issue is that brand management teams have gotten so conservative, the CMO feels stuck when they ask for more creativity and the team doesn’t respond. You have to create a culture of creativity where people feel safe to raise ideas.  

A Team’s culture can suck the creativity right out of Everyone

When we first walk through the doors into the marketing world, we are so gung-ho with an infinite number of ideas, that are all over the place.  These junior marketers just ooze with passion.  That’s why we hired them.  So we chain them to the desk and say “no”, “can’t” and “that will never happen” to about 90% of their ideas.   And we suck the life out of them, tell them that they are getting much more “strategic” and then promote them to Brand Manager.  At Brand Manager, we instil the fear of god into them that if they mess up anything they’ll be held accountable.  Accountable means don’t try anything stupid.  And we tell them to “stay on strategy” which is code for “play it safe”.  It’s all about ownership.  By the time we promote them to Director, they know what to do, and what NOT to do.  This is code for BORING and the USUAL.  

And the CMO takes the reigns, looks at all their first share book, the numbers look flat.  They look at their competitors taking risks, especially compared to their own team’s work.  So they figure out quickly, that making dramatic changes to the product will take time and investment.  More advertising costs money. So the simplest answer is to stand in front of the group and say “WE NEED MORE CREATIVITY” 

Here’s the problem: Teams get so stuck Following the Usual

But the problem is the team has been set up to reject creativity in favor of the safe and trusted options.  The classic launch formula: do the basic product concept testing, hope for a moderate pass.   Then meet with sales and explain how this is almost identical to the launch we did last year, and builds on the same thing we just saw our competitor do.  Re-enforce that the buyer hinted that if we did this, we’d get on the shelves pretty easily.  Go to your ad agency, with a long list of mandatories and an equally long list of benefits they can put in the ad.   Tell the agency you’re excited.   They’ll tell you they’re excited as well.  Ask for lots of options, as a pre-caution because time is tight and we’re not sure what we want.  Just hope the agency clearly understood the 7-page brief.  Test all the ads, even a few different endings, and then let the research decide who wins.  That way, no one can blame you.  Do up a safe media plan with mostly TV, some small but safe irrelevant secondary media choice.  Throw in a web site to explain the 19 reasons why we launched.   Maybe even a game on the website.  Ah, we have our launch. 

Given the current economy, shouldn’t we be taking more risks to stand out rather than playing it safe right down the middle of the road?  

This type of launch though is almost a guaranteed formula for success, because it follows last year’s launch to a tee and will be done hundreds of brands this year.  You convince yourself, you had to play it safe because sales are down, margins are tight and you will do something riskier next year once this launch is done.   What looks like a guaranteed success will likely get off to a pretty good start and then flat-line until it will be discontinued three brand managers from now.  You’ll never be fired because you never did anything wrong.  But you’ll just be part of the team that’s frustrated by the status quo of the team’s performance.  And you’ll all under “why is this happening”

At some point, to break through in a cluttered market, you’ve got to do something different to stand out:  now, more than ever.   It might feel like a risky move, but it’s almost riskier not to take that chance.

Push the team to Find your love in the art of being different

Push yourself to be different.  The most Beloved Brands are different, better or cheaper.  Or not around for very long.   Here’s a very simple model for creativity, there are four choices:

Slide1Good But Not Different (the launch outlined above) 

These do very well in tests mainly because consumers have seen it before and check the right boxes in research.   In market, it gets off to a pretty good start—since it still seems so familiar.   However, once challenged in the market by a competitor, it falters because people start to realize it is no different at all.  So they go back to their usual brand and your launch starts to go flat.  This option offers limited potential.

Not Good and Not Different:

These are the safest of safe.  Go back into the R&D lab and pick the best one you have–even if it’s not very good.   The tallest of midgets.  They do pretty well in test because of the familiarity.   In market, it gets off to a pretty good start, because it looks the same as what’s already in the market.  But pretty soon, consumers realize that it’s the same but even worse, so it fails dramatically.   What appears safe is actually highly risky.  You should have followed your instincts and not launched.  This option is a boring failure.

Different but Not that Good

Sometimes we get focused on the product first:  it offers superior technology, but not really meeting an unmet need.  So we launch what is different for the sake of being different.  It does poorly in testing.  Everyone along the way wonders why we are launching.   But in the end, consumers don’t really care about your point of difference.  And it fails.  The better mousetrap that no one cares about.

Good But Different:

These don’t always test well:  consumers don’t really know what to make of it.   Even after launched, it takes time to gain momentum, having to explain the story with potential investment and effort to really make the difference come to life.  But once consumers start to see the differences and how it meets their needs, they equate different with “good”.   It begins to gain share and generates profits for the brand.   This option offers long-term sustainability.

It will be up to you to figure out how to separate good from bad.   One caution is letting market research over-ride your own instincts.  As Steve Jobs said:  “it’s hard for consumers to tell you what they want when they’ve never seen anything remotely like it.   Yet now that people see it, they say OH MY GOD THAT’S GREAT”

We always tracked many numbers (awareness, brand link, persuasion etc), but the one I always wanted to know was “made the brand seem different”.  Whether it is new products, a new advertising campaign or media options push yourself to do something that stands out.   Don’t just settle for ok.  Always push for great.  If you don’t love the work, how do you expect your consumer to love your brand?  The opposite of different, is indifferent and who wants to be indifferent.      

In case you need any added incentive:  Albino fruit flies mate at twice the rate of normal fruit flies.   Just because they are different!   And the place where most ground hogs are run over is right in the middle of the road.  

Push the team to Find Difference through Brainstorming

The trick to a good brainstorm is very simple:   Diverge, Converge, Diverge Converge.

Diverge #1:  Quantity over Quality

Divide the room up into groups of 5 people.   I prefer to assign one leader who will be writing the ideas, pushing the group for more, throwing in some ideas of their own. A great way for the leader is to say “here’s a crazy idea, who can build on this or make it better”.  But if you catch the leader stalling, debating the ideas, then you should push that leader.  At this stage you are pushing for quantity not quality.  If you have multiple groups in the room, do a rotation where the leader stays put and the group changes.  I like having stations, where each station has a unique problem to solve.

Converge #1:  Focus on picking the best Strategic Ideas

There’s a few ways you can do this.

  • You can use voting dots where each person gets 5 or 10 dots and they can use them any way they want.  For random executional ideas, this is a great simple way.
  • If there is agreed upon criteria, you can do some type of scoring against each criteria.  High, medium, low.
  • USP 2.0If you are brainstorming product concepts or positioning statements, you might want to hold them up to the lens of how unique they are.
  • For things like naming, positioning or promotions, the leader can look at all the ideas and begin grouping them into themes.  They might start to discuss which themes seem to fit or are working the best, and use those themes for a second diverge.
  • For Tactics to an annual plan, you can use a very simple grid of Big vs Small and Easy vs Difficult.  In this case, you want to find ways to land in THE BIG EASY.  The reason you want easy is to ensure it has a good return on effort, believing effort and investment have a direct link.  

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Diverge #2:  Make the Ideas even better, richer.

The second diverge is where the magic actually happens.  You’ve got the group in a good zone.   They have seen which ideas are meeting the criteria.  Take the list from Converge #1 and push it one more time.  Make it competitive among the groups, with a $25 prize, so that people will push even harder.  

  • If you narrowed it to themes, then take each theme and push for more and better ideas under each of the themes  
  • If you looked at concepts or tactics, then take the best 8-10 ideas and have groups work on them and flush them out fully with a written concept, and come back and present them to the group.  
  • If using the grid above, then take the ideas in the big/difficult and brainstorm ways to make it easier.   And if it’s small and easy, brainstorm ways to make it bigger.

Converge #2:  Decision Time

Once you’ve done the second diverge, you’ll be starting to see the ideas getting better and more focused.  Now comes decision time.  You can narrow down to a list of ideas to take forward into testing or discussion with senior management.  You can take them forward to cost out.  You can prioritize them based on a 12 or 24 month calendar.   You can vote using some of the techniques above using voting dots.  Or you can assign a panel of those who will vote.  But you want to walk away from the meeting with a decision.

Let Brainstorming bring an energy and passion into your work.

 

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