Monday, November 28, 2011

What Does Your Brand Stand For?

       Can you answer these simple questions about your Brand?

  •  What do you want your brand to be known for among your target audience? If you can own a specific word or benefit in consumers’ minds, you’ve hit the brand positioning jackpot.
  • What can you deliver that competitors cannot do as well or at all? This is your niche and the basis of a strong brand position.
  • Does your desired brand position match your overall company goals and vision? Confusion is a brand’s worst enemy.
  • Are your brand goals realistic? For example, attacking the market leader without sufficient funds to back up the effort is a recipe for failure.
  • Do you have the necessary funds to devote to developing your brand position? Brand positions aren’t owned overnight. It takes time and money to own a position in consumers’ minds, particularly if you’re entering an established market. You also need to consider the money needed to sustain your brand’s position once you successfully establish it.
  • Are you thinking long-term? Short-term goal setting is too short-sited for brand positioning development. You can support your brand position with short-term tactics, but a powerful brand position must be able to grow, expand, and extend well into the future.

Thanks to and Susan Gunelius

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Top 10 Branding Myths

This post is an edited reprint of a good perspective by Steve Tobak on concerning branding. To boil it down a brand is an image or perception of a company or product. As a result, it's a function of large number of factors, which is probably why there's so much confusion and, as you might expect, loads of myths. Here are Steve's top ten which I think are quite practical:

Myth #1: Naming and logos are expensive and worthless. Yes, some companies go way, way overboard on naming and logos, but in my experience, just as many, if not more, under-scope it and screw it up. Since you've got to have company and product names and there are a ridiculous number of pitfalls, it's a good idea to do it right, but that need not be expensive and it's certainly not worthless.

Myth #2: Big brand loyalty is dead. The Internet killed it. While it's true that the Internet is a great equalizer in many ways, in other ways, it's had the opposite effect. For example, Google isn't really a superior search engine to Bing, and yet Google is one of the most highly valued global brands, primarily because it's an internet verb. Apple has tremendous brand loyalty and value because it makes consistently great products. Big brand loyalty is still very much alive and well.

Myth #3: Branding only matters for consumer companies. No, no, and no. Most companies don't market to consumers, but to other businesses. Lots of companies are ingredient companies, meaning they're products or services are technologies, ingredients, or components in products sold to consumers. Regardless, if you've got customers and other stakeholders like shareholders and employees, your brand is important.

Myth #4: Personal branding is a big deal. Yes, personal branding exists, but it's sort of silly and trite. I'll tell you why. For big companies, branding is complex. For small businesses, it's straightforward. For a single individual, it's trivial. Be aware that everything you say and do and everything others say about you impacts your reputation. Try your best to manage it. That's pretty much it. That's not branding. It's common sense.

Myth #5: Branding is all about advertising. It never really was, since brand reputation is about the sum of all interaction with the company from all sorts of sources. But these days, old-school advertising has, to some extent, fragmented into product placement, SEO, interactive / online, etc. So branding is even less a strict function of advertising than it was before.

Myth #6: Acronyms are awesome. I don't know what it is with entrepreneurs and geeks in the high-tech industry, but they just love to adopt acronyms for their company names. Acronyms are terrible and to be avoided at all cost. Why? People can't remember them and there's no distinction. You have to spend a lot more dough for people to remember an acronym versus a name. Don't do acronyms unless you're IBM.

Myth #7: The more brands the merrier. Some companies have multiple company brands, product brands, service brands, technology brands, plus they do some co-branding, and they somehow think that makes sense. It's idiotic. Customers only have one brain and set of eyeballs each, so it's a zero sum game. Multiple brands split customer attention. If it's a market segmentation strategy, fine. Otherwise, less is more, unless you happen to be Procter & Gamble.

Myth #8: Viral brands need a grassroots following. Apple yes, Coke no. Snapple yes, Gatorade no. You can develop a breakout brand through grassroots word-of-mouth, mass marketing, or both. Which way to go depends on a lot of factors.

Myth #9: Social media changes everything. No, it changes some things, certainly not everything. Companies simply have to roll those real-time channels into their marketing processes and spending. Social media is a new channel with some new issues associated with it, that's all.

Myth #10: The branding department owns a company's brands. Yes, if you've got a big company, you've got a branding department. And while those folks do manage various aspects of the brand, in my opinion, every company's brand is or should be owned by its CEO. If there's a CMO or VP of marketing, she's the brand's co-owner. And whoever's got P&L responsibility for a product line owns the product brand.

Thursday, November 24, 2011


from one of our Founding Fathers.....

"It is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favors." --George Washington, Thanksgiving Proclamation, 1789

Monday, November 21, 2011

CMO COUNCIL - Fall 2011 Advisory Board Topics

Three topics relevant to all brand stewards were addressed by the board at last weeks Fall board meeting.

    Powering Performance on a Field Marketing Level through Localized Content,     
    Advertising, Promotions, Search Contacts + Cyber Community Connections

The new “Localize to Optimize Sales Channel Effectiveness” study by the CMO Council reveals 86 percent of marketers surveyed worldwide intend to look for ways to better modify, adapt and localize their marketing content, messaging and prospect engagement practices. Clearly, localized marketing is becoming a critical area of strategic focus and competitive advantage for brands.

    Review and Analysis of the Competitive Advantages, Costs, Concerns, and   
    Complexities of ICANN’s Transformational Move to Remake Internet Marketing, Search   
    and Navigation With New Internet Extensions for Brands, Generic Words and Geo- 

The CMO Council and its Digital Marketing Performance Institute are in the process of reviewing and analyzing the competitive advantages, costs, concerns, and complexities of ICANN’s transformational move to remake Internet marketing, search and navigation with new Internet extensions for brands, generic words and geo-destinations. The new TLD has far ranging implications from Business and marketing implications and costs, Brand protection threats and hijacking risks, Economics for companies with large brand portfolios, Consumer confusion and vulnerability to cyber subversion and Marketing, IT, legal and financial resource burn to mention a few.

     Leveraging Consumer-Inspired Content to Drive Brand Compatibility, Conversations,      
     Connections & Commerce

Social media’s greater share of marketing spend is justified by a bevy of new statistics that point to the influence and impact of social media on the consumer. According to research, over 50% of Facebook fans and Twitter followers say they are more likely to buy or recommend a specific brand or product than before they followed or liked that brand. And, customers who engage with a brand via social media believe they have a stronger connection to the brand and often feel better served and embraced. Research also indicates that customers are using social media to problem solve (43 percent), solicit feedback (41%), or are looking for new ways to interact with brand (37 percent). This wide-ranging discussion facilitated by Big Fuel will focus on how companies are defining their Social Brand Identities and taking inventive approaches to engaging segmented, global audiences through the Social Media Mosaic.

For more information and details on these topics check back or visit for white papers on each topic.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Strategy and leadership lessons from the scrape heap of once great brands

The following are six lessons about how leading brands ended up on the scrape heap of once great companies. 
 by Jeremy A. Kaplan of Fox News

These six business failures are good lessons for all of us who are responsible for crafting strategy.
1.    Wang Lesson: Know your market. And if that market is shifting, business needs to shift accordingly.
2.    Lotus Lesson: Beware of the smaller, more agile   company. But also beware of the big guy who'll steal your money and eat your lunch.
3.    Lesson Palm: Do mess with success. Without continued innovation, companies flounder.
4.    AOL Lesson: Looks can be deceiving. Despite shrinking in size over the years, AOL still operates one of the world's most popular websites and has millions of customers. The company earned $191.9 million from subscribers in the third quarter of 2011 -- 36 percent of total revenues.
5.    Kodak/Polaroid Lesson: Watch the trends. These are companies that failed to see an emerging market before it hit them over the head.
6.    US Robotics Lesson: Success doesn't always mean victory.

To see the entire article with additional background on each lesson by Jeremy A. Kaplan of Fox News please follow this link.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011 Launched

I am pleaded to announce that the Beta for was launched today. This new website will serve as a database and information source for my career to date and future activities associated with building and growing brands and profits. The website will also serve as a depository for my management philosophy and leadership style via career case studies, articles, interviews and testimonials.

I welcome your feedback and please visit my LinkedIn profile or join the conversation on Twitter as I plan to keep both fresh and relevant by sharing articles, blog posts and white papers that you may find helpful.

Friday, November 4, 2011

The 4 P's: Product, Price, Promotion & Place

 I was recently doing some research and I came across a Blog that suggested 3 of the 4 P's were dead. I agreed with the writer that product is critical as a company is its product first and foremost. I than offered the following support for the other 3 P's being alive and well.

They are as important today as they were when they were born. As with all academic discussions vs. real business realities you can find exceptions but the reality is that the fundamentals that the 4 P’s are based on is still solid as they were when conceived in 1960 by Jerome McCarthy. 

 One of my biggest frustrations is the hype and exaggeration of the impact of digital media and marketing in all channels…it’s simply not accurate. Yes it is a new and growing media but it is far for the silver bullet for all firms and is simply to early to know and in some cases may never be more than a fad for some businesses.
 Many brands especially low tech consumer durables industries are heavily dependent on the distribution channel for their marketing. In this example the 4 P’s are absolutely critical and all 4 must be addressed. It is clear that the company must have a good would be hard to debate this position! Price is critical as the consumer especially in low frequency of purchase categories (home improvement, auto's, etc) is evaluating price at the time of the purchase which is often on a few time in a lifetime. An in store promotion can impact that in the form of attention getting displays, packaging, value added incentives, sales person incentives, etc. Finally the place is critical to a brands image. Does the reseller project an image consistent with the brand and price, do they provide pre and post sales service, is it in a good location, are sales people trained an knowledgeable. 

 This is just one example of how all 4 of the P’s need to continue to be the foundation of any basic marketing education…fundamentals are becoming a lost art and skill and to many marketers are to quick to fall in love with the latest fad. Get the fundamentals right than you can experiment with new concepts.

What do GE, Baldwin Hardware, Brunswick, Coleman & Franke have in common?

They have benefited from my ability to craft a new strategy and business plan and get their organizations to rally around this new plan, rapidly reversing negative trends in sales and profit. This was accomplished in each case by:
 1.     Quickly analyzing company and competitors gaps in serving the customer
 2.     Building a plan to fill those gaps quickly and profitably
It always included:
1.     Reinvigorating product development
2.     Focusing the brand massage and marketing
3.   Building a Team and Culture to Win
This was combined with a focus and commitment to the customer through:
1.    Improved distribution strategy
2.   Customer service and supply chain excellence

If you are intrigued and believe this type of leadership could help your company please let me know...I would like to help!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


As a North American Board member I am pleased to share an abridged version of the CMO Council’s 2011 Marketing Outlook. You can find the complete report @

It’s been a long, tough road for marketing since the onset of global financial
upheaval in 2008. However, the state of marketing in 2011 is much more a
by product of an even longer path of transformation, as the role, mandate and
function of marketing has shifted, and the actual role of chief marketing officers
has changed, ushering in a new era for the function and office.

Key among the themes that will prove to be the hallmarks of the year: integration,
alignment and visibility. Marketers are looking to bind the individual tactical execution
elements that have come to represent a host of randomly selected activities into a fully
integrated multi-channel strategy around business goals that drive business forward.

While phrases like “campaign integration,” “multi-channel” or even “converged
channel” are more readily seeping into marketing conversations, through tough
times, marketers slipped backwards into an age of disconnected programs
and pilots, creating an uneven patchwork of executable tasks. Random Acts of
Marketing emerged as the fast-moving digital landscape forced many marketing
teams to deploy programs from fan pages to apps, only to realize that few, if any,
of those these points of engagement were connected.

Moving into 2011, several business and market forces are influencing marketing
budgets more than other factors. While 37 percent of respondents still feel the sting
of flat or tight budgets of years past, a growing number (24 percent) see a need
to improve digital media and online marketing effectiveness, likely in response to
increased spend and operational allocations made in that direction over the past
few years. Another high response on the list of budget influencers is the slower,
more complex selling cycle, which is increasing the need to better provision the
sales pipeline and to reach a more fragmented, difficult to reach market.

After supporting too many Random Acts of Marketing in past years that did not
effectively drive business forward, senior management’s most frequent mandate
among survey respondents was:
1.      Drive top-line growth and expand (or at least retain) market share.
Rounding out the top mandates from executive management are:
2.      Improved operational efficiency
3.      Advancing the go-to-market process.
Management’s interest in maintaining market share highlights the confusing
lack of “stress” among marketers over customer retention. In fact, of the top
five senior management mandates, two highlight the demand for marketers to
develop solid customer retention strategies to retain market share and minimize
churn. Perhaps more marketers should elevate retention on their priority lists.

To fulfill those major directives, marketers singled out several key operational
and organizational changes they plan to undertake in 2011.
  1. develop and measure the new Scial Media medium
  2. Ongoing effort to improve alignment and integration with sales.
  3. Expand field marketing operations and further develop the sales support role.

Regarding budget allocation, marketers intend to put their money behind those mandates:
  1. 50 percent will increase investments in new product and program launches (likely to spark new sales opportunities) 
  2. 44 percent will invest in lead generation and qualification initiatives
  3. 31 percent will invest in regional development.
  4. 39 percent intend to invest in retention and monetization strategies directed at existing customer groups.