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.
Category: Value Creation
Every brand manager would like to believe that the world will love their brand. Given how much time, energy and experience they pour into trying to make that happen, that seems like a reasonable hope. But, as Douglas Van Praet observes in a recent Fast Company article, consumers are far from inclined to feel that way. “The human truth is no one wants to connect emotionally to your brand … People want to be [led] to a better life not bond with companies.”
We could debate whether people want to be led at all, but there’s little dispute that, in the light of this idea, brand loyalty is probably not what most brand managers have talked themselves into believing it is at all. If Van Praet is right, consumers are not loyal to a brand. Not really. Buyers are most loyal to the feeling that a brand evokes in them and in those around them. The emotion sways them. Perhaps the company reassures them, but it’s the feeling they keep coming back for.
Loyalty is connected with the hopes people have for their lives, not the companies themselves. People are inclined towards stories and ideas and changes that brands articulate that stimulate them and that attract their interest. All of this flies in the face of how brand managers rationalize what they do: that people identify with the brand; that awareness evokes loyalty and familiarity generates action. The thing is, maybe buyers aren’t really looking for the company when they look for the logo – perhaps they’re looking for a sign that the emotion they treasure is present.
This further suggests that brands that communicate but fail to bond people to ideas may not have achieved anything like the levels of loyalty that they think they have. They may get a response – but if Van Praet is right that response is triggered by other reasons: convenience; price; happenstance … Buyers may be moved by a stimulus to act. That does not mean they are hooked into the brand. Contact, even action, is not persuasion.Read More
Economics is about deciding what’s valuable.
After the re-set in the global economy, people everywhere are re-evaluating and sorting out what is valuable in their lives and what is not. What the world needs now is to have more value added to it. And that’s what brands must do — add value to the world — if they want to lead the market in the post-marketing world.
This is one timely and underpinning theme of our brand strategy event, The Un-Conference: 360° of Brand Strategy for a Changing World May 16th & 17th in San Diego.
Creating new value is fundamental to the healthy functioning of our free-market economy. Like the natural law of gravity, creating new value is the natural law of increase. People are always seeking an increase to their lives — wanting to be a higher and more fuller expression of themselves. As brand marketers, when we have the opportunity to serve people well, we find greater meaning and satisfaction in our own life experience.
The marketplace is a slush pile of clutter.
Your biggest competitor in the marketplace is clutter. Attention spans are shrinking, people are fatigued by marketing messages coming at them from everywhere and on every device… attention spans are shorter, media channels are ever changing. One could argue now that people don’t care about brands, and they really don’t want a relationship with a brand — unless they get a discount.
If your company/product/brand no longer existed would any one care?
Does your brand represent an ideal (beyond your product / service function and money-making) that customers highly value? Does your organization focus on innovation that provides your best customers just what they’re asking for, or do you focus on providing future customers what they’re dreaming of and waiting for?
We live in the post branding/marketing world everything is branded and everything is good.
In a world of me-too products, resonance and relevance is an increasingly difficult challenge for brand marketers in every business category. If your value proposition looks, smells and tastes like marketing, people are more inclined to ignore you.
The source code of value creation BEGINS with formless creative thought not data. Formless thought in the creative mind is where crazy ideas come from. Crazy ideas have changed the world many times over. Knowing this, it’s surprising many marketers still don’t trust the crazy idea when it shows up.
Everything that ever was, is now, and ever will be is at first a formless thought seed in the creative mind. Many of the products we can’t live without today started out as crazy ideas– automobiles, airplanes, personal computing, digital entertainment, smartphones, the internet and social media – stuff nobody needed or was asking for, but once realized, was just the thing they we’re waiting for.
All the stuff that has changed how we live in the world begins as formless crazy ideas.
Crazy ideas are always more richly embedded with game changing opportunity than safe ideas. A safe idea is the one you can “prove will work” before it takes form in the world.
Crazy ideas are like ancient fire – feared until proven useful
As early humans, we learned and adapted within the context of our surroundings. When humans first learned that fire makes life easier (like cooking meat and keeping warm) the idea of fire was eagerly embraced as necessary for survival.
I’ll bet before people figured out the “use value” of fire, it probably was a very frightening thing to experience – consequently something one should avoid.
Crazy ideas are like that.
The music industry fought tooth and nail to avoid the crazy idea of digitally produced, reproduced and distributed music. Looking back, it’s hard to imagine the folly of their resistance to this crazy idea. But they did for nearly a decade at great harm to their shareholders.
Consumers weren’t demanding the crazy idea of digital music be created out of their unmet need for digital music. Yet once its use value was realized, the crazy idea changed an industry and the world.
The same is true for more commonplace crazy ideas like the Swiffer, which changed how people clean their homes. Netflix which destroyed its established brick and mortar video rental competitors. Even DiGiorno Pizza, which elevated the idea of frozen pizza to freshly delivered pizza status. Nobody was asking for these crazy ideas, yet each one proved massively successful.Read More
Like a raging storm in the open sea, the waves of change come at brand marketers from all directions. There is no eye in this perfect storm – no brief moment of calm to prepare for the next big wind to blow your business off course. The world is changing so fast most brand owners can hardly manage the process of learning what’s necessary to master to keep their ship afloat in all the apparent chaos surrounding them.
From the media we hear daily about the dire circumstances facing all of us on the planet. The stubbornly slow global economy, dwindling resources, over population, political uncertainty and global unrest are taking its toll on the collective creativity and resourcefulness necessary for humans to solve the wicked problems we have created in our modern age.
Everything is different now – profoundly different. Yet it is out of and from chaos that all new order is born. And we are at the beginning of a new order. That’s very good news for those brand marketers willing to view it as such and act accordingly.
We’re in this together.
Right now many brand marketers are connecting the dots between their present circumstances and the bigger, better future they desire to create; between the global picture and their personal circumstances; between individual and collective success. We’re all in this together.
As marketers, we can’t afford to continue to operate on the premise that when one of us wins, another must lose. We need to leave the competitive plane and operate on the creative plane – creating new value rather than competing for the value already created by others.Read More
Developing a new or refreshed corporate or brand identity is often a response to change. Many factors will drive that change – new management, mergers, acquisitions, product development, or a competitor’s threat to a core business. Most change within organizations (or individuals for that matter) is usually driven by external influences (fear) and rarely is initiated through forethought (innovation).
Seemingly in every industry category, offerings are increasingly becoming commodities and perceived by customers as less differentiated and less valuable. Naturally it’s tempting to respond to this by changing something. It’s only logical to assume that maybe you can duplicate success by copying the attributes, features or capabilities of what is working for others. The sobering truth is this tactic will not sustain real growth, nor add more value to customers; it only increases the sameness and adds to the clutter.
We adapt by copying others.
Social observer and author, Mark Earls demonstrates the simple fact that humans have largely evolved by copying others. For thousands of years, humans have adapted through a “do what works” mentality. In fact, Earls points out “copying is our species’ number one learning and adaptive strategy.” The temptation to copy other’s success is, well — tempting. Here’s why:
It’s easier and less risky to copy what works than to create more value.
Humans have naturally sought the safety and security of the known, and avoided the risk of the unknown. When it comes to building an identity, product development, and marketing, the majority of change today is really just copied from what came before, or from what’s currently influencing the behaviors of the status quo. The pressure to sell more stuff seems to trump creating more value through serving people better.
As a result, products have more features on features, there are more flashy logos, more marketing. Seemingly, the more that changes, or gets copied, the more organizations and brands become the same – the result is more commodization with eroded brand equity.Read More