Love = Power = Profit

Posted on Posted in Beloved Brands Explained

The Brand Love Curve

In the consumer’s mind, brands sit on a Brand Love Curve, with brands going from Indifferent to Like It to Love It and finally becoming a Beloved Brand for Life. At the Beloved stage, demand becomes desire, needs become cravings, thinking is replaced with feelings. Consumers become outspoken fans. It’s this connection that helps drive power for your brand: power versus competitors, versus customers, versus suppliers and even versus the same consumers you’re connected with. The farther along the curve, the more power for the brand. It’s important that you understand where your brand sits on the Love Curve and begin figuring out how to move it along towards becoming a Beloved Brand.



With each stage of the Brand Love Curve, the consumer will see your brand differently. The worst case is when consumers have “no opinion” of your brand. They just don’t care. It’s like those restaurants you stop at in the middle of no-where that are called “restaurant”. In those cases, there is no other choice so you may as well just name it restaurant. But in highly competitive markets, you survive by being liked, but you thrive by being loved. Be honest with yourself as to what stage you are at, and try to figure out how to be more loved, with a vision of getting to the Beloved Brand stage.

The most beloved brands are based on an idea that is worth loving.

It is the idea that connects the Brand with consumers. And under the Brand Idea are 5 sources of connectivity that help connect the brand with consumers and drive Brand Love, including the brand promise, the strategic choices you make, the brand’s ability to tell their story, the freshness of the product or service and the overall experience and impressions it leaves with you. Everyone wants to debate what makes a great brand–whether it’s the product, the advertising, the experience or through consumers. It is not just one or the other–it’s the collective connection of all these things that make a brand beloved.

Generating Love for the Brand

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




Using Apple as an example, which is the most valuable brand on the planet, the big idea behind Apple is complexity made simple. Since every great brand tackles an enemy of the consumer, Apple takes on the frustration and intimidation that consumers have with technology. The Apple brand promise is we make it easier to love technology, so that you can experience the future no matter who you are. Apple has done an amazing job in creating products that take the most complicated of technology and deliver it so that anyone can use it. People criticize Apple for not being that leading edge of technology saying they just copy. But they don’t get what Apple is about. Whereas every other geeky computer company starts with the technology and forces consumers to figure it out, Apple takes that same technology and makes it so simple–whether that’s the iPhone iPad or the Mac which have made technology accessible for anyone. Apple knows how to tell their story, starting with the launch meeting–last week’s iPad Mini launch was covered for days in the mainstream media. You could even watch it live on-line. Apple has made great ads over the years, but they know how to work the media–whether that’s on CNN, technology magazines or through social media such as Twitter and Facebook. Apple manages the Brand Experience to perfection–starting with the excitement of launches to the helpfulness of the genius bar to the out-of-box start-up of any of the Apple products. As much excitement as Apple generates, they always seem to over-deliver. Look how giddy people get over their iPhones and iPads. All these contribute to the Love for the Apple brand and generates a loyal following.


Using the Love to Generate Power

The 12 forces of a Beloved Brand map out how a beloved brand can leverage the power generated from being loved.


A Beloved Brand with a loyal group of followers has so much more power–starting with a power over the very consumers that love them. These consumers feel more than they think–they are e-rational responding to emotional cues in the brand. They’ll pay a premium, line up in the rain for new products and follow the brand to new categories. Look at the power Starbucks has with their base of consumers, making their Starbucks moment one of their favorite rituals of the day and how consumers have now added sandwiches and wraps to those rituals. All day long, Starbucks has a line up of people ready for one of their favorite moments of their day.

Using Porter’s 5 forces, we can see that the love also gives Beloved Brands power over channels, substitutes, new entrants, or suppliers. People rather switch stores than switch brands. Apple has even created their own stores, which generate the highest sales per square foot of any retailer. These brand fans are outspoken against competitors and suppliers will do what it takes to be part of the brand. In Apple’s case, Intel has given them the lead on new chip technology.

Beloved Brands have a power over employees that want to be part of the brand and the culture of the organization that all these brand fans are proud to project. People at Starbucks love working there and wear that green apron with a sense of pride. Brand fans know the culture on day 1 and do what it takes to preserve it.

Beloved Brands have a power over the media whether that’s paid, earned, social or search media. Apple generates over a billion dollars of free media via the mainstream media and social media. Competitors complain about Apple getting a positive media bias–they are right, they do. Even for paid media,beloved brands get better placement, cheaper rates and they’ll be the first call for an Integration or big event such as the Super Bowl or the Olympics. Nike did such a great job with social media during the London Olympics that people thought they were the main shoe sponsor–when it was Adidas.

Beloved Brands have a power over key influencers whether it’s doctors recommending Lipitor, restaurant critics giving a positive review for the most beloved restaurant in town or Best Buy sales people selling a Samsung TV. They each become fans of the brand and build emotion into their recommendation. They become more outspoken in their views of the brand. And finally beloved the Beloved Brand makes its way into conversation at the lunch table or on someone’s Facebook page. The brand fans are everywhere, ready to pounce, ready to defend and ready to say “hey, you should buy the iPhone”. The conversation comes with influence as crowds follow crowds. This conversation has a second power, which creates a badge value. People know it will generate a conversation and are so proud to show it off. After all, they are in the club. All twelve of these forces combine to generate further power for the brand.

Using the Love and Power to generate Profits



With all the love and power the Beloved Brand has generated for itself, now is the time to translate that into growth, profit and value. The Beloved Brand has an Inelastic Price.  The loyal brand fans pay a 20-30% price premium and the weakened channels cave to give deeper margins.  We will see how inelastic Apple’s price points are with the new iPad Mini.   Consumers are willing to trade up to the best model.  The more engaged employees begin to generate an even better brand experience. For instance at Starbucks, employees know the names of their most loyal of customers. Blind taste tests show consumers prefer the cheaper McDonald’s coffee but still pay 4x as much for a Starbucks. So is it still coffee you’re buying?

A well-run Beloved Brand can use their efficiency to lower their cost structure.  Not only can they use their growth to drive economies of scale, but suppliers will cut their cost just to be on the roster of a Beloved Brand.  They will benefit from the free media through earned, social and search media.  They may even find government offer subsidies to be in the community or partners willing to lower their costs to be part of the brand.  For instance, a real estate owner would likely give lower costs and better locations to McDonald’s than an indifferent brand.

Beloved Brands have momentum they can turn into share gains. Crowds draw crowds which spreads the base of the loyal consumers. Putting name Disney on a movie generates a crowd at the door on day 1. Competitors can’t compete–lower margins means less investment back into the brand. It’s hard for them to fight the Beloved Brand on the emotional basis leaving them to a niche that’s currently unfulfilled.

Beloved Brands can enter into new categories knowing their loyal consumers will follow  because they buy into the Idea of the Brand.  The idea is no longer tied to the product or service but rather how it makes you feel about yourself.  Nike is all about winning, whether that’s in running shoes, athletic gear or even golf equipment.

The formula for a Beloved Brand is simple: Beloved = Power = Growth = Profit

Apple has been able to take all the love they generate with consumers and transform it into a power that they’ve been able to drive into their P&L, with 25-fold gains in revenue, increases in gross margins and can move all their ratios into the right space.  As a result, Apple is now the most valuable company in the world.


How loved is your brand?

We believe a brand’s source of power is the emotional feelings it generates. With that power comes added profitability.

In the consumer’s mind, brands sit on a Brand Love Curve, with brands going from Indifferent to Like It to Love It and finally becoming a Beloved Brand for Life. At the Beloved stage, demand becomes desire, needs become cravings, thinking is replaced with feelings. Consumers become outspoken fans. It’s this connection that helps drive power for your brand: power versus competitors, versus customers, versus suppliers and even versus the same consumers you’re connected with. The farther along the curve, the more power for the brand. It’s important that you understand where your brand sits on the Love Curve and begin figuring out how to move it along towards becoming a Beloved Brand. With the power of connection, the brand can leverage that power into increased growth and profits. To read more, follow this presentation.


Beloved Brands: Who are we?

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

Positioning 2016.112



Advertising Is Everywhere. But there sure is an awful lot of Crap!!!

Posted on Posted in Beloved Brands in the Market

The average consumer sees about 5,000 ads per day.  You can’t really escape them.  And yet, we are all so busy, how many of those ads do we actually engage in?  10 or 20?  And how many of those do we act on each day?   3 or 5?   Advertising is truly ubiquitous, but is it all that effective?

There’s so much Crap Out there.

When I drive past billboards with tons of information, I laugh and think “what a waste of money”.  Most times you engage in Outdoor ads, you’re driving 60 miles per hour, and the reality is you have 3 to 5 seconds.

Let’s try a few out and test your ability to digest ads.

Test #1:  Read the ad below and count to 5.

How did you do?  I got stuck on the dress joke.  Did you get the brand name or what they actually do?  Do you know the brand benefit or even the message?   The only good news is you just need to turn left.  But it’s a funeral home and not exactly an impulse purchase, so do you really need directions just yet?

Test #2:  All of a sudden you are tourist, driving into a new town called Quartzside and looking for things to do.  Take 5 seconds and read the ad below.

It almost hurts the brain doesn’t it.  Maybe you want to know where the tourism office is.  Did you pick up the directions?   Yet, there’s two websites and a phone number.  And a very odd picture of a camel that we’re not even sure why it’s there.

Test #3:  The good news is that we know they sell houses.  Take 5 seconds and read the ad.  It stil hurts.  Nice layout.

What’s the name of the real estate agent and what’s his phone number?  Ummm, is he helping you to buy a house or sell your house?

One hard and fast rule:  Advertising is not what is said, but what is understood.  In this case, you’ve only got 5 seconds to communicate.  I know it’s so tempting to jam everything into the precious ad space you’ve purchased.  It’s hard to leave stuff out that I want to say.  But keep in mind that with so many messages, if nothing gets through, then you’ve just wasted all your money.  You have to prioritize your messaging:  what’s your shout from the mountain and how do you creatively project that shout in 5 seconds?

Let’s Celebrate the Great Work that’s out there.

Break Through the Clutter but Don’t add your own Clutter:  To break through in the clutter of 5,000 ads per day, the added creativity makes the media work harder and your return on effort much more efficient.   And when someone engages your brand with a smile already on their face, it is that much easier to love your brand.  Have fun with the media choice, and let the creative idea drive that media so that you can showcase what it’s like to experience your brand.


This McDonald’s billboard is incredibly simple, but also talks about the impulsive nature of McDonald’s.  Once you decide you want to go, you just can’t get there fast enough.  Perfect for the McDonald’s fans.

Kit Kat Transit Bench

If you are a fan of chocolate, this bench will certainly trigger an impulse to buy a Kit Kat.  I am hungry just looking at that bench.

Hot Wheels

I love the creativity in the Hot Wheels ad below with the kid looking at the real cars on the highway below.  The kid captures the emotional appeal of Hot Wheels.

Swiss Skydive

And finally, this one takes some explaining, even though it’s a really simple idea.   The floor of this elevator is a photo from thousands of feet above the ground which makes it look and feel like you are sky diving.  Step into this elevator and as the elevator starts to go down you’ll start to feel the thrill of jumping out of a plane.  For dare-devils, they’ll love it.  

If you don’t love the work, how do you expect your consumer to love your brand? 

REJECT OK, because OK is the enemy of Greatness

Posted on Posted in How to Guide for Marketers

Do you remember how you felt when you first landed your first marketing role?  You likely went into marketing because you loved the strategy and the creativity that you saw the great marketers had done.  Beloved Brands like Apple, Nike, Dove, Disney and Starbucks likely  inspired you to get into this role. Unlike other occupations, you were drawn to it, and you wanted to bring an energy level to make a difference.  It likely was hard to get that first marketing job–so many people wanted to get in. And you were so excited on that first day when you walked into the office and found your cubicle.

Your first few months on the job had you crashing and banging into everything. Every day, you heard “you can’t do that” or “we don’t do that here” which started to suck the life and energy out of you. And once you stopped doing those things, you noticed that your performance reviews went so much better. Then you got promoted and made it to a Brand Leader role. Congratulations. But now you have to make a choice: do you cave to corporate world and become the boring marketer that does OK work? Or do you try to reach back to those feelings you had when you entered marketing and find the way to bring it back into the mix with the more sophisticated knowledgeable marketer that you’ve now become?

Explaining what a Marketer does to non-Marketers is odd because we don’t really do anything. We don’t make the product, we don’t make the ads or public relations and we don’t even sell it. Yet the Brand Leader is held responsible for sales, share and profits. And they should be. While we don’t do anything, we do have a say in everything that goes on about the brand and we sit in the seat that can inspire everyone around you, or it can be the one that inhibits creativity and suck the life out of everyone around you. As you sit in the Brand Leader role, the worst thing you can ever do is say “Yes” to OK ideas. If you’ve ever said “Yes” to an OK idea, you know that you lost a bit of who you wanted to be.

My challenge to you is to REJECT OK, because OK is the enemy of greatness.

Saying “Yes” to OK is even more demoralizing than saying “we don’t do that here”.

Brands move along a Brand Love Curve, moving from Indifferent to Like It to Love It and onto becoming a Beloved Brand.  Most brands find themselves stuck at the Like It stage–where they deliver adequate sales and share.  Marketers of Like It brands fear losing those sales, so they opt for the status quo filled with OK ideas.  The problem with status quo in today’s competitive environment is that you are likely falling back to Indifferent and you just don’t realize it. But it should make sense, because if you’re indifferent about your work, then why wouldn’t your brand end up there.

If you don’t love the work you do, then how do you expect the consumer to love your brand?

Rejecting OK work is not easy, especially if you have a reputation for playing it safe and approving OK. It is always tempting to look at all the work that’s been presented to you and figure out which one is the best.  So you pick the 6 out of 10, and make some recommendations that might it up to a 6.5.

Because you don’t really do any of the work, not only do you need to REJECT OK, but you have to inspire the greatness to come from others.

Execution does matter. While we want great execution against great strategy, I’d say that great execution against an OK strategy is better off than OK execution against a great strategy. In today’s crowded marketing world, where consumers see 6,000 ads a day, standing out is more important than it ever has been.

If you are up for the change, you should start at the beginning of the process. Sit with your lead account person and lay out your deepest thoughts on how you want your passion for the work to come shining through.  Find the language that translates your passion accurately at the outset and then be consistent to that passion throughout. Here’s what I have said in the past:  “I know we need an Ad that delivers the strategy, sells more product and drives share. But I also need an Ad that I love, that I’m proud of and something I can hold up and say I DID THIS”. I always felt “I have to love it” is the highest bar you can set. It also gives you the out by saying “I just don’t love it”. Tell your account person, you are building in extra time in the process just so we can see if we can really push to get to great.

But saying is one thing, doing is another. Be consistent at every stage because people follow how you say it as much as what you say. Write an inspiring brief that is open on creativity, and isn’t filled with support points or mandatory requirements. Ask to meet the creative people before the first creative meeting so you can talk about your expectations that you want to create work we all love. At the creative meeting, you need to stay open, positive and push for different because that is usually where greatness lays. Follow your instincts first. Absorb the work in the same way your consumer might. Reach for words that describe your instincts and how you feel about the work. Stay open and inspiring. Do not get into all the details or the changes you want–save those for a post meeting email. Talk only about the work you love–don’t even talk about the ones you don’t like.  You want your positive energy to come through.

It’s one thing to inspire but it’s another thing to actually go for it. I find it strange that Brand Leaders always push for a strategic point of difference no matter how small–but when it comes to execution many of us fear sticking our neck out and looking different.  When it comes down to making the choice, you need to show everyone how serious you are by taking a chance on greatness and not just picking the safe options.  You have to be wiling to fight for it, because you can imagine that there will be push back. This is your opportunity to shine, your opportunity to inspire everyone on your team and your opportunity to push for true greatness for your brand. And you’ll bring back those feelings of excitement that you had the day you decided to get into marketing.

You can only Reject OK, if you are willing to inspire greatness.

To read about how to Create Beloved Brands, read this:



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

Positioning 2016.112

Burger King gives up #2 to Wendy’s…and who really cares?

Posted on Posted in Beloved Brands in the Market

“Nobody goes there anymore.  It’s too crowded.”

Yogi Berra

Actually for Burger King, it’s the opposite–there are no crowds. We have a Burger King and a McDonald’s in my neighborhood that are right beside each other. When my kids were little, we used to take them to Burger King, just because it was nice and quiet.  That’s not the kind of benefit that will make you a lot of money: “Come to Burger King and Avoid the Crazy Crowds”.  

Looking at Burger King’s history, we can see it’s been owned by so many companies from Grand Metropolitan to Pillsbury to Diagio and most recently a couple of Private Equity groups who probably think they can turn it around.  They’ve tried every ad agency from BBDO, JWT, Y&R, McCann Erickson and Crispin Porter.  They’ve tried bigger sizes, Whoppers, chicken fries and even Flame Broiled.  I’ve NEVER seen a live flame in a Burger King but I have seen plenty of microwaves.  The current ad strategy is now “Have It Your Way” which is back to the same tag line it used in 1974…when it was just a mediocre knock-off to McDonald’s.  I guess it’s fitting because it’s still just a mediocre knock-off.

Let’s face it:  People “Love” McDonald’s and only “Like” Burger King. Would you cross the street in the rain to get a Burger King?  Not likely.  Would you defend Burger King in a heated debate about who has the better fries?  No way–Mcdonald’s fries are to die for. There’s no emotion with Burger King.  It’s a functional choice, you consider it and enjoy it.  But you don’t crave it.  It’s not personal. And you’re not outspoken about the brand.  It’s ok.  And yet today marks the day Burger King is no longer the #2 hamburger brand as it has now fallen behind Wendy’s in sales.And I bet that no one really cares.

Calling Wendy’s #2 is really a bit misleading, because really it’s actually now the #4 fast food brand. Subway is now the clear #2 fast food brand and Starbucks is #3. Wendy’s and Burger King are like two cars in the slow lane with growth rates dwarfed by the three leaders ahead of them. In terms of burger excitement, the world is filled with high end local choices and Five Guys has replicated the local choice on a mass scale and is now the Fastest Growing burger joint in North America.

Wendy’s and Burger King appear equally confused.  Wendy’s modest growth has come mainly from innovative and differentiated product, such as the Baconator or the Spicy Chicken or their salad options. All good. But since the death of Dave Thomas in 2002, it has no clue how to communicate what the Wendy’s brand is all about. For the past 10 years, Wendy’s advertising has been confusing, meandering and void of any emotion at all.  They really are just a bunch of product ads, with cool ways of slicing tomatoes and lettuce and lots of people sitting in plastic chairs eating burgers.   Here’s Wendy’s history of campaigns over the past decade!  Can you remember one of them?

  • 2002:  Final Dave Thomas campaign
  • 2003:  Product Related Ads
  • 2004:  “Mr Wendy” character
  • 2005:  Square Burgers vs Round
  • 2006:  It’s always Great, Even Late  (Open Late)
  • 2007:  That’s Right campaign
  • 2008:  It’s waaaay better than fast food. It’s Wendy’s
  • 2009:  You Know When It’s Real
  • 2010:  Hot and Juicy
  • 2011:  “Where’s the Beef?”

Wendy’s is stuck in a world of boredom. As a result:  consumers like the brand, but do not love it.  Wendy’s needs to find a big advertising idea that emotionally connects with consumers and then stand behind that idea for the next 5-10 years.  The challenge I give most brand leaders who are stuck in the world of boredom: “If you don’t love the work you do, then how can you expect your consumer to love your brand”.   


Positioning 2016.111
Powered by Zedity