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Category: Brand Strategy

Brand Strategy

Every Brand Must Dream And Inspire

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Every brand must be inspirational

Positivity comes with benefits if this article on the optimism bias is anything to go by. While, collectively, our view of the future can swing in synch with the news, the budget or the crime stats, one study found that 76% of respondents were optimistic about the future for their own family. According to the author, “Even if that better future is often an illusion, optimism has clear benefits in the present. Hope keeps our minds at ease, lowers stress and improves physical health.”

The take away for brands is obvious. Clearly, there is merit in espousing a clear and positive view of the way forward. It’s not enough to just inform. Brands need to inspire, because that optimistic prognosis of what lies ahead holds real opportunities in terms of engaging and involving people. It humanizes brands.

Optimism, I surmise, also aligns directly with our worldview. In other words, what we look forward to is a world that is most like the world we believe in and want to live in. Politicians of course understand this instinctively. So, it’s interesting isn’t it, that so many brands deal in the present, without building a clear bridge to that tomorrow. They do so because their commercial imperatives tell them such containment is realistic – but in point of fact, perhaps articulating an optimistic future is an underpinning opportunity to cementing long-term loyalty.

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Brand Strategy

Branding And Brand Repositioning Examples

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Nike Brand Evolution

Today on Branding Strategy Insider, another question from the BSI Emailbag. Seth, a VP of Marketing from Seattle, Washington writes:

“Can you or your colleagues think of or recommend any good examples of branding and / or brand repositioning that I could share with our executive leadership team to help them understand in more concrete terms the branding initiative I’m trying to lead them through? It could be either:

Brand Repositioning
A good example of a well-known brand that used to be positioned as X, and then changed their brand position to Y, with evidence of how they infused that new brand into everything they do? One example I’ve used before is Southwest Airlines, but I don’t really know their story, and can only cite one or two examples of evidence.

 Branding
Even if the company didn’t reposition themselves, can you think of a good example where a company has infused their brand position into everything they do—their business decisions, their recruitment efforts, the products and services they offer, how they design their customer interactions and touch points, etc.?

Any thoughts you have would be welcome, as I really want to demonstrate the power of effective positioning and branding to our team to get them on board with this important work.”

Thank you for your question Seth. Marketers today have the distinction above all others in their organization of not only having to be successful practitioners of their craft, but excellent educators / defenders of the value of their work. I’m happy we can help you make your case. Here are some well-known examples:

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Brand Strategy

Is Your Brand A Choice Or An Option?

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Brands Need To Be The Choice Not The Option

Just getting a presence in most markets can be hard work. One of my friends is finding that in the beverages game – a longer runway than he and his partners expected, and a lot more patience required as well. Long days, he says, having to justify every inch of shelf space you’re allocated.

Same with being a speaker or a consultant. But doing all the work to get on the map just elevates you to the status of another option.

That’s not the same as being a choice.

Options form part of the line-up for how customers decide. Choices are a conscious decision in themselves. Option means you’re available, you’re on the list, in the books. You’re a speculation. Choice makes you an active decision, one part of yes/no, either/or. You’re known, you’re quantified, you’re considered.

Now if you’re in the business of selling variety – like supermarkets, book stores, speakers’ bureau, search engines – options fill out the stock book. They reflect well on you because they prove that you can tap the market. They give you a long tail. And they give your clients the sense that they have the full pick of what’s available. Chances are, for that reason, if you’re in the business of selling variety, you welcome options (or at least the best options) with open arms.

Being the option isn’t quite so glamorous. It may have boosted your ego to have made it past reception, but if you just stay an option, frankly, you’re making up the numbers. And it’s easy to forget that, in order for the market to continue to work efficiently, for every brand that becomes a choice, so many more must either become or stay options.

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Brand Strategy

20 Questions Every Activist Brand Should Ask

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Levis Water Less Campaign

As more brands seek to engage in what Denise Yohn has referred to as the “cultural conversations” of today, they encounter reactions ranging from strong endorsement to cynicism about their motives. Starbucks, for example, hit turbulence with its Race Together campaign. (There’s an excellent analysis of why here.)

Levis on the other hand seems to have had an easier ride with its Water<Less campaign. Patagonia’s Don’t Buy This campaign was hailed by many as honest, genuine and utterly in keeping with their beliefs.

As Prof Americus Reed points out in the article, the fundamental difficulty that Starbucks faced was intention vs execution. It’s all very well to have to a good corporate heart, but steering a path through public skepticism is no easy task and doing so in a way that is straight-forward to implement and that fits into consumers’ busy lives has its challenges.

Inevitably, with the decline in trust in business following the Global Financial Crisis, companies have had to work harder than ever to convince consumers and the media that their motives are genuine. Clouding the issue are the brands claiming that they are doing good through their activities. The sheer volume of businesses making these assertions has turned Corporate Social Responsibility into something of a brandwagon. There’s a lovely piece by Henk Campher in which he categorizes participants into 5 categories, ranging from Snake Oil to Activist. In so doing, he draws an interesting distinction between Purpose brands and Activist brands. Purpose brands, he says, want to make the world a better place; Activist brands want the same thing, but with more edge.

Putting in place a campaign that draws attention to a situation within a wider communal or global context requires deep planning that is well aligned to brand strategy, ties directly to proof elsewhere and extends well beyond the planned life of the campaign itself. Whether you’re a purpose brand looking to make a stance or an activist brand looking to achieve more change, here’s my checklist to make sure you achieve your aims as an “opinionated brand” and stay on the right side of consumers:

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Brand Strategy

How To Plan Your Brand Revolution

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Brand Revolution

Just as brands reflect the business they are part of, so they must systemically modify how they operate to reflect technological and systemic changes in the business.

In a paper on The Digitization of Everything, E&Y expound a business evolution model to change an organization’s digital capabilities. As a first step, they suggest, businesses need to use digital technology to improve current manual systems. Then they can introduce ways of working that are only achievable using digital platforms. Finally, they can push out to new business and participation models that fundamentally redefine how the business interacts and engages with consumers.

All of these changes have implications for brand.

I’m sometimes asked by senior managers when they should change their brand DNA: before or after they have made changes to the business? I don’t have a definitive answer. There’s a good case to be made for the fact that businesses should re-organize and solidify their infrastructure before changing their brand. That way the business has everything it needs in place to fulfill new expectations before they are promised. On the other hand, it can also be argued that changing the brand first so that it projects the future of the organization defines the direction for the business and acts as a beacon for business changes.

First, some good news for marketers. Before you make any changes to the business: there are things you can do to make important changes to the brand. You can rewrite your story for example to give yourselves a future narrative and you can make changes to your purpose and to your commitment to wider social change. These three measures will ensure that your brand has a clear direction forward, that the moral compass for the journey is also set and that you have identified specific elements of the community that you wish to engage with.

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