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.

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Derrick Daye
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Brands & Consumers

Brands vs Choice Overload


Brand Strategy And Choice

We are the sum of our choices. In many ways, what we choose is a declaration of who we are and our choices even impact how we relate to each other.

Insightful marketers understand that having fewer choices usually correlates with better, more actionable decision-making. As the number of choices increases, the choosing experience becomes less liberating and satisfying and actually can be a source of anxiety, as more choices demand more of our ‘working memory’ to process. Suddenly we lose our keys more often and forget why we walked into the room we’re standing in. We actually overload our working memory with all of the decisions we make – both the big choices, and the small ones.

Here’s what usually happens when you offer people too many choices:

  • Delay: People will delay their decision, procrastinate, and even go against their own best self-interests when presented with more choices than their working memory can process.
  • Less engaged: The gap between being overwhelmed and tuning out is razor thin.
  • Unsatisfied: The more offerings placed in front of us, the less satisfactory choices we will make. Our working memory cannot go that deep while working on other things… like breathing, walking, etc.

In the The Paradox of Choice Barry Schwartz adds: “At the other end of the spectrum, when people have no choice, life is almost unbearable. As the number of available choices increases, as it has in our consumer culture, the autonomy, control, and liberation, the cumulative effect this variety brings is powerful and positive. But as the number of choices keeps growing, the negative aspects of having a multitude of options begin to appear. As the number of choices grows further, the negatives escalate until we become overloaded. At this point, choice no longer liberates, but debilitates. It might even be said to tyrannize.”

Sheena Iyengar is a leading thinker of understanding choice. She offers four “C”s to brand marketers to help reduce the amount of overload and anxiety.

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Brand Purpose

10 Ways To Measure Brand Purpose


Brand Purpose Strategy

Metrics and big data are on everyone’s minds it seems these days – a symptom of the market’s continuing obsession with quants as measurement of proof, and indeed proof of measurement. The framework of financial measures (and acronyms) that dominated investor reporting has today been supplemented by a plethora of social measures intended to track every click, count every interaction and in the process derive sentiment and “truth” from every social engagement.

“Measure what matters because it matters what you measure”

Such a bewildering array of data points raises its own dilemmas of course, not the least of which is how to prioritize and balance all these insights and, at the same time, maintain an objective and effective view of progress against goals and strategies. It may seem strange, given this, that we propose measuring another aspect of commercial activity. The difference, and the challenge, is that we believe it is increasingly important for brands to find ways to assess the contributions of what has previously been unquantified.

There is good precedent. The concept of a “brand” being an asset, and a quantifiable asset for the balance sheet at that, has graduated from heresy to legitimacy. There are still those who question the methodology but overall there is a wider acceptance that some things we can’t touch, such as goodwill, have a prove-able commercial effect and value.

The contribution of Purpose to a culture and to a brand’s strategic focus has been gaining traction for some time. Deloitte’s Culture of Purpose 2013 Report, for example, identifies a strong sense of purpose as a strong and proven contributor to long term success. Their Report identifies cultures with purpose as having higher performing employees and generating strong financial performances. Other attributes include a distinct brand, clearly defined values, a rich belief system, greater customer satisfaction and better employee satisfaction. The findings endorse the thinking in John Kotter’s 2011 book Corporate Culture and Performance in which he directly correlated “high performing cultures” and financial performance.

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Brand Promise

Articulating The Brand Promise


Brand Strategy Brand Promise

I was talking with a business associate of mine today. She is working with an organization that has grown from a start-up to a company with more than 1,000 employees.  The organization produces high quality products and is growing rapidly however to the CEO’s credit, he is noticing chinks in the company’s armor, chinks that are due to organization growth and size. In the past, he managed the organization by selecting the right people and modeling the right set of values, attitudes and behaviors. Business growth was the result of intuition, trial and error and agility. But now the company is starting to experience unacceptable employee turnover in its manufacturing plants (among other issues). The company has not formally articulated its mission, vision or values. It has not crafted a brand promise and it does not have an elevator speech. Employees on the plant floor are not quite sure what the organization’s broader mission is. They don’t know how what they do contributes to some larger vision. For them, it is a job.

But aren’t missions, visions and values and brand promises and elevator speeches just collections of words? Yes they are. But they are a strategic collection of words that create a shared vision, motivate people to a higher calling, and rally them around what they need to do for the organization to succeed. Words can be very powerful. Leaders have inspired revolutions with their speeches and they have gotten their followers to take on seemingly impossible tasks successfully.

When we conduct mission, vision and values workshops or brand positioning workshops, they not only lead to a set of inspiring words, but they also achieve leadership team consensus on advantageous business models and strategies. It is a way to rally the troops starting at the very top of the organization. The larger the organization is, the more important this becomes. Many entrepreneurs do not realize how important it is to put these sorts of things in place when their organizations reach a certain size in which they can no longer personally interact with every employee on a regular basis. If you lead a rapidly growing organization that has not yet established its mission, vision, values or brand promise, know that at some point in the future it will be important to do so to enable further growth and success.

Sponsored ByThe Brand Positioning Workshop, the Brand Storytelling Workshop Series and Brand Strategy and Customer Co-Creation Workshops

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

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Brand Language

Crafting Your Verbal Brand


Verbal Brand Strategy Innocent

At a time when communication is increasingly hailed as shorter and more visual, the way brands choose and use language (the Verbal Brand) continues to hugely influence a plethora of channels, from social media to search engines to advertising, public relations, website content, direct marketing and more.

Language is responsible for expressing and persuading, for informing, declaring and characterizing, relationship building, telegraphing and storytelling. Words are indeed, as Rudyard Kipling once described them, the most powerful drug used by mankind.

Style guides spell out the grammatical rules surrounding corporate language. They say how to write. Tone and manner guidelines speak to the nature of the language that should be used. Usually these are a checklist of characteristics, do’s and dont’s.  However such guidelines seldom consider the influence of the brand promise, the brand essence and the all-important brand values in shaping the brand in words and the checklist itself is often so broad that the guidelines could be interpreted any number of ways in different situations. Neither document addresses why writers should write what they write. The best Verbal  Brand guidelines, by contrast, take their cues directly from the core elements of the brand strategy and articulate how to consistently apply the spirit of the brand at every verbal touch-point.

It’s tempting, whenever we talk about forging the language for a brand, to believe that there is one key audience that really needs to understand the mechanisms and structure  – the writers themselves. After all, they are the people responsible for crafting the communications. It is tempting too to believe that tone and manner guidelines and a style guide will cover things nicely.

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Brand Purpose

Living The Brand Purpose


Brand Purpose Red Bull

What would you do with your company’s mission statement? Would you tweet it?, Brian Solis asks in this article. Just as importantly – would you retweet it?

In other words, does it carry enough meaning for you, and is it personal enough to what you strive in life for that you would literally want to put your name to it and circulate it?

I love this thought because it’s a great reminder to all of us that purpose isn’t about what you’re told to do, or believe or say. It’s about what you choose to share with others. Or at least it should be.

The “BBQ script”, “elevator speech”, “picket fence précis” whatever you want to call it can’t just be a set of words that you roll out on cue. It can’t just be marketing. Not if you really want people to believe you, and therefore the brand you represent.

Speaking of belief, let me ask you this. How much of what you talked about, thought about, met over, reviewed, presented, rationalized, advocated, defended, instructed, created, delegated yesterday…would you “Like” if you were given the chance? How much of it would you be proud to say you were proud of?

Or did it just get done?

Because if you’re not a fan of what you do, if you wouldn’t like it – why should anyone else?

Sponsored ByThe Brand Positioning 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

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