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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love what you do.  Live why you do it.  

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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A Beloved Brand commands the Power of a Monopoly

The Brand Love Curve

In the consumer’s mind, brands sit on a Brand Love Curve, with brands going from Indifferent to Like It to Love It and finally becoming a Beloved Brand for Life.  At the Beloved stage, demand becomes desire, needs become cravings, thinking is replaced with feelings.  Consumers become outspoken fans.  FormulaIt’s this LOVE that helps drive POWER for your brand: power versus competitors, versus customers, versus suppliers and even versus the same consumers you’re connected with.  With added power, you will be able to drive stronger PROFITS.  For a Beloved Brand, prices are inelastic and you can trade consumers up to new premium options.  You can drive share and move to new markets with your loyal consumers following.  And you can put pressure on costs.  All these drive added profitability for the Beloved Brand.   LOVE = POWER = PROFITS

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

Using the Love to Generate Power

The 12 forces of a Beloved Brand map out how a beloved brand can leverage the power generated from being loved.

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

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

Power over Employees:  Beloved Brands have a power over employees that want to be part of the brand and the culture of the organization that all these brand fans are proud to project.  People at Starbucks love working there and wear that green apron with a sense of pride.  Brand fans that get hired into the system, know the culture on day 1 and will do what it takes to preserve it.  Starbucks employees ooze the brand and honestly from a cultural view, their interactions make the difference in the experience of the brand.  Employees have their regulars, know their name and their drink.  It’s no longer just the coffee.  It’s your escape and your comfort zone.

Power over the Media:  Beloved Brands have a power over the Four types of Media:  1) Paid 2) Earned 3) Social and 4) Search.  Beloved Brands have a much more efficient media buy–lower GRPs needed to break through and a lower Ad Spend/Sales is needed to keep share strong.  Even for paid media, beloved brands get better placement, cheaper rates and they’ll be the first call for an Integration or big event such as the Super Bowl or the Olympics.  Beloved Brands have figured out the earned media, with launch events, press releases and executive story lines that seep into the mainstream press.  Competitors complain about Apple getting a positive media bias–they are right, they do.  As brands are still figuring out social media, it’s the most loved brands that are doing it right, whether it’s Coke, Nike or Apple.  Are they smarter?   Maybe.  But the beloved Brands have such a huge advantage because people want to connect socially, want to share and want to influence.   Nike did such a great job with social media during the London Olympics that people thought they were the main shoe sponsor–when it was Adidas.  Lumping earned, social and search together as ‘free’ media, Apple generates over a billion dollars of free media via the mainstream media and social media.

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

All 12 forces combine to generate Power for the Brand, that matches that of a Monopoly.

 

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

Other Stories You Might Like
  1. How to Write a Creative Brief.  The creative brief really comes out of two sources, the brand positioning statement and the advertising strategy that should come from the brand plan.  To read how to write a Creative Brief, click on this hyperlink:  How to Write a Creative Brief
  2. How to Write a Brand Plan:  The positioning statement helps frame what the brand is all about.  However, the brand plan starts to make choices on how you’re going to make the most of that promise.  Follow this hyperlink to read more on writing a Brand Plan:  How to Write a Brand Plan
  3. Consumer Insights:  To get richer depth on the consumer, read the following story by clicking on the hyper link:  Everything Starts and Ends with the Consumer in Mind

 

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

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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.

The $1Billion Brand that Defies Logic: The Toronto Maple Leafs

leafs-badWhen we look at the Most Valuable sports franchises around the world, whether it’s Ferrari, Manchester United, Real Madrid, New York Yankees, Los Angeles Lakers or New England Patriots, they usually have one thing in common:  THEY WIN.  And in most cases, they win a lot.  We’ve never really found out what happens to those brands when they lose.  

And then there’s the Toronto Maple Leafs who recently joined the ranks of the most valued brands, now worth an estimated $1 Billion.   The last time the Leafs won a hockey championship was 1967, when Lyndon Johnson was President, The Beatles were releasing the Sgt Pepper’s album and Wal-Mart only had 24 stores (all still in Arkansas).  It was even 8 years before Justin Bieber’s mom would be born.   The Leafs have not even made the playoffs  since 2004.   None of their current players were even in the league in 2004.  And they are the only NHL team not to make the playoffs during those years.  There were two major work stoppages in the NHL in 2005 and 2012–one wiped out an entire season, the other a half season.  In both of those years, the value of the Leafs jumped up.  

And yet, since 2004, the value of the Toronto Maple Leafs has gone up from $280 Million to $1 Billion.  Only Apple’s market value has gone up at a faster pace, but they’ve launched the iPhone, iPad and the Macbook during that time.  

So clearly for the Leafs, actually playing and winning the games doesn’t really matter to value of the brand.  

What’s the Leafs Brand Vision?

Up on the Leafs wall and every communication coming from the PR staff says they want to win a Championship.  But they were owned by a pension fund for the past 15 years, whose only desire has been profit.  And now they are owned by a Media Conglomerate who sees the Leafs as content with millions of insane Leafs fans watching in person, on TV and on-line.  Winning?   Does that matter?  I believe a more appropriate Brand Vision for the Leafs is to be the Most Valued Sports Franchise in the World.  Everything they do seems more aligned to the “most valued” than winning a championship. 

Holding the Leafs up to the Principles of a Beloved Brand

My Business School Professor once said “economics proves what happens in real life can actually happen in theory”.  In the theory of Beloved Brands, you need 5 sources of connection to build a tight bond with your consumers.  You need a Brand Promise, a smart Strategy, a Brand Story, a freshness of Innovation and a Culture that helps deliver the promise.  

Arguably, the Leafs might be defying all 5 of these sources of connectivity. 

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What is the Leafs Brand Promise?  Most Beloved Sports Teams can say “we promise to deliver an on-field team that will always be competitive enough to win a championship”.   The Yankees, Man U, Ferrari, the Lakers and Real Madrid can easily say that.  Even when these other teams have a good and not great season, there is a price to be paid.  The Leafs say “we want to build a team to win a championship” but is that a reality?   If that was their promise, the brand would be a complete failure.  Fans would walk away and the value of the team would fall.  Well, at least for a normal team.   

The only real promise the Leafs offer is hope for the hopeless.  The Leafs are the eternal underdog, where the pursuit of victory is greater than the victory itself.  Maybe if you have that underdog spirit in your own life, you see hope in the Leafs where no one else sees hope.  There’s no real rational benefit you get from being a Leafs fan.  You’re never rewarded for your energy.   So it must be irrational.  Purely emotional.  Then what emotional benefit do you get from loving the loser team?  A friend of mine who is a Leafs fan had a baby a few weeks ago, and I said “when do you break it to the kid that the Leafs won’t win a Championship in his life time?”   I know that kid will be a Leaf fan.  He now bleeds blue.   And will pay thousands of dollars towards the leafs coffers over his life time. 

So what’s the benefit?   You don’t get to ever yell “we win”.  It comes back to “Hope”.  Or maybe you figure the celebration party will be so big when they finally do win, that you want to make sure you’re on that bandwagon.  That’s still hope for the hopeless–it just has alcohol involved.   

The strategy is to appear to be doing things to win a championship.  The story is more about history than it is about the present.  I don’t see any innovation in player selection or coaching.   I do see innovations in merchandising, advertising, sponsorship and fan experience.  And the culture of the Maple Leafs is clearly aligned more to making money than it is to winning.   

The Leafs Business Model

Let’s look at how the Leafs business model works.  

  1. Getting tickets to a game is nearly impossible for the average fan.  Every game is a sell out.   It’s a 40 year wait for Leaf seasons tickets. These end up in people’s wills.  They have strong luxury box sales and a strong base of seasons tickets.  If you do have tickets, you can easily scalp them for twice the value on game night.
  2. Every game is on TV, with exceptionally strong ratings.  While the ratings totally in Canada, they are such a dominant ‘country brand’ that it makes the local market all of Canada, which means it has access to 30 Million people.  The Leafs receive added earned media with 2 sports TV stations, 3 radio stations and 3 major Newspapers constantly covering every move the team makes. 
  3. The team’s sponsorship drive is incredible–carrying an astounding 50+ sponsors on its roster–including separating out the banking category into Core Banking, Wealth Banking, Credit Card banking, which allows them to get money from three separate banks.  
  4. Merchandise sales are very strong.   The Leafs have just announced it was changing its third jersey to be a replica of the 1967 jersey.   Which means all those fans have to go out and drop another $129 on a new jersey.  This past year, the Leafs have added a sports bar to the ACC, just outside the arena that has hundreds of TVs and seating for two thousand people.  
  5. Control of Costs works for the Leafs.  The NHL has a salary cap that holds teams to $60 Million per year, which is 6% of the team’s brand value.  For the other hockey teams worth $200 Million, that’s 30% of their brand value.   That’s a huge competitive advantage for the Leafs–still defies why they can’t win. 
The P&L

In 2011 with the world facing a global recession, following up on a 29th place finish in the standings, the Leafs revenue went up ELEVEN PERCENT!!!  And because of the player strike a few years ago, player costs have gone down from $69 million to $57 million.   Revenue up, costs down.  That’s a P&L the people of Price Waterhouse dream about.    A lot of the value is now connected to how much money will be made in the future.  The NHL just signed a 10 year contract giving the Leafs cost certainty.  While I still don’t think the Leafs will win a championship in the next 10 years, I would bet they will hit $2 Billion.  

It’s not easy being a Leaf Fan. Yet like a drug, it’s not easy to stop being a Leaf fan.

 

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

 

Other Stories You Might Like
  1. How to Write a Creative Brief.  The creative brief really comes out of two sources, the brand positioning statement and the advertising strategy that should come from the brand plan.  To read how to write a Creative Brief, click on this hyperlink:  How to Write a Creative Brief
  2. How to Write a Brand Plan:  The positioning statement helps frame what the brand is all about.  However, the brand plan starts to make choices on how you’re going to make the most of that promise.  Follow this hyperlink to read more on writing a Brand Plan:  How to Write a Brand Plan
  3. Consumer Insights:  To get richer depth on the consumer, read the following story by clicking on the hyper link:  Everything Starts and Ends with the Consumer in Mind

 

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

 

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

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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.

Love = Power = Profit

The Brand Love Curve

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

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

The most beloved brands are based on an idea that is worth loving. 

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

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

Using Apple as an example, which is the most valuable brand on the planet, the big idea behind Apple is complexity made simple.  Since every great brand tackles an enemy of the consumer, Apple takes on the frustration and intimidation that consumers have with technology.  The Apple brand promise is we make it easier to love technology, so that you can experience the future no matter who you are.  Apple has done an amazing job in creating products that take the most complicated of technology and deliver it so that anyone can use it.  People criticize Apple for not being that leading edge of technology saying they just copy.  But they don’t get what Apple is about.   Whereas every other geeky computer company starts with the technology and forces consumers to figure it out, Apple takes that same technology and makes it so simple–whether that’s the iPhone  iPad or the Mac which have made technology accessible for anyone.   Apple knows how to tell their story, starting with the launch meeting–last week’s iPad Mini launch was covered for days in the mainstream media.  You could even watch it live on-line.  Apple has made great ads over the years, but they know how to work the media–whether that’s on CNN, technology magazines or through social media such as Twitter and Facebook.  Apple manages the Brand Experience to perfection–starting with the excitement of launches to the helpfulness of the genius bar to the out-of-box start-up of any of the Apple products.  As much excitement as Apple generates, they always seem to over-deliver.  Look how giddy people get over their iPhones and iPads. All these contribute to the Love for the Apple brand and generates a loyal following.

Using the Love to Generate Power

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

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

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

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

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

Using the Love and Power to generate Profits

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

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

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

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

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

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

Follow me on twitter @grayrobertson1

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

 

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

 

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

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

People around the World are so addicted to Facebook. And now it’s a Beloved Brand Worth $100 Billion.

Facebook has just announced that it expects to reach a Value of $100 Billion by next year.   That’s incredible. 

Facebook has over 800 million users, so if it were a country, it would be the third biggest country in the world just behind China and India.   Facebook has over 70 languages and 75% of users are outside the U.S.   Facebook has gained 200 million users in 2011, a growth rate of 33%.  For those of you thinking Facebook has hit their peak, forget it.

People love Facebook and can’t get enough of it.  About 50% of those users go on every day and 40% have accessed Facebook through a mobile device.   Users spend an average of 15 hours a month on Facebook, probably more time they spend at the dinner table.   Facebook is not for kids, over 75% of users are over 18, and the fastest growing segment is 55+.   Even my mom is on it, even though she won’t want me giving her age out (I’d get a phone call saying “Did you need to say how old I was).   On average, more than 250 million photos are uploaded per day.  Facebook has truly utilized the addictive nature of us all, looking up statuses, linking in with friends from years ago and randomly clicking “Like” here and there.  We’re all guilty of it, in fact 800 million of us are.

20% of women would give up sex before giving up facebook.

A recent survey in Cosmopolitan Magazine says that 20% of women would give up sex before they’d give up their beloved Facebook.   Mind you, the same survey said 25% of college students would give up sex if they didn’t have to lug around text books, which supports that great pick up line of “Hi Can I carry your books”.

Facebook has turned this phenomena into a money making machine.   Facebook has revenues of $4.2 Billion in 2011, up 114% from last year.   Like most on-line sites, Facebook makes most of their revenue from advertising, all those ads you see down the side of the page.   While not the strongest click-through rates, the sheer girth of reaching 800 million users for 40 hours a month gives Facebook plenty of opportunity for sales.   Facebook has tinkered around with Facebook Points, not yet making it work.  But what Facebook points really are is a currency where you can buy things.   If Facebook will be the biggest “country” one day, it’s a natural step that they would have a currency.   Imagine how addicted we’d be when Black Friday has us all on Facebook trading “Facebook dollars” for a new Coach bag for my wife.

If you've already won Time Person of the Year Award at 27, what's next?

Mark Zuckerberg is still only 27.  He’s finally old enough for a low level manager role at a Fortune 500 company, but they’d still be cautious and put him on a low risk brand assignment.   Maybe that’s because he still looks about 19.   Yet he’s worth $17.5 Billion and he’s already been named Time Magazine Person of the Year.

Wow.

Holt Renfrew, A Beloved Brand trying to Be Liked By The Masses

“No one goes there anymore because it’s too crowded”  – Yogi Berra quote

The never-ending recession has every brand agonizing over decisions on a daily basis.   The biggest decision is around Price, and the need for volume balanced off against the perceptions of Brand Equity.

This past week, I was at Holt Renfrew, Canada’s answer to Barneys, Saks Fifth Avenue and Selfridges.  I’m not a big fan of Holts.  I wish I was a fan, but my Scottish blood makes me way too cheap to ever find something within a reasonable price range.   Well, guess what people?   Holt’s is now filled with items you can afford, and the place is packed.

At first glance, it appears as though Holt Renfrew is immune to the recession.  So I decided to join the crowd and look around.   I saw a Holt Renfrew branded travel beauty bag, which was a $100 value, but for sale at a price of only $25–and it even included a $10 bounce back coupon off my next purchase.   Perfect gift for my daughter.    Next, I walked past ladies winter hats, saw the perfect gift for my mom.  I flipped over the tag:  $25.  I even got the nice pink box to the put the hat in, which I think the box has even more prestige value than the money I paid.  I walked out with the nice big pink Holts bag, proudly walking along Bloor Street, knowing that everyone must have thought “wow, that guy has money”.   If only they knew, I spent 56 bucks, including GST.  It just seems wrong.

For those who want the $25 Make Up Bag, here’s the link and you better move fast: 

http://www.holtrenfrew.com/holts/pages/articles/article.dot?url=103272&language_id=1 

Did I mistakenly walk into the Bay, instead of Holts?  No, there’s no way the Bay would be dumb enough to sell a Travel Bag or a winter hat for only $25.   This is like getting a Mercedes for around $15,000 or staying at the Four Seasons Hotel for $59 a night.  It gives the masses a piece of luxury, but at a cost.

The short term attempt at sales gains is off-set by the longer term sales decline when your core customer stops coming.  For Holts, they’d have to sell 100 make up bags to the masses just to make up for the revenue lost from one $2500 dress from a core consumer.  And in terms of profitability, if we assume the dress has 40% margins and the make up bag only 10% margins, Holts would have to sell 400 make up bags to make up for that one dress.   And it gets even worse when the masses realize they still can’t afford to buy anything beyond these cheap and cheerful items.

Famous little blue box from Birks.

But we’ve seen this story before, in Birks.   Through the 1980s, Birks had grown to 225 stores, and was trying to be all things to all people.  You could walk into a Birks in Mississauga, put down $125 for some nice pearls and walk out with the little blue box, guaranteed to make any woman drool when she sees that box.  But in 1992, Birks declared bankruptcy–they went back to what made them famous and who they were.   They re-trenched so that all Birks locations were in special locations.  And you needed to save up so you could afford something to go in the pretty blue box.  They figured out that it’s ok if the masses drool, but can’t afford.

Holt Renfrew Pink bag carried with pride around Toronto.

As we’re in the midst of the debate around 99% vs 1%, Holts has to realize who they are and who they cater to.  Every time they dip into the 99%, they lose a consumer in the 1%.   There has to be some reverence the masses have when they walk past the windows at Holts.   They have to feel a bit scared when they look at the price tags.   They have to be worried they are out of their element.   If that Pink Holts bag I so proudly displayed quickly becomes a commodity, then the core audience–the one percenters–will find somewhere else to shop.

As Holt’s looks to see if they can see the end in sight to the recession, they might not realize that they are already seeing the beginning of the end in sight of their status as a Beloved Brand.  The lesson:  trying to be liked by everyone might mean you end up loved by no one.  

How Come the “Occupy” Brand Never Reached Beloved Status?

The Wall Street Occupy movement felt grass roots, authentic and natural. The rest feel contrived and confused.

Forget your political affiliations or how mad you are.  I’m actually a liberal minded person.  Will we remember the “Occupy” brand five years from now?   If it’s the Left’s answer to the Tea Party, has it achieved the same connection and passion with their followers?     A clear and confused NO!!!

In NYC, the Occupy Wall Street had some early passion and it started to make the news.  People were clearly upset that during the recessions of the last few years, mad that the rich didn’t suffer, and even more mad that the evil bankers didn’t suffer.  The stats around 99-1 are very interesting and highlight a problem with Capitalism if not controlled.   Capitalism still has a place, but needs checks and balances.

With Occupy, people moved quickly to Love It stage, but with no direction, most have fallen back down to Indifferent.

In terms of looking at Occupy as a brand, let’s keep in mind that Brands move from Indifferent to Like It to Love and then a Brand for Life.  It seems that Occupy, quickly connected with a nerve among the people and moved quickly to the Like It stage, gaining very quick awareness.   Polls in early October showed strong support for the movement—much stronger than the Tea Party.   But then what?   Occupy as a brand is really just an idea at this point, but has yet to really turn into a movement.   It’s something that people want to latch onto.  It’s a promise, a concept, the hope of a movement.   All Brands are really just a promise—but it’s the best of brands can take that promise and clearly articulate their difference and then deliver that promise in a consistent manner.   Occupy can’t right now, and is at risk of diminishing to the point where people once connected at the early days are just falling back into the Indifferent camp.   The Occupy brand appears to be losing steam.  More recent polls have shown a steady decline and people are ready to move on.

So where did things go so wrong, in such a short period?

  1. No Consistent Message:  The early Occupiers refused to lay down the core message.   Because it was a grass roots movement, they didn’t want to dictate to others how they should feel.   They welcomed all, with all types of bitter messages.  So what happens to a brand that has a vague message or too many messages?   Nothing gets through to the consumer.   That’s advertising 101.  Even those who moved to the Like It stage were looking for direction that would take them to the Love it Stage.   But there was nothing.   Even the Wikipedia page on the Occupy movement can’t really articulate it in one sentence.  On the other hand, The Tea Party has one defining message:  Taxes are Too High and our Government is wasting our money.   They’ve stuck to it, refusing to get into political debates connecting to social policies, abortion, capital punishment etc.   That gives the people who are mad about taxes something to stay connected to.  The Tea Party movement now looks like it has a lasting power as a brand.
  2. The Occupy Brand Spread Too Fast, Too soon to where it didn’t Make Sense Anymore.   The Occupying Wall Street which is the symbolic place of evil bankers and CEO’s walking off with the money makes sense.  But that message resonates less when it spreads to Occupy Toronto where that same thing didn’t happen, or Occupy Portland or Occupy Vancouver or even Occupy Kingston Ontario.   While I’m sure the Occupy movement was excited to see it spread to so many places, it does feel like a retailer spreading their franchises too fast too soon.
  3. Those Occupying Changed Dramatically and it Impacts the Emotional Connection:   The original Occupy Wall Street projected a groundswell of “Average Americans” upset with the system.   People who had been burned and were “mad as hell and not going to take it”.  More recently, we’ve started to see Unions get involved—I get that they aren’t in the 1%, but they’ve shared and benefited in the same way as the bankers and CEOs.  Bail outs to Auto Giants kept Union jobs alive at $38 an hour to watch a machine put molding on the side of Buick.   The entry of Unions looks bad on the original groundswell idea.  And recently, there’s been a drug overdose in Vancouver and looting reported in many cities near the occupations.   It now looks like a bunch of Teenagers or Hippies, not your “Average Americans”.  This change makes it harder for the average person to stay emotionally connected and while people were at the Like It Stage looking to move to the Love It stage, many are now falling back to the Indifferent.   Polls now show most people support “clearing out the occupiers” in their cities.

    This sign says so much about the Authenticity of the movement.

  4. The Occupy Brand Never got to the Action Stage:   Classic marketing plans have a vision and mission, which is half articulated.   But what about the strategies, tactics and executional plan?    People are protesting that change is needed, but then no action plan is developed to make change happen?   People are screaming that the gap between rich and poor in the US is real and something needs to be done.   If Occupy wants to be a brand that continues, it needs an action plan.   Looking at the traditional brand funnel, they’ve generated the awareness and consideration but that’s purely a rational connection for consumers.  There is nothing to enable consumers to really take action.   Are they using social media?   Have they connected into a political movement with a leader, policies, candidates and even a few wins?   Is there a bill being sent forth in the name of the Occupy movement?    The Tea Party has all that and it’s what is keeping their consumers connected to their brand.  The Tea Party scored points among their followers this summer by forcing Obama into a corner of cutting spending.

    The Occupy movement was all about the head but no generated no real Action, never getting to the heart.

Unfortunately, the Occupy Brand looks like it’s a leaderless, rudderless brand in free fall.  There’s nothing for consumers to hang on to.  People are back to Indifferent.  And sadly, it could be gone by Christmas when we begin to drive that wheel of capitalism again–one more attempt to spend our way out of the recession.   In 9 more years, on one of those “Decade In Review” shows,  someone will mention “Occupy” as the big thing of 2011 and we’ll all smile and say “oh yeah, I remember that”. 

GAP Clothing: The fall from BELOVED all the way to INDIFFERENT

GAP Clothing was once a BELOVED Brand, back in the middle of the 1990s.  It was loved by consumers, envied by marketers and revered in the retailing world.  In 1990, it celebrated it’s 1000th store opening and was the place to go for stylish trendy clothing at a reasonable price.    At one point, GAP had an Inventory Rotation of “8 seasons” per year, just to keep up with the consumer’s desire to see new products as they walked through the GAP stores for the umpteenth time.  Consumers couldn’t get enough of GAP.

Fast forward to 2011, GAP Clothing sales are down 19% this year and down over 25% since the peak of 2005.  And they’ve just announced the closing of 200 stores–which will continue the downward spiral.   Who cares about inventory turns when people aren’t even walking into the stores?

This year,  GAP filed a lawsuit against GAP Adventures saying they felt having the co-existance of the two brand names  “caused confusion in the marketplace”.   Considering that GAP Adventures is having a record year and is one of the most BELOVED brands in the adventure travel business, you would think GAP Clothing would think that confusion was a good thing.   For GAP Clothing to be complaining about being mixed up with GAP Adventures feels like George Castanza complaining about being mixed up with George Clooney.

In the 90s, Gap was Beloved Beyond Many. But in 10 years since, they've fallen to Like It and Now to Indifferent. Walk past a store and see if you care.

Brands ride THE LOVE CURVE, going from Indifferent to Like It to Love It and then it becomes a Brand For Life–at each stage gaining a more emotional consumer connection with the brand.   GAP Clothing rode this curve all through the 70s and 80s and by 1995, it had achieved the enviable “Brand For Life” status, which very few brands achieve.

Hard to be a Cool Teen when they also sell Maternity Clothes.

But GAP got greedy and forgot what made them great: trendy 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 out 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 90s, you’re walking in your favourite mall, trying to be as cool as can be, heading for your favourite clothing store.  All of a sudden, you look up and your favourite 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 or your pregnant Aunt  are wearing the same clothes you’re wearing?  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.  In terms of the LOVE CURVE, GAP Clothing has slid from the BELOVED status to Like It all the way down to INDIFFERENT.  No teenager today likes GAP.   They don’t even care.  Are you kidding me?   Duh.

New Logo that lasted a week. That's embarassing.

GAP is so confused as to what to do next.   So what do brands do when they are confused?   Well, they should look themselves right in the mirror, challenge themselves at the executive leadership team to address the issues directly with an honest assessment and a high willingness to change.  That’s the ideal.  Instead GAP did what a lot of brands do:  they changed their logo.  Oh god!!!  The logo change only lasted one week–such uproar that they pulled it so fast, no one really saw it.  So what did they do next?   They closed 200 stores.   Very strategic.   Bu-bye GAP.   Say hello to Benneton, Wranglers and Doc Martins  when you get to the obsolete stage.

Is Bose High Quality or Low Quality? Is Bose a Beloved or Hated Brand?

Among the masses, Bose is one of the most respected, trusted and beloved brands when it comes to audio speakers and headphones.  That’s their Core Target Market.  But to serious Audiophiles, with a discerning ear, Bose is total crap, with inferior technology, shabby production standards and resulting poor value.  This might be the equivalent about asking a Foodie what they think of Morton’s Steakhouse or Ruth’s Chris.

Bose has a great word of mouth reputation.  I remember when I first heard of Bose, it was a guy at work, who seemed to know more than I did say definitively “Bose are the best speakers you could buy”.  I immediately believed this to be true and have felt that way ever since.  I proudly own Bose headphones, a Bose Docking Station and Bose Speakers in my car.  I’m highly satisfied.

I’d love Bose Speakers for my TV, having drooled over the sound for years.   So I went into a Bose store, listened to a few different options and they sounded amazing.   So I looked on the Bose box, and there was no mention of Watts at all or really anything.   My first thought was “wow, Bose is just such a great brand, they don’t really need to get into those  tiny details like watts”.   But I wanted to compare brands just to ensure I was spending good money.   So I went on-line and here’s the specs comparison:

That brings us to The Bose philosophy:  Unlike other audio product manufacturers, Bose does not publish specifications relating to the measured electrical and objective acoustic performance of its products.  This reluctance to publish information links back to the classic Amar Bose paper presented in 1968  “On the Design, Measurement and Evaluation of Loudspeakers”. In the paper, Bose rejects these measurements in favor of “more meaningful measurement and evaluation procedures”, and considers the human experience the best measure of performance.

For Bose, sound is an experience, not a statistic.   Bose spends all their effort and dollars on perfecting the in-store sound demo so they can show off Bose’s great sound quality and let consumers be the judge of their sound.  And yet it’s arguably tough for the average ear to distinguish.  Bose invests a lot of money into their own retail stores as well as the store-in-store concepts.  That way, it can control the experience the consumer gets with its products–ensuring the consumers hear Bose at it’s best.

Bose has figured out how to make their brand work to their advantage–the proof is in the sound you hear in the store.  There’s a certain magic that happens in store when listening to the Bose stereo system.  Despite what Audiophiles say, Consumer feedback from the masses is definitively in favour of Bose with very high scores.  And in a most recent poll, Bose is the #3 trusted brand in Consumer Electronics, so they must be doing something right.  It’s tough for consumers to separate Product from Brand, even a brand like Apple has had success in this confusion where consumers think Apple has “great products”.  To the masses, Bose is a great brand and has great products.

Is Bose a Beloved or Hated Brand?  You be the judge.  

 

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

A Truly Beloved Brand: G Adventures

REPRINTED FROM PROFIT MAGAZINE

Ask a communications expert about the wisdom of changing the name of a successful company, and you’ll get succinct advice: don’t. “Unless it’s completely irrelevant or legally necessary, or the name has become totally stagnant, I wouldn’t change your name because it’s such a massive undertaking,” says Mia Wedgbury, president of High Road Communications in Toronto.

But this fall, Toronto-based tour operator Gap Adventures was forced to do just that when a legal ruling in a trademark infringement lawsuit brought by Gap Inc. gave it three months to devise a new identity in the U.S. market. The apparel chain claimed the Canadian company was intentionally confusing consumers to boost its business. Bruce Poon Tip, the travel company’s founder, initially waved off the attack. “I didn’t see how people might think they were buying pants when they were buying adventure travel.” He had picked the name (which stands for Great Adventure People) in 1990 only after deciding the original moniker, Pathfinder, might produce confusion with the car brand.

But after a four-year legal battle that cost more than $5 million to fight, Poon Tip was tired of the distraction. Initially, he considered only changing the name in the U.S., which represents 14% of the company’s business. However, several factors argued for a global revamp. First, in Europe and Australia, a “gap year” denotes a year off between school and work, creating the suggestion the company catered to students. According to Branding 101, a global company must have a consistent image. Finally, Poon Tip thought Gap’s highly loyal customers would take a name change in stride. “I’ve never believed that the name matters,” he says. “It’s what you do that breathes life into your name.”

At it turned out, customers disagreed. When Toronto branding firm Level5 Strategic Advisors polled consumers, the results were stunning. A question asking for alternate name suggestions produced such aggressive opposition to a name change that Level5 took the question out mid-survey. The agency’s president David Kincaid compares consumers’ attachment to Gap to the intense passion fans feel for their favourite rock band. Adventure travel is a “highly emotionally driven category,” he says, and his research found a striking uniformity in how employees, customers and partners viewed the brand. That was the good news; the downside, warned Kincaid, was that a renaming would erode that brand equity.

It was a scary finding, Poon Tip says, but he pushed on. Over eight weeks, Gap’s marketing team and Level5 ran strategy workshops and “name-storming” sessions, with employees invited to contribute suggestions. Poon Tip had two favourites: G Adventures, which would be relatively low-hassle and allow the company to keep its G logo; and Yolo, an internal brand that’s an acronym for “you only live once.” Staff liked the idea of creating their own word, like Google or Geiko. Kincaid’s team, however, resisted Yolo, saying it would require too much explanation in the marketplace. Meanwhile, G Adventures didn’t make it past an early poll of company executives.

Level5 narrowed the options down to two: Planeterra, the already trademarked name of Gap’s non-profit foundation, and Go, an active word inherently linked to travel. Poon Tip realized that Go could also stand for “great ocean,” which is the English translation of the Dalai Lama, a significant figure for Poon Tip who inspired him to stick with the business during an early crisis. While both Go and Planeterra scored strongly, Go skyrocketed when consumers heard the story behind the name.

Go was a go. The company even bought the domain, at considerable cost. But Poon Tip started having second thoughts. It bothered him that some survey respondents found the name boring. “When they thought of it in relation to us, they thought it was unexciting,” he says. There were also lots of companies already using that name. Even the fact it was so specific to travel started to strike Poon Tip as too safe, and potentially limiting. He looked at other name changes, such as Overstock.com changing to O.co, and that took him back to G.

Not long after, he held a conference call with 18 global executives. He stated the case for Go and for G, then asked for opinions. His team leaned slightly toward Go. Though he went into the meeting split 50/50, it proved to be like the coin toss test: his reaction to the outcome showed him which way he really leaned. He especially liked that the word “go” is still present in the logo’s circle around the G but, likethe Fedex arrow hidden within its wordmark, it’s speaking only to those who know it’s there.

While the change is relatively small—the company is just dropping two letters, and keeping the Great Adventure People tagline—the logistical challenge is significant, says Wedgbury. “The name is how people find your brand,” she says, and there’s a risk of confusing the marketplace and losing clients, and, of course, the cost of changing everything from signage to the website to merchandise. The company’s dispersed operations complicate the picture. “If I’ve booked a trip with Gap and I suddenly I see a new company name when I arrive, that doesn’t instill confidence,” says Wedgbury. And since it’s a court-mandated change, an oversight, at least within the U.S., can have financial implications.

But it’s the soft costs that will be most complex, says Kincaid. “They need to make sure that every consumer touchpoint understands the reason behind the new name,” from employees at an Australian call centre to tour leaders in Peru. “This isn’t something you can dribble out. The most effective word in marketing is ‘new,’ but you only get one chance to say it.”

Since Gap isn’t required to rebrand outside the U.S., Poon Tip plans to roll out the name change over six to 12 months. The company has generally eschewed traditional advertising in favour of viral marketing and referrals, but this change, says acting global VP of marketing Cindy Zesk, “will present a new set of challenges.” Travel agents, who represent 70% of Gap’s bookings, will be the biggest one, she says. “So we’ll take it to a real personal level, with speaking engagements, personalized emails and phone call explaining why we’re doing this.” With consumers, she says, the company’s value proposition “is a way of life. It’s not something we can put in an advertising tagline.”

G Adventures, Poon Tip admits, tends to leave people cold until he explains his vision for spinoff brands such as GLodge (a property being built in the jungle of Peru) and GNation (a social networking platform). Like Apple’s ‘i’, the G offers limitless extendibility. Having to change your name after 21 years in business is “not an ideal situation,” he admits, “but we’re taking it as an opportunity.”

Nevertheless, he remains bitter about the legal fight. He still owns the gap.ca domain name. “I might sell it to a porn company.” He insists he’s not kidding.

What’s the Most Beloved Brand In Education?

It depends what kind of love you're looking for from higher education.

It depends on your criteria.  If it’s a non-stop party action without getting kicked out, University of Georgia is consistently ranked in the top 10 of parties schools.   And technically, that might make it the most beloved.   Georgia actually has tough admission standards, but that might just be the same way that a hot bar also attracts a crowd.

But the strongest most respected brands in higher education are Harvard at the top followed by schools such as Princeton, Oxford or Cambridge.  Maybe Stanford, as the cooler, hipper, west coast answer to Harvard.   Maybe MIT or Cal Tech for the more mathematically inclined.  Criticize them all you want, snub your nose back at them or rationalize why you chose somewhere else.  To many people, it sounds like you got help from Daddy.   But these brands do help to separate a student from the pack upon graduation and sits on their resume for the rest of their lives.

http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/world-university-rankings/2010-2011/top-200.html

Harvard makes $150 Million a year from selling t-shirts.

When students choose a school, in a way, they are borrowing  a piece of the equity from that school in how they want to portray themselves.  Harvard has a lot of equity from which Students can borrow.   Place in History:  With 375 years, there’s a long list of noble alumni–including 8 U.S. Presidents, 50 Nobel Prize Winners, dozens of Pulitzer Prize Winners and Supreme Court Justices plus a very long list of CEO’s.  Harvard even has a long list of Harvard drop outs including Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg or even Matt Damon.  Harvard Schools: Whether it’s Law, Medicine, Business or Political Science, each school on it’s own, finishes at or near the top of their disciplines.  Graduates are sought after, commanding strong salaries and a robust Harvard Alumni network, notorious for helping out at all stages of their careers.  The Harvard Cache:  There’s something romantic about Harvard, as it’s portrayed in movies such as Love Story, Paper Chase or The Firm.

Harvard’s beloved brand status translates into Brand Wealth.   Harvard’s endowment is estimated at $28 Billion, double it’s closest rivals and dwarfing the University of Georgia party school ($572 Million) or Canadian schools like University of Western Ontario ($318 Million) or Queen’s ($527 Million)   Harvard’s revenue per year is $9.3 Billion which would be about the same size as Starbucks or Southwest Airlines.   Harvard has many sources of revenue, including investment gains, student tuition and donations.  Harvard even generates a whopping $150 Million in T-shirt sales, people just wanting the smallest slice of the Harvard brand.  Now that’s brand wealth.

The Most Beloved Coffee Brand: What’s your Call?

Starbucks or Tim’s?   If you’re in Canada, it’s clearly Tim Horton’s.   if you’re a Starbucks fan, you’re likely pissed right now and hopefully ready to engage.  But I imagine there are not a slew of Coffee Time loyalists ready to pounce.

What Tim’s has done so well, is they have  turned a lonely little donut shop into a brand envy.  Back in 1980, there were no signs of greatness, evidenced by this TV Ad: Functional.  Just another donut shop.

Brands travel along a pathway from indifferent to like it to love it, most brands getting stuck.  At the INDIFFERENT stage, it is basic needs and “it will do”.   You never see a line up at Coffee Time.   Tim’s has reached LOVE IT.  It’s possessive, outspoken and unrelenting–willing to add 15 minutes to their morning drive.

Yes Tim’s has very good coffee and good quality in everything they do.  But it’s more than that.  Tim’s layers in deeply emotional connections to the community, into the lives of families and into the Canadian mystique.

Kids play in Tim Bits hockey, at lunch people go on a “Timmies Run”.  The TV ad from last year featuring Sidney Crosby showing him as a Tim Bit player all the way up to current gave you goose bumps as a Canadian watching it.   Wow.  

Media buy is a gentle mix of new product ads with deeply emotional.    Goosebumps, tears, exciting, all comes back to building that emotional connection.   The spot in the Olympics made me proud to be Canadian. 

They’ve continued expansion plans, across Canada and now into NYC.  For you, is it the coffee, is it comfort or the Canadiana or is a bit of all three that keep you coming back?   Getting to the Love It stage drives real brand value.  The stock price has nearly doubled the past 5 years going up from $26 up to $48.

http://moneycentral.msn.com/investor/charts/chartdl.aspx?symbol=THI&CP=0&PT=10

Most Beloved Hockey Team Brand: The Toronto Maple Leafs

The Leafs are clearly the most Beloved Brand in Hockey.   While there are lots of great fans of great teams, the Leafs stand alone with insane fans about a bad hockey team.   The Leafs have not made the playoffs since 2004 and have not won a Stanley Cup since 1967, yet it has a following like no other hockey team.  Most of the other Beloved sports Teams, whether it’s the Yankees or Man U or the Montreal Canadiens all reward their fans constantly with victories.   It’s not very hard to be a fan of a team that has won 25 championships.   But with a few teams like the Leafs or the Chicago Cubs, it’s not easy being a fan.   Constant let down and heart break.   The connection to the Leafs is not a rational one, but rather an irrational choice–or as Hotspex would say “e” rational that talks to the EMOTIONAL connection.

It's a 40 year wait for Leaf seasons tickets. These end up in people's wills.

Let’s look at how the Leafs business model works.  1.  Getting tickets to a game is nearly impossible for the average fan.   They have strong luxury box sales and a strong base of seasons tickets.   Season Tickets are passed down to family members in wills.  At Pfizer, we put our name on the waiting list and they said it could be up to 40 years to get tickets.  If you do have tickets, you can easily scalp them for twice the value on game night.  2.  Every game is on TV, with strong ratings–a usual top 20 in the ratings for CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada on Saturday nights.  In fact, if CBC every lost HNIC, it’s possibly the end of the network.   The Leafs receive added earned media with 2 sports TV stations, 3 radio stations and 3 major Newspapers constantly covering every move the team makes.   3.  The team’s sponsorship drive is incredible–carrying an astounding 52 sponsors on it’s roster–including separating out the banking category into Core Banking, Wealth Banking, Credit Card banking, which allows them to get money from three separate banks.   4.  Merchandise sales are very strong.   The Leafs have just announced it was changing its third jersey to be a replica of the 1967 jersey.   Which means all those fans have to go out and drop another $129 on a new jersey.  This past year, the Leafs have added a sports bar to the ACC, just outside the arena that has hundreds of TVs and seating for two thousand people.   5.  Control of Costs works for the Leafs.  In the 90s, as the Canadian dollar slid, players started to demand being paid in US dollars.  Since that decision, the dollar has gone from 63 cents to parity and the Leafs bottom line has benefitted.   In terms of Brand as a Business System, the Leafs get it.   They derive all their value from their brand.

Leafs value continues to climb: In 2011, it's now up to $527Million.

If we look at the hockey results, the Leafs haven’t made the playoffs since 2004.   So let’s use 2004 and 2010 as the basis for comparison on numbers.   In those six years of hockey despair, overall revenue has gone up from $117million to $187million.  In the last year, with the world facing a global recession, following up on a 29th place finish in the standings, the Leafs revenue went up ELEVEN PERCENT!!!  And because of the player strike a few years ago, player costs have gone down from $69 million to $57million.   That’s a P&L the people of Price Waterhouse dream about.      The resulting brand value has seen the Leafs value go from $280million in 2004 up to $505 million in 2010–making it the #1 valued team in hockey.   Seven years of missing the playoffs and the value of the team has nearly doubled.

Compare the Leafs to the Red Wings, who use the slogan “HOCKEY TOWN”.   The Red Wings are clearly the best hockey team in the past decade, best win percentage, most playoff appearances, most Stanley Cups.   Let’s use 2004 and 2010 again.  In those six years, Detroit’s revenue has gone up from $97million to $117million, a gain of 20% while the Leafs revenue were up 60% over the same period.  Ticket sales are actually down at Joe Louis arena by about 10%.   While the Red Wings made back to back Stanley Cup finals, you could have actually gotten a ticket at face value the day before one of the games.     The value of Red Wings team has gone from $248million up to $315million, a solid gain of 27% in value but dwarfed in comparision to the Leafs 80% gain in value over the same period.

It's not easy being a Leaf Fan. Yet no one really stops being a Leaf fan.

Now, we must come to the question of why?   Are Leaf fans crazy?   I do remember a few years ago, on Trade Deadline day in late February, there was a quote from a fan who said “I can’t believe I took the day off from work to watch the Trade Deadline and my Leafs didn’t do anything”.   That’s borderline crazy.   The Leafs are the eternal underdog, where the pursuit of victory is greater than the victory itself.  But we might not ever find out.   I’ve resigned myself to the fact that the Leafs WILL NOT win a Stanley Cup in my lifetime.   And yet, I remain a fan.   If they ever do win the cup, I’m not sure if the team’s value will go up or even down from there.   Debate all you want, we may never find out.

Toronto likes to think of itself as the centre of the hockey universe.   Not even close.   Name me great hockey heroes from Toronto and the list is much shorter than that of Montreal.   In fact, on a per capita basis, Saskatchewan is the true centre of the hockey universe.  Most hockey superstars are from the remote locations like Perry Sound, Brantford or Flin Flon Manitoba.   Maybe Stamkos will be the one that breaks through the top 50 all time.   In the past 30 years, it sure hasn’t been the great players on the team.  The Leafs have only had two players, Gilmour and Sundin, that you could call superstars, and a handful of good players like Curtis Joseph, Borje Salming, Wendell Clarke or Rick Vaive.  But Toronto fans have made the most of average and have created mythical figures in Felix Potvin, Bryan McCabe or Mike Palmateer.  Not sure where Reimer will be on this list, but if you talk with a Leaf fan, they think of him in the same breath as Patrick Roy.

As we are on the cusp of a new season, Leaf fans are optimistic.   And ready for another Cup run.  There’s only one thing I know for certain and would actually bet on it.   The value of the Leafs will go up this year.   YEAH!!!

The more beloved the brand, the more profitable and valuable the brand is.

Consumers have relationships with their brands, some simple and shallow while others are tremendously deep and personal.   There is almost a LOVE CURVE the consumer goes on,  moving from INDIFFERENT to LIKING to LOVING and then on to a BRAND FOR LIFE.   At a given point, consumers stop thinking and start feeling.   It can take years or just minutes.   For Brand owners, what’s important is to know where your brand is on the curve and how to move it along to the next stage.

There are significant benefits to moving the brand along the Love Curve.   At stage 1, consumers are INDIFFERENT, your brand is basically replaceable and you only get used because “this will do”.   You’re not really anyone’s favourite.    As they move to stage 2, they LIKE it and make logical, solid functional choices.   But at stage 3, consumers  LOVE the brand, are outspoken, possessive, unrelenting, and it becomes very personal.  Along the way, people stop thinking and start feeling.   And consumers enter stage 4 where it’s their BRAND FOR LIFE, where the brand is almost an extension of the consumers themselves.  They would never use another brand because they’d almost feel like they are cheating.

Look at how we feel when we love a brand (Unrelenting, Possessive), compared to Indifferent (It will do, Basic Needs)

Apple is a great example of a modern day beloved brand.   They hate Microsoft as much as they love Mac.  Try telling a Loyal Mac user that “Windows 7 is really good” you’re certain to start a fight.   You might even lose a friend.    One of the most beloved brands is Ferrari which Italians from around the world see as a statement of their Italian culture and personal identity.  They wear the logo with pride, cheer for Ferrari each week in the F1 and yet they most likely have never driven a Ferrari.  They spend zero dollars on Advertising, relying on consumers wearing their brand, cheering for their brand or just dreaming of it.   What a place to be as a marketer where your consumers act as brand fans, and standing up for you.  Another great example to show the differences is Coffee, where Tim Horton’s is the Beloved Brand.

But what goes up, can also come down and brands can move backwards on the curve.  For instance Gap Clothing, Levis or even Olive Garden were all once loved and have slid back to indifferent.

The only true goal of brand building is profit and brand value.  Every choice you make that moves your brand along the LOVE CURVE towards being beloved helps you drive long term value into your brand.

THERE ARE SIGNIFICANT BUSINESS BENEFITS TO BEING A BELOVED BRAND:

  1. Brand is more than just positioning.  Brand serves to match up the brand’s external promise with the internal culture and operations that delivers that brand promise.   While most brands look for an external positioning, that’s the promise you make to the consumer.   It’s equally important to focus on delivering that promise with the Brand serving as a beacon for the culture and operations and helps to steer behaviour, thinking and decisions employees make to support the brand.  For many brands, the people and the culture are the “secret sauce” to that brand’s success.  It’s like an iceberg where the brand promise is the tip the consumer sees, but below is the culture that needs to be aligned to deliver that promise.
  2. It’s easier to run a branded business with a line up at the door.    Longer lines means fresher product, and that means a better customer experience.   A baquette in Paris tastes so much better, not because it’s in Paris, but because the pâtisserie in Paris  sells 300 baquettes by 10 am, all fresh out of the oven.  The poor baguette in the North American grocery store looks lonely, dry, crusty.  Also, people love to follow the crowds, figuring others have already made the decision for you.
  3. Strong Sales Growth helps The P&L Starts to Work Better:  Using Porter’s Model, strong steady sales also means you can control your variable and fixed costs.    a) More Buying Power over Suppliers: higher volume means you can go to suppliers with a big order and exert pressure on the costs  b) Power Over Customer Channels: you can begin exerting power over the sales channels to your advantage–trimming variable trade with retailers while demanding more in return including more control over pricing. c) Smarter More Efficient Management:  manage your inventories, meet customer expectations, control pricing and drive cheaper costs.  d) Growth means you start outgrowing any fixed costs.  This includes start up costs, sales force, product plants or R&D costs.  e)  Lower Cost of Capital:More certainty means lower risk and you can re-invest, knowing the ROI will be quicker and stronger.

    There are 4 profit drivers you can push through the brand: price, cost, share and market size.

  4. The Poor Competition has no chance.   Most categories play the zero sum game, where one brands’ gain is the other guys’ loss.   Leader brands that build an emotional connection back the competition into the rational zone–facing scrutiny, doubt and skepticism.   As a marketer, the more emotional heat you can generate leaves almost nothing left for your competitor.  You reach that tipping point, where your gain is their loss.  When it’s all about share gain, the beloved brand has a competitive advantage.
  5. Great Brands have a certain magic to them.  Gaining that deep Emotional connection is hard work, but also takes a certain flare or an art form.  Gather all the data, be ruthless in your decisions, always focus on ROI, and eliminate risk and you’ll be liked but never loved.  You need to use instincts, take chances, use a certain flare and believe that execution matters.  If you want your consumer to love your brand, you have to love the work you do.  Look at the love Apple projects to it’s consumers through the magic of design, branding and marketing.