Non-Marketing people really need to stop defining what marketing people do.

Posted on Posted in Beloved Brands Explained

I suppose that everyone who has a TV and can critique Super Bowl ads or those with a Twitter account thinks they can now say they are a marketer expert. Sadly, we have let far too many people use the word “MarketingMarketing”or “Brand” in their title. The commentary that I see coming from non marketers is borderline cringe-worthy or hilarious. I have to tell you that the comments are silly.

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

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

Do you know what marketers do?

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

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

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

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

Marketers don’t just “do marketing”

I am glad so many want to be in Marketing. But you really should have to earn your way into it. Go interview for a job, get rejected a few times, push to really get in there and then learn like ton for a few years. I spent 20 years in marketing. I could not believe how much I learned  in my first five years, then even more in the next five, then way more in the following five and absolute insane amount in those last five years. I’ve now been a consultant for over five years and I swear I know twice as much as I learned in the first 20.

Marketing is not just an activity. The best marketers have to think, define, plan, execute and analyze, using all parts of your brain, your energy and your creativity.

OK, my rant is over.

 

To learn more, here’s a presentation on how to create a beloved brand:

 

To learn more about this type of thinking, you should explore my new book, Beloved Brands.

With Beloved Brands, you will learn everything you need to know so you can build a brand that your consumers will love.

You will learn how to think strategically, define your brand with a positioning statement and a brand idea, write a brand plan everyone can follow, inspire smart and creative marketing execution and analyze the performance of your brand through a deep-dive business review.

Beloved Brands book

To order the e-book version or the paperback version from Amazon, click on this link: https://lnkd.in/eF-mYPe

If you use Rakuten Kobo, you can find Beloved Brands in over 30 markets using this link: https://lnkd.in/g7SzEh4

And if you are in India, you can use this link to order: https://lnkd.in/gDA5Aiw

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

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

We think the best solutions are likely inside you already, but struggle to come out. Our unique playbook tools are the backbone of our workshops. We bring our challenging voice to help you make decisions and refine every potential idea.

We start by defining a brand positioning statement, outlining the desired target, consumer benefits and support points the brand will stand behind. And then, we build a brand idea that is simple and unique enough to stand out in the clutter of the market, motivating enough to get consumers to engage, buy and build a loyal following with your brand.

We will help you write a strategic brand plan for the future, to get everyone in your organization to follow. It starts with an inspiring vision that pushes your team to imagine a brighter future. We use our strategic thinking tools to help you make strategic choices on where to allocate your brand’s limited resources.

Our brand playbook methodology will challenge you to unlock future growth for your brand

  1. Our deep-dive assessment process will give you the knowledge of the issues facing your brand, so you can build a smart plan to unleash future growth.
  2. Find a winning brand positioning statement that motivates consumers to buy, and gives you a competitive advantage to drive future growth.
  3. Create a brand idea to capture the minds and hearts of consumers, while inspiring and focusing your team to deliver greatness on the brand’s behalf.
  4. Build a brand plan to help you make smart focused decisions, so you can organize, steer, and inspire your team towards higher growth.
  5. Advise on advertising, to find creative that drives branded breakthrough and use a motivating messaging to set up long-term brand growth.
  6. Our brand training program will make your brand leaders smarter, so you have added confidence in their performance to drive brand growth.

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

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

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

You have my personal promise to help you solve your brand building challenges. I will give you new thinking, so you can unlock future growth for your brand.

Graham Robertson signature

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Can Whole Foods survive? I hope so. But, unless they change, I doubt it.

Posted on Posted in How to Guide for Marketers

Whole Foods has lost 14 million customers the past 2 years. The people they irritated the most: their core customers who used to love the brand. Amazon, who recently bought them, sure has their work cut out to fix what has been messed up. Here are the four main reasons why customers have left Whole Foods.

  1. They got rid of freshly prepared market and used pre-prepared foods,that upset their core customers.
  2. They now carry “unhealthy” and non-organics products such as Cliff Bars, that upset their core customers.
  3. They desperately launched discount “365” brand, did nothing for their core customers.
  4. Mainstream retailers offered same organic products at lower prices. Their non-core customers left Whole Foods.

Notice a trend? Whole Foods does not seem to care about their care customers.

Would you invest in Whole Foods right now?

I remember 20 years ago, someone told me that Blockbuster would go bankrupt once on-line movies would take off. My immediate response was “No way!!!” I had just spent 45 minutes lined up at my local Blockbuster to rent “Usual Suspects” for the third time. How could a brand with so much demand completely fall off the face of the earth?

Now I am starting to wonder if Whole Foods will be around in 20 years? Strategic Thinking Whole Foods I sure hope so. I am a big fan of their brand and all the work they have done. Whole Foods has been the dominant player in ‘organic’ grocery stores the past 20-30 years. They have done everything right. They brought a clear brand positioning, a big idea, a fantastic culture that oozes off the walls of their stores and exhibited through every employee you engage with in the stores. They nail branding as well as Apple, Tesla or Nike. They built an army of outspoken brand fans and they are a beloved brand.

Would you invest in Whole Foods right now? Their market capitalization has fallen from $24 Billion to $9 Billion the last 2 years. None of their moves have re-assured investors that their future is bright.

Is Whole Foods a victim of their own success? 

For the past 70 years, the average grocery stores have served the local community within a 10 minutes drive, with 20,000 skus across 10 aisle grocery stores. The business model of traditional stores pumped out ridiculously high volumes at ridiculously low margins. At the retailer’s head office, the buyers had to beat down manufacturers like P&G, J&J, Coke, Kellogg’s and Kraft. They pushed high listing fees and high trade spend to get any displays or flyer ads. Even after all this work, Grocery stores traditionally make only 20-25% gross margins and then make only 2-4% operating profits. Over the last 10 years Kroger has averaged 22% gross margins and 2.7% operating margins. These are very typical numbers for a grocery retailer.

Whole Foods started as a rebellious disruptor to the grocery category.

Strategic Thinking Whole Foods Rebel BrandWhole Foods came along and figured out they could sell organic raspberries at $5.99  instead of $2.99 for normal raspberries and they could sell organic bacon for $9.99 instead of 3.99. They knew that not everyone would pay, but enough would. Instead of high volume, low margin, they went for modest volume with a much higher margin. Whole Foods averages 35% gross margins (+13% higher than Kroger) and 5.3% operating profit (double that of Kroger).

Up until the year 2000, Whole Foods only had 100 locations, capable enough to own a niche position as a rebel brand, yet small enough to fly under the radar of the bigger grocery players. If you notice the Venn diagram to the right, rebel brands own a niche that is far enough away from the mainstream players, to avoid being seen as a direct competitor. For these rebel brands, they believe it is better to be loved by a few than tolerated by many. These brands take all that passion of their consumers and build around it. At this point, Whole Foods owned organic, and the traditional grocery stores were fine to let Whole Foods own the ‘yoga enthusiasts’.

Most brands start as a rebel brands. They win over the trend influencers, satisfying those consumers who do not want what the mainstream brands offer. The rebel brand takes the aggressive stance against the mainstream, finding flaw in the way they do business.  They stand out as a completely different and a better choice to a core group of trend influencers who are frustrated with all the competitors in the marketplace. This consumer group becomes the most motivated consumers to buy into your new idea. Rebel brands must bring these on board and use their influence on others, as the brand begins their journey from rebel brands to island brands to challenger brands and then onto the Power Player brand. Below is a chart that outlines that evolution, and you can see how to use the different consumer types from the trend influencers and early adopters at the beginning and then finding the mass audience as the brand gets bigger and more powerful.

Brand Innovation

After 2000, the move to organic foods hit a tipping point of acceptance within the mainstream audience. Whole Foods took advantage of this shift and invested in rapid expansion across North America. Whole Foods moved to the next stage of what I call the “Island Brand” stage, where you are so different you are on your own. For the health-conscience consumers, Whole Foods success left the traditional grocery stores in a position where they disconnected from what these consumers want. During this time, Whole Foods expanded from 100 to 430 stores, with forecasts of up to 1,200 stores. Whole Foods had gone from a niche player that traditional grocery brands were willing to ignore to a major threat that pushed the traditional brands to make a counter move.

Strategic Thinking Whole FoodsAs organic moved to the mainstream the traditional grocery store responded by bringing in organic foods into their stores. Most traditional grocery chains report that 25-35% of their fresh food has become organic. These grocery stores are charging 15-25% lower prices than Whole Foods, yet still loving the added margins it gives them.

Simply marketing lesson, no one will ever travel farther and pay more, for something they can get close by at a cheaper price.

As a result, Whole Foods has lost customers to the traditional players. According to Barclays analysts, “Whole Foods has lost about 14 million of its customers over the last 18 months. The magnitude of the traffic declines … is staggering. As most retailers know — once traffic has been lost, those patterns rarely reverse”. Did Whole Foods move to the mainstream too quickly, trying to use the groundswell towards organic among mass consumers to move to a challenger position?

Whole Foods next move was a dumb one.

The history of warfare can be characterized by Generals who over-reacted and under-reacted. Both would lose. Whole Foods made the poor decision to launch a lower price, lower service, and lower margin version of itself called “365”.  I always find it frustrating to watch brands who face an attack and then try to act more like the competitor attacking them, rather than backing up a bit and being themselves. When in a competitive battle, especially against those who own the traditional space who you have attacked, never act like your competitor. Instead of staying themselves, the move to “365” acts more like their competitors.

I do not believe these 365 stores can win. They are a hybrid store which is confusing. They will not attract the mainstream consumer who want their organic foods at lower prices, but still wants to buy Diet Coke and Frosted Flakes. They will not win with the core health trend influencer audience who want more, not less.

How will the 365 stores make money?  Low volume and lower margins is a recipe for bankruptcy.

If they can’t win the mass audience, do they still have the health trend influencers? 

We are seeing local healthy grocery stores pop up around North America ready to offer the health trend influencers more. Due to “costs” Whole Foods has made some moves that will irritate this audience.  They got rid of their freshly prepared market and now use pre-prepared foods. There are now swirling questions about whether their food choices are 100% organic. Whole Foods uses their own standards of judging good/bad food options. Whole FoodsAlso, Whole Foods uses national distribution on most items, not through local farmers. On top of that, Whole Foods carries fairly mainstream brand choices such as Cliff Bars with 28% sugar or Kellogg’s Special K. This confuses or frustrates the health trend setter segment who do not want to see those types of brands in their grocery store.

This leaves Whole Foods potentially without a positioning to stand behind and without a core audience to build around. When you try to be everything to anyone, you end up nothing to everyone. Whole Foods have lost who they are. They could take the advice of Oscar Wilde who once said: “Be yourself, everyone else is taken”.

The problem I see for Whole Foods is they have been spiraling downward with losing sales base, yet they seem unable or unwilling to make the right changes. I would not invest, would you?  While brands start as rebel brands, no matter what stage your brand reaches, when the world around you collapses, I recommend the best thing a brand can do is return back to the rebel status and re-start their brand. Instead of going mainstream with lower price/lower service options like the launch of their “365 store”, Whole Foods should go back to their rebellious roots and go even healthier, go even more local, add high end services back. Make it a full experience the health trend influencers want. Instead of trying to drive high volume from their current audience, they should add higher margin services. Be more like who they were 20 years ago.

When you lose your way, return to the rebel position and kick-start your brand again.

 

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 read more on strategy, here is a workshop on How to create beloved brands, click on the Powerpoint presentation below:

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

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

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

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

Beloved Brands Graham Robertson

 

 

 

Oh how I yearn for the “BIG WOW” creative that seems to have left the world of advertising

Posted on Posted in How to Guide for Marketers

big creative execution neat vs wow

What am I missing? 

I keep looking at a lot of so-called ‘great marketing’ of today, and I think “ok”, but where oh where is the “Big Wow, oh my god I wish I made that stuff!!!”

  • Let me define BIG WOW creative ideas as the work that makes our eyes go wide and we immediately shout out “Wow!” while we secretly think “I want to make that one!!!”
  • Let me also define the “small/neat” creative as little marketing gadgets and tricks that make us say, “Hey, that’s pretty neat”.

The reality is that a brand needs both big and small creative. I have always been a fan of the small neat stuff. When I launched the dishwasher tabs, I created a sell-sheet that used elastic bands to create a 3 dimensional tab once the sel-sheet was open. Apparently, the buyer at our largest customer took that sell sheet around the office showing all the other buyers. But, that’s small/neat stuff. I enjoyed it, but never got overly excited.

Big work is exciting.

After 20 years in Brand Management, I have vivid memories of each time I saw a “BIG WOW” idea for one my brands. I can remember where I was and how it felt. I was also lucky enough to work on some amazing campaigns. I remember one of the creative guys stood up with around 30 boards under his arm for one TV ad, and I wanted to make it after he presented the 9th board. I remember seeing another in this small room that was the top floor of an antique book store. My brand team had mistakenly put in the brief “no funny ads”, yet we left that book store laughing our asses off and made one of the best ads I have ever been part of. I can remember everyone who resisted every idea I ever managed to get on air. There were always more who resisted the truly great work, while sadly, on most of the OK work we were about to make, I always seemed to be the only resistor. That should tell you something.

With all the clutter of small ideas, it seems too many brand leaders think they need lots of small ideas. Pretty soon the media market looks like a cluttered community bulletin boards where every brand is content to just have you grab their phone number.

Are the media choices getting in the way of big creative?

Everyone loves the Oreo tweet in the middle of the Super Bowl. Sure. while the moment was “pretty neat” and likely had the Oreo team giggling, it really is just a small, neat idea that went viral. Everyone giggled and shared it. But is it a Big Wow? Paying a celeb to tweet about your product is pretty cool, but it’s not really big creative. Oreo Super Bowl AdJust cutting a check. A Facebook ad that pops up on the side of your laptop in a “3/4 inch square” is about as exciting as a bench ad outside a bus stop. I am on Twitter all the time. It feels like the modern-day version of junk mail. There’s too much, all telling me I can get stuff for free. Each time I open Twitter, I just see a collection of messy stuff. Do not get me started on SEO sales people. I equate them with air-duct sales people. Maybe I am getting old and I am missing the golden age of great creative.

Oh how I miss those TV ads that offer the ideal combination of sight, sound, story telling. They can make you laugh, give you goosebumps or even make you cry. Maybe, we just in a valley of creativity as we adjust to some of these new media choices. But now, you cannot convince me that most of the work out there is pretty crappy. Sadly, it just bores me.

Are we too fixated on big data proof? 

I once approved a campaign that failed miserably in testing. It was just too different for consumers to truly grasp. But my gut feel said it was the right way to go. The campaign lasted 10 years, and doubled the market share of the brand. Sure, I was scared. It was early in my career and the resistance was incredible. I would have surely been tossed out if it failed. That level of risk/reward excitement never exists on the small stuff. Is there a conflict between taking a chance on something and needing the big data to prove that it is correct? Sometimes your gut feel knows more than the data that reflects the history of work, not the future.

Marketers tense up when the work get “too different”

Great advertising must balance the creativity and smart. Advertising has to be different enough to break through in a cluttered world, yet smart enough to motivate consumers to see, think, feel or act in ways that help the brand. One problem I see for Marketers is they tense up when the creative gets ‘too different’. In all parts of their business, Marketers relax when they can see past proof that something will work. Unfortunately, when it comes to advertising, if the ads start to look like what other brands have already done, then the advertising will get stuck in the clutter.

Marketing Execution Big Smart Ideas Wow

When it gets too familiar, it bores consumers and it will fail to break through. Brand Leaders should actually be scared when the ads seems “too familiar”. You have to push the work and take a chance to ensure your ad breaks through. The advertising must also be smart in delivering the desired brand strategy in moving consumers to see, think, feel or do, while expressing a brand positioning that can form a future brand reputation. The ideal sweet spot is being both smart and different. Smart without different will not even break through the clutter. Different but not smart might be entertaining but will not do anything for the brand. Push yourself to find Smart and Different.

My baseball analogy: “Swing for the fences. It feels amazing”

In baseball, I rarely hit home runs. I was a singles spray hitter. (an Al Oliver wannabe) I likely hit 10 over the fence in 1,000 at bats in my entire life. But I can tell you that as the ball leaves the bat, your hands turn to mush. Oh, what a feeling. Now, that is the level of excitement I want to see from the Big Wow creative. All this small stuff is terrific, but that’s just a bunt single.

I believe the Big Wow ideas will energize a team, give them the guts to take more chances. Creativity is infectious to the spirit of the team. Get your nose out of the charts and look up into the sky.  Find work that will make your hands going mush and make you scream “WOW”.

Show me some big wow stuff that will make my heart beat wildly and make me scream “WOW” again.

To read more about how to create amazing marketing execution, here is our workshop we run:

 

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

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

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

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

Beloved Brands Graham Robertson

 

How Marketers can be better strategic thinkers

Posted on Posted in How to Guide for Marketers

I always joke that strategic people share similar traits to those we might consider lazy, cheap or conniving. Rather than just dive into work, strategic people will spend an extraordinary amount of time thinking of all the possible ways for them to get more out of something, while you exert the least possible effort or waste their own money. After thinking of every possible option, strategic people have this unique talent to make a firm decision on the best way forward. They are great at debate because it appears they already know the other options you might raise, and they already know why that option will not work as well. And, the thing about strategic people, is they get away with it.

How to use smart strategic thinking in Marketing

 

Smart strategic thinkers see the right questions before they look for answers, while instinctual thinkers see answers before they even know the right question.

I see a big difference between strategic thinking and intuitive leaders. Strategic thinkers see ‘what-if’ type questions before they look for potential solutions. Have you ever been a meeting and heard someone say, “That’s a good question”? This is usually a sign someone has asked an interrupting question designed to slow everyone’s brain down, so they take the time to reflect and plan before they act, to force them to move in a focused and efficient way. Strategy is the thinking side of marketing, both logical and imaginative. Strategic people are able to map out a range of decision trees that intersect, to imagine how events will play out in the future. The risk is that if they think too long, they just spiral around, unable to decide. They miss the opportunity window.

How to use smart strategic thinking in Marketing

On the other hand, instinctual leaders just jump in quickly to find answers before they even know the right question. Their brains move fast, they use emotional impulse and intuitive gut feel. These people want action now and get easily frustrated by delays. They believe it is better to do something than sit and wait around. They see strategic people as stuck running around in circles, as they try to figure out the right question. Instead, they choose emotion over logic. This “make it happen” attitude gets things done, but if they go too fast, their great actions may solve the wrong problem. Without proper thinking and focus, an action-first approach might just spread the brand’s limited resources randomly across too many projects. Intuitive leaders can be a creative mess and find themselves with a long to-do list, unable to prioritize or focus.

How to use smart strategic thinking in Marketing

Brand leaders must learn how to change brain speeds.

They must move slowly when faced with difficult strategy and quickly with their best instincts on execution. A brand leader’s brain should operate like a racecar driver, slow in the difficult corners and go fast on the straightaway. You must slow down to think strategically. Did you ever think that the job might get in the way of thinking about how to do your job better? With wall-to-wall meetings, constant deadlines and sales pushes, you have to create your own thinking time.

Find your thinking time

You should block off a few hours each week, put your feet up on the desk, and force yourself to ask really difficult questions. Pick one problem topic for each meeting you book, and even invite a peer to set up a potential debate. The goal is not to brainstorm a solution, but to come up with the best possible question that will challenge the team. Even go for walks at lunch or a drive somewhere just to get away from it all. My best thinking never came at my desk in front of my computer. Too many marketers have their head down in the numbers they miss the obvious opportunities and threats that are right on the horizon. Strategic thinkers should assess, question and consider every element that can impact your business. Here is a simple 4-step process to run a strategic thinking meeting:

  1. Vision: Every brand and even every project should start with a longer-term vision that maps out the ideal state of where you want to go. Push yourself beyond the normal expectations. Always focus on ways to create a bond with your consumers to build a group of brand lovers.
  2. Situation: Brand leaders must know the immediate situation of the brand, so they can constantly analyze and assess the potential changes could happen with consumers, competitors, and channels that could impact the health and wealth of your brand. Without the deep and rich strategic thinking discipline, you risk moving too quickly on brand strategy, unable to see the insights that may be hidden beneath the surface. You solve the wrong problem. It is crucial to use the analysis to know how tight the bond you have created with consumers, to know where your brand sits on the brand love curve.
  3. Key Issues: Brand leaders must understand the issues in the way of the stated vision. This includes the drivers, inhibitors, risks and opportunities. Think of both immediate and longer-term issues. As stated, strategic thinkers see questions before they see solutions. In this process, frame the key issues as an interrupting and challenge question.
  4. Strategic direction: Strategies are answers to the questions that your situational analysis and key issues raised. They are never randomly selected. All this strategic thinking is wasted if you cannot make a decision. You should be an intellectual philosopher not a business leader. Do not tell yourself you are a good decision-maker if you come to a decision point and always choose both. The best brand leaders force themselves to focus. They use the word “or” more than they use the word “and”. Strategic thinkers never divide and conquer out of fear. They force themselves to make choices to focus and conquer.

Learn to change your brain speeds. Go slow with strategy and fast with execution.

To read more on How Marketers can be better strategic thinkers, click on this powerpoint presentation that forms one of our workshops. My hope is that it challenges you to think differently about your own brand situation:

Beloved Brands: We make brands stronger and brand leaders smarter.

We will unleash the full potential of your brand. We will lead a 360-degree assessment of your business, help you define your Brand Positioning, create a Big Idea that will transform your brand’s soul into a winning brand reputation and help you build a strategic Brand Plan everyone who works on the brand can follow.

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

To contact me, call me at 416 885 3911 or email me at graham@beloved-brands.com

Beloved Brands Graham Robertson

 

Build your entire brand strategy behind your core strength

Posted on Posted in How to Guide for Marketers

What is the core strength that your brand can win on?

To be loved, a brand must know who they are and then stand with pride, conviction and confidence. The problem for many brands is they try to have a few core strengths, so they end up having no real perceived strength that stands out.

This model has four possible options for what core strength your brand should choose to win with: product, brand story, experience or price. For many Marketers, their first response is to want to pick two or three core strengths, but the model forces you to pick just one. Here’s the game I have created to help make the choice. You have 4 chips, you must place one chip where you believe you have the highest competitive advantage to win with, then two chips at the mid level that back up and support the core strength. Finally, the game forces one chip to be at the low, almost a throw-away weakness that will not be part of the strategy.

Build your entire brand strategy behind your brand’s core strength

For Apple, their core strength is their brand story around ‘simplicity’. They support that core strength with a great product and consumer experience. However, they never win on price, charging a price premium and never discount.

Product led Brands

When Product Innovation is your key strength, your main strategy should focus on being better. The brand must invest in continuous innovation to stay ahead of competitors, being the leader in technology, claims and new formats. The brand must defend against any challengers. The promise and experience should be built around the product. The brand should leverage product-focused mass communication, directly calling attention to the superiority and benefit differences in the product versus the competitors. Bring the “how it is built” into the brand story, to highlight and re-enforce the point of difference. Use rational selling to move consumers through the buying stages. Use product reviews and key influencers to support the brand. One watch out for product led brands is the struggle to build and drive an emotional connection with consumers. As the brand matures, it must layer a big idea on top of the product, to enable the consumer to connect on a deeper level. There are some amazing product brands, such as Samsung, Tide, Five Guys or Ruth’s Chris who create consumer loyalty, but still lack that emotional connection.

Rolex has done an amazing job in building emotion into their product led brand. The language choices they use such as ‘crafted from the finest raw materials’ or ‘assembled with scrupulous attention to detail’ helps convey their commitment to the design and production of the Rolex. Rolex epitomizes prestige and success. On marketing program that has helped Rolex create an emotional bond is one they first resisted—the official clock for Wimbledon. Both Rolex and Wimbledon place an enormous emphasis on the values of tradition and excellence. The fact that Rolex is one of the few companies with a presence on the courts is further testament to the strength of the partnership.

Product led brands core strength

Story led Brands

When the Brand Story is your brand’s key strength, the strategy should focus on finding a way to be different. To tell that story, invest in emotional brand communication that connects motivated consumers with the big idea on a deeper emotional level. Then line up everything (story, product, experience) under the big idea. Story led brands should leverage a community of core “brand lovers” who can then talk about the brand story and influence others within their network. These brands should use a soft sell approach to influence the potential consumer. Do not bring price to the forefront, as it can take away from the idea. Some of the store-led brands includes Dove, Nike, W Hotels and Virgin, the greatest story-led brand has been Apple.

Most recently, the Tesla brand appears to have borrowed a lot of Apple’s principles, building around the story of “saving the planet with innovation”. Tesla uses many innovative approaches, including the visionary charm of their founder, Elon Musk, to create a movement beyond a brand. He has become a spokesperson for a generation of consumers who want to save the planet. Even the most ardent Tesla brand lovers see the brand as a movement. The 400,000 consumers who put down $1,000 for a car that does not yet exist are pretty much investing in the movement, more than the car.

Idea led brand core strength

Consumer experience led Brands

When the Consumer Experience is your brand’s lead strength, the strategy and organization should focus on linking culture very closely to your brand. Your people are your product. As you go to market, be patient in a slower build as the quick mass media approach might not be as fast or efficient. Invest in influencer and social media that can help support and spread the word of your experience. Effective tools include word of mouth, earned media, social media, on-line reviews, use of key influencers and testimonials. Use the brand purpose (“Why you do what you do”) and brand values to inspire and guide the team leadership. Align the operations team with service behaviors that deliver the brand’s big idea. Focus on building a culture and organization with the right people, who can deliver incredible experiences. Invest in training the face of the brand. Too much marketing emphasis on price can diminish the perceived consumer experience. Some of the best experience brands includes Ritz-Carlton, Emirates airline, Airbnb, Amazon, Netflix and Starbucks.

In a blind taste test, Starbucks coffee finishes middle of the pack. Starbucks view themselves as in the ‘moments’ business. They build everything around the consumer experience. The brand stresses the importance of the culture with their staff and use service values to deliver incredible guest experiences. Starbucks offers the perfect moment of escape between home and work, supported by a unique combination of Italian coffee names, European pastries, cool friendly staff, nice leather seats and indie music that creates an amazing atmosphere that cannot be beat.

Price led Brands

When Price is your brand’s lead strength, focus on driving efficiency to drive the lowest possible cost structure. These brands should use ‘call to action’ Marketing to keep high turns and high volume. It is all about cash flow with fast moving items that delivers high turns and high volume to cover off the lower prices. Invest in the fundamentals around production and sourcing to maintain the low cost competitive advantage. Use the brand’s power to win negotiations. Price brands need to own the low price positioning and fiercely attack any potential challengers. The brand usually needs good solid products, however consumers are willing to accept a lower consumer experience. Many price brands struggle to drive any emotional connection with consumers brand. It can be hard to maintain ‘low price’ while fighting off the perception that the brand is ‘cheap’. It is hard for consumers to love the price brands, even though they rely on them when needed. Walmart is one of the best price brands. No one is more efficient at retail. While their competitors sell through their inventory in 100-125 days, Walmart sells through theirs in 29 days, 1 day before they even have to pay for it. Their outward sales pitch is price, but their internal organization and culture is clearly driven by driving efficiency with fast-moving items. They use their power to bully their suppliers, who give in just to be part of Walmart’s high sales volumes. Walmart has made failed attempts to create any emotional connection. The battle in the future for Walmart will be Amazon, who does extraordinary customer service and smart pricing. It will be a tough battle for Walmart as Amazon is one of the most beloved brands on the planet.

Build your entire brand strategy behind your core strength

As you take this model a step further, this should guide your overall brand positioning angle on whether you should strive to be better, different or cheaper. The product led brands should be building a story around how they make it better than everyone else, while the story led brands can tell the story, idea or purpose behind the brand. As you move to the experience, the focus should be on how the people make the brand different and finally, while you can just yell price, you might be much more effective if you tell the story behind how you can offer the same as others at a much lower cost.

Build your entire brand strategy behind your core strength

Brands that cannot decide which of the four to build around will find themselves in trouble. Trying to be everything to anyone is the recipe for being nothing to everyone. A great case study example is Uber. You could argue for all 4 possibilities. And while you might think that is game-changing, I think it is dumb. Uber has squeezed the prices on taxis so low that they are squeezing their own margins so low. Plus, they believe the way to win is saturating the market to dominate it before anyone else can enter. Let’s play that out a bit. If you have been using Uber quite a while, you will notice that the quality of drivers is going way down. I have had friends say their driver showed up in a cut off tank top, got lost 2-3 times and definitely did not have a shower this morning. That is risk of trying to be a price brand because that is the quality driver that Uber can afford. Then along comes Lyft, who focuses primarily on the consumer experience. Same app, higher price level, and a driver who is fully trained with higher standards. They emphasis quality experience to their drivers and their consumers, thereby boxing Uber into being a price brand longer term. By not focusing on the experience position, Uber left it open for someone else to grab. The profit squeeze then hits, even cheaper drivers and then Uber could end up the Walmart of taxi cabs.

Pick one strength. Build everything you do behind it.

To read more on how to create a beloved brand, click on this powerpoint presentation that forms one of our workshops. My hope is that it challenges you to think differently about your own brand situation:

 

Beloved Brands: We make brands stronger and brand leaders smarter.

We will unleash the full potential of your brand. We will lead a 360-degree assessment of your business, help you define your Brand Positioning, create a Big Idea that will transform your brand’s soul into a winning brand reputation and help you build a strategic Brand Plan everyone who works on the brand can follow.

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

To contact me, call me at 416 885 3911 or email me at graham@beloved-brands.com

Beloved Brands Graham Robertson

 

 

New Lego Mosaic allows you to make your face out of Lego

Posted on Posted in Beloved Brands in the Market

 

Lego is all about imagination. The brand is one of the best illustrations of the difference between a product and a brand. While the product is a mere brick, the brand idea of ‘imagination’ comes to life through the magical play value that Lego creates with kids, as they can really do whatever they want with those little bricks.lego mosaic photo face london store

In London’s new Lego store, the brand uses a traditional photo booth to scan your face and then produce a personalized box of lego bricks that will help you recreate your own face using their bricks.

This is an amazing consumer experience. It would be the perfect gift for someone and the perfect experience that consumers will want to share with their own little world. The next step for Lego will be to create an on-line so you can send in your photo–whether it is  your kid, spouse or even your dog and have it made into lego.

Here’s a video that shows the entire process come to life:

 

The Lego brand is all about imagination. The brand reaches 100 million kids around the world. As today’s parents fight the temptations of video games, they are trying to return to simpler games that forces their kids to think. As a result, the Lego brand has seen revenue growth of 10 to 25% per year this decade.

Lego brings imagination to life

This is one of my all time favorite print ad campaigns. No copy at all, yet it has a defined target, a consumer insight, a consumer benefit and an easy to distinguish big idea of “Bringing imagination to life” that defines the Lego brand.  Amazing.

 

The pathway to brand success is now all about building relationships

The best brands of today engage in a strategy that follows a very similar path to the rituals of a courtship. Through the eyes of consumers, brands start as complete strangers and if successful, they move into something similar to a trusted friendship. As the consumer begins to open up, they allow their emotions to take over and without knowing, they begin to love the brand. As the brand weaves itself into the best moments of the consumer’s life, the consumer becomes an outspoken fan, an advocate and one of the many ‘brand lovers’ who cherish the brand. From the strategic mind of the marketer, this follows a very similar pattern to the strategies of a successful courtship.

The brand could move into a position where the consumer sees it as a forever choice. lego brandTo replicate how brand building matches up with the building of a relationship, I have created the Brand Love Curve, as consumers move through five stages including unknown, indifferent, like it, love it and onto the beloved brand status. This Brand Love Curve is an anchor used throughout the book to help guide the choices a brand should make to move the relationship along to the next stage. Where the brand sits on the curve guides the decisions the brand leader will make on the brand strategy and tactics, brand communication including advertising, public relationship and social media, the product innovation and the building of the culture that fuels the consumer experience with the brand. The vision of every brand should be to move the relationship with your consumers to the next stage, to become more loved by consumers, which increases the power and profit potential for the brand.

A brand like Lego is one of the most beloved brands around the world. The brand does an amazing job at surprising and delighting their most cherished brand fans. The last few year, Lego has even brought their brand to life through the Lego movie. That looked like a high risk brand move, but has been incredibly successful with a core audience. Lego also uses amazing in-store displays of their brand to tempt their fans into wanting to try the more challenging puzzles they offer.

Lego uses imagination to inspire new ways to delight their brand fans

Here is one of our workshop we run on how to create a beloved brand. I hope some of the ideas here can inspire you on your own brand.

Beloved Brands: We make brands stronger and brand leaders smarter.

We will unleash the full potential of your brand. We will lead a 360-degree assessment of your business, help you define your Brand Positioning, create a Big Idea that will transform your brand’s soul into a winning brand reputation and help you build a strategic Brand Plan everyone who works on the brand can follow.

 

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

To contact me, call me at 416 885 3911 or email me at graham@beloved-brands.com

Beloved Brands Graham Robertson

Today’s best brands build a passionate and lasting love with their most cherished consumers.

Posted on Posted in How to Guide for Marketers

[sg_popup id=”9″ event=”onload”][/sg_popup]Brand Love is a strategy.

No longer should a brand think about their consumers in a strictly functional or logical way. The best brands of today, like Tesla, Apple, Starbucks, Nike, Dove or Airbnb have found a way to capture the imagination of their consumers and take them on a journey of delightful experiences that fosters a deeper emotional and lasting relationship. These brands treat their most cherished consumers with a respect that establishes a trust, that enables consumers to open up to a point where thinking is replaced with feelings, the logic of demand evolves into an emotional state of desire, needs become cravings and repeat purchases progress into rituals that turns into a favorite moment in the day. Consumers transform into the most outspoken and loyal brand fans.

The old logical ways of marketing are not working in today’s world. These brands feel stuck in the past talking about gadgets, features and promotions. They will clearly be ‘friend-zoned’ by consumers, to be purchased only when the brand is on sale. The best brands of the last century were little product inventions that solved small problems consumers did not even realize they had until the product came along. Old-school marketing was dominated by bold logos, catchy jingles, memorable slogans, side-by-side demonstrations, repetitive TV ads, product superiority claims and expensive battles for shelf space at retail stores. Every Marketer focused on entering the consumer’s mind. Marketers of the last century were taught the 4P’s of product, place, price and promotion. It is a useful start, but too product-focused and it misses out on consumer insights, brand promise, emotional benefits and consumer experiences. The Crest brand knew their “Look mom, no cavities” TV ads annoyed everyone, but knew it stuck in the consumer’s brain. No one cared how nice the Tide logo looked, as long as it stood out on a crowed grocery store shelf. The jingle “Plop, plop, fizz, fizz, oh what a relief it is” was repeated often to embed itself in the consumer’s memory bank. The side-by-side dish detergent ad showed spots on the wine glass of a competitor, just to shame consumers into using Cascade. Brands that continue to follow a logical play only, will fail miserably in today’s emotion-driven marketplace.

The best brands of today engage in a strategy that follows a very similar path to the rituals of a courtship. Through the eyes of consumers, brands start as complete strangers and if successful, they move into something similar to a trusted friendship. As the consumer begins to open up, they allow their emotions to take over and without knowing, they begin to love the brand. As the brand weaves itself into the best moments of the consumer’s life, the consumer becomes an outspoken fan, an advocate and one of the many ‘brand lovers’ who cherish the brand. From the strategic mind of the marketer, this follows a very similar pattern to the strategies of a successful courtship.

Consumers must be cherished and ‘won-over’. Today’s consumers are surrounded by a clutter of 5,000 brand messages a day that fight for a glimpse of their attention. That is 1.8 Million per year, or one message every 11 waking seconds. Consumers are constantly distracted—walking, talking, texting, searching, watching, replying—most times at the same time. They glance past most brand messages all day long. Their brain quickly rejects boring, irrelevant or unnecessary messages. Brands must capture the consumer’s imagination right away, with a big idea that is simple, unique, inspiring and creates as much excitement as a first-time encounter.

Consumers are tired of being burned by faulty brand promises. Once lied to, their well-guarded instincts begin to doubt first, test second, and at any point, they will cast aside any brand that does not live up to the original promise that captured them on the first encounter. A brand must be worthy of love. The best brands of today have a soul that exists deep within the culture of the brand organization. The brand’s purpose must be able to explain why the people who work behind the scenes of the brand come to work everyday so energized and ready to over-deliver on the brand’s behalf. This purpose becomes an immovable conviction, with inner motivations, beliefs and values that influences and inspires every employee to want to be part of the brand. This brand conviction must be so strong, the brand would never make a choice that is in direct contradiction with their inner belief system. Consumers start to see, understand and appreciate the level of conviction with the brand. Consumers become willing to open up, they identify with the brand and they trust the brand. The integrity behind the brand helps tighten the consumer’s unshakable bond with the brand.

how to create brand loveBrands must listen, observe and start to know the thoughts of their consumer before they even think it. Not only does the brand meet their needs, the brand must heroically beat down the consumer’s ‘enemy’ that torments their life, every day. The brand must show up consistent at every consumer touch-point, whether it is the promise they make, the stories they tell, the innovation designed to surprise consumers, the easy purchase moments or the delightful consumer experiences that make consumers want to tell their friends about. The consumer keeps track in the back of their mind to make sure it all adds up before they commit. Only then, will the consumer trust the brand. Brands have to do the little things that matter, to show they love their consumer. Every time the brand over-delivers on their promise, it adds a little fuel to the romance each and every time. Over time, the brand must weave itself into the most important moments of the consumer’s lives, and become part of the most cherished stories and memories within their heart.

how to create a beloved brand

Brands need to foster a passionate and lasting love affair with their consumers.

How can brand leaders replicate Apple’s brand lovers lined up in the rain to buy the latest iPhone before they even know the phone’s features, the Ferrari fans who paint their faces red every week, even though they know they will likely never drive a Ferrari in their lifetime, the ‘Little Monsters’ who believe they are nearly best friends with Lady Gaga, the 400,000 outspoken Tesla brand advocates who put $1,000 down for a car that does not even exist yet or the devoted fans of In-N-Out Burger who order animal-style burgers off the ‘secret menu’ no one else knows about? Every brand should want this type of passion and power with their consumers.

The more ‘brand love’ created, the more brand power generated

Brand love becomes a source of energy that gives the beloved brand a power over the very consumers who love them. The competition crumbles, as they are unable to replicate the emotional bond consumers have with the beloved brand. Channel retailers become powerless in negotiations with the beloved brand, once they realize their own consumers would switch stores before they will switch brands. Suppliers serve at the mercy of the beloved brand, as the high volumes efficiently drive down production costs, which back the supplier into a corner before they offer up most of those savings just to stay a supplier. The beloved brand has a power over the media, whether it means better placement through paid media, more news coverage through earned media, a mystique over key influencers and more talk value through social media or at the lunch table. The beloved brand even has power over employees, who want to work there, not have to work there. They are fellow brand fans, proud to work extra hard on the brand they love.

 

The more ‘brand love’ created, the more brand profits realized

Beloved brands achieve higher profit margins. First, they leverage their brand love with consumers to ensure a price premium is never perceived as excessive. Consumers gladly pay $5 for a Starbucks latte, $500 for an iPad or $100,000+ for a Mercedes. Beloved brands use a good/better/best price strategy to trade cherished consumers up to higher price items. Mercedes sees C class drivers who paid $40,000 as future S Class drivers who will pay over $150,000. A well-run beloved brand uses their high volume to drive efficiency and their brand power to pressure suppliers to lower their costs. A beloved brand has a higher response to marketing programs, that means a more efficient marketing investment. The beloved brands use their momentum to drive higher volume growth. They get loyal users to use more, as consumers build the beloved brand into their life’s routines and daily rituals. The beloved brand can enter new categories, as they know their loyal consumers will follow the brand. Finally, there are more creative opportunities for the beloved brand to find more uses or usage occasions for the beloved brand to fit into the consumer’s life.

The more loved a brand is by consumers, the more powerful and profitable that brand will be.

I wish all Marketers understood this formula. I see agencies tell their clients that brands need to be more emotional. Maybe they would win the argument more if they could demonstrate the resulting power and resulting profit that could transform the argument into the language of the clients.

How can you create a passionate and lasting love with your consumers?

To read more on creating brand love, here is the workshop we run for our clients.

Beloved Brands: We make brands stronger and brand leaders smarter.

We will unleash the full potential of your brand. We will lead a 360-degree assessment of your business, help you define your Brand Positioning, create a Big Idea that will transform your brand’s soul into a winning brand reputation and help you build a strategic Brand Plan everyone who works on the brand can follow.

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

To contact me, call me at 416 885 3911 or email me at graham@beloved-brands.com

Beloved Brands Graham Robertson

 

Three simple ways Marketers can get better advertising

Posted on Posted in How to Guide for Marketers

https://beloved-brands.com/learn/Most marketers appear confused as to what their role should be in getting great advertising. Having spent 20 years in the world of CPG marketing, I have seen it all when it comes to clients–the good, the bad and the ugly.

There is usually one brand person on the “hot seat” for getting a great ad, and then a bunch around them who either give input or approve. Everyone on the client side knows it, but most on the agency do not know it. They assume the person approving the ad is their client. That’s completely wrong, especially when the person on the “hot seat” is very good. While you are talking to the “approver” in the room, the smart person on the hot seat will carry influence over the person approving outside the room. You might end up surprised.

Here are 3 ways to get better advertising. 

  1. You should control the strategy but give freedom to the execution.
  2. A great client can get great work from an OK agency. But an awful client can get awful work from the best agency in the world.
  3. Stop thinking that your role is to change whatever work is presented to you.

1. Control the strategy, but give freedom on to the execution.

Too many Marketers have this backwards. They give freedom on the strategy with various possible strategic options layered within the Creative Brief and then they attempt to try to control the creative outcome by writing a long list of tangled mandatories.

The reality of advertising is that clients want options to pick from, and agencies hate giving options to pick from. This is where things get off the rails. The client decides to write options INTO the brief. And the agency presents a bunch of work, yet miraculously all 12 people on the agency side agree on which one is the best one.

I have seen briefs that say “18-65, current users, competitive users and employees”. I have seen briefs with 8 objectives throughout the brief. I have seen briefs that say “we want to drive trial among competitive users, while re-enforcing the brand benefits to our current users to drive up penetration and we want a tag for our new lemon flavor at the end”. Ugly!!!!

How to get better advertising creative briefs

When you write a big-wide Creative Brief with layers of possible strategic options within the brief, the Agency just peels the brief apart and gives you strategic options. For instance, if you put a big wide target market of 18-65, the Agency will presents one idea for 18-25, another for 25-40 and a third for 40-65. If you put two objectives into the brief, asking to drive trial and drive usage, you will get one ad that drives trial and one ad that drives usage. Ta-dah, you have options. However, now you are picking your brand strategy based on which ad you like best. Wow, what the brand leader now says is “I like that 18-25 year old one, but could I also like that drive trial one. Could you mold those  two together?” If you are up against your media date or the agency is over-budget on this project, the answer you might hear back is “sure”.

This means is you are really picking your brand strategy based on which ad idea you like best. That is wrong. Pick your strategy first and use the creativity of execution to express that strategy.

Make tough decisions of what goes into the creative brief to narrow down to:

  • one objective
  • one desired consumer response
  • one target tightly defined
  • one main benefit
  • up to two main reasons to believe

Avoid the ‘Just in Case’ list by taking your pen and stroking a few things off your creative brief! It is always enlightening when you tighten your Creative Brief.

As for the creative, it is completely OK to know exactly what you want, but you cannot know until you actually see it. The best creative advertising should be like that special gift you never thought to get yourself, but was just perfect once you saw it. What I see is a brief with a list of mandatories weaved throughout the brief that begin to almost write the ad itself.

Years ago, I was on the quit smoking business (Nicoderm) and received word that my team had told the agency to “eliminate any form of humor, because quitting smoking is very serious”. I can appreciate how hard it is to quit smoking, but levity can help demonstrate to consumers that we understand how hard it is to quit. After some disastrous work, I finally stepped in and said “what about some humorous ads?”  Here’s the spot we final made. This ad turned a declining Nicoderm business into a growth situation and won J&J’s best global ad of 2008.

 

There is no way we could have written that ad. After a few grueling months of creative, I remember seeing that script on the table and before we were half way through the reading of the script, I thought “we gotta make this ad”.

2. A great client can get great work from an OK agency. But an awful client can get awful work from the best agency in the world.

I never figured this one out till much later in my career. For an average Brand Manager, you will only be on the “hot seat” for so long in your career. Ugh. I wish it was not true. I loved advertising. However, coming up through the CPG world, most brands only do 1-2 big campaign ads per year.  And, if you do a pool-out of a successful spot, it is just not as fun. Finding that gem must be a similar exhilaration that a detective has in solving a crime. The reality is that you spend 2-3 years as an Assistant offering your advice to a table that does not want to listen. And most brand managers will spend  5 years on the “hot seat” where you are either a Brand Manager or Marketing Director. Then you are approving stuff outside the room.

Yyou likely will only make 5+ ads where you turn nothing into something. If you are lucky. I had one campaign that ran 10 years and another ran 5 years. Trust me, the true excitement was really on that first year. Depends on the size of your agency, but they might make 20, 50 or 100+ new campaign spots each year. The math is that your agency can mess up your ONE spot and still win agency of the year. The client matters way more to the equation than you might realize. A great client can get good-to-great work from an OK agency. Equally so, a really bad client can get disastrous work from the world’s greatest advertising minds.

I want to ask you one simple question and you have to be honest: “If you knew that being a better client would get you better advertising, do you think you would show up better?” Do you think you show up right now?

Brand Training Marketing Execution Advertising
As part of our Brand Management training program, we teach marketers how to get better Marketing Execution. Click above to learn more.

 

Your main role in the advertising function is to provide a very tight brand strategy, to inspire greatness from the creative people and to make decisions”. Too many clients treat their agency in ways that they have to make great work because we hired them. True. But remember the math. If they make 99 great spots this year and one god awful spot (yours) who has more at stake in this math?  You or your agency. Sure, you can fire them. But they take their 99 spots on the street and secure more clients. You on the other hand, will be put into a ‘non-advertising’ role for the rest of your career. People behind your back will say “they are really smart on the strategy, but not so good with the agency”.

Stop thinking your agency has to work for you and try to inspire them to want to work for you. All of our work is done through other people. Our greatness as a Brand Leader has to come from the experts we engage, so they will be inspired to reach for their own greatness and apply it on our brand. Brand Management has been built on a hub-and-spoke system, with a team of experts surrounding the generalist Brand Leader. When I see Brand Managers of today doing stuff, I feel sorry for them. They are lost. Brand Leaders are not designed to be experts in marketing communications, experts in product innovation and experts in selling the product. You are trained to be a generalist, knowing enough to make decisions, but not enough to actually do the work. Find strength being the least knowledgeable person in every room you enter.

3. Stop thinking that your role is to change whatever work is presented to you.

A typical advertising meeting has client on one side and agency on the other. Client has a pen and paper (or laptop) feverishly taking notes. I never bring anything to a creative meeting. As soon as the creative person says the last tag-line, all of a sudden, there is a reading of the list of changes about to happen. “Make the boy’s shirt blue instead of red. Red is our competitor. Can we go with a grandmother instead of the uncle because we sell lots of cheese to  older females. Can we add in our claim with a super on it. I know we said in the brief it’s about usage, but can we also add in a “try it” message for those who have never used it before. And lastly, can we change the tagline?  I will email some options. That’s all I have.”

how to get better advertising marketing trainingWow. Stop thinking that the creative meeting is just a starting point where you can now fix whatever work is presented to you. You hired an agency because you do not have the talent to come up with great ads. Yet, now you think you are talented enough to do something even harder: change the ad. I have learned over the years that giving the agency my solutions will make the work worse. Giving them my problems makes the ads better. Just like being surprised by a great ad in the first place, if you just state your problem, and let them come back with solutions, you might be surprised at how they were able to handle your concerns without completely wrecking the ad.

I once heard a brand leader describe the creative part of the ad as “their part” and the copy-intensive brand sell as “our part”. I never thought about it that way. And I wish I could get it out of my head. An ad should flow naturally like a well-tuned orchestra. The creative should work as ONE part. The creative idea should be what attracts attention, the creative idea should be what naturally draws attention to the brand, the creative idea should help communicate the brand story and the creative idea should be what sticks in the mind of the consumer. There is no us or them part of the ad.

Lastly, I want brand leaders to stop thinking that Advertising is like a bulletin board where you can pin up one more message. Somehow Marketers have convinced themselves that they can keep jamming one more message into their ad. The consumer’s brain does not work that way. They see 5,000 brand messages a day. They may engage in 5-10 a day. When they see your cluttered messy bulletin board, their brain naturally rejects and moves on. Not only are you not getting your last message through, you are not getting any messages through. Start to think of Advertising like standing on top of a mountain and just yelling one thing.

If you knew that showing up better would get you better work, would you show up better?  You should. 

If you want to learn how to show up better, we train marketing teams on how to get better Marketing Execution. We go through how to write better briefs, how to make better decisions and how to give inspiring feedback to realize the greatness of your creative people. Here’s what the workshop looks like:

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

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

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

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

Beloved Brands Graham Robertson

Why would a pilot buy pizza for the stranded passengers of a competitor?

Posted on Posted in Beloved Brands in the Market

Airline delays are a reality. If you travel enough, you have experienced some painful ones. Most times they are outside the control of the airline. My best story was showing up at the Paris airport at 8am to be told the flight had been delayed 12 hours. I checked my bags in and spent the day walking around in Paris. None will ever live up to that one.beloved brands customer experience consumer brand culture

Delays are a pain. The passengers get all cranky, which causes the employees to get cranky. The two clash. Then anxiety causes the drama to flare up one more level. The reality is that most delays are outside the control of the airlines, especially with snow storms moving up the east coast. I think passengers know this, but they have to get mad at someone. One of the things that separates the great airlines from the bad is how they handle a crisis. This is a great story how one airline (WestJet) was able to demonstrate how their culture is different, while the other airline (Air Canada) just stood still and watched.

This week, an Air Canada flight had to be diverted due to the snow storm. They landed at another airport at midnight. The first thing the Air Canada employee at the airport told the passengers that because it was just after midnight, it was not possible to get any food delivered. One more reason for passengers to be upset. And hearing this, a pilot from a competitive airline–WestJet–stepped up to the rescue. As I like to describe the difference between a product and a brand. A product solves small problems we did not even know we had, while a brand heroically beats down the enemy that torments us. This WestJet pilot stepped up as a hero, offering to buy pizza for everyone.

Here’s how one of the passengers described it to the local TV station. “Out of nowhere, a WestJet pilot emerged and said, ‘Hey … I am from WestJet and we do things differently. Who wants pizza?’ Within 20 minutes  the pizza had arrived and I think he paid for it out of his own pocket.”

Now, what might sound like a random story to passengers, was not at all. It was a perfect storm of the opportunity for the WestJet challenger brand to step up and deliver the brand message. Air Canada was completely ambushed and ridiculed with one simple act that cost the pilot around $60. Air Canada said in a statement the next morning, “Clearly we should have done better for our customers.”

I have had the luxury of traveling on both airlines. WestJet employees bring an energy and a smile to the experience, while many of the Air Canada employees bring a pained misery to their job. The true difference is not just in the advertising that says “we are friendly” but in the cultures behind the brand. As the smaller player in the market, WestJet has clearly figured out their only way to win is by creating amazing consumer experiences. You have to win through your people, and that means sending brand messages internally.

How to communicate to the corporate culture behind your brand

With most brands I meet up with, I ask “What is the Big Idea behind your brand?” I rarely get a great answer. When I ask a Leadership Team, I normally get a variety answers. beloved brands customer experience consumer brand cultureWhen I ask the most far-reaching sales reps, the scientists in the lab or their retailer partners, the answers get worse. That is not healthy. Everyone who touches that brand should be able to explain what it stands for in 7 seconds, 60 seconds, 30 minutes or at every consumer touch-point. They should always be delivering the same message. There are too many Brands where what gets said to the consumer is different from what gets said inside the corporate walls. The Big Idea must organize the culture to ensure everyone who is tasked to meet the needs of both consumers and customers, whether they are in HR, product development, finance, operations and experience delivery teams, must all know their role in delivering the Big Idea. And in this case, the pilot.

Too many brands believe brand messaging is something that Advertising does. The more focus we put on delivering an amazing consumer experience, the more we need to make sure the external and internal brand story are aligned. It should be the Big Idea that drives that story. Every communication to employees, whether in a town-hall speech, simple memo or celebration should touch upon the brand values that flow from the Big Idea, highlighting examples when employees have delivered on a certain brand value.

The Big Idea should drive everything and everyone

Brand Management was originally built on a hub-and-spoke system, with the Brand Manager expected to sit right in the middle of the organization, helping drive everything and everyone around the Brand. However, it should actually be the brand’s Big Idea that sits at the center, with everyone connected to the brand expected to understand and deliver the idea. Aligning the brand with the culture is essential to the long-term success of the brand. The best brands look to the overall culture as an asset that helps create a powerful consumer experience. The expected behaviors of the operations team behind the consumer experience should flow out of the brand values, that flow from the Big Idea. These values act as guideposts to ensure that the behavior of everyone in the organization is set to deliver the brand’s promise.

beloved brands customer experience consumer brand culture

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. Is that not what marketers should be doing? So what is getting in your way?

Ritz-Carlton bakes service values right into their culture

The Ritz-Carlton phrase they use with their staff is “Keep your radar on and antenna up” so that everyone can look for the unexpressed needs of their guests. These could be small wins that delight consumers in a big way, showing the hotel is thinking of ways to treat them as unique and special. But like any hotel, things do go wrong. When a problem does arise they quickly brainstorm and use everyone’s input. The staff is encouraged to surprise and delight guests so they can turn a problem into a potential wow moment.

 

This was not a random move by a pilot. This was the WestJet culture delivering their brand. 

Here’s a workshop that we run on how to create a beloved brand.

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

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

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

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

Beloved Brands Graham Robertson

Were you fooled by the true political message behind any Super Bowl ads? #AlternativeFacts

Posted on Posted in Beloved Brands in the Market

 

The day after the Super Bowl is the usual time for people to talk about Super Bowl ads. This year, with everyone hot about the election, it is not surprising that those that rose to the top have a political message. People are talking about Airbnb, Budweiser, 84 Lumber and Audi.

However, as consumers start to dig in a little deeper, there are a few ads who are missing out on the truth behind a few of the spots.  The two ads that might not be as expected, or as we would say in 2017, they might have alternative facts are:

  • 84 Lumber
  • Audi

I have seen people tweeting, “That’s it. I am now going to buy more lumber” which is foolish or “I am a loyal fan of Budweiser, I’m never buying a Bud again” which is just as foolish. The reality of aligning yourself to a political message is it is the slowest way to gain customers and the fastest way to lose customers. A bunch of strategists of the world are saying “if you are purpose driven, you have to stay purpose driven”.  That’s OK, but what does that have to do with politics?

84 Lumber

On Monday morning, everyone on my Facebook has been talking about the “84 Lumber” spot. Ad Age and AdWeek have it on their top spot. OK, people, a lumber company who I never ever heard of just spent $10 Million on a 2 minute ad to send you to their website to see a 5 minute version.  Wait, what’s the brand name again, 84 Lumber. Ok, I forgot since I typed it 2 minutes ago.

So I  watched the 5 minute video and I was confused.

 

 

Is this a pro-immigration ad, or an anti-immigration ad?  What does the door opening mean? Does it mean that America is an open door filled with opportunity to realize the american dream? It might.  Or does it mean the wall will have a door that is a legal way to get into America? It might. Most of the left believed it means opportunity and they love the ad. The right also believed it was pro immigration, so they hate the ad. Apparently, the 84 Lumber CEO is a staunch Trump supporter and came out on Monday and said:

“We need to keep America safe. America needs to be safe so you and I can have the liberty to talk. The wall, I think it represents, to me, security. I like security.”

So, 84 Lumber who is a B2B brand focused on a very niche audience should never be in the Super Bowl have now run the risk of pissing off the left and right. Why did 84 Lumber spend $10-15 Million?  They say ‘awareness’.  Well, you have some short-term awareness, as both sides will now hate you. But who do you need awareness from? You are a B2B lumber brand. Anyway, personal marketing bias is that I hate awareness as a goal. But even worse, if you poke your nose into an issue, you better be able to stand up to the issue. 84 Lumber cannot even express what they want now. Imagine a year from now, they bid on the construction of the wall. They likely will. So how do you now feel about this ad?

 

Audi

I can’t blame those who feel betrayed by 84 Lumber, because that’s now I feel about Audi. I’m very pro-equality, and with an 18-year old daughter, I want her to achieve as much as she can in life. I rated this spot as my favorite Super Bowl ad.  Here’s the spot.

 

 

And here’s the script:

  • What do I tell my daughter?
  • Do I tell her that her grandpa’s worth more than her grandma? That her dad is worth more than her mom?
  • Do I tell her that despite her education, her drive, her skills, her intelligence, she will automatically be valued as less than every man she ever meets? Or maybe, I’ll be able to tell her something different.
  • Audi of America is committed to equal pay for equal work.
  • Progress is for everyone

I still love the spot, but I am not so sure Audi has earned the right to say this. There are no women who sit on Audi’s Management Board and there are only two women who sit on its 14 person American executive team. In the press release for the Super Bowl ad, the car company said it was publicly committed to supporting women’s pay equality and pointed out that half of the candidates for its graduate internship program must be female. I feel fooled by their message. Actions speak louder than words. Audi made me a completely hollow promise. Isn’t this the same Volkswagen company that told us about fuel emissions last year? Let’s hope this backlash can work to make Audi do more for women inside their own organization before they start challenging everyone else to do so.  So how do you now feel about this ad?

Do the #alternativefacts make you feel different about these TV ads?

 

I believe brands should never pick political sides. You must realize that choosing political sides after a hotly  contested election is the fastest way to lose sales and the slowest way to gain sales. Politics is ugly. Brands should stay away.

There is a difference between a cause and a political belief.

It is great to be such a purpose driven brand that you stand up for your beliefs. But, why do you feel compelled in 2017, to extrapolate your purpose into the partisan political arena? The closer you get to one side of the political aisle, the uglier it can get. When it comes to politics, people cannot see straight. There beliefs are so deep, you will not change any minds. Instead, you should expect severe blowback, which could haunt your brand for years. I still think of Chick Fil A as the brand against marriage equality. Did you know that Chick Fil A quickly backpedaling on that stance? Wait, you think a brand should stand up for itself? Once Chick Fil A took some heat, they did a 180 turn and started donating to LGBT causes just to avoid a full on boycott. Yet, in my mind, their initial statements will stick forever.Last year, Starbucks had baristas writing #racetogether on coffee cups. Seemed innocent enough, but when their customers complained, Starbucks quickly backed away. If you like that brands stick their nose out, then you must hate when they pull back at the first sign of trouble.

If you are really purpose driven, then why does it have to show up in your advertising? Why not be authentic about your purpose and line up with a cause you believe in. How about mobilizing all your employees to go clean a river or give back by teaching kids how to read, or go work at a food bank. To keep it is authentic and pure, how about you do it quietly and believe you do not even need to garner any PR. Let your actions speak louder than your words.

As a guide, there has to be truth to your advertising. If you lie, you will get caught. So next time you have an ad you love, ask them “can we really stand behind this message?”.  Looks like 84 Lumber and Audi cannot.

Here’s our workshop to building a beloved brand.

 

Beloved Brands: We make brands stronger and brand leaders smarter.

We will unleash the full potential of your brand. We will lead a 360-degree assessment of your business, help you define your Brand Positioning, create a Big Idea that will transform your brand’s soul into a winning brand reputation and help you build a strategic Brand Plan everyone who works on the brand can follow.

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

To contact me, call me at 416 885 3911 or email me at graham@beloved-brands.com