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I work with a kitchen remodeling company, Kitchen Magic, that has built a huge business offering something called cabinet refacing. Refacing is half the price of new cabinets because the old cabinet box is kept and a new “face” of wood and doors are attached to the outside. In an unrelated example, Architectural Record, a venerable consumer and trade magazine, recently underwent a facelift of its own — new design, new cover, new masthead and logo. A rebrand or facelift, as it were.
Rebrands are all about taking something old and updating it. Sometimes it’s cosmetic. Sometimes it’s structural.
In the business of brand strategy, cosmetics and structure are secondary. At least they are at What’s the Idea? The process starts without an endgame in sight. No architects plans, no site maps. Brand strategy is about as organic and alive as words and idea can be.
Working with a brand, I certainly understand business objectives and sales goals. But what the brand strategy will look like is a complete unknown at the beginning of the project. The direction and science are not sealed until the paper strategy is complete.
Maybe, that’s why some companies are nervous about brand strategy. And why they prefer facelifts. They want to see what the finished product will look like before they begin.
Tags: Architectural record, Brand Strategy, brand strategy and rebranding, cabinet refacing, kitchen magic, rebrand, rebranding, 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
A growing industry is taking hold in the marketing world fueled by one-off new media helpers. Packaged as consultants, they offer social media, website, email marketing and online advertising tactics to those interested in spicing up marketing returns. Check your Twitter feed for 140 character posts that contain primary numbers such as “7 steps to, 5 surefire rules, 3 critical digital mistakes…” to easily identify these tactical helpers. People crave this stuff and it sells.
But I giggle at these tactically focused sales pitches. Tactics-palooza only works if the basic groundwork of brand strategy is set. Brand strategy must be in place for any tactic to be maximized. It’s my experience, especially with mid-size companies, that this is just not happening. Mid-size and small businesses are studying content marketing, mobile ad buys, Google AdWords, responsive design and the like, without understanding how best to position their companies for maximum result.
It’s a tactical shit show. A shiny, not-so-new thing that has captured marketing dollars with little, if any, effectiveness. It’s ingredient buying without the recipe.
Tags: Brand Strategy, tactical shit show, tactics-palooza, twitter marketing, whats the idea, whatstheidea
It’s debatable how many companies actually have brand strategies. They have brands, products, services, mission statements, taglines, marketing plans and ads. But brand strategies? Organizing principles for product, experience and messaging? No so much. Many marketers have de facto brand strategies, not codified as “one claim and three proof planks.” They may take the form of a big “idea” with some provable supports. Or a de facto brand strategy may come from an ad, or highly effective promotion. Perhaps a marketing document drawn up during a peak sales period. But often, as can be the case with real brand strategies, de facto versions drift away.
I do a lot of training and it’s my belief that the root cause of powerful brands is training. Everyone at the company needs to know the brand strategy. Not just the brand managers. Geo-technical engineers need to know their brand strategies. Kitchen remodelers need to know it. Truck drivers who deliver the goods, cardiothoracic surgeons who work for the system. Everybody.
When everyone is trained on brand strategy, when management spends time and money reinforcing it, a brand takes on a life of its own.
Tags: Brand Strategy, brand strategy training, brand training, de facto brand strategy, whats the idea, whatstheidea
Coca-Cola’s key good-at is “refreshment.” There are few, few things better than a cold Coke on a warm day after a workout. And when the consumer care-about is refreshment, a great product choice is Coke. Remember, brand strategy is about good-ats and care-abouts.
Refreshment, rather than, longtime advertising attribute “happiness,” is an experiential, product-based proof. It’s a product reality. Coke’s current advertising tagline (brand line) is “Taste The Feeling.” An amalgam of cheerleading and emotion. It is not a product based care-about or good-at. It’s advertising based.
Don’t get me wrong, I love advertising. Dave Trott teaches me the way to do it well it to connect. But connecting with the art is not the same as connecting with the product. Of course it’s harder to create compelling stories and poetry around products – but that’s the job.
Brand planners need to focus the work on product-based care-abouts and good-ats. Coke should know better.
Tags: Brand proof, Brand Strategy, coca cola, coke, coke brand strategy, coke refreshment brand idea, dave trott, experiential proof, whats the idea, whatstheidea
Most brand strategists are insight doctors. Insight detectives. Consumer behavior and motivation are their daily gruel. It’s a wonderful living. It’s like being a psychotherapist but without all the focus on negatives. I am a brand strategist of a different color. Certainly I can find insights with the best of them. Also I can write actionable projects briefs but my real job is in casting the master brand strategy. I plan the house while most brand strategists decorate the rooms.
A large brand, on any given day, may have 20 assignments in play across 5 agencies. That’s a lot of briefs. It’s not effective to have so many re-inventors and it’s not cost-effective.
I don’t want to put anyone out of work here but with a good master brand brief (aka brand brief) the need for strategy soldiers across agencies is lessened. And the work becomes tighter.
I went to a Conagra meeting on the Banquet brand a few years ago and there were probably 6 different agency strategists in the room. Silly.
Tags: banquet brand, Brand Strategy, conagra, master brand strategy, tactical brand briefs, whats the idea, whatstheidea
Meryl Streep closed her Golden Globe acceptance speech with “Take your broken heart, turn it into art,” a borrow from Carrie Fisher. As I dried my tears after watching Ms. Streep I thought about my craft and how important feelings are in brand strategy. When writing a brand brief, I tend to go long form. Creatives say they don’t like this, but it’s how I work. As I work through it, if my brief is flaccid and too business heavy it goes in the trash. I know when a brief is working because I start to feel something.
There’s an old advertising axiom, “Make them feel something then do something.” It works in strategy too.
Like all good writing a good brief evokes a response. When my blood pressure changes, when I go flush, giggle or smile, I know I’m onto something. In a zone. More importantly, I know my clients and content creators will feel it.
Meryl Streep is more than a great actor she a wonderful evoker. Brand strategy is meant to package or direct how consumers evoke. Those who purchase while feeling are much more apt to remain loyal.
You feel me?
Tags: Brand Strategy, carrie fisher, Meryl street golden gloves speech, take your broken heart and turn it into art, whats the idea, whatstheidea, writing a brand brief
Many years ago I learned a trick about advertising from Brendan Ryan, president of FCB/Leber Katz, in NYC. One day he asked the AT&T Network Systems account team to paper the walls with the current campaign. The headline for each as we “Are You Ready.” Network Systems sold the 5E switches to phone companies that powered American communications. So paper the walls we did.
Mr. Ryan walked around the plush conference room reading sub-heads, looking at visual and dashing through copy here and there. He pointed to campaign outliers and confirmed what he thought to be the idea. Neat trick. Neat way to level-set the idea.
Fast forward 25 years to an era when communications manifest across more channels than we ever perceived, some with control, many with none. If you were to paper the walls with the myriad comms we generate today, you’d have a messy, messy room. A walk around that room would remind you why an “organizing principle for product, experience and messaging” is critical. Otherwise known as a brand strategy.
So me droogies, paper your walls with your internal and external comms and see what-ith you spew-ith into the consumer realm.
Tags: an organizing principle for product experience and messaging, AT&T Network Systems, Brand Strategy, Brendan ryan, FBC Leber katz, Paper the wall, whats the idea, whatstheidea