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 Management
Brands and the organizations, products and services that they represent must deliver real customer value. That is, they must address real human needs and desires. And they must do so for monetary and convenience-related costs that deliver at least a reasonable, if not an outstanding, value. So, brands should deliver real functionality. Often, the most visionary and innovative brands and the ones that make the best use of emerging technologies are best at doing this. So are brands that are backed by operationally excellent organizations and whose organizations stress outstanding customer service.
Having said that, there is a less tangible, but equally, if not more important element to branding – what the brand stands for symbolically. Research has shown that most decisions are made emotionally. And people are emotional beings. A brand that has a clear and admirable mission, vision and purpose, that has strongly articulated brand values, that is associated with important ideas, that takes a strong stand for what is right – that brand will win people’s hearts and loyalty. Further, research has shown that these brand associations can be created well before the product or service purchase or usage experience. And they will actually enhance the product purchase and usage experience even though these associations are completely intangible.
While some brand managers, depending on organization structure and roles, may have control over the more tangible brand benefits, every brand manager should have control over the symbolic brand values and associations. And this is where the magic occurs. I encourage you to think deeply about how your brand can inspire people, how it can make them feel good about the state of the world. Take your brand to the next level. Take it beyond functionality to the world of compelling ideas and emotionally moving values.
Sponsored By: The Brand Positioning Workshop
Where Marketers Evolve: The Un-Conference: 360° of Brand Strategy for a Changing World
May 6th and 7th, 2014 in South Beach, Florida
A unique, competitive-learning workshop limited to 50 participants (Selling Out Quickly)
As in the marketplace — some will win, some will lose, All will learn
~In Partnership with the American Marketing Association and the Miami Marlins~
Branding Strategy Insider is a service of The Blake Project: A strategic brand consultancy specializing in Brand Research, Brand Strategy, Brand Licensing and Brand Education
There’s an increasing temptation to see technology as the harbinger of hope and hazard. Every day, the trendy press and commentators on social media carry reports of the next “it” technology together with their recommendations on what every business needs to be doing to ride the wave. Many of these wonder-techs seem to live a few days longer than their press release in the collective conscious. Some though will indeed change the world we live in and how we interact. This report by McKinsey for example identifies 12 such technologies that the company says could have a potential economic impact of between $14 trillion and $33 trillion a year by 2025.
But should our assessment of the risks and opportunities that sectors, and the brands within those sectors, face focus just on emerging innovations and their expected functional impacts? That seems simplistic.
In a report of its own from a couple of years back, KPMG pondered the impact that ten interconnected and interacting sustainability megaforces will have on business over the next 20 years – broadly speaking, a parallel timeframe to the era being considered by McKinsey. Decoupling human progress from resource use and environmental decline, KPMG suggested, represents both the central challenge of our age and one of the biggest sources of future success.
So yes, while there are forces that are clearly pushing economic opportunity forward, there are also clear constraints and restraints that will work to hinder the growth plans of many.Read More
In a world of choice, it’s tempting to retouch your brand story to make it more appealing. It’s tempting to say your clothes are made in one country, when in fact some of the garment is made somewhere else. It’s easy to state that you have a rigorous environmental policy when in fact it’s still under development. It’s simple to say that your food has the perfect mix of whatever, when in fact your machines are not calibrated to tell you exactly how much of which ingredient will end up in a randomly sampled pack. It just takes a moment to add a qualification you don’t have and to say it’s from an impressive institution – because you know you’re that good anyway.
And it’s easy to justify all this, because “the competition made us do it”, or “everyone says this stuff” or “we’re just telling people what they want to hear” or “we have everything but the paperwork on that” or “we didn’t know” or “it was just an oversight”.
Sometimes, the story of who you are and what you’ve done is not perfect for a particular situation. Sometimes, you can’t match their expectations exactly. You will look “fat” in some areas and a bit loose in others. There will be wrinkles and scars and marks. But that’s what makes you real to your brand. That’s what gives you, to paraphrase Hannah Samuel, a reputation worthy of your brand and vice versa.Read More
One of the intriguing aspects of understanding brands is that one must be prepared not just to balance but to actively address the contradictions that humans happily live with. Blogger Daniel Walsch sums up those inconsistencies beautifully: “We want to be alone. We want to be part of groups. We are benevolent. We are selfish. We want to be independent. We want guidelines. We are self serving. We are generous. We stick to the truth. We shade the truth. We have violent tendencies. We desire peace. And on and on it goes.”
Brands mirror that humanity in the pace at which they are increasingly asked to compete. And that pace is simultaneously handbrake and accelerator.
Handbrake – in that customers want consistency. They want brands they can recognize, that they feel they know, that make sense to them, that they can depend on. They want brands that they can just reach for, without giving them a second thought. They want brands that feel like part of their normal, ordinary lives. Customers look to recognition and reputation as guidelines for brand preference. They form their longest-lasting impressions from those elements, which as we all know, take years to build. These static elements underpin the very structure and nature of the brand itself: identity and story. That’s why Coke is Coke and Chanel is Chanel. We know them. They are deeply and intrinsically familiar to us as trustmarks.
But, at the same time, and in virtually the same breath, customers also want foot-to-the-floor excitement. They want brands to stimulate them, to give them new things to think about, to upgrade and improve what they get for their money. They want their brands to solve problems for them, give them things to talk about, to be interesting. This sense of excitement is part of what entices people to buy. New products and regular updates are how a brand gets noticed in a world thirsty for the new and the shiny. Which is why the world goes crazy when its favorite brands release new versions or do things they’ve never done before – like have a man front for an iconic perfume. Because, in today’s “upgrade culture”, patience is a diminishing virtue. Increasingly, as I have pointed out before, all brands, not just clothing and lifestyle brands, are adopting the speed and dynamics of fashion.Read More
In this post, Nigel Hollis explores a fundamental misalignment. Brand owners tend to view customer experiences in isolation, by channel, whereas customers of course view and grade their experiences cumulatively.
Tom Asacker captures why customers think this way. A brand, he says, is “one, interdependent system of behavior”. The problem is that in too many organizations the “system” has many masters and each wants independent control of their domain. CMOs, who might be expected to have responsibility for the overall experience as of right, do not. That’s because large chunks of the interface with customers, and the factors that influence that interface, remain for the most part outside of their control. They do not fit neatly into the “normal” org chart definition of what constitutes marketing.
And when multi-lateral ownership makes contact with a unilateral expectation, just as at Penn Station, the scene is set for disappointment. As a result, there is significant potential for the system to jeopardize itself at any time, at any weak point – through bad training, bad coding, bad quality, bad service, bad news, in fact bad a-lot-of-things.
In seeking to remedy this, marketers have confused the questions. They have asked “What must I own?” and judged it as synonymous with “What must I run?”, then involved themselves in a struggle for control of data in order to have access to better insights. From an internal point of view that seems to make sense – but again, viewed from an external perspective, the misalignment is obvious. Customers don’t judge a brand on what it knows. (In fact, as Brian Solis has rightly pointed out, they often don’t know what marketers know about them.) Instead customers simply judge a brand on how it succeeds for them.Read More