You are currently browsing the monthly archive for October 2014.
There is a new tech writer gaining momentum. His name is Farhad Manjoo and he writes the “State Of The Art” column in The New York Times. Read him, you will get smarter. Since the half-funny, very good tech analyst David Poque left the confines of the Times for Yahoo, I’ve been seeking a Walter Mossberg-like writer at the Times. Mr. Manjoo may be it. He’s bold, thoughtful, not averse to homework and understands the tech user. Great writers are prescient when it comes to trends and usability, so let’s see if he can keep it up.
His column today was about Amazon. And that’s the second thing. Everybody knows Jeff Bezos is a tech top dog. Amazon’s journey has been fun to watch. Unlike Microsoft, whose cash cow(s) allowed it to buy and launch a number of public duds, Mr. Bezos has launched a luncheonette’s worth of products with varying degrees of success. From books to retail to devises to video and shipping, Amazon touches more consumers in more ways than most brands. Add to that Mr. Bezos move into publishing and one can assume the data he retrieves and the behaviors he notes are preparation for other very interesting plays. But unlike Microsoft, Amazon doesn’t get dinged in the press and among tech elites.
The difference between Amazon and Microsoft is that Microsoft pizzled away money on new endeavors but always kept a huge bank — Amazon on the other hand continues to lack any meaningful profit.
As a brand planner, Amazon confounds me. As a consumer and business dude I really like them. For a first-to-market company, they do a lot of second-to-market things.
Messrs. Manjoo and Bezos are players. And both are going to be exciting to watch. Peace.
Tags: amazon, best technology writers, Brand Planning, david poque, Farhad manjoo, jeff bezos, microsoft, The new your times, walter mossberg, whats the idea, whatstheidea
Today is Blog Action Day and the topic is inequality. If the problem with society in America is poverty, the cause is inequality. There are other causes of course: poor parenting, inadequate education, drugs… but inequality is a root cause.
In recent brand and marketing plans developed for a new weight loss modality, I realized a strong component of the obesity epidemic is inequality. Bad eating habits in poor communities make for high indexing of obesity in lower socio-economic communities. That’s not to say obesity is not a problem among other classes of society (I feel dirty using the word classes), it is. So in this marketing plan, I outlined two distinct targets based upon inequality. One I called the “Helplessly Obese,” the other “Weight Challenged.” Guess which one was the middle/upper class target? Though they shared psychological similarities, there were enough noticeable differences to warrant separate tactics – media and otherwise.
The thing about understanding inequality is that it should be used for good, not exploitation. Pushing 32 oz. drinks to poor kids is wrong. Marketers who understand inequality for helpful reasons, will win customers hearts and minds. Marketers spending money to sell to middle and upper class consumers could take a page from this playbook. Peace!
Tags: blog action day, helplessy obese, inequality in marketing, Marketing inequality, weight challenged, whats the idea, whatstheidea
Mining is actually a good brand planning analogy. During the planning process where one combs research and interviews stakeholders and consumers planners are searching for nuggets of ore. Ore that might direct one to a vein or the mother lode. In my planning rigor, my ore is proof. Examples of acts. Facts. Actions. It’s ironic that while searching for proof, I don’t know yet know the claim. In my consultancy a brand strategy consists of 1 claim and 3 proof planks. At this stage, I’m nugget hunting.
(Just to level set, here are examples of things that are not proof: exception care, innovative design, tailored-to-meet-your-needs. These fall into the area of claim; and as claims they are a little wan. A little over used.)
Discovery in brand planning is listening, watching, paying attention to detail – almost being a human Galvinic Skin Response test – then categorizing the proof into clusters. It may sounds a little backwards, hunting for proof before identifying the claim, but it’s not. People can tell stories about proof. People light up citing proof. People are reticent, however, when it comes to claim. Reticent because it sounds like bragging. Because it is not always true.
Mine for proof first and your plan will have a stable foundation. Peace.
Tags: 1 clam 3 planks, Brand Planning, brand planning discovery, brand planning tips and tricks, Brand Strategy, Galvanic skin response, Geotechnical foundation, mining analogy, whats the idea, whatstheidea
If invited to do a TED Talk, I’m sure it would be about branding. In an age where 70% of college educated kids start sentences off with “Me and Jessica are…”, where athletes refer to themselves as brands, entertainment shows dumb down baby and couple names into syllables, and Twitter handles are more globally recognized than Hollywood names, the person-as-brand is not too far-fetched.
Well, I’m not going there. I’m a purist. I am still debating whether a service can be a brand. Or a company. My brands are consumables. So shoot me.
Now Branding, brand with a ding on the end, that I can talk about. How to create a brand in the minds of consumers. It is an act. A pursuit. And pursuits need plans. Branding is “an organizing principle, anchored to an idea.” Everything starts with the product. Then the product features and benefits. Wash those with consumer care-abouts – the most important first. Then combine what the product does well with the most compelling needs of the consumer and create a claim and proof of claim array (4 things). These are the things that drive perception and memory. Branding is not a song. But a tune may contribute. It’s not a color but may be a feeling.
The longer the “what is a brand debate goes on” the more brand planners will be in business. And the more TED Talks there will be on the subject. Brands may be misunderstood but making them doesn’t have to be.
Is North Korea a brand? They follow an organizing principle. Hmmm.
Tags: brand definition, Brand Planning, branding definition, features and benefits, North Korean brand, TED Talk, ted talkon branding, twitter, whats the idea, whatstheidea
In just about every marketing consulting meeting I attend the word “differentiated” comes up. It’s a word marketing directors love. Sadly, most think messaging can differentiate their products. True differentiation in marketing, positioning and branding comes straight from the product.
What I do as a brand planner, in my search for things that are “different and desired,” is to diagnose. Webster’s defines the word as “to know apart from” or “to distinguish.” Most look at the word diagnose and think medical. In a meeting this week someone said about my work “You are really like a detective, aren’t you?” Good strategic planners are diagnosticians and detectives. Both look for problems. But brand planners must look, too, for positives. The Coke Happiness campaign, being the ultimate positive. We know positive is better than negative, though B2B clients don’t always roll that way.
Good brand briefs serve up the positive by understanding the negative. A smart card marketer selling to K12 schools, for instance, knows security is a major issue today. It also knows that proper attendance and every hour spent in a class room can improve learning – an educational positive. Finding an idea that works both angles is the heavy lifting. A company like that wants differentiation. A line. A website. The planner wants the strategy. One that diagnoses the problem yet serves up the proper positive medicine.
Peace you all.
Tags: brand brief, Brand Planning, coke happiness campaign, Different and desired, educational smart card strategy, k12, strategic planning
Sometimes brand planners do not have the budget, time, or resources required to do a complete job learning and understanding their targets. Hey, welcome to the real world. The last thing a good planner does is impose his or her perceptions on the assignment. Perceptions soiled by previous assignments, individual experiences with a product, and pop cultural observations. Just as a good anthropologist knows not to insinuate him/herself into the fieldwork and only observe, brand planners should acknowledge they don’t know everything and attempt to “out-of-body” whatever they can. Here’s a tip:
To help gain an deeper understanding of the target, identify a prototypical target persona, get into character and interview yourself. Of course it’s play-acting — and the DILO (day in the life of) you use to understand the target is made up — but as a creative exercise it is much better than the alternative. Write out the questions in advance, put on your creative acting hat, dream daily activities (perhaps even do them), and observe signs, rituals and behaviors the target will experience. If not actually doing the behaviors in-situ, play act and interview yourself in a dark room.
The key is to really leave yourself and your belief system at the door. Open your mind. Note activity function and structure. Sounds weird, I know, but it’s doable and a wonderful learning opportunity. Learn on, plan one. Peace.
Tags: anthropology in brand planning, anthropology in marketing, Brand Planning, brand planning short cuts, brand planning tips, brand target, customer journey, DILO, whatstheidea
A great deal of brand planning revolves around observation. That’s why my anthropology major came in so handy after all these years. Who knew? Based upon observation, planners postulate and prove, then write briefs and decks which are given to others for action. Action that might be design-related, comms-related…even behavioral. The brief grows out of observations focused on creating behavior change. Want this. Buy this. Purchase more of this. That’s marketing and advertising today.
Since working in the education category – one I find utterly fascinating – I’ve changed my MO (modus operandi, for those who don’t watch a lot of cop shows) about brand planning. Now, I am of the mind that changing behavior as an objective is not the best way forward. Rather, I like to educate consumers and let them decide if and how to change their behavior. When a consumer comes to a conclusion on their own, without the smarmy hands of the marketing gods to convince them, then a sale better made and more loyal. In other words, consumers won’t buy because they were told, they buy because it makes more sense. It rationally lights up the right parts of the cerebral cortex.
The decision is learned and learned, not told and sold. Peace.
Tags: advertising strategy, anthropology in marketing, brand planning tips, Brand Strategy, education in marketing, Marketing Strategy, whats the idea, whatstheidea