August 2009

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boil-downThe real art of brand planning is in knowing what not to say. When brand planning, I use something called the 24 Questions to help find the money. Once the money is found, job two is how to position. For this a number of hunting and gathering techniques are used; tools that are now vastly improved thanks to the Web. Information is amassed about the product, the competition, corporate leadership, the market, and current buying culture. Then future buying culture is projected, based upon trends. Only then, does the “boil down” process begin. 

 The boil down is the point at which things are prioritized and edited. Evaporation occurs over time until only a powerful branding idea is left.  By itself, the idea may come off as mundane. But when presented to executive management along with the boil down logic, that’s when the magic occurs.  Marketing executives love logic and strive for simplicity, but are often too close to make it happen. A powerful brand strategy can set marketers free, but it is the logic of the boil down that sells it. Peace!

Chrysler-Logo-old“Chrysler looks beyond BBDO for advertising” is the headline on Ad Age Digital this morning. BBDO has always done great work for Jeep, but Jeep was an iconic brand with a branding idea. The Chrysler brand doesn’t really have an idea. Ford doesn’t have a powerful branding idea. And certainly GM doesn’t. But GM doesn’t really need one because short of GMC trucks, you won’t find a car with a GM name on it. Volkswagen had an idea but let it slip away to the point where when the market was ready for the idea (small, efficient, eco-conscious), they weren’t there. Had they been, they might now be on their way to a defensible position as the world’s largest car company. Even Hummer has an idea.  

 

When you possess a branding idea — also called a brand strategy — product design and innovation become easy. When you don’t, you change vendors, partners, ad agencies, and management. And that’s not much of an idea. Peace!

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rubel-scobleI’m a big Steve Rubel fan. A social media savant and thought-leader, Steve is on the road for a couple of weeks looking for new media insights. He visited with Robert Scoble yesterday and I’m sure for him is was a moment of truth. Steve has been following and emulating Robert for years because Robert is the heart and soul of social media. Robert’s passionate, thoughtful, encouraging and very juiced. (Not in a Balco way.) Robert is the Vasco De Gama of what’s new.

 While Mr. Rubel is on a cross country trek Mr. Scoble is on a minute-by-minute trek. He and camera man Rocky are probably responsible for 1 point of the U.S. GDP, I kid you not.

 If you don’t know who Robert Scoble is, please check him out. Don’t try to understand what he does or what he talks about (he is a mega geekus), just understand why he does it and how. Robert is an inspiration. Peace! 

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“Chrysler looks beyond BBDO for advertising” is the headline on Ad Age Digital this morning. BBDO has always done great work for Jeep, but Jeep was an iconic brand with a branding idea. The Chrysler brand doesn’t really have an idea. Ford doesn’t have a powerful branding idea. And certainly GM doesn’t. But GM doesn’t really need one because short of GMC trucks, you won’t find a car with a GM name on it. Volkswagen had an idea but let it slip away to the point where when the market was ready for the idea (small, efficient, eco-conscious), they weren’t there. Had they been, they might now be on their way to a defensible position as the world’s largest car company. Even Hummer has an idea.  

 

When you possess a branding idea — also called a brand strategy — product design and innovation become easy. When you don’t, you change vendors, partners, ad agencies, and management. And that’s not much of an idea. Peace!

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Here’s a faceoff. Holding one hockey stick is the Altimeter Group and holding the other the Dachis Group. Who wins?

 

Here are their Is-Does statements:

 

Dachis Group (Dachis Corporation, Inc.) was created to unlock the value of social technologies for large corporate enterprises through its Social Business Design global advisory practice, and technology implementation program.

 

Altimeter: A consulting firm focused on helping businesses integrate emerging technologies into their strategies.

 

Similar at first pass, but also different if you look deeper.

 

Altimeter is a consulting company and will make its money in fees. Dachis, also a consulting company, appears to want to sell technology which had mondo revenue upside if the software/service is replicable.

 

My guess is Alitmeter will win the faceoff. Their value prop and marketing seem pretty tight. Dachis Corp. on the other hand will skate around for a while, keep practicing, passing and tightening their game plan. When ready, they should score quickly and often.

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A Strong Is-Does

Back in the day, I was on a McCann-Erickson task force for business client AT&T and we created a tome entitled “Emerging markets? Does advertising drive adoption?” We looked at numerous categories of new products, with a particular view toward technology, and compared units sales to annual advertising expenditures. A statistics nerd then used some formula with a funny symbol the word “slope” in it to prove advertising did, indeed, drive product purchase.

 

That was then….when people were educated about products and services through TV ads, print ads, radio ads and brochures.

 

Today, many new products are first introduced to consumers online. The FUE (first user experience) of a product happens above the fold on a home page. A well defined, well thought out brand does a good job with this. Most don’t. Steve Rubel posted today about how poorly, even the top tier social media sites explain their services. Check it out here.

 

The Is-Does

A good brand plan articulates what a brand Is and what it Does. And it accomplishes this in a simple, unambiguous, differentiated statement. I call this the Is-Does. A string Is/Does is the most important step toward brand success. Peace! 

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Rubel and Scoble.

 

I’m a big Steve Rubel fan. A social media savant and thought-leader, Steve is on the road for a couple of weeks looking for new media insights. He visited with Robert Scoble yesterday and I’m sure for him is was a moment of truth. Steve has been following and emulating Robert for years because Robert is the heart and soul of social media. Robert’s passionate, thoughtful, encouraging and very juiced. (Not in a Balco way.) Robert is the Vasco De Gama of what’s new.

 

While Mr. Rubel is on a cross country trek Mr. Scoble is on a minute-by-minute trek. He and camera man Rocky are probably responsible for 1 point of the U.S. GDP, I kid you not.

 

If you don’t know who Robert Scoble is, please check him out. Don’t try to understand what he does or what he talks about (he is a mega geekus), just understand why he does it and how. Robert is an inspiration. Peace! 

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One of the biggest cultural phenomena in America today is what I call ADD-ification. We all have attention deficit disorder.  We can’t sit still and we’re always in a hurry.  When was the last time you drove your car without some form of entertainment — using the time to think?  Thought so.  

 Newspaper stories have gotten shorter, the chapters in our novels can be measured in paragraphs not pages, our meals come in microwavable packages, we even beep at people who sit at traffic lights for more than 5 seconds.  Why?  Because we’re in a hurry. 

 How many advertising or branding briefs today are predicated on the insight that we are all pressed for time?  I certainly have written a few.  

 Stress is at an all-time high I would imagine, but with the right meds, we can get by.  But hurry, the pharmacy closes at ten! 

 (I’ll be off for a few days, see you Tuesday.)

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The pop marketing term of the last couple of years has been “dashboard.”  As a brand planner who advocates “windshield” planning rather than the more common “rear view mirror planning” approach, I get the dashboard metaphor.  

The marketing dashboard contains dials and gauges that monitor the performance of marketing programs.  These metrics are valuable for sure but if one doesn’t look out the windshield and truly see what’s coming, they are driving with their head down.  

 Great marketers don’t wait around for consumer behaviors to be measured, great marketers decide what consumers will like…before they like it.  They see in front of the dashboard.  The future is a beautiful place.

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I read on Twitter (@bbhlabs) and Campaign Magazine where Unilever is crowdsourcing a creative brief for its Peperami brand, seeking a TV campaign idea that will go global later this year. The winning creative entry gets $10,000. On the one hand, it seems like a brilliant, game-changing wake up call to agencies (They let go Lowe Worldwide just prior to announcing the “contest.”), yet really this shot over the bow will put a pox on the business the likes of which we’ve never seen.

 

The biggest problem with crowdsourcing creative is it puts clients in the production business and when marketers have to balance art with cost, the spots suffer. Directors will be chosen by clients, shooting boards managed and approved by clients. Music, editing, and the soul of the spot will be in the hands of business people. Pre-pro meetings will be a joke.

 

Unilever got some good press this week for earnings, leadership and so-called product innovation. This is not an example of leadership or innovation. Peace!

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