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.
Challenges are the issues that everyone recognizes: those insatiable requirements that will eat up every minute of your attention and still not be fully resolved. Take customer expectations. Brands work like crazy to meet the expectations of customers, and then, because a competitor raises the bar, or customers get used to what is offered, or an industry breakthrough comes along, they find they are once again slipping behind, so they launch another Herculean effort to catch up and move ahead. There they stay for a time before they once again lapse. So they organize another super-human effort to regain control. And on it goes.
Challenges are constant. They’re frustrating, difficult, time-consuming … but ultimately, they’re actually part of being in business. And in a curious way, they equalize competition because they are issues faced by everyone. The volatility of being on top one moment and struggling to keep up the next applies, or at least has the potential to apply, to all.
A dilemma on the other hand is much more menacing. It’s much more than a keep-up requirement. It’s a do-or-die requirement. It’s end-of-your-business-model stuff. It’s the new way of doing things no-one was ready for. It’s the buy-out that revolutionizes the priority list. It’s the scandal that rocks everyone’s reputation …
It’s dangerous because it’s not constant. And the very thing that made it, or could have made it, an advantage for someone else – its irregularity – makes it doubly difficult for you as an incumbent. You can’t catch up to a dilemma. You can’t just improve, amend or adjust your way out of it. Instead you must unfurl your entire game plan, wipe much of the playbook clean and reset your operations. All the while, you’re losing money. Maybe the media’s giving you grief. Everyone wants to know why it’s taking you so long.Read More
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:Read More
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.Read More
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.Read More
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?Read More