The Blake Project’s sole purpose is to help our clients build and communicate brand value. One of the ways we accomplish this is by sharing our expertise on brand management through the leading source on brand strategy and brand management, Branding Strategy Insider. Here we have answered hundreds of questions on brand management and have published thousands of thought pieces.
Some of our most popular thinking is below.
Igniting Brand Growth Via Emotional Connections
Nobel Prize winning research in neuroscience and behavioral economics proves that all humans are irrational, emotional creatures. Both marketers and consumers believe they are in control of their decisions, but research is increasingly proving that assertion wrong. There is something deeper going on at a subconscious emotional level. Marketers that understand this and that harness the power of emotions are today’s true brand builders and are uncovering new opportunities for growth faster than their competitors.
Apple’s Emotional Right Space
Let’s take a look at Apple, one of the most valuable and impactful companies in the last century.
The Power Of Brands Lies In Shared Values
Brands, just like people, have values – bedrock principals they stand for and hold near and dear to the heart. These principals form the reason brands exist. Brand values influence two important business assets – relationships and reputation. Relationships are built on trust and reputation is built on delivering on your promise.
In our over-crowded, me-too marketplace, points of difference that are function and feature based are no longer sustainable. Consumers today are tuning out marketing and tuning in to those brands that represent shared values. Forward thinking marketers recognize their brand building initiatives must focus on relationships and reputation.
Nothing else really matters.
I Am The Brand
To align brand relevance, the makers and the users need to see their own reflection in the mirror of the brand.
Strong (cult) brands really matter to people. However, in practice, brand’s can become lazy and so can their brand managers. Before brands loose their relevance, there’s always a period of complacency in brand management. When people stop seeing their reflection in the brand–then people stop caring (buying your stuff). You can’t advertise your way out of that problem.
It’s important to remember: I am the brand.
Achieving Brand Differentiation
If properly designed, brands should promise relevant differentiated benefits to their target customers. Carefully choosing the most powerful benefits will not only result in brand preference, but brand insistence. That is, the brand will be perceived to be the only viable solution for the customer’s need. Put another way, the customer will not pursue substitutes if the brand is not available. The brand establishes a consideration set of one.
The optimal benefits for a brand to claim are those that are:
The Strongest Brands
The strongest brands aren’t created with a logo or a tag line. They aren’t created with an advertising campaign. They aren’t even created with a product or service. They begin with a compelling vision—a vision whose foundation is deep customer insight. The insight may be informed by personal experience, in-depth research, active listening, intuition, or one or more of many other paths to customer intimacy.
Brands With Vision Can Find Opportunity In Chaos
Like a raging storm in the open sea, the waves of change come at brand marketers from all directions. There is no eye in this perfect storm – no brief moment of calm to prepare for the next big wind to blow your business off course. The world is changing so fast most brand owners can hardly manage the process of learning what’s necessary to master to keep their ship afloat in all the apparent chaos surrounding them.
From the media we hear daily about the dire circumstances facing all of us on the planet. The stubbornly slow global economy, dwindling resources, over population, political uncertainty and global unrest are taking its toll on the collective creativity and resourcefulness necessary for humans to solve the wicked problems we have created in our modern age.
Everything is different now – profoundly different. Yet it is out of and from chaos that all new order is born. And we are at the beginning of a new order. That’s very good news for those brand marketers willing to view it as such and act accordingly.
Brand Strategy: Win By Creating New Value
Many marketing people are obsessive about the urgent work of competing rather than the more important work of creating.
The Drivers Of Brand Storytelling Strategy
Customers own the story of the brand now. What brands say is far less important than what brands actually do to serve the well being of the faithful. Whereas before, the brand conversation was based on delivery and interruption, successful brand conversations are now participatory in ever more technology driven channels.
Storytelling is at the very heart of how we humans share and connect what we value about our heritage, our communities and ourselves. Brand storytelling is about connecting the outer value the brand provides to the inner values of the customer. There must be a deep affinity between the two or the relationship is just a transaction.
Brands Must Be Built On Emotional Benefits
Emotional and psychodynamic factors are long known to drive brand selection and loyalty. Even in today's price-sensitive economy, the imagery attached to brands goes far beyond product attributes, functional benefits and price.
All products and brands develop personas in consumers' minds. All project varying user images, which differ by audience. Members of one audience may buy a product because it makes them feel affluent. Members of another, which values thrift, buy a brand because it makes them feel like smart shoppers.