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 Strategy
This article in Harvard Health Blog in many ways mirrors why consumers take comfort in choosing branded products generally:
- Having a brand name means they know what to ask for
- They believe in the quality that they associate with the brand
- The distribution system believes in the brand
It got me thinking about the differences between a “lovemark” and a “trustmark”. Both are words used to describe the effects of branding, but while some brand marketers (including the originator of the term “lovemarks”, Kevin Roberts) seem to use the terms interchangeably, and while I too have tended to treat them the same way because they are emotionally-motivated, I’m starting to wonder whether a distinction should be made.
If there were a distinction, it might be this. Lovemarks want consumers to behave passionately. Trustmarks encourage consumers to behave faithfully.
Not every consumer product purchase decision is governed by passion. Security, well being, companionship … these and other human needs are compelling but not necessarily as buzzworthy as the latest technology release. As consumers continue to be concerned about, and wary of, bad behaviors, compromised replicas and misleading claims, the search for trustmarks has also broadened. Now it doesn’t just apply to obvious areas such as food and health – it’s increasingly a deciding factor in areas such as banking, investment and insurance; areas where passion doesn’t necessarily drive consumer decisions.Read More
Habits are powerful, but occasions may be even more so. I think they engage us so effectively because they combine time and focus. And because of that, they provide permission – it’s OK to behave this way or that. It’s OK to do something you wouldn’t do on any ordinary day.
If you’re a smart brand, you’ll find a way to hook into that; to link what you’re about to what people are thinking about on specific occasions. You’ll give them a reason and a way to excel at the emotion of the moment.
On Valentine’s Day it seems appropriate to look at a brand that used the occasion of declaring love to forge one of the most powerful marketing campaigns of all time.
De Beers have turned a diamond into the embodiment of eternity with their sublime catch-phrase ‘A diamond is forever’. They’ve linked the optimism and romance of occasions like engagements and weddings with the promise to stay together ‘till death do us part’. They have encapsulated all that in a single symbol that is desirable, exceptional, immediately recognizable and intended to be presented on a specific occasion of peak emotion and worn from that moment on.Read More
Commoditization is a fact of market. I always remember that great observation by VJ Govindarajan that “Strategy starts dying the moment it is created”. It dies because its (potential) effectiveness dies and with that, its relative value.
That idea, transposed to brand is, in reality, what commoditization is: the (slow) death of relevant value. However, there are strategies you can put in place to reverse the speed and/or pace of that commoditizing effect. Here are nine ways I outlined to a leadership forum in Malaysia recently to decommoditize your offering and reassert its branded value.
In the presentation itself, I focused on actual commodities, but the principles are in fact applicable to any brand/product that doesn’t command the value that it needs to, or once did:
1. Think of the product in new ways – when you redefine what something is or could be, you reframe its context and it’s much easier to redefine what it can be used for. When you stop thinking of milk as a drink, for example, and start thinking of it as a food, as Fonterra did, you change the scope of the product you’re working with in so many ways.
2. Redefine who you want to be a brand to – if the current audience places a declining level of value on it, think about who might be able to use it in ways that enable you to regain value. Starbucks redefined the value of coffee globally by making coffee hip, urbane and tailored to individual taste. Now they’re looking to do the same thing with tea. In a world that really does believe it’s seen or searched it all, discovery is a powerful consumer motive.
3. Change what it looks like – sometimes changing the value of a commodity can be as simple as changing how it appears to others. Think about the difference in pricing and perception between bottled beer and beer on tap. However, new packaging alone won’t make up for a product that doesn’t add value. What it can do is signal the unrealized value that you want consumers to take up on.
4. Formulate your offer in different ways – the water industry changed how we think of water by adding vitamins and/or carbon dioxide and then segmenting those offers to specific audiences. Today, the world spends more than $100 billion a year on bottled water. What could you do to what you have to make it more than it is right now?Read More
John Costello, president of global marketing and innovation for Dunkin’ Donuts, has not yet read my new book, The Meaningful Brand, but his comments at the Association of National Advertisers’ Masters of Marketing conference (ANA), as reported by Karl Greenberg in the Media Daily News, certainly makes it sound like he has.
The idea at the heart of The Meaningful Brand is that marketers must know what it is about the experience of their brand that makes it different from the alternatives in the eyes of its consumers, otherwise they risk seeing the brand commoditized. It does not matter how salient your brand is if consumers do not appreciate what it does for them – functionally or emotionally – or cannot justify choosing it over the available alternatives. The more succinctly you can identify your brand’s meaningful difference the more effective your marketing is likely to be.
Costello seems to agree. Part of his message at the ANA was that if marketers can’t say what the brand is in a sentence or two, it will get lost. Costello states that Dunkin’ Donuts has a real clear point of differentiation which he sums up as, “how everyday folks who keep America running keep themselves running every day.” While Costello does not break down Dunkin’ Donuts meaningful difference his commentary lines up nicely with the framework detailed in the book.
The Meaningful Brand explores four component parts of a meaningfully different brand experience: purpose, delivery, resonance and difference.Read More
Some brands seem to rule the world. They’re big, powerful, profitable and widely adored. They talk and the world listens. They are the game-makers. They made the game and they continue to run it. Their playbook seems to pretty much decide the rules for most. But not everyone aspires to that level of success and not every market leader is at the apex of a totally satisfied segment. Which is why some brands opt for a different agenda. The gamechangers’ intentions are, quite literally, to change the world, or at least to shake the tree of the mighty incumbents.
How do you do that without getting crushed or ignored? It depends. Did your brand start out as a challenger, or did challenging the status quo become your purpose as a brand? Because the starting point drives very different strategies and storylines.
If your brand was a challenger from the start, one of the most powerful assets you have, providing it’s true of course, is a dirt-poor story. The brands that start from nothing and with nothing have been shown time and time again in market research to be the ones that consumers root for. It’s an eternal idea because it makes for such a compelling storyline: the brand that rises from nowhere, defies the threats and the odds, sets the record straight, battles its way to the front confronting injustice and barriers strewn across its path and somehow makes it to prominence while managing to keep its integrity, its faith and its modesty. It is, in direct allusion to Malcolm Gladwell, the classic David and Goliath story.
As David Aaker observes in a recent article, “The giant firm is really good at their business model; they are financially successful and make incremental improvements each year, which apparently make them even more formidable.” In the parlance of dance band LMFAO, [they] “work out”.
The giants’ size and their strength makes it almost impossible to take them on toe-to-toe. Playing them at their game and by their rules plays right into their hands. But that doesn’t make them invulnerable. They are still susceptible to a brand capable of bewildering the game they know so well. An outlier, to borrow again from Gladwell, can at the very least give them a good run for their money.Read More