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A growing industry is taking hold in the marketing world fueled by one-off new media helpers. Packaged as consultants, they offer social media, website, email marketing and online advertising tactics to those interested in spicing up marketing returns. Check your Twitter feed for 140 character posts that contain primary numbers such as “7 steps to, 5 surefire rules, 3 critical digital mistakes…” to easily identify these tactical helpers. People crave this stuff and it sells.
But I giggle at these tactically focused sales pitches. Tactics-palooza only works if the basic groundwork of brand strategy is set. Brand strategy must be in place for any tactic to be maximized. It’s my experience, especially with mid-size companies, that this is just not happening. Mid-size and small businesses are studying content marketing, mobile ad buys, Google AdWords, responsive design and the like, without understanding how best to position their companies for maximum result.
It’s a tactical shit show. A shiny, not-so-new thing that has captured marketing dollars with little, if any, effectiveness. It’s ingredient buying without the recipe.
Tags: Brand Strategy, tactical shit show, tactics-palooza, twitter marketing, whats the idea, whatstheidea
It’s debatable how many companies actually have brand strategies. They have brands, products, services, mission statements, taglines, marketing plans and ads. But brand strategies? Organizing principles for product, experience and messaging? No so much. Many marketers have de facto brand strategies, not codified as “one claim and three proof planks.” They may take the form of a big “idea” with some provable supports. Or a de facto brand strategy may come from an ad, or highly effective promotion. Perhaps a marketing document drawn up during a peak sales period. But often, as can be the case with real brand strategies, de facto versions drift away.
I do a lot of training and it’s my belief that the root cause of powerful brands is training. Everyone at the company needs to know the brand strategy. Not just the brand managers. Geo-technical engineers need to know their brand strategies. Kitchen remodelers need to know it. Truck drivers who deliver the goods, cardiothoracic surgeons who work for the system. Everybody.
When everyone is trained on brand strategy, when management spends time and money reinforcing it, a brand takes on a life of its own.
Tags: Brand Strategy, brand strategy training, brand training, de facto brand strategy, whats the idea, whatstheidea
Coca-Cola’s key good-at is “refreshment.” There are few, few things better than a cold Coke on a warm day after a workout. And when the consumer care-about is refreshment, a great product choice is Coke. Remember, brand strategy is about good-ats and care-abouts.
Refreshment, rather than, longtime advertising attribute “happiness,” is an experiential, product-based proof. It’s a product reality. Coke’s current advertising tagline (brand line) is “Taste The Feeling.” An amalgam of cheerleading and emotion. It is not a product based care-about or good-at. It’s advertising based.
Don’t get me wrong, I love advertising. Dave Trott teaches me the way to do it well it to connect. But connecting with the art is not the same as connecting with the product. Of course it’s harder to create compelling stories and poetry around products – but that’s the job.
Brand planners need to focus the work on product-based care-abouts and good-ats. Coke should know better.
Tags: Brand proof, Brand Strategy, coca cola, coke, coke brand strategy, coke refreshment brand idea, dave trott, experiential proof, whats the idea, whatstheidea
In my brand strategy presentation to prospects there’s a slide on the “fruit cocktail effect,” what happens when you try to be too many things as a brand. Nobody would argue, in fruit cocktail the pear tastes like the peach which tastes like the cherries, grapes and pineapple. One boring, sweet syrupy mess.
I was in a BJs yesterday and noticed this little device. It is a multipurpose snow removal tool. But who could name it? It offers a brush, ice scraper, squeegee, ice chipper, telescoping handle, detachable handle and a few other odds and ends. To accommodate all the functionality and utility at a price point attractive to most consumers, the thing is make of cheap plastic. If it lasts two now storms I’d be surprised. The point of the post, though, is what to call this thing so it has a at least a slim chance to live on and evolve into a viable product? Good names follow the Is-Does rule (what a product Is and what it Does). There just no way to name this thing. I believe the box called this thing a snow brush.
They didn’t even try.
Sound familiar? I may have read it somewhere before.
Does The New York Times executive director Dean Baquet have to embrace change when ad revenue at the paper paper is off double digits? Does Mark Zuckerberg have to change HR bereavement policy to stay more competitive as the “new thing” luster (but not revenue) wears off the Facebook brand? Does Michael Dowling, Northwell Health CEO, have to embrace change when facing an insurance market that has to set prices for 2018 in less than three month?
For a professional that spends a lot of time looking at brand and business heritage, mining the perceptual depths of consumer, one might think I don’t embrace change. That I’m not incentivized to embrace change. You’d be wrong. Tomorrow is the only day I care about.
Sure I look for business proof that feeds the framework of brand strategy. Sure I do some rearview mirror planning. But tomorrow is “beyond the dashboard.” Future revenue is tomorrow. All earthly business delights are to be found tomorrow.
Tags: beyond the dashboard, Dean baquet, Earthly business delights, mark zuckerberg, Michael dowling, Northwell health, whats the idea, whatstheidea
Alphabet, the holding company parent of Google, just announced earnings and they were amazing. Microsoft, too, announced earnings with which they were quite happy following some tumultuous, leggy years. I’m no economist so the difference between revenue, net income and post-tax profit are a bit beyond me but I will make one observation, software is back and cloud computing is the haps, to quote Dave Robicheaux’s pal Cletus.
Of course, we still have to make stuff we can sit on (furniture), wear, eat and communicate with (telecoms), but it seems the business of hosting and information access is as profitable as ever. The margins associated with software and cloud computing are killer. The margins on content aren’t bad but a distant second. Companies like Google and Microsoft are closer to “pure play” software and hosting companies than most. Salesforce.com too. Companies like Verizon, on the border of a deal with Yahoo! (content), and Netflix, smitten by Hollywood, are drifting away from their core – software and hosting.
For investors, code and iron are looking more and more attractive.
Tags: alphabet earnings, code and iron, Dave robiceaux, googkle earnings, google earnings, hosting companies, Microsoft earnings, Netflix. Yahoo!, salesforce, software and hosting companies, Verizon, whatstheidea
I’m not against storytelling. It’s an important part of my business. When collecting information to build brand strategy I hunt for stories and often tell stories to get others to open up. But in and of itself, a story won’t do shit for a brand. Especially, if it’s off-piste.
Storytelling is a pop marketing topic many brand consultants rest upon. My “brand-ar” goes off when I hear someone use the term; it suggests they’re blowing marko-babble smoke.
Think of storytelling as the code and brand strategy as the app. The app being the meaningful, useful tool.
Brand strategy done right is about claim and proof — packaged into a discrete organizing principle for product, experience and messaging.
Stories and storytelling are communications tools, not strategy tools.
Tags: Brand-ar, claim and proof, claim and proof array, marko-babble, off-piste, one claim and three proof planks, organizing principle for product experience and messaging, story telling in branding, story telling in marketing, storytelling in branding, storytelling in marketing, whats the idea, whatstheidea
No one likes someone who is “Always Right.” That is, unless you are in a marketing meeting.
I have not worked for many people who earned this sobriquet — they are certainly not legion — but from those who have, I have learned a lot. The Always Right do not cudgel you with their views, they lead you; offering logic and support. And even when they drift into subjective supports you believe them because, well, they believe them.
The Always Right are not flawless. They just seem so. They know the data. They know the science. They understand the business. And they share that knowledge. That said, no one is perfect. It is marketing, after all.
The polar opposite of the Always Right is the “vacillator.” The “consensus builder.” The “circuitous discusser.”
Aspire to be Always Right. Listen, learn, process and decide. Don’t spout before you’re ready. Don’t spout when you are not sure. But have a position.
Tags: Always right, whats the idea, whatstheidea
Most brand strategists are insight doctors. Insight detectives. Consumer behavior and motivation are their daily gruel. It’s a wonderful living. It’s like being a psychotherapist but without all the focus on negatives. I am a brand strategist of a different color. Certainly I can find insights with the best of them. Also I can write actionable projects briefs but my real job is in casting the master brand strategy. I plan the house while most brand strategists decorate the rooms.
A large brand, on any given day, may have 20 assignments in play across 5 agencies. That’s a lot of briefs. It’s not effective to have so many re-inventors and it’s not cost-effective.
I don’t want to put anyone out of work here but with a good master brand brief (aka brand brief) the need for strategy soldiers across agencies is lessened. And the work becomes tighter.
I went to a Conagra meeting on the Banquet brand a few years ago and there were probably 6 different agency strategists in the room. Silly.
Tags: banquet brand, Brand Strategy, conagra, master brand strategy, tactical brand briefs, whats the idea, whatstheidea