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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: 5 minutes)About five million dollars. That’s the cost for one of this year’s 30-second Super Bowl ads.
For most of us who lead challenger brands, that kind of outlay simply isn’t in the realm of possibility. As underdogs, we’re used to doing more with less.
The Super Bowl – and, in particular, the hype surrounding its ads – is perhaps the greatest example in business of flawed thinking on a grand scale. Though attention is heightened during the big game, viewers are primarily looking to be entertained. (This is how we get a Bud Light ad with “caucus” jokes. Oof, you are so ribald!)
Of course, ads that entertain don’t necessarily sell. And challenger brands know that it’s all about selling.
So let’s talk about what the rest of us can learn from this year’s Super Bowl ads. Continue reading “Super Bowl 50: 7 Lessons for Challenger Brands”
(Reading Time: 3 minutes)We’ve all seen them: The pipe dreams that are presented as “strategic plans.” Plans that seem to have no tether to reality. Plans that nobody believes in (but that somehow get approved).
There are many reasons such unrealistic plans survive. The organization may encourage activity, not results. Leadership may not be grounded in the planning process, and are thus unable to guide it. Politics may replace objectivity. And so on.
No matter the roots of the issue, I’ve found that one question is particularly useful in making a huge leap toward strategy that truly works.
That question is four short words: Continue reading “The Most Important Strategic Question You Can Ask”
(Reading Time: 3 minutes)It was the greatest upset in Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) history.
Rousey entered Saturday night’s fight as the bantamweight champion. She was undefeated – 12-0 with 9 arm-bar submissions. Her prior three fights had lasted 34, 14 and 16 seconds. (Those aren’t typos.)
By the end of the night, the belt belonged to Holm, about a 10-to-1 underdog before the fight began. Holm knocked out Rousey less than a minute into the second round with a vicious kick to the head. But Rousey was losing the fight badly before that.
What can challenger brands learn from this shocking upset? Continue reading “What Challenger Brands Can Learn From Ronda Rousey’s Stunning Loss”
(Reading Time: 4 minutes)There’s a curious tendency these days to bemoan the “disloyalty” of consumers. But is consumer loyalty really in decline?
Some like to point to studies like Deloitte’s annual “American Pantry” study, which this year reported Continue reading “What You Need to Know About Superior Consumer Loyalty”
(Reading Time: 4 minutes)Most brands are challenger brands. Probably yours.
It’s not just a matter of share. If you have fewer resources than your competitors, you’re a challenger brand. You might have a smaller budget. Lower awareness. A short-handed sales team. Or all of these, plus a few things I haven’t listed, you lucky devil.
I’ve been fortunate to work on challenger brands for my entire career, in both brand management and consulting. I say “fortunate” because victory is sweeter when you come from behind, or when you achieve more with less.
Around 20 years ago, I was the brand manager of Airheads candy. At the time, our two largest competitors, Skittles and Starburst, outspent us by about 20 to 1. Despite this, we tripled our sales in less than five years. And we launched what became the fastest-selling non-chocolate single in the country. (The Airheads 6-bar package can still be found near cash registers today.)
The lesson I learned early: Continue reading “Two Rules for Winning for Challenger Brands”
(Reading Time: < 1 minutes)Almost every industry has its Goliath – its Walmart, its Amazon, its Home Depot. And once a Goliath emerges, challenger brands generally react in one of two ways: Fatalistic resignation or invigorated creativity.
This morning, NPR ran this piece about New York City’s Posman Books, the rare independent bookseller that’s actually growing. They’re doing it by tailoring each store to the needs of its consumers. The Grand Central store is very different from the Chelsea location. Continue reading “Facing Goliath? Pick a New Target.”
(Reading Time: 2 minutes)During the Discovery phase of a recent project, I was fortunate to spend some time chatting with the company’s founder. Though he’s no longer very active in the business, he clearly conveyed the values on which the company was founded three decades ago. The employees live these values to this day.
He’s a wise, charming fellow, full of character, and I could really see why his customers loved him. Among the dozens of kernels of wisdom that I gathered in that conversation, one really stuck with me. When I asked him about the history of the company, he wrapped up a story of impressive growth by saying simply:
“The experiment so far has been a success.”
The more I think about this statement, the more I like it, and it reflects an excellent attitude for business-builders to adopt. Let’s break it into pieces:
Continue reading ““The Experiment So Far Has Been a Success.””
(Reading Time: 2 minutes)Within your company, who really builds the brand? Which department is responsible for brand-building?
Trick question! The answer is “All of them.” Everyone plays a part in delivering on the brand positioning and bringing the brand to life.
Let’s use a hypothetical consumer packaged goods company as an example of “who does what” (the parallels to your own company should be easy to see):
Continue reading “Who Really Builds the Brand?”
(Reading Time: 3 minutes)At two different coffee meetings, I ask two designers to tell me who their ideal client is. Both answer confidently.
Andy tells me this: “I can do it all – logos, print, graphic design, web – and in all kinds of industries.”
Beth tells me this: “I excel at serving clients who either need to build a visual identity from the ground up or completely overhaul an existing one, and then apply it across multiple media. My expertise is particularly deep in B2B. And my minimum for an integrated project is $20,000.” Continue reading “Who’s Your Ideal Client?”