Special K’s “own it” campaign takes brand into Beloved brand status

Posted on Posted in How to Guide for Marketers

Let’s look at how Special K moved from an indifferent brand to a beloved brand, by empowering women.

Indifferent: Special K was stuck in a rut back in the 80s and 90s

I worked in the cereal business back at General Mills in the 1990’s and we never thought anything about Special K. It just sat there with a very small and dying share. Special K was just the one flavor of cereal.

  • Zero innovation. 
  • Just Rice Krispies crushed differently.
  • No big idea.
  • Weight loss feature. 

But the ads were focused on 110 calories and a de-motivating “pinch an inch”. Basically just a problem and a feature. Not a solution or benefit. 

Here’s a Special K ad from the 1980s and you’ll see why competitors were not very worried.

As you can see, it was  all about the brand: feature, feature, feature. So many messages jammed into one ad. This is a classic example why no one cares what you do until you care what they want. No one at Special K put themselves in the shoes of the consumer. They failed to ask “so what do I get?” or “how does this make me feel?”

It was not very empowering for women. 

In the consumer’s mind, brands sit on a Brand Love Curve. They move 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 and Consumers become outspoken fans.

Slide1

In the 1990s, Special K was clearly an Indifferent brand. There was very little consumer opinion about the brand. Those who did buy Special K weren’t exactly the most ardent fans of the brand. Not only was the original flavor fairly bland, everything about the brand was bland. Special K needed to stand for something. It needed an idea. 

The most beloved brands build everything around a Big Idea

With such a cluttered market, consumers need everything simplified, just to engage. Consumers connect with a brand’s BIG IDEA simplifies the message. It makes it easy to explain. It transforms the brand’s SOUL into a brand REPUTATION that you can build behind. 

In too many situations I see, the story meanders and changes as it gets bigger. To ensure delivery of the brand’s Soul, line up all 5 brand magic moments underneath your Big Idea. This includes the brand promise, story, innovation, purchase moment and experience.

big idea map new 2015.001

What you want to do is create a simple brand promise that separates your brand from competitors, based on being better, different or cheaper. 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. Make sure you have a fundamentally sound product, using innovation to stay at the forefront of trends and using technology to deliver on your brand promise. The purchase moment of truth as consumers move through the purchase cycle and use channels, messaging, processes to make the final decision. Turn the usage of your product into an experience that becomes a ritual and favorite part of their day.

A loved brand: The re-birth of Special K

Before we get to the “own it” idea, I need to acknowledge the last 15 years of great work on Special K. It has helped set up the ability to even contemplate something as big as “own it”.

Around 2000, Special K made a dramatic turn in the market. With all the diet-crazed consumers looking for new solutions, Special K had a stroke of brilliance when someone figured out that if you ate Special K twice a day for just two weeks, you could lose up to 6 pounds in 2 weeks. While all the other diet options felt daunting, this felt pretty easy to do.

The big idea for Special K was “Empowering Women to take control of their weight”. 

While Special K had spent decades dancing around the weight loss idea, now they had a Brand Promise that was benefit focused and empowering:  With Special K, just twice a day for 2 weeks, you can lose 6 pounds or better yet, drop a jean size. They stopped talking about the product and starting talking in the voice of the consumer. 

The brilliant strategy is around the usage occasion of the second meal each day. Cereal had been a category that grew +3% for years, steady only with population growth and some demographics around boomers and echo generations. But now, there was finally a reason to eat cereal twice in one day. The communication of the Brand Story become about empowering women to take control using the Two Week Challenge. With a Brand Idea bigger than just a cereal, Special K’s innovation rivaled that of Apple. It started with the launch of Berry Special K that thrust the brand into a good tasting cereal, and has since added bars, shakes and water.

Most recently, they’ve now launched potato chips (only 80 calories for 20 chips) and a Breakfast Sandwich option.  it just goes to show you that it’s not about ‘out of the box’ ideas, but rather how you define the box.  All these product launches are aligned to the idea of empowering women to maintain their weight. The diversified line up beyond cereal helps off-set any sales softness on cereal. And rounding out the Brand Experience is to take the challenge on-line, gives women a community of encouragement to help achieve their personal weight loss goals. Special K has also launched App for smart phones to help monitor weight goals.

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A beloved brand: Evolving the Special K brand around a Big idea

Special K has continue to build their Big Idea to where it’s about “inspiring and empowering women to take control and main their healthy body”. For the last 15 years, it’s been all about empowering and control, but the latest work also inspires and challenges women to maintain their healthy body, no matter the “so-called” flaw.

special k idea map.001

The new “own it” idea shifts the brand story from “losing weight” to loving the body you have and making the most of it. We all have flaws, but this beautiful work gets on the side of consumers. It has a bit of Dove and “love who you are” messaging. It’s mixed with a bit Nike and “no excuses” that challenges the consumer to take charge. I love it. 

https://youtu.be/aAVFCH9x7Og

In the words of Special K: “97% of women have an ‘I hate my body’ moment. Every. Single. Day. We believe that 100% of women have the power to change something more important than the size of their butts. We can change our perspective.”

Special K have done some great print ads in support of the campaign. These bring to life the reality of your body. The y offer the challenge of what you’re willing to do about it.

Slide1

Some great lessons for other brands.

  • Patiently build your brand. It would have been impossible to move from the 1990s “reduced calorie” brand to the “own it” brand. The middle 15 years transformed the Special K brand to where they could command the power to do this type of work.
  • Be very focused. Speak to a specific target (women 25-45). Speak in their voice will make you a more powerfully connected brand.
  • Be consumer obsessed.  Everything starts and ends with the consumer in mind. Consumers don’t care what you do until you care what they want.  Be benefit focused.
  • Build around a brand idea. It is not out of the box thinking, it’s just re-defining the box to be a bigger idea.

 I hope “own it” inspires and challenges you to find the path to making your brand more loved

Below is a presentation of a workshop that we run on “Creating a beloved brand”:

 

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

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

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

Beloved Brands book

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

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

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

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Graham Robertson signature

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Case Study: How Special K moved from indifferent to beloved

Posted on Posted in How to Guide for Marketers

Special KCereal is one of those categories filled with a touch of magic, many of the beloved brands coming out of the “Mad Men” days of TV advertising. Brands like Corn Flakes, Cheerios, Rick Krispies and Froot Loops all have a certain wholesome charm. But while those brands have ‘historical equity’ it’s not really an equity that can drive sales. I’d say these brands are in a bit of a time warp, a throwback to simpler times when Cartoons were only on Saturday mornings.

Special K was an indifferent brand

I worked in the cereal business back in the 1990’s and we never thought anything about Special K. It just sat there with a very small and dying share. Basically, it was just the one flavor of cereal. Zero innovation. Just Rice Krispies crushed differently. Trust me, I was on the General Mills side and no competitors were worried about Special K.

The brand idea for Special K has been connected with weight loss since the mid 80s. The ads were focused on 110 calories–which is just a feature, not a benefit for the consumer. And honestly, if you look at most cereals, they’ll say 120-140 calories on the box.

This is a classic example that no one cares what you do until you care what they want. No one at Special K was putting themselves in the shoes of the consumer and asking “so what do I get?” or “how does this make me feel?” It was implied, but it was buried in the woman looking at herself in the mirror.

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.

Brand Love Curve

 

Special K was clearly an Indifferent Brand. There was very little consumer opinion, and for those who did buy Special K, they weren’t exactly the most ardent fans of the brand. Not only was the original flavor fairly bland, but everything about the brand was bland. Special K needed to stand for something. It needed an idea. They were dancing around the idea of weight loss but not really bringing the benefit to life.

Brand Love Curve

Beloved Brands start with an idea

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 1) the brand promise 2) the strategic choices you make 3) the brand’s ability to tell their story 4) the freshness of the product or service and 5) 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.

Strategic Thinking Big Idea

The re-birth of Special K

Around 2000, Special K made a dramatic turn in the market. With all the diet-crazed consumers looking for new solutions, Special K had a stroke of brilliance when someone figured out that if you ate Special K twice a day for just two weeks, you could lose up to 6 pounds in 2 weeks. While all the other diet options felt daunting, this felt pretty easy to do.

Strategic Thinking Big Idea

While Special K had spent decades dancing around the weight loss idea, now they had a Brand Promise that was benefit focused and empowering: With Special K, just twice a day for 2 weeks, you can lose 6 pounds or better yet, drop a jean size. They stopped talking about the product and starting talking in the voice of the consumer.

The brilliant strategy is around the usage occasion of the second meal each day. Cereal had been a category that grew +3% for years, steady only with population growth and some demographics around boomers and echo generations. But now, there was finally a reason to eat cereal twice in one day.

Empowering Communication

The communication of the Brand Story become about empowering women to take control using the Two Week Challenge. Here’s a very empowering ad around the “Drop a Jean Size” idea.

With a Brand Idea bigger than just a cereal, Special K’s innovation rivalled that of Apple. It started with the launch of Berry Special K that thrust the brand into a good tasting cereal, and has since added bars, shakes and water. Most recently, they’ve now launched potato chips (only 80 calories for 20 chips) and a Breakfast Sandwich option. it just goes to show you that it’s not about ‘out of the box’ ideas, but rather how you define the box. All these product launches are aligned to the idea of empowering women to maintain their weight. The diversified line up beyond cereal helps off-set any sales softness on cereal. This year, they’ve just announced they are re-looking Special K’s original recipe to keep the cereal share strong.

 

Special-K-Products

And rounding out the Brand Experience is to take the challenge on-line, gives women a community of encouragement to help achieve their personal weight loss goals. Special K has also launched App for smart phones to help monitor weight goals. Special K has also tapped into time of year occasions around New Years and spring to re-enforce the brand messages.

Some great lessons for other brands.

  • Speaking to a specific target (women 25-45) and in their voice makes you a more powerfully connected brand.
  • Everything starts and ends with the consumer in mind: Consumers don’t care what you do until you care what they want.  Be benefit focused.
  • Build around a brand idea: It’s not out of the box thinking, it’s just re-defining the box to be a bigger idea.

Take your own brand challenge and add some love to your brand

 

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

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

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

Beloved Brands book

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

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

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

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Signature

Graham Robertson

Founder and CMO, Beloved Brands Inc.

 

Write a better Positioning Statement by going to war with your consumer’s enemy

Posted on Posted in How to Guide for Marketers

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

It is the idea that connects the Brand with consumers. Consumers connect to ideas more than just facts about your product. 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.

The best Brand Ideas start with the conquering of the Enemy of your Consumers

As people start writing positioning statements, they normally start off with some feature oriented things they do better than others. And it normally just sounds like a category feature that everyone basically does.  It’s like saying a car drives. You end up with boring, undifferentiated, features that you’ve said for years.  Consumers don’t care about what you do until you begin caring about consumers need.  

And when Brand Leaders feel stuck I like to ask them: “who is your consumer’s enemy?”  Once you answer that, you’ll see the ideas get richer. Use the attack of the enemy to generate a bigger idea which then acts as a focal point to set up your brand promise. You will start to notice that the answers get better because you are connecting with your consumer because it helps solve something in their lives.  You are now in the consumers shoes. 

Here’s a few examples of how it might work:

  • Apple: The enemy of most people who have ever turned on a computer is Frustration. Nothing ever seems to work and we end up overwhelmed and feeling incompetent. Along comes Apple who attacks Frustration by making everything so simple. Everything Apple does is about simplicity, not about technology. Apple makes me feel smarter. Apple makes it easy for anyone to download songs, edit photos or even just start using their computer on day 1, right out of the box. Taking that one step further, Apple’s brand promise is “we make it easier to love technology, so that you can experience the future.”  
  • Starbucks: Back in the 70’s, people loved taking a moment early in the morning to sit with their coffee and morning newspaper.  Folgers made millions on the tagline “The Best Part of Waking Up is Folger’s in Your Cup”. Fast forward one generation and the new enemy is the insane hectic lives that we all live. We rush to get the kids off to school, rush to work, rush to grab a sandwich and work through lunch so we rush to every kid event that night and then slither into bed at 11:15 pm. Starbucks attacks that hectic life with and the big idea becomes a bit of “me time”. Starbucks has created a bit of an escape with a euro-flare, people who know your name, a drink customized to your own desires, a few indulgent treats and a nice leather chair to sit with your best friend.  The Starbucks brand promise is “we give you a moment in your day where you can just escape and spoil yourself” 
  • Special K: For all of us who have gained a few pounds over the years, we keep going on diets and failing over again. It’s just too difficult for us to make such a life style change. Diets are just too hard. And we are left wearing our “fat pants”. The enemy is not being able to squeeze into your favorite pair of jeans anymore. Special K came along and created the 2-week challenge to attack the enemy,  offering the easiest diet that anyone can do. Just replace two meals a day with Special K and you’ll be able to lose weight. It’s that easy. The brand promise is “With the Special K Challenge, it’s a diet so easy that anyone can drop a Jean size in two weeks.” 
So who is your Consumer’s Enemy? And how do you turn the attack on that enemy into a Brand Idea?  

Here’s a presentation on what makes a Beloved Brand:

 

To read and Article on How Brand Love creates Brand Power, follow this link: Brand Love

 

Positioning 2016.112