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 October, 2012
No doubt, when Maryland state delegate Emmett C. Burns, Jr., penned his letter to Baltimore Ravens owner Steve Biscotti demanding that linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo be silenced about his support of marriage equality, presumably by threatening his job, Burns had no idea what sort of rebuttal he was inviting. It didn’t take long for him to find out.
Ten days later, Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe posted an open letter to Burns at Deadspin.com taking him to task for the views Burns had expressed in his letter to Biscotti. Kluwe already had a popular following for his blunt, acerbic, occasionally vulgar, frequently derisive tweeting, but his letter to Burns was over the top. The New York Times described it as a “profanity-laden rant,” which doesn’t even begin to describe it. It was helmet to helmet, and it took Burns right out of the game. Kluwe’s letter ignited a firestorm of support, and 48 hours after it was published Burns conceded he was wrong.
But Kluwe – who had a perfect score on his verbal SAT and turned down Harvard to play football at U.C.L.A. where he earned a double major in political science and history – was doing more than showing off his compositional dexterity with George Carlin’s seven dirty words. His letter was also, said The New York Times, an “insidiously thorough” and “multilayered, point-by-point decimation of Burns’s argument.” Kluwe didn’t just rant; he made a reasoned, logical argument, but in a ranting style that Kluwe was quoted as saying “comes from a storied history on the World of Warcraft forum boards.” In other words, Kluwe argued in the mode and vernacular of the most popular MMORPG of all-time, which is to say the rhetorical style of contemporary popular culture.
Stay with me as I build towards an important marketing point.
Kluwe’s sharp, vulgar tongue wasn’t deplored; it was celebrated, left and right. Rush Limbaugh said of Kluwe’s letter, “It is profane. It’s funny; it’s humorous. The guy’s got a way with words.” St. Paul Pioneer Press columnist Bob Sansevere remarked, “[Kluwe] might be a better writer than he is a punter…I’ve never seen an athlete who can write like that.” Kluwe was not criticized for speaking with an uncivil tongue; rather, his utterly unfriendly, discourteous manner was praised. However abrasive, however brash, however crude, it was commended for a good turn of phrase.Read More
Being the owner of a strong enduring, financially valuable brand is what “branding” and brand management should be all about. When it comes down to it however, most marketers place the emphasis of their brand building initiatives on the decorative aspects of branding – things like making logos, taglines, imagery, and marketing communications.
Marketers, at long last, need to stop, step back and adjust their thinking and approach to brand management as a means of delivering what customers expect and what customers experience. When brands deliver the goods, they become indispensable. When customers perceive brands as indispensable, they become transcendent brands and the brand’s owners reap the rewards of competitive advantage and enduring financial equity.
The wrong strategy and the wrong tactics.
Most marketers approach branding as a communications problem and spend many millions of dollars crafting messages to build brand awareness. Of course awareness is a critical component in marketing, but awareness of something is not the experience of something.
Building awareness is not strategy it’s a tactic. In many cases it’s the wrong strategy and the wrong tactic. It’s the cart before the horse. So much creative energy is placed on creating communications and promotional activities to build awareness that the communication itself becomes a surrogate for real brand experience. Just because your ads are cool, funny, or even memorable does not guarantee customers will engage with a brand in ways that make the brand indispensable to them.
Most media advertising is entertainment. While entertainment value may help build awareness, it does nothing for delivering long-term indispensable experiences customers crave from the brands they love.
So much branding is nothing more than flavor of the month. This is propagated by marketers throwing their advertising accounts up for review every year or so, seeking new “creative” ideas to “freshen” the brand and to get their brand name out there in ever more sticky ways. Ad agency business executives love these pitches. Most of this stuff is temporary rather than transcendent.
In our fragmented, media-obsessed culture, creating a transcendent indespensible brand requires a completely different approach to brand creation and brand management.Read More
The era of Big Data has arrived! Yet, few brand marketers seem to properly understand it, at least from the point-of-view of consumers.
Like Noah and The Flood, magazine covers have been foretelling the coming data deluge. The headline “Getting Control of Big Data” resounded from the cover of the October Harvard Business Review above a drawing of a lion tamer reeling backwards, hat flying. Two years ago, The Economist published a special section on “The Data Deluge and How to Handle It” with cover art of a businessman funneling the downpour of data being collected by his upturned umbrella to water a blooming flower. This past July, trade publication Target Marketing asked on its cover, “Are You Ready for Big Data?”
In August, Time reported a story for its general readership about the ways in which Big Data will revolutionize retail. In October, Bloomberg BusinessWeek posted a “Bloomberg West” video interview with EMC CEO Joseph Tucci who declared that Big Data will “transform every industry.”
The McKinsey Global Institute weighed in last year with a white paper entitled, “Big Data: The Next Frontier for Innovation, Competition, and Productivity.” IBM has established The Big Data Hub online as an overview of enterprise applications, including introductory resources for brand marketers such as an infographic summarizing four areas in which Big Data can optimize bottom-line marketing performance.
Big Data numbers are staggering. An Economist video reports that the quantity of global data is forecasted to be an eye-bugging 7,910 exabytes by 2015, over 60 times greater than 2005. This is three times the number of stars in the universe! Twitter alone generates over 230 million tweets each day, equivalent to 46 megabits of data per second. In this future, says The Economist, people will live in a world of sensors and software in which their “every move is instantly digitized and added to the flood of public data.”Read More
Today on Branding Strategy Insider, another brand strategy question from the BSI Emailbag. Malcolm from Rockville, Maryland writes:
"I’m an editor for a trade magazine covering the pharmaceutical and consumer health care product markets. I’m working on a story about a cold product brand, Zicam, that has had some big trouble in the past few years and is launching a marketing campaign to turn around the brand.
Problems for the Zicam brand, marketed by Matrixx Initiatives, began in 2009 when the brand’s top-selling products – intranasal gels – were recalled and discontinued after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said there was a problem with the zinc in the gels causing anosmia, loss of smell.
So, Matrixx Initiatives loses huge revenues and faces class action suits about Zicam, but stays afloat, is taken private and now is launching marketing to turn around sales. The marketing positions the product as best in shortening the duration of a cold when used at the first sign of a cold, or the first sign of the “monster” of a cold coming on. Now to my questions.
1. Shortening the duration of a cold, the new tag line of Zicam, is not a product category that I’ve seen before. What are the chances for Zicam or any brand to drive sales with marketing based on a category that might be new to consumers? Do brands run a risk of turning off consumers by claiming the lead in a category consumers might not be familiar with?
Creating a new "category of one" brand can be a very effective branding strategy as there is only one brand that can address the need(s) represented by the new category. In fact, this is the ultimate branding strategy, to become a "category of one" brand. Having said that, the need represented by the new category must be real. That is, the need must resonate with people as a powerful latent need. In this case, the need is to substantially reduce the impact of the cold from the very start. I would think that this is a very real need. If it is not a need to which people can immediately relate, then the brand would encounter a long and expensive uphill battle to communicate the new category to people so that they "get" what it is all about, with a lower probability of ultimate success.Read More
21 Do not look for consensus
Testing implies looking for consensus: any option could be chosen as long as it is elected by the majority of common consumers. In fact, intimacy with luxury decision makers teaches us that big success as a rule creates a lot of discussion within the company itself. This can be held as a working principle of luxury brand management. The key questions are: How to lead? Are consensual decisions the sign that it will be a lasting success or a temporary fad? Interestingly, in the perfume business – which is dominated by mass strategies – the most successful fragrance launch of the past 20 years, Angel, was chosen despite poor test results. Its success was driven by a minority of respondents that rallied around the product’s new and completely original scent. Religions start the same way: they succeed in creating a sect of militants and advocates.
Contributed to Branding Strategy Insider by: JN Kapferer, excerpted from his book, The Luxury Strategy with permission from Kogan Page publishing.
See all of the Anti-laws of Luxury Marketing here.
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