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I did some advertising for AT&T Network Systems a number of years ago, introducing Systemax CAT 5 computer cable into Asia. We converted some U.S. ads for local use having IDG Computerworld in-country offices translate them into local languages. Having worked in B2B advertising for many years, with little success other than an occasional readership award and bingo card report I was thoroughly surprised when people across Thailand picked up their phones and ordered beaucoup feet of cable.
It was like Sears Roebuck catalog time. The markets were so young. Local companies needed cable, didn’t know where to get it, and we provided a location and phone number.
In the United States, the advertising market is so mature, so filled with messaging, it’s hard to find the pent-up demand. X, the LA punk band, sings “Now there are seven kinds of Coke, 500 kinds of cigarettes. This freedom of choice in the USA drives everybody crazy.”
Competition in the modern world is rampant. Advertising isn’t just about access anymore, it’s about creating awareness, then interest, trial, and preference. And as technology and service become more in vogue it’s about education. No wonder it’s hard to do advertising well.
That’s why brand strategy is so critical. It feeds and focuses the advertising beast.
Tags: at&t, AT&T Network Systems, Brand Strategy, idg computerworld, peace, sears roebuck, systemax cat 5, whats the idea, whatstheidea, x
I’ve seen a Mazda TV commercial a few times over the last week or so and it offers up some nice imagery. A boy doing ballet in a locker room. A girl punching the weight bag. Footage of a car leaving traffic for a circuitous above-the-fray highway — stuff like that. The attendant voiceover poetically winsome.
At the end of the spot the voiceover echoes “Spread your wings,” a nice accompaniment for a deconstruction of the Mazda logo made to look like wings. But for the most part there was no real tie to the car – certainly not rational tie. Film making.
The tagline to sum up all the ad: “Feel Alive.” Talk about setting the bar low. As opposed to feeling dead???
I know car ads are tough. But whats the insight here? Old people are bored? Buying a car is as boring as watching TV? Roy Elvove, a great adman friend of mine taught me to watch commercials and back out the strategies. Now I watch them and try to back out the insights. Kind of at a loss with this ad.
Tags: advertising insights, feel alive, Mazda, mazda tv commercial, peace, Roy elvove, whats the idea, whatstheidea
…was yesterday’s headline announcing someone new will be fill the costume of Big Bird on Sesame Street. The new talent will study Big Bird’s mannerisms, body language, physical quirks and more. Going to game film, as it were. I’m not sure if the voice will change but my guess is the new Big Bird will step in seamlessly and miss nary a beat.
Why, so seamless?
Because the Big Bird is, effectively, a brand; a brand that has been managed very, very well. Sure a package is a package — and that hasn’t changed in 50 years — but it’s what’s inside the package that counts. Goofy. Lumbering. Thoughtful. Concerned. Open and positive. These are all things associated with Big Bird. These are brand qualities, traits and expectation of Big Bird.
The new actor who plays Big Bird has big shoes to fill (sorry). One misstep and it will be seen. But Mr. Spinney and the Sesame Street brand managers did such a brilliant job there will be no missteps.
Tags: big bird, big bird the brand, brand management, can people be brands, Carol spinney, peace, sesame street, whats the idea, whatstheidea
If I’ve read it once, I’ve read or heard it a thousand times, the four words in the headline referring to good advertising: Cut through the clutter. Talk about setting the bar low! And if you are advertising you are branding. Proponents of this kind of investment need to be taken to the woodshed.
If the main goal of communications to customers and prospects is simply to have them notice us we’re being stupid lazy. And likely ceding too much power to the ad makers.
Shouldn’t our aspiration for communications be to make people “feel something, then do something?” And shouldn’t those feelings and doings be strategic? Based upon brand values and brand claim?
If you ever find yourself in a room with makers and hear the words “cut through the clutter,” you are probably about to create the clutter.
Don’t do it.
Tags: Advertising, advertising tips, Cut through the clutter, cut thru the clutter, cutting through the clutter, cutting thru the clutter, feel someting then do something, peace, whats the idea, whatstheidea
ROS stands for return on strategy. In my world brand strategy is strategy. As “an organizing principle for product, experience and messaging,” there is very little that a brand strategy doesn’t touch.
So as Sears tries to become profitable out of bankruptcy and needs to sell under performing stores, that’s about the product. The retail stores being Sears product. If Sears decides to double down on Spanish and Latino customers (as I’ve suggested for years), that’s about experience. And if Sears wants to let customers know it’s time to check it out again, that’s messaging.
The best brand strategies are business-measurable. Not in awareness levels, and engagement, and likeability, but in sales, loyalty and referrals. Attitudes and preference overlaid with sales.
That’s what return on brand strategy is. Returns that can go into the bank. Deposits.
Two decades ago when I told a NY-based healthcare system that proving you had better nurses resulted in higher physician retention, my client marketing lead scratched his head.
Return On Strategy ain’t no disco.
Tags: an organizing principle for product experience and messaging, brand strategy definition, return on strategy, ros, ROS ain’t no disco, sears, sears bankruptcy, whats the idea, whatstheidea
Lots of people talk about company culture. Like it’s a good thing. I’m not so sure. Culture, of course, is a good thing. But company culture, in and of itself, can be limiting. When you put a bunch of likeminds in a room the tendency is to swim together. Nothing wrong with a little corporate water ballet, but I’m one that likes things a tad messy — where ideas and ideals are challenged. That’s how innovation happens.
So what’s better than corporate culture? I’m sure you saw this one coming: brand strategy. That so-called “organizing principle for product, experience and messaging.”
When a commercial maintenance company uses the brand claim “Navy Seals of Commercial Maintenance,” supported by brand planks “fast, fastidious and preemptive,” company employees are able to build a certain, almost predicable value. Unimpeded by a set of cultural beliefs. Brand strategy is freeing not limiting.
It’s okay to study corporate culture but it’s way more productive to study and set brand strategy.
Tags: an organizing principle for product experience and messaging, brand claim, Brand Strategy, brand strategy examples, brans strategy versus corporate culture, claim and proof, Corporate culture, likeminds, navy seals of commercial maintenance, whats the idea, whatstheidea
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 an ideal. Not a framework.
Brand strategy is an organizing principle for product, experience and messaging; all three of which are marketing’s domain. Actual brand strategy framework is 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 get is talk, process and case studies. They are long on smart people, insights, approaches, logos and style guides, but no framework. No “business-winning” binary (on or off) approach to building a brand.
When you have a framework that shows when work is on strategy or off strategy, you have found the brand building grail.
Tags: An organizing principle for product, binary brand strategy, brand strategy definition, Brand Union, 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
Storytelling is big in marketing today. One flavor espoused by Co-Collective CEO Ty Montague is called Story Doing, a smart improvement. I’m a fan-boy of doing rather than telling.
HOWEVER. And with me there is always a however when it comes to brand. However, a word that trumps “story” is “strategy.” Using Mr. Montague’s construct then, a more active and effective form of brand building is Strategy Doing…inelegant though it may sound. Strategy Doing is the fastest way to build brands.
I love a good story. It can be captivating. And memorable. But unless the story adds value to the brand, unless it moves the ball farther upfield with regard to the brand claim and proof array, it may no more helpful than the Three Little Pigs.
Story telling good. Story doing, better. Strategy Doing, bestestest!
Tags: claim and proof, claim and proof array, Co:Collective, Story doing, story telling in branding, storytelling in marketing, three litt;le pigs, Ty Montague, whats the idea, whatstheidea
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.
Tags: amass and de-mass, archeology and brand strategy, brand discovery, Fruit cocktail effect, meme-able, The Fruit Cocktail Effect, whats the idea, whatstheidea