The Blake Project

Why a Branding Strategy Blog?

At The Blake Project our sole focus is helping organizations create brands that build and sustain trust. Branding Strategy Insider is an extension of our efforts as brand consultants to help marketing oriented leaders and professionals build strong brands.

Contact BSI
Derrick Daye
888.706.5489 Email us
Brand Purpose

Brand Example: A Higher Brand Purpose


Whole Foods Brand Strategy

Brand purpose is the foundation for brand story. Consider this most brilliantly executed example of how higher brand purpose begets flawless story staging and storytelling, illustrating the more elaborate a scene is — props, staging, ambiance — the easier it is for customers to imagine themselves in it.

Whole Foods Market is positioning itself to be the world’s healthiest grocery store in a new campaign called, unsurprisingly, “Values Matter.” The awareness campaign boldly asserts in the narration “We want to know where our food comes from, what happens to it… how it is caught.”

Why do customers want to know? Because customers need to believe that choosing Whole Foods Market is the better choice, better for them as consumers, but also better for the environment from which the food is harvested. The backstory of what has happened to food before it arrives at the market makes the only story that really matters possible.

This awareness campaign should ignite a good deal of curiosity, and the “Values Matter” website does not disappoint. With clear leading content, users are immediately given control over how deeply they want to engage the brand with three, very human, very behavioral selections which easily allow users to build upon the curiosity sparked by the campaign in a way that matters to them, in the ever precious time they have to spend.

  • Show me: Food, People, Planet
  • I want to: Learn, Do, Both
  • I have: Seconds, Minutes, Longer

Whole Foods Market embraces the experience mindset by understanding that price and selection are less important than belief and desire.  It speaks with refreshing authenticity in a language all its own, and helps craft memories that customers want to repeat, if not extend. By following what customers want, Whole Foods Market has found its higher brand purpose.

Sponsored By: Resonate. Reach audiences based on why they choose brands.

Sponsored By: The Customer Experience Workshop

Branding Strategy Insider is a service of The Blake Project: A strategic brand consultancy specializing in Brand Research, Brand Strategy, Brand Licensing and Brand Education

FREE Publications And Resources For Marketers

Read More
Brand Culture

Changing The Brand Culture – To What Purpose?


Change Management Strate

Organizations tend to speak about purpose and change as if they are separate subjects. Increasingly, we’ve been asking whether the two could and should be much more closely linked, prompting a shift in question from “Change – to what end?” to “Change – to what purpose?”

If we could focus change on ideas that were more universal than corporate and that spread the perceived benefits more broadly, would that make a difference to the success rate? Because right now, the emphasis on change programs to accelerate growth is not working. John Kotter’s assertion that change, as it is currently implemented, mostly fails is well canvassed and, it appears, time-proven.

Around 70% of large-scale change programs fail to meet their goals – and a key reason for that, according to Gary Hamel and Michele Zanini, is that organizations cannot resist managing the implementation of change rather than looking for ways to psychologically and systematically embed it. In effect, the authors suggest, most change programs are too late, too self-serving, too autocratic and too engineered to succeed.

In a world fixated on agile and nimble companies, creating a business that can adapt – and innovate – quickly is difficult. The means moves faster than the minds and at a pace that significantly exceeds habit, embedded behaviors and culture. Simplistically the failures seem a classic case of “the process” over “the people”.

Perhaps a better way forward would be to look at change through an entirely different lens.

The alternative Hamel and Zanini suggest is the introduction of change platforms that syndicate and democratize change across the organization, that are based on initiative rather than mandate and that encourage free-form experimentation and adaptation rather than project-managed milestones. Such an approach, they assert, encourages wider and more accountable participation, fosters honest conversation, diversifies solutions rather than seeking to close everything down to a single answer and seeds local experimentation that can then be refined in a less risky environment before becoming part of the full way forward.

Read More
Brand Growth

Brand Success: Ideas Or Access?


Global Brand Growth

As scale focused brands continue to push their footprints further afield in the search for growth, big distributors, both online and off, offer strong and proven channels through which to reach consumers. Such channels are very attractive – they are major brands in their own right, they bring kudos and market credibility, and of course they have huge client and follower communities. But the share of the asking price that those distributors demand in exchange for that increased market penetration can put them at odds with those who create/ manufacture/ produce.

At stake: who gets to decide price, margin and even quality? The creators – who believe that the idea does not exist without them? Or the distributors – who are of the view that the idea won’t sell without them? The dilemma – who is most effective in realizing the value of the brand? The answer, according to Christine Arden, is whoever touches the customer last.

Increasingly, the price of greater access is the commoditizing of the value of the idea – or at the very least, pressure to make the idea more and more available by making it cheaper. That’s clearly the case with Amazon and the big publishers. It’s also why Taylor Swift said she divorced Spotify this week.

Chris Anderson once said that technology marches towards free. I wonder whether access does the same. As distributors and large retailers gather more data about consumers, gain greater and greater footprints and as the channels they control become ubiquitous, there seems to be increasing pressure to promote volume in order to keep the cash flowing. If you’re a brand in this network, that brings with it huge pressure to continue to drop the take-home amounts in order for the distributor’s take-up model to work.

Read More
Brand Management

Focus Your Brand On Cause Not Effect


Customer Behaviour

Communication is just one tool to convey brand message. Marketers and brand strategists are not employed by companies to create communications – they are employed to create change in consumer behavior. Instead of deluging customers with messages about the point a brand is trying to make, imagine how a brand might let customers experience the point it’s trying to make.

This subtle, but powerful shift moves customers up the ladder of marketing effectiveness*. Instead of absorbing a message (theoretically), customers begin to interact with the brand (practically).

Customer Experience

Take credit cards as a first example: Most of the revenue made by credit card companies comes from card use. Many card companies have automatic budget alerts, monitors, trackers, and smartphone apps – these all help customers perceive they are better in control of their finances as they have something easy and practical to help them economize. They go beyond the message by designing an immersive program that encourages sustained interaction with the product. Who doesn’t want more control of their finances? And what card company doesn’t want more point of sale and transaction fees? A win for both, and the message is only a small part in the program design.

Read More
Building Emotional Connections

The Emotional Drivers Of B2B And B2C Brands


B2B B2C Brand Strategy

Philip Kotler once described brands as helping people to make decisions. In a world of frenzied competition and bewildering choice, they are of course the fastest, simplest and most effective way to link a name to a perception of value. What can easily be overlooked however is that B2B and B2C brands are not just about very different types of decisions but that they also involve very different types of decision making.

For the most part, consumer brands look to influence an individual and/or groups of individuals (tribes). They are at their most powerful ‘in the moment’. They are about excitement through identification, and they are often strongly influenced by culture, taste, fashion and what’s important to people as people.

B2B brands have different drivers – and the most important of these, I believe, is that no-one buys a B2B brand alone. Normally, there are multiple decision-makers involved, each with their own specific areas of responsibility and priority. There’s normally an elongated decision process (sometimes highly regimented) where final approval for go-ahead must pass set stages alongside the many other agendas and priorities that companies juggle every day. As a result, the decision to use a B2B brand is often strongly influenced by track record, responsiveness, knowledge and of course reputation.

The temptation is to believe that B2B brands lack emotion because they are subject to highly logical decisions. That’s not the case – B2B is purchased emotionally as well as logically – but the emotions for buying B2B are very different from those of consumer brands. For the most part, B2B brands need to focus on risk alleviation. That means that in contrast to the excitement that consumer brands are looking to generate, B2B brands need to focus on generating emotions centered on reassurance – professionally, technically, financially, legally and of course personally (for those championing use of the brand itself).

Read More