Sometimes it takes a brave brand to inject some fun... but it is such a fine line. What do you think? (Video)
I remember giving the Dove campaign to MBA students when it broke. It was a great example then of authentic marketing.
One of the teaching points I made then was that Dove would NEVER be able to go back to the traditional 'glamour' positioning of beauty products.
They haven't ... yet. And cudos to them. This is viral-worthy...
It is always dangerous to write about companies when you have no special access, but I thought it was worth doing some homework on one of the brands to seem to have a track record of success in curve jumping. And maybe there is something we can learn from it.
Nike, originally known as Blue Ribbon Sports (BRS), was founded by Philip Knight and Bill Bowerman in January 1964. The company initially operated as a distributor for Japanese shoe maker Onitsuka Tiger (now ASICS), making most sales at track meets out of Knight's automobile
Went in-house and started manufacturing shoes. Allegedly the first pair was manufactured using a waffle iron. Of course since then they have built up a world-renowned supply chain that has survived all the sweetshop scandals and continues to deliver.
Consciously and overtly focused on creating the brand – rather than merely advertising their products. Their first efforts in 1976 were successful, but it was in 1988 that the Just Do It campaign idea and brand creative was conceived. Interestingly, the ‘swoosh’ was created by Caroline Davidson (an advertising student at Portland State University) in 1971 for only $35.
Retail & Distribution was resolved and they opened their own stores – not so much as retail spaces but as brand experience domains. Eventually the stores became somewhat more traditional as the company rolled out in non-flagship locations.
Nike has recently launched Fuelband – which seems to point to their strategic thinking. Jeremiah Owyang points out, named this as an emerging disruptive technology, and is termed Quantified Self. (Also called wearable computing, these body reading sensors harvest, analyse, and provide insight to how our bodies are working.)
How does NIKE do this?
Their history suggests that they have a track record of making good, successive strategic decisions. Every organisation eventually gets it wrong, but they have shown remarkable perspicacity in a fickle and extremely competitive industry.
I think the partial answer to their continued success lies in their tagline, which is a piece of copywriting & creative genius from When Dan Wieden of Wieden+Kennedy.
As an external observer, it appears as if the brand has become synonymous with the culture of the organisation. And if I am right, then the semiotics of the design is revealing.
Originally it was conceived to represent the wing of the Greek Goddess (of Victory) NIKE.
Additionally, it also very fluid and dynamic shape – that suggests flexibility and non-conformity.
(Interestingly, they have underplayed ‘victory’ as a brand element and managed to define victory as something that is personal to the buyer/ brand user. This is fortuitous as we are entering the ‘WE’ era… and mainstream brands that are positioned as ‘ME’ brands are in for a torrid time.)
Paradoxically, the brand still manages to convey that it is a ‘tick’ which conveys multiple meanings:
- a tick of approval (positive)
- authorised by (which lends authority to the brand as an arbiter of right and wrong)
- the right thing (as in not wrong)
The ‘swoosh’ is also a progressive shape that points to the future in an upward motion – and conveys the idea of action.
It has an interesting history:
The unlikely inspiration was the story of a killer Gary Gilmore, who had received the death penalty for murdering two people in Utah in 1976. Just before a firing squad did their duty, Gilmore was asked if he had any last words. “Let’s do it,” he simply said. When Dan Wieden wanted to create a tagline for Nike a decade later, Gilmore’s words came to mind. “Let’s” was changed to “Just” to add a dash of emphasis.
But, in my humble opinion, the final stroke of genius was adding the full stop to the tagline. Punctuation marks are actually quite rare brand creative because it generally distracts. In their case they actually included the full stop.
This suggests that it is the final word. Nothing to follow: no arguments, no excuses. JUST DO IT.
And that is exactly what Nike has been doing for many decades, and it has allowed them to jump the curve at every inflection point.
And that is the secret of jumping the curve: it requires you to actually jump – not just think about it.
Do you wonder if this will work? Here is the proof. You are watching a piece of their content.
Does share-of-culture equate to revenue increases? Mmmmmh - that is an interesting question to which I don't have a complete answer.
About four years ago I contributed to The Age Of Conversation - so that says something. By the same token, I observe a great deal of wank being purveyed by faux-gurus of modern marketing.
Their approach to research is changing - and I am pleased to say that I have been advocating that most current research methods and programmes are redundant.
Another interesting point is that they are entering a marketing domain that does not demand that you be a big operator just to play. How nimble will they be?
Finally, in their telling of the story they might reveal more than they intend. Behind it all I hear the sub-text of the marketer who wants to control - even if they are reacting only, they still want to steer the conversation.
How would you like to partake in a conversation that is being 'steered' by a dominant party? Mmmmmh....
All up about 18 minutes - well worth watching both videos.
Would love to hear your thoughts?
I can hear the objections:
- I can't do that.
- Only in New York - it won't work here
- There is only room for one.
That would kinda be missing the point. This is not the only way to tell a story and this particular business model is not the only one that will work.
This ad is good on many levels - and made to go viral. It works:
It captures authenticity by
- - poking fun at the the product's weaknesses in a subtle way.
- - nailing the right tone and pace to match the message
- - not overtly selling, but encouraging a reconsiderration
And importantly, It appeals to the WE values that are increasingly dominating our communication. Have a look.
The kinds of things we do - in case you were wondering - is making knowledge like this useful for brands in the retail environment..
Apologies once again for the numerous re-posts. I have been on the receiving end of those before and now I know why: Feedburner going nuts.
Your reward is 20 minutes with Neil Gaiman. I promise it is worth it.
Allow me to propose a logical argument first:
Retailing is the PROCESS of offering a product or service to satisfy a (potential) demand.
This process requires certain knowledge and skills.
Assuming there is a market for your product, there are only two ways of getting better (making more money) at retail:
1. You can change the processes/activities that constitute the process = sell different products or change price points etc. (Manage the retail mix.)
2. You get better at this process by acquiring the relevant skills = get better at selling the same products at the same price points.
This is as basic as ABC.
A. The Process.
The ‘funnel’ has been done to death, but it conceptually holds true.
You must (1) attract potential customers, and then (2) convert them into buyers and finally (3) retain them.
Retail couldn’t be any simpler.
You put in place the strategies and the activities that will create a customer flow through this (virtuous) funnel.
It therefore makes sense to measure what you are doing, how well you are doing it and possibly even how that compares with the industry standard.
B. The Metrics
Each of the metrics below relate to one of the three stages of the funnel.
1. Awareness (Attraction metric)
I am not a big fan of reach and frequency type measurements since they merely measure potential. Actual brand awareness measurements are more useful. And for a smaller business it can be as simple as asking your customers some basic questions.
2. Head/feet count - (Conversion metric)
A simple measure of counting the feet or the heads or ‘visits’ in some form is vital because this simple piece of data makes for rich information. All the measures that follow are based on getting an accurate number here. Get this wrong and you will never really know how productive your staff are, or how (in)efficient your sales processes are or how effective any retail operational changes are.
3. Capture Rate (Conversion metric)
This is often a bit more difficult to do (% of passing traffic you capture) but if you are in a shopping centre, you may be able to get reasonably reliable estimates from centre management on feet counts through certain doors/ down certain malls.
4. (Shopping)Trip Duration (Conversion metric)
One of the most reliable indicators of eventual basket size is the time a ‘browser’ spends in your store. (One specific study By MIT in a specific store revealed that every 1% extension of the shopping trip increased the average sale by 1.3%.This means an extra 2 minutes of shopping can increase sales by 13% if the average duration was 20 minutes.) But then again, the service is usually such that people don’t want to hang around…
5. Conversion Rate (Conversion metric)
This is the ‘crunch’ metric: % of store traffic that purchased. Everything that you do, everything you have done in your supply chain, in your marketing and in your store culminates in this number. Unbelievably, too few retailers measure this consistently and accurately.
6. Average Sale (Conversion metric)
Most independents focus excessively on the sales/ revenue for the day/week or month. I would argue that it is almost irrelevant. Certainly as a staff engagement tool, the idea of sales targets in a retail store based on total sales is a complete waste of time. Sales people know (if you don’t) that they have very little influence over the total sales. But some measure of an average sale/ basket is measurable even if only one customer entered the store.
7. Equity (Retention metric)
Finally you want to measure in some way the loyalty or value of your customers. This may range from the more esoteric ‘brand equity’ measures, to a simple number of ‘likes’ on your Facebook page or subscribers to your newsletter. You may gather by now that I would favour something like a repeat purchase rate or the number of visits per week/year etc.
From this list you will note that I elaborated on the conversion metrics more than attraction/retention metrics. This is because the latter are easy to understand and relatively easy to execute.
Conversion metrics, however, are where I believe we can really make a difference, and it happens to be the one which I don’t see often enough.
C: The Skills
The required skills set can be grouped into the three stages of the process too.
As a retailer you need communication skills to create awareness, interest and desire in your product. This can be anything from advertising effectiveness to learning how to tweet. We are currently assisting a retailer (one store, an online presence and a direct importing business) to resolve their brand architecture. As small as they are now, they are already finding it difficult to justify the costs of going through this exercise and losing brand equity in one of those businesses. Even if you don’t think of yourself as a brand – you ARE a brand and your customers think of you in a certain way. This requires strategies and resources and skills to excute.
2. In-store Experience
Note that whilst you may recognise the skills-sets listed below as ‘funnelling’ the customer towards the eventual sale, it is not a sales process. It is a structured way to deliver the experience – that translates into a (mutually beneficial) transaction – more often than not.
The four key skills here are:
- Perceptual: How to read the customer and the environment. (Spotting signals, reading body language.)
- Approach: How to approach a customer in such a way that they welcome it and the sales person feels comfortable doing it.
- Connect: This is the crunch stage: Make an emotional connection with the customer with what you do and what you say.
- Enable: Not sell, but help the customer buy by saying and doing the things in a way that maintains that emotional connection. This would include, for instance, the requisite product knowledge and so forth.
3. Community Engagement
This is NOT CRM – but about creating an environment where there is a dialogue in a non-threatening (desirable, actually) way where the past customers become brand advocates – not for what you get out of it, but for what they gain. (We started a program 4 years ago for a large publisher, and they are now reaping the benefits from these relationships as the industry is undergoing much turmoil – because the initial design of the program was solely about adding value to their distribution network.)
All of the above is reflected in this diagram below:
Apologies for a long post, but it was important.
In the beginning I said it was simple. I did not mean that it was easy.
In fact executing ‘simple’ is never easy. It is hard. But that, dear reader is the game we chose to play – and admit it – you love it too :).
Ganador is a learning and development agency that turns employees into brand ambassadors and suppliers into partners. Email Dennis with questions.
[Apologies to those of you who also/ already get our newsletter - The Winners' Circle.]
Included in our irregular, somewhat eclectic newsletter on all things business/ retail/ marketing/ entrepreneurship/ personal development/ learning and occasional nudity - we also include a 'feature article'.
In this issue I attempt to make sense of Positioning, Point-of-Difference and USP and a few other things - with a 'case study' approach.
A few excerpts below -- to get the whole thing, inlcuding graphics etc, subscribe at our homepage and we will send you the link - and it goes without saying that we will never spam you or do other funny things with your email address.
Hypothetical scenario: You run a retail store that sells directly imported homeware.
There are many competitors – from the dollar shops, to the big furniture retailers.
How do you find a niche, communicate that to your customers in such a way that you have a sustainable business?
A basic understanding of the various (related) marketing concepts has practical benefit.
We know that successful brands are successful businesses, but because we do not appreciate the difference and the linkages between the various concepts, we fail to build good brands. (Colours, names and logos come should come last, but usually that is where businesses start.)
[It really looks better and makes more sense with the graphics.]
#1: What is Point-of-Difference?
Point-of-Difference describes how you differ from your competition. It is synonymous with Competitive Advantage.
- Your POD usually emerges as part of the process of evaluating your business using the SWOT framework.
- Your USP is not your POD.
- Your POD leads to your Positioning.
- A POD could easily be strategic, logistical or even internal differences. Your POD provides you with a competitive edge. You must find out what your POD is – and then how you leverage that into a consumer advantage.
For example: In our hypothetical example we have identified the POD as ‘access to overseas markets’. This competitive advantage allows you to position yourself as a low cost provider OR position yourself as being able to supply a different range or you could position yourself as quicker/easier/saver of time etc.
*#2: What is Positioning?
Positioning is how you want your customer to think of you. (Your ‘position’ is the space you occupy in the mind of the customer.)
Positioning is not point of difference; it is not your USP or your value proposition.
Positioning is what marketers do in order to get their customer to think of the product.
Consider how the following products have ‘positioned’ themselves:
- The go to place for… birthday cards
- The drink to get if you are thirsty and hungry
- The car to buy if you like driving
In order to conduct a positioning exercise, we usually recommend it is done on a two-dimensional matrix.
#3 What is Proposition?
Proposition is the overlap and combination of the Product X Price x Brand.
- Your Product x Price is your OFFER.
- The OFFER + BRAND = your PROPOSITION.
Value Proposition is tautological concept – because a proposition always contains a value (price) component.
Every business has a proposition; and that is essentially a description of the business model. The strategic question a business must ask itself is whether there is a market for its proposition. This is the reason why you formulate your proposition.
In this example, the business owner must ask itself:
Is there a market of people who want to buy value homewares easily, without hassle? (Or is that wishful thinking?)
#4. What is Unique Selling Proposition?
USP is also a redundant concept. A proposition is always made/ offered/ presented to the market, so it is by design ‘for sale’ so calling it a selling proposition is unnecessary. It’s a bit like saying you have a four-wheeled car.
The fact that your proposition must be ‘unique’ is essentially unattainable in the new economy where consumers are globally connected. Any advantage from a ‘sales’ proposition perspective is temporary at best.
Your POD, on the other hand, is something that differentiates you from the competition and allows you to gain a competitive advantage which can be leveraged into a unique (free from competition) position.
Any proposition is potentially unique anyway if you consider that a proposition incorporates your brand – which is hopefully unique.
USP is simply how you would describe your positioning statement to a customer. Whenever you do this, you will verge on pushy selling – so use with caution.
Your BRAND PROMISE should be executed in such a way that you don’t need to push a USP down any customer’s throat anyway.
Inter-relationship between all these concepts is explained in this graphic below.
In our hypothetical example, this retailer created the following typology of marketing concepts:
- Product >>> Homewares
- Brand Essence >>> Australian, Local, Friendly (Laid-back, Aussie style)
- Prices >>> Below Market
- Offer >>> Value Homeware
- Proposition >>> Hassle-free, Value Homewares
- Positioning statement >>> The Easy Option
- USP >>> No worries
You will now be able to create a brand that is different, sustainable and effective.
Now you have created the framework to develop your BRAND. The brand should reflect and communicate these strategic marketing decisions:
Brand Essence can allow you describe the brand attributes.
Positioning can be translated into a Tagline: ‘Nothing is too much trouble at AussieStyle’. (A tag line or a strap line is a consumer –friendly expression of how you want consumers to think of you and that is why advertising agencies like to use it in the communications.)
You don’t start with a logo and work from there.
You start with the market, identify the opportunities and evaluate your strengths and weaknesses in the context of those opportunities.
You then take your major strength and articulate that into a Point of Difference which becomes or is your key competitive advantage.
You don’t change your tagline unless you change your positioning.
You don’t change your positioning unless your POD is annihilated by circumstance and you consequently have to find new ‘space’ to occupy.
Just because you become bored with a brand does not mean you should change. Get a hobby instead.
Not all ads have to scream buy me - only X dollars. Sometimes the ad just wants to make you buy the product. And this is a grand example.