Tag Archives: brand message

Never Contradict Your Brand

jm-fat-burneAs an exercise boot camp instructor, my guilty pleasure is NBC’s The Biggest Loser.  I appreciate the no-nonsense approach to weight loss:

  • Burn More Calories Than You Consume
  • Make Good Food Choices and Eat In Small Portions

So I was surprised to find Jillian Michaels – an extremely tough-minded trainer who thrives on reminding her trainees that there are no shortcuts to weight loss – lending her name to sell fat burning and weight loss supplements.
Doing so not only contradicts her brand; it also contradicts the Biggest Loser brand. Not surprising, as companies often contradict their brands.
For years The Home Depot swore it would never have sale prices because they always offered the lowest price.  Even before the economic downturn, they began offering sale prices instead of sticking with brand position as the lowest price provider.
Comcast promotes increased efficiency with the speed of their Internet service.  You can hear this promotional message at least 25 times as you sit on hold waiting to talk with a customer service rep.
A former client of mine wanted to be known for operational efficiency, but regularly invoiced their customers incorrectly.
Your brand is the combination of many things:

  • The customer experience with every touch point with your company
  • Marketing
  • Office/retail space
  • Packaging
  • Customer reviews
  • Web Site/Social Media presence
  • Invoicing
  • On-Hold Time/Messages
  • Guarantees/Return Policies

When managing your brand you need to evaluate your entire operation to make sure your message is communicated consistently. Any contradiction can begin to erode your brand without you even knowing.


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Filed under Brand Position

Your Audience Has Changed, Have You?

The Economist published an article discussing the impact the recession will have on people’s purchasing habits.

Typically we, as consumers, have short memories and as soon as things improve we go back to our free-spending ways. This time however, the article goes on to discuss, that this recession will have a longer lasting effect.

We can already see this in gas consumption as usage remains down even though the $2 average cost per gallon is 50% less than it was a year ago.

People are eating at home more.

People are saving more – in fact the saving rate in January ’09 reached a 15 year high of 5% compared to .1% the year prior.

Since the audience is adapting to this new economic reality, how have you adapted your message, pricing strategy, and brand to best meet the needs of the market?

Notice I use the word adapted and not changed.

I also hesitate to use the words discounting or rebates as they can negatively impact your brand long-term and your audience’s buying habits.  Just look at the big retailers at Christmas time – everyone waits for the big sale because they know it is coming and being known solely for discounts can devastate profits as well as your brand value.

Adapting your brand allows you to highlight how you are meeting today’s needs in a responsible and helpful manner.

For example:

  • Highlight the things that make your product unique and/or superior to the competition
  • Talk with your audience about the value your products or services provide
  • Help your audience save money in the short-term and over the long-haul
  • Reward them for their loyalty
  • Thank them for being a referral source
  • Discuss how you have been adding value to their lives for years

Target has done a nice job of this adaptation with their “redefining” campaign promoting the new movie night, the new girl’s night out, etc. while touting what makes Target unique – an inexpensive way to remain stylish.

The key is not taking things for granted or assuming things will return to normal.  That may have been the case in past recessions, but the severity of this one is predicted to make a significant change in people’s habits.

It’s your job to make sure your brand knows how to adapt.

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Filed under recession marketing

Jumping The Marketing Shark

I was driving to a client yesterday when I saw a billboard for Asian Pearl restaurant.  What caught my eye was this “asian” restaurant was promoting its Chinese, Japanese, American and Mexican buffets.

I think we have finally jumped the shark by trying to be everything to everyone.

Think about Asian Pearl.  If I want Mexican food, would I really go to a place that also serves Chinese?  And what are the chances that I am going to want a burrito, dim sum, sushi and a burger at the same sitting?

I come across companies doing the same thing all of the time.  Companies want to tell the world all of the things that make them great because they fear alienating anyone and missing out on a potential sale – especially in today’s economy.  Unfortunately, in communicating everything to everyone, you often speak to no one.

For example, Company A and Company B both sell pest control.

Company A talks about its customer service, efficacy, training, experience, number of locations, various services, and courteous technicians.

Company B gets rid of your bugs, guaranteed.

If you have a pest control problem, which message are you most likely to remember?

Now ask yourself, is your messaging as concise as Company B?

  • Look at your current communications, what is the key point you are trying to make?  If you are unsure, you can’t ask your audience to be able to discern it.
  • Is your message targeted to  a specific audience or does it answer a specific need?
  • Does your message provide differentiation from your competitors?
  • Do you have a message that is unique, even if for a smaller, targeted audience?

Sometimes this last point is the most important.  Will your business be more successful getting a small percentage of a large audience, or a large percentage of a small audience? (We will discuss this further in future postings).

That said, maybe I am looking at the Asian Pearl billboard the wrong way.  They could be targeting the small percentage of the population who can never decide what they want to eat and thus want a choice – unless they want Italian.


Filed under Messaging

Perfecting Your Elevator Pitch

Thank you everyone for the great response received from last week’s post on consistent brand message.  I also received many questions regarding how I evaluate an elevator pitch.  

My evaluation criteria is quite simple.  

First, is your pitch unique?  Can anyone else offer what your company offers?

Second, is it relevant to your audience? Unique is good, but unique things without relevancy don’t stick around too long.

Third, does it motivate your audience to take action?  This is the true test.  After hearing your elevator speech, does a person want to continue the conversation?

Fourth, do you have the support to back it up should your audience choose to continue the conversation?

Fifth, can you say it in 5 to 10 seconds?

The sixth criteria (not critical, but preferred) is making sure it is not filled with marketing fluff.

My elevator pitch is “M is for Marketing improves a company’s return on their marketing investment without increasing their investment”.  

It took me a while to get it to this point, but I have been pleased with how it is being received.  More important I have examples of how it has successfully been put into action for a variety of companies.  Lastly, it only takes me 5 seconds to deliver it.

Every company needs a good elevator pitch, having one is a big step in helping you market smarter.

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Filed under Elevator Pitch