What is the worst thing you can say about a person? That they have no personality. Who wants to spend time with someone who is so boring that they are described as having no personality? It’s better to be a jerk; at least you will be interesting. Having a personality is equally helpful to brands.
Not all brands have a personality, or at least don’t have a strong, distinctive personality. Those that do have a significant advantage in terms of standing out from the crowd, having a message and supporting a relationship with customers. Personality is an important dimension of brand equity because, like human personality, it is both differentiating and enduring. Once established it will provide benefits (or harm) over a long time horizon. Creating or supporting a personality should be part of the brand vision discussion.
The power of brand personality can be seen by conceptualizing three models of how personality impacts: …Continue reading
I’ve never been a very talented artist. Although I made attempts at sculpting, painting and photography, I realized early on my brain worked more operationally than it did creatively. So, imagine my excitement when I got the privilege of attending the inaugural TEDxRVA conference, where the the theme was ‘Create’.
Here I was, a strategy inclined person, diving head-first into the world of creativity. Armed with pen, paper and an open mind I was excited to learn some secrets that would help me become more creative. Like a soldier in the trenches, I would be able to report back to my right brained cohorts the formula that would allow us to all sit side by side and access our creative selves! I’d capture the creativity white flag and come back flying it high.
You may want to sit down for this. …Continue reading
If you haven’t heard of Coursera, maybe it’s time to get up to speed. It’s one of a growing breed of exciting brands intending to change the world. And they have a great chance of succeeding
They’re not focusing on “being green” and saving the environment. Nor are they adopting a cause that might fall under its corporate social responsibility program umbrella and is good for PR purposes and brand-building.
Their business is their cause. These brands provide products, services and solutions that are as important to their hearts as they are to their bottom lines. They’re applying disruptive innovation to create social change. They’re brands that stand for something more. And given the vast majority of consumers’ preference to do business with socially responsible concerns, they may have a leg up.
Coursera is obviously not the first to make their business their cause. Stalwarts like Patagonia, Tom’s, Sanuk and Ben & Jerry’s have all blazed the trail, as have more recent brands such as Kiva and Teach for America. These brands have strong moral compasses and are aligned with missions and visions. They’re consistently putting proof points on the board as to why their consumers should choose their brand over the Haagen-Dazs’ of the world when all else is equal (or close to it).
As I look at a few of these newer examples, I can’t help but caution them to truly look to the past to help them guide their future. Let’s look at two of these “rookies.” …Continue reading
A small Japanese company that makes bathroom scales has under 100 million dollars in sales generated by less than 300 people. But they put out a recipe book in 2010 that has sold around five million copies and created a new growth platform. Their story, which depicts how a higher purpose can work, is instructive.
Tanita makes and markets accurate, durable, user-friendly professional and personal scales for measuring health related characteristics such as weight, body fat and body water. Based in part on some patented, breakthrough measurement technology developed in 1992 and branded as “bioelectrical impedance analysis,” Tanita has 50 percent market share in Japan, where it is a household brand for scales, and it is a leader in the global market as well.
With healthy living as a heritage value, Tanita developed a company cafeteria that featured a healthy yet tasty menu at a time in which healthy eating was something of a trend, even a fad, in Japan. The cafeteria items were the subject of a prominent TV feature piece that stimulated a publisher to develop a series of Tanita company cafeteria cookbooks, the first of which appeared in 2010. Now one in ten households in Japan own a Tanita recipe book, and its recipes are featured on several established recipe sites in Japan such Cookpad (which gets nearly 7 million unique monthly visitors).
The success of the cookbook led Tanita to open a 70-seat Tanita Cafeteria in the very popular commercial district of Marunouchi in January 2012. Marunouchi is an upscale urban area near Tokyo Station with high end retailers, corporate offices, and who knows how many thousands of restaurants. The menu items are all under 500 calories, with low sodium and fat content. Each table has a timer, not to encourage people to leave but to encourage them to spend at least 20 minutes eating, because a leisurely meal is healthier. There are slogans to honor healthy lifestyles everywhere. The restaurant is so popular that access needs to be controlled with a number system. And more restaurants are now in development.
Some observations: …Continue reading
On Friday March 22nd Richmond Virginia hosted its first annual TEDx event. With the theme of “Create” TEDxRVA was a huge success. Prophet’s Curator and Provocateur Andy Stefanovich hosted the event at the city’s former power plant building. Andy guided attendees through the speakers and engaged, excited and challenged them throughout the day. This TEDx event was the first to feature all the content on headphones worn by the attendees. Throughout the event participants had a choice to listen to Channel A that featured the speaker content as well as a Channel B that offered supplementary content produced by Prophet’s Josh Epperson.
Events like TEDxRVA challenge us to engage with our community and peers, both creatively and emotionally. While chock full of insights from history to entrepreneurial excellence, TEDxRVA also highlighted aspects of business thinking that can often be forgotten. …Continue reading
BrandJapan is an annual appraisal of the brand equity of one thousand Japanese brands from the view of consumers (BtoC) and business managers (BtoB). Each year I provide a commentary on the results. The 2013 data just became available, and it again provides insights into what drives winning brands in Japan.
In the consumer database (BtoC), the big news is that Apple, who had advanced from 11 to number one in 2012 is not only still number one but has created a significant gap over Google, which remains at number two. The iPod and iPad brands have fallen from the top 20 but are still top forty brands, and iPhone has moved to number 18 meaning that Apple has four of the top 40 brands. Furthermore, Apple’s lead on the innovation factor over Google is now huge (132 vs. 108). The seven Apple stores and the elegant success of the iPhone helped the Apple brand achieve a leadership position.
Among the top 25 brands, 10 were retail brands led by Uniqlo (tied with Google at number 2 and with its HEATTECH clothing brand in the top 50) that included Daiso (like dollar stores), 7-11, Muji, two Internet retailers (Amazon and the Japanese firm Rakuten) and four retail food brands (McDonald’s, MOS BURGER, Haagen-Dazs, and Starbucks). There were five tech brands in the top 25 in addition to the two Apple brands with Google, YouTube and Windows in the top 10 and Panasonic and Sony following. Each tech brand was high on the “used recently’ and “being a pioneer” scales. Six of the top 25 were popular packaged goods brands such as Calbee (salty snacks), Nissin (cup noodles) and Suntory, all in the top ten. They all are very high on the friendly dimension. And two entertainment brands, Studio Ghibli (animated film company) and Disney were in the top seven brands with Studio Ghibli moving up from twelve to five.
There was a theme to these results. The strongest brands in Japan have three characteristics.
- They are visible, and most of the population is exposed to them frequently.
- They are innovative providing interest and energy.
- They are relevant in that they are widely used and capable of delivering exceptional use experiences.
Analytics is often seen as a resource focused on supporting marketing. However, in the era of Big Data, analytics has a great deal to offer the sales team as well. I spoke at Georgia State University last week, addressing their Sales Executive Roundtable of two dozen senior sales leaders. Here are 10 thought-starters for sale analytics that really got the debate going:
1. Create a segment of 1
Analytical tools now allow you to target an individual customer with a tailored message through an optimal channel. At Prophet, we worked with Snapfish combining both analytics and a rigorous “test and learn” approach to ensure each customer and prospect was receiving highly targeted and bespoke content. In the B2B space, we see that how customers want to be served is a key dimension of how to segment them—not via SIC codes or conventional firmographics. Their preferred method of interaction (call center, frequent rep visit, etc.) is their defining characteristic.
2. Most CLTV models are used incorrectly
How do we focus our sales resources? A CLTV model might suggest we focus our sales efforts on what look like our highest value customers (e.g. in insurance, to up-sell a home policy to an auto customer). However, CLTV models often mislead sales leaders to focus on fewer current high-value customers as opposed to a far greater number of mid-tier customers who have the potential to become higher value. …Continue reading
The only path to brand and business success is to develop and own an offering feature or service that is judged to be a “must have” by a significant customer group. Competitors lose by being irrelevant. Delta Airlines, who operate in an arena in which differentiation is difficult, is attempting to do just that.
Delta is trying to create and own a new subcategory, namely, airlines that offer superior sleeping experiences for upper-class passengers. They identified sleep as the most important in-flight experience, which means that is an important consideration for a worthwhile customer group. Then they developed a comprehensive program to deliver. In includes a white noise channel on the in-flight radio, full flat-bed seats and a special “Westin Heavenly” comforter and pillow. …Continue reading
The newest and fastest growing brand building communication channel is no doubt mobile marketing. And the initial instinct is to buy ads reach the mobile user. But that’s a problem, since ads are becoming more and more challenging to notice, especially considering the limitation of smaller screen sizes. The solution? Sponsor an app or become embedded and involved in the app’s functionality.
Mobile users typically download many apps, but use only 15 or so regularly. So how do you get into the top 15? You have to have an app that users are motivated to download and use. In an article Sunil Gupta wrote for HBR, he describes five app strategies that can get your brand in the sweet 15 and either cement an existing customer relationship or create a new one.
His strategies correspond with basic motivations to use an app, such as: …Continue reading
Too many companies fall into too common of a trap: mistaking the difference between an insights function and an insights system. Far too often, companies invest in an insights or research department, or function, only to have its value limited because they are not connected to the broader business.
And more than ever, companies are investing in primary research but getting mixed results. Don’t get me wrong. Primary research is core to being a more outside-in, customer-centric business. However, that’s just one tool – it’s what happens with those insights and who is using them that make the difference. Far too often, this primary research is conducted, summarized to a select set of stakeholders, and then put on the shelf.
An insights function is critical to bringing expertise, discipline and execution to the gathering of insights. However, what sets high-growth companies apart from their peers is having an insights system. An insights system is not bound by functional areas or business units. It is not project-based. It is not a one-way flow of information. Far too often, insights are left at the customer level, not the market level. Or even worse, they are never shared at all.
It is by definition a system. An insights system has on and off ramps for insights. A wide range of stakeholders access and contribute to the system, well beyond the insights or research function. This includes sales and marketing, innovation and R&D, service, engineering and operations, and even partners and principals. Each of these groups has key insights into customers’ needs and behaviors, competitors and ideas for growth.
So, how do you start to build out the system? Market leaders such as UPS, 3M and Microsoft have built their systems by following these proven strategic steps: …Continue reading