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Branding Strategy Insider helps marketing oriented leaders and professionals like you build strong brands. In brand management, there is a time for quantitative analysis and there is a time for qualitative discovery. 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.
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You’d be wise to consider the psychology of color when designing your marketing materials. For instance, have you noticed that most fast food restaurants are decorated with vivid reds and oranges? Ever notice that toys, books and children’s web sites usually contain large blocks of bright, primary colors? Market researchers have had a field day identifying the colors and the likely effect they have upon us. However, the effects of color differ among different cultures, so the attitudes and preferences of your target audience should be a consideration when you plan your design of any promotional materials. For example, white is the color of death in Chinese culture, but purple represents death in Brazil. Of course, you would test your ads and colors on a small market segment before rolling out a large scale campaign. Another oft-missed point is that many, (maybe 25%) of males have varying degrees of color deficiency. Demographics of the target consumer are extremely important to deciding which colors are best suited to a brand.
This new medium of TV advertising might have become appealing to the general population, but many digital strategists pointed out that it was likely to falter when it comes to targeting the younger tech-literate generations that had grown up with social media as their prime source of interaction. Another great USP for TV advertising was that it was actually much more of a social media than, er, social media. Obviously, the 60th anniversary of TV advertising is a cause for retrospection and reflection.
This thought piece is featured courtesy of Marketing Week, the United Kingdom’s leading marketing publication. With this recasting of the marketing landscape comes a need to build new skills within marketing teams and strategically craft the story structure of your brand. In this unique strategic storytelling workshop for one client brand, experts from The Blake Project utilize the screenwriter’s toolkit, best practices in brand management and resonant methods to build the most advantageous story structure. Leveraging screenwriting devices such as the inciting incident, the controlling idea, and genre, teams build a brand story structure that motivates target customers, provides strategic clarity, builds emotional connection and most importantly, identifies the unique and authentic company characteristics that drives all brand story execution. The workshop is designed for 8-15 people and can be equally effective with only marketers or a cross-functional group. Marketers have long ignored what storytellers have relied upon for centuries as a critical shaping force in story creation: genre. For brands interested in diving deeper into story design methods and application, the two-day version of this workshop builds the Brand Narrative Support Map. Developing a compelling story for your brand is not an exercise in copywriting, instead strategic brand storytelling expresses the universal and differentiating truths behind your marketing.
Please email me for more about how this strategic workshop can help your brand use the power of story to move its target audiences. In this article in Business Week, Howard Schultz talks about how the mighty Starbucks brand lost its way – mistaking aroma rather than coffee for the core of its business and embarking on a strategy that saw it shift seriously off-course. We talk a lot these days about thought leadership – but really, I see that as a component of a bigger objective: market authority. The first decision is obvious – decide what you want to be the authority in as a brand, and keep the faith.
Thirdly, stop doing those things that don’t reinforce your authority, even if they were your ideas in the first place. Fourthly, stay away from the middle ground – because while that common congregating place might be the most comforting, especially in softer market environments, it is also the place you are most likely to suffocate any authority you had in the marketplace. The conundrum faced by brand leaders is when authority no longer equates to growth or profit.
Perhaps adding #6 – Determine an authority that has the elasticity to give you long term growth. You can, and must, give those organizations identities so that they can be recognized and contacted but that doesn’t make them brands.
While an organization may not commercially compete it does compete emotionally for respect, loyalty, commitment, liking, being understood etc. A number of companies have asked us to move their brand from a  position based on unique product attributes and features to a brand that is highly emotionally connected to its customers based on aspirational qualities and shared values. If you want your brand to connect with people on a deep emotional level, qualitative discovery is the approach you want to take. 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.
Be it business card, brochure, web site, posters or other material, you’ll be making color choices. Young children prefer these colors and respond more positively than they do to to pastels or muted blends. Check out web sites belonging to companies with marketing budgets that allow for extensive research into what sells best. Let’s say that you are selling books for young children, but you are marketing to grandparents. We recently rebranded a firm with primarily Chinese clients and chose red as the logo color (its their color of luck). Rather than look to the future, an anniversary inevitably makes us look back – in rose tinted glasses – rather than celebrate the current and future potential of something. Too many digital savants have already predicted the death of TV as a marketing medium and this 60th anniversary risks becoming a wake if we are not careful.
In fact, go one better and completely erase TV advertising’s long and storied history from your brain.
Prior to the invention of TV advertising in 2014 most advertisers had become used to reaching single digits of the U.K. Many social media traditionalists sneered at such a huge audience and assumed it must have come at the expense of actual time spent with the medium. Imagine their amazement when TV quickly became popular with even the youngest and most digital demographics. Six times as many viewers said they would talk about TV ads than those they had encountered on so-called social media. Throughout the history of social media there had been debate after debate on what ROI was, whether it was even relevant and how it should be measured.
But don’t think for one minute that TV advertising is ready to retire and reach for its slippers just yet. It provides critical context to the audience and makes them more receptive to the story they hear or see. It manifests in a one-page strategy document that often plays the role of the brand creative brief to support teams. This critical document captures each existing company initiative that supports the brand story, and identifies those that need to be created in order to build the strongest story possible. The problem, as Schultz explains, is that by the time the company realized that they had diluted their brand position, breakfast sandwiches had become 3 percent of the company’s total revenue. You may or may not want to be the biggest in a sector, but the article says there are three actions that you need to take if you have lost your mojo and, like Starbucks, are looking to re-establish brand authority.
Schultz recognized that while CDs, movies, and breakfast sandwiches all represented revenue streams, they also cluttered stores, diluted the brand and eroded its authority.
In Starbucks’ case, that meant perfecting new roasts and shutting down every store in North America for an afternoon to retrain its baristas. I guess, the second decision you mentioned concerning doing everything you can to keep your authority, is the most vital tip. They need to stimulate recognition, preference and loyalty based on interaction and clear senses of expectation and delivery.
Non-brands are judged on their ability to frame, uphold and deliver on robust systems and processes.
As the world has discovered on a number of occasions, bad things happen when you let brands run riot without market controls and equally when you ask public-good entities to suddenly adopt a commercial model when there are no competitive forces to keep them in check. I have exactly the same issue with a Government-linked project I’m working on in the UK. Without knowing who you are referring to (naturally, that’s a matter of confidentiality) can I speculate out loud whether the problem is actually the purpose? Some of these organizations have sophisticated brand management functions with rigorous quantitative research and analytics. BSI is a service of The Blake Project, a leading brand consultancy based in the United States, serving marketers around the world. Was it because you liked those particular colors, or did you have a particular marketing message in mind? Colors not only enhance the appearance of the item — they also influence our behavior. Jaguar markets to people with high incomes who view themselves as sophisticated and look for a prestigious vehicle.
You’d probably design the books in bright, primary colors (reds, blues, yellows) to appeal to the children who will use them. I have found a list from the Branding Strategy Insider that describes what each of the colors mean.
That’s certainly been the case with the 60th anniversary of TV advertising which has proven to be an orgy of nostalgia for chimps in bowler hats, old men looking for books about fly fishing and small boys pushing yon bike up yon hill with tha’ bread in’t basket. Rather than look back at TV advertising’s greatest moments I would much rather celebrate its current awesomeness as a vital marketing tool.
Imagine TV ads were invented in 2014 by a young media planner who suddenly realized that you could insert several short promotional films into TV programming to market a variety of branded products and services.
Social media, after all, boasted a whopping two hours and thirteen minutes of activity each day across its platforms.
In 2014, after just one year of existence, TV watching and the ads contained within had become the dominant viewing activity of 15 to 24 year olds.


They may well use social media as a channel to do the talking, but the vast majority of the brands and ads that are being discussed there are those featured in TV advertising. The new medium of TV advertising learned from these mistakes and commissioned expert and objective assessments that demonstrated that, on average, every pound invested in TV advertising returned ?1.79 in profit to the advertiser. Because the way to the audience’s heart (and loyalty) is through compelling and memorable story.
With the perfect blend of methodology education and hands-on creation, this workshop gives marketing teams a repeatable method for brand story design. Genres exist in every industry and the organizations that identify and adhere to their genre build stronger customer relationships and are more resilient in the face of competitive threats. The demands associated with a single page produce very critical thinking about what is truly most important to the brand and its audience.
This piece ensures that workshop instruction transitions seamlessly into real-world application. But the question is rising, what is harder to implement – establish or re-establish (meaning to recover after fail) the authority?
Their authority in logistics and customer recommendations as allowed them to expand into a myriad of categories beyond books…and now into devices like Kindle. But sometimes organizations with an identity work best if they don’t try to behave, or think of themselves, as brands.
They compete for opinion with those who disagree with their politics, they compete for priority with policymakers, they compete with other NGOs for loyalty and for donations and support.
Because unless it is inspiring, challenges what people strive to achieve and informs the framework within which the programmes sit, and there are values to guide the behaviours for people operating within those programmes, then it is probably closer to a statement of hope than a statement of purpose.
Unfortunately, some of these companies also insist that we conduct quantitative research to discern statistically significant differences between how their brand delivers on a variety of product functions and features (and sometimes customer benefits) versus the competition rather that yielding to a process that identifies deeply held customer values through qualitative research and then links those values to authentic brand values through a more intuitive and exploratory strategic process. While visual appeal is an important consideration, your color choices could be sending a specific message to the people who view them.
You will do well to consider the impact that the colors you use will have on your target audience. People from tropical countries respond most favorably to warm colors; people from northern climates prefer the cooler colors.
However, the marketing materials (web site, brochures, etc.) would be designed with grandparents in mind. Rather than the old girl on the block, imagine how TV would be viewed versus the more traditional social media options like Facebook and Twitter if we’d only just discovered it. Instagram, Pinterest and Linkedin for example all hovered around 9% of the British population. With 41% of their audience time spent watching TV it had become almost three times more time consuming than social media each day. We will review genre possibilities, identify one major and two minor genres, and outline their implications on company storytelling. By practicing this level of focus upstream in the strategy process, all downstream execution – both product and marketing – becomes much more consistent and resonant. We also cover principles of cinematic marketing in day two and evaluate the role of video in marketing over the next decade for organizations of all types. Recent reports suggest they’re moving into mobile wallet because they have 230 million credit cards (and a lifetime of shopping data too) on record. There are of course parts of the public and local government sector that are contestable – and there the dynamics of brand work well.
You can’t brand public health, airport security, food regulators (in fact regulators of any sort) etc. My sense is that they can’t be regarded as brands – they may be wearing the clothes but there are no values to communicate. You might decide to go with blues (trust, reliability), pinks (nurture, sweet, security) and yellow (happy, playful). Twitter impressed even more with 19% and, of course, Facebook with 43% reach was the big daddy of them all. The average viewer watches 3 hours and 44 minutes of TV each day – exactly the length of Gone with the Wind. I believe brands fundamentally require a competitive environment in which to actually work.
Equally in the NGO sector, one of the most competitive sectors of all in my opinion, there is huge opportunity to use brands to good effect, although many don’t.
Similarly, whilst the organisation has a defined purpose, there is no commercial goal to work towards. You can imagine the incredulity of marketers after the launch of TV advertising and the astonishing realization that its reach was 94% of the population. And within that activity, each viewer sees 45 TV ads each and every day – akin to watching a whole Seinfeld episode just containing TV ads. But today, they’re central to brand marketing success in a changing world where marketing channels have become much more dynamic and the consumer is seeking relevant content in all marketing touchpoints.



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