Posts Tagged 'Brand expert'

Other brand experts weight in on the Tiger Crisis

Brand expert Schmitt has just launch “The Daily Tiger” in which he provides an expert opinion on all things Tiger!

Schmitt, as he calls himself, is, of course, Professor Bernd Schmitt of Columbia Business School.  He’s a wonderfully bright and entertaining and always worth watching!

Is branding like the emperor with no clothes?

Is branding like the emperor with no clothes?

Michael Thibodeau and I wrote an article about that a few months ago for the Association of National Advertisers (ANA).  In case you missed the piece in their online magazine, I’m posting it here.


Branding agencies slow to adapt to new media

As promised in the last post, I am sharing the ratings of branding agencies on a variety of measures from overall quality of work to creativity, from innovation to the level of understanding the client’s brand.  While advertising agencies ranked last and branding agencies first, there wasn’t really much difference between them (5% vs. 11% respectively).

The headline is that branding agencies are seen as slow to adapt to multi-platform communications.  In the one of the top 3 priorities of marketers– integrating new media and traditional — branding agencies are lagging behind.

This data has never been published before.  It is from a study Verse Group commissioned with Jupiter Research among CMOs and marketing executives at 101 corporations.

A word of caution — the ratings that follow are for branding agencies without naming names.  Marketing executives were asked to rate their agencies but were not asked for the name of their agency(ies).

The short answer is that branding agencies are only moderately strong on our area of expertise — understanding the client’s brand.  33% of marketers rate their branding agencies as “excellent” in understanding of the brand.  Another 47% rated their brand agency as “good” on the same question.  Are clients saying that some of us brand gurus and experts are not as expert as advertised?

As Jupiter Research put it, “Agencies show moderate understanding of brands; missing opportunities in many areas.”

The biggest gaps are in very important areas — innovation, breakthrough approaches, integrating new and traditional media, working well with other agencies.

If the branding experts — the brand consultants — aren’t innovating and creating new marketing techniques, then who will?  That leaves it to academics and to corporate marketers to take the lead on reinventing marketing.

Here’s the chart:

Marketers rating branding agencies/brand consultants

Marketers rating branding agencies/brand consultants

Senior BBDO executive joins Verse Group

It’s not been officially announced but Barry Schweig is joing Verse Group as Executive Director.  We are pleased as could be to have Barry’s wise counsel, experience and great storytelling.

For those who don’t know Barry, he was the BBDO EVP responsible for the global Gillette and Oral B accounts.  That extended far beyond advertising, all the way into new product development.  Little known but true fact, Barry developed the Mach 3 name for the Gillette 3 blade razor.  He also led the branding and advertising efforts for Fusion, Venus and other major offerings.  A lot of people may call themselves brand experts.  Barry truly is one.

There are two real passions in Barry’s life.  One is nurturing and growing global brands.  The other is tending to his home garden.  Both take patience, faith and careful attention.  

Full disclosure here:  I worked with Barry at BBDO on the Gillette business for a couple of years.  I was the international account planner on the business.  So my bias and enthusiasm are no longer hidden.

Before joining BBDO, Barry was an SVP Management Rep at McCann Erickson.  He began his career in creative services at Dancer Fitzgerald Sample.

What is so different about Narrative Branding?

It can be summed up easily.  Narrative Branding is an inductive approach.  Brand positioning is a deductive approach.  

Inductive is showing people a painting and evaluating how much it engages people.  

Deductive is asking people what kind of painting they want to see and then painting it.

Now that might need a little more explanation.

In Narrative Branding we bring new narratives to your audience — consumers, customers, employees.  Yes, it begins with audience.  What we are looking for are the metaphors that resonate strongly with your audience and the stories that they tell.  We do not expect them to provide “the answer” at that point.  From there we create new narratives for the brand by imaging the future.  Then we use market research to see which narrative is the most engaging and compelling.  

Traditional brand positioning begins with deducing what is important to your audience by assessing the world as it is today.  You also want to assess how people view the competition.  From that you isolate 2, 3 or 4 attributes which are both important and different from the competition.  The last step is to put those attributes into a verbal positioning statement that is researched, although the words in the final statement are not mean to be used in the marketplace.  Then the positioning statement is handed over to the creatives who are responsible for translating these attributes into the new branding.  

We can go back and forth all day about the merits of one method vs. another.  At the end of the day we come back to the fact that 63% of CMOs and other marketing decision makers want a method that is more effective than brand positioning.  

Marketers unsatisfied with brand positioning


And that those who are looking for better methods are much more likely to be using or exploring the use of brand stories and storytelling.  

Marketers are embracing brand stories

This is not my opinion.  This is not the opinion of another branding expert or a branding agency.  This is the opinion of marketers who use these methods. And theirs is the opinion that counts.  The evidence is in the JupiterResearch (now Forrester Research) study conducted six months ago.

24 Brands Mantras, 18 Brand Astras and 9 Brand Shaastras

Ever since my cousin Dr. Joseph Parent wrote the best selling book Zen Golf, I have been fascinated by people who combine the most Western of subjects with the most Eastern of concepts. 

I am always on the lookout for Brand Gurus — the people who are visibly proselytizing on behalf of brands.  The more original, the more thought provoking, the better.

So imagine my delight when I happened to have come across a Brand Guru from India by the name of  Jagdeep Kapoor.  He heads up Samsika, a brand consulting company located in India.

Guru Kapoor is fond of alphanumerics, those combinations of mystical numbers and words that conjure up a world-view unlike any other.  The title of this post, 24 Brand Mantras, 18 Brand Astras and 9 Brand Shaastras is the name of his trilogy of books on branding.  

He has published more than 9 books to date.

Some other key numbers from his website:

Jagdeep Kapoor has conducted over 505 training programs…

…has written over 1143 articles on Brand Marketing and Sales.

…trained over 7,447 MBA students…

and 13,383 Indian managers.

… a Rotarian, Chairman of the Consumer Affairs Committee, Bombay Chamber of Commerce & Industry and student selection panel member of Jamnalal Bajaj Institute of Management Studies, Bombay, as well as Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta. 

Now that is what I call a Brand Guru!  Those of us in the West who are self-styled brand experts have much to learn from Jagdeep Kapoor.

Aristotle: The original brand guru

A couple of thousand years before the first television commercial, the first brand guru held sway.  His name was Aristotle.  

Like Madonna, Cher and Homer (the poet, not Homer Simpson), Aristotle is another of those one name celebrities.  

Aristotle developed a form of logic that is the foundation of analytical thinking.  This deductive method has been widely used in many different fields.  It is certainly the dominant form of analysis in branding.  While it may not be the only or best form of analysis in branding, we’ll leave that question aside for this post and return to it at a future date.

Using his analytical technique, Aristotle set about to understand why plays and other spectacles were such superior forms of education and entertainment than poetry or music alone.  With a ready supply of Greek tragedies and comedies as his database, Aristotle was able to identify six elements that are necessary for all drama.  He collected these elements in “Poetics” a treatise that is used to this very day.  

It is amusing to consider that his treatise was named Poetics but the subject was about the superiority of drama over poetry (epic poetry in particular).  But I digress.

So why do I nominate Aristotle as the original brand guru?

Because Aristotle was the first person to identify the principles that are necessary to define and create a brand today.  Everything that he had to say about drama can be applied to the most successful brands.  Everything.

The first step is to understand what are those principles or elements.  In a later post I will give specific examples of how they apply to branding.  No doubt many will occur to you as you read through this.

The six elements are translated in slightly different ways in my three different translations of Poetics.  I will phrase or paraphrase in a way that makes sense and is true to the meaning — at least as best I can.  To all scholars of ancient Greek, please forgive my trespass and liberties.  And by all means contribute to the dialog!

Plot: what happens during the play

Characters: who are the characters in the play, their roles and relationships

Thought or Message: what is the underlying moral or political message of the drama

Spectacle or staging: the scenery, sets, props and stagecraft 

Diction or poetic language:  the verbal style, the spoken words of the characters.  Aristotle addresses the importance of metaphor and metaphorical language in particular.

Song or music:  how the harmonies, rhythm, instruments and voice all appeal to our emotions through our ears

Aristotle went on to explain and explore each of these six areas, although not in equal depth.  Much he had to say about plot and relatively little does he spend on spectacle since much of that is the ingenuity and artistry of the stage manager and designers who are of secondary importance to him.

These same six elements have stood the test of time fairly well.  While others have added on and deepened the theories of Aristotle, none have surpassed its fundamental soundness and usefulness.  

As we were developing our own Narrative Branding (R) method, we immediately recognized how our framework and understanding of how to define and create a brilliant brand has much in common with Aristotle’s.  Finally, my MFA in creative writing has been put to good use!  

So, to answer the question above more directly, Aristotle is the original brand guru because he invented analytics and because he was the first to define the elements necessary for a brand to be great.  

Not bad for a man who never saw a TV ad.

The new buzzword is “flexibility”

I used to have a Gumby toy.  It was great because you could bend it into almost any shape possible.  In a world of stiff toys, Gumby had the magic of being flexible.

I sometimes think of brand positioning like those stiff, inflexible toys of the past.  The basic principle of positioning is that your brand stands for one thing and one thing only.  There is no flexibility for the changing marketplace.

By contrast, Narrative Branding is all about giving brands the flexibility they need for today’s dynamic marketplace.  

And marketing decision makers agree with the need for flexibility.  In case you haven’t see it yet, there is an article in this week’s issue of Adweek magazine that discusses our new study on CMO priorities, including the need for flexibility.

The sub-title of the article is “Perhaps the buzzword for ’09 is flexibility”

Everyone wants to be an expert on branding

There is a wonderful book by a man who is The Expert about everything.  Yes, I do mean John Hodgman.  His newest book is titled, “More information than you need to know”  He also has a pseudo-blog, filled with more information and expertise.

I am often reminded of Hodgman when I hear that some person or another is an expert on branding.  If you Google “brand expert” you will get 57,100 listings.  

So many experts, so little time!

I have always wanted to become an expert on branding.  Is there a course, like a PhD program, where you can get a diploma in branding?  If so, where do I sign up?  

Can I simply state that I am an expert on branding?  Maybe I can back it up with some credentials, such as saying that the BBC, the AP, USA Today, Adweek and Brandweek all acknowledge me as an expert on branding.  Maybe I can say that I worked at this advertising agency or that branding firm.  I can claim to have worked on this brand or that brand.  Maybe I just need to have a self-published book with a title like “My Cow Can Eat Your Cow”?

With so much expertise on branding, it’s a wonder that any branding actually gets done.

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