Monthly Archives: July 2021

The Green Day Effect.


Green Day used to be one of the coolest bands in the world. They were on a mission. They were angry. Angsty. Hungry (literally and figuratively). And they thrashed out music from their bared souls. It changed a generation. Their art, their music, was easy for them.

Then they became millionaires. And lost their anger appetite. Mansions, Rolls Royce’s, having kids…can do that.

I’m working on a brand serving the small business market. They came from small. They were underdogs. Had chips on their shoulders. They lived small business main street. As such, they offered customers a familiarity and empathy few could offer. But then they started to grow. And grow. Scale became important. As did systematization, which savvy use of technology enabled.

My work is to help them grow while still maintain that small business appetite. It’s not a logo thing. It’s not a typography or tagline thing. It’s a brand strategy thing.   

Lee Clow or Jay Chiat once said about their ad agency Chiat Day (and I parapharase) “We’re trying to find out how big we can get before we suck.” It doesn’t have to be that way. But it takes lots of planning to fight off the Green Day Effect.




Brand Strategy Presentation.


When presenting brand strategy to a client, I typically start with a couple of quotes from industry leaders. Then I share the names of those interviewed during discovery.  Next, I share what the brand brief looks like in shell form before taking them through the completed brand brief.  I read the brief which plays out like a story. The big reveal is the brand claim and three proof plank array (that provide evidence for the claim). Organized evidence.

In closing, I share bullet points on brand claim Pros and Cons.  

I’m thinking about changing it up a bit though. I might lead with a verbal introduction explaining what makes their brand great. That “what makes the brand great” explanation will actually map to the three proof planks to be presented in the brief.  But it will do so conversationally, not presentationally. A foreshadow, if you will. Every parent wants to hear their baby in beautiful.

The heavy lifting of brand planning is finding the correct 3 proof planks. Selecting the values, from many, is the brand planner’s IP.  E pluribus threeum.  From many, three. Together, these planks are the values most proven to get consumers to commit to your product or service. A triumvirate.

Sharing with a client what makes the company or brand great at the beginning of the meeting can build trust, familiarity and set the table.




Brand Planks Explained.


My brand strategy framework presentation to prospects, contains an example of a strategy for a commercial maintenance company. An excellent company in a tough, price-driven category.

The three brand planks supporting the brand claim are: fast, fastidious and preemptive. Taken together, these three values – top customer care-abouts and brand good-ats – are drivers of business success. If customers believe this company is faster to resolve problems, pays more attention to cleaning and maintenance detail, and offers insights about potential problems before they occur, the company can charge more money and gain market share.

Here’s the problem. If the was to do an ad saying “we are fast.” It’s a comes off as a commodity claim. If they do an ad that says they provide quality cleaning, again commodity claim. And an ad talking about preemptive, well, it’s an unexpected value and needs explanation.

Let’s deal with Fast. This commodity claim can come with baggage. Fast sometimes implies sloppy. By paring fast with fastidious, we overcome sloppy. But to really seed the idea of fast with customers, we need to prove it. Productize it. Build a response mechanism into it so everyone knows the speed of delivery.  For instance, every customer calls to a service line generates a response in 15 minutes guaranteed. And for major issues, they guarantee a person on premise in 45 minutes. Guaranteed. Productized.     

Words are important. Fastidious is not quality. It’s ADD quality. That’s how this company has to hire. That’s how this company has to reward employees.  That’s how this company has to behave. And mostly, it does.  Yes, fastidious is a word, but it’s also a product and operational strategy. And as I said, it improves the take-away on fast?

Lastly, there is Preemptive.  This one’s the real kicker. Most commercial maintenance companies make money by completing tasks efficiently. To do so, they discourage employees from going beyond what they’re contractually obligated to do. My client does things differently; they keep their eyes open.  If they see a potential problem or anticipate a problem, they report it. This often solves issues before they cost the client money. A copywriter might spin the phrase “We treat your business like our business.” Don’t believe it. In the commercial maintenance space customers haven’t heard the word preemptive. It’s different language. And it can be operationalized. Maybe even productized. A history list of disasters avoided on the website maybe.

Take the three planks together, not individually, and you begin to see the power of the framework. When all three actively support the brand claim you have brand strategy.

To learn the brand claim that ties this company’s strategy together write Steve at WhatsTheIdea.