Fruit cocktail effect

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Anyone who has ever eaten fruit cocktail knows it tastes like sugar…and nothing but the sugar. As I’ve said to scores of marketers who have seen my brand framework presentation “The grape tastes like the peach, which tastes like the cherry, which tastes like the pear.” When you try to do too much, you do nothing.  The fruit cocktail effect.

Okay, not the greatest metaphor ever constructed, but it’s meme-able.

As a younger man, volunteering on archeological digs, I troweled dirt and paint brushed away the years in an effort to uncover artifacts from prior people and cultures. Eventually all the dirt would end up in a sifter which revealed small goodies from our slow and methodical labors. 

Brand discovery is a lot like that. We gather massive amounts of information and sift. Sift for goodies. In the case of my branding practice the goodies are called proofs. Tangible things, just like artifacts, that help construct a concrete story.  And because of the fruit cocktail effect, we know that only a few artifacts get into the story.

Amass and de-mass.

Peace.

 

 

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YouTube Music relaunches tomorrow with one of the worst brand extension names ever. YouTube was born as a video channel — a pretty amazing brand in and of itself. Over the years it has developed into a powerhouse in the mobile music and streaming realm, yet along with YouTube Red and Google Play Music has conflated a bunch of names into a “fruit cocktail effect” of product(s).

YouTube and Google should have launched a totally new brand this week — eaten some of their children and come out of the gate with a brilliant new music product (service.)  I don’t see Steve Jobs skeeving up his brandscape like this? (Well maybe a little.)

First, the brand should have jettisoned the YouTube name. Spotify and Pandora are already established and have powerful brand names. Abigail Posner, Head of Creative Strategy & Head of Creative Effectiveness, at Google knows this.  In my opinion, she needs to head to San Bruno today and get the YouTube people on board. It is a brilliant opportunity. A brilliant brand possibility.

Build the biggest music brand extant!

Peace.

 

 

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I was reading a recipe this weekend for chick pea chili (don’t judge) and decided right off the bat I’d never make it. Not for the chick peas, not for the drive to the grocery store(s), but for the over complication of ingredients.  I favor minimalism in my cooking. It’s easier to taste a few ingredients. (Google “Fruit Cocktail Effect.”)

My framework for brand strategy reflects this sensibility: One claim, three proof planks.  That’s how you build a brand. One and three.

Getting to one and three isn’t easy though. Trust me. You have to go through hundreds of ingredients to get to the one claim and three planks. When looking for brand good-ats and customer care-abouts, you’ll find many. But when forming brand strategy, don’t just look at the most common ingredients or the most abundant; this job is all about finesse.

For you tyro brand planners out there, use your palette when considering all the ingredients, but use your heart and brain when selecting the true flavors.

Peace.   

 

 

 

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There’s a chain of fast food chicken restaurants in NC called Zaxby’s.  I’ve yet to eat there but am sure it’s competitive with others in the space. I’ll have to do some research. Yesterday I had a couple of meetings and presentations in which I discussed the “Fruit Cocktail Effect.” When a brand tries to be too many things, goes the theory, it becomes none. Fruit cocktail, is a sweet sugary mess rather than a mélange of grapes, peaches, pear and cherries.

I watched a Zaxby’s TV spot last night and noted how very plain it was. Pictures of human beings, chicken shots, nature, nurture – the ad could have been for any product. The culprit? Fruit Cocktail.  

Zaxby’s tagline (de facto brand strategy) is “Friends. Family. Flavor.”  That’s three claims – if they can even be called claims. Flavor might be the closest thing to a claim.

No doubt Zaxby’s gets the chicken right — because they are a successful business.  Now they need to get the brand right. Zaxby’s needs a single claim behind which it can load up its proof. Make a claim…and prove it every day.

Peace.

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Value-Loading.

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.

Peace.

 

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