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First question, “Do you have a brand?” Most marketers will answer yes.
Second questions, “Do you have a brand strategy?” Those same people are likely to pause then offer a less-than-emphatic yes.
Third question, “Can you articulate your brand strategy?” This is where the homina-homina kicks in.
It’s a simple fact that most brand practitioners (meaning client side marketing or brand managers) have brands but not a tight articulation of strategy. Most agencies (ad, digital, PR, direct) also don’t follow a tight articulation of brand strategy — because one doesn’t exist. Brand strategy is the least scientific business tool in commerce. It’s viewed as an ideal. Not a framework.
Brand strategy is an organizing principle for product, experience and messaging; all three of which are marketing’s domain. Brand strategy framework comprises one claim, three proof planks.
Ask Interbrand, Landor, Future Brand, Siegel+Gale, Lippincott, Brand Union and Wolff Olins what their framework for brand strategy is and all you are likely to get is brand-babble, talk about process and case studies. They are long on smart people, insights, approaches, logos and style guides, but not framework. No business-winning binary (either you are “on” or “off”) approach to building a brand.
When you have a true framework that shows when work is on or off strategy, you have found the brand building grail.
Tags: An organizing principle for product, binary brand strategy, brand strategy definition, Brand Union, brand-babble, experience and messaging, Future Brand, interbrand, landor, Lippincott, one claim and three proof planks, siegel and gale, Siegel+Gale, whats the idea, whatstheidea, wolff olins
In a nutshell, my framework for brand strategy can be described as “one claims and three proof planks.” What’s a proof plank? It’s a series of like-minded examples or proofs. Tangible, intelligible evidence. If I make a claim I am strong, proof of that claim is me picking up 300 pounds. When a restaurant says the food tastes good, you trot out the James Beard Award of its chef. A proof plank is tied inexorably to the brand claim and contains a list of proofs.
This is where most brand building falls down. Lack of proof.
Many brand nerds will tell you that brand success lies in understanding and promoting brand “Values” and/or “Attributes.” Values and attributes are the false Gods of branding. They sound good in meetings. Present well in analytics presentations. They are even measurable for infatuated data heads. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve build brands by doting on research report attributes. But the fastest way to positive attribute movement is through proof. The advertising business is infected with copy that is insubstantial. Copy filled with sing-songy value blather. Filled with empty adjectives.
Stick to proof, find your claim and proof array, and then you will have a real marketing job.
Tags: 1 claim and 3 proof planks, brand attributes, Brand Strategy, brand strategy framework, Brand values, claim and proof array, one claim and three proof planks, simple brand strategy framework
Mitch McConnell recently accused President Donald Trump of “excessive expectations” with regard to the speed at which democracy moves. As a brand planner I kind of like excessive expectations. The right brand strategy can snowball into many more business accomplishments than most marketing directors would ever agree to. I like to load up on business objectives when thinking about brand strategy.
I once explained to the head of marketing at a huge health care system that the brand strategy would increase nurse retention. And reduce the cost of physician hiring. A demure man, he was near apoplectic. “Get the shredder.”
Don’t misunderstand, I am not suggesting a broad and diffuse brand strategy that attempts to accomplish too much – a.k.a. The Fruit Cocktail Effect. (Google it.) Brand strategy needs to be tight: One claim, three proof planks. But the more excessive the expectations during the planning stages, the more likely the finished product will deliver.
Powerful bespoke brand strategy starts with high expectation.
Tags: 1 claim and 3 proof planks, Brand Strategy, brand strategy and business objectives, brand strategy objective, business objectives, Excessive expectations, mitch mcconnell and president trump, one claim and three proof planks, whats the idea, whatstheidea
If asked to provide one word that defines my business practice – one word that drives my philosophy of brand planning it would have to be “proof.”
Proof is the most tangible of marketing words. And the most tangible building block in brand strategy.
Proof trumps subjective opinion. It overrides marketing insouciance. It answers that age-old creative brief question “What is the reason to believe?”. Teach a man to prove and you build a brand for a lifetime. In brand strategy, of course, you need to organize your proof; into no more than three proof planks. Random proof becomes a grade school science fair.
The best framework for brand strategy is one claim and three proof planks. Get the claim right then make the proof fit like a glove.
Here’s an exercise: Spend time studying your marketing materials. See if you can discern the proof from the blather. From the self-interest babble. Underline or highlight the proof. See what you’ve got. Does it focus you?
Tags: 1 claim 3 proof planks, 1 claim and 3 proof planks, claim and proof, one claim and three proof planks, one claim three proof planks, proof in brand planning, proof in brand strategy, teach a man to prove, 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
I’m not against storytelling. It’s an important part of my business. When collecting information to build brand strategy I hunt for stories and often tell stories to get others to open up. But in and of itself, a story won’t do shit for a brand. Especially, if it’s off-piste.
Storytelling is a pop marketing topic many brand consultants rest upon. My “brand-ar” goes off when I hear someone use the term; it suggests they’re blowing marko-babble smoke.
Think of storytelling as the code and brand strategy as the app. The app being the meaningful, useful tool.
Brand strategy done right is about claim and proof — packaged into a discrete organizing principle for product, experience and messaging.
Stories and storytelling are communications tools, not strategy tools.
Tags: Brand-ar, claim and proof, claim and proof array, marko-babble, off-piste, one claim and three proof planks, organizing principle for product experience and messaging, story telling in branding, story telling in marketing, storytelling in branding, storytelling in marketing, whats the idea, whatstheidea
The difference between brand planners can be found in their respective abilities to do something “smart” with the info and data they collect during discovery. One planner’s questions will differ from then next, as will their observation techniques and data sources. Yet once all the hunting and gathering is done, it’s time for all planners to think. And apply. To fill out the brief, as it were.
My framework is different than that of some brand planners and the same as others. I use one claim and three proof planks as the organizing principle. How I get to the one and three model, however, is through an exploration of “evidence.” Evidence is not hearsay. It’s not marko-babble. It stuff. Actions. Existential results. Proof.
When Eva Moskowitz stands on the steps of city hall, alone or with thousands, that’s evidence. When a prepubescent cancer patient has part of her ovary preserved in liquid nitrogen at age 9 so that 15 years later she can gave birth, that’s evidence.
I’ve read hundreds of brand strategy documents from so-called brand planners and am appalled by how few are evidence based. Tring to change that one brand at a time.
Tags: Brand Planning, brand planning tips, eva Moskowitz, evidence based brand strategy, marko-babble, one claim and three proof planks, whats the idea, whatstheidea
One of the challenges when writing a brand brief is knowing which insight to use to fuel the claim. (The claim is the idea at the top of the brand strategy, supported by 3 proof planks.) Often in a brief there are 2 or 3 really exciting insights, all of which offer enough power to motivate brand predisposition. But which to pick, that’s the question.
What I love about the brief I use, borrowed from McCann-Erickson’s Peter Kim 2 decades ago, is that it has a serial framework. One section leads to the next. Like puzzle pieces, they don’t always fit, but fit they must. Until they fit, you need to keep working. Until there is a linear story you are only bumping along the cobble stones. Chank a chank.
As I work the brief, key insights find their way into the story. But some must be let go. What’s funny is the outcome of the story – the claim – is often not known until the story plays out. Insights float in the back of the mind as you work toward the end, some more strongly than others, but the big finish is often a bit of a surprise.
There can’t be two endings. Enjoy the ride.
Tags: brand briefs, chank a chank, claim and proof, creative briefs, Insights and brand briefs, mccann erickson, one claim and three proof planks, peter kim, whats the idea, whatstheidea
Many people in the advertising, marketing and branding business get tongue-tied when asked to define branding. Or brand for that matter. We come up with short pithy things such as “A brand is a vessel into which we pour meaning.” For years, that was actually one of my favorites. As a consultant with some clients falling into the mid-size business category, I need something more tangible. “Organizing principle” are the two words I use most often now. The extended version is “An organizing principle for product, experience and messaging.” It’s a nice definition – perhaps the best I’ve come across. It defines branding – the verb for used for manage the brand (noun).
But an organizing principle as a descriptor doesn’t really provide pay-off or consummation of the act. It’s just the theory. It is the framework of the organizing principle that makes believers out of brand manager. And the frame work at Whats’s The Idea? is “one claim, three proof planks.” These are the parameters of the organizing principle. The tangible guidance.
Many brand planners love fluidity. They enjoy freedom for their ideas. I enjoy the freedom of a plan, a focus, and a finite value array for doing more business. That’s what an organizing principle does. Peace.
Tags: 1 claim 3 prof planks, brand framework, brand strategy defined. Brand defined, branding framework, definition of brand, definition of brand strategy, one claim and three proof planks, organizing principle, whats the idea, whatstheidea