January 2018

You are currently browsing the monthly archive for January 2018.

I found a little piece of scratch paper in my pile with this quote on it:

“Customers who share your values will be attracted to your brand and are likely to become loyal to your brand and even enthusiastic advocates.” 

The quote was by Brad Van Auken of Forbes.

If you believe this statement raise your hand.  As they say in NY, if you believe this statement “I have a bridge to sell you.” It’s a nice sentiment, but not something brand planners should be concerning themselves with. Brand planks are a marriage of “good-ats” and “care-abouts” — what a brand is good at and what customers care about.  

Unless you are good at values, as a non-profit might be, it’s best to focus brand strategy on tangible product benefits. Leave the values for the PR and corporate responsibility departments.

If you do go the value route, the values you pick are going to be noncontroversial and values others are likely to pick. I’m not being insensitive here just pragmatic. I don’t buy Hellman’s mayonnaise for values. I don’t drink Voodoo Ranger for values. I don’t buy Marmot tents for values. Values are nice, but they are not a brand’s day job.

If you are in a meeting with a brand shop and they’re going on and on about value-based brand planks, and charitable give-backs, politely bit them adieu. I’m sure they’re wonderful, generous people, but they have, likely, never build a resolute brand.

Peace.

PS. Charity work and sustainability are important, they are just not brand planks. For examples write steve@whatstheidea.com.

 

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

I’ve done a good deal of brand work with startups.  It’s not the easiest work but it is exciting because a great deal of the planning takes place “beyond the dashboard.” When I break out the “24 Questions,” (the follow the money questions) there’s not a lot of history to discuss. No last year’s earnings. No market segments. Just lots of nos and nones. (Note: Beyond the dashboard planning refers to tabula rasa planning, contrasting with the more common “rearview mirror” or “side view mirror” planning.)

And let’s not even start talking about how founders, especially in the tech space, can change strategy. Like underwear. More disciplined startup founders may change business strategy only once or twice. Sometimes a meandering proof-of-concept is the culprit, e.g., you build a brand around family doctors and specialists want to purchase, or you focus on ecommerce and people keep paying you for search. Shit happens.

The more flighty founders (the underwear changers) can be influenced by the last meeting they were in; say, an investor or a key industry blogger. (Been there, learned from that.)

But startups are a good training grounds for brand planners. Planners can have a powerful influence on direction. Even if founders don’t abide   It creates structure for them. Yeses and Nos. Ones and Zeroes. 

If you are a brand planner, you need to bracket your experience with some startups. Trust me.

Peace.

 

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

I’ve never used the word inchoate in a blog post before. Its definition is hard to remember, as is its pronunciation. I means “not fully formed” or “partially in existence.”  Okay, okay you know where this is going. Am I that transparent?

Most brands use inchoate brand strategy. Everyone says that have a brand strategy. Everyone believes in their logical minds, they have a thing called a brand — comprising a name, logo, and a Ramblin Jack Elliot value proposition. But were you to ask for an articulation of that strategy, in words, on a piece of paper, they’ll want to change the subject.  Ask marketing directors at service companies and B2B companies and it gets worse. You are likely to get push back about brands being for packaged goods. So “nope.”

With the disintermediation of sales and marketing, due in part to Google and the web, brands left unmanaged are brands without endurance.

Brand strategy sets direction for product, experience and messaging. It provides guardrails. Consumers understand brand strategy. They can articulate it, just like they can articulate words from an ad campaign. “We are farmers…” But only when clear. When managed.

Inchoate brand strategy is the enemy. Fix it.

Peace.  

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Discipline

Brand strategy is, in a word, discipline. I define brand strategy as an organizing principle for product, experience and messaging; that’s all fine and good. But if the paper strategy isn’t actualized by management and marketing, all is for naught. As someone who came up in the ad business, I know that getting work approved is the financial goal. Getting good work approved is the business goal. And in all the day-to-day management of those processes, holding to strategy often gets overlooked. That’s the ad business. On the marketing side, it’s even more complicated. More moving parts. So adherence to strategy isn’t easy. Business strategy is “make more money.” Brand strategy is “make more people love the brand, so you can make more money.”

It takes disciple during all the marketing horse trading to hold to a brand strategy. Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the according to Mike Tyson. That’s how it is with brand strategy. Everybody has a brand strategy until they get punched in the face. 

Strong brand is a most critical KPI. (Imagine if you changed your name every year.) It sets direction and it sets expectation. Disciplined brand strategy undergirds all successful brands.  Checkmate.

Peace.    

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,