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.
Category: Brand Ideals
- How well do we understand the people who are most important to our future?
- What do we and our brand stand for?
- What do we want to stand for?
- How are we bringing the answers to these questions to life?
These questions go to the heart of how the customer relationship is evolving over time and thus what its growth potential is. They bring your heritage and organizational DNA into sharp relief. They show you how far you’ve come from your start and how far you have to go to achieve your current and future goals. They provide the best possible way to do a gap analysis, and they furnish critical tools for centering a business around an ideal.
It takes guts, discipline, and honesty to ask these questions and act on the answers. Doing so enables you to define and develop a compelling difference from the competition in the eyes of customers — and back it up! Great businesses and great business leaders welcome these questions. They know it is folly to ignore them, or to try to answer them with mere wishes. Your answers have to connect your people’s core beliefs and your customers’ fundamental values in a genuine, significant way.
Those with the most trouble answering these four questions often have leaders who pride themselves on running “realistic,” numbers-driven organizations. Ironically, these leaders simply aren’t realistic enough to recognize the highly profitable top-and bottom-line growth that cascades from serving an ideal of improving people’s lives.
Numbers alone can’t be your North Star. It’s too easy to game them, consciously or unconsciously. As nineteenth century British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli and American author Mark Twain are both famous for saying, there are “lies, damn lies, and statistics.” Set your sights on an ideal, however, and you can follow it to highly profitable top-and bottom-line growth.Read More
On October 18, 2010, the top story in The Wall Street Journal pronounced, “Apple Inc. posted a 70% surge in quarterly earnings … the latest sign that CEO Steve Jobs’s gamble on consumer gadgets is paying off.” To us, this view seems incomplete. We would argue that because it focuses on the “what” and not the “why,” the story obscures the leadership role Jobs played in brand creation. It does not explain how, in the vast and fiercely competitive market of consumer gadgets, Jobs won out over a myriad of very savvy competitors. The fact is, Jobs is one of many players in the highly crowded market for consumer gadgets, but he holds a virtual monopoly in the market for self-expression. And that is the true source of Apple’s sustained competitive advantage. By maniacally focusing on its brand ideal — to empower people to express themselves — Apple has created a market that it singularly owns. We predict that the best businesses of the future will be those that, like Apple, serve a human ideal.
The Traditional View of Market Strategy
If, when Jobs returned to Apple in 1996, he had hired a traditional strategy consulting house to advise him on “where to play and how to win,” the consultants would have looked at the existing market for white spaces and trends. They would likely have forecast the following for the first decade in the new millennium: a rising population, more disposable income for many more consumers, Western values going global, the rise of a new middle class, technology everywhere, and wireless expanding to become the norm. Their white space analysis might have led to the recommendation: “Go after consumer gadgets.”
This advice would not have got Apple to where it is now. In 1996 (and even more so today), the market for consumer gadgets was replete with competitors. Had Apple taken such a traditional approach to market entry, its efforts would likely have been overshadowed by strong, established players such as Microsoft and Sony. By focusing on a shared human motivation – the desire to express one’s individuality – Jobs transcended the saturated market of consumer gadgets to create a whole new market — a market focused on the ideal of fulfilling the primordial human quest for self-expression.Read More