In January 1996 after ten years of leading Nike’s Global Marketing Insights & Planning I accepted the VP of Brand Planning position at Starbucks. In my initial interview in 1995 with CEO Howard Schultz and VP of Marketing Scott Bedbury we discussed some of the hopes and concerns surrounding how to grow the Starbucks brand with integrity. Brand positioning questions and feedback from senior executives set the tone and direction for brand development work over the course of the next two years. This was also the critical time when we established a brand blueprint for growth with integrity to a set of core values. From this experience I learned five things that helped shift Starbucks onto a more soulful and iconic brand development path.
Playing to win is a sports metaphor that describes discernable action on the court or field by a team putting out extra effort to close a gap, come from behind and win the game. It is characterized by bold play calling, players making unusual moves to break free, get open and score. The opposing team who is in the lead often adopts a different posture, a prevent defense, stalling to burn down the clock and conservative play calling. This conservative style of play in sometimes called “playing not to lose.”
September 16th, 2015
By Mark Ritson
At the end of my class on brand management each term my MBA students rate the subject on various attributes. Among them is the degree to which the class had a “strong theoretical basis”. It is always my weakest score because I do not rely on very much published academic research to build the course content. Some decent case studies and a few readings from Harvard Business Review more than suffice.
Twitter was built on 140 characters. Even though the limitation was serendipitous, it remains a defining characteristic of the brand in the minds of many. Concise thinking, hash-tagged to provide simple, global connection – there’s the Twitter value equation in a little under half the consigned quota. But the question Carl Miller asks is a good one. What happens when the idea that defined you starts to work to inhibit you?
A recent Atlantic article looks at Twitter’s aspiration to tap into what the world is thinking about any topic at any time and concludes, “if Twitter is indeed a global town square, it’s one that most of the town hasn’t entered yet—and one where the townsfolk who have entered seem to be doing more listening than talking these days.” The reasons? According to the article, volumes of tweets have stalled, the brand’s geographical footprint appears contained, and issues such as public accessibility and the rise of visually focused new media raise “the question of whether social media can really offer a frictionless, unfiltered forum for real-time conversations across countries and cultures, or whether those conversations will increasingly occur less visibly and more narrowly.”
Recently at New Zealand Fashion Week, models walked the runway in lingerie and the crowd went wild. It was a world first. Not because the show was radical – but because the underwear was from a start-up brand named Confitex and it was specifically designed for people with incontinence.
There’s a tendency to see disruption and innovation as huge moments of significance that shake the status quo to its core. But what the success of the Confitex show proves is that a brand can challenge the whole premise of a sector simply by being present.
Sometimes the most powerful statement a brand can make is the statement that everyone has chosen up until now to leave unsaid.