Posts Tagged ‘Starbucks’

divider

What the Hell is a Brand Anyway?

Monday, March 3rd, 2014

“A brand is something that won’t come off in the wash.” - Cowboy’s adage

Now that we’ve driven the B word into a box, let’s look inside that box.

Charles Revson, who founded and built Revlon, is often quoted as saying: “In the factory we make cosmetics, but in the drugstore we sell hope.” In other words, companies and products build intellectual relationships while brands build emotional relationships. Consumers buy products but become emotionally invested in brands. Put yet another way, once consumers are emotionally vested, you have a brand.

Let’s remind ourselves once again: A brand is a marketplace response, not a marketer’s stimulus. You can’t brand something. You can only position it:

-If you manage to create a position that is compelling, different and competitively advantageous, you’re off to a good start

-If your organization has the ability to consistently execute that position, you have a shot at becoming a successful brand

-If that position can stand the test of time, you have a shot at becoming a strong brand

-If that execution stays on strategy, is simple yet powerful, and is somehow kept fresh and surprising over time, you have a shot at becoming a great brand

-If you can do all of this better than your competition, your brand will win

Those are a lot of “ifs,” but no one said this marketing thing is easy- and at the very start of that chain of “ifs”  is the notion of the right positioning. So how do you know if you’ve found the right position?

You know you’ve found the right position when your position is built around a single idea that:

-Is highly differentiated

-Creates competitive advantage

-Guides and inspires your organization and your audience

-Is sustainable over time

-Is provocative, even disruptive to the marketplace status quo

-Can be consistently executed over time, but in ways that evolve and stay fresh

That’s a daunting list and few companies pull it off, which is why we all tend to use the same limited set of case studies (e.g. Apple, Nike, ESPN, Google, Starbucks). Marketing is positioning. Great marketing is positioning that fits all these criteria (and probably a few others I haven’t articulated). Great marketing is the exception rather than the rule.

And you will need to work your but off to become that exception.

Stay tuned next week when Austin explains how Great Brands are Built from the Inside, out.

divider

Definitions: Business Strategy and Marketing Strategy

Monday, February 3rd, 2014

We throw around a lot of jargon in the business world, but do we truly know what we mean when we talk about ‘Vision’, ‘Business Model’, ‘Position’?
We’re going to talk a lot about Positioning on The 3rd Button in the coming months, but we’ll spend the first few weeks with a clear definition of terms.
Today, let’s get our strategies straight…

We throw around a lot of jargon in the business world, but do we truly know what we mean when we talk about ‘Vision’, ‘Business Model’, ‘Position?’

We’re going to talk a lot about Positioning on The 3rd Button in the coming months, but we’ll spend the first few weeks with a clear definition of terms.

Today, let’s get our strategies straight…

strategy

BUSINESS STRATEGY:

-Driven by the vision and business model, the business strategy is the blueprint that outlines how you will go to market.

-Exactly how will you deploy the business model in a way that creates sustainable competitive advantage? How will you create and deploy products and services? How will you support that deployment?

MARKETING STRATEGY:

-Driven by the vision, business model and strategy, the best way to compete in the marketplace is through the intelligent use of marketing. If, by analogy, your business model and strategy are your Order of Battle (i.e. your army, its resources and how you will deploy your troops) your marketing strategy is closer to the territory over which you will fight, whom you will fight and how you will take that fight to them in order to win.

-Keep in mind that building a brand is not mandatory. Building a brand is a strategy, not an objective.

CLEVER MARKETING STRATEGY

-ESPN wrote the book on this one. Combine a niche you can own with an attitude that shows you own it. Stay true to your strategy and keep it fresh-year after year. While this is easy to say, it’s remarkably hard to do.

-Starbucks built itself as a ‘third place’ rather than a coffee retailer. It also understood the importance of a happy barista. The rest is history.

-Target knew it couldn’t assail Wal-Mart on price, so it introduced a line of name designers dedicated to creating ‘cheap-chic.’

-When Fox News decided to focus on an audience that perceived itself as underserved when it came to media, it became an opinion leader for the right. You may not love the network’s politics, but you have to admire its marketing savvy.

-Pepsi just couldn’t beat Coke- until someone realized Pepsi was sweeter and could beat Coke in a blind taste test. The ‘Pepsi Taste Test’ made history, partly because it was smart marketing strategy and partly because the other guy blinked.

Stay tuned for our next term as defined by Austin McGhie, Sterling Strategy

divider

Social Media…Pretty Much Like Real Life (a series)

Monday, September 10th, 2012

Part II:  Good Friends Treat You Well

This past weekend I was in the wedding of a good friend.  On her wedding day, she took a moment to thank each of her bridesmaids with little gold necklaces, each containing different charms reflective of our individual personalities.  It was perfectly representative of what makes this particular person such a good friend:  she treats those that she cares about well – in particular, through her thoughtfulness and generosity.
In social media, these same hallmark characteristics of being a “good friend” hold true.  Brands that outwardly exhibit these traits seem to make more friends, attract more friends, keep more friends.  Some examples of how brands can successfully activate behind these principles…
“Generous” brands…
Give you presents:  Starbucks frequently runs giveaways and discounts.  Regardless of where they’re originally hosted (i.e., via Living Social, their homepage, etc.), the brand always keeps Facebook and Twitter fans in the loop.
Make you things:  Old Spice gives fans special content, like short films, screen savers, and clever images.
Treat you “special”:  The Daily Show makes a point of providing its Facebook page fans content they can’t get anywhere else, like extended interviews and special segments.
“Thoughtful” brands…
Go out of their way for you: When one fan expressed his longing for a Morton’s steak via Twitter, the brand came through with a special steak delivery (from a tuxedoed waiter, no less) to the Newark airport.  Occasionally going above and beyond goes a long way.
Tell their other friends how great you are: Dunkin’ Donuts features a different fan on its Facebook page each week.  The winners are always featured on the brand’s billboard in Times Square.
Seek out (and care about) your advice: During the payroll tax debates, Obama and teamasked constituents to tell them what a $40 cut in taxes would mean to them.  Responses, received via Twitter, Facebook, and The White House Web site, were overwhelming enough to help the White House win an extension on the tax cut.
Sounds relatively straightforward.  But even good friends make little mistakes and exhibit bad judgment or offensive behavior at times.  In real life, you can usually patch things up relatively easily.  When you’re communicating with the world at large, it’s not so simple.  So here are some things you may consider NOT doing when it comes to SM:
Stepping over the line:  Belvedere Vodka posted this gem on its Facebook page and was quickly inundated by posts and Tweets from outraged fans and observers – and that news traveled into the media fast.
Ignoring your friends: Chapstick posted this add, which didn’t go down so well (shocking, I know) with the ladies – who reacted vehemently.  But instead of taking constructive next steps, Chapstick simply deleted all the posts.  Which only made its fans angrier…
Being generally inconsiderate:  Too many examples here to include.  Sometimes brands simply don’t think about the broader context and implications of their actions.  A good general rule of thumb:  before you send a communication out into the SM world, think about how your real friends would react.  If there’s potential for hurt feelings – abort.
Activating behind social media is daunting.  It’s daunting because it’s still relatively new, because it has no established rules, because it can feel more uninhibited and flexible.  But if you think about all those millions of people out there than you’re communicating with as potential friends, and reflect on how you treat your close friends, you should be starting yourself out in the right direction.

This past weekend I was in the wedding of a good friend.  On her wedding day, she took a moment to thank each of her bridesmaids with little gold necklaces, each containing different charms reflective of our individual personalities.  It was perfectly representative of what makes this particular person such a good friend:  she treats those that she cares about well – in particular, through her thoughtfulness and generosity.

In social media, these same hallmark characteristics of being a “good friend” hold true.  Brands that outwardly exhibit these traits seem to make more friends, attract more friends, keep more friends.  Some examples of how brands can successfully activate behind these principles…

“Generous” brands…

Give you presents: Starbucks frequently runs giveaways and discounts.  Regardless of where they’re originally hosted (i.e., via Living Social, their homepage, etc.), the brand always keeps Facebook and Twitter fans in the loop.

starbucks

Make you things: Old Spice gives fans special content, like short films, screen savers, and clever images.

oldspice

Treat you “special”: The Daily Show makes a point of providing its Facebook page fans content they can’t get anywhere else, like extended interviews and special segments.

dailyshow

“Thoughtful” brands…

Go out of their way for you: When one fan expressed his longing for a Morton’s steak via Twitter, the brand came through with a special steak delivery (from a tuxedoed waiter, no less) to the Newark airport.  Occasionally going above and beyond goes a long way.

mortons

Tell their other friends how great you are: Dunkin’ Donuts features a different fan on its Facebook page each week.  The winners are always featured on the brand’s billboard in Times Square.

dunkin

Seek out (and care about) your advice: During the payroll tax debates, Obama and team asked constituents to tell them what a $40 cut in taxes would mean to them.  Responses, received via Twitter, Facebook, and The White House Web site, were overwhelming enough to help the White House win an extension on the tax cut.

Sounds relatively straightforward.  But even good friends make little mistakes and exhibit bad judgment or offensive behavior at times.  In real life, you can usually patch things up relatively easily.  When you’re communicating with the world at large, it’s not so simple.  So here are some things you may consider NOT doing when it comes to SM:

Stepping over the line:  Belvedere Vodka posted this gem on its Facebook page and was quickly inundated by posts and Tweets from outraged fans and observers – and that news traveled into the media fast.

Ignoring your friends: Chapstick posted this ad, which didn’t go down so well (shocking, I know) with the ladies – who reacted vehemently.  But instead of taking constructive next steps, Chapstick simply deleted all the posts.  Which only made its fans angrier…

Being generally inconsiderate:  Too many examples here to include.  Sometimes brands simply don’t think about the broader context and implications of their actions.  A good general rule of thumb:  before you send a communication out into the SM world, think about how your real friends would react.  If there’s potential for hurt feelings – abort.

Activating behind social media is daunting.  It’s daunting because it’s still relatively new, because it has no established rules, because it can feel more uninhibited and flexible.  But if you think about all those millions of people out there that you’re communicating with as potential friends, and reflect on how you treat your close friends, you should be starting yourself out in the right direction.

Sara Linderman, Strategist

divider

Our Big Brand Questions for 2012

Friday, January 6th, 2012

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 – 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 consumer’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 “brands of meaning” and “brand generosity”. 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, shouldn’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, you’re missing out.

8.) What would you do with your brand if you weren’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  - 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 they’ll read like gobbledygook. And that’s fine as well. But please remember that we’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 we’ve heard and if nothing else, aren’t we nice people to just want to share them!

Happy new year to you all.

Simon Williams

divider

Finally- Some Good CEO Behavior to Report

Monday, November 28th, 2011

The recent termination of Hewlett Packard President & CEO Leo Apotheker in late September was hardly a surprise given that his policies and strategies had become more and more unpredictable and perplexing. But what was surprising was that his severance package was somehow valued, by the powers that be, at a staggering $25million. Now I never met the man but it seems pretty clear that he was verging on the incompetent. It also seems clear that he was let go because he wasn’t good enough. So will someone, anyone, tell me why his termination for failure required an accompanying package of $25million.

And I’ve been carrying a bit of a grudge about this ever since. I mean, when will we learn that success in business needs to be rewarded but that failure mustn’t be. HP was the latest to do the business world a disservice and I have been unable to explain to anyone as to how and why this could still happen given everything that has transpired to corporations in the spotlight over the past few years.

So you can imagine my delight when I started doing some research a few weeks ago on potential replacements for Steve Jobs as our daily point of inspiration (more…)

divider

Who Will Be Our Source of Inspiration, Now?

Tuesday, October 25th, 2011

I wanted to be respectful and let some time elapse after the sad and premature passing of Steve Jobs. But now that the eulogies are mostly complete, I wanted to raise a very important question that’s been bugging me for the past couple of weeks. Namely, with Steve Jobs no longer with us, just who will be our new source of inspiration in our daily work?

Let me tell you why this question is important to me, and to hundreds of other marketers around the world: (more…)

divider

Beware the (False) God of Big

Tuesday, March 9th, 2010


I have to believe that the current Toyota brand trauma has resulted in many nervous boardroom discussions in other corporations around the world. I mean, how did one of the most sought-after and respected brands trip so badly and tumble so far. And have we even gotten to the real truth, yet?

But as ever, here’s my point of view. From everything I know about brand building generally and Toyota specifically. I’d put the cause down to an almost psychotic pursuit of becoming the biggest…at the expense of virtually everything else. (more…)

divider

If Someone Has to Win.. Then Someone Has to Lose.

Wednesday, August 26th, 2009

In our positioning work, we focus our time on designing winning strategies for our clients – strategies that are projective, aspirational and that focus on growth. Nothing surprising here. After all, positioning is all about the future and directing efforts to finding meaningful “white space”. (more…)