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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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Brand Management

10 Things A Brand Must Have


Brand Management

People buy brands, not managers. And yet think about the number of managers who make judgment calls, sometimes very big judgment calls, based on their own opinions and experiences? They feel comfortable because they are expressing views and making decisions that fit with their worldview. But that doesn’t mean they’re necessarily doing the brand justice, particularly if their viewpoints compromise the personality of the brand itself.

Hands up if you’ve ever been to this meeting:

“I like orange.”

Or “Don’t make it orange.”

“Use short words.”

Or “People don’t read.”

“We need to be on TV.”

And/or “We need to export.”

Brands thrive when they are based on meaning, trust, relevance and delight – but of course they must deliver that meaning, trust, relevance and delight to the buyer, not the seller. Otherwise they risk narcissism.

Every brand must pursue a life of its own – not affirm the life of a manager. And to me, that integral sense of being an asset in its own right hangs on ten things. A brand must have:

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Brand Value & Pricing

The Problem With Brand Value


Brand Valuation

The problem with Brand Value is really simple: no one agrees on it.

The GE brand, for example, in 2011, was variously estimated to be worth $30.5B, $42.8B, and $50.3B by different brand valuation services. That’s a difference of about $20B between the high and low estimates. It gets worse. One firm estimated that GE’s brand value was rising, while the other two calculated a declining brand value.

These are not small numbers. In fact, they’re large enough to qualify as annual GDP numbers for many small countries — like Uganda. And GE isn’t the only example of the problem with Brand Value.

In a recent article on the issue of Brand Value, The Economist noted: “…arguments rage about how much brands are worth and why. Firms that value them come to starkly different conclusions.”

It’s obvious that brand valuation has a “starkly” real issue. None of the firms estimating brand value agree on the same value for a given brand. And if none of them agree on the value of brands, how can CMO’s and CFO’s begin to understand the brand value they’re creating with their Marketing spending?

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Brand Value & Pricing

Pricing The Brand Ecosystem


Brand Pricing Strategy

Take a look at the diagram below courtesy of Ryan Jones (thanks for the point Marc Abraham). It shows how Apple spans its offerings over a surprisingly wide range of price points.

Apple Brand Pricing Strategy

By introducing new lines, retaining older lines at degraded prices and through the use of provider subsidies, Apple delivers an impressive range of ‘step-in’ opportunities for customers to join its ecosystem.

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Big Data

Using Big Data To Shape Brand Experiences


TESCO Brand Strategy

What can Big Data do for a brand? It depends on how it’s used.

TESCO, more than any other large-scale, global retail brand, had committed to customer research, analytics, and loyalty as its marketing and operational edge. When it comes to behavioral data and loyalty programs, TESCO was the standard-bearer, the bar-setter, and it set the bar very high. With all of this phenomenal data, why then is Britain’s largest retailer in trouble?

In a recent HBR op-ed, Michael Schrage, a research fellow at MIT Sloan School’s Center for Digital Business opines, “Tesco’s decline presents a clear and unambiguous warning that even rich and data-rich loyalty programs and analytics capabilities can’t stave off the competitive advantage of slightly lower prices and a simpler shopping experience…Despite its depth of data and experience, today’s Tesco simply lacks the innovation and insight chops to craft promotions, campaigns, and offers that allow it to even preserve share, let alone grow it.”

Big Data is just more data, hopefully better data. Insights are just more data too. It’s the distinction between insight and actionable insight that transform data into a dynamic component in brand storytelling. What can data do? To answer that, we start with the end in mind: What do we want data to do?

Knowing what role we want data to play will tell us what data we need, where the data will come from, and how long it will take to glean insights from the interactions that we measure.

Gavin Heaton offers this insight into retail disruption:

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Brand Launch

Maximizing The Brand Launch


Brand Launch Strategy

Most brands get launch. They understand how to make a splash for a product on a day. But what do you do between splashes? How do you keep top-of-mind? And more importantly, how do you stop the inevitable awareness fade as the ripples from your big splash die away? If you’re Walt Disney, you start introducing shorts between your new features, just to keep up awareness of your most popular and lucrative characters. And you do so knowing that such a cue will reactivate interest and re-kick merchandise sales.

Cross-referencing in order to cross-sell. Nothing new in that – except that here it’s happening at a launch. When Disney released Cars 2 for example, audiences were reintroduced to the key characters from Toy Story in a six-minute short. As Albie Hecht observes in this article in BusinessWeek, “It’s a way to extend the characters and the brand without its fans waiting two or three years for a new movie.”

There’s a lesson here.

It’s tempting for brands to think of their products as separate offerings within an overall branding portfolio. They co-ordinate launches to work alongside one another. But what Disney’s strategy shows is how simple and cost-effective it is to provide customers with added-value experiences based on other brands in the stable that they already know and to use these to maintain relevance and top-of-mind between launches without cannibalizing on new offers. All Disney has essentially done is take a format that everyone knows – the movie short – and to elaborate it into an enter-mercial (my new term for a short-movie length commercial that entertains).

Just as interesting is where this development might point other brands.

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