As we all settle back into our work routine at the start of yet another New Year, it seemed like a really appropriate time to reflect back on the dominant themes we heard from the marketplace throughout 2011.
This is not intended to be a list of every brand question out there â€“ more a selection of the most interesting, relevant and even provocative questions that every brand should be thinking about right now.
So in no particular order of importance, here goes:
1.) What is your point of view about the consumerâ€™s appetite for spending in your category in 2012? Are you still in recession mode? Are you taking note of all the latest indicators? Without a point of view, there is no point.
2.) What lessons can the rest of us learn from the surging success of the leading technology brands? And can some of their success factors be applied to your brand?
3.) Given the generally stagnant overall marketplace, growth in 2012 will likely be achieved by winning share. So, if you are to win share, then who is going to lose?
4.) How much should you commit your brand to Facebook, not just in dollar terms but in overall exposure? Is Google + a better bet? Remember what happened to Myspace and they were also seen as indomitable at one time!!
5.) The innovators in the marketplace are talking about new concepts such as â€śbrands of meaningâ€ť and â€śbrand generosityâ€ť. Where do you stand on these and other emerging ideas? Are they a part of your brand chatter?
6.) Should your brand be doing more to help the national unemployment phenomenon (see Starbucks for inspiration)? With an election year government, shouldnâ€™t this be a time for brands to stand up and be counted?
7.) With data equity becoming as important as brand equity, how good is the data used to make decisions on your brand? Do you really have the best data? And more importantly, do you have the best data decoders? If not, youâ€™re missing out.
8.) What would you do with your brand if you werenâ€™t afraid? Or put another way, If it was your company, what would you be recommending for the way forward? And what would you retain, gain and lose from your current strategy?
9.) Really, how different is your brand vs the competition, and more importantly, how relevant and meaningful is that difference to consumers? Is this the time to be finding the new white space?
10.) For the past 5 years, Steve Jobs and Apple have been the primary point of inspiration for all of us Â - will that change now? And if so, which brand takes on that role for you for that daily dose of inspiration?
11.) How unadulterated is the feedback you get from your team? Is it cleansed and filtered? Do you see the whole research report or just the executive summary? And if so, is there a risk that many of your brand decisions could be sub-optimal?
12.) Are you really partnering with consumers to build your brand or is co-creation still a question mark in your mind? Are you the barrier to progress in this area? And what will it take to get you to put your toe in the water?
In summary, I suspect that these questions will resonate with some of you and for others theyâ€™ll read like gobbledygook. And thatâ€™s fine as well. But please remember that weâ€™re out in the marketplace almost every day of the year working with clients and these twelve topics are just some of the consistent themes and discussions that weâ€™ve heard and if nothing else, arenâ€™t we nice people to just want to share them!
Happy new year to you all.