Hello and thank you for visiting. You’ve landed on the homepage of Altacircle.com a blog focused mostly on digital marketing. I’m John and I’ve had the good luck or bad luck to work in interactive marketing since 1995.

Marketing is constantly changing and as they continue to put microchips in more places, more opportunites arise to do amazing things.

Enjoy and feel free to comment, disagree or even rant — it is all fun and a good use of time.

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An Old Speech from Berlin

Found an old speech I gave in Berlin 2007.  It was the first time I wrote out a presentation and learned it word for word, instead of preparing a set of notes and talking to them.

What is funny is how much the message is still relevant today, ten years later.

Strengthening and expanding a brand 

  • Introduction

Good morning and thank you for taking the time listen to my comments on branding for MVNO and mobile operators.  I hope you are looking forward to Day 3.

You will be happy to hear is that I had considered doing a concentrated econometric analysis of the correlation between branding and ARPU growth across 15 international markets, but decided against it.  I’m sure you have already seen quite a few powerpoint slides over the last two days – seeing as speakers average 1 slide every 10 seconds at a conference like this and you’ve probably been in 10 hours of presentation which means you have already seen some odd 3,600 powerpoint slides.  I couldn’t possibly expect you to remember mine in such a state so instead I thought instead I’d tell you a story.

This is a story about brands and branding.  It is made up of 3 simple points that are easy to remember, can be simple to implement and do increase customer loyalty.  And loyalty means retention and revenue growth.

  1. 1 – Don’t Position yourself, Take a Position – There is no right answer, there is only one wrong answer — and that is not having an answer.
  2. 2 – Act, Don’t Talk – Your brand is not what you say, it is what you do.
  3. 3 – Communicate with the team – Don’t just talk to your customers, talk to your team and unite them around what you believe in.

Take a Position – There is no right answer, it is essential to have a single answer and believe it

What is the first thing we can learn from some of the most successful brands that have been built in the last decade.  Brands like Google, Apple, Skype, Nike.  These brands aren’t built on advertising, they are built on product innovation.  Product innovation and product communication that focuses around a single very strong belief.  Even in a commodity marketplace if you take a position, people will respond.

Google, Apple, Skype, Innocent Drinks – they are all single minded about what they stand for and focused all of their activity to reinforce a single message.

Google built a search engine after there were 5 other search engines in the market.  They said we will innovate to amaze people and they have done that with search, mapping, text link advertising and email.  There mission is to organise the worlds information – but there brand is based – in my opinion – on amazing people with what you can do with networked computers.  Apple focuses on simplicity and design.  Everything they do focuses on simplifying the task and make it beautiful.

At Ogilvy we call these positions a brand’s “Big Ideal.”  Simply put you need to ask yourself a simple question and continue to return to the answer.  The question is “The world would be a better place if …”  The world would be a better place if everyone could find anything they were looking for immediately online.  Google.  The world would be a better place if everyones electronics were beautiful and worked well together.  Apple.

For Dove, we believe the world would be a better place if women didn’t have a distorted opinion of beauty.  Dove is in a competitive market with a fairly commodity product but Dove believes in real beauty and all of its products and marketing comes back to this core thought.  What’s the truth about beauty? Dove recently set out across 10 countries and interviewed 3,000 women to find out.  They learned that

only 2% of these women describe themselves as “beautiful,”

About 3/4 of them rate their beauty as “average”

Almost 1/2 of them think their weight is “too high”
When Dove took the position that women should see their real beauty, it found out a lot of woman agreed and because they believe in what Dove is doing, they buy their products.

Action – Your brand is not what you say, it is what you do.

If you believe in something, you have the taken the fist step that organises everything you do but if you really believe in something, you can’t just talk about it.  You can’t market with claims, you need to market with services.

Nike says “just do it” and in 2001 it produced NikeID – a simple product configurator – call it a sophisticated online brochure – that allowed you to build your shoe online.  They also realised they could send that request to the factory and ship it to your house.  Now their website – which is a marketing tool – allows you to get the exact shoe you need to achieve your goals.

Take a simple sponsorship – The Run London 10k Road Race.  Yes, they put their banners on the course and hand out runner hats with the famous swoosh, but they also offered an online tool that allowed runners to upload their favourite runs, share them with their friends, and track their progress in training for the event.

Today they’ve taken this idea on step further.  Nike Plus is a monitor that records how you run and stores the information on your iPod which can then be synchronised with their website.  This is a 20 Euro gadget – it started as a sales promotion with Apple – but given Nike’s obsession with helping people achieve their goals it lets you upload your numbers and your routes and your favourite tunes to a global community website.  Track your progress on individual runs.  Chart your calorie burn and compare it with other runners.

For Dove the services we’ve offered are a Self-Esteem Fund for young girls.  A global forum where people can discuss issues around beauty.  A commitment to using real women in all of its advertising – even if it takes 3 weeks to cast the perfect 50 year old for a Pro Age advertisement instead of the 3 hours with a modelling agency.

Nike and Dove understand branding and marketing today:  It isn’t about telling your customers that your product is better, it is about doing things for them and people like them that complement your product.

Communication – Speaking to your team as well as your customer

The final tip focuses on communication.  Today’s markets are complex and your organisations are run with smaller teams and everyone is incredibly busy.  I’ve made the point that unless your whole team focuses on the brand ideal, you won’t deliver for your audience.  The way this works is to take your “marketing idea” and communicate it across your internal teams from R&D to end sales.

This is a challenge – We all know we need our teams to be creative if they are going to be innovative and be relevant.  15 years ago you could simply tell the world that Gillette is “The Best a Man Can Get,” translate it into 50 languages and run your ads all with the same shot of the razor.  Not the blue one, the shiny cool silver one.  But what happens when you are asking your team to do events, you are expecting new applications on a quarterly cycle, that you need website applications – as well as tactical sales promotions to shift aging stock.  The answer is you have to give your teams more – you have to let them take the ideal and work with it.

The good news is that if you have a strong ideal and focus everyone on supporting this belief, your marketing will naturally fall in line.  The brand position isn’t just a tag line, it has to be a filter that can be used to evaluate marketing communications, website functionality, sales presentations, everything.

When Cisco says it believes it is the “Human Network” that is real amazing – not the routers and firewalls that make the IP network, it provides a single focus for its marketing organisations worldwide.  It sets a stake in the ground that focuses on the benefit – that people can collaborate, communicate and work together — not just the product features.  It forces everyone to return to a single point of reference whether they are an enterprise sales team, a direct marketer mailing small businesses or an awareness campaign for consumers that purchase through retail outlets and provides an easy way to say that work is “on brand” or “off brand.”

What is essential though is that the brand ideal is not seen as “just marketing,” it is seen as what the company believes in and everyone’s actions from product development, corporate management and local market sales promotion all rally around this one key point.

Conclusion

So, returning to our three key principals:

  1. Don’t Position yourself, Take a Position – There is no right answer, there is only one wrong answer — and that is not having an answer.
  2. Act, Don’t Talk – Your brand is not what you say, it is what you do.
  3. Communicate with your Team – Don’t just talk to your customers, talk to your team and unite them around what you believe in.

What does this mean for MVNOs?  It means you all need to find a brand filter that your teams can rally around and you need to raise it up so it is more then an ad campaign.  Only when you can come to a conference like this, or out on the strees with your customers, and have everyone give the same answer – that network is about phones that are fun, this network is about being a real reliable business tool, this is a network makes it easy for a parents to give a phone to their kids – then you will have real branding.  And if you deliver on your beliefs, you will have loyal customers.

On Dove, our Vice Chairman and creative director had an interesting experience.  He was in a London Taxi and mentioned that he worked in advertising and that he’d worked on the Dove campaign.  The taxi drivers reaction was “that’s those posters with the fat birds innit?  I like that, I can’t stand all of those ads with skinny bints – they’re not woman at all.”  It is pretty clear that the Dove marketers didn’t intend for their campaign to be remembers as a “Fat Birds” campaign but it does show that a big ideal can be translated into any language for any market – even East London hackney.

If you talk about something your audience believes in, they will talk about it and that is the most effective marketing of all.

Thank you.

 

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