claim and proof

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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

Peace.

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If you watch sound bites on the news you know president Trump repeats himself for emphasis. Repeats himself for emphasis. To me it a function of being inarticulate and/or not knowing the facts, but it could be also a nervous thing. A nervous thing.

Repetition is a time-tested advertising strategy. The more you say something, the more people are likely to remember it. It’s boring but effective. In advertising.

Repetition is effective in branding, as well. But it should never be boring. It’s okay in a brand jingle, but you don’t want to burn people out on your branding message. There’s only so much repetition a person can take. When your brand strategy is composed of a claim and three proof planks, you never need to be repetitive. Reimagining how to convey your claim with unique compelling proofs is the fun of branding. It’s also the job of the ad agency and your creative people. Keeping it fresh.

Logos and jingles are best kept long term. Otherwise keep the message and story fresh. No one wants a stale product, no one wants a stale message.

Peace.

 

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Fake Proof.

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.

Peace.

 

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I so love what I do.  (To many “I”s?) The job is learning. Then processing. Then assembling. And lastly, writing a little poetry — whiich becomes the brand claim.  For years in the business as a pseudo strategist I wrote briefs as an advertising account manager. My selling ideas lacked soul.  The briefs were fodder for creative people who typically didn’t like us, they called us “suits.” But as I started reinventing myself as a brand strategist, I allowed my selling ideas (claims) to pick up some whimsy. Lightness. Poetry.

The poetry is what keeps me in the game. It helps me know when I’m done with the idea. My most far reaching brand idea “systematized approach to improving healthcare,” done years ago for multibillion dollar organization, lacked poetry. It probably needed to.

Today, I have the time and type of clients that want poetry in their claims. It makes them remember. It creates a little Zen moment. It reminds them of the love inherent in their brands. Poetry gets marketing clients to love what they do. 

Peace.  

PS. Sean Boyle introduced the word “poetry” to me as it relates to planning. A thousand thanks.

 

 

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Claim and Proof.

Claim and proof are the driving forces of the What’s The Idea? brand strategy framework. Find a claim (a simple, endemic idea that sets your product apart from the competition), then array three proof planks beneath. Proof sells the claim. It is evidence. The planning rigor, unlike many, is evidence-based.

It’s not overly complicated. That’s why it works.  Consumers get a consistent brand claim, supported by memorable proof. Without proof a claim is just marketing drivel. (Hey Laura Ingraham “Shut up and drivel.”)

When I turn over the brand brief to content creators, they love that there is direction. Some wonder, however, if they need to espouse all three proof planks in each piece of content. The answer is no. One is fine. One makes for a clean deposit in the brand bank.

A website home page should hit all the planks, certainly the “About” section should. But the claim is always present — across product, experience and messaging.  Again, don’t feel that every ad, every promo, every PR story must hit all three support planks. Do one and do it right. 

Once ensconced in this approach, it’s fun to modulate each plank and see how it impacts KPIs.

Peace.

 

 

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As a brand planner, whose primary concern is developing master brand strategy, my discovery phase is all about finding the right claim and the three most motivating proof planks supporting that claim.   This claim and proof framework is perhaps the simplest most easy to understand means by which to build a brand.

Claim and proof is also a good driver for making effective advertising. Advertising, the biggest chunk of a marketing budget, is one of the weaker arrows in the marketing quiver. Why? Because it is mostly claim and very little proof. Following is an example

UBS is a huge global financial company.  It invests billions of consumer’s retirement savings, mine included. It ran an ad in The New York Times today attempting to convince readers it is expert in the complicated Chinese market (claim). There is lots of flah flah flah about risk and reward in the copy then they break out the big and “proof” of claim: “As the first foreign bank in China…”   That’s all you got? That’s the proof of local knowledge superiority?

Opportunity lost.

Peace.

 

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More and more, technology startups are being purchased by multinationals to help large ships chug into the future. Owners in hot categories like self-driving cars, streaming video and alternative energy are cashing in daily as billion dollar companies purchase their intellectual property. It’s a tech thing. The purchased companies are small, 8-15 people, so prices aren’t crazy high, but the stock agreements make sellers happy.

This makes me think about my company. I am not a tech startup. What I offer, however, is in demand: A way to harness marketing power by strengthening ties and building preference among purchasing consumers.  What I offer is a framework for business winning brand strategy. The secret sauce of the discovery process is “proof.” Ninety five percent of brand strategy firms, I’d venture, have discovery processes similar to mine: Interviews, research (primary and secondary), hierarchy of needs, stuff like that. But none look at proof, as a foundation.

I don’t expect large companies to buy What’s The Idea? Proof, my IP, is not technology. It’s not code. To many it’s ephemera.  Process is hard to value.

Peace.

 

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Branding is Tangible.

One of the things I dislike about advertising can be summed up by the words of an ex-client many years ago. He killed an ad made by some reasonable craftsman at FCB/Leber Katz saying “It just doesn’t do it for me.” Client’s prerogative, but not helpful. I coined the term “like-ometer” after that meeting.

Judgmental responses don’t help. They aren’t constructive.

When I speak to marketers and some of their paid agents I often get the feeling they think branding is a judgmental business — where color, name, shape and package are all easements to purchase. Where arts and crafts people make a likeable product visage.

To these people, I say no. No-no-no.

In brand strategy everything is tangible. The What’s The Idea? framework is based on claim and proof. Claim is the promise. Proof is why a sane mind can believe it.  It is proof that makes branding work and it is proof that supports the tangible claim. (You can’t support a claim with another claim. Sadly, many practitioners don’t adhere.)

With claim and proof there is no blow hole advertising. No off-kilter design. No hollow, fuzzy copy. No approvals solely tied to the like-ometer.

And for brand planners who say brand managers aren’t the brand police, I feel you. They are instructors. If brand managers convey the need for proper proof of brand claim they’ve flipped their job calculus…and the likelihood of brand success.

Peace.

 

 

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Yesterday I went off a bit on Trout and Ries, saying a brand Claim is akin to a brand Position, but the process, pre-idea and post-idea are different. You can plot a position. You can only cultivate a claim. A claim requires care and feeding. Marketing either strengthens or weakens a claim. A position is less animate.

When Marilyn Laurie a famous AT&T marketer used to say advertising either put a “deposit in the brand bank or a “withdrawal,” she was referring to an animated process.

Branding is simple. Don’t let brand nerds marko-babble you into thinking it’s this complex “only we understand” science.  If you land on the right “Claim” and support it with the right “Proof” planks (3), you can easily build your brand — knowing when you’re making deposits and withdrawals.  

Claim gets the branding glory but Proof is the work horse. Proof is the day job of a brand strategy. Proof is the day job of brand managers. And agents. (The guys hanging off the I-beam with his helmet attached by Super Glue is Proof.) Proof is what convinces consumers. Bluff and bluster do not.

Peace.  

 

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Way at the top of unpaid Google search results on brand strategy is HubSpot’s post “7 Essentials for a Strong Company Brand.”   Point one is about brand purpose and brand promise. Not bad places to start I guess, but a little too soft for me.

Brand strategy is not about a promise. It’s about a claim. A prideful statement of consumer value that “is.” Not a might be, or a try-to-be.  But a fact. A fact found at the nexus consumer care-abouts and brand good-ats.

If you have your brand claim right then everything you do in sales and marketing should be about proving it. Promise and purpose help may get you to your claim, but claim is the quintessential essential.  7 is too many essentials anyway. Water, air and food are essentials.

Peace.

 

 

 

 

 

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