Month: August 2013

Brand voice. Speaking up before others drown you out

In a world of conversations, everyone has something to say. You can’t control that – nor should you, at least  not in a democracy. Some people will agree with you. Others will not. You can’t control that either. Some will argue their case against what you are doing or suggest that you are not doing it correctly. They have the right to make their point within legal bounds. But where a lot of brands go wrong is that they take their cue for their own storytelling from the stories that others are telling about them. Their story, in other words, manifests itself in the form of reactions to other people’s stories rather than as actions built around their own narrative. Don’t get me right. Brands must respond to the assertions of others. But they cannot allow others to control the brand conversation to the point where their own share of voice is lost. They must know and advance their own viewpoints. Too many brands view challenges as criticism and react to them that way, instead …

When brands attack: 12 reasons to confront a competitor

As in most things in life, there’s a time to hold your ground when you’re a brand, a time to step back and reassess, and there are times when you should look to front-foot your position. Those calls should be based on pragmatism not impulse, because the resources required to up your game can be considerable and the consequences of failure can be significant. So when should a brand take on a competitor, directly or indirectly, and how should they behave when they do so? Let’s start with the circumstances in which an attack makes sense. 1. It’s the only way to expand your market share – if you have carefully thought through growth plans but are competing in a market with little or no organic growth, the only way to expand your presence is to take it off someone else. Be aware though that in many static markets, fluctuations in market share are small – so a concerted effort to grasp a bigger piece of the pie is likely to be costly, drawn out …

Brand Commoditisation: The Four Stages of One

I’ve been thinking about the process by which brands actually become commodities. Economists sometimes refer to commoditisation as a state of “perfect competition”. Of course, from a marketing point of view, that could not be further from the truth. Commodities are uncompetitive as brands. They ride the currents of supply and demand, going up and down in response to market forces with little or no ability to differentiate and no margin beyond that provided through volatility. They have become trades. Three key forces drive down value-added margin: 1. Commoditisation of price – the one we are all familiar with. Products are inevitably drawn down towards Chris Anderson’s perfect price of free. 2. Commoditisation of loyalty – the reasons to stay loyal to one brand come under increasing pressure as others match on features and compete for emotion. 3. Commoditisation of delight – consumers now expect more and more as of right, which means that it is increasingly difficult for brands to surprise and delight. At some point, brands that have relied on their innovation to …

The speed of criticism

1. No scandal is as bad (or as good) as you think it is. 2. Criticism travels faster than attention. In this digital age, it’s as fast as light. 3. Scandal travels even faster than criticism. 4. Fallout makes the best news. It balloons scandal into incident. 5. If you handle anything perishable, you must be response-ready. If you’re not response-ready, you won’t catch up. 6. If your key people are off-camera, you’re off-brand. Acknowledgements Photo of “High Speed Lights” taken by Liam Swinney, sourced from Flickr

What makes brand advertising iconic?

By Mark Di Somma Many of us who started in advertising did so I imagine because we saw an ad or a series of commercials that made us dream of creating something that good, something that a whole culture talked about. Recently, the people at Hubspot reached back, took five of the great campaigns and had them reimagined for today. It was an intriguing exercise. But while the creatives seemed to focus for the most part on how much the channels had changed in the time since the campaigns were forged and the implications of that for execution and campaign distribution, I thought it would be interesting to look at what some of these iconic ad campaigns did that made it possible for them to have such a deep cultural impact in the first place. What’s clear is that iconic status is not about the nobility of the product. As CNBC observed, AdAge refers to its selection of the top advertising campaigns of the 20th century as including: “two air polluters, nutritionless sugar water, one …

Bigger and smaller: the polarisation of brand experiences

If you’re a cult brand looking to take on a scale player in an industry that favours significant footprint, how can you hope to win? Possibly by retaining everything that reinforces your cult brand kudos and plugging in to what Jeremiah Owyang refers to as the Collaborative Economy. According to research that he shares here, companies like Airbnb are now giving traditional hotel brands something of a run for their rooms. The model is effective, according to Thomas Friedman who wrote an article in the New York Times that Owyang references, because this collaborative approach is personal, local and based on a refreshing sense of trust. Friedman quotes Brian Chesky, the guy who started Airbnb, ““It used to be that corporations and brands had all the trust … There is a whole generation of people that don’t want everything mass produced. They want things that are unique and personal.” The fact that 140,000 people around the world are staying in Airbnb rooms on an given night proves that intimacy can indeed scale. That’s possible of …