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Archive for the ‘Branding’ Category

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An Ode To Can

Was excited to see our Ode to Can on the inside cover of Dumbo Feather.


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Best Brands Outperform

Finally catching-up on some of the FTs that landed in the driveway this week. Interesting feature on branding and overall brand performance.

The challenge with charts like those below is they are used very liberally by marketing services providers to justify brand investment. It’s far more complex that the straight line between “good brands = more market value”. Many of the brands that outperform though invest little in traditional brand building and put their weight behind the fundamentals first – great customer service, amazing products and an experience that delights. You can call that good branding. But you can equally call that plain old fashioned good business.

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What’s Your Brand NPS

The week before last I had the opportunity to speak at the NPS Summit in Miami – Satmetrix’s conflab for NPS addicts and advocates. I was surprised how few brand marketers – or marketers were in the room. Brand NPS should be every marketers “one thing”.

As Aakers points out, getting to the NPS driver behind your brand enables a deeper understanding of what is driving the brand. There is no question we are in the middle of a shift in terms of what is valued. Aakers says – “the market seems to have turned to rewarding innovation that makes a positive difference in people’s lives and even leads to a “delight” experience.”

And the idea of correlating NPS/loyalty and engagement is extremely powerful.

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Aim Higher

Great article from the Financial Times…. They are right… marketing teams must aim higher…

… in a downturn the real difficulty lies simply in selling anything to world-weary customers who may be satisfied with good-enough but unexciting products.…Prof Kotler has chosen this moment of crisis to ask some big questions about what marketing actually does. “Is marketing the enemy of sustainability?” was one of them. For years the task for marketers was to persuade customers that the latest upgrade, the newer model, was a must-buy. But it is time to challenge that orthodoxy, he said.

In a resource-deprived world, businesses cannot hurl more and more product at customers, supported by extravagant marketing budgets. Prof Kotler recalled the message of a book published three years ago, Firms of Endearment, written by Rajendra Sisodia, David Wolfe and Jagdish Sheth.

The authors found that some of the most successful companies in fact spent much less on marketing than their weaker rivals. But they used the word-of-mouth effect of unpaid advocates – loyal customers – to boost their reputation.

… Another challenge for marketing is to assert itself at the heart of the company’s strategic thinking (an idea also suggested by London Business School’s Nirmalya Kumar in his book Marketing as Strategy). “If you have the right people in marketing it could become your engine for growth,” Prof Kotler told me. But while they might be quite creative on tactics, he added, not so many marketing professionals can do the strategic work.

So why not split the department in two? A larger, downstream marketing team working on current products, with a much smaller, strategic team looking at new markets and new ideas for the coming two to three years.

This could work – as long as the interests of customers do not fall between the cracks of organisational silos. As Harvard Business School’s Ranjay Gulati has shown, for all that businesses talk about being “customer-centric” (and marketing is supposed to represent “the voice of the customer”), many simply are not. “They look at customers only through the lens of existing products,” Prof Gulati says.

Right now marketing needs to aim high. That is what Prof Kotler is urging people to do. And he was happy to concede that, as so often, Peter Drucker was ahead of everyone on this topic, too. He even provided a handy mission statement. “The aim of marketing,” Drucker once said, “is to make selling unnecessary.”

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Starbucks 2.0

I’m a coffee fanatic. Anyone that calls for recommendations on New Zealand gets the A-List. And in the top 10 is any of the hot kiwi coffee houses – AllPress, Mecca, Atomic. There are too many to name.

In the US though, it’s much more of a hit or miss affair. That’s why Starbucks remains attractive. Ok, the coffee isn’t off the charts great. But it’s so much better than the alternatives. And as a loyal customer, Howard Schultz seems to be doing a better job of getting it back into shape.

Their efforts to innovate – some of which are driven by listening to customers – occasionally get hammered. Take their new 15th Ave Coffee & Tea. Call it healthy skepticism and cynicism. Or call it brand extremism. Really.

Why cant a corporation create a unique brand experience? “There’s no way a corporate coffee chain can create an authentic neighborhood coffeehouse experience” they say. Lets see. The idea they can’t is not more limiting than suggesting you need to be small do it.

Look at what Toyota did with Lexus. BMW with the mini. McDonalds with it’s coffee houses (invented in NZ). Honda with super light jets. Anheuser Busch with micro beers.

Ok – maybe those that regard themselves as “more authentically tuned” than the rest of us common folks will be repelled by these experiments. But for the mainstream they hold the potential to offer a refreshing and exciting alternative.

Often, attempts to improve the core of a business needs to start at the edge. In a new place. They shouldn’t be viewed as a diversion. One of the great things about achieving scale is the ability to innovate and experiment in ways a single proprietor business might not. And then to take that learning and use it to inform the core.

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