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Posts tagged ‘growth’

Where do marketing leaders get their inspiration?

Two weeks ago, Millward Brown released their updated list of the Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brands.  In the 8 year period since the study launched, the BrandZ™ Top 100 Strong Brands Portfolio has appreciated 58 percent, compared with a market value gain of only 23 percent by the S&P 500.

These leading brands outperformed the stock market benchmark by a wide margin of 35%.

But what does it take to lead in the market?  Where do leaders look for inspiration and benchmarking?

Laterally, of course.  Leading brands don’t look at direct competitors to understand how to win in their market: you can’t break away from a category by looking within it.   Instead, they look outside their market to brands that are outperforming in other categories.

But don’t take my word for it.  As my blog title suggests, I obviously think this way.  Consider instead the behaviour of Sue Shim, CMO of Samsung:

When asked about companies that Samsung wants to benchmark … the CMO admitted she is spending more time studying best practices at Western companies. “In terms of brand strategies, Samsung should learn from many cases; and so I am studying some brands that saw a large and effective rise in value.’’

Or Sandrine Huijgen, Heineken’s global communication manager:

At no point does she mention competitors, instead regarding the likes of Nike, Apple, Old Spice, BMW and Chanel as Heineken’s bedfellows. “These all have, for very different reasons, a very strong consumer-brand relationship. We want consumers to love Heineken, but we’re not there, yet.”

Or Jim Farley, Ford Motor Co.’s global marketing chief:

[Ford] closely studied global brand campaigns used by companies such as McDonalds and Nike to see how they work.

Or AT&T’s, Paul Roth, president of retail sales and service:

 “Our starting point wasn’t, who is the best retailer?” Roth says, “but who has the best customer service?” Roth and his team spent time with Harley Davidson, Ritz Carlton, Starbucks and Nordstrom to see what they could learn. “Our business has nothing to do with coffee or motorcycles. We were trying to understand how to build that type of customer loyalty.”

Or Karen Quintos, CMO of Dell, talking about Interbrand’s top 100.

We use Best Global Brands as a benchmark and look to others on the list as a source of inspiration and creativity. They motivate us to continually improve.

Or Deborah S. Conrad, corporate vice president and CMO for Intel:

I’ve been learning a lot from the automotive industry, from companies like Toyota and BMW, and that’s because I see a lot of parallels between cars and computers. I see that a computer is becoming an emotional and style decision. It’s not just about performance anymore…. I look also at consumer electronics, at companies such as Sony, Samsung and LG. Only a few years ago those companies were making products that weren’t all that exciting. The TV, until recently, was lackluster. But now it’s exotic, and it’s generating excitement. With both cars and TVs, companies struggle to keep the details simple and understandable yet exciting.

But looking laterally isn’t just about understanding how to execute.  It needs to start much earlier  –  with an understanding of who else is in your ideaspace and how to effectively compete against them, as Coke do.

Which brands are your lateral benchmarks?

If you’re struggling, a look at the world’s top 33 brands might be a good starting point.


The Problem With Purpose: Part 1

It is widely accepted that organisations today need to articulate, and commit to, a reason for being – most commonly called a purpose.  Having a purpose has been linked to greater consumer/customer preference, the attraction and retention of talent, and increased growth and profit.

The challenge, however, is that there are only so many ‘purposes’ to be had.    Consider the brands who claim that they exist to ‘enrich lives’.  Aramark, Apple, Airtel, Arts Council… and that’s just the ‘A’s…

The problem with purpose is that it potentially decreases distinctiveness and poses a new competitive challenge.  Organisations committing to a purpose need to expand their notions of their competitive set –  not only looking within their category and revenue competitors but also at others who share the same purpose area.  In the words of Jonathan Mildenhall, VP-global advertising strategy and creative excellence at Coca-Cola,

“We have two sets of competition, category competition and competition within the space of the purpose we’re trying to communicate. …We’re going to be much more successful if we look at businesses and brands in the space of happiness than if we just look at the beverage category.”

So purpose raises the bar: if you want to be a brand that stand for ‘happiness’ you’d better understand how others do it, since they are building expectations in your consumer’s mind – that you need to live up to.

Does Your Brand Need A Spring Clean? Declutter What You Stand For Before It’s Too Late

Seven of the world’s top 33 brands fell in value last year.  The one that declined most was HP; down an average of 23% across BRANDZ, Interbrand and Brand Finance’s valuations.

HP are in the second year of a five year business revival plan, implemented by Meg Whitman, chief executive.  When asked in an interview last year, “Does the HP brand need major rehabilitation and repair or more of a polishing?”, she replied:

“I think we need to tell people what we do, so I think that’s more of a polishing… In my view we just need to tell people who we are, what we do and the value that we bring.”

I would argue that, more than a polishing, the brand needs a thorough spring clean.  Consider what you can find when you look at how they define what the organization stands for.  A vision; corporate objectives; purpose; brand story; brand essence; character differentiators; shared values (employees); shared values (brand); behaviors: cultural behaviors, communications behaviors, and  design behaviors.   That’s twelve categories.

The rest of the top 33 brands use an average of three.

Perhaps HP went too far in their ‘branding’ efforts, or perhaps different parts of the business ‘owned’ different articulations of the brand.  It is not unusual, even among the leading brands of the world, to see cases where a previous CEO may implement a vision, a new one defines a purpose, the marketing department want a brand positioning, no-one wants to change the founder’s values, so they add behaviours instead…  It’s all too easy to add new definitions, but unless you clear out the old, you can be left with confused employees, inconsistent stories and a disconnected brand and customer experience.

In June last year, HP launched another articulation of what they stand for, “Make it Matter.”  Meg Whitman explains,

“As I began to understand HP, I said that it hasn’t been very good at telling its own story…So I thought we needed to tell our story better. … So we got the 50 marketing executives in a room and started to think through what is unique and different about the company and we came very quickly to “Make it Matter.” Because in fact what we do makes it matter. It matters to the International Space Station or the Department of Works and Pensions or the U.S. Navy or Alianz or Deutsche Bank or Facebook. It matters what we do.”

She goes on to say that all business units, and corporate wide, everyone will “tuck under that messaging”.  At the same time as tucking in, I hope they are wiping out the legacy elements, to create a simpler, linear story to help HP to return to brand value growth.