• Nothing pays off Better Than Creating Brand Stories

    At any time look back at history, one conclusion is evident, almost all civilisations and even religions got grown-up on stories, shared stories which install themselves in the collective unconscious through oral or written transmission. Just think about holiest of holy text, Ancient Harapan culture, or the foundation of any faith. Beliefs, ideologies, and Cosmo visions have been shaped by an innovation shared through time, which established strong links with a family, a piece of land, a culture, et cetera.

    Good stories are a priceless asset, being spontaneously passed through generations as a way of coming to terms with mankind, the universe, or societies. If someone need more proof about the value of words, think for a minute about the power of satire, the use of words that ridicule someone or something, a person, a family, a corporation, a government, which in some cases casts a spell which may stick to their name for decades or even centuries.

    People forget facts, names, faces but remember stories, simply relate to humans more than we do to a message or a fact. People care for a narrative where we can find other human beings with us, or our loved ones can identify themselves with. It’s like the conversation so many times heard in the business section of newspapers, what will interest readers more? A highbrow and cold chronicle on the increase of petroleum prices? Or a story about the effects of the appreciation of wheat in some unfortunate communities? Both stories are necessary of course.

    Although we depend on the type of media we’re talking about and its audience, you can be pretty sure which one will attract more readers, and which one will stay longer in their memories. Because stories enhance memory, stories with emotions, hookup with our already existing knowledge, and engage with the same parts of our brain which are responsible for the keeping of our memory.

    Furthermore, stories create neural coupling in our brains. They synchronize the user’s brain with a teller’s mind. This happens mainly because neurons find the same patterns which ends up connecting them both emotionally. Stories also help to create vivid mental images.

    Processing stories lights up a larger part of the brain than pure facts, as the brain response to story events as if they were actually happening to the listener, engaging all the sensors and the motor cortex in the brain.

    Finally, stories have the power to even change the brain’s chemistry. Even the simplest one can trigger the release of neurochemicals like cortisol or oxitosin, that heighten our attention and make us more empathic. Happy endings as we know, trigger releases of dopamine that makes us feel optimistic towards the future.

    So, coming back to core arguments, instead of bombarding citizens with messages they don’t give a damn about, often people with attention disorders that will be watching TV while using other devices at the same time, why not invite them to be part of something which they’re really interested in?

    It’s more complex of course, but infinitely more rewarding. Creating a brand narrative stretches far beyond creating new Facebook pages or Twitter accounts. Paid media creates temporary buzz if it’s not sustained by a strong budget over several years. Nothing pays off better than creating good stories to engage our users at a different level. It’s tempting to think that new technologies will change marketing forever with some magical metric that consolidates a new business model.

    But online advertising still doesn’t work like the offline one, and technology won’t save you or build your cohesion narrative. You must have thinking about the user and often content here or she can bond with, like it happens nowadays in media, although, in some cases we must say unfortunately so.

    When it says that what’s old is new again, it is referring to the power of a good story, and it is referring to the word of mouth, a very old concept. In the end, it comes down to word of mouth with new and much more powerful dissemination tools. Nobody, not even the most traffic-oriented sites in the world know for sure what’s going to work content-wise.

    It is necessary for brands and their marketing companies to start planning strategically-fit editorial process, and learn step-by-step what works or does not work for target audience. If companies give enough time for some trial and error, the companies will probably find next year doing things companies had not even imagined.

  • Brands Engagement & Connection Through the Media

    For any brand, advertising is the voice of the brand. What brand likes to communicate, advertising is the source to convey the message to consumers to inform to pursue and to entertain. Through advertising, brands inform about core benefits, purpose and awareness. Persuasion creates consumer urge for the brand. Entertainment engages consumers and attracts their attention.   

    To drive awareness, brands need to stand out, be seen and engage consumers. The best strategy for the brand is to budget advertising money as much as it can be possible. To invest in mass media to gain entry into the consumer’s mind using TV, digital, viral video, out of home, or magazine. Where it makes sense, sponsorships, and experiential events can increase the consumer’s familiarity with the brand.

    To move consumers to the consideration stage, use influencers to teach those seeking to learn more. Use public relations to make the brand part of the news, whether through traditional, social, or blogger channels.

    For more complex or higher risk purchase decisions, consumers will rely on search for almost everything, even if to confirm what makes sense. Marketers can use search sites, such as Google, expert review sites, and online content, or long copy print media.

    Media options to help trigger purchase, include point-of-sale advertising, with in-store signage, displays, and sales materials to prompt consumers at the purchase moment. Remarketing is a great tool to push consumers who might feel stuck at the consideration stage to reconsider and buy.

    It is crucial to engage and to connect consumers through the media plan and it is more crucial to create media content that explains the real purpose of the brand to fascinate brand story where consumers are most willing to engage, listen, think, feel, and act in ways that payback to the brand.

    The purpose cannot be fulfilled without the understanding of consumers’ life moments with a clear understanding of emotional benefits as pursued by the consumers. Media creative execution should be patched with emotional benefits for the consumers, linked closely to the consumer’s life moments. An excellent tool to use is to map out the “day-in-the-life” of the target consumer and place messages where they are most likely to engage. Using consumer insights to make the messages personal to make consumers feel special and attached to the brand.

    Media plan must begin shifting to a maintenance media plan, enough to maintain the brand’s leadership presence and perception. Stay aware of the competitive activity, which may force to adjust budget levels. At this point, the brand can shift some of media resources into enhancing the consumer experience, to retain happy consumers, and to drive a deeper love to harness an army of brand lovers. The brand can begin creating shareable experiences for brand lovers to share with their friends.

    Days were gone when Old-school marketing used to yell their messages at every possible consumer using mass media, then move consumers naturally through the brand funnel from awareness to purchase and loyalty. With so few media choices, consumers could not escape the advertising. If consumers did not respond the first time, show it to them again and again. Back in the days, it was all about the interruption of consumers, with brands focused primarily on day-after brand recall. Many times, the more annoying the ad, the better it would work. This media planning is not quite the sophisticated media strategy brands need today.

    New-school marketing whispers to the most loyal brand fans, hoping they drive awareness with influence on their friends. The word of a friend will bring more influence to their purchase decision than a random TV ad. As the brand moves to the masses, consumers look for the advice of trusted peers whom they respect to know enough about the latest and greatest of the category. They also look to the brand lovers, giving them evidence the brand does deliver what it promises.

    In the end, it is imperative that media plan should map out where consumer open to listening. Brands must strategies media plan to place media on the part of the consumer’s life where they will watch, listen, learn, engage, decide, and act. Align with life moments, whether they are parts of the day, the week, the year, or even milestone moments in their life. And win the hearts and minds of the consumers.

  • Brand Purpose is the Ideal Power Profit Growth

    I am saying it a loud, please do listen carefully, in branding being different is not the same as differentiation.

    By differentiation and by brand differentiation, we’re really talking about a difference that matters. That matters to consumers. A difference that’s relevant and it’s a difference that they’re willing to pay for and they are willing to acquire.

    When we think about brands and the purpose of brands, often communicated through things like slogans, it’s good practice to actually think about what these slogans or these brand positionings, their brand DNA, their brand essence, whichever term you might give it. What does it actually mean?

    It’s important for a variety of reasons. One reason is, that if your own people don’t understand what the brand stands for. It will not affect their behavior, they won’t know how to react.

    But the question then is, how will their brand shine through? Will the customers actually know what you stand for? And I thought I’d give you a couple of examples of slogans, which are not exactly the same as the brand purpose, but they can get pretty close.

    One of them is from United Parcel Service (UPS). Until 2010 the brand slogan was, ‘what brown can do for you.’ Now that’s a very internally focused slogan and part of their visual identity. That’s basically taking the brown of UPS and making it as part of their brand promise. It’s taking a colour, and that’s what the brand is about, the brand is a colour. And that’s not very powerful. This year they re-branded their slogan to, ‘united problem solvers.’ Now, that might seem a bit of an odd term, it sounds bit of like a labour union but what the brand is trying to signal is that the brand is about solving problems, not just logistical ones, but business problems overall. It’s taking their acronym UPS and given it secondary meaning.

    Very much like BP, which used to be known as ‘British Petroleum’ rebranded as ‘Beyond Petroleum’ when they focused on green energy. It’s a shift more towards the customer in terms of solutions for UPS and towards the value to the environment for BP.

    Let’s think about this in action for a brand which many of you will know, Pampers. These are diapers or nappies depending on which market you might be in. If we go back to 2001, they were by then the largest single brand for P&G. It was a $3.4 billion for P&G. The problem was, it was shrinking. And it was a drag on the earnings of P&G overall. And it was about to be, well, activists were asking for them to spin it off. Push forward 10 years to 2010 and it became a $10 billion-dollar brand. Entirely through organic growth. 

    It’s a story told by Jim Stengel in his book ‘Grow: How Ideals Power Growth and Profit at the World’s Greatest Companies.’

    And it’s one of the chapters where he talks about the story. It’s a story which was also presented on several occasions by ‘Saatchi and Saatchi’ which was the advertising agency that accompanied Jim and his team on this journey.

    What did they do in order to gain more relevance for the brand? They did something very simple. They took a deep dive into the lives of their customers.

    They tried to figure out what motivate mothers? Not just to buy diapers, but in general. Especially first-time mothers because that’s when they make their decision about diapers. And they typically then stay brand-loyal. Is it just about price where Huggies had really enjoyed market leadership? As a matter of fact, Huggies had become the number one brand in the US, the home market for Pampers, which was very, very painful.

    It’s not just about that. If you think about being a mother or a parent, it’s about babies’ health. Babies’ development. That was the key consumer insight. And the question then was, how do I make these diapers relevant to baby development? The major commonality here was that most of these diapers, for them and their competition, it’s all about dryness.

    Now how does dryness help baby development? It turns out, and Pampers did these studies, it helps baby’s sleep. If baby sleeps, they got the little sleeping habit here, if baby sleeps, that’s when the baby develops it’s mind and muscles. And of course, the parents get a bit of extra rest as well. So, P&G turned that into the foundation of their Pampers brand. They went away from dryness to better sleep. And that was a fundamental change. It was a change that did not just affect the slogan, if you will. Before the change Pampers was a very male dominated engineering culture. People in white frocks focusing on dryness and dryness metrics, focusing on product attributes. There were very few women comparatively speaking to other P&G brands working for Pampers, which is a bit surprising.

    As part of this change, Jim Stengel and his team changed fundamentally everything about Pampers. The new headquarters became more baby and mother friendly, the colours were pink and apricot and the parking spaces close to the building were reserved for expecting mothers. The key metrics by which to evaluate the quality of the products went from dryness to better sleep. The values of the brand were aligned with the values of a parent.

    Literally everything changed, including something that was almost holy to a P&G, which were the two-year rotations that the staff went through going from one brand to the other.

    What P&G realized is even though it was a packaged product, they had to build the brand from the inside out. They hired people who had a passion for babies. Even if you’re in finance or if you’re the accountant, if you didn’t have a passion for babies, there are lots of other brands you might qualify for. But not so much Pampers. They also aligned the corporate social responsibility. Working with UNICEF about baby development, keeping babies healthy. That became the fundamental, and core purpose of the brand that also allowed them to move away from just dryness and diapers.

    They moved into baby development into wipes, into products where baby had its first soap. Where they could wipe themselves for the first time. Literally, anything that had to do with baby development was now a fair territory for Pampers to compete in. That also built a very different relationship with mothers. Mothers don’t want to talk about dryness with a brand. That’s just a product attribute. Pampers village, which is a new website they developed, they can now have a conversation with mothers. Another core insight was that mothers thought of developmental stages. P&G engaged with mothers before baby was born, when baby was born, when it was a toddler, and so on. They built a true relationship over time with the mothers. Which also fuelled the development of different stages of diapers. Training diapers and so forth.

    P&G have changed everything about Pampers, and it was driven by core consumer insight, which became the purpose of the brand that motivated the brand from the inside out, and even a packaged good category, it made it a huge success, so huge that it actually added to Huggies pulling out of European markets. With their lower cost diaper because Pampers had taken over that space.

  • Not having a marketing department is a big, big, big mistake!

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    A marketing department is not a waste of money! In fact, it is the best way to make a lot money and good marketing department can take a company to a new level. Companies without marketing departments are like “A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle.” Marketing is power; it is the booster and a magical tonic. If not then Coca-Cola, Apple, Nike, Google, BMW are not what they are now – the most recognisable logos in the world.
    It is not the only brands’ recognitions, but it is evaluation through the years from a humble sales department to the most modern money making process. It is not the “single kill” department, but it is functions and processes of cross-disciplinary teamwork to achieve better financial benefits and for brands’ equity.
    Not having marketing departments mean disorganisations, denial of functional specialisation, zero focus on geography and regionalization, product and brand management, and market-segment management. Moreover, companies will not establish a matrix organisation consisting of both product and market managements.
    Marketing is the strongest link to create progression and cooperation R&D, engineering, purchasing, manufacturing, operations, finance, accounting, and credit. It is also a bridge between customers and companies.
    Marketing is the great involvement in all elements of any company’s operations to work closely with its suppliers, channel partners, with the understanding that each element or function provides an opportunity to market the product to the ultimate consumer.
    Buy and selling is a tip of marketing iceberg. Marketing is deep. Money making is one benefit, but taking brands and companies offering to the new level is the real gain to have the good marketing department.
    Without marketing, there is no increase in customer baseline and companies without marketing departments in Pakistan are “living in a fool’s paradise.” Marketing, in general term, is to create and exchange value with customers. Peter F. Drucker in his famous book “In the Practice of Management” while defining the concept “there is only one valid definition of business purpose: to create a customer… [Therefore], any business enterprise has two – and only these two – basic functions: marketing and innovation… Marketing is the distinguishing, the unique function of the business.”
    Without marketing companies are directionless because marketing has a major role to play in setting a company’s strategic direction. Companies without marketing departments are lacking management responsibilities. Marketing is the source of providing the foundation of organisation development and strategies to deal with wide variety of situations. Therefore, achieving marketing excellence in the future will require a new set of skills and competencies.
    Marketing is not just yet another function; it is also be concerned for the welfare of society as a whole. In this world, the biggest tangible and intangible source of welfare work is being financed by companies through their marketing based incomes. Strategically emotional currency is more precious in today’s corporate world and through company-consumers engagement as more and more companies are turning to corporate social responsibility in order to bolster their reputation, as well as their profits.
    Companies can make names among corporate compatriots by practising social responsibility through their legal, ethical, productively link social responsibility to consumer marketing programs. Social marketing is done by a non-profit or government organisation to directly address a social problem or cause.
    The marketing department is the solution to recognise and to diagnose marketing problem, assessing where the problem exists, and evaluating results through. Having no marketing department can lead to chaos in monitoring and control of marketing activities. Marketing plan control ensures the company achieves the sales, profits, and other goals in its annual plan. The main tools are sales analysis, market share analysis, marketing expense-to-sales analysis, and financial analysis of the marketing plan. Profitability control measures and controls the profitability of products, territories, customer groups, trade channels, and order sizes. Efficiency control finds ways to increase the efficiency of the sales force, advertising, sales promotion, and distribution. Strategic control periodically reassesses the company’s strategic approach to the marketplace using marketing effectiveness and marketing excellence reviews as well as marketing audits.
    So, not having marketing department is a big, big, big mistake!

  • Advertising Complexities of Marketing Companies



    Marketing Companies in Pakistan is sure to familiar to art of advertising, but understanding science of the field is somewhat not very clear to them. Most of them are sure of advertising as the only tool to build their brand, but not aware of the fact that advertising is one portion in marketing, not the complete marketing.

    Advertising is true to be the most visible tool of marketing and on the contrary the greater cost in the marketing process. Advertising is just one more thing on the marketing plate, it is not the whole plate!

    What might present challenges to some companies is to understand the ideas surrounding advertising process involved: set advertising objectives, establish a budget, choose the advertising message and creative strategy, decide on the media, and evaluate the effects?

    To a large extend companies advertising complexities is the direct results of advertising agencies lack of scientific approach to support and facilitate companies’ most valuable assets, their brands.

    It is a widely believed concept that advertising is a magical tonic to build great brands is somewhat is fading fast as modern art of branding is making companies to realize that brands cannot be built by totally relying on advertising.

    The connection between the brand and advertising is no more just a creative message to inform, to pursue and to entertain. Advertising complement brands and showoff for brands. Completely relying on advertising to build brand is not strategically-fit stir. Nowadays brands are more than promotion. Catchy creative messages through ATL and BTL activities to a mass audience is not utterly effective in isolation in today’s brand building, but they can be more advantageous if utilise with new and practised brand building paradigms.

    What lack in Pakistani advertising agencies are talent, technology and tolerance. No fitting talent is charmed, no understanding of agency related methodically technology like creative tools, ideas tools or brand tools and lastly no tolerance to acceptance.

    As I have mentioned in my book, Branding Matters! 2016, Chapter 5, – Brand Building before Advertising – “Today, brand building is not only about advertising and selling to beat the competition, but brand building strategy necessitates a necessary knowledge of the internal culture of the companies, financial systems, business operations, Human Resources policies and Consumer Relationship Management, which the ablest advertising agency cannot even capable of dealing such requirements. Above all, the most resourceful advertising agency in the modern scenario often even has difficulty or is ignorant to comprehend how their clients make money.”

    In my country the greater source of companies’’ inspiration that advertising build brand comes from their observation when they see big brands, spending money on their integration marketing communications (IMC). They are not aware of the fact or have experience that advertisers can maintain the brand through their professional art, but cannot build a brand on it exclusively.