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I was reading about the NY Public Library yesterday and its Beaux Arts design, which led me to look up Beaux Arts (pronounced Boh-Zahr) in Wikipedia. Love Wikipedia. The Parisian Beaux Arts school was big in the late 1800s lasting until the first quarter of the 1900s in the U.S. As architecture goes this stuff blows away today’s glass and steel. As I read I wondered why the word is so often used in brand strategy.
Brand Architecture, me thinks, borrows too much from its building architecture paternity. In building architectural classifications are a somewhat open set of guidelines and schemes and materials. In brand planner, practitioners also have guidelines and tools. Many individualized.
I work in master brand planning, the one that drives subsequent briefs and tactics so I like to stay away from this interpretive guideline thing. I like to be extremely explicit. Brand Strategy in my practice is one claim, three proof planks. The marketing and comms are either on claim or they are not. It support a proof planks or it does not. Brand strategy is either open or closed. No room for interpretation. No schools. No architecture within which to operate. Is and 0s. On or off.
This marketing environment is not limited. It does not lack for creativity. All buildings do not look the same. They are just built to last. Flourishes yes. Ephemera no.
Tags: 1 claim 3 proof planks, Brand architecture, brand architecture defined, brand strategy trumps brand architecture, ny public library, one claim three proof planks, whats the idea, whatstheidea
If asked to provide one word that defines my business practice – one word that drives my philosophy of brand planning it would have to be “proof.”
Proof is the most tangible of marketing words. And the most tangible building block in brand strategy.
Proof trumps subjective opinion. It overrides marketing insouciance. It answers that age-old creative brief question “What is the reason to believe?”. Teach a man to prove and you build a brand for a lifetime. In brand strategy, of course, you need to organize your proof; into no more than three proof planks. Random proof becomes a grade school science fair.
The best framework for brand strategy is one claim and three proof planks. Get the claim right then make the proof fit like a glove.
Here’s an exercise: Spend time studying your marketing materials. See if you can discern the proof from the blather. From the self-interest babble. Underline or highlight the proof. See what you’ve got. Does it focus you?
Tags: 1 claim 3 proof planks, 1 claim and 3 proof planks, claim and proof, one claim and three proof planks, one claim three proof planks, proof in brand planning, proof in brand strategy, teach a man to prove, whats the idea, whatstheidea
Probably the most overused work in marketing the last 5 years is disruption. Maybe the last 10 years. If you were to put all the marketing conference speeches given since 2010 into a cull rack and block from falling through the ones with “disruption” in the title, you’d have a stack a mile high. Google SXSW speeches, book titles or blog posts.
Do you want to know something that is truly disruptive? Brand strategy. Huh? Brand strategy. Everybody has one they’ll tell you, but no one can articulate it. Not clearly. Because brand strategy means so many things to so many people, it has become a nonentity. A quagmire within a morass.
Here’s the deal: A brand strategy is an “Organizing principle for product, experience and messaging.” Nothing less. The framework for such is “One Claim and Three Proof Planks.” Nothing less. And certainly, nothing more.
If you’d like to truly disrupt your business. If you’d like to make clear and easy marketing decisions. If you’d like to measure effectiveness with almost binary simplicity, consider a brand strategy. (And this is not a packaged goods thing. It’s a marketing thing.)
Tags: 1 claim 3 proof planks, 1 claim and 3 proof planks, an organizing principle for product experience and messaging, Brand Strategy, disruption, one claim and three proof planks, one claim three proof planks, whats the idea, whatstheidea
Centuries ago, well-to-do European families had family crests. Crests were actually helmet ornaments for you historians, but for the purpose of this post I’m going to make synonymous crests with heraldry or paper heraldry. Here is a Wikipedia definition of Heraldry.
The beauty and pageantry of heraldic designs allowed them to survive the gradual abandonment of armour on the battlefield during the seventeenth century. Heraldry has been described poetically as “the handmaid of history”, “the shorthand of history”, and “the floral border in the garden of history”. In m bit more modesty. Hee hee.
Brand managers, ask yourselves to develop a crest for your brand. What pictures would you use? What are your brands’ most famous and motivatinodern times, heraldry is used by individuals, public and private organizations, corporations, cities, towns, and regions to symbolize their heritage, achievements, and aspirations.
The brand planning rigor here at What’s The Idea? works hard to identify “heritage, achievement and aspiration.” These things are the groundwork for brand planning and contribute to the “one claim and three proof plank” strategy construct. The claim and proof array align nicely with the crests and heraldic designs of yore…but, perhaps, with ag achievements?
Tags: 1 claim 3 proof planks, Brand crest, brand heraldry, brand planning rigor, one claims three proof planks, whats the idea, whatstheidea
I’m always on the lookout for arguments supporting brand strategy. A brand strategy, as I define it, being an “organizing principle for product, experience and messaging.”
Many marketing plans have firm business and sales objectives: increase stock price 4 points, slow market share by 1% per annum, reduce materials cost by 2%, increase sales 150%. These are important, hard metrics. Metrics with which no one can argue.
Accomplishing objectives is the purview of strategy. In marketing this is where things get problematic. Many marketers go to the marketing playbook. If there was a tactics store (An agency? A consultant?), they would shop there — given the money. Typical strategies one might find in a tactical plan are: customer acquisition, increased sales-per-customer, improved retention, increased efficiency in production or marketing. All are business imperatives. Sadly, they’re generic. Everybody has them in their marketing plans.
Where the road curves toward the light is with brand strategy. Brand strategy (one claim, three proof planks) provides the “how.” Patton’s strategy was “kill more bastards than your foe.” Generic. But his brand strategy equivalent included things like “outflank, tank destroyers, thrust line, etc.” Specific to the situation. And all actionable.
I’m not going to go all Sun Tzu on you but will ask “What elements of your strategy are unique to you, differentiated, and non-generic? What elements can every employee understand and personally act-upon? These are the elements of the brand strategy — the how. Know more how.
Tags: 1 claim 3 proof planks, Brand Strategy, business objectives, business strategy, customer acquisition, improved retention, increased efficiency in production or marketing, increased sales-per-customer, Marketing objectives, Marketing Strategy, marketing tips, one clam three proof planks, patton strategy, Sun Tzu, whats the idea, whatstheidea, where the road curves toward the light is in brand strategy
The hardest part of quantifying the success of brand strategy (1 claim, 3 proof planks) is the act of tying measurement of “care-abouts” and “good-ats” (the proofs upon which brand value are built) to sales. I call this pursuit: Return On Strategy (ROS).
Back in the 90s while working on AT&T Business Communications Services, fighting off MCI (a smart competitors buying share with discount prices), we knew that messaging the right combination of “competitive price” (within 10% of MCI), “network reliability” and “innovative telecom tools” (the 3 planks) would result in added business users. If market perceptions of this trifecta were offset by MCI, they started winning new account “adds.” The trick was meting out the right combination of planks with our media budget. We were using quantitative research to gauge attitudes and tie them to actions/sales.
This is the way one does ROS. But numbers about attitudes can lie. Nate Cohn, The New York Times version of Nate Silver, mea culpa’ed today about Donald Trump. He spent a 1,000 words explaining why the numbers lied and Trump beat the odds.
I often write about “proof” in my blog posts. And about “deeds” — the actual activities that feed the care-about and good-ats. This line of thinking and study is where I need to spend more time. As was the case in Mr. Cohn’s explanation of Mr. Trump, attitudes and numbers can mislead. So I’m off to look beyond attitudes and on to awareness of deeds tied to sales. Should be interesting.
Tags: 1 claim 3 proof planks, AT&T business communications services, Brand Strategy, care-abouts, cohn, donald trump, good ats, MCI, Nate, nate silver, proof and deeds, return of strategy, ros, whats the idea, whatstheidea
The early Egyptians built with stone and what they built still stands. Shea Stadium was built in the 60s and had to be torn down. It was built with steel and cement. If you were to build a structure today that you wanted to last for 1,000 years what would you use? Perhaps someone will invent a new composite material for building construction that will last 500,000 years.
The materials with which we construct products – sugar in carbonated soft drinks, salt in French fries, silicon in computer chips – are seen as building blocks of brands. Yet, when I develop brand strategy (1 claim, 3 proof planks) the materials are secondary, perhaps tertiary. What the materials deliver is way more important.
During my exploration rigor I use a number of tools to mine insights as to “what customers want most” and what the product or service “does best.” Then with all the learning arrayed, I begin to boil down the elements into groups. The groups cluster and point to a common claim…of brand superiority or customer desire. So proof, in fact, comes before claim.
Rarely are materials the sole heroes of the proof planks; deeds and experiences often are. It may sounds backwards but it works for me.
Tags: 1 claim 3 proof planks, brand strategy development, brand strategy development process, brand strategy tips, brand strategy tools, one claim three proof planks, shea stadium, whats the idea, whatstheidea
UBER is doing a really neat promotion in NYC, tying in to the new Star Wars movie. It is making 8 Dodge Chargers, painted to look like Mattel Hot Wheels Star Wars Storm Trooper cars (white with distinctive black striping), available for free for the day, providing you use the appropriate promo code. It’s really cool for Dodge, whose cars become roving brand billboards, and it’s a nice way to get UBER some excellent pub.
The promo made me wonder though about UBER’s brand strategy. I’m not sure I know what it is at this point. And that’s often okay for a first-to-category company. Your Is-Does becomes the brand claim a la “Your Ride, On Demand.” But without a brand strategy (1 claim, 3 proof planks), it’s hard to decide if a promotion is making a deposit in the brand bank or a withdrawal. So this seems to me a promotion for promotion’s sake, not for strategy’s sake. Though I don’t know the Dodge Charger brand strategy, I’m feeling a proximity to it with this promotion. Storm troopers charge, no?
Start-ups and category pioneers need brand strategies. VCs should encourage this. It helps everyone make decisions about product, experience and messaging. UBER should have one.
Tags: 1 claim 3 proof planks, brand billboard, category pioneers, dodge brand strategy, dodge charger brand strategy, Is-Does, mattel hot wheels, one claim three proof planks, star wars promotions, uber, uber brand strategy, vcs and brand strategy, whats the idea, whatstheidea, your ride on demand
I came to a conclusion the other day while at the Griffin Farley Beautiful Minds competition in NYC. I decided my definition of brand planner is different from most other’s. Most feel a brand planner is a person who does strategy for individual projects, understanding the brand strategy and writing briefs for particular tactical projects. In a brand’s life there is one brand strategy yet scads of individual executions or communications supporting it. These executions give brand planners constant day jobs. My definition of a brand planner, however, is a macro definition. In my world, you write the brand strategy once and you are done. One tight brand strategy (1 claim, 3 proof planks) sets the “organizing principle” for life. The creative and the tactics then become ongoing expressions of the brand strategy.
I’m not talking about building Levittown here. There can and must be a crazy amount of creative inflections throughout, but the goal is to sell more stuff, to more, people more times at higher prices (thanks Sergio Zyman) using “a single claim and proof array.”
There is no doubt that the industry’s definition of brand planning – the ongoing supervision of a brand idea – is a solid one. The marketing and ad worlds are better places with planners around. But at What’s the Idea?, my vision is to teach marketers and creatives to fish. Using one amazing hook.
Tags: 1 claim 3 proof planks, Brand Strategy, brand strategy definition. Brand planner definition, Griffin Farley beautiful minds, levittown, organizing principle, sergio zyman, single claim and proof array, whats the idea, whatstheidea