When Al Ries took aim at McDonald’s decision to broaden their menu, saying that introducing more items had not worked as a strategy and would not so do into the future, his piece raised questions for me on the differences between diversification and adjacency.
In an age where brands are increasingly seen as shared, companies can easily be lulled into treating social media as polling booths for their strategy. That’s not a good idea. However, there are times when you should respond to what is being said. The secret is knowing what to respond to, when and how.
Some searching questions recently from executives who seem to pride themselves on being brand sceptics prompted me to review the parameters of what brands can do, what they can’t and why I still believe that branding is a vital business activity.
If you’re a brand leader and you’ve been one for a while, there’s a good chance you know your market and that you monitor and are highly aware of your competitors. All the market intelligence you have tells you where things are.
The case for brands to engage in storytelling is well made and well documented. Stories are so much more effective than facts, they engage us and in so doing, they motivate brands and buyers alike to get involved and to act.
The language of a brand is really decided by two things: where you are looking to position your brand in the marketplace; and the personality that you choose to adopt.
Marketers talk a lot about the increasing personalisation that consumers are looking for in their interactions with brands. At the same time though, we know consumers seek endorsement from others on the good brands to be associated with and those that should be avoided. Interesting dichotomy. If you’re a brand manager, where do you invest your energies – products (as the means of those interactions), experience (as the memory of those interactions) or reputation (as the underwriter of those interactions)?
Everyone’s got things that they want to share. Whether you’re talking with your business partner or looking to pitch a concept to investors or a senior management team, you absolutely need a process to get people onside with where you’re at. I spend most of my days pitching ideas, developing new ideas or evaluating the ideas that others have. These three steps work for me as a structure. Maybe they’ll work for you too.
It’s easy to think of what your brand is there to do (purpose) and how your business intends to prosper (strategy) as separate things, different agendas. But more and more brands are looking at ways to bring these two ideas together: building and focusing their business around the wider impacts they intend to have.
Every brand must change, but the extent of the change, and the size of the calls that accompany those shifts, are very different. So when should you revamp what you have to bring it up to date, and when should you “kill” the brand and start again?