Brand Strategy

Dynamic platform vs. traditional business strategy

By |2018-12-01T04:39:36+00:00June 27th, 2018|Categories: Brand Strategy, Business Leadership, Business management, Business Plans, Business Strategy, Strategic planning|

Our dynamic platform harmonizes your leadership team around a clear vision in one day and then builds momentum long-term, ensuring that vision becomes a reality. It could be called a “Strategy Platform”. But let’s not. Our approach is so radically different from the disappointing image “strategy” can summon in the minds of business leaders, we don’t like to use the word.

Unlike a traditional approach to strategy, our dynamic platform is an online, adaptive, affordable, collaborative method that guards against faulty conclusions or dust-gathering strategy documents because no one knows quite what to do with them.

Don’t settle for the traditional approach of just getting people on the same page, offer them a framework for smart improvisation.

Wondering if it’s actually possible? Over a hundred organizations have found it highly beneficial.

Check it out: http://visionplatforminc.com

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A short history of why we need to know how we are unique as an organization.

By |2018-12-01T19:01:40+00:00May 28th, 2018|Categories: Brand Strategy, Business Leadership, Business Plans, Grow Business, Smart Leadership|

It’s generally understood that brand, as the term is now used, began in the twentieth century. Linguistically it has a long history, but as it applies to the stakeholder’s image of a business, it has a fairly short one. All its diverse origins and evolutions could be investigated, but it’s not necessary to go that deep into history to gain an effective understanding. Simple definitions are the most useful.

An academic would be disappointed without years of research and pages of references, but smart business demands only the essential elements be evaluated and applied. That’s the difference between people who like to talk about business and those who like doing business—theory vs. hands-on implementation. Often, it is also the difference between a useful consultant who has the track record to evolve your company and one that has an impressive-sounding theory about “how one might grow one’s business.” Use caution.

The short story about “brand” goes like this: As the mass-produced products from the industrial revolution came to market, it created an identity problem in the local store. The question arose: How does one differentiate a new, modern product (like a healing salve, for instance) from the local product everyone has trusted for years? The problem of communicating the unique value of any given product was born. Eventually this created an entirely new industry category that became part art and user was no longer the priority. In fact, belief in the strength of branding made us consider whether a quality product was even necessary. Even those of us who made a living by marketing and branding started to drink our own Kool-Aid. We no longer felt the need to actually tell the truth about the products or offerings, because the brand was the thing that people would buy. There was no need to obsess over the product; that was the old way of doing things. Now all we had to do was tell the potential buyer what to think through great branding. With enough really smart creativity, we would motivate the purchase.

The hard thing for me to admit is that it actually worked for a period of time. Most of the buyers jumped on the branding bandwagon and were genuinely influenced by the grand illusions presented by marketers.

What could fill that huge gap in logic?
Emotion. Our affluent culture offered us, as consumers, far too many decisions to make in a typical day. We were grateful for anything that could speed up any of those decisions, especially one that is emotionally charged.

It’s impossible to know all the reasons why our culture, at least for a time, fell prey to the egotistical message of the Brand. But I’m pretty sure it has something to do with the fact that we evolved to a place where we had the affluence and leisure time to move higher up Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, without the discipline to do so.

Here’s what I mean by that statement: We, as a culture, had been working really hard—toiled through the infancy of the industrial revolution and a couple of world wars—and then the fabulous time-saving, pre-packaged goods rolled into our homes and made our lives a breeze.

That’s the point at which we became lost in the pleasure of our reprieve and quickly forgot why we had worked so hard. We wanted a well-deserved break, a little time to bathe in our newly won luxury. We lost touch with the bigger goals and meaning of life. Without a more noble pursuit that humans naturally long for, we were left with stuff, experiences, and purchases that we then used to make us feel alive and important. In that context, an exciting brand illusion appeared to be just the thing we needed. Good branding could offer us the timesaving, pre-packaged replacement to a meaningful life. Thankfully, this shallow solution was not going to last forever.

So now, we come full circle. We, as a culture, have begun to awaken and realize that without a reason for being, we will end up in a lost, pointless existence. Now, everything has shifted. We want more—more than just “stuff” for the sake of having it. We want more than the emotional high of associating our personal worth with the brands we choose. We want less jargon and more for our money. We want to save the trees, save the planet, save the children, and educate the poor, and we want a product that does what it claims it will do. Or we’re out.

This is an exciting time for those who prefer telling the truth. It’s encouraging that we are all demanding more from the products and offerings we spend our money on. It restores a little faith in human nature. But it will also increase the demands on the business owners to pay attention to their customers.

We’ve developed a method to produce the candor required to build a great brand.

Are you ready? Check out this self-assessment and find out in just a few minutes:

https://visionplatforminc.typeform.com/to/UO53uc

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One sure way to develop efficient tactics

By |2015-04-29T18:17:36+00:00April 29th, 2015|Categories: Brand Strategy, Business Leadership, Business Plans|Tags: , , |

One sure way to develop efficient tactics – Don’t roll the dice. All your
tactics can be very effective and efficient to implement once they are tied directly to your larger strategy. You can quickly evaluate each tactic based on your companies values, personality, positioning, SWOT, and consumer needs.

Here is an example of the potential cost of neglecting to directly tie
tactics to a larger strategy. During the Atkins Diet craze many potato chip companies who had solid growth for years were suddenly losing revenue. Sales and business development people were screaming for a diet product. Companies started reformulating their product line, designing new packages, creating new sales programs and new messaging—then the fad wore off. The image of their company had now become convoluted, and getting back their market share
likely was even more difficult.

This initial response was human nature. Of course, the natural response was to develop “diet products.” Without organizational guidelines that are stronger than the panic, what else would an entrepreneur do?

Since constant change seems to be the constant part of the business climate, this re-creating of tactics would need to happen quite often without the overarching guidelines. The leadership team, or in some unfortunate cases an outside firm, would need to regroup again, put their heads together, and craft another set of actions they’d need to take immediately to respond to the new situation. Next, they’d need to create a new budget to support those actions, scrapping former efforts to adapt to the new situation.

It is possible that these are actually the correct actions for that moment in time, but how can you be confident that they are appropriate for the long-term goals of your company?

• How do you know this is the right direction and not just a new direction?

• In what ways should the new plan connect directly to former efforts and in what ways should it deviate?

• Will the return be worth reinventing internal procedures to support the changes?

• Will the company really be able to deliver on its new promise/direction?

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Do you have the right tactics?

By |2015-04-29T18:09:01+00:00April 29th, 2015|Categories: Brand Strategy, Business Leadership, Strategic Intent|Tags: , , |

Is that the wrong question?

You can hire an outside firm to help you. They will most likely offer you a brilliant set of short-term tactics, which, may work for awhile. They will even want to call it a strategy. I suppose it is a strategy of sorts—a short-term, action-oriented strategy.

This can feel like the perfect solution, because you have very likely already spent years rolling up your sleeves and pushing through to the next level. You may feel like, with this plan, you finally have some real help at the executive level, and you may. But I can promise you there is a far more efficient path to evolve a business. I will also promise you that to do what I suggest will make you feel like you are going backward in order to go forward; so let me explain further.

A strategy that is rooted in tactics will work within a given set of finite circumstances. Once those circumstances morph into something new, the strategy will need to be re-created rapidly.

Strategic intent and strategic objectives should guide tactics.

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What’s being demanded by the empowered buyer?

By |2015-03-15T17:56:38+00:00March 15th, 2015|Categories: Brand Strategy, Grow Business|Tags: , , , , |

The research company GlobeScan annually surveys a thousand top thought leaders, as well as the general public, in a majority of countries around the world on some really pertinent issues. At the Sustainable Brand Conference in 2007, Rob Kerr, Executive VP of GlobeScan, discussed recent key findings. That research showed how rapidly the consumer’s sense of empowerment is increasing. Does the consumer believe they possess the power to influence a company’s behavior? Over the last few years there is strong and steady growth in mainstream activism in most countries.

It’s no surprise there is now a strong belief that a company should be rewarded for being socially and environmentally responsible, but there is an even stronger sense that a company should be punished for harming social and environmental health. In North America, 46% of leaders say they would reward a company for good behavior while 55% say they would punish a company for behavior that may damage social or environmental health. Now, that’s a sense of empowerment.

These statistics indicate there are a growing number of individuals around the world who feel they can apply pressure that will force companies to comply with their desires. And, of course, they are right. Companies desperately need those who will purchase their products or services. There is no business without someone to do business with.

It is interesting that the sixties helped us distrust authority, but it took until now sometime after the turn of the century—to really understand that the buyer, not the seller, has the power.

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A few clicks and they know if your being honest.

By |2015-02-10T17:37:03+00:00February 10th, 2015|Categories: Brand Strategy, Strategic Intent|

Word of mouth used to travel pretty fast, but now it travels at the speed of the Internet. Buyers are only a few clicks away from finding out who your company really is—not who you want them to believe you are. They can quickly see how their peers rate your products and service, any press releases that unveil your values or lack thereof, and blogs that may voice opinions in detail. It’s getting more difficult to hide behind a brand image that is inauthentic. Thank goodness.

In the long run, people trust what you do rather than what you say. It’s a universal principal. “Showing” versus “telling” is powerful, and now the empowered buyer is closely watching what you do from many angles.

It’s clear the reality of doing business is changing.
What’s your plan?

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The Brand is losing power.

By |2018-12-01T18:58:27+00:00January 29th, 2015|Categories: Brand Strategy, Business Plans, Grow Business|Tags: , |

We want more—more than just “stuff” for the sake of having it. We want more than the emotional high of associating our personal worth with the brands we choose. We want less jargon and more for our money. We want to save the trees, save the planet, save the children, and educate the poor, and we want a product that does what it claims it will do. Or we’re out.

This is an exciting time for brands who prefer telling the truth. It’s encouraging that we are all demanding more from the products and offerings we spend our money on. It restores a little faith in human nature. But it will also increase the demands on the business owners to pay attention to their customers and to find a way to be accurate about who their company is and it’s motivations. The question is how?

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Consumers that demand authenticity

By |2015-01-16T17:59:17+00:00January 16th, 2015|Categories: Brand Strategy, Business Leadership|Tags: , , |

It is an interesting era we are in–the age of information. It’s also been called the age of misinformation. But whatever the case, the general public knows their own power and seeks insight into what’s really going on. The chest beating slogans of the past no longer penetrate our modern minds. We must be shown not told. Demonstrating your claim and backing it up with action is mandatory.

The origin of this mindshift is in the changing nature of our world. A large segment of our population now lives at a level of luxury that is unique in history. There is much more physical comfort available to a common person which raises our level of expectations in many areas:

* Demanding an experience rather than a mere product.
* Talented employees choose a position based partly on how they feel about a company’s values and standing in the local or world community.
* Choosing brands that demonstrate corporate social and environmental responsibility.
* Quick, emotional responses to any message with a whiff of falsehood.
* News organizations and individuals gain esteem by uncovering and broadcasting misrepresentations and outright lies.

In communication strategies for organizations, authenticity often gives way to simpler, quicker, more superficial solutions. It’s certainly easier to find a message that will appear to satisfy the target audience in the short-term rather than dig deeper and ask a few hard questions. Many times the corporate culture disallows that digging. Unfortunately, the digging is left up to a growing number of journalists, consumer advocates and individuals who experience the brand.

It’s not that organizations lack an awareness of this problem. But there is a strong desire to avoid the problem. There are more immediate issues that need attention. Most people who have a bad habit plan on changing that behavior tomorrow or next week or after the holiday. It’s the same with changing corporate habits–easier to procrastinate than roll up your sleeves.

We empathize with that inertia and have found a few motivators we thought we could share:

1. 93% of American consumers operate in everyday life with varying degrees of sustainability consciousness. Research clearly reveals that a cultural shift is taking place in terms of consumer awareness, acceptance and practices that relate to sustainability. Full article at http://www.hartman-group.com/products/reportSustainability2007.html

2. The series, Food and the Environment: A Consumer Perspective, identified that at least attitudinally, 52% of Americans in 1997 were seeking to purchase “earth-sustainable food products.” Full article at http://www.hartman-group.com/products/reportfood1.html

3. The focus on wellness is pervasive. Over half of all consumers are proactive about their health and wellness, focusing on lowering their health risks and preventing disease. Full article at http://www.hartman-group.com/products/natsens/issueIV-08.html

4. A few examples of campaigns that produced not only long term goodwill with their audience but an immediate and tangible return for their efforts:
*Coca-Cola: In 1997, Coca-Cola donated 15 cents to Mothers Against Drunk Driving for every case of Coca-Cola bought during a 6-week promotion in more than 400 Wal-Mart stores. Coke sales in these stores increased 490% during the promotion.
*TUMS: In 2003, through its “TUMS Helps Put Out More Fires Than You Think” campaign, TUMS pledged to donate 10 cents to the First Responder Institute for every bottle of TUMS sold. In addition to donating $238,000 to the Institute, which in turn funded 60 fire departments throughout the United States, TUMS saw a 30% increase in the number of displays shipped to stores and a 16% increase in sales volume.
*American Express: In 1983, after American Express pledged to donate a penny to the restoration of the Statue of Liberty for every transaction made by its cardholders, use of American Express cards increased by 28% and new users increased by 17%. Full article at http://www.causemarketingforum.com/page.asp?ID=345

5. More than two-thirds of Americans say they consider a company’s business practices when deciding what to buy. At the same time, there is a substantial increase in the number of American workers who want their employers to support a social cause or issue. Part of 2007 Cone Consumer Environmental Survey by Opinion Research Corporation.

6. Many Americans say that good corporate citizenship makes them more willing to do business with a company. Corporate citizenship can influence consumer opinion and behavior, and essentially turn consumers into brand champions. Respondents indicated that good corporate citizenship by a company or brand would inspire them to (in ranking order):

  • Be willing to try the company’s products for the first time
  • Welcome the company into my community
  • Recommend the company’s products and services to friends and family
  • Improve overall trust for the company, its people and products
  • Improve overall opinion of the company’s reputation

Full article at http://www.causemarketingforum.com/page.asp?ID=369

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