Posts Tagged ‘Branding’

The Olympic Bullies

July 30, 2016

Princeton_athens_1896

I felt a strong need to share this blog post from Seth Godin here on my blog. (Not 100% sure that I can, but since I am not a business per se, it is probably OK.) I assure you it is quite short, but still rather insightful: Jumping the Olympic Shark

This post highlights how brands that have lost their way will often become bullies, and seek to close down discussion that the brand is not been paid for. He reminds us that Brand is not a word, but rather a set of expectations. You can’t build a brand by suing those who choose to talk about your brand. Something we would all be well served to remember…

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If She Knew What She Wants…

April 30, 2016

This line from the Bangles song in the mid 1980’s sums up the plight of the marketer today. The current marketer’s mantra is to provide the customer with what they want, instead of what we as marketers want, and then the sun will shine and all will be well. The customer will feel loved, we will have engendered loyalty, etc., etc…

However, like the song states, we as consumers (of either gender, as men often do not know what they want either)  don’t always know what we want. If we did, this consumer-centric focus would certainly be easier for marketing organizations, and more organizations would be executing successfully. However, what people articulate that they want is typically not what they really do want.

 

If She Knew What She Wants

I have been taking an online course from the University of Queensland on the topic of “The Science of Everyday Thinking”. This course makes it crystal clear that people have very little idea as to what they want and as to how their thinking processes really work. There is also a great deal of resistance to changing behavior once a pattern is established. It takes very compelling evidence to make a mental shift, and even this is often discounted depending on how it is presented.

So surveys are often misleading, social signals are often misleading, even comments on organization web sites can be misleading. In an earlier blog post, I posted the old statement from Henry Ford where he once stated “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” If Steve Job (“focus groups are worthless…”)  had only listened to what people said they wanted and looked only at past market performance, we would never have seen the iPhone (or the iPod for that matter).

That said, it can also be very dangerous to go into a market with preconceived ideas that are based solely on your organization’s needs and not ones that are founded on some kind of need in the marketplace. This is a conundrum when solved makes the difference between really good marketing companies and truly inspired ones.

So how do we do this? While there is no magic bullet, Derek Halpern of SocialTriggers suggests that the best place to start is to ask people what they have been struggling with. If you ask for thoughts in this context, people typically do know what their challenges are in a given area, and what pain points could be improved upon. This is especially true when the struggles tie into emotional rather than rational thought. Most people are more able and/or willing to report accurately from the emotional perspective than the rational if the right environment is provided.

The key here even with this method of asking is still based on brand trust and authority, which we will discuss further at later point. (There are some really good sources out there for brand authority, both on and off line. There are the obvious choices -Seth Godin for one- but I might also suggest Denise Lee Yohn, Harley Manning, Marty Neumeier, and if online is specifically your interest I would suggest reading Mark Traphagen, Neil Patel and the Moz Blog and the Kissmetrics blog specifically on articles related to building authority and trust.)

Once you have the feedback, focus on talking through and solving the problem, not building the solution…at least at until the problem is fully understood. Understanding the full nature of the problem…or your customer’s struggle…will lead to ideas on how to best solve for eliminating the struggle and making your solution the easy choice.

And for those of you who do not know the song, here it is 🙂

The Bangles VEVO Video – IF She Knew What She Wants

 

Elon Musk on branding…

April 26, 2015
Elon Musk at TED

Elon Musk at TED

“Brand is just a perception, and perception will match reality over time. Sometimes it will be ahead, other times it will be behind. But brand is simply a collective impression some have about a product.” ~ Elon Musk

Very true. At this point in our history, a brand is truly what the targeted audience feels it is. It can also be quite volatile. Scary thought for those of us in marketing and branding…

Consistency is a full time job….

April 22, 2015

“You have to stay true to your heritage; that’s what your brand is about.” ~ Alice Temperley

In Ms. Temperley’s statement, staying true to your heritage is all about consistency. Consistency though is a term that has numerous facets, and all are important to establishing, maintaining, and as much as possible, owning your brand.


In the overall context, consistency is about remaining aligned to your DNA…to your core values, guiding principles and the characteristics you brought with you to the dance. How you demonstrate this consistency or integrity to your core is demonstrated outwardly in several different ways:

  • Consistency of voice – How you engage with the outside world in term of stance and tone must be consistent from occasion to occasion, and also with what is at the heart of your organization.
  • Consistency of message –The content of your communications must remain consistent to themselves and to your overall organizational perspective. This lack of message to message consistency often can muddy the brand and lead to many of the differences in brand perception that can occur with different factions of your audience.
  • Consistency of response modality – How you respond to external requests and events, timing of your response, who you respond to, along with the two points above can determine the overall strength of your brand in the mind of your audience.
  • Consistency of execution- It is important to communicate proactively on a consistent basis. This is not to say that there must always be a rigid timeline, but you must be placing content or communications on a reliable basis. If you communicate three times per week, it is not the end of the world to miss once in a while and only communicate twice that week. Likewise upon occasion, four times in a given week may be desirable. The key is to maintain the perception of consistency with your audience.

Getting these visible manifestations of your brand in line with your overall organizational culture and philosophy will enable your organization to better communicate with your target audience and therefore be better able to maintain your brand image with the external world.

How would I know; why should I care?

December 17, 2014

Some of you may reading this be aware that this is a phrase from an old Zombies song. (Here I define old as it is a song that predates me:). I have always liked this song, and specifically this particular phrase. Little did I know when I first heard the song that this phrase would become essentially the essence of modern marketing. If I was asked today to provide one sentence that defines customer interactions and perspective, this phrase could well be the one.


How would I know…
In a dizzy array of communications sources that people need to deal with, how do they determine where they get their information, and who they should listen to? On the other side, marketers are faced with a myriad of communication channel options, but with very little real prospect for breaking through without a distinct advantage. This advantage must come from the consumer perspective.

Consumers are looking for credibility, trust, authority, and for them, this is mostly likely to come from a referral or what is perceived as an unbiased third party observation. These communications must often stem from other potential members of the consuming public in early stages of the brand relationship. The brand owner today is often not considered a credible source at the beginning of the journey, even when they are the first party the potential customer has heard from. This is one of the reasons that reviews and external third party communications that reference your site/offer help a brand site to rank higher in SEO today.

In order to achieve this, you must leverage people already in your court. Recognize that this is more than social media likes and +1s…we are looking for people who will actually talk about you (positively) either proactively (or at least responsively) on your site, in blogs and on other social media. While there are still some brand evangelists that will stump for you unprompted, gaining discussion time from the rest requires critical relationship building with your customer base.

Assuming we do get our message through, there is still the “Why should I care?” question. Despite our lip service to “the customer being king” and “relationship building”, the majority of marketing emphasis today still often relies on touting and conveying information that is important to the communicating organization, not the person being communicated to. It really needs to be reverse of this.

More than ever, it is crucial to determine what matters to the consumer segments you hope to sell to. Does what you offer match what they want or need, or will someday want or need. If yes, find a way to engage. If not, find a way to adapt (if you want that segment) or move on. Transparency of information makes it unlikely you will convince many mismatches to buy you offering, especially on substantial purchases.

Once you find the target segments you want, build a rapport with them and develop a relationship, you still need to stay in touch to keep the relationship alive. Without ongoing, valuable interaction, it is too easy for what you have built to die on the vine. Inertia is not your friend in a fast paced world , so staying in touch and nurturing the relationship is a must do.

Otherwise don’t bother trying to find her, she’s not there…

The Million Dollar Question for Businesses involved in Social Media

October 20, 2012

In his book, “The Brand Gap”*, Marty Neumeier, raises three questions that any company/brand should be able to answer:

1)      Who are you?

2)      What do you do?

3)      Why does it matter?

The first two questions seem fairly easy to answer on first glance; after all everyone knows who the company is they work for and what they do. However, half baked answers to these questions can lead to dangerous waters on the third question.

And the third question is often a killer to answer, at least in any meaningful way to a customer or prospective customer. The simple truth is that the way most respondents would answer this question is often not very compelling, or very differentiating. A convenience store that is open 24 hours a day is not very exciting today, especially if they seldom have the selection I want; likewise an office supply store or wholesaler who delivers.

When in a social media context, this lack of identity and purpose is potentially a fatal flaw: People will seldom spend much time with a person, much less a brand that does not provide value to them. That value can be economic, social, psychological, or emotional, but it must be there to avoid being turned off.

An even bigger issue arises when a brand is found not to just be dense, but also not authentic. Trust is the quality a brand must bring to the table to even get the opportunity to answer the three questions in the first place. Gaining attention in social media through a breach of trust can lead to a difficult situation. In the electronic world, the old saw of “any publicity is good publicity” wears a little thin.

It is even more important under these circumstances to be able to answer the three questions above (at least in your mind) as they will direct the best responses for authenticity under fire. Find your identity today…it can be a bit off key, but it must be what you will voluntarily stand for day in and day out.

* a very worthwhile read, by the way, for those who haven’t yet …

Branding For a Digital World

March 25, 2012

A recent study, BrandZ Top 100 – Most Valuable Global Brands, by MillwardBrown , highlighted several interesting trends in the changing of the visible brand landscape due to market factors at work today.

One observation, for example, dealt with the continued emergence of more and more  global Top 100 brands from Asia and Latin America. Both these areas are moving from consuming brands to building them.

While this study is well worth reading by anyone interested in the structural market evolution of branding, the biggest take away for me from the study was the list of 21 “Key Takeouts” scattered throughout the document

 

To me, these 21 distilled naturally into 7 specific focuses, which I will address one by one in upcoming posts. The big rocks for me are:

1)      Change – There is a need to understand the impact of change on your brand, and to anticipate that change.

2)      Find your identity – This grouping highlights the need for brands to stand for something: Something original, something consistent, something more…

3)      Tied to building the above identity, Innovate and Differentiate. Be flexible and don’t be afraid to break the rules.

4)      Communicate with your customers and potential customers: Talk clearly (be open, transparent) and listen closely; hear what is really being said. This is an area where being consistent also matters…

5)      Direct all actions, offerings, and communications to building trust. Integrity and honesty is key!

6)      Once you establish dialog and build trust, deliver on that trust and provide value and a great experience. Keep measuring results and feedback to make sure that you are.

7)      Have a bias toward action. Times are difficult, but act now!

These thoughts may seem simple and repetitive to those branding gurus who may stumble across this post, but they are rules to live by for the rest of us.

Engagement Matters….

July 4, 2011

“The most successful marketer becomes part of the lives of their followers. They follow back. They wish happy birthday. They handle problems their customers have with products or service. They grow their businesses and brands by involving themselves in their own communities.” – Marsha Collier

“A brand is no longer what we tell the consumer it is – it is what consumers tell each other it is.” – Scott Cook

June 29, 2011

Enough said…

Be Who You Are…

June 18, 2011

“You as a brand have to be completely confident about your position, because you will get criticism. You will have a negative reaction. If you didn’t get a negative reaction, that means you’re standing neutral and you have no point of view. Who wants to participate in that?” – Frank Cooper, Pepsico

Of course to be confident in your position, you need to have one….