Top 5 Things Brand Leaders Should be Worried About

Are You Worried Enough?

Everywhere you look, people are telling you not to worry so much.  There has become such a “Don’t worry, be happy” mentality.  You can buy books on it, go on-line for tips, take a yoga class or attend seminars that are all designed to help you worry less.  Slide1These might be band-aid solutions.  Because if you are no longer worried and you never took any action against those worries, you might sleep better in the short run, but your brand might fall completely apart while you’re sleeping.  So oddly enough, I’m here to ask you:  Are you actually worried enough?   And with that worry, are you taking the right action against the things that matter???

5 things you should be worried about:
  1. The underlying brand health numbers?  Most leaders track sales and share, pushing hard on a quarterly basis.  But, just like a slim person that works out and runs who can have high blood pressure and cholesterol, a brand can have the same internal health issues.  Slide1Brand Funnels can help you analyze where your brand really stands, against awareness, consideration, purchase and loyalty, whether looking at absolute scores, ratios, comparisons with competitors or tracking over time.  The Funnel also helps identify where you are on the Brand Love Curve and can help choose your brand strategy:  Indifferent brands have skinny funnels throughout. You should fuel the  awareness to kick-start the funnel and drive some sales.  At the Like It stage, the Funnel tends to narrows at purchase.  Creating a more emotional connection will keep the consumer engaged right through the funnel to the purchase and make you a little more loved than just liked.  At the Love It stage, you should have robust funnels, but may still see a leak at the loyalty stage.  Closing the leak and building a stronger loyal following will turn your brand into a Beloved Brand.  Beloved Brands have the most ideal funnels, but you should still track and attack any weaknesses you discover before competitors can attack them.  If you know the health of your brand, you’ll sleep better at night.  
  2. How aligned is everyone on your team?   I’m a strategy guy, but even I can tell you that a team moving in one direction against a good strategy is better than a stagnant team still in search of the amazing strategy or moving in two or three distinct directions.  Part of the problem I see with executive teams is the Leader of each functional area comes with their own bias: The finance leader thinks the brand should maintain margins and go for a lower share.  The operations leader wants less skus and a more efficient plant.  The sales leader wants more volume, even if it means cutting the price.  And the marketing leader wants more advertising to drive share.  Each answer has merit, but they are never brought together behind one plan.  Strategy is about making choices.  But even with a choice, unless the teams are aligned, key members will just be anticipating the failure of the choice.  If you have an aligned team, you’ll rest a lot easier on the drive home each night.  
  3. What your competitors are doing?  it’s important that you’re constantly tracking where your competitors are–not under-estimating them or over-reacting to their tactics.  You should understand the competitors actions deeply.  USP 2.0A great practice in a real competitive battle is to do up a full brand plan of how you anticipate they will act. That would include budgets, goals, market research, strategies and tactics.  Once you find your unique selling proposition, you must work hard to maintain ownership over it.  Brands have to be either unique, better or cheaper.  Or else, not around for very long.  In a highly competitive and combative category, use the strategies of Marketing Warfare:  1) Defensive:  Leader of category or sub-category defending their territory by attacking itself or even attacking back at an aggressive competitor.  2) Offensive:  Challenger’s attack on the leader to exploit a weakness or build on your own strength.  3) Flanking:  An attack in an open area where the Leader is not that well established. 4) Guerrilla:  Going into an area where it’s too small for the Leaders to take notice or are unable to attack back.  Constantly analyzing and attacking the competition will keep you one step ahead.  
  4. What your brand will look like 5 years from now?   While you are feeling pressure to make the current quarter, if you keep going quarter-by-quarter, you’ll start to feel like a mouse who is constantly running just to make that next quarter. But every 90 days, you’re missing that long-term vision, purpose and brand values that can help guide your organization in driving the brand’s growth.  Does everyone in your organization know the brand vision?   Does everyone know and live the Brand’s DNA, weaving it into everything that you do.  Once you establish your Brand’s DNA, it should drive every part of your brand organization–brand plan, communications, people, R&D, profitability and sales organization.  Everything should drive the relationship between your brand and consumer.   If you know where your brand’s direction and get everyone moving towards that common direction, trust me, you’ll feel a hell of a lot better as the leader.  Slide1
  5. How good are your people?  A good leader recognizes that they are only as good as their people.  The better your people, the better the work, and that means the better results.  You should evaluate your team against skills, behaviors and experiences.  To drive effective Brand Leaders, a good rule would be 10% of the time should be on training–not just at junior levels but right up to the Brand Leaders.  Many companies are cutting back on training, and you’ll start to see the gaps in your people.  Using the 10% rule would mean up to 20 training days–that would be used against strategic thinking, analytics, planning, leading and managing.  But if you’re only doing 2-3 days of off-site training or the training you’re doing is to meet corporate compliance, then you’ll notice that the performance of your people just won’t be there.  Who will replace the best people on your team?  Who will replace you?  That should concern you.  What’s happening in marketing these days is we hire a bright person and just throw them into the job.  While “learning on the job” is a reality in marketing, there needs to be a balance with coaching and training.  If you’re relying on bosses to do the training, you have to realize that manager never received any training either so how competent are they to teach?  And if you’re worried about investing in training and then the person quits, you might actually realize that maybe if you invested in training you might drive up the retention.  A recent study shows that 52% of employees say they would leave a role because of their direct manager, and two-thirds are convinced their managers don’t know what motivates them to be more productive.  A constant revolving door will not create great work or the results you’re looking for.  To read more on what makes great Brand Leaders, follow the link to the Brand Leadership Learning Center   If you have great people on your team, you’ll get much better results on the business, and you can find that work-life balance you’ve always wanted.  
So the question I have for is “Are You Worried Enough?”   And what are you doing about it?

 

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To read more about how to create a Beloved Brand:

 

Skills to Challenge Your Brand Leaders:  
  1. How to Write a Brand Plan:  The positioning statement helps frame what the brand is all about.  However, the brand plan starts to make choices on how you’re going to make the most of that promise.  Follow this hyperlink to read more on writing a Brand Plan:  How to Write a Brand Plan
  2. How to Write a Creative Brief.  The creative brief really comes out of two sources, the brand positioning statement and the advertising strategy that should come from the brand plan.  To read how to write a Creative Brief, click on this hyperlink:  How to Write a Creative Brief
  3. How to Write a Brand Positioning Statement.  Before you even get into the creative brief, you should be looking at target, benefits and reason to believe.   To read how to write a Brand Positioning Statement, click on this hyperlink:  How to Write an Effective Brand Positioning Statement
  4. Turning Brand Love into Power and Profits:  The positioning statement sets up the promise that kick starts the connection between the brand and consumer.  There are four other factors that connect:  brand strategy, communication, innovation and experience.   The connectivity is a source of power that can be leveraged into deeper profitability.  To read more click on the hyper link:  Love = Power = Profits 

Brand LeadershipI run the Brand Leader Learning Center,  with programs on a variety of topics that are all designed to make better Brand Leaders.  To read more on how the Learning Center can help you as a Brand Leader click here:   Brand Leadership Learning Center

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To reach out directly, email me at graham.robertson@beloved-brands.com

About Graham Robertson: The reason why I started Beloved Brands Inc. is to help brands realize their full potential value by generating more love for the brand.   I only do two things:  1) Make Brands Better or 2) Make Brand Leaders Better.  I have a reputation as someone who can find growth where others can’t, whether that’s on a turnaround, re-positioning, new launch or a sustaining high growth.  And I love to make Brand Leaders better by sharing my knowledge.  Im a marketer at heart, who loves everything about brands.  My background includes 20 years of CPG marketing at companies such as Johnson and Johnson, Pfizer Consumer, General Mills and Coke.  My promise to you is that I will get your brand and your team in a better position for future growth. Add me on LinkedIn at http://www.linkedin.com/in/grahamrobertson1 so we can stay connected

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4 thoughts on “Top 5 Things Brand Leaders Should be Worried About

  1. Succinct 7 delightful as always.

    Under alignment, I’d add “Are you concerned about the same thing your CEO is worried about”. While it’s likely he/she has worries broader than your remit, its always astute to understand what’s giving them ulcers and what you can do to mitigate that.

    This is a delightful reminder sitting on my bookshelf;
    http://www.amazon.ca/What-CEO-Wants-You-Know/dp/0609608398/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1363980103&sr=1-1

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