The Blake Project

Why a Branding Strategy Blog?

At The Blake Project our sole focus is helping organizations create brands that build and sustain trust. Branding Strategy Insider is an extension of our efforts as brand consultants to help marketing oriented leaders and professionals build strong brands.

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Derrick Daye
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Brand Strategy

Brand Portfolio Strategy Explored

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Brand Portfolio Strategy

Why do some companies maintain multiple brands within the same category even though it is more expensive to do so? 

  • The brands appeal to different market segments and have different positions in the market
  • One brand is an upscale or premium brand
  • One brand is a no frills brand targeted at price conscious consumers
  • The additional brand uses an older formulation or technology and may be sold as a “cash cow”
  • The second brand could draw on the core brand’s quality and service perceptions without being that brand. This is useful with market segments that are more price conscious but that still appreciate high quality and service levels.
  • The additional brand is created to establish a higher reference price in the category (often increasing the perceived value of the core brand)
  • One is a “flanker” brand, designed specifically to compete directly with other brands in the category, while protecting the company’s flagship brand from direct competition
  • One or more brands are created to reduce or eliminate channel conflict issues
  • The new brand may be a way to take a company’s products [and, in some cases, a variation of the core brand] out to new channels or customers without alienating current customers
  • Some brands are created to meet specific retailers’ needs within the category
  • The additional brands may be created as “private label” brands for specific retailers
  • The additional brand may allow the company to acquire more shelf space
  • The company can use the additional brand to experiment within new channels without affecting the core brand(s)
  • The company maintains multiple brands to encourage vigorous competition between brand managers
  • To create more perceived variety at retail without giving sales up to the competition
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Customer Experience

Brand Building Through Customer Experience

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Customer Experience Strategy

Business leaders generally underestimate the power of customer experience. Brand management firm Prophet released a State of the Market study in 2011 showing that only 13 percent of executives believe the purchase experience is the most critical driver of future brand equity, whereas 36 percent said product and service quality would be the top driver.

Most marketing executives think about customer experience, but they also acknowledge that their companies don’t value it as a critical component of the brand experience and develop it as a core competency. According to a study by the Chartered Institute of Marketing, seven out of ten marketers believe that investing in customer experience is more effective than investing in marketing communications, but only 13 percent believe that their company “excels” at delivering a day-to-day brand experience that matches up to what the brand promises. A third of organizations were found to not use the brand guidelines that are in place, while half of organizations don’t use customer experience or employee brand behavior guidelines. Managers seem to continue to emphasize product quality and attributes, failing to acknowledge that the entire experience – and every detail in it—shapes customer perceptions of the brand.

Shaking executives out of their myopia takes some effort. A brand revitalization effort I led for a fast food chain began with a special work session for the executive leadership team. The goal of the session was to help everyone make an honest assessment of the brand execution as expressed through customer experience. For most of the work sessions I lead, I assign special tasks for the participants to undertake prior to the session. For this particular client, the tasks involved making a series of restaurant visits with specific instructions to follow.

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Brand Loyalty

Top 4 Brand Loyalty Mistakes

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Brand Loyalty Strategy

Most good marketers know how to gain top of mind. Good marketers are adept at widening the funnel at the top end. They’ve good at introducing new lines, new variants, new dimensions – in order to attract new customers. They know how to work with their agencies and their internal teams to fashion a story that intrigues to draw an audience. They know how to weight media flights and craft promotions that persuade consumers to call or to visit. They’ve learned to charm. Competition’s taught them to do that well.

That used to be their biggest challenge.

Some would argue of course that’s never been more difficult, but, ironically, it’s not the biggest challenge marketers face anymore.

Now the biggest challenge facing marketers is gaining and retaining front of heart: sustaining the appeal for those who already believe in the face of ongoing enticement from determined competitors.

That’s because, between initial purchase and continued purchase, a vital change takes place. What consumers need at first is awareness, authenticity, excitement and a sense of gain. The sales funnel works well to get them through the obstacles to first buy.

But after that comes the need for affirmed faith. Once consumers are passionate about a brand, they need different things. They certainly don’t need to be sold to anymore – at least not like they were sold to at first. Now they need to be reminded that they’re making the right choice every time they buy, and they need to feel rewarded for the decision to lock in.

Problem is, for so many brands there’s no real sense of that reward. They either ignore loyal consumers. Or smother them. They group them as stats. Or they don’t segment them at all.

These to my mind are four of the biggest mistakes that marketers make that lead to a loss of loyalty:

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Brand Value & Pricing

The Role And Value Of Branding

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Brand Value

So many people misunderstand the role of brand. They think it’s a synonym for marketing, and marketing is a synonym for media spend.

  • A brand tells people who to value and why.
  • Marketing tells them how the brand is valued, and where to access it.

The purpose of your brand is to use that perceived value to provide you, through marketing, with sustained sales at a greater level of return than the market is inclined to give you over the longer term.

The objective of every brand should be to lift what people are prepared to pay, to motivate people to value you more than they would do otherwise. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a discount brand, a scale brand, a luxury brand or a cult brand, that’s the goal. It doesn’t matter whether these are boom times or bust.

If you’re not a brand, you’re a commodity. You are only worth the value that the market assigns. And in good times, many companies are happy with that. They stop spending, ride the commodity wave and bank the organic growth. They allow themselves to believe the increases are all their own doing.

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Brand Innovation

Brand Building For Market Agility

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Airline Brands

Actions and reactions are a strange two-speed dance in the context of market agility.

Reactions are the responses that competing companies must actually make together and in a co-ordinated manner to shifts in market dynamics and / or customer expectations. Doing so sets a new norm over which the participants themselves can then compete.

The airline industry generally, with the exception of the upper-market carriers, has reacted to economic pressures by dropping ticket prices and introducing fees for services. Shifting the emphasis from prestige to transport, and charging people for everything and the seat has reaped them billions. They did that together.

As this article on the resurgence of Hollywood ticket sales shows, movie-makers have responded to the surge in available content and home entertainment gadgets by delivering experiences that still make it worth their while for people to go out and see a movie at the theater – action-packed franchises, amazing sound, 3D; features that continue to make cinemas the biggest and best way to see a movie. Again, they did that together.

Both sectors have looked to change the overall rules, meaning there’s now a new collective sector playbook that in itself generates new standards, new expectations, new reactions and perhaps new competitors.

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