Microsoft just bought LinkedIn. This is a huge move into the world of social media.

Posted on Posted in Beloved Brands Explained

Microsoft has announced a $26 Billion acquisition of Linked In. This is Microsoft’s first entry into the social media world. (or second if you count MSN). My first reaction was “WOW. Just wow.”  I was expecting something, but didn’t see it coming now, and with Microsoft. But good for them. And this is the first move, not the last move.

linked in.002I normally hate mergers and acquisitions, but this one is pretty interesting. Microsoft is making an obvious play at the business world. While the Nokia experiment failed, I wouldn’t be surprised if they keep pushing into the portable device space. The surface has done fairly well (I’m 100% Apple guy, but I see them around). And now  Microsoft will now be able to package Surface + Office + LinkedIn + Slideshare + Skype.

In an email to staff, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella touted the pairing as a way to improve both companies by integrating LinkedIn’s content and network with Microsoft’s cloud computing and productivity tools. “This combination will make it possible for new experiences such as a LinkedIn newsfeed that serves up articles based on the project you are working on and Office suggesting an expert to connect with via LinkedIn to help with a task you’re trying to complete. As these experiences get more intelligent and delightful, the LinkedIn and Office 365 engagement will grow,”Nadella wrote.

Honestly, I have no idea where the current world of social media settles in, and who owns what. But the world of convergence will happen over the next 5-10 years. From a social media point of view, most of these sites are just about expresses ourselves, just in slightly different ways. If I look at my news feeds on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter or Instagram, they are starting to look similar, some days almost too similar. Not all of them will survive or need to survive. There are already apps that allow one to post on each site. Why not take it a step further and just have one site, with 3 or 4 window. Facebook could easily have a personal window, business window, entertainment window or politics window. I don’t see a need for Twitter, do you?

I could easily see Apple and Facebook getting together.

linked in.001

By the way, shares of LinkedIn surged 48% after the announcement, while Microsoft’s stock was down 4%. Trading in Microsoft had been halted briefly for news pending before the announcement of the all-cash deal. So maybe the market’s first reaction isn’t so strong. I think this is a great fit for Microsoft and the market will settle in.

Your move next Apple.

 

At Beloved Brands, we lead workshops to help teams build their Strategic Thinking, helping Brand Leaders to think differently in terms of competitive strategy, consumer strategy, getting behind your core strengths and being aware of the situational strategy. 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

 

 

Is it time we admit that the Apple BRAND is better than the Apple PRODUCT?

Posted on Posted in Beloved Brands Explained

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Apple is clearly the brand of our generation. In our house, we have an iMac desktop, 2 iPads, 3 iPhones, and two MacBooks.  I love Apple. But this past spring, as my phone contract expired, I started to wonder if I get the iPhone 5S or wait for the iPhone 6.  I was a free agent, and started to look around. I looked at the Android, but like many “Apple fans”, I viewed them as the competition, like a NY Yankee fan might view the Boston Red Sox. The more I dug in, the more I realized the Android phone was quite better than the iPhone: bigger screen, faster processor, better camera.  So I bought a Samsung Galaxy Note 3. Whaaaat? That’s right. A Samsung. I felt like a cult member who snuck out of the compound one night and drooled when I saw the Samsung phone. I could see the Galaxy was light years ahead of my iPhone.  Now that I see the iPhone 6, I’m glad I bought the Samsung instead of waiting.  

Yes, the Apple iPhone 6 news kinda fizzled, but does that matter anymore?

I’m no tech expert, but the iPhone 6 feels a very incremental technology. I’m sure it does a few things I’m not aware of or could appreciate. Financial analysts were so bored by the launch, many downgraded the stock. Yes, the Apple stock price is extremely high, but maybe it’s time for the stock to stop living and dying based on the next great launch.  And maybe, it’s time for us to realize that Apple has shifted from a product driven brand to an idea driven brand.  The real reason people buy Apple is the BIG IDEA that “We make technology so SIMPLE, everyone can be part of the future”. With Apple, it has become less about how we think about the product and more how we feel about the brand. While Samsung has a better product than they do a brand, Apple now has a better brand than they do a product.  Samsung can’t get past talking features instead of benefits, offering almost zero emotional connection beyond the product.  Apple has created such an intensely tight bond with their consumers, they are more powerful than your average monopoly. Apple uses that power with the very consumers who love them, against competitors who try to imitate them and through every type of media or potential key influencer in the market. Below we have mapped out the Brand Strategy Road Map for the the Apple brand.  

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Apple isn’t really a technology leader, and likely never was. Yes, Apple had an amazing decade of new products from 2001-2011 that gave us the iPod, iTunes, Macbook Air, iPhone and iPad, but Apple is 
a quick follower who figure out the mistakes the technology leaders make and then cleans them up for the mass market. Apple exploits the fact that the first to market technologies are so badly launched (mp3 players, on-line music and tablets) the average consumer never really sees them, leaving the perception that Apple is the innovator. Apple’s product strategy is: “We bring technology that is simple and consumer friendly across a broad array of electronics products. Products have simple stylish designs, user-friendly functionality, convenience and speed.”  Apple’s brand story, told through great advertising like “Mac vs PC” is: “Technology shouldn’t be intimidating or frustrating. We make it simple enough so you can be engaged right away, do more and get more, with every Apple product you are use.”   As an example below, the  beautiful ads over the past year are less about the product features and more about how the brand makes you feel.  

The most Beautiful Apple Product Apple is now their P&L statement

Maybe we just need to relax on these Apple launches and admire Apple’s Profit and Loss statements.  Apple is going to sell about 80 million iPhone 6’s and I bet the iPhone 6 will be under many Christmas trees this year. Stores continue to be packed–it’s tough to even get an appointment.  The Apple retail stores have the highest sales per square foot, almost twice the #2 store, which is Tiffany’s selling diamond rings.  

Apple is now a huge mass market corporate brand, with a market capitalization of $600 billion, 3 times the value of companies like Coke, Procter & Gamble, Pfizer and IBM.  Apple has moved from the challenger type brand to the “king of the castle” brand. Back in the 1980s, IBM was the “drive the BMW, wear a blue suit with polished shoes” type brand, while Apple was “comfortable in your VW Bug, tee-shirt and sandals” brand. Apple was the alternative, anti-corporate, artist. But that’s changed. As much as Apple fought off and won against the corporate arrogant brands like IBM, Microsoft and Sony, they’ve now become that very type of corporate brand.

At Beloved Brands, we believe the more loved a brand is by it’s consumers, the more powerful and profitable that brand can be.  The best example of this model is the Apple brand. 

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In researching the Apple brand, and as a true brand geek like me, when I opened up their P&L statement I almost gushed:  I drooled over the compound annual growth rate, stared at the margin % and was in awe of how their fixed marketing spend stayed constant as the sales went through the roof.  It’s the P&L that every Brand Leader wants to leave for the next guy.  

Apple Brand > Apple Product

At Beloved Brands, we run a Brand Leadership Center to train marketers in all aspects of marketing from strategic thinking, analysis, writing brand plans, creative briefs and reports, judging advertising and media. To read more on the programs we offer, click on the Powerpoint presentation below:

We make Brands better. We make Brand Leaders better.™

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

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The day Apple’s Arrogance cost themselves a very loyal customer

Posted on Posted in Beloved Brands in the Market

applelogoI love Apple. I own a MacBook Air, an iMac, iPad mini and an iPhone 4S. My kids both have iPhones and MacBook Pros. But yesterday, I bought a Samsung Galaxy Note 3. Whaaaat?   Yes, that’s right. A Samsung.  

I still feel weird about it.  But I’ll recover. I know this article will bring out the Apple lovers.  Don’t worry, I’m one of you.  But with my new phone, I feel like a cult member who snuck out of the compound one night and drooled when I saw the Samsung phone.  I could see it was light years ahead of my phone. I feel the same way I felt back in 2010 when I escaped my Blackberry cult and bought my iPhone.  

Two hard realities for most people in the Apple army to realize.

  1. Apple is a big mass corporate brand. It’s no longer an artistic challenger brand. That will be some tough medicine for the most loyal of Apple users who first bought into the brand in the 1980s.  
  2. Apple’s post Steve Jobs innovation has been incremental and not leap frog.The reality is that R&D pipelines are long lead cycle times, so this is really still Jobs’ pipeline. But it’s relatively dry compared to the previous decade of riches.  

Apple has changed:  They’ve moved from the challenger brand to the “king of the castle” brand. Apple used to be the alternative, anti-corporate, artistic, “we try harder” type brand. IBM was the BMW, blue suit and polished shoes brand, while Apple was VW Bug, tee shirt and sandals brand. But as much as Apple fought off the arrogant brands like IBM, Microsoft and Sony, they’ve now become that brand.And with that shift, we now see an attitude change–we are seeing a certain Apple arrogance that almost says “come on, where else are you going to go?” That’s human nature to feel that way as most who now work at Apple are now cult members who joined Apple because they loved the brand. But that arrogance has a danger to it of thinking you can do no wrong and feel no real competition. Confidence is healthy, arrogance is not. 

Apple has slowed down:  Sales are still strong but thats as the laggard type mass market now enjoys the lead generation products of a few years ago. Next time you’re in an Apple store, look at the table where they are teaching classes and you’ll see a few Senior Citizens. Sales and margins are seeing record highs the past year, but since the middle of 2012, the stock price has floated up and down around $600. If you held stock for the past 24 months, you’re at a break even position. The high sales are how of how Apple is doing now, but the stock price is an indication the market is still confused by Apple’s future. If the big play for Apple is China, there’s a good likelihood North America won’t see any leap frog advances for a few years.

I write about Brands all the time.  Samsung has a better product than they do a brand. The reality is the Samsung phone is a better product. It is faster, bigger, and has so many more features than the iPhone. 

Yesterday, I went into my Apple store to upgrade my Iphone 4S to a 5S. And I asked the strange question:  “so, I’m a current iPhone user and Apple lover, and wondering what price discount that gets me”. I guess I was using my opening line from when I last bought a car. It seems like buying a car, so why not. Plus my Scottish blood makes me always eager to save a few bucks. The guy in the blue shirt looked at me strangely and said “the price of the new iPhone 5S would be $299 with a two year plan.” So I said, “so there’s no real benefit for me, being an owner of so many Apple products to staying with the Apple brand?” And he got a bit huffy and said “other than owning a beautiful phone…no”. The guy got up and walked away on me, almost mad that I would even ask.  I felt snubbed.  I wasn’t really expecting a big discount or anything. But nothing. Here I am in club. And I would get the same deal as a customer walking in off the street. I’m loyal to Apple, but is Apple loyal back to me?  Nope. 

And I smiled like that cult member who could now see a bit of freedom.

So, I went and bought a Samsung Galaxy Note 3.

The most Beloved Brands have to attack themselves before being attacked by competitors. There’s a reason why Starbucks closed every store for one day to retrain their baristas. They attacked themselves before competitors could.  And there’s a reason why Sony has lost market leadership in every category they play in. Arrogance. I’m afraid Apple’s arrogance has them blindly marching forward, feeling invincible knowing the passion of their cult will follow.  I’m only one customer. No big deal. But once you’re done fulfilling all the orders of the laggards, then what?  The biggest point of being a beloved brand is to love the consumer.  

I guess like many relationships, I hit my breaking point. And the guy in the blue shirt basically said “it’s not you, it’s me”. Now, let me figure out how to send an email on my new phone.  

 

As Oscar Wilde said: “Never love anyone who treats you like you are ordinary”

To go deeper on the Apple, here’s an article  I wrote 18 months ago, outlining how Apple is not delivering on their brand promise:   Apple: What Goes Up, Might Come Down  Not much has changed since.  

 

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.

 

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

Posted on Posted in Beloved Brands in the Market

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Where is Samsung on the Brand Love Curve?

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


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

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

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

Most beloved brands are based on an idea worth loving

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

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

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

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

Samsung could learn from Apple

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

Is Blackberry ripe for a comeback?

Posted on Posted in Beloved Brands in the Market

Blackberry created the entire smart phone category–and yet in the last 24 months, it has drifted into near obscurity. Blackberry’s biggest issue was arrogance as it thought it was invincible to attack. As the brand faced complete collapse, the ousting of its two founders and the dramatic loss in market share, the arrogance is certainly gone. But, Blackberry has also been a victim of thinking about the device first and the consumer second.  

Blackberry also lacked that attention to the detail of the art of the phone that Apple has made us love. Yes, there was a camera, but a bad one. Yes, they had apps, but way fewer and they lacked magic. And yes, they had a browser and links to your favorite social media sites but it was slow, unpredictable and a complete pain in the ass some days. Once we figured out that you had to take the battery out and put it back in again, we started to think of the Blackberry as kind of pathetic. 

The height of Blackberry

If i was writing this in 2008, Blackberry would be one of the most beloved brands in the world. Those of us who were addicted were dubbed “Crackberry Addicts”. Even as the iPhone was just launching, many of us Blackberry fans weren’t quite ready to switch. Yes, the iPhone was great if you were an artist or worked at an Ad Agency, but if you had a corporate job, then Blackberry was the status symbol you wanted.   For many corporations, the Blackberry was a reward of job level or title at work. Getting that Blackberry meant you had made it.  It was totally a self expressive status symbol of the corporate world. And recognizing that status, the Stock Price soared upwards to peak in 2008 at $150. Billionaires were made, articles were being written as though they were….Steve Jobs.
Love Curve Detailed

The Crash

The crash was steady and the crash was fast. Not only were there better phone choices in the market, Blackberry’s arrogance seemed reluctant to do anything about it. They stood still and the product became inferior. The keyboard would stick, the camera was pathetic, the browser would get stuck daily and the speaker phone was weak. While the world was migrating over to the iPhone or the Android, the worst thing was when those same corporate VP’s in your office started showing up with their new iPhone at work.  “What….we can get one of those now?”.  And all of a sudden, the corporate world wanted to switch over.  Blackberry had lost their base user–the corporate guys.

The last straw was the launch of the Blackberry Playbook, a late response to the iPad that it had mocked only 18 months earlier. There were many problems with the Playbook–no point of difference being the biggest. The price point dropped quickly. There were no real Apps. And it seems that it was a quick opportunistic launch by Blackberry. No one wanted it. It was almost dead on arrival. People were willing to grant Blackberry a Mulligan, but when they started to ask “so what’s next?” the answer Blackberry gave was “we’re not quite sure, let us get back to you”.

The stock price went from a high of $150 down below $20.  There were dramatic lay offs and then further dramatic share losses.  They courted potential buyers, such as Samsung, who came in and looked around and said no thanks. The stock price continued to fall as the brand was on life support–all the way down to $6.

One of the quickest falls from Beloved Brand down to Indifferent.  The term “crackberry” is gone from our lingo.   Blackberry went from corporate status symbol to a bit of a loser.  People sheepishly bring out the blackberry in public ready with the excuse of “I’m on a 3 year service plan, and then I’m switching”.

We Love a Comeback Story

Here comes Blackberry 10. The stock price has doubled in the last month. But for Blackberry to make it back to the status of a to Beloved Brand, they need to focus on the Five connectors of a Beloved Brand:  1) Brand Promise 2) Strategy 3) Brand Story 4) Freshness and 5) Experience.  

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When Blackberry first made it big in the 2001-2003 time frame, they put all their efforts behind the Innovation which was closely connected to the Experience. It was a “here’s what we do, we hope you like it” communication.  That’s OK when you are as revolutionary as Blackberry was. Being able to send an email from anyone was such a revolution, that consumers did the rest of the work. We had never seen anything like it, and it changed our lives forever!!!! But once Blackberry faced some competitors, we never saw them effectively tell their brand story and their lack of innovation caused the experience to fall short on the experience. They were basically a ‘one-and-done’ innovation that made it big, but they never really successfully evolved.  

In 2013, the market is crowded with Samsung and Apple battling it out. For Blackberry to break through they need to effectively tell their story to their target market. From the looks of the reviews, they are mixed–which is not a bad position. Many reviewers are locked and loaded on Apple and Android. It will be a battle for Blackberry to win through critics.  

USP 2.0

Brands need to be either different,better or cheaper. Or not around for very long. Does this new Blackberry 10 feel all that different from what you can get with Apple or Samsung?  

I’d love to see Blackberry speak to one audience, and stop talking to the masses. Get back to that corporate VP who once was in love with the Blackberry brand and show them why they should love you again. It’s now time to find a niche you can win over and powerfully defend.   You have to matter to those who care.    

Telling the Blackberry Story

For the come back to work, Blackberry must do what they’ve always been bad at: Telling the brand story.   Culturally, Blackberry has known to not really care about advertising. They brought in a high powered CMO a few years ago. He walked out the door after 9 months because no one wanted to listen to him.  

So let’s look at what we are seeing so far. Let me be critical of what we’re seeing so far because so far it’s not very good.  

Whoever made this launch video isn’t getting it. It’s two boring guys who look like they should be in suits that have decided to leave the suit off so they can look cool and casual.  I’m not a wardrobe consultant, but heck why not put on a $2000 suit and look like a damn boss. Let Apple own the casual. Secondly, the demo is bad.  The whole communication is about how easy the “flow” of movements are, except in the on-stage demo, it’s not working. That can’t happen. It sends the signal of one of Blackberry’s weakness–lack of attention to detail. While Apple might screw up the maps or other things, they would never mess up an on-stage demo.  

 

This cute little launch video is awful. It might have worked in 2005 when Blackberry had a monopoly. But it does nothing to separate the Blackberry brand from the crowded market. The lack of voice-over type ad only works for iconic brands that need very little to say. But for a small brand going after a niche, it needs to separate itself with a balance of logic and emotion.  

 

I’m a former Blackberry lover who wants to love Blackberry again. I hope that Blackberry can find a way to make the most of the Blackberry 10 and even if they make a mini-comeback, it would be good for the market. But, as a consumer, I’m not seeing enough for me to trade in my iPhone.  

What’s Your Vote?  Will Blackberry have a successful comeback?  

 

To read other stories on Brand Leadership, click on any of the topics below:

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Apple: What goes up, might come down

Posted on Posted in Beloved Brands in the Market

 

The Apple brand of today is still healthy, the stores are still packed and sales are still strong. But the fear is that if Apple’s innovation over the next 18 months looks like Apple’s innovation of the past 18 months, then the Apple brand may be at its peak, no longer on the climb.   

My hope is that Apple finds their way and regains the momentum of the brand that has surprised and delighted us like no other brand. But my fear is they become another Sony that rests on their laurels and coasts for the next decade. I’m a big Apple fan, typing away on my MacBook Air with my iPad mini and iPhone close by and my iMac sitting on my desk. But it sure does feel like Sony of the early 1990’s. There’s talk of geographic expansion into China, but that might take their eyes off the real need: we need to see real innovation. Enough of the incremental BS. What do you have that will surprise me beyond my wildest dreams?

Five Connectors of a Beloved Brand

To be a Beloved Brand, you must have an idea that’s worth loving.  Under the Brand Idea are 5 sources of connectivity (see diagram below) that help connect the brand with consumers and drive Brand Love, including

  1. Brand promise
  2. Strategic choices
  3. Ability to tell their story
  4. Freshness of the product or service
  5. Overall experience and impressions it leaves with you.  

Everyone wants to debate what makes a great brand–whether it’s the product, the advertising or the experience.   It is not just one or the other, but the collective connection of all five that make a brand beloved.  If one of them weakens against the brand promise, it puts the entire brand at risk.

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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.  

Problem #1:  Has Apple Broken their Promise? 

Over the last decade, 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. Apple takes the technology out of technology so we can all benefit. That’s right–“so we can all benefit”.  Apple is now a brand owned by the Masses. Yes, the masses rely on the innovators for advice, but Apple caters as much to my 70-something mother (iPad owner) as it does to my 14-year old daughter (iPhone user).  

There are 4 instances in the past 18 months where Apple has gotten off track:  

  1. Apple Maps were a disaster in more ways than one. The first week of iPhone 5 owners was largely filled with the most loyal Apple users, the innovators who will influence the rest of us. And the maps disaster was the first major flaw of the post-jobs era that people were waiting for.   
  2. Siri remains a disaster. Siri does not deliver the promise as it adds frustration, not solves it. Siri is a nice little toy that combined with Apple’s auto-correct takes my enunciation and turns into words I’ve never dreamed of saying. I end up having to re-type the mistakes of Siri, which defeats the whole purpose behind voice recognition.  If these were brakes on a car, it would be re-called for the safety of society. It’s unlike Apple to release such a bad product.   
  3. Retina Display is not a mass play. The launch of iPad 3 feels odd. They kept the iPad 2 out in the market and didn’t even put the #3 on the iPad 3. It feels like something the niche Apple brand would have done, but now that you are a mass brand, you must cater to your consumer.  
  4. Apple TV has done nothing really. While a few friends have it, I hear no one talking about it. A quiet Fizzle.  

USP 2.0

Strategically, these 4 innovations were some of the big plays by Apple in the past 18 months. And where do they fall on the test of uniqueness? The Maps puts you in the losing zone where you are competing with Google Maps in the zone where they kick your ass.  Retina Display ends up being a niche play for photographers or fussy consumers, but for the rest of us it is in the “who cares”, certainly not worth an extra $150 compared to the iPad 2. And Siri is not on the map, because it’s just an under-delivery that while it’s an innovation that leads the consumer, it only ends up frustrating them even more.   

Problem #2: Is Apple still making a dent in the universe?

What caused Apple to rise so fast during the first decade of the century was innovation–the iPod followed by iTunes, the iMac vs the PC, the iPhone and then the iPad revolutionized the way we interact socially. In many cases, Apps have replaced software.   Wow, Wow and Wow!!!

Slide1

But, the last 15 months has been a period of incrementalism.  In 2012, we saw iPad 3, iPhone 5 and iPad Mini and the fear among investors is that 2013 might be iPad 4, iPhone 6 and iPad Mini 2. Slightly better, slightly lighter, but just as expensive. There becomes less and less of a reason to trade up. And sadly, at risk, less and less of a reason to love the brand. Technology is about leap-frog. And the world will not stand still in the next year. Brands like Google and Samsung are ready to leap.  

Steve Jobs always talked about “Making a dent in the Universe” and people bought in and followed. Apple’s beauty has always been to give us what we never imagined.  And yet, now we are starting to not only imagine it, but predict it.  Everyone saw the iPad Mini coming. In fact, we asked for it and Apple merely succumbed to our request. Technology is supposed to surprise us with advances that not only meet our needs but cater to the needs we didn’t even know we had. Apple has to get that back.  

Is Apple still making a dent in the Universe?  

Problem #3: Apple must quiet the “Anti” Apple Segment

Haters are always going to hate. In the technology space, the innovators and early adopters are those who tell the rest of us what to think and do. These consumers are constantly looking for the “technology fraud” and it feels as though some are starting to call Apple on it. The Samsung advertising has capitalized on this insight, openly mocking the iPhone5 launch. The only way Apple can shut this down is with action on the technology front. If Apple’s next product is the iPad Mini with Retina display or  the iPad4 comes with a better battery life than this group will become even more outspoken.

There are so many parodies of Apple being shared by millions that not only mock the technique of the advertising but the incrementalism of their technology.  This only fuels the haters.  

Problem #4: Leadership Style

When Tim Cook took on the Apple brand, people worried but became re-assured that he had been running the Apple brand for a while. The brand was on a high after an amazing decade under Steve Jobs, and as a leader he faced a “sustaining success” leadership challenge. Keep the momentum going. Can anyone re-live that visionary relentless pursuit of perfection that Jobs brought to the role.  

Now it appears that Cook faces a “re-alignment” challenge. Cook needs to re-invigorate the R&D at Apple to push for innovation that goes beyond expectations. Making a dent in the universe means pushing for greatness, not settling for OK incremental-ism. Cook has quickly fired all those connected to the Maps fiasco. But, he has to look at himself in the mirror for wondering how it got out past him. The pressure is definitely on. The questions of 18 months ago are back:  

Can Tim Cook do it?   
The World and the stock market are watching Apple.

To read How to Create and Run a Beloved Brand, read the following presentation:


Positioning 2016.112

New TV ad from Samsung: Is it “smart” to take on Apple?

Posted on Posted in Beloved Brands in the Market

As the two brands battle in the tablet and smart phone market, the most recent TV ads by Samsung have them mocking Apple consumers. They are pretty funny ads, a good parody of the most loyal of loyal Apple consumers.  

I love them. But are they a smart strategy?  

As an Apple fan, they even make me laugh at myself, a little bit how I laugh at myself for not buying the Apple stock at $150….$250….$400 or even $550 earlier this year. While Apple might have had a sloppy news week (apology over the new map or some bitterness over the new iPhone 5’s new charger) the brand still has tremendous momentum as they continue to broaden their audience. In fact, iPhone 5 has outsold iPhone 4 by 1 million units in the first weekend.  

These Samsung ads probably will sell a few more Galaxy phones, but it won’t do the two main things that it’s intended to do: 1) It won’t change how people feel about the Apple brand and 2) It won’t really change how people feel about the Samsung brand.

Samsung is not a brand driven company–but rather a product driven. Even with all the sales, my Brand Love Index research shows that 48% of consumers are mainly Indifferent about Samsung brand–while some “Like It”. This contrasts to the frenzy that consumers have with 71% seeing Apple as a beloved brand and no one is Indifferent to the brand. Even the Sony brand still surprisingly outperforms Samsung, even though they’ve really been struggling to keep pace on anything electronics–TVs, phones, computers.

In general, successful brands are usually either better, different or cheaper. The Samsung brand has found strength in being “cheaper”. Samsung is the type of brand that you might switch to at the store level when you find out that you can get more features for 100 bucks less.   But then you don’t really brag about it to your friends.  

With this summer’s past lawsuit the judge summed up the Samsung brand when he dismissed one of Apple’s lawsuits.  Judge Colin Birss declared:

So while these are good and funny ads, the research would suggest that Samsung has the brand clout with consumers to really carry out such an attack against the beloved Apple brand.  People likely laugh at the ads as they might a Saturday Night Live skit, but then wonder half an hour later what brand that was.  And if someone reminded them it was Samsung, you’d likely say “oh ya, Samsung” and then totally dismissed it.

If I were Samsung, I’d keep spending my marketing dollars at the store level trying to switch Apple users in the store or in the search and on-line space where I could highlight the product feature superiority.  As an offensive attack on Apple, Samsung is playing right into Apple’s strength of connectivity. Yes, Samsung do a good job of  using the features of the Galaxy to demonstrate how great their phone is. But the mocking of the Apple fans is the wrong way to go. For a beloved brand like Apple, the consumer loyalty is far past logic.   These Apple consumers have replaced thinking with feeling, so this message will be totally lost on them.   Instead, the Apple fans are still chuckling over the Judge’s ruling that called Samsung “not cool”.

People who aren’t fans of Apple point to the product. (logic only)

But fans of Apple point to the brand.  (pure emotion)

Attacking Apple by making fun of the loyal users…funny ads…but, not so smart.

To see a training presentation on getting better Advertising: 

 

 

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. 

Positioning 2016.112

Apple is Facing Major Declines…

Posted on Posted in Beloved Brands in the Market

Those are fighting words for most Mac, Iphone or Ipad users. If you are in the Apple tribe, that headline probably gets your blood boiling, ready to call me an idiot and tear into this blog. But, I don’t really mean it. I hope that you’re totally upset, so I can prove a point, as to how loyal Apple users are. So relax and enjoy the article. It’s all about how great Apple is. In fact, I’m typing on my Mac as I speak, with my Ipad charging away about a foot away. I could not live without my Ipad–stylus and all.

A few weeks ago, someone asked for a good marketing book to read. I said “Have you read the Steve Jobs biography, because that would be a great starting point.”  I do believe that aside from his craziness, Steve Jobs is the best marketer of our generation. Everything he did was about the consumer, not just in taking their feedback but in guessing what they might want next. He was committed to the art of marketing, from the design in the product and software right down to some of the best advertising of our generation whether it’s “1984” or “I’m a Mac”.  He was obsessive in his commitment. He had to love the work or he’d reject it.  His bar was exceptionally high.

For Apple to this point, it has all been about Steve Jobs and thinking differently.  With his own voice, here is what makes Apple great.

 

Brands travel along the Love Curve, going from Indifferent to Like It, to Love It and finally become a Brand For Life.  When you achieve the ultimate status as a Beloved Brand, demand becomes desire, needs become craving and thinking is replaced by feelings. And, Apple is the most loved of all Brands. When you love a brand like Apple, you are loyal, unrelenting and outspoken. Try saying something negative about Mac to someone in the tribe and watch out. That’s like knocking their favourite sports team. To Apple users, it’s very personal: you are possessive of your Apple brands you own. It’s extremely emotional for you, certainly not rational.

Nothing comes close to what Apple has done over the past 10 years, whether it’s in desktop computers, laptops, mp3 players, smart phones, tablets and even the retail space. Three times this year, I’ve walked past an Apple store before the mall opens, and there are usually 10-15 people waiting for the doors to open up. I’m sure every retailer would love that.

Samsung and Microsoft are strong brands, but stuck at the Like It stage.  While consumers gladly buy their products, no one is going to stand up and defend them. People are indifferent about Brands like Dell and HP who have commoditized laptops, charging a slight premium, but barely.  Even Sony has fallen from grace, recently announcing billions in losses.  If you are born before 1975, and rarely buy electronics, you still think “wow, that’s a great price on a Sony”.   But that group gets smaller every year.  The HTC brand only wins from carrying Android, but no one really cares they have an HTC phone.

Apple has an amazing brand following.  It’s like a tribe of loyalists ready to speak out and defend the brand.   How have they done this?

1.  Products that the consumer doesn’t even know they want yet:  While in the technology field, Apple has never done the better mousetrap. Apple is all about the consumer. Apple has an invention mindset.  It’s more than just making money. They want to make a dent in the universe.  It’s about thinking different and delivering something the consumer could never have imagined. Apple carefully considers what consumers are looking for. They are completely meticulous in the planning and design stage. They keep things plain, simple and so easy-to-use products not only to make the consumers happy, but also make them want to buy more products in the future. Apple is an idea connected to simplicity, not just a series of products.

“You’ve got to start with the consumer experience & work backwards to the technology.  You can’t start with the technology & try to figure out where you’re going to sell it”

Steve p. Jobs

2.  Are You a Mac?: Let’s face it, Apple is a cool, hip brand. It pushes a strong identification with everything young, up-to-the-minute and smart. The “I’m a Mac Campaign” was brilliant in not only defining the Mac brand as smooth, confident and cool, but defining the PC brand as old, uptight and awkward. At the height of this campaign I was in a crowded bar that went immediately silent when one of the “I’m a Mac” TV ads came on. Also, many of the Apple products have separated themselves from the competitor, whether it’s the white headphones on the iPod, the number of apps for Iphone and Ipad or the cool sleek designs of the Mac.  Not only that, the Apple store is a store just for Apple users.  My mom, who is 77 and a recent ipad user has been to the Apple Store numerous times, taking some of the courses or just asking for help.

For fans of the “I’m a Mac” campaign, here are 15 ads.

3.  An Obsessive Commitment to the Consumer and the Apple Brand.  Stemming from Steve Jobs, the entire company is committed to simplicity in design and functionality. Whether it’s the rounded edges, colour choices for product or the Glass on the Apple stores, there is a certain obsessive behavior. Sometimes you wonder if it’s worth it, but would Apple be Apple if it wasn’t for these obsessions?

Apple leverages this obsession to create consumer loyalty. Looking at the phone industry loyalty data, Apple has by far the highest loyalty of any brand:  over 90% of their consumers love the Iphone. Brands like HTC, Blackberry and Sony have scores in mid 60s while Samsung has only 57% prefer the Samsung. Creating the tribe is great, but Apple delivers satisfaction to their consumers.

To be a Beloved Brand, you must love the work you do. If you don’t love the work you do, how do you expect your consumer to fall in love with your brand?   Brands that are stuck at the like stage settle for ok. Beloved Brands like Apple start at great and still push to make it even better. They are never satisfied.

The more loved the brand, the more valuable the brand. The tight emotional connection with the consumer becomes a source of power it can leverage whether that’s with consumers themselves to pay more, stay loyal or buy more products.   Plus, that power can be leveraged with retail partners, suppliers or competitors.  

In 1976, early in the life of Apple, Ronald Wayne decided to cash in his 10% of Apple for around $800. If he held onto it, that 10% would be worth $56 Billion. Mind you, we have all missed out on quite a few investment windows over the years. If you had put $100K into Apple in 2003, you would have around $10 Million!!! You wouldn’t be complaining about the economy, wondering who to vote for in the fall. But unfortunately, I didn’t know Apple would do so well.  Has the Apple brand peaked? Hardly: Apple has gained 81% in market cap the past 12 months. I missed that window as well.   

My hope is that momentum can continue. Not because I have invested money, but because I’m emotionally invested. I crave what’s next, even though I can’t even imagine where they will go.

Positioning 2016.111
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