Sharing.

    Brand Claim.

    claim and proof

    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.      

     

    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.

     

     

    An Organizing Principle.

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    I came across a cool London ad firm yesterday by the name of Mr. President (Love the name.) In the About section of the website was a somewhat sprawling description of its brand craft, outlining 6 components:

    • Position: A strategic positioning for a brand which defines the business opportunity and informs the brand purpose.
    • Ethos: A unique brand story that defines its purpose and inspires its personality and behaviour.
    • Identity: A set of guidelines that demonstrate and define how the brand looks, talks and moves.
    • Comms: A campaign or moment that boldly defines the brand purpose.
    • Connectors: An extensive plan that defines how the brand should interact with the audience.
    • Measurement: A rigorous framework that defines and quantifies performance and unearths actionable insight.

    It’s comprehensive but also prescriptive. I’m sure it will work within the walls of Mr. President but not likely outside of the agency. And that’s what brand strategy is all about.  A framework that can be shared over time and place.

    I looked over the six, well thought-out elements and realized they are covered in What’s The Idea’s? Claim and Proof framework — with the possible exception of “identity.”  If we view purpose as claim then properly done all the behaviors mentioned can become proofs. So we are mostly in alignment, but in a cleaner more measurable way.

    A mentor of mine at McCann-Erickson once parried an AT&T client comment with “Campaigns are overrated.”  I riff on that with “Campaigns come and go a powerful brand idea is indelible.”

    Brand strategy is an organizing principle. Anchored to claim.

    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.  

     

    The Commodity Promise.

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    The brand promise or in my lexicon “claim” is often a very common promise. The common or commodity promise is a blight on the branding world. Let’s look at healthcare or hospitals as an example – a place where doctors do medical procedures.  Docs and hospitals often share the promise “making patients well.”  If you were to wrangle all the healthcare promises in the country, 90% will be the same.  A commodity promise.

    Getting past the commodity promise is hard work. And work not easily done by marketing staffers; it requires a specialist. A deep-digging brand planner.

    A big hospital in the northeast had a marketing director who fancied himself a creative person. He decided he wanted the hospital tagline to be (and I will paraphrase a bit) “Your wellness means the world.”  Say it enough times in radio and TV ads and people might just believe it. That’s adverting not branding.

    After having done some a little bit of discovery on the brand, I came up with a competing promise “Where every bed is precision.” It’s not a tagline, but a brand strategy.  With this as the claim, supported by three proof planks, the hospital would have had a brand strategy. See the difference? Not a commodity promise.

    Peace.