We often draw thick lines between verticals of expertise. Someone is an analyst or an insights generator, a marketing expert or a brand specialist, a designer or an innovative thinker. It’s useful to have these titles and silos of talent. When a particular job needs to get done, with all of the constraints of time and money, it’s best to go with the experts. However, in this habit of specification, we might be missing the opportunity to blend our practices and re-imagine the potential within them.
Consider innovation and design. These areas have been the 21st century’s ascending stars. In the last decade, innovation has become the businessman’s core motto and it’s still the golden ring of nearly every industry. The tenets of innovation have pushed us to envision a process of regularly producing newness in the world. This has led to experimental approaches in workspaces, novel management styles and an increased focus on collaboration. The creation of innovation as a staple business practice has moved companies in some amazing directions.
Likewise, design has seen an explosion of popularity, both graphically and industrially. Thanks to companies such as Apple and Google, which have applied long-revered design principles to consumer electronics and digital interfaces, our eyes have been opened to the power of design and its ability to drive growth and profitability. While both innovation and design attract very different practitioners, it is when we consider the underlying tenets of both disciplines that we realize the need to blend them more thoroughly. There are three foundational similarities between design and innovation. These foundations can serve to inspire our thinking for what could be a powerful partnership. …Continue reading
In the late 1980s, brand equity was just emerging as an important idea. In 1991 I published a book, Managing Brand Equity that defines brand equity and describes how it generates value. This model provided one perspective on brand equity that is worth another look now over twenty years later.
I defined brand equity as a set of brand assets and liabilities linked to a brand name and symbol, which add to or subtract from the value provided by a product or service. Connecting “brand” to the concepts of “equity” and “assets” radically changed the marketing function, enabling it to expand beyond strategic tactics and get a seat at the executive table. Marketing was reframed by an avalanche of researchers, authors and executives who provided substance and momentum to this idea.
My model posited that brand equity has four dimensions—brand loyalty, brand awareness, brand associations, and perceived quality, each providing value to a firm in numerous ways. Once a brand identifies the value of brand equity, they can follow a brand equity roadmap to manage that potential value. …Continue reading
Is your brand-building effort effective? Is the budget spend effective? In my first branding book, Managing Brand Equity, I identified indicators that brand-building was misdirected, mismanaged, or underfunded–problems that are increasingly relevant today. With a few edits, here is the list.
- Managers cannot identify with confidence the existing brand image, its strength, and how it differs across segments and over time.
- Knowledge of levels of brand awareness is lacking or imprecise, and the visibility of the brand among segments is just guesswork.
- There is no in-depth understanding of the basis for customer loyalty or of how it is lost or reduced. A systematic, reliable, sensitive, and valid set of measures of customer satisfaction and loyalty by segment is not available.
- The measures of brand performance and brand-building programs are quarterly and yearly, often based on sales. There are no indicators of the brand tied to long-term business success that are used to evaluate marketing programs. Aspirational brand associations, in particular, are not part of the decision criteria in selecting and managing brand-building programs.
- The reward structure and tenure of brand managers do not motivate them to manage strategically.
- There is no long-term strategy for the brand, no vision as to what brand association is desired and what product classes in which the brand should be competing.
- There is no person or team in charge of the brand. Instead, silo organizational units have independent control of the brand with their product-markets.
Any combination of these is a recipe for strategic problems and lost opportunities.
photo credit: Alex E. Proimos via photopin cc
When you post your ideas online, you want high engagement. Everyone wants to crack that code. But how?
As I explained earlier this week, I recently attended a New York conference for “contagion thinkers” headlined by Jonah Berger (author of Contagious: Why Things Catch On). He shared his six, no-fail “STEPPs” that a brand, product or cause can take to become contagious.
The trick, he says, is to find the right triggers and know when to engage your audience. And by just keeping these six principles in mind as you execute your strategy, you will be ahead of those still following the “build it and they will come” model. They include: …Continue reading
The retail revolution is here. The online retail force has finally arrived, and the results are dramatic.
Retailing sectors that are most sensitive to online competitors are downsizing. That set includes book sellers (Borders), video stores (Blockbuster), consumer electric stores (Circuit City), office supplies, stationary/gift shops, and big box stores. Chains are going out of business or dramatically downsizing the number and size of stores. The fact is that online competitors often have lower costs and a wider selection. Big box storefronts are being replaced growing retail concepts such as fast-food and fast-casual restaurants, fitness/health clubs, dollar stores, thrift stores, medical services, automobile services and wireless stores. The retail revolution is here, but the number of retailers, on average, is not declining. …Continue reading
The past few years have seen a number of new companies enter the streaming digital music space. The old model for a digital music marketplace—which Apple arguably perfected with its iTunes platform—saw users pay $0.99 for an MP3 of a song, which could then be loaded onto a compatible MP3 player or phone. Now, with services like Spotify, Rdio and Pandora, consumers are able to stream an unlimited amount of their favorite music, for free, straight to any device. It’s becoming less important to actually own a song than it is to have the ability to access any song, anytime, anywhere in the world. Many companies have flocked to this new market, and with Apple’s recent announcement of their new platform, iRadio and Google’s recent launch of Google Play Music All Access, the streaming digital music space is already beginning to look quite crowded. …Continue reading
It’s no secret that brands are constantly in search of ways to build connections and loyalty with their customers. However many brands are tackling this challenge by blasting meaningless messages into the ether, hoping to gain a committed following. It’s a sure-fire way to turn people off and eventually leave your messages falling on deaf ears. Strong brands engage consumers with authentic and consistent material that reflects an understanding of their interests and gets the dialogue going. These days, great content makes for great brands.
The word “content” is the catchall term for brand communication, and companies around the world are hopping on “content creation” as the way to capture the hearts and minds of customers. Every day, consumers are inundated with brand generated advertising – around 5000 advertising messages compared to a mere 500 messages forty years ago. Yet, this statistic doesn’t capture the various Tweets, Instagrams and other messages companies push out every day. Content is everywhere, and the impact is real – consumers are conditioned to filter and sort through the junk more quickly and easily than ever. …Continue reading
What are the most impressive brand building efforts in last 15 years? In constructing such a list, it would be hard to leave out Dove. A $200 million soap brand in the early 1990s has grown into a brand that has been estimated to be worth nearly $4 billion dollars today. They play in an intensively competitive arena with large, smart and established competitors. And in my view, the Dove brand building effort played a big role in their success story.
Have you seen the latest from the Dove ongoing “Campaign for Real Beauty” that originated in Brazil and was done by Ogilvy & Mather in 2004? A forensic sketch artist draws several women, first based only on their descriptions of themselves (he does not actually see them) and then based on the descriptions of a stranger who has observed the women. The subject, seeing the resulting sketches side-by-side, realizes that the sketches inspired by strangers are much more flattering than the versions from their own self-descriptions. The tagline? “You are more beautiful than you think.” The first two versions of these videos each got over 35 million views within two weeks of being posted to YouTube. Thirty-five million!! …Continue reading
My last blog post, “Three Models of How a Brand Personality Impacts,” discussed three ways in which a brand personality can impact customers and the marketplace. And its reception, measured by views and comments, indicated that brand personality is a highly sought after and intriguing concept. Many recognized brand personality as a key brand vision lever for brands that are facing dynamic markets and a fragmented media presence. A brand personality can be a crucially important driver of self-expressive benefits, brand-customer relationships and the communication of functional benefits.
If a brand strategist wants to explore the potential of creating or enhancing a brand personality, then they have to address one basic question. What should my brand personality be? …Continue reading
If you haven’t heard of Coursera, maybe it’s time to get up to speed. It’s one of a growing breed of exciting brands intending to change the world. And they have a great chance of succeeding
They’re not focusing on “being green” and saving the environment. Nor are they adopting a cause that might fall under its corporate social responsibility program umbrella and is good for PR purposes and brand-building.
Their business is their cause. These brands provide products, services and solutions that are as important to their hearts as they are to their bottom lines. They’re applying disruptive innovation to create social change. They’re brands that stand for something more. And given the vast majority of consumers’ preference to do business with socially responsible concerns, they may have a leg up.
Coursera is obviously not the first to make their business their cause. Stalwarts like Patagonia, Tom’s, Sanuk and Ben & Jerry’s have all blazed the trail, as have more recent brands such as Kiva and Teach for America. These brands have strong moral compasses and are aligned with missions and visions. They’re consistently putting proof points on the board as to why their consumers should choose their brand over the Haagen-Dazs’ of the world when all else is equal (or close to it).
As I look at a few of these newer examples, I can’t help but caution them to truly look to the past to help them guide their future. Let’s look at two of these “rookies.” …Continue reading