How to find your brand’s ideal Consumer target profile

Posted on Posted in How to Guide for Marketers
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As part of the positioning exercise, we recommend that you put together a complete Consumer Profile that outlines the focused definition of the target, add flavor with needs, enemies and insights and then talk about where they are now and where you’d like to move the consumer in the future.

Who is your ideal consumer target?

Everything starts and ends with the consumer in mind. We believe that spreading your limited resources across an entire population is cost-prohibitive and will provide you with a low return on investment and low return on effort, that will eventually drain your brand. While targeting everyone “just in case” might feel safe at first, it is actually less safe because you never get to see the full impact of the resources you apply. Too many Marketers seems to think that the way to make your brand bigger is to be able to appeal to a bigger, broader target. Positioning 2016 ExtractWe take a different approach believing that instead of going after who you want the most, we recommend that you should go after those consumers who are the most motivated by what you do. To get Brand Leaders to focus their target, we show three types of targets: selling target, marketing target and program target.

  • Selling Target: Of course you should sell to anyone who wants to buy. I just wouldn’t spend my money against this large of a target. You can always reactively sell to anyone who engage and show interest in your brand, regardless if they fit your ideal target. However, as every brand is constrained by limited resources, we just don’t recommend that you spend your limited marketing resources against this large of a target, especially when you have seen no signs that they will respond enough to provide an efficient pay back.
  • Marketing Target: The best marketers know exactly who is their ideal consumer. In the new world of Marketing, we can know more and more about these people. We recommend that you focus your limited resources on those consumers that are the most motivated by what your brand offers, those most likely respond to your brand story or your product offering, which then provides you with the fastest and highest return on investment and return on effort.
  • Program Target: Specific campaign target that you hope to move to think, feel or do with your specific marketing program.

A few years ago, I was working with bank who told me that their target market for a first time mortgage (home loan) was 18-65, new customers, current customers and employees. Sarcastically, I said, “You have forgotten tourists and prisoners”. As I pressed to help them narrow their consumer target, they pushed back saying that they didn’t want to alienate anyone “just in case” someone outside the usual target wanted a home loan. While the odd 64-year-old might be tired of renting for the past 40 years and wanting to finally buy their first home, they would not be offended if there was a 32 year old in the advertising. The reality is that first time home owners are usually in their late 20’s or early 30’s, and they usually spend 6-12 months looking for a house. No one buys a house on impulse. And no one ever wanted a mortgage, without buying a house. The target should be: “28-33, already considering buying a house within the next year and nervous about their debt load.” Imagine the difference that focused target market will make in the brand message and in the media choices you might make now. For instance, instead of just randomly advertising to everyone on mass media, you can focus your resources where the consumer would be most open to your message. You could advertise on real estate websites, take out billboard ads outside of the new housing developments and buy radio ads on Saturday when people are looking at new homes. The focused target market helps focus your resources on those consumers most likely to respond to your brand messages.

Realizing not everyone can like you is the first step to focusing all your attention on those that can love you. It becomes all about choices and you will be much more effective at convincing a segment of the population to choose your brand because of the assets and promise that you have that match up perfectly to what they want. The best brands don’t go after consumers, they create a desire and connection, to get consumers to go after the brand. The best way to get consumers motivated is to tap into their need states, to understand their frustration points they may have and to connect by showing that you understand them. Motivating someone to buy your brand should start with the consumer not your product. You have to understand consumers, to match your brand up to their needs, wants and desires. Done right, if you can make consumers want to buy, then you will never have to sell.

Who is your consumer’s enemies that you will fight?

While regular products solve regular problems, the most beloved brands beat down the enemies that torment consumers every day. What are your consumer’s frustration point that they feel no one is even noticing or addressing? For instance, the Disney brand fights off the consumer enemy of “growing up”, while Volvo fights off the consumer enemy of “other drivers” or Starbucks fights off the consumer enemy of a “hectic life”. Shifting from solving a rational consumer problem to beating down a consumer enemy is the starting point to reaching into the emotional state of your consumer. Positioning 2016 Extract 2

Put yourself in the shoes of your Starbucks consumer, who is a 38-year-old mom with two kids. She wakes up at 6:15 am, not only to get ready for work, but to get everyone in the house ready for their day. She drops off one kid at daycare, the other at public school and then rushes into the office for 8:30 am. She drives a van, not because she wants to but because it is a great transportation choice for carrying all the equipment needed for after-school activities, including soccer, dance, tutoring and ice hockey. It never stops. No one is really old enough to thank her, the only appreciations are random moments of celebration or a hug at the end of a long day. Just after getting both to bed, she slinks into her bed exhausted. What is her enemy? Her enemy is the hectic life that she leads. If only she had a 15-minute moment to escape from it all. She doesn’t want to run from it, because she does love her life. She just needs a nice little break. A place where there is no play land, but rather nice leather seats. There are no loud screams, just nice acoustic music. There are no happy meals, just nice pastries have a European touch. Not only does she feel appreciated, but the cool 21-year-old college student not only knows her name but knows her favorite drink. Starbucks does an amazing job in understanding and fighting off the consumer’s enemy, giving her a nice 15-minute moment of escape in the middle of her day. Yes, the Starbucks product is coffee, but the Starbucks brand is about moments. Starbucks provides a personal moment of escape from a hectic life, between work and home. If you want to show that you better understand your consumer’s pain points, think of how you would project the enemy to the consumer that you are fighting on their behalf.

Consumer Insights

We think of Consumer Insights as secrets that we have discovered and then use to our brand’s advantage. To paint the picture of our consumer target, you should use Consumer Insights to help to crystallize secrets, thoughts and stories that bring the consumer to life. The dictionary definition of the word Insight is “seeing below the surface”. Too many people think data, trends and facts are insights. I always do this little test asking if this is an insight: “Consumers in Brazil brush their teeth 4x a day compared with only 1.8 times per day for Americans”. All we know is one piece of data and if we don’t find out more, we might make a mistake. It might be that Brazilians stand closer to each other, or they eat spicier foods or they have a lack fluoride in their water system, or Brazilians believe they are the most beautiful people on the planet.

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The dictionary definition of the word Insight is “seeing below the surface”. To get deeper, when you come across a data point, you have to keep looking, listening, and asking yourself “so what does that mean for the consumer” until you have an “AHA moment”. You have to understand beneath the surface to turn the data point into knowledge and even wisdom about the consumer.

You can start with observations, trends, market facts and research data, but only when you start asking the right questions do you get closer to where you can summarize the insight. Look and listen for the consumer’s beliefs, attitudes and behaviors that help explain how they think, feel or act in relationship to your brand or category. Because the facts are merely on the surface, you have to dig, or you will miss out on the depth of the explanation of the underlying feelings within the consumers that caused the data. Think beyond the specific category insights and think about life insights or even societal trends that could impact changing behavior.

Get in the consumer’s shoes, then observe, listen and understand how they think, act, feel and behave. You have to know their fears, motivations, frustrations and desires. Learn their secrets, that only they know, even if they can’t explain. Learn to use their voice. Build that little secret into your message, using their language, so they’ll know you are talking to them. We call this little secret the consumer insight. Good insights get in the SHOES of your consumer and use their VOICE. We force every insight to be written starting with the word “I” to get the Marketer into the shoes of the consumer and force them to put the insight in quotes to use their voice.Creative Brief 2016.035

When portrayed with the brand’s message, whether on packaging, an advertisement or at the purchase moment, the consumer insight is the first thing that consumers connect with. When consumers see the insight portrayed, we make them think: “That’s exactly how I feel. I thought I was the only one who felt like that.” This is what engages consumers and triggers their motivation and desire to purchase. The consumers think we must be talking to them, even if it looks like we are talking to millions. If we want consumers to believe the brand is for them, then the insight is the first signal that says “we get you, you should listen to us”. It is not easy to explain a secret to a person who doesn’t even know how to explain their own secret. Try it with a friend and you will fail miserably. Imagine how hard it is to find that secret and portray it back to an entire group of consumers. Safe to say, consumer insights are hard to find.

Knowing the secrets of your consumers is a very powerful asset. An insight should ONLY connect with the audience you are talking to. I hate when people say, “We don’t want to alienate others”. The best brand communication should be like whispering an inside-joke that only you and your friend get. Yes, when we target, we actually do want to alienate others. That’s the only way we will truly connect. Your ability to harness those secrets into creating insights that are arresting or intriguing, fuels the creative spirit as you tell your brand’s story, launch new innovation and move the consumer through to the purchase moment. After all, there is one source of revenue, not the product you sell, but the consumers who buy. In a tough competitive market, your ability to harness the secrets of your consumers that only you know, is a huge potential competitive advantage.

How do you define your consumer?

At Beloved Brands, we lead workshops to help teams build their Brand Positioning Statement, helping the team find the target, main benefits, reason to believe.  Click on the Powerpoint file below to view:

 

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

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

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

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

 

GR bio Jun 2016.001

How to find the ideal Consumer Benefit for your brand

Posted on Posted in How to Guide for Marketers

What is the right consumer benefit?

The 4 elements of a winning Brand Positioning statement include who you will serve, where you play, where you will win then why the consumer should they believe us. Simply put, that’s the target, category, main benefit and support points.

Before you just write out a random brand positioning statement, we recommend that you dig deeper on doing the homework that helps uncover options and then focuses you on the best possible space to own. Positioning has a sense of ambiguity and uncertainty, which means randomness is only an intuitive guess on your part. Having a process that grounds your thinking will ensure you are owning the best space. I always think the positioning statement takes everything you know about the brand and narrows the focus to only those things that matter. The homework helps to lay out everything you know, and then your decision making helps to focus on the elements that matter.

  1. Who is in the consumer target? What slice of the population will be the most motivated to buy what you do? The first thing to decide is the consumer target, which should be your first point of focus, so that you can find the slice of the population that will be the most motivated by what you do. The mistake for many Marketers is they think about who you want, and they forget to ask who wants you. Who is the most motivated to buy what you do?
  2. Where do you play? What is the frame of reference that helps to define the space in the marketplace that you compete in? We then frame the positioning by determining the category you play in, defining the competitors you will position yourself against. No one really operates in a blue ocean space, as positioning is always relative to some other choice the consumer can make.
  3. Where do you win? We then need to determine the main promise you will make to the consumer target, in the sense of a benefit for the consumer, both the rational and emotional. Think about what does the customer get, and how does it make them feel?
  4. Why should they believe us? Finally, we will look to understand what support points are needed to back up the main promise you are making. These support points have to support the main benefit, not just random claims or features that you want to jam into your brand message.
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The homework is hard, but the output provides clarity when you begin writing a brand positioning statement that will help focus you on what is unique, own-able, and motivating to consumers. One of the biggest mistakes brands make is speaking at the consumer with features (what you do) and not benefits (what they get). The old saying is, “features tell, but benefits sell”. Stop telling consumers what you do and start telling them what they get and how it will make them feel.

The first thing you want to do is to know up your brand’s core strength.

There are four options for what Core Strength your brand can win on: product, promise, experience or price. Many brand leaders have their marketing strategy wrong, when it comes to aligning everything behind the right strength. Which core strength can really impact your brand positioning. Product and experience brands have to be better, promise brands have to be different, price brands have to be cheaper.

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

  • Product: your main strategy should focus on being better. You have to invest in Innovation to stay ahead of competitors, remaining the superior choice in the category.
  • Promise: your strategy should focus on being different. To tell that story, you need to invest in emotional brand communication. You want to connect consumers on a deep emotional level with the concept.
  • Experience: your strategy and organization should focus on linking culture very closely to your brand. After all, your people are your product. As you go to market, invest in influencer and social media that can help support and spread the word of your experience.
  • Price: focus on efficiency and drive low-cost into the products you sell and high turns and high volume. You have to be better at the fundamentals around production and sourcing.
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Just like any decision, it’s hard to just pick one. But if you start to think about it more and more, you will see how different each of these four choices really are.

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The next decision is the main benefit you want to focus on. Doing a Consumer Benefits Ladder helps to organize your thinking as a great tool for bringing the benefits to life. The best way to work the Consumer Benefits Ladder is to hold a brainstorming session with everyone who works on the brand so you can:

  • Leverage all the available research to brief the team, helping define the consumer target and get all the consumer insights and need states out.
  • List out all the features that your brand offers, and the brand assets it brings to the table. Make sure that these features are competitive advantages.
  • Find the rational benefit by putting yourself in the shoes of the consumer and seeing the brand features from their eyes: start asking yourself over and over “so if I’m the consumer, what do I get from that?”. Ask up to 5 times and push the answers into a richer zone.
  • Then find the emotional benefit by asking “so how does that make me feel?” As you did above, keep asking, and you’ll begin to see a deeper emotional space you can play in and own.
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Put all the information of the group brainstorm into a Consumer Benefits Ladder Worksheet. You can put more on this list than you can use, either using market research to help narrow your focus or making tough decisions on what you where you want to go.

What are the emotional benefits?

From my experience, Marketers are better at the rational benefits than they are at the emotional benefits. I swear every brand out there thinks their brand should be the trusted, reliable and yet like-able brand. As a brand, you want to own the emotional space in the consumer’s heart as much as you own the rational space in the consumer’s mind. It seems that not only do consumers have a hard time expressing their emotions about a brand, but so do Brand Managers. Companies like Hotspex have mapped out all the emotional zones for consumers. I’m not a researcher, but if you’re interested in this methodology contact Hotspex at http://www.hotspex.biz We have taken this research method and created an Emotional Cheat Sheet for Brand Leaders. This lists out the 8 major emotional consumer zones, optimism, freedom, being noticed, being liked, comfort, be myself, be in control and knowledge.

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To own a space in the consumer’s heart, you want to own and dominate one of zones, always thinking relation to what your competitor may own. Do not choose a list of emotions from all over the map, or you will just confuse your consumer as much as trying to own a long list of rational benefits. Once you narrow the major emotional zone you can own, you can use the supporting words of the Emotional Cheat Sheet to add flavor.

We always recommend that you speak with consumers in terms of benefits, not features. They don’t care what you do, until you care about what they get. Put yourself in their shoes and start asking “so what do I get?” to help frame the rational benefit and “how does I feel?” to find the emotional benefit. You will become a much more powerfully connected brand.

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At Beloved Brands, we lead workshops to help teams build their Brand Positioning Statement, helping the team find the target, main benefits, reason to believe.  Click on the Powerpoint file below to view:

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

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

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

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

GR bio Jun 2016.001

 

Who is your consumer’s enemies that you will fight on their behalf?

Posted on Posted in Beloved Brands Explained

While regular products solve regular problems, the most beloved brands beat down the enemies that torment consumers every day. Positioning-2016.027What are your consumer’s frustration point that they feel no one is even noticing or addressing? For instance, the Disney brand fights off the consumer enemy of “growing up”, while Volvo fights off the consumer enemy of “other drivers” or Starbucks fights off the consumer enemy of a “hectic life”. Shifting from solving a rational consumer problem to beating down a consumer enemy is the starting point to reaching into the emotional state of your consumer.

Starbucks fights off the enemy of the hectic life

Put yourself in the shoes of your Starbucks consumer, who is a 38-year-old mom with two kids. She wakes up at 6:15 am, not only to get ready for work, but to get everyone in the house ready for their day. She drops off one kid at daycare, the other at public school and then rushes into the office for 8:30 am. She drives a van, not because she wants to but because it is a great transportation choice for carrying all the equipment needed for after-school activities, including soccer, dance, tutoring and ice hockey. It never stops. No one is really old enough to thank her, the only appreciations are random moments of celebration or a hug at the end of a long day. Just after getting both to bed, she slinks into her bed exhausted. What is her enemy? a03e0da8-fac7-11e3-acc6-12313b090d61-medium-1Her enemy is the hectic life that she leads. If only she had a 15-minute moment to escape from it all. She doesn’t want to run from it, because she does love her life. She just needs a nice little break. A place where there is no play land, but rather nice leather seats. There are no loud screams, just nice acoustic music. There are no happy meals, just nice pastries have a European touch. Not only does she feel appreciated, but the cool 21-year-old college student not only knows her name but knows her favorite drink. Starbucks does an amazing job in understanding and fighting off the consumer’s enemy, giving her a nice 15-minute moment of escape in the middle of her day.

Yes, the Starbucks product is coffee, but the Starbucks brand is about moments. Starbucks provides a personal moment of escape from a hectic life, between work and home. They fight off the consumer enemy of the hectic life.

Apple fights off the enemy of frustration

Unless you work in IT, you likely find computers extremely frustrating. We have all sat at our computer wanting to pull our hair out. computer-frustrationExamples of computer frustration includes spending 38 minutes to figure out how print, getting error message 6303 that says “close all files open and reboot” or if you have ever bought a new computer and you need to load up 13 disks and 3 manuals to read before you can even email your friend to tell them how amazing your computer is. Apple has recognized the frustration that consumers go through and capitalized on the enemy of frustration with PCs with the famous TV campaign of “Hi I’m a Mac,….and I’m a PC”, helping to demonstrate the many issues around computer set up, viruses and trying to make the most of your computer.  As soon as you open the box you can use the new computer, Macs are intuitive, aligned to how consumers think, not how IT people think. You can even take classes to learn.

Yes, the Apple product is about computers tablets and phones, but the Apple brand makes technology so simple that everyone can be part of the future. They fight off the consumer enemy of frustration with technology.

If you want to show that you better understand your consumers, how would you project the enemy that you are fighting on their behalf.

 

Understanding the consumer is the first step in writing a winning brand positioning statement. To read more on brand positioning, here’s our workshop we run for brand teams:

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 416-885-3911You can also find us on Twitter @belovedbrands. 

GR bio Jun 2016.001

Align the 5 consumer touch-points to build consumer connectivity and brand love

Posted on Posted in How to Guide for Marketers

When we think of the most beloved brands–Starbucks, Apple, Ferrari, Disney, Nike or Mercedes–it’s really hard to figure out the ONE part of the brand that really makes it great. For example on Apple, I have heard: “Apple has the best products” or “they have the best ads” or “it’s actually the experience”. At Beloved Brands, we believe you need 5 magic moments that a brand must deliver at an extremely high degree in order to become a beloved brand:

  1. Brand Promise
  2. Brand Story
  3. Innovation
  4. Purchase Moment
  5. Experience
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Brand Promise: Create a simple brand promise that separates your brand from competitors, based on being better, different or cheaper. Try to use a brand positioning exercise to figure out your brand’s value proposition–we use a brand ladder (below) where we map out the target definition, product features, rational benefits and emotional benefits. To read more, click on this hyperlink: How to write a brand positioning statement

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Brand Story: At Beloved Brands, we see Advertising as a tool for telling your brand story in a way that creates a bond with consumers, to establish your brand’s positioning and to drive change in your consumers behavior that leads to higher sales, share and profit. You should use your brand story to motivate consumers to think, feel or act, while beginning to own a reputation in the mind and hearts of consumers. Here’s a hyperlink to a story on helping you judge advertising: Judging Advertising

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Innovation: Fundamentally sound product, staying at the forefront of trends and using technology to deliver on your brand promise. The trick with innovation is keeping the serendipity of an R&D team aligned, while pushing for a balance of blue ocean against staying within the perimeters of the brand strategy. New products have to meet consumer needs and many times creating a consumer need they didn’t even know they had. 

Purchase Moment: As consumers get near the purchase, there becomes this “moment of truth” when they have to make the final decision to buy. We manage the purchase moment using a buying system that maps out how consumers move through the purchase cycle and use channels, messaging, processes to make the final decision.

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Experience: Turn the usage of your product into an experience that becomes a ritual and favorite part of their day. One of the best brand experiences is Starbucks, providing consumers with more than just coffee, but rather an escape from daily grind a hectic life. At Starbucks, you find that little moment between home life and work life, a cool atmosphere indie music and leather chairs, a barista that knows your name and your drink, you can order in Italian and one of the best things they manage to indirectly achieve–no screaming little kids.

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The brand becomes more powerful when everything is aligned under a “big idea” for your brand. In today’s crowded media world, consumers now see 6,000 brand messages every day. They have to quickly sort through those messages, rejecting most and only engaging in a few each day. It’s those brands who can communicate in a headline style idea will grab the consumers attention.

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Once you establish that big idea, you can align each of the 5 magic moments underneath that big idea. 

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Using the Big Idea map above, we can see the promise comes from the brand positioning, the brand story is told through advertising, the innovation is driven by R&D, the purchase moment is a combination of your sales team and your distribution strategy while the experience comes directly from how you manage the operations and culture of your organization. As you can start to see, everyone and every activity should be driven by the Big Idea. To show you how to use the Big Idea map, here’s the example using the Apple brand, showing how they align behind everything linked to the big idea of “simplicity”.

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

 

To read more about how to create a beloved brand, click on this presentation which is our workshop we lead around 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.

custom_business_card_pile_15837We also can help create Brand Plans that everyone in your organization can follow and helps to focus your Marketing Execution. We provide a new way to look at Brand Management, that uses a provocative approach to align your brand to the sound fundamentals of brand management. 

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

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

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How to be a great Brand Leader: Do absolutely nothing

Posted on 2 CommentsPosted in How to Guide for Marketers

To inspire greatness from your experts, give them your problems to solve. Never your solutions.

Article that we wrote for Advertising Age.

Very early on in my brand management career, I was at a dinner party with my in-laws, who began to grill me on what I did for a living. Brand management has never been easy to explain to those outside the industry. “So, are you the guy who comes up with the funny ads? No. Ad-AgeAre you the guy who designs the cool new products? No.” After about 10 failed questions, they finally said, “So what do you do?” And I said “Nothing. I don’t really do anything. But I’m good at it.” They laughed, but they were likely scared that their daughter was marrying someone doomed to fail.

Remember when George from Seinfeld said, “Jerry, this show is about nothing.” That’s how I felt as a brand manager. Like George, I think what made me really good at my job is that I did nothing. Absolutely nothing. Over my 20 years of brand management, whenever I walked into a meeting, I used to whisper to myself, “You are the least knowledgeable person in the room. Use that to your advantage.”

The power was in the ability to ask clarification questions. When I was in with the scientists — following my C+ in tenth-grade chemistry — I was about as smart as the consumers I represented. I needed to make sure all the science was easy to explain. With my ad agencies, I finally figured out that I never had to solve problems. I just gave them my problems to solve. It became like therapy. Plus, with six years of business school — without one art class — what do I know about art? I was smart enough to know that I needed to make the most out of the experts I was paying.

While we don’t make the product, we don’t sell the product or create the ads, we do touch everything that goes into the marketplace and we make every decision. All of our work is done through other people. Our greatness as a brand leader has to come from the experts we engage, so they will be inspired to reach for their own greatness and apply it to our brand. Brand management has been built on a hub-and-spoke system, with a team of experts surrounding the generalist brand leader.

BBI Creds Deck 2016.002When I see brand managers of today doing stuff, I feel sorry for them. They are lost. I just saw that the CEO of Uber designed his own logo. Doesn’t he have better things to do? Brand leaders are not designed to be experts in marketing communications, experts in product innovation, or experts in selling the product. They are trained to be generalists — knowing enough to make decisions, but not enough to actually do the work.

Fifteen years ago, ad agencies broke apart the creative and the media departments into separate agencies, forcing the brand leader to step in and be the referee on key decisions. Right after that, the explosion of new digital media options that mainstream agencies were not ready to handle forced the brand leader to take another step in.

With the increasing speed of social media, brand leaders have taken one more step in. Three steps in, and brand leaders can’t find a way to step back again. Some brand leaders love stepping in too far so they can control the outcome of the creative process. However, if you are now doing all the work, then who is critiquing the work to make sure it fits the strategy? Pretty hard to think and do at the same time.

Brand leaders need to take a step back and let the creativity of execution unfold. I always say that it is okay to know exactly what you want, but you should never know until the moment you see it. As the client, I like to think of marketing execution as the perfect gift that you never thought to buy yourself. How we engage our experts can either inspire greatness or crush the spirit of creativity. From my experience, experts would prefer to be pushed than held back. The last thing experts want is to be asked for their expertise, and then told exactly what to do. There is a fine line between rolling up your sleeves to work alongside the experts and pushing the experts out of the way.

It is time to step back and assume your true role as a brand leader. Trust me, it is a unique skill to be able to inspire, challenge, question, direct and decide, without any expertise at all.

After all, I am an expert in doing nothing.

To read the original article that we wrote for Advertising Age, click on this link

Ad Age Article: How to Be a Great Brand Leader: Do Absolutely Nothing

At Beloved Brands, we lead workshops on everything connected to Brand Management, including Click on the Powerpoint file below to view:

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

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

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

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

 

Brand Careers 2016.107

How to be successful in the Brand Manager role

Posted on Posted in How to Guide for Marketers

Brand Careers 2016.031Most new brand managers mistakenly think this role is about managing because they finally get a chance to manage a direct report. However, the bigger part of this role is the transition you need to make as you move from do-er to owner. Yes, you’ll get your first change to manage a direct report, but many times that effort can be a distraction from your chance to continue to learn and grow. Many brand managers are disheartened to find out they are a disaster with their first direct report, but I always remind them that they’ll finally get better by the fifth direct report.

Here are the five success factors for Brand Managers:

1. Ownership

A great Brand Manager takes ownership of the brand. Many BMs struggle with the transition from being the helper to being the owner. As you move into the job, you have to get away the idea of having someone hand you a project list. Not only should you have to make the project list, you should come up with the strategies from which the projects fall out of. Brand Careers 2016.049A great Brand Manager talks in ideas in a telling sense, rather then an asking sense. It is great to be asking questions as feelers, but realize that most people are going to be looking to you for decisions. They will be recommending you will be deciding. When managing upwards be careful of asking questions—try to stick to solutions. You just gave up your ownership. Your director wants you to tell them what to do, and debate from there.

2. Strategic direction

A great Brand Manager provides a vision & strategies to match up to. Bring a vision to the brand. Push yourself to a well-articulated 5-10 year brand vision great. But a vision can be as simple as a rallying cry for the team. But you have to let everyone know where you want to go. The strategy that matches up to the vision becomes the road map for how to get there. As the brand owner, you become the steward of the vision and strategy. Everything that is off strategy has to be rejected. Communication of strategy is a key skill. Learn to think in terms of strategic pillars, with 3 different areas to help achieve your overall strategy. Having pillars constantly grounds you strategically, and is an easy way for communicating with the various functions. Each function may only have 1 strategic pillar but seeing how it all fits in is motivating.

3. Managing others
A great Brand Manager spends the effort to make their ABM as good as can be. Most BMs struggle with their first five direct reports. The key is to keep self evaluating and looking for ways to improve with each report. Most BMs struggle to shift from “do-er” to “coach. They think they can do it faster, so they may as well do it. They just become the “super ABM”. Many BMs fail to share the spot light, so it becomes hard to showcase the ABM. But the work of your ABM reflects 100% of how good of a manager you are. ABMs need feedback to get better—both the good and bad. I see to many BMs not giving enough feedback. And so many afraid of “going negative” so the ABM is left in the dark or left thinking they are doing a good job. Great BMs take the time to teach up front, give the ABM some room to try it out and then give hands-on feedback in real time. BBI Creds Deck 2016.002Use weekly meetings to give both positive feedback and address gaps. Brand Mangers should do QUARTERLY sit down performance reviews with their ABMs, who have the capacity to learn faster than annual reviews allows for.

4. Working the system
A great Brand Manager gets what they want and need. The organization is filled with groups, layers, external agencies, with everyone carrying a different set of goals and motivations. You can see how the organization works and appreciating what are are the motivations of various key stakeholders. You then use that knowledge to begin to work the system.You are starting to see key subject matter experts giving you their best. You understand their personal motivations and find a way to tap into those motivations as a way to ask people for their best. It might be an odd step, but from my experience a really motivating step. Very few people ask for “your best”.

5. Dealing with Pressure
A great Brand Manager can handle pressure: ambiguity, results, relationship time. Ambiguity is one of the hardest pressures. As a leader, patience and composure help you sort through the issues. The consequences of not remaining composed are a scared team and choosing quick decisions with bad results. Another big pressure is when the results don’t come in, it can be frustrating. BBI ads for 2015.010Reach for your logic as you re-group. Force yourself to course correct, rather then continuing to repeat and repeat and repeat. Challenge team to “this is when we are needed” You will see pressure in relationships. Be pro-active in making the first move to build a relationship. Try to figure out what motivates and what annoys the person. Understand and reach for common ground, which most times is not that far away. At every level there is time pressure. It is similar to the ambiguity. Be organized, disciplined and work the system so it doesn’t get in your way. Be calm, so you continue to make the right decisions. Use time to your advantage.

The ten reasons that Brand Managers fail:

  1. Struggle to make decisions
  2. Not analytical enough
  3. Can’t get along
  4. Not good with ambiguity
  5. Too slow and stiff
  6. Bad people Manager
  7. Poor communicators, with manager, senior management or partners
  8. Never follow their Instincts
  9. Can’t think strategically or write strategically
  10. They don’t run the brand, they let the brand run them.

The reality is everyone will have 1 or 2 of these potential points, just naturally. You have to use your time as a Brand Manager to work on closing them.  Especially if they come up in your performance review. At the Brand Manager stage, I hope you love the magic of marketing. Let it breathe and let it come to life. It is easy to lose your passion and try to do what your boss wants or do things to make short term numbers so you can get promoted. Those don not really work long term. My advice is do not just do the job, do it with all your passion. If you don’t love the work you do, then what consumer would ever love your brand.

Brand Manager role should be an amazing experience for you. Make the most of it.

At Beloved Brands, we lead workshops on everything connected to Brand Management, including Click on the Powerpoint file below to view:

 

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

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

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

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

Brand Careers 2016.107

How to manage every consumer touch-point through your brand’s Big Idea

Posted on Posted in How to Guide for Marketers

As a consumer-centric Marketer, I believe that everything has to start and end with the consumer in mind. Another way to phrase that is there is only one source of revenue:  the consumer. At the core of any brand is consistency. If we go back over a hundred years ago, in a much simpler shopping experience, brands came about as a stamp that helped to separate itself from the basic commodity. Before there was Kellogg’s, you could still get cereal but from week to week or from store to store, there was no consistency. With Kellogg’s entry, it really was a statement that leaves consumers knowing that “you can expect these to always be the same”. Those early brands such as Ivory, Kellogg’s or Nestle signaled an expected consistency for the consumer. 

Positioning 2016.053Consumers first connect with a brand’s Big Idea, which should be an outer reflection of the Brand Soul. The role of the Big Idea is to help simplify brand messages that makes it easily understood and remembered. The Big Idea must be unique, own-able and motivating. It must gain a quick entry, be layered easily and have longevity over the life of the brand. The brand’s Big Idea helps to tell project consistency over the first 7 seconds as they notice, the 60 seconds they need to test the idea, the 30 minutes of time they may use to make a decision on buying and over the lifetime of the brand as they experience the brand. To read more on creating a Big Idea for your brand, click on this hyperlink: 

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

As we map out how consumers buy and experience brands, we have created 5 main consumer touch-points that will impact their decisions on whether to engage, buy, experience and become a fan. Our five consumer touch-points we use are:

  1. Brand Promise: Brands need to create a simple brand promise that separates your brand from competitors, based on being better, different or cheaper.
  2. Brand Story: Use your brand story to motivate consumers to think, feel or act, while beginning to own a reputation in the mind and hearts of consumers.
  3. Innovation: Fundamentally sound product, staying at the forefront of trends and using technology to deliver on your brand promise.
  4. Purchase Moment: The moment of truth as consumers move through the purchase cycle and use channels, messaging, processes to make the final decision.
  5. Brand Experience: Turn the usage of your product into an experience that becomes a ritual and favorite part of their day. 

To ensure a consistency in how consumers view your brand, whether that is the first touch-point or the most recent, all 5 touch-points should be aligned under the brand’s Big Idea.  

Positioning 2016.066

As we start mapping the idea to the five consumer touch-points, we can build the organization around the Big Idea, impacting your brand’s positioning, communication, product development, selling, the operations and the culture that back the organization. With our fictional brand “Gray’s Cookies”, we can see below our Brand Idea Map that takes Gray’s Big Idea of “the best tasting yet guilt-free pleasure” and shows how that works across all 5 of the consumer touch-points. 

Positioning 2016.067

Taking this one step further, the Big Idea should drive every part of your organization. It is my view that R&D, Finance, Planning, Marketing Communication, Sales should all be looking to the Big Idea for guidance. While the Brand Vision is what you want to achieve, the Big Idea is what you want to project.

Positioning 2016.071I was working with a client on the brand positioning and the development of a Big Idea, and the Ad Agency at the table said “let’s take this to our Creative Director and see how well it would execute in the market”. And I said “Sure, but we should also take it to the head of HR, R&D and Sales to see what they think of it”. More and more of the world’s best brands are starting to understand that brand is equally an external and internal story. The best brands are moving from just selling product under their brands to creating experiences that go far beyond the product. Are people only going to Starbucks because of the coffee? Starbucks now goes far beyond coffee. In fact, we see Starbucks as providing a personal moment of escape from a hectic life, between work and home. It’s just as much about the conversation with the barista, the nice leather chairs and the people I might meet as it as about the coffee.

Positioning 2016.070

When it comes time to the Marketing Execution, the Big Idea should guide everything you do, whether that is paid media with advertising, earned media through public relations, social media through Facebook, Twitter or conversations, search media, your home page where you might share information, influence or close the sale, experiential Marketing that brings the brand experience to life and the purchase media that helps manage the consumer towards the purchase moment.  

Positioning 2016.068

The brand’s strategic Big Idea should allow consistent delivery of the brand story with a big creative idea and media execution. Positioning 2016.069

A brand finds equilibrium when the BRAND SOUL, BIG IDEA and REPUTATION are all the same.

Positioning 2016.048

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

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

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

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

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

The impact of Social Media on who wins/loses the U.S. election

Posted on Posted in Beloved Brands in the Market

How can we explain Jeb Bush spending over $100 Million and getting very little back in return. If we look deeper, we can see that he has done a very poor job in engaging with voters through social media.

The US election has always fascinated me, even as a Canadian. Heck, we even have a Canadian in the race this year. Just kidding. As crazy as the current election has become, it has almost become entertainment. I’m not here to talk about politics at all. As Marketers, we can certainly learn from how the candidates are utilizing social media.

While the 2008 election taught us that Social Media can help you win the election, the 2016 election might be teaching us that traditional media may not help you win at all.

Back in 2008, Obama’s team was ahead of the social media curve using 2.5 million Facebook supporters, 115,000 Twitter followers (a lot back then) and 50 Million views on YouTube. imgresJohn McCain was no where on social media. 

This year might be a great case study in how spending more on traditional media might not mean that much. Reportedly, Jeb Bush has already spent over $100 Million and yet has come in sixth place in Iowa (behind Rand Paul, who dropped out) and he is likely headed for a similar result in New Hampshire. Bush has done an awful job on social media, weak on both Twitter and Facebook. His lack of engagement with voters might be a better explanation as to why he is doing so poorly. Below is how the candidates fare on the two social platforms. Trump has 6 million followers on both Twitter and Facebook, while Bush has a 400,000 on each.

blog post.001

So far in the 2016 campaign, Donald Trump has spent more money on “Make America Great” hats than he has spent on Advertising. As we all know, he is the most actively engaged on-line, tweeting on an hourly basis–with 30,000 tweets, about 10x as many as the other candidates. Trump’s style of Tweets is like the car-crash that you cannot turn away from. I will regularly peak in on his just to see what he’s said now. Most days I’m in shock as to what he’s been able to get away with, but now I’m starting to expect that this is all part of the frustrated brand that he has created. 

blog post.002

As expected, Hillary Clinton’s tweets are safe and calculating. There’s no reason to follow or look at her account, unless you want the odd link to one of her policy papers. With Bernie Sanders, his account says that Tweets ending in B are from him, but the rest are from staffers.  When I eye-ball the last few hundred tweets, I did not see one signed with a B. So basically, signing up for Bernie’s Twitter means you are fully engaged with a 23-year-old intern. One of the newest social media vehicle that some of the candidates have embraced is Instagram. Look at the chart below, we can see that only 3 candidates have done anything with Instagram. Poor Jeb Bush has 4,000 followers, slightly behind Trump’s 980,000 followers.blog post.003

In terms of earned media, Trump has managed to dominate the news cycle, garnering 38% of the total media mentions. Bush has only grabbed about 4% of the earned media. The media seems to be endlessly talking about Trump, half the time confused. It seems the media has tried to anoint various candidates instead of Trump, including front-runner Scott Walker, followed by front-runner Jeb Bush, followed by new front-runner Dr Ben Carson, followed by new front-runner Ted Cruz, and followed by new surging candidate Marco Rubio.blog post.004

I can’t predict who will win the 2016 election. But I can predict that elections will never be the same. Forget politics for a minute. What can your brand learn from the use of Social Media in the 2016 US election campaign? How can you leverage the efforts of social media to counter the high cost of paid media? How can you leverage earned media to be part of the story? Does it do any good to have a social media account and not do anything with it?

This election year appears to get more interesting every week.

At Beloved Brands, we lead workshops to help teams plan their Marketing Execution, whether that is through communication, managing the purchase moment, innovation or creating experiences. Click on the Powerpoint file below to view:

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

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

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

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

 

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

Posted on Posted in How to Guide for Marketers

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

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

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

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

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

How to use a Big Idea Brand Concept

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

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

How to use a Big Idea Brand Concept

Creating the Big Idea

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

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

How to use a Big Idea Brand Concept

 

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

Step One

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

How to use a Big Idea Brand Concept

 

 

Step Two

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

How to use a Big Idea Brand Concept

 

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

Step Three

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

How to use a Big Idea Brand Concept

 

Creating a Brand Concept

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

How to use a Big Idea Brand Concept

 

 

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

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

How to use a Big Idea Brand Concept

 

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

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

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

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

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

Beloved Brands Graham Robertson 

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

Posted on Posted in How to Guide for Marketers

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

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

Identifying your natural strength

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

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

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

Brand Careers 2016.011

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

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

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

 

Core Strength: Running the business and managing brands

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

Career Options for those who are strongest at running brands

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

Core Strength: Marketing Execution

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

Career Options for those who are strongest at Marketing Execution

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

Core Strength: Strategic Thinking

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

Career Options who are strongest at Strategic Thinking

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

Core Strength: Leader of People

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

Career Options who are strongest at leading people

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

Follow your natural strength to realize your full potential

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

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

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

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

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