Monthly Archives: January 2021

First Sentences.


I don’t mean to pick on marketers and branders having a hard time articulating their business, but I do find it instructive to read copy designed to convey such.

One example is for a company named InMarket.

Here’s the first sentence from their About paragraph on LinkedIn:

InMarket is the leader in 360-degree consumer intelligence and real-time activation for thousands of major brands.

From their website About page, comes this first sentence and since it’s an About page I’ve included the second sentence:

At InMarket, being best-in-class means providing our customers with access to the most accurate and precise, permission-based, SDK-derived location data available today. It also means creating breakthrough experiences via hyper-relevant, timely messages in the moments that matter, providing transformational 360-degree measurement and delivering consumer intelligence that makes advertisers smarter with every interaction.

Here is the sentence from their Twitter bio: The leader in digital advertising for the physical world.

And lastly, here’s some marketing copy they lock up with the logo in some instances. Let’s call it an advertising line:

Connecting brands and consumers in the moments that matter.

Here’s the question. From any of these individual descriptions, do you know what InMarket Is or Does?  If you work really hard at it, when you add them all together, you may get a sense of their business.

The basis for proper branding is a clear Is-Does. What a company Is and what a company Does.

Strategy first. Copy second.


PS. If you would like a look at your first sentences in the form of a free promotion Brand Strategy Tarot Cards, write  (Promo supplies limited.)



A Thought On Corporate Culture.


Much in branding has been written about corporate culture. Most believe it to be a good thing. I would respectfully disagree.

A company does not need a culture.  In fact, it can be a detriment and lead to group think. Every organization needs outliers, obstructionists and contrarians; otherwise, it can become stale, even boring. Change is good and an overbearing culture may resist change. It may even keep good employees away. That said, what mustn’t be diluted are business objectives. And the brand strategy designed to meet those objectives. Of course, brand strategy (the organizing principle for product, experience and messaging) can change if the product or market changes, but it has been my observation that done right brand strategy can live on for decades.

As for corporate culture, it’s overrated. Our great country was built upon diversity: of thought, religion, culture and political background. Culture cannot be prescribed. It can and should grow organically and change. It must remain fluid. Don’t color by numbers.



Brand Planner’s Prayer


Things we remember.

We remember beauty.

We remember new.

We remember rich.

We remember melody.

We remember funny.

We remember nature.

We remember poetry.

We remember pain.

We remember educators.

We remember warmth.

We remember charity.

We remember happy.

We remember love.

We remember triumph.

These are the things we remember.

(I post this brand planners prayer once a year in January as a reminder.)

Offense Defense.


This is going to be a short post. 

Strategy is offense.

Using dashboard metrics to power your marketing is defense.




Brand Strategy Tarot Cards Offer.


When a younger man I did a good deal of volunteer archaeology. Enough to want to spell the word with an archaic “a.”  Sitting in the dirt outside the current wall of Fort Michilimackinac, it dawned on me that archaeology was a neat way to experience a town. Sifting through decades of their relics made one truly think about the people and times. A much different approach than reading history in a library. A more existential approach.

So it’s not a great leap that I look to relics and artifacts to help me understand brands in my current job. To that end, I’ve come up with a little gadget play I call Brand Strategy Tarot Cards. It’s a work in progress but one whose time has come.

As with much of my brand strategy discovery, it will start out with a plan then evolve it as the conversation does. As it now stands Brand Strategy Tarot Cards asks a marketing director or owner to bring 7 pieces of marketing content (artifacts) for evaluation. Pieces that tend to be seen by customer and prospects the most. Pieces of content that tell the brand story. These pieces I interpret, much like a tarot card reader, for message and implication.   

To keep the mystery high, I will not today share my list of content pieces but I will offer readers (on a limited basis) a free reading of their so-called cards, through the end of the month of January 2021.

Please write Help me bring this idea to life.






Persuasion Trumps Preference.


Last week I wrote about the three levels of brand strategy: Promise, Proof and Persuasion. Promise is easy, everybody understands a consumer promise. Proof is also quite understandable — it refers to any evidence that the promise is true. Tangible reasons to believe. Lastly, there is Persuasion. Persuasion by some reasoning could double as proof because it takes proof to persuade people, but does all proof persuade? Persuasion of a brand’s value is a good thing, however getting a consumer to buy may be quite another.

Not to introduce another P into the rubric, but there is a thing called preference. Many qualitative research studies gauge consumer preference. The thinking being that if one prefers a product, they will buy that product. And it is directionally so. But the real indicator of marketing and brand strength is purchase. Sales. Cha ching. (That’s the sound of a cash register opening for you young ‘uns.) Persuasion trumps preference. It brings a consumers closer to a sale. Persuasion is the goal of the marketer. 

My rigor of brand planning identifies the promise and the proofs, typically arrayed into 3 proof planks. My newly revised rigor will now highlight persuasions as well. Persuasions that take a consumer beyond preference to a committed purchase. But these persuasions also act as something else. A launching pad for creative teams. Persuasions can and should be the domain of creative people. They invigorate consumers. Remember the classic crazy glue ad with worker whose helmet is stuck to the wooden beam, suspending him above the ground? Persuasion.



Brand Love Part 2.


Yesterday I wrote about brand love…using the love of other people as metaphor in effective brand planning. But human beings love many things other than people. We love teams, institutions, organizations and, certainly, pets. I love The New York Times – which may be a combination of all of the above.

So when attempting to create love between a consumer and a brand, how might we use these other types of love to assist in planning?  In many cases, these other things we love don’t love us back. It’s unrequited love. The NY Mets don’t love me back. When my cat brushes up against my legs, he wants vittles.  Not so sure he loves me.

What must we do then to create consumer love of and for our products when the relationship is half duplex (one way)?

Well, we must remain familiar. Availability is a key to familiarity. We must remain consistent. Ergo, dependable. We must be helpful and positive. And it may seem obvious, but we must be likeable. Lastly, we need to provide a functional result. That is, the product’s role must physically or psychologically provide an effect.

This is how you enable love. These are qualities brands need to promote to build tight bonds with customers.




Brand Love.


I was thinking about love yesterday.  What an interesting topic. Love, as in , between two partners. Love that leads to marriage or life-long companionship. How does it begin? How does it end? How does it sustain?  Understanding how love works is an interesting analog for brand planning. Because when all is said and done – and is love ever done? – that’s what brand planning is all about. Creating a di-directional relationship between a product/service and a person.  If you love a brand, you are likely to purchase it.

So job one is plotting how love comes about. Words like attraction, interest, familiarity and desire come to mind.  But we know many people who are married or partnered up who say “When I first met Davie, I didn’t really like him.” So I guess first impressions aren’t always indicative of love. Conversely there are many “love at first sight” stories that start out well but don’t last. College anyone?

Looks or physical attractiveness isn’t what love is about. It may be a contributor initially, but it’s not foundational. And that’s what brand planners must concern themselves with. How to build a consistent visage and behavior pattern that allow love to occur and flourish.

I’m going to be looking into this notion over the next few months.

Stay tuned and please feel free to weigh in.  If my blog messaging app (Disqus) does not work please write



The 3 Ps…Levels of Brand Strategy.


First and foremost in brand strategy is the Promise.  I have also called it the claim.  I prefer claim because you can willfully break a promise, whereas a claim is a claim  not made to be broken. But let’s use Promise as it’s a nice branding word, both warm and fuzzy. A promise is bound by an objective. The right promise in branding is tied to a business winning value – and that value is either a brand good-at or customer care-about. Ideally, both. Coca-Cola’s brand promise is refreshment. Something the brand is good at and customers care about.

Proof, the second P, is something I write and talk about all the time. It is the evidence of the claim. Proof that a restaurant is good is a Michelin Star or a James Beard Award for the chef. Proof is what consumers tell other consumers to get them to believe recommendations. Proof organized into three planks is how you create memorable brand values and memorable brands.

And lastly, there is Persuasion. Persuasive delivery of the promise and proof is an accelerator to brand building. Often, this takes the shape of creative. Brilliant brand-building creative delivers the promise, with proof, in a emotional and rational envelope that sticks to the ribs and brain. Persuasion leads to action. There can be persuasive creative that doesn’t deliver promise or proof yet that is just advertising art. Good for the agency, bad for the business.  

Use all 3 Ps in your brand strategy and it will be hard to fail. This, of course, providing you have a good product. Someone once said the fastest way to kill a bad product is with good advertising. The fastest way to make good advertising is with the 3 Ps.

Peace. Or is that Ps.