The Best Brands Use Feedback Loops Both Ways

Feedback Loops Matthew Fenton Chicago Brand Strategy
(Reading Time: 2 minutes)

Regular readers of this blog know that I’m an advocate of feedback loops.

There are dozens of ways that you can (and should) use feedback loops to better understand your consumers.  These include advisory panels, ethnography, surveys and so on.

But too often, we brand leaders forget that we’re an active part of these feedback loops.  We need to send signals as well as receive them.  And we can build stronger bonds by signaling the right things to the people we serve. Continue reading “The Best Brands Use Feedback Loops Both Ways”

Here’s How One Business Quadrupled Its Sales in a Flat Market

Matthew Fenton Chicago Brand Strategy
(Reading Time: 6 minutes)

For many leaders of smaller businesses, sustainable growth can be difficult to conjure up.  If that sounds like you, I’d like to introduce you to a company that should give you hope.

Consider these results:

  • This company has averaged 19% compounded annual growth over the last 8 years, with annual growth never less than 6% during this period.
  • This company doubled sales in one five-year period, and nearly quadrupled sales in eight years.
  • Notably, this growth was earned in a mature market that can be challenging to sell to.

And they did it without relying on any “secrets,” gimmicks or silver bullets.

Intrigued?  Let’s get to know them a little better.

Continue reading “Here’s How One Business Quadrupled Its Sales in a Flat Market”

In a Crowded Market, How Do I Create Brand Differentiation?

Nordstrom Macy's Brand Differentiation
(Reading Time: 5 minutes)

“We’re in a crowded market.  We have no meaningful advantage, and if we did, someone would copy it by next Tuesday.  So how do we create brand differentiation?”

This question, or some version of it, is one I’ve been asked most often in my 20 years of brand strategy consulting.

The good news: There’s always an answer, and I’ll point you to several areas of exploration.  The bad news: It won’t be easy.

Continue reading “In a Crowded Market, How Do I Create Brand Differentiation?”

Your Brand Is Not as Great as You Think It Is (And What to Do About That)

Brand Perceptions Cartoon


(Reading Time: 4 minutes)Here’s a statistic that I wouldn’t believe had I not measured it myself: 100% of my friends are excellent drivers.

I’m serious. You can ask them. Better yet, ask your friends for their assessments of their own driving skills. You’ll probably record a similar number.

I can find you a bunch of statistics like this.

In one survey of university faculty, over 90% rated themselves “above average” in terms of teaching ability. That’s right – 90% of these professors placed themselves in the top 50%. Continue reading “Your Brand Is Not as Great as You Think It Is (And What to Do About That)”

Dirty Marketing Tricks


(Reading Time: 3 minutes)Three weeks ago, I received an email from a local business publication I subscribe to. The subject line read:

“Action Required on Account No. ###”

The body of the email included the following copy (all caps theirs):

“Your print and digital access will expire if you don’t ACT NOW!”

“Don’t let your subscription end! RENEW IMMEDIATELY!”

Screen Shot 2014-09-05 at 2.32.59 PM
Part of the offensive email.

Continue reading “Dirty Marketing Tricks”

Four Brand Lessons from Lululemon


(Reading Time: 3 minutes)On Monday, Lululemon cut its revenue and earnings guidance sharply. This sent its shares tumbling more than 15%, to a two-year low.

This is the outcome of a pretty awful 2013 for Lulu, which included a product recall and comments from founder and chairman Chip Wilson that were, shall we say, a bit insensitive. (In December, Mr. Wilson announced that he was stepping down as chairman in June of this year.)

Lulu’s struggles offer us all an opportunity to brush up on some key brand lessons. From where I sit, the four most important lessons are these:

Continue reading “Four Brand Lessons from Lululemon”