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.
Do you remember when you were a child the first time someone made you a paper plane? If your recollection is anything like mine, you couldn’t believe how it left your hand and made its way across the room. Before long though, it lost height and velocity, and fell to the floor.
One of my more cynical friends has this joke about how much media budget is needed to keep a brand going successfully: “Give me all the money you can burn and it will go like a rocket!”
It’s easy to see a brand as an expense that relies on getting attention to make its presence felt and to make the expenditure worth it. Detractors see it that way too. They’re very quick to opine that unless they’re constantly fed money to keep them in front of consumers, brands simply fizzle and fall to earth.
We don’t share that view. Particularly now, with all the different ways that we access and talk about brands, we see them less as rockets kept airborne by media schedules, and more as planes that need air flowing over their wings to help them maintain lift.
Those currents are made up of a number of elements that collectively generate value. They include:
The currents work in different combinations and to different levels of intensity and effectiveness at various pricing and positioning points across every competitive sector. And when they are working well, brands maintain their elevation, even climb. The key point here is that success is not just about the money you spend on your brand, it is about the lift you generate and maintain through this combination of factors, some of which you control and some of which are beyond your control.Read More
We shouldn’t even think of the term “customer service” as being about something that is valuable to customers. In fact, customer service is worth next to nothing. The reasons are simple. We live in a service-focused age, and the people who buy from you know they’re customers. So the term “customer service” does not describe anything customers don’t expect and it certainly doesn’t envelope anything of particular value to them.
Every business is a service business in some sense these days.
Secondly, and more importantly, customer service is actually the means to the real goal: sustained and profitable customer relationships. Please note that distinction. Customer service is how brands deliver customer experiences. It is the process and the framework whereby a brand looks to engage with prospects and buyers. It’s how a proudly distinctive and likeable brand forges relationships with customers through actions that mirror its core values and set it apart from its competitors. And it’s those experiences that count. Not the process itself.
You’d think we’d all agree on that. You’d think everyone could see that experiences are everything these days given how similar products are, and that developing and delivering unique experiences is the logical basis for preference. Yet so often, too often, distinctiveness and experiences are the last things that customers get.
And I suspect that’s because, for many brands, what customers do get continues to be organized as a numbers game internally, oriented around technical and operational capability.Read More
Branding Strategy Insider helps marketing oriented leaders and professionals like you build strong brands. BSI readers know, we regularly answer questions from marketers everywhere. Today we hear from Anna, a Product Manager in Stockholm, Sweden who writes…
“I have recently become the product manager of a pharmaceutical product. This product is 1 out of 8 in the Nordic market. All products but one are original. The biosimilar product markets itself on price, however due to very aggressive marketing they have been taking the market by storm. The product category is old, tried and tested and all substances are pretty much exactly the same. The differentiation is in the administration device. Two products have clear product advantages (in the administration device) that are of real value for the patient. Mine doesn’t. In fact there is nothing of value that my product has that no one else hasn’t. Our price is OK but my team is struggling to convince the doctors to use it when better alternatives are available. We currently have about 5% of the market and I am failing to reach my year-end target. I have 5 months left to change strategy, inspire my sales team and turn this around. If I do, I will be the first one to ever bring us above 5% market share.
To add to the challenge the previous PM had somewhat of a cluttered style. I have cleaned up the messaging to focus on the only thing that I can see sets us apart, our product was the first of its kind on the market (however we are marketing it under a license from the company that invented it). Furthermore, we have been ordered from HQ to have a short term approach in our marketing and my budget is small. At the moment the bulk of the budget is spent on conferences and educational events for the doctors. A price only strategy is not an option since we could never compete on price in the long term.”
Thanks for your question, Anna. Many brands share your brand’s dilemma. The product itself is a commodity. That is, it is undifferentiated from competitive alternatives. First, I would direct you to our blog posts on branding commodities. They list a number of general approaches for differentiating commodities.Read More
The term “purpose” has risen in business prominence as brands look for ways to connect what they are evaluated for in the short term, with their commitments over longer timeframes.
Nevertheless, there are still many who view this (re)definition of purpose as a feel-good that soft-frames the commercial realities of what businesses are there to do. Additionally, they say, it risks becoming too much of a distraction to the bottom-line responsibilities that organizations should focus on.
Advocates of the more single-minded approach argue that the purpose of business is to make money and that, in doing that, businesses contribute to the efficient functioning of markets through wealth creation and jobs. It is a functional view, centered on the immediate and commercial reasons for being and oriented in its evaluation of success towards results.
In the right hands, this focus on outcomes energizes and drives an organization’s business priorities and strategies. It is an approach that has powered many of the most effective globalization strategies to date. Coke’s drive to put a glass of Coke within arm’s reach of every thirsty person on the planet is reflected in its supply chain policies, in its product development, in its distribution and pricing strategies. That saw the company become the biggest seller of beverages in the world as outlined in this excerpt from their 2013 Annual Report:
“The Coca-Cola Company is the world’s largest beverage company. We own or license and market more than 500 non[-]alcoholic beverage brands … We believe our success depends on our ability to connect with consumers by providing them with a wide variety of options to meet their desires, needs and lifestyles. Our success further depends on the ability of our people to execute effectively, every day. Our goal is to use our Company’s assets — our brands, financial strength, [unrivaled] distribution system, global reach, and the talent and strong commitment of our management and associates — to become more competitive and to accelerate growth in a manner that creates value for our shareowners.”Read More
It’s extraordinary isn’t it how so much has been made of the emergence of China and India and of the impact of new technology on the world’s economic wellbeing – and yet a factor bigger than either of these dynamics has been comparatively ignored.
The rise in the participation of women in the economy through full-time work has contributed more to economic growth than either Asia or online globally. Some have noticed and commented – author and speaker Fara Warner has written an eye-opening and important book “The Power of the Purse”, Tom Peters has been on about this for years and in 2006 the Economist coined its own term ‘womenomics’ to describe this gender-based economic upswing – but by and large, the attention pales in comparison to the space writers and journalists have devoted to Silicon Valley, the rise of the subcontinent and the Red Dragon, and of course social media.
And yet, in the first world at least, while there has been little upheaval in the layout of the executive washroom, the social situation could not have become more different. In the US, the participation of women in the workforce has risen from just 20 percent in the early 20th century to close to 50 percent today, and it is still rising. The numbers around that speak for themselves. According to Gerry Myers, American women now earn, control, and spend trillions of dollars annually. In fact, they are responsible for a whopping 80 – 85 percent of all purchasing decisions. Since the Second World War, they have transformed from the “silent economy” spending ‘someone else’s money’ to an economic force to be reckoned with, very much in charge of their own spending power.
So it’s extraordinary that so many marketers still regard marketing to women as akin to catering to a niche market. As Fara Warner points out, when you recognize that women are not just the majority but actually the vast majority of consumers, and that their power is only going to increase, it completely changes the commercial urgency of getting to grips with women buyers. It also helps explain why and how brands have evolved in recent years, and why the “experience economy” can only become more important.Read More