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When I ask new clients “What is your product strategy?” I get a funny look. Typically, they respond with something like “Make the best possible product, meet the specific needs of the customer, and provide it with a level of service the exceeds their expectation.” Or some such goulash.
Even service companies will use similar words.
Once that gibberish is out of the way, I dig down deep on product (or service) — past the derma to the muscle, the circulatory system and bone. I’m looking for tangibility. What makes your beer taste different? And don’t say the natural ingredients. We always get there, but it takes time. There is always a leverageable differentiator…or four.
Once the client and I agree on a product strategy, it’s time to ask about the experience strategy. And finally the messaging strategy. Some teeth-pulling may be required to get actual answers, but it’s necessary. When all three strategies are on the table we look to see if there is alignment.
Once misalignment is acknowledged, work can begin. Organization can begin. Brand strategy can begin.
Tags: Brand Strategy, misaligned brand strategy, misaligned business strategies, Misaligned business strategy, whats the idea, whatstheidea
Kylie Jenner’s makeup sold $420 million in 18 months with minimal advertising beyond her Instagram posts. Her lip kits and eyeshadow palettes, at one point, retailed for $27 and $42 respectively. At a street fair on Long Island teen girls were falling over themselves to buy the stuff. The police showed up after a while, arrested some entrepreneurial boys hawking the cosmetics, all of which turned out to all be fake. The teens didn’t seem to care.
Kylie got some game. Kylie has a brand. Just ask my SnapChat stock, which lost mega value when she dinged the platform after it updated the interface.
If you are not Kylie Jenner and there is not pent up demand for anything and everything you touch, you need a brand strategy. In fact, in 15 years when Kylie isn’t hot (commercially), she may rue the fact she didn’t establish an organizing principle for her brand. Kids!
Creating brands out of people is hard. Creating brands for companies and products is easy. Claim and proof is the fasted, most enduring way.
If you are interested in some success stories and examples, write Steve@whatstheidea.com
Tags: brand, brand claim and proof, Brand Strategy, Brands, claim and proof, Kylie jenner, kylie jenner cosmetics, pent up demand, snapchat, steve@whatstheidea, firstname.lastname@example.org, whats the idea, whatstheidea
The Masters golf tournament began about 84 years ago. Before Tiger. Before titanium drivers. Before World War II. It has become the most famous golf tournament extant. The brand management of The Masters has been impeccable, with the exception of the diversity issues surrounding membership in the Augusta National Golf Club. I’m told candy bars have to be packaged in green wrapper in case one accidently blows into the view of TV cameras. All wires are buried underground. Jim Nance. As much as the technology changes, as much as people change, The Masters remains the same: a venerable sports institution.
Consumer products Pilsner Urguell, Coca-Cola, and Tide Detergent have stood the test of time as brands – all through great brand management. It is yet to be seen, however, if tech companies will learn how to last. Bell Labs, perhaps the first (American) tech company, is still around but seems, to me at least, on its last legs. Bell Labs began as AT&T, then went to Lucent, which was bought by Alcatel and is now owned by Nokia. Not great brand management.
If Facebook wants to me more than Netscape and MySpace, it needs to put in play a long-term brand strategy. People can’t live without Facebook. Now. Brand strategy is important for service companies and tech companies. Facebook needs to step up.
Tags: alcatel, at&t, bell labs, Brand Strategy, brand strategy for tech companies, cocal cola, facebook, lucent, netscape, nokia, pilsner urquell, The Masters, whats the idea, whatstheidea
I make paper for a living. People pay big paper (money) for my paper, brand strategies. Brand strategy is what my mentor Peter Kim would call a “selling idea,” an idea that predisposes consumers to a product or service, e.g., “the world’s information in one click” (Google), “refreshment” (Coca-Cola), “for doers not browsers” (ZDNet).
To get to the idea one has to process a lot of information, typically presented on paper in the form of a brief. Briefs are my output to clients. But they are buying an idea. That’s the honeypot.
I attribute my ability to craft good briefs to the proper creation and use of epigrams.
plural noun: epigrams
- a pithy saying or remark expressing an idea in a clever and amusing way.
||witticism, quip, jest, pun, bon mot; More
saying, maxim, adage, aphorism, apophthegm;
informalone-liner, wisecrack, (old) chestnut
“a collection of humorous epigrams from old gravestones”
o a short poem, especially a satirical one, having a witty or ingenious ending.
My briefs are filled with them. Hidden in a narrative, serial story. Clients find meaning and inspiration in my epigrams. They are word plays about them, about their products. They are memorable. It’s how I sell the idea. It’s how I come up with the idea.
The secret sauce. Epigrams.
Tags: Brand ideas, Brand Strategy, coca-cola brand stategy, epigram, google brand strategy, peter kim, whats the idea, whatstheidea, zdnet
Fake news has crept into our lives and looks to have altered the landscape of American a politics. This, thanks to some horrid manipulation by politically minded hackers. Hackers who used a Facebook poll to mine data then serve up false stories that fanned the fires of conservatism. If you were on the fence about whether or not to vote for the first female president ever and read the Pizzagate story, it may have pushed you off that fence. Even when the story was proven false.
In the advertising business, you couldn’t make a claim on a TV ad without proof. Proof submitted to the network “Standards and Practices” department. But the web has no such department. You can fake your news all the way into the living room of your most likely-to-be-effected target.
I’d love to be a brand planner who could just make up proof as I went along. You see proof, 0be it true or false, is what convinces people. It’s how you get people to believe a claim. Those who have decided to undermine elections understand the role of proof. Beware.
Tags: Brand Strategy, claim and proof, fake proof, pizzagate, proof in branding, whats the idea, whatstheidea
I run a humble little brand consultancy. Marketing consultancies and business consultancies are way more easily found if you Google them. Same if you search the topics on Amazon. But I chose to look at improved business metrics from the brand standpoint — ergo the “humble” reference. Not many in search of more revenue or margin are thinking brand. For me, brand is the strategy — defined as “An organizing principle for product, experience and messaging.”
I find brand strategists to be divided among the most and least sophisticated people in the marketing business. Those who get it, can redistribute marketing wealth. Those who don’t, sell you a new logo. Both types of brand strategist have frameworks for their output: qualitative and quantitative research as bedrock, a brief as the worksheet, and some type of presentation sizzle, to “get to yes.”
When I look at my business and the businesses of other brand strategists, what separates the good from the bad can be described in one word: Instinct. What ideas, words, market positions and images are best suited to generate consumer fealty. It’s that simple. Framework easy. Instinct hard.
Tags: An organizing principle fort product experience and messaging, brand consultancy, brand instinct, Brand Strategy, definition of brand strategy, instinct in branding, redistribute marketing wealth, whats the idea, whatstheidea
How can you tell when a B2B company doesn’t have a brand strategy? When it plays Benefits Bingo on the home page.
I’ve been after a prospect in the insurance space for years. I did some amazing brand strategy work with a company contact a while back and she gets how brand strategy can focus a company, internally and externally, for success. She’s not the problem. Her management team is. When last we spoke she told me they had decided to go with another company for a brand exploratory. Someone familiar to a person in the C-suite.
I visited the website today and was greeted by a battery of words dropped out of pastel boxes: Innovation, Agility, Expertise and Engagement. Also on the home page, pictures of a women, a man, a downhill skier and hands on a tug-of-war rope. Got it?
Do you know how many B2B companies use Benefits Bingo on their home page? Thirty to thirty five percent would be my guess. Como se lazy? Como se doltish?
Can you imagine your best sales person out on a new client call checking in with the receptionist, asking to meet the buyer by saying “Tell them the innovation, agility, expertise and engagement” salesman is here.”
Tags: Benefits bingo, Brand Strategy, poor brand strategy, whats the idea, whatstheidea
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.
Tags: An organizing principle for product, Brand Strategy, experience and messaging, whats the idea, whatstheidea
I love this quote I wrote a few years back for a presentation to Gentiva Health Services, now owned by Kindred Healthcare: “Campaigns come and go, a powerful brand idea is indelible.” It’s so true.
Ad campaigns get tired. Were I to guess, I’d venture the length of an average ad campaign is 2.5 years. Why is that? Brand managers and agency creators get tired of it. They burn out. Also on the agency side, there’s a little “not invented here” syndrome.
Campaigns are an expression of the brand brief – at least they are supposed to be. Smart marketers who change the ad campaign stick to the brand brief; they just sing it in a different color. But not all marketers follow this logic. For many, when the campaign changes the brand brief changes. And the brand becomes a moving target. Agencies love to change the brief, and unseasoned client marketers let them. The result is the dissipation of muscle memory around the brand claim. And everyone must start anew. Market share flails. First positively, then negatively. And in 2.5 years, it’s time for a new campaign.
My best brand strategies last decades. Ad agencies come and go, marketing directors come and go, the brand strategy remains. Indelible.
Tags: brand indelibility, Brand Strategy, Gentiva health, how to make a brand strategy last, kindred Health, whats the idea, whatstheidea