A brilliant cartoon from Tom Fishburne illustrates the risks of what we call "image wrapper branding": changing just the visual appearance of your brand, with no accompanying upgrade of product/service. I agree 100% when Tom says, "A shiny new brand identity won’t automatically solve all of the problems of the business." I recently used Yahoo's new logo change as an example of doing just this, in a post called "Re-painting the Titanic."
Tom uses the example of US electrical product and component retailer Radio Shack to show the risks with image wrapper branding, and the better alternative of re-launching with an upgrade proposition and offer.
Image wrapper branding
Back in 2009 Radio Shack tried to re-launch with a new, catchier shorthand: "The Shack". A lot of the brand's whopping $200million of advertising was blown introducing this new name. The problem was that the store design, service and product offer remained the same. In addition, the name was't based on real consumer insight. "No consumers called RadioShack “The Shack”", as Tom says. In contrast, "Grad some Buds" for Budweiser beer builds on the language consumers really use.
Tom goes on to describe the results of this change, saying "It was a huge flop and the stock has lost 95% of its value in the past 7 years."
Remember and refresh what made you famous
In 2014 RadioShack are having another go at re-launching. This time there is chance the results will be better (well, they can't be much worse, can they?). First, the company is following a key principle of the Grow the Core approach: remember and refresh what made you famous. You can see this in the words of CMO Jennifer Warren in a Fast Company article:
“When we started talking to customers, they still had positive memories of RadioShack from the ’80s as this place where inventors and makers got their start.”
RadioShack is not only looking back at what made it famous. It is also looking forward at trends, and in particular the "maker" movement. They are then using this to change the service offer and store design in a series of concept stores. This is what we call "brand-led business". As Tom says, "Radio Shack are taking advantage of the maker movement to re-vamp stores around their maker heritage — with 3-D printers, robot sets, and meeting space for DIY types."
The re-vamped Radio Shack is nicely captured with the brand idea: "Do it together". This is a call to action that builds on the brand's history. It is contrasted with "DIY", do it yourself.
In conclusion, this looks like an example of a brand moving beyond image-wrapper branding to something more substantial. Ss Tom says, "it will be interesting to see how the re-brand continues to unfold over the next year. This time, they’re not trying to be something they’re not."
I was impressed by Unilever office reception at their UK HQ in Leatherhead, Surrey, that I visited today for a meeting. I think they've done a great job of using the entrance to the building as a corporate brand building tool. This is in contrast to many company receptions that are staid and boring, with a few magazines and a glass cabinet with dusty trophies.
The rally striking thing about Unilever's reception is that the company's brands are the stars of the show.
Here is the full size, real-life Tresemmé hair salon. Company employees can get their hair done during their lunch break, or even whilst holding a teleconference!
Second, there is a massive Knorr Kitchen with glass windows, where you can see chefs creating food and people trying out new products and recipes. Its also used to host meetings, but ones where food and cooking are kept centre stage.
And here is the Ben & Jerry's café, serving coffee and sandwiches, but also as I understand it, free ice cream!
I see several advantages for Unilever in this approach.
1. Employee engagement
Instead of just saying it is passionate about its brand, like many companies, Unilever is demonstrating this passion by bringing to life some of their key brands. I guess this helps engage people working their with the brands, and deepens their understanding of them. In addition, its a nice perk to be able to get a free haircut or ice cream.
2. Customer engagement
Think how many of Unilever's customers sit in the reception each year. It must be a lot. And rather than getting bored flicking through an out-of-date copy of GQ or Cosmo, they can have a Ben & Jerry's ice cream or browse products in the Tresemmé salon. Even if they just sit down and wait, they are immersed in the company's brands.
3. Potential employees
For potentail employees, the reception is their first contact with the company they are considering joining. The marketing director I met today said that the reception helped create a very positive first impression, communicating that this was a business with a great portfolio of strong brands.
In conclusion, you have to spend some money on your corporate reception. Why not invest a bit more money and use your imagination to use it as a communication channel in the way Unilever do?
The Jolly Hog is literally a great example of brand that literally combines product "sausage" and emotional "sizzle". The company make delicious sausages and other pork products, such as hog roasts. It was started by Ollie Kohn, a former player with the local rugby team I support, Harlequins. The main route to consumer is catering at at Harlequins’ home ground, the Stoop, as well as Twickenham stadium, Bath and Saracens rugby clubs and Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park.
I was chuffed to bits to meet up with Ollie recently at Harlequins' ground, The Stoop. I got to meet a Quins legend, and learn more about the how the Jolly Hog brand has been developed. The Jolly Hog approach to branding are particularly relevant for small businesses, as Ollie and the team have created a million pound business without any conventional advertising.
1. It all starts with the sausage...
The Jolly Hog brand, like most strong brands, is built on a great product. The sausage recipe was refined through experimentation in the kitchen to get the taste just right. The sausages have a high meat content, with no rusk of bulking agents used in some other sausages. Whilst sausages are at the core of the business, the team also sell pulled pork, hog roasts and sausage rolls.
2. A story with sizzle
A nice thing about the Jolly Hog is the story of how it was created by Ollie and his two brothers. This gives the brand a human face, and makes it feel authentic, adding some emotional sizzle. Ollie's rugby playing background adds some spice to this story, adding to its PR value. I also like the way the team use a hand-written version of the story as part of the display at all their catering stands, like the one below.
The Jolly Hog brand has what I think is a great visual identity. First, the team have cut the name down from the original "Jolly Hog and Sausage", making it easier to remember (consumers tend to shorten a name to 3-4 syllables anyway). Second, the brand has a distinctive symbol that combines the brand name with the pig snout and ears. The uneven typeface adds a hand-made, crafted touch.
4. Create buzz
The Jolly Hog team have done a good job of creating some buzz and PR about the brand to build awareness. First, the product has talked for itself, with Michel Roux Junior, he Michelin-starred chef, saying live on GMTV that his favourite sausages were the Jolly Hog’s. Second, the story of Ollie and his brothers has been picked up in the press, including this article in The Daily Telegraph. Finally, the team have made use of their connection with the Harlequins rugby team to get some free PR, including this priceless bit of visual branding by Quins and England rugby star Joe Marler.
The Jolly Hog has been built from the start as an "experience" brand, with the main channel to date being catering at live events. This is ball-breaking work to do well, requiring a huge effort to hire and train the right people to serve customers with a smile. The pay-off is that this creates "immersive trial": trying the brand for the first time not at home in your kitchen, but at a live sporting event with an enjoyable, memorable atmosphere. These associations then become part of the "memory structure" you have of the brand. This is a solid foundation for The Jolly Hog if they eventually stretch into selling pork products as a retail product.
In conclusion, The Jolly Hog is a great example of brand building based on sausage and sizzle, and shows how much you can do as a small business without big budgets.
John Lewis is set to enjoy the benefits of fresh consistency with its latest Xmas TV advert, which aired for the first time last week. "Monty the Penguin" is creating even more "word-of-mouse" than last year's "Bear and the Hare", being shared 202,953 times in the first 24 hours, up 2% on last year according to Marketing. Youtube views are already at 11 million, versus a total of 13.7 million for "Bear and the Hare" one year post-launch.
The new ad features a boy buying a mate for his imaginary penguin friend (really a toy). You can watch it below on the blog, or here.
Here is why I think this is a great example of fresh consistency.
1. Consistent story
Even if this year's ad looks different from last year's and the year before that, there is complete consistency in terms of the story. The endlines vary slightly from year to year (see below), but the story in all three cases is "Give a little more love this Christmas, by shopping at John Lewis for your gifts". This year's ad ("Give someone the Christmas they've been dreaming of") is very close to 2013 ("Give someone a Christmas they'll never forget").
The focus on the joy of giving makes the brand distinctive versus other Xmas communication that tends to focus on the receiver of the gift.
In terms of execution the ads look different. But look closer and there's a lot of consistency. Since 2010, the commercials have a similar narrative structure, with a focus on the gift giver, building up to a climatic and tear-jerking "reveal" at the end. Importantly, the focus is on the product/gift and the giver as joint heros. So we have emotional "sizzle" but also some product "sausage":
Second, the music is different, but the style of music is similar. All three songs use slowed down, accoustic cover versions.
Third, the ads all have an emotional pull on the heartstings, with an "Ah" factor.
3. Adding freshness
There is of course plenty of freshness to keep viewers anticipating what this year's ad will be like, and rewarding them when they discover it. (Indeed, is each year's new ad almost like a little gift in itself?). Each year we have a different leading character, a new song and sometimes a change in execution style. Last year it was animation, whereas this year we're back to real life, but with an imaginary penguin.
John Lewis should benefit from this fresh consistency in terms of effectiveness, by building on and amplifying memory structure. The other big benefit of this approach is that John Lewis and their agency, Adam & Eve, already know what 2015's ad will be like, in terms of story, structure and style. This means that can start work on the communication already if they want to, maximising the creative firepower they can put behind it.
In conclusion, John Lewis is a great example of the power of fresh consistency, the gift that keeps giving.
To have fun watching all their previous Xmas ads, click here.
Have you heard of Zoella? Or Pewdiepie? If the answer is "no" then you are out of touch with an important trend in the social media world: the rise of the youtubers, who are reaching audiences of up to 32 million each.
But fear not.
I have enlisted the help of an expert to give you a crash course in youtubers: my daughter Elodie. Like many teenagers, she spends what seems to me like hours a week watching Zoella and the gang. And I was curious to find out when and where she did this and why. I'll sum up at the end with some implications for brands.
Guest post by Elodie Taylor, age 13
Who are the Youtubers?
Whether you are aware of it or not, youtubers are gradually taking over the media watched by teenagers. The leading ones have millions of subscribers, with the most successful having an amazing 32 million! Youtubers have what seems at first sight a simple job: film 4-8 minutes of video of themselves once a week. Their videos take different forms, such as Q&A's, "hauling" (showing off shopping they've bought), make-up tips, funny stunts and "vlogs" (video diaries). Here are a few youtubers to get you started.
Zoella* (6.4 million subscribers): fashion, beauty, lifestyle
Alfie Deyes* (3.3 million): "The pointless blog" (enough said)
Dan (4.1 million): the awkward journey of his life
Marcus Butler (3.1 million): silly stunts
* Zoella and Alfie are a youtuber power couple called Zalfie
Then, the US gang:
Pewdiepie (31.9 million = The most subscribers in the whole of youtube): anarchic video game commentary
Jenna Marbles (14.2 million): funny insights into what makes girls and guys tick
Tylar Oakley (5.7 million): challenges, travel, day in the life
Why watch them?
First, when you're feeling down and want to be cheered up the youtubers are always there. Unlike with a TV show that you have to wait for, or record, Zoella is on when I want. Second, you can get tutorial and tips on doing make-up or dressing up, you can get help, a bit like asking for advice from an older sister. Third, if you are into a youtuber, you can find out more about them and their life.
When/where to watch them?
You can watch them at home after dinner to relax (after all your homework is done of course!). But the best thing is you can watch them on the train, at the bus stop, in the car... anywhere as long as you have youtube.
Thanks Elodie. Back to dad for some implications for brands.
1. Online audience reach
At its simplest, youtubers are a new communication channel, especially useful if you are trying to target teens or young adults. The Zalfie power couple combined have a subsriber base equal to the veiwership of the X-Factor's first Saturday night show.
These youtubers have a degree of influence over their audience, and so represent an opportunity for the right brands to work with them. This can be as simple as giving product samples in the hope someone like Zoella uses you in a make-up demo. The Matteson's Fridge Raiders brand went a step further by developing a gaming helmet with automatic Fridge Raider feeding, in partnership with gaming youtuber The Syndicate Project. The "unboxing" of the helmet got more than 3 million youtube views, and helps add credibility to the brand as a snack for gamers. Matteson's has followed up with a new gaming helmet design project called F.R.H.A.N.K. (Fridge Raiders Hunger Automated Nutritional Kit).
Watching youtubers can be a (sometimes depressing) way of getting free insight into a teen audience, understanding the sort of humour they laught it, and the sort of products they like to use.
In conclusion, youtubers are part of the morphing media landscape, opening up a potentially interesting new communication channel for brands.
I nodded vigorously as I read Sir Terry Leahy's take on Tesco's traumatic troubles in The Times (subscription needed). Leahy left Tesco in 2011, after which the company's fortunes started to nose-dive. The share price has dropped by 2/3, sales have fallen quarter after quarter and there have been two profit warnings. The report suggests that "his comments will be seen as a veiled swipe at Philip Clarke, his successor". Whilst I agree with Sir Terry's comments, I suggest he should share the blame with his successor for Tesco's problems, based on the brand vision work we did for his senior team back in 2008.
1. Loss of focus on the core
I agree with Sir Terry's suggestion that Tesco's has forgot its sense of purpose, focusing "too much on what it isn’t, rather than remembering what it is and working with that”. Back in 2008 we defined the purpose simply as "making every shopping easier and more affordable". Doing this well, via service innovation such as the "one-in-front" queue promise, helped Tesco grow during the glory days.
However, six years ago we could already see that Tesco was no longer fully delivering on this purpose. First, we flagged up cracks that had appeared in the basic "shopping trip", in terms of customer service, value and quality, all issues that new CEO Dave Lewis says need fixing.
However, neither of these recommendations seems to have been followed. Instead, Tesco has innovated by diversifying, including the purchase of Blinkbox video streaming, Giraffe restaurants and Harris & Hoole coffee shops.
2. Being in the middle can be a strength
Sir Terry rightly observes that Tesco is “a very big brand in the centre of the market", as we did back in 2008. He goes on to say that "if you are weak in the centre you can get attacked from all sides." This is indeed what seems to have been happening, with Waitrose winning at the premium end, Aldi, Liddl and Asda sniping from below, and Sainsbury's, until recently, winning in the middle.
However, as Sir Terry then says, "If you’re strong in the centre and doing what you do well, you can attract customers from all parts of the market.” This is the way we saw things back in 2008. Tesco's strength was its broad appeal to all sorts of people, playing the role of a true leader that can meet all your needs, whether they be posh ready meals, or good basics.
3. Re-focus on insight for action
When it was winning, Tesco was awesome at getting insight and then acting on it, as Sir Terry points out: "the business was at its best when responding to customer trends." Back in 2008, teams were set up to solve the 4-5 key problems identified in the annual "customer plan", with real resource and budget to make things happen.
My guess is that this process has not been as effective in recent years, as shown by the lack of core service innovation. But I share Sir Terry's impression that the company's new CEO plans to fix this: "Listening to Dave Lewis, he’s emphasised the need to focus on customers.”
4. Things could change fast
I also share Sir Terry's optimism that Tesco's fortunes could turn around sooner rather than later. As he comments, “It’s very responsive to the right leadership and the right marketing strategy.” Tesco does have tons of talent and big budgets. If it can re-focus these resources back on the core, then sales and profits could start to pick up again.
What went wrong?
Unfortunately, many of our recommendations from the 2008 project were not implemented, and still need fixing. This is why I suggest that the responsibility for Tesco's woes lies partly with Leahy. The brand and business model was already broken when he passed the leadership reins to Philip Clarke.
But if these issues were flagged up six years ago, why weren't they addressed then? One possible reason is that Sir Terry's leadership was so strong that it was hard to challenge the "machine", as Tesco insiders called it. The Tesco model had worked for so long that there was a lack of willingness to fundamentally challenge things in the way we suggested. I tried to raise one of the issues in a meeting with Leahy, and was told in no uncertain terms to be quiet, with the retort "What the hell do you know about my business?"
You can see the difficulty to openly challenge senior leaders in the cover-up that happened this year. A "whistle-blower" tried to expose mis-reporting of profits from commercial deals, only to be silenced. It took the arrival of Dave to reveal the truth, leading to a quarter of a billion pounds reduction in Tesco's reported profits, and a criminal investigation by the SFO.
In conclusion, the Tesco story shows that every leader brand, no matter how strong, needs to constantly renovate the core if it is to stay ahead of the chasing pack.
Foster's lager and their agency Adam & Eve DDB won the Grand Prix at The IPA Effectiveness Awards this week. Importantly, these awards are about selling more stuff, not just creativity. And boy did Foster's "Good Call" campaign sell more stuff. The campaign, featuring Brad and Dan as agony uncles advising men on their problems, achieved the highest estimated ROI of any beer campaign in the awards' 34-year history. Every £1 of advertising drove a mind-boggling £32 in revenue, moving Foster’s from third to first place in the off-trade lager market, as reported here.
An example from 2012 is below if you click on the blog, or here.
And for another from 2014, click below or see here.
There are several interesting take-outs from this incredibly successful campaign.
1. Consistency creates memory structure
The Good Call campaign shows the power of consistency to create "memory structure": hard-wired associations that help trigger recall of the brand. Since the campaign started in 2011, a series of brand properties have been created and amplified:
- Australian Beach setting with the Foster's hut
- Brad and Dan characters
- Narrative structure of each commercial: phone call from UK (e.g. "Ben from Southend")=> Brand & Dan answer in the Aussie beach hut a "g'day" => they offer a solution
- "Good Call" endline
- Style of humour and jokes
Our recent IcAT (Iconic Asset Tracker) study on beer demonstrates how effective Fosters has been at creating memory structure (see below). The Fosters slogan ("Good Call") and characters (Brad & Dan) are the strongest performing brand properties in the UK beer market, with a c. 70% activation score (% of people correctly recalling the brand when seeing a brand property for a split second). Carling scores lower, as does Stella Artois. Lowest of all is Heineken, with activation of their global slogan ("Open your world") and characters from their recent Odyssey campaign much lower. Stella and Heineken have, in contrast to Fosters, used multiple campaigns and brand properties, creating much less memory structure as a result.
Adam & Eve DDB deserve a huge amount of credit for the creative genius in keeping the campaign fresh for four years. Each new "chapter" of the Good Call story keeps consistency through use of the brand properties above, but brings a new problem for Brand & Dan to solve. Rather than getting bored, I suggest viewers look forward to the next chapter in the story, in the same way fans watched nine series of Friends.
3. Amplify across the mix
Interestingly, in this era of social media hysteria, the Good Call campaign was "TV-led", showing that this medium still has a leading role to play.
The brand and agency have also been smart in amplifying the Good Call properties beyond TV into other parts of the mix. They create the "Summer of Good Calls" as an umbrella concept for promotional items, leveraging the Aussie beach properties with ideas like the Boom Box Cooler below.
The "Good Call Centre" digital campaign allowed people to share online a friend's problem (dress sense, manners, personal hygiene etc.). Brad & Dan, helped by the Good Call Centre girls, would then create a personalised message to share on your friend's Facebook page. The smart thing here is how the digital campaign amplified the brand idea and properties, further reinforcing the brand's memory structure. More on the Good Call Centre here.
The campaign property of Brad & Dan has been used to drive growth on the core lager business, but also to launch two range extensions: Radler (lager & cloudy lemonade) and Gold (premium 4.8% lager). In this way, these new products leverage and reinforce the brand's key properties and avoid brand fragmentation from each new product having a totally separate campaign.
Despite the noise about online retailing, good old bricks and mortar stores still play a vital role in the luxury goods industry. Online sales rose 28% in 2013, but make up only 4.5% of sales, according to an article in Sphere Life. Indeed, luxury goods brands are opening a wave of ambitious new "flagship" stores across the world. Why is this?
1. Bringing the brand to life
The whole brand "world" is a key part of luxury goods branding. Here, the emotional "sizzle" linked to the lifestyle values of the brand is a key part of what people are paying a premium for. And whilst brands can show online footage of catwalk shows or craftsmen at work, flagship stores are much more effective at bringing to life luxury brands. "Stores allow consumers to experience the brand fully," as Katie Baron of Stylus magazine says.
For example, the new Prada men's store in Milan features a made-to-measure service. And Anya Hindmarch's store on Madison Avenue in New York has master craftsmen in a workshop on hand to personalise your handbag.
Counterfeit products are a huge problem for luxury brands. Some estimates suggest that online sales of counterfeit luxury goods are growing at 20%+ per year. In contrast, a flagship store enables a luxury brands to have total control of quality, both in terms of product and also presentation.
3. Enhancing prestige
Luxury brands can benefit from having retail stores in prestigious shopping streets, such as Bond Street in London and Avenue Montaigne in Paris. Being alongside other luxury brands adds a sense of a brand being part of an elite luxury club, an effect you don't get online.
4. Boosting PR
Flagship stores can have a powerful booster effect on PR for a luxury brand. First, the stores can be a design statement in their own right, such as Burgerry's new Shanghai store, with its huge, constantly changing illuminated store front. "You could never generate such visual impact from a website," said one Burberry insider in the Sphere Life article. Second, a flagship store can be used as a stage for other PR events, such as the visit by Carla Delevinge to the same Burberry store in Shanghai.
Its nice when projects you work on really come to life, with one example being Peruvian beer brand Pilsen Callao, part of SAB Miller's portfolio. The brand has hit the headlines recently, helped by a brilliant brand activation called "Bring Back your Buddy" (Trae a tu Pata). The brand won Best Integrated Campaign of the year, but also best Marketing Brand of the Year, in all categories. The activation has helped the sales grow 18% vs year ago, gaining 4 % pts of share, and contributed to enhances brand equity scores.
Bring Back your Buddy gives friends the chance to be re-united with a friend who has moved away from home, perhaps to another country, by collecting bottle crowns, and turning these into "friends' miles". For the 100 friends groups with the most miles, Pilsen Callao
You can see the launch commercial here, or by clicking below:
Here are a few things to learn from the activation.
1. Dramatise the brand story
The Pilsen Callao brand idea is "The taste of true friendship". Its the beer that celebrates and facilitates friends getting together over a beer. The brand already runs special friends' nights on Thursday evenings ("Jueves de Patas"). Bring Back your Buddy dramatises the narrative even further, by reuniting friends who have lost touch. It literally brings to life the brand story. The idea is brought to life in the TV commercial, but also nicely executed in trade. See below for display split over two gondola ends that dramatise the idea.
2. Tap into a deep insight
Many promotions do little more than give away free product, or perhaps promote a sponsorship tie up that is not that linked to the brand's story. True brand activations are more effective as they tap into true consumer insights. In the case of Bring Back your Buddy, the insight is about people longing to re-connect with friends who have moved away and lost touch. This came by the team mining the broader area of friendship, to find a more specific insight "angle" on which to build the idea.
3. Link back to the product
Great activation ideas have consumer appeal, but also a link back to the product to drive the business. In the case of Bring Back your Buddy, hanging out with your mates is a prime beer drinking occasion, and linked to the brand idea. And the activation is motivating enough to encourage people to buy the brand and collect caps to enter and win one of the 100 prizes on offer.
In conclusion, Pilsen Callao's Bring Back your Buddy idea is a great example of going beyond promotion to brand activation, building both the brand and the business.
I like Marketoonist Tom Fishburne's latest bit of genuis on "The 7 Deadly Sins of Social Media Marketing": see below.
There are several important actions coming out of Tom's cartoon.
First, most of us have a limited amount of time/energy to "engage" with brands in social media; the clue is in the name social media. Its primarily about your social circle of friends and family, not brands.
Second, be realistic about how much "social engagement time" your brand has the right to take up. On most brand Facebook pages c. 99% of followers are not interacting at all, simply because the brand is not interesting enough. This doesn't mean the brand is not a useful, relevant one. Its just that we don't want to "have a conversation with it"; we just want it to get on and do its bloody job.
Third, think about the most relevant social media channel, as Unilever have done, as covered in this post:
Magnum: mobile works best, the approach can vary based on weather/temperature and vicinity to a store
Knorr: online recipe search
Marmite and Ben & Jerry's: Facebook is effective as the brands are more about entertainment
In conclusion, I think Tom is right when he says that "Many people are sick of how advertisers act in social media." Being clearer on how relevant your brand really is in peoples' social lives is a good start to fixing this.
Consumer complaints have changed a lot since I was a brand assistant at P&G. Back then, we used to get the odd letter* from a pissed off punter. We would eventually get round to giving the consumer helpline an answer.
* A bit of paper you write on and put in an envelope with a "stamp" on, for any younger readers
Today, we live in a connected, always-on world. We've all become incredibly demanding and have lots of ways to express our frustration when things go wrong. And lots of ways to "amplify" these negative feelings if we don't get the right response, with examples like "United Breaks Guitars" becoming YouTube sensations (14 million views and counting).
One company who has responded brilliantly to this challenge is Charlie Bigham's, the maker of lovely ready meals.
Now, if this happened on your brand, how long would it take to respond. And by response, I don't mean "Thanks for your comment. We will review it and come back to you soon."
Well, in this case, the response came 10 minutes later. That's a mere 600 seconds to see the complaint, formulate a response and send it off. And here is the reply:
There are several actions for all brands to consider based on this brilliant bit of consumer interaction:
1. Make a great product to minimise complaints: Charlie Bigham's make bloody good products and this is reflected that 75%+ of all consumer feedback is actually to share positive experiences, not bad ones. (In the case of the consumer complaint above, the mould referred was most likely caused by poor temperature control by the retailer).
2. Make it fast: consumers expect fast feedback. So, if you open up your social media channels as a way to complain, you better be able to respond rapidly. One way that Charlie Bigham's is able to do this with lightening speed is that senior managers get the messages instantly on their iPhones, and are able to reply.
3. Make it personal: the best thing of all about the above response is how personal it it. How refreshing to get a reply that sounds like it has been written by a real person, not a computer. And what a nice offer to suggest that the consumer has "a takeaway on us", confident that Charlie Bigham's will pay for it.
In conclusion, problems happen on every brand, and in today's connected world people have lots of ways to share their frustration. But if you can brand it like Bigham's, you have a chance of turning a complaint into a chance for authentic brand communication.
As I approach the end of my 13th year with the brandgym, one thing on my mind is how to keep things fresh. After all, this means I've spent half my working life here. How do you stay inspired, engaged and full of "mojo" when staying in the same business?
To get some ideas on how to keep things fresh I've been looking at two other worlds: sport and music. Here's what I came up with and what it means for the world of business.
1. Stay hungry
I've posted before about the burning desire to win trophies of Sir Alex Ferguson, former manager of Manchester United. His passion for the game and for winning still burnt bright in his 25th year at the club, as one former player explained recently: "No doubt about it, he's still got the passion - that's what keeps him going in his job. This man's desire is to win more European Cups and I'm sure that's the reason why he's staying on in his job."
=> Stay ambitious and keep re-setting your targets. For example, we wrote one brandgym book and could have stopped there. Instead, we went on to publish six more to create a true series of publications addressing different topics (vision, innovation, brand stretch, growing the core)
The music industry offers many examples of artists using collaboration to keep things fresh and hit new heights. For example, the French electronic group Daft Punk marked 20 years in the business in 2013. And this year turned out to be one of their best ever, thanks to collaboration with one of my musical heroes, Niles Rodgers. He helped them create the album Random Access Memories, including the global mega hit "Get Lucky". The group won a double whammy Grammy for Album of the Year and Record of the Year. And Get Lucky reached the top ten in 32 countries, selling more than 9.3 million copies.
=> Which new collaborators can you bring in to keep the creative juices flowing? The key reason we have taken on new partners, not 7 in total, is to bring in new ideas and thinking. For example, our latest new addition brings experience in service brands and B2B.
Sir Clive Woodward coached the England rugby team to victory in the 2003 world cup. To help the team raise their performance Sir Clive looked outside rugby for inspiration. For example, he hired a sight coach, Sherylle Calder, to improve players' visual awareness and co-ordination skills. Humphrey Walters, of training company MaST International, shared experienced gained from helping a one crew of 11 yachts in the BT Global Challenge.
=> How can you look outside your industry for inspiration? At our annual partner retreat we always have a guest speaker to bring in some fresh thinking. For example, someone from Disney Television to talked about how series such as Desperate Housewives are pitched to TV stations, to help us work on wrtiting brand stories as a series of "episodes".
In conclusion, staying hungry, creative collaboration and looking outside your industry can help you stay fresh, even if you worked in the same business for 10, 20 or 30 years or more.
This is the second post on the research we have done on the power of brand properties. In the first post we saw how most companies lack a proper system for measuring brand properties. As a result, changes happen based on organisational changes or judgement, running the risk of destroying valuable brand equity.
In this second post we look at an ‘Iconic Asset Tracker’ (IcAT) study that we ran in partnership with decode marketing consultancy, to show how to effectively measure brand properties. The study covered ice cream, beer and cosmetics amongst a representative panel of 1,000 UK consumers. Highlights for Magnum ice cream are shown here (full results from all three categories available on request.)
Importantly, the study uses an ‘implicit thinking’ approach, where people react to brand properties in less than a second. This highlights the iconic assets that are truly embedded in memory structure, as opposed to those recalled only after having thought about it.
The shape of success
The IcAT study allows you to measure the activation’ score (prompts recall of the brand) of different properties. This makes decisions on whether to change or ditch a property more data based.
In the case of Magnum, the brand's most iconic asset is the product shape (see below): the brand’s distinctiveness is ‘baked in’ to the product itself. The Gold core extension also has strong activation. In contrast, the brand’s slogan, ‘For pleasure seekers’, is less strong (41%), with 1⁄3 of people linking this to Häagen Dazs. Celebrities score much lower, with the most recent endorser, Benicio del Toro, scoring a lowly 21%.
Product as hero
The importance of product linkage to brand properties is shown by results from the Magnum's communication visuals. Many brands could learn from Magnum’s success in creating a distinctive shape and product ritual..
The left image has a much higher activation score for Magnum, as the product shape and ‘cracking’ is featured. In contrast, the right image has a low activation score, with 1⁄2 of people mistaking it for Cornetto.
In this second pair of Magnum images, stronger product link activates the brand much better than a generic ‘sensual indulgence’ image.
Chopping and changing
Results on Magnum’s celebrities show the risk of changing properties, as highlighted earlier in the paper. Eva Longoria was used in 2008, six years ago. However, she has more than twice the brand activation than Benicio del Toro, who the brand switched to in 2010. Del Toro was actually more linked with Häagen-Dazs, with a 34% activation score!
The important role played by brand properties in building strong brands is confirmed by the survey. The survey also has some clear recommendations on how to best measure and manage these valuable business assets:
Harness more properties: whilst brand identity properties are used by most companies, there appears to be an opportunity to use other properties to boost distinctiveness, including activation and especially sonic properties, such as music and jingles.
Proper property management: too many changes in brand property are caused by organisational changes, especially a change of marketing director. This risks changing properties prematurely, thus destroying valuable memory structure.
What gets measured gets done: most companies still lack a proper quantitative process for tracking the recall and meaning of brand properties, to allow better management of these assets. When putting in place a tracking system, this needs to use ‘implicit’ research, as highlighted in the example in
Post by Prasad Narasimhan, Managing Partner for Asia.
If you believe all the hype about the marketing world we all live and work in, you would believe that all the rules of branding are broken. But is this really true? Looking at examples of campaigns that have harnessed social media, we suggest the answer is "no". Many of the fundamental principles are just as valid today as they were 20 or 30 years ago.
The aim of all advertising is ultimately ‘SMS’; sell more stuff. For this, good old-fashioned product (and/or service) remains the key. Ultimately if we want consumers to pay for our brand, the product must offer compelling value that they are happy to pay for. Volvo used this great advantage in their successful campaign using Claude Van Damme.
Most iconic brands have always exuded a strong sense of purpose, something larger than just making money. Communication that reflects a strong brand purpose can resonate better with consumers. They find in the brand something they can buy into, not just buy. Dove’s ‘Real Beauty’ campaign highlighted this well. Consumers reward brands that make things better, not just make better things.
That purpose doesn’t always need to be about something earth shattering. As long as we’re adding value to people’s lives, we earn the right to connect with them.
Interestingly, the biggest brands on social media are not brands, but people. In a social world, it therefore comes as no surprise that the factors that define popular people are also the very factors that make a brand popular. Just as we are drawn to people who are caring, interesting, quirky & inspiring, consumers will warm up to brands that wear an attractive personality. Likeability is key. Old Spice’s ‘Smell like a man’ campaign leveraged personality to the hilt to enthrall its consumers.
In our social world, communication no longer has to be a one-way street. Consumers can now participate and get involved in brand's marketing more easily. The watch-out here is that consumers need a compelling reason to participate, something lacking in many cases, such as this example from Volvic.
Participation can be at different levels. From intellectual/emotional involvement at one end to active participation at the other, ads can evoke participation in several ways. TOI’s Teach India campaign used participation to generate thousands of volunteers. And we posted here on the 20million+ votes cast to pick the 2 teams competing for the Carling Cup in South Africa.
In conclusion, the fundamentals of a brand purpose, personality and product are just as relevant in today's social world. There is more of an opportunity to add a 3rd P of participation, as long as what you have to offer really makes this worthwhile.