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.
This article in Time on how to get the most out of Apple is a reminder that there is a noticeable difference psychologically between a brand that discounts (even if it’s only occasionally) and a discount brand. Apple does discount – but for selected parts of its range or for specific reasons: change-over on a model, for example. The most important thing is that they don’t give that impression.
Apple’s approach is to treat price as a reliable indicator of value. By not overtly or uniformly discounting, they maintain the value of the brand by making products that excite customers and they continue to charge for them at that level of value until there is a good reason not to do so. In other words, Apple’s ethos is never discount an Apple product while people are most excited about it – no matter whether that is days or years after it was first released.
But while Apple have worked hard to position themselves as a full-price, full value brand, that’s not always the case. As the article points out, “With the exception of the iPhone and the iPad, Apple products are typically discounted within eight days of first hitting the market …” Surprised? I was. But “As for the most in-demand Apple products—iPad and iPhone—there doesn’t seem to be much financial incentive to delay your gratification. The price for either is unlikely to change by waiting a few days, or even a few months … discounts have basically been non-existent until it’s time for Apple to introduce the latest new-new model.”
Even when Apple discounts, the wider motivation seems to be to give customers entry points to the Apple universe. By lowering the price of a laptop, they invite customers into their world, knowing that they will then be pre-disposed to go Apple all the way. At least that’s my theory, and it’s one I think extends to the pricing of their new operating system. Lower the barriers to entry to get people involved, but retain the pricing and the aspiration on the iconic products that people continue to be excited by and around which the world of Apple pivots.
Such an approach seems worlds away from the volume-driven approach taken by discount brands that advertise serial sales to drive up their top line. But as I’ve said many times before, there’s nothing wrong with that model if you’ve built your business and your brand around it. Smart discount brands rely on a very different perception of price though than a brand like Apple. Whereas Apple sees price as proof of value, astute discount brands treat price as a pain point. And they rely on easing perceived pain in order to generate interest. They rely on you paying less in one area but more in others to help balance the load. Just like with Apple, it’s a feel-good balancing act. The difference is that one brand makes itself known for discounting and the other doesn’t.Read More
It’s tempting when your product all but parallels that of your competitors to be drawn into a meaningless war: a fight for market share that revolves around devaluing (looking to price the other guy out), trivial pursuit (nit-picking on features in a bid to show technical advantage) or overshadowing (spending up large in mainstream media in a bid to raise “awareness”).
The problem with chasing competitive preference is that brands spend far too much time focusing on the competitive aspects and far too little insight on identifying where the preferences could lie.
All three approaches above are looking to provide consumers with reasons to buy, but while they may change perceptions, they actually do little to change affinity. It’s a distinction that’s easily overlooked. Changing what consumers think of you for now does not automatically translate into a shift in how consumers feel about you – especially in the longer term. They may, as a result of the above actions, see you as offering them more value, they may like the fact that your product contains ingredient X, you may even feel more familiar to them – but unless you have the pockets and tenacity to maintain the fight, and unless you too are prepared to up the ante even further in response to competitor activity, advances are tenuous.
If there is still little to distinguish what you offer and what others offer in their minds, you have not dismissed substitution because you have not changed the equation in their heads. You may have convinced them temporarily that they are getting more from you than they’re getting from the other brand, but the comparison is still quantitative not qualitative.
A reason for buying, on the other hand, provides a buyer with an incentive to chase a result. And the lesson from brands like Moleskine is that when you change the outcome for consumers, you change who they prefer and why they prefer.Read More
Change is hard. That’s why the future can look so much like the past. And why brands and the marketers who manage them often lose their edge. For those marketers who see comfort zones as a dangerous place, we have designed a unique experience around brand strategy for you. One that challenges the thinking about brands and brand management. And one that breaks free from yesterday’s marketing conference format.
The Un-Conference: 360 Degrees of Brand Strategy for a Changing World, Featuring John Sculley of Apple and Pepsi Success
For two days next week, May 16 & 17 in San Diego, California we will focus on the most important concepts in brand strategy in a competitive-learning workshop where marketers compete and learn in teams. The walls are down — no podiums, no stages, the experts are embedded in the teams. Next, let’s look at the agenda, which does not include the BIG surprises we have planned.
Wednesday May 15th, 2013
Meet & Greet Mixer 7:00-9:00 pm at The Andaz Hotel Rooftop Pool, where you will meet your teammatesRead More
No business these days can just sit pretty. But the extent and nature of changes confuses many. Brands evolve. Or die. But they must also retain something of what consumers know. Or they fade. So which is more important? And how should a brand act, when? I get asked about this a lot. So here are my takes on what must stay and what can go (sometimes):
1. Your good name (in every sense) – it’s the thing people know you by. Unless of course you need to re-engineer your reputation or your old name doesn’t fit what you do anymore.
2. Your purpose – the ways you intend to change the world should remain an inspiring constant for staff and customers (providing it’s inspiring to start with, of course)
3. Your values – only change them if you’re going to make them more challenging
4. Your promises – trust is the basis for any brand’s success. Without that, you’re nothing.
5. Your principles – in today’s transparent markets, transgressions will be discovered. It’s just a question of time.
6. The category you compete in – if the current category isn’t working for you, if you can’t achieve breakthrough in that space or if there is a disruption opportunity in another market, look for a different place to compete, or change the business model under which you compete.
7. How others must compete against you – look for ways to shift how you do business so that any reaction from a competitor disadvantages them by forcing them to work in ways and/or places where you have advantages.
8. Where you’re positioned – adjust your market position to put daylight between yourself and others.Read More
The category killer of advertising was invented a long time ago. It still rules. It’s called TV.
One of the longest-running predictions in the history of marketing is the death of TV, a prediction that has been wrong decade after decade. TV has enormous staying power.
TV’s death knell chronology is instructive. From the very outset of broadcast TV to this day, lowest-common-denominator content and consumer resistance to advertising have been proclaimed as nails in its coffin. Remote controls were going to kill it by ending attention to ads. When I was a neophyte researcher in the early 1980s, cable was heralded as the end of networks and thus the end of TV as we knew it. The next batter-up as TV killer was videotaping. After that, pay-per-view, premium cable, satellite TV and videotape rentals.
By the late 1990s, the Internet was in full flower, with streaming and small screen videos being touted as the end of TV. Next up was video games, especially because it took away young men. Then TiVO. Then piracy. Then online video. Then DVRs. Then smartphones. Then cord-cutting.
On and on goes this belief that TV has hit the wall. But take another look at this chronology. What you see is not the emergence of TV killers but, instead, the evolution of TV. TV evolves. The business model of TV has gotten more complex and more sophisticated over time. TV is a robust medium unique among other media in its ability to morph its content and sources of revenue to stay current.
Henry Blodget of Business Insider wrote last year that TV would crash into a wall just like newspapers because of fundamental, underlying changes in consumer behaviors that have antiquated its business model. Blodget warned that newspapers looked great until the very moment they went off the cliff. That, wrote Blodget, is why the current success of TV is not a relevant guide to the future. But Blodget is not clear on what he means by TV because TV is not, nor has it ever been, any one sort of content or business model. TV has always responded to shifts in its competitive environment by changing. It will do so yet again.Read More