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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

5 Steps To A Strong Personal Brand

5 secrets to a great personal "brand"

We are always talking about developing brands in the product sense, but clearly we can apply the rules of brand management to our own personal brands. Here are 5 secrets to develop a personal brand that is different, better, and special.

5. Emphasize your strengths: We all have our gifts – those things that come naturally to us or more easily than for others. They are also usually our passions. Taking these passions and developing marketable skills around them, should be the foundation of any great brand.

4. Ignore your weaknesses: Every performance review has a section called "developmental areas" or something that implies areas that you need improvement. Ignore this! Don't try to fix your weaknesses. Emphasize your strengths. Does Coca-Cola change their product because it isn't healthy? No, they emphasize the product's strengths – that it is a simple moment of refreshment. You as a brand must follow the same logic.

3. Stand for something: Be unique. Don't try to be 10 different things or else the core of who you are will get lost. The strongest brands are centered on one core idea. Great brands make choices. They give up some things to represent their one core idea. Make sure that you make choices in the development of your personal brand.

2. Be able to back it up: Don't try to be something you aren't. Be realistic as to what your brand can and should be. If you are not a great speaker, don't build your brand around great speaking abilities. If you can't deliver what you promise, you will cause irreparable damage to your personal brand.

1. Everything communicates: Take every opportunity to communicate your brand. Identify the individuals and entities that are most important to your overall "brand plan" and make every effort to communicate your brand essence. It is critical to be consistent in your communication so that your target gets a clear picture of your brand. From your clothing to your presentations to your written documents, ensure that you "stay on message"

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Obama: The Right and Wrong Way to Target a Market

President Obama’s recent video clip on the DNC 2010 voting site (http://2010.democrats.org/) represents a teachable moment in how to segment (another word for diving up and organizing) a market and target a specific group within that market. Just as there are numerous ways to organize a deck of 52 playing cards (by suit, by face cards/non face cards, red/black, point cards/non point cards, etc. etc.), there are numerous ways to segment a market – whether the market is defined as a market of consumers purchasing a product or a market of voters in a Congressional race. Effective market segmentation requires that the members of each market segment be as similar (homogeneous) as possible and that each segment be as different (heterogeneous) as possible from other segments.

One way to segment and target a market is to do what Obama has done here - categorize the market based strictly on demographics such as race, gender, income etc. Demographic segmentation represents the most basic and rudimentary way to segment a market, and is often one of the least effective ways to divide up a market. Why? Because while marketers can infer some things about segments by their gender, race, and income levels, too often this results in “stereotypes” that may or may not be true about the segments’ members. It is an especially poor way to segment for any product that tries to appeal to its market in an emotional way – fashion, beverages, alcohol, and of course, politics.

So what should Obama and the DNC have done? Clearly, they need to do a better job in segmenting the market based upon more of a psychographic approach vs. a demographic approach. In other words, the market should be segmented and targeted based upon any number of psychographic measures, including the attitudes and beliefs of the market (for example, feelings on where the country should be headed, feelings on initiatives that have been passed, etc.), values of the market (at its core, what is most important to voters), voter frequency/likelihood, or even personality of the market.

Don’t believe me? Next time you are at a mall, go into an Apple store and look strictly at the demographics of the customers in the store. Chances are you will find every age, gender, and ethnicity within the store. Why? Because Apple doesn’t segment the market based on demographics. Apple segments the market based on values, attitudes, and likelihood to adopt new products. It targets those consumer segments that are most likely to want to try and adopt the products that Apple puts out. Think about the commercials for the I-pad/I-phone, etc. How many times do you actually see a user? The messaging focuses on the product and the features that will appeal to a wide range of users from 7 to 70.

It’s a lesson that the Obama team should take to heart.

Monday, March 1, 2010

P&G Corporate Branding

If you've been watching the Olympics (which a lot of us have been - through the first 7 days of the olympic games over 150 million of us tuned in at some point), you've probably noticed the P&G corporate ads featuring "Moms" of Olympics athletes with the tagline, "To their Moms, they'll always be kids". If you've been living in a cave, here they are:


So, what do you think? I'm usually not a big believer in corporate advertising, especially trying to incorporate multiple brands within a spot like P&G tries to do here, but this campaign is quite interesting on numerous levels. Let's quickly evaluate it.

I like to evaluate advertising on whether it hits key objectives that in my mind, all good advertising should have.

The Bad.....
1. Product/Brand integration - How well does its the brand integrated within the spot? Is it an integral part of the ad or is it merely a signature at the end? Clearly with this campaign, it's weak. P&G signs off at the end and showcases a montage of their brands. Now arguably all brands do target "mom", but I would argue that they target mom in different ways and, on a purely functional level, the ad falls short in tying P&G brands together with the message. There is no product integration whatsoever - just a message and signature.

The Good...
2. Relevance to target - How relevent/appealing is the commercial's story line to the target? A big win here. The advertisement is clearly positioned to women, moms specifically, and does a great job at appealing to that group. The Olympics are a great venue for advertising to this target - 56% of Olympic viewers are women vs. 44% of the Super Bowl's audience being female. Of course, the Olympics also tend to be OLDER than what we would like - viewers of the Olympics are 82% more likely to be 55 and older than the general population.

3. Emotional connection - A HUGE win. This is where the commercial has stopping power and in my mind, makes up for its weakness in product/brand integration. The spot works emotionally on multiple levels. It is upbeat, encouraging, nostalgic and celebrates the importance of moms and everything they've done to get their kids to the Olympic level. Its about celebrating mom's role and influence on their children wherever their goals and dreams take them. And that makes mom feel special on many levels.

So at the end of the day, do the ads work? It really depends upon what the initial objectives were for the campaign. If the goal was to tell me how well Tide will clean my clothes or how well Crest gets one's teeth clean, clearly not. However, if the idea was to associate P&G, and P&G brands with the support that mom provides in the raising of children to be adults, I suspect that research will confirm that the campaign did its job....and more.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The real Super Bowl game….

It has been 2 weeks since the Super Bowl. We’ve had some time to not just have the game sink in (congrats to the Saints), but also think about the ads that were shown. And once again, if you look at the USAToday Ad Meter the most “likeable” spots featured animals, kids, and crazy hijinks. In fact if you want to see the rankings of each of the ads, here they are: http://www.usatoday.com/money/advertising/admeter/2010admeter.htm

The “winner” according to the admeter was the Snickers “Betty White” commercial.
Here it is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6rauK4fBjkI

Funny? Yes. Persuasive? Hmmm….In all honesty, the ad did better than previous past “winners” because Snickers was nicely integrated into the ad and we actually saw a direct benefit (if not a bit silly) from using the product. However, too often, we find that the most likeable ads are NOT the most persuasive. In other words, they do a great job of making us laugh and entertaining us, but give us little reason to actually purchase the product. Too often, Super Bowl ads depict an entertaining story, but merely mention the brand as an afterthought. And if you are spending almost 3 million for a 30 second spot, you’d like consumers to associate your brand with the ad. As brand builders, we want the ads to be persuasive – we want people not just to recall who the brand was that was advertised, but also give them a persuasive reason to purchase/use the brand. Study after study has shown that the most persuasive ads are generally not the best liked. Why? Well, it’s hard to be entertaining AND get a strong brand building message across in 30 seconds. What was the most persuasive ad in my opinion? Go all the way down to #43 and you will see Google.

Here it is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nnsSUqgkDwU&feature=pyv&ad=3910815173&kw=google%20super%20bowl%20commercial

This ad works on so many levels. It’s entertaining. It integrates the product nicely. It provides both a functional (what the brand actually does) and an emotional (how it makes you feel) connection. It essence, it shows how much Google is an integral part of your life. Yet, it only ranked #43 in overall liking. For me (as for most brand people), I’ll take an average ranking in likeability to get a persuasive message across any day of the week.

Welcome to the Brand Illusion...

Welcome to the Brand Illusion……Come on in and see what’s happening!

I have finally succumbed to the world of blogging. My hope for this site is to talk about the latest and greatest in managing these entities called “brands”. We’ll look at current brand news – who is doing things right and who is doing things wrong. There is a lot to talk about right now – the Super Bowl ads that just aired, Tiger Woods’ future as a spokeperson, the loss of trust in the Toyota brand, and President Obama’s failure to articulate his brand as well as a president as he did as a presidential candidate. Bring your own stories, make comments and feel free to disagree…because, after all, brands are given their power all by how they are perceived by you, the consumer. Beyond that, it is all a brand illusion and deep inside they’re all the same….