What, Again, Is A Brand Platform?

An earlier edition of this article appeared in Brandtalk on May 22, 2017.

Branding is the platform from which every successful marketing campaign is launched. Any marketing effort that hopes to be on target needs a well-designed brand strategy behind it. When you devise your brand strategy, you’re actually making a business case for why your business, product, service, event, campaign or project – whatever it is – should be positioned in a particular way. You’re sleuthing out your true competitive advantage, the reason your market will want to walk right past your competitors and knock on your door. And, just like a political party runs on a platform and that platform is made up of declared policies called planks, so is the brand strategy defined by a set of declarations – also called planks. But what are these planks in the brand platform? And how does that platform support marketing? How does it make it better? More effective?

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Topics: Positioning

Have Your Brand Take A Selfie

Do you remember what it was like to hear your recorded voice for the first time? And how strange it sounded? And isn’t it interesting that people can’t look at themselves in the mirror without bias? We see what we want to see, confirming either a positive or a negative opinion of our appearance. When we self-regard, we get a distorted view of ourselves. For instance, when we hear ourselves speak, the sound waves aren’t gathered by our ears the way we hear other sounds. We hear our voices from inside our own heads. So nobody else hears your voice the same way you hear it. Similarly, no one perceives a brand the way its creator does. After a few years in business, the founder of a brand knows all its history, all its glorious successes, and all its crushing failures. The founder of a business has an encyclopedic and invaluable perception of it. Invaluable, yes, but also the most isolated point of view. No one else experiences the business in the same way; not its employees and certainly not its customers. So, while it can be a little unnerving to see yourself the way your market does, it pays, every few years or so, to have your brand take a “selfie”. Understanding how others perceive your brand results in astonishing clarity about how to go about delighting your customers. It provides a clear road map as to how to grow the business.

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Topics: Strategy

Innovate With Silo-busting Partnerships And Team Decision-Making

By now, most managers understand that they can’t stay competitive without being able to leverage a culture of innovation within their business. The world is transforming so rapidly and so dramatically that the only way for organizations to survive is to originate change rather than to be caught short by it. I’ve heard many business owners and managers say they want to be the disruptor, not the disrupted, in their industry. But most will admit they are utterly clueless about how to integrate an ethos of innovation into their company cultures. After all, most company cultures, whether it’s a rigid hierarchical structure or a laissez faire, loose association, are pretty much already set in their ways and hard to change. And since this sudden appreciation of the value of innovation is so new, almost no one has any experience building cultures of innovation. Add to that, some employees will eagerly embrace any opportunity to propose innovative ideas, others will be resistant, feeling this is just one more management fad to outlast or, worse, an additional duty for which there will be no corresponding compensation. But innovative cultures have been created. This can be done.

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Topics: Innovation

Of Storytelling and Storytellers

This past weekend, I saw a remarkable animated film, The Red Turtle. The story, which is simple and beautiful, is told entirely through moving images, sound effects and a haunting musical score. There is no dialog at all. No explanatory title cards like in the old silent movies. The animation is exquisite, as is the relaxed facility with which the filmmakers propel the story. One hardly notices the lack of spoken word. One is drawn, effortlessly, from beginning to middle to end. It’s no wonder The Red Turtle was nominated for Best Animated Feature Film at the 89th Academy Awards. The whole experience got me thinking about all the different ways one can tell a story without … actually telling it. And that, of course got me thinking about all the different ways brands can tell their stories without having to clobber their markets over the head with breathless imperatives or endless repetition of the painfully obvious.
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Topics: communication

A Golden Age Of Packaging?

It’s been decades since I last smoked weed. After quite a bit of indulgence, one day I realized I really didn’t like it anymore. So I just stopped. Now, many years later, I still miss one aspect of marijuana use – the ritual of it. Back when it was 100% illegal, there was a palpable sense of danger surrounding the activity. It was important to know who should remain in the dark about your use and who could be hip. When you met someone with whom you could share a smoke, the ritual began. First, you had to repair to a place of utmost privacy. Your stash would come out from where it was literally stashed – hidden from parental discovery or even police raids. Out would come the pipes of various description and the rolling papers. Rolling a joint was a quasi-religious ceremony, usually done in hushed tones. Finally, ignition. I miss all that. But I’ve been reminded of it lately. Why? Because I’ve been shopping online. Brands have learned that, in a diminished retail environment, one way to augment brand experience is to provide packaging that entertains.

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Topics: Identity

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