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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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Brand Engagement

Rethinking How To Reach Brand Audiences


GoPro Brand Strategy

We need to move on. That’s my take-away from a piece by Tara Walpert Levy. We need to move on from a mind-set based on reach and drop-off, and replace it with one centered on engagement and accumulation. “Historically, our media plans have focused more on exposure and broadcasting than engagement and response…,” writes Levy. “We focused on reaching as large an audience as we could and hoped or planned that of that 100%, we would eventually whittle down to the, call it 5%, of people who actually cared and mattered for our brand. We focused on reach because our ability to measure engagement…was lousy.”

Not any more. Instead of opening the jaws of the sales funnel as far as they will go, Levy calls for an engagement pyramid that flips the funnel on its head. Start with what has always been seen as the end of the filter – the 5% who will be most interested  - she says, engage them, get them talking and let the growth begin. Her thinking directly echoes that of Joseph Jaffe whose book of that name some years back first drew my attention to the need to pay attention to the “right” end of the funnel and use commitment as the multiplier.

The thing all brands with a social presence need to be paying attention to, Levy says, are the dynamics of Gen C (the content generation). For this tribe, content is the basis of conversation. It’s the prompt everyone in this generation is looking for in order to have something to share. Gen C are using social networks and content platforms to define their sense of self. They are what they see, what they make and what they distribute. Here’s a great insight: “When they share a video or an image, they’re not just sharing the object, they’re sharing the emotional response it creates.”

And this selfie generation don’t just define their lives this way, they record them as well. One in four upload a video every week and nearly half upload a photo every week. The way I see it that makes almost every Gen C participant a potential media company because so many people are now documentary makers. They are documenting their lives in words, pics, tweets, opinions and shares.

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Brand Strategy

Repositioning The Competition


Repositioning A Competing Brand

Marketers mostly focus on repositioning their own brands. But, you can also reposition a competitor’s brand. That is, you can create messaging about your brand that shed’s a negative light on the competitor’s brand, making your brand look better in comparison. Repositioning is how you adjust perceptions, whether those perceptions are about you or about your competition often hanging a negative on the competition as a way to set up a positive. Here are some examples of that.

  • Avis leveraged its #2 rental car position with the tagline and campaign “We try harder,” implying that the #1 brand Hertz was resting on its laurels.
  • Scope focused not on the consumer problem which its product cured, but on the consumer problem its competitor caused. Scope used this weakness to reposition Listerine as “medicine breath.”
  • Apple repositioned PCs as stodgy and boring in its ‘I’m a Mac and I’m a PC’ campaign. A Bill Gates look-a-like punctuated the portrayal of PC’s while Mac had a cool, progressive Jobs-esque character.
  • Arrowhead Smoke Shop and Gas Mart (in Upstate New York) ended a series of television ads with the comment, “and we don’t add water to our gasoline” implying that some of their competitors might (a claim that I believe only a few people would find credible).
  • We helped one health care system reposition their competitors as not being able to handle the toughest medical cases, identifying many proof points to reinforce this perception.
  • We helped FootJoy tap into golfers’ aspirations to be seen as serious golfers with the tagline “The mark of a player” implying that its competitors’ brands are not the choice of the most serious golfers.
  • Tylenol repositioned Bayer and its miracle drug aspirin as something that is harsh on your stomach by claiming that “aspirin can irritate the stomach lining…for those that cannot take aspirin, fortunately, there is Tylenol.”
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Customer Co-Creation For Greater Brand Outcomes


Customer Co-creation Strategy

Today on Branding Strategy Insider, another brand strategy question from the BSI Emailbag. George, a Director of Marketing in San Francisco, California writes:

“Please describe the customer co-creation process and its benefits for building brands.”

Thanks for your question George. Customer Co-creation is all about developing new ideas, services and products directly with your customers. By working together, companies and their customers create something new – something better – that they all believe in. When it’s done right it’s a powerful way to get to market quicker with products and services that are immediately seen as valuable and differentiated.

“Why does customer co-creation give a better chance at success than other, more traditional forms of brand and product development?”

Customer Co-creation gives you a better chance because it starts at a better place.

Think for a moment about the last time you and your team became involved in launching a new brand or figuring out how to improve the experience with the brand you own. It probably began by doing some research (OK, maybe a lot of research) to look for that magical point where need and value and opportunity uniquely exist for your brand. I’m also guessing you didn’t find it. Or if you thought you found it, you quickly learned your closest competitor found the same thing because they looked for it the same way.

Our clients consistently tell us they have reams and reams of research yet have no idea where to start. That’s because they started in the wrong place. 

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Branding Basics

Repositioning vs. Rebranding


Rebranding Repositioning Strategy

Today on Branding Strategy Insider, another brand strategy question from the BSI Emailbag. Lisa, a marketer in Washington D.C. asks:

“What is the difference between repositioning and rebranding?”

Thanks for your question Lisa. Rebranding has become quite popular, especially for brands that want to shed a previously negative image. For instance, Philip Morris rebranded itself to Altria. Or brands that are facing increased competitive pressure like McDonald’s. Rebranding is simply changing the brand’s identity. It typically includes changing most or all of the brand identity elements such as the name, icon, colors, type font and tagline. The identity change may also be accompanied by brand repositioning.

However, a brand can be repositioned without changing its identity. Repositioning focuses on changing what customers associate with the brand and sometimes competing brands. This usually entails a change in the brand’s promise and its personality. Taglines often change with brand repositioning (to communicate the new promise). And sometimes the identity itself is updated or refreshed to reinforce the change in the brand’s positioning. However, most brand repositioning projects do not result in completely changed identities. That is, usually the brand name does not change. And frequently, neither do the identity elements other than the tagline and perhaps a slight identity system updating.

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Brand Strategy

Brand Offering: The Deep Or Wide Strategy?


Coca Cola Life Brand Strategy

A great piece in AdWeek on the failure of single-item brands is a reminder of a question that comes up a lot: whether to dive deep or go wide. Specialty vs diversity.

Both are attractive. For some brand owners, the opportunity to offer a detailed and nuanced offering within an area is the embodiment of singularity. In a complex and cluttered world, this argument goes, there’s power in being known for one thing. There was a lovely story in The New York Times International recently about Michael Vachon who was writing software until he discovered that there was a real interest in upstart American distilleries in London. Cue Maverick Drinks, catering for a renewed interest in American spirits. It’s a great story based on a growing need. So success, right?

Yes, but as the AdWeek article points out, vulnerability also. A fashionable rush on a specific item is usually followed by an equally unfashionable rush as consumers move onto whatever captures their attention next. That’s the shortfall of being a bright shiny object. At some point you fade. If you’ve expanded resources and footprint in the meantime to meet current and anticipated demand, the  sudden departure of consumers in droves quickly leaves you on the rocks. The disappearance of Crumbs was the latest in a long line-up of one-hit brands that have gone the same way.

Diversity can also look very attractive. Here, the attraction is to expand the offering into new markets in order to trade on current equity and to attract new customers. Again, the theory has its merits – capitalize on your reputation and provide your customers with more opportunities to engage with you more often. There comes a point though when brands can expand so far beyond their core business that they either mean nothing to their consumers anymore (because they’re trying to be all things to all people) or they lose sight of where they began. Starbucks, famously, lost sight of its core business of coffee in its bid to establish footprint before self-correcting.

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