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There are a lot of smart people out there in brand planning. Many work at agencies, some as consultants. I was reading a piece on LinkedIn this morning by a Toronto consultant dba Beloved-Brands. It discussed Benefit Clusters. Lots of good thinking and a number of similarities to my framework at What’s The Idea?.
Brand consultants don’t want to make the process sounds too easy or it won’t sell. Big ass consultant companies, in fact, want to make an engagement seem complicated so they can extract good margins. Beloved-Brands, as evidenced through its website, PPT presentations and perhaps RFPs, treads lightly on the complicated/easy continuum. The promotion is nicely done and quite palatable. Where I take issue with their framework (and that of many others) is in the use of the word “benefits.”
I don’t look at benefits. I spent my time instead looking for “proof.” Benefits tend to be holographic. Mass produced. Proof on the other hand is tangible. Memorable. Articulate-able. Proof accrues to benefits, but only as determined by the consumer. Don’t tell a person to be happy, make them happy.
When push comes to shove any brand consultant worth its salt is going to do discovery and insights work that helps them build a case for “an idea that drives product, employees and customers toward sustainable and profitable commerce.” (Not a bad for an on-the-fly definition.)
When you are thinking about your brand, don’t play in benefit land. Dig for proof.
Tags: an idea that drives product, Beloved-brands, benefit clusters, employees and customers toward sustainable and profitable commerce, linkedin, proof versus benefits, whats the idea, whatstheidea
I’m not sure how I feel about Microsoft’s plans to purchase LinkedIn. Microsoft’s vison as a professional cloud co. sounds like it should marry with LinkedIn’s professional network co., but to date Microsoft just doesn’t seem to have a lot of luck with vision purchases. I thought Nokia would end up a great idea. My post about lowering the prices point for smart phones around the globe never happened.
LinkedIn lost money last year. Jeff Weiner and Reid Hoffman are so use to success, it must have been a smelling salts moment. The buyout money was too attractive. When you are on a rapid rise you don’t have time to think sale. As the corner turns however one starts to consider.
I hope LinkedIn stays independent (under Microsoft) as Satya Nadella suggests. I’m worried it won’t. And don’t get me wrong, I am a Microsoft fan. Still a believer in the Windows phones. Still a big believer in Mr. Satya’s productivity focus. But it’s the “buy your way to success” mentality that is the concern. It’s not very Gates-ian. Bill Gates was a ruthless builder.
Still not sure about this purchase. It’s ballsy. If pushed to make a bet, I’d sadly say nay.
Peace to all.
Tags: Bill Gates, gates-ian, jeff weiner, linkedin, microsoft, nokia, Reid Hoffman, satya nadella, whats the idea, whatstheidea
When a group of CMOs on LinkedIn has to ask the question “What is a brand?” (Or was it a bunch of brand planners?) The fact that the question is asked is damning. I’m a big Noah Brier fan – he of Percolate – and even he asked me once “How do you define a brand plan?” His question was meant to see if I was all dreads and no cattle. There are so many a practitioners out there who don’t have a clue.
Many rubber-meets-the-road marketing types want to know “How do I measure a brand plan?” “How do I measure the sales return of a brand plan?” The answer is easy. First, have one.
Assuming your brand plans are like mine: one claim and 3 support planks, the measures are easy. If one plank is about being fastidious, you can ask your customers to rank you on fastidiousness. You can ask general consumers to rate you as well, that will tell you how well the story is getting out. You can rate yourself on fastidiousness – doing spot checks on personnel performance. On a macro level, you then tie sales, margins, or stock performance to the rise and fall of these brand plan metrics. This is where the rubber meets the road. This is the part of the dashboard you get to present upstairs at headquarters, while the cost-per-click and coupon redemption people remain waiting in the lobby. Along with the people polishing that gleaming Cannes Lion.
(The headline for this post is for you to interpret. It’s part George W. part morning coffee. Hee hee.) Peace!
Tags: brand plan definition, brand planks, cannes lion, cmo, CMO group on linkedIn, consumers, dreadlocks, how can I measure a brand plan, linkedin, noah brier, percolate, what is a brand plan, whats the idea, whatstheidea
Someone from McGarry Bowen in an account planner’s group on LinkedIn posed the question “What are some hot trends in the offing for 2013?” My response was roots. In college I read a book that talked about cultural transferences – the complications of modern society that take us farther and farther away from being able to provide for ourselves. As in, Can you put asunder, pluck, clean and cook a chicken with the help of Pathmark? Do you know how to jump start your Prius if it conks out? Can you walk 12 miles in a pinch?
Roots is all about removing the middleman and doing things for yourself. And in doing so, being just a little more self-sufficient, healthy and sustainable. Rather than throw out jeans with a rip, sew them. Rather than toss an appliance, fix it. Have friends over for a meal that you cook rather than order in or go out. Build a birdhouse with your hands. A lot of learning there.
Hike to smell a flower, instead of purchasing aromatics. Listen to simpler hand-made music. Etsy is about roots. Going to school board meetings is about roots. Fishing with your kids, sitting around a campfire, sitting on a stoop in Brooklyn drinking a pint of homemade beer – the list goes on. As statistics and big data and the web flatten the world, bringing tragedies and goblin to our door, all glamorized by TV and movies, we need to and will return to roots culture. (Just Google it.) Peace Friday.
Tags: Brooklyn stoops, etsy, linkedin, McGarry Bowen, mcgarrybowen, prius, roots, transference, whats the idea, whatstheidea
Is there a word more used these days in marketing meetings than “passion?” I write and speak about marko-babble a lot — marko-babble defined as words so often used and watered down, they become meaningless. It’s like they come out of a handbook. Authenticity, transparency, ROI all come to mind. I’m not saying “passion” is marko-babble, it’s a price of entry, a means of staying truly alive in your business category, but in brand planning, it is actually a negative word.
For less than a day, I changed my LinkedIn profile to read: “I am a passionless brand planner. That’s right passionless.” Passion can cloud the judgment. Parents are passionate about love of their children. Is that why many miss teenage maladaptive behaviors? Company officers are passionate about their product and services. Does that put a gauze over their ability to see market realities? Brand planners must be ever-energetic in their search for insights, patterns and cultural observations surrounding commerce and purchase behavior, but passion should not enter into it. Peace!
Tags: Brand Planning, brand planning lessons, brand planning tips, linkedin, marketing authenticity, marketing transparency, marko-babble, passion, roi, whats the idea, whatstheidea
In the LinkedIn Account Planner Group I just posted a question “At what moment did you know you were a brand planner?” I’ve posted it once before, but the question didn’t get a lot of traction. Words matter, especially today, so perhaps I used the wrong words the first time. I expect some interesting answers.
My moment: I was working at a small ad agency and a gentleman from XYZ Ventures (name withheld), a VC firm was using us to make some stuff. We had a meeting or two before I set off to make him a marketing plan. The gentleman from XYZ was the acting CMO for a tech company in the insurance industry. The tech company had taken the VC money but needed a plan. This acting CMO was a big idea guy and made inspiring PowerPoints, but he had a day job and lateralled the marcom plan to me.
These were the days of web-based start-ups where money and engineering led marketing plans – and the outsourcing the marketing was art of the day.
My marketing plan and brand plan were blessed and hailed. Shortly thereafter, when the gentleman left XYZ he hired me for his own start-up to do the same thing. The moment I knew I was a brand planner was moment I received that job offer. It was as director of marketing, but I was hired for the plan. Peace!
Tags: account planner group, brand planner, linkedin, linkedin group, outsourced marketing, venture capital firm, whats the idea, whatstheidea
There is an interesting discussion going on in a LinkedIn account planners group about what makes a good creative brief. There are lots of views but for me it boils down to two things: direction and stimulus. Before I talk about creative brief direction, it’s important to note if a brand plan exists – the document that sets the direction for the entire brand. A brand plan informs product, experience and messaging. (Mine are organized into one claim and three support planks.) With a brand plan in place, a creative brief can focus on the tactic and be more effective. Without, it’s a celebratory bullet shot in the air.
Campaigns come and go, a powerful brand strategy (1 over 3) is indelible.
So, let’s talk direction. A creative brief gives direction to the creative exercise. It directs the buildable – be it ad, promotion or digital. The direction is often called the Key Thought or Strategy or some such, but no matter the name it is the direction. It has to be active and non-neutral when it comes to purchase. When I say non-neutral I mean it must do more than inform, it must create sales action or disposition.
With direction identified, the stimulus is where the rubber meets the road. The words, pictures, and imagery conveyed in the brief must create some sort of visceral response from the creative team. Stasis is the enemy of the creative process. Insights, observations, consumer stories, competitive weakness or strength – all these things have the ability to stimulate. If you can stimulate the creative mind and give it direction, the brief is brilliant. Do it under the guise of a brand plan and you can make Benjamins jump out of wallets. Peace!
Tags: 1 over 3, account planners, brand plan, brand planks, Brand Strategy, claim and proof, Creative brief, creative team stimulus, linkedin, whats the idea, whatstheidea, whats’s the idea?