Browsing articles from "May, 2010"

The Value of Staying Focused and Taking a Stand

May 24, 2010   //   by Michael   //   Articles, Blog  //  Comments Off on The Value of Staying Focused and Taking a Stand

By Michael Tanenbaum

FocusThe job of a corporate branding initiative is two-fold: to provide focus and clarity to a client’s long-term strategy; and to position the client to stand for something in the minds of its customers. Our job, as a brand strategy firm, is to be the guide, build the foundation and fashion the tools that reveal the brand platform, provide the focus and inform the stance.

Be focused.

If you have a great product, focus on building it and selling it in the right places. Don’t expand too quickly. Your brand is your legacy and your reputation. Resist the temptation to expand with more varieties and flavors, prices and services across too many new markets.

When Steve Jobs returned to Apple in 1997, the company had a proliferation of over 15 product lines and models supporting a variety of price points and an R&D effort that was diversified far beyond their core computer business. The stock was under $13 per share. Jobs simplified the product line to three main product families, introduced the iMac, and slowly refocused the company. Thirteen years later, Apple is a $240 billion juggernaut, yet its brand platform is still based upon no more than five major product categories at any given time.

POM Wonderful makes pomegranate products high in anti-oxidants. They’ve kept a laser focus. Yum Yum Donuts is still in the fresh donut business after 40 years. They haven’t updated their formula because it still works. Inn-n-Out Burger sells savory burgers. It has retained virtually the same menu since 1948 — quality you can still trust.

By contrast, FIJI Water is known for selling expensive bottled water from the South Pacific. It was once a bastion of exclusivity with a tightly controlled distribution strategy and a unique positioning selling to a core demographic of the world’s best hotels, restaurants and spas. It can now be found in supermarkets and discount chains, and threatens to erode into commodity status. A more viable alternative for these new channels would be to spin off a lower-priced and differently-named brand with its own customer associations.

Two more counterexamples are Starbucks and Dell. Starbucks used to be in the designer coffee business. Now they sell music, a million varieties of food and other accessories — and cheap, instant Via coffee in every grocery store you can think of. Focus has given way to clutter. Dell used to be in the custom mail-order computer business. Nobody could touch them on price or quality. Now they sell generic commodity-priced laptops in mass retail chains. And their stock is in the toilet. Focus has given way to irrelevance.

Take a stand.

As consistently articulated rather eloquently by Guy Kawasaki, if you want to stand for something in your customer’s mind, then you can’t stand for everything. This is a mistake that many companies make.

The Macintosh is a polarizing computer. It was designed for typographers, graphic artists and design geeks for whom computers are not machines but extensions of their own fun, whimsical personalities. The Toyota Scion is a polarizing car. It was designed for 25-year-old adventurers with snowboards and a golden retriever, not 45-year-old mothers with four kids.

Some people will love your product and evangelize its benefits. Those are your customers.

Some people will hate it with a passion. Those are not your customers.

That’s far more preferable than people not caring about your product. Those will never bring you customers.

If you take a stand, if you innovate, some people will inevitably not like what you do.

So what?

Bill Bernbach, founder of the DDB ad agency, once said, “If you stand for something, you will always find some people for you and some against you. If you stand for nothing, you will find nobody against you and nobody for you.”

Don’t establish a mediocre brand just because you want to reach as many customers as possible. Stay focused. And take a stand.

Bring the Conversation to Your Customers

May 17, 2010   //   by Michael   //   Articles, Blog  //  Comments Off on Bring the Conversation to Your Customers

By Michael Tanenbaum

Tying together Brand and Social Media StrategyClients invariably ask me about the brand value of having a Facebook or Twitter presence. Indeed there is tremendous value in using social media to promote brands. The real value, though, lies in integrating the social media strategy into a broader brand strategy that includes a deep understanding of your customers’ needs and desires. It is not enough to have social media tools; it is about using the right social media tools to nurture and cultivate an ongoing conversation with your most esteemed customers and fans.

Let me explain by example.

I recently attended a large event at the Hilton Hotel in Costa Mesa, a venue known for its conventions and meetings. I was most intrigued by the video screen in the hallway touting the hotel’s presence on various popular social media destinations.

Why does this matter?

It matters because Hilton Hotel in Costa Mesa has a Twitter presence with over 2,200 followers and 1,000 tweets. This specific hotel is actively using Twitter to post room promotions, push sponsorships and publish links to other businesses that are relevant to its customers. By reaching more than 2,200 influential and plugged-in customers, they are not only engaging those customers but also promoting their brand platform. (Its regional cousin, Hilton Anaheim, has even more: nearly 5,000 followers and over 3,000 tweets)

But Twitter is not where it ends. The Twitter campaign plugs into Hilton Costa Mesa’s broader social media strategy, including a Facebook page and a branded YouTube channel promoting the hotel as “Southern California’s premiere meeting destination”. It also features a blog that offers such goodies as a referral program specifically for the social media community.

Similarly, Hilton Hotels, the parent company, has a suite of iPhone apps for its hotel chains that enables travelers to book a hotel room, check in remotely and even order food — all from the comfort of their own iPhone. It seems that Hilton is angling to be THE destination for business travelers who are already avid and connected social media users. And Hilton Costa Mesa is carving out its own social media credentials by closely connecting itself to its most technology-savvy customers.

Where are YOUR customers hanging out online? How can you bring your conversation to them? Do they tweet about your service on Twitter? Comment about your product on Facebook? Buzz about your company on Google? With what promotions can you reward your most valuable customers? How can you provide them with an efficient and painless user experience?

Follow, engage, reward, challenge and energize them!

Let’s talk!

Feel free to contact me by email!


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