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.
It’s been nearly 15 years since the first publication of Canadian author Naomi Klein’s book “No Logo” (1999). To many, No Logo has been considered the genesis of the alter-globalization and anti-branding movement.
Of course we live in a completely different world now than in 1999. Since it’s publication, there have been other voices in the anti-branding movement–most notable is Jonathan Baskin’s book “Branding Only Works on Cattle”.
Baskin implies that branding is a complete intangible providing little lasting value, and nothing more than a big waste of time and money. Baskin’s premise suggests consumer purchase behavior trumps the conventional activities of image / awareness branding.
For those who may not be familiar with Klein’s anti-branding book, its premise is organized into four sections: “No Space”, “No Choice”, “No Jobs”, and “No Logo”. The first three sections deal with the negative effects of brand-oriented corporate activity, while the fourth discusses various methods people have taken in order to fight back the big branding (corporate) bullies.
For those voices in the anti-branding movement, the proliferation of brands over the past 15 years might seem as though no one has been listening. The whole idea of brand is stronger and more embedded into our culture than ever before.
Measuring Brand Value
It’s an established practice by marketers everywhere to trumpet the rankings of Interbrand’s (in association with Bloomberg Businessweek) annual survey of The World’s Top 100 Brands. According to Interbrand, the survey “evaluates brands much the way analysts value other business assets”. The idea being the stock valuation of big companies is largely the result of the financial value of their brands.
The truth about accurately measuring quantitative brand value is a matter of opinion. The bigger question for many business leaders and marketers still remains–does branding drive real business performance?
Many advances in measuring ROI for marketing activities have been developed in recent years. However, there is a big distinction between measuring marketing effectiveness and the intangible value of a brand.
If the quantitative measurement of brand value is a black art, (as Jonathon Baskin suggests), why does branding matter at all? And more importantly if branding is nothing more than an intangible activity promoting more consumption and consumerism rather than responsible citizenship, how much influence do the voices of the anti-branding movement have today within modern marketing organizations to make things better?Read More
For many startup CEOs in their first and second rounds of funding, their focus is usually on product development rather than creating a value proposition that will form the strategic direction of their fledgling enterprise.
Your value proposition is not about the products or services you sell. Your value proposition must articulate a highly valued outcome the customer desires. Think of your value proposition as a “castle in the mind” of your customers and clients.
In every business category today, more businesses are being commoditized by the sheer abundance of choices customers have. This is true if your business sells products or provides services. This is true for businesses large and small.
Customers have abundant choice. It’s customers who decide who leads and who follows. When customers have abundant choice, the competition is always fierce. Those entrepreneurs who eventually grow up to dominate their market represent a compelling “idea of value” in the minds of customers that is simply not available from the alternatives in the category.
Here are some fundamental questions that will require you answer with clarity of vision and confidence in your actions if you are to create “competitive advantage” to your business from the value you bring to the marketplace:
• How do you differentiate your enterprise in ways that matter to your customers?
• How do you command premium prices and greater profit margins when everyone else is fighting to break even?
• How do you gain radical advantage over your would-be competitors in an ultra-competitive marketplace?
Customers care about their desires and outcomes far more than the functions of your products and the details of your services. It is of critical importance for startup CEOs to understand this distinction. Your value proposition is more about beautiful castles (outcomes) rather than bricks and mortar (your products and services).Read More
This may sound like heresy but the term “brand” has been so over used in the marketing vocabulary that it’s meaning has become – meaningless. Ask a handful of people what a brand is and you’ll get a handful of different answers. Perhaps the word brand has outlived its usefulness?
With so many various definitions out there in brand land, it’s little wonder marketers tend to forget the dynamic aspects of relationship building with customers and consumers is not about branding at all – but shared values.
At the end of the day, we are all customers and consumers of something. As marketers, we tend to forget this and lose our empathy. As consumers and customers, we buy for deeper reasons beyond our needs. (By the way, the stuff we “need” is always purchased at the lowest price possible).
So much marketing simply talks at people. The idea of brand marketing being a real conversation with a beloved customer is still a lofty ideal in most organizations. For many marketing organizations, it’s still about selling something to somebody – commonly referred to in the parlance of our time as “brand engagement”. Call it what you will, the mission of marketing has always been to create demand and sell stuff.
As the saying goes, people hate to be sold but they love to buy. People aren’t lured into enduring relationships because you have a cool logo, make funny ads and offer coupons to convince them to buy your stuff. People (like you and me) want authenticity and trust in our relationships.
Before we allow brands into our world, we need to perceive them as just like us. Like a trusted and valued friend who has our well being at the heart of the relationship, your “idea of value” must represent a shared value not in abundant supply elsewhere.Read More
How much is enough? This is a rather profound question to ask a marketer. After all, marketing is about demand creation – more products, more extensions, more features, more sales and more consumption.
It’s not in the marketer’s job description to be thinking too much about the implications and the effects of ever more growth and consumption. In most organizations, marketers are only rewarded for how well they meet the ever-higher expectation for quarterly guidance numbers. Marketing is about more not less!
Numbers everywhere are swelling — here’s a few you may find interesting:
By 2050, the UN estimates the population of human beings on the little blue marble we call home is estimated to be nearing 10 billion. (Marketers take note that’s a 30% increase in market size!)
Today more people (roughly 4 billion) are living in the countries that comprise Asia than any and everywhere else on the planet. The population of Beijing alone is roughly 22 million people. Compare that to San Francisco at 3 million people. Getting around in your car in San Francisco is a nightmare; imagine driving one around in Beijing! More and more people in China’s big cities can now afford to buy and drive cars, and they have the air quality to prove it.
Our GMO based food supply is producing more crop yield all over the world, and in more and more places where crops aren’t supposed to grow, yet at the same time, honey bees, essential for the survival of systems we depend on for our survival, are mysteriously dying. Everything is connected to everything else and it’s no different in business.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. We humans could be short-timers. How much growth and consumption of everything can the ecosystem we all depend on support? How much is enough?
A brand marketer’s dilemma: answering the growth question.
Patagonia, marketer of premium price outdoor apparel, is one brand in particular asking itself this very question. And rightly so if they are to walk the talk of their do-no-harm-to-the-environment brand positioning.Read More
It’s been six years since the introduction of the first generation iPhone in the Summer of 2007. Looking back that seems like a century ago. Amazingly 9 million people have purchased the latest iPhone version released to the market less than a week ago. Seemingly Apple is following the predictable path and motivation all marketers eventually take toward product evolution.
Marketers simply want to make their products better than the previous version.
This is a pretty straight-forward motivation for all marketers. It’s particularly interesting in Apple’s case because the first iPhone was truly a radical product innovation. Along the way, everything else has been an augmentation to the original. The iPhone is now ubiquitous.
For Apple (and other brands too) incremental improvements are all that is left to do after the big innovation has been established. The smart phone category is now a slush pile of brands, features and applications. Apple now struggles to maintain is premium price positioning.
The genius of most marketers lies in their ability to continue to create product augmentations to known products. To the extent that a product is essentially a set of “benefits”, product marketers constantly seek to improve the product by adding or augmenting more features and benefits to an existing product, or they are multiplying or extending specialized versions of the original innovation to meet hyper segmented sets of consumers with specialized needs.
This happens in every product category from airlines to dog food. Whether by addition or multiplication, the value proposition of most products just keeps expanding getting bigger and bigger as time rolls on.
For brand consultants like me who spend all their time trying to uncover relevant differentiation among competitors in a category, product improvements– either by addition of new features and benefits, or through multiplying product extensions–can seem like fastest route to sameness and commoditization.Read More