Things we remember.

0

 

 

 

 

 

We remember beauty.

We remember new.

 We remember rich.

 We remember melody.

We remember funny.  

We remember nature.

 We remember poetry.

 We remember pain.

 We remember educators.

 We remember warmth.

 We remember charity.

 We remember happy.

 We remember love.

 We remember triumph.

 These are the things we remember.

 These are the things consumers remember.

 (I post this brand planner’s prayer once a year…as a reminder.)

Brand Discovery Interviews.

0

Good brand strategy discovery is about asking questions and listening to the answers. I’d venture to say discovery is 90% listening. People like to share. They like to be helpful, so long as you have their interests in mind and care about what they have to say. To prove interested you have to build new questions off of their responses. And use a little bit of English (spin on the ball). Learn eagerly.

And to make the process is not too one-way and to prove your eagerness, you’ll need to tell some quick stories. Stories that show you are human, fragile and fun. But remember 90 of the interview is listening.  Even with this heavily weighted split, the interview must come off as a conversation. Be sensitive to the sensitivities. Sensing important insights is another key interview driver. But don’t get hung up or bogged down. They can be plumbed in after-interview analysis.  Also, it’s a good idea to share stories from others you’ve interviewed. People enjoy hearing from likeminds. It validates.

The discovery interview is the most important tool in brand planning — be it an interview with a consumer or brand stakeholder.

Interview notes are the puzzle pieces.

Peace.

 

Adjectives R Us.

0

 

My alma mater Rollins College is a really neat school. A beautiful school.  But sometimes its beauty overshadows the academics, so someone smart came up with an idea for a YouTube video to downplay the former and highlight the latter. The video is nicely shot but the script is terribly weak.  Shame.

Once past the beauty shots and facilities recap, about a third of the video, I began counting marketing adjectives. And there were plenty. The same adjectives any school could and would use. In fact, the same adjectives any institution, company or even brand might use.  Adjectives R US.

There was a good provable “idea” hidden in the copy but it was glossed over. The notion that classes are small enough to mirror post-graduate work. Sorry to say it but the video proved nothing more than a pictorial sales piece. As it stands, the video strategy “more than just pretty” lay fallow and, sadly, uncultivated.

Peace.

 

Asheville Design Salon.

0

I attended my first Asheville Design Salon last night and enjoyed it immensely. It was held at The Antidote, a cool cocktail bar (order the Daiquiri), attended by maybe 20-30 designers.  There was a very smart presentation on the development of new local spirits brand called Chemist Gin. The brand design was near impeccable: the bottle, mark, the typeface, coloration – very tight and well-knit. The second presentation was a bit broader, conducted by Big Bridge Design, showing some nice work in beer packaging plus some smart experiential thingies.

What I took away from the presentations — and yes to a hammer everything looks like a nail — was the fact that there is a lot of talk about brands but little discussion of brand strategy. Or brand briefs. The discovery and strategy, prior to stylus to tablet, was all conducted by the client and designer. No independent middle ground. No real paper strategy that I could tell.

What do they say about criminals being their own lawyers? (Okay, bad analogy.) And designers are geniuses at grabbing consumers by the eyeballs but neither client or designer really schooled in creating an “organizing principle for product, experience and messaging.”

Can’t wait for my next Design Salon. 

Peace.

 

Branding and the better deal.

0

I read somewhere “people will naturally gravitate to a better deal.” Two Cheese Whoppers for the price of one is a better deal. Chevy Family Pricing is (probably) a better deal. $100 off a Deuter Backpack, better deal. 

Thirty years ago, you had to promote a better deal in the newspaper, on TV, or at point of sale. Today, your network of friends and online cohorts can share a better deal in a nano. If you know where to look online better deals abound. But better deal viewed through a pricing lens is not the full story.  

Brand strategy uses science to position products and services as a better deal, sans promotional pricing. Branding answers the “Why?” your product is a better deal than the competitor’s. The why used to be random and of the cultural moment; often something conjured up by ad agents.  Doritos are better than potato chips because they bounce around the room and hit people in the eye (from a Super Bowl spot years ago.) Yeah, no.

Branding, the verb, uses a discreet organizing principle to convey positive associations based on endemic product values that preclude consumers from buying other people’s products. This doctor is better than that doctor. That four-wheel drive car is better than this. My beer is better than yours.

People will gravitate to a better deal, if and when marketers help define what that better deal is – outside of price alone.

Peace.

 

 

Art of the Deal.

0

I’m always on the lookout for discovery questions that provoke interesting insights. Because a good deal of my discovery work takes place with corporate management and sales, I use a number of questions about business ideals, including perceived and real good-ats. Knowing what a company thinks it’s good at is critical to effective strategy and sell-in of that strategy.  

Lester Wunderman’s obit was in the NYT today. Towards the end it spoke of his art collection. African Dogon art was his thing. Though not in the formal arsenal of questions I use for executives, I’ve been known to ask people about their “art.” Though I’ve never asked about an art collection. Hmm.  Mr. Wunderman’s art collection has sparked some wunderment (sic).

Here’s a new discovery question:

“Fast forward 20 years and think about a room filled with company artifacts from today – a historic view of accomplishments, milestones, even art. What’s in that room?”   

Can’t wait to try this one out.

Peace.

 

 

Brand Planners and Movie Directors.

0

It is movie awards time again. The Golden Globes just finished up and got me thinking about roles and responsibilities. How can a director win, yet the movie or an actor not?  If it is so well directed, why isn’t the movie a winner?

Since metaphors are a part of the brand planner’s tool kit, I asked myself to project the brand planner’s role in marketing, using the movie business as an analog.  Actors are the tacticians I guess, playing roles consumers experience. Set designers and costume people are production people and grips. The producers of the film are the marketing executives. Script writers deliver copy. That must leave brand planners as directors.

You never see the director in the work, you just see the work. A movie director is in charge of flow, performance quality, story and emotional resonance. And certainly more. It may be the most important job in movie making, yet also the least appreciated. Me thinks that’s the case with brand planning. Behind the camera, behind the scenes. Movie first, product first. Works for me. Any better thoughts?

Peace.

 

Brand Strategy Boil-Down.

0

My wife suggested reusing an Amazon bag for shipping something to my mom. The wifus is a smart lady. There was a lot of noise on the outside of the bag including printed bar codes, markings, and UPS truck soot.  Her idea was to put a new label over the old Amazon label and let it fly. Save a tree, use a proven vessel, a good idea.

I suggested turning the bag inside out, which I did. The inside was pristine gray.

This story is a bit metaphoric (sophomoric?) for my approach to brand planning. When doing discovery, you want to look at all sides. Inverse. Obverse. I’m sure there’s another verse.  The point being, and this is certainly true for creative problem solving, more perspectives are energizing.  Sometimes typos can be informative. Especially so for me.  Sort of like the 3M person who spilled mixatives and created the Post-It note. (Is mixative even a word?)

Brand planners know their own process. Amass information then do the boil-down. Everyone should boil from a bigger pot. Let the fun begin.

Peace.

 

Strategy Is The Cool.

0

When I was a kid in advertising someone suggested I take a copywriting course. Not always one in love with advice based on a criticism, I still took it to heart. After spending a couple of years with writers I decided that nothing would be cooler that to tell people I was a writer. Life didn’t work out that way. Today I’m a strategist.  A very cool title.

In marketing you are either a strategist or a tactician. In marketing, tactics are what make the world turn. What makes the cash register ring. Tactics are the ballast of budgets.  Heroes are made through tactics. But strategy — strategy is the air tactics breathe. The water that feeds the cells. The protein for the amino acids.

Strategy is the real cool.

Peace.

 

Apocryphal Brand Craft

0


I was reading some marko-babble on a research company website the other day and my bullshit meter went off. The sentence that woke it was “Turn your brand into a religion.”  Yeah, no.  

Most marketers would warm up to a sentence like this. Who doesn’t want a fealty to their brand that sticks to the soul? But face it, it’s an overpromise. When we are talking this type affinity we are talking about a product or service, not a brand.  I’ve brought Hellman’s Mayonnaise all my life. The New York Times is my only life-long newspaper subscription, my tents and ski jackets are all Marmot. Not because of the brand managers, but because of the product. Read: product preference.

It’s aspirational to want an almost religious attachment to a brand, that I get. But when you put brand before product, it’s because you don’t have a really good product. Once you remove the brand from the product and promote the former, thinking it’s some ethereal and malleable construct, you’re kidding yourself. You are storytelling.

Brand management is hard work. It’s scientific. Measurable. Rules-based. But religion? Yeah, no!

Peace.