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.
I honestly can’t remember how I came to see this video. It features Katy Woodrow-Hill, the head of planning at Dare, describing her top four tips on becoming a ‘doing’ brand. But I thought the ideas were well worth repeating here.
I have amended the order in which the tips are given for what I hope is a good reason. One of the biggest mistakes that marketers make is to focus on what they want to do or say without connecting it to the brand’s purpose, the difference the brand is intended to make in people’s lives. You need to start there and work out how to best publicize the brand.
1. Make what you do relevant to what you stand for
Good works are great in their own right, but if you want get the most out of your investment then you need to tie the actions back to what the brand stands for. The obvious example of a brand that does this superbly well is Red Bull. The brand invests in a myriad of different sports and events but they are all tied back to the idea that Red Bull uplifts mind and body.
2. Make what you do relatable
Assuming that your brand can make a difference in people’s lives, then the key question is whether what it stands for – the promise, positioning, personality – resonates with the target audience. What you do has to mean something to them, it has to resonate.
3. Make what you do simple for people to understand
So true but so often ignored in practice. “People will figure it out,” has to be one of the most over-used excuses for poorly executed creative. One time in a hundred the audience might be so intrigued that they want to figure out what is being shown or said. On the 99 other occasions, they simply click away to something of more interest.
In a recent post on iMedia Connection, Millward Brown Optimor’s Pandora Lycouri and Dmitri Seredenko conclude that Samsung can’t buy love. In “Can Samsung Buy Love?” they contend that simply outspending Apple is not going to overturn the strong emotional connection with users that Apple has earned through consistent innovation and iconic style. Maybe not, but it might help Samsung charge a price premium over other brands.
I have recently spent some time exploring how some brands manage to charge a price premium. Premium is the ability to command a price premium in any product category; it is not the same as luxury. Luxury brands practice an extreme form of premium marketing and additionally leverage the power of scarcity. Limited supply helps convey a perception of exclusivity.
In the course of my exploration, I have spent some time exploring the mobile phone category in the USA using BrandZ data and Euromonitor. Given the fast-paced nature of the market it is the marketing equivalent of studying how fruit flies evolve. Brands enter the market with something new, they evolve to fend off competition and then, like as not, die. Anyone remember Palm?
The fascinating thing about the entry of the Apple iPhone to the category was the way the brand immediately supported a price premium over the available brands because it was clearly seen to be different from them. Functionally and from a design viewpoint, it was unlike anything else and so it commanded a price point unlike anything else. This was apparent in our data from 2008 onwards even though the brand took a while to establish widespread salience.Read More
My friend and colleague Erik du Plessis once observed to me that “survival of the fittest” was really a misnomer and that it should be “death of the least fit.” As he noted, the lion gets up every morning knowing that it just needs to be faster than the slowest buck, and the buck wakes up knowing it just needs to be faster than the slowest in its herd.
His comments are entirely relevant to the analysis presented by Chemi in Bloomberg Businessweek. Companies and brands do not need to be the best in their industry to survive, they simply need not to be the worst. However, another factor not considered by Chemi’s analysis was price. If a brand wants to command a price premium it needs to offer a better than average experience and be seen as different in a good way.
If all the companies in a product or service category are viewed badly by consumers, then it may not matter if they are dissatisfied with their current choice since they have no obvious alternative. Lacking alternatives they simple have to tough it out, getting more disgruntled and resentful the longer the poor experience continues. Particularly where service contracts or annual fees are involved, people will have limited opportunities to switch and prior experience of changing provider may prove painful and futile. Of course, from the company viewpoint it is a great business model to have customers who feel trapped and feel they have nowhere to go. You can squeeze as much profit out of them as possible… until, that is, someone comes up with a better offer.Read More
David Aaker thinks that it will be decades before Chinese companies are ready to develop strong brands capable of competing on the global stage. While I do not agree with his blanket assessment, I can personally vouch for one of the reasons he cites for his point of view. Unless senior managers at Chinese companies value the power of branding, then investment in brand and advertising will likely be wasted.
One thing that interests me about Aaker’s assessment is that it apparently ignores the fact that Chinese brands do not need to go global in order to scale.
China is a big market now, and McKinsey estimates that the number of households with an income over US$16,000 will increase by a factor of five in the next 10 years. However, many Chinese brands do aspire to go global, so let’s have a look at Aaker’s rationale for why they are unlikely to succeed.
First, Aaker asserts, existing multinationals have a set of brand management systems and tools that are lacking in Chinese firms. This may be true, but in high growth markets like China, even multinationals are struggling to attract people who can utilize those tools effectively. Another important point is that working from a Western playbook does not always work in China, and it would be wrong to assume that Chinese companies lack creativity when it comes to marketing.Read More