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Cadillac is Back at Hero Status

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bob_ferguson_cadillacOn June 14, 2013, Bob Ferguson, Vice President of Global Cadillac, spoke to a large group of industry professionals at the Adcraft Club of Detroit GM Day. Ferguson is clearly focused on the long-term brand strategy to bring Cadillac back. After some neglect and declining market share for more than thirty years, Cadillac recently has had its highest sales spike since 1976.

Ferguson focused his discussion on Cadillac as an epic tales of sorts. The hero is the automobile, with various sections of the story revealing its true character. Ferguson describes it as a tale with three acts.

  1. Act One: Cadillac is described as the hero in its infancy. It is born. It leads. It is iconic. It holds the virtues of the American public. As many know, Act One lasted for many years, from approximately 1902 through 1976.
  2. Act Two: Things were shifting and the hero that is Cadillac was lazily focusing on size and its past status. Cadillac, the hero, slumped. It was caught off guard by its enemies and the new idea of what an iconic car should be.  Act Two lasted a lot less longer than the previous act, from approximately 1976–2012.
  3. Act Three: Cadillac is described simply as redemption. The hero…

Read my entire article originally published on the Talent Zoo blog Beneath the Brand here: http://www.talentzoo.com/beneath-the-brand/blog_news.php?articleID=17905

Dr. Ahuvia and the Brand Love Phenomenon

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aaronahuviaWhat brands or products do you absolutely love that you cannot live without? Most of the time consumers flock towards things like smartphones, iPods, and the like. Last week the American Marketing Association, Detroit chapter, put on an event entitled ‘Brand Love’ with Aaron Ahuvia, Ph.D. at Schoolcraft College. Dr. Ahuvia is the foremost authority on this topic as he was the first researcher published in this area over twenty years ago.

Ahuvia’s explanation of brand love starts with human evolution. “Humans adapt old capacities to new situations,” Ahuvia said. He went on to say, “Love is powerful.” A perfect way of exhibiting this is through anthropomorphism; this is when people take something that is not human and give it human qualities. An example of this is shown in a video of an iCat robot named Daisy. Studies showed that humans had a very difficult time shutting down the robot. Those studied began to develop an affinity for the robot, and when asked to shut it down, Daisy began asking the person not to. See the video here.

Another way this is exhibited is through the saying we heard so many times in our school days: “If you love it so much, why don’t you marry it?” One woman, Erika La Tour Eiffel, did just that. She married the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

Ahuvia found that most people actually do love things other than people. The most common things were nature and engaging activities, but closely behind were products and brands. Take a look at Brand Love Central to see the model he developed from this and other studies. Further research by Ahuvia showed that Brand Love helps create sustainable growth and stability in the marketplace.

Is there a formula for success, a love potion of sorts, for brands? Why yes, there is. In fact, there are four key characteristics of brand love, as follows:

  1. Quality and Trust: A brand must start by making sure its products or services maintain quality. Once quality is achieved, trust will need to be maintained. High standards for quality and trust must be present to foster brand love.
  2. Intrinsic Rewards: “Do you love the product or are you just using it?” asks Ahuvia. There is a difference. Certain products people love, while other times people just love the outcome. Ahuvia explained this to the group through tools. Some people use tools because they love fixing motorcycles, for example, while others find love in not only the fixing of the motorcycles but also in the way the tool works, is designed, and functions.
  3. Part of Myself: In this characteristic, Ahuvia explains a term he developed called ‘Looking Glass Love.’ This is a love where we see our own reflection in things that we love other than people. Apple exploited this type of love perfectly in their Mac v. PC television advertisements. The target market was that of a younger generation of people who saw themselves as the Justin Long type compared to the stodgy PC type. This section of brand love brings the deeper connections of love forward.
  4. Part of My Life: “Absence makes the heart grow indifferent,” says Ahuvia. The longer a consumer does not use a product or service, the easier it is to go on without it. To continue to nurture the love, the brand must be a part of the person’s life.

Brand love speaks more for products than it does services. It is most relevant for categories that provide many benefits, have a pleasure aspect, and relate to identity. How will you foster brand love in your business?

Read the original article on the Talent Zoo blog Beneath the Brand at: http://www.talentzoo.com/beneath-the-brand/blog_news.php?articleID=17185

Brain Science in Brand Building

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“60 Seconds: How to tell your company’s story & the brain science that makes it stick” is a little book with a big message. Seriously, the book is shorter than Miley Cyrus’ new haircut. However, it tells you exactly what you need to do to build your company’s brand through the consumers eye via video. A video can engage the audience and leave them with a lasting impression if done right. Author Andrew Angus, Founder and CEO of Switch Video, lays out the process and a look into his proven strategy. Here are a four key points that everyone should take away from this book:

  1. Keep the story simple: Simple storytelling is best. The slogan of Angus’ company is “Explain what you do.” It may sound too simple, and you may say ‘we already do that.’ Truthfully, very few companies get this right. Let your point come across as cleanly as possible. Save the details for later. Most of all, just keep it simple.
  2. Create new old memories: Do this by connecting the past with the present. You can create these new old memories by bringing up an experience, a mindset, or an issue that has been occurring or has occurred for some time. This allows a potential client to connect you with a thought that is deeply rooted in their mind. They will right away store your brand values with these thoughts. Similar to the simplicity factor, do not overload potential clients with too much data or detail. If there are too many new ideas to connect, they will never remember them.
  3. Metaphors expand understanding: You are in the business to solve a problem. No matter what project or service it is, it solves a problem or fulfills a need. Break the story down so it is easy to remember your value-add by using metaphors to your advantage. In the book, Angus describes a brand building video for dog owners seeking playmates for their pups as “eHarmony for dogs.” Without explaining any more of it you understand the concept right away. Metaphors expand the reach of your product or service.
  4. Stimulate both auditory and visual senses: “I know that feeling.” Getting potential customers to say this is one of the biggest keys. Make them realize you care about their issues and understand them. Once you make it there, it is cake.

These four key points work for more than just brand-building videos. It is also easy to put them into your new client pitch. One astounding example Angus describes is focused on Collingwood General & Marine Hospital in Canada. Apparently 70% of the equipment used in hospitals in Canada comes from private funding and is not provided as part of national healthcare. Private donations make up that 70% while the remaining 30% is covered by Canada itself. The video Angus and his team created for the hospital depicted what it would be like in an emergency room if only 30% of the equipment was available to its customers (patients). Imagine that scene. This video changed the way potential donors saw the situation that they have been trying to explain for decades. Brain science works. It just takes a little knowledge and a little handbook.

How would a little brain science help your brand?

Read the original article on the Talent Zoo blog Beneath the Brand at: http://www.talentzoo.com/beneath-the-brand/blog_news.php?articleID=16998

Brand Extensions Gone Wrong

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zippo-fragrance-adBrand extensions can make sense. In many cases, brands emerge stronger because of it. When Tide laundry detergent developed the Tide To Go instant stain remover pen, it was a great move. According to Nielsen, brand extensions are five times more successful than new launches in some countries. This is true with one caveat — when done right.

“Done right” sounds like an easy statement but it is far from the truth. Some brands fail miserably when it comes to extensions because the extension simply does not make sense. It leaves consumers asking “Why?” Here are two examples describing poor brand extensions that left consumers confused:

Failure Numero Uno: Bic Underwear
Bic is known for its disposable pens, its disposable razors, and its disposable cigarette lighters. The Bic brand thought they were large enough to go into other categories as well, so why not Bic underwear? That’s right. They created a line of women’s disposable pantyhose. They did not even want to change the brand name. Consumers did not understand, production and entrance to market costs were high, and in the end it flopped. Other than disposability there was no link between the products. Brand extensions should make sense and be a logical step from the flagship product. This made absolutely no sense, leaving consumers asking, “What were they thinking?”

Failure Numero Dos: Zippo’s Women’s Perfume
The scent is called fruity, but it sprays directly out of a bottle with a flip top that very closely resembles a Zippo lighter. In the market it brings up thoughts of smelling like a smoker or lighter fluid. It could be a decent-smelling perfume, but perception is everything. The key here again is that it is not a logical extension, bringing us to our favorite question — what were they thinking?

So now you may want to know what makes a great brand extension. Here are a few simple key things to keep in mind:

  1. Know your market. It sounds simple but it is not. No company can be all things to all people. Look at what markets you are currently reaching and what their buying habits are. Once you review this it will help steer you in the right direction for a brand extension.
  2. Make it logical. Just because something sounds like a foolproof plan does not mean it fits your brand. Knowing your market will allow you to see which directions are logical for your brand and which are not. It may be determined that there are a number of areas for growth. So how do you determine which area to tackle first? This brings us to part three.
  3. Do your homework. Extending your brand into other categories requires research to do it right. It may seem logical to you from the start, but it pays to make sure your customers think so. Focus groups and the like can be used at this stage. Spending a little extra on research and time at the beginning can save your brand a lot of headaches in the future. You also want to make sure the brand is not simply going into the market because the new director wanted to put his or her own mark on the industry. The data returned at this stage will not lie.

Brand extensions must be planned carefully with proper knowledge of the market and research behind it. Focusing on an extension or change to a popular brand can, at times, bring on devastation and leave consumers disillusioned. After all, you wouldn’t want to pull a New Coke, would you?

Article originally published on the Talent Zoo blog Beneath the Brand at: http://www.talentzoo.com/beneath-the-brand/blog_news.php?articleID=16856

Be Remarkable: Read Purple Cow

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Lately I have been more into books on CD for a couple of reasons. One, I like to continually learn new things. And two, listening to a CD in your car is much easier than trying to set aside the time to read when I get home from work. The last book I listened to was Purple Cow: Transform Your Business By Being Remarkable by Seth Godin. It’s a quick read/listen but really gets you to think about different ways to do things.

Godin opens by telling a story of driving through the French countryside. While driving he see’s cows roaming mile after beautiful mile. But after a little while he grew very tired of looking at basically the same cows and landscape. Then he points out, if he were to see a purple cow, that would be remarkable. Being different and standing out from the herd of other ‘cows’ in your market is something a lot of us are trying to achieve.

pc1Godin points out that you don’t need to market to everyone – something that many companies try to do. In fact, no brand can be all things to all people. He says to focus the product and the marketing on are what he calls the ‘Sneezers.’ Sneezers are the first adopters that jump on board with a product early. Focusing on them and getting them what they need should be of the utmost importance. The Sneezers will then greatly help market the product for you through word-of-mouth and the like. However, for the Sneezers to latch on to your product and for it to do well, it must be remarkable.

Otaku. You may have never heard the word before. Godin describes it as “…a Japanese word that describes something that’s more than a hobby but a little less than an obsession.” Some may have a food otaku. It is what makes you drive to Corktown in Detroit for barbecue at Slow’s when there are over 110 other barbecue joints closer. Otaku is what makes you drive to Toledo for a hot dog from Tony Packo’s when you could just pick up one walking out of Home Depot. Everyone has an Otaku for something. Otaku makes you strive for the remarkable.

The largest takeaway I took from this book is that if it’s not remarkable it’s not worth doing. What would be the point of doing something just mediocre? Why do you think something that everybody else is doing would also work for you? It may work for a time but it won’t increase sales much, nor will it differentiate yourself from the competition. Find your Otaku. And as we all know, there are always new competitors trying to steal a portion of your market share. Being different is the best thing we can do. Incremental differences don’t count.

The end of the book sums its up best with Godin’s 4 main takeaways:

  1. Don’t be boring. Don’t blend in, stand out. This book is about being remarkable. Do it.
  2. Safe is risky. Playing it safe can be a recipe for disaster.  As mentioned, focus on the Sneezers and not the population. To get a product off the ground you must focus all of your efforts on the people who will use your product first. They will push along the ideas to the masses.  If you don’t get the attention of the Sneezers you’ve lost your investment.
  3. Design rules now. Design of a product should come before marketing. Let the designers have almost free reign. For the product to be remarkable, the design must be kept close and not diluted. The product needs to be unique to be remarkable.
  4. Very good is bad. Very good is not enough to be great. If you are very good you’ve missed the mark. We are shooting for excellence. Make it remarkable, not just very good.

To me this little book was a nice change of pace. Although I gave you a summary already, I highly recommend reading the book yourself. As I was going through it I found myself not only paying close attention to the ideas that Godin presents but also getting lost in my own thoughts. I think that is something that can’t be recreated unless you read it yourself. After all, who doesn’t want to be remarkable?