How to write a winning Brand Concept statement

Too many marketers try to jam everything into the concept, trying to “pass the test” but then after they get a winning score, they realize that they can’t execute the concept that just won. 

The homework of the Positioning Statement

Most of the meat of a good concept comes from the work you do with a positioning statement.  Make sure you go deep to understand who you are selling to and what you are selling.  Brand Positioning Statements provide the most useful function of taking everything you know about your brand, everything that could be said about the consumer and making choices to pick one target that you’ll serve and one brand promise you will stand behind.   A best in class positioning statement has four key elements: 

      • Target Market (a)
      • Definition of the market you play in (b) 
      • Brand Promise (emotional or rational benefit) (c)
      • The Reason to Believe (RTB) the brand promise (d)

The classic way to write a Brand Positioning Statement is to take the elements above and frame them into the following:  For the target market (a) Brand X plays in the market (b) and it gives the main benefit (c). That’s because of the following reasons to believe (d).  

The ideal positioning has a tightly defined target based on demographics and psychographics as well as moments in life they may be going through relative to your brand.  There should be a brand promise that has a balance of emotional and rational benefits and then supporting reasons to believe (RTBs) that back up the main promise.  Don’t just throw out random claims you have but make sure the RTB’s fill in any gaps in the promise.  

Great Concept statements connect quickly,  based a real Consumer Insight

While a concept doesn’t directly call out the target, the best way to connect quickly with the target is to lead off with a really impactful insight or problem they might be facing, that lets them know you get them.  I always end up with debate over people of what an insight is.  Too many people think data, trends and facts are insights.  Facts are merely on the surface—so they miss out on the depth–you need to bring those facts to life by going below the surface and transforming the facts into insights.  To demonstrate knowledge of that target, defining consumer insights help to crystallize and bring to life the consumer you are targeting. The dictionary definition of the word Insight is “seeing below the surface”.   When insight is done right, it is what first connects us to the brand, because we see ourselves in the story.  Insight is not something that consumers didn’t know before.  It’s not data or fact about your brand that you want to tell.   That would be knowledge not insight.   Insight is something that everyone already knows and 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 we see insight 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.  

Added to the insight, a concept can really come to life when you lead off with the consumer’s enemy.  Beloved Brands help consumers counter a problem in their life.  Who is the Enemy of your consumer?  Picking the enemy gives your brand focus and another way of bringing insight into your brand positioning.

Focus on a big idea in the Brand Promise 

The next decision is the main benefit you want to focus on.  Doing a Customer Value Proposition (CVP) helps to organize your thinking as a great tool for bringing the benefits to life.  

Slide1

Some CVPs can end up very cluttered, but the more focused you can make it the easier it will be for you to choose which one you will stand behind, and which one benefit you’ll communicate.  That’s right: JUST ONE BENEFIT! 

Agencies use so many tricks to get it down to the ONE THING.  Examples of this could be a postcard or a bumper sticker, or silly questions like “what would you say to get someone to marry you” or say in an elevator.  My favourite is to get people to stand up on a chair and “SHOUT FROM THE MOUNTAIN” what your benefit is.  It forces you to want to scream just ONE THING about your brand—keep it simple.  You can’t scream a long sentence.  

People tend to get stuck when trying to figure out the emotional benefits.  I swear every brand out there thinks it is trusted, reliable and yet likeable.  It seems that not only do consumers have a hard time expressing their emotions about a brand, but so do Brand Managers.   Companies like Hotspex have mapped out all the emotional zones for consumers.   I’m not a researcher, but if you’re interested in this methodology contact Hotspex at http://www.hotspex.biz  Leverage this type of research and build your story around the emotions that best fit your consumer needs.  Leveraging Hotspex, I’ve mapped out 8 zones in a simplistic way below:

 This is what it looks like when you put them into this format:   

Slide1

For more information on Brand Positioning statements, follow this step by step process in this link:  How to Write a Brand Positioning Statement

Turning the Positioning Statement into a Concept

Too many brand leaders write elaborate concepts that include everything.  In reality, you won’t be able to execute everything.   There’s no value in getting a concept to pass a test and then be unable to execute:  narrow it down to one simple benefit and 2 RTBs.(reasons to believe)  

Looking at the example below, taking the information from the concept from above using Gray’s Cookies, here’s how to map it into a concept.

  • Main headline should capture the big idea of your brand.  Obviously the headline is the first thing they see, so it should contain the big idea that you want your brand to stand behind. 
  • Use the opening to connect quickly with your target consumers by starting with their enemy or insight.  I love using the enemy because it can be a very arresting way to really make the consumer say “That’s me”.  
  • Bring the main benefit to life in a compelling promise statement.  I prefer it to have an emotional/rational balance in the promise.  At the very least, the emotion modifies the rational.  The promise statement then forces us to bring in the two reasons to believe to help back that up.  
  • I like to add a motivating call to action at the end to help prompt purchase intent.  The concept test will hang on how well the purchase intent score is, so a strong concept almost has to ask for it.  

Anything more than this, you are just cheating yourself.  Yes, you might have a better score, but you might not be able to execute it in the market.   If you haven’t narrowed down your claims or RTB’s, maybe you need a claim sorting research before you get into the concept testing.  

While this helps with HOW to write a concept, ask Beloved Brands how we can help really bring the concepts to life with a workshop with your team as well as writing of the final concept options.  We promise to bring magic to the concept which will help get you into the right positioning.  

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.  grOur 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.

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5 thoughts on “How to write a winning Brand Concept statement

  1. Pingback: How to Write a Brand Positioning Statement « Beloved Brands

  2. Hi Graham:

    Another great post.

    I am a brand secularist at heart and acknowledge that there are many right ways to “God” and “Brand”.

    And as you know, I am an admirer of the “Beloved Brands” theology.

    But like you, I am open to some healthy debate.

    One concern that I have for the way that you have crafted your brand concept statement is that it is product centric.

    Gray would be missing out on other products and services that they could introduce if they made “the taste of guilt free pleasure” their single minded brand thought.

    I realise that your format was designed for arriving at great advertising briefs.

    But now with the consumer turning out to be your best copywriter, the more you could get them to talk about other guilt free pleasures that taste good, the more the “brand” would get championed.

    Also, by focusing on the ’emotionale’ of the brand, it’s easier to come up with augmented services that can become self-financing promotions of the brand.

    The second concern I have is that you seem to have suggested an emotionale is an option with “Brand Promise (emotional or rational benefit)”.

    I believe if you leave brand managers with the option of choosing between emotional and rational, they will state only ‘rationales’. Whereas you already have room for that in the ‘reason to believe’.

    As we all know, people buy brands with their hearts and rationalize with their minds.

    • Hotspex has research to show that decisions are in on average 50% rational and 50% emotional. What I try to talk about is the balance of that, within the concept, and emotional can show up in the benefit or the reason to believe. I have faith that Brand Leaders will begin to find this balance.

  3. Graham, well done. I think this is a great summary of how to approach positioning without an ethereal lecture on the topic. The only thing I would add is that developing a great one requires a willingness to simultaneously push the boundaries AND maintain rigorous discipline which the format demands…..this is a great service to the marketing community.
    Barry O’Grady

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