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Brand Culture

Changing The Brand Culture – To What Purpose?


Change Management Strate

Organizations tend to speak about purpose and change as if they are separate subjects. Increasingly, we’ve been asking whether the two could and should be much more closely linked, prompting a shift in question from “Change – to what end?” to “Change – to what purpose?”

If we could focus change on ideas that were more universal than corporate and that spread the perceived benefits more broadly, would that make a difference to the success rate? Because right now, the emphasis on change programs to accelerate growth is not working. John Kotter’s assertion that change, as it is currently implemented, mostly fails is well canvassed and, it appears, time-proven.

Around 70% of large-scale change programs fail to meet their goals – and a key reason for that, according to Gary Hamel and Michele Zanini, is that organizations cannot resist managing the implementation of change rather than looking for ways to psychologically and systematically embed it. In effect, the authors suggest, most change programs are too late, too self-serving, too autocratic and too engineered to succeed.

In a world fixated on agile and nimble companies, creating a business that can adapt – and innovate – quickly is difficult. The means moves faster than the minds and at a pace that significantly exceeds habit, embedded behaviors and culture. Simplistically the failures seem a classic case of “the process” over “the people”.

Perhaps a better way forward would be to look at change through an entirely different lens.

The alternative Hamel and Zanini suggest is the introduction of change platforms that syndicate and democratize change across the organization, that are based on initiative rather than mandate and that encourage free-form experimentation and adaptation rather than project-managed milestones. Such an approach, they assert, encourages wider and more accountable participation, fosters honest conversation, diversifies solutions rather than seeking to close everything down to a single answer and seeds local experimentation that can then be refined in a less risky environment before becoming part of the full way forward.

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Brand Growth

Brand Success: Ideas Or Access?


Global Brand Growth

As scale focused brands continue to push their footprints further afield in the search for growth, big distributors, both online and off, offer strong and proven channels through which to reach consumers. Such channels are very attractive – they are major brands in their own right, they bring kudos and market credibility, and of course they have huge client and follower communities. But the share of the asking price that those distributors demand in exchange for that increased market penetration can put them at odds with those who create/ manufacture/ produce.

At stake: who gets to decide price, margin and even quality? The creators – who believe that the idea does not exist without them? Or the distributors – who are of the view that the idea won’t sell without them? The dilemma – who is most effective in realizing the value of the brand? The answer, according to Christine Arden, is whoever touches the customer last.

Increasingly, the price of greater access is the commoditizing of the value of the idea – or at the very least, pressure to make the idea more and more available by making it cheaper. That’s clearly the case with Amazon and the big publishers. It’s also why Taylor Swift said she divorced Spotify this week.

Chris Anderson once said that technology marches towards free. I wonder whether access does the same. As distributors and large retailers gather more data about consumers, gain greater and greater footprints and as the channels they control become ubiquitous, there seems to be increasing pressure to promote volume in order to keep the cash flowing. If you’re a brand in this network, that brings with it huge pressure to continue to drop the take-home amounts in order for the distributor’s take-up model to work.

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Building Emotional Connections

The Emotional Drivers Of B2B And B2C Brands


B2B B2C Brand Strategy

Philip Kotler once described brands as helping people to make decisions. In a world of frenzied competition and bewildering choice, they are of course the fastest, simplest and most effective way to link a name to a perception of value. What can easily be overlooked however is that B2B and B2C brands are not just about very different types of decisions but that they also involve very different types of decision making.

For the most part, consumer brands look to influence an individual and/or groups of individuals (tribes). They are at their most powerful ‘in the moment’. They are about excitement through identification, and they are often strongly influenced by culture, taste, fashion and what’s important to people as people.

B2B brands have different drivers – and the most important of these, I believe, is that no-one buys a B2B brand alone. Normally, there are multiple decision-makers involved, each with their own specific areas of responsibility and priority. There’s normally an elongated decision process (sometimes highly regimented) where final approval for go-ahead must pass set stages alongside the many other agendas and priorities that companies juggle every day. As a result, the decision to use a B2B brand is often strongly influenced by track record, responsiveness, knowledge and of course reputation.

The temptation is to believe that B2B brands lack emotion because they are subject to highly logical decisions. That’s not the case – B2B is purchased emotionally as well as logically – but the emotions for buying B2B are very different from those of consumer brands. For the most part, B2B brands need to focus on risk alleviation. That means that in contrast to the excitement that consumer brands are looking to generate, B2B brands need to focus on generating emotions centered on reassurance – professionally, technically, financially, legally and of course personally (for those championing use of the brand itself).

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Brand Management

10 Things A Brand Must Have


Brand Management

People buy brands, not managers. And yet think about the number of managers who make judgment calls, sometimes very big judgment calls, based on their own opinions and experiences? They feel comfortable because they are expressing views and making decisions that fit with their worldview. But that doesn’t mean they’re necessarily doing the brand justice, particularly if their viewpoints compromise the personality of the brand itself.

Hands up if you’ve ever been to this meeting:

“I like orange.”

Or “Don’t make it orange.”

“Use short words.”

Or “People don’t read.”

“We need to be on TV.”

And/or “We need to export.”

Brands thrive when they are based on meaning, trust, relevance and delight – but of course they must deliver that meaning, trust, relevance and delight to the buyer, not the seller. Otherwise they risk narcissism.

Every brand must pursue a life of its own – not affirm the life of a manager. And to me, that integral sense of being an asset in its own right hangs on ten things. A brand must have:

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Brand Value & Pricing

Pricing The Brand Ecosystem


Brand Pricing Strategy

Take a look at the diagram below courtesy of Ryan Jones (thanks for the point Marc Abraham). It shows how Apple spans its offerings over a surprisingly wide range of price points.

Apple Brand Pricing Strategy

By introducing new lines, retaining older lines at degraded prices and through the use of provider subsidies, Apple delivers an impressive range of ‘step-in’ opportunities for customers to join its ecosystem.

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