brand spanking

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Brand planners are always observing. Always willing to learn. They crave learning. Part anthropologists – students of mankind – brand planners are also creative; it rubs off on them being around art directors, writers and creative directors. In addition to learning about consumers they must learn how to eroticize ideas for creative people.

margaret meadBrand planners are always on. They can’t afford to be depressed. They love brands, the lifeblood of commerce. They are always friendly, even in the face of haters. There are lessons to be learned from hating. (Brand Spanking, in fact, enables negative discussions.) Brand planners are good lovers. They’re exocentric – caring about others. They are not academics. They are humanists, realizing it’s not always about being right…more about being. Environments are of great interest to planners. Stim in any form.

Brand planners are paid to make money (for others) but are not motivated by money.

I didn’t know it at the time, but seeing Margaret Mead speak at the American Anthropology convention as a college kid, cast the die.

When was the die cast for you? Peace.

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So now that the business questions are out of the way and brand plan is set (the sausage making clients aren’t particularly fond of) we can begin to make “stuff.” The best way to make stuff is to present it in the form of a marketing communications plan. The plan recaps and toplines what was learned during the 24 Questions and organizes strategies, targets, messages and tactics based upon the brand plan. In the Behind the Curtain workshop I will share a marketing communications plan — key deliverable #3 for marketing consulting clients.

After the marcom plan review I will probably show a slide with 5 or 6 planning tools and let the room decide which they want to hear about. The Is-Does is a simple tool, kind of like an elevator speech, that helps explain what a brand is and what it does. Posters Vs. Pasters is a reductionist social media segmentation intended to improve virality and engagement. Twitch Point Planning is a digital age communications planning tool, the object of which is to move customers closer to a sale. Brand Spanking is qualitative research construct develop to knock market leaders down a peg. The Fruit Cocktail Effect is what happens when you lose focus. And ROS, or return on strategy, is a quant approach to proving value beyond tactics. I will leave 20 minutes for Q & A and the workshop will be done. Looking forward to it.




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Born Again.

T-Mobile and Sprint are in talks to merge. The two mobile carriers, each with 50 million U.S. subscribers, have well-established brands. What should the resulting brand be? Some might say T-Mobile has a little more cache, mostly due to smart, flashy CEO John Legere. Yet Sprint has been around for decades; America’s first all fiber optic network. Some brand and naming experts will suggest combining the two names into some clunky hybrid and go all “one plus one equals 3” on us. I say it time for a new name. A new mark. And a fresh start.

AT&T and Verizon are really strong brands. Each is spending hundreds of millions in advertising. The work is likeable, but shallow and noisy. It’s either campaign-for-campaign-sake or product showcase. People don’t love selling or advertising, they love brands. And AT&T and Verizon are missing this point.

The combined Sprint/T-Mobile brand has a chance to start from the ground up. Break the mold. Find the sweet spot customers care about and move the product and experience in that direction. Mr. Legere gets this with his moves to offer no contract mobile service. Sprint/T-Mobile should do a little brand spanking research – spank the AT&T and Verizon brands around and find some product and emotional weaknesses. Then write a killer brief and start with a new name.

Rebirth opportunities don’t come along that often. Peace.

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My political leanings are of a certain color. I tend to read editorialists that support my views and support and form my arguments.  That said, I do make an effort to read opposing views so as to round out my world. 

In brand planning, if you gather your facts mostly from the client extended family, from product users and agency acolytes, you are not being fair to the brand. That’s why focus groups are often conducted among non-users. That’s why I like to interview lapsed users.  In fact, I developed a focus group technique called brand spanking a number of years ago, where you bring in haters to bounce the brand around. Even among haters, a few will defend you (just to be contrary) and in those defenses often lie gold.

In politics, it’s not okay to be unbalanced. In brand planning it is heresy. (Notice I wrote this entire post without using the words “authentic” and “transparent.”  It can be done. Hee hee.


PS. When a kid, I wanted to name my ad agency Foster, Bias and Sales. It is okay to create bias, but not to be biased when developing a brand plan.

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