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.
If brands tell stories, it might be useful that those stories are informed by the universal myths that recur over time and across geography and culture. These myths resonate with people at a very deep level. They are about coming to grips with our mortality, making sense of our lives and reconciling the individual experience with the infinite. So, what are the myths that emerge in one form or another again and again?
- Creation Myths: Why are we here? Where did we come from? How did it all begin? What was the first cause? What is our place in the universe?
- The Earliest Times: What are our roots? What is our lineage? Who were our ancestors? What were their customs? What were their lives like back then? What trials and tribulations did they have to endure? What can this teach us about our lives today?
- Flood Myths: Was there once a great earth-wide tragedy? What was its nature? What caused it? Why did it occur? Could it happen again? If so, what could we do to minimize its probability of recurring? How fragile is our existence?
- Great Loves Stories: What is perfect love? What is divine love? What ecstasies and traumas are associated with true love? Can two people that love each other ever really be permanently separated? Can love conquer all?
- Morality Tales: Are there moral tests? Would I pass them? What can an immoral person expect? What are the consequences of immorality? What are the consequences of specific immoral acts? How does an immoral person’s life end?
- Hero Myths: How does the hero save someone or something from disaster or destruction? What bravery and courage does the hero exhibit? What is the hero’s reward? In what ways am I a hero? Can we all become heroes, at least in some small ways?
Brands require huge levels of energy. They need to be promoted, they need to be maintained, they need to be serviced … just to keep them going. And that can lead some to believe that that is all they need. Surely, if you invest enough energy in this brand, it will succeed.
You see this in those interesting exchanges which begin, “We’re going to spend this … and we want to achieve this”.
I would argue that the emphasis needs to be reversed, “To achieve this, we’re going to have to spend this …”.
There are some important distinctions in the order of these statements. The first emphasizes the spend (energy) and ties it, hopefully, to an outcome. The second statement begins with the outcome and attributes a required level of energy to achieve it.
A lot of marketers put their hope in the first approach. Egged on by the planners, they spend up and then wait for the tide to come in. It’s a little like saying that you’ll put a certain motor in a car and aim for it to reach a certain speed. It may work. It may not.
The other approach is much more mechanical. Start with the outcome, and then determine the level of energy required to achieve it, both in ideas and spend. But it’s an approach that makes the creatives and the planners sweat because the emphasis is on actions and results rather than impressions. And it shifts the focus – from “what shall be spent and where?” to “why should that amount (or more) be spent?”Read More
In the search for more revenue, many brands seem keen to broaden their mandate or redefine the sector they see themselves as now being part of. But the hunt for diversified revenue streams comes with its own list of dangers and the most obvious caution is this: don’t lose the plot. Don’t spread your brand so wide, generalize your position so much or shift your emphasis so far from where you’ve been that you lose credibility, authority or distinction in the minds of your customers.
I watch with concern as companies make plans to “lifestyle” their brands, shifting the emphasis of what they do in order to introduce the new product lines that they hope will invigorate demand. This is driftnet strategy. It’s based on the belief that if you trawl wide enough across a broad enough front with a general enough message you’ll end up with a bigger catch than what you’re hauling in right now. Dig a little deeper into the plans and it becomes clear that the sectors brands often wish to rush into are already crowded (which brand marketers justify as proof of demand) and the rationale for this move is based on perceived interest/opportunities that are exactly that – perceptions – and that should, with rigorous appraisal, be dismissed as optimistic rather than substantial.
You don’t automatically become a better brand, a bigger brand or a more attractive brand by walking away from, or downplaying, the equity you’ve worked so hard to build.Read More
Isn’t this such a great thought? “Don’t build a product, then try to market it. Instead, build a customer attitude, then build a product to match that attitude.” It’s part of an absorbing and insightful article by Graeme Newell on why you shouldn’t focus your advertising around your product.
And it points to a parallel thought for me that clearly distinguishes brands with purpose from those that lack purpose. Purposeful brands focus on the history of the attitude that drives them far more than their chronicled timeline. They talk about what first motivated them to want to change the world and what impels them to continue shaking the tree. That’s powerful precisely because it’s timeless. And it’s relevant because it’s so connective. It explains to those of a similar mind how a brand they like came to the very same realizations that they have.
By way of a structure for such a story, I hacked Emma Coats’ wonderful Pixar code to render my take on how marketers might retell how they came to be the brand they are. This is the result:Read More
Brand architecture is the logical, strategic and relational structure for your brands or put another way, it is the entity’s “family tree” of brands, sub-brands and named products. Brand architecture addresses each of the following:
- What the overarching branding approach is – master brand, brand/sub-brand, endorsed brand, stand alone brands or some combination of these
- How many levels of branding should exist
- What types of brands exist at each level
- How brands at different levels relate to each other, if at all
- Decision rules for creating new brands
- Which brands’ identities are dominant and which ones are recessive
- What types of names the organization uses – coined, associative descriptive or generic descriptors – and in which circumstances (usually controlled by decision rules)
- Which brands are features in each and every media, vehicle, situation and circumstance (e.g. business cards, stationery, product catalogs, website, shipping boxes, vehicle signage, employee uniforms, building signage, etc.)
Organizations often find themselves at a stage in their development in which the number of brands and named products that they are managing has gotten out of control. This could be due to a series of mergers and acquisitions or just the continuous growth of new products and services over time. These organizations find that their portfolios of brands and other named entities have gotten too difficult or expensive to manage. Frequently, there are no naming standards. Each new product or service is named as it is created, with no view to the overall picture. And sometimes, employees are creating variations or new versions of existing brands for entities and programs such as internal training programs, company picnics or employee reward programs. If some or all of this applies to your organization, you likely need help clarifying and simplifying your branding structure.Read More