Obs and Strats

    The Commodity Promise.

    claim and proof

    Sharing.

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    One of my clients is so good at what they do they take a “rising tide” approach to sharing their IP and tools. For free. This soooo goes against everything I was taught as a pup in the business, where “proprietary” and “patented” carried the day.  But the software and services worlds are a changing.  Look at what Satya Nadella has done with Microsoft, opening up much of the company and reaping massive rewards.

    I’ve been sharing my brand strategy framework for years. I’ve borrowed from some of the leading lights of the “sharing” age, even meme-ing “open source brand strategy.”

    The reality is, brand strategy requires doing something smart with all the data and discovery that goes into it. You can’t just pour the information into muffin cups and start baking.  You have to organize and prioritize your ingredients.  And that’s when a framework turns into strategy.

    I share my framework – the claim and proof array – but I’m not nervous it will hurt my business. Sharing is never a negative.

    Peace.

     

     

    Claim About a Brand Claim.

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    What’s The Idea?, a brand strategy consultancy, provides two key services: brand strategy and marketing plans.  Marketing plans are certainly more of a commodity. What makes ours different from your garden variety marketing plan is the brand idea and proof array are embedded.  In other words, the tactics are intrinsically tied to the brand care-abouts and good-ats.

    But the bread and butter, what I get most excited about, is the creation of the brand “claim.”  That’s what sets What’s The Idea? apart.  I’ve been told WTI brand claims offer a bit of poesy or poetry.  They are therefore more memorable. “Low cost provider. Best customer care. Most innovative.” These are not What’s The Idea? claims.  

    It’s made me wonder if one can tell a WTI claim apart from that of other brand strategy shops? What would a claim from an Interbrand or Landor look like next to mine? This is going to require a bit of research. I’ll take it as an action item and report back.

    Maybe then we’ll do a side-by-side comparison for shits and giggs.

    Peace.

     

    Brand Claim.

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    There are a number of words used in branding to depict the central idea of the strategy. Truth, promise and value proposition are a couple of favorites. The word I use is claim. Words matter, make no mistake, and in brand-speak the proper descriptor speak volumes.

    Claim is straightforward and begets proof. Claim without proof is bluster. (Or advertising.)

    The word proposition is much softer, nearly apologist.  We propose. Consider this.  It’s kinder and gentler but branding is about belief. Being versus promising.  Absolutism versus promissory-ism. 

    While claim is the critical brand strategy word, the proof planks (3 of them) are the content upon which belief is constructed.  Anyone can make a claim, few prove it.   

    If you are a small or mid-size business – or any business in fact – looking to improve your marketing effectiveness, ask yourself what claim are you making in the marketplace. Not what’s your vision, not what’s your voice, not what is your profitability…what is the claim about your product or service that makes it worthy of successful commerce?

    Peace.  

     

    Deeds and Proof.

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    There’s an old axiom often repeated by parents to children “Do as I say, not as I do.”  A picture comes to mind of my mother savoring a cocktail, perhaps post-cigaette, in a 1950s-60s bathing suit on the back of the Salt-Shaker, my dad’s first Chris Craft. You can almost smell the smoke and the salt air. As a youth I was counseled not to smoke or drink. But kids watch. Kids learn.

    Marketers are all about “Do as I say.” Brand planners focus on “Do as I do.”

    A new class of brand planners – let’s call them proof planners – understand this. They understand that people more strongly believe proof and deeds than narrative – which they associate with fiction.  Evidence is evidence. So a picture of a smiling, pretty face drinking a Kraft beer is not as impactful as long line of concert goers waiting for Kraft beer next to a Budweiser line with 1 person on it. Proof beats claim any time.

    Proof planners understand we are 50 years into the era of claim advertising and we’re totally inured to it. Claim sans proof doesn’t work.  Mine your proof, brand planners. And build stronger brands.

    Peace.

     

     

    My Brand Strategy Secret.

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    Clients pay me for two deliverables: brand strategy and marketing plans. I can’t do the latter without the former. It’s possible to pretend, even hide the brand strategy component, but without strategy the marketing planning is a little bit like paint-by-numbers.

    gem miningSo how do I approach brand strategy development?  I look for proof. How does a guy walk into a company and in a matter of days or week know a brand well enough to create a strategy that will operationalize marketing success? Proof. A hunt for proof.

    Proof of what, you ask? Ahhh, that’s the $64,000 question. At the beginning, it’s way too early to tell. Each brand presents a clean slate. As I trek through fact-finding, data, sales, consumer and business partner interviews, I come across lots and lots of claim-ish fluff. But when tangible proof rises up, it is easily noted. Proof may be found in behavior. In deeds, business decisions, investments. Product taste. Product experience. It’s everywhere. With enough proof arrayed and smartly clustered, the brand planner can begin to formulate the brand claim and key support planks. And that is the secret sauce of What’s The Idea?. Proof hunting.

    Rest in peace David Carr.