There is much talk about branding. To me, some commentators seem to make it more complex than it needs to be or the discussion seems divorced from the realities of why customers actually buy things.
This post is to share my thoughts on creating great brands
Great brands offer products and services that customers want to buy, because great brands solve real problems that customers have. My approach to brand strategy is based on helping marketers first create things that customers want to buy and then market them to customers in a way that makes it easy for them to buy from you.
The more relevant and attractive your brand is to customers, the easier it will be to market it and attract more customers.
There are a number of seminal works that guide this approach and prove it is the most effective way to build a business and a brand.
Mike Harris – Iconic Brands (my business mentor) shows us how high performing businesses always have value propositions that are strong and sufficiently differentiated, communicated with sufficient power, completely and consistently delivered AND basic economics that work. The brand management task is to create that value proposition and build a plan the business is convinced will work.
Byron Sharp – How Brands Grow shows us that the biggest and most successful brands only get growth when they increase market penetration. Growth cannot arise by selling more stuff to the same number of customers (empirical fact). To grow you have to get more customers. This is because customers have repertoires of choices. The brand manager’s job is to put the brand in repertoire. Brand loyalty can be a misleading concept.
Peter Field and Les Benet in Marketing in the Era of Accountability and The Long and Short of It prove that building your reputation in the long term is more profitable than getting sales through short term promotion.
The Marketing Society UK – I worked with the society to create The Marketing Manifesto. This work demonstrates that delivering this is not just about creating the customer proposition and the marketing plan. It is about engaging the internal business in your mission and winning support for the plan from within the business. Without this the plan will fail. Successful marketing teams always focus on three different areas.
- Create and pursue a purpose – successful businesses have a purpose that goes beyond making more money. This purpose must include creating profitable sustainable growth. The brand is there to helps the organisation deliver this purpose.
- Championing customers – this means get your insight, shape the customer experience based on insight and find creative ways to engage customers and go beyond what they expect
- Mobilise the organisation – this means collaborate and communicate with colleagues, bring the voice of the customer into the boardroom and most importantly quantify and measure.
The 5 step EGL framework
A brand manager’s task is to build products and services customers want to buy and create a plan that the organisation is convinced will work (i.e. deliver profitable growth). There is a lot of theory talked about this but we bring it back to 5 questions.
PINPOINT – Who are your customers and what problem do they have that you can solve?
POSITION – How does your brand solve it better than others?
PERFECT – What is your story? How do you design a product to deliver this?
PROMOTE – How will customers find out about your brand and how do you make sure it is the right place so they can buy it when they need it?
PITCH – How do you convince customers, the board and the business this works for them?
EGL workshops introduce these ideas through case studies and then go on to provide a practical framework to apply them to your business. The workshop is a combination of lecture content, a 5 step framework and workshop session where teams create a plan for their team and their brands. This is grounded in evidence and what works as well ideas and imagination.