Vivaldi Partners CEO Erich Joachimsthaler
I was asked to speak at the Corporate Image and Branding Conference yesterday about “Strategic Brand Management: Reaching your Stakeholders with a Comprehensive Strategy.” I thought about what it is that an audience of CMOs would want to hear about, and so I asked myself what is it that every CMO is asked to achieve. CMOs are often tasked with driving top line growth and market share while better defining the brand and value proposition and optimizing the marketing process in order to maximize business performance.
Often marketing is approached in one of two ways. You may work at a company with a “product benefits perspective” mindset where your growth as a business is driven by tech innovation, new products, new applications, disruptive innovation. Yet that can have its downfalls. Netflix is an example of this, when they thought they knew better than the consumers by splitting off their business streams and increasing the prices.
The other mindset is a “consumer-needs” perspective, focusing on customer orientation, customer satisfaction and customer-centricity in general. As marketers, we can become obsessed in finding that perfect slogan or tagline or defining the DNA of the company. But in that marketing-only mindset, we still have a problem. Everyone knows about the failure of relaunching the Tropicana brand a few years back from its iconic straw-in-orange logo to a more generic look. It’s so obvious that even my then 10-year-old son recognized it. He asked for me to buy him some orange juice, but when I returned from the deli, he declared definitively, “This is not my juice! Mine has the straw in the orange.” Tropicana traded away its brand equity in an attempt to stay relevant.
However, there is the third way that’s not all about differentiation or all about relevance. Rather, and this is the Vivaldi way, marketers should look at the eco-system of the consumer by honing in on their goals, processes, methods for decision making. As a consumer, my goal was not to find a better orange juice, but to be a good father by picking up my son’s orange juice. As marketers we need to look from the outside-in and see how we can fit into the lives of our consumers and how can we add value?
The classic case study is Nike. They didn’t study how customers use their shoes or wear their apparel, but studied the weekly routines of consumers to come up with Nike+. It’s been such a success that 40% of visitors switch to Nike shoes, even though you can use Nike+ with any shoe!
The takeaway here is that to drive top-line growth, you don’t change brand identity every few years – that’s just confusing and expensive. You look at “How am I going to fit into the consumer’s life?” and “What’s the bigger opportunity?” I predict that this is the beginning of Nike transforming itself from a sports and apparel company to something bigger.
Now with the new Nike FuelBand, Nike has also “owned media.” Unlike paid media (a Super Bowl ad), or earned media (word-of-mouth, traditional PR), Nike has its own media channel to communicate through. Many great brands have a lot of paid and a lot more of earned media, but not much owned media.
Being obsessed with relevance and differentiation is a bit of a romantic dream that we marketers are chasing. The real question is how do we achieve deeper engagement with our brand and the consumer? This is something that our Social Currency study also looks at, by comparing the Social Sixes of building strong brands.
In marketing, we need to challenge ourselves beyond just top-level growth, but to wholly change our approach to strategic brand management by looking at the consumer’s eco-system.
- Erich Joachimsthaler