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Brand strategy is an organizing principle that gives brand managers a “go-no go” guide for product, experience and messaging. It makes branding easy.
Nicholas Kristof in the NYT today was talking about the social entrepreneurs attending Davos and how refreshing they were to have around. He was poo-pooing consumerists who are all about the money.
Doing “good” in a commercial sense is smart strategy. In my practice, when I’m looking at care-abouts and god-ats, I try to plot and push brand planks that are socially positive. It’s not hard to do, and it can’t be forced, but it butts up against the nature of what makes humans humans.
When a cigarette ad choses to shoot a photo at the top of a mountain on a bluebird day amongst cottony snow drifts, it’s hitting our natural beauty button. When a box of diapers shows an amazing toddler smile, it hits a warm, nurture button. But advertising which use positive imagery to cloud our judgement about what is “good” is disingenuous. And it give marketing a bad name.
A brand strategy, built with brand planks supporting positive social ideals is deeply human. And enduring.
Tags: an organizing principle for product experience and messaging, brand planks for good, Brand Strategy, care-abouts, care-abouts and good-ats, diaper advertising, enduring brand ideals, good ats, whats the idea, whatstheidea
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.
Tags: adherence in branding, an organizing principle for product experience and messaging, Brand Strategy, business strategy, discipline in branding, disciplined brand strategy undergirds all successful brands, Mike Tyson quote, whats the idea, whatstheidea
I’ve written a lot about leaders and their role in brand building. When in the presence of a great leader you can feel it. In the presence of a faux leader, the same. I’ve been a good leader and a poor leader and all the time it’s just me. Why the difference? Why the variability?
There are times to use the pimp hand and times for succor. Knowing which to use and when are key. I just write off the variability to being human. To being fallible. Learn. Learn constantly and keep leading.
Brand don’t have brains. So brand leadership isn’t as hard. With a good brand strategy in place – brand strategy defined as an organizing principle for product, experience and messaging – brand leadership becomes easy. A brand is either on or it’s off. No emotions, no jealousy, no envy. Just one claim and three proof planks.
With a good brand strategy in place, even (human) corporate leadership is easier. As I said earlier this week, brand strategy is like penicillin.
Tags: an organizing principle for product experience and messaging, brand building, Brand leadership, brands and leaders, corporate leadership, whats the idea, whatstheidea
I’ve been talking to a magician about doing some branding work for him. We chatted about the Is-Does – what a brand is and brand a brand does – something that is not as necessary for a magician as it is for, say, a startup. But there are many flavors of magician. So finding your magic sweet spot, is important in so far as positioning. Cards? Illusion? Big stage? Escape?
As we talked, I realized that a performance-based brand (an act really) may require slightly more scope than a company. If a brand strategy is “an organizing principle for product, experience and messaging,” then the proofs of the brand claim may include, things like introductory music. It could also include costume, staging, lighting, and lots of other things I’ve never thought about as elements of a brand plan. It’s rather exciting, actually. The unknowns are aplenty. Kind of like magic.
Should be fun. Peace.
Tags: an organizing principle for product experience and messaging, Brand Strategy, brand strategy for a magician, branding isn’t magic., Is-Does, magic, what a brand is and what a brand does, whats the idea, whatstheidea
I’m going out on a limb here to say the majority of marketing buildables, e.g., ads, websites, PR plans, research studies, and content marketing are created sans a brand brief.
The tendency for agencies to work off a brand brief is much greater than for one-off contractors, but even they tend to use a campaign briefs or tactical briefs. Whose fault is this? Clients. It’s the client who provides the input…and the approvals. It’s the client who needs to have an organizing principle for product, experience and messaging (aka brand strategy). It is the client who needs to codify it and make it sharable.
Smart ad agents/contractors ask clients “Do you have a brand brief?,” but know the answer is “no.” Every company has a website. How many of those writers and coders worked from a brand brief? Every company has an ad. Same question. Every marketer will tell you they have a brand. 95% of those people can’t articulate that brand in a clear, concise way. They don’t have a brief.
Tags: an organizing principle for product experience and messaging, brand briefs, Brand Strategy, marketing without a brand brief, whats the idea, whatstheidea
Brand strategy is a bit like plumbing. The theory is nice but it’s the real pipes and engineering that carry the water. I say this because when I read or see many people interviewed about branding they often answer with authority, but generically. Sure brands need an organizing principle for product, experience and messaging. Sure they need visual and style directives. Of course, they need to promote values that help sell and satisfy. But the real business of branding can only be discussed in depth, with alacrity, when the strategy itself is known.
To ask a so-called brand expert questions about branding or tactics, sans actual strategy, is like asking president Trump about policy. All you get is “wonderfuls” or “disasters.” You don’t get meaningful, actionable insight. To going back to the original plumbing metaphor, you get discussion about pipes, elbows, resin and leaks. Brand experts, me included, need to dole out advice citing actual strategic examples. Not generics.
Tags: an organizing principle for product experience and messaging, Brand Strategy, brand strategy examples, donald trump, 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
There are a number of brand strategy consultants out there I hold in high regard. They totally get insights and market conditions, are quick studies in business categories, have keen understanding of meaningful metrics, and possess indefatigable bullshit barometers. Sadly, I’m seeing a trend among this crew where they are reinventing and repositioning themselves away from pure brand work into other aligned areas. Customer experience. Team optimization. Digital transformation. Culture plotting.
Why is this?
Well, that’s what the market sparks to. Most marketers and business owners don’t think they need a brand strategy. They want measurable results on sales. Higher top line and lower bottom lines. What they don’t understand is that those things are directly tied – or can be tied – to a smart brand strategy. When you define brand strategy as “an organizing principle for product, experience and messaging” you begin to understand how brand strategy can impact bottom lines. And top lines.
Tomorrow I’ll share some business metrics side-by-side with brand metrics. I encourage you to tell me which are more actionable.
Tags: an organizing principle for product experience and messaging, brand strategist, business metrics versus brand metrics, Culture plotting, customer experience, Digital transformation, Team optimization, whats the idea, whatstheidea