Monday, November 16, 2009

Nice and Aggressive: Post 3 of 3

We've discussed the importance of pride and desire for a brand to establish confidence and consistency. For a brand to ultimately establish a tone that is direct and positive there is one last piece in the puzzle.


The last component of success for a brand to pull of being nice and aggressive is trust. You can have confidence and create desire in the mind of consumers. You can own joy and blanket the side of every bus in North America with your message, but if you break your customers trust it is all for nothing. Breaking trust doesn't just mean lying to them. It means:

  • using one price point as bate and switching it with another when customers inquire.
  • setting up false expectations for a product based on the desire you've created. If you're T-Mobile and you say "life is for sharing" but fail to offer reliable or convenient service, you've failed to backup your promise. If you say you're better, cooler, happier or faster than be just that. Don't confuse customers with clutter and detailed product messages.
  • allowing customers to wait for more than 2-3 minutes to talk to a representative.
  • calling or emailing customers who have not asked to be contacted. Getting an email address for info about Product A doesn't mean they want to hear about Product B or C.
  • failing to help a customer because you only empower your employees to follow a procedure rather than provide a solution.
  • providing a warranty* or guarantee* - no *, it is either guaranteed or it isn't.
  • Being aggressive in mass media and but not offering the price to the mass market.
  • Using contracts as excuses to keep your customers from being treated fairly and as valuable consumers
  • Using mass media to shout out offers and expecting anyone to care. For people to notice you need to build trust. If you break the points above, everything else you say will have less credibility and will reflect on your brand across the board.
What other ways to do brands break trust? I'd actually like to build a list.

To recap, for a brand to be positive and aggressive they need to be confident and consistent in each consumer touch point (product, advertising, customer service, etc)

To be confident and consistent, a brand needs to build on three pillars:
1) Pride
2) Desire
3) Truth

If all three pillars are covered, consumers will grant the brand permission to reach them at higher levels of engagement and will ultimately make choices to choose this brand even in the absence of a promotional campaign or even with the abundance of a rational alternative. This brand will own the consumers share of mind and stand for something greater than the features its product delivers.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Nice and Aggressive: Post 2 of 3

We started this discussion on the premise that the ability for a brand to succeed requires confidence and consistency. One of the first pillars to ensure that a brand to reach this level of confidence and consistency was for it to emit pride. The second pillar is desire.

Rule #1 in sales is to build desire with your prospect. The same goes for brand development. If consumers feel that there is pride and confidence in a brand they will start to pay attention. Step two is to ensure that the brand offers something they desire. This can tangible, like an innovative product. It can be communications based, like excellent customer service. Or it can be in-tangible, like a promise to be better or a connection to an emotion (i.e.: Life's for sharing - T-Mobile).

For 90% of the brands out there, the product or service they are selling is not massively different from its competition. The employee (if they have pride/confidence may say it does) but to most consumers it does not. This is the biggest reason why finding a desire point that is bigger than the product you sell is essential to delivering a positive and aggressive message to consumers. If we look at Computers, Soft Drinks, Mobile Phone Carriers, Furniture, Cars, Clothes - in every major product category you can find a core offering and match it to a set of needs and wants within the consumer market. It just so happens that if someone is looking to show the world that they are worth more than their neighbor, they'll buy a Mercedes instead of a Buick. Although Apple is innovative as an organization, as a brand they dominate cool. The core message they deliver is that they are cooler than everyone else. Regardless of how innovative HP is able to be, they will never (at least within the current branding landscape) be cooler than Apple.

Think about this...does your brand own a desire that is greater than the tangible features of its product?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Nice and Aggressive: Post 1 of 3

Can a brand be positive and aggressive? Can it hit hard but come off as nice in the minds of the consumer? The simple answer is yes.

The complicated answer has to do with confidence.

The next three blog posts will explore three pillars of the pillars to build a brand that will allow a brand to be positive and aggressive in brand communications and actions

If the nature of a brand is to be positive and optimistic - think Pepsi (joy), Coke (open happiness), Apple (experience) - it will have a hard time pulling of assertive messaging unless it shows consistent confidence. The brands I've mentioned have the distinguished fortune of providing exceptional products, however the core of any brand does require confidence and consistency so that consumers allow their message to be heard.

Emit Pride
The first step for a brand to combine positive and aggressive messaging is to show pride. Pride in itself, its people and its products. This should not be confused with self-centered advertising. It means that if the brand is going to communicate, each image, message and media will reflect the pride and confidence this brand believes in.

If we dig one foot deeper, the core of any brand are the people that stand behind it. Employees require pride and confidence in the brand for this to end up as a believable proposition in the minds of consumers. If an executive team/customer service department/marketing team/etc. cannot decide on a unifying message that describes the brand, pride will never resonate with the consumer, regardless of the clever tactics or creative advertising that are thrown at them.

There are a few industries that are often picked on by consumers and marketers for being wolves in sheep's clothing. They attempt to be nice but the core brand is focused on aggression. Think about some used car companies, insurance companies or telemarketers.

Look through your organization - do your employees show pride in the brand? Does your brand reflect this pride in its communications?