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.
Archive for January, 2012
Almost 20 years ago, I first set foot in developing China, and into the early boom years of that country’s remarkable transformation. As the first Marketing Director for Procter & Gamble China, over the next 3 years I saw the incredible vibrancy, growth and opportunity of a developing market firsthand.
Since then, I’ve led organizations with businesses in virtually every major developing market around the world. While no two markets are precisely the same, they share many important features when it comes to Marketing success or lack thereof.
So, it’s natural to reflect: what have I learned as a Marketer from those experiences?
1. Walk the Street – When I arrived in China in 1994, it was like landing blindfolded in an emerging market. There were no TV ratings or market share data beyond Guangzhou, Beijing, and Shanghai—which collectively accounted for 5% of the Chinese population.
What to do?
Walk the street. Once a month, we would get on a plane and travel to a secondary provincial city and walk the streets, visiting 15-20 stores a day, talking to the merchants about what sold, what didn’t, and why.
Sometimes the best market research is simply getting out and talking to lots and lots of real people. That’s how we learned that sachets, or small 5-10g bags of detergent for once a week use, would never work like they did in shampoo.Read More
Like people, brands don’t live forever.* They’re born into the marketplace, grow and become successful, then iconic, and then stale as week old bread. The driver underpinning all these phases is unrelenting and rapid change. Seemingly, the forces driving our global economy are getting harder for brand owners to keep up with. Brands are dynamic. Brands have their cycles and they run their course. What’s difficult for brand owners and managers to grasp is when to continue to invest precious capital into a tired under-performing brand or move on.
This is particularly true if the brand was once a leader in the market. Market success always creates size, power, and breeds a false sense of security (think arrogance). Over time, this creates an unrealistic view of the marketplace reality, and a lack of urgency to correct course in maintaining relevancy among consumers the brand serves. In the US, both Sears and Kodak are stunning, real-time examples of this dynamic. (Kodak founder George Eastman pictured on the left)
Danger lurks when brand owners and managers of iconic brands become inwardly focused and miss new opportunities or competitive threats. Complacency by brand owners becomes the norm, and endless advertising messages, brand extensions, and ultimately commoditization blur the brand’s compelling meaning in the minds of consumers.
Often, the key to lasting brand success — longer brand life spans is an internal push to evolve and repel complacency. Leaving weaker brands and their brand managers to fade away and take their rightful place in brand history.
*Unless they continue to meet human needs, the ultimate reason for a brands' existence
Sponsored By: The Two-Day Brand Positioning WorkshopRead More
It is never too early in the process to understand who your brand’s customers are, what motivates them and how to reach them. Doing this at the end of the product development process is usually too late. You will have developed a more unique and compelling solution if it was based on these insights earlier on in the process.
Your solution needs to deliver greater value (that is more functional, emotional, experiential or self-expressive benefits for less money or effort) than competitive offerings for it to break through and gain share. Make sure you understand what your brand’s unique value proposition is. (brand positioning is a process that will define what your brand stands for/what it can 'own' in the mind)
Customer insight will help you create a brand message that resonates with your customers, one that is unique and purchase motivating. Effectively articulating relevant differentiation is key to building a strong brand. In addition to advertising copy, this message can be translated to a pithy brand “tagline” and a brand “elevator speech” (typically 40 to 70 words) that you and your company’s employees can use when talking about your brand.
Marketing your brand and its products should not be underfunded. If you offer superior products backed by outstanding service at very good prices delivering an outstanding value but no one has ever heard of your company, brand or products, how many sales will you get? Zero. No awareness = no sales. Awareness building is perhaps the most important component of building a strong brand.Read More
What consumers fear most nowadays is not failing to reach the top but tumbling down to rock bottom. The possibility of losing everything is a palpable peril in an economy wracked by high unemployment, weak growth, volatile stocks, disarray in Europe and gridlocked leadership. Most consumers have little if anything to fall back on should the worst happen, so it’s hardly surprising that they are thinking more about avoiding the worst than getting the best.
It wasn’t too long ago that consumers compared their personal situations to those with more, and worried about how they stacked up. This pull and tug of the top fueled the frenzy of trading up. Brands that offered more had a powerful attraction.
Lately, surrounded by others who have lost it all, or overwhelmed by such stories, many consumers now compare their individual situations to those with less, not those with more, and worry about how to avoid winding up like that. What is shaping their behavior is the repulsion of the bottom not the attraction of the top.
More and more consumers say to pollsters that they have slipped out of the middle class. Even many consumers with income and assets that secure them from any risk of ruin have also answered that they feel under threat. The context of the marketplace has refocused almost everybody on looking down with dread rather than looking up with aspiration.Read More
We regularly answer marketing questions here on Branding Strategy Insider. Today's question comes from Marc, a Senior Market Research Anlayst in Chicago, Illinois. He asks…
"Brad, I read your post on measuring brand equity. How does this apply for B2B brands?"
Thanks for your question, Marc. The same five drivers in our model above work for B2B brands. We have used this system to successfully measure the equity of many B2B brands in many categories. While one might not think that the "emotional connection" point is as relevant for B2B brands, I have seen research findings that indicate purchasing agents are often swayed by emotional factors such as liking a salesperson from a particular company, admiring a company's brand, etc. and will construct rational analysis to confirm what they feel are the best brands.
Most people are driven by emotions to a very large degree, even if they don't want to admit it. Regarding accessibility, one of our B2B clients routinely wins new business from competitors by having all items in stock and being able to ship overnight in a category in which out of stock items are common, even though that creates costly production shutdowns for the category's customers.
The one item that is trickier to measure for B2B clients is "unaided awareness" because typically we use client customer, lead and prospect lists to field the research. This obviously biases the brand awareness results. In B2C surveys, we almost always use independent consumer panels, eliminating brand awareness bias. One way to mitigate this problem for B2B clients is to buy lists. This works well in some B2B categories (in which the target customer is well defined and easily targetable) and not so well in others.Read More