Is your Brand Team good enough to achieve your 2014 goals?

2014As you move up, you start to realize that you can’t do everything, and you’re really only as good as your team.  The thing I’ve always said is that better people create better work and that means better results.  The question you should be asking is are they good enough?  Maybe it’s time to invest in making your people better, so that you can be freed up for more leadership, higher level strategic thinking and focusing on driving the vision of the team, rather than caught in the weeds of re-writing copy on a coupon.  

Here are 5 key questions to be asking:  
  1. Do your Brand Leaders think strategically?  
  2. Are your Brand Leaders going deep enough on their analysis?  
  3. Can your Brand Leaders write a plan and communicate it throughout the company?  
  4. Are your Brand Leaders a good judge advertising and communication?
  5. Are your Brand Leaders good at staying focused?

Are they disciplined and fundamentally sound?   Can everyone on your team effectively write a brand plan, positioning concepts, a creative brief, make marketing investment decisions and judge creative work to ensure it delivers the strategy?  The great myth of marketing is that it is 100% learned on the job.  It should be a balance of coaching from a well-trained leader, teaching in a class room setting and learning on the job.  More and more, we are seeing marketing teams thrust new marketers into their roles without any training.  In fact, their bosses and even their bosses haven’t really received any training. So who is really teaching you, on the job, if the person with you isn’t well-trained?   

Q1:  Do your Brand Leaders think strategically?   

Strategic thinking is not just whether you are smart or not.  You can be brilliant and not strategic at all.  Strategic Thinkers  see “what if” questions before they see solutions. They map out a range of decision trees that intersect and connect by imagining how events will play out.  They reflect and plan before they act. They are thinkers and planners who can see connections.  bbi trainingOn the other hand, Non Strategic Thinkers see answers before questions.  They opt for action over thinking, believing that doing something is better than doing nothing. They are impulsive and doers who see tasks. With the explosion of marketing media, we are seeing too many of the new Brand Leaders becoming action-oriented do-ers and not strategic thinkers.  They don’t connect their actions to maximizing the results on the brand.  They do cool stuff they like not strategic things that help grow the business and add profit to the Brand.  I see too many of today’s Brand Leaders focused on activity, rather than strategy.

When you are strategic , you will focus all of your resources and energy against the pressure points that drive the greatest return on investment and effort.  There are Four Principles of Good Strategy: 1) Focus 2) Early Win 3) Leverage point and 4) Gateway to something bigger.

  1. FOCUS:  all your energy to a particular strategic point or purpose.  Match up your brand assets to pressure points you can break through, maximizing your limited resources—either financial resources or effort.  Focus on one target.   Focus on one message.  And focus on very few strategies and tactics.  Less is more. 
  2. You want that EARLY WIN, to kick-start of some momentum. Early Wins are about slicing off parts of the business or population where you can build further.  This proves to everyone the brand can win—momentum, energy, following.  
  3. LEVERAGE everything to gain positional advantage or power that helps exert even greater pressure and gains the tipping point of the business that helps lead to something bigger.  Crowds follow crowds. 
  4. See beyond the early win, there has to be a GATEWAY point, the entrance or a means of access to something even bigger.   It could be getting to the masses, changing opinions or behaviours.  Return on Investment or Effort.

To me, with the modern-day Brand Leader, the area where they struggle the is the “FOCUS” part.  Every brand is constrained by resources—dollars, people and time.  Focus makes you matter most to those who care.   Focusing your limited resources on those consumers with the highest propensity to buy what you are selling will deliver the greatest movement towards sales and the highest return on investment for those resources.  In a competitive category, no one brand can do it all.  Focus makes you decide whether to be better, different or cheaper.  Giving the consumer too many messages about your brand will confuse them as to what makes your brand unique.  Trying to be everything is the recipe for being nothing.  Trying to do everything spreads your resources and your message  so that everything you do is “ok” and nothing is “great”.   With a long to-do list, you’ll never do a great job at anything.   And in a crowded and fast economy, “ok” never breaks through so you’ll never get the early win to gain that tipping point that opens up the gateway to even bigger success. 

Have your Brand Leaders been taught how to think strategically?  I actually don’t know many Brand Leaders that really have been taught.  Yet, we tell Senior Brand Managers, you’re not getting promoted because you’re not strategic enough.  If we taught them how to be strategic, we might find a better pool of talent within your team.  The following training module shows Brand Leaders how to think strategically, and how to think in terms of consumer strategy, competitive strategy or visionary strategy.   Consumer Focused Strategic Thinking starts with the consumer, maps out the need states and best matches your brand to delivering a unique selling proposition that helps connect with consumers, drives added power for the brand which can translate into growth and profitability.  Competitive Focused Strategies have 4 types of  Marketing Warfare Strategies 1) Offensive 2) Defensive 3) Flanking and 4) Guerilla.  Focus and speed are crucial to any warfare.  Being organized and aligned internally is crucial to winning.  Visionary Strategy starts with the purpose driven vision (the Why) and layers in the strategy (the how) and execution (the what) deliver that vision. 

Q2.  Are your Brand Leaders going Deep Enough on Analysis?

I hate when brand leaders do that “surface cleaning” type analysis.  I call it surface cleaning when you find out that someone is coming to your house in 5 minutes so you just take everything that’s on a counter and put it in a drawer really quickly.  I can tell very quickly when someone doesn’t dig deep on analysis.  

The best way go deep on your analysis, ask “so what does that mean” at least five times and watch the information gets richer and deeper. 

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Looking at the Gray’s Cookie example above, intuitively, it makes sense that going after Health Food Stores could be one option put on the table.  But to say you need to be better, without digging in remains an unsubstantiated opinion.   As you dig deeper, you see that going after Health Food stores, who are highly independent is labor intensive and the payback is just not there.  Yes, you’re way under-developed.  But it’s more expensive than other options.  When you bring the option of going after mass into the mix, which is head office driven, you start to see a higher return on the investment.  This is just a fictional example, but look how the thinking gets richer at each stage.  Force yourself to keep asking “so what does this mean” or “why” pushing the analysis harder and harder. 

Thinking Time Questions that will Help you Go Deeper.  The first analysis is “What do we know?” with 5 key questions to help you sort through your analysis:

  1. What do we know?  This should be fact based and you know it for sure.
  2. What do we assume?  Your educated/knowledge based conclusion that helps us bridge between fact, and speculation.
  3. What we think?  Based on facts, and assumptions, you should be able to say what we think will happen.
  4. What do we need to find out?  There may be unknowns still.
  5. What are we going to do?  It’s the action that comes out of this thinking.

It forces you to start grouping your learning, forces you to start drawing conclusions and it enables your reader to separate fact (the back ground information) from opinion (where you are trying to take them)

The second type of analysis is “Where are we?” with 5 key questions to help you sort through your analysis:

  1. Where are we?
  2. Why are we  here? 
  3. Where could we be?
  4. How can we get there?
  5. What do we need to do to get there?

These questions help frame your thinking as you go into a Brand Plan.  The first question helps the analysis, the second with the key issues, the third frames the vision and objectives, the fourth gets into strategy and tactics and the fifth gets into the execution.  My challenge to you:  update it every 3-6 months, or every time you do something major.  You’ll be surprised that doing something can actually impact “where are we?” on the analysis.  

Q3.  Can your Brand Leaders write an effective Brand Plan?

A well-written Brand Plan helps to align an organization around the direction, the choices and the tactics that need implementing for a brand to achieve their goals. The Brand Plan unites functions such as marketing, sales, product development outlining what each group needs to do for the brand to be successful, while setting goals that operations and finance need to support. The Brand Plan gains approval from senior management around spending options, strategic choices and sets forth the tactics that will be implemented. It holds senior management accountable to the plan. The Brand Plan helps frame the execution for internal stakeholders and for the various agencies who will implement programs within the plan. Execution is an expression of the strategy, and the plan must hold agencies accountable to delivering work that is on strategy. And lastly, the Brand Plan helps the Brand Manager who wrote it, stay focused to deliver what they said they would. It helps them to refer back to the strategy and the intention to ensure the Brand Manager “stays on strategy” the entire year.  For more on how to write a plan, follow this link:  How to Write a Brand Plan

Can your Brand Leaders write a winning Brand Positioning Statement?  Brand Positioning Statements provide the most useful function of taking everything you know about your brand, everything that could be said about the consumer and making choices to pick one target that you’ll serve and one brand promise you will stand behind.  While we think this brand positioning statement sets up the creative brief, it should really set up everything the brand does–equally important for internal as everyone should follow to what the positioning statement says. A best in class positioning statement has four key elements: 

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

The more focused your decisions, the more successful you will be: decide on one target, one promise and maybe  one or two reasons to believe that help to directly back up your promise.  But the target shouldn’t be everyone 18-65, and don’t throw your eight best features at the wall and hopefully something sticks.  And the reason to believe has to back up your promise, not be a whole new promise.  To see more on how to write an effective Brand Positioning Statement, follow this link:  How to Write a Positioning Statement

Slide1Can your Brand Leaders write a Creative Brief?  The best Advertising is well planned, not some random creative thing that happens.  The value of a creative brief is focus!  Like a good positioning statement, you’re taking everything you know and everything you could possibly say, and starting to make choices on what will give you the greatest return on your media dollars. If you’re not making choices then you’re not making decisions.  Unlike other creativity, advertising is “In the Box” creativity.  The best advertising creative people  are problem solvers, not blue sky thinkers.  Therefore, the role of the creative brief is to create the right box, enough room to move, but enough direction that defines the problem.  The smaller the brief, the bigger the idea.  A good brief should be brief.  One page maximum.  I’m still in shock when I see briefs reaching 5 or 6 pages.  That’s not a brief, that’s a long!  Take the pen and start stroking out words, forcing yourself to start making decisions.  Avoid the “just in case” type of thinking.  For more on How to Write a Brief, follow this link:  How to Write a Brief

Q4.  Can your Brand Leaders judge communications?

Making great advertising is very hard.  Good marketers make it look simple, but they have good solid training and likely some good solid experience.  As Brand Leaders sit in the room, looking at new advertising ideas, most are ill-prepared as to how to judge what makes good advertising and what makes bad.  It’s a myth that great marketing is learned strictly “on the job”.  I also say “you are likely to screw up your first five ads”.  slide15And if you do one a year, that’s 5 years of advertising.  So, how well prepared are you?  An ill prepared Brand Leader will more than likely deliver a poor ad.  There are fundamentals to help ensure that your instincts are the right instincts.  How many hours of training have you had on giving direction to a creative team?   How many times did you role-play giving feedback to the agency?  How good was the coaching you received on your feedback?  Not only do you need the fundamentals through solid training, but you likely need someone coaching you through a role-playing exercise.  Too many Brand Leaders sit there confused, brief in hand, but not sure whether they like it or not sure whether any of the scripts will do much for them.  The four questions you should be asking:

    • Will this ad attract Attention? (A)
    • Does this ad showcase the Brand? (B)
    • Are we Communicating our main benefit?  (C)
    • Will this ad stick in the minds of consumers? (S)

Using something like the ABC’s makes it easy for Brand Leaders to stay strategic and be able to judge the work effectively.  Here’s a write-up on How to help Brand Leaders judge communications Effectively:  The ABC’s of Effective Communication

Q5.  Are your Brand Leaders good at staying focused?

So many Brand Leaders try to do too much.  When you do too much, you just spread your resources thin across too many activities.   You end up never being able to execute anything to the high quality, you never find out if the program could really achieve what you want to achieve.  I use a very simple grid to focus all the activities.  Get everyone to brainstorm all the ideas on post it notes.  Then using the grid below, get them to sort the ideas based on how big the idea is, and how easy it is to execute.  I push for the top 5 ideas that are in the BIG/EASY zone.  

  • If there’s a big idea that’s difficult, then spend the time brainstorming how to make it easier.  
  • If there are small ideas that are easy, then brainstorm how to make the idea even bigger.  

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There are four areas you need to focus:

  • Pick a focused Target Market:  While it’s tempting to sell to everyone.  Focus your resources on those most likely to buy. Realizing not everyone can like you is the first step to focus on those that can love you.
  • Pick a focused Brand Positioning:  Start with the target market you just picked, and assess their need states to see where you can best match up. Beloved Brands are either better, different or cheaper. Or they are not around for much longer.Slide1
  • Pick a Focused Strategy:  Brands need to understand where they sit before picking strategies.  Evaluate the health of your brand using the Brand Funnel to understand where you are strong and should keep pushing or where you have a weakness (a Leak) that you need to close.
  • Focused Activities:  While everyone talks ROI, I talk ROE as well.  Return on Effort forces you to prioritize all your activities.

Stay aligned to your plan, and don’t be tempted away from your focus.  When you focus, five things happen.

  1. Better ROI:   With all the resources against one strategy, one target, one message, you’ll be find out if the strategy you’ve chose is able to actually move consumers drive sales or other key performance indicators.
  2. Better ROE:  Make the most out of your people resources.
  3. Strong Reputation:  When you only do one thing, you naturally start to become associated with that one thing—externally and even internally.  And, eventually you become very good at that one thing.
  4. More Competitive:  As your reputation grows, you begin to own that on thing and your are able to better defend the positioning territory
  5. Bigger and Better P&L:  As the focused effort drives results, it opens up the P&L with higher sales and profits.  And that means more resources will be put to the effort to drive even higher growth.
Invest in Your People:  Better Brand Leaders leads to better work and that leads to better Results 

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.

How to find amazing Consumer Insights to help your brand

Slide1Great Brand Leaders start with the consumer first, while OK Brand Leaders tend to start with their product.  They can both go on a similar journey of strategy, tactics and execution, but what comes out at the end will be remarkably different.  Look at Apple who starts with the consumer and connects emotionally compared to Samsung who starts with the technology and connects rationally.

I always like to ask Brand Leaders:  “Do you represent your brand to your consumer or do you represent your consumer to the brand?”   Yes, I get stunned looks of confusion when I ask that.  But it’s an important question as to your mindset of how you do your job.  My challenge to you is to start thinking like your consumer and be their representative to your brand.  You’ll notice the work gets better, you’ll see clearer paths to growth and you’ll start to create a brand that the consumer loves rather than just likes.  When this happens, sales go up and the P&L spits out higher profitability.  Because the more loved the brand, the more powerful position it occupies and the more profit it can generate from that source of power.    

Take a Walk In The Shoes of Your Consumer.  With most of us, when we first fell in love with marketing, there were two key elements that got our juices going:  strategic thinking and consumer behavior.  Marketing brings these two elements together in a very challenging way.  You should be thinking about your consumer every day, all day.  Yes, you need to hit your sales and share goals.   But your consumers are your only source of revenue and you have to know them intimately.  Solving a consumer challenge feels like the biggest Rubik’s Cube we can find.  The reason I mention this is if you want to connect with your team and motivate them, then start talking about the consumer and you’ll see their engagement go up.  This is what they love.  Be curious about your consumer, constantly watching changes in the marketplace.

Consumers are selfish, and rightfully so, because they have money.  Consumers won’t part with their money until they get something in a fair trade.  They might buy your product one time because of what you do.  But they’ll buy it all the time if they get something from it.  Put yourself in the consumers shoes for a minute and ask two questions:  1.  “So what do i get?” helps uncover the rational benefit and what part of their life you will solve.  2. “So how does it make me feel” uncovers the emotional benefit and figures out how you’ll be part of their life.  For rational benefits, you’ll become liked and can become part of their routines.  But for emotional benefits, you’ll become loved and a ritual in their life.  They’ll pay a premium price for it, defend you at all costs and love you for life.

Brands have really four choices:  better, different, cheaper or not around for very long.  Marketers tend to get so fixated on being better that they take some small feature and try to make a huge deal out of it.  But they tend to leave out he option of DIFFERENT.  Within a sea of brands yelling features at the consumer, one of the best things you could do to stand out as DIFFERENT, is to get on the side of your consumer.  Next time you’re writing a brief and you come to the desired response, please don’t put:  “I want to buy that product”.   What you should be striving for is “That brand gets me” or “This brand is for me”.

The only way to really “get” and connect with the consumer is to uncover amazing consumer insights.

What is an insight? 

Whenever I give a talk on insights I use the following stats and ask is this an insight:  In North America, people brush their teeth an average of 1.6 times per day, yet in Brazil people brush their teeth up to 4-6 times a day.  Almost without fail, someone in the audience will think it’s an insight.  And we know this because we see it show up on briefs or in decks that sell in a product.

It’s a fact, not an insight.  What are we missing?   Well it’s just a data point and we don’t really understand much else.  Maybe people in Brazil eat spicier foods, engage in closer conversation, have problems with lack of fluoride, or maybe the people of Brazil have an increased vanity and this is just one more example.  We don’t really know, until we go below the surface of the facts and uncover meaningful insights.

My definition of Insight is Quite Different.  Insight is not something that consumers never knew before.  That would be knowledge or news, but not insight.  It’s not data or fact about your brand that you want to tell.  Real insight goes a layer or two deeper to help with the cause and effect.  Oddly enough, Insight is something that everyone already knows.  Here is my definition:  Insight comes to life when it’s told in such a captivating way that makes consumers stop and say “hmm, I thought I was the only who felt like that”.

That’s why we laugh hysterically when we see insight projected with humor, why we get goose bumps when insight is projected with inspiration and why we cry when the insight comes alive through real-life drama.  Insights help tell the story, paint the picture or inspire the creative juices.  Insights need to be interesting or intriguing.  My challenge is to think beyond specific category insights and think about Life Insights or even Societal Trends  that could impact changing behaviour.

Jerry Seinfeld is the god of insights, whether it’s his TV show or his stand up routine.  There is zero shock value to Seinfeld and he never tells us anything new.  In fact, everything he says is exactly what our inner self is thinking.  He just serves it up in a creative manner to make us laugh.  I saw Seinfeld do a 90 minute stand up routine and I giggled the entire time because I could everything that he said already part of my life.

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Mining for Insights

The dictionary definition of the word Insight is “seeing below the surface”.  To get deeper, keep asking yourself “so what does that mean for the consumer” until you have an “AHA moment”.  What are the beliefs, attitudes or behaviors that help explain how they think, feel or act in relationship to your brand or category. 

Strategic Planners at Ad Agencies have a certain talent for uncovering insights.  As margins are squeezed, too many agencies are reducing the role of planners.  As a client, that’s a big mistake.  I have always loved having a great planner on my brands.

What I normally do is bring together a collection of people who best know the brand, the business and of course the consumer.  And we brainstorm to get a collection of insights.  Insights can be mined from many sources.

  • Find insights by bringing intuition to important data points by asking: “so what does this mean” or “how do we think this happened?”.
  • Insights can come from up-close observations of the consumer, in qualitative focus groups or in observing the purchase behavior in action.  Listen to what they say and how they say it.  Capture insightful quotes that summarize a big idea, as inspiration.  
  • Insights can come from mapping out a day in the life of the consumer to understand what’s going on in their brains.  In healthcare, we found Sunday’s nights was the best time to consider a jolt to improving your healthcare, not Thursday.  
  • Insights can come from looking at consumer problems in life, by creating talking about “who is the consumers enemy?”  Picking the enemy gives your brand focus and another way of bringing insight into your brand positioning.
  • If you track Voice of the Customer (VOC), you can find some very interesting raw data from the consumer.  You can potentially mine Facebook or Twitter comments from consumers.  
Framing the Insights

It’s important to decide when and how you will use Insights.  I normally will build 2-3 insights into a creative brief to give it some flavour.  I’ll lead off a Brand Concept with an enemy style consumer insight.   It’s a great way to connect with consumers and set up the potential problem they are facing.  

When it comes to writing consumer insights, I force everyone to start off start off each statement with the word “I” that forces us to get in the shoes of consumers and then put the insight in quote signs that forces us to use their voice.  

Here are Examples of how that can work for you: 

  • For a Bank:  “I am so busy driving my kids around, I can never get to the bank during banking hours.  I wish there was a bank that worked around my life, rather than me working around the banks’ life”. 
  • Quit Smoking:  “I know I should quit.  I’ve tried to quit so many times, it’s ridiculous., I’m not myself, I’m grouchy, irritable and I feel out of control. Quitting Smoking Sucks.” 
Your Brand will be more engaged and powerful when you take the stance that everything starts and ends with the Consumer in Mind

 

To read about how to Create Beloved Brands, read this:

Here’s a story I wrote last year that ties in closely by challenging Brand Leaders, click on this link  Everything Starts and Ends with the Consumer in Mind

 

email-Logo copyABOUT BELOVED BRANDS INC.:  At Beloved Brands, we are only focused on making brands better and making brand leaders better.Our motivation is that we love knowing we were part of helping someone to unleash their full potential.  We promise to challenge you to Think Different.  gr bbi picWe believe the thinking that got you here, will not get you where you want to go.  Our President and Chief Marketing Officer, Graham Robertson is a brand leader at heart, who loves everything about brands.  He comes with 20 years of experience at companies such as Johnson and Johnson, Pfizer Consumer, General Mills and Coke, where he was always able to find and drive growth.  Graham has won numerous new product and advertising awards. Graham brings his experience to your table, strong on leadership and facilitation at very high levels and training of Brand Leaders around the world.  To reach out directly, email me at graham.robertson@beloved-brands.com or follow on Twitter @grayrobertson1

At Beloved Brands, we love to see Brand Leaders reach their full potential.  Here are the most popular article “How to” articles.  We can offer specific training programs dedicated to each topic.  Click on any of these most read articles:

Ask Beloved Brands to run a workshop to find your brand positioning or ask how we can help train you to be a better brand leader.

How strategy can help Start Ups to Start Right

Slide1Entrepreneurs are a different breed.  They have an energy, that has them running full blast with no time to spare.  They have a determination to push as hard as they can to find funding, patents, production and customers.  They are willing to do what it takes and will work to nail down every possible detail on their own.  It’s exhaustive.  And yet, until they sell something they have no revenue to cover all their effort and costs.  All they have is optimism and hope.

I run my own business.  Every day I face the same issues you face.  

Entrepreneurs face a ton of pressure.  Every friend I meet up with that asks about “starting my own business”, I explain what it’s like, I pause and look them right in the eye and say “it’s not for everyone”.  I don’t say that to discourage them, but rather allow them to keep thinking.  I mean seriously:  a real entrepreneur would just snicker at that comment.

The biggest obstacle is dealing with the pressure.

How you handle that pressure helps to sort out whether you’ll be successful or not.  You have to stay focused on the vision you have for your business.   While there are “revenue temptations”, once you deviate off your path it’s harder to get back on that path.  Stay focused.

It’s the Idea that counts

It seems to me that most entrepreneurs love watching the “Shark Tank” or “Dragon’s Den”.  While it’s reality TV, it’s good entertainment.  It provides one great lesson.  The winners have an IDEA, beyond just a product.  Yes, the product is essential, but if you don’t know who you are, what you can do, who you can serve and how you can serve them, then you will fail.  

When I started my business, one of my mentors said “what are you selling” and my answer was “I’m selling me”. His answer floored me when he said “well then I’m not buying, because I don’t know you and I only buy ideas”.  Three weeks later, I came back with the idea of Beloved Brands, and how I would help leaders find more love for their brand, because I can clearly lay out the path from how loved a brand is to how powerful it is and from that power it can make more money.  A simple equation:  Love = Power = Profit.   While no one wants to buy Graham Robertson, every business leader wants a pathway to making more money.

Most successful brands in history started off as a product that solves a rational problem in the consumers’ life.  It’s very likely that the entrepreneur sold the product directly to customers.  Over time, they created a logo, narrowed down on a promise based on what was working, they executed better than the competition and gravitated towards creating some type of experience.  After a while, the consumer took all this marketing stuff and determined the Idea of the brand.  The second generation of the entrepreneur had to do market research to figure out what came naturally to the entrepreneur.  And when they figured it out, they realized as the brand become more loved along the way, the brand become an idea that fulfills consumers’ emotional needs.

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To me, a beloved brand is an idea that’s worth Loving.  As a brand generates more love, it gains a positional power versus market forces.  It can leverage that power to drive higher rates of growth and higher profits.

But that’s the history of brands.  So why not learn from history, and instead of slowly evolving towards an idea, why not just start there and own the evolution, and matching up that logo, promise, execution and experience to the idea.

Get to the idea faster.  And you’ll be able to sell that idea with your product.  So, what’s your idea?

Be Strategic

Strategic Thinkers see “what if” questions before they see solutions.  They map out a range of decision trees that intersect and connect by imagining how events will play out.  They reflect and plan before they act.   They are thinkers and planners who can see connections.  Slide1Non Strategic Thinkers see answers before questions.   They get to answers quickly, and will get frustrated in delays. They opt for action over thinking, believing that doing something is better than doing nothing. They are impulsive and doers who see tasks.  They can be frustrated by strategic thinkers.

My challenge to all entrepreneurs is while it’s tempting to push hard, you have to stay strategic.  Don’t get into the situation where your feet are moving faster than your brain.

Start Up the Right Way

When you decide to go out on your own, you might be starting with some random product you came up with.  But now you need a vision of where you want to go.  As Yogi Berra said “if you don’t know where you’re going, you might not get there”.

Why are you doing this?  Push yourself to start with what’s in you:  The most successful brands start with a purpose driven vision (why) and match the strategies (how) and the execution (what) to the vision.

What does success look like?  Think of your Vision as an end in mind Achievement towards your purpose.  What do you want the brand to become?  Think 10 years out: if you became this one thing, you would know that you are successful.  Ideally it is Qualitative (yet grounded in something) and quantitative (measurable)  It should be motivating and enticing to get people focused.   It should be personal and speak to why you get up in the morning—why you got into this business.

I always like to say “if you woke up on January 1st, 2020 and things on your brand were going well, tell me the 3-5 things that you’d quickly point to as part of that success”.   It’s a big huge goal.

Focus! Focus! Focus! Focus!

Yes, I’m empathetic to the entrepreneur who is facing zero revenues and sees that “revenue temptation” in front of them.  It’s ok to go for it, but quickly get back on track.  Think of it like a quick detour or hobby.  But you have to stay focused.

A good entrepreneur knows who they are selling to, what they are selling, how to sell it and what activities are the best choices. And they don’t deviate.

There are four areas you need to focus:

  • Pick a focused Target Market:  While it’s tempting to sell to everyone.  Focus your resources on those most likely to buy. Realizing not everyone can like you is the first step to focus on those that can love you.
  • Pick a focused Brand Positioning:  Start with the target market you just picked, and assess their need states to see where you can best match up. Beloved Brands are either better, different or cheaper. Or they are not around for much longer.Slide1
  • Pick a Focused Strategy:  Brands need to understand where they sit before picking strategies.  Evaluate the health of your brand using the Brand Funnel to understand where you are strong and should keep pushing or where you have a weakness (a Leak) that you need to close.
  • Focused Activities:  While everyone talks ROI, I talk ROE as well.  Return on Effort forces you to prioritize all your activities.

Stay aligned to your plan, and don’t be tempted away from your focus.  When you focus, five things happen.

  1. Better ROI:   With all the resources against one strategy, one target, one message, you’ll be find out if the strategy you’ve chose is able to actually move consumers drive sales or other key performance indicators.
  2. Better ROE:  Make the most out of your people resources.
  3. Strong Reputation:  When you only do one thing, you naturally start to become associated with that one thing—externally and even internally.  And, eventually you become very good at that one thing.
  4. More Competitive:  As your reputation grows, you begin to own that on thing and your are able to better defend the positioning territory
  5. Bigger and Better P&L:  As the focused effort drives results, it opens up the P&L with higher sales and profits.  And that means more resources will be put to the effort to drive even higher growth.

At Beloved Brands, we run a one day workshop called “Start Up and Start Right”.  It allows you to gain your focus, which makes it easier to articulate your brand’s idea, whether using that to selling your idea into customers or gaining investors to back your idea.  Both customers and investors see thousands of ideas every year.  Just like “THe Shark Tank” and “Dragon’s Den”, they need to see an idea, they need to see someone who is well-organized behind a plan that will be successful.  Not many will succeed if they are sloppy and all over the place.  They buy the idea!  As a fellow entrepreneur, I know what you’re facing and would love to help get you started in the right direction.  For more information, click on this link:  Start Up Start Right

So, Let’s Get Started

 

To read more on How to Write a Brand Plan, read the presentation below:

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 about how the Start Up Start Right program can help you

When it comes to Social Media, here’s why most Brand Leaders still don’t get it

BBI Learning LogoEvery day we read about how Social Media is completely changing the landscape of marketing.  That’s a huge Statement.  Is it changing that much?  Has it changed you?  Or are you one of those Brand Leaders that keeps trying to figure out “HOW THE HELL DO I DO THIS?”  I think the statement really should say “Every day, we see traditional Brand Leaders still confused by Social Media with no clue what to do”.  Thank god we are past the “Like us on Facebook” stage and thank god we have stopped doing websites on how to cleanse a wound.   The next stage is to stop saying your brand is on Twitter when you have 57 followers and you send out a tweet every 3 weeks.

Brand Leaders have to recognize the change in the marketing model. For generations, they talked AT the consumer, but now they have to talk WITH the consumer.  In the old school, Brand Leaders were trained to try to INTERRUPT the consumer in a busy part of their day and then YELL at them over and over again.  It was all about AWARENESS-PURCHASE-LOYALTY where Awareness leads to conversion to Purchase which then the brand experience leads to Loyalty.  The new school of marketing is all about LOYALTY-AWARENESS-PURCHASE where the most loyal users will be the ones driving Awareness and the influence of the conversion to purchase.  It’s no longer about yelling at strangers on TV.  Instead, you have to engage your most loyal consumers, and they become the medium for reaching new users as they WHISPER advice to their friends.
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The modern Brand Leader gets the power of being a loved brand.  When your brand is loved, demand becomes desire, needs become cravings and thinking is replaced by feeling.  Consumers become outspoken fans ready to speak out and battle competitive users.  Next time you want to leave a cocktail party but can’t convince your spouse to go, find an Apple user and tell them that Android is way better.  It will create such a fight that your spouse will drag your ass out of that party very fast.  Now, that’s brand loyalty.  

This connection between beloved brands and their consumer becomes a source of power for that brand to use.  In today’s world of Brands, the most Loved are the most powerful.  Brands like Starbucks, Google and Whole Foods aren’t using TV advertising, but instead they are taking their brand experience to social media and influencing their most loyal brand lovers to spread the word.  People post a picture of their Pumpkin Latte on Facebook and now 137 people now want one. 

The old school thinking is what gets measured gets done.  Old School media has always been about efficiency and the ROI (Return on Investment).  But New School media is about Impact and ROE (Return on Effort).  The influence of social media is like the new “invisible hand” that you know is there, but can’t always measure.  Yes, TV is and always will be the most efficient medium. It’s easy to stick with what you know and has a whole system of measurements.  But TV is an announcement medium, not an influence medium.  TV is best used for broad awareness and new news.  But it’s not as good at influencing as social media.   There are loved brands who still spend 95% of their ad budget on TV.   Yet, their TV ads tell us nothing new and fail to move the brand forward. The better spend would be take all that stored energy within their most loyal users and get them to influence their network of friends.  Your most loyal consumers become the medium for attracting new users.  

For Brand Leaders to get it, they should be living in the space of social media.  It’s a great chance for Brand Leaders to get in the shoes of your consumer, see how they live, hear what’s important to them, use their rich language and feel what they think about your brand.  Be active and be engaged.  You’d better hurry up though, because pretty soon what we see in front of us as new school media will be old pretty soon.  And then you’ll be completely out of it.

Take a Walk in their shoes of your consumers

 

To see a training presentation on getting better  Media Plans

 
 

email-Logo copyABOUT BELOVED BRANDS INC.:  At Beloved Brands, we are only focused on making brands better and making brand leaders better.Our motivation is that we love knowing we were part of helping someone to unleash their full potential.  We promise to challenge you to Think Different.  We believe the thinking that got you here, will not get you where you want to go.  grOur President and Chief Marketing Officer, Graham Robertson is a brand leader at heart, who loves everything about brands.  He comes with 20 years of experience at companies such as Johnson and Johnson, Pfizer Consumer, General Mills and Coke, where he was always able to find and drive growth.  Graham has won numerous new product and advertising awards. Graham brings his experience to your table, strong on leadership and facilitation at very high levels and training of Brand Leaders around the world.  To reach out directly, email me at graham.robertson@beloved-brands.com or follow on Twitter @grayrobertson1

 

At Beloved Brands, we love to see Brand Leaders reach their full potential.  Here are the most popular article “How to” articles.  We can offer specific training programs dedicated to each topic.  Click on any of these most read articles:

Ask Beloved Brands to help you with your media plan or ask how we can help train you to be a better brand leader

How Brand Leaders can get great Advertising: the ABC’s of Good Copy

BBI Learning LogoMaking great advertising is very hard.  Good marketers make it look simple, but they have good solid training and likely some good solid experience.  As Brand Leaders sit in the room, looking at new advertising ideas, most are ill-prepared as to how to judge what makes good advertising and what makes bad.  It’s a myth that great marketing is learned strictly “on the job”.  I also say “you are likely to screw up your first five ads”.  ANd if you do one a year, that’s 5 years of advertising.  So, how well prepared are you?  An ill prepared Brand Leader will more than likely deliver a poor ad.  There are fundamentals to help ensure that your instincts are the right instincts.  How many hours of training have you had on giving direction to a creative team?   How many times did you role-play giving feedback to the agency?  How good was the coaching you received on your feedback?  Not only do you need the fundamentals through solid training, but you likely need someone coaching you through a role-playing exercise.

How will you show up?  Are you ready?  Or will you just be another brilliant Brand Leader who can’t seem to make a great ad on their own brand?

Too many Brand Leaders sit there confused, brief in hand, but not sure whether they like it or not sure whether any of the scripts will do much for them.  The four questions you should be asking:

    • Will this ad attract Attention? (A)
    • Does this ad showcase the Brand? (B)
    • Are we Communicating our main benefit?  (C)
    • Will this ad stick in the minds of consumers? (S)

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The ABC’S of Advertising 

Here’s a potential tool you can take into the room that is very easy to follow along.  You want to make sure that your ad delivers on the ABC’S which means it attracts  Attention, it’s about the Brand, it Communicates the brand story and Sticks in the consumers mind.  

  • Attention:  You have to get noticed in a crowded world of advertising.  Consumers see 6000 ads per day, and will likely only engage in a few.  If your brand doesn’t draw attention naturally, then you’ll have to force it into the limelight.
  • Branding:  Ads that tell the story of the relationship between the consumer and the brand will link best.  Even more powerful are ads that are from the consumers view of the brand.  It’s not how much branding there is, but how close the brand fits to the climax of the ad.
  • Communication:  Tapping into the truths of the consumer and the brand, helps you to tell the brand’s life story. Keep your story easy to understand. Communication is not just about what you say, but how you say it—because that says just as much.
  • Stickiness:  Sticky ads help to build a consistent brand/consumer experience over time.   In the end, brands are really about “consistency” of the promise you want to own.  Brands have exist in the minds of the consumer. 
Attention

Buying media and putting something on air does not attract attention for your ad.  Why would consumers want to listen to what you have to say.  You have to EARN the consumers’ attention.  The best way to grab Attention is to take a risk and do something not done before. Here are the 5 ways to attract attention.

  1. Be Incongruent:  This is a great technique to get noticed is by being a bit off kilter or different from what they are watching.  A lot of brand leaders are afraid of this, because they feel it exposes them.  Avoid being like “wallpaper”   If you want a high score on “made the brand seem different”, it starts with acting different.   kitkat
  2. Resonate:  Connect with the consumer in the true way that they see themselves or their truth about how they interact with the brand.
  3. Entertain them:  Strike the consumers emotional cord, by making them laugh, make them cry, or make them tingle.  From the consumers view—they interact with media to be entertained—so entertain them.
  4. The Evolution of the Art of Being Different:  As much as Movies,  TV music continues to evolve, so do ads. As much as your art has to express your strategy, it needs to reflect the trends of society to capture their attention.  Albino fruit flies mate at twice the rate of normal fruit flies.  Be an albino fruit fly!!!
  5. Location Based:  Be where Your consumers are open and willing to listen.  The Media choice really does impact attention.  Make sure your creative makes the most of that media choice.  
Branding

There is an old advertising saying “half of all advertising is wasted, but we aren’t sure which half”.  Coincidently, the average brand link is 50%.  Our goal should always be to get higher.  The best Branding comes when you connect the Brand to the Climax of the ad.   It’s not about how much branding or how early the branding arrives.  

  1. Be Part of the Story:  in the spirit of big ideas, how do you tell a story, using your brand.  It’s not how much branding you use, but rather how closely connected the brand to the climax of your ad.
  2. Is it the Truth:  It sounds funny, but if there is a disconnect between what you say, and what you are….then the brand link won’t be there.  People will discard the ad.
  3. Own the Idea Area:  Be a bit different—make sure that what you do sets you apart from anyone else. 
  4. Repeat:  don’t be afraid of building your brand—and the simplest way to get branding is to repeat and repeat and repeat.
Communication

Communicating is about selling.  Keep in mind, communication is not what is said, but what is heard.  The best way to Communicate is through Story Telling that involves the brand.  The modern-day world of the internet allows richness in story telling.  

  1. Start a Dialogue:  If you can do a good job in connecting with the consumer, the branding idea can be a catalyst that enables you to converse with your consumer.
  2. What are you Selling?  You have to keep it simple—you only have 29 seconds to sell the truth.  Focus on one message…keep asking yourself “what are we selling”.drill
  3. Powerful Expression:  try to find one key visual that can express what you are selling.  This visual can be leveraged throughout
  4. Find Your “More Cheese”:  Many times its so obvious what people want, but we just can’t see it or articulate it. 
  5. Sell the Solution—not the Problem:  Brands get so wrapped up in demonstrating the problem, when really it is the solution that consumers want to buy. 
Stickiness

We all want our ads to stick.  You need to adopt a mindset of “will this idea last for 5 years”.  The Best way to Stick is to have an idea that is big enough.  You should sit there and say is this a big idea or just an ad?

  1. Dominant Characteristic:  things that are memorable have something that dominates your mind (e.g.:  the red-head kid)
  2. How Big Is the Idea?  Its proven that a gold-fish will get bigger with a bigger bowl.  The same for ideas.
  3. Telling Stories:   While visuals are key to communicating, in the end people remember stories—that’s how we are brought up—with ideas and morals that are designed to stick. 
  4. Always Add A Penny:  With each execution, you have a chance to add something to the branding idea.  Avoid duplicating what you’ve done…and try to stretch as much as you can. 
  5. Know Your Assets:  There has to be something in your ad that sticks.  Know what that is and then use it, in new executions or in other parts of the marketing mix.

Slide1

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

 

To see a training presentation on Get Better Advertising: 

If you are in the mood to see stories on great advertising, here’s a few other stories:

 

email-Logo copyABOUT BELOVED BRANDS INC.:  At Beloved Brands, we are only focused on making brands better and making brand leaders better.Our motivation is that we love knowing we were part of helping someone to unleash their full potential.  We promise to challenge you to Think Different.  We believe the thinking that got you here, will not get you where you want to go.  grOur President and Chief Marketing Officer, Graham Robertson is a brand leader at heart, who loves everything about brands.  He comes with 20 years of experience at companies such as Johnson and Johnson, Pfizer Consumer, General Mills and Coke, where he was always able to find and drive growth.  Graham has won numerous new product and advertising awards. Graham brings his experience to your table, strong on leadership and facilitation at very high levels and training of Brand Leaders around the world.  To reach out directly, email me at graham.robertson@beloved-brands.com or follow on Twitter @grayrobertson1

 

At Beloved Brands, we love to see Brand Leaders reach their full potential.  Here are the most popular article “How to” articles.  We can offer specific training programs dedicated to each topic.  Click on any of these most read articles:

Ask Beloved Brands to help you with your advertising or ask how we can help train you to be a better brand leader.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Slide1

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

In the consumer’s mind, brands sit on a Brand Love Curve, with brands going from Indifferent to Like It to Love It and finally becoming a Beloved Brand for Life.  At the Beloved stage, demand becomes desire, needs become cravings, thinking is replaced with feelings.  Consumers become outspoken fans.  It’s this connection that helps drive power for your brand: power versus competitors, versus customers, versus suppliers and even versus the same consumers you’re connected with.  The farther along the curve, the more power for the brand.  It’s important that you understand where your brand sits on the Love Curve and begin figuring out how to move it along towards becoming a Beloved Brand.

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

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

Love what you do.  Live why you do it.  

 

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

 

email-Logo copyABOUT BELOVED BRANDS INC.:  At Beloved Brands, we are only focused on making brands better and making brand leaders better.Our motivation is that we love knowing we were part of helping someone to unleash their full potential.  We promise to challenge you to Think Different.  We believe the thinking that got you here, will not get you where you want to go.  grOur President and Chief Marketing Officer, Graham Robertson is a brand leader at heart, who loves everything about brands.  He comes with 20 years of experience at companies such as Johnson and Johnson, Pfizer Consumer, General Mills and Coke, where he was always able to find and drive growth.  Graham has won numerous new product and advertising awards. Graham brings his experience to your table, strong on leadership and facilitation at very high levels and training of Brand Leaders around the world.  To reach out directly, email me at graham.robertson@beloved-brands.com or follow on Twitter @grayrobertson1

 

At Beloved Brands, we love to see Brand Leaders reach their full potential.  Here are the most popular article “How to” articles.  We can offer specific training programs dedicated to each topic.  Click on any of these most read articles:

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

8 simple ways to be a better Brand Leader

Brand LeadershipAs we push to be great Brand Leaders, here are 8 ways to push yourself to be better. This is from the 20 years of hiring, training, encouraging and even firing Brand Leaders.  Here are 8 things that separate amazing from OK.

A great Brand Leader takes ownership of the brand.  I’ve seen many Brand Leaders 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 then 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 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 then you ask me what we should do.  I’ll be better able to judge your logic, your passion and your vision. 

A great Brand Leader provides the vision & strategies to drive results. 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 they have to be rejected.  The communication of strategy is a key skill.  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—they 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.

A great Brand Leader 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 people for their best.  It’s a strange step, but I have found it useful.   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. 

A great Brand Leader can handle pressure.  There are Four Types of Pressure that Brand Leaders Face

  1. 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. 
  2. 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 then continuing to repeat and repeat and repeat.  
  3. 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. 
  4. 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. 

A great Brand Leader can Hold your team to a Consistently high standard of work:  Rather than being the leader by example, I’d rather see you establish a standard and hold everyone and yourself to that standard.  .  For a new Brand Leader, this is one of the harder areas—how to balance the freedom you give with the standard you demand.    You need to organize the team and build in processes in a way that produces consistent output, your team hits all deadlines, stays focused and keeps things moving.  But it can also show up in the quality of brand plans, execution and interactions with everyone specifically sales.  Be the control point of the team, and not let slips, errors or delays show beyond the team.  Delegate so you motivate your stars, but never abdicate ownership of how your team shows up.

A great Brand Leader is an outstanding leader of people by leveraging Consistent People Leadership and Management.   Newly appointed Brand Leaders have taken on more leadership roles.  You have to let your team breathe and grow.   There are likely future super stars within the ranks.   We know you can write a brand plan, roll out a promotion super fast and make snap decisions on creative.  But can you inspire your team to do the same?  Junior marketers have high ambitions–constantly wanting praise, but equally seeking out advice for how to get better.  Brand Managers are still learning to be brand owners, many times younger than they should be.  It becomes the director’s role to manage the talent–giving equal praise and challenges for how to get better.  A great  Brand Leader should be meeting quarterly with each team member one on one to take them through a quarterly performance review.   Waiting for year-end is just not enough.  Be passionate about people’s careers–anything less they’ll see it as merely a duty you are fulfilling.  

A Great Brand Leader shows up Consistently to the Sales Team:   As a Brand Leader, you have to be seen as one who is willing to listen.  Great sales people challenge marketers to make sure their account wins.   I’ve seen many sales teams destroy the Brand Leader because they don’t listen, and they stubbornly put forward their plan without sales input.   Great Brand Leaders should informally meet with all key senior sales people on a quarterly basis, to get to know them and let them know you are listening to their problems.  With this forum, you’ll get more of the bubbling up of problems–not just waiting for problems to explode.   If a sales people feel they’ve been heard, they are more apt to follow the directors vision and direction.   Many times, the debate can be healthy and help the sales people frame the story they need to tell with their accounts.  Be the one Brand Leader that consistently reaches out and listens.  They’ll be in shock, and stand behind your business.

A Great Brand Leader Delivers Consistent Results:  A great Brand Leader hits the numbers and yet when they don’t hit them, they are the first to own it and put forward a recovery plan before being asked.  They have an entrepreneurial spirit of ownership, rather than just being a corporate pencil pusher.   Proactive communication upwards and with your own team.  Reach out for help across the organization.  Know your business and let everyone know what you know.  Be the leader that makes everything perfectly transparent–everyone will follow you.

You might also enjoy this article

Eight Leader Behaviors to Be Great Brand Leader

Challenge Yourself: If you knew that showing up different would drive better Brand results, then could you show up different?

 

Follow me on Twitter @grayrobertson1

 

Here’s a presentation on Successful Marketing Careers:  

 

Other Roles You May Be Interested In
  • Brand Manager:  It becomes about ownership and strategic thinking within your brand plan.  Most Brand Managers are honestly a disaster with their first direct report, and get better around the fifth report.  The good ones let the ABM do their job; the bad ones jump in too much, frustrated and impatient rather than acting as a teacher.  To read about being a successful Brand Manager, read:  How to be a Successful Brand Manager
  • 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

 

Other Stories You Might Like
  1. How to Write a Monthly Report: One of the first tasks they assign the ABM is writing the monthly sales and share report.  Not only is a necessity of the business, but it’s your best training ground for doing a deep dive on analytics and strategic writing.   To read how to write a Monthly Report, click on this hyperlink:  How to Write a Monthly Report
  2. How to Write a Brand Positioning Statement.  Before you even get into the creative brief, you should be looking at target, benefits and reason to believe.   To read how to write a Brand Positioning Statement, click on this hyperlink:  How to Write an Effective Brand Positioning Statement
  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:

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

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

 

How to go Deeper on the Analysis of your Brand

Brand LeadershipToo many times, marketers come to conclusions based on pure instincts and put them forward to their management team and the set of peers who might agree or disagree.  The problem with instincts is that because it’s really just an opinion, with nothing to substantiate it.  And even if you are right, you’ll have a hard time convincing others, so anyone with a counter view, retains their own opinion and the team remains divided.  Even if they go along with it, they remain a quiet dissenter just waiting for it to fail and waiting to say “I told you so”.

When you don’t go deep on your thinking, I call it surface thinking.  I equate “surface thinking” to “surface cleaning”.  When your mother is coming over to visit in half an hour, you “surface clean” by quickly take everything and jam into the drawers or closets where she won’t be able to see.  You never really clean up. The same thing holds with “surface thinking”.  Yes, you think, but it stays at the opinion level.   You don’t dig in to the data, you don’t listen to others or go do the necessary research to back up your opinion.  You never really go deep enough to uncover the deep rich insightful conclusions.  And everyone knows it. 

Opinions are great.  Every leader should have one and be able to articulate their views.  But it’s best when you can layer it in fact.  One good rule for communicating your opinion is something I learned in my first year Logic class:  Premise, Premise, Conclusion.  Try it out, next time you’re engaged in debate.  Just make sure the premise is backed by fact.      

So what happens when you just do “surface thinking”:
  1. The programs bomb, and because you don’t know what elements of the program really failed, you throw out the entire program—the strategy was wrong, the tactics didn’t do what you hoped, the goals weren’t set up right and even the agency did a bad job.  You throw it all out, and might even fire the agency.
  2. There’s management doubt from your boss and your peers.  They can clearly see you don’t go deep, so they remain unconvinced or even confused.  They might confront you with their own opinion, but then we just end up with two talking heads that refuse to go deep.  But, to protect themselves against a strategy they aren’t quite sure of, they subconsciously short-change you on investment or even on support from their team. 
  3. When you just operate at the surface level, when you’re debating a topic, instead of the team going deep and seeking out real and rich facts to support one side or the other, the conversation moves sideways instead of deep.  What you’ll notice is you’ll be talking about distribution at the surface level, and because no one in the room wants to  go deep, they say “well what about the new cheery flavor, I took it home and my wife didn’t like it, are we sure it’s going to work” or “this new golf shirt for the sales meeting is very cool, I want one of these puppies”.    The leadership team spins, round and round, never diving deep enough to solve the issues, just casually moves on to new issues.   This is how bad decisions or no decisions get made. 
How to go Deeper

The best way go deep on your analysis, ask “so what does that mean” at least five times and watch the information gets richer and deeper. 

Slide1

Looking at the Gray’s Cookie example above, intuitively, it makes sense that going after Health Food Stores could be one option put on the table.  But to say you need to be better, without digging in remains an unsubstantiated opinion.   As you dig deeper, you see that going after Health Food stores, who are highly independent is labor intensive and the payback is just not there.  Yes, you’re way under-developed.  But it’s more expensive than other options.  When you bring the option of going after mass into the mix, which is head office driven, you start to see a higher return on the investment.  This is just a fictional example, but look how the thinking gets richer at each stage.  Force yourself to keep asking “so what does this mean” or “why” pushing the analysis harder and harder. 

Thinking Time Questions that will Help you Go Deeper

The first analysis is “What do we know?” with 5 key questions to help you sort through your analysis:

  1. What do we know?  This should be fact based and you know it for sure.
  2. What do we assume?  Your educated/knowledge based conclusion that helps us bridge between fact, and speculation.
  3. What we think?  Based on facts, and assumptions, you should be able to say what we think will happen.
  4. What do we need to find out?  There may be unknowns still.
  5. What are we going to do?  It’s the action that comes out of this thinking.

It forces you to start grouping your learning, forces you to start drawing conclusions and it enables your reader to separate fact (the back ground information) from opinion (where you are trying to take them)

The second type of analysis is “Where are we?” with 5 key questions to help you sort through your analysis:

  1. Where are we?
  2. Why are we  here? 
  3. Where could we be?
  4. How can we get there?
  5. What do we need to do to get there?

These questions help frame your thinking as you go into a Brand Plan.  The first question helps the analysis, the second with the key issues, the third frames the vision and objectives, the fourth gets into strategy and tactics and the fifth gets into the execution.  My challenge to you:  update it every 3-6 months, or every time you do something major.  You’ll be surprised that doing something can actually impact “where are we?” on the analysis.  

The Deeper the Thinking, the Smarter the Leader

 

To read more on How to Analyze Your Brand, read the presentation below:

 
 
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 Positioning Statement.  Before you even get into the creative brief, you should be looking at target, benefits and reason to believe.   To read how to write a Brand Positioning Statement, click on this hyperlink:  How to Write an Effective Brand Positioning Statement
  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

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

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

12 Thought Starter Quotes to challenge and inspire Brand Leaders

Here are some thought starters that I hope one of them gets you to think about your role as a Brand Leader just a little bit differently.

 

“Consumer Insight comes to life when it’s told in such a captivating way that makes people stop and say “hmm, I thought I was the only one who felt like that”

 

“When picking a target market, focus all of your limited resources against trying to matter the most, to those who really care”

 

“Half way between the exactness of Science and the unknown of Art lies the power of an IDEA that can bring them together”

 

“Everyone wants to be an out-of-the-box thinker.  How about being an in-the-box thinker, where the box is your strategy”

 

“The most Beloved Brands are either different, better or cheaper.  Or else, not around for very long”

 

“Consumers don’t care what you do until you care what they want.  Instead of just yelling what you do, put yourself in the consumers shoes and ask yourself 5 times “so what do i get?” and then ask another 5 times “so how does that make me feel?”

 

“If your brand only has 3 strategies and each strategy only has 3 tactics, then you should be able to do an amazing job on all 9.  Much better than the current list of 123 things you’re trying to do”

 

“The better the people, the better the work, the better the business results.  So then, are you doing enough to make your people better?”

 

“Ask “Do you love it?” and watch their eyes to see if they tell the truth.  Because, if you don’t love the work, how do you expect your consumer to love your brand?”

 

“A Beloved Brand uses the love consumers have for the brand to replicate the positional power of a Monopoly.  And from that power, the Beloved Brand drives stronger growth and higher profits.”

 

“Smart Media Plans start with understanding where the customer is, not where the media is”

 

“Most marketers will tell you that branding is about positioning and communication.  But positioning is actually just a means to driving growth and making money”

Challenge yourself to get better every day.  

 

To read more about Beloved Brands and how to turn love into 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.

How to give Feedback on Advertising Copy

BBI Learning LogoIn a previous article, I wrote about How to Judge Advertising, trying to help Brand Leaders separate the Good ads from the Bad.  Click here to read: Judging Advertising Copy    This is a follow-up article to help outline how a Brand Leader should deliver the feedback, which is almost as important as the judging of the Advertising itself.

I come at this discussion from the client side.  I’ve never worked at an agency in my life.  But I have 20 years of CPG experience and have been in the shoes of the Brand Leader at every level.  I feel comfortable to say that most Clients don’t know how to give effective feedback to an Agency.   I’ve seen 10 people show up where they all talk and no decisions are made.   I’ve seen 10 show up and no one says a word, all looking miserable.  They say nothing and then email their feedback 5 days later.  I’ve seen Brand Leaders writing copy and tag lines, moving photos around, adding demos and even suggesting what songs to add to make the spots great.  And with modern social media campaigns, it’s becoming a mess of what people do on their own social media accounts.  The lack of fundamentals in giving feedback that links back to the strategy is getting worse, not better.   

A great Brand Leader should have more questions than answers.  They should be able to uncover problems better than they figure out solutions.  And they should respect the expertise of those they hire to tell the story of their brand.    

When seeing new Advertising Copy, a Brand Leader can really only do three things: 1) Approve the Ad 2) Reject the Ad or 3) Give direction on how to make the Ad better.  Even if you like an Ad, it’s rare that you will approve it outright.  Slide1I know Creative Teams wish we did, but it’s just not a reality.  Yes, the client feedback can help great ads get even better.  If you dislike an Ad, I say you have to kill it.  There’s no value in making an Ad you don’t like–even if it tests well.  I know not everyone will buy this.  But if you don’t love it, you won’t fight for its life, you won’t live and breathe the spot and you won’t put your heart and soul into it.  So why bother approving it.  

If you don’t love the work you do, then how do you expect the consumer to love your brand?  If you are satisfied with OK, my only regret is that I’m not competing with you.  

Advertising is Really “In the Box” Thinking

The best Advertising people are problem solvers, not blue sky “out of the box” dreamers.  They are “in the box” thinkers who are motivated by the challenge of the problem, more than the execution of some simple solution.  Big creative ideas can come from a tightly defined problem.   Checklist-icon The role of the Creative Brief is to create the right “box”, with enough room to move, but enough direction that defines the problem and challenges the Creative Team to solve it.  Advertising is a creative expression of the Brand Strategy, helping to bring the Brand’s Promise to life in the form of a story.  Great Advertising rarely comes from a blank canvass supplied by a confused client.

Getting Great Advertising is a Balance between Freedom and Control.  Most Brand Leaders allow too much FREEDOM on the strategy but want to exhibit CONTROL on the creative.  It seems odd because it should be the reverse.   Brand Leaders should control the Strategy and give up a bit of freedom on the Execution.  

A Good Creative Brief Should Be Brief, Not Long!  There should be one objective, one target, one main benefit and two main reasons to believe (RTB’s).  Agencies that want a long list of RTB’s want to take the strategic control away from you, so that they can provide options at the Creative Meeting.   Yes, it would be easier for the Agency to make Ads with that option, but you’d be letting the creative dictate your strategy rather than your strategy dictating your ad.  Creative Teams don’t want endless streams of data.   They don’t want so many options built into a brief, that they don’t know where to start.  Giving information “just in case” is confusing for them.  They need focus in order to deliver great work for you.  The smaller the brief, the bigger the ideas.

Brand Leaders should never let their Agency present “strategic” options at a Creative Meeting.  The Creative Meeting should only have creative solutions that answer the strategic problem.      That’s part of the whole flaw in why writing a really thick brief is a bad thing.   More on writing a Creative Brief at: How To Write a Creative Brief

Now Here’s the Odd Part to Feedback

How you treat your agency is crucial.  When you TELL an Agency exactly what to do, there is only one answer:  YES.  But when you ASK them what to do, you might hear:  YES, NO or MAYBE.  It also allows the agency to do what it does best, which is solving problems.  Not taking notes.  Brand Leaders should judge the advertising and then challenge the agency by always talking in terms of problems that they can solve.  

Slide1

I realize that not everyone will get this.  The dance I am about to teach you will help separate the great Brand Leaders from the bad.  I’m going to give it a shot.  If you buy into the premise above that creative people are “in the box” thinkers, who are motivated by solving problems then don’t use your feedback to give them the answers that will actually de-motivate them.  Instead, give your comments in a way that creates a new problem for them to solve.  Since the brief put them “in a box”, now the feedback should really be creating a “new box” for them to figure out.  Just don’t give them the answers. 

If you frame it in the form of a problem, you’ll be pleasantly surprised that the solution they come up with is way better than the one in your head right now.  They don’t want your solutions.  Instead of writing copy for them, say “I’m not sure the middle or the script is completely reflecting the insight”.   The Creative Team finds it de-motivating to be asked for their expertise (solving problems) and then not utilized (given the answer)

Stop writing copy.  I’ve never met a Brand Leader that was good at writing copy or figuring out the art direction.  Great Brand Leaders are great at figuring out the strategic problems.  Stick to that.  Let others you hire to figure out the solutions, actually figure out the solutions.  

Feedback At the Creative Meeting

The Creative Meeting is not Easy.  You’ve got to balance, the head, the heart and the gut against the good of the brand.  Take your time and sort it through asking the following questions:

  1. Do you love what it can do for your brand?  If you don’t love it, how do you expect your consumer to love it?  A great ad has to have everyone’s heart and soul put into it.  If you “sorta like” it, then it will be “sorta ok” in the end.  If you love it, you will fight for it.  (The Heart) 
  2. Is it on strategy?  Is the Advertisement an expression of what you have been writing in your strategy documents?   Is it doing what we hoped it would do?  I love the ABCS technique (outlined below) because it helps me to frame things in my mind, so I can evaluate it past how I feel.  I think you need something to ground yourself.  (The Head)  If  there is something in your gut says it’s off, it likely is.  (The Gut)
  3. Is it long-term Idea?  Is a big enough idea that fits with the brand, does the hard work you want to do for the brand and can last 5 years.  Think about leaving a legacy—which forces you to think of campaign-ability.  (The Brand)  Look at the Creative Brief and if the ad is not on strategy, then it has to be rejected   Advertising is an expression of strategy.  If it’s not on strategy, it has no value.  

Slide1

As for the feedback, too many people sit there taking notes and never engaging with the agency.   Sadly, great jokes fall to the silence of the room creating the tension of a 11th grade Physics exam.  There should be 3 types of feedback:

  1. In the Middle of the Meeting, Talk Out Your First Impressions: During the presentation, it’s great to be engaged enough to say “I like that” or ask a question.   People forget this type of feedback.  You are allowed to talk.  A free-flowing meeting helps ease any tension in the room, and allows you to use your instincts a little more.  Don’t be afraid of voicing your first impressions, it doesn’t lock you in.  You can like something and still reject it because it’s off strategy.  
  2. End of Meeting “Big Picture” Direction:  Once all the work is presented, focus your comments on what‘s working and challenge the team to find ways to make it better. Focus more on the Scripts that you like first, and then move to the ones you don’t like.   Stay big picture–find that balance of instincts and strategy.  Avoid getting too wrapped into the details just yet.  
  3. The Day After Give Detailed Direction:  Take 24 hours to digest all the little details with fresh eyes and maybe more discussion.  Make sure it delivers the depths of brief–highlight any gaps you’re seeing in relation to the Creative Brief.  Does it fit the target, is the tone right, and are we sure it’s communicating the reason to believe?  You might have further details (copy points, placement, colours) to the next day.  The key is to let the agency know about the day after direction, so they can expect it.  
Who Speaks?  Everyone or Just One Person

I’m a big fan of huddling as a Brand team and then giving one piece of feedback.  The agency walks away with consolidated thoughts rather than a mess of comments they have to clean up.  Having the Agency walk away with one message is more important than everyone on the Brand team getting a chance to voice their opinions.  

From a client vantage, I’ve worked with both “taking the break” and “giving feedback live”.  My preference is the break.  It enables you to take your time and give clear aligned direction.  Even with many years of experience, and being a fairly intuitive marketer with a love for advertising–I still have a hard time giving feedback 30 seconds after seeing the last script.  While it’s good to get your instincts out, I guess my big question is “what’s the rush?”  We want to get to the best advertising, right?  We took months to figure out the insight, weeks to figure out the brief and gave the creative team a few weeks to write the scripts.  So why do we want to decide on the best Ad within moments after seeing the Scripts? 

Here’s the “Old School” process:
  1. A senior person on the Agency side starts off the meeting by saying “we are so excited”.  One of the Creative guys says something really positive about the brand they saw on shelf in the 3 weeks they were working on the spot.  
  2. The Account Team re-reads the brief at the start of the meeting.  Then the agency does a 5 minute set up of each board, explaining the technique/process (e.g. this is funny spot).  Set ups can taint or bias the client’s view of a spot.
  3. Agency presents 3-5 scripts, and says which one is their favourite or recommendation.  It’s potentially a de-motivator if you ask for their favourite and then you just dismiss it anyway.  Why bother?
  4. Client Feedback is given 15 seconds after the last script is presented, with the most junior person going first, all the way up to the senior person in the room.  This feels very 1950s humiliation and de-motivating to the junior people on the Brand team.  The account team takes notes, tries to figure out from the various comments what the final direction is.  The Brand Manager caves to the most senior person in the room.  Lots of polite passive-agressive behavior, but not sure of where to go next.    
New School Process for Giving Feedback:  

Take a 15-30 minute client huddle with just the Brand team in the room, so that they can align on the direction and then give the agency one piece of feedback.  Get rid of that polite passive-agressive behavior and have a great debate behind closed doors.  

It can help the overall process because:

  1. The Agency gets one piece of consolidated feedback.  They know exactly what they are going to do next.  The huddle allows the client to get their story straight. The break also helps to slow down process so the client can think things through.
  2. It Gives Ownership to the Brand Manager, who should do all the speaking on behalf of the team, not the most senior person in the room that over-rules them.  When I was in the senior marketing role, I’d let the Brand Manager do all the talking and at the end, I would just say “great job everyone and I’m looking forward to the next round”.  
  3. The break allows the Client Team to have a very open discussion, freely hearing out everyone’s thoughts, giving junior people easier input.  Have good rich debates to make sure you’re on strategy.  It allows the senior leader to coach the Brand Manager rather than publicly over-rule.  The Brand Manager hears everyone out and then consolidates it to one message.
Bit of Crazy Talk for You

It’s also time to get rid of the “reading of the Brief” and get rid of the 5 minute agency “set up” of each ad.  I know half of you will think this is crazy and likely none of you will do it.  Brand Leaders should be in the shoes of the consumer as they see the Advertising ideas.  And unless you are going to buy an ad right beside your ad, that explains your ad, then get rid of the set ups.  Instead, bring the brief, put it face down and only turn it over once you’ve seen all the work.  Plus, you should have your brief memorized.  It’s not that hard.  You only have one brief.  Remember, your brief is fairly short!!!

To see a training presentation on Getting Better Advertising

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:

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Happy Valentines: A Love Story For Brand Leaders

Why Does Love Matter for a Brand?

Today is all about love.  And while you might be buying some flowers or chocolate for the one you love, what are you doing to show your consumer that you love them?   How do you expect them to love you, if you don’t show them a little bit of love.  

Here’s a cute ad that Coke, one of the most beloved brands, is doing to celebrate the day with their consumers.  

More Love Means More Profits

Brand Leaders are thinkers and don’t always feel comfortable getting all emotional.  They don’t have time for fluff, because they have a bottom line to hit.  How many times have we heard: “keep it simple, show my product shot, say my superiority claim, show a demo and the product will sell itself”.  

But what if I told you that the more love you can generate for your brand, the more money you will make.  Does that sound like crazy talk?

The Brand Love Curve

In the consumer’s mind, brands sit along a hypothetical Brand Love Curve, going from Indifferent to Like It to Love It and finally becoming a Beloved Brand for Life. 

Love Curve Detailed

The farther along the curve the deeper the connection.  At the beloved stage, demand becomes desire, needs become cravings, and thinking is replaced with feelings.  Consumers become outspoken fans.  That connection helps drive a positional power for your brand—a power versus competitors, customers, suppliers and even versus the very consumers that love you.  With that power, consumers will pay more, use more and follow where the brand goes next.   All this love goes straight to the bottom line. 

Brand Love: 

Marketers keep debating what makes a great brand.  Is it the product, the advertising or even the experience?  There are 5 sources of Brand Love: the brand promise, experience, strategy, innovation and the communication of the brand story.   

Slide1

The brand’s promise must be relevant, simple and compelling enough to connect. A brand can only be better, different or cheaper.  Otherwise it won’t be around for very long.  The most beloved brands are based on an idea worth loving.  The strategic choices should start with where the brand is on the Brand Love Curve and finding ways to create a deeper connection.  Externally, the promise is delivered through communication, but just important the brand acts as an internal beacon to the culture and the R&D.   The brand story expresses the promise in a compelling way, whether through paid media, earned, social and search.  The experience created by the culture has to over-deliver the brand promise. Freshness of innovation, keeps the brands one-step ahead of competitors.   Every new product should tie back to the brand promise.   Execution in every facet matters:  you have to love what you do.   If you don’t love the work how do you expect your consumer to love your brand?

 

Brand Power: 

Once you create love with your consumer, the key is turning that love into power. 

Slide1

That starts with a power over the very consumers that love them.  The most loyal users line up in the rain for new products, promote and defend the brand, pay the price premium and even follow the brand to new categories.  With this connection, beloved brands have a power over channels, as people would rather switch stores than switch brands.  There’s a power over the media. Not only can you afford more paid media, you can generate more free media: earned, social or search media.  Apple generates over a billion dollars of free media via the mainstream media and social media.  Beloved Brands have a power over employees that want to be part of the brand who intimately know and bring a passion to the brand before they even start.

Brand Profit:

Because the brand is now tied more to how you feel than just the product, there’s a direct impact on the P&L. 

Slide1 copy 2

The most beloved brands create momentum as crowds follow crowds, turning it into share gains.  Consumers follow the Brand into new categories.   The price is inelastic with loyal brand fans pay a 20-30% price premium and even the weakened channels and take lower margins.  In terms of costs, suppliers will cut their price to be on the brand’s roster, and higher volumes lower cost of goods.  With higher share, new categories, an inelastic price and lower cost structure, the most beloved brand can turn the connection into growth profits. 

 

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

 

So maybe it’s time for Brand Leaders to start asking: “And how will this make our consumers love my brand”

 

 

Here’s a summary on Creating a Beloved Brand: 

 

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 Positioning Statement.  Before you even get into the creative brief, you should be looking at target, benefits and reason to believe.   To read how to write a Brand Positioning Statement, click on this hyperlink:  How to Write an Effective Brand Positioning Statement
  3. Turning Brand Love into Power and Profits:  The positioning statement sets up the promise that kick starts the connection between the brand and consumer.  There are four other factors that connect:  brand strategy, communication, innovation and experience.   The connectivity is a source of power that can be leveraged into deeper profitability.  To read more click on the hyper link:  Love = Power = Profits 

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

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

Finance 101 for Brand Leaders

Brand LeadershipTo be a great Brand Leader, you have to be good at running the P&L.  Even as you are launching new products, creating new advertising or writing a great brand plan, you have to have profit front and center in everything you do.  Yet, there are far too many Brand Leaders who can’t run the P&L.  These Brand Leaders hit the mid-point of their career and then we realize that they aren’t very good with numbers and all of a sudden, a fast track career for the super star Brand Manager completely stalls.   As you’re looking up to the director level jobs, challenge yourself to get better with finance.

Looking at the P&L

Here’s my Finance 101 that can help  simplify your role with the P&L.  This is meant for the Brand Manager level who is aspiring to continuing to move up.  But regardless of level, if you secretly are weak in the P&L area, this might help you.  

Slide1While it’s important to learn every line of the P&L, where Brand Leaders can have the biggest impact is on the Net Sales, the Gross Margin and the Contribution Margin.  

The Net Sales line is simply Gross Sales minus the Trade Spend.  Some income statements have brought the trade spend up to the sales line, while others have left it down in the cost line.   Check with your company’s or country’s way of doing it.  In many industries, the trade terms are dictated by the channels.  While I would want to say the more Beloved Brands have a power over the channels, many times they still aren’t able to turn that power into lowering the trade spend.  If the trade spend is out of your control, you should be working with sales to ensure you are maximizing the value in programs that you are getting for the trade spend.  

Net Sales is the Unit Sales times Net Price.  For unit sales, you’ll have to either drive the market share or enter new markets.   That’s where the marketing programs you leverage drive faster growth relative to the spend.  And for price, you can increase price or get consumers to trade up to a premium price within your portfolio.  The overall brand image you drive will usually be one of the biggest impacts on price.  The more love you create for the brand, the more inelastic the price. 

Gross Margin is Net Sales minus Cost of Goods.  Just like above this can be impacted by how high of a price premium you can drive for the brand, or whether you can lower your Cost of Goods without impacting the quality of the product.  As a Brand Manager, this becomes your primary focus for “profit” as you feel the below the line costs are out of you control, so you don’t pay much attention to them.   However, as you get up to the Director or VP level, you get involved in discussions about marketing spend, R&D and the goals for the bottom line contribution margin levels.  This is where your strength or weakness in running the P&L begins to really show up.  

4 Ways to Drive the P&L

Looking at the above P&L lines, in a slightly different way you really have 4 different areas that you can impact the Profit:

    1. With Price, you can increase/decrease the price or you can get consumers to trade up to a premium line or down to a value line.   
    2. When looking at Costs, you’re either driving the product costs or the marketing costs.  You’re trying to minimize the costs without impacting the brand or the impact on the brand.
    3. Driving the Market Share is a focus on either stealing other users or getting your current users to use more. 
    4. The Market Size is all about entering new categories or finding new uses for your current brand.  

#1.  Using Price as a weapon to drive brand value.  It can be a price change, up or down, or it could be trying to get consumers to trade up or down.

  • Price Increase: You can do a price increase if the market or brand allows you. It likely has to be based on passing along cost increases. Factors that help are whether you are a healthy brand or it’s a healthy market as well as the power of your brand vs competition and channel.
  • Price Decrease: Used when fighting off competitor, if you need to react to a sluggish economy or channel pressure. Another reason to decrease price is if you have a competitive advantage around cost, whether that’s manufacturing, materials or distribution.

There are watch outs for price changes. It’s difficult to execute price changes especially if it has to go through retailers. You need to understand power relationships–how powerful are the retailers. Many times, price changes are scrutinized so badly by retailers that you must have proof of why you are doing it. Also, it’s quite likely your Competitors will (over) react. So your assumptions you used to go with the price increase will change right after. And finally, it’s not easy to change back.

  • Trading Up: If you have In a range of products, sometimes it can be beneficial to get consumers to trade up. Can you carve out a meaningful difference to create a second tier that goes beyond your current brand? Does your brand image/ratings allow it?
  • Trading Down: Risky, but you see unserved market, with minimal damage to image/reputation of the brand. In a tough economy, it might be better to create a value set of products rather than lower the price on your main products.

When looking at Price Increases, here’s a formula to help get you started on your analysis for gaining approval.  

Slide1

Beloved Brands seem more capable at driving profits through pricing, but they also are careful to ensure the premium does not become excessive to create backlash. There are a few watch outs around trying to trade up or down: Premium skus, can feel orphaned at retail world—on the shelf or missing ads or displays. Managing multiple price levels can be difficult—what to support, price differences etc. For all the effort you go to, make sure your margins stay consistently strong through the trading up or down. Be careful that you don’t lose focus on your core business. Can’t be all things to everyone. The final concern is what does it do your Brand’s image, especially risky when trading downward.

# 2. Managing cost as a weapon to enhance the Brand’s Value. It can be either your cost of goods or the potential selling costs.

  • Cost of Goods Decreases: You are able to use the power of your brand to drive power over your suppliers, you find cheaper potential raw materials, process improvement or find off-shore manufacturing.
  • Cost of Goods Increases: Make sure that you manage the COGs as they increase. Watch out for suppliers trying to pass along costs. But realize that with new technology, investing in brand’s improved image, going after premium markets, offering new benefit or a format change, that cost of good increases could be a reality.

The watch outs with managing costs: with cuts, make sure the product change is not significantly noticeable. You should understand any potential impact in the eyes of your consumer on your brand’s performance and image. Can the P&L cover these costs, either increased sales or efficiency elsewhere. Managing your margin % is crucial to the long-term success of your brand.

  • Selling Cost Decrease: To counter changes in the P&L (price, volume or cost), it’s very tempting to look to short-term P&L management or look at changes in go-to-market model. Where a brand stands on the product life cycle or how loved the brand is can really impact the selling costs. Even though we think that Beloved Brands have endless spending, they actually likely have a lower investment to sales ratio.
  • Selling Cost Increase: When you’re in Investment mode, defensive position trying to hold share against an aggressive competitor or when you see a proven payback in higher sales–with corresponding margins.

Here’s a simple margin calculation to get you going:

Slide1Always be in an ROI mindset: Manage your marketing costs as though every DOLLAR has to efficiently drive sales. Realize that short-term cuts can carry longer term impact. Competitive reaction can influence the impact of investment stance–like a price change, your competitor might over-react to your increases in spending.

#3. Externally, the Share and volume game are traditional tools for brand. Either stealing other users or get current users to use more.

  • Offensive Share Gains: Use it when you have a significant Competitive Advantage or you see untapped needs in the market. Or opportunistic, use first mover advantage on new technology.
  • Defensive Share Stance: Hold the fort until you can catch up on technology, maintain profitability, loyal base of followers needs protecting.

Be careful when trying to gain share. A Beloved Brand has a drawing power where it does gain share without having to use attack modes. Attacking competitors can be difficult. It could just become a spend escalation with both brands just going at it. After a share war that’s not based on a substantive reasoning (eg. technology change), there might end up with no winners, just losers. Many times, the channel will try to play one competitor against another for their own gain. Watch out what consumers you target in a competitive battle: some may just come in because of the lower price and go back to their usual brand.

  • Get Current Users to Use More: When there is an opportunity to turn loyal users into creating a potential routine. Changing behaviours is more difficult than enticing trial. It’s a good strategy to use, when your there’s real benefit to your consumer using more. It’s hard to just get them to use more without a real reason.

There has to be a real benefit connected to using more or it might look hollow/shallow. Driving routines is a challenge. Even with “life saving” medicines, the biggest issue is compliance. Find something in their current life to help either ground it or latch onto. When I worked on Listerine, people only used mouthwash 20-30 times a year compared to 700+ brushing occasions. So we focused on connecting rinsing with Listerine to the twice daily brushing routine.

#4. Increase the Size of the Market by Finding New Users or Creating New Uses.

  • Find New Users: When there is an untapped or under-served need. There could be a significant changing demographic that impacts your base. Or you are able to translate/transfer your reputation to a new user group. There should be something within your product/brand that helps fuel the brand post trial. Trial without repeat, means you’ll get the spike but then bust. Substantial investment required. Don’t let it distract from protecting the base loyal users.
  • Create New Uses: Format Line Extensions that take your experience or name elsewhere. Able to leverage same benefit in convenient “on the go” offering. Make sure current brand is in order before you divert attention, funding and focus on expansion area. Investment needed, could divert from spend on base business. Be careful because the legendary stories (Arm and Hammer) don’t come along as much as we hope.

As you look to either grow by share or new categories the two crucial calculations for you are Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) and Return on Investment (ROI) 

For CAGR, here is a calculation tool:

Slide1

And for ROI,

Slide1

Show Your Work:  Just like in grade school where you get extra points for showing your work, the same thing goes when taking senior leaders through your assumptions.  

Most marketers will tell you that branding is about positioning. Positioning is a means to driving growth and making money.

 

To view a copy of How to drive Profits into your Brand, click below:

 

Other Stories You Might Like
  1. How to Write a Brand Plan:  The positioning statement helps frame what the brand is all about.  However, the brand plan starts to make choices on how you’re going to make the most of that promise.  Follow this hyperlink to read more on writing a Brand Plan:  How to Write a Brand Plan
  2. 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
  3. Brand Management:  A look at how to run a Brand, starting with the Brand DNA, Strategy, Planning, Managing and Leading the Brand.  To read more, follow this hyper link:  Brand Management 

 

To see How to Run a Brand, click below:

 

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

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

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

Everything Starts and Ends with the Consumer in Mind

brand-leader1As Brand Leaders, our days get busy, running from meeting to meeting, trying to deliver our numbers, gain share and hit our forecasts.  We have a few new products that are long over due and now we’re trying to make the most of them.  Finance has found a potential cost savings from the plant but it’s unsure if it will be off-set by a one time surcharge.  We have a presentation at Wal-Mart next week and think we’ll walk away with a new listing.  We have a new claim from the R&D team that we think delivers superiority versus our closest competitor.   And finally, we have the go-ahead to do a new ad, but we think our senior managers will insist that we make the ad to their exact requirements and that it delivers their new vision statement.  This is an average day in marketing. Except, we have not thought once about the consumer.  Maybe that’s the norm when we get so busy or face pressures to make the numbers.  

I always like to ask Brand Leaders:  “Do you represent your brand to your consumer or do you represent your consumer to the brand?”   Yes, I get stunned looks of confusion when I ask that.  But it’s an important question as to your mindset of how you do your job.  My challenge to you is to start thinking like your consumer and be their representative to your brand.  You’ll notice the work gets better, you’ll see clearer paths to growth and you’ll start to create a brand that the consumer loves rather than just likes.  When this happens, sales go up and the P&L spits out higher profitability.  Because the more loved the brand, the more powerful position it occupies and the more profit it can generate from that source of power.    

Take a Walk In The Shoes of Your Consumer   With most of us, when we first fell in love with marketing, there were two key elements that got our juices going:  strategic thinking and consumer behavior.  Marketing brings these two elements together in a very challenging way.  You should be thinking about your consumer every day, all day.  Yes, you need to hit your sales and share goals.   But your consumers are your only source of revenue and you have to know them intimately.  Solving a consumer challenge feels like the biggest Rubik’s Cube we can find.  The reason I mention this is if you want to connect with your team and motivate them, then start talking about the consumer and you’ll see their engagement go up.  This is what they love.  Be curious about your consumer, constantly watching changes in the marketplace.

Live and breathe insights about your consumers.  Insight is not something you just do when you’re spending the hour that you write your creative brief.  You should be gathering insight at every chance you can, and unleashing that knowledge throughout every day.  Insight is not something that your consumers never knew before.  That would be knowledge not insight.  It’s not data or fact about your brand that you want to tell.  That helps, but you have to go a layer deeper to find your insights.   Oddly enough, Insight is something that everyone already knows. Insight comes to life when it’s told in such a captivating way that makes consumers stop and say “hmm, I thought I was the only who felt like that”.  That’s why we laugh when see the way that insight is projected with humor, why we get goose bumps when insight is projected with inspiration and why we cry when the insight comes alive through real-life drama.  

Get in the shoes of those Consumers and you’ll quickly realize that consumers do not care about what you do, until you care about what they want.   Instead of mentioning a feature, force yourself to ask “If I’m the consumer so what do I get” five times to see if you can get to the richness of the functional benefits.   Then look at that functional benefit and ask “so how does that make me feel”.  Stop talking features and start talking benefits–both the rational and emotional.   No one has ever wanted a 1/4 inch drill, they just want a 1/4 inch hole.   

Consumers are busier than ever.  Whether it’s working late, trying to balance everything or doing too much, they have so little time.   People are multi-tasking, texting while driving or on the TV while watching TV—which is up 35% this year.  Traditional ways with a 30 second ad and a billboard aren’t having the same effect in today’s world.  The average consumer is exposed to over 6,000 advertising message per day.  The consumers’ brain sorts through the clutter until finds something that might fill their needs.  Imagine your boring logical message, well thought and all, breaking through to that consumer.  Even with the fast paced life, most consumers are bored with life and just want something to entice them.   The simplest way to challenge boredom is to like everything you do unconditionally, but if this bored consumer meets up with a boring brand, it will be rejected very quickly.  You have to matter to those consumers that really care.  And you have to know what connects with them to get the way to stand out.   

Living in the Consumers Shoes is Contagious.  When you start asking about how the consumer buys, what they are thinking about now or what do we want them to think, you’ll notice others on your team following your cues and start thinking like a consumer.  It will be energizing.  When you ask “will our consumer love this” it sets the bar very high.  Here’s my simple challenge for you:  If you don’t love the work you do, how do you expect the consumer to love your Brand.  The best filter for your work is the consumer.  It’s more important than what Wal-Mart thinks or what your boss likes/doesn’t like.  When looking at new products, the R&D team should be more obsessed with what the consumer wants than what they might be capable of coming up in their lab.  As Steve Jobs famously said “You’ve got to start with the customer experience and work back toward the technology – not the other way around.”

Brand Leaders Play It Far Too Safe to Find True Love.  Brand Leaders choose the safety of logic and facts instead of getting too deep or going all emotional with their consumer.  And, most brands end up liked but never end loved.   My Mom Wanted Me to Be an Actuary.  Apparently, an Actuary has one of the longest life expectancies, can make quite a bit of money and they live the ideal work-life balance.  Sounds like the perfect job, but I just couldn’t do it.   What’s lacking in the life of an actuary is the ability to have fun at work or drive all your passion into your work to create something big.   You can make a real difference.   So if you’re not going to be an Actuary…then stop acting like one when you’re the Brand Leader.  We can’t afford to keep doing just the usual, we can’t get stuck in logic and we can’t just satisfy needs.   We need to push to go beyond greatness at every touch point with our selfish and bored consumers.  We need to cultivate a deep emotional relationship with our consumer and we need to entice craving and desire.  

Everything starts and ends with the consumer in mind.  

 

To read about how to Create Beloved Brands, read this:

 

email-Logo copyABOUT BELOVED BRANDS INC.:  At Beloved Brands, we are only focused on making brands better and making brand leaders better.Our motivation is that we love knowing we were part of helping someone to unleash their full potential.  We promise to challenge you to Think Different.  gr bbi picWe believe the thinking that got you here, will not get you where you want to go.  Our President and Chief Marketing Officer, Graham Robertson is a brand leader at heart, who loves everything about brands.  He comes with 20 years of experience at companies such as Johnson and Johnson, Pfizer Consumer, General Mills and Coke, where he was always able to find and drive growth.  Graham has won numerous new product and advertising awards. Graham brings his experience to your table, strong on leadership and facilitation at very high levels and training of Brand Leaders around the world.  To reach out directly, email me at graham.robertson@beloved-brands.com or follow on Twitter @grayrobertson1

 

At Beloved Brands, we love to see Brand Leaders reach their full potential.  Here are the most popular article “How to” articles.  We can offer specific training programs dedicated to each topic.  Click on any of these most read articles:

Ask Beloved Brands to run a workshop to find your brand positioning or ask how we can help train you to be a better brand leader.

Ten Resolutions for Brand Leaders in 2013

brand-leader1Happy New Year!!!   

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”.

#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 2013, 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 2013:  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 2013 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 2013, 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 2013, 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 2013.   And I hope you see the difference.  

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:

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:

I Love Big Ideas that start off Small and Cost very little

brand-leader1I have always loved when you see a big idea come out of the smallest of ideas.   As Brand Leaders, sometimes we complain about a lot of things:  no money, we don’t have any new products in our pipeline, our agency keeps presenting the same old thing and we are too conservative to do the really cool stuff.   While many Brand Leaders are struggling with how to use new media too many times they opt for the new conventions they see everyone else doing so they say “Like Us on Facebook” approach that generates 38 likes, or they start their own Twitter account and tweet out something boring every six months.  Instead, you should think about the new media as liberating in that you can use even more creativity than just trying to follow along what everyone is doing.  If you want your brand to generate more love among your base of users, finding ways that surprise and delight them is a great starting point.    Consumers will feel more connected with you.  Here’s a few different takes on creative solutions that started small and grew, trying to inspire you a little bit while you sit at your desk going “so what can we do”. 

Take a chance.  Be inspired.

Volkswagen “Fast Lanes”

When you have very little money, I always say “Act Like a Blowfish” blowfishand try to find a way to appear bigger than you really are.  That may require more creativity than dollars.  It might mean something a bit odd, compared to the conventional 30 second TV ad. If you have no money, tell me you couldn’t have done this one.  It must have cost only $5,000-10,000 to produce, it is one of the simplest ideas ever and yet they now have 3 Million YouTube hits.   Mainly because it just makes people smile a little bit.   And it fits perfectly with the Volkswagen brand.

What’s your version of this idea on your brand?

 

Chipotle “Back to the Start”

The Chipotle brand is unique in that many times it runs against convention.   Everything about their “Back to the Start” runs counter to how things are supposed to be done.   First of all, if any agency came into you and said “we want to do an animated spot about a farmer and we’ve decided to use Scientist by Cold Play as the main song….except we want to get Willie Nelson to do it”, I wonder how many Brand Leaders would have said “go on, tell me more”.  Most would throw the Ad Agency out and opt for something more conservative.  The good news for Chipotle is they didn’t have to go through that conversation because Chipotle doesn’t even have an ad agency.   They did all this work themselves.   It took them a year to make it.  Now that’s crazy.   On top of that, the goal of the ad was never to sell more burritos but to let people know of their commitment to sustainable farming.  The barely mention the brand name, never shows one of the products and even sells the Willie Nelson song on iTunes at the end of the ad.  The media plan calls for showing it viral first, then show it in movie theatres and then just show it once on TV, but show it during the Grammy Awards.   Who is still with me?   Would you as a Brand Leader have the guts to do this?   

 

This ad has generated over 10,000,000 hits on YouTube and was the hit of the Grammy Awards, lighting up Twitter that night.   And if you’re totally interested now, then here’s “the making of” that generated another 100,000 hits.

 

McDonald’s “how a Burger is Made for TV”

Now McDonald’s has all the money possible, and is on TV all the time.   Yet this “behind the scenes” look at how they make a Quarter Pounder for their advertising takes on question that many consumers have probably been thinking for decades:  “how come my burger doesn’t look as good as the one on TV?”   McDonald’s answers this with direct honesty, showing why they have to fluff up the pickles or eliminate little blemishes on the bun.  They compare a recently purchased Quarter Pounder to the one that their stylist works on for the ad.  This simple little spot, made up in Canada, has generated almost 8,000,000 hits on-line. 

 

I want these Ideas to Inspire you to do something different! 

 

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:

How to ask Big Questions that get to Big Strategic Answers

Slide1In our marketing careers, we start off in a doing-role and get completely swamped in execution.   We think “if only I had a higher level job, I’d actually have time to think, rather than just do”.   The problem for many of us, is not only do we get good at the doing, we get so good that we can’t get past it and we never end getting to the real strategic thinking.  We just become a do-er at a higher level and drive everyone crazy beneath us.

When I talk to many of the senior Brand Leaders, at the VP and Director level, I hear 3 common things:

  1. “I am too busy and I have no time for strategic thinking”
  2. “My team lacks the experience so I have to jump in resolve issues myself”
  3. “If I didn’t jump in, it just wouldn’t get done right”
Are you really Strategic?

Everyone out there claims to be a strategic thinker, but I would guess that really only half of us really are strategic.

  • Strategic Thinkers see “what if” questions before they see solutions.  They map out a range of decision trees that intersect and connect by imagining how events will play out.  They reflect and plan before they act.   They are thinkers and planning who can see connections.   This is PLANNING!
  • Non Strategic Thinkers see answers before questions.   They get to answers quickly, and will get frustrated in the delays of thinking.   They think doing something is better  then doing nothing.   They opt for action over thinking.    They are impulsive and doers who see tasks.  They are frustrated by strategic thinkers.  This is EXECUTING!

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.

If you speak in a telling voice, you leave your team with one answer:  YES.   If you speak in an asking voice you leave your team with 3 answers:  YES, NO or let me dig in a bit more and find out.  

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.   There’s nothing wrong with stumping the team, because you’re even stumping yourself in the process.

So What are the Tough Questions to Ask?  

As your team might be at the beginning stage of digging in on analysis, here’s are 10 great questions to ask your team:

  1. How do we make money?   This focuses them on figuring out the pathway from the activities on the brand to the results in the market and the profitability on the balance sheets.   The most beloved brands use the consumer connection to create a source of power that they can use on various areas of the market and then use that power to drive the brand’s profitability.   Your team should be able to map this out and use it as a roadmap for the brand’s future.   If you’re not focused on power and profit, then you’re not strategic.  
  2. What is it that makes us different?  USP 2.0The best of brands are either better, different or cheaper.   Or not around for very long.   If you can’t answer this question, then how do you expect your consumer to be able to answer.   You’re likely just a me-too brand and once that’s discovered, you’ll be on a downward spiral.   
  3. Why are we here?  How did we get here?  Where could we be?    It’s great for getting to the vision, without writing the word “vision” up on the board and saying to everyone “ok go”.  That gets you no-where.   Pick a magical date of 5-10 years from now and say “if you got everything you wanted, what would the brand look like in 5 years?”  Push them hard on the where to, because that’s when the brand starts to transform itself.  
  4. What’s holding us back from being where we want to be?   Once you get the team focused on the vision of 5 to 10 years from now.  This allows you to start attacking your brand, to find the inhibitors that you can try to unleash or course correct.  
  5. Which would be easier:   getting our most loyal users to use more, moving up those who have already bought into the brand to start using regularly or getting a new user?    This is pushing them towards a strategic choice, whether to focus on base users or new users–penetration or usage frequency.  It also should start to force you to look at your brand funnel to see where you have strength and where you have gaps.   Every brand should be utilizing a brand funnel.   It’s almost negligent to not use one.   Slide1That’s like working out at the gym and not knowing your blood pressure or cholesterol scores.  When you layer in What would make us more Money, you might start to see the ROI impact of the same decision.  
  6. What would our consumer say about our brand?  This shifts the focus of the discussion from a myopic brand focus into thinking about the consumer first.   Everything you do should be start and end with the consumer in mind.  After all, if you figure out how to win over the consumer, you become more powerfully connected and can drive greater growth and profits through that power   
  7. For Strategy, what choices are on the table that helps you gain a foothold into the market but also helps to drive the long-term win? A test for any great strategy is whether it has all 4 key elements.   FOCUS:  all your energy to a particular strategic point or purpose.  Match up your brand assets to pressure points you can break through, maximizing your limited resources—either financial resources or effort.   Pick a tight target market of those who can love you, and pick a unique position that you can stand behind and win.   You want that EARLY WIN, to kick-start of some momentum. Early Wins are about slicing off parts of the business or population where you can build further. Find that connection with your consumer—moving them along the love curve.  LEVERAGE everything to gain positional advantage or power that helps exert even greater pressure and gains the tipping point of the business that helps lead to something bigger.  Your brand finds a way to turn the consumer connectivity into a source of power the brand can leverage.Seeing beyond the early win, there has to be a GATEWAY point, which is the entrance or a means of access to something even bigger.   It could be getting to the masses, changing opinions or behaviours.  Return on Investment or Effort, where you can translate all the power you’ve earned into profits and brand value.
  8. For any choice related to brand positioning and go-to-market, whether it’s target market, main message, media choices or activities, force their hand by asking a few questions to ask:  1) which one gets us on our way to vision faster?    2) which one helps us grow faster  3) which one makes us more money?   Always push your team to focus by making them use the word “or” instead of “and”. If you think you are a strategic decision maker, then whenever you choose both, you’ve failed.   When you go into a casino, and put one chip on each of the 38 choices on the roulette wheel, it might be fun, but you’ll never win.    By targeting everyone then you’re not making the choice, you’re just depleting your resources.   And you run the risk that no consumer ever says “wow, that brand is really speaking to me.”
  9. When seeing new creative execution of anything, ask “DO YOU LOVE IT?” and then watch their eyes.  Do you think our costumer will love it?  Is this connected to personal pride or are they just passing the buck filling in forms.  not okGetting something to market, big or small takes a herculean effort to overcome obstacles.   I want to know on day 1, will they fight for it?   A great idea that falls on the vine is worth less than an OK idea executed with passion.  If we don’t love the work we do, then how do we expect the consumer to love the brand?    OK is the enemy of greatness.  
  10. Why do you want to spend this money?    If you are about to spend millions of dollars, I want to hear the reason why you think it’s crucial, why it will pay back even greater than the resources we put forward.   Understanding and aligning to one key objective allows everyone to focus on the outcome.   

And finally, the most important question of all:  What do your instincts think we should do?   And then listen.  You might be surprised by the good thinking on your team and you might be surprised that their answer is better than the one that is in your head.  

This might be most obvious of questions, but how many times per week do you ask this?   Imagine the responses you might get from that.  Imagine how motivated your team would be.  As a leader, I want you to start exhibiting more patience.  You have to learn the art of questioning that sets up the listening.  If you learn this skill you’ll start to realize that you can still control the direction of the brand through questions, even more than through direction.  On the plus side, you’ll have a fully engaged, motivated team that’s ready to deliver.

As a Brand Leader at the executive level, you should walk into every meeting telling yourself “I know less about this than anyone in the room” and that puts you in the most powerful position to ask the right strategic questions and listen for the right strategic answers.

The bigger the question, the bigger the answer.

To help improve your strategic thinking, read the following presentation:

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

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

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:

10 “Stop It’s” to avoid failing on the Customer Experience

The most Beloved Brands create a brand experience that lives up to even over-delivers against the brand’s promise.  I always like to remind myself that the customer is the most selfish animal on the planet, and deservedly so, because they have given you their hard-earned money.  Brand Leaders are always fixated on driving demand to increase share and sales.  Yet they usually only reach for marketing tactics like advertising, special promotion or new products.  It takes years to get customers to change their behavior and move away from their favorite brand and try yours.  Yet it takes seconds of bad service for you to lose a customer for life.

There are five sources of connection for a brand 1) Brand Promise:  Positioning 2) Strategy:  Plan  3) The Brand Story:  Communication 4) Freshness:  Innovation and finally 5) The Experience:  impacted by the culture and operations. As Brand Leaders, we tend to think someone else is managing the customer experience.  But it’s all part of the brand and you should be constantly managing the customer experience so it over-delivers against the brand promise.  The brand promise is not just for great external communication.  It equally acts as an internal beacon for the company’s culture to look to for how to behave and so the organization is set up to deliver.

Here’s 10 things you can Stop Doing:

Bad Service Rule #1:  Stop It with the attitude of “I’m in shirts not ties”.  It can be extremely frustrating walking up to an employee of a store who has no clue about anything but their own little world.  And even worse when they just point and say “go over there”.  The better service is those who take the extra step by jumping in and helping and those know what’s going on in every part of the brand–not just their own world.   Try asking someone at Whole Foods where something is and they will walk you right over to the product you’re asking about and ask if you need anything else.

Bad Service Rule #2:  Stop It when you make the customer do the work.  The airlines have been shifting all their work over to customers for years–boarding pass, bag tag and now even lifting your suitcase up onto the conveyor belt.  While it might help you control your costs in the short-term, you’ll never be a Beloved Brand and you’ll never be able to charge a premium price for your services.  Instead, in a highly price competitive marketplace, you just end up passing those cost savings onto to the customer in lower prices.  No wonder most airlines are going bankrupt.

Bad Service Rule #3:  Stop It when you feel compelled to bring up the fine print when dealing with a customer problem.  Last week I had a computer problem, but I felt extra confident because I had paid extra money to get the TOTAL service plan.  Yet with my first computer problem I was told the TOTAL service plan did not include hardware,software, water damage or physical damage.  With a computer, what else is there?   As a consumer, I had gone through the brand funnel–from consideration to purchase–and made a choice to buy your brand.  Yet, at the first sign of my frustration with your brand you are deciding to say to me “don’t come back”.  I had a problem with my iPod a few years ago and returned it to the Apple store.  They went into the back room and got a new iPod for me and said “would you like us to transfer all your songs over?”.  I was stunned.  Apple took a problem and turned me into a happy customer who wanted to spend even more money with them.

Bad Service Rule #4:  Stop It when you send a phone call to an answering machine.  We’ve all experienced this and secretly many of us have done this.  Now if you know you’re going to get a machine, it’s OK to say “is it OK if you get their machine”.   But willingly sending a caller into a machine is just plain lazy and it says you just don’t care.  Treat them with the respect that a paying customer has earned with you and make sure there is a human on the other line.

Bad Service Rule #5:  Stop It with processes that make it look like you’ve never been a customer before.  While brand leaders tend to think they own the strategy and advertising, it is equally important that you also own the customer experience.  While the positive view of the purchase process is driven by a brand funnel, you should also use a “Leaky Bucket” analysis to understand where and why you are losing customers.   It is hard work to get a customer into your brand funnel, it is great discipline to move them through that brand funnel by ensuring that every stage is set up to make it easy for the customer to keep giving you money.  Step into the shoes of your customers and experience the brand through their eyes on a regular basis so you can effectively manage the experience.  When you find leaks to the brand funnel, find ways to close them so you can hang on to the customers you’ve worked so hard to get into the doors.

Bad Service Rule #6:  Stop It with the trying to win every customer interaction.  Last year after Christmas I was lucky enough to be 34th in the return line.  For some reason they put the most angry person they could find to manage the returns line.  With every customer, this guy was hell-bent on trying to break the customer’s spirit so they’d avoid returning the product.   As I watched, I felt like I was headed into a police interrogation.  On the other hand, if you want to see a comfortable returns policy, try returning something at Costco.  They take the stance that they are on the side of their “members” and help you go up against the big bad manufacturers.  If you don’t have your receipt, they’ll print it out for you.  At Costco, the returns process is where they earn that $50-100 membership price.  Just maybe you should start treating your customers like members and see if it forces you to see things differently.

Bad Service Rule #7:  Stop It when you are explaining your problems instead of listening to the customer’s problems.  When a place is completely messed up, some people feel compelled to tell you how stupid they think this is. Unfortunately, this constantly complaining ‘why me’ attitude can quickly become systemic and contagious within the culture.  It takes an effort to turn the culture around–laying in service values, driving process that helps reward good service, and driving personal accountability within everyone.

Bad Service Rule #8:  Stop It with the hollow apologies that seems like you are reading from a manual.  No one wants to deal with people who just feel like they are going through the motions.  It’s crucial that you set up a culture that is filled with authentic people who have a true passion for customers.  TD Bank retail staff does an exceptional job in being real with customers.  When you consider that they hire from the same pool of talent as all the other banks, it’s obviously the culture of caring about their customers that really makes the difference in separating their customer experience from others.

Bad Service Rule #9:  Stop It when you try using my complaint call as a chance to up-sell me  The only up-sell is to get me to come back again.   Last month, I had an issue with my internet being way too slow.  When I called my local service provider, instead of addressing how bad their current service was, the first response was to try selling me a better service plan that with a higher monthly fee and a higher priced modem.  And then all of a sudden, they tried to sell me a home security system.   If a customer is a point of frustration, why would they want to pay you even more money for a bad service.  You haven’t earned my business.  The best in class service is the Ritz Carlton who proactively look to turn customer problems into a chance to WOW the customer.  It’s built right into the culture as employees are encouraged to brainstorm solutions and empowered with up to $2,000.  Instead of up-selling, the Ritz spends the extra effort to ensure you’re satisfied with the service you’ve already paid for.

Bad Service Rule #10:  Stop It when it just becomes a job for you and you forget the passion you have for the business.  When your team starts to feel like they have no power, they just start to show up as pencil-pushing bureaucrats.  There’s no passion left–as it’s been sucked out by a culture with a complacent attitude and a bunch of check in-check out types who follow the job description and never do anything beyond it.  Ask yourself “why do you come to work” and if the answer doesn’t show up in your work, then you know that the culture needs a complete overhaul.  If you don’t love the work, then how do you expect your customer to love the brand?  

Brand = Culture

Beloved Brands create an exceptional customer experience.  They know it’s not just about advertising and innovation.  As a consumer, I’ve become spoiled by the best of the brands who raise the bar and continue to surprise and delight me.  Think of how special you feel when you are dealing with Disney, Starbucks and Apple.  And compare that to how demoralized you feel when dealing with the airlines, utilities and electronics shops.  For the Beloved Brands, they understand that Culture and Brand are One.  The Brand becomes an internal beacon for the culture—and the brand’s people have to genuinely be the strongest most outspoken fans who spread the brand’s virtues.

As you look at your own customer experience, take a walk in your customers shoes and see where your customer would rate you.   Are they with you because they love you and want to be with you or because they have to be with you?  Even though they like the product, they may be indifferent to your brand.  And they’ll be gone at the first chance at an alternative.  And as a brand leader, your brand is likely stuck on a rational promise, unable to separate yourself from competitors and instead you are left competing on price and promotion.

  • Begin by holding the culture up the lens of the brand DNA and ensure the right team in place to deliver against the needs of the brand.
  • Start finding ways to create a culture that is more consumer centric (customer first)
  • Begin to push the culture to create a unique delivery of the product experience.  Use Leaky Bucket analysis to take a walk in yoru customers shoes and to address weaknesses.
  • Set up forums for innovation—that create an energy through the culture and one that starts to take risks on the best ideas.
  • Use a purpose driven vision, with a set of beliefs and values to challenge the team to create and deliver that experience.
  • Begin using power of a loved brand to attract and retain the best.  Find fans of the brand who will become your front line spokespeople.  They bring that passion for the brand.  Just ask the guys in the blue shirts at the Apple stores.

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

 

To read How Beloved Brands fall from grace, follow this link:  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. The reason why I started Beloved Brands Inc. is to help brands realize their full potential value by generating more love for the brand.   I only do two things:  1) Make Brands Better or 2) Make Brand Leaders Better.  I have a reputation as someone who can find growth where others can’t, whether that’s on a turnaround, re-positioning, new launch or a sustaining high growth.  And I love to make Brand Leaders better by sharing my knowledge. My promise to you is that I will get your brand and your team in a better position for future growth.  To read more about Beloved Brands Inc., visit http://beloved-brands.com/inc/   or visit my Slideshare site at http://www.slideshare.net/GrahamRobertson/presentations where you can find numerous presentations on How to be a Great Brand Leader.  Feel free to add me on Linked In at http://www.linkedin.com/in/grahamrobertson1  or on follow me on Twitter at @GrayRobertson1

How Beloved Brands Fall From Grace

Very few Beloved Brands stay on top for long. 

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

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

 

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

 

email-Logo copyABOUT BELOVED BRANDS INC.:  At Beloved Brands, we are only focused on making brands better and making brand leaders better.Our motivation is that we love knowing we were part of helping someone to unleash their full potential.  We promise to challenge you to Think Different.  gr bbi picWe believe the thinking that got you here, will not get you where you want to go.  Our President and Chief Marketing Officer, Graham Robertson is a brand leader at heart, who loves everything about brands.  He comes with 20 years of experience at companies such as Johnson and Johnson, Pfizer Consumer, General Mills and Coke, where he was always able to find and drive growth.  Graham has won numerous new product and advertising awards. Graham brings his experience to your table, strong on leadership and facilitation at very high levels and training of Brand Leaders around the world.  To reach out directly, email me at graham.robertson@beloved-brands.com or follow on Twitter @grayrobertson1

 

At Beloved Brands, we love to see Brand Leaders reach their full potential.  Here are the most popular article “How to” articles.  We can offer specific training programs dedicated to each topic.  Click on any of these most read articles:

Ask Beloved Brands to run a workshop to find your brand positioning or ask how we can help train you to be a better brand leader.

Volvo Brand in One Word: Safety

“If you want to build a brand, you must focus your efforts on owning a word in the prospects’ mind.  A word nobody else owns”     – Al Ries

I went to see Al Ries speak a few years ago and he challenged all marketers to get your brand down to one word.  It sounded great, until I went back to my desk and started trying it out on my brands.  At best I was able to get it down to a few words or a quick catch phrase.  As I sat there frustrated, I realized that the effort to try to get it down to one word is a great catalyst that gets you down to a few words.  That’s a hell of a lot better than the excessively long-winded 5-page briefs or the long list of RTB’s (Reason to Believe) people want to jam in a TV ad.

For a long time, we’ve thought that brands just exist to convey a degree of consistency in the consumers mind.  Yes, that helps to own a position in the marketplace.  But more and more, we are also starting to realize that consistency of message acts as an internal beacon for everyone in the organization to follow.

I am always pushing everyone to focus:  focus on a tight target,  own one main benefit area that no one else can own and then shout it from the mountain top.  The challenge here of getting what your brand stands down to one word would be the ultimate.  I’d encourage you to take this on a test run and see where you get.  But the bigger point is to, learn from how obsessed Volvo is around safety.

When you ask consumers one word to describe Volvo, without hesitation they say “Safety”.  

I am yet to see any other brand that is so focused against one word like Volvo is with safety.   For Volvo safety is not just a claim or demo in their TV ads, but is everything they do.   But the real beauty for Volvo is their obsession with safety.

  • Volvo was long ahead of the marketplace.  Volvo first started the safety angle in the 1940s and became completely obsessed in through the 1960s long before consumers cared about safety when no one was even wearing seat belts.  But the market place has since caught up.  This year, Car and Driver reports safety as the #1 benefit that consumers are looking for in a new car.
  • Volvo’s purpose in making safety a priority.  In 1958, Volvo came up with the 3-point seat belt.  Even with a patent they could have enforced and made millions, Volvo decided to share the technology with all the other car manufacturers because they believed so strongly in it.   That really speaks to Volvo’s conviction and authenticity.
  • Volvo has always been way ahead of car safety regulations.  In fact, as safety became a priority with consumers, regulators looked at what Volvo was doing as the standard and then made Volvo’s advancements mandatory across other companies.  In the 1990s, Volvo was ahead of the curve on the introduction of air bags and side-air bags.  In TV ads, we got so used to seeing the crash test dummy ads re-enforcing Volvo’s ownership over safety.
  • Volvo continues to set the standard for safety today.  The 2012 IIHS (Insurance Institute of Highway Safety) had 3 Volvo models in the 10 Top Safety Picks, the most of any car brand.  The Euro NCAP collision test has recognize 2012 Volvo V40 as the best car they’ve ever tested, giving it the top rating of five stars in the Euro NCAP collision test.

Most impressive to me that highlights Volvo’s obsession with safety is to look internally at the long list of R&D advancements over the past 70 years.

  • 1944 Safety cage
  • 1944 Laminated windscreen
  • 1957 Anchor points for 2–point safety belts front
  • 1958 Anchor points for 2–point safety belts rear
  • 1959 3–point front safety belts standard
  • 1964 First rearward–facing child safety seat prototype tested
  • 1966 Crumple zones front and rear
  • 1966 Safety door–locks
  • 1969 Inertia reel safety belts
  • 1971 Reminder safety belt
  • 1972 3–point safety belts – rear
  • 1972 Rearward–facing child safety seat
  • 1974 Multi-stage impact absorbing steering column
  • 1974 Bulb integrity sensor
  • 1975 Braking system with stepped bore master cylinder
  • 1978 Child safety booster cushion
  • 1982 “Anti–submarining” protection
  • 1986 Three–point safety belt centre rear seat
  • 1990 Integrated child safety cushion in centre rear seat
  • 1991 Side Impact Protection System
  • 1991 Automatic height adjusting safety belt
  • 1992 Reinforced rear seats in estate models
  • 1995 Integrated child safety cushion outer rear seats
  • 1997 Roll Over Protection System
  • 1998 Whiplash Protection System
  • 1998 Inflatable Curtain
  • 2001 Volvo Safety Concept Car
  • 2002 Roll Stability Control
  • 2003 New Front Structure called Volvo Intelligent Vehicle Architecture
  • 2003 Rear seat belt reminders
  • 2003 Intelligent Driver Information System
  • 2003 Inauguration of Volvo’s Traffic Accident Research Team in Bangkok
  • 2004 Blind Spot Information System
  • 2005 Door Mounted Inflatable Curtain
  • 2006 Personal Car Communicator
  • 2006 Collision Warning with Brake Support
  • 2007 Power Park Brake
  • 2007 Driver Alert Control
  • 2009 City Safety – Automatically stop car at speeds below 19 mph (31 km/h) if obstruction is detected in front of car
  • 2010 Pedestrian Detection with auto brake
  • 2012 Pedestrian airbag

True leader push themselves by attacking the brand even before competitors have a chance. Volvo is continuing to push themselves with a very visionary challenge for the year 2020 that’s squarely directed internally within Volvo. 

Nobody should die or be seriously injured in a Volvo.  

That speaks volumes to the obsession they’ve had for the past 70 years and to the obsessive focus for the future of Volvo!

What can you learn from this for 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  or on Twitter at @GrayRobertson1