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Brand Marketing

Are You A Strategic Thinking Marketer?

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Brand Marketing And Strategic Thinking

Strategic thinking is a natural inclination – something I think you’re born with. In many business schools you can learn principles of strategic thinking, but like learning to play the piano, you won’t be very good at it unless you have the innate talent to see things strategically. Are you a strategic thinker?

I spend most of my time consulting with marketers on brand strategy – helping them to see useful patterns across the competitive landscape where everyone else sees complexity. In my experience, most marketers and brand managers just want to know HOW to get to their goal as fast and efficiently as possible. That’s tactics not strategy.

Strategic thinking requires you know WHY you are intent on pursuing any particular course of action. When you are clear about your why, the how to get there seemingly takes care of itself. Like gravity I don’t know how this principle works, I just know it does.

Interestingly enough, those with the gift of strategic thinking hardly see it as such. Like all natural systems – like breathing – your gifts operate effortlessly mostly under your awareness. You may be a brilliant strategic thinker but because it’s so natural to you, you may not acknowledge it and self apply it to your conscious behavior.

To help you connect with your gift for strategic thinking and the power it has to strengthen your resolve to achieve your marketing goals, here are several attributes and themes that may seem familiar to you and are shared by all strategic thinkers.

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Brand Innovation

Dreams And Design: Pathway To New Brand Value

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Designing Brand Value

I remember years ago when my inquisitive 5 year-old daughter was watching me drawing some logo ideas in my Moleskin sketchbook. She asked me what I was drawing and I replied “an idea”.  Then she asked me “where do ideas come from”?  I replied, “They come from inside my head”.  She proceeded to give me a funny face look and then she asked, “How do they get in there Daddy”?

Out of the mouths of babes, a great question indeed – how do they get in there?

For over three decades I have been completely fascinated with ideas and innovation.

Or to put it another way– turning nothing into something. Creative ideas are what have separated human beings from everything else on this planet.  From stone tools to our modern technology, ideas, inspirations, and flashes of insight has been the genesis of every innovation humans have conceived. First it has to be a dream, and then it has to be designed.

Dreaming and designing is the activity that turns nothing into something, bringing new value where there was none before.

Moving ever deeper into the 21st century, we are collectively leaving our industrial age frame of reference and bias and embracing the challenges inherent in the new normal – a global economy now based on ideas.  The shift places a premium on the talent and skill of dreaming and designing. Individuals and organizations must excel at both to thrive in the brave new world.

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Branding and Social Media

Brand Voice In The Social Media Age

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Brands today obsessively seek massive social followings. The driver of that social activity is content marketing. Today most content marketing is nothing more than disguised brand advertising–and customers and consumers mostly ignore it. To gain a massive following in social channels requires a sophisticated understanding and disciplined application of Brand Voice.

Brand Voice is simply the quality of the brand’s presence in the marketplace. At every interaction with the audience, the Brand’s voice (the manner in which it communicates its purpose, values, reputation and experiences) must be created and managed with precision.

That means, marketers have a greater responsibility to not let the voice of their brand be at the whim of the latest creative or style trend, appear sloppy, inconsistent, and mindless.

Leading brands always consider how customers and consumers will receive their blogs, websites, social media channels, and content creation output. In the social media age, this is one area in the branding ecosystem that must be spot on without compromise.

Brand Voice is everything and the only thing.

In speaking to another person, your tone of voice is not what you say, but how you say it. How well your communication comes across determines how well others will respond to what your saying.  It’s exactly the same for brand communication.

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Brand Innovation

Devastating Innovation Rules The Day

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Hardly a generation ago, the Rand McNally Atlas was the beloved source for navigation and finding your way around. Then came satellite navigation technology and a host of innovators popped onto the scene. Brands like Garvin and Tom Tom were born and prospered for a minute – then Google maps became ubiquitous on smart phones and consumers quickly forgot GPS devices.

The same painful lesson was recently experienced by Blackberry – one of the early innovators of the mobile phone. Blackberry is now in the bone yard of companies whose businesses were devastated by rapid technological innovation.

Radical innovation has given way to devastating innovation. Clever brand strategy and marketing can’t save those aforementioned once successful brands. They are now buggy whips in an age of technology innovation that devastates whole industries in nearly the blink of an eye.

The human mind is an amazingly powerful technology. Seemingly there is no stopping the rapidity of devastating innovation. It’s happening faster and with more profound effects than anyone can imagine in real time.

Business and management gurus can’t keep pace with the proliferation of innovation. It’s hard to imagine that the smart phone would have such devastating impact on a host of products and industries like still and video cameras, recording equipment, publishing, travel, music and entertainment, even flashlights. No one could anticipate the speed and ferocity of the new normal.

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Brand Strategy For Healthcare

Positioning Health Insurance Brands

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No doubt, it will be fascinating to witness in the coming year the machinations of health insurance marketers as they create competitive advantage for their brands against the backdrop of the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare implementation.

The good news for health insurance brands is they will have many more customers as the law mandates everyone must have health insurance coverage. The bad news for health insurance marketers is their offerings (as mandated by the law) will be pretty much the same – the only perceivable difference between them is the tiered “good, better, best” pricing structure the government allows.

And lets face it; price is the only thing that matters to consumers when it comes to health insurance coverage. Especially those consumers (think small business owners) who happen to own individual plans. For many people, the role of price is the main brand driver.

Of course, we all know that positioning brands for competitive advantage is a head game. As the well-worn phrase goes, the value of a brand, “lives in the mind” not in your branding.

In the age clutter and social media transparency, consumers are caring less about marketing and more about community and shared values. Brands that fail this price of entry won’t be able to even get in the game.

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