claim and proof

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I’m not much of a cook but I’m certainly a student. What’s The Idea? uses a number of cooking metaphors in its daily operation. Many of the tenets of good cooking are also valuable in brand strategy. One such tenet is “Don’t use too many ingredients.”  The more ingredients used, the more likely the main component of the dish becomes obscured.

My uncle Carl taught me the best baked clams are the ones with the least amount of flavor enhancers. See the clam. The same for chicken parmesan. No sauce, just a brilliant tomato slice or two atop the golden brown cutlet.

Brand strategy development is about evaluating customer care-abouts and brand good-ats and selecting only the top three — the three with the most flavor (or most complementary flavors).  Most importantly, these three brand planks must support the brand claim, or, following the metaphor, the main protein.

Brand strategy is best served with one claim and three proof planks. It’s not over-complicated. It’s easy on the senses. And the consumer palate is very understanding.

Leave Michelin stars for the true chefs. Complexity in brand strategy rarely works.

Peace.

 

 

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The most powerful cognitive trait on the planet is learning. Animal’s learn where to feed. Insects learn how to procreate. Children learn to associate pain with danger. Learning is everywhere.  Except in brand strategy.

At What’s the Idea? learning is a fundie. It has been a peeve of mine for years that most advertising is about claim. Our cereal is tasty. Our bank service is excellent. Our insurance is 15% cheaper. The claims are selling advantages, but not learning. Learning requires that the brain processes something and comes to a conclusion. Learning takes up new space in the mind.  

In grammar school students are more likely to remember something they process and logically understand, rather than something experienced through rote recitation. That’s why the What’s The Idea? brand strategy framework relies on proof planks. Proof of claim allows the brain to learn. It created critical thinking around a brand claim. It’s evidentiary.

Branding lasts when there is constant learning. When learning is refreshed. It’s a challenge, I know. But worth it.

Peace.

 

 

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Brand planning is not just about words on a paper. Colors on a palette. Planks and buckets and values. Or even taglines…and I’m a big fan of taglines. (If you’re spending marketing dollars which don’t prove your tagline, you’re “off piste,” as I like to meme.)

Brand strategy is integral to marketing. As such, all brand planners are marketers. As marketers we need to be look beyond the dashboard. Look at what’s next. The earth is not flat.

My night job is to wake up with new product ideas. Ideas that deliver on the brand strategy (one claim, three proof planks).  If in consumables, I’m dreaming about making packaging more planet friendly.  I was watching a YouTube video yesterday about shampoo bars that sell sans plastic bottle and cap.  Come se Genius??

The growth of innovation labs, incubators and new product teams is a big thing today. In my humble if jaded opinion, no one is better able to crack an innovation opportunity than a brand planner – the person responsible for the care and feeding of the brand claim.

Peace.

 

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Here’s an exercise for brand planners.

I read this morning that when president Richard Nixon prepared for a summit in China to meet Mao Zedong, he created a checklist. What do we want?  What does China want? And what do we both want? Each question had three answers.

Brand planners should ask themselves the same questions only with a slight modification at the end.  What does the company want? What do the consumers want? And what does the brand want?  The brand’s desires may not align with that of the company and could be a healthy source of exploratory tension.

The What’s The Idea? the brand strategy process plumbs consumer “care-abouts” and brand “good-ats.”  The nexus of these qualities decides the brand claim and proof planks. But with the tripartite “What want?” approach, it may make the planner look at a new dimension.  May.

Might be worth a try.

Peace.

 

 

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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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