Here are resolutions for 2014 that will Challenge you to be a better Brand Leader

Happy New Year!!!   

 

2014_balloons_20131213_1922774299I’m getting older!  Yikes.  A friend of mine who had been retired once said to me “time flies so fast that breakfast seems to come every five minutes”.  I’m starting to understand that.  So here we are with another year ahead of us.  As we approach the new year, it’s a great time to come back fresh from the break and challenge yourself to get better.  In the words of T.S.  Eliot:  “For last year’s words belong to last year’s language and next year’s words await another voice”.  Here are 10 potential challenging resolutions for you, with the idea that you might pick one of these to focus on for the year. 

#1:  Take a Walk in Your Consumers Shoes.  See the brand as they do.  

It’s not just about doing research and finding consumer insights.  It’s about experiencing the brand as your consumer does.  Bringing the consumer into everything you do tightening the connection.   Consumers do not care what you do, until you care about what they want.  In 2014, be the spokesperson who represents the consumer to your team and watch the work get better.  When doing TV ads or digital ads, realize that the consumer now sees 5,000+ brand messages per day:  Would this capture their attention, would they get it and would they do anything with it?  Read the following article that puts the consumer front and center in what we do: Everything Starts and Ends with the Consumer

#2:  Ask Bigger Questions, Get Bigger Answers.  

As a senior Brand Leader, it is easy to get so wrapped up in the details of the execution that you’re making the non-strategic decisions on behalf of the team.   You have just really become the “senior” Senior Brand Manager that really annoys your team.   Instead of providing the team with a vision, challenging on strategy or teaching the team, you’re telling them to make the flash bigger and change the sell sheet to purple.  Instead of telling people what to do, why not challenge yourself to sit back slightly and ask the really tough challenging questions.  You’ll know you’ve asked a really tough question when you don’t even know the answer.   To figure out the best questions, read:  Ask Bigger Questions, Get Bigger Answers

#3: Create More Love for your Brand and you’ll drive More Power and Profits for your Brand.   

Brand Leaders are too logical for their own good.  So much so that it’s holding their brand back from being great.  To create more love for your brand, there 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.  Once you have the connection with your consumers, use that power with retailers, media, competitors and even the very consumers that love you.  With added power, you’ll be able to drive bigger profits, with inelastic price, more efficiency in costs and consumers will follow your brand with every new product launch or category you enter.  Realize the magic formula and find more growth for your brand in 2014:  Love = Power = Growth = Profit.  To read more about this, follow this link:  Brand Love = Power = Profit

#4:  Focusing makes your Brand Bigger.  Lack of focus makes it Smaller.   

I still see Brand Leaders struggling to focus.   They want as broad of a selling target they can find so they can speak to everyone, yet in reality they speak with no one.  They want so many messages, mainly because they don’t know what the consumer wants, so they just say everything they can think of.   And they choose every media option because they don’t even know where they are, so they try to be everywhere.  When you don’t make a choice, you don’t make a decision.   Great marketers make choices–they use the word “or” instead of “and”.   They apply their limited resources against the biggest potential win–with a focused target, focused message and focused medium to shout it in.  They look bigger than they are to those who are the most motivated to already buy.  To challenge yourself to focus, read:  Brand Focus Makes You Bigger

#5:  At every turn, ask yourself “DO I LOVE IT?”    Reject all work that is “just ok” because OK is the enemy of Great.  

Moving your brand from indifferent to Like It is relatively easy:  good product, smart investment and doing the basics right.  But moving from “Like It” to “Love It” can be a herculean task.  If you want your consumer to love your brand, you have to love the work you do.  Look at the love Apple projects to its consumers through the magic of design, branding and marketing.  Never let something out that’s “just ok”.  If you’re indifferent, then you’re brand will be as well.   Challenge yourself in 2014 to lead yourself with passion equal to logic and find a way to love the work you do.  Read the following article at:  Reject OK because OK is the Enemy of Greatness

#6:  Find Your Point of Difference by Being Different.   

Brand Leaders always try to find that nugget as their point of difference.   They get so logical and then try to make it a big deal in the consumers mind, even though many times the consumer does not care.  And yet, these same Brand Leaders play it so safe that their work looks and feels just like everyone else.  In 2014, push yourself to be different in your execution.  If the consumer sees 5,000 brand messages a day, they’ll only be attracted to something they’ve never seen before.  All the ‘me-too’ messages will be lost in a sea of sameness.  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.   Read the following link:  The Art of Being Different

#7:  Care More about the Careers of Your People

 The best way to connect with your team is to care about their careers.   If you are authentic i how you approach their development, they’ll do listen to your advice, follow your lead and give more effort than ever.  If they feel they are getting the training and development needed, they’ll likely stay longer with your company.   If they have added skills and motivation, their performance will be even better and if the work gets better, then the results will be better.  For you the equation is simple:  The better the people, the better the work and in turn the better the results.   To read more on how to help with their careers, read the following link:  Managing Your Marketing Career (Free Download)

#8:  Create a Culture around your Brand—Brand should be everyone’s job, not just marketing. 

 There are hundreds and sometimes thousands of people impacted by the vision, mission and values you set out for the brand.   While most people will think the Brand Manager leads the brand, it’s the collective wisdom of all those who touch it.   From Sales People negotiating on the brands behalf to HR people who pick the right people to various Agencies, right down to the Editor who works just one day on your brand.  Motivate them, embrace them, challenge them, lead them, follow them and reward them.   Great people make great work and great work leads to great brands.   In 2014, challenge yourself to realize that you need more than just you living the brand, you need everyone living and breathing it.  The best case study on how to drive the brand right into the culture is Ritz Carlton: Ritz Carlton

#9 :  Be a Better Client and Get Better Work

I get asked a lot:  “So what is it that makes someone good at advertising?”.  I always think people are looking for some type of magical answer, but the answer I give is always very simple yet if you think about it very complex:  “They can consistently get good advertising on the air and keep bad advertising off the air”.  It all starts with being a better client thought.  As David Ogilvy said “Clients get the work they deserve”.   If you are your agency’s best client, you are much more likely to get the best of their work.  To get better, read an article on the Worst Type of Clients

#10:  Be a Better Brand Leader.

Be more Consumer focused and live as though Everything Starts and Ends With the Consumer in Mind.  That’s why you got into this business isn’t it? Follow Your Instincts and use the gut feel of Marketing.   If you have more fun, so to will the consumer.  Revel in Ambiguity and be more patient with Ideas.   It’s ok not to know for a little bit because that’s when the best answers come to the surface.  Actively Listen and  use more questions than answers.  Focus on the People and the Results will come.  Here is an article for you:  Eight Brand Leader Behaviors

I really hope you try one of these out in 2014.   And I hope you see the difference.  

Here’s to a Great Year in 2014!

Do you want to be an amazing Brand Leader?  We can help you.

Read more on how to utilize our Brand Leadership Learning Center where you will receive training in all aspects of marketing whether that’s strategic thinking, brand plans, creative briefs, brand positioning, analytical skills or how to judge advertising.  We can customize a program that is right for you or your team.  We can work in person, over the phone or through Skype.  Ask us how we can help you. 

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 train you to be a better brand leader.

So…what is a Brand?

BBI Learning LogoSometimes when I introduce myself, I’ll say:  “Hi, I’m a Brand Strategy Consultant, the three most mis-understood words in business”.   I think I need a new introduction, but save that for another story.  The problem about the word “BRAND” is a lot of really smart people still see brand as a name, a logo, an identity and possibly a slogan.  I am writing this to stretch your minds a little, to start to see brand as an idea that can help make your business bigger.  

There’s a lot of debate in this industry on what makes a great brand.

  • On the one hand, there are those in the industry who want to believe that brand is all about the product or service.  Brand to them is very simple, 100% rational and there is almost a ‘what you see is what you get’ view of brand.  The product is the brand.  Even with a brand like Apple, they’ll say it’s because Apple has “great products”.
  • The other side believes that brand is all about equity and success comes  strictly from an emotional connection, no matter how exciting or boring the category.  They tend to think that great communication can over come any product deficiencies.

This division shows up in various places, including how companies organize their people and resources.  There’s too many companies set up with “product departments” and “brand departments”.   I also hear the term “brand tax” where the product budgets pay percent of their marketing spend towards the brand.  And finally, I’ll hear “no that’s not our decision, that’s BRAND’s decision”.   And in walks the ad agency and the client might say “this is an equity spot, but we want to put a 5-second tag of the new flavour at the end”.

A brand is not just a logo. I think it’s important for Brand Leaders to know what a brand is so that they don’t do what The Gap did 3 years ago when their brand was in trouble.  With The Gap in trouble for over a decade, instead of looking at what was wrong with the brand (dull clothing, internal culture, connecting to the target, and stretching the brand too thinly to baby gap and maternity gap) the management team did what too many leaders do–they changed the logo.  The new logo, heavily criticized, only lasted one week before they went back. 

Slide1

So what is a Brand?

A Brand is a unique idea, perceived in the minds and hearts of the consumer, consistently delivered by the experience,  creating a bond, power and profit, beyond what the product itself could achieve.

Let’s break that definition down.

Part 1: “unique idea”

Brands are based on a unique idea, promise or reputation.  Slide1Yes, most brands start as a product or service, but the best brands find an idea to make the brand even bigger than the original product.  The idea is big enough for consumers to love, and the brand’s idea becomes a DNA or Brand Essence that you’ll see and feel in every part of the brand.  These days as things are so competitive, and consumers have so much access to information, I do think brands need to find a uniqueness, because there really are only four options for brands: 1) better 2) different 3) cheaper or 4) not around for very long.   Push yourself to find your brand’s unique point of difference and create a big idea that you can use to manage every part of your brand.

The big idea for the Apple brand is that it takes out the complexity and makes it so simple that everyone can be part of the future.  Everything from there falls under that big idea–the promise, strategy, story, freshness and the experience.

Slide1

Part 2: “perceived in the minds and hearts of the consumer”

The image of the brand is no longer owned by the brand, if it ever was owned.  At best, we can send out brand messages but the consumer still gets to decide whether or not those messages fit with their perception of the brand.  I always say “there is truth in advertising, because all un-true messages are rejected by the consumer”.   Too many Brand Leaders go rational, but the reality is that brands are 50% rational and 50% emotional.  With social media, the consumer has even more ownership over the brand’s image as their own messaging now carries more weight than your basic TV ad.   This is called co-creation, where both you as the brand leader and the consumer own the brand messaging together.  I believe Brand Managers should make the choice to represent their consumer back to the brand, rather than representing the brand out to the consumer.  You should act as the consumer advocate, telling your brand what your consumer wants.

Part 3: “consistently delivered by the brand’s experience”

A brand really is stamp to ensure consistency.  Before Kellogg’s decided to brand their own corn flakes back in 1906, consumers would go into town and scoop out corn flakes out of a bin, with a random experience because who knows which farmer made them that day.  But now with Kellogg’s the consumer could expect the same experience in every bowl.  Fast forward today, as the landscape is even more competitive and the brand experience is everything.   Look at the amazing brands in the market place, like Starbucks,  NFL, Disney and Apple and you’ll see each brand backs up their brand promise by constantly over-delivering upon the expectations.   As brands hit the loved stage, making sure you nail the experience helps re-enforce loyalty and builds brand rituals into the lives of consumers.

Part 4:  “creating a bond, power and profit, beyond what the product itself could achieve”

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

Generating Love for the Brand

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

Love = Power = Profit.  Once you align all 5 of the connections, you’ll create a strong bond with your consumers.  That bond becomes a source of power for your brand, whether that power is with the very consumers who love your brand, versus retailers, suppliers, competitors, influencers, employees or even versus the media.  Once you’re able to generate power for your brand, you can then turn that into profit, whether driving price, cost control, market share or increasing the market size.

Slide1

The more love you can create for your brand, the more power and profits you can generate.  This idea of brand love has to translate down into every detail of how you run your business.  The challenging message for Brand Leaders is that if you don’t love the work you do how do you expect the consumer to love your brand.  OK is always the enemy of greatness holding you back from achieving your full potential.

A Beloved Brand is an idea worth loving

Do you want to be an amazing Brand Leader?  I know we can help you.  

Read more on how to utilize our Brand Leadership Learning Center, where you will receive training in all aspects of marketing whether that’s strategic thinking, brand plans, creative briefs, brand positioning, analytical skills or how to judge advertising.  We can customize a program that is right for you or your team.  We can work in person, over the phone or through Skype.  Ask us how we can help you. 

 

 

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