one claim three proof planks

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A brand strategy brief, at its very best, is a story. A story with beginning, middle and end. Like good entertainment it contains a problem, solution(s), tension and resolution. Most importantly, it needs to appeal to the reader/viewer (aka the consumer) in order to take hold.

I write brand briefs for a living.  In each and every one, the story has to flow.  If the flow is interrupted by some structural anomaly, the brief will confuse.  The money part of the brief is the finish — the claim and proof array. (Once claim, three proof planks.)  It is the organizing principle for product, experience and messaging.  If the claim does not fit the rest of the story like a glove, something is wrong with the story.

The brand brief story is written for the brand marketing lead. Once the claim and proof array are approved, and immutable, the brief is just a tool for brand managers and agents. Then the storytelling or as Co:Collective calls it Story Doing, is in the hands of the marketing team and creative people. And I am on the my next assignment.

In branding the brand brief is the greatest story ever told.

Peace!

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My branding practice owes a tip-of-the-hat to politics. I borrowed the word planks from politics, incorporating them into my framework. At What’s The Idea?, brand strategy comprises “one claim and three proof planks.” Organizing brand value around three proof areas focuses content makers and the consumer minds — the rule of three.

This morning I was reading a NYT article on political strategy and came upon an analysis of political memes. Cartoonist Scott Adams who developed Dilbert said something about political memes that really rang true to me as a brand planner.  The meme rhymed, he offered, and provided “brain glue plus framing and contrast.”

Whoa! Trifecta.

Rhyming always helps with memorability. Brain glue refers to the creative quotient. Do you want to remember it? Framing speaks to positioning and clarity of purpose. And contrast is all about differentiation and uniqueness. Much work today, brand and content-wise, does not differentiate.  If you hit all three of these strategy qualities, you have a good meme. Brand planners, much can be learned from this cartoonist’s advice.

Peace|

 

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There are many definitions of brand strategy. Most hard to understand.  And for businesses whose sole purpose is clarity of message, you would think brand strategy definitions would be easy.  

Here’s mine: “An organizing principle for product, experience and messaging.”

What does an organizing principle look like in words?  (Brand strategy is inanimate.)  Well, it is a “claim and proof” array. A single claim about brand superiority or value, supported by 3 proof planks. Proof planks are evidence of the claim, grouped into homogenous clusters.  One of my favorite brand claims for a small commercial cleaning and maintenance company is “The Navy Seals of Commercial Maintenance.”  The proof planks are: “Fast,” “Fastidious” and “Preemptive.”  Put these words into a single sentence and you have a clean, articulate brand strategy. You are organized to market. You are organized to productize. You can build your business experience, communications and website.

Okay other businesses out there — care to share your brand strategies in one sentence?

Peace|

 

 

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My brand briefs are filled with heart-warming, heart wrenching twists of a phrase. They are meant to engage the Amygdala.  Trust me, they work when it comes to selling brand strategy (one claim, three proof planks.) But unless you are Bob Dylan no consumer is going to remember your poetic brand claim and proof array. They may remember a song from an ad. They may remember a tagline plastered everywhere locked up with your logo. But for lasting impact and indelible brand strategy, choose deeds over words.  Deeds and evidence.

The New York Yankees are a premier sports franchise because of their 27 world championships. Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center is “the best cancer care anywhere” (words) because its physicians have more experience treating cancer (deeds).

When companies bring their brands to me for help positioning, I look for deeds, evidence and proof. That’s the ore that precedes the jewelry.

Peace.  

 

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Google is an interested animal.  I play it like a violin, but it takes practice.  The key to using Google to your advantage lies in selecting and posting phrases. Unique phrases. Ehr-ee-body plays in keywords. Phrases, however, are ownable. To start, find what you feel is a meme-able phrase and post it to your site.  Then post it again at a later date. Basically, plant it in web soil.

The longer the phrase the better, but you can accomplish success with even a few words.

Google the phrase one claim three proof planks, it comes up What’s The Idea?. Before the phrase resolved to me. I’d have to put it in quotes: “One claim three proof planks.”  Before creating gravitational (Googitational?) pull on the phrase, it was likely highjacked by the term “planking,” the core exercise that was so hot for a while. Today the phrase is mine sans quotes.

The more obscure the phrase, the more likely it will come to you. It can even resolve to you very quickly.

Google Campaigns come and go a powerful brand idea is indelible.  See?

Now meme on. 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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Hit Your Proofs.

Here’s the deal on social media and branding. If you have a brand strategy you need to prove it in social media. Every day. Random posts diminish your brand.  The brand strategy framework at What’s The Idea? is one claim, three proof planks. If you are posting with pictures on Instagram, you need to be hitting your proofs. If you are creating some sort of engagement post on Facebook, hit your proofs. Sharing news on Twitter? Yep, tap those proofs.  Pinning a crafty thing?  You get the idea.

Every day I look at companies and brands who are active in social media and can’t figure out what there are trying to do strategically — other than put more social flotsam into the ether. And please, please don’t think this claim and proof array approach is limiting, It’s not. It’s freeing. It’s less random.  Your goal is to put deposits in the brand value bank, not confuse your buying and prospect publics.

Find your brand strategy, then live it every day. Your custies will thank you.

Peace.

 

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In a story from The New York Times this morning about the toll the chaotic Trump administration is having on senior staff, the reporter wrote “With an erratic boss and little in the way of a coherent legislative agenda, they are consumed by infighting, fears of their legal exposure and an ambient sense that the White House is spinning out of control.”

People, president and politics aside, let’s look at the central theme of the quote. No coherent legislative agenda.  Good governments require coherence in their agendas.  So do brands. When a brand has a coherent agenda, marketing and business become easier. Chaos in not an organizing principle.  Brands without coherence are brands without growing customer bases.  (Imagine if the product was inconsistent. Imagine if the logo changed monthly. Imagine if retail was spotty.  Incoherence.)

No matter the company or category, articulating a brand strategy (one claim, three brand planks) is critical to coherence. Now, back to your regularly scheduled news program.

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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Brand planners at agencies have two jobs. One job is to assist with new business strategy where they mine insights that make it easier for consumers to like, want and buy a brand.  The other type of brand planner runs day-to-day tactical business. These are the day-planners.  

Once the master strategy is in place, it is the day-planners job to facilitate creation of marketing stuff. Day-planners crunch data, write briefs and ultimately foster the creative work that carries the revenue metrics. The day planner’s first job should be to support the master brand strategy. They are, however, often more beholden to the tactical or slave strategy (than the master).

What’s The Idea?, focuses mostly on the master brand strategies.  The master strategy is born of an array of proofs. Some might call them truths. I think proof is more accurate. If you make a singular brand claim, what proof have you to make consumers believe it?  In master strategy planning, when enough proofs are identified during discovery they begin to take shape. That shape reverse engineers a claim. That’s master brand strategy (one claim, three proof planks).

With the claim and proof array intact day-planners are looking creating “new proof” or repackaged old proofs to spark the creative work. Both types of planning jobs are important. But without a good master the slave strategy will have no legs.

Peace.

 

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