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Posts tagged ‘purpose’

What the most valuable brands in Cannes have in common

IBM, Intel and Coca-Cola.  Three brands that won Grand Prix and Special Awards at Cannes Lions last week, that also appear in all of the world’s most valuable brand rankings.  What can we learn from this juxtaposition of creativity and value?

Stay simple and stay the course.

You can associate all of these brands with one word that defines what they stand for.
Coke: Happiness.  IBM: Smarter.  Intel: Inside.

While all three expand on these notions when they articulate the core of what they stand for (Coke’s purpose is ‘to inspire moments of optimism and happiness’, IBM are ‘driven by the idea of building a smarter planet’, Intel invite us to ‘Look Inside’), they consistently, relentlessly, creatively, use the ideas and literal words of ‘happiness’, ‘smarter’ and ‘inside’ in their marketing efforts, as exemplified in IBM’s Grand Prix-winning ‘Ads with a purpose’.

(Even their advertising is smarter, and asks for smarter ideas to help to build smarter cities).

What they also do is stay the course.  They have built brands from these simple core ideas for years.  IBM established the Smarter Planet initiative in 2008.  Coke have talked about happiness for decades, and explicitly unveiled their ‘Open Happiness’ global campaign in 2009.  The ‘Intel Inside’ cooperative marketing program (and associated branding) launched in 1991.  Their multiple Grand Prix Cannes Lions wins for ‘The Beauty Inside’ last week celebrated the ideal that – with humans and computers alike – it’s what’s inside that counts.

Although Intel wavered in 2009 (they rebranded around the idea of Sponsors of Tomorrow (which was geared to last for three to five years and serve as an overarching theme for all of the company’s branding efforts)), they (re)launched a new brand ‘theme’ of ‘Look Inside’ this year.  As Deborah Conrad, vice president and chief marketing officer at Intel stated,“ ‘Sponsors of tomorrow’ didn’t leverage our heritage as much as ‘Look inside’ does. ‘Look inside’ is a call to action, and ‘Intel inside’ says, ‘Hey, here I am.’ ”.

Whilst it’s very difficult to ‘own’ a simple idea, there’s money (and possible glory) in trying to do so.  A spate of one word rebrands in 2012 suggests that other brands aspire to a similar goal.  Pepsi: Now; Jaguar: Alive; BMW: Joy: Mahindra Group: Rise; Commbank: Can…It will be interesting to see whether they can stay the course, and climb the value rankings.

All you need is love? Johnson & Johnson, Cornetto and Tiffany & Co seem to think so

“Love: it’s the most powerful thing on the planet.”  So proclaim Johnson & Johnson in their first corporate marketing campaign in a decade, ‘For All You Love’, that migrated to television this week.    But few leading brands actually focus on the idea of love as their brand idea.  Powerful it may be, but popular (as a brand idea) it isn’t.

This might be changing, however. The Cornetto brand is experience a major rebranding effort this year – with a refreshed identity that launched in April, a repositioning from ice cream to snack brand, and the launch last week of a global initiative called ‘Cupidity’, featuring 8 lovers, and four short films inspired by insights from teenagers about love.

Their CMO explained that their brand DNA has always revolved around the idea of love, and the new campaign introduces a strapline of  ‘Enjoy the ride, love the ending’.

Both J&J and Cornetto could look to Tiffany & Co as the quintessential love brand.  It took them until 2011 to explicitly articulate that they are ‘the ultimate expression of love’, with the launch of their “What Makes Love True” brand story effort.

Since then their brand value has risen 15%, according to Interbrand, and they reentered the Brand Finance top 500.  No doubt Cornetto and Johnson & Johnson will be looking for a similar uplift, but time will tell whether their brands have the same credibility, and can differentiate in an increasingly crowded love space.

My bet is that there is room for Cornetto to claim ‘teen love’ and for Tiffany to stand for ‘true love’ but that J&J may struggle to build a sustainable ‘love’ association, particularly given that their brand idea is fundamentally more about ‘caring’.  Michael Sneed, the company’s vice president for global corporate affairs, said the goal of the campaign was “to continue to reconnect with all of the people who come into contact with J.& J. in their daily lives”, and that “People want to understand what’s behind the brand.” Although they do make a link, that “love is the reason you care”, building a deeper association with the explicit idea of caring, given their credo and history, may have served them better.  As written in Forbes today, J&J need to talk about their walk, and their ‘walk’, reputation and purpose, despite the product and quality issues they have faced since 2009,  has always been about caring.

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.