Is Samsung a beloved brand? Not quite, but it’s really likeable.

Samsung is a classic product-driven brand, but has struggled to reach that next level where it becomes an idea brand.  I know the first thing people will say:  Does it matter if they love Samsung?  Well, my argument is that the more beloved the brand, the more power it can command and the more profit it can generate.  Profit has to matter, right?  

I like Samsung Products a lot!  But there’s not Brand Idea

Samsung-LogoSamsung has amazing products.  The TV’s are fantastic, high quality good designs and good prices.  The laundry products appear to be best in class, going beyond LG.   And the Samsung phones are amazing–leading Android technology with many consumers saying they are ahead of Apple.  The leading market share backs that up.  

But what’s the unifying idea behind Samsung?   Has Samsung created such a following that their most loyal consumers wouldn’t even look at another competitor?  Would they follow Samsung into a new category just because they buy into the brand?  Does Samsung elicit that crazed passion we see in Apple consumers?  This week, Apple launched a pretty good new phone, and we saw the usual line ups, running consumers and even a fight this time.  

There are enough Apple haters, but are they Samsung lovers?  

Samsung tried last year to go head-to-head with the Apple brand by mocking Apple, which tapped nicely into those who are sick of Apple and their fan club.  But there was very little in the ad that made us love Samsung.  

The problem for Samsung is they keep talking features and not benefits.  Even in that ad above, the only thing you take away is you can share song lists and you get a bigger screen.  There’s no talk of benefits, either rational or emotional.  In a technology battle, features are easy to duplicate but benefits are harder to replicate.  And the ad has no real brand idea, likely because the folks at Samsung don’t seem to know what their brand idea is.  

Where is Samsung on the Brand Love Curve?

In the consumer’s mind, brands sit on a hypothetical Brand Love Curve, with brands going from Indifferent to Like It to Love It and finally becoming a Beloved Brand for Life.  Knowing where you on the curve allows you to understand how much connectivity and power your brand has in the marketplace.


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.  And with that power, you can generate more profit for your brand–through higher prices, lower cost, new categories or market share.  It’s important that brands understand where they sit on the Love Curve and begin figuring out how to move it along towards becoming a more Beloved Brand.  

While filled with fantastic products, the Samsung brand feels stuck at “Like It”.  Part of what separates “Like” from “Love” is the lack of the emotional connection.  When consumers start feeling more and thinking less, it shifts the discussion from just the product features to connecting to the brand idea.  slide1

The question that has to be bugging Samsung is How loyal and passionate is the Samsung consumer base?  If Samsung loses the technological advantage behind Android (which is slightly out of their control) then will they lose their customer base as well?  The head-to-head comparison with Apple might have Samsung winning on share, but Apple’s brand love still generates profit margins almost 4x that of Samsung.  And when Apple launches a new phone, we see line ups, people running to get into the store and even a reported fist fight in line.  Samsung would die for the connectivity with their consumer base and die for those margins.

Most beloved brands are based on an idea worth loving

It is the idea that connects the Brand with consumers.  And under the Brand Idea are 5 sources of connectivity that help connect the brand with consumers and drive Brand Love, including

      1. brand promise
      2. strategic choices you make
      3. brand’s ability to tell their story
      4. freshness of the product or service
      5. overall experience and impressions it leaves with you.  

Everyone wants to debate what makes a great brand–whether it’s the product, the advertising, the experience or through consumers.  It is not just one or the other–it’s the collective connection of all these things that make a brand beloved.  

Looking at those 5 connections, Samsung promises high quality, modern products at a good price.  And they deliver.  They do a great job on product freshness–especially in TVs and most recently phones and appliances.  But that’s where Samsung gets stuck:  they are just a promise and a product.  They fail on the Samsung story where we can’t see a unifying brand idea to help tell a consistent story across the Samsung brand.  And once we see them start turning their features into benefits for the consumer, we’ll start to see Samsung control the end experience for that consumer.  All beloved brands create an experience beyond the product, and it’s that experience that keeps consumers loyal and engaged with the brand.  

Samsung could learn from Apple

The Apple brand idea is all about simplicity.  The people at Apple take the technology out of the technology to make it so simple that everyone can be part of the future.  They align all their new products to this promise, whether it’s iPhones, Mac Books or iPads.  Apple lines up the story through advertising, social media and the use of key influencers.  And the retail stores deliver the experience of simplicity.

Slide1

Samsung could also learn from the now famous Steve Jobs quote that you  “You’ve got to start with the customer experience and work back toward the technology – not the other way”.  If Samsung were to get into the shoes of the consumer and see the world through their eyes, they might start talking benefits, they might find a brand idea that unifies all the Samsung product lines and they might find that experience to take Samsung to the next level.

Hey Samsung:  Stop being just the “next best product feature” and find a brand idea to build around.    

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

Ask Beloved Brands to run a workshop to find your brand positioning or ask how we can help train you to be a better brand leader.
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“Wow Apple, that Sucked!” said the world.

Apple, it feels like you are just talking to yourselves.

UnknownI am a huge Apple fan.  Not only as a consumer, but as a marketer.  In fact, last year, as I ripped into the Surface launch or the Samsung TV ads, people accused me of having a pro-Apple bias.  It’s true.  I do.  I admit it.  From 2001 to 2011, Apple was the smartest brand on the planet.  But I’m now worried that Apple is quickly following the pattern of Sony from the decade earlier?  We once thought Sony could do no wrong. Is it now Apple’s turn? 

As we saw the stock price plummet in Q4 of 2012 and the stock price was stuck at $500, it was clear that if all we see in 2013 is the Iphone 6, the iPad4 and the Ipad Mini 2 then we will have a problem.  Well, we just saw what 2013 has to offer and the answer is NOTHING.  There’s not really a leap-frog jump forward in the phone–just a jump sideways.  There’s no new iPad or laptop and the ideas of watches or TVs seem a year or two away.  Every year I look forward to getting surprised by Apple and now the only thing I have to look forward to this year is the new John Lewis TV ad this Christmas.  

The world just gave Apple a Collective “So what else you got”

The two new phones “unveiled” this year are 1) more bells and whistles and 2) less bells and whistles.  This launch was a classic case of talking to yourself.  Great brands solve a problem.  I’m not sure what problem these phones solve for consumers.  Apple EventAnd I’m not sure they even thought about the consumer.  Steve Jobs once said “you’ve got to start with the customer experience and work back to the technology”.  These two new phones feel like a bunch of tech-geeks talking to themselves.  A better flash in the camera. auto image stabilization, and true tone images.  Oh and I can now turn on my phone with my finger print.  What consumer problem does this new phone solve?  And what is the main benefit they offer the consumer?   It is so easy to forget about the main benefit, especially when you get so wrapped up in what you do.  Guess what?  No one cares what you do until you care what consumers want. 

The $500 stock price that Apple was worried about in January would look good right about now.  After the “unveiling” of these two new phones, the stock plummeted $26 this week.  

There are Five Connectors of a Beloved Brand

To be a Beloved Brand, you must have an idea that’s worth loving.  Under the Brand Idea are 5 sources of connectivity (see diagram below) that help connect the brand with consumers and drive Brand Love, including

  1. Brand promise
  2. Strategic choices
  3. Ability to tell their story
  4. Freshness of the product or service
  5. Overall experience and impressions it leaves with you.  

Everyone wants to debate what makes a great brand–whether it’s the product, the advertising or the experience.   It is not just one or the other, but the collective connection of all five that make a brand beloved.  If one of them weakens against the brand promise, it puts the entire brand at risk.

Slide1As i look at 5 connectors, Apple is still has the strongest positioning, but the other parts of the mix are starting to crumble.  The big idea behind Apple is complexity made simple.  Since every great brand tackles an enemy of the consumer, Apple takes on the frustration and intimidation that consumers have with technology.  The Apple brand promise is we make it easier to love technology, so that you can experience the future no matter who you are.  

Over the last decade, Apple has done an amazing job in creating products that take the most complicated of technology and deliver it so that anyone can use it. Apple takes the technology out of technology so we can all benefit.  That’s right–”so we can all benefit”.  Core Apple users are in denial that Apple is not a mass brand.  Yes, the masses rely on the innovators for advice, but Apple caters as much to my 70-something mother (iPad owner) as it does to my 15-year old daughter (iPhone user).  

Slide1

But, the last 2 years has been a period of incrementalism.  In 2012, we saw iPad 3, iPhone 5 and iPad Mini and 2013 we see these two new phones.  Slightly better, slightly lighter, but just as expensive.  There becomes less and less of a reason to trade up.  And sadly, at risk, less and less of a reason to love the brand.  Technology is about leap-frog.  And the world will not stand still in the next year.  Brands like Google and Samsung are ready to leap.  

Steve Jobs always talked about “Making a dent in the Universe” and people bought in and followed. Apple’s beauty has always been to give us what we never imagined.  And yet, now we are starting to not only imagine it, but predict it.  Everyone saw the iPad Mini coming.  In fact, we asked for it and Apple merely succumbed to our request.  Technology is supposed to surprise us with advances that not only meet our needs but cater to the needs we didn’t even know we had.  Apple has to get that back.  Slide1

So what is wrong with Apple?  
  • is the strategy of going after China worth losing relevance in the Western world?  And if you lose relevance in the West, will China even want these phones in 5 years?
  • Have you lost traction on the technology?  Apple always hinted that they had an endless path of ideas that would come out through the decade.  Ok?  But the last 24 months have been very blah!!!
  • Is the Apple culture still the same?   We all knew things would change after Steve Jobs and his relentless insane pursuit of perfection.  But I’m not sure we knew it would change this fast?   Has Tim Cooke set a high enough bar for the culture to jump over? 
  • Has the Apple story-line changed?  With this launch it feels more about Apple and less about the consumer?   Is Apple becoming just another tech company trying to peddle their new bells and whistles.  

If we tie those questions back to the 5 connectors of what makes a great brand, we see the promise is in good shape, but the strategy, story, freshness and experience are now at risk of not delivering against that promise.  And that puts the brand at risk.  For Apple, it starts with lining up the freshness of innovation to that brand promise.  

Well Apple, 2012 and 2013 really sucked.  Now we wait for what’s up in 2014  

 

To read about the Apple case study of what helped the brand rise to fame:

 

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

 

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

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

The Microsoft Tablet Disaster was so easy to Predict

bgr-surface-red-touch-coverWell, that was quick.  Nine months ago, Microsoft made a big deal about getting into the Tablet business. And now nine months later, Microsoft is writing off $900 Million worth of Tablets that have been occupying a warehouse.   Not only the major write off, but now that the outlook and confusion of what’s next for Microsoft looms, the stock price dropped 10%, losing $30 Billion in market value.  Ouch.  

I hate being right!!!  I just hate it. The reason I hate it, is because it seems like the obvious should be obvious to everyone.  This tablet launch just had disaster screaming all over it.  Sometimes the answers are so obvious, yet people are blinded by not asking the right question.  They just go ahead with wrong answers. For Microsoft, they missed a bunch of right questions?  

Q: What business are we in?   
A: We do software really well.  Especially when we are in a monopolistic position.  We kinda suck at hardware.  Did you see what we did on Zune?  That wasn’t pretty.   

Q: Do we have a leap-frog technology? Is the Microsoft Surface product better, different or cheaper?  
A: Not really different.  It’s like a really nice iPad with a very bad and cheap plastic lid. And better?  Well it is better than a tablet, which people use for fun.  But it’s nowhere near a Macbook Air which people use for work.  So we’re better than one and worse than the other.  We’re a bit confused but we hope the consumer gets it.  And we are going to charge a significant premium, because we are Microsoft and we always do.   So I guess it’s not really better, cheaper or different.  But, we have lots of resources and stores of our own.  Well, not a lot of stores, and they aren’t very crowded.  But we hope this does well? 

Q: Will it be pretty easy to communicate the point of difference?
A:  Not really easy.  We are going to do ads with geeky people dancing and closing the lid. A lot.  People might think they are laptops.  But we’ll press the screen so they know it’s like their iPad, only it has a lid.  We won’t try to out-cool Apple.  We’ll try to be cool, as in “the coolest kid in the Science club” kind of cool.

Q: Apple is already on their 4th tablet and likely has 3 years of incremental innovation in the pipeline?  Samsung Galaxy is an amazing product and they are killing it on cool innovation.  Do we have any R&D innovation beyond the initial launch?    
A:  No.  Is that a problem?  

Q: If we are so good at software, and the world has moved to Apps, which is sort of like software, why don’t we take all our energy and expertise in the software business and start applying that to Apps?  
A:  Wow, that’s a good question, but we’ve already ordered the plastic lids for the Tablets.  Why don’t we do both.  But truth be told, we kinda suck at Apps.    

These questions would have allowed us to look at the vision, promise, strategy, story, freshness and culture that would showcase how ill prepared Microsoft was for the Surface launch. Here’s an example of how a brand like Special K uses the promise, story, freshness, and culture to help guide their brand.

Slide1

Answering these 5 questions also helps to map out the Microsoft Brand Strategy Road Map.   It might also highlight how wrong the surface is to the overall Microsoft brand. Here’s an example of what the Brand Strategy Road Map looks like.

Slide1

 

Predicting Disaster Was Pretty Easy

In the spirit of predicting this disaster, I wrote a story last June on the how the Microsoft Surface would be a disaster.  Like I said, I hate being right.  Click on the story below:  

Why Does Microsoft Keep Copying Apple?

At the time, the response i got back was 50/50, with half of the people criticizing the Microsoft Surface launch and the other half criticizing me for criticizing the Surface launch.  I always figure 50/50 is a good ratio to stir the pot.  But, I was starting to think I might be going overboard on being an Apple lover.  Here’s a summary of my view.

Getting into the Tablet Business Feels like Zune

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

The Best Strategic Answers Start with the Best Strategic Questions

 

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.  We believe the thinking that got you here, will not get you where you want to go.  grOur President and Chief Marketing Officer, Graham Robertson is a brand leader at heart, who loves everything about brands.  He comes with 20 years of experience at companies such as Johnson and Johnson, Pfizer Consumer, General Mills and Coke, where he was always able to find and drive growth.  Graham has won numerous new product and advertising awards. Graham brings his experience to your table, strong on leadership and facilitation at very high levels and training of Brand Leaders around the world.  To reach out directly, email me at graham.robertson@beloved-brands.com or follow on Twitter @grayrobertson1

 

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

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

Apple: What Goes Up, Might Come Down

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

The Apple brand of today is still healthy, the stores are still packed and sales are still strong.  But the fear is that if Apple’s innovation over the next 18 months looks like Apple’s innovation of the past 18 months, then the Apple brand may be at its peak, no longer on the climb.

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

My hope is that Apple finds their way and regains the momentum of the brand that has surprised and delighted us like no other brand.  But my fear is they become another Sony that rests on their laurels and coasts for the next decade.  I’m a big Apple fan, typing away on my MacBook Air with my iPad mini and iPhone close by and my iMac sitting on my desk. But it sure does feel like Sony of the early 1990’s.   There’s talk of geographic expansion into China, but that might take their eyes off the real need: we need to see real innovation.  Enough of the incremental BS.  What do you have that will surprise me beyond my wildest dreams?

Five Connectors of a Beloved Brand

To be a Beloved Brand, you must have an idea that’s worth loving.  Under the Brand Idea are 5 sources of connectivity (see diagram below) that help connect the brand with consumers and drive Brand Love, including

  1. Brand promise
  2. Strategic choices
  3. Ability to tell their story
  4. Freshness of the product or service
  5. Overall experience and impressions it leaves with you.  

Everyone wants to debate what makes a great brand–whether it’s the product, the advertising or the experience.   It is not just one or the other, but the collective connection of all five that make a brand beloved.  If one of them weakens against the brand promise, it puts the entire brand at risk.

Slide1

The big idea behind Apple is complexity made simple.  Since every great brand tackles an enemy of the consumer, Apple takes on the frustration and intimidation that consumers have with technology.  The Apple brand promise is we make it easier to love technology, so that you can experience the future no matter who you are.  

Problem #1:  Has Apple Broken their Promise? 

Over the last decade, Apple has done an amazing job in creating products that take the most complicated of technology and deliver it so that anyone can use it.  Apple takes the technology out of technology so we can all benefit.  That’s right–“so we can all benefit”.  Apple is now a brand owned by the Masses.  Yes, the masses rely on the innovators for advice, but Apple caters as much to my 70-something mother (iPad owner) as it does to my 14-year old daughter (iPhone user).  

There are 4 instances in the past 18 months where Apple has gotten off track:  

  1. Apple Maps were a disaster in more ways than one.  The first week of iPhone 5 owners was largely filled with the most loyal Apple users, the innovators who will influence the rest of us.  And the maps disaster was the first major flaw of the post-jobs era that people were waiting for.   
  2. Siri remains a disaster.  Siri does not deliver the promise as it adds frustration, not solves it.  Siri is a nice little toy that combined with Apple’s auto-correct takes my enunciation and turns into words I’ve never dreamed of saying.  I end up having to re-type the mistakes of Siri, which defeats the whole purpose behind voice recognition.  If these were brakes on a car, it would be re-called for the safety of society.  It’s unlike Apple to release such a bad product.   
  3. Retina Display is not a mass play.  The launch of iPad 3 feels odd..  They kept the iPad 2 out in the market and didn’t even put the #3 on the iPad 3.    It feels like something the niche Apple brand would have done, but now that you are a mass brand, you must cater to your consumer.  
  4. Apple TV has done nothing really.  While a few friends have it, I hear no one talking about it.  A quiet Fizzle.  

USP 2.0

Strategically, these 4 innovations were some of the big plays by Apple in the past 18 months.  And where do they fall on the test of uniqueness?  The Maps puts you in the losing zone where you are competing with Google Maps in the zone where they kick your ass.  Retina Display ends up being a niche play for photographers or fussy consumers, but for the rest of us it is in the “who cares”, certainly not worth an extra $150 compared to the iPad 2.  And Siri is not on the map, because it’s just an under-delivery that while it’s an innovation that leads the consumer, it only ends up frustrating them even more.   

Problem #2:  Is Apple Still Making a Dent in the Universe?

What caused Apple to rise so fast during the first decade of the century was innovation–the iPod followed by iTunes, the iMac vs the PC, the iPhone and then the iPad revolutionized the way we interact socially.   In many cases, Apps have replaced software.   Wow, Wow and Wow!!!

Slide1

But, the last 15 months has been a period of incrementalism.  In 2012, we saw iPad 3, iPhone 5 and iPad Mini and the fear among investors is that 2013 might be iPad 4, iPhone 6 and iPad Mini 2.  Slightly better, slightly lighter, but just as expensive.  There becomes less and less of a reason to trade up.  And sadly, at risk, less and less of a reason to love the brand.  Technology is about leap-frog.  And the world will not stand still in the next year.  Brands like Google and Samsung are ready to leap.  

Steve Jobs always talked about “Making a dent in the Universe” and people bought in and followed. Apple’s beauty has always been to give us what we never imagined.  And yet, now we are starting to not only imagine it, but predict it.  Everyone saw the iPad Mini coming.  In fact, we asked for it and Apple merely succumbed to our request.  Technology is supposed to surprise us with advances that not only meet our needs but cater to the needs we didn’t even know we had.  Apple has to get that back.  

Is Apple still making a dent in the Universe?  

Problem #3:  Apple must quiet the “Anti” Apple Segment

Haters are always going to hate.  In the technology space, the innovators and early adopters are those who tell the rest of us what to think and do.  These consumers are constantly looking for the “technology fraud” and it feels as though some are starting to call Apple on it.  The Samsung advertising has capitalized on this insight, openly mocking the iPhone5 launch.  The only way Apple can shut this down is with action on the technology front.  If Apple’s next product is the iPad Mini with Retina display or  the iPad4 comes with a better battery life than this group will become even more outspoken.

There are so many parodies of Apple being shared by millions that not only mock the technique of the advertising but the incrementalism of their technology.  This only fuels the haters.  

Problem #4:  Leadership Style

When Tim Cook took on the Apple brand, people worried but became re-assured that he had been running the Apple brand fora  while.  The brand was on a high after an amazing decade under Steve Jobs, and as a leader he faced a “sustaining success” leadership challenge.  Keep the momentum going.  Can anyone re-live that visionary relentless pursuit of perfection that Jobs brought to the role.  

Now it appears that Cook faces a “re-alignment” challenge.  Cook needs to re-invigorate the R&D at Apple to push for innovation that goes beyond expectations.  Making a dent in the Universe means pushing for greatness, not settling for OK incremental-ism.  Cook has quickly fired all those connected to the Maps fiasco.  But, he has to look at himself in the mirror for wondering how it got out past him.  The pressure is definitely on.   The questions of 18 months ago are back:  

Can Tim Cook do it?   
The World and the stock market are watching Apple.

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

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

 

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

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

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

About Graham Robertson: I’m a marketer at heart, who loves everything about brands.  My background includes 20 years of CPG marketing at companies such as Johnson and Johnson, Pfizer Consumer, General Mills and Coke. The reason why I started Beloved Brands Inc. is to help brands realize their full potential value by generating more love for the brand.   I only do two things:  1) Make Brands Better or 2) Make Brand Leaders Better.  I have a reputation as someone who can find growth where others can’t, whether that’s on a turnaround, re-positioning, new launch or a sustaining high growth.  And I love to make Brand Leaders better by sharing my knowledge. My promise to you is that I will get your brand and your team in a better position for future growth.  To read more about Beloved Brands Inc., visit http://beloved-brands.com/inc/   or visit my Slideshare site at http://www.slideshare.net/GrahamRobertson/presentations where you can find numerous presentations on How to be a Great Brand Leader.  Feel free to add me on Linked In at http://www.linkedin.com/in/grahamrobertson1  or on follow me on Twitter at @GrayRobertson1 or join us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/BrandLeadership

5 Ads that will Give you Goose Bumps

Here are five ads that I love and do a good job going into the emotional space, whether it’s a mass retailer, a utility or a shoe company.  They do a nice job trying to connect the consumer tightly to the brand.  While the ads do that, does the brand do what it takes to back it up when you experience that brand?

Nike’s “If You Let Me Play”

Similar in tone to “Find Your Greatness” from 2012 Olympics, Nike released this inspiration A back in 1995 about the benefits of having girls play sports.  What does this ad say to you?  To read about Nike’s “Find your Greatness” follow this link:  Nike’s Find Your Greatness

Ram “Farmer’s”

Aired during this year’s Super Bowl, it’s one of the best spots I’ve seen.   Using Paul Harvey’s story telling hit a positive vibe with Farmers, and Americans in general.  Simplicity of idea, yet story telling at it’s best.  They didn’t over-do the branding, but consumers were so engaged in the ad, they were dying to know who is it that’s telling this story.  

 Canadian Tire “Bike Ad”

This ad makes me cry.   We can all remember our first bike and how special it is. In Canada, Canadian Tire was that store, prior to Wal-Mart entering the market.  Now, Canadian Tire can’t deliver on this promise, because it too resembles Wal-Mart–no longer where you go for your first bike, but rather buy Tide when it’s cheap.

Bell “Dieppe”

Wow, a utility delivering an ad that gives you goosebumps.  I’ve been to that beach in Dieppe and it does command such intense feelings.  As you can tell from the phone at the end, this was in the early days of Cell phones, trying to link the idea of connecting anywhere.   While this is just an ad, I do wish that utilities would try harder to connect with consumers at every stage of the consumer’s buying journey.  

John Lewis “Christmas 2011”

Every Christmas, British retailer John Lewis has been releasing campaigns around Christmas.  To me, this one is the best, especially the ending.   While it’s August and we aren’t thinking about Christmas, I’ve been waiting to see the new John Lewis Ad the entire year.   I can hardly wait!!!  John Lewis is an employee-owned retailer, with a very unique culture that delivers on the brand.  To read more on John Lewis, follow this link:  John Lewis story

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

To see a training presentation on getting better Advertising: 


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

 

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

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

Target Market: Why Not Just Target Everyone?

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

Steve p. Jobs

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

A good brand strategy has four key elements: 

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

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

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

Who is the Consumer Target and What do they want?

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

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

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

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

Apple is Facing Major Declines…

Those are fighting words for most Mac, Iphone or Ipad users.  If you are in the Apple tribe, that headline probably gets your blood boiling, ready to call me an idiot and tear into this blog.  But, I don’t really mean it.  I hope that you’re totally upset, so I can prove a point, as to how loyal Apple users are.  So relax and enjoy the article.  It’s all about how great Apple is.  In fact, I’m typing on my Mac as I speak, with my Ipad charging away about a foot away.   I could not live without my Ipad–stylus and all.

A few weeks ago, someone asked for a good marketing book to read.  I said “Have you read the Steve Jobs biography, because that would be a great starting point.”  I do believe that aside from his craziness, Steve Jobs is the best marketer of our generation.  Everything he did was about the consumer, not just in taking their feedback but in guessing what they might want next.    He was committed to the art of marketing, from the design in the product and software right down to some of the best advertising of our generation whether it’s “1984” or “I’m a Mac”.  He was obsessive in his committment.  He had to love the work or he’d reject it.   His bar was exceptionally high.

For Apple to this point, it has all been about Steve Jobs and thinking differently.  With his own voice, here is what makes Apple great.

Brands travel along the Love Curve, going from Indifferent to Like It, to Love It and finally become a Brand For Life.  When you achieve the ultimate status as a Beloved Brand, demand becomes desire, needs become craving and thinking is replaced by feelings.  And, Apple is the most loved of all Brands.  When you love a brand like Apple, you are loyal, unrelenting and outspoken.  Try saying something negative about Mac to someone in the tribe and watch out.  That’s like knocking their favourite sports team.   To Apple users, it’s very personal: you are possessive of your Apple brands you own.  It’s extremely emotional for you, certainly not rational.

Nothing comes close to what Apple has done over the past 10 years, whether it’s in desktop computers, laptops, mp3 players, smart phones, tablets and even the retail space.  Three times this year, I’ve walked past an Apple store before the mall opens, and there are usually 10-15 people waiting for the doors to open up.  I’m sure every retailer would love that.

Samsung and Microsoft are strong brands, but stuck at the Like It stage.  While consumers gladly buy their products, no one is going to stand up and defend them.  People are indifferent about Brands like Dell and HP who have commoditized laptops, charging a slight premium, but barely.  Even Sony has fallen from grace, recently announcing billions in losses.  If you are born before 1975, and rarely buy electronics, you still think “wow, that’s a great price on a Sony”.   But that group gets smaller every year.  The HTC brand only wins from carrying Android, but no one really cares they have an HTC phone.

Apple has an amazing brand following.  It’s like a tribe of loyalists ready to speak out and defend the brand.   How have they done this?

1.  Products that the consumer doesn’t even know they want yet:  While in the technology field, Apple has never done the better mousetrap.   Apple is all about the consumer.  Apple has an invention mindset.  It’s more than just making money.  They want to make a dent in the universe.  It’s about thinking different and delivering something the consumer could never have imagined.   Apple carefully considers what consumers are looking for.  They are completely meticulous in the planning and design stage.  They keep things plain, simple and so easy-to-use products not only to make the consumers happy, but also make them want to buy more products in the future.  Apple is an idea connected to simplicity, not just a series of products.

“You’ve got to start with the consumer experience & work backwards to the technology.  You can’t start with the technology & try to figure out where you’re going to sell it”

Steve p. Jobs

2.  Are You a Mac?: Let’s face it, Apple is a cool, hip brand. It pushes a strong identification with everything young, up-to-the-minute and smart.  The “I’m a Mac Campaign” was brilliant in not only defining the Mac brand as smooth, confident and cool, but defining the PC brand as old, uptight and awkward.   At the height of this campaign I was in a crowded bar that went immediately silent when one of the “I’m a Mac” TV ads came on.   Also, many of the Apple products have separated themselves from the competitor, whether it’s the white headphones on the iPod, the number of apps for Iphone and Ipad or the cool sleek designs of the Mac.  Not only that, the Apple store is a store just for Apple users.  My mom, who is 77 and a recent ipad user has been to the Apple Store numerous times, taking some of the courses or just asking for help.

For fans of the “I’m a Mac” campaign, here are 15 ads.

3.  An Obsessive Commitment to the Consumer and the Apple Brand.   Stemming from Steve Jobs, the entire company is committed to simplicity in design and functionality.  Whether it’s the rounded edges, colour choices for product or the Glass on the Apple stores, there is a certain obsessive behaviour.  Sometimes you wonder if it’s worth it, but would Apple be Apple if it wasn’t for these obsessions?

Apple leverages this obsession to create consumer loyalty.  Looking at the phone industry loyalty data, Apple has by far the highest loyalty of any brand:  over 90% of their consumers love the Iphone.  Brands like HTC, Blackberry and Sony have scores in mid 60s while Samsung has only 57% prefer the Samsung.  Creating the tribe is great, but Apple delivers satisfaction to their consumers.

To be a Beloved Brand, you must love the work you do.   If you don’t love the work you do, how do you expect your consumer to fall in love with your brand?   Brands that are stuck at the like stage settle for ok.  Beloved Brands like Apple start at great and still push to make it even better.   They are never satisfied.

The more loved the brand, the more valuable the brand.  The tight emotional connection with the consumer becomes a source of power it can leverage whether that’s with consumers themselves to pay more, stay loyal or buy more products.   Plus, that power can be leveraged with retail partners, suppliers or competitors.  

In 1976, early in the life of Apple, Ronald Wayne decided to cash in his 10% of Apple for around $800.  If he held onto it, that 10% would be worth $56 Billion.  Mind you, we have all missed out on quite a few investment windows over the years.  If you had put $100K into Apple in 2003, you would have around $10 Million!!!   You wouldn’t be complaining about the economy, wondering who to vote for in the fall.  But unfortunately, I didn’t know Apple would do so well.  Has the Apple brand peaked?   Hardly: Apple has gained 81% in market cap the past 12 months.   I missed that window as well.   

My hope is that momentum can continue.  Not because I have invested money, but because I’m emotionally invested.  I crave what’s next, even though I can’t even imagine where they will go.

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

Finding Your Love in the Art of Being Different.

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

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

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

Ah, we have our launch. 

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

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

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

There are four types of launches:

good-vs-different

Good But Not Different (our launch above) 

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

Good But Different:

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

Not Good and Not Different:

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

Different but Not that Good

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

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

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

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

Push Yourself to Find Your Difference

 

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

 

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

 
Other Stories You Might Like
  1. How to Write a Creative Brief.  The creative brief really comes out of two sources, the brand positioning statement and the advertising strategy that should come from the brand plan.  To read how to write a Creative Brief, click on this hyperlink:  How to Write a Creative Brief
  2. How to Write a Brand Plan:  The positioning statement helps frame what the brand is all about.  However, the brand plan starts to make choices on how you’re going to make the most of that promise.  Follow this hyperlink to read more on writing a Brand Plan:  How to Write a Brand Plan
  3. Turning Brand Love into Power and Profits:  The positioning statement sets up the promise that kick starts the connection between the brand and consumer.  There are four other factors that connect:  brand strategy, communication, innovation and experience.   The connectivity is a source of power that can be leveraged into deeper profitability.  To read more click on the hyper link:  Love = Power = Profits

 

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

 

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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.