Everything Starts and Ends with the Consumer in Mind

brand-leader1As Brand Leaders, our days get busy, running from meeting to meeting, trying to deliver our numbers, gain share and hit our forecasts.  We have a few new products that are long over due and now we’re trying to make the most of them.  Finance has found a potential cost savings from the plant but it’s unsure if it will be off-set by a one time surcharge.  We have a presentation at Wal-Mart next week and think we’ll walk away with a new listing.  We have a new claim from the R&D team that we think delivers superiority versus our closest competitor.   And finally, we have the go-ahead to do a new ad, but we think our senior managers will insist that we make the ad to their exact requirements and that it delivers their new vision statement.  This is an average day in marketing. Except, we have not thought once about the consumer.  Maybe that’s the norm when we get so busy or face pressures to make the numbers.  

I always like to ask Brand Leaders:  “Do you represent your brand to your consumer or do you represent your consumer to the brand?”   Yes, I get stunned looks of confusion when I ask that.  But it’s an important question as to your mindset of how you do your job.  My challenge to you is to start thinking like your consumer and be their representative to your brand.  You’ll notice the work gets better, you’ll see clearer paths to growth and you’ll start to create a brand that the consumer loves rather than just likes.  When this happens, sales go up and the P&L spits out higher profitability.  Because the more loved the brand, the more powerful position it occupies and the more profit it can generate from that source of power.    

Take a Walk In The Shoes of Your Consumer   With most of us, when we first fell in love with marketing, there were two key elements that got our juices going:  strategic thinking and consumer behavior.  Marketing brings these two elements together in a very challenging way.  You should be thinking about your consumer every day, all day.  Yes, you need to hit your sales and share goals.   But your consumers are your only source of revenue and you have to know them intimately.  Solving a consumer challenge feels like the biggest Rubik’s Cube we can find.  The reason I mention this is if you want to connect with your team and motivate them, then start talking about the consumer and you’ll see their engagement go up.  This is what they love.  Be curious about your consumer, constantly watching changes in the marketplace.

Live and breathe insights about your consumers.  Insight is not something you just do when you’re spending the hour that you write your creative brief.  You should be gathering insight at every chance you can, and unleashing that knowledge throughout every day.  Insight is not something that your consumers never knew before.  That would be knowledge not insight.  It’s not data or fact about your brand that you want to tell.  That helps, but you have to go a layer deeper to find your insights.   Oddly enough, Insight is something that everyone already knows. Insight comes to life when it’s told in such a captivating way that makes consumers stop and say “hmm, I thought I was the only who felt like that”.  That’s why we laugh when see the way that insight is projected with humor, why we get goose bumps when insight is projected with inspiration and why we cry when the insight comes alive through real-life drama.  

Get in the shoes of those Consumers and you’ll quickly realize that consumers do not care about what you do, until you care about what they want.   Instead of mentioning a feature, force yourself to ask “If I’m the consumer so what do I get” five times to see if you can get to the richness of the functional benefits.   Then look at that functional benefit and ask “so how does that make me feel”.  Stop talking features and start talking benefits–both the rational and emotional.   No one has ever wanted a 1/4 inch drill, they just want a 1/4 inch hole.   

Consumers are busier than ever.  Whether it’s working late, trying to balance everything or doing too much, they have so little time.   People are multi-tasking, texting while driving or on the TV while watching TV—which is up 35% this year.  Traditional ways with a 30 second ad and a billboard aren’t having the same effect in today’s world.  The average consumer is exposed to over 6,000 advertising message per day.  The consumers’ brain sorts through the clutter until finds something that might fill their needs.  Imagine your boring logical message, well thought and all, breaking through to that consumer.  Even with the fast paced life, most consumers are bored with life and just want something to entice them.   The simplest way to challenge boredom is to like everything you do unconditionally, but if this bored consumer meets up with a boring brand, it will be rejected very quickly.  You have to matter to those consumers that really care.  And you have to know what connects with them to get the way to stand out.   

Living in the Consumers Shoes is Contagious.  When you start asking about how the consumer buys, what they are thinking about now or what do we want them to think, you’ll notice others on your team following your cues and start thinking like a consumer.  It will be energizing.  When you ask “will our consumer love this” it sets the bar very high.  Here’s my simple challenge for you:  If you don’t love the work you do, how do you expect the consumer to love your Brand.  The best filter for your work is the consumer.  It’s more important than what Wal-Mart thinks or what your boss likes/doesn’t like.  When looking at new products, the R&D team should be more obsessed with what the consumer wants than what they might be capable of coming up in their lab.  As Steve Jobs famously said “You’ve got to start with the customer experience and work back toward the technology – not the other way around.”

Brand Leaders Play It Far Too Safe to Find True Love.  Brand Leaders choose the safety of logic and facts instead of getting too deep or going all emotional with their consumer.  And, most brands end up liked but never end loved.   My Mom Wanted Me to Be an Actuary.  Apparently, an Actuary has one of the longest life expectancies, can make quite a bit of money and they live the ideal work-life balance.  Sounds like the perfect job, but I just couldn’t do it.   What’s lacking in the life of an actuary is the ability to have fun at work or drive all your passion into your work to create something big.   You can make a real difference.   So if you’re not going to be an Actuary…then stop acting like one when you’re the Brand Leader.  We can’t afford to keep doing just the usual, we can’t get stuck in logic and we can’t just satisfy needs.   We need to push to go beyond greatness at every touch point with our selfish and bored consumers.  We need to cultivate a deep emotional relationship with our consumer and we need to entice craving and desire.  

Everything starts and ends with the consumer in mind.  


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


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.  gr bbi picWe 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.robertson@beloved-brands.com or follow on Twitter @grayrobertson1


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.

31 thoughts on “Everything Starts and Ends with the Consumer in Mind

  1. Great Article!! I am a marketing person myself and find myself more often than not in a Tug -o -War situation over this question. At the end of the day, no matter what it is a compromise as not all people in top management think about long term benefits but are more concerned about a good quarterly report. This is where “Brand from consumer’s perception takes a hit!!!

    • I’ve been in your situation, and when you remind yourself that the only source of revenue is the consumer, you’ll realize that the only way to make each quarter is through them. My challenge to you would be the leader on this one, and start forcing the issue and see if you can actually change the balance.

  2. There is a concept call the “whirlwind” (ie the grind of our day jobs) that certainly challenges this critical notion of consumer advocacy you highlight very well. The great ones have figured out how to keep the ww at bay to keep consumer top of mind! Great insights as always

  3. Pingback: How to write an Effective Creative Brief « Beloved Brands

  4. Pingback: Love = Power = Profit « Beloved Brands

  5. Pingback: Does the Sacred Cash Cow Still Exist? « Beloved Brands

  6. Pingback: Forget the 4 P’s. Build Your Brand through the 5 sources of Connectivity « Beloved Brands

  7. Pingback: LEGO: Best Customer Service Letter Ever « Beloved Brands

  8. Pingback: The Brand that Defies Logic: The Toronto Maple Leafs « Beloved Brands

  9. Pingback: The $1 Billion Brand that Defies Logic: The Toronto Maple Leafs « Beloved Brands

  10. Pingback: A Beloved Brand commands the Power of a Monopoly « Beloved Brands

  11. Pingback: Special K Case Study: Moving From Indifferent to Beloved « Beloved Brands

  12. Pingback: How Beloved Brands Fall From Grace « Beloved Brands

  13. Pingback: How to Determine your Brand’s Health using Brand Funnels « Beloved Brands

  14. Pingback: Why does “My” University Keeps Changing It’s Name? « Beloved Brands

  15. Pingback: 12 Thought Starters Quotes to challenge and inspire Brand Leaders « Beloved Brands

  16. Pingback: 12 Thought Starter Quotes to challenge and inspire Brand Leaders « Beloved Brands

  17. Pingback: What to Do when your Brand is Stuck at “Like It”? « Beloved Brands

  18. Pingback: 10 Annoying Things that give Marketers a Bad Reputation. STOP IT! « Beloved Brands

  19. Pingback: The new Burger War: 5 Guys vs In-N-Out « Beloved Brands

  20. Pingback: How will Brand Leaders Win with Media in the Future? « Beloved Brands

  21. Pingback: Is K-Mart’s “Ship My Pants” a good Ad? « Beloved Brands

  22. Pingback: If you Approve a 6 out of 10, then maybe you are the one to blame. « Beloved Brands

  23. Pingback: Model Behavior for Authentic Customer Relationship | Innovation and Technology Management

  24. Pingback: What’s your view on Tiger Woods as a brand? #1 in golf, #1 in endorsements (again) « Beloved Brands

  25. Pingback: World Vision TV Ads: Do you think these are highly effective or disgusting? « Beloved Brands

  26. Pingback: How to write a “MINI” creative brief? « Beloved Brands

  27. Pingback: How to best Execute your Brand Execution Plan « Beloved Brands

  28. Pingback: How to Revel in the Ambiguity of the Unknown « Beloved Brands

  29. Pingback: How to pick your ideal Growth Strategy for your Brand « Beloved Brands

  30. Pingback: How to uncover and frame amazing Consumer Insights to help your brand « Beloved Brands

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s