The Blake Project, the brand consultancy behind Branding Strategy Insider, delivers interactive brand education workshops and keynote speeches designed to align marketers on essential concepts in brand management and empower them to release the full potential of the brands they manage.
My friend and colleague Erik du Plessis once observed to me that “survival of the fittest” was really a misnomer and that it should be “death of the least fit.” As he noted, the lion gets up every morning knowing that it just needs to be faster than the slowest buck, and the buck wakes up knowing it just needs to be faster than the slowest in its herd.
His comments are entirely relevant to the analysis presented by Chemi in Bloomberg Businessweek. Companies and brands do not need to be the best in their industry to survive, they simply need not to be the worst. However, another factor not considered by Chemi’s analysis was price. If a brand wants to command a price premium it needs to offer a better than average experience and be seen as different in a good way.
If all the companies in a product or service category are viewed badly by consumers, then it may not matter if they are dissatisfied with their current choice since they have no obvious alternative. Lacking alternatives they simple have to tough it out, getting more disgruntled and resentful the longer the poor experience continues. Particularly where service contracts or annual fees are involved, people will have limited opportunities to switch and prior experience of changing provider may prove painful and futile. Of course, from the company viewpoint it is a great business model to have customers who feel trapped and feel they have nowhere to go. You can squeeze as much profit out of them as possible… until, that is, someone comes up with a better offer.Read More
“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.” ~ Charles Darwin
And so too for today’s marketer. In our unforgiving world of fast changing markets and a 26 month average tenure for CMO’s, leading marketers couple instinct and experience with progressive thinking on brand management to breakthrough, evolve and survive.
Enter The Un-Conference. A very unique competitive-learning experience designed around brand strategy for 50 evolving marketers.
No Attendees. Only Participants.
The best pathway for learning is through participation, Not observation. The Un-Conference: 360 Degrees of Brand Strategy for a Changing World will challenge your thinking about brands and brand management. And will put you in a unique competitive-learning environment on a team of 10, competing and learning with other marketers from around the world.
May 6 and 7, 2014, this small, progressive group of brand marketers will gather together with the senior partners of The Blake Project and others to create a one-of-a-kind learning and networking experience dedicated to all aspects of building successful brands for the 21st century. Intensive, fun and illuminating, The Un-Conference will equip you with the insight, tools and techniques required to evolve and release the full potential of your brand in a new era where consumers drive and own the conversation about brands.
Taking out-of-the-box Out of the cliché’ pile
Unlike every marketing conference offered today and any you have ever experienced, The Un-Conference: 360 Degrees of Brand Strategy for a Changing World is founded on an out-of-the-box concept that centers on creating the highest outcomes. Your outcomes. Breaking free from yesterday’s marketing conference format is the only way to get there.Read More
Brands and the organizations, products and services that they represent must deliver real customer value. That is, they must address real human needs and desires. And they must do so for monetary and convenience-related costs that deliver at least a reasonable, if not an outstanding, value. So, brands should deliver real functionality. Often, the most visionary and innovative brands and the ones that make the best use of emerging technologies are best at doing this. So are brands that are backed by operationally excellent organizations and whose organizations stress outstanding customer service.
Having said that, there is a less tangible, but equally, if not more important element to branding – what the brand stands for symbolically. Research has shown that most decisions are made emotionally. And people are emotional beings. A brand that has a clear and admirable mission, vision and purpose, that has strongly articulated brand values, that is associated with important ideas, that takes a strong stand for what is right – that brand will win people’s hearts and loyalty. Further, research has shown that these brand associations can be created well before the product or service purchase or usage experience. And they will actually enhance the product purchase and usage experience even though these associations are completely intangible.
While some brand managers, depending on organization structure and roles, may have control over the more tangible brand benefits, every brand manager should have control over the symbolic brand values and associations. And this is where the magic occurs. I encourage you to think deeply about how your brand can inspire people, how it can make them feel good about the state of the world. Take your brand to the next level. Take it beyond functionality to the world of compelling ideas and emotionally moving values.
Sponsored By: The Brand Positioning Workshop
Where Marketers Evolve: The Un-Conference: 360° of Brand Strategy for a Changing World
May 6th and 7th, 2014 in South Beach, Florida
A unique, competitive-learning workshop limited to 50 participants (Selling Out Quickly)
As in the marketplace — some will win, some will lose, All will learn
~In Partnership with the American Marketing Association and the Miami Marlins~
Branding Strategy Insider is a service of The Blake Project: A strategic brand consultancy specializing in Brand Research, Brand Strategy, Brand Licensing and Brand Education
The fracas over at PepsiCo as to whether the company should continue to operate a diversified platform or free the snacks division to pursue its goals independently is a reminder of the ongoing debate over diversification versus focus.
It’s not hard to see why diversification has its advocates. Operational synergies make for a more efficient organization potentially while diversification into other categories, particularly related categories, allows consumers to get more of and from a brand than was available previously. That’s clearly Indra Nooyi’s view. Snacks and drinks belong together.
Diversification also spreads risks, allowing brands to absorb downturns in one area without putting everyone into a tailspin. Again, that strategy appears to be working for PepsiCo with the Frito-Lay division helping to maintain company performance in the face of a sustained hammering from arch-rival Coca-Cola and a general downturn in the carbonated drinks sector in the developed world over growing health concerns.
But is the age of the single minded brand (with its single minded proposition) over? What’s the brand case for being singular – and what does it take to get it to work well? Here’s five reasons why I believe some brands should still look to lean this way:Read More
In a helpful article in Fast Company, Seth Priebatsch provides his insights on how brands can use game dynamics to forge new levels of engagement with customers. He cites three robust principles:
1. The power of we. Brand marketers talk a lot about individualizing these days, but Priebatsch reminds us that people also find huge reassurance in being part of groups and that creating and motivating such groups can be a game-changer. The dynamics of a customer base change, he suggests, when people see themselves within a group setting rather than just the context of one-to-one. There’s more than group-think at play here. The reason this works, I think, is because communities themselves combine bonding with form and mass which in turn adds the all-important elements of momentum and endorsement. So perhaps a more accurate way of describing this is Seth Godin’s concept of tribalism.
2. Visible progress. Everyone loves to think they’re getting ahead, and as Priebatsch reminds us, the many progression metrics that brands use – points, status, benchmarks, levels, progress bars – “all help users visualize and keep track of successes in small increments”. In my mind, progression strategies parallel the ‘upgrade culture’ because they’re all about short-term incremental gains. They’re immediate and they give people small but valued things to work towards. Priebatsch’s advice: “Businesses should constantly strive to devise new and creative ways to allow their customers to visualize and track their success. Hitting goals and making progress is fun.”
There is a downside of course – and that is that consumers who don’t make the progress they feel they deserve (or would simply like) can feel let down or even abandoned. I remember when I was downgraded on my airline loyalty program that the drop seemed an awfully long way down. In fact, in some ways, not having them, turned me off flying even more.Read More