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In my last post, I proposed five principles of brand differentiation:
- The goal is not “difference.” The goal is value and meaning.
- Differentiation is not something you find. It’s something you create.
- In branding, as in life, what we do matters more than what we say.
- “Best” is relative.
- Be precise with your Who. Be creative with your How.
These are the starting points. But if you’ve ever attempted to cut your own hair during a pandemic – speaking hypothetically, of course! – you know there can be a huge gap between “best intentions” and “end result.” Things go wrong along the way.
The same goes for brand differentiation. There’s the moment of inspiration, and then there’s all the hard work that comes after it.
Continue reading “Brand Differentiation: Ten Traps to Avoid”
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Harvard’s Michael Porter famously said that there are exactly two ways to compete: Cost leadership and differentiation.
Are you Walmart or Amazon? No? Then differentiation seems like the way to go.
Practical example: If you own an independent flooring store, and a Home Depot opens up half a mile away, do you really think you’re going to beat them on price? Time to start thinking about playing a game you can win.
The trouble is, many products, services and brands have no real point of difference. Which means they’re in trouble. If you’re not different, you’re dying.
So here are five “first principles” – mindset, not tactics – to help you stand out:
Continue reading “Five Principles for Creating Brand Difference”
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Walmart is the largest bricks-and-mortar retailer in the history of the world. This has been the case since 1989.
But think about how many other retailers have grown successfully since then. Here’s a partial list:
Target. Nordstrom. Costco. Amazon. Zappos. Alibaba.
Continue reading “The Thing About Goliath”
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Friends, the Super Bowl is just a few days away. That means the Super Bowl ads are just a few days away. And that means the advertising media, and a few pundits, are working themselves into a lather right about now.
Vaynerchuk. He’s on record as saying:
“Super Bowl ads are underpriced. Yeah, I said it.”Medium.com, Jan. 29, 2015
“When I buy my first brand, the first thing I’m gonna do is run multiple Super Bowl ads.”ANA Masters of Marketing Conference, 2016
See that? Gary Vee doesn’t even know what his product
or service will be, let alone anything about its market or competitive
situation, and he’s already committed to a tactical decision on its
behalf. This is obviously a problem, and
we’ll come back to it.
Continue reading “The Super Bowl Ads: A Guide for the Rest of Us”
(Reading Time: 6 minutes)By now, we’re at the point where we know what to expect from the Super Bowl ads.
Before the game, you could have jotted down a list of what you thought you would see, based on history. That list probably would have included:
- Celebrities galore!
- Animals (especially dogs) at their most undeniably adorable
- People or animals doing silly dances
- Inspiring Statements of High-Minded Purpose
- The unusual, the surreal, the flat-out bizarre (with or without reason)
- Production values to rival a summer blockbuster film
You can make this kind of list for almost any category. Sometimes, it’s comically easy to do. And the more “tried, true and expected” the items on that list, the more ripe that category is for some rule-breaking.
So who broke the rules with this year’s Super Bowl ads? Continue reading “The 2019 Super Bowl Ads: Who Unleveled the Playing Field?”
(Reading Time: 5 minutes)The last few weeks have been bad for Southwest Airlines.
So bad, in fact, that it’s fair to ask: Is Southwest still a great brand? Let’s discuss the cases for and against.
The Case For: Southwest IS a Great Brand
There was a time, not so long ago, when I would use Southwest in my keynotes and seminars as a clear example of a great brand.
I would start by asking the audience to join me as I painted a picture of Major Airline Advertising. This was easy to do, since Major Airline Advertising is both familiar and largely interchangeable. It might go something like this: Continue reading “Is Southwest Airlines Still a Great Brand?”
(Reading Time: 7 minutes)Quick show of hands: Do you have a marketing budget of five million dollars?
And if you did, how would you feel about spending it in 30 seconds? Because that’s exactly what last night’s Super Bowl advertisers did. Repeatedly.
That’s nearly $167,000 per second – more than most Americans earn in an entire year.
So I trust you’ll forgive me if I approach the Super Bowl ads, and the surrounding fanfare, with a healthy degree of scrutiny. I’m a brand guy – always have been – but I also know this: If it doesn’t sell, it’s bad branding.
And, based on history, most of last night’s ads did not sell. Continue reading “Six Important Questions for This Year’s Super Bowl Advertisers”
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“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?”
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At conferences and speaking events, one of the questions I’ve received most often – for 20 years now – is this:
Does branding matter in B2B?
The answer is an emphatic “YES.”
To fully answer the question, though, we need to first review what branding is and isn’t.
Continue reading “B2B Branding – It Matters, and Here Are 5 Reasons Why”
(Reading Time: 7 minutes)Who won Super Bowl LI? Besides the Patriots, that is.
For starters, Fox did pretty well. Days before the game, a Fox exec crowed, “We are going to finish with the highest revenue day in Fox history.”
When you sell dozens of Super Bowl ads for $10 million per minute, there’s probably a pretty good pizza party in the break room.
So advertisers must have done well too, right? Not so fast.
Communicus, a research firm, has conducted several studies of the effectiveness of Super Bowl ads. Their findings? Only about one advertiser in five actually builds its brand.
There’s a danger: Those of us without super-sized marketing budgets might be blinded by the hype. We might be inclined to believe that things like “likeability scores” matter. They don’t. Continue reading “The Super Bowl Ads: 9 Inexpensive Lessons for the Rest of Us”