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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Branding Conferences

Brand Strategy And The Future Of You

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Brand Strategy Conference

Transformation isn’t about plotting a meeting point for your brand with the predicted future. It’s not about getting to where the puck will be, to paraphrase Wayne Gretzky. Because depending on the arrival of the next big thing or that breaking wave, that hot new trend, the long-awaited demographic or anything else for that matter is conjecture.

Banking on it is simply speculation.

To evolve successfully, brands and the marketers that manage them must grow out of what they have become into what they need to be. They cannot shape the future. They can only shape their future.

A Shaping Force

At The Un-Conference: 360 Degrees of Brand Strategy for a Changing World, we are working with senior B2C and B2B marketers through the lens of brand leadership. The Blake Project’s annual, fun, ‘Competitive-Learning’ event is about taking a deep dive into the best practices that result in strong brands. It is designed to help you develop strategies that will propel your brand to a leadership position or to assist you to maintain the leadership position you have worked so hard to achieve.

No Attendees. Only Participants.

The best pathway for learning is through participation, not observation. The Un-Conference: 360 Degrees of Brand Strategy for a Changing World will challenge your thinking about brands and brand management. To do that, we’ll put you in a team of 10 and offer you opportunities to compete, lead and learn alongside other marketers from around the world in a unique environment. The challenges you’ll tackle are based on actual issues that participants are facing.

As unique as the format itself is our venue. We’ll be at The Versace Mansion on South Beach, Florida May 18 – 20. Once again we have partnered with professional baseball’s Miami Marlins for a private team-building dinner as well as a game. It’s all included in your registration.

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Brand Architecture

The Rise Of The One Brand Strategy

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Coca-Cola One Brand Strategy

The single most important piece of brand theory of the past quarter century was published in the California Management Review in 2000.

‘The Brand Relationship Spectrum’ was not especially revolutionary and yet the paper, by academic legend Professor David Aaker and his co-author Erich Joachimsthaler, became an instant classic.

The reason for its resonance lies in the paper’s first diagram. Splashed across page two are a series of innocuous looking boxes that, on closer inspection, reveal the titular spectrum. Starting with a ‘House of Brands’ and concluding with a ‘Branded House’, this diagram lays out the complete geography of brand architecture.

Most companies have more than one brand in operation and yet most have rarely contemplated how best to link, or separate, those brands for maximum effect. This question of brand architecture became one of the fundamental challenges of contemporary branding and, when allayed with the equally important issue of brand portfolio, came to represent perhaps the biggest single challenge to successful brand management in the early 21st century.

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Brands & Business

10 Ways Brand Reveals Business Health

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Brand And Business Health

Brand will tell you a lot if you let it. How you brand, what you brand, where you’re found, who buys you and how often…these and many more questions are all things that competitive businesses ask themselves on a regular basis. I see brand as a highly effective lens for assessing the relevance and competitiveness of a company.

Here are 10 ways that you can use “brand” to reveal what your business may need to change or capitalize on:

  1. Margin – are you making a rate of return that’s above what the market delivers by default? If not, there’s a good chance that your brand has or is in the process of downgrading to “commodity” status. You need to take action to change how you are valued and/or who you are more highly valued by.
  1. Competitiveness – if you’re losing market share and/or you need to sacrifice margin to maintain volume (meaning your bottom line returns are decreasing), then your brand is not maintaining competitiveness. That could be because you have been eclipsed by others, the market itself has shrunk or you are not the brand you once were. You need to double down on your marketing to re-lift your profile or reposition your brand so that it is seen as part of a rising/more relevant sector.
  1. Currency – one of the reasons that you may be losing competitiveness is that consumers see your business as past its best-by date. You need to find new ways to re-assert your currency by revamping your product lines and/or introducing new thinking into your offerings to make them exciting and interesting. That probably requires you to retool your product development and bring-to-market processes.
  1. Distribution – how you are found and where you are found influences everything from price expectations to ease of access. If your volumes are stalled, take a good hard look at where you are outlet-ed and how efficient your value chain is in getting your goods there at a price and in a timeframe that works for you. Remember – you’re often up against one click and (free) overnight shipping online. How quick are you?
  1. Capacity – if you’re running excess inventory, how carefully have you calibrated your production and your promotion systems? It’s damaging to generate demand you can’t meet and wasteful to do the opposite. Sales, marketing and operations need to be tightly co-ordinated if you are to make, market and close with minimal waste and delay.
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Brand Strategy

Brands And The Ability To Devastatingly Disrupt

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Brand Disruption And Innovation

Last year on Branding Strategy Insider, Thomson Dawson wrote a provocative and challenging article about “devastating innovation”. Brands that weren’t prepared to innovate far beyond their comfort zone, he suggested, would be devastated in the blink of an eye. What’s more, the fallout from such innovation would reach far beyond immediate competitors to wither those who never would have imagined they were at risk.

That fallout, he suggests, can even be unplanned by the companies themselves. “Google Maps wasn’t originally created to help people find their way – it was about gathering more information about users to sell more search based advertising,” Thomson reminds us. “I don’t think the innovators of Twitter had any idea their innovation would become the de facto method for breaking news, leaving powerful and influential media companies flatfooted.”

I’ve always been of the view that the most powerful industry change happens with, or makes, a powerful brand. And I found an article from some years back that posed some fascinating and timely questions. Written at the height of Apple’s brand popularity, the article asked whether readers would like the iPhone as much if it had come from Redmond instead of Cupertino?

Take a current Microsoft product, writer John Dvorak suggested in the piece, and ask yourself how you would feel about it if it came from a small start-up with a trendy name? Now, take the same product and ask yourself how you would feel about it if it were from Apple? Now take a product that is successful for another brand, and ask how would you feel about it if it had come from Microsoft?

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Brand Strategy

Overcoming Unwanted Brand Associations

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Brand Associations

When the concept of near field communication payment, or NFC mobile payment platforms, as they are known, became popular at the start of the decade, there was a rush from several suppliers to claim the lead.

A payment method that used your mobile phone, or even the case you carried it in, to make small instantaneous purchases held all kind of advantages over more traditional forms of payment.

With big players such as Google intent on owning the space, three US mobile networks, Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile, joined forces to create their own network-backed NFC wallet.

In 2010, the nascent company chose Michael Abbott, the former chief marketing officer of GE Capital, as its new chief executive and set about building the offer. Abbott, who is no stranger to start-up businesses, was unconcerned about Google’s head start: “Lycos and AltaVista were first in online search,” he explained to Forbes magazine in 2011. “This is not about being first but getting it right.”

Alas, things started to go wrong for Abbott when he opted for a brand name that “captured the simplicity of our mobile wallet experience”. He called his new company Isis.

I have sympathy for him and his now tainted organization. How was he to know that less than three years later a name that communicated simplicity and peace would be associated with insurgent Islamic fighters and the creation of a paramilitary Caliphate? Unlike other branding unfortunates who rebranded themselves despite their ignorance of the negative association that their new name evoked, Isis could not have predicted the disastrous associations ahead. Mitsubishi should have known that a pajero was a Spanish man who masturbated himself into unconsciousness before it used it for its latest 4X4. Just as Ernst & Young should have checked before it renamed its firm after a gay, soft porn magazine. These companies had it coming to them but Isis was plain unlucky.

So what are the branding options available to Isis in light of the rise of its deadly namesake to one of the prominent and threatening names today? There are four options.

First, rebrand. In the face of what can only be a stream of negative associations, the company could simply move fast to shift identity before any real damage is done. It’s a tricky option because Isis has successfully spent the past three years building both strong brand awareness and a very attractive position in the market.

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