My colleague, Scott Davis recently polled the Prophet team of over 400 brand fanatics to find the top brand winners and losers of 2013. There were plenty of nominees, but the three in the top spots were Nike, Miley Cyrus and Netflix. Nike with its Fuelband SE connects consumers, activities, communities, products and services in a way that revolutionizes exercise programs. Miley Cyrus schooled major brands by controlling the dialog, changing what is relevant and taking the meaning of brand energy to a whole new level. Netflix, which only a few years ago seemed to be fading, transformed itself into an almost indispensable part of the lives of many and with ongoing innovation have made their brand the dynamic exemplar of its category.
It got me thinking about the brands that caught my eye in 2013. Over the course of the year I highlighted approximately 25 compelling brand stories, but seven particularly specifically stand out: …Continue reading
David Kelley, the founder of IDEO and the Stanford D-School, and his brother, Tom Kelley, a partner at IDEO and the author of two innovation books, have just published a new book, Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All.
They make some provocative and suggestive assertions; here is my take on several of them.
Everyone has creative potential – everyone.
Creativity is not reserved for those few with the right genes. The key is to attain creative confidence, a belief that you are indeed creative and an optimistic way of looking at what is possible. That confidence comes in part from trying, doing, accepting failure and creating small successes. …Continue reading
The HUB magazine announced the results of its annual contest for the best brand experience of the year. This year, the “best of show” honors went to Kmart for their “Ship My Pants” commercial. The ad was produced to promote Kmart’s program to ship any out-of-stock or wrong-sized item in the store to you for free. It’s a program that deals directly with an ongoing Kmart issue. The 31-second spot had several characters repeat the “ship my pants” or “ship my drawers” line…and it was hard to avoid misinterpreting “ship.”
I recall that when the commercial was first aired, some said it was unwise and off-brand because it would (and did) offend some and ran counter to Kmart’s family-friendly image.
They were wrong. …Continue reading
Most marketing and branding teams look to spend their budget on promoting the offering, brand, and/or firm. The problem is that no one cares about their offering, brand or firm. And as a result, the payoff is disappointing and the social amplifying potential is non-existent.
An alternative is, instead, to look to what the target customers are interested in – what they talk about, how they spend their time, and what represents their values and lifestyle. I call that the customer sweet spot. Think of Pampers Village or Sephora’s BeautyTalk. And Citi Bike! …Continue reading
As my book Brand Relevance asserts—the only way to grow is to create a “must have.” It must define a new subcategory and then manage that subcategory by becoming its exemplar through ongoing innovation that creates a moving target.
No brand has done that better than Gillette.
Instead of being killed off by the introduction of the electric razor in the 1930s, it used innovation and self-expressive benefits to lead the subcategory (and thus Gillette) into profitability and dominance for the better part of a century throughout the developed world.
Gillette has been most impressive in India. In 2008, Gillette’s premium shaving subcategory needed to fight the low end, double-edged razors that had 80 percent of the market, as well as a growing subcategory represented by men modeling the stubble look of some movie stars who shaved only once a week. The breakthrough was a Gillette-stimulated program called W.A.L.S. (Women Against Lazy Stubble), designed to change perceptions and behavior toward the subcategory (as opposed to the Gillette brand).
It was based in part on a 2008 Nielsen survey that revealed 77 percent of women in India preferred clean-shaven men. The effort involved the campaign, “India votes, to shave or not,” the endorsement of two glamorous Bollywood actresses, a record setting event in which 2,000 males shaved simultaneously, and more.
The momentum of W.A.L.S. helped, but more was needed to counter the low-end market. Into that context, Gillette made its signature Mach3 razor much less costly (to only three times that of the double-edged razors where it had been fifty times). Perhaps more important, a new razor was developed, the Gillette Guard, which was equal in cost to that of the double edged razors. In addition, Gillette crated a distribution strategy that accessed the rural retailers that reached the mass of users outside urban areas.
By 2013, two out of every three razors sold in India was a Gillette Guard and the Mach3 enjoyed an increase in sales of some 500 percent. …Continue reading
Most executives like to know how valuable their brand is relative to other brands. What is its ranking, and has that ranking changed during the last year or so? Positive answers to those questions lead to accolades to the CMO, and negative answers lead to embarrassed silence, at best. The problem is that the data that appears to answer that question really cannot do so. What we actually have is an illusory quantification that means little in the context of these questions. Those that use the valuation numbers and rankings in that way are making a big mistake. Those that act on them are making an even bigger one.
To simplify, the value of the brand is based in large part on two numbers: The value of the business and the percent of impact of the intangible assets attributed to the brand. When a brand controls the business of the firm as is the case for GE, Microsoft and Ford, for example, the value of the business is its market cap. But the market cap is driven by many factors other than the brand including the economy, the stock market and competitors. So if the market cap goes up by 20 percent, maybe because the stock market surged, it is unwise to think that brand building was extraordinary during that period. …Continue reading
I have three favorite charities that also happen to be my favorite nonprofit brands: Feeding America, Teach for America, and Nothing But Nets. The charities share some notable characteristics. …Continue reading
A strong brand can add value in a way that has been ignored—by making the firm more attractive to executives so they will accept less salary. In an era in which salaries are mushrooming out of control, this is no trivial matter for recruitment and for shareholder interests. A recent paper by Nader Tavassoli (London Business School), Alina Sorescu (Texas A&M), and Rajesh Chandy (London Business School), “Employee-Based Brand Equity,” documents that assertion and explains why.
Executive attraction to a job is based in part on a drive for self-enhancement among a reference group. Associating with a strong brand provides connections that transfer to the executive, such as prestige and success. The implication is that the steward of a strong, successful brand will be a competent and gifted leader. An executive associated with a strong brand will also have visibility, and with visibility comes other positive traits. You remember who is running a leading brand. …Continue reading
Malcolm Gladwell’s latest book, David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants, is provocative. He makes several points about mismatched contests. Although he does not use any business or brand examples, many of his points could have been drawn from the world of business strategy.
Firstly, the “giant’s” advantages can also be a source of weakness. Goliath was huge and strong but the size he was blessed with caused him to be slow and have bad eyesight. The giant firm is really good at their business model; they are financially successful and make incremental improvements each year, which apparently make them even more formidable. As a result, there is no incentive for them to change. The current system is working very well, but that “stick-to-your-knitting” concept makes them vulnerable. Another giant firm advantage is size and the resulting clout in the marketplace. The problem is that an innovative offering or way of doing business will at the outset be just too small to be material. Why bother with a small irritant? Just ignore it. That kind of thinking has held McDonald’s, Microsoft, and Coca-Cola back over the years. …Continue reading
Marketers can learn about the power of framing both from both Republicans, who are so good at it and also the Democrats, who are so bad. The latest Obamacare activity is the perfect example. The issue I’m discussing here isn’t to do with whether or not Obamacare is good (or bad) for the nation – it’s rather how each side of the debate is framing their opinion successfully or unsuccessfully. The Republicans won the Obamacare framing battle by a big margin. The question is, did they overreach?
The Republicans framed the healthcare discussion with the label “Obamacare” and thus associations were created, especially among Republicans and independents, of big government, taxes, mandates, loss of control over individual medical care, and President Obama. Their attacks on Obama are twofers – they’re attacks on the President and on Obamacare as well.
Democrats could have framed the discussion using the “Affordable Care Act” label and associated the term with providing affordable insurance to those with preconditions and limited resources, wellness exams, and reducing the “free rider” effect represented by those that chose not to buy insurance but get care through emergency rooms. But they didn’t. They needed to implement discipline across party members, simplify the message, and be willing to stick relentlessly to the label – but they lacked the capacity to do so. Incredibly, President Obama started using the Republican label “Obamacare” himself, conceding the framing battle before it even began. That was a poor decision. …Continue reading