Archives for posts with tag: brand positioning


You invested years and millions of dollars developing a brand positioning. You sat through endless workshops and thousands of slides to come ahead of the competition and move your client/brand to the next level.

It took you gazillion meetings to get every stakeholder on the same page and everybody agrees to the new positioning.

And now it’s time to share your new positioning with the world. Millions of dollars are being invested to share your new vision with the ones that want to hear. Brain power that could light up Beijing is being used to developed integrated strategies.

And then the recall hit. A tsunami. An irreverent tweet. A customer service mishap that goes viral.

Millions of dollars: Gone. Wasted. Years of hard work: Gone. Wasted.

Your happy ads and smiling faces now seem so irrelevant and can’t compete with the reality of the news. That happy model doesn’t look like your customer service representative whose totally stressed out and can’t help but reverting to the script. Suddenly, your Alice-in-Wonderland-ad-world feels like a parody. The ivory tower of brand positioning while the world around you falls apart.

When life hits, it makes all your meetings and positioning documents look silly

The brands that survive these hits, these black swans, are the ones that live values and philosophies, not live them through decks and internal meetings.

These brands understand that life is not lived in the corporate ivory tower, it’s lived by real people dealing with reality. That means: stuff happens. Black swans will suddenly show up. And destroy your carefully developed strategy in one second.

A brand isn’t developed or positioned by sticking to a strategy document. A brand is developed by doing stuff that reflects your culture, your values, your beliefs. In a relevant way, tightly aligned with the needs of people.

It makes me sad to see how few Japanese companies have been able to turn the earthquake/tsunami into an opportunity to trust these companies for life. We read a lot about their supply-chain problems, they have given money but I don’t see anything that comes out of the core of the brand. Nothing that makes me believe or feels like it’s moving Japan forward.

People are fickle. We already started to move away from Japan and focus on Libya. The opportunity is slipping away. Your brand and reputation is built more in bad times than good, it saddens me that only a few have embraced this opportunity to live their brand values.

“We are all faced with a series of great opportunities brilliantly disguised as impossible situations.” –Charles R. Swindoll


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1. The strategy includes the fragment “we will drive traffic to the micro-site”

Micro-sites had their time but it’s a time long past. Building brand experiences totally removed from the platforms people use daily and share content with their Social Graph is a strategy destined to fail. And cost you a lot of money to “drive” people to that solitary microsite.

2. Customers are considered an audience

The majority of your customers have transformed from passive consumers to active producers. They review, link, share, write, create. Marketing is about behavior change. In this age, it’s almost impossible to turn passive consumption into active participation/behavior change. Instead, focus on digital initiatives that allow people to participate: polls, question, interactions, and co-creation.

3. A reliance on buying attention

Buying disruptive advertising to get attention is not as effective as earning attention through interesting content or collaborative efforts. Good marketing earns attention. It draws you in, it makes people give away their precious time to engage with the marketing product. It’s a story well told. It’s an insight revealed.

4. The strategy includes the word ‘viral’

The viral metaphor has been abused and misquoted until it lost all its meaning. You can’t create something that just self-propagates. People pass things around in the digital world for their own social reasons. Tap into those social reasons and you will be able to create a piece of content people want to share with others.

5. Social Media is regarded as another channel

All your traditional media (offline and online) has to be social: Feeding the social platforms you chose and feeding off them. Social is not everything but everything is social.

6. They talk all day long about brand positioning

We learned a long time ago that brands can’t be everything to everybody. Brand positioning was born. In an age where brands are defined by people, brand positioning has lost its value. Modern brands have a point of view. A very strong point of view that will turn off many people and turn on your customers.

7. The majority of objectives and goals are about media metrics, not your business goals

Would you rather have an advertising campaign with an engagement rate of 20% and sales increase of 0.2% or a marketing campaign with an engagement rate of 4% and sales increase of 12%? Real brand-agency partnerships look at the business holistically, not judge the performance by the media spreadsheet.

And a bonus sign:

It’s just about you and them. Not the customer.

Take your marketing hat off for a second: As a customer, would you like to get spammed 532 Foursquare offers when you walk around a mall? Or do you want something useful, something that improves your life? It’s so easy to fall into the trap of bright, shiny objects and squeeze everything out of them until they’ve become another spam bot. It might be beneficial for the short-term but it doesn’t do anything for long-term brand equity. Customers are not a walking wallet, they are a key stakeholder in the success of your company.