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 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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Brand Management

How Brands Should Say Goodbye To Customers

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Customer Experience

Brands and customers part company for all sorts of reasons. Relationships are tidal. We outgrow the need for a brand or product, our tastes or priorities shift, we don’t live where we lived or work where we worked or spend our time doing what we used to do all the time, perhaps we decide to pass on the latest upgrade.

And, objectively, that’s a healthy thing. Those ebbs and flows provide markets with movement. They ensure that new players can enter and gain new customers and current players can change their position in a sector as they gain or lose followers.

Most brands have their heads around winning new customers. They seem less certain on how to say goodbye with good grace. But how you do that can, in the longer run, and in the context of your brand, be as important as how you welcome customers in the first place. Wishing them well on the next stage of their journey, and assisting them to start that stage in the best light, may well put you a lot closer to welcoming them back.

The critical thing is to stay true to who you are and what you stand for, while keeping your mind open to opportunities to improve. The key question is, why are they leaving and what can you as a brand learn from that?

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Brand Differentiation

Questioning The Quest For Brand Differentiation

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Brand Differentiation Strategy

For some time now, brands have pursued difference. Spurred on initially by Jack Trout, they’ve positioned, disrupted, innovated…all with that elusive goal in mind. To stand out and stand apart from their competitors. Benefits, positioning, pyramids, strategies…a lot of time and energy has gone into trying to help brands achieve difference. Everyone’s been on that quest to become a Purple Cow.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m a Seth Godin fan and, inspired by that, the call for differentiation has been a recurrent theme in my own work, but there’s no denying that for the most part marketers have failed to live up to Godin’s call to recolor the livestock. Nigel Hollis has written previously here on Branding Strategy Insider that less than 1 in 5 brands is seen as distinctive by consumers.

One can of course read that as proof that Godin’s call is as relevant (and challenging) as ever. Or one can take it as meaning that the quest for difference is simply not one that works for the majority of marketers.

Three reasons why remarkable difference might be unattainable:

  • Marketers get tempted into pursuing difference for difference’s sake and take their eye off the very people who buy their brands.
  • Difference isn’t a motivation for consumers. People don’t go to the supermarket to buy what’s different. They buy what they know and what appeals to them. They buy what they remember. Different or not.
  • In a world of product parity, increasing regulation, impatient investors and embedded management orthodoxy, meaningful difference is too hard to achieve. Consider this characteristically provocative statement from Mark Ritson: “[True] repositioning is almost always impossible. No matter how attractive it appears or how commonly we use the term in marketing, the actual business of changing a brand’s DNA and being successful is ridiculous…actually changing a brand from black to white…is a ludicrous notion. Even when you can fool the people into believing the change has occurred…you cannot change the fundamental nature of the way a brand does business.”

So what’s the alternative? Conformity? Hardly. Perhaps a little more latitude – and more focus on the human condition.

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