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In part one of this blog I talked about what a brand strategy really is versus what it is not.
As you begin to reflect on the business goals of your company, make sure your focus is in the right place. What are the most important, tangible desired outcomes for business growth that you are willing to commitment to and strive for?
How do you prioritize your target markets & customers?  Where is the greatest growth opportunity today, and long-term? Do your customers have unmet needs that neither you nor your competitors are currently filling? I will not be discussing differentiation or value propositions heavily in this article, but please watch for the next blog in this brand strategy development series because the topics of differentiation and development of a value proposition are both critical elements that cannot be neglected in order to successfully develop your brand strategy. Your company’s growth goals should be possible to achieve; but now is not the time to be conservative. Consider your willingness to adapt as needed to meet your goals, and decide which ones you are motivated to achieve. Are you willing to physically expand your reach via the addition of acquisitions or new operational locations or are you only interested in growing within the confines of what is possible by maintaining your current physical size and geographical locations?  Are you willing to add staff resources that can impact growth? The final piece of the brand strategy development process I’m going to discuss in this article is “perception.”  If you recall, the perception of your brand really is, to a large degree, your brand. Remember, your brand is not what you say it is, nor is it necessarily what you think it is.
After documenting your current beliefs about what you want your brand perception to be and what you think it actually is, the next challenge is to find out what others really think it is. You need to provide an opportunity and encouragement for your employees, vendors, and customers to express themselves regarding their perspective of your brand. Through a series of one-on-one discussions with those who interact with your organization both internally and externally, you’ll begin to solidify the knowledge of where you currently stand in terms of brand perception and image.
Now, the  moment of truth: compare the themes from your interviews, and the way your staff believes your brand is perceived with your desired brand perception.
Many industrial companies find the prospect of managing this process overwhelming, or simply don’t have the resources to dedicate to it. Marketects was founded in 1999 by Kerry O’Malley, a proven marketing communications professional in international, manufacturing companies.
So successful was the collaboration that Nike and Jordan launched a new brand variant called the Air Jordan line of sport shoes. This channel now being used by many brands around the world raises some crucial questions about ways brands are built and also about the impact such collaborations have on branding. Even though to an observer it may seem that Nike’s success is totally based on Tiger Wood’s association with the brand, nothing can be far from the truth. Attractiveness of the celebrity: This principle states that an attractive endorser will have a positive impact on the endorsement. Credibility of the celebrity: This principle states that for any brand-celebrity collaboration to be successful, the personal credibility of the celebrity is crucial. Meaning transfer between the celebrity and the brand: This principle states that the success of the brand-celebrity collaboration heavily depends on the compatibility between the brand and the celebrity in terms of identity, personality, positioning in the market vis-a-vis competitors, and lifestyle.
Even though these three major principles must be adhered to by companies, practically it might be difficult to find celebrities that satisfy all these three conditions. Consistency and long-term commitment: As with branding, companies should try to maintain consistency between the endorser and the brand to establish a strong personality and identity.
Celebrity–brand match: Consistent with the principles discussed earlier, companies should ensure a match between the brand being endorsed and the endorser so that the endorsements are able to strongly influence the thought processes of consumers and create a positive perception of the brand. Constant monitoring: Companies should monitor the behavior, conduct and public image of the endorser continuously to minimize any potential negative publicity. Selecting unique endorsers: Companies should try to bring on board those celebrities who do not endorse competitors’ products or other quite different products, so that there is a clear transfer of personality and identity between the endorser and the brand. Timing: As celebrities command a high price tag, companies should be on the constant lookout for emerging celebrities who show some promise and potential and sign them on in their formative years if possible to ensure a win–win situation.
Brand over endorser: When celebrities are used to endorse brands, one obvious result could be the potential overshadowing of the brand by the celebrity. Celebrity ROI: Even though it is challenging to measure the effects of celebrity endorsements on companies’ brands, companies should have a system combining quantitative and qualitative measures to measure the overall effect of celebrity endorsements on their brands.
Trademark and legal contracts: Companies should ensure that the celebrities they hire are on proper legal terms so that they don’t endorse competitors’ products in the same product category, thereby creating confusion in the minds of the consumers.
An important aspect that companies must note is that celebrity endorsements cannot replace the comprehensive brand building processes. If you find our thought pieces on brand strategy and brand management insightful and would like a deeper understanding for yourself, your marketing teams or leadership teams we can develop a tailored learning solution for you. Brand Education is a core competency of The Blake Project, the brand consultancy behind Branding Strategy Insider. Branding Strategy Insider helps marketing oriented leaders and professionals build strong brands.
Subscribe to Branding Strategy Insider Now and get regular updates and two FREE Chapters of Brad VanAuken's best selling book Brand Aid direct to your inbox. Direct marketers have long known something that brand marketers haven’t: responsiveness counts. Advertising Agencies win new business on creative — ideas that build client businesses. Advertising legend David Ogilvy left us with more than what it takes to make great advertising. Marketing is a complex blend of art and science, and if you talk with anyone in the profession today, they’ll tell you it’s only getting more so.
No review of the brand Jordan phenomenon would be complete without examining the extraordinary creative collaboration that Michael had with Nike’s premier designer and creative genius Tinker Hatfield. You see this in those interesting exchanges which begin, “We’re going to spend this … and we want to achieve this”. I would argue that the emphasis needs to be reversed, “To achieve this, we’re going to have to spend this …”. We’re much more susceptible to the power of suggestion than many of us might like to think – at least that was my take-away from more reading from Time: this time on how brands use buying suggestions to entice us to buy more than we might otherwise.


And that, as the article points out, is the key strategy here: to get consumers buying more than they would if there was no sale.
Recently, the research firm APCO Insight released its list of the top 100 most loved companies. One of my favorite questions when a brand leader tells me how much they intend to grow over the next 12 months is to ask them how much they think the market itself will grow. If a sector is growing at 3 percent and the brand intends to grow at 20 percent, that 17 percent difference is going to have to come from somewhere, probably a competitor.
Company growth is driven largely by market growth in the industry segments where it competes and by the revenues gained through mergers and acquisitions. Market share fluctuations by contrast account for only around 20 percent of growth differences among large companies.
At the same time brands need to be allocating resources to pursue emerging opportunities in areas of opportunity – in different countries, with new customers, with new or improved products.
Because M&A is such an effective growth tool, brands must also look for other companies to acquire that are similar enough to them to appear a natural fit and yet sufficiently divergent from the core brand to redefine the merged brand as a whole and open up new market opportunities. While brand managers tend to fixate on the third strategy – taking market share from competitors – it’s no surprise that this is the least effective growth strategy overall. I pointed out the importance of simplifying the brand strategy process and focusing on the four “M’s” of getting More Customers to buy More Stuff for More Years and for More Money. Senior leaders of Fortune 500 Companies are well aware of the importance of strategic thinking in business. By how much do you want your sales to grow in the next 12 Months, 24 Months, 48 Months and so on? The next step in this process is for you to evaluate how you believe your brand is perceived in its current form, and then compare that to the desired perception you want your brand to include, both internally and externally. It is not always easy to get everyone to express themselves openly, nor is it always easy to fully define the golden threads of similarity between the data you gather from your employees, vendors, and customers. Outsourcing this strategic brand development can be a smart decision for more reasons than a lack of time.  Having a 3rd party to facilitate discussion among your key shareholders and to conduct “brand image” interviews can provide you with fresher, less biased observations and evaluations.
It was recently ranked as the world’s 25th most valuable brand in terms of its brand value – USD10.8 billion – by the annual Business Week’s global top 100 brand survey. Nike pulled off a very similar coup in the sports industry when it joined forces with the ace golfer Tiger Woods to enter the golf category with its apparel, equipment and accessories. In a market with a very high proliferation of local, regional and international brands, celebrity endorsement was thought to provide a distinct differentiation. As a brand, Nike has established a very strong brand identity and a brand personality over the years. The endorser should be attractive to the target audience in certain aspects like physical appearance, intellectual capabilities, athletic competence, and lifestyle. When a brand signs on a celebrity, these are some of the compatibility factors that have to exist for the brand to leverage the maximum from that collaboration. Depending on the nature of the brand and the kind of product being used, companies can selectively emphasize one factor over the other.
More importantly, companies should view celebrity endorsements as long-term strategic decisions affecting the brand.
One of the most effective ways to do this is to ensure that celebrity endorsement contracts are effectively drafted, keeping in mind any such negative events.
Companies should ensure that this does not happen by formulating advertising collaterals and other communications.
As branding evolves as a discipline companies must be extra cautious to utilize every possible channel of communication rather than just a celebrity endorsement. As practitioners and educators we deliver interactive brand education workshops and keynote speeches designed to align individuals and organizations on essential concepts in brand management and empower them to release the full potential of their brands. Army and Wyndham Worldwide are some of the organizations that have turned to The Blake Project for help in meeting learning objectives. We focus on sharing thought provoking expertise that promotes an elevated conversation on brand strategy and brand management and fosters community among marketers. In this speech to the 4A’s (the American Association of Advertising Agencies) 1980 Annual Meeting, advertising legend Bill Bernbach, outlines his personal philosophy on creative genius. It hints at an irony: a business model where the thing that makes you popular is not where you make the money.
They need to be promoted, they need to be maintained, they need to be serviced … just to keep them going. Start with the outcome, and then determine the level of energy required to achieve it, both in ideas and spend.
Gourville, a Harvard Business School professor of marketing who specializes in studying pricing strategies.
It seems we respond positively too to the suggestion of limitation – imposing a limit of two per customer or six per customer incentivizes people to buy right up to that limit. Try with this, add that, good with three of those, best value when you buy six of them…and then look to put a limit on how many. Their study measured consumer attachment to brands based on eight emotions: understanding, approachability, relevance, admiration, curiosity, identification, empowerment and pride.
In other words, how much organic growth can they expect the market to give them just for participating versus how much do they think they’re going to have to “find” somewhere else? A company whose revenue increased more slowly than GDP was five times more likely to succumb to acquisition than a company that expanded more rapidly. The companies that compete in the right places at the right times achieved strong revenue growth and high shareholder returns and are more likely to be active acquirers of other businesses. Together, they account for nearly 80 percent of the growth differences among large companies. A brand cannot afford to pull back from business as usual in order to refocus because doing so makes it vulnerable to acquisition. That in turn means that the brand must be flexible enough to incorporate participation in these areas of opportunity into its DNA.
From a brand point of view, M&A injects new ideas, footprint and customers into a brand’s equity. Join us for The Un-Conference: 360 Degrees of Brand Strategy for a Changing World, May 2-4, 2016 in San Diego, California.


At the end of part one of this brand strategy development series, I began to discuss the benefits your company can enjoy if you grow a strong brand. Frustrated over the lack of attention and level of enthusiasm she was looking for in the marketing agencies she worked with, Kerry realized that there was a definite need for a full-service marketing firm that specialized in working with industrial companies. In spite of many market maneuvers (such as the recent merger between Adidas and Reebok), Nike has remained the leader in its category.
But over the years, many aspiring brands have jumped on to this celebrity endorsement bandwagon. What Nike did was to use celebrity endorsement as one of the main channels of communicating its brand to a highly focused set of customers. As celebrity endorsements act as an external cue that enable consumers to sift through the tremendous brand clutter in the market, the credibility factor of the celebrity greatly influences the acceptance with consumers.
When all other steps in the branding process is followed and implemented, then channels such as celebrity endorsements can provide the cutting edge as it did for Nike.
BSI is a service of The Blake Project, a leading brand consultancy based in the United States, serving marketers around the world. Please take a moment today and think about the agency, consultancy — corporate culture you are creating or influencing. Hatfield currently oversees Nike’s Innovation Kitchen as VP for Design and Special Projects. I think it’s analogue – and by that I mean the things that are hard to reproduce and share quickly. Sure, I can watch and share the videos but the atmosphere, the conversations, the networking – these are things that affect each attendee individually and so are impossible to reproduce generally.
And the things that make you money are sufficiently removed or different from what makes you popular in order to be limited.
The second statement begins with the outcome and attributes a required level of energy to achieve it. It’s a little like saying that you’ll put a certain motor in a car and aim for it to reach a certain speed. But it’s an approach that makes the creatives and the planners sweat because the emphasis is on actions and results rather than impressions.
Consumers, he says, tend to follow the suggestions listed in brochures or store aisles, so people tend to buy the amount, or buy in increments, that are advertised.
To make sense of how to organize and co-ordinate these ideas, we need to rethink our very understanding of growth.
And it must find the resources and the energy to move within the faster-growing segments it has identified to procure footprint and top of mind, again without losing sight of what makes the brand distinctive from its competitors. A fun, competitive-learning experience reserved for 50 marketing oriented leaders and professionals.
If you haven’t read part one yet, this would be a good time to take a moment to review those brand strategy details and practice the exercises discussed. Why then would you not place a high level of importance on the strategy involving the face of your organization and how it is perceived, both internally and externally? She resolved that her clients would always receive the highest level of service possible and never feel like the last kid chosen for the team. Nike is also very well known for another aspect and that is its consistent use of celebrities to endorse the brand. Moreover, golf being a very elite game, it was generally considered that a brand like Nike would not be very successful.
Even though endorsements have taken on a quasi-industry stature, there is hardly any hugely successful collaboration as those of Nike’s. So, Nike’s association with Tiger Woods was one of the parts of an entire branding process that Nike has been practicing consistently.
If they see five for $5 or 10 for $5, they buy five or ten, regardless of the fact that they normally buy three. Expanded market participation focuses on giving customers more than they expect right now through the introduction of products and ideas that build on buyers’ understanding.
It lifts what customers think of the company and introduces new skills and ideas that broaden the offering. Yes, it removes weak players from the market but it can also set off price wars that can seriously undermine pricing and do nothing to cement loyalty.
In fact one of the most successful collaborations between a brand and a celebrity is that of Nike and Michael Jordan. This might have probably been true had Nike chosen the traditional path to building its equity in the golfing arena. Contrary to this, most brands that have used celebrity endorsements have used it as the main brand building tool. Once a book exists as a file or a link, reproduction time and difficulty of access plummets. And you have to keep coming back and paying again and again to access more TED experiences.
Disney beat everyone (OK, maybe that’s not so much of a surprise) and Apple came in at ninth (which certainly would surprise many). Sustained brand growth is premised on increasing the value for customers, which in turn lifts revenue and demand.
Brands focus on this because their current competitors are the brands they compete against each day.
But Nike chose to associate with the best golfer in the world and have him endorse the brand. So each of the strategies identified by McKinsey needs to be analyzed in the light of how customers benefit rather than what the brand gets out of it.



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