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Category: Brand Management

Brand Management

The Death Of Digital Marketing Is Upon Us

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Marketers must prepare for the death of digital

When I was a young professor stalking the corridors of American business schools there were certain courses you could rely on to be popular with MBA students: financial statement analysis, corporate strategy and international marketing. Yes, international marketing.

In the 70s, when the big US business schools started to expand, they realized that one of the biggest knowledge gaps for thirty-something American managers was how to leave a Boston or Chicago head office and operate successfully in another country. International marketing became a huge course for MBA students for that reason until a curious thing happened. A combination of globalization, the Internet, international business schools and the general emergence of the 21st century meant that international marketing became, well, marketing. By the time we reached the year 2000 it was almost impossible to imagine any business that wasn’t global in reach and operation. Business schools started to include real global cases studies across their syllabuses and the need for, and popularity of, an explicit course in international marketing dwindled to the point of obsolescence.

Diageo’s CEO Ivan Menezes got me thinking about all that again last week when he discussed his company’s rather impressive recent numbers. Diageo is one of the world’s more advanced marketing companies and so what Menezes said at the end of his analysis caught my attention. “It is not about doing ‘digital marketing’, it is about marketing effectively in a digital world,” he explained.

Bang! There it is. When we look back for the moment that the digital dodo was exposed I’ll bet a few experts will dredge up Menezes’ quote, blow off the dust, and cite it as a prescient moment in the death of digital. There are plenty of others making the same funereal comments, of course. Marc Pritchard, global brand officer at P&G, announced that the era of digital marketing ended in 2013. Similarly, Nissan’s CMO Roel de Vries has long looked forward to the day when the word ‘digital’ disappears and AMV BBDO’s CEO Ian Pearman has been asking clients to drop the D word for several years. Digital may not be dead yet, but they’ve started digging its grave.

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Brand Management

Never Forget Marketing’s Most Basic Principles

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Time To Remember Marketing’s Most Basic Principles

There is no consensus around when the formal discipline of marketing actually began. For British marketers it is common to cite 18th Century businessman and potter Josiah Wedgwood as the inventor of modern marketing. More accurately, most scholars point to America where the first marketing courses were offered back in 1905 and where the first marketing textbook was published a year later.

Irrespective of the exact date, it’s clear that marketing is now more than a century old. Age confers many advantages – not least acceptance. Thirty years on, I can still remember the look on my beloved English teacher’s face when I told him I was off to Lancaster University to study Marketing and not Oxbridge to read English. “Marketing!” he exclaimed with the horrified look one might use on being told of an intended career as a heroin dealer or African warlord. “Marketing!”

Those days are thankfully over. But gentrifying marketing confers other risks. As our discipline ages and the concepts of marketing become established and embedded into the lexicon of everyday life, we risk forgetting what their original definitions meant and how we were supposed to apply them. Let me give you three very real examples.

Exclusive. It’s a word so beloved of modern marketing it has become paradoxically widespread. Traditionally the term has come to be associated with anything that carries a premium price. Now, you can buy exclusive ice creams or children’s toys or doorknobs (as I discovered last weekend). It’s all patent nonsense, of course. An exclusive brand is not simply one that fancies itself as such or one that attempts to charge more than its rivals. To be truly exclusive a brand must only appeal to a tiny minority of the market and then steadfastly reject all others. To be exclusive, at least in its original meaning, is to say to vast swathes of the market: ‘I reject you from my brand and will do everything in my power to keep you out.’ Exclusivity demands that the traditional four Ps of marketing are not harnessed to generally maximize sales across the whole market but rather as a weapon that turns off, shuts down and closes out most potential buyers. There are very few genuinely exclusive brands left in the world but Ferrari is certainly one of them. I say that not because of its high prices or high quality, but because its most recent offering – LaFerrari – was only available to customers who already owned at least five previous models. That’s exclusivity for you.

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Brand Management

7 Rules Of Brand Management

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7 Rules For Brand Growth

1. Remember your roots

Strong brands come from people, places and times, and they remember it whether they are luxury brands or not. Brands too often forget about or ignore their origins, and marketers in the English-speaking world are the guiltiest of it. For example when Starbucks lost its way, the real problem was that it forgot its origins. It took former chief executive Howard Schultz to return to the company and help rediscover its roots. All brands have a story of their founding: it describes why the business came into being. Most marketers don’t know how powerful theirs is.

2. Work out what’s in your brand’s DNA

A brand’s DNA should comprise just one strong concept and no more than five words that define how it behaves. In luxury it is defined by history and the consumer has no say in it. But brand DNA is about walking the walk, not talking the talk, and it isn’t necessary to communicate explicitly what it’s made up of. People find George Clooney sexy for what he says and does, and for the way he looks, not because of the structure of his genes. Brands that have their words hanging up in the lobby are missing the point. If a consumer doesn’t repeat those things back to you verbatim, it’s not a problem.

3. You can play with your codes

Codes are what make brands recognizable to their consumers – they are not just logos and they are not just visual, but they are motifs that the brand unmistakably owns, however they appear. Brands need to recognize that they can and must play with their codes to balance heritage with modernity – the constantly changing Google ‘doodle’ on the search engine’s homepage being one example.

This also means brands shouldn’t submit to “logo tyranny”, where marketers think the same typefaces, colors and proportions have to be rigidly repeated. This is not branding. This is what people do when they don’t understand branding.

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Brand Management

The Varying Ways Consumers Engage With Brands

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The varying roles consumers participate with brands

It’s tempting to think of consumers in binary terms in relation to the brands you are responsible for: in, or out; buying, or not buying; loyal, or not loyal. But for many brands, the status of an individual can be more complex. At any given point in time, people can take on other roles in relation to your brand, and in relation to your competitors’ brands, that nevertheless have a direct influence on your competitiveness.

The Supporter – They can be an open and unapologetic endorser of what you do, among their friends, on social media, online. Whether they buy from you, and how often they buy from you, in no way changes their status as critically valuable endorsers of your brand through word of mouth. They may support you because of what you stand for, what you make, how they see you, what you sponsor, any number of reasons…and that support may or may not be visible to you through social monitoring.

Keeping your supporters onside and engaged with who you are is fundamental to your brand’s reputational health. It’s important that you acknowledge them collectively and that you openly and generously credit and thank them as a group when they rush to support what you have done or rally to defend a change you have made.

The Enemy – The counter-balance to your supporters is the community that, for whatever reason, you rub up the wrong way. They may disagree with your right to exist, what you make, how you operate, the influence you have…and they are often vociferous and persistent in their attacks. You’re never going to win much of this group over in my view and for that reason your consideration of what they say needs to be carefully worked through.

I think there are three aspects to this: take note of the reasonable criticism, and use it to make changes to how you work and what you stand for; disregard the radical criticism altogether and refuse to engage with it or be influenced by it; and finally draw on what is being said about you by these critics to more clearly define who you are and who you are not, what you believe and what you yourselves disagree with.

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Brand Management

Founder And Brand: Forever Linked

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Burt's Bees Brand

At first sight, an MBA student called Philip Knight, a bee-keeper called Ingram Shavitz and a designer called Donna Faske perhaps don’t appear to be the most fascinating subjects for a branding post. But I write this week not about who these three people were, but rather what they became.

Knight the MBA student certainly got his money’s worth at Stanford Business School. It was mid-way during the course that he was asked by his entrepreneurship professor to write a business plan. Knight came up with a 3,000 word essay entitled ‘Can Japanese Sports Shoes Do to German Sports Shoes What Japanese Cameras Did to German Cameras?’. That essay, combined with a trip to Japan after graduation, resulted in the formation of the Blue Ribbon Sports company, which, a few years and a $35 logo later, was renamed Nike.

In 1970, Ingram Shavitz gave up his New York City apartment and his job and drove his battered old Volkswagen north to Maine. Looking for a simpler way of life he changed his name to Burt, bought a small parcel of land and began to keep bees, living off the meager income they produced. In 1984, Burt picked up a young hitch-hiker called Roxanne. She became Burt’s lover and then his partner in a new business that used beeswax mixed with almond oil to create a simple, all natural lip balm. In honor of the insects that made the business possible, she named the business Burt’s Bees.

Donna Faske was always talented. Born in Queens, she attended Parsons School of Design and began working for Anne Klein straight out of school. As Klein’s assistant she took part in the infamous 1973 Battle of Versailles in which American designers competed in a fashion face-off against their French counterparts. Faske eventually became head of design and married her childhood sweetheart, Mark Karan. The marriage failed and the newly-single Donna Karan decided to start her own line of clothes in 1984. Inspired by the city of New York and the new era of femininity that the eighties ushered in, Karan’s clothes were an immediate sensation.

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