Branding | The Brainzooming Group - Part 3 – page 3
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I delivered a keynote on the importance of collaborative internal branding during the SMC3 2017 Connections conference.

The talk prompted several conversations about the distinctions between branding strategy and advertising. I surprised several attendees by discussing branding strategy as a fundamental element of business strategy for any organization.

When first visiting a branding agency years ago, I didn’t understand the distinction between what it and an advertising agency would do. They kept talking about the design of our facilities and employee behaviors, making me wonder why we were there. Those topics seemed far removed from what our marketing team could effectively improve and align in our company. My boss, the CMO, insisted we needed to take the lead on these important people and service elements of our operationally-driven business.

via Shutterstock

Over time, it became clear that we needed to lead the way because only the marketing team would approach these areas strategically. It was also clear that branding agency thought about them strategically while our advertising agency didn’t. That experience solidified for me why branding and advertising agencies were typically two different organizations.

3 Big Differences between Branding Strategy and Advertising

Thinking about the questions attendees asked after my talk and a career of working with some great branding people, here are several distinctions between branding strategy and advertising:

  • Branding relates to business strategy. Advertising relates to marketing strategy.
  • Branding determines the essentials of the customer experience and designs it. Advertising focuses on depicting the marketable aspects of the customer experience, communicating them to prospects and reinforcing them with current customers.
  • Branding incorporates communications plus people, product, and physical evidence. Advertising focuses on communications and promotional activities.

I could expand the comparisons, but the role branding plays in strategy, customer experience, and addressing a breadth of business variables sets up a solid distinction between branding strategy and advertising.  – Mike Brown

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A common fear about selecting a single target market or audience persona is that focusing on one market when making branding strategy decisions is risky. The fear is target marketing will cause a brand to miss stellar growth opportunities coming from other markets or audiences. That rationale suggests the best course to capitalize on a brand’s full market potential is to avoid targeting any markets or audiences and instead do what you do with every market or audience in mind.

I can understand why a brand owner may think that. Unless you pick a market or audience that is so narrow and a position so extreme that it is off-putting to everyone not targeted, however, it’s not likely to play out that way.

Why Target Marketing Won’t Cripple Your Branding Strategy

Here’s an example of how target marketing helps your branding strategy:

From the outside, one suspects Starbucks targets only a coffee drinking audience. Maybe there are multiple targets, but they all revolve around coffee drinkers. I haven’t had a cup of coffee since I was three years old, so I am clearly not in a Starbucks target market.

Since Starbucks doesn’t offer Diet Dr. Pepper (my preferred caffeine delivery vehicle), it is foregoing revenue from me and others not buying soft drinks. Yet even though I’m not a coffee drinker, that doesn’t mean, I am not a Starbucks customer. When traveling, I seek out the Starbucks brand for food. It’s a known brand, and its standard food items are nearly as ubiquitous as its retail presences. They have water, which I’m also buying when I travel. In the grand scheme of things, I’m guessing Starbucks doesn’t lose tremendous growth opportunities by not selling soft drinks since doing so would be off-brand.

Working with this example, here’s an alternative way to think about targeting markets and personas: Consider your strategic targeting moves as making strategic prioritization decisions for your brand.

Starbucks would be foolish to prioritize anything I personally wanted from the brand (get rid of the coffee smell, add soft drinks, have a food-only payment line to speed things up) since my preferences are way outside its target market. By prioritizing product development, brand experience, innovation, and everything else around its target markets, Starbucks maintains the strength of its brand. It is in a much better position to grow its presence thanks to picking a target market and prioritizing what it does based on choices the target audience expects and will reward.

If you have hesitated embracing a more focused marketing and messaging strategy focused around a target market, now is the time to get over it! – Mike Brown

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I’m in West Palm Beach, FL today speaking at the Connections 2017 conference sponsored by SMC3. The topic is about engaging your internal brand team and delivering on a great customer experience strategy.

This Brainzooming branding keynote is built around eight questions for senior executives to ask themselves about how they are preparing their teams to help shape brand strategy and deliver incredible experiences to customers. It starts by asking how easy it would be to walk past a $100 million idea in your organization because you just didn’t recognize it. My contention is that it’s easy to miss a $100 million idea in a big company because it is probably coming from somebody completely surprising and it doesn’t show up looking like a big idea. It may be a failed attempt. It may be a small idea that needs a lot of work. It may be what seems like a misguided attempt today that will only make sense once you see it from a different future perspective.

Along the way, the talk covers these other aspects of customer experience strategy:

I’m excited about the keynote, because it’s the first time back speaking in front of this big a group of transportation professionals for a few years. Having come from the transportation industry, and seeing so many people I knew and faces I recognized at the January 2017 SMC3 conference, I can’t wait to share these ideas with them.

In the meantime, if you’d like to grab a free copy of the diagnostic we’re offering to Connections 2017 attendees to assess their big strategy statements, you can do so for a limited time. – Mike Brown

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Create the Vision to Align and Engage Your Team!

Big strategy statements shaping your organization needn’t be complicated. They should use simple, understandable, and straightforward language to invite and excite your team to be part of the vision.

Our free “Big Strategy Statements” eBook lays out an approach to collaboratively develop smart, strategic directions that improve results!


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We say it so often, particularly during brand strategy workshops: a brand is more than a logo, a color, and a look. A brand encompasses the people, products, services, messages, promises, and reinforcing cues that create a complete customer experience strategy.

Against that backdrop, a properly-crafted branding strategy should do a variety of things that most standard, garden-variety strategies don’t have to do.

4 Customer Experience Strategy Questions Strong Branding Addresses

To determine whether your branding strategy is working properly and as hard for your brand as it should to shape your customer experience strategy, it’s a good idea to review it both in writing and in practice.

Your brand strategy should help your employees know:

These four considerations give you a quick way to figure out how your brand strategy stacks up.

What did you discover? Is it working hard enough to shape your customer experience strategy?

If not, contact us, and let’s talk about efficient ways to develop the ideas and modifications to strengthen your branding strategy and the experience you deliver to your customers every day. – Mike Brown

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We still come across many companies, especially in B2B, that do not incorporate a content marketing strategy to effectively reach potential customers.

The reasons they give for lagging in this area?

A content marketing strategy is not a priority for them. They doubt whether social-first content strategy will work for their companies, because they are different or have customer bases that do not care. They do not know where to start or how to sustain creating great content. Maybe they are wedded to how they have always done things, with business development people, brochures, and frequent pleading to generate referrals.

7 Signs to Invest in a Social-First Content Strategy for Your Brand

We assure them that a social-first content strategy works, even in B2B. We also offer these types of signs that it is time to invest in a content marketing strategy.

Do any of these issues sound familiar in your organization?

  • You are not generating enough leads, at least in part, because not enough people are coming to your website.
  • The don’t offer information relevant to your targets, business, and industry that match with how and what your potential customers want to discover.
  • Your organization has great stories about your people and what you do but only share these great stories inside your organization.
  • Onboarding new customers is a challenge because they lack current information about what getting started with you entails.
  • You are not continuing to learn about potential customers each time they interact with your brand online.
  • Potential customers see your competitors as doing a better job educating the market you serve.
  • You only use traditional marketing channels and media.

Let us ask again: how many of these issues apply to your organization right now?
Download Your FREE eBook! Boosting Your Brand with Social-First Content

If several of them are all too familiar, you owe it to your top and bottom lines to explore introducing a social-first content strategy as a high-impact way to build your brand. – Mike Brown

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Are your employees celebrities within your branding strategy activities?

No, I’m not asking whether your employees are movie stars, singers, or newly-celebrated personalities that tweet, buy, or glom their way into celebrity status.

I’m asking about whether you feature your employees within your branding strategy in ways that allow them to attract attention and accolades for how great it is to have them as part of your brand?

Employer Branding Strategy Stars

Talking with a B2B company about a day-long customer program, I suggested they invite employees to fill various roles at the event. These duties would give customers exposure to smart, strategic, and dynamic team members they might never typically know. It would create the opportunity to celebrate the great people at the brand. Incorporating these interactions in its branding strategy could strengthen relationships, open doors to new business possibilities, and reinforce customer perceptions that they have chosen the best service provider.

Want to guess the response to the idea?

“Great idea, but everybody is really busy. We can’t pull them away from their regular jobs for even a few hours.”

I understand that EVERYBODY is CRAZY busy. Busy is about doing what the company does. Busy is at the heart of selling and producing revenue and profit growth.

Yet brand building (via creating stronger relationships and perceptions) is integral to the company being able to sell more, do more, and make more money. And opportunities to foster customer relationships in ways that strengthen the brand outside of the day-to-day of doing business are typically rare. While it appears to be a great business decision to ensure everybody is in place to perform their daily tasks, this represents a poor branding strategy decision.

If the company thought about its employees as business celebrities, its priorities would likely differ. They would probably not hesitate to put their important customers in direct contact with their employee celebrities to get to know them better and bask in their glow.

Against that backdrop, let me ask the question again: Are your employees celebrities within your branding strategy activities?

And if you answer, no, COULD and SHOULD they be?  – Mike Brown

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I snapped this picture at Target the other evening because of the intriguing product branding ideas it suggests.

This is a ten-pack of 7.5 ounce cans of Diet Coke. Compare that to the typical Diet Coke configuration: twelve cans of 12 ounces. Doing the math, this carton has 75 ounces of Diet Coke vs. 144 ounces in the typical 12-by-12 arrangement we purchase like crazy at our house.

Just looking at the numbers, you can see people are receiving about 50% of the amount of Diet Coke they might expect if they rush into the store and grab a carton without paying attention.

That’s a big difference!

3 Product Branding Ideas to Beg, Borrow, and Steal

Suppose you are in a similar product branding situation. You need to reduce what your brand delivers, but still put sizzle into your product so consumers think it is an attractive option. How do you go about it? Try going to school on three producing branding ideas from Diet Coke, and look for where you can beg, borrow, and steal ideas!

Beg

Background: Smaller cans do not usually suggest a positive brand experience.

Diet Coke Strategy: Translating small to sip-sized. This takes advantage of alliteration and whimsy. And rather than seeking permission for the change, this branding strategy idea begs forgiveness later – if ever!

Ask: What’s the coolest way possible to describe the presto-chango we’re about to pull on our customers?

Borrow

Background: Mini Cooper has positive brand affinity. The brand has helped make small a good thing.

Diet Coke Strategy: Borrowing mini and using it in a maxi fashion across the entire side of the box.

Ask: What brand positively employs a typically negative attribute that our branding strategy can embrace and celebrate?

Steal

Background: On the carton, it says 7.5 ounce cans. The images show the traditional can and bottle, though.

Diet Coke Strategy: Stealing from the Coca-Cola brand halo to depict a traditional can (12 ounces) and the classic bottle (something bigger than 7.5 ounces). This creates a deliberate mismatch between what you see and what you buy.

Ask: What brand attributes from our higher value / more significant offers can we use to sell-in something less?

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From the Brainzooming Product Branding Lab

We haven’t tested this exercise for generating product branding ideas since it is brand new. If you beat us to putting it into practice, let us know how it works for you! – Mike Brown

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Mike Brown

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