Dedicated to the care & feeding of growing brands.
The Coca-Cola company seems to be at an existential crossroads. As with a number of iconic 19th century companies, its legacy business model is in growing conflict with contemporary consumer realities. Like Kodak, that was forced to close its consumer photography business because it couldn’t muster the strategic and organizational wherewithal to pivot toward digital photography, there are a couple of profound consumer ‘sea changes’ occurring that challenge Coke’s traditional carbonated soft drink business, its brand, and potentially the company itself. A New York Times article from February 28, 2014 questions the company’s continued relevance and starts with the question, “Can this brand be saved?”
While the Coca-Cola brand has always positioned itself as a vehicle of happiness, much of the public conversation about it now is diametrically opposed to that. The current consensus is that its just not good for you and contributes to a variety of health problems. Child obesity is a growing concern in the United States, with the First Lady making it a signature issue. The former mayor of NYC tried to ban large cup fountain soft drink sales for health reasons. High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS), a key ingredient in many soft drinks, is seen as a huge part of the problem and has largely taken on a demonizing presence.
While health concerns mount, an equally damaging and seemingly unrelated consumer shift is also occurring. Young people - who are the key consumer…Continue
Posted by Michael B. Moore on March 5, 2014 at 10:30am
Scott Cook, the founder of Intuit, famously said,
“a brand is no longer what we tell consumers it is, it is what consumers tell each other it is”.
That statement, I think, accurately captures the spirit of the connected world we live in these days. It seems a prudent admonition to marketers to be mindful of the immense power of word-of-mouth marketing and social media. I’m just not sure it tells the whole story or is entirely accurate.
Even in a world increasingly dominated by social media, marketers strategically construct brands to maximize opportunity at the nexus of internal core competencies and external consumer needs. Well run brands not only deliver on their core promises, but in the best of cases, they actually even over deliver! When you hear about consumers camped out overnight to buy the latest iPhone, or willingly paying hundreds of dollars over retail price for the latest Air Jordan's, then you know those brands are executing brilliantly. In those instances, consumers are gladly "buying" (both literally and figuratively) everything that is being sold them in the way of products, marketing messages, lifestyle cues etc.
Looking at this even deeper, many consumers actually integrate aspects of brands they love into their very identities. Think about the sub-cultures developed around brands like Harley Davidson, Apple, Nike, Patagonia, etc. where consumers believe so deeply in their brands that they actually weave them into their daily lives. They not only "buy" everything the brands sell them,…Continue
Posted by Michael B. Moore on February 23, 2014 at 11:30am
If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes an ecosystem (of suppliers, consultants, and vendors) to grow a business. Whether you’re an entrepreneur or a Fortune 500 executive, you can’t be your best unless you can successfully marshal the talents and resources of outside service providers. Being a great client allows you to get the most out of your outside resources - whatever they may do for you.
Here are some practical tips, culled from a career on both the service and client side, on how to be a great client and therefore make the most of the relationship with your outside partners.
1 - Understand what you’re buying.
Many clients know they need help, but aren’t sure about the precise source or form that help should take. If you want to raise money, do you need a lawyer, an accountant, a banker, an angel, or a VC? If you want to build your brand, do you need a marketing consultant, an ad agency, a brand strategist, a designer, or a social media expert? Talk to colleagues, do some online research, and certainly ask firms you are interviewing to clarify what precisely they do - but by all means, know what you're getting into. Know what you are and aren’t buying.
2 - Provide 120% of the strategic direction asked for.
Any service provider can only do their best if they are given the relevant background required to do their…Continue
Posted by Michael B. Moore on February 12, 2014 at 10:22am
What I mean is that advertising is a subset of the much broader creative world of art. It is a commercial execution of art. It's art for a purpose; to sell stuff. The creativity behind advertising comes from the essence of art.
That said, art itself is - of course - not advertising. It is not constrained in purpose and function in the way that advertising is. It doesn’t have the purely business objective that advertising does.
While it may sound trite, this is a distinction that deserves more careful understanding.
Too much advertising comes from beautiful art but doesn't have the more strategic business elements that advertising must have to be effective.
Too many people think that advertising can work if you merely slap a logo on something entertaining.
Paint a compelling picture and then put a logo on it. That’s not effective advertising. The best advertising leverages the talent, tools, and spirit of art but focuses it in a way that produces business results.
Art is designed to move people.…
Posted by Michael B. Moore on February 5, 2014 at 3:30pm
The idea that brands should create emotional connections with their consumers has grown dramatically over the last 20 years. Most marketers now understand that emotions can be powerful drivers of consumer behavior. The stronger the emotional connection, the greater the consumer engagement. The greater the consumer engagement, the higher the financial rewards. That said, even with this growing awareness, the specific way that emotions manifest in marketing is still not universally clear.
Perhaps because the human brain has two lobes, it is commonly thought that it can somehow compartmentalize the things it experiences into two (metaphorical) sides, one rational and logical, and the other irrational and emotional. As the thinking goes, when one, say, ponders the thought “1+1=2”, that comes from the logical side. On the other hand, when one falls in love, that involves the emotional part of the brain. Some even believe in a Divided Brain theory, where decisions are a function of a veritable tug of war in the brain between logical and emotional sides. With respect, I think this is all bunk.
In thinking about human cognition, there is really no "logical/rational" side. 100% of our experience and thinking is driven, to one degree or another, by emotional factors.
Our eyes actually see the world upside down. Our brains process the signal from our optic nerve in a way that we can better understand it. …Continue
Posted by Michael B. Moore on January 31, 2014 at 11:00pm
However small your brand may currently be, whether you realize it or not, it has something profoundly in common with global mega-brands like Apple, Google, and Coca-Cola. At one time they were startups and growing brands just like yours!
At this point, you may not have much of a marketing budget, but you too can position your brand to be one of the best in the world. First, there are some key insights that you must become familiar with. You can start by reading Advertising Is A Lifestyle and The 6 Secrets of Strong Brands to get a sense of the approach and key success factors. Then, here’s how to start building a great brand with no budget.
1 - Be great at what you do.
Be head and shoulders above the competition so that, if nothing else, a buzz builds about the quality and the overall experience of using your product.
2 - Articulate what you sell in a way that makes it (even more) special.
Frame the conversation about your product in a way that has total integrity, but that accentuates the perception that there is something special and unique about it. (e.g. If you sell eggs, tell your consumers that they…Continue
Posted by Michael B. Moore on January 28, 2014 at 9:00pm
Relative to the enormous role that it plays, emotional branding is probably the least understood and discussed topic in business. If you compare it to "content marketing", "mobile marketing", or any of the current buzzwords, for example, understanding how to leverage emotion in branding is dramatically more consequential to consumer business!
Here’s a paragraph in an article that I saw recently:
While traditional consumer decision-making models are grounded in the theory of rational choices and are largely cognitive and sequential in nature. Emotional branding is irrational. Simply playing somber music against images of people struggling without a particular product can trigger an irrational connection by playing on a consumer’s sadness.
Most believe, as the writer above does, that emotions are somehow incompatible with rational thinking. I couldn't disagree more. …Continue
Posted by Michael B. Moore on January 12, 2014 at 6:30pm
There’s a lot of content around that seems to be sparked by a thoughtful book and 2010 TedX talk by Simon Sinek. Essentially, the gist of his argument is that people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. It acknowledges the enormous power of engaging consumers emotionally around the deeper "why" questions. Sinek created a model called 'The Golden Circle' and exhorts companies and leaders of all stripes to lead with the “why” of their business above anything else.
While I enthusiastically agree with the underlying point about leveraging the power of emotion, it’s clear that the best brands get that way by a dual focus on both the "what" and the "why".
Apple wouldn’t be Apple if it just had great, emotionally resonant advertising but mediocre product. Nike wouldn’t be Nike without both great athletic wear and powerful, emotionally rich advertising. While Sinek suggests that the magic is in the "why", in reality it’s got to be both for the "why" to have any integrity and relevance. Without the "what", the "why" is just a hollow promise that fails consumer expectations and diminishes the brand.
In a recent AdAge article on this topic, a Coca-Cola…Continue
Microsoft seems to be at an unusually critical inflection point now. What they do in choosing their next CEO will go a long way to determining what they will be in the future; even more than leadership changes at most companies.
Choosing a "manager" - like the Ford CEO they are considering; someone who knows how to run big companies - to me will indicate that they are pretty much done being an innovative technology leader - to the degree that they hang onto that patina now. It will mean that the Microsoft board is resigned to trying to simply sustain the existing income streams for as long as they can.
Choosing a 68 year old 'car guy' will represent an admission that Microsoft can't figure out a compelling place for itself in the internet world, despite the fact that they are largely responsible for creating the context that brought that world into existence.
Of course I don't have any inside information that would critically inform this decision, but if I were on the board, with this CEO hire, I imagine I'd be pushing to bring in a compelling vision. I'd be looking for someone who can envision the future and a meaningful role that Microsoft can play in it. Relatively speaking, big company execs who can run a huge bureaucracy are a dime a dozen. Yes, its a huge and complex job, but its an even bigger job to re-imagine Microsoft.…Continue
As a marketer, you've got to give every dollar you spend the greatest chance of having the biggest impact on sales and profitability. The only way to do that is by coming up with a plan that presents your brand in its best light, and then hammers home that message consistently. This is being 'on strategy'. While it may sound logical, you’d be surprised how many forget this.
Ensuring that all your marketing is ‘on strategy’ is critical for three primary reasons:
Integrity: having brand messages or experiences that are inconsistent is like a country music radio station playing rap. It just doesn't make sense and confuses consumers as to who you really are. Most examples are less obvious (perhaps a classic rock station playing grunge), but nonetheless have no choice but to negatively impact brand perception and sales.
Efficiency: If you've taken the time to thoughtfully develop the most persuasive argument about your brand, then you’ve just simply got to ensure that all consumer interaction must reinforce that message - from your core product/service, to the customer support experience, to advertising, to promotions, to your social media presence, to your pricing, to your packaging etc. Everything must communicate that same, optimal, message - in whatever form the interaction takes.…
Posted by Michael B. Moore on December 26, 2013 at 10:30am