Posts Tagged 'brand building'



get up and go

The clip below has been around for a while, but I’ve finally worked out why it impresses me so much.

It leaves no room for excuses.

You just can’t opt out.

“Just Do It” is the starting motivation, but this makes sure you keep going.

In so doing, it builds the brand and drives behaviour at the same time.

Inspiring.

shared happiness

Tiago has been sharing so much great stuff recently, I’m in danger of duplicating his Cultural Fuel stream here, but this clip was too good to miss.

It’s such a simple concept: take the brand benefit, exaggerate it, and bring that exaggeration to life.

The reach of the activity itself probably wasn’t huge, but the video has achieved over 400,000 views on YouTube in its first week.

Perhaps it’s true: reality is more engaging.

I wonder if the same concept would have achieved as many views if it had been produced as a traditional TVC.

Lovely stuff from the guys at W+K.

ahead of the game

The ‘life’s a game’ concept is nothing new, but it seems to be particularly resonant at the moment.

Russell describes what I’m feeling beautifully in this great excerpt from his epic playful post*:

“Just like when I walk through the crowds on Oxford Street a tiny part of me is pretending I’m an assassin slipping steely-eyed through the crowds in order to shake the agents on my tail. And I bet it’s not just me. I’m not saying I’m massively deluded, just that, very often, some bit of us is always trying to play those games, to make mundane things more exciting.”

It’s one of those lovely insights that could translate really well into brand activity.

And this Nike spot hits that sweet spot beautifully:

It works because it’s engaging – even if it’s only in your own imagination.

* Yes, I know I’ve linked to it about 10 times already. But there’s a reason for that: it’s wonderful. If you haven’t read it already, I thoroughly recommend taking a look now. Thanks to Neil at Welcome to Optimism for sharing the Nike clip.

cut out and keep

Hypebeast and Today and Tomorrow have already featured this fantastic partnership between Lego and Muji, but it deserves more than a quick twitter link.

The concept is so simple that I’m sure children all over the world already have their own version.

However, there’s nothing wrong with brands celebrating existing behaviour.

The reason this partnership works so well is that it builds on the essences of both brands: Lego’s boundless creativity, and Muji’s delightful simplicity.

Here are some more images borrowed from the original Yoshikage Kajiwara post (in Japanese):

On a related note, take a look at this glorious anthropological study of Lego ‘nomenclature’, and this inspiring post from Russell Davies on the importance of imagination in play, communications, and the world in general.

Many thanks to PSFK for alerting me to the Muji partnership and nomenclature posts.
UPDATE: John seems to like this too… what is it about planners and Lego?

planning for the future (5): less talk, more action

less talk more action

We all know that actions speak louder than words.

But many brands still focus the majority of their marketing spend on talking.

It’s time to redress the balance.

Rationale

Advertising does a good job of telling people things.

That’s fine if we want to raise a bit of awareness.

However, advertising frequently behaves like the pseudo-tailors in ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes‘.

This clip sums up the reality of far too much marketing:

But in today’s hyperconnected communities, this ‘massive hyperbole’ approach no longer works.

No amount of advertising will make a bad product good.

It’s just too easy for people to spot a ‘naked’ brand, and to tell everyone else about it too.

More often than not, advertising isn’t the answer.

People want proof; not just claims.

So how can planning help?

We need to broaden our perspective.

We need to help brands understand what people really want, and then to identify the most profitable ways of delivering it to them.

We need to add value, from end to end: from informing R&D to inspiring customer service.

Key Benefit

If we give people what they really want, we won’t need to persuade them of anything; they’ll experience it for themselves.

Key Action

Allocate a minimum of 90% of your brand’s resource to identifying what people really want, and creating a solution that delivers it.

Use the remainder to demonstrate your brand experience to the people who are most passionate about its benefit.

If you’ve done the first bit right, they’ll do the rest for you.

Shaping the Future

Throughout this series on planning for the future, there’s been a recurring theme: how we can add real value.

If planning is to remain relevant, its role must evolve from promoting brands to actually delivering their benefits.

The new planning manifesto is simple:

less talk more action 2

The Rest of the ‘Planning for the Future’ Series

Introduction: a new planning manifesto

Use communications to deliver value: moving from advertising to adding value

It’s all about the benefits: a simple example of how to deliver a brand’s core benefit with a TV ad

Add CSR to everything you do: how contributing to the greater good can help your brand too

Blend the mix: towards more strategic distribution

Want to know more about planning for the future? Get in touch here.

planning for the future (4): blend the mix

blending the Ps

As we saw earlier this week, brand communications have the opportunity to evolve from a promotional tool, into a new avenue to deliver brand benefits.

However, this opportunity isn’t limited to communications; it can easily extend to the rest of the marketing mix too.

Rationale

When it comes to branding, everything communicates: packaging, purchase experience, and after-sales support all play critical roles in shaping people’s perceptions of our brand.

However, brands often approach these elements as distinct activities, and deliver a range of different experiences as a result.

To address this issue, brands need to adopt a more holistic perspective, aligning everything they do to a common objective.

This isn’t about image consistency; it’s about maximising the opportunities to actually deliver what people really want and need (another case of starting from your audience, not the brand)

As we move towards a more holistic approach to marketing, planners need to think beyond ‘advertising’ to identify the ways we can help marketers to blend the various ‘Ps‘ into a truly seamless mix.

Let’s start by looking at distribution.

Take it to them

One way planners can help is to fundamentally re-think the role brands play in people’s lives.

A big part of this is helping to shift the marketing mindset from selling products to selling benefits.

Let’s take FMCG brands as an example.

The vast majority of these are sold through conventional retail channels – supermarkets, drugstores, etc.

Withing these channels, many even have their own dedicated category ‘aisles’.

Until recently, our concept of ‘innovation’ in distribution has been to locate brands in different parts of the store, like putting men’s toiletries next to the beer.

This is a good start, because it starts to think about people as they think about their needs.

But brands don’t belong to just one distribution environment.

Indeed, many FMCG brands have evolved beyond their core product offerings to become ‘lifestyle’ choices, and consequently, their relevance extends far beyond the supermarket shelf.

For this reason, I’d argue that a brand like Axe would be much more at home in a Diesel store than it is in the aisles of Walmart.

Furthermore, it could really come to life in nightclub bathrooms and gym locker rooms.

So what does this have to do with planners?

The answer lies in value delivery.

Getting involved in distribution strategy doesn’t fall into the traditional planner’s realm of influence, but demonstrating and delivering the brand’s benefits at the times of greatest relevance lies at the core of a new planning manifesto:

Identifying the most relevant and engaging times and places to deliver specific brand benefits, and the most efficient and effective ways to deliver those benefits in that context.

If planners are to help brands create real value, they need to get involved with all aspects of the marketing mix.

Key Benefit

Developing a distribution strategy around delivery of brand benefits helps build brand equity at the same time as expanding sales and revenue opportunities.

It also enables brands to develop mutually beneficial partnerships with other like-minded brands.

Alongside these growth opportunities, a unified ‘one brand‘ approach allows brands to reduce costs by harnessing operational synergies.

Key Action

Rather than limiting our thinking to conventional retail norms, we should re-examine the times and places where our brands’ benefits have the greatest relevance, and use this as the basis for developing distribution strategies instead.

Previous posts in the ‘planning for the future’ series

Introduction: a new planning manifesto

Use communications to deliver value: moving from advertising to adding value

It’s all about the benefits: a simple example of how to deliver a brand’s core benefit with a TV ad

Add CSR to everything you do: how contributing to the greater good can help your brand too.

planning for the future (3): add CSR to everything you do

add csr to everything

Monday’s introduction to planning for the future highlighted an exciting shift in advertising’s role:

“Rather than simply interrupting [people's] escapism, we now have greater scope to make [their] lives better.”

Today’s suggestion – to incorporate an element of CSR into everything you do – continues this logic:

If brands are to become a meaningful part of people’s lives, they need to enrich those people’s lives too.

Rationale

Give, and you shall receive

This applies equally well to brands as it does to people; indeed, many of the world’s great brands were born on the principle of cooperation.

Lever Brothers built the foundations of today’s Unilever on the principle of ‘doing well by doing good’.

Similarly, Cadbury created an entire social eco-system for its workforce around the company’s factory in Bournville – an approach rooted in the Quaker ideal of mutual benefit.

For some reason, this ‘considerate’ approach to business went out of fashion for many years, reaching a low point in the corporate greed of the 1980s.

However, a renewed focus on ‘Corporate Social Responsibility‘ (CSR) became popular in the 90s, and brands today cannot justify a lack of broader conscientiousness.

But CSR isn’t just a ploy to enrich the company’s annual report.

Indeed, simply throwing money at a charity can often seem more like an acknowledgment of guilt than genuine concern.

For CSR to be effective, brands must demonstrate a real commitment to driving change and helping people.

This is most effective when the area of CSR focus relates to the brand’s core purpose and expertise, and integrates with the brand’s overall marketing.

For example, while I’d applaud a petroleum brand that donated 10% of its profits to feeding the poor, I’d admire and celebrate that brand much more if they invested the same amount of money in developing ecologically balanced sources of energy that ensured a brighter future for everyone, not just their shareholders.

However, it’s often difficult to justify that kind of longer-term CSR to shareholders, who invariably demand results today (and not 30 years down the line).

The good news is that CSR is a powerful and effective way to build a successful brand – a financial benefit that even myopic shareholders can relate to.

This is because CSR has the ability to create much deeper connection and engagement than broadcast advertising ever could; by helping communities and society at large, brands can demonstrate that they’re on the side of the people, and that helps to establish a more powerful bond.

So how can brands make best use of CSR opportunities?

Let’s return to the Run London example from yesterday’s post.

Nike incorporates a significant ‘community’ element in each iteration of this event (and indeed in much of its broader marketing).

For starters, all participants are encouraged to raise money for charity through sponsorship.

Other initiatives, such as Nike’s ReUse-A-Shoe Program, take the concept of CSR even further:

Benefit

Feeling good about a brand makes it much easier for people to justify choosing it over alternatives.

Furthermore, genuine CSR inspires people to talk about the brand, driving word of mouth and amplifying ROI.

Action

Identify as many relevant opportunities as you can for your brand to give something back to its communities, and assign a meaningful portion of your brand’s resource – money and effort – to delivering these contributions.

Previous posts in the ‘planning for the futureseries

Introduction: a new planning manifesto

Use communications to deliver value: moving from advertising to adding value

It’s all about the benefits: a simple example of how to deliver a brand’s core benefit with a TV ad

planning for the future (2): use communications to deliver value

add value to everything

In yesterday’s introduction to planning for the future, we saw that planning is evolving into:

The process of identifying the most relevant and engaging times and places to deliver specific brand benefits, and the most efficient and effective ways to deliver those benefits in that context.

The first step in this evolution involves a fundamental shift in how we view brand communications.

Rather than merely promoting other forms of value delivery like products, brand communications can become a viable means to deliver benefits of their own.

Rationale

People don’t actually buy products or brands; they buy things that enable them to achieve specific aims.

As a consequence, brands that help people to achieve their aims more comprehensively are more attractive, and therefore more valuable.

Planning can help add to this value by enabling brands to create more opportunities to satisfy.

Our challenge is to turn every single interaction – including communications – into an opportunity to help people achieve their aims.

Nike already champions this approach.

It understands that people don’t buy ‘sportswear’; they buy things that enable them to participate in sporting activities.

So the brand focuses on creating more opportunities for people to enjoy those activities.

Run London is a great example, creating deeper engagement not just with the brand, but also with running:

Run London doesn’t just build engagement either: over 30,000 participants pay to take part, and the event generates more than £1million in revenue.

Given this, it’s easy to understand why Nike employs the same approach in football with Joga3, and in fitness with the Rockstar Workout.

Benefit

When everything a brand does helps people to satisfy their wants, needs, and desires, it becomes a much more valuable part of their lives.

Action

Identify the core benefit that your brand offers, and then identify ways to deliver it through every interaction – including communications.

planning for the future

hearts and minds

Planning is the process of identifying the most efficient and effective ways for brands to share the things they want with the people that matter to them most.

Until recently, that has translated into identifying the most compelling ‘big brand ideas’, and then broadcasting them to apparently homogeneous audiences through conventional mass-media.

However, this approach no longer delivers the results we need.

Contrary to the laments of the media industry, this is not because attention has become more scarce; indeed, people actually have more free time now than they used to.

The real issue is that people have more opportunities to participate in a wider variety of activities, and unsurprisingly, they are choosing to focus their attention on those activities which offer them the greatest rewards.

In place of some of the time they used to spend ‘fire gazing’ – escaping the boredom and drudgery of everyday life – people are increasingly harnessing their cognitive surplus to learn and grow.

This more varied behaviour means that ‘audiences’ are increasingly dispersed: fewer people are doing the same thing at the same time, and mass-media are increasingly less ‘mass’ as a result.

However, this actually presents more opportunities than it does problems.

Rather than simply interrupting people’s escapism, we now have greater scope to get involved and make their lives better.

But, in order to achieve this, we need to rethink our approach to brand communications.

We need to move away from planning that centres on people’s ‘media habits’, and focus instead on the things that people are trying to achieve through those habits.

In other words, we need to ask why people do what they do, not just what they do.

Once we understand people’s motivations, we’ll find it much easier to find more relevant roles for our brands:

If people want passive entertainment, how can we help with that?

If they want to learn something new, what role can we play?

If they have a challenge, how can we help them solve it?

Brand communications can evolve into a means to deliver actual value, rather than simply a means to promote other forms of value delivery.

The benefit offered can be as simple as passive entertainment, but interactive experiences, education, and even corporate social responsibility (CSR) hold even greater potential.

In line with this evolving quest for people’s hearts and minds, planning’s role needs to evolve too, becoming

The process of identifying the most relevant and engaging times and places to deliver specific brand benefits, and the most efficient and effective ways to deliver those benefits in that context.

Over the next few days, I’ll share some ideas that can help make that future a reality.

building better brand relationships

reciprocal relationship

Most marketers know that relationships are central to building their brands.

But what does this actually mean?

We build a variety of relationships every day in our personal and professional lives, but much of this goes on subconsciously, and we rarely stop to think about how we do it.

Given this, it might help to take a look at how a typical brand relationship evolves, and the things we can do to strengthen and deepen its bonds.

The evolution of a relationship

From a marketing perspective, there are seven basic stages in the development of a brand relationship:

relationship evolution

[click the image to enlarge it]

Before we analyse each step individually, it’s important to note that relationships develop sequentially.

Although it may sometimes appear that relationships ‘jump’ some steps, the reality in such situations is that people simply progress through the intermediate steps in rapid succession.

Because of this linearity, it’s vital that marketers understand all the steps they must move their brands through on their journey to success.

In the beginning

It is possible for people to generate value for a brand before they’re aware of it, but this value is coincidental.

A ‘relationship’ can only begin when a person becomes aware of the brand.

Consequently, the brand’s first key task is to raise awareness.

That may sound glib, but it introduces a critical point:

Only in situations where people have never heard of the brand should we concern ourselves with building ‘awareness’.

Many established brands talk about the need to raise awareness, but it is unlikely that this will their most important challenge.

Breeding familiarity

In the early stages of a brand relationship, people may recognise only its most fundamental attributes:  its name, its logo, its packaging.

Many brands confuse this recognition for success, focusing all their resources on achieving the highest possible awareness, and so never progressing beyond this stage.

However, in order to create value, awareness must translate into consideration.

Positioning the brand

People will only consider a brand if they believe it can help them satisfy their wants and needs.

However, in order to develop this perception, people must first understand what the brand stands for.

Brands establish this through articulating a positioning and a proposition:

Positioning
What the brand wants to stand for in a person’s heart and mind, relative to alternatives.

Proposition
The most compelling reason why someone should choose the brand over alternatives
.

Developing a relevant positioning and compelling proposition are the most important steps in a brand’s evolution.

However, they only become valuable once the brand’s intended audiences and consumers understand them.

Communicating the brand’s core, differentiated benefit is critical; any brand that fails to do so will only ever realise a tiny fraction of its potential value:

relationship journey interrupted

[click the image to enlarge it]

(You can find more on differentiation in this post).

Reinforcing relevance

Once people understand the brand’s positioning, the next task is to ensure that they understand why that positioning is relevant to their wants and needs.

Although this often happens in tandem with the previous step, it does not happen by default.

Furthermore, the brand can still establish relevance at a subsequent point, even if people fail to understand its relevance straight away.

However, the only way to establish this relevance is by showing people how the brand makes their life better.

There are numerous ways to do this, but they must always focus on the audience’s perspective.

Strengthening the bond

Once a brand has demonstrated relevance, it has succeeded in fostering consideration.

The challenges involved in translating this into preference – i.e. progressing from relevance through to favourite – are broadly the same, but they depend on each brand’s specific context.

Because of this, brands should make extensive use of research to identify the specific barriers that hinder the brand’s progress.

Some of these barriers may be subjective, resulting from differences in individual taste.

Others will be more objective; for example, people may be satisfied with an existing solution, or it may be too much hassle for them to change existing habits.

However, enabling people to experience the brand’s benefits on more than one occasion will help to build a momentum that will make it easier to overcome both types of hurdle.

As a result, activities like ‘re-sampling’ – where sampling drives a subsequent experience rather than just an initial ‘taster’ – can play a highly effective role.

Unwavering commitment

‘True’ brand loyalty only occurs when people will accept no alternative: when they’ll leave a store empty handed if their chosen brand isn’t available.

Although the Cola Wars suggested such loyalty might be commonplace, the reality is that few brands ever achieve this kind of unique relationship.

The only way to build and maintain such a relationship is through two-way commitment – i.e. the brand must prove that it’s willing to give people back as much as it hopes to receive.

However, even if a brand reaches this nirvana state, its job is not complete.

Constant flux

Relationships evolve all the time.

The dynamics that exist between a person’s various relationships, and how their needs and desires change over time, mean that relationships function much like stocks and shares: their value can go up as well as down.

Get things really wrong, and they can also go bankrupt.

The only way to ensure that your relationships survive and continue to deliver the value you hope is to monitor their health on a regular basis, and to continue working at them, all the time.

And there’s only one way to do that…

All one-way?

As we saw above, the prospect of a relationship arises when one party becomes aware of the other.

However, a relationship only really begins when there is interaction – a relevant degree of give and take.

Without this reciprocity, the ‘relationship’ is nothing more than a one-way transaction.

Sadly, many brands are stuck in this transactional mindset: they operate like celebrities, building legions of ‘fans’, but remaining ignorant of those people except for their contribution to statistics.

However, in today’s hypersocial world, that approach limits a brand’s ability to progress to the deepest levels of relationship engagement.

People are increasingly demonstrating preference for brands that are active members of their communities, and cold, distant brands risk alienation.

Conclusions

If you want to build valuable relationships, you’ve got to draw people in deeper.

That involves giving people a good reason to increase their levels of engagement, and this is dependent on active participation and interaction.

Brands need to show people that they care, and that they’re willing to give back as much as they take.

In other words, we need to build partnerships.



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