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Just finished reading a story in The New York Times about the Robin Hood restaurant chain in Spain run by Father Angel Garcia Rodriquez, who operates a pay-for establishment during breakfast and dinner only to serve the homeless for dinner. The dinner crowd is served by waiters and waitresses, on real plates, using nice cutlery, not plastic. For free. In addition to the charity, his wish is that the experience will engender hope in his nightly diners. This planned act of kindness is popular and successful and may be on its way to Miami, Florida.
Acts of kindness and selflessness create powerful feelings for all involved. Selling is not a human trait. Charity is. Every brand should ask itself “What is the nicest thing we have done for customers this year?” If the answer is a one-day-sale or a pre-printed holiday card the brand needs to reexamine its approach.
Planned acts of kindness should be requisite for all brands. The financial officers may not always see the value, but they’re not building brands. They are building bank accounts.
Tags: brand planning for charities, brand strategy tips, charity in brand strategy, father angel Garcia Rodriquez, Planned acts of kindness, robin hood restaurant in spain, whatstheidea
I help companies build brands by combing their business for evidence. Evidence is also proof but doesn’t turn into proof until later in the engagement — when we know what it’s proof of. (The “proof of what” is called the claim.) So at What’s The Idea? the brand exploratory is all about evidence.
If Kitchen Magic has remodeled 50,000 kitchens, that’s evidence. If Newsday provides more news coverage of Long Island than any other news source, that’s evidence. If Northwell Health delvers 42,000 babies that’s evidence. And, if Trail Of Bits, creates a product that makes digital passwords obsolete, that’s evidence.
Marketing and advertising is tainted and ruined by too much claim and not enough evidence.
When doing brand discovery I’m often inundated with generalizations. “Our kitchens are of the highest quality. We offer the best obstetric care. Our newspaper covers Long Island better than any other. We’re the leader in cyber security innovation.”
These soft claims don’t help. If we can drill down so the claims are supported by evidence, then we have a place to start.
Tags: brand strategy tips, evidence in brand strategy, kitchen magic, newsday, Northwell health, soft claims, trail of bits, whats the idea, whatstheidea
In my ongoing effort to define brand planning and share my framework for building strong brands, the word “proof” comes up a lot. No matter what type of brand I study, no matter how many insights rise to the top of the discovery effluvia, proof provides path to a successful strategy. “Proof of what?” you ask. That’s not only the question, it’s the answer.
As a student of brands, marketing and advertising I’ve decided that 80% of the promotional side of marketing is baseless claim. Generic terms like “reliable,” “great taste,” “low cost,” and “best service” are ported to market by every marketer on the block. Listen to the claims in a pod of TV advertising and the claims are the same from one brand to the next. So consumers shut them down.
That said, it’s the “proof” of those claim that we hear. The evidence of those claims. Vestiges and residue of the claims is what remains. What is left for the mind to grasp after we’ve told people how great our product or service is.
PROOF is everything is brand planning. Insights may be the sexy side of planning, but mining and organizing proof toward a brand claim is how you build a brand.
Tags: brand planning tips, Brand Strategy, brand strategy tips, claim and proof, definition of brand planning, Residue of claim, whats the idea, whatstheidea
What’s The Idea? readers know my brand planning framework revolves around the mining of proof. Proof of actions, deeds and results. But how does one mine for proof? Google might use the algo. Me? I ask questions. Done well, questions are the lubricant that bring forth critical values.
I’d be fibbing if I told you the battery of questions I use is unique to each investigation. That said I’m constantly adding, subtracting and thinking of question to help in discovery. Following are two new questions worth sharing.
What about this product or service heroic? Heroes are what make great books and movies. It’s what kids aspire to. Saviors of the neighborhood. Heroes are what make countries, religions and cultures great. Heroes are passed down generationally. This question requires thought and may take some prodding. Best to ask it early in the interview so it can be thought about if not readily answerable.
What about this product or service will stand the test of evolution? Students of natural selection understand the scientific order that culls out bad traits and preserves good. Genes that improve an organism will, over time, outlast the destructive ones. This question is meant to find brand strengths through a new lens. A scientific lens.
I can’t wait to pop these questions. Always be learning. And evolving.
Tags: brand strategy discovery, brand strategy framework, Brand strategy questions, brand strategy tips, google algo, whats the idea, whatstheidea
I was a psychology minor in college. Almost became a clinical psychologist. But it wasn’t until I spent some time under the care of a Freudian psychotherapist that I really learned a little something-something about the brain, psychophysiological responses, and the role of therapy in healing oneself. Anyway, I was recently interviewing a client for a brand consultancy job and at one point began to feel like therapist. Just a hint. What I realized was I was nearing some important truths about the business. Some uncomfortable truths. It was cathartic moment from the storyteller and brand’s point of view. I was in a good place with the interview.
It also helped me realize how unique a place it was and how infrequent was the feeling. Most interviews with business execs feel smart, real, but somewhat canned. Like I’m being treated like a reporter or a board member. I’m always evolving my question set but the last couple of years I’ve gone a little deep dish on successes and failures. I’m not trying to make an executive feel uncomfortable, but it’s important to recognize when I’m in that “truth” zone and use it.
Interviewees will either go down that hole with you or they’ll turtle shell up. The key is to encourage the former. “It must be hard to…”. “Give me an example of how you dealt with…”. “What did you learn from…?”
This learning may be too personal to alter the brand idea but it is likely to help get it approved. That said, if done ham-handedly, it could quietly get you the boot. Hee hee.
Tags: brand planner as therapist, brand plannig techniques, brand psychotherapy, brand strategy tips, Brand therapy, developing brand strategy, whats the idea, whatstheidea
The memeable me is always on the lookout of ways to explain what I do as a brand strategist. I recently sent out something to someone telling them I was “two parts brand strategist, one part voyeur.” Now before you go casting prurient stones, my gratification from watching consumers is not sexual. It is, however, gratifying. I love watching people. I love trying to figure them out. Their tells? What’s on their mind? (And it’s almost always not marketing. Even while shopping.) How are they responding to situations and why? A man shopping for San Marzano tomatoes Saturday evening is not thinking brands, he’s thinking mom and football/crusty bread and rich butter.
Good consumer voyeurism takes into account context, timing, location, visual cues, behavior, facial expressions – not to mention socio-economics. Just as Sherlock Homes assesses a person’s motives by putting them under close scrutiny, so must a brand strategist put consumers under a watchful eye. We hunt, we observe, we process and imply. Then we start again. We look more deeply into people than does a demographer. Soul searching is our MO.
Tags: branad planner, Brand Strategy, brand strategy tips, Consumer voyeurism, memeable me, Sherlock homes, whats the idea, whatstheidea
The human mind does the work of the brand planner on a daily basis. We experience people, places and things, a multiplicity of experiences, and boil them down to their essence — retaining a fairly single minded impression. Or we don’t, because we are confused and no single quality sticks out. I refer to this inability to land on an impression as the “fruit cocktail effect.”
Great brand managers understand this. They get how the “cull” of product and service values is one of the most important parts of their job. They understand you can’t be all things to all people. Sadly, many marketers don’t get it. They “value-load” to the point where consumers don’t know what to think.
Yesterday I was reading a point of purchase display for a remodeling company and they listed 10 different values or claims. All were good claims but created quite a cacophony. What about this display would the consumer remember in day after recall testing? Probably the main picture used. If really lucky they might remember the value most important dear to them, buried among the others…their key care-about. Most likely they’ll remember fruit cocktail.
Tags: brand planning tips, Brand Strategy, brand strategy tips, brand value cull, Fruit cocktail effect, value-loading, whats the idea, whatstheidea