What gets in the way of you loving the work you do?

love workWhen I was a Brand Manager and my son was in kindergarten at the time, I once said that our lives were very similar.  We make stuff that we want to put on our fridge.  It stuck with me because I started to look at work and wonder if it was “fridge worthy”? Would I be proud enough of this to put it up on the fridge at home. In other words, did I love it?

I’ve always stressed to my team “you have to love what you do, that has to be the benchmark on whether we approve things–do you love it?” And one day, one of fridge artmy Group Marketing Directors said to me “Loving it seems a bit unrealistic, why do we have to love it?  Why not just like it”.  Great question. I suppose not all marketers think this way, and I’m fine with that.  If you think I’m crazy, that’s fine. Stop reading. I just wish I competed with you.  

If you love it, you’ll fight for it. You’ll believe in it so much, you’ll fight all the way to the top of your organization to make it happen. You’ll work harder for it. The work will inspire you and give you energy. You’ll stay up till 3am working on it. You will want to make sure it’s perfect, knowing details matter. You will inspire everyone working on the project to share your vision. If you love what you do, the consumer will know. Think of the most beloved brands, whether it is Disney, Starbucks, Apple or Ferrari and look how much energy the people working there put into the brand. In fact, show me a brand where people working there settle for good and I will show you an OK brand that struggles for its existence.  

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The more connectivity you have with your consumer, the more power your brand has. And with that power, comes faster growth and deeper profits.  Your relationship between your brand and your consumer has to be treated like a real relationship. As Oscar Wilde said “never love anyone who treats you like you are ordinary”.  In a brand sense, “if you don’t love the work you do, then how do you expect the consumer to love your brand”.

The answer for that Director of mine:  “If you love your work, they will love you back.” 

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What gets in your way of Loving it?
  1. Not enough Time: Oddly time forces most people to make quick approvals of things and opt for next time.not-ok My first recommendation is to build in longer time cycles so you can have room in the schedule to keep pushing for work you love. But my second recommendation is to use the pressure of time to put pressure on everyone on your team. Rather than approving work you think is OK, next time, just stare at everyone and say “yes but I just don’t love it.  And I need to love it” and see if you can inspire the team to push even harder, even in the face of a deadline. I’ve always looked at deadlines as my ally and use it to my advantage to get what I want.  Not to cave and settle for OK.  
  2. Risk vs Fear: The best of marketing ideas have risk to them. If you eliminate all risk, then you also eliminate any big wins. good-vs-differentA great idea should scare you a little, but excite you a lot. Given, we see 6,000 brand messages a day, you have to find a way to stand out. To be a great brand, you must be better, different or cheaper–and that different shows up in the work that you do. Looking at the grid beside us, the obvious answer is “Good and Different”. When you are not different, it just falls flat, consumers don’t connect and they end up feeling blah about the brand.  Push yourself to find a difference not in your brand’s positioning but in the brands execution. Take a chance, even if it feels risky. The middle of the road might feel safe, but it also where you find dead animals run over in the night.  A great story is the lesson Steve Jobs and the color “Beige”.  When Jobs was launching the original Mac back in the late 1970s, he wanted to make sure the color was different.  The plastic mould company presented him with 2,200 variations of beige until he picked one. While the behavior of Jobs were obsessive, his virtues show up in his work. Would Apple be Apple if he didn’t push.  
  3. Do you care enough?  If you don’t care, you should give up your desk to someone who does. I know it sounds harsh. But the role of Brand Leader is very difficult. You are competing in a finite market, with very talented people at the competition who seem to care about beating you every day. If you only sort of care, then is this really the job for you?  Push yourself, find ways to inspire yourself.  
  4. Are you able to motivate partners? As Brand Leaders, we never really make anything. We think we only have one weapon which is that of decision-making. I’ve heard some Brand Leaders say, I can really only say “yes” or I can say “no” to the work that comes to my desk. That’s so not true. Your primary role is to motivate everyone who touches your brand. Not just those you directly deal with (Your team, account people at the agency or your sales people) but those who you don’t directly deal with. If someone talks about your brand at the kitchen table, then they are part of the Brand team. That means sound editors, producers or actors. As a leader if you want to motivate everyone, then make it personal. Deal with everyone on a face to face basis. Once the brief is approved, how many of you are saying, I want to take the Creative Team to lunch just to get to know them?  When you walk into an edit studio, shake hands with the sound editor and stand near them. Because in this meeting, you might need them on your side. When you go to the shoot, talk to the actors directly. Make it personal. Let everyone know what you’re trying to do, how important it is to you, and how happy you are to have them on your team. That’s inspiring.  Most Brand Leaders only work on one major campaign per year.  But everyone on your team likely works on 40 or 60 or even 80.  What are you doing to make sure that your work is the one they love the most this year?  Just like our hurdle above asking you the brand leader “do you love it”, then how do you make sure everyone who touches your work shares in your love. Leadership should be called Follower-ship because it’s not about being out front, but rather when you turn around “are people following you?”   
  5. Strategy versus Execution. Execution in marketing is all about the Brand Leader’s balance between control and freedom.  What I find odd is that most Brand Leaders give too much freedom where they should be exhibiting control and tries to exhibit too much control where they should be giving freedom. Brand Leaders should control the Strategy, giving very little wiggle room.  And yet Brand Leaders write such broad-based strategies with a broad target, many benefits, and a long list of “just in case” reasons to believe. It’s almost as though they figure, I’ll write so many things it will give the agency options. That just means you gave up control of your strategy. You want a tight strategy, with very little wiggle. On the other hand, Brand Leaders exhibit control over the execution.  “We don’t want humor, we’d like to use a popular song, we don’t like the color red and we want to make sure it doesn’t offend anyone”.  The list of mandatories on the brief is long.  My recommendation is that if you write a very tight strategy, you should be willing to give freedom to the execution.  
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.  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.

 As a Leader, you will find that if you have passion, people will follow. It’s inspiring and it’s contagious.  Challenge yourself to set a new bench mark to love what you do. Reject OK because OK is the enemy of greatness.     

Another article you might enjoy is to see how Love for your brand can translate into more power for your brand and in turn more profits.  Click on: Love = Power = Profit

Love what you do.  Live why you do it.  

 

To read more about how to love what you do.:

 

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 more love for your brand or ask how we can help train you to be a better brand leader.

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Apple: What Goes Up, Might Come Down

UnknownAs I write this, the stock price for Apple is exactly $500.00  As my old Finance professor would say, that means there is a 50% chance it will go above that price and a 50% chance it will go below.  It has been quite the roller coaster since Tim Cook took over the reigns of the Apple brand–the good news is that stock price is still $125 higher than when he took office 18 months ago, but it’s down $200 in the last 4 month.  What started out for Cook as a Sustaining Success might have quickly turned into a Re-Alignment.  

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.

A year from now, do you think Apple’s stock will be higher or lower than $500.00?       

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!!!

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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 fora  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.

HAVE YOUR SAY:  A year from now:  do you think Apple’s stock price will be higher or lower than $500?

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

 

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

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

There is a Facebook page called Brand Leadership Learning Center” at 

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If you or team has any interest in a training program, please contact me at graham.robertson@beloved-brands.com

About Graham Robertson: I’m 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. 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. My promise to you is that I will get your brand and your team in a better position for future growth.  To read more about Beloved Brands Inc., visit http://beloved-brands.com/inc/   or visit my Slideshare site at http://www.slideshare.net/GrahamRobertson/presentations where you can find numerous presentations on How to be a Great Brand Leader.  Feel free to add me on Linked In at http://www.linkedin.com/in/grahamrobertson1  or on follow me on Twitter at @GrayRobertson1 or join us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/BrandLeadership

LEGO: Best Customer Service Letter Ever

LEGO_logoWhen you are a 7-year-old kid, Lego is likely twice as important to them than Starbucks or Apple is to you.  For generations, Lego has been a Beloved Brand for those inventive minds who liked to create complex objects from very simple bricks.  Current Lego products are a little more complex, but the idea of Lego remains the same.   

This customer story involves a 7-year old boy who lost his Lego when he took it on a family trip to the mall.  He was so upset that he wrote Lego a letter, telling them the story and asking for a replacement.   Someone at Lego, made the brilliant decision to send the boy some replacement product and the following letter.  

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For Lego, in the world of social media, this type of story does wonders for continuing the magic of their brand.   And it’s a great example of going above and beyond.  What I like in the letter is how they please the boy, but also give a solid wink to the parent who is likely the bigger target of this letter.  The dad ended up tweeting about the story and now millions are reading about this story (including you)

When you reach the Beloved Brand stage, the strategies become all about continuing the magic of the brand.  That might mean attacking yourself on product innovation or finding new ways to surprise and delight your consumer base.   There are legendary customer service stories that come from Nordstrom’s, the high end retailer that add to the mystique of the Nordstrom brand.  One story involved a Nordstrom employee who found luggage and a plane ticket for a flight that was taking off soon.  Figuring the customer was on their way to the airport, the employee got in his car and drove to airport to meet the customer.  The second story involves a customer in Alaska returning tires that he bought at the store that was the prior tenant to the Nordstrom store. After much debate, they decided to take the tires back, even though it’s not a product they carry.

 

To read how to create and run a Beloved Brand, read the following presentation:

 

Other Stories You Might Like
  1. 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
  2. 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
  3. Consumer Insights:  To get richer depth on the consumer, read the following story by clicking on the hyper link:  Everything Starts and Ends with the Consumer in Mind

 

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.

Write a Better Positioning Statement by Going to War with Your Consumer’s Enemy

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

 

About Graham Robertson: I’m 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. 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. My promise to you is that I will get your brand and your team in a better position for future growth.  To read more about Beloved Brands Inc., visit http://beloved-brands.com/inc/   or visit my Slideshare site at http://www.slideshare.net/GrahamRobertson/presentations where you can find numerous presentations on How to be a Great Brand Leader.  Feel free to add me on Linked In at http://www.linkedin.com/in/grahamrobertson1  or on follow me on Twitter at @GrayRobertson1

How Beloved Brands Fall From Grace

Very few Beloved Brands stay on top for long. 

Beloved Brands like Disney, McDonald’s and Coke have stayed at the top across many generations of consumers helping to deepen their connectivity and solidifying their power as a brand.  But these brands are rare.  Instead, most of the brands that reach beloved status stay at the top for one generation at best.  These brands get to the top and think they are invincible. They fail to recognize the decline before it’s too late because as they are in denial of the underlying problems which could be a result of fear, arrogance, not listening or making the wrong choices.  They fail to attack themselves which opens the door to an attack from others.

The 5 ways that Beloved Brands fall from grace
  1. Beloved Brands forget who they are and what it was that made them famous.  Benetton is great example of a brand who forgot what made them famous.   In 1990, Benetton could do no wrong.  Business schools wrote case studies of their success and Ad Agencies held them up as the brand of envy for all clients to learn from.  They had shock-value advertising campaigns that people talked about at the lunch table and there was a Benetton store in every mall.  Their colorful and stylish fashion was the desire of the core teenage crowd.  Benetton’s brand promise was providing European fashions at an affordable price.  But the arrogance of the “can do no wrong” brand quickly faded.  While they were so busy creating shock-value advertising and arrogantly talking of their brand as it were art itself they forgot about the fashion part of the business.  Benetton started to look like a hollow promise of cool ads with not-so-cool clothing.  Also, Benetton expanded so broadly and so fast, they opted for franchises instead of maintaining ownership over the distribution.  The managing of the large franchise network became a drain on the company and there’s a belief that not being close to the consumers in the stores hurt their ability to listen to what teenagers were saying and wearing.  With a fickle teenage target, Benetton quickly went from a must-have to a has-been brand.
  2. Struggle to keep up with the times.   The Beloved Brands of General Motors–Cadillac, Oldsmobile and Corvette–not only peaked in the 1970’s, but found themselves stuck their as well.  The 70’s were one of those decades with such a distinct look with Disco, perms, gold chains and the 3-piece suit, that most things connected to the 70’s were completely rejected in the 1980’s.  A brand like Cadillac was the ultimate luxury brand, so revered that people would describe the best brand of any category as “it’s the Cadillac of….” but that has since been replaced by “it’s the Mercedes of…..”   Cadillac’s unit sales peaked in 1973 just as gas prices began to rise and the look of those huge gas-guzzlers. It no longer fit the desires of the Yuppies of the 1980’s who were now opting for sleeker luxury with Mercedes and BMW.  The Corvette brand had done a nice job transitioning from the 50’s of James Dean through the 60’s and 70’s, always remaining as an icon of sophisticated American cool.   But Corvette failed to update their 1970’s brand look until 1984, which was too late to escape the stigma and giggles of those who looked at the drivers as having a “mid-life crisis”.  Consumers of the 80’s were now driving smaller and sleeker sports cars like the RX7, 280Z and later on the Miata.  And finally, the Oldsmobile was a classic American family car who sales soared through the 1970’s.  By the mid-80’s, in an effort to try to capture a new generation, they used the infamous tagline of “Not your father’s Oldsmobile”  which only re-enforced that it WAS your father’s Oldsmobile.  I believe that the near-bankruptcy of General Motors can be traced back to the 1970’s when the brands peaked and yet felt stuck in a time-warp forever.  GM failed to keep up in design, and failed to change as gas prices rose dramatically.  They found themselves attacked on the lower end from the Japanese cars like Toyota and Honda and at the higher end from German brands like Mercedes, Porsche, Audi and BMW.
  3. They make the wrong strategic choices because they think of themselves before the consumer.   Gap Clothing got greedy and forgot what made them great: trendy American fashion for a stylish generation at a reasonable price. And who is the spokesperson for fashion:  the coolest people on earth:  TEENAGERS of course.   Every generation of Teens believes they are the most important people on earth and they want products that speak for their generation.  It’s all about them.   They influence Music, Movies, TV Shows and Clothing and believe each has to speak directly to them and for them.   Imagine being 15 in the late 90’s, you’re walking in your favorite mall, trying to be as cool as can be, heading for your favorite clothing store.  All of a sudden, you look up and your favorite clothing brand is now flanked by BABY GAP on one side and GAP MATERNITY on the other side.   How could this brand speak for the teen generation, when your 2-year-old nephews are wearing a mini-version of what you’re wearing or your pregnant Aunt is wearing the stretchy version?  GAP made the mistake of putting their name on all their line extensions, which most fans of Master Brands thinks strengthens the brand but it actually runs the risk of actually weakening the brand.  GAP also forgot about feeding that desire for leading edge, trendy clothing–the whole reason for that “8 seasons” rotation of inventory.  Go into a GAP store this year, and you’ll realize how boring and drab the products have become.  No teenager today loves GAP or even thinks much about GAP.  They are totally indifferent.   Fast forward to 2011, GAP Clothing sales are down 19% this year and down over 25% since the peak of 2005.  And they have just announced the closing of 200 stores–which will continue the downward spiral.
  4. If you are Afraid to attack yourself, expect an attack from someone else.   Kodak was such a revered brand for so long, but their refusal to attack themselves opened up so many windows of attack from others.  The first attack came in the traditional film business from low-priced Fuji film.   Kodak did nothing to stop Fuji for fear of eroding their margin, letting Fuji gain a 17% share of the film market.   The second attack came from new entrants into the digital camera market before Kodak was ready to enter.    Even though Kodak had the first digital camera as early as 1975,  the product was dropped internally for fear it would threaten Kodak’s photographic film business.   In 1990 Kodak finally laid out a plan to enter the digital camera market but took another decade to enter the market.  The world was changing, yet Kodak executives still could not fathom a world without traditional film which gave them little incentive to deviate into the digital camera space.  The third attack came once Kodak entered the digital camera space.  Kodak entered at the high-end of the market and for a brief moment was the #1 digital camera.  But Kodak failed to recognize how quickly the digital camera market would become commoditized.   They did cut their prices, but couldn’t lower their cost of goods fast enough to keep up with the Japanese manufacturers.  Kodak was losing $60 for every camera sold at the same time as their traditional film business was dying. The result: Bankruptcy.  Interestingly enough, at the time of their bankruptcy, Kodak released 1000’s of patents for sale.  It’s not a question of innovation that killed Kodak, it’s a refusal to act on the right innovation in a timely fashion. They failed to attack themselves only to let others attack and ultimately destroy them.
  5. Lose focus and let the experience slide.   A recent case study in a brand experience not living up to expectations is the Blackberry.  It’s a classic case where they grabbed early share as the category innovator and then forgot to keep making improvements to the overall experience.  The list of problems for blackberry is long: major service outages, keyboard that sticks, small screen size, bad cameras, poor quality speaker-phone, slow internet browser and when the screen freezes you have to take the battery out and re-boot.  In my last few months as an angry blackberry user, I was taking the battery out 5x a day.  The leaders at RIM believed they were invincible almost laughing when Apple launched the iPhone.  These guys would next launch a tablet without any Apps on it.  Oh man!  What I think Blackberry’s biggest failure is not mapping out the customer experience and attacking every possible weakness.   It’s a classic case of technology first and then thrust it into the marketplace and hope it sells.  The blackberry experience has just not kept pace with Android and Apple.  As a result, the RIM share price is down 95% since its peak of 2008.
Maintaining Beloved Brand Status
  1. Keep the brand’s promise front and center on who you are.  You need to be either better, different or cheaper.   Challenge yourself to stay relevant, simple and compelling.
  2. Keep challenging the status quo to maintain an experience that over-delivers the promise.  Create a culture that attacks the brand’s weaknesses and fixes them before the competition can attack.  With a Beloved Brand, the culture and brand become one.
  3. Make focused strategic choices that starts with being honest with yourself.  Find a way to listen to your consumers and stay ahead of the trends.  Watch for dramatic shifts because they can really open a door for a competitor.  It’s easier said than done, but don’t be afraid to attack yourself even if it means cannibalizing your current business.  A good defense starts with a good offense.
  4. The most beloved brands have a freshness of innovation, staying one-step ahead of the consumers.  The idea of the brand helps acting as an internal beacon to help frame the R&D.  Every new product has to back that idea. .
  5. Keep the brand story clear and simple through great advertising in paid media, but also through earned media either in the mainstream press or through social media.

 

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

 

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.

Love = Power = Profit

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.  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 each stage of the Brand Love Curve, the consumer will see your brand differently.  The worst case is when consumers have “no opinion” of your brand.  They just don’t care.   It’s like those restaurants you stop at in the middle of no-where that are called “restaurant”.  In those cases, there is no other choice so you may as well just name it restaurant.  But in highly competitive markets, you survive by being liked, but you thrive by being loved.  Be honest with yourself as to what stage you are at, and try to figure out how to be more loved, with a vision of getting to the Beloved Brand stage. 

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 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.

Generating Love for the Brand
  1. The brand’s promise sets up the positioning, as you focus on a key target with one main benefit you offer.  Brands need to be either better, different or cheaper.  Or else not around for very long.  “Me-too” brands have a short window before being squeezed out.  How relevant, simple and compelling the brand positioning is impacts the potential love for the brand.
  2. The most beloved brands create an experience that over-delivers the promise.  How your culture and organization are set up can make or break that experience.  Hiring the best people, creating service values that employees can deliver against and having processes that eliminate service leakage.  The culture attacks the brand’s weaknesses and fixes them before the competition can attack.  With a Beloved Brand, the culture and brand become one.
  3. Brands also make focused strategic choices that start with identifying where the brand is on the Brand Love Curve going from Indifferent to Like It to Love It and all the way to Beloved status.   Marketing is not just activity, but rather focused activity–based on strategy with an ROI mindset.  Where you are on the curve might help you make strategic and tactical choices such as media, innovation and service levels.
  4. The most beloved brands have a freshness of innovation, staying one-step ahead of the consumers.  The idea of the brand helps acting as an internal beacon to help frame the R&D.  Every new product has to back that idea.  At Apple, every new product must deliver simplicity and at Volvo, it must focus on safety.  .
  5. Beloved brands can tell the brand story through great advertising in paid media, through earned media either in the mainstream press or through social media.  Beloved Brands use each of these media choices to connect with consumers and have a bit of magic to their work.

Using Apple as an example, which is the most valuable brand on the planet, 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.  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.  People criticize Apple for not being that leading edge of technology saying they just copy.  But they don’t get what Apple is about.   Whereas every other geeky computer company starts with the technology and forces consumers to figure it out, Apple takes that same technology and makes it so simple–whether that’s the iPhone  iPad or the Mac which have made technology accessible for anyone.   Apple knows how to tell their story, starting with the launch meeting–last week’s iPad Mini launch was covered for days in the mainstream media.  You could even watch it live on-line.  Apple has made great ads over the years, but they know how to work the media–whether that’s on CNN, technology magazines or through social media such as Twitter and Facebook.  Apple manages the Brand Experience to perfection–starting with the excitement of launches to the helpfulness of the genius bar to the out-of-box start-up of any of the Apple products.  As much excitement as Apple generates, they always seem to over-deliver.  Look how giddy people get over their iPhones and iPads. All these contribute to the Love for the Apple brand and generates a loyal following.

Using the Love to Generate Power

The 12 forces of a Beloved Brand map out how a beloved brand can leverage the power generated from being loved. A Beloved Brand with a loyal group of followers has so much more power–starting with a power over the very consumers that love them.   These consumers feel more than they think–they are e-rational responding to emotional cues in the brand.   They’ll pay a premium, line up in the rain for new products and follow the brand to new categories.   Look at the power Starbucks has with their base of consumers, making their Starbucks moment one of their favorite rituals of the day and how consumers have now added sandwiches and wraps to those rituals.  All day long, Starbucks has a line up of people ready for one of their favorite moments of their day.

Using Porter’s 5 forces, we can see that the love also gives Beloved Brands power over channels, substitutes, new entrants, or suppliers.   People rather switch stores than switch brands.  Apple has even created their own stores, which generate the highest sales per square foot of any retailer.  These brand fans are outspoken against competitors and suppliers will do what it takes to be part of the brand.  In Apple’s case, Intel has given them the lead on new chip technology.

Beloved Brands have a power over employees that want to be part of the brand and the culture of the organization that all these brand fans are proud to project.  People at Starbucks love working there and wear that green apron with a sense of pride.  Brand fans know the culture on day 1 and do what it takes to preserve it.

Beloved Brands have a power over the media whether that’s paid, earned, social or search media.  Apple generates over a billion dollars of free media via the mainstream media and social media.  Competitors complain about Apple getting a positive media bias–they are right, they do.  Even for paid media,beloved brands get better placement, cheaper rates and they’ll be the first call for an Integration or big event such as the Super Bowl or the Olympics.   Nike did such a great job with social media during the London Olympics that people thought they were the main shoe sponsor–when it was Adidas.

Beloved Brands have a power over key influencers whether it’s doctors recommending Lipitor, restaurant critics giving a positive review for the most beloved restaurant in town  or Best Buy sales people selling a Samsung TV.  They each become fans of the brand and build emotion into their recommendation.  They become more outspoken in their views of the brand. And finally beloved the Beloved Brand makes its way into conversation at the lunch table or on someone’s Facebook page.  The brand fans are everywhere, ready to pounce, ready to defend and ready to say “hey, you should buy the iPhone”.  The conversation comes with influence as crowds follow crowds.  This conversation has a second power, which creates a badge value.  People know it will generate a conversation and are so proud to show it off.  After all, they are in the club. All twelve of these forces combine to generate further power for the brand.

Using the Love and Power to generate Profits

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With all the love and power the Beloved Brand has generated for itself, now is the time to translate that into growth, profit and value. The Beloved Brand has an Inelastic Price.  The loyal brand fans pay a 20-30% price premium and the weakened channels cave to give deeper margins.  We will see how inelastic Apple’s price points are with the new iPad Mini.   Consumers are willing to trade up to the best model.  The more engaged employees begin to generate an even better brand experience.  For instance at Starbucks, employees know the names of their most loyal of customers.  Blind taste tests show consumers prefer the cheaper McDonald’s coffee but still pay 4x as much for a Starbucks.  So is it still coffee you’re buying?

A well-run Beloved Brand can use their efficiency to lower their cost structure.  Not only can they use their growth to drive economies of scale, but suppliers will cut their cost just to be on the roster of a Beloved Brand.  They will benefit from the free media through earned, social and search media.  They may even find government offer subsidies to be in the community or partners willing to lower their costs to be part of the brand.  For instance, a real estate owner would likely give lower costs and better locations to McDonald’s than an indifferent brand.

Beloved Brands have momentum they can turn into share gains.   Crowds draw crowds which spreads the base of the loyal consumers.  Putting name Disney on a movie generates a crowd at the door on day 1.  Competitors can’t compete–lower margins means less investment back into the brand.  It’s hard for them to fight the Beloved Brand on the emotional basis leaving them to a niche that’s currently unfulfilled.

Beloved Brands can enter into new categories knowing their loyal consumers will follow  because they buy into the Idea of the Brand.  The idea is no longer tied to the product or service but rather how it makes you feel about yourself.  Nike is all about winning, whether that’s in running shoes, athletic gear or even golf equipment.

The formula for a Beloved Brand is simple: Beloved = Power = Growth = Profit

Apple has been able to take all the love they generate with consumers and transform it into a power that they’ve been able to drive into their P&L, with 25-fold gains in revenue, increases in gross margins and can move all their ratios into the right space.  As a result, Apple is now the most valuable company in the world.

Follow me on twitter @grayrobertson1

To read more about how the love for a brand creates more power and profits:

 

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 more love for your brand or ask how we can help train you to be a better brand leader.

Ritz Carlton: Meeting the “unexpressed” needs of Guests

Impeccable Service Separates Ritz Carlton

Ritz Carlton does a lot of things right to earn the high prices they are able to charge–the best locations, beautiful rooms, nice beds and great meals.  But in reality, every luxury hotel has to deliver against these or they’ll be quickly out of business.   Recognizing that any great brand has to be better, different or cheaper to win, Ritz Carlton focuses their attention on impeccable service standards to separate themselves from other Hotels.  What Ritz Carlton has done so well is operationalize it so that culture and brand are one.

I was lucky enough to be able to attend the Ritz Carlton Training session, and as a Brand Leader, the thing that struck me was the idea of meeting the “unexpressed” needs of guests.  As highly paid Marketers, even with mounds of research, we still struggle to figure out what our consumers want, yet Ritz Carlton has created a culture where bartenders, bellhops and front desk clerks instinctively meet these “unexpressed needs”.  Employees carry around note pads and record the expressed and unexpressed needs of every guest and then they use their instincts to try to surprise and delight these guests.

Employees are fully empowered to create unique, memorable and personal experiences for our guests.  Unique means doing something that helps to separate Ritz Carlton from other hotels, memorable forces the staff to do something that truly stands out.   And personal is defined as people doing things for other people.  Isn’t that what marketers do?   So what’s getting in our way?

They Bake it right into the Ritz Carlton Culture

The phrase that Ritz Carlton uses with their staff is “Radar is on and Antenna is Up” so that everyone can be looking for the unexpressed needs.   These could be small wins that delight consumers in a big way:

  • A couple arrives at the hotel, wife is six months pregnant.  Normal service would be to observe and do nothing–at best help with the bags.   But at Ritz Carlton, antenna up means they get a special pillow for sleeping and alcohol free sparkling cider instead of champagne.
  • A business guest who was staying at a hotel for 4 weeks and the staff printed up business cards with the guest name, hotel address and phone number so that he could give them out during his stay.

But like any hotel, things do go wrong.  The staff is encouraged to use these moments to not only address the problem and fix it but also try to surprise and delight guests turning a problem into a potential wow moment.  With everyone’s antenna’s up, when a problem does arise they quickly brainstorm and use everyone’s input.

  • A guest who had just left the hotel called to say that their son had left his stuffed giraffe in the room.  The boy could not stop crying.  The only thing these distraught parents could think of to tell their son, is that the giraffe was staying on the vacation a little longer.  So the staff, found the giraffe and overnighted it to the boy.  Most luxury hotels would have done that.  But that was not enough for Ritz Carlton.   Knowing what the Mom had told their son about staying on a bit longer, the staff also included a photo album of the giraffe enjoying his extra stay, including photos of the giraffe sitting by the pool, in the spa with cucumbers on his eyes, and laying out on the beach.  It’s not that the album would make the boy excited, because he was excited just to have his favourite giraffe back.   But imagine how the parents felt and the signal it sends to them about the Ritz Carlton staff and how many friends they may share that story with.
  • An activity coordinator noticed that one of them had a real passion for ballet. Over the week, the activity coordinator even came in before her shift every day to give the girl a private ballet class. She wanted to do something special for the young guest, and decided to teach her a special dance for her parents. On their last day, she arranged for a performance at the Jazz Club, with special music and lighting for the performance.  The couple was very grateful and could not believe how much love and passion the activity coordinator had put into making their daughter’s stay so memorable. To complete the experience, they gave the guests a CD with pictures and videos of their daughter’s performance so they could share it with family and friends on their return home

To inspire each other, everyone at Ritz Carlton goes through a daily line up where they share wow stories, both local stories and stories from other hotels around the world.  This line up keeps everyone in line, but it also keeps people fully engaged.  Harvard did a study on Employee Engagement, stating that the average company had 29% of their employees who were fully engaged and they labelled this group as the Super Stars.  Using the same criteria, Ritz Carlton has 92% of their staff considered fully engaged.  No wonder they are able to win so many service awards and no wonder they can create such an experience for their consumers.   They’ve fully created a culture that now defines the brand.

So What Can Brand Leaders Learn from Ritz Carlton?

How can marketers challenge themselves to meet the unexpressed needs of guests?  As Henry Ford said:  “”If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”  So what’s getting in your way?   Are you over-thinking things?  Are you too worried about the short-term results that you’re not even seeing or hearing the unexpressed needs?   Are you so analytical that you need to see the data first and never really reach for your instincts which might challenge the data or even fill in the missing gaps in the data?

How do you get your antenna’s up so that you and your team are always watching, listening and thinking?  As you run from meeting to meeting, filling in forecasting templates and spending evenings pretty-ing up your presentation for senior leaders, how many times a week do you talk to consumers, how many times do you walk into a store or what social media tools do you monitor and listen to.  Do you ever sit with customer service for an afternoon?   Do you read through the complaints?   And while it’s great that you do this once in a while, how do you operationalize it with your team.   Can you set aside time so that you’re doing regular store visits or a quick brainstorm on observations once a week.

How can Marketers Push ourselves to Wow the Consumer?  The Ritz Carlton staff is constantly trying to wow their guests, in either a small or big way believing that both make a difference.  Are you pushing yourself to surprise your consumer?   Are you trying to wow your consumer?   Are you rejecting OK work to force everyone to reach for Great?   Do you have a standard for the work that exceeds that of your consumer, after all if you don’t love the work then how do you expect your consumer to love your brand?

Do something this week that meets the Unexpressed Needs of a Customer–no matter how big or small–just to see what it feels like.  
It might feel pretty damn powerful.  

 

To read more about how the love for a brand creates more power and profits:

 
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  1. 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
  2. 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
  3. 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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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.

Target Market: Why Not Just Target Everyone?

“You have to start with the customer experience and work backwards to the technology.  You cannot start with the technology and try to figure out where you are going to sell it”                                                      

Steve p. Jobs

I once had a Brand Leader tell me that their target was “18-65, new potential customers, current customers and employees”.  My response was “you’ve left out tourists and prisoners?”  It took me another hour to talk them into potentially focusing their limited investment on a group of people who might be most likely to buy their product. That Brand Leader was a Bank selling first time mortgages.  While there could be an 18-year-old or a 64½ year old that might be buying a mortgage for the first time, it’s actually not likely.  In fact 18-65 is the opposite of a target.  I did manage to talk them into a 28-33 year old target, which gave us the chance to build insights about all the life-changes these consumers were going through (careers, babies, need for more space) that allowed us to develop Advertising Creative around moments that the consumer goes through and we focused the media in places where the 28-33 year olds would most likely see our ads.  That would have been missed with the broader 18-65 target range–we would have spread our dollars so thin that no one would have seen it, and we would have spread our message so broadly that no one would have felt any connection to it.

A good brand strategy has four key elements: 

  1. FOCUS all your energy and investment to a particular strategic focal point or purpose.  Match up your brand assets to pressure points you can break through, maximizing your limited resources—either financial resources or effort.  Make tough choices and choose to be loved by the few rather than tolerated by the many.
  2. You want that EARLY WIN, to kick-start of some momentum. Early Wins are about slicing off parts of the business or population where you can build further.  Without the early win, you’ll likely seek out some new strategy even a sub-optimal one.   Or someone in management will say “it’s not working”.  You don’t want either of those–so the early win helps keep people moving towards the big win.
  3. LEVERAGE everything to gain positional advantage or power that helps exert even greater pressure and gains the tipping point of the business that helps lead to something bigger.  This is where strategy provides that return on Effort–you get more than the effort you are putting into it.
  4. Seeing beyond the early win, there has to be a GATEWAY point, which is the entrance or a means of access to something even bigger.   It could be getting to the masses, changing opinions or behaviours.  Return on Investment or Effort.

Since Every brand has limited resources—marketing dollars, people resources to carry out programs and any share in the market, whether that’s share of voice, shelf, display, recommendations–you never want to waste these resources by spreading them so thinly on everyone.  When you turn to your brand P&L, your CEO and finance people will expect you to deliver an appropriate ROI, or that investment will start to get smaller because they’ll give your dollars to someone else that can deliver a higher ROI.  And yet, even with that, you still refuse to focus?  If you had to lift up a car, would you rather 8 football players each standing 3 feet apart or a simple $89 car jack.  I’d take the jack because lifting up at a key focal point gives you an early win as you start to watch that car start moving up, the leverage point of the jack holds that 3000-pound car in the air so you can change your tire without even breaking a sweat (the gateway) and you can now drive away.  Those poor football players would begin shaking after a few minutes.

Spreading your limited resources across an entire population is cost prohibitive. While targeting everyone “just in case” might safe at first, it’s actually less safe because you never get to see the full impact.  Realizing not everyone can like you is the first step to focusing all your attention on those that can love you.  Be honest in assessing your brand’s assets and then match those assets up to who is most likely to be motivated enough to buy your brand.   That’s when you start to define the target, and then take your resources and do your best to get them to buy.

Who is the Consumer Target and What do they want?

Try to balance the target based on demographics (age, sex, income) and psychographics (behaviours, attitudes and values).  Yes, people criticize relying on demographics, but when you go to market, traditional media usually sells their media based on demographics (e.g. TV target is 18-34 years old).  With new media, whether that’s search, display or social media it allows you to focus more on psychographics and match up to whats most important to the consumer.  In terms of the creative, I always challenge people to narrow the target down to a 5 year range (eg. 28-33 years old) to give the creative the appropriate tone and feel. For every part of the buying system connected to your brand, take a walk in the shoes of the person who is paying their hard-earned money for the brand you offer, whether that’s a customer, consumer, purchaser, contractor or medical professional.  I always think of my consumer as the “most selfish animal on the planet” just to ensure I’m doing the most I can to satisfy that selfishness.   After all, the selfishness is well deserved, since they have money spend.  Understand and meet those needs.

What do they want?
Consumers don’t care what you can do, until you care about what they need. 
They will only pay you money, if you give them something.  That sounds simple.  But, keep in mind they will pay you even more money if you give them what they need.  And they’ll start to do that over and over again if they get even more from your brand.  That means moving your brand from just features up to benefits and all the way up to emotional benefits.  Ask consumers what they want.  Listen.  Don’t start with what you’re selling.   Put yourself in their shoes and ask yourself over and over again “so what do I get from that” until you’ve come up with something powerful.   Speak in terms of benefit, not features.

And remember, no one ever really wanted a quarter-inch drill; they just needed a quarter-inch hole.  Sell the hole, not the drill. 

About Graham Robertson: I’m a marketer at heart, who loves everything about brands. I love great TV ads, I love going into grocery stores on holidays and I love seeing marketers do things I wish I came up with. I’m always eager to talk with marketers about what they want to do. I have walked a mile in your shoes. My background includes CPG marketing at companies such as Johnson and Johnson, Pfizer Consumer, General Mills and Coke. I’m now a marketing consultant helping brands find their love and find growth for their brands. I do executive training and coaching of executives and brand managers, helping on strategy, brand planning, advertising and profitability. I’m the President of Beloved Brands Inc. and can help you find the love for your brand. To read more about Beloved Brands Inc, visithttp://beloved-brands.com/inc/

Why does Microsoft keep copying Apple?

Within the last 48 hours, I’ve now heard that Microsoft has launched a tablet and will open their first store outside the US, right here in Toronto. To me, both are direct and desperate copies of Apple.  And both are mistakes that won’t really help the brand garner any consumer love, but rather keeping it stuck at the “Like It” stage.

“It’s a nice reader, but there’s nothing on the iPad I look at and say, ‘Oh, I wish Microsoft had done it.’  “

Bill Gates, 26 months ago.

To put all my potential biases on the table, I have an iPhone, iPad and a Mac desk top, but I also have a PC, both desktop and an ultra book. So,I’d say I’m fairly balanced between Apple and PC.   But there are two major differences in how I feel about each:

  1. My PC is functionally efficient.  It’s smart, easy, just makes sense.  When I get emails from people using a PC, there’s no risk of conversion difficulties.  I prefer word to pages etc.  But, while I like my PC, I absolutely LOVE my i-stuff and get excited every time I use them.  And, I can’t wait for what’s next.
  2. In no way do I connect my PC to the Microsoft brand.  My PC is a Toshiba.  Microsoft might think they are the PC, and tried to convince us with those “I’m a PC” ads, but that did nothing for me.  The only moment I thought about Microsoft was the 12 minutes it took me to load Office and the 23 seconds it took me to file away the box.

Brand success comes when you find what the consumer wants, and then match it up against something different that you do better than anyone else.  What does this new tablet that is so different from what’s already in the market?  

For any brand, copying just makes you seem desperate, weak and uncertain of who you really are as a brand.  Here are the three ways that Microsoft has tried to copy Apple.

Copycat Mistake #1:  Getting into the Tablet Business Feels like Zune

Getting into hardware is a big gamble and not something that fits with Microsoft’s strengths.  To be a success, you either have to be better, different or cheaper and this feels like none of those.  Just like the Zune, it feels as though they are late and aren’t really offering anything that’s a game-changer to the category.  Like most categories at the stage where tablets are, until someone really shakes it up, the next few years are likely all about constant small innovation, new news each year with Apple leading the way on the high-end and Samsung’s cost innovation will likely squeeze Microsoft right out of the category.  The analysts are so excited by the launch that the MSFT stock price is down 1.3%.

Copycat Mistake #2:  Microsoft Stores Don’t Have the Drawing Power

Microsoft is launching a new store in Toronto, which will be their 12th store.  Everything in the Microsoft stores feel like a direct copy of the Apple store format.  Open concept and instead of a genius bar, they have technician helpers.   But the products in stores aren’t all Microsoft, but rather other PC brands like Toshiba, Dell or HP.  Doesn’t that really just make it another Best Buy?  For these stores succeed, they’ll have to come up with something different or they just won’t have the drawing power to generate enough sales to justify the store.  About five times this year, I’ve walked past an Apple store just before it was about to open and it had a line of about 10-15 people already waiting to get in.  Any time of the day, they draw a crowd.  That’s brand power. On the other hand, Microsoft has had to resort to free concert tickets to generate a line up for opening day.

Copycat #3:  I’m a PC was an Advertising Disaster

Some of the best advertising of the last decade was “I’m a Mac…and I’m a PC”  capturing our imagination with hundreds of clever spots.  At the early stages of that campaign, I was in a crowded bar with that constant hum of noise that a bar produces.  All of a sudden the place went silent.  All the patrons looked up at the TV for 29 seconds of an “I’m a Mac” and we all laughed and then carried on, back to the constant hum of bar noise.  That’s a powerful brand.  But Microsoft’s “I’m a PC” response was a disaster.  It felt desperate, contrived and just awkward.  Almost embarrassing.  These are just bad.

For all the power and the efforts over the last 30 years, Microsoft still feels like it’s stuck at the Liked stage, never achieving any real love.  At their height, they had a positional power of the early 1990s with a dominant Windows presence.  They destroyed every competitor in sight.  Poor Word Perfect and Lotus 1-2-3.  Even then, there was very little emotion between the brand and the consumer.  Instead, they exerted their monopolistic power, doing nothing for the consumer.

Beloved Brands would have died for what Microsoft had back in the 1990s.  They would have begun to listen to what consumers wanted and started to build their brand around the life of the consumer, being at the forefront of what the consumer wanted, giving it to them before they even knew they wanted it.  They would have found ways over the years to surprise and delight their consumer base with true innovation, style and design.  They would have shifted their focus towards creating a brand image with perceived quality that tugs at the heart instead of just relying on real quality that feeds the mind.  They would have put all their focus on the entire experience of the consumer, not just standing behind their better mousetrap and the monopoly of Intellectual Property.  Wait a second, this is starting to sound a lot like Apple.   If only Microsoft had copied the Apple strategy beneath the surface, instead of just trying to do the same tactics as Apple (a tablet, a store and a TV ad) then maybe they would have turned their positional power of the 1990s into a Beloved Brand.

For those who want to laugh, here’s the best of the “I’m a Mac” ads.

Apple is Facing Major Declines…

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 committment.  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 behaviour.  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.

About Graham Robertson:  I’m a marketer at heart, who loves everything about brands. I love great TV ads, I love going into grocery stores on holidays and I love seeing marketers do things I wish I came up with. I’m always eager to talk with marketers about what they want to do.   My background includes CPG marketing at companies such as Johnson and Johnson, Pfizer Consumer, General Mills and Coke.  I do executive training of executives and brand managers, helping on strategy, brand planning, advertising and profitability.