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  • feedwordpress 16:22:12 on 2016/01/18 Permalink
    Tags: , Brandshare, ,   

    Building A Modern Brand: Strategy, Creativity and Agility 

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    Building brands in the mad men era was a relatively straight forward endeavor...

    A brand needed to effectively communicate its value to the consumer, plainly stating its functional benefits and for the more enduring brands—connecting with consumers at the emotional level typically through a story told via television led advertising campaigns. The most iconic of brands over time, mastered the art of really digging into the "soul" of a brand. How it was differentiated from others and how it should be expressed in all parts of the world. 

    Building brands became something of a religious pursuit, with high priests and gatekeepers of brands in place to ensure that a brand did not become diluted. These guardians of brands created all kinds of doctrine meant to keep a brand's value proposition pure and true. Brands have always been built and expressed based on how they met consumers needs at the rational and emotional levels. More recently, brand stewards have been grappling with the notion of a brand's "purpose"—industry shorthand for how a brand's "values" take into account societal context. Can a brand stand for something bigger than itself? Does it exist for a higher purpose? Is there a cultural tension point that a brand has a right to participate in (or lead) a conversation around? 

    Data from Edelman's Brandshare study concluded that today's consumers look for and evaluate their relationship with a brand beyond traditional rational and emotional benefits into areas that veer into societal. Well over half of 10,000 consumers polled globally indicated that brands having a clear "mission and purpose" influenced how they felt about that brand. 

    In short, today's marketers must ask themselves—does our brand stand for something? Does it stand against something else?

    It is this tension point that takes us back to the drawing board when it comes to the "soul" of a brand. But we cannot divorce this exercise from how a brand must be brought to life. The re-visiting of a brand's foundation requires taking another look at how it comes to life an today's always on, multi channel world. Modern brands must master the relationship between these three key facets for how brands sustain their relationship with consumers after answering what it stands for and against:

    It's tempting to think at the program level (campaigns, etc.) that once a foundational brand strategy is set—we can go right to ideas and tactics both big, medium and small. Avoid the temptation. Strategy at the program level should be the nucleus of any program and it should inform and influence all ideas. It should present clearly the balance between meeting business, brand and consumer/customer objectives. 

    Never has creativity been so important. People are rarely motivated by statistics and logic—but rich stories and experiences can lead to desired action. However, telling stories and designing useful, usable and desirable experiences requires out of the box thinking. Stories don't get shared by people unless they are exceptionally compelling, entertaining or educational. There are thousands of apps to compete with and digital influencers can often times build audiences better than brands can. Creativity is now complicated. 

    Probably the newest and most disruptive dynamic out of the three. Most brands grapple with agility because they are still operating in a construct built for the industrial broadcast era of marketing. As I've outlined in Responsive Marketing, it's adding a layer of smaller more nimble initiatives than can help inform and even optimize the bigger more comprehensive programs that are still linear in nature. What both layers have in common is that they must move away from the launch and walk away model and move toward a model that puts various "things" in a live environment and adapts along the way. Google's Ben Jones recently pointed out the elephant in the room when it comes to agility:

    "Advertising has radically shifted to be more agile, useful, and relevant in the always-on age of mobile. Yet the foundation of creative work, the creative brief, remains largely unchanged."

    The creative brief shouldn't go away, but if you truly buy into the notion of agility then the doctrine of briefs and briefing must become more dynamic than static while preserving the ability to influence big, medium and even small ideas. 

    It's been said that the more things change, the more they remain the same. In the context of building and preserving brands—this holds somewhat true. A brand becomes a brand only the the hearts and minds of consumers. And today's consumers have ever evolving values, demographics and technology/lifestyle habits. We didn't walk around with super computers in our pockets years ago and millennials are a far cry from baby boomers.

    Modern brands will be built and re-built on foundations which reflect these evolutions but they must come to life informed by strategy, inspired by creativity and designed for agility. 

  • feedwordpress 16:46:45 on 2014/10/31 Permalink
    Tags: Brandshare, ,   

    Responsive Brand: Chevrolet’s #Technologyandstuff 

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    The Responsive Brand In A Real Time Business Environment
    In Edelman’s Brandshare study of 15,0000 people worldwide—we asked consumers to tell us which brand behaviours were most important to them. The number one most important behaviour indicated was a brand’s ability to respond quickly to concerns and complaints with 78% of consumers saying it’s important but only 17% feeling brands do this well. But we think a brand’s responsiveness goes beyond replying to people’s concerns and also extends into all forms of communication and engagement in a real time context. 

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    Recently, Chevrolet took the notion of responsiveness to new levels this week, when Rikk Wilde, a representative of the brand created an instant sensation by appearing extremely nervous and somewhat awkward on camera during the MVP award portion of the ceremony. What happened next, generated a real time water cooler effect that started on social media, but quickly spread through the media landscape with news media reporting the story. What Chevrolet did next is worth paying attention to as it demonstrated an “always on” and “always ready”, response which traversed paid, owned, and earned media channels at lightening speed.

    A Bold Move To Humanize The Brand In a Moment of Authentic Imperfection
    Immediately after the “incident”, Tweets starting flooding the Internet with “memes” being created around “#Chevyguy” and what was quickly becoming a catch phrase “technology and stuff”. The conversation reached a point where stories started popping up from media outlets ranging from Mashable to the local outlets such as the New York Post. To further complicate the buzzstorm—the truck Chevy is gave away to the World Series MVP is actively being recalled due to an issue with air bags. This was all unfolding in real time and Chevrolet was faced with a choice—do nothing or proactively play a part in the unfolding narrative. They chose the latter.

    Chevrolet quickly sprang into action—displaying they had enough courage and coordination to participate in a moment highly relevant to their brand. And rather than take a straightforward defensive position, they mad a bold move—playing on the human essence of the moment, turning it into an integrated marketing campaign overnight. They started with posts on social, but then took ownership of the “Technology and Stuff” line and put it front and center of a real-time campaign which was earning media coverage but now extended to their owned properties and paid placements including a full page print ad in USA Today.

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    Implications For Brands & Organizations: Promote vs. Protect vs. Both

    The implications for brands and organizations revolve around a core question linked to an emerging context. The context is that we operate increasingly in a real time business environment. The question is when and how do we promote or protect our brands in an environment that moves in real time (for an example of where a brand did the opposite and responded too late, see Poland Spring & #Watergate”). The implications of the Chevrolet example are that it chose to do both and had the resources in place to make an impact across media. Consider that the brand didn’t only tweet text, but essentially put out a visual “ad like object” which embraced the brewing conversations. It then updated its current campaign on their Website to integrate the now infamous #technologyandstuff line and it was able to coordinate a paid placement which was printed in a major national publication—all in approximately under 48 hours. 
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    Integrated Marketing In Real Time
    We’ve long encouraged brands to set up the infrastructure of a “Creative Newsroom” so they are ready and able to tap relevant and emerging trends as they happen. Chevrolet was clearly able to do this by demonstrating a high level of responsiveness which no doubt started by having their ear to the ground and listening to the conversations the second they started. They then proactively took a stance and produced content, taking ownership of the conversation—a classic principle of the Creative Newsroom construct. Then they went further and integrated a quickly moving trend as part of their marketing campaign—taking the Creative Newsroom approach even further. The implications for brands and organizations is clear—in the not so distant future the majority of brands will have resources in place to do the following:

    • Monitor All Media In Real Time
    The team and technology that lets a brand know instantly what the conversation is around them not only from social spheres but also from media outlets.

    • Create Content Instantly
    The ability to create compelling content (beyond text) when conversations and media attention are both at their peak.

    • Coordinate Media With Agility (Paid, Earned, Owned)
    The ability to rapidly coordinate the resources both agency and internal who lead efforts and media budget across paid, earned and owned properties to maximize distribution.

    Chevrolet was able to take an authentically awkward moment and make it part of how they are promoting and protecting their brand and their product (Chevy trucks). They had the courage to embrace human flaw, and as a result made themselves even more relatable to consumers. 

  • feedwordpress 02:39:21 on 2014/10/27 Permalink
    Tags: , Brandshare, ,   

    Societal: The Third Dimension Of Modern Day Brand Building 

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    I started writing this blog back in 2006 and the namesake was completely intentional. "Logic+Emotion" symbolizes the way we've been building brands for the past sixty plus years. Marketers have always known that they have to reach people emotionally in order to capture their attention. We're emotional beings by design and often times make decisions based on how we feel. Our emotions serve as clues that explain our behaviors. We buy clothes because we need them—but the styles and brands we choose have more to do with our psycology than the basic need we must fill. 

    In the same breath we have brains, not just hearts. There is always a voice telling us that we need to check some boxes before making a decision. Features, benefits, specs—these are all reasons to believe the decisions we are making are right. Together, rational and emotional were the yin and yang of building brands and differentiating from competitors. 

    Edelman's 2014 Brandshare study, however begins to validate what many of us have already begun suspecting over the past few years—that brands aren't only built but they are preserved and must evolve along with highly empowered consumers who now make decisions with not only their hearts and brains but also their conscience. We discovered that meeting consumers rational and emotional needs are a good start—but there's a third dimension we need to now consider, and we are calling it "societal". 

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    In fact, we looked at meeting consumers needs based across five key KPIs (Purchase, Recommend, Defend, Share Personal Info & Share Brand Content) and "Societal" actually corresponded more strongly with "Share Personal Info and Share Brand Content"—two KPIs that we think are becoming increasingly important for brands and the marketers who seek to obtain data from consumers while hoping they become a human distribution network via social, e-mail and other peer to peer channels. 

    Last week while discussing Brandshare findings, I could not help but recall how I myself shared a news story about how *Microsoft was sharing its cloud infrastructure as part of the effort to combat the Ebola Virus. I was doing exactly what the data above shows—sharing a brand's story that was meaningfully attaching itself to a societal issue. The same week Microsoft reported stronger than expected earnings as well. A brand that operates in the societal dimension does not equate to a brand that doesn't profit. As we've stated in Brandshare, the value exchange brands and consumers ideally have is based on mutual benefit and gain. 

    But our assessment is to not focus on one of the three need states over the other. When consumers needs are met rationally, emotionally and societally—a brand has the most chance of seeing a "lift" in how meeting those needs correlates to the KPIs we outline in the report. We think this is significant and if the trend continues, brands will have to take a second look at their values built meeting on emotional and rational needs and discern if and how societal fits into the core of the brand's DNA.

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    *Microsoft is an Edelman client

  • feedwordpress 02:52:08 on 2014/10/23 Permalink
    Tags: Brandshare, ,   

    Three Things Consumers Want From Brands Today: Responsiveness, Involvement and Conviction 

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    I'm doing a mini tour of Texas this week having just left Austin and tomorrow I present some of our findings from Edelman's 2014 global study, Brandshare, in Dallas (full report here). The last time I talked about Brandshare, I focused on the macro theme of the report—that consumers indicated brands aren't living up to their side of the relationship when it comes to the value exchange that exists (or doesn't) with brands. The important context here is that we are talking about the relationship beyond the transactions (consumer buys product or services and "consumes"—rinse and repeat).

    We tested fourteen behaviors brands could act upon as part of their relationship with consumers and surveyed fifteen thousand consumers across twelve countries to tell us what they thought was most important to them. Three key themes emerged in what they told us and for brands, it's worth taking stock on how you perform against these areas. 

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    78% of the respondents we surveyed indicated that responding quickly to concerns and complaints was important to them. In fact this was the number one most sought after behavior based on the questions we asked. And we think it goes beyond and concerns and complaints really and indicates that consumers are demanding that brands be more responsive to their needs. This could be fueled by an "on demand" mentality we are developing based on how we use technology. When we want something we can get it at the click of a button or swipe of a screen. It ma makes ense that consumers would expect brands to behave the way their technology and media does. 

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    68% of the respondents we s surveyed told us they think it's important for brands to communicate openly and transparently about how their products are sourced and made. They also value brands who give them many ways to ask and give opinions. In short they want to be involved. They want to know what you're doing, why you're doing it and they even want to be able to ask questions and give opinions while you're doing it. These round out the top three performing behaviors in terms of importance to behaviors. But there's more... 

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    58% of respondents told us that brands having a clear mission and purpose is important to them while 52% want to see brands use their resources to drive change in the world. This rounds out the top five out of the fourteen behaviors we asked consumers questions about. We interpret this as consumers seeking a real conviction from brands—a guiding "north star" which is core to how they operate. This finding if brands take to heart will act as a catalyst to re-examine their core values and determine if it makes sense to expand their remit by re-prioritizing how generous they are with their resources. 

    In short, they only way we can interpret the data is by evaluating the performance of the behaviors we asked consumers about. The above represent the top five base on what we asked them. It's worth noting that in each of these behaviors, brands are underperforming according to how respondents answered. From our perspective in this snapshot of time (2014) consumers are telling us that they increasingly value how quickly brands respond to their needs, how they can participate in the decisions brands make and the actions they take, and want to see brands stand for something that's true to who they are at the core.  

  • feedwordpress 00:47:54 on 2014/10/20 Permalink
    Tags: Brandshare, ,   

    Brandshare: Is The Value Exchange Between Brands and Consumers a Myth? 

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    Imagine taking a trip to New York city. As always, it's crowded and bustling but it's also a nice day. You want to get around and see the sights but the idea of waiting on a corner to land a taxi or spending a portion of your day underground don't appeal to you. You're active and enjoy finding ways to incorporate exercise in your day. You come across a bike sharing station with blue bikes and an interactive kiosk that helps you decide where you should go next. You use your credit card to obtain a bike and you're off and running, feeling a sense of empowerment that you've taken matters into your own hands and maybe even a little satisfaction that you're not contributing to the noise or other pollution as you pedal through the streets. Your needs get met, but you're also meeting the needs of the brand (*Citi) who helped put the bikes there in the first place. You've entered a value exchange with that brand whether you know it or not. 

    Edelman's 2014 Brandshare Study
    Edelman's 2014 global Brandshare study launched this past week, serving up some timely insights into the evolving relationship between consumers and brands. A comprehensive survey of 15,000 people in 12 countries about the performance of nearly 200 brands within 11industry sectors. We asked people to evaluate the importance of 14 brand behaviors and evaluate how effectively a selection of brands perform on those behaviors. The business outcomes we evaluated are: likelihood to purchase, recommend or defend a brand; propensity to share branded content with their own social networks; and willingness to share their personal data with a brand. We also queried respondents about nine consumer need states to more holistically understand the relationship between brand behaviors and the fulfillment of these needs. 

    There's Little Value In Today's Value Exchange Between Consumer & Brands
    That was the over-arching theme of the study. While brands likely feel like they are delivering value to consumers beyond the understood transactional relationship (you buy our stuff and we make sure you buy it again), the people we surveyed across the globe are indicating it's not enough. 87 percent of the respondents polled indicated they want more meaningful relationships with brands but only 17 percent feel like brands deliver. But what I thought was really interesting was a related data point which we asked the following question in connection to specific industries:

    "Do brands ask for your personal information, so they can provide you something tangible in return, or for their own financial gain?"

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    The results to this question is underwhelming for brands across industry—in an age where brands are in need of data from the people who purchase their products and services, consumers largely feel that brands are benefitting more than they are. As the below chart shows, some industries have better footing than others in this area (food, CPG) but none are exempt from the sentiment. 

    Take a "brand" like Facebook (yes you can debate if it's a brand or not—I believe it is) whose business model relies almost exclusively on the data "users" provide it every time they engage with it, not to mention the jackpot of data we provide Facebook when we create a profile. We can debate how we feel about how Facebook's intent for that data, but there's little debate about the value exchange in using Facebook every day to connect with friends and business associates and its value as a newsfeed. Every day we log onto Facebook is a validation for the "brand" that there's value in the value exchange that exists between it and us. 

    There were many more insights in the study that span from what consumers value most and least and how their needs are met not only from an emotional and rational perspective, but also from a societal lens as well. I'll be writing more about that in the days and weeks to come. For now, the report can be found here:

    *Citi is an Edelman client


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