How generating more Love for your brand will make You More Money

Love = Power = Profit

This message is for the Brand Leaders who many times stick to the straight rational management of a brand.  I grew up in the CPG Brand Management world.  And today I’m about to tell you a message that you likely hear all the time from your agency:  you should be more emotional with your brand!   I preface it by saying I’m one of you (client), not one of them (agency).  It’s very common among clients to think that way because we get frustrated that the agency doesn’t deliver what we want.  From my experience, many Brand Leaders still say:  “Give me a very straight forward ad that delivers the message we know will work”.  When an agency starts to push for us to be more emotional, we immediately think they are just trying to win an award.  

I guess I wished I listened to my agency.  But I just wish the agency went a layer deeper and connected going emotional with making more money and then they would have gotten my attention more. Hey Agencies:  Try telling your client this next time:  We should be more emotional because then you’ll make more money.  If you could generate more love for your brand, that would give you more power in the market and that power would  help you to drive more profits.

love = power = profit

Here’s the theory part on how the more love you create, the more power you command and the more money you make.  Brands sit somewhere on the hypothetical Brand Love curve, going from Indifferent to Like It to Love It and finally becoming a Beloved Brand.  Brands can connect with the consumer through 5 sources:  how strong is the promise, how good is their story, how focused is their strategy, how do they keep the brand fresh through innovation and how do they turn all this into an experience beyond the product.  It is the Brand’s connectivity and love that generates power for your brand–a power with the very consumers who love it, versus the channels who carry it, the competitors who fight you, possible new entrants trying to de-throne you, influencers who recommend you, suppliers, the employees and the media.   Having power enables your brand to generate higher profits in 8 ways, through price points, trading up/down, product costs, marketing costs, stealing other users, getting users to use more, entering new categories or creating new ways to use for the brand.

Slide1

There are 5 Ways to Generate more Love for your 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.  Apple goes above just their product with a promise of simplicity that allows everyone to experience the future through technology.
  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.  I love the Starbucks experience that has been created with coffee as the base, but they have gone so deeper to enable magical moments for their consumer.
  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–a focused target, a focused message, focused strategic choices, focused activities always 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.  Slide1Find those who are most motivated to buy what you do best.  I love how Volvo is so singularly focused on the safety message since 1954.   Yes they have leather seats and a great radio, but the message is always safety first.
  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, the innovation must deliver the safety promise.
  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.  John Lewis out of the UK, is an employee-owned store growing double digits right through the recession because of their commitment behind amazing story telling around the simple message of the gift of giving.

There are 12 ways to turn the Love to Generate Power for your Brand

A brands connection between consumer is a power.  And that power translated itself into 12 forces of a power that a Beloved Brand wields, (show below).

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.

How to use the Love and Power to generate more Profits for your brand

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.  Apple get a billion dollars worth of free media, with launches covered on CNN for 2 weeks prior the launch and carried live like it’s a news event.

Beloved Brands have momentum they can turn into share gains.   Crowds draw crowds which spreads the base of the loyal consumers.  Putting the Disney name 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.  Walk past an Apple store 15 minutes before it’s open and you’ll see a crowd waiting to get in–even when there are no new products.

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.  When Starbucks went for pastries and sandwiches the consumer quickly followed.

Slide1

Beloved = Power = Growth = Profit

 

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.  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 help you uncover the love and power on your brand or ask how we can help train you to be a better brand leader.
Advertisements

What to do when your Brand is Stuck at “Like It”?

Don’t feel bad.  Most brands are at the Like It stage

You have been able to carve out a niche and be a chosen brand against a proliferation of brands in the category.    And you have good shares, moderate profits and most brand indicators are reasonably healthy.  It’s just that no one loves you.  There’s nothing wrong with being a Liked brand.   All the power to you.  But just know that you might be leaving good money on the table.  

Beloved = Power = Growth = 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 Like It Stage

At the Like It stage, the funnel is fairly strong at the top but quickly narrows at purchase and has a very weak bottom part of the brand funnel.  As people see your brand as a good rational choice, they might consider it and use it, but it lacks separation from the other brands and it’s missing that emotional connection.  Brands stuck here usually focus on what they do (features) and not what the consumer wants (benefits)  In the funnel, you’ll see pretty strong awareness and consideration but you’ll lose out at the purchase stage and have no real repeat or loyalty at all.  You’ll notice fairly high trade spend just so you can keep your share going–and you use price as a weapon to close the deal.  The best strategy here is to begin to Separate Your Brand from the clutter of the market, by establishing a brand promise based on benefits–rational and emotional.  A brand like Dove was at the Like It stage back in the 1990s.  Only when they could shift from talking about themselves to talking about the consumers would they be able to establish more love for their brand.  

Consumers see your brand as a functional and rational choice they make.   They tried it and it makes sense so they buy it, use it and they do enjoy it.  It meets a basic need they have.  They likely prefer it versus another brand, but they think it is better, cheaper or easier to use.  Or your mom told you to use it.  But, consumers don’t have much of an emotional connection or feeling about the brand.     Where Indifferent is really bad, you’re ordinary, which is just a little bit better.  Overall, consumers see you brand in the “it will do” space.

The Five Sources of Brand Love

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.

Slide1
Why is your Brand stuck at the Like It Stage:

If your brand is stuck at Like It, look to the five sources of love to see if you have a weakness.  

  1. Protective Brand Leaders means Caution:  While many of these brands at the Like It are very successful brands, they get stuck because of overly conservative and fearful Brand Managers, who pick middle of the road strategies and execute “ok” ideas.  They do a bad job at either telling the story or launching new products.  On top of this, Brand Managers who convince themselves that “we stay conservative because it’s a low-interest category” should be removed.   Low interest category means you need even more to captivate the consumer.
  2. We are rational thinking Marketers:  Those marketers that believe they are strictly rational are inhibiting their brands.  The brand managers get all jazzed on claims, comparatives, product demonstration and doctor recommended that they forget about the emotional side of the purchase decision.   Claims need to be twisted into benefits—both rational and emotional benefits.   Consumers don’t care about what you do until you care about what they need.  Great marketers find that balance of the science and art of the brand.   Ordinary marketers get stuck with the rational only.  The promise stays very rational, and the execution of the brand story becomes rather bland.  
  3. New Brand with Momentum:  As a new brand, you might not have found a way to use a unique brand promise to separate yourself from other competitors.  Stage 2 of a new brand innovation is ready to expand from the early adopters to the masses.   The new brand begins to differentiate itself in a logical way to separate themselves from the proliferation of copycat competitors.   Consumers start to go separate ways as well.  Retailers might even back one brand over another.  Throughout the battle, the brand carves out a base of consumers.
  4. There’s a Major Leak:  If you look at the brand buying system, you’ll start to see a major leak at some point where you keep losing customers.  Most brands have some natural flaw—whether it’s the concept, the product, taste profile ease of use or customer service.   Without analyzing and addressing the leak, the brand gets stuck.  People like it, but refuse to love it. That leak could be in the freshness or experience stage.  
  5. Brand changes their Mind every year:  Brands really exist because of the consistency of the promise.  When the promise and the delivery of the promise changes every year it’s hard to really connect with what the brand is all about.  A brand like Wendy’s has changed their advertising message every year over the past 10 years.  The only consumers remaining are those who like their burgers, not the brand.  The story never gets told in a consistent manner that delivers the brand promise.  It fails to catch on, so instead of just fixing the communication the brand also changes the brand promise.  
  6. Positional Power–who needs Love:  there are brands that have captured a strong positional power, whether it`s a unique technology or distribution channel or even value pricing advantage.  Brands like Microsoft or Wal-Mart or even many of the pharmaceuticals products don`t see value in the idea of being loved.   The problem is when you lose the positional power, you lose your customer base completely.  The brand with just positional power becomes complacent and lazy–with a culture that does not create a brand experience that surpasses the promise. 
  7. Brands who capture Love, but no Life Ritual:  There are brands that quickly capture the imagination but somehow fail to capture a routine embedded in the consumers’ life, usually due to some flaw.   Whether it’s Krispy Kreme, Pringles or even Cold Stone, there’s something inherent in the brand’s format or weakness that holds it back and it stays stuck at Loved but just not often enough.  So, you forget you love them.  The strategy of linking the brand’s promise to the other connection points of the brand.  
Indicators that you’re at the Like It Stage
  • Low Conversion to Sales.   While the brand looks healthy in terms of awareness and equity scores, the brand is successful in becoming part of the consumer’s consideration set, but it keeps losing out to the competition as the consumer goes to the purchase stage.  It usually requires a higher trade spend to close that sale which cuts price and margins.
  • Brand Doesn’t Feel Different:  A great advertising tracking score to watch is “made the brand seem different” which helps to separate itself from the pack, many times speaking to the emotional part of the messaging.
  • Stagnant Shares:  Your brand team is happy when they hold onto their share, content to grow with the category.
  • High Private Label Sales:    If you only focus on the ingredients and the rational features of the product, the consumer will start to figure out they get the same thing with the private label and the share starts to creep up to 20% and higher.
Why Would you want to get to the Love It Stage

As you become more loved, you can use that love consumers have for your brand to drive more power for your brand.  That power may be against retailers, other competitors, suppliers, media and key influencers.   As well as a power over the very consumers that love your brand.  With more power, a more loved Brand has 8 ways it can add profit. 

Slide1

In terms of pricing, you can charge premiums and any change in pricing is relatively more Inelastic.  Loyal consumers, weakened channels pay premiums, and trading up where offered.  More engaged employees deliver better experience—even more premiums.  This gives your brand an opportunity to drive higher margins.

With costs, a more loved brand becomes more Efficient and Powerful.  You’ll be able to achieve Economies of scale.  Suppliers cut costs due to volume & wanting brand in portfolio. Efficient media spend, free media through search, earned and social. Gov’t willingly subsidize. Partners give favorable terms.  This gives your brand lower costs–both in terms of product costs and marketing costs.  

A more loved brand can drive market share by pushing the Momentum and finding that Tipping Point.  Crowds draw crowds.  Power of media (search + social + earned) keeps brand in the conversation with heavy influence. Competitors can’t respond to the momentum.  You can steal share from weakened competitors who have no love, or get current users to use even more.  

A more loved brand can enter new markets.  Loyalists Will Follow Wherever:  Loyal users will follow where brand goes, and doors will open to new ventures. The idea of brand no longer tied to product, but to how brand makes you feel. 

As the brand is more loved, the P&L statement looks a lot stronger–higher markets, lower costs, higher share and new market entries all add up to much higher profitability.  It’s worth finding that love.  

How to get to past the Like It stage
  • Focus on action and drive Consideration and Purchase:  stake out certain spaces in the market creating a brand story that separates your brand from the clutter.  Begin to sell the solution, not just the product.  Build a Bigger Following:  Invest in building a brand story that helps to drive for increased popularity and get new consumers to use the brand.
  • Begin to Leverage those that already Love:  Focus on the most loyal consumers and drive a deeper connection by driving the routine which should increase usage frequency.  On top of that, begin cross selling to capture a broader type of usage.
  • Love the Work:  It is time to dial-up the passion that goes into the marketing execution.   Beloved Brands have a certain magic to them.  But “Like It’ brands tend to settle for ok, rather than push for great.  With better work, you’ll be able to better captivate and delight the consumers.  If you don’t love the work, how do you expect the consumer to love your brand.
  • Fix the Leak:  Brands that are stuck have something embedded in the brand or the experience that is holding back the brand.  It frustrates consumers and restricts them from fully committing to making the brand a favourite.  Be proactive and get the company focused on fixing this leak.
  • Build a Big Idea:  Consumers want consistency from the brand—constant changes to the advertising, packaging or delivery can be frustrating. Leverage a Brand Story and a Big Idea that balances rational and emotional benefits helps to establish a consistency for the brand and help build a much tighter relationship.

So be content with being Liked.  But just realize that you’re leaving profits behind for someone else to capture.  

If you are stuck at Like It, then you are leaving money on the table

 

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

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

 

Pick your Social Media vehicle and follow us by clicking on the icon below

 linkedin-groups-large             images-1              facebook-logo

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.

Special K Case Study: Moving From Indifferent to Beloved

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

Special K was an Indifferent Brand
One lonesome Original Flavor of Cereal

One lonesome Original Flavor of Cereal

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

The brand idea for Special K has been connected with weight loss since the mid 80s.  The ads were focused on 110 calories–which is just a feature, not a benefit for the consumer.  And honestly, if you look at most cereals, they’ll say 120-140 calories on the box.  Here’s what the Special K ads looked like in 1996 and you’ll see why the brand was fairly flat.

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

The Brand Love Curve

In the consumer’s mind, brands sit on a Brand Love Curve, with brands going from Indifferent to Like It to Love It and finally becoming a Beloved Brand for Life.  At the Beloved stage, demand becomes desire, needs become cravings, thinking is replaced with feelings.  Consumers become outspoken fans.

Love Curve Detailed

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

Beloved Brands Start with an Idea

The most beloved brands are based on an idea that is worth loving. It is the idea that connects the Brand with consumers.  And under the Brand Idea are 5 Sources of Connectivity that help connect the brand with consumers and drive Brand Love, including 1) the brand promise 2) the strategic choices you make 3) the brand’s ability to tell their story 4) the freshness of the product or service and 5) the overall experience and impressions it leaves with you.  Everyone wants to debate what makes a great brand–whether it’s the product, the advertising, the experience or through consumers.  It is not just one or the other–it’s the collective connection of all these things that make a brand beloved.

The Re-Birth of Special K

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

Slide1

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

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

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

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

Special-K-Products

And rounding out the Brand Experience is to take the challenge on-line, gives women a community of encouragement to help achieve their personal weight loss goals.  Special K has also launched App for smart phones to help monitor weight goals.  

MY SPECIAL K

IS YOUR PLACE FOR POSITIVE CHANGE

Sign up and start your free, personalized plan today. We’ll keep track of your goals, offer helpful tools and tips and keep you motivated as you work towards your best you.

http://www.specialk.com/mealplan/notstarted

Special K has also tapped into time of year occasions around New Years and spring to re-enforce the brand messages.

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

 

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

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

 

Pick your Social Media vehicle and follow us by clicking on the icon below

 linkedin-groups-large             images-1              facebook-logo

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.

A Beloved Brand commands the Power of a Monopoly

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.  FormulaIt’s this LOVE that helps drive POWER for your brand: power versus competitors, versus customers, versus suppliers and even versus the same consumers you’re connected with.  With added power, you will be able to drive stronger PROFITS.  For a Beloved Brand, prices are inelastic and you can trade consumers up to new premium options.  You can drive share and move to new markets with your loyal consumers following.  And you can put pressure on costs.  All these drive added profitability for the Beloved Brand.   LOVE = POWER = PROFITS

The most beloved brands are based on an idea that is worth loving. It is the idea that connects the Brand with consumers.  And under the Brand Idea are 5 Sources of Connectivity that help connect the brand with consumers and drive Brand Love, including 1) the brand promise 2) the strategic choices you make 3) the brand’s ability to tell their story 4) the freshness of the product or service and 5) the overall experience and impressions it leaves with you.  Everyone wants to debate what makes a great brand–whether it’s the product, the advertising, the experience or through consumers.  It is not just one or the other–it’s the collective connection of all these things that make a brand beloved.

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.

Power over consumers:  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.

Power over Porter’s 5 Forces:  We can see that the love also gives Beloved Brands power over channels, substitutes, new entrants, or suppliers.   With a beloved brand, there is power over channels because consumers would rather switch stores than switch brands.  Apple has even created their own stores, which generate the highest sales per square foot of any retailer.  And even with their own stores, Best Buy still gives Apple preferential treatment with a ‘store-in-store’ concept.  With outspoken fans, they’ll even fight on behalf of the brand against competitors.  Competitors can duplicate the product, but they can’t get close to duplicating the emotional connection.  Beloved Brands even have power vs Suppliers, who want the beloved brand on their roster.   Many suppliers will cut their prices, offer extras and first right of refusal on new technologies. In Apple’s case, Intel has given them the lead on new chip technology two years before they gave them to PC ultrabooks, giving them a huge competitive advantage.  With these powers, it makes it hard for new entrants to break through.

Power over Employees:  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 that get hired into the system, know the culture on day 1 and will do what it takes to preserve it.  Starbucks employees ooze the brand and honestly from a cultural view, their interactions make the difference in the experience of the brand.  Employees have their regulars, know their name and their drink.  It’s no longer just the coffee.  It’s your escape and your comfort zone.

Power over the Media:  Beloved Brands have a power over the Four types of Media:  1) Paid 2) Earned 3) Social and 4) Search.  Beloved Brands have a much more efficient media buy–lower GRPs needed to break through and a lower Ad Spend/Sales is needed to keep share strong.  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.  Beloved Brands have figured out the earned media, with launch events, press releases and executive story lines that seep into the mainstream press.  Competitors complain about Apple getting a positive media bias–they are right, they do.  As brands are still figuring out social media, it’s the most loved brands that are doing it right, whether it’s Coke, Nike or Apple.  Are they smarter?   Maybe.  But the beloved Brands have such a huge advantage because people want to connect socially, want to share and want to influence.   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.  Lumping earned, social and search together as ‘free’ media, Apple generates over a billion dollars of free media via the mainstream media and social media.

Power over Influencers:  Beloved Brands have a power over key influencers whether it’s doctors recommending a certain drug, restaurant critics giving a positive review for the most beloved restaurant in town  or electronics sales people selling a beloved TV. Each of the influencers 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 12 forces combine to generate Power for the Brand, that matches that of a Monopoly.

 

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

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

Pick your Social Media vehicle and follow us by clicking on the icon below

linkedin-groups-large             images-1              facebook-logo

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.

2012: The Worst in Brand Marketing for the Year

2012 Wasn’t the Best Year For Branding

As we approach the year-end, I look optimistically forward to Lucky #13.  I’m hopeful that 2013 will be a much better year in branding than 2012 was.   While the economy was in a relative stand still, I think marketers also were.   Do we still believe that great marketing can help drive an economy into recovery or do marketers just sit in fear, choosing the safest options they can find?  All year, social marketers battled with traditional marketers.   It is such a silly debate and I hope it ends some time soon.  The only real separation I see is that some brands are figuring it out, while others looked pretty stupid not even trying.   Some media are figuring it out as well, but others are still struggling on how to make money from their services.  I was going to do “The Best and Worst” but in 2012, it just feels too easy to do the worst.

Facebook IPO damaged the Brand Reputation:  

The first 4 months of the 2012 were filled with stories about how amazing and invincible Facebook was, with estimated valuation going from $20 Billion to $50 Billion all the way up to $100 Billion.  2012 badEveryone was in awe and Zuckerberg was pure Genius.  But once Facebook went public, they learned the hard lesson about privacy.  Pretty soon, it because obvious that Facebook was struggling with how to monetize the billion members they had collected.  The invincible brand was quickly tarnished and the stock price tumbled from $40 down to $15.  For traditional Brand Leaders, this didn’t help the cause of Social Media.

A Year of Gaffes on Social Media

The worst tweet of the year belonged to Kitchen Aid who made an awful tweet during the US Presidential Elections.   First, brands should never express their political views.   And beyond that, the tweet was in extremely bad taste.   Importantly, it does remind us that social media is the wild-west of marketing and has to be monitored closely.

2012 bad

McDonald’s innocently enough created a hashtag on twitter called #McDstories which quickly turned nasty with consumers just giving it to McDonald’s.  Again, quick monitoring and deleting bad stories could have been helpful.

2012 bad2

Pizza Hut posted an online video inviting the participants at the Town Hall Presidential Debate to ask the candidates whether they preferred sausage or pepperoni.  The idea was a little too cute for the mainstream media who were in  the midst of the serious debates and the pretty much roasted Pizza Hut hourly for days.

Please stop with the “Like Us on Facebook”

Alright, enough already.   Getting someone to like you on Facebook doesn’t seem very hard.  Almost as hard as getting someone to endorse you on Linked In.  I’d like that stopped as well.  This year, I was out on a nice country drive with my wife and drove past a Rock Quarry that had a sign “Like Us on Facebook”.   Given the limited advertising budget of a Rock Quarry, they have one chance to communicate with me and that’s what they chose.  How about “Rocks, $10 a pound”.   Let’s hope the “Like Us on Facebook” dies soon.

Hotels Charging for Internet

Most of us likely pay between $25 and $60 per month for your internet services, depending on your location or bandwidth choices.   We can get free WiFi in every Starbucks, McDonald’s and  any coffee shop.  Yet, 2012 was the growing trend of Hotels starting to rip off consumers for Internet usage.  Most recently, on a trip to NYC, they wanted to charge me $17 per day, per device.  i figured, we’d just use the lobby.  That would cost $7 per hour.   This is pure gouging of the consumer stuck away from home.  I’m hoping one of the big chains sees a slight window where they can do what Starbucks did for WiFi.   I encourage everyone who finds this hotel policy disgusting to complain to their hotel or go on their Twitter and register a complaint.    In fact, I’m starting to hear of cities contemplating making their entire city “Free WiFi” as a competitive advantage.   What everyone is learning is the internet has to be free and it’s expected to be free.  This is a scam that I hope stops in 2013.

Blackberry’s Arrogance in Management

About 24 months ago, Blackberry was a relatively hot brand.  2012 badIt was the choice of the business world.  People talked so much about being addicted to their blackberry that the term “crackberry” was a running gag.  It seems every teenager was BBM’ing  And they had just announced the launch of the Playbook, which loyal Blackberry users were looking forward to seeing.   The problem for Blackberry was poor product quality–crappy browser, phone, camera, keyboards and battery.  Anyone who tried an iPhone or Android quickly switched and Blackberry’s market share dwindled and the stock price crumbled from $120 down to $10.   It was the arrogance of management behind Jim Balsillie and Mike Laziridis, who could no longer get along and who were both tossed from the company in 2012.

Apple Had a Mixed Year

Apple is the latest Beloved Brand that can do no wrong…that started to show some cracks over the past six months.   It’s a classic case of making sure you measure the Brand Wealth and Health.   2012 badWhile the sales are still exceptionally strong and the stock price is extremely high, there were a few flaws this year that could be signs that people in the post-Jobs era are waiting for.   The iPad3 wasn’t much of a difference for the average consumer to get excited behind.   The iPhone5 while very strong didn’t really meet sales forecasts.   And then there was the maps fiasco, which had many loyalists claiming “That would not have happened under Steve Jobs”.   The good news for those loyalists is Tim Cook fired a bunch of the people responsible for the Maps fiasco, demonstrating that he’s not as tolerant for errors as they were proclaiming.  The launch of iPad Mini was a nice tease for many consumers (myself included) but a few of the loyalists are also a bit skeptical, especially as it runs counter to what Jobs wanted.   The Apple stock price started the year at $400, jumped quickly to $600+ in the spring and fell back down to $515 where it sits currently.   All in all, a mixed year for Apple.  Twelve months ago, we optimistically said “what’s next for Apple” which twelve months later, we’re still saying “what’s next for Apple” but with a bit more frustration than optimism.  I’m hopeful that it’s more than just iPhone 6, iPad 4, iPod Mini 2 or iPod 11.03.  I thought Apple thought incrementalism sucked.

Obama vs Romney was a bit Blah

Forget the politics, candidates, policies for a minute.   The marketing of the two candidates took a step back.  No creativity came from social media.   It was back to the future 1980s style campaigning with endless TV ads slamming each other.  2012 badThere was no “Obama” girl, no great speeches, tag lines and the debates lacked any “you’re no Jack Kennedy” lines.  As a marketer, sometimes we look for these campaigns to use all that money to come up with something truly breakthrough that the rest of us marketers can learn from.  It also seems that the Tea Party and Occupy movements have both lost their steam.   Maybe in 2016, we’ll have Clinton vs Bush (Hillary vs Jeb) that will make it seem really back to the future.

The National Hockey League

For the second time in five years, the NHL has a lock out of the players.  Debate all you want as to whether you side with the Billionaires of the Millionaires, this is really no way to grow a brand that needs growing.   In Canada, Hockey will always be #1.  But in the coveted US market, Hockey remains on the outside looking in.   Hockey trails the NFL, MLB, NBA, NASCAR, College Football, College Basketball and even the UFC.    If you don’t have snow, you haven’t really missed that the NHL is even on a work stoppage.  Everyone always says “it’s the fans who are getting hurt”.  No, it’s not.  It’s the brand.  When you are trying to grow a brand, it takes investment and commitment to building a relationship with your customers.  Putting excessive detail on the cost line is not the way to grow.  On top of that, the lockout comes down to one very simple premise:  we want to put rules in place that will get the owners to stop paying the players so much money.   Can’t they just do that, without the rules.

Here’s to a Great Year in 2013!

 

To find ways to make your brand more loved, read the following presentation:

 

grAbout 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

You can always reach me by email at graham.robertson@beloved-brands.com

I run Brand Leader Training programs on this very subject as well as a variety of others that are all designed to make better Brand Leaders.  Click on any of the topics below that might interest you:

Twinkies: Love Without Substance is just Lust

I hate to be a Scrooge, but we could use a world with a little fewer Twinkies

Last week, the company that makes Twinkies announced they were closing down the business.  Right now, Twinkies are trending high on Twitter, Facebook and even sales on E-Bay are going through the roof.  People are outraged and looking for someone to blame.  It has to be the greedy management who forced bankruptcy.  How could this happen to a Beloved Brand like Twinkies.  But in reality, it’s the consumers who are to blame.  Because no one loved them enough last week to avoid this week’s bankruptcy.

 

We don’t really love Twinkies.  We just remember Twinkies fondly.

If we did love Twinkies, then sales would be in high growth year over year.  There’s just a bit of lust re-kindled by nostalgia when we realize a part of childhood might be moving on without us.   In general, Brands move along the Brand Love Curve, moving from Indifferent to Like It to Love It and all the way to Beloved Brand status.  Most days, we are totally indifferent to Twinkies, only when our childhood memories are threatened do we remember the love we once had for the brand.  As the Twinkies story falls off the news pages, we’ll return to Indifferent and the brand will continue to die. 

There’s a bunch of brands out there that we have fond memories of, but we are no longer buying.  And Twinkies fits the bill along with Wheaties, Tang,  Orange Crush, Maxwell House and Trix cereal.  I worked as an Assistant Brand Manager on Trix when it had a 0.1% market share, yet retailers kept it on the shelf because of their affection for the silly rabbit.  Yet, Kids hated the cereal and even Moms were mad because they ended up throwing out half eaten boxes of Trix.  I remember my manager thought “maybe we should go for a bigger size”.  Yeah, that makes sense, so they can throw out even more cereal.  (not my brightest boss of all time)  Most of these brands died because the brand got stuck in a certain era, and didn’t have a good enough product to move to the next generation.

Times Have Changed and Twinkies Didn’t

If sentimentalists are worried about why Twinkies are going bankrupt here one reason why. This is the Twinkies ingredient list:

Enriched wheat flour, sugar, corn syrup, niacin, water, high fructose corn syrup, vegetable and/or animal shortening – containing one or more of partially hydrogenated soybean, cottonseed and canola oil, and beef fat, dextrose, whole eggs, modified corn starch, cellulose gum, whey, leavenings (sodium acid pyrophosphate, baking soda, monocalcium phosphate), salt, cornstarch, corn flour, corn syrup, solids, mono and diglycerides, soy lecithin, polysorbate 60, dextrin, calcium caseinate, sodium stearoyl lactylate, wheat gluten, calcium sulphate, natural and artificial flavors, caramel color, yellow No. 5, red #40.[10]

In a world where Whole Foods is in rapid growth, people are watching what they eat and what goes into their bodies.  Does anyone want that list in their digestive system?  Some of these fatty brands have made the move to lower calorie or lower fat options.  Skinny Cow from Nestle is a great new brand that gives people the chance to indulge but only blow 150 calories.  It really taps into the idea that people still want to indulge, but they want to stay in control of their weight.  Twinkies could have easily gotten their product down to 100 calories with a bite size indulgence.  The Twinkies packaging looks like stuck in the 1970s, and I haven’t seen any brand investment or marketing breakthrough in the past 10 to 20 years.

So while Twinkies might be trending this week, I’m sure none of you will be dropping it in your kids lunch bag next to the celery and yogurt tubes.

Twinkies is One More Beloved Brand to fall from Grace

Here’s another story about former Beloved Brands that have fallen off:  How Beloved Brands Fall From Grace

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.  I’m the President of Beloved Brands Inc.  and can help you find the love for your brand.  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 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. My promise to you is that I will get your brand and your team in a better position for future growth.  I only do two things:  1) Make Brands Better or 2) Make Brand Leaders Better.   To read more about Beloved Brands Inc., visit http://beloved-brands.com/inc/   Feel free to add me on Linked In at http://www.linkedin.com/in/grahamrobertson1  or on follow me on Twitter at @GrayRobertson1

Advertising Is Everywhere. But there sure is an awful lot of Crap!!!

The average consumer sees about 5,000 ads per day.  You can’t really escape them.  And yet, we are all so busy, how many of those ads do we actually engage in?  10 or 20?  And how many of those do we act on each day?   3 or 5?   Advertising is truly ubiquitous, but is it all that effective?

There’s so much Crap Out there.

When I drive past billboards with tons of information, I laugh and think “what a waste of money”.  Most times you engage in Outdoor ads, you’re driving 60 miles per hour, and the reality is you have 3 to 5 seconds.

Let’s try a few out and test your ability to digest ads.

Test #1:  Read the ad below and count to 5.

How did you do?  I got stuck on the dress joke.  Did you get the brand name or what they actually do?  Do you know the brand benefit or even the message?   The only good news is you just need to turn left.  But it’s a funeral home and not exactly an impulse purchase, so do you really need directions just yet?

Test #2:  All of a sudden you are tourist, driving into a new town called Quartzside and looking for things to do.  Take 5 seconds and read the ad below.

It almost hurts the brain doesn’t it.  Maybe you want to know where the tourism office is.  Did you pick up the directions?   Yet, there’s two websites and a phone number.  And a very odd picture of a camel that we’re not even sure why it’s there.

Test #3:  The good news is that we know they sell houses.  Take 5 seconds and read the ad.  It stil hurts.  Nice layout.

What’s the name of the real estate agent and what’s his phone number?  Ummm, is he helping you to buy a house or sell your house?

One hard and fast rule:  Advertising is not what is said, but what is understood.  In this case, you’ve only got 5 seconds to communicate.  I know it’s so tempting to jam everything into the precious ad space you’ve purchased.  It’s hard to leave stuff out that I want to say.  But keep in mind that with so many messages, if nothing gets through, then you’ve just wasted all your money.  You have to prioritize your messaging:  what’s your shout from the mountain and how do you creatively project that shout in 5 seconds?

Let’s Celebrate the Great Work that’s out there.

Break Through the Clutter but Don’t add your own Clutter:  To break through in the clutter of 5,000 ads per day, the added creativity makes the media work harder and your return on effort much more efficient.   And when someone engages your brand with a smile already on their face, it is that much easier to love your brand.  Have fun with the media choice, and let the creative idea drive that media so that you can showcase what it’s like to experience your brand.

McDonald’s

This McDonald’s billboard is incredibly simple, but also talks about the impulsive nature of McDonald’s.  Once you decide you want to go, you just can’t get there fast enough.  Perfect for the McDonald’s fans.

Kit Kat Transit Bench

If you are a fan of chocolate, this bench will certainly trigger an impulse to buy a Kit Kat.  I am hungry just looking at that bench.

Hot Wheels

I love the creativity in the Hot Wheels ad below with the kid looking at the real cars on the highway below.  The kid captures the emotional appeal of Hot Wheels.

Swiss Skydive

And finally, this one takes some explaining, even though it’s a really simple idea.   The floor of this elevator is a photo from thousands of feet above the ground which makes it look and feel like you are sky diving.  Step into this elevator and as the elevator starts to go down you’ll start to feel the thrill of jumping out of a plane.  For dare-devils, they’ll love it.  

If you don’t love the work, how do you expect your consumer to love your brand? 

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, visit http://beloved-brands.com/inc/  Feel free to add me on Linked In at http://www.linkedin.com/in/grahamrobertson1

Who the Heck is P&G?

For about 150 years, the name P&G was in the far background, nowhere to be seen. The only people who knew the name P&G were business people, new business school grads and retail buyers. Consumers never knew that a lot of the brands they loved and used every day–Tide, Crest, Pampers, Downy–all came from the same company. P&G definitely used the House of Brands to the best of their abilities. And yet, in the lasts two years, we are seeing a shift to a hybrid approach between the House of Brands and the Branded House. Both P&G and Unilever have begun ending each TV ad with a little sign off from the corporate brand name. Part of the rational for P&G is they believe that having the corporate brand name will help the weaker brands in the portfolio, giving consumers some added re-assurance that the brand comes from the same great company that makes so many of their favourites. The issue with that logic is won’t the very healthy brands be held back, having two brand names at the end of ads? It might be especially true for a brand like Gillette where it’s already very healthy and seen as its own company. If I was in charge of the Gillette brand, I might be asking “does this make sense?”

For the last few decades of the 20th century, P&G advertising was relying so heavily on the side-by-side demonstrations that all the ads started to all look the same whether it was Tide, Downy, Mr Clean or Crest. Extremely non-emotional.

I hope everyone understands that for a guy like me, who believes that creating love for your brand makes your brand more powerful and in turn more valuable that it would make sense that while I have always respected P&G, I just have never really loved or admired them. I was more of a fan of Unilever work, especially Dove’s “real beauty” campaign. Then all of a sudden, the light went on with the Pampers “Forever Young” TV ad. At first, I was stunned it was a P&G commercial. Hats off to whoever got it approved.

Then I started to notice more and more attempts by P&G to get emotional in their work. Even the emotionless brand leader Tide was trying to be emotional. Not yet fully successful, but an A for effort, on a very difficult brand to be emotional. It looks like P&G gets it and in a big way is starting to make a difference.

With the 2012 Olympic Games, I have to fully confess that the one brand that jumps out is P&G. I saw them announce to a room of Moms of the Olympic Athletes that they were sending them to the opening ceremonies and there were tears everywhere. And they have done one of the best TV ads, appropriately titled “Best Jobs” where it showcases how hard Moms work to get their athletes to the games. As P&G makes the move to a hybrid approach to a master brand, this is an amazing start. I love this ad.

And they are trying very hard to link each of their brands into the Olympics.

  • Gillette – “A Great Start Every Day” campaign featuring Swiss tennis player Roger Federer, British cyclist Sir Chris Hoy, Chinese Badminton player Lin Dan, Brazilian swimmer Felipe Franca, and American swimmer Ryan Lochte
  • Ariel & Tide – “Proud Keeper of Your Country’s Colours” campaign featuring Turkish runner Nevin Yanit and Mexican pentathlete Oscar Soto
  • Pampers – “Celebrating Babies’ Unique Spirit of Play” campaign featuring U.S. beach volleyball player Kerri Walsh Jennings and British marathoner Paula Radcliffe
  • Pantene – “Keep Shining” campaign featuring Argentine tennis player Gisela Dulko, Mexican diver Paola Espinosa, and American swimmer Natalie Coughlin
  • Head & Shoulders – “Wash in Confidence” featuring American swimmer Michael Phelps and French handball player Nikola Karabatic

Way to go P&G, whoever the heck P&G is.

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, visit http://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.

When Your Brand is Liked but Not Loved

Don’t feel bad about being at the Like It stage, because that’s where most brands are.

You have been able to successfully carve out a niche and be a chosen brand against a proliferation of brands in the category.    And you have good share results, moderate profits and most brand indicators are reasonably healthy.  It’s just that no one loves you.

Does it really matter?   Brands move from Indifferent to Like It to Love It to Beloved Brand for Life.  But isn’t being Liked Enough?   If you could move to a Loved brand, you would have a very tight connection with consumers.  That connection becomes a source of power that you can harness, and then use to drive higher growth and profits.  How can you harness the power Love in the market?  If you are loved, you’ll have power over retailers generating preferential treatment, because they know their consumers will switch stores before they switch brands.  You can push suppliers for lower costs because they’ll want to tell others they supply you,  You can generate free press, because your brand is now all of a sudden newsworthy.  You’ll have cheaper real estate because malls will want your brand to anchor the new mall.   Employees will sacrifice wages just to have your brand on their resume.   And loved brands can even use that power on the very consumers that love you already:  new products will generate early awareness and trial.   All this power, derived from the connectivity to consumers, can be harnessed to generate higher growth rates and added profits.  Ask Apple, who is the most loved and the most profitable.  They understand the formula:  Beloved = Power = Growth = Profit.

Many times I find it hard to convince logical brand managers that being more loved matters.  They stick to the safe logic of claims over benefits, stick to the rational of side-by-side demonstrations and they settle for likeable execution instead of pushing for loveable work.  They worry going emotional feels risky.  Unsafe.   I’m a logical profit driven marketer.  I believe in proof.  Emotional is silly agency talk.  You might be right because the only advantages a Loved Brand offers is higher growth rates, higher margins, lower costs to serve and overall higher profitability.  So stick to being liked and your modest results.

How the consumer sees your Brand at the Liked Stage:  

Consumers see your brand as a functional and rational choice they make.   They tried it and it makes sense so they buy it, use it and they do enjoy it.  It meets a basic need they have.  They likely prefer it versus another brand, but they think it is better, cheaper or easier to use.  Or your mom told you to use it.  But, consumers don’t have much of an emotional connection or feeling about the brand.     Where Indifferent is really bad, you’re ordinary, which is just a little bit better.  Overall, consumers see you brand in the “it will do” space.

Why is your brand Stuck at the Like It stage?

There are seven possible reasons why you are at the Like It Stage:

  1. Protective Brand Leaders means Caution:  While many of these brands at the Like It are very successful brands, they get stuck because of overly conservative and fearful Brand Managers, who pick middle of the road strategies and execute “ok” ideas.  On top of this, Brand Managers who convince themselves that “we stay conservative because it’s a low-interest category” should be removed.   Low interest category means you need even more to captivate the consumer.
  2. We are rational thinking Marketers:  Those marketers that believe they are strictly rational are inhibiting their brands.  The brand managers get all jazzed on claims, comparatives, product demonstration and doctor recommended that they forget about the emotional side of the purchase decision.   Claims need to be twisted into benefits—both rational and emotional benefits.   Consumers don’t care about you do until you care about what they need.  Great marketers find that balance of the science and art of the brand.   Ordinary marketers get stuck with the rational only.
  3. New Brand with Momentum:  Stage 2 of a new brand innovation is ready to expand from the early adopters to the masses.   The new brand begins to differentiate itself in a logical way to separate themselves from the proliferation of copycat competitors.   Consumers start to go separate ways as well.  Retailers might even back one brand over another.  Throughout the battle, the brand carves out a base of consumers.
  4. There’s a Major Leak:  If you look at the brand buying system, you’ll start to see a major leak at some point where you keep losing customers.  Most brands have some natural flaw—whether it’s the concept, the product, taste profile ease of use or customer service.   Without analyzing and addressing the leak, the brand gets stuck.  People like it, but refuse to love it.
  5. Brand changes their Mind every year:  Brands really exist because of the consistency of the promise.  When the promise and the delivery of the promise changes every year it’s hard to really connect with what the brand is all about.  A brand like Wendy’s has changed their advertising message every year over the past 10 years.  The only consumers remaining are those who like their burgers, not the brand.
  6. Positional Power–who needs Love:  there are brands that have captured a strong positional power, whether it`s a unique technology or distribution channel or even value pricing advantage.  Brands like Microsoft or Wal-Mart or even many of the pharmaceuticals products don`t see value in the idea of being loved.   The problem is when you lose the positional power, you lose your customer base completely.
  7. Brands who capture Love, but no Life Ritual:  There are brands that quickly capture the imagination but somehow fail to capture a routine embedded in the consumers’ life, usually due to some flaw.   Whether it’s Krispy Kreme, Pringles or even Cold Stone, there’s something inherent in the brand’s format or weakness that holds it back and it stays stuck at Loved but just not often enough.  So, you forget you love them.
There are lots of reasons your brand is stuck at Like It, mainly because so many of brands are at the Like It stage.  And there’s nothing shameful in it, but just know you could get more from your brand.

Indicators that Your Brand is stuck at the Like It stage

  • Low Conversion to Sales.   While the brand looks healthy in terms of awareness and equity scores, the brand is successful in becoming part of the consumer’s consideration set, but it keeps losing out to the competition as the consumer goes to the purchase stage.  It usually requires a higher trade spend to close that sale which cuts price and margins.
  • Brand Doesn’t Feel Different:  A great advertising tracking score to watch is “made the brand seem different” which helps to separate itself from the pack, many times speaking to the emotional part of the messaging.
  • Stagnant Shares:  Your brand team is happy when they hold onto their share, content to grow with the category.
  • High Private Label Sales:    If you only focus on the ingredients and the rational features of the product, the consumer will start to figure out they get the same thing with the private label and the share starts to creep up to 20% and higher.

How to get past the Like It stage and move towards the Love It stage

  • Focus on action and drive Consideration and Purchase:  stake out certain spaces in the market creating a brand story that separates your brand from the clutter.  Begin to sell the solution, not just the product.  Build a Bigger Following:  Invest in building a brand story that helps to drive for increased popularity and get new consumers to use the brand.
  • Begin to Leverage those that already Love:  Focus on the most loyal consumers and drive a deeper connection by driving the routine which should increase usage frequency.  On top of that, begin cross selling to capture a broader type of usage.
  • Love the Work:  It is time to dial-up the passion that goes into the marketing execution.   Beloved Brands have a certain magic to them.  But “Like It’ brands tend to settle for ok, rather than push for great.  With better work, you’ll be able to better captivate and delight the consumers.  If you don’t love the work, how do you expect the consumer to love your brand.
  • Fix the Leak:  Brands that are stuck have something embedded in the brand or the experience that is holding back the brand.  It frustrates consumers and restricts them from fully committing to making the brand a favourite.  Be proactive and get the company focused on fixing this leak.
  • Build a Big Idea:  Consumers want consistency from the brand—constant changes to the advertising, packaging or delivery can be frustrating. Leverage a Brand Story and a Big Idea that balances rational and emotional benefits helps to establish a consistency for the brand and help build a much tighter relationship.

Brands at the Like It stage get complacent.  You need to drive the Love into the work, and find the balance between rational and emotional benefits. 

 

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, visit http://beloved-brands.com/inc/

How to Differentiate your Brand through Product Innovation

“Everything that can be invented has been invented.”

Charles H. Duell, Commissioner, US Patent Office,  1899

The quote above may have missed out on the airplane, radio, TV, microwave, car, computer, internet, nearly every cpg product and of course my beloved iPhone.  Maybe the sentiment of the quote was just about 100 years too early.  In the last decade, most of the great innovation has been relegated to social media and electronics.  I hope this century brings us much more than just Facebook, BBM and Twitter.  In the consumer goods area, we must be on the 197th version of “new” cherry flavoured bubble gum since 1955, we’ve now seen hundreds of “new” peach yoghurt and I hope I never see another “new” laundry soap telling us that their little blue beads get their clothes really clean.  

New products that truly solve a consumer problem in a unique way are rare.  This is the generation of marketing incrementalism.  On most brand plans I see “launch innovative new products”  sits comfortably in the #3, 4 or 5 slot on the plan, while #1 is fix the advertising and #2 is get more distribution.  

There are four key stages to innovation:  1) Invention 2) Differentiation 3) Experience and 4) Perception.  And the marketing is different at each phase.

Stage 1: Invention of the Core Product:  The challenge of a truly new product is to finding something that is truly different: a new technology, delivery, format or process.   Rarely, do we get to work on a game changing “invention”.  
Stage 1 of a new product usually focuses all of their efforts on launching and explaining why it is needed.  The product at this stage is usually just the core product, not yet perfected, higher costs and limited sales with no profits.   The advertising is about awareness and the message is simple:  you have this problem, we solve that problem.   There’s an effort to the distribution, because many customers are risk averse and afraid of new products.   Consumers are willing to pay a little more to solve the problem, they overlook all the flaws and limitations, and they think “why didn’t I think of this”.  While some consumers love the new product already, most consumers still sit at the sceptical and indifferent stage.  

Stage 2: Product Proliferation means Differentiation:  With a little bit of success in the market comes copy cats.  With more consumers buying, there becomes room for some differentiation, but mostly limited to product still:  new features and added services on top of the core product.  They might have found a way to make things cheaper, easier to use or better tasting.  Prices come down and brands offer more variety.  Distribution becomes a battle ground and getting full distribution becomes the goal.  Customers try to line up behind certain brands–looking for preferential treatment.  The advertising is about consideration and purchase, trying to stake out certain spaces, shifting from product to brand and separating your brand from others. Brands now sell the solution, not just the product.  And consumers start to choose, one brand over another.  While some consumers prefer one brand over another, most consumers are at the like it stage.

Stage 3: It’s all about the Experience:  In order to establish leadership or challenge for leadership, brands begin to talk about the experience consumers will have with their product.  It becomes no longer about the brand or product but about the consumer and how your brand fits into their life.  Brands look to use positioning strategies to separate themselves, focusing on key targets, with unique benefits–a balance of emotional and rational benefits.  Advertising brings the consumer front and centre, trying to establish a routine with your brand in it.  Brands try to move to the love it stage, some do, but most will be stuck still at the like it stage.  Those that get stuck are forced into value and focusing on price, promotions or value.  The brands that reach the love it stage can command a premium, drive share  and establish leadership in the category.

Stage 4:  Managing the Perception:  As the market matures, any share point movements become difficult gain any traction on real quality so the shift moves to perceived quality.  Strategy shifts to brand personality where tone and manner in the execution are paramount so that Consumers connect with the brand and begin to see themselves in the brand.   Brands push to become a Beloved Brand, where demand becomes desire, needs become cravings, thinking is replaced with feelings and Consumers become outspoken fans.  The brand becomes powerful, with power over distribution because consumers would switch stores before they switch brands and power over competitors who are stuck trying to establish their own point of difference.  Profits are at their highest–revenue, margins are both strong and spending is focused and efficient on maintaining the relationship.  While at the top of the mountain, with firm leadership in the category, the brand is always at risk of losing that leadership.  Challenge yourself continuously the stay at the top.  Avoid becoming complacent.

Ask Gap Clothing, Cadillac, IBM computers, Levis, Sony or Kodak who have each reached the Beloved Stage only to be replaced by new products and brands and moved back down the love curve towards Indifferent.  Most recently, Blackberry.  Only 18 months ago, people jokingly used the term “crackberry” to describe their addictions.  No longer.

The four stages can easily be matched up to the Brand Love Curve and help establish strategic focus for the brand.  At the Invention stage, consumers remain indifferent until you build awareness and explain how your product solves a problem in my life.  At the Differentiation stage, some like it, but you are now facing proliferation and attack forcing your brand to stake out a claim.  At the experience stage, you need to become part of your consumers life and balance the emotional and rational benefits that can move you to the love it stage.  And finally, you have to tightly manage the Perceptions to become that Beloved Brand for Life stage, it’s about connecting with consumers so they see themselves through your brand.   You need to establish your personality and begin to wield the power of being a Beloved Brand.

But be careful: very few brands remain at the top for very long.   

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.  I’m the President of Beloved Brands Inc and can help you find the love for your brand.

What is a Beloved Brand?

Being a Beloved Brand gives a brand a tighter connection with their consumer.  That connection becomes a source of power and a source of brand value. 

Beloved = Connection = Power = Profitability

Follow the presentation below:

Executive Summary

  • Everything starts and ends with the consumer in mind.  Consumers move along the “LOVE CURVE” going from Indifferent to Like It to Love It, and then they’ll make it their Brand For Life.  The farther along the curve, the more connected consumers are to the brand.
  • As a brand, you need to know who your consumer is, how they live and what’s important to them. Understand who is not your consumer, realizing you don’t need to be liked by all, but loved by those that really matter.
  • Love the work you do and consumers will love you back.  If you don’t love the work, then how do you expect your consumer to fall in love with your brand? Reject all work that is “just ok”.
  • The Connection and Love  that Consumers have for a Brand becomes a Source of Power for a brand, helping to change the dynamic the brand can have with suppliers, customers, competitors and even with the consumers themselves.
  • The “Love Curve” can be linked to the Brand Funnel which becomes the underlying scoreboard of the brand.  You can use the funnel to map out the buying process for the consumer, identifying both strategy and tactics to move them along the funnel towards being more loved.
  • Used properly, the Power of the Brand can help drive the P&L with four important levers:  driving increased price, lowering costs, increasing share, creating new markets.
  • A powerful connected brand is much more efficient.  And that efficiency can leverage the P&L to invest back in the brand’s connectivity and driveProfitand in turn create Value for the Brand.

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. If you have interest for your team, email me and we can customize a program to your needs.  For Powerpoint versions of Building a Career in Beloved Brands as well as other team learning presentations, visit Slide Share Learning Presentations

Google just wants to be Loved…but don’t we all?

Eight years ago Google talked about trying to do business without being evil.  It was refreshing and ground-breaking in a world of excess greed.  If only the Wall Street Bankers had done the same thing, maybe we wouldn’t be in this financial crisis.  Yet, people criticize Google for saying they aren’t evil because of their tough way of doing business.  Yes, Google has a near monopoly, but they have earned that position.  Yes, they are agressive in the market and wield power over the market they compete in.  I’d hate to be one of their competitors–just ask Yahoo and MSN.  But don’t mix evil up with good ole smart capitalism and a high regard for empowering their beloved brand.

Recently the Larry Page, the CEO of Google took it even further towards being a beloved brand.  In an open letter, he stated:

“We have always wanted Google to be a company that is deserving of great love.  We recognise this is an ambitious goal because most large companies are not well-loved, or even seemingly set up with that in mind.”

If you want to find the ways that Google has achieved love from their consumers, look in the list of “The Ten Things We Know to be True” that Google created very early on in their life.  Any great brand could learn from that list–and very few brands live by these rules.   In that list, Google proclamed they would “Focus on the user and all else will follow”.  I wish every brand took such a consumer centric view, instead of just a product centric view.  I always think that the consumer is the most selfish animal on the planet, and satisfying that consumer’s selfishness will turn you from just a usual sellling brand to a connected brand that consumers can not live without.  Google also said: It’s best to do one thing really, really well.  So many brands are trying to be all things to all people, that they end up diluting the meaning of their brand and the promise that leads their effort.    A brand is a promise that you must be able to keep.  Trying to do everything will ineviatably mean failure in breaking that promise.  A beloved brand knows who their consumer is, and equally who is not their consumer.  I hope Google stays true to this idea.  Arguably Google has had a few little wiggles from the search focus, and wonder where they go with Google+.   Wiggles are OK, diversions are not.   And the other thing Google said was:  Great just isn’t good enough.  Brand Leaders play it too safe too often and settle for OK.  They don’t take any chances–they focus just on the logic and mind of the consumer.  They fear trying to be emotional, because it feels uncertain.  They end up boring and liked but they never reach the loved stage.   Google on the hand states that Great is the starting point to push yourself beyond:

We see being great at something as a starting point, not an endpoint. We set ourselves goals we know we can’t reach yet, because we know that by stretching to meet them we can get further than we expected. Through innovation and iteration, we aim to take things that work well and improve upon them in unexpected ways.

Ironically, Google has produced one TV ad, and it’s one of the best in the last decade.  It’s very emotion and showcases the power that Google has in our lives.

Instead of criticizing Google for stating that they want to be loved, I’d like to see all Brand Leaders push themselves to be loved.   Everything should start and end with the Consumer in mind.  Beloved Brands intimately know their consumer and become a part of their life.  With most brands, Consumers move along a “LOVE CURVE” going from Indifferent to Like It to Love It, and then they’ll make their Beloved Brand into A Brand For Life.  The Love Consumers have for a Brand becomes a Source of Power, helping to change the dynamic the brand can have with suppliers, customers, competitors and even with the consumers themselves. There’s nothing wrong or evil with using that power to the advantage of the brand.

In fact, you need to find the way to leverage the power of being Beloved.  The “Love Curve” can be linked to the brand funnel which becomes the underlying scoreboard for the brand.  And it helps to provide strategic focused against one key area of the funnel. Used properly, the brand power can drive the P&L with four levers:  increasing price, lowering costs, increasing share, creating new markets.  An efficient brand can leverage the P&L to invest back in the brand’s connectivity and drive profit and create value for the brand.

When it comes to execution, brand leaders play it far too safe.  Too many times, they fail to do work that is good or different.   They stick to the usual and sameness–resulting in boring work that fails to stand out.  The zone you should be pushing for is Good But Different:  It might not always test well, as it is beyond the consumer’s thinking.  Consumers don’t have the imagination to always know what they want.  They know their problems, just not the solutions.  But once consumers start to see how the differences meets their needs, they’ll start to buy.  It might feel like the highest risk but it also is the highest long-term sustainability and potential to be loved.

My challenge to you is to push yourself and your brand to find love by putting all your passion into the brand work you do.  If you don’t love the work you do, how do you expect the consumer to fall in love with your brand?

BMW Films: Branded Content Light Years ahead of its Time

Twelve Years Ago…

As marketers are abuzz with Content Marketing, my challenge is to push yourselves to do great content you love, not just ok content work you like.  While BMW_logobeing part of the community and targeting unique users is the right strategy, creating bad content might do more damage than good.   It looks cheap.  When you forget to entertain, when you don’t put in the quality in execution, or where your brand is too obviously jammed into a piece of content that has nothing to do with your brand.  When you don’t astonish and delight the consumer, you fall flat.  So, don’t just do content, do content that you and your consumer will love.

In 2001, BMW launched BMW Films, light years ahead of the industry.  While everyone was still worried about producing 30s and 15s and newspaper ads, most brand leaders were still thinking whether they could afford to put 1% of their budgets into the Internet.  From a brand point of view to that point, BMW had always used traditional media like TV and Print to sell their cars.  But they saw that things were changing, especially seeing that the role of the internet on the purchase cycle.  Roughly 85% of BMW purchasers used the Internet before purchasing a BMW.  BMW knew that the average work-hard, play-hard customer was 46 years old, with a median income of about $150,000. Two-thirds were male, married, and had no children.  In general, we see that Brands move along the Love Curve, going from Indifferent to Like It and Love It before becoming that Beloved Brand for Life.  Competitively, BMW had a lot of love but it was still battling traditional rival Mercedes who had the most love of all Luxury Car Brands.  Everyone else was compared to Mercedes.  Also, brands like Lexus and Infiniti were gaining some emotional support from consumers and gaining share.   BMW needed something to show consumers what makes a BMW truly a BMW.   They needed to put their stake in the ground to push to be the Most Beloved Luxury Car brand.  They needed something that the consumer would love and in turn love the BMW brand.

Integrated Content at it’s Best

The idea of BMW Films was to cast the BMW car as a hero into the starring role of a movie, and in fact many movies.   BMW assembled a cast of A-list directors (Guy Richie, Tony Scott, Ang Lee) and A-list actors (Clive Owen Forest Whittiker, Madonna, Mickey Rourke), and developed scripts within the basic framework of having a central character that helped people through difficult circumstances using deft driving skills—in a BMW. The car became the star. Each director who chose a script was then given complete creative control over content and direction, something they would be hard-pressed to find in Hollywood, and something that BMW ordinarily wouldn’t allow if filming a traditional advertisement.

BMW used traditional media with mock movie trailers on TV and on-line advertising to surround their consumer and drive traffic to the website.  The end results were staggering: the series had been viewed over 100 million times in four years and had changed the way products were advertised.   BMW has had a great decade of sales, recently surpassing both Lexus and Mercedes as the #1 luxury brand.

BMW Films was out there.   It took risks, and was an incredible production.   To me, it’s still the benchmark for Content Marketing.  To me, it’s like Bob Beamon surpassing the long jump record by 2 1/2 feet when everyone else was measuring in inches.  It’s like Babe Ruth hitting 60 home runs when the next guy had 17.  The love for a brand normally comes when we love the work we do on that brand.  The love permeates through our work and onto the consumer.  However, if we don’t love the work, how do we expect our consumers to magically love the output of our work and then love our brand?  Not likely.  My challenge to you:  push yourself to love it, don’t just kinda like it.  Don’t settle.

Since BMW Films, I have seen some great viral work like T-Mobile, incredible integrations which make me stare and say “wow, I wish I did that”.  But in the past 10 years I’m yet to say “Now that’s better than BMW Films”.  

Hey Marketing Community!  My challenge to you:  Beat This!!!

 

 

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

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. 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

 

Pick your Social Media vehicle and follow us by clicking on the icon below

 linkedin-groups-large             images-1              facebook-logo

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.

Linsanity becomes an overnight Beloved Brand

Jeremy Lin has become an overnight sensation.  Here’s a guy who didn’t get any scholarships, went undrafted and has been cut by two NBA teams already.  His rookie NBA season, he averaged 2.6 points per game and barely got any playing time.  Just two months ago, he was cut by Golden State, one of the worst teams in the league.    He went to Harvard of all places and even in the Ivy League, he only averaged 12 points a game.    This guy has literally come from out of no where.   Even he knows that.  He was sleeping on his brothers couch just a month ago.  On top of all this, Jeremy Lin is the first American born Chinese player to break through in the NBA, which strengthens his fan based around the world.  In just seventeen days, he’s gone from a nobody to an instant global sensation, who might one day command a brand value of over $100 Million.

As I’ve laid out the Brand Love Curve, people ask me “Can a brand go straight to LOVE IT?”   My answer is “NO”, but some brands can go along the curve at warped-speed.   A few examples: the first time I had a White Chocolate Magnum Bar in the 1990s, I made it all the way to the Love It stage on the second bite.  When Kevin Spacey as “Keyser Söze” started limping away at the end of The Usual Suspects, I instantly knew it would be my one of my brands for life.  Lin has gone to Beloved Status that fast.

Jeremy Lin’s first big game was only 17 nights ago and yet he’s all over the news.   Eighteen days ago, no one really knew him.   In fact his own facebook status in early January was “Everytime i try to get into Madison Square Garden, the security guards ask me if im a trainer LOL”.   His story has grown in legendary fashion, winning 7 games in a row, hitting last second shots, beating Kobe Bryant.   All this is the basketball side.

As a brand, Jeremy Lin has gone along the Brand Love Curve at warp-speed, potentially even faster than Justin Bieber.   But for Lin, it’s been the Perfect Storm of Events.

  1. He’s just an Average Joe: He went undrafted, cut by two teams, no job, sleeping on his brothers couch. Great Story. It all adds up–he’s one of us.  We love those stories, where the guy just shows up to try out and makes the team.  Before the Lakers game, Kobe was laughing about the prospect of guarding him.   After he scored 38 points, Kobe was marvelling at his ability.  They make movies wtih scripts like that.
  2. He’s another Tebow:  He thanks Jesus when he win.   He’s nice and humble.  He’s also a highly flawed player who like Tebow, wins in the end.  And like Tebow, he wins in dramatic fashion.  We just rode the Tebow Story–and we’re clearly not done with it.   Most of us want more Tebow.   We want heroes and we want them to be good guys.    http://beloved-brands.com/2012/01/15/527/ 
  3. New York is the Centre of the Universe:  If this was Oklahoma or Portland, it might not be so crazy, but it’s New York, the home to the most powerful media and advertising in the world.   He’s already made the cover of Time Magazine and now back-to-back covers on Sports Illustrated.  Ratings for Knick games are through the roof–the highest since Michael Jordan.  His #17 jersey is selling like crazy.  Social Media has gone crazy behind Lin.  Did the New York Media help add fuel to the fire?  Likely.
  4. It’s a Global Story:  Lin, while born in America is the first American born Chinese player in the NBA.   His games are being watched Live in China.   And he’s an instant national hero in a country of One Billion people.  And as we know, the economy in China is strong–giving them the real purchasing power to get behind Lin.

As with any Beloved Brand, the more loved the brand the more valuable that brand will be.    A month ago Lin was making league minimum.  Now, he could be worth somewhere between $15 Million and $150 Million, depending on how long this status can last for him.   A few numbers that help tell the story.

  • Since Feb. 4th MSG’s stock price has increased 6%, adding $139 million to the company’s market value. During the same period the S&P 500 has gone up less than 1%.  With increased TV ratings, higher ticket prices and the #1 selling jersey, with continued success, the Knicks have to re-sign him.  That means, Lin’s next contract could see a salary of $10 Million per year.
  • Yoa Ming, the only other notable Chinese player in the NBA, made up $80 million in endorsement deals in China.  China has gotten behind Lin in a dramatic fashion.  With a soaring economy and One Billion consumers, that could be a huge payday for Lin.   Especially for American brands wanting to break through in China.   With all this hype and Chinese pride, Lin could generate $80-100 Million in China.
  • There are already rumours going on that he has signed on with Nike, that he will be the new face of NBA’13 and his agent is quoted as saying that he has already turned down Millions.  Even in America, Lin could easily turn this into another $25 Million in US Endorsements.  

If things go right, and assuming Lin continues to play reasonably well, add it all up and Jeremy Lin could easily turn his Beloved Brand Status into $100-150 Million per year.

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’ve done executive training of marketing executives and managers as well as taught marketing at Major Universities including York University, Queen’s University and Cornell University.  If you have interest for your team, email me and we can customize a program to your needs.  For Powerpoint versions of Beloved Brands as well as other team learning presentations, visit Beloved Brands Learning Sessions

Is Chrysler on the right Path to Becoming a Beloved Brand?

As we hit the US Presidential election cycle, there will be lots of talk about the Bail Outs.   Was it a good idea?   Did it work?  Who was for it?   Who was against it?

Case in point: After receiving $12 Billion in loans, Chrysler has seen three straight years of significant growth since the loans in 08 and 09.   They saw growth rates of 17% in 2010 and 26% in 2011.   And Chrysler is  off to a great start in 2012, growing by 44% and gaining over 2.5 share points in the month of January.   Chrysler is now in a fairly profitable position and has paid back most of the loans, even despite adding a complaint about the high interest rate.   It appears the bail out worked, and it kept and created a few jobs–at least for now.  Right after the bail out, Chrysler is once again in European hands, this time Fiat of Italy owns the majority compared to Mercedes of Germany.   So is Chrysler still American?

It seems that Chrysler has had bouts of desperation and recovery for my entire life.  I remember the Chrysler New Yorker of the 1970s–big huge gas guzzler cars, not an ideal fit as gas prices went through the roof.  Chrysler collapsed in 1980, only to be recovered by the Lee Iacoca legendary story which gave birth to the Yuppy word of a generation: the Mini Van.

With the current recovery, just how is Chrysler doing it?   Smoke and Mirrors and Patriotism?   Or has the product quality really improved?   Do they have a product offering as unique as the Mini Van?  Not really.  Especially if you read the reviews.  Can Chrysler survive with a mediocre product?

Consumers Report said:  “It’s clear that Chrysler is on the right path, but they still have a long way to go.”  Testers were unimpressed with the Chrysler 200, Dodge Avenger, Jeep Compass, adding that they scored at or near the bottom of their respective categories.  I know that when I buy a new car, the search component is high, spending months looking and reading.   Cars are a big investment and I don’t want to be saddled with a car that is “only ok”.  Bad reviews scare me.  The last few cars I’ve bought,  I’m sorry to say that the American cars are aren’t standing up to the Japanese cars.  Even when I look up the basic car features (mileage, horsepower, features) the American cars come up short.    Yes, I have that embedded perception problem, mainly because I’ve driven in a Chevrolet Chevette and a Ford Tempo.  It’s going to be really hard to get those out of my mind.

Chrysler needs to find some way to create an emotional bond with their consumers.   It has to be more than just a recovery and American patriotism.  For decades, consumers have been Indifferent about Chrysler.   Their cars do the basics and nothing really else.  Nothing to get excited about.  On the other hand,Lincoln made an unexpected comeback to get to the Like It stage, even more unexpected it was female buyers that drove it.  And yet, brands like Lexus and Toyota are clearly at the Love It stage.  Toyota consumers are outspoken about their brand, and return the dealer every 4-5 years to buy another Toyota.   Toyota survived what was an attack on it’s safety record, since putting it in their rear view mirror.

The recent Chrysler advertising has been strong with back-to-back SuperBowl ads that stood out.  In 2011 it was home-grown Detroit icon Eminem and this year it was Clint Eastwood.  Two minute ads at half time must have cost them $25 Million just for the media alone. The campaign tag line “Imported from Detroit” is cute, but really is just a new twist on “Made In America” or the “Buy America” calls for patriotitic purchases.  Maybe the only people buying the Chryslers are the people who were in favour of the bail out, which is some type of circular patriotism logic.

Maybe Chrysler isn’t selling cars, but selling hope for America.  But to survive the long term, they need to stand for something more, and build unique quality products that deliver.

So is the sales blip just a blip?   Or just a delay to the inevitable?

So the question remains:  Do you think the bail out helped Chrysler get on the path to becoming a beloved brand?   

The 2011 Chrysler ad seemed to hit the chords even stronger.   Home town icon Eminem is more authentic than California Clint and the ads were selling Detroit, not America.

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’ve done executive training of marketing executives and managers as well as taught marketing at Major Universities including York University, Queen’s University and Cornell University.  If you have interest for your team, email me and we can customize a program to your needs.  For Powerpoint versions of Beloved Brands as well as other team learning presentations, visit Beloved Brands Learning Sessions

Poll: What’s the Most Beloved Coffee Brand?

Have your say about your favourite coffee brand.

Finding Your Love in the Art of Being Different.

I found this year’s Super Bowl ads were “pretty good”.   While the Farmers ad stood out as amazing, the Budweiser ad was nice.  But the rest of it while well executed feels like something we see on CNN all the time.  Nothing was different.

Given the current economy, shouldn’t we be taking more risks to stand out rather than playing it safe right down the middle of the road?   Let’s hope someone has the strength to do something different.

The classic launch formula: do the basic product concept testing, hope for a moderate pass.   Then meet with sales and explain how this is almost identical to the launch we did last year, and builds on the same thing we just saw our competitor do.  Re-enforce that the buyer hinted that if we did this, we’d get on the shelves pretty easily.  Go to your ad agency, with a long list of mandatories and an equally long list of benefits they can put in the ad.   Tell the agency you’re excited.   They’ll tell you they’re excited as well.  Ask for lots of options, as a pre-caution because time is tight and we’re not sure what we want.  Just hope the agency clearly understood the 7-page brief.  Test all the ads, even a few different endings, and then let the research decide who wins.  That way, no one can blame you.  Do up a safe media plan with mostly TV, some small but safe irrelevant secondary media choice.  Throw in a web site to explain the 19 reasons why we launched.   Maybe even a game on the website.

Ah, we have our launch. 

This is a guaranteed formula for success, because it follows last year’s launch to a tee and will be done hundreds of brands this year.   Convince yourself, you had to play it safe because sales are down, margins are tight and you will do something riskier next year once this launch is done.   What looks like a guaranteed success will likely get off to a pretty good start and then flat-line until it will be discontinued three brand managers from now.

At some point, to break through in a cluttered market, you’ve got to do something different to stand out:  now, more than ever.   It might feel like a risky move, but it’s almost riskier not to take that chance.

Push yourself to be different.  The most Beloved Brands are different, better or cheaper.  Or not around for very long.  

There are four types of launches:

good-vs-different

Good But Not Different (our launch above) 

These do very well in tests mainly because consumers have seen it before and check the right boxes in research.   In market, it gets off to a pretty good start—since it still seems so familiar.   However, once challenged in the market by a competitor, it falters because people start to realize it is no different at all.  So they go back to their usual brand and your launch starts to go flat.  This option offers limited potential.

Good But Different:

These don’t always test well:  consumers don’t really know what to make of it.   Even after launched, it takes time to gain momentum, having to explain the story with potential investment and effort to really make the difference come to life.  But once consumers start to see the differences and how it meets their needs, they equate different with “good”.   It begins to gain share and generates profits for the brand.   This option offers long-term sustainability.

Not Good and Not Different:

These are the safest of safe.  Go back into the R&D lab and pick the best one you have–even if it’s not very good.   The tallest of midgets.  They do pretty well in test because of the familiarity.   In market, it gets off to a pretty good start, because it looks the same as what’s already in the market.  But pretty soon, consumers realize that it’s the same but even worse, so it fails dramatically.   What appears safe is actually highly risky.  You should have followed your instincts and not launched.  This option is a boring failure.

Different but Not that Good

Sometimes we get focused on the product first:  it offers superior technology, but not really meeting an unmet need.  So we launch what is different for the sake of being different.  It does poorly in testing.  Everyone along the way wonders why we are launching.   But in the end, consumers don’t really care about your point of difference.  And it fails.  The better mousetrap that no one cares about.

It will be up to you to figure out how to separate good from bad.   One caution is letting market research over-ride your own instincts.  As Steve Jobs said:  “it’s hard for consumers to tell you what they want when they’ve never seen anything remotely like it.   Yet now that people see it, they say OH MY GOD THAT’S GREAT”

We always tracked many numbers (awareness, brand link, persuasion etc), but the one I always wanted to know was “made the brand seem different”.  Whether it is new products, a new advertising campaign or media options push yourself to do something that stands out.   Don’t just settle for ok.  Always push for great.  If you don’t love the work, how do you expect your consumer to love your brand?  The opposite of different, is indifferent and who wants to be indifferent.      

In case you need any added incentive:  Albino fruit flies mate at twice the rate of normal fruit flies.   Just because they are different!   And the place where most ground hogs are run over is right in the middle of the road.  

Push Yourself to Find Your Difference

 

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

 

For a presentation on how to write a Positioning Statement, follow:

 
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. 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

 

Pick your Social Media vehicle and follow us by clicking on the icon below

 linkedin-groups-large             images-1              facebook-logo

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.

How to Be a Successful Brand Manager

Slide1After 20 years of CPG marketing, I have hired so many potentially great marketers–who were eager for success, brilliant, hard-working and dedicated.   But in reality, about 50% of Assistant Brand Managers get promoted to Brand Manager and less than 20% of Brand Managers make it to the Director level.

What separates the good from the great?  

There are two factors that I have seen in a consistent manner:  #1:  They get what they need.   #2:  What they need is the right thing to do.   Very simply put, great marketers get both.   The rest either fail on #1 or #2.  To get what you want, keep things simple and move fast to take the positional advantage.   What separates many Brand Managers is the inability to actually rely on their instincts, instead of just the textbook answer.   You get so busy, so deadline focused, so scared to make a mistake that you forget to think in a confused state of ambiguity.   It’s not easy to sit there without the answer, but sometimes if you just wait a bit longer and keep pushing for an even better answer, it will come to you.  Revel in ambiguity.   

One thing to keep in mind is the Idiot Curve.  At every new job, including Brand Manager, I find it takes 3 months to get back to being just as smart as you were on the first day.  The basic rule is: You get dumber before you get smarter.     We’ve promoted some great ABMs and watch them struggle and wonder if we made a mistake.  But the idiot curve is inevitable.   It just shows up differently for each person.  No matter how hard you fight it, you have to ride the curve.  (But, please fight through the curve, you have to for your survival)  The biggest gap is that you forget to use your instincts.  You spend so much of your time trying to absorb all that is coming at you, that you reach for the basic process instead of your brains.   You might be working on a project for weeks before you think to even look at the budget.   You work on a promotion for Wal-Mart and then think “oh ya, I should talk to the Wal-Mart sales manager and see what he thinks”.  Or you say something in a meeting you think you’re supposed to say, but it doesn’t even resemble anything that you think, feel or believe in.  That’s the idiot curve.  And it will last 3 months.   And you’ll experience it in a new and exciting way you can’t even predict.  Feel free to let me know which way so I can add it to the list.  (I won’t reveal names)

Five Factors to Being a Great Brand Manager:
  1. A great BM takes ownership of the brand.  I’ve seen many BMs struggle with the transition from being a helper to being the owner.  As you move into the job, you have to get away from the idea of having someone hand you a project list.
     Not only do you have to make the project list, you have to come  up with the strategies from which the projects fall out of.  A good owner talks in ideas in a telling sense, rather than an asking sense.  It’s great to be asking questions as feelers, but realize that most are going to be looking to you for the answers.  They’ll be recommending and you’ll be deciding.  When managing upwards be careful of asking questions—try to stick to solutions.  “I think we should build a big bridge” instead of “any ideas for how we can get over the water”.  You just gave up your ownership.  I’d rather have you tell me what you want to do, and we debate from there, rather than you ask me what we should do.  I’ll be better able to judge your logic, your passion and your vision.  You run the brand, don’t let it run you.  
  2. A great BM provides the vision & strategies to match up to.  Vision is sometimes a hard thing to articulate. It’s sometimes easy to see times when there is a lack of vision.  You have to let everyone know where you want to go.  The strategy that matches becomes the road map for how to get there.  As the brand owner, you become the steward of the vision and strategy.  Everything that is off strategy has to be rejected and your role is to find ways to steer them back on track.  It’s easy to get side-tracked by exciting programs or cool ideas, but if they are off-strategy then you’ve got to park that excitement.  The expression of the strategy through ideas is a key skill–just as important as the strategy itself.  Learn to talk in strategic stories that can frame your direction.  Learn to think in terms of pillars—which forces your hand around 3 different areas to help achieve your strategy.  Having pillars constantly grounds you back in your strategy, and is an easy way for communicating with the various functions—the people you’re dealing with may only have 1 strategic pillar that matters to them personally, but seeing the other parts makes them feel as though their work is worth it.
  3. A great BM spends the effort to make their ABM as good as can be.  If you make your ABM better, then it reflects back on you.  Too many brand managers struggle to shift from “do-er” to “coach”.  They think they can do it faster than their ABM, so they may as well do it and they do.  The ABM really hates this.  But, they think their ABM will learn the hard way, just like they did.  They struggle to share the spot light, so it becomes hard to showcase the ABM.  They are too busy trying to prove themselves.  Keep in mind that the work of your ABM reflects 100% of who you are.  This challenge forces your hand on helping to develop your ABM.  Sometimes it can feel more motivating to just talk the positive stuff.  But if the ABM job is a learning position, then you have to provide areas for improvement.  Intuitively, you’d think the BM/ABM relationship would be constant “negative feedback”, but I see too many BMs afraid of going “negative”.  You need the balance.   My question is, that if you were coaching a gymnast and their “toes weren’t straight, wouldn’t they want to know?”  Then why are you not working on a relationship where you can get to that point.  Share with them better ways for doing things—which you have learned.  Spend some time teaching from your experience.
  4. A great BM gets what they need.   The organization is filled with groups, layers, external agencies, with everyone carrying a different set of goals and motivations.  Working the system entails taking what you have learned about ownership one step further.  You understand the organizational components, and then you go get what you need.  Again communication becomes key—you can’t let missed communications cause angst or concerns.  Also, its crucial that you get the best from everyone.  I have found it useful upfront to ask everyone for their best work.  It’s a strange step, but I have found it useful.   But you have to promise them you’ll support their best work. If you really have someone that’s good, you know they’ll respond to this.  The good news is that only 0.1% of people ask them, so it’s not like they’ve heard it that many times.  And let them know if they are or aren’t there yet.
  5. A Great BM Can Handle Pressure.   Ambiguity is one of the hardest.  This is where patience and composure come into play as you sort through the issues.  The consequences of not remaining composed is likely a bad decision.   If the Results don’t come in, it can be frustrating.  Reach for your logic as you re-group.  Force yourself to course correct, rather than continuing to repeat and repeat and repeat.  Relationships.  Be pro-active in making the first move.  Try to figure out what motivates as well as what annoys them.   Most times, the common ground is not that far away.  Time Pressure.  It’s similar to the ambiguity.  Be organized, disciplined and work the system so it doesn’t get in your way.   Be calm, so you continue to make the right decisions.

Love the Magic of Marketing–let it breathe and let it come to life.

Don’t just do the job, do it with all your passion.   Love it please so we can love the work that comes from your passion.   Or else just become an actuary and let someone else take your spot please.

Love what you do.  Live Why You Do it

To read the related story on how to be a succesful Assistant Brand Manager click on this:  Beloved Brands Story on Being a Succesful Assistant Brand Manager or read the following presentation:

Other Roles You May Be Interested In
  • Assistant Brand Manager:  It’s about doing; analyzing and sending signals you have leadership skills for the future.  It’s not an easy job and only 50% get promoted to Brand Manager.  To read a story on how to be successful as an ABM, click on the following hyper link:  How to be a Successful ABM and get Promoted
  • Marketing Director:  It’s more about managing and leading than it does about thinking and doing.  Your role is to set the standard and then hold everyone to that standard.  To be great, you need to motivate the greatness from your team and let your best players to do their absolute best.  Let your best people shine, grow and push you.  Follow this hyper link to read more:   How to be a Successful Marketing Director
  • VP Marketing or CMO:  It’s about leadership, vision and getting the most from people.  If you are good at it, you won’t need to do any marketing, other than challenging and guiding your people to do their best work. You have to deliver the results, and very few figure out the equation that the better the people means the better the work and in the end the better the results. Invest in training as a way to motivate your team and keep them engaged.  Use teaching moments to share your wisdom. Read the following article for how to be a success:  How to be a Successful VP of Marketing
 

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 us how we can help train you to be a better brand leader.