whatstheidea

You are currently browsing articles tagged whatstheidea.

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.

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Organizational Design is a shiny new business thing. A number of smart brand planners and digital raconteurs have noticed that many corporations are floundering using old org charts and technology. Old infrastructural assumptions. So these new change agents are hoping to consult their way to new revenue streams as org design consultants.

Ten years ago “Social Business Design” was an inchoate business response to poor organization. It attempted to alter business by using digital social tools.  Those tools turned into software and much of the concept was lost. Sure Slack is a cool social tool. Dashboards and marketing platforms have emerged and evolved – mostly to streamline and cut cost. But organizational design, the recasting of the modern business in a way to make it more responsive, agile and effective, though a fine pursuit has been mostly talk.

My consulting business is a brand consultancy. I make no promised to reorganize your business. But organizational design is a likely and probable outcome. 

Defined as “An organizing principle for product, experience and messaging,” brand strategy has the potential to touch everything: supply chain, customer care, manufacturing quality, hiring, and advertising. All are possible levers in brand strategy. 

Brand strategy ain’t what it used to was.

Peace.

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

I was shopping at a Sam’s Club in NC a month ago and speaking with a couple of lovely ladies at the customer service desk. Both had holes in their smiles. (I wondered if they smiled as effortlessly as the rest of the population.) Missing teeth is a cue for poor or no insurance. And Sam’s Club, in my community, appeared to index high for workers with poor dental health. Sweeping statement I know.

I’ve spent weeks and weeks at BJs and Costcos in NY and seeing gap-toothed employees was uncommon. Not unheard of, but very uncommon.  It may sounds snooty but I like my food servers and customer care people to have a full mouth of teeth. (Let’s make America great again.)

As a brand guy, I’m thinking employees who exhibit improper dental health in front of customers impacts the brand preference. I’m not going to go too deeply into feelings and associations, e.g., hand washing, personal hygiene, etc. but this employee health oversight must be worth a couple of points of annual revenue. (Read millions of dollars.)

If you don’t care for your employees, why would you care for your customers. 

Come on Sam’s Club. Help a worker out.

Peace.

PS. I do not know for sure that Sam’s Club doesn’t offer dental insurance. I do know, in a research study of one, employees seem to need better dental health.  

 

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

While Mark Zuckerberg slept in his Harvard bed dreaming about the future of Facebook, do you think he ever wondered if it might be big enough to impact a national presidential election?  I’m guessing not. But he may have.

I was at a start-up called Zuide.com when Zuck had 18M users. Both web apps allowed users to build their own website, but with Zude you used objects. Facebook was database driven. In my dreams, it was understood that social networks could be used for good and evil.

Social network can and will be abused. Even journalistic instruments are abused. When “the people” are in charge of content you have to know fake and manipulative information will happen. So when Twitter, Google and Facebook went to capital hill yesterday, no one should be been surprised spankings would be meted out. Not yesterday, not 10 years ago.

Mr. Zuckerberg should have known it would happen.  Perhaps not to the extent it did. Not to the point where the world’s leading democracy would be soiled…but he knew. And now we all must fix it. People must be responsible too. Just as we now can detect phishing schemes in our email, we must learn to root out false information.  

Shouldn’t have taken so long. Shame on Silicon Valley.

Peace.            

 

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

There was a time not long ago when the average job tenure of a CMO (chief marketing officer) was 18 months or so.  That kind of churn was mainly associated with the coming of age of digital marketing. And big data, social media and the underperforming economy. The good CMOs job hop. The bad ones were summarily replaced.

In biz/dev for What’s The Idea? I sometime cruise the job boards looking for companies in search of new senior marketing blood – which often poses an opportunity for brand work. As a matter of course I read a lot of job boards and job specs. One word that has become a pet peeve of mine is “passion.” It’s meaningless.  And gets in the way of a real job spec. We have a local election in town and a newspaper endorsement said this about three candidates. See if you can tell which candidate has the least to offer:

“I’ve been impressed with Kim’s dedication to improving transit, Dee’s passion and Rich’s policy analysis.”

If you need to put the word passion into a job spec, the job must have a history of being held by dolts.  Or it is a sorry-ass, boring product or service.

Passion is better seen not heard.

Peace.

 

Tags: , , , ,

NYC painter Jean-Michel Basquiat once told a friend as they walked home from a gallery one night “I’ll learn to draw later, first I want to get famous.”  Sounds awfully backwards, unless you were a child of the 70-80s in NYC where punk rock and musicians were inventing a new scene.   Lots of people had established personal brands through dress, hang-outs, hair and behavior while working on their art. For instance, on any given night if you saw a black Schwinn with a leather jacket chained to it in front of a rock club (in the winter), I was inside. (Lines for the coat check at 3-4 in the morning were way too long.)   

While these artists-in-waiting fiddled with guitars, paint or prose during the day, between shifts as a waiters or bike messengers, they were focused brand builders. They had a vision, a sense of the time and an organizing principle.

Think if them as startups. I’ve helped build startup brands before and they all tend to over-hang the market — meaning offer promise before availability. And if you think of it, most small companies without brand strategies are startups. Even if fairly established. They are businesses, not brands. No brand plans in place to establish behavioral identity.

It’s always better to be aware of brand while building your art or your business.  It focuses you.   

Peace.

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

The Great Harvest Bread Company is in year 2 of a really smart sampling promotion called the “National Bread Challenge.” Bring an unopened loaf of processed supermarket bread to one of Great Harvest’s 200 stores nationally and they’ll replace it with one of their loaves, which began taking shape at 2:30 A.M. that morning – kneaded by hand from freshly milled grains. Sound like a heavy loaf? Sound dry? Sound crunchy? Not even close. This bread redefines bread. It’s wonderful.

Great Harvest is betting consumer taste buds will help them grow market share. They are trying to recondition the market to pay more for better bread. Healthier bread. Every marketer needs a mark or a villain and this time the villain is processed white bread. Bread with no nutritional value, despite what Wonder Bread will tell you.

(Disclaimer: Great Harvest president Eric Keshin is a friend.)

Trial, getting people to try your product for the first time, is a time-tested marketing tactic. In this case, it’s an expensive one.  Giving away free loaves from November 10-12, 2017 is a high stakes effort. Were the bread average in taste and quality, it would be a silly move. It’s not. Find yourself a processed loaf and trade it in. Let those taste senses fire off some new synapses. Fresh is the new fresh.

Peace.      

 

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

As someone who watches brands and markets I love inflection points. Consumer inflection points are most obvious in the retail landscape. One result of the financial crisis and bail out of Detroit was a reduction in car dealerships. Were you to drive down any long commercial highway 20 years ago and compare it to today you will see brand new banks on the sites once reserved for shiny new cars.  And as we legislate more fuel efficient car standards, those same streets have more eateries where gas stations once stood.

Today in the news, Lord & Taylor in NYC is selling its block long retail space to WeWork. The supply-side driver? eCommernce and Amazon.  For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.  WeWork, most know, started out as a low-cost office space solution — one where infrastructure, e.g., phones, cabling, office maintenance, coffee, is taken care of and asses in seats are rented for the day, week, month or year. They are now growing like wild fire. And the price points are increasing, as the amenities and addresses become more plush. The other inflection point driving WeWork growth is what’s happening on the demand-side: the freelance economy.

The work force is changing. The nature of companies is changing.  Google “logged and tagged workforce.” Or write me (Steve@WhatsTheIdea.com).  Those who are ready for the logged and tagged economy shall winners be.

Peace.

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Branding at the hands of most practitioners is 85% emotional.  That is to say, names, colors, shapes and taglines associated with a “brand,” are usually dictated by a few decision makers who either feel it or they don’t. Emotion is not unimportant, but often it’s way too important. There needs to be a lot more science in branding. Especially in brand strategy. A brand, i.e., logo, is not a brand strategy. A brand strategy is an organizing principle; one that allows brand managers and stakeholders to make marketing decisions. Marketing decisions that create everlasting value for a product or service.

While the physical brand or mark is what helps people identify a product or service, the brand strategy helps with deeper cognition.  With reasons to consider, like, prefer, buy and recommend. For these qualities we must turn to science. Brand strategy is about tangible evidence of preference. “I liked the ceviche because it was sweet. Because the salmon tasted buttery. Because of the perfect helping of herbs.”  Not because it tasted good.

Look at your brand strategy. Explore the science. Omit the fluff words: Quality, innovative, best, better. Mine the science.

Peace.

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

A couple of years ago a smallish branding shop contacted me about helping creating a strategy for a division of a top 5 consulting company.  The master brand is known to all and likely has a brand strategy (maybe not) but the division we were helping offered a very complicated, layered value proposition in health and security.  Read security as in homeland security, not home and property protection.

The ultimate deliverable was a long form brochure, changes to the division website content and some presentation pages explaining in somewhat lay terns, what the group did and did so well.

I read all their decks, interviewed a number of consultants from around the world, performed the due diligence one does when sanity checking the Kool-Aid drinkers, and came up with a tight idea and organizing principle – a division brand strategy.

But then came the hard part. Consulting the consultants. Getting them to organize their “product, experience and messaging” around a claim and 3 proof planks (a division brand strategy).  Consultants are great at giving advice, but are they any good at taking it?  

Momma never said this job would be easy!  She was right.

Peace.                                                                  

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

« Older entries § Newer entries »