What Game Of Thrones Can Teach Us About Brand Story

Imagine having 10.1 million sets of eyes focused on your brand story. That’s an audience any company would kill for, and it just so happens to be the number of people who tuned in to watch the season seven premiere of HBO’s Game of Thrones [1]. Were you one of them? We certainly were.

 

The series is addictive, one of the most-watched pieces of television in history, and it didn’t achieve that status by accident. As you may know, it’s based on a series of fantasy novels by author George R. R. Martin, which focus on a deeply complex, highly compelling plot that interweaves multiple families, locations and warring social groups.

 

Game of Thrones has become one of the most captivating series of our time—but how?

 

It all comes down to the story. As brands, we can take away six key lessons on brand story from the hit TV series (warning: mild spoilers ahead). If you’re struggling to articulate your enthralling brand story, feel free to get in touch and ask about our Stellar Stories™ brand-building service. It enriches your brand with meaning so you stand out, attract your perfect audience and build trust amongst your ideal customers. Meantime read on because the story building guide below will enable you to develop your brand story a lot faster and more effectively.

 

 

Top 6 Tips for Building a Great Brand Story

 

1. A powerful brand story has a central theme

Remember being asked to identify the theme of a work of literature back in primary school? This isn’t too far off from your theme as a business owner. The theme serves as the ‘why?’ behind the story. It’s a specific problem that needs solving, expressed through your brand’s unique lens.

 

Game of Thrones has dozens of distinct plot lines, but they all centre around a single unifying theme: the quest for ultimate power. It’s the common thread that ties the whole story together. Whether we’re watching the Freys and Boltons carry out the infamous Red Wedding or waiting on the edges of our seats as the White Walkers advance, it all ties back to the unifying theme.

 

Related: Brand Stories: 5 Compelling Examples That Sell Themselves

 

For entrepreneur Noa Santos, that theme was creating a new business model for interior designers [2].

 

While Santos was working at a large New York design firm, he identified a highly specific problem: without a massive budget, many home and business owners were unable to afford design services. Similarly, smaller designers who were just starting out had trouble getting their foot in the door and couldn’t command the same large fees charged by the big design houses.

 

Brand Story

Image via Homepolish

 

Santos set out on a quest to redefine the established service model in the industry and bridge the gap between these two groups of people. It became his brand mission, and the result was the founding of his company, Homepolish.

 

 

2. Circumstances set the scene for the audience in every strong brand story

The circumstances of your brand story are what help set the scene and draw the audience in for the narrative ahead. These are the where, when and how and that give your story context and help the audience relate.

 

In a series as complex as Game of Thrones, clearly defining these circumstances is essential to avoid confusion among the audience. The Wall is one such example.

 

Brand Story

Image via Game of Thrones, The Wall – Wikia

 

On a surface level, it’s a physical place: a tall, foreboding wall of ice. On a secondary level, it also holds layers of meaning: it’s what keeps the White Walkers out of Westeros (well, it was) and it’s where the Night’s Watch do their bidding. All the viewer has to do is see The Wall to recall all the implications that come with it.

 

The circumstances in your brand story needn’t be nearly as dark and foreboding, but they should help set the scene in a similar way.

 

Related: Brand Stories: Top 7 Tips for Creating a Great Brand Story

 

3. Characters build an emotional connection in your brand story

This is one of the most important elements of your brand story: characters. Without them, you’ll be hard pressed to build an emotional connection with your audience (which is what drives brand loyalty and trust).

 

Brand Story

Image via Game of Thrones, Daenerys – Wikia

 

The producers and writers behind Game of Thrones do an exceptional job using characters to draw us into the story and get us hooked. Fan favourites like Daenerys Targaryen build our loyalty to the series and keep us coming back to see what happens episode after episode.

 

Related: From Zero to Hero: How to Become a Must-Have Brand

 

The professional group of YouTubers known as ‘Yes Theory’ is a perfect example of using likeable characters to build a fan base3. They’re four guys who do crazy things like sneaking into Hollywood parties and jumping out of helicopters.

 

Innovative? Hardly. Guys have been pulling silly stunts and recording them since the invention of the video camera. But their characters are so likeable—almost always grinning—that the viewer can hardly wait to hit ‘play’ on the next video.

 

 

While Yes Theory is an example of using yourself as the central character in your brand story, you can also flip things around and use the customer as the character. In some cases, this can be even more effective.

 

Kubota Tractor Company pulls this off with flying colours, using the ‘everyman’ of middle America — farmers, growers — to define who they are as a company.

 

 

It’s worthwhile to note that it’s not just positive characters that work in a brand story; negative ones can be useful as well. Game of Thrones’ Joffrey Baratheon is one of the ultimate negative characters that helps to drive the plot forward and give the story meaning.

 

Brand Story

Image via Kubota Tractor

 

For your brand, the negative character might be an unnecessary middleman or an aggressive competitor. Use your brand story to show how you win out.

 

Want to know more?

Give us a call T: +353 1 8322724 (GMT 9:00 – 17:00) to find out how we can help you with your brand building and brand story requirements or send us an email to brand@personadesign.ie

 

If you’d like to develop and expand your brand story yourself, our brand building programme, the Personality Profile Performer™ provides a very effective step-by-step system empowering you to build your brand and its brand story so you can create a really compelling narrative that enables you to make your brand stand out and attract your ideal customers. Find out more here and watch here how to build your brand yourself.

 

Build Your Brand Story Using The Personality Profile Performer™ Programme with Lorraine Carter

 

 

4. The audience wants to see you overcome struggle in your brand story

If it’s struggle you’re after (and yes, audiences are after it), Game of Thrones has it in spades. The series is chock full of conflicts and unexpected plot twists, which sometimes include the deaths of popular characters.

 

Humans are drawn to seeing conflict play out; that’s why it’s an important component of your brand story. It may take the form of conflict, fears, failures, uncertainties and frustrations. Maybe you succeeded as a challenger brand. Whatever the case, show the audience how you’ve overcome your struggles.

 

Related: Personality Matters, Bringing Your Brand to Life to Grow Profits

 

Erin French is the chef and owner behind The Lost Kitchen, a field-to-table restaurant concept in rural Maine [4]. Each day, she designs the evening’s menu based on what’s available and what’s in season, using only ingredients from local farms and fields. Though popular, her dining room seats just 40 guests.

 

Brand Story

Image via The Lost Kitchen

 

As renown for her cooking has grown, so has French’s popularity, which, for many a chef, would mean expanding and outsourcing and meeting the demands of whatever is considered “trendy” at any given moment.

 

Not for French, though. She’s remained true to her intimate, strictly-local roots despite the pressure to compete and expand. As such, it’s become a defining part of her brand story.

 

5. Transformational change is a good thing in your brand story

A good brand story isn’t static; it’s constantly shifting and evolving with your brand. Changes, catalysts, growth and revelations keep the audience interested.

 

In Game of Thrones, almost nothing remains consistent from one season to the next, and that’s one reason viewers keep tuning in. Season 7 brought a huge revelation—the true identity of Jon Snow—which sparked a social media firestorm and built anticipation for season 8.

 

Related: Use Humour in Branding to Create Strong Emotional Bonds so You Increase Sales

 

A great real-life example of a transformational change in a brand story is that of High Brew Coffee [5].

 

Brand Story

Image via High Brew Coffee

 

Founder David Smith set out on a voyage not to build a coffee company, but to give his family a once-in-a-lifetime experience rafting through the Caribbean. From navigating unfamiliar waters to learning how to homeschool their children on the six-month trip, Smith and his wife needed something to keep them alert. In the hot Caribbean sun, though, a steaming cup of coffee didn’t exactly hit the spot.

 

The couple began making their own cold-brew joe on the boat, and the idea for High Brew Coffee was born.

 

 

How can your brand convey change? It may be by demonstrating how you’ve grown through the years, how you’ve defied naysayers, how you’ve exceeded expectations or helped facilitate change in the lives of your customers.

 

6. You must take the audience on a journey in your brand story

Any good story—be it a novel, a television show or brand story—has a clearly defined beginning, middle and end. The struggles we mentioned earlier culminate in a climax and the audience experiences resolution.

 

In Game of Thrones, each season stands alone as its own mini-journey while playing a larger role in the arc of the series as a whole. The ultimate resolution has yet to be achieved, which, again, is why we’ll keep tuning in.

 

Amazon Prime has an excellent example of taking the audience on a journey that includes a beginning, middle and end in the space of a single commercial. Watch:

 

 

It’s just 30 seconds long, and yet we meet characters (the family, the dog), understand circumstances (the parents just brought home a new baby), witness a struggle (the new baby doesn’t readily embrace the family dog), experience changes (the dad’s Amazon Prime order) and finally, achieve resolution (an adorable one at that).

 

Of course, there was an all-star marketing team behind this campaign, but it’s a powerful goal to aspire to when crafting your own brand story.

 

Just as Game of Thrones uses an exceptional story to draw viewers in and keep them hooked (seven seasons and counting!), so can you use your brand story to connect with customers on a deeper level and win fans for life.

 

 

Ready to become the number one in your market and stand out head and shoulders above the competition? Our Personality Profile Performer™ e-course enables you to develop a winning brand story that will attract your ideal audience and make your brand instantly recognizable. Find out how here.

Questions to consider:

  1. What’s the ‘why’ behind your brand?
  2. What circumstances (where, when and how) are important for your audience to know?
  3. Who are the central characters in your brand story?
  4. What key challenges or struggles have been overcome in your brand story?
  5. How have your characters or you changed since the start of your journey in your story?
  6. What is your brand’s beginning, middle and end?

 

Build Your Brand Story Using The Personality Profile Performer™ Programme with Lorraine Carter

 

Sources:

  1. http://deadline.com/2017/07/game-of-thrones-ratings-season-7-return-hbo-1202130304/
  2. https://www.entrepreneur.com/video/290950#
  3. https://www.shopify.com/blog/how-to-become-a-youtuber-yes-theory
  4. https://www.forbes.com/sites/karastiles/2017/09/07/field-to-table-mystique-in-rural-maine-how-owner-erin-french-protects-the-lost-kitchen/#6ea379c85bdb
  5. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jeff-charles/4-fantastic-examples-of-b_b_9852356.html

Brand Strategy: 6 Tips for Building Your Profit Growth Plan

Up until the 1980’s, Sears dominated the retail niche with its brand strategy. And then Sears was annihilated by Amazon; reduced to a home and appliance goods market, its former splendour in ruins.[1]

 

Today, in just about every industry, competition is fierce with new challengers and disruptors changing the status quo in every sector.

 

To ensure survival, leaders of businesses must see tomorrow and infuse (and re-infuse) their brands with an evolving vision which is developed through brand strategy.

 

Today, this is even more critical when you consider the average life expectancy of a Fortune 500 company has declined from around 75 years half a century ago to less than 15 years today…and it’s declining all the time.

 

So the question is, can you clearly articulate;
• what your brand stands for
• what makes you different to your competitors and
• how you dominate (or plan to dominate) your sector

 

Your brand strategy is the foundation to your business success. It goes hand-in-hand with, and informs your overall business strategy so it pays to give it the attention it deserves because you can’t fully achieve your growth plan without a strong brand strategy.

 

Related: How Do Challenger Brands Become Market Leaders?

 

Here we share with you 6 tips for building a strong brand strategy to set you apart, and in front of your competitors, both now and into the future.

 

And unlike Sears, to keep you there.

 

 

 

6 Tips for Building a Strong Brand Strategy

 

1.   Make Brand Strategy The Foundation on Which Your Business is Built

Brand strategy should be the core driver of every business strategy, because it’s a long-term plan for business success and impacts every area of the business, from employee recruitment, marketing and sales, to competitor differentiation, consumer needs and nurturing customer emotional engagement.

 

Remember: People buy with emotion first and justify with rational afterwards so you must win the heart first so you can move the mind to purchase.

 

It is the brand strategy that sets you apart from your competitors and determines the culture and value of your company.

 

Let’s take a look at Chubbies Shorts. On their website, they list their beliefs which drives everything they do and really showcases their brand personality and what they stand for:

 

Image via Chubbies

 

Related: Personality Matters, Bring Your Brand to Life to Grow Your Profits

 

Essentially, the Chubbies Shorts[2] brand is a lifestyle, and all their marketing reflects that. For instance, their Facebook page is listed not as a business page, but as an entertainment page, and they fulfill that promise. Their page consists of user generated video clips about how their customers wear Chubbies Shorts, and funny videos Chubbies create for their followers.

 

Related: Use Humour in Branding to Create Strong Emotional Bonds so You Increase Sales

 

Wildly popular, it’s no surprise they are currently sitting on a whopping 1,568,919 likes, with each post boasting anything from 1 – 23K views.

 

Image via Chubbies

 

Humorous entertainment drives the brand’s connection with its audience; have a look at the video clip about the unconventional Chubbies Shorts company.

 

 

 

The lesson? Chubbies Shorts would never be the trendy, fun brand they are if the founders did not use their brand strategy to underpin the business growth to success.

 

Your business can also become a beloved brand, no matter how lacklustre it might appear to be at present! Give it a growth boost now by using our online brand building programme, the Personality Profile Performer™ course. This will empower you to build your brand so you so achieve your profit growth plan.

 

2.   Identify and Instill Your Unique Value Proposition

Your unique value proposition is what separates your business from your competitors.

 

Unbounce defines it as, “a clear statement that describes the benefit of your offer, how you solve your customer’s needs and what distinguishes you from the competition.” And it does so in one concise sentence.

 

Typically, it’s the UVP that tells a visitor within seconds of arriving at one of your brand touchpoints, like your website, how your business can help him or her.

 

Nike’s mission statement[3], or UVP, is “to bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world.” Coca-Cola has seasonal campaigns, the latest being, “taste the feeling”[4]. Walmart’s is, “Save money. Live better.”[5]

 

An exceptional example of a UVP-driven company is Bombas[6], an e-commerce store that sells socks. For every pair of socks that’s sold, one pair is donated to a homeless shelter.

 

Image via Bombas

 

Added to that is the fact their socks are designed uniquely; they claim they are the most comfortable socks you’ll ever wear, and that they are made with technology that makes them a better sock for the lifestyle of the homeless.

 

Image via Bombas

 

Bombas was started to help homeless people. Their UVP is reflected in all the company does and their corporate social responsibility brand sits at the heart of their brand strategy.

 

What makes your company unique? How can you communicate the benefits of your brand within 8 seconds (using emotionally compelling language to drive home your message in a way your ideal customer finds really irresistible)?

 

Related: Brand CSR, The Business Case for Successful Branding and Social Good

 

3.   Understand Your Ideal Customers

Marketing endeavours will only ever be successful when they align with the interests and needs of your primary target customers.

 

It’s a mistake to market to everyone; it only wastes time and money because you can never solve everyone’s problems or provide a solution for everyone. Understanding your target customer, what they care about and building your brand strategy around them, is essential for your growth plan.

 

Take Pura Vida[7] who sell handmade bracelets made in Costa Rica. They have a rich understanding of their ideal ‘Purchaser Persona’ and have mastered the art of brand storytelling, establishing themselves as a beloved brand.[8] In fact it’s essential you learn how to inject your brand with purpose, meaning, stories and feelings so you can increase your sales.

 

In the example below, instead of an annoying website pop-up, they provide value to their visitors with a pretty pink spinning wheel – technically also a pop-up, but one which

  1. is attractive to women and
  2. provides value to the kind of person, their ‘Purchaser Persona’ that typically buys from them.

 

Their visitors are fully engaged and can hardly resist clicking on the “spin to win” wheel. When clicked, it spins and lands on one of the four options:

  • A free bracelet
  • 10% off purchases
  • 5% off purchases
  • Free shipping

 

Image via Pura Vida

 

The result?

24% submission rate and a 34.76% conversion rate lift.[9]

 

Every business has a minimum of between two to twenty different ‘Purchase Personas’ so it’s essential you identify and map out each of your different customer types because you need to understand your target audience, their needs, wants, loves, hates and aspirations intimately, in order to maximize your brand strategy growth results.

 

In fact, this exercise is one of the key elements in our ten-part brand building programme called the Personality Profile Performer™. As you map out each of your different customer types using the ‘Purchaser Personas’ system, the outputs provide the critical insights and direction for how your brand can speak to your customers on their terms so they find your message compelling — winning their hearts and minds on their terms — so you can grow your business. You can watch a free course preview here.

 

Build Your Profitable Brand Using The Personality Profile Performer™ Programme with Lorraine Carter

 

Alternatively if you want in-person professional direction to build your brand and would like to explore working with us then drop us a line to brand@personadesign.ie or give us a call T: +353 1 8322724 (GMT). We’d be delighted to talk with you.

 

4.   Define Your Story

Brand storytelling can be defined as the conscious and unconscious, verbal and nonverbal messages a brand tells its customers and prospects.

 

Now, every company that advertises or has a marketing strategy, is telling a story. Think of it this way: when you first make a new friend on Facebook, you might check out the person’s “about” tab, photos and news feed. By doing that, you’re building a picture of what’s important to your new buddy. Everything that person posts, tells a story about who they are and what they value.

 

Related: Brand Stories – 5 Compelling Examples That Sell Themselves (part 1 of 2)

 

In the same way, everything your business “puts out there”, is telling a story. The question is, has your ‘brand’ story been an accidental manifestation or is it a highly strategic narrative, authentic in quality and very customer focussed — memorable, emotionally compelling and referable.

 

Related: Brand Stories – 5 Compelling Examples That Sell Themselves (part 2 of 2)

 

Chase Bank went to great lengths not to leave their brand storytelling to chance. Stacey Warwick, Head of Brand Innovation at JPMorgan Chase, says that the company believes, “content humanizes financial brands and builds relatability”. They aim to provide helpful content that empowers their clients.

 

Their website is proof that they’re not just another bank; it includes value-added content, as per their brand strategy:

 

Image via Chase Bank

 

 

Following the aim of their brand story, care for their clients is evident on their Facebook page which consistently provides relevant information to their target audience:

 

 

It’s clear that Chase Bank has a defined story that is well executed throughout their brand strategy.

 

Here are five more fantastic examples of brand storytelling.

 

Related: What Brands Can Learn From Political Campaigns

 

5.   Conduct Competitor Research

Your competitors serve as a meaningful resource to find out what’s working, what’s not, and may provide inspiration for doing things differently for your new brand strategy growth plan.

 

Let’s say you wanted to start a coffee shop. If you were smart, you’d do your competitor research first, perhaps first learning about the most popular coffee shop brand in the world: Starbucks. You’d recognize that with more than 18784 locations worldwide, they’ve grown substantially since 1971 when they opened their first store, and analyzing how they do things may help you with your strategizing.

 

In this video[10], a marketing analysis of the Starbucks brand is conducted by James Molnar, who discusses some of the things which are useful to know if you’re considering building or refreshing a consumer brand. The principles discussed are broadly applicable to many scenarios requiring competitor evaluation.

 

 

 

Some of the major benefits of competitor research for your brand strategy are as follows:

  • An enhanced understanding of your target audience
  • Evaluating what competitors are offering
  • Keeping track of competitors’ price points and positioning
  • Ways of finding new customers

 

It doesn’t need to be complex; there are many competitor research online tools to assist.

 

6.   Prioritize Internal Branding

Research from Deloitte[11] has proven that “mission-driven”, employee centric, brand driven companies are more innovative, have lower staff turnover, and they tend to be first or second in their industry.

 

Related: CEO Brand Leadership: How Vision Drives Brand Growth

 

Internal branding means that the company has a brand strategy to attract and retain the “right fit” employee, in order to maximize return on investment. Hiring and keeping the right staff leads to a more productive workforce, competitive differentiation, innovation and decreased staff turnover. The right staff will show high commitment levels, deliver better quality work in less time, and become influential brand advocates online and offline.

 

Related: Brand Sponsorships, The Best Brand Ambassadors Are Already On Your Payroll

 

Think Google. Google attracts the very best people, because of their culture-by-design. If you’ve ever watched, “The Internship”, you’ll know what I mean.

 

Better than attempting to explain “Googliness” to you, watch this video[12] on the Google culture:

 

 

You don’t need to be a multi-billion dollar company to work on your own particular “Googliness”; but certainly start by creating an internal branding strategy. Then roll it out to your entire company, so that you can attract and retain the right people who will accomplish your business goals. You may find it helpful to use one of our bespoke brand building workshops to help you develop your strategy effectively. Feel free to drop us a line to brand@personadesign.ie or ring us at +353 1 8322724 (GMT hours) if you’d like to know more. We’d be delighted to help.

 

Summary

Your brand strategy is the foundation to your business success. It goes hand-in-hand with, and informs your overall business strategy so give it the attention it deserves because you can’t fully achieve your growth plan without a strong brand strategy.

 

  1. Your Unique Value Proposition is what separates your business from the next. It’s what makes your brand stand out and differentiates you from your competition. Adding your UVP to the most visible part of all your key touch points, like your website, communicates the benefits of your business to your ideal visitors fast.
  2. A deep knowledge of your target audience should determine every brand strategy. No marketing strategy can succeed without it so map out your Purchaser Persona for each of your different customer types so you can build your brand to attract them and really meet their needs.
  3. Your brand story needs to be memorable, referable, worth talking about so don’t leave it to chance or worse still something mis-representative. Build your compelling brand story and make it central to everything you do so it’s used to grow your business and attract your ideal customers

 

 

  1. Assumptions are dangerous and competitor research is essential because it gives you a better understanding of your target audience, and is a powerful source of innovation. Consider a brand audit, it’s an essential brand management tool for every organisation, even with limited resources a lot can be uncovered which is invaluable and critical to your success.

 

Start auditing your brand here

 

  1. Strong employer branded companies do better than those who do not. That is you need to ensure your internal team are informed, regularly trained and indoctrinated into your brand philosophy. How you present your brand to your internal team, staff and stakeholders alike is just as important as how you present it to customers. In fact your team can’t sell or represent your brand successfully unless they are fully informed and aligned with the external market so your internal branding strategy needs to be planned and rolled out across your organization in order for your business to be successful.

 

Questions to consider…

  • Does your company have a Unique Value Proposition?
  • Does your brand message communicate within seconds, to your target audience, exactly how you solve their problems or have a solution which is a perfect fit for their needs?
  • Have you mapped out all your Purchaser Personas?
  • What message does your brand send out to prospects? Is it consistent across all touchpoints?
  • Do you know your competitors and what they’re doing well or badly as the case may be? What can you do differently and a lot better?
  • Are your employees highly engaged with your brand? How have you evaluated their level of engagement? When did you last get their feedback? Do you have an indiscriminate system, formally or informally, within your organisation that empowers your team to share their thoughts, feedback and suggestions?

 

 

 

[1] https://www.process.st/delivery-process/

[2] http://www.chubbiesshorts.com

[3] https://help-en-us.nike.com/app/answer/a_id/113

[4] http://www.coca-colacompany.com/stories/taste-the-feeling-launch

[5] http://panmore.com/walmart-vision-mission-statement-intensive-generic-strategies

[6] http://bombas.com

[7] http://puravidabracelets.com/

[8] https://www.shopify.com/enterprise/ecommerce-tools-of-a-multimillion-dollar-empire-pura-vida

[9] https://www.shopify.com/enterprise/ecommerce-tools-of-a-multimillion-dollar-empire-pura-vida

[10] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9HVMhm59Ibs

[11] https://dupress.deloitte.com/dup-us-en/deloitte-review/issue-16/employee-engagement-strategies.html

[12] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c1jlmdkApTQ

7 Universal Branding Lessons From Christmas Adverts

You’d not be alone in thinking that 2016 delivered some unexpected political surprises on both sides of the pond. Your customers may share that thought. But uncertainty is no friend to retail therapy, so to lighten the mood and reinforce economic prosperity, we’ve collected some of the outstanding moments — for better or for worse — as distributed in video format by the forefront U.K. brands doing their best at storytelling this holiday season.

While entertaining to watch, you may also benefit from pairing several observations that apply to strategic thinking for SMBs / SMEs and enterprise organisations — we all need a laugh at the moment! Have you seen Aldi’s Kevin the Carrot Christmas advert?

 

Here are our favourites and others that miss the mark. Yet, lessons are learned all around.

Do you agree? Did we miss any?

 

1.  Brand Personification

Aldi is a leading global retailer and one of the world’s largest privately owned companies with over 7,500 store locations. But that hasn’t stopped them from adopting a brand voice in the form of an animated three-inch-tall carrot who desperately wants to meet Santa. A sure fire winner due in no small part to the theme song from “Home Alone,” the one-minute rhymed narration has had 1.8 million YouTube views in its first four weeks. Short and sweet.

 

Takeaway: Give your brand an irresistible personality. Humanize your brand, give it an authentic voice, enable connections with the character your brand embodies. Think of enduring 20th century mascots such as the Jolly Green Giant and Ol’ Lonely, the Maytag Repairman with nothing to fix. Consider 21st century successes like the sexy Old Spice Man and “The Most Interesting Man in the World” by Dos Equis.

 

 

 

2. Confusing Branding

For the holiday voice of Sainsbury’s, James Corden sings, “The streets are chaotic, the shops idiotic, there’s a queue for the queue…” Weirdly, it’s an animation about a frazzled dad stuck on a delayed train (“It’s a catastrophe! I’ll never get it done!”) who perhaps never heard of online shopping. We’re not sure what mileage Sainsbury’s gets out of 3:35 minutes of highlighting the hassle of Christmas shopping.

 

Takeaway: Don’t stray off message. To elevate your brand, stick to the core messaging so consumers can quickly see the call to action. Like too many different fonts and colours on the same page, a message can easily get lost in the shuffle…especially during peak times such as holidays and back to school. Be clear, be consistent, be focused, be unified in your messaging.

 

 

 

3. Feel Good Branding

At a rather lengthy 2:10 minutes, John Lewis’s Christmas Advert 2016 takes a risk that viewers’ attention won’t wander. However, there’s not a chance, as viewers really do want to see how this story concludes. Featuring the family pet, foxes, badgers, squirrels and hedgehogs, we see animals enjoying a secret midnight trampoline romp. With extensive social media and TV tie-ins garnering a remarkable 21 million views and counting, it’s less of an advert than a short movie clip with an uplifting soundtrack (“One Day I’ll Fly Away”) about Buster the Boxer. Highly shareable — and directly associated with the store’s toy department — it’s a distinct pull away from last year’s lonely, elderly man “sadvertising” theme.

 

Takeaway: Emotional branding has huge appeal. To successfully tap into creating a bond between brand and consumer is the most effective connection of all. Get it right, like John Lewis does here, and you’re golden. (Bonus: Word-of-mouth and shares are guaranteed!)

 

 

 

4. Branding Content Without a Point

Tesco chooses to introduce us to yet another “typical” shopper annoyed with the season’s chores. We get to hear the thoughts running through her mind (“It’s only November and my clothes still smell of Bonfire”) as she becomes overwhelmed by a mental to-do list, rendering her frozen behind the shopping trolley in mid-aisle. We certainly get a sense of place (the uninspiring inside of a Tesco store), but what’s the story line? The only point made comes at the end (for any viewers that have hung around) when she speaks Tesco’s tagline aloud, “Nah, bring it on.” Did they actually think this advert would get many shares?

 

Takeaway: Like any good story, your brand message must grab your audience’s attention in the first few seconds, or they’re gone. Many video views will be made on mobile and a good percentage[1] will be seen in public places with the volume turned off, so a woman standing still by her shopping cart cannot maintain audience interest.

 

 

 

5. Branding That Spins a Classic

Marks & Spencer re-purposes an age-old story, this one is about Santa and Mrs. Claus on Christmas Eve, and re-tells it with a modern spin. You needn’t have the Hollywood budget and Oscar-star studded cast that M&S can afford in order to accomplish something similar. The result is a compelling, contemporary tale with a feminist twist that some viewers are calling, “a hundred times better than John Lewis’s,” in the 2016 Christmas advert annual parade. Some 7.3 million views so far for “Christmas With Love From Mrs Claus.”

 

Takeaway: Dress up a classic tale is usually a good storytelling idea. Mrs Claus in a red sheath dress and high heels delivering gifts in her own helicopter works incredibly well. The advert manages to also provide a call to action that is on point for the brand, once we see what’s in the gift box Mrs Claus leaves under the Christmas tree.

 

 

 

6. Branding to Surprise and Delight

And the winner is…Heathrow Airport, connecting with everyone in their advertisement, “Coming Home for Christmas.” Anyone who has flown home for the holidays can identify with these two elderly teddy bears making their way from arrival gate to meeting point. Take a close look at Edward Bair’s passport — he’s 71, just like Heathrow Airport. Stay tuned for the surprise ending; there’s a lovely surprise.

 

Takeaway: Making authentic connections to human emotions are any brand’s surefire success. LHR does everything right in this year’s ad. Not a department store, not a supermarket, Heathrow Airport is the glue that speaks to both travelers and their hosts coming home for the holidays, so most everyone can relate to this tearjerker, even without the soundtrack.

 

 

 

7. Branding From Our House to Yours

Lidl Ireland packs a lot of emotion into one minute with “Homecoming.” See behind the scenes as a lovely, but unassuming family, prepares the country house and Christmas supper for a recently widowed Grandpa as guest of honor. At one minute, the length is perfect. No words are needed — go ahead, watch it without the sounds and see that it can still work.

 

Takeaways: Again, emotional branding that leaves people with a strong feeling is the hot button here. Will they smile or cry? That’s your choice. When you create material that’s so compelling that it’s eminently shareable, your viral brand is massively strengthened in customers’ hearts and minds.

 

 

 

Questions you may ask yourself about branding lessons from the pros:

  1. Does my brand have a strong brand promise?
  2. Have I fully communicated that brand promise well?
  3. Does my brand have a personality? Does it align with my product or service?
  4. Have I used my brand persona to grow audience beyond my base?
  5. Does my brand receive more than its fair share? Or does my brand under-perform?
  6. How do I know if it’s time for a brand re-fresh?

 

Want to clarify your brand promise, develop your brand personality — standout more effectively to increase your sales? Then take a look here at our online eprogramme which walks you through step-by-step ‘How to Build Your Brand’.

 

Alternatively if you want some in-person professional direction to build your brand then drop us a line to brand@personadesign.ie or give us a call T: +353 1 8322724 (GMT).

We’d be delighted to help.

 

Find out ‘How to Build Your Brand’ with the Personality Profile Performer™ programme

 

 

[1] https://www.americanpressinstitute.org/need-to-know/try-this-at-home/85-percent-facebook-videos-watched-without-sound

 

 

Brand Stories: 5 Compelling Examples That Sell Themselves (Part 2)

(see Part 1 here)

 

“Exactly how do I tell my brand’s story?” is one of the most frequently asked questions we receive. Simply start at the beginning and consider the following guides as you draft out the core ingredients of your brand story:

  • Do: Tell a story
  • Don’t: Fudge the facts
  • Do: Use visuals and photos
  • Don’t: Use copyrighted photography
  • Do: Use numbers
  • Don’t: Write a novel
  • Do: Show your brand’s personality[1]

 

If you’re struggling with writing the heart of your compelling brand story so it’s shared time and time again by word-of-mouth then the Persona Brand Building Blueprint™ Mastermind is the perfect fit for you. There are ten key areas we focus on during this two day brand building intensive all of which are fully immersive and strategic in nature. Your brand story is one of the core areas of immersion.

 

lorraine-carter-persona-brand-building-mastermind-700x344px

 

If you want to transform your brand and increase your sales then this two day intensive shared with a small group of like-minded peers is a must for you so you can take your brand further, faster.

 

More information and registration for the Persona Brand Building Blueprint™ Mastermind can be found here.

 

The Small Business Brand Advantage

Small businesses are at an advantage. Everyone can identify with an authentic, personal story in a way that big brands cannot achieve. We commonly see these kind of ‘About Us’ write-ups on the websites of SME’s, and they’re just about right.

 

emerald-auto-story

Image via Emerald Auto and Brake and Vertical Response

 

Small to medium-sized businesses can also tell a brief personal story about each employee, another opportunity to claim real estate on the web, to create pride among staff, to introduce ice-breakers for clients, and to humanize the brand — an opportunity not to be overlooked.

 

marker-real-estate-story

Image via Marker Real Estate

 

In part one of this blog title, we introduced 5 exceptional big brand storytelling examples: Airbnb, Amazon, Dollar Shave Club, Facebook, and Guinness. Part two takes a look at five more brands that have hit the nail on the head and discusses universal takeaways for marketers of brands, no matter what size.

 

 

  1. Brand: Harry Potter

 

Backstory:

Author JK Rowling’s own story is one of rags to riches, from living on state benefits, catapulted to multi-millionaire status within five years. The book grew into a series, the series became blockbuster films, and then came the theme parks and global entertainment franchising…some real magic indeed.

Problem:

Literacy. James Thomas, professor of English at Pepperdine University, says the books do more than entertain. “They’ve made millions of kids smarter, more sensitive, certainly more literate…I don’t know of any books to have worked that kind of magic on so many millions of readers in so short a time in the history of publications.”[2]

 

Solution:

Perfect timing, perfect emotional connection. “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone,” released in the UK in June 1997, was the first book in decades that schoolboys (including those who weren’t avid readers) just couldn’t put down. At that time, the internet was dial-up, Google wasn’t yet founded, and Nintendo 64 had only just hit the shelves. The thriller storyline of Harry Potter books delivered addicting fantasy adventure in large, un-Disney, doses.

 

jk-rowling-story

Image via JK Rowling

 

Success:

The Harry Potter brand is worth $25 billion. The movies grossed $7.7 billion worldwide and the best-selling series of books in history, translated into 73 languages, have made just as much. J.K. Rowling has been named the world’s richest author, with a net worth of $1 billion.[3]

 

jk-rowling-worlds-richest-author

Image via Money Magazine

 

Takeaway:

Start small, be patient, persevere. Bloomsbury offered JK Rowling $2,250 and agreed to print 1,000 books after she’d been turned down by many other publishers.

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Brand: SoulCycle

 

Backstory:

A decade ago, SoulCycle was a boot-strapped startup by two mothers who met over lunch and decided there was a hole in the market for fitness classes that didn’t require a gym membership.

 

Problem:

Gyms are everywhere. Why would anyone need another fitness centre chain that only offers 45-minute cycling classes? Or, is a no-membership fee model enough to carve out success?

 

soulcyle-about

Image via SoulCycle

 

Solution:

Imagine a darkened room lit by candles scented of citrus, rows of stationary bikes, deafening music pumping away, a good-looking, fit, inspirational instructor urging you to spin faster in your special shoes clipped onto the pedals of a yellow bike with wheels decorated like a lemon. That’s SoulCycle…it’s meant to go beyond a workout — to be good for your body and nourish your soul. It’s as much a cult as a class, thanks to a deeply loyal following that’s sprinkled with celebrities.

 

soulcyle-story

Image via SoulCycle

 

Success:

A leader in the luxury exercise trend. Nearly 70 prime studio locations in 11 states, concentrated in New York City and California, which accounted for 97 percent of the $112 million in revenue in 2014, 50 percent higher than the year prior.[4] Equinox purchased a majority stake of 97 percent and the two founders walked away with $90 million each.

 

soulcycle-700x291px

Image via Racked and SoulCycle

Takeaway:

Relate to a niche audience and put a spin (pun intended) on a core product. Wearing the tagline, “Aspirational lifestyle brand,”[5] SoulCycle markets itself as “the place people come, regardless of their age, athletic ability, size, shape, profession or personality, to connect with their best selves.”[6] In 2016, Fast Company placed SoulCycle on its list of the World’s 50 Most Innovative Companies.[7]

 

 

 

  

  

  1. Brand: Spanx

Backstory:

“Spanx founder Sara Blakely was getting ready for a party when she realized she didn’t have the right undergarment to provide a smooth look under white trousers. Armed with scissors and sheer genius, she cut the feet off her control top pantyhose and the Spanx revolution began.”[8]

 

Problem:

Eliminating VPL (visible panty line) and offering an alternative to uncomfortable body shapers.

 

get-your-spanx-on

Image via Spanx

 

Solution:

Armed with $5,000, a focus on solving wardrobe woes, and a brand persona (meet Sunny) to make the packaging stand out, the Spanx brand has grown to offer dozens of products including leggings, bras, maternity shapewear, a men’s line and more.

 

spanx-home-page

 

Success:

Meet America’s youngest female self-made billionaire. With annual sales of $400 million-plus[9], Sara Blakely’s nonprofit foundation has contributed $24 million to women’s causes.

 

spanx-inc

Image via Spanx


Takeaway:

On the pages of a trusty spiral notebook, the kind where her first scribbles and notes appeared in 2000, Sarah Blakely keeps the narrative going with “Years of Great Rears” published on the Spanx website.

 

 

 

 

  1. Brand: Uber

 

Backstory:

The app-based car service was hatched pretty much on the back of the napkin, according to Travis Kalanick, co-founder of Uber. The co-founders were a couple of serial entrepreneurs hanging out together after hours during a tech conference in Paris.[10]

 

Problem:

People want reliable, affordable, fast door-to-door taxi service. San Francisco had a notoriously lousy taxi service, where Uber was launched as an experiment in 2010 following a three-car trial in Manhattan.

 

 

 

 

Solution:

One long-time user explains the Uber lifestyle thinking:[11]

  • They realized they’re not a transportation company, but a logistics company to dispatch things to people who want them. Usually it’s cars, but sometimes it’s ice cream, a mariachi band, or even kittens from shelters.
  • If you can do it in San Francisco, you can do it in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Sydney, Paris, and anywhere in between.
  • Since a lot of people use the service not because of how good it is, but how bad taxis are let’s make a cheaper option.

Plus, you don’t need cash. You just hop out.

 

uber-ireland

Image via Uber

 

Success:

Uber is one of the world’s fast-growing companies. Currently valued at $63 billion, Uber operates in 527 cities in 77 countries.[12] However, like Airbnb, another giant industry disruptor, the area in which Uber struggles is regulatory; there is room for improvement in their storytelling.


Takeaway:

Kalanick says, “Transportation should be like running water and we want to make that happen absolutely everywhere, for everyone.”[13] Make sure your brand has clearly identified its core message and crafted a story to tell it well. Furthermore, keep the narrative up-to-date if and when external factors impact it.

 

 

 

 

  1. Brand: Warby Parker

 

Backstory:

One of four co-founders from Wharton Business School, Neil Blumenthal, explains the idea came when a friend left a $700 pair of glasses in an airline seat pocket. Having seen how cheap glasses are made in Asia at the same factory that made the expensive ones, Blumenthal imagined a lifestyle brand that addresses price, style and the need for an optometrist visit.[14]

 

warby-parker-home-try-on

Image via Warby Parker

Problem:

As a technology that had been around for about 800 years, modern eyeglasses were needlessly expensive. Why? Because the industry was monopolized by one giant company. Warby Parker says everybody has a right to corrective lenses that are fun, free, and affordable.

 

Solution:

Warby Parker transformed the eyeglasses industry by designing in-house, selling direct-to-consumer to avoid retail markups and offering a free try-on at home service by mail. In addition, CSR is also at the heart of this brand story, for every pair of frames sold one pair is distributed to someone in need. So, “Buy a pair, give a pair.”

 

warby-parker-story

Image via Warby Parker

 

Success:

Eyeglasses for $95 was a groundbreaking proposition and an overnight success. Word-of-mouth took off (15 percent of the population wears glasses). Warby Parker now has 42 locations in North America in addition to e-commerce; the company founded in 2010 was valued at $1.2 billion in 2015.[15]

 

Takeaway:

Every brand idea starts with a problem. Express yours in plain language, such as this: “We believe that buying glasses should be easy and fun. It should leave you happy and good-looking, with money in your pocket. We also believe that everyone has the right to see.”

 

 

 

 

Want to write your compelling brand story? Want to attract your ideal customers so you can sell your brand way more effectively? The Persona Brand Building Blueprint™ Mastermind is the perfect fit for you. There are ten key areas of immersion we focus on during this two day brand building intensive, one of which is your brand story.  You work on your brand over the two days with our direction so you can seriously accelerate your growth.

 

lorraine-carter-persona-brand-building-mastermind-700x344px

 

If you want to transform your brand and increase your sales then this two day intensive shared with a small group of like-minded peers is a must for you so you can take your brand further, faster.

 

More information and registration for the Persona Brand Building Blueprint™ Mastermind can be found here.

 

 

Six Questions For Brand Owner Managers to Consider About Brand Storytelling

  1. Have your defined your brand’s story and found a compelling way to share it with your customers and potential customers?
  2. Does your brand story present and solve a unique problem?
  3. Is your story told in an authentic human voice rather than a corporate one?
  4. Is there an emotional connection in your brand storytelling?
  5. Does your brand story have a beginning, middle and an end? Lastly, is there a call to action?
  6. Have you considered getting input from your customers to help you determine your brand messaging? Their feedback can help you clarify and define the voice behind your company.

 

 

PPP-eProduct-Enroll-eCourse-Here-800x700px

 

[1] http://www.verticalresponse.com/blog/7-dos-and-donts-for-writing-your-companys-story

[2] http://content.time.com/time/specials/2007/personoftheyear/article/0,28804,1690753_1695388_1695436,00.html

[3] http://time.com/money/4279432/billion-dollar-spell-harry-potter

[4] http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3531018/SoulCycle-founders-resign-company-year-making-90-million-selling-Equinox.html

[5] http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-soulcycle-ipo-20150731-story.html

[6] http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/09/upshot/soulcycle-you-say-cult-i-say-loyal-customer-base.html?_r=1

[7] https://www.fastcompany.com/most-innovative-companies

[8] http://www.spanx.com/about-us

[9] http://www.philly.com/philly/business/20161011_Reuters_tagreuterscom2016newsmlMT1VRT1201884257_Spanx_Founder_Sara_Blakely_Gives_Back_to_Empower_Women__Small_Businesses.html

[10] https://newsroom.uber.com/ubers-founding

[11] https://www.quora.com/What-is-the-story-behind-the-creation-of-Uber

[12] http://uberestimator.com/cities

[13] https://www.marketingweek.com/2015/09/17/uber-ceo-we-need-to-get-better-at-telling-our-story

[14] https://techcrunch.com/2013/05/07/the-three-things-warby-parker-did-to-launch-a-successful-lifestyle-brand

[15] http://www.forbes.com/sites/stevedenning/2016/03/23/whats-behind-warby-parkers-success/#7d24b3406395

Brand Stories: 5 Compelling Examples That Sell Themselves

Part 1. (see Part 2 here)

Once upon a time, there was a brand that told its very own compelling story. It had a beginning, a middle and an end. It was the story of how it adds value to people’s lives, how it uniquely solves a problem, how it authentically reaches people, builds an emotional connection with them and gains their trust.

 

 

“It makes “selling” a whole lot easier when your customers actually understand what they’re buying.” (And why). – Kelly Lucente, author

 

 

In fact, that’s what all good brand stories do, from “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” to iconic brands like Apple and Virgin Group.

 

  • Beginning: Problem. Explain the problem that you set out to solve.
  • Middle: Solution. Describe how you solved it.
  • End: Success. Get excited about the success this produced.[1]

 

“It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.” – Albert Einstein

 

 

It’s no coincidence that some of the world’s most powerful brands are ones that have successfully told their brand stories in a relatable human, non-corporate way so that customers embrace it and are keen to continue sharing that story via world of mouth.

 

great-stories-are-pollen-hugh-macleod-gapingvoid

Image via Gapingvoid, © Hugh MacLeod

 

 

 

 

“A story is how we construct our experiences. At the very simplest, it can be: ‘He/she was born, lived, died.’ Probably that is the template of our stories – a beginning, middle, and end. This structure is in our minds.” – Doris Lessing, author

 

 

Here we take a closer look at 5 great brand story case studies to see who nailed it, how, and why. SMEs / SMBs can successfully apply many of the universal lessons learned here to smaller brands. The key learning for a company of any size is to remain sharply in focus on: “What are we for? What problem do we solve?”

 

5 Great Brand Stories that Sell Themselves

 

  1. Brand: Airbnb

 

Backstory:

“In fact, by conventional wisdom, it seems like a pretty dumb idea. Who would want to rent spare rooms to strangers from strange cities in their homes? And would you rent a room in someone’s house, instead of a hotel?” in 2011, the technology journalist Om Malik probed for answers to such basic sharing economy questions as he interviewed Brian Chesky, CEO and founder of Airbnb.

 

Problem:

A housing problem occurs when cities sell out during high demand periods. The idea came to Chesky and his college buddy who had a couple of air mattresses to rent out when conventions put too much demand on hotels in San Francisco. That grew to the idea of booking a room anywhere for as short as one night.

 

Solution:

“Live like a local,” is the Airbnb story for this online service that matches people seeking vacation rentals and other short term accommodation needs with hosts who have rooms, apartments, houses or other unique spaces to rent.

 

airbnb-guidebook-things-to-do

Image via Airbnb

 

Success:

Airbnb caught the wave of both the sharing economy and online commerce. In 2016, Airbnb grew at a faster rate than the entire hotel industry, offering 2.3 million housing units in its inventory.[2] The 8-year-old company has a valuation of $30 billion.[3]

 

Takeaway:

Classic design approach. Think through the customer experience, even before they arrive. “Become the patient is a core value,” says Joe Gebbia, Co-founder Airbnb.[4]

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Brand: Amazon

 

Backstory:

Customer-driven Amazon.com sold its first book online in 1995, and since then has defined and redefined online retailing for the rest of the Internet retail world.[5] Amazon’s mission statement reads: “Our vision is to be earth’s most customer-centric company; to build a place where people can come to find and discover anything they might want to buy online.”[6]

 

Problem:

Electronic shopping looks to fill the void of shopping by catalogue as the popularity of the internet explodes.

 

Solution:

Working from in his Bellevue, WA garage in 1995, Jeff Bezos identified five products to sell online: CDs and videos, computer hardware and software, and books. Beginning with books, Bezos focused his new avenue for commerce on the web on search, the customer experience and fast delivery.

 

oprahs-favourite-things-on-amazon

Image via Amazon

 

Success:

One of the top five U.S. companies[7], Amazon attracts over 140 million customers per month to its US website as of late 2016.[8] With 36 sub-brands in 13 countries, in 2015, Amazon became the nation’s most valuable retailer. [9]

 

Takeaway:

Experiment, measure, experiment, measure…repeat. “If you double the number of experiments you do per year you’re going to double your inventiveness.” – Jeff Bezos, Amazon Founder and CEO.

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Brand: Dollar Shave Club

 

Backstory:

In 2012, Co-founder Michael Dubin personally introduced his product in a humorous video produced for only $4500, which launched on YouTube and went viral. Nearly 24 million views later, see how well the video lays out the problem and the solution.

 

Problem:

Razor blades are way too expensive. They’re loaded up with unnecessary technology, locked away on the shopfront floor, and carry too much costly packaging and advertising overhead.

 

Solution:

“Shave time, shave money.” A low-priced, convenient, internet-based subscription model mails razors right to the customer’s door, disrupting giant retailers in the men’s shave market.

 

dollar-shave-club

Image via Dollar Shave Club

 

Success:

In year one, Dollar Shave Club did $4 million in sales. Year two was $19 million and year three was $65 million.[10] In 2016, Unilever purchased Dollar Shave Club for $1 billion to challenge Procter & Gamble’s Gillette, the market leader.

 

Takeaway:

A message for challenger brands: “One category after another is being transformed by new brands as consumers demand more personalized offerings.”[11]

 

 

 

 

  1. Brand: Facebook

 

Backstory:

Founded in 2004, Facebook’s mission was to give people the power to share, to make the world more open and connected through friends and family, to discover what’s going on in the world, and to share and express what matters to them.

 

Problem:

Facebook is about to reach its teen years. How can the blistering pace of growth to 1.59 billion users be sustained?

 

facebook-daily-active-users

Image via TechCrunch

Solution:

Although Facebook is hitting saturation in some markets, there’s room to grow in many developing countries. In 2016, Mark Zuckerberg expressed his vision for Facebook’s future at the annual developer’s conference: “Over the long run, we’re building planes and satellites to connect everyone to the internet; artificial intelligence to help us interact with services more easily; and virtual reality to help us experience the world in a totally new way.”

 

facebook-community-update

Image via TechCrunch

Success:

There are another 900 million users on WhatsApp, 800 million on Messenger, 400 million on Instagram, all Facebook properties. Revenue generated from mobile ads jumped 80 percent in the second quarter, faster than Facebook’s overall 59 percent advertising growth rate.[12]

 

Takeaway:

Listen to Mark Zuckerberg talk about the low points in Facebook’s young life. Learn. Evolve. Grow. Rebrand.

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Brand: Guinness

 

Backstory:

“How does a local brand from a small country resonate around the world? How does a brand become inherently part of a nation’s DNA? How does a brand instil pride in it’s country people even though not everyone wants to drink it?…I love the brand, not the product. Walk through the city centre in Dublin any morning, any day of the week and you’ll experience the smell of Dublin, barley roasting in the Guinness Brewery at St James’s Gate, where Guinness has been for over 250 years. You can smell it all over the city. It defines the city.”[13]

 

Problem:

1759 was a long time ago. The brand has a devout cult following. But it also has a corporate owner. How can Guinness connect with each new generation? Can the brand stay young, fresh, innovative? Can Guinness shore up sales as small craft brews gain in popularity?

 

Solution:

“Our Story” figures prominently on the Guinness website. With a 90-second ad, Guinness turns the problem into a solution by positioning themselves as legendary, almost mythical. The video takes us behind the brewery gates for an inside look. “We’re only 255 years into a 9,000-year lease,” Irish actor Cillian Murphy says in a lilting voiceover. “We have a lot more beer to make.”

 

guinness-our-story

Image via Guinness

 

Success:

Guinness defines the category and remains the top producer of stout on the planet. One of only a few truly global beer brands, Guinness sells over 2 billion pints every year in over 150 countries.

 

Takeaway:

Deliver a sense of place for your brand by sharing the insider’s story. “Our greatest work is yet to come,” provides a sense of anticipation…watch this space, it suggests, allowing customers to peek at tomorrow.

 

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_nXEDZ4Ru2I

 

 

De-Mystify the Black Art of Branding

 

Successful brands stand out by telling great stories. To earn a strong and positive position in the minds of your customers, your message must be both simple and focused. What takeaways, tips, questions, checklists, insights, and facts can you take from these compelling brand stories and apply to your brand?

 

If you’re struggling with writing and choosing the golden nuggets of your compelling brand story then the Persona Brand Building Blueprint™ Mastermind is the perfect fit for you. You see, there are ten key areas we focus on during this two day brand building intensive all of which are fully immersive and strategic in nature. Your brand story is one of the core areas of immersion.

 

lorraine-carter-persona-brand-building-mastermind-700x344px

 

If you want to transform your brand and increase your sales then this two day intensive shared with a small group of like-minded peers is a must for you so you can take your brand further, faster.

 

More information and registration for the Persona Brand Building Blueprint™ Mastermind can be found here.

Six Questions For SMEs / SMBs to Consider About Brand Stories

  1. Have your defined your brand’s story and found a compelling way to share it with your customers and potential customers?
  2. Does your brand story present and solve a unique problem?
  3. Is your story told in an authentic human voice rather than a corporate one?
  4. Is there an emotional connection in your brand storytelling?
  5. Does your brand story have a beginning, middle and an end? Lastly, is there a call to action?
  6. Have you considered getting input from your customers to help you determine your brand messaging? Their feedback can help you clarify and define the voice behind your company.

 

PPP-eProduct-Enroll-eCourse-800x700px

 

 

[1] https://blog.kissmetrics.com/create-authentic-brand-story

[2] http://archives.sfweekly.com/thesnitch/2016/05/25/airbnbs-enormous-success-is-bigger-than-you-think

[3] http://www.wsj.com/articles/airbnb-raises-850-million-at-30-billion-valuation-1474569670

[4] http://firstround.com/review/How-design-thinking-transformed-Airbnb-from-failing-startup-to-billion-dollar-business

 

[5] https://www.thebalance.com/amazon-mission-statement-4068548

[6] http://www.fundinguniverse.com/company-histories/amazon-com-inc-history

[7] http://www.cnbc.com/2016/09/23/amazon-climbs-into-list-of-top-five-largest-us-stocks-by-market-cap.html

[8] https://siteanalytics.compete.com/amazon.com/#.WBva-2QrJdg

[9] http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/16/technology/inside-amazon-wrestling-big-ideas-in-a-bruising-workplace.html?_r=0

[10] http://fortune.com/2015/03/10/dollar-shave-club-founding

[11] https://techcrunch.com/2016/07/22/why-did-unilever-pay-1b-for-dollar-shave-club

[12] http://www.wsj.com/articles/facebook-posts-strong-profit-and-revenue-growth-1469650289

[13] http://www.trulydeeply.com.au/brand-identity/guinness-art-brand-storytelling

What Brands Can Learn From Political Campaigns

The races for 10 Downing Street and the White House highlight universal lessons in brand strategy for keen observers. As a brand, there’s none more emotive and powerful than a prime minister or president of the United States.

 

The time period available in politics for building a party platform, selecting leaders, and creating a campaign is much shorter, and consequently more intense, compared to all other arenas of brand building.

 

Nonetheless, just like the smallest of brands, the candidates must build that essential emotional bond whether through shaking hands, kissing babies or connecting with consumers at every single touchpoint in a way that’s relevant to them to earn every single vote. As students of brand marketing, the highly focused, condensed time frame and intense process of building a brand to attract voters — similarly to gaining customers — is rich in takeaways for businesses of any size.

 

Barack-Obama-Justin-Trudeau-600px

US President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau – (Public Domain)

 

Brand Vision: Differentiation is Everything in Brand Strategy

How many times have you heard someone say, “I’m not voting…all politicians are the same.” Political campaigns remind us that clear brand differentiation is key if you are to capture your audience’s attention, imagination and support. In politics that vision is policy; in branding that vision can be whatever you choose…as long as it’s undeniably clear, relevant to your primary audience and expressed in easy to understand language that resonates with them.

 

Hillary-Clinton

Image via hillaryclinton.com

 

Explain your brand vision. Paint a picture of what the world could look like and how others can be part of that when they buy into the vision of your brand. This must be a really bright North Star that shines for your audience and attracts word-of-mouth referral time after time.

 

Listen as US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt delineates four essential human freedoms. FDR’s “Four Freedoms” speech leaves no question regarding the nation’s vision, “attainable in our own time and generation,” on the eve of US involvement in World War II.

 

 

Listen as John F. Kennedy takes just 30 seconds to articulate his vision in the 1961 inaugural address, speaking first to Americans and then to fellow citizens of the world.

 

 

 

Healthy Brand Competition

 

In sales training, we’re taught to emphasize benefits; trashing the competition is not the right approach. Some politicians are known to be terrible at this. Instead of articulating an optimistic vision, candidates often tell you how lousy the incumbent and/or the competition is. Arguably some consider Donald Trump to be the champion of insults — a skill he developed on reality television and honed in debates — which doesn’t always translate so well in real life.

 

 

To get out the vote, that political position must be communicated across all stakeholders: volunteer voter registration workers, doorbell ringers, call centres, college campus activists, hundreds of regional election headquarters, social media gurus, data experts, staffers, media and the public. To gain customers, that brand message must be reflected at every touchpoint and resonate with current buyers, prospective buyers, suppliers, vendors, distributors, every employee, shareholders, investors, and the CEO.

 

In the absence of articulating and sharing a compelling brand message, disinterest develops, or even cynicism and mistrust. In politics, this translates into divisiveness, fear, insecurity — and a landslide for the opposition. For a brand, it means that reputation suffers and sales decline.

 

You Are Your Brand

The brand called YOU is a multi-layered lesson we can learn (both good and bad practices) by watching the political stage during an election cycle. Certainly, public opinion can be influenced by the packaging: takeaways like Hillary Clinton’s pantsuits and Donald Trump’s unique hairstyle make an indelible mark, as with any brand.

 

Meryl-Streep-as-Donald-Trump-New-York

Meryl Streep as Donald Trump – (@simply_the_best_ms on Instagram)

 

Also, brand marketers can observe how politicians use tone of voice, choice of words, truthfulness, authenticity, facts, listening skills, presentation style, distribution channels, frequency, inspirational metaphors, storytelling, consistency or lack of it, and more to make connections and grow audience. On occasion, they provide examples of what NOT to do.

 

 

 

Everyone involved has a chance to be a brand that is worthy of notice via its most important asset: People. Motivated, enthusiastic, hard working, smiling, clever and talented people make all the difference.

Know Your Brand’s Target Audience

Skills and insight go into knowing and understanding your target audience so you can speak their language, tap into their attitudes and values, and build a simple, strong compelling message that they find irresistible. That magnetism factor is a really important part of successful brand building. It’s one of the critical tools used for mapping out your different customer types in what we call Purchaser Personas.

In fact it’s one of the key elements in our brand building programme called the Personality Profile Performer™. You can’t attract the attention of your ideal audience and sustain their interest if you don’t know them intimately — their needs, wants, loves, hates and aspirations. Every business has a minimum of two and up to twenty different customer Purchaser Personas which provide the critical insights and direction for how your brand can speak to your customers — winning their hearts and minds on their terms — so you can grow your business.

 

PPP-eProduct-Promise-Promo-800x700px

 

The mechanisms of polling, precincts and predicting are complicated. We leave that to the experts. Nonetheless, you’ll hear news commentary about politicians of all political persuasions “appealing to their base” and/or “broadening the base.”

 

As in branding, the articulation of mission, values, and promise are essential. Communication with target audiences to understand their likes and dislikes is the first step, however talking to the base over and over doesn’t bring in a single new vote. Brand expansion while maintaining brand loyalty with a core audience is the name of the game in politics as in retailing and other customer verticals.

Brand Messaging Cannot be Overrated

The importance of driving powerful brand impact is what Donald Trump might call “H-U-U-U-G-E” because connecting at a deep emotional level moves people strategically and emotionally. The intensity of the brand message is what makes it stand out; the authenticity of the brand message is what makes it stick.

 

How you communicate with your audience and what message you bring is what keeps audiences loyal and strengthens bonds. As with any branding strategy, placement, delivery, frequency and tone of voice matter. It’s so easy to turn people off with too much noise and overexposure.

 

In America, where the election process rolls out over two years and intensifies as election day draws nearer, this skill must be managed and sustained over weeks and months, just like a brand must do in the broader marketplace.

 

Donald-Trump

Image via donaldjtrump.com

 

Brand Storytelling Matters

It is critical to stay true to your brand’s DNA and not get lost, unglued, or disconnected. We’re conditioned that way. When a child asks you to read their favourite bedtime story, they’re anticipating the same story with the same ending.

Politicians are famous for the brand disaster known as a flip-flop on issues, and it can cost an election or tank sales. Whether in the political arena or in branding, there’s simply no room for inconsistent storytelling. It kills believability and trust.

 

 

The big why behind the brand story challenges us to build stories that promote something for the greater good. With vision, we can create and communicate a loveable brand, or a sustainable brand, or a socially responsible brand, or a caring, charitable brand…just like building a personality that people will vote for.

Sub-Branding Opportunities and Risks

Sometimes brands create sub-brands to serve expansion goals, as in Coors and Coors Light or American Express and the American Express Gold and Platinum Card. The risk is that sub-brands can detract from core brands, using precious time, energy and resources. Secondly, the sub-brand reputation reflects on its parent brand; the overall customer message can become diluted or compromised.

To minimise or eliminate risks, we recommend taking professional branding advice if you’re considering sub-branding to avoid costly mistakes. Planning your brand structures in the form of new or additional related or unrelated products or services, also known as brand architecture, is a critical part of the strategic planning and brand building process. We’ve seen this play out recently on the political world stage. Brand expansion must be taken seriously to protect core brand values. However, adding Alaska Governor Sarah Palin to John McCain’s 2008 ticket diluted the brand.

 

 

When Hillary Clinton undertook a six-month vice presidential vetting process, the selection was received quite differently to when Britain’s new Prime Minister Theresa May selected dropout candidate Boris Johnson as foreign secretary in an overnight surprise. The former London mayor’s brand image is reportedly lacking in the required decorum associated with such an important role according to other world leaders.

 

“My chances of being PM are about as good as the chances of finding Elvis on Mars, or my being reincarnated as an olive.” – Boris Johnson [1]

 

 

The Appeal of Disruptor Brands

What did brand managers learn from Bernie Sanders during the 14-month lead up to the Democratic Convention, when the challenger was the Millennials’ poster boy, a lovable white-haired grandfather, small-town Vermont Senator?

  • It takes time and resources — generally a year or so — for any challenger brand to successfully disrupt.

 

  • A clearly and passionately articulated brand vision should be communicated over and over again.

 

  • This candidate’s storytelling remained on message (since his youth), establishing strong authenticity, trust and delivering no surprises.

 

  • Bernie Sanders successfully reached a broad audience through brand activation and personal engagement. While pre-imposed deadlines brought his campaign to an end, the branding strategy was successful.

 

  • Watch what happens when a little bird lands on Bernie Sanders’ podium during a speech. The crowd goes crazy and the candidate turns the moment into an articulation of his vision, “No more wars.”

 

 

 

Consider these questions:

  • Is your brand vision well developed and clearly communicated?

 

  • Have you shared your brand vision with all stakeholders?

 

 

 

  • Is your brand story clearly articulated across multiple customer touchpoints?

 

  • Are you considering sub-branding as a strategy for brand expansion?

 

 

 

[1] http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/london-mayor-election/mayor-of-london/10909094/Boris-Johnsons-top-50-quotes.html

 

10 Branding Tips From Silicon Valley on How to Be a Successful Startup Brand

From Silicon Valley to Silicon Docks and Silicon Roundabout, the buzzwords “entrepreneur”,  “branding” and “startup” get bandied about quite a bit, so let’s take a look at their meanings. Dictionary definitions indicate that an entrepreneur is a person who initiates, organizes and manages a business and assumes its risk. A startup is the vehicle for doing so and branding is what makes your brand highly visible, different, memorable and much loved. Underlying the definition in common use today, is that an entrepreneur has a vision for a new brand, a startup that will disrupt a particular practice.

 

Entrepreneurship is “creative, disruptive innovation,” as notably coined by the early 20th century economist Joseph Schumpeter.

 

A century later, a newer definition, courtesy of Silicon Valley-based investor Reid Hoffman[1], is: “An entrepreneur is a person who jumps off a cliff and builds a plane on the way down.”

scaring-you-shitless Image via Gapingvoid, © Hugh MacLeod


Branding From the Beginning

Startup brands in our commercial midst are actually nothing new. In fact, branding has been central to the success of innovators from the beginning. For centuries before modern society’s computer chip lent Silicon Valley its moniker, startups have been an essential part of the economy, picking up steam — to coin a phrase — during the Industrial Revolution. In the Information Age, entrepreneurship accounted for 14 percent of all working-age Americans in 2015, some 27 million people, in the USA alone. [2]

Startup Brands Are Still Brands

Startup brands are brands, just like established ones, only less developed. And, a branding professional who has been down this road many times can provide all-important markers for you in trailblazing the way ahead for your new brand. You’ll want to avoid brand mistakes that will likely require a costly do-over in time. Our Personality Profile Performer™ Programme is designed to guide brand owners and managers to build a highly visible, different, memorable and much loved new brand from scratch.

 

PPP-eProduct-Promise-Promo-800x700px

 

 

From birth you need a memorable name, a mission statement, a brand promise, a standout brand personality and a strong brand strategy prior to a brand launch. No one will debate that creating a startup brand isn’t hard work. We’re here to help!

 

Whether it’s the first sewing machine, a craft beer, or a new messaging app, being a founder is all-consuming…and always starts small even when you are thinking big.

What Is and Is Not Your Brand

The adage, “Everything is your brand and your brand is everything,”[3] as it appears in the pages of the Harvard Business Review, is true enough. However, until and unless you have your brand’s core values and the building blocks of your brand foundation in place, it is premature to take the next steps.

 

Your logo is not your brand. Your clever new dot.com name is not your brand. Your website is not your brand. Your packaging is not your brand. These are components of your brand to reflect your purpose and value.

Also, your place of business is definitely not your brand. Even a billion dollar brand can start in somebody’s garage…and they certainly have:

  • Disney in 1923
  • Hewlett Packard in 1939
  • Apple in 1976
  • Amazon in 1994
  • Google in 1998

Essentials for Startup Brands and Branding

As an entrepreneur, YOU are the voice and visionary of your brand, you embody your brand and your passion shows. Seasoned Silicon Valley startup pros offer plenty of free advice for today’s entrepreneurs.

One of the key takeaways on perspective comes from Dave McClure[4], the straight-talking co-founder of 500Startups, a Silicon Valley startup accelerator and global investor. Here, McClure is describing the best way to make an elevator pitch for funding — yet the essence of his advice is spot-on for the strategic approach to building the foundation of a startup brand. He counsels:

      

“Here’s the secret: Pitch the problem, not the solution.”

 

“Just tell me the problem FIRST, not the SOLUTION. The reason is, I may not be able to understand what your solution does, but if you connect emotionally with me on what the problem is — and hopefully I also have the problem, or know someone who does — then I’ll give you PERMISSION to tell me more about how you’re going to solve the problem.”

 

Ten Essential Startup Branding Tips

Here we take a look at 10 essential startup branding tips with comments from a dozen or so outstanding innovators and advisors from the Silicon Valley dot.com frontier.

  • Amazon founder Jeff Bezos
  • Lynda co-founder Lynda Weinman
  • Linkedin co-founder Reid Hoffman
  • Microsoft founder Bill Gates
  • YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki
  • Apple founder Steve Jobs
  • Media personality Oprah Winfrey
  • Intuit co-founder Scott D. Cook
  • Venture capitalist Matt Turck
  • High tech investor Ben Horowitz
  • Hewlett Packard CEO Meg Whitman
  • Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg
  • Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg
  • SpaceX and Tesla founder Elon Musk
  • Winner of Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur 2015 and “Best Start-up Award” at Google’s Dublin HQ, 24-year-old James Foody, now San Francisco-based

 

Tip #1: Building Your Brand

 

“You don’t know what you don’t know.” – Oprah Winfrey at a 2014 Stanford University Graduate School of Business interview.[5]

 

Don’t try this alone. Silicon Valley wisdom counsels that even a genius cannot create a successful startup brand alone. No single person can possess all the required skills and have all the tools in their shed. Consider co-founders and advisors to move your business and branding strategy forward in the right direction. Remember…the “Fifth Beatle” for the Fab Four was their manager.

 

“My model for business is The Beatles. They were four guys who kept each other’s kind of negative tendencies in check. They balanced each other, and the total was greater than the sum of the parts. That’s how I see business: Great things in business are never done by one person, they’re done by a team of people.” – Steve Jobs

 

 

TechCrunch, a San Francisco, Silicon Valley media platform, says mentors are the secret weapons for a successful startup brand.[6] Their study shows that “mentors who had already achieved success in the tech industry were able to help younger tech startups outperform their peers by a factor of three.”

Broadlake, in Dublin, models their whole philosophy on a very hands-on approach as both advisors, mentors and investors who invest their time and capital to help entrepreneurs succeed.

 

“There’s always new challenges and I think with new challenges we gotta switch on, we gotta engage, we gotta work with these teams and try and achieve often for what these ambitious growing companies are looking to do, which is ground breaking stuff.” – Pete Smyth, Broadlake

 

Broadlake-Dublin-Entrepreneurs-Investors-600px

Image via Broadlake

 

“Everyone needs a coach. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a basketball player, a tennis player, a gymnast, or a bridge player.” – Bill Gates

 

Bill-Gates-at-Stanford

Image via Stanford University

 

 

Tip #2: A Brand is Not a Logo

Brands are not solely visual. Your new brand is about how you make people think and feel about your product or service. The most common misperception out there among startups is from those who think their brand is about their logo and not much else! CEOs, owners, partners, investors and founders should not make this mistake…nor should designers.

 

“Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.” – Jeff Bezos

 

Jeff-Bezos-Amazon

Image via Slideshare

A side note: When Marissa Mayer was appointed new CEO of a struggling Yahoo in 2013, a new logo was among the first tasks undertaken by an internal committee. Meantime, email customers were unhappy with their service.

 

Yahoo-Logos-Old-and-New

Image via Naldz Graphics

 

Lesson: When Yahoo skipped the brand audit they ended up with a deep customer disconnect that was never regained. [7]

 

 

The Yahoo backstory to date:

Yahoo-$-History

Image via Twitter

 

Tip #3: Build Brand Trust

As a founder, you are the embodiment of your brand both internally and externally. From the moment you interact with your first core users, trust is critical. Your company may grow, but brand trust is a constant.

 

“Google is a consumer company and our success is directly linked to our users trusting us.” – Susan Wojcicki

 

And when you hire, make sure you hire the right people to personify the brand in its infancy. It is absolutely critical that your brand is represented properly all the time.

 

James-Foody-Ayda

Image via Twitter

 

“If someone likes you they will listen to you. If someone trusts you they will do business with you.” – James Foody, Ayda

 

Ayda-James-Foody

Image via Ayda

 

 

Tip #4: Identify Brand Need

When Lynda Weinman started teaching web design in 1993, she went in search of a textbook. All the books she found were too technical for beginners. (You can probably see where this story will lead.)

 

“I remember thinking maybe this book doesn’t exist yet. I went home from the bookstore and wrote the book proposal.” – Lynda Weinman

 

It was early days on the internet in 1995 when Lynda then got the idea to move her reference materials online and create a teaching course around them. Two decades later, Weinman had earned the nickname, “Mother of the Internet.”[8]

 

In the spring of 2015, Lynda Weinman sold her company, Lynda.com, to LinkedIn for $1.5 billion. The new owner, the world’s premier business-oriented social networking service, was seven years away from its own founding when the brand Lynda.com was created.

 

 

Tip #5: Become a Brand Guru

Once you’ve identified a passion, become an expert in whatever it is. Tell your story well. In the brand’s early days, you need anecdotes, not raw data. Be authentic, be enthusiastic, be clued up and know your stuff. Your brand promise must be frequently voiced, relatable, and completely transparent.

 

“Whether you are interacting with customers, fundraising or recruiting, you are always selling and, and the best salespeople are master storytellers. Craft a compelling and genuine company story that resonates with your audience not just intellectually, but also emotionally.”   – Matt Turck, Venture Capitalist, FirstMark Capital

 

 

 

Tip #6: Determine Brand Positioning

 

“A brand is no longer what we tell the consumer it is — it is what consumers tell each other it is.” – Scott D. Cook

 

Your core customers are your sounding board — an important audience for a startup. Is your brand positioning clear? Customers want companies to listen to their opinions, so you’ll need feedback to guide you in shaping your brand position in the marketplace. Before you can concern yourself with traction and loyalty, you need to ensure that the brand resonates, fills a need, and has value. Get feedback at every iteration along the way to ensure you’re moving in the right direction for consumer wants and needs. Tweaks will be necessary.

 

“Another one of my favourite posters at Facebook declares in big red letters, “Done is better than perfect.” I have tried to embrace this motto and let go of unattainable standards. Aiming for perfection causes frustration at best and paralysis at worst.” –  Sheryl Sandberg

 

 

Tip #7: Communicate Your Brand

It can be difficult to properly communicate your startup vision to others. But, it’s critical that you do so effectively.

Keep lines of communication open constantly and force yourself to listen to critics. Learning how to manage people takes work. But if you don’t learn how to communicate, you risk destroying relationships with customers and employees.

 

“As a company grows, communication becomes its biggest challenge.” – Ben Horowitz

entrepreneurship-isn't-a-job

 Image via Gapingvoid, © Hugh MacLeod


Tip #8: Delight Your Customers

Bill Gates says the one word that best describes the startup mindset is optimism. Self-made multi-billionaire Warren Buffett says “At 85, I tap dance to work every day.”

 

Have fun and the pleasure of doing business with you will show right across your startup brand. Even if your brand is about heavily scientific based inter-planetary colonization, like SpaceX founder Elon Musk, let your good humour shine through.

 

“I would like to die on Mars, just not on impact.” – Elon Musk

 

 

 

 

 

“Fun is at the core of the way I like to do business and it has been key to everything I’ve done from the outset. More than any other element, fun is the secret of Virgin’s success.” – Richard Branson

 

 

 

Tip #9: Believe in Your Brand

Perseverance is the name of the game. Believe in your vision. Remember the lesson from a 30-year-old Steve Jobs when he got fired from the company he founded…it’s OK to fail. So be brave, take risks, learn from them, and don’t give up if you love what you do.

 

Passion will keep you going when you get hit in the head with a brick, which will only make success taste even sweeter.

 

Fact: A startup brand will experience setbacks.

“See criticism as free learning that makes you a better entrepreneur. Don’t be constrained or deflated by criticism, but do learn from it.” – James Foody

 

Tip #10: Nurture Your Brand

Once you’re certain your startup brand is is ready for launch, keep your vision focused on the moonshot…the thing that people may not think is possible could be within your reach. Listen to your inner GPS and let it guide you on the ride of your life.

 

“Picking what problem to go and solve is a much bigger and more important challenge than being able to solve the problem.” – Mark Zuckerberg

 

 

“When people use your brand name as a verb, that is remarkable.” – Meg Whitman

 

Ask Yourself…

  1. Are you developing a new brand to launch to market but you’re just not sure where to start to ensure a strong financial return? Our “Personality Profile Performer”™ course is perfect for you.
  2. Have you got an existing brand but it’s just not strong enough to make it to No.1 in the market? Talk to us about how we can guide you to build your brand recognition plan.
  3. Have you underestimated how difficult a startup brand really is? Or, perhaps you’re not dreaming big enough. We can help you with a branding strategy to ensure that you are properly positioned.
  4. Are you struggling with your brand story? Let us help you craft a compelling one in your brand’s own tone of voice.
  5. Does your brand identity need a boost? We can consult with you on everything from font to packaging design.
  6. Have you attempted a startup that missed its mark? We can help you revitalize and relaunch a product or service to get the result you’re looking for.

 

PPP-eProduct-Promise-Promo-800x700px

 

[1] https://www.linkedin.com/today/author/1213
[2] http://www.inc.com/leigh-buchanan/us-entrepreneurship-reaches-record-highs.html
[3] https://hbr.org/2011/06/a-logo-is-not-a-brand/
[4] https://www.linkedin.com/in/davemcclure
[5] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6DlrqeWrczs
[6] https://techcrunch.com/2015/03/22/mentors-are-the-secret-weapons-of-successful-startups
[7] http://www.inc.com/cody-steve/yahoo-logo-redesign-marissa-mayer.html
[8] http://bit.ly/2aj9GDW

Branding: Creativity without Strategic Rigour is a Waste of Budget

“Creativity is Intelligence Having Fun.” – Albert Einstein

 

2016 will be a year of convergence for brand strategies. As Joel Comm[1] put it, “there’s nothing more social than face-to-face engagement,” and this is the application strategy that brands need to focus on. They need to combine traditional marketing with the emerging. They need to be creative, smart, strategic, and more than anything disruptive. Look at what Amazon is doing. They changed the way the world shopped by pulling in customers online. Just when everyone got hooked, they are focusing on brick and mortar stores. Disruption, new methods and new forms of engagement is the life blood of successful brand strategies.

 

Why is that important? Because you have to constantly innovate and look at how you use branding more strategically and more creatively. It’s not just a logo or a design and its not just strategy and analytics either.

 

Instead of just a scientific or design endeavour it should be looked upon as a process that combines analytic and creative thinking. As Sun Tzu[2] had described in The Art of War, “Strategy is an Art; never a Science; it is the Art of the conscious mind in action.”

 

Brands need creative and artful strategy to be actionable. No strategy, traditional or digital can operate on its own in isolated silo. It needs to be creatively aligned and converged in a cohesive brand message, to offer a complete brand experience.

 

 

  Tweet Befoxterrier 600px

Image via www.storify.com

 

 

Strategy and creativity go hand in hand and this is exactly what Airbnb’s CMO Jonathan Mildenhall[3] emphasized at the panel discussion hosted by The Economist at 2015 Cannes Lions. As he and others in the panel pointed out, there is data and then there is the need to manage this data and extract the brand story hidden within.

 

 

  Tweet Geometry Global 600px

Image via www.storify.com

 

 

Mildenhall points out that strategic thinking does not have to kill creativity, though if abused it can smother all ingenuity. Equally, creativity without solid strategic thinking frequently fails to deliver the required commercial returns as well. Both are needed and must go hand-in-hand for optimum success. Businesses need to use the data creatively, not use it to stifle creativity and creativity needs to be underpinned by informed brand strategy.

 

One of the most common mistakes amongst SMEs is that they don’t employ strategic rigour, unlike larger or global brands, which sometimes squash creativity in favour of too much data analysis. It is imperative that creative talent and strategic thinking be merged seamlessly because one is incomplete without the other. In other words, strategic rigour is the essential foundation on which to build creativity.

 

Therefore, design should never be based on just subjective aesthetic preferences but driven by a well-developed brand strategy. This includes research and analytics together with developing the whole platform of the brand through brand profiling (vision, mission, values, purpose, promise, personality, archetype, story, tone-of-voice, purchaser personas, positioning) and so forth.

 

As Mildenhall said, when you can state the “non-obvious truth” as a great strategic insight, your brand has won. For you are now hitting on something that is there but has not been noticed or considered before. It takes creativity to get to this point but also means a walk among the data.

 

Branding sets the stage for clients’ expectations and creativity needs to be activated to bring that promise to life and deliver on it in a ways that’s relevant to the brand’s primary audience.

 

 

A salient fact to reflect on –

Your audience couldn’t care less if 73% of the world’s brands disappeared tomorrow – Havas Media

 

Yes, this is alarming but it’s true so now is your opportunity to ensure you’re not the brand that’s easily forgotten. Instead, develop a strategic foundation on which to build your brand now and into the future to ensure it’s different, distinctive and memorable with a purpose and personality your primary audience finds irresistible. Use data and digital strategy combined with brand profiling to inform and provide direction for your brand’s priorities. Use creativity to tell your story informed by data, and use this story to evolve your brand into something people want to talk about, share and refer.

 

As David C. Edelman[4] pointed out, “… today, consumers are promiscuous in their brand relationships…” The presence of increasing media options and social networks enable them to simultaneously connect with myriad brands and sift through them at will.

 

Businesses therefore, need to understand which media to use and how to leverage those channels appropriately to share their brand story. All the pieces need to come together in a highly informed and smart brand strategy which is interactive, dynamic and makes for a cohesive customer journey. It’s crucial to create a knowledgebase. It’s important to use the channels like Facebook and Google, if they’re appropriate to your product, service and primary audience, coupled with other marketing automation players.

 

Before you develop your brand strategy here are some brand facts to keep in mind:[5]

  • 45% of a brand’s image can be attributed to what it says and how it says it

Your brand is your promise

 

  • 54% of people don’t trust brands

Much of this distrust comes from broken promises and brand not delivering on customer expectations

 

  • There are 2.1 million negative social mentions about brands in the U.S. alone, every single day

Monitoring, managing and controlling your brand message and reputation is essential

 

  • 48% of Americans expect brands to know them and help them discover new products or services that fit their needs

Customers expect your brand to provide them personalized solutions

 

  • 72% of marketers think branded content is more effective than advertising in a magazine; 69% say it is superior to direct mail and PR

Branded content is an effective way to educate potential clients while establishing your authority in your industry. Build trust with branded content

 

  • 80% of customers said “authenticity of content” is the most influential factor in their decision to become a follower of a brand

Focus on creating authentic content that gives value and reflects the values of your brand without the hard sales push, think pull more than push in your communications

 

  • 60% of US millennials expect consistent experiences when dealing with brands online, in-store, or by phone

A consistent brand is essential. Humans by nature crave consistency. Carefully monitor all aspects of your brand touch points and communications to ensure your audience has a consistent experience

 

  • Colour increases brand recognition by up to 80%

As a professional branding expert and international speaker this colour statistic is one that never fails to surprise audiences or branding master-class participants whenever I mention it. It also underpins why colour psychology is so important, should never be underrated or deployed because of personal preferences.

 

Colour needs to be leveraged both strategically and creatively, and every brand needs a properly developed colour palette which expresses the brand’s personality appropriately, suits context and cultural preferences while also meeting the needs of its primary audience.

 

It might be worth reflecting on these statistics in the context of how does your business and brand measure up when compared against them? Would a brand audit health check be in order?

 

Creativity and data analysis are no longer diametrically opposed tools, operating in disconnected silos. Data and creative teams need to work within a cohesive framework because if one doesn’t inform the other, the entire brand building strategy not only remains incomplete but runs the risk of failing.

 

 

Case Study #1 – Connecting Strategy with Brand Performance – Lexus[6]

 

The latest Lexus campaign is an eye-opener. In order to sell a new 467-horsepower, high-performance vehicle it has eschewed conventional rhetoric and has instead created a branded game.

 

 

 

 

 

Called “GS F the Bracket”, this has been developed from the ground up in collaboration with Yahoo Sports. The rollout of the new luxury sports sedan will complement Lexus’ sponsorship of Yahoo’s fantasy sports bracket and the NCAA men’s college basketball tournament. Once registered, users get to pick the player match-ups who they predict will most quickly reach a combined 60 points for a chance to win a “GS F-inspired vacation.”

 

 

 Gs F Bracket 600px

Image via www.gsfthebracket.com

 

 

The campaign blends in Lexus’ branding strategies with its performance by targeting two very different audiences. The first is the affluent group who can afford to spend $80,000 on a new vehicle. The second is the group of younger prospects who are aspiring to buy their dream Lexus car one day.

 

Working in tandem with Oracle Marketing Cloud’s data management platform, the automobile giant has invested in an addressable data strategy to optimize its performance based on where the customer is in the Lexus life cycle. So while television is still an important medium for them, they are applying email and transactional data to manage and affect customer mindsets. This is exactly what Airbnb CMO talked about when he stressed on the important of creativity and strategy.

   

Lesson Learned:

A large marketing budget and a great strategy team will be of no use if the brand campaign lacks innovation. A creative thought process that has correctly analyzed how to engage the customer and generate organic demand will have stronger results leading to optimal sales. 

 

So how should a business engage brand profiling and brand strategy coupled with creative inputs effectively? At the very least you need to have absolute clarity over what your brand stands for, its purpose, what makes it different to your competitors, its personality and the needs it fulfills for your ideal audience together with fully developed purchaser personas for each of your different customer types.

 

Your brand is not just who you are but also what others perceive you to be. As Jeff Bezos so succinctly put it, “Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room”.

 

As experts[7] have pointed out in the HBR – Bringing Science to the Art of Strategy, managers who do not reconcile creative with realistic strategies are doomed to weigh the futile rigour of ordinary strategic planning. “The key is to recognize that conventional strategic planning is not entirely scientific…… also integral to the scientific method are the creation of novel hypotheses and the careful generation of custom-tailored tests of those hypotheses—two elements that conventional strategic planning typically lacks.” What this essentially means is that modern strategic planning can only be successful when scientific is combined with artistic.

 

Creativity and strategy when combined to tap into human emotions, lies at the root of successful branding. There is a growing debate on whether advertising and marketing automation stifles this creativity. When smart brand strategies are applied, marketing automation can actually provide brands with immense opportunity to be proactive instead of reactive. They offer message immediacy and pave the way for data to further fuel branding campaigns. Strategic rigour and application of data allows you to see what’s working and what’s not. This feedback can then be used to feed back into the creative process.

 

The tools of communications have to be chosen wisely, not just for wider brand creation but to engage human emotions creatively. What you communicate visually and verbally, and the various distribution channels chosen, underpin the foundations of strategically driven branding. All these are the what, where, when and to whom you plan on communicating to.

 

 

Case Study #2 – Global vs Local – Airbnb[8]

 

It is important to create a core global brand strategy. But it is even more important to allow localised ideas more room to scale within the company, in order to be sensitive to different cultural nuances. This is often more difficult for bigger companies because institutional friction and the politics of business often prevents the culturally nuanced to work or build diversity into teams. However, it’s a huge opportunity for the more agile and flexible smaller business.

 

Social media and the rise of crowd culture have broken through geographical barriers and brings together all communities that were once geographically isolated, thereby greatly increasing collaboration. Airbnb’s innovative use of social media, both in terms of promotion and content, has been phenomenal is driving viral leads.

 

 

 Airbnb 600px

Image via http://blog.tortugabackpacks.com

 

 

They have fused global experience with direct and substantial local sub-cultural influences. You can find ways to travel free or with minimum outlay and plan your vacation, stories and blogs about the places you are searching, see why Hollywood stars like Gwyneth Paltrow and Beyoncé[9] use Airbnb and post it on their social media page, and find easy ways to connect with the service whenever you are ready to book your flight and hotel.

   

Lesson Learned:

Progressive means blending cultural innovation with early adopter markets. This is an example of how businesses can combine creative with strategic rigour and reach out to millions of global customers simultaneously.

 

How can smaller businesses achieve an edge?

 

Be creative when you strategize your brand message – right at the onset of your brand profiling process. Your brand vision and goals should be fully aligned with your business objectives. It should express your brand personality and be positioned in a way that enables you to stand out effectively while also appearing irresistible to your potential customers. Brand profiling and positioning are the tools and systems that enable you to differentiate your offering from your competitors and rise above the generic confusion and noise.

 

Consider what you deliver and how you can fulfill that promise in a way that reinforces your differences and distinctions while also making your brand more attractive, referable and memorable to your ideal customer. Build your brand promise around that delivery. It tells your customers what they can expect from your products or services and why your brand matters more to them.

 

How can smaller businesses balance the need for brand strategy underpinned by creativity?

 

According to Paris-based branding consultant Bolanile Maté[10], applying smart strategies for example, like heritage and provenance positioning can work extremely well. Though she used Hermès as an example, she also pointed out how these more traditional concepts can capture the imagination of more modern audience too. Its all in the positioning and how you share you’re authentic brand story.

 

Conventional branding tools have stressed on building brand awareness through repetitive push marketing strategies. Whether it is a print advert or an electronic one, the focus has been on taking the product and placing it in front of the customer, telling them what’s out there, where to find it, what to do and how to use it.

 

While this has its place in the marketing process, the way this message is delivered has changed. Brand strategy needs to utilize a fully integrated process combining both social and media channels, where relevant, to raise awareness and generate demand. In the age of internet marketing it’s more effective to attract this organic interest with inbound marketing rather than the more traditional push marketing model, to encourage customers to seek out the product, service or company on their own terms. And this is very doable for all smaller businesses and brand owners.

 

Traditionally, big companies introducing new products into the market use the traditional push marketing strategies when their products are new and unfamiliar.[11] However the smarter ones are utilizing more creative routes combined with well-developed brand strategies. They’re utilizing multiple touch-points and media channels to generate more viral and word-of-mouth brand messaging, all of which smaller businesses can do very flexibly too, on modest resources.

 

 

Case Study #3 – Using Familial Roots as a Strategic Tool – cHarissa [12]

 

This company is a great example of how they blended conventional and new media to make themselves more familiar with their target audience. More importantly, how they strategically used their familial spices to create taste and flavours in a brand that people love.

 

 

 

 

 

Octogenarians Earl Fultz and his wife, Gloria Elmaleh of New York started their Moroccan sauces and spices business, “cHarissa” when most people are happily retired. For them the strategy for success was provenance and familiarity – hers with the spices of her familial roots and in his case the food industry.

 

 

 Charissa Range 600px

Image via http://www.charissaspice.com

 

 

They used their prior knowledge as a resource but did not stop there. They went on to hire smart people, the ones who knew how modern marketing worked to build a brand that skillfully expresses its personality and touches its audiences with strong emotional resonance, combined with experience and endurance. They’ve used traditional advertising but the real strength of their brand lies in the word-of-mouth and social marketing coupled with innovative promotions. For example, Earl’s presence as a guest chef led to cHarissa being served at the Revolving Restaurant on top of the World Trade Centre.

 

That is the power of creativity underpinned by strategy.

  

Lesson Learned:

It’s very accessible for SMEs and new businesses to integrate conventional and newer media to share their brand message, generate demand for their products and services and grow their brand as a viral phenomenon.

 

 

Case Study #4 – Using Creative Social Interactions to Build a Sustainable Brand – Herschel [13]

 

Vancouver based travel goods and accessories business Herschel Supply Co. used social media not only to improve customer service but also to build memorable impressions through well-thought out and consistent branding strategies. They’ve been very smart about analytics and using this information to leverage hot trends and create proactive customer support.

 

Using smart business tools like Hootsuite they’ve been able to achieve a 20% lift in customer service satisfaction rate, to serve their customers more effectively and on a more personal level. They’ve also gained about 60% increase in their overall positive brand sentiment.

 

The result – they have become quite synonymous with modern travel fashion – and their followers comprise of the fashion inspired, tech savvy globetrotters.

 

 

 

  

  

Lesson Learned:

The most effective way for SME businesses to get a strong footing in the competitive global market is not to worry about big budget media spending. Instead implement clever social strategies which combine traditional and social platforms to creatively engage your audience with campaigns using creativity underpinned by strategy and strong analytics.

 

Key Learnings:

  • In order to be intriguing and successful every brand needs a creative strategy
  • Creativity without strategic rigour is a waste of time and resources
  • Creative strategy determines pivotal marketing and advertising efforts
  • Analytics needs to merge with creative risks for unique breakthroughs
  • A creative branding strategy will help a brand standout and engage its primary audience
  • Creativity when based on strong analytical foundations yield robust results
  • A strong brand profile has to have an authentic brand story worth telling

 

 

Questions to consider:

 

• Are you employing strategic rigour with your creative endeavours?

 

• Have you fully defined your brand, what it stands for and what makes it different to your competitors so you can use this brand strategy to underpin your creative outputs?

  

Are you focusing too much on data analysis and consequently stifling your creative or worse still failing to develop your brand strategy with brand profiling and indulging your creative fantasies without any strategic basis?

 

• Is your brand strategy based on esoteric data or eclectic client expectations?

  

• Are you generating leads or creating active interest and demand for your brand?

 

• Before you indulge your creative inclinations in new brand collateral have you evaluated the most effective direction using brand strategy to inform your choices?

  

• Can you tell a good brand story out of your data?

 

 

You may also like:

 

Brand Profiling: How Brand Performance and Purpose are Inextricably Linked

 

Rebranding Strategy: Why Your Rebrand Must Embrace Storytelling  

 

Brand Promises: How to Craft, Articulate and Live Them for Brand Success

 

Brand Audits: 10 Things Successful Brand Owners and Managers Must Know  

      

Brand Revitalisation and Relaunch: The do’s and don’ts of doing it successfully!

 

Brand CSR: The Business Case for Successful Branding and Social Good

 

The Power of Disruptor Brands and Challenger Brands

 

[1] 10 Expert Marketing Predictions for 2016, http://www.inc.com/leonard-kim/10-expert-marketing-predictions-for-2016.html

[2] Sun Tzu, The Art of War

[3] [3] Jonathan Mildenhall, Marketing Week, https://www.marketingweek.com/2015/06/22/airbnb-creativity-without-strategic-rigour-is-a-waste-of-marketers-budget/ ,2015

[4] David C. Edelman, “Branding in the Digital Age: You’re Spending Your Money in All the Wrong Places,” https://hbr.org/2010/12/branding-in-the-digital-age-youre-spending-your-money-in-all-the-wrong-places Harvard Business Review, 2010

[5] Jeremy Durant, “15 Crazy Branding Stats You Need to Know,” https://www.bopdesign.com/bop-blog/2015/10/15-crazy-branding-stats/ BOP Design, San Diego, 2015,]

[6]  Kelly Liyakasa, “Branding And Performance Intersect For Lexus,” http://adexchanger.com/advertiser/branding-performance-intersect-lexus/ March 2016

[7] A.G. Lafley Roger L. Martin Jan W. Rivkin Nicolaj Siggelkow, “Bringing Science to the Art of Strategy”, https://hbr.org/2012/09/bringing-science-to-the-art-of-strategy/ar/1 Harvard Business Review, September 2012

[8] https://www.marketingweek.com/2015/06/22/airbnb-creativity-without-strategic-rigour-is-a-waste-of-marketers-budget/

[9] http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-3437631/Beyonce-shares-selfies-inside-10-000-night-luxury-rental-booked-San-Francisco.html

http://www.vogue.com/13396609/beyonce-gwyneth-airbnb-super-bowl-rentals-celebrities/

[10] Bolanile Maté, http://www.entrepreneur.com/video/271837

[11] David C. Edelman, “Branding in the Digital Age: You’re Spending Your Money in All the Wrong Places,” https://hbr.org/2010/12/branding-in-the-digital-age-youre-spending-your-money-in-all-the-wrong-places Harvard Business Review, 2010

[12] Carol Roth, March 2016 https://youtu.be/DjE3BOxqMKQ

http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/271867

[13] Kristina Cisnero, “3 Small Businesses That Found Social Media Success,” https://blog.hootsuite.com/small-business-social-media-success-stories/ JUNE 2014

  

  

The Power of Disruptor Brands and Challenger Brands

These days, it’s all about disruption. In tiny Davos, Switzerland, “The Fourth Industrial Revolution” was the central theme of the 2016 World Economic Forum, designed to engage thought leaders to prepare us for the “next big thing.”

The proposition is that we are on the cusp of a new era fundamentally changing the way we work and live. Vast technological changes brought on by digitalization are disrupting conventional business practices and social norms, states the economic forum founder, Professor Klaus Schwab, in his essay published by the Council on Foreign Affairs.[1]

      Quotes From World Economic Forum 2016

Image via www.weforum.org

Enter Innovator Brands

A 2015 survey by Brand Keys on behalf of Business Performance Innovation (BPI) Network indicates that household brand names are being replaced by innovative game changers, and they’re gaining respect with mainstream consumers. “Nimble startups compete with legacy enterprises,” say 98 percent of those asked and “the disruption is severe,” indicate 37 percent. Furthermore, there is a “distinct correlation” between perceived innovation and a company’s bottom line results, according to the study.[2]

Start Up Innovation Infographic 600px

Image via www.bpinetwork.org

Challenger Versus Disruptor Brands

The terms challenger brand and disruptor brand are not interchangeable. Challenger brands bring innovation, enhancements, new pricing, or other tweaks (diet soda, dishwasher tablets, boy and girl nappies) to an existing marketplace.

Disruptors enter a marketplace and completely set heads spinning. When eBay appeared, for example, it was difficult for many people to accept paying online in advance for an item from a stranger and simply trusting it would arrive in the post. When email gained traction, traditional mail service was rattled and companies were required to re-define legalities in their terms and conditions. And when Airbnb was introduced, the hotel industry was more than mildly shocked; cities are still attempting to define tax issues.

  Deliveroo Airbnb 600px

Image via www.preweek.com

A Shift to the Customer Interface

The battle for today’s customer is occurring in the digital interface between product and consumer. As Tom Goodwin, senior vice president of strategy and innovation at Havas Media, explains, “Uber, the world’s largest taxi company, owns no vehicles. Facebook, the world’s most popular media owner, creates no content. Alibaba, the most valuable retailer, has no inventory. And Airbnb, the world’s largest accommodation provider, owns no real estate. Something interesting is happening.”[3]

 Tech Company Hierarchy

Image via www.reddit.com

These companies fill a connector space between product and people. These brands are the jam in the sandwich between the customer and the business. Furthermore, Goodwin points out that this new breed of interface companies (Uber, YouTube, Airbnb, Snapchat, Twitter, WhatsApp, Facebook, Google) are the fastest-growing in history. All of them began as challenger brands.

 

What is a Challenger Brand?

From the original biblical tale, best-selling author Malcolm Gladwell borrows a title, “David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants,” reminding us that compelling storytelling has long been at the heart of a challenge. In brand marketing today, some famous challenges fall into the hero/underdog sort (Coke vs. Pepsi, Avis vs. Hertz; McDonalds vs. Burger King); others make into it a three-way contest, or even a Big Four fight (Tesco, ASDA, Sainsbury, Morrison’s).

Still other challenger brands enter a crowded category or endeavour to maintain challenger momentum once it starts to fade. Enter the game changers, disrupting the status quo by creating altogether new categories (Match.com, Uber, Airbnb), thus far a hallmark of 21st century disruptor brands.

In discussing the rise of the challenger brand, CMO of Adobe points out, “Essentially, the heart of a challenger brand is the passion, process, and tools they use to create and magnify customer advocacy.” Reflect on those overnight queues snaking around the Apple Store in anticipation of new product releases. “The heart of challenger brands’ success is their ability to turn emotion and affinity into a customer acquisition machine.”[4]

Purpose = Purchase = Profitability

    Apple Store Lines 600px

Image via Rob DiCaterino, Flickr CC2.0

Challenger brand experts Adam Morgan and Mark Holden wrote a book on the subject, “Overthrow: Ten Ways to Tell a Challenger Story,” (with all profits going to UNICEF). In it, they list 10 types that represent the challenger brand state-of-mind. These brief descriptions may help you evaluate and identify your own brand’s personality, purpose and positioning.

  • The Irreverent Maverick

Shock and awe counts more than playing by the rules. This challenger type is big on attitude and best have a big budget for flashy PR, interactive sales tactics and legal advisors. Think Red Bull.

  • The Missionary

The core message is critical for this brand which identifies a need to do something better. The authors suggest. “Think of Al-Jazeera looking to ‘redress the balance’ in media coverage of the Middle East.

  • The Next Generation

Daring to call out the market leader as being old fashioned, this challenger seeks to position itself as very much here and now, totally relevant to today’s cultural trends. Emirates Airline, Euro Star and GoPro are examples.

  • The Democratiser

Sharing great design, catwalk looks and labels is the function of this challenger brand. Often seen in retailing, the purpose is to challenge elitist brands. The right influencers are often part of the equation to deliver street cred. Think H&M.

  • The Real and Human Challenger

Using people as a company resource, this brand breathes life into a dead category, fires up consumers’ imaginations. In the UK, Innocent (little tasty drinks), are those guys who drive around in those cow camouflage vehicles or Hungry Grassy Vans.

  • The Enlightened Zagger

Less fashionable is fine for brands that swim against the tide and challenge conventional wisdom. A brand challenge from Camper shoes mixed it up by suggesting that we walk, rather than run.

  • The Visionary

Big, bold and beautiful is the vision — but never boring. A visionary challenge brings a higher purpose and an emotional connection to the brand, Lady Gaga comes to mind.

  • The Game Changer

An entry into a category that’s unlike anything consumers have seen before is a game changer. The designers think outside the box. Steve Jobs brought game changers to categories from personal computing to phones, cameras and music.

  • The People’s Champion

This brand’s founder/CEO may act as the people’s champion, suggesting the public suffers an inferior service or product from everyone else in a category. The people’s champion puts a friendly face to the shakeup, using humour like Virgin boss Sir Richard Branson.

  • The Feisty Underdog

Here’s the David versus Goliath story in all its storytelling glory. It’s us versus them in the style of Avis Car Rental which adopted the slogan “We try harder. We’re #2,” a unique tagline that garnered empathy during its 50-year run.

 

  

  

Examples of Successful Challenger Brands

What do eggless mayonnaise, furniture in a box, bagless vacuum cleaners and fashionable spectacles have in common with driverless electric cars and return rockets for colonizing Mars? From aspirational to mainstream and from ideation to manufacture, challenger brands can change the world. Once a brand does achieve commercial success, a new set of opportunities comes into play in order to stay fresh edgy, and relevant, maintaining a challenger brand mentality as a bigger brand player.

1. Hampton Creek

Josh Tetrick, founder of this plant-based food maker, believes that industrialized egg and meat production is unsustainable. Hamptons Creek’s leading product, Just Mayo, is an egg-free spread that’s about making foods with less water, land, and carbon emissions. This is a brand that proves the business case for CSR and social responsibility.

   Hampton Creek Just Mayo 600px

Image via www.hamptoncreek.com

Since 2011, Tetrick has attracted funding from 12 billionaire investors, including Bill Gates, and shot to the top of several lists of innovative companies shaping the future of food.[5] The Guardian reports that Silicon Valley investors are pouring “serious cash into ersatz animal products. Their goal is to transform the food system the same way Apple changed how we use phones, or Google changed the way we find information.”[6]

2. IKEA

With 373 stores in 47 countries, no one would call Ikea a small company. Yet, it was born as a challenger concept in the back woods of Sweden in the 1940s: inexpensive flat-packed furniture for self-assembly, sold via a catalogue and warehouse showroom.[7] By remaining functional, simple, and design-led, Ikea has managed a harmonious marriage built on durable pillars of inexpensive, yet decent quality. Partnering with UNICEF among three dozen other NGOs and IGOs, IKEA Foundation[8] is considered the world’s largest charitable foundation, with an estimated net worth of $36 billion.

 Ikea Unicef Soft Toy Thank You

Image via www.ikeafoundation.org

3. Warby Parker

Four business school grads asked: Why is eyewear so costly? With US $2,500 in seed money from their university, they founded Warby Parker[9] in 2010, shaking up the supply chain dominated by one company. The challenger brand designs and manufactures fashionable spectacles in-house and provides eyewear via its innovative e-commerce site. The Home Try-On program comes with a free no-questions-asked return policy at a fraction of the price. For every pair of eyeglasses that’s sold, Warby Parker donates the funds to donate one pair to charity, currently over one million pairs of glasses.[10] CSR or Corporate Social Responsibility sits at the heart of this very compelling brand. The company is currently valued at US $1.2 billion.

4. Dyson

A few years ago, nobody (except James Dyson) imagined a vacuum cleaner without a vacuum cleaner bag that could operate by centrifugal force. Dyson worked for five years experimenting on 5,179 prototypes before taking a product to the marketplace. With research and design at its core, Dyson machines now include hand dryers, lighting and air treatments that are available in 65 countries. More than 1,000 engineers continually work on inventions.[11] The James Dyson Foundation sponsors design engineering students with scholarships and awards in the UK, USA and Japan.[12]

 James Dyson Dyson School Of Design Engineering

Image via www.jamesdysonfoundation.co.uk

5. Tesla Motors

Inventor, engineer and investor, self-made billionaire Elon Musk has a stable of disruptive products across multiple industries. From artificial intelligence to solar power to reusable rockets for space exploration, Tesla Motors electric cars are Musk’s best-known challenger brand. His entire stable of companies exist to contribute to Musk’s overarching vision: protecting Earth and humankind via sustainable energy sources and reducing the risk of human extinction by becoming a multi-planetary species. “Really pay attention to negative feedback,” is one of this entrepreneur’s top tips. Next up? “I really want to go to Mars,” says Musk, “It’s a fixer-upper of a planet.”[13]

A View from the Challenger Brand Grave

No stranger to failure, Steve Jobs said in his 2005 Stanford University commencement speech, “You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”[14]

And for challenger brands which do reach their goal, they must innovate, innovate, innovate. Success has a great way of dulling the keen edge of ambition; challenger brands can reach a comfort zone of complacency and constant change is the only answer.

Questions to consider

• Are you clear on the differences between a challenger brand and the need for a rebranding?

  

• Is your brand focused on a well-defined purpose?

  

• Have you figured out what you’re challenging and crafted a story that explains why?

  

• Do you have a fresh, imaginative, and stimulating idea, product or service, that you’re now ready to develop using brand profiling which provides your roadmap for bringing it life — making it distinctive, different and memorable so your primary audience can’t resist it?

  

• Do you have the ambitious challenger brand mentality? Are you a risk-taker at heart?

  

• Does your challenger brand represent a positive value for consumers?

  

• Do you have the conviction that your brand is something that will leave the world better off? Are you ready to leave an amazing legacy that changes peoples’ lives, and makes them better forever?

 

 

You may also like:

   

Brand Profiling: How Brand Performance and Purpose are Inextricably Linked

 

Rebranding Strategy: Why Your Rebrand Must Embrace Storytelling  

 

The Profit Power of Cult Brands, Why and How to Create One

 

Brand Profiling: How to Use Emotion to Make Your Brand More Profitable

 

Brand Audits: 10 Things Successful Brand Owners and Managers Must Know  

 

Brand Revitalisation and Relaunch: The do’s and don’ts of doing it successfully!

 

Brand CSR: The Business Case for Successful Branding and Social Good

 

Co-Branding: 13 Tips for Growing Your Brand Through Strategic Partnerships

 

 

[1] https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/2015-12-12/fourth-industrial-revolution

[2] http://www.bpinetwork.org/thought-leadership/views-commentary/395/new_digital_disruptors_that_gratify_and_excite_consumers_eclipse_tech_brand_incumbents_in_innovation_rankings

[3] http://techcrunch.com/2015/03/03/in-the-age-of-disintermediation-the-battle-is-all-for-the-customer-interface/#.wp0rsdo:0sCd

[4] http://www.cmo.com/articles/2013/12/3/rise_of_the_challeng.html

[5] https://www.facebook.com/hamptoncreek/info/?tab=page_info

[6] https://www.theguardian.com/science/2014/feb/14/silicon-valley-hack-food-industry

[7] http://www.ikea.com/ms/en_GB/about_ikea/our_business_idea/index.html

[8] http://www.ikeafoundation.org

[9] https://www.warbyparker.com/history

[10] https://www.warbyparker.com/buy-a-pair-give-a-pair

[11] http://www.dyson.com/community/aboutdyson.aspx

[12] http://www.jamesdysonfoundation.com

[13] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gV6hP9wpMW8

[14] http://news.stanford.edu/news/2005/june15/jobs-061505.html