An organizing principle for product

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First question, “Do you have a brand?”  Most marketers will answer yes.

Second questions, “Do you have a brand strategy?”  Those same people are likely to pause then offer a less-than-emphatic yes.

Third question, “Can you articulate your brand strategy?”  This is where the homina-homina kicks in.

It’s a simple fact that most brand practitioners (meaning client side marketing or brand managers) have brands but not a tight articulation of strategy. Most agencies (ad, digital, PR, direct) also don’t follow a tight articulation of brand strategy — because one doesn’t exist. Brand strategy is the least scientific business tool in commerce. It’s viewed as an ideal. Not a framework.

Brand strategy is an organizing principle for product, experience and messaging; all three of which are marketing’s domain. Brand strategy framework comprises one claim, three proof planks.

Ask Interbrand, Landor, Future Brand, Siegel+Gale, Lippincott, Brand Union and Wolff Olins what their framework for brand strategy is and all you are likely to get is brand-babble, talk about process and case studies. They are long on smart people, insights, approaches, logos and style guides, but not framework. No business-winning binary (either you are “on” or “off”) approach to building a brand.

When you have a true framework that shows when work is on or off strategy, you have found the brand building grail.

Peace|

 

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For most small businesses the name is the brand. I suspect, that is why small businesses remain small. For mid-size businesses, the name is also the brand, but there tends to be a need for more marketing and sales support; there is stationery, a website, boiler plate copy for press releases, a need to explain company ethos to new hires. In other words, the need for branding elements.  Whoever creates the elements is the de facto brand manager. When it falls to the CEO, it is probably on target strategically, but inelegant.  In a mid-size company, if there is a marketing person, the branding elements have a chance. 

Large companies have marketing people and marketing departments. They are awash in branding elements.  Smart large company marketing departments have brand strategies. Most do not. A brand strategy is “an organizing principle for product, experience and messaging.”  Every company can benefit from a brand strategy. From a one-woman shop to a billion-dollar healthcare system.

Beautiful things can come from disorganization – from random assemblages. But not brands. Not brands.

Peace.

 

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A couple of years ago a smallish branding shop contacted me about helping creating a strategy for a division of a top 5 consulting company.  The master brand is known to all and likely has a brand strategy (maybe not) but the division we were helping offered a very complicated, layered value proposition in health and security.  Read security as in homeland security, not home and property protection.

The ultimate deliverable was a long form brochure, changes to the division website content and some presentation pages explaining in somewhat lay terns, what the group did and did so well.

I read all their decks, interviewed a number of consultants from around the world, performed the due diligence one does when sanity checking the Kool-Aid drinkers, and came up with a tight idea and organizing principle – a division brand strategy.

But then came the hard part. Consulting the consultants. Getting them to organize their “product, experience and messaging” around a claim and 3 proof planks (a division brand strategy).  Consultants are great at giving advice, but are they any good at taking it?  

Momma never said this job would be easy!  She was right.

Peace.                                                                  

 

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There’s a famous David Belasco quote that goes something like this ‘If you can’t fit your idea on the back of a business card, you don’t have a clear idea.’ David was an impresario of Broadway plays.

A number of years ago I worked at a web start-up run but a mad code scientist. He was a drag-and-drop genius. Like many entrepreneurs he fancied himself the head of marketing (my job). He wrote a draft of the home page copy which my pops would have called a “doggy’s dinner” of claims, goals and marko-babble. Suffice it to say it wouldn’t fit on the back of a business card. That didn’t keep us from winning Robert Scoble’s Demo of the Year.  It did, however, keep us from becoming bah-millionaires (billionaire slash millionaire). due to feature creep and poor consumer usability.

A good brand strategy – defined as an organizing principle for product, experience and messaging – will fit on the back of a business card. It might not make you a millionaire, but it will make you an articulate marketer. And hopefully it will make your customers similarly articulate about the product. Of course that’s in the execution…which will be a topic for another day.

Peace.

 

 

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