Monday, January 28, 2008

Stranded for the Branded

Strands of noodles have found their way to the ever-creative Nigerian culinary landscape. They came like a big bomb and we are all witnesses of a STRANDED domination of the lucrative food category.
Our supermarket shelves are getting saturated with several brands calling for the elusive attention of the consumers –at least for a one-time trial. Some analysts actually called this a quintessential noodles’ war!

You only need to visit open markets to get entangled or STRANDED in their overwhelming struggle for reckoning with the “powerful trade/channel members”.
Everyone seems to be at the mercies of these businessmen who are running fast to open a factory as a form of business diversification or maybe exploitation with minimal differentiation. Like a STRAND, we have been twisted and entangled as slaves to their whims and caprices.

I see a traditional bandwagon effect coming true, rather than a true cause to expand the market by “exploiting” the inherent desire of the noodle-crazy Nigerians for “the next level” meal . I see a STRANDED market looking for fresh direction in terms of idea extensions that leverage established usage behaviour and defined attitudinal posture to meal-times. I believe we need to dig deep into the fundamental insight driving Nigerians to try new taste and capture their urge to adopt food that align with their existing palate within a defined meal occasion.
It’s no gainsaying that this segment is due for augmented innovations in form and in function

Who will champion a true revolution in this market? Who will de-entangle us from these STRANDS and lead us to the next level of innovation as the BRAND indeed.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

The beautiful Dove for the Ugly ones

Dove "real beauty" campaign is a classical case of insight-driven ad that explored how a brand can address a contradiction in order to establish meaning and trigger affinity.
I have always believed that a brand is a product which has earned a place in consumers’ lives by "massaging" consumers' ego or sense of self until a mental relationship is built.
Douglas Holt captured it better in “How brands become icon” where he advocated that brands must deliver beliefs that the consumers can use to manage the exigencies of a world that increasingly threatens their identities. Brands must become a cultural activist and a social authority
"Exploiting" the research fact that ONLY 2% of women worldwide considered themselves beautiful is a great way to become the champion of the remaining 98% using a compelling philosophy that "Real beauty come from within"
Dove's advertising offers a democratized view of beauty to which all can aspire within a reality context of being yourself
Dove no longer sells soap. The company is so much more than a set of commodity products. Dove sells real beauty; natural beauty; non-superficial beauty

Monday, January 21, 2008

Transmedia Planning : the answer to media and cultural convergence

Henry Jenkins in his book “Convergence Culture” postulated the future of media usage as a “Transmedia storytelling” using Matrix as an example.
Great works of distillation has also been propounded by Faris and Ivan (owner of the attached picture chart) to explain this for the brand world.

I sincerely believe that the interconnectedness of the consumer world as an evolving TRANSUMER who is largely driven by experiences, discovery and variety (TrendWatch) supports the possibility of “smashing” the brand story into an unending soap opera, perfectly integrated as a continuum in different media aperture.

The idea is that rather than deploying different media apertures to communicate the same big idea, each channel is used to communicate different elements of the idea and yet everything still ties together by a brand narrative.
The narrative develop into a brand communities, in the same way that "The Matrix" generates knowledge communities , as consumers come together to share elements of the narrative (from movies, games, short clips etc.)

The sustainability of this multi-channel integration is the holding power created by the wildfire effect of the big idea narrative within social communities.
A transmedia strategy put lots of things out there, not necessarily expecting every person to see every piece, but creating enough interestingness that people will talk and eventually hear about pieces they haven't seen from someone.
Transmedia planning comes to challenge the long-held media-neutral thinking with a deliberate effort to empower individual media users and the power of the interrelationships that exist between us.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

What makes buyers TICK or What makes users STICK?

I observe that most brand ideas are mere exploitative “buyer insight” used to create wow striking effect at the point of purchase, with an obvious intention to just get the products sold.
But we know that successful brands are built on “beyond points of purchase” insight that provides for an extendable brand meaning through the purchase-usage-disposal cycle..
It’s noteworthy that we have not sold a brand by creating attention or attraction, our eureka moment is when we have evoked a sustained endearment that guarantees repeat purchase or referral.
Gladwell in “The Tipping Point” called it “The Stickiness Factor:”

This therefore calls for holistic mapping of the purchase pathway or “road-to-purchase” to inspire a brand idea that addresses all the consumer issues especially post-purchase dissonance.

A great brand must continue to evoke positive feeling from the point of identifying the need, searching among alternatives, actual purchasing through usage and even at disposal.
For communicators, the metrics of a big idea is not just to get consumer’s attention but a robust platform that delivers beyond-usage affinity and loyalty.
(Picture from Linda Formichelli of Getting Work)

Are we running out of INSIGHT?

I have attended several research presentation sessions where research firms come to present tables, charts and graphs in hundreds of slides as findings to an identified marketing issue. The firm’s representative also speaks thousands of words to validate this output with a list of recommednations that are often non-actionable.

However in the midst of these haystack of data, I just cannot find the “needle” of insight that can trigger meaningful marketing thrust. No intuitive spark, no magical ignition!

I guess "Insights" have become commoditized. Basic product truth and research-generated conclusions are wrongly termed as insight.
I believe the essence of a creative distillation process is to arrive at an out-of-the-obvious spark that positions the brand at the core of consumers' heartbeat!
Insights must be deeper as the true intermediary between the logic and the magic of the brand symphony.
Adapting a non-related scenario, I have developed what I call Bayo’s matrix of consumer insight (chart above) to define INSIGHT as “what consumers don’t that they don’t know.”
Go find the INSIGHT that exposes the INSIDE of the consumers.

The future of our business is the “business of the future”

We are in the business of Strategic Planning not because of today’s consumer but because of the tomorrow’s prosumers who will become more sophisticated by the vagaries of superior evolution and cultural mutations that he would be subjected to.
I therefore find it a little difficult to fully align with Economist’s “Think small, think short” article on the future of futurology

So much as I appreciate the issues of extremity and shock effects synonymous with these Faith Popcorns; I believe the consumer must not outgrow our intellectual binoculars and capacity to decipher the future

We play Nostradamus not because of securing today’s market share, but to OWN a significant share of the unknOWN future.

I would rather postulate that while we attempt to see BEYOND, we must act ALONG.

(picture owned by Sylvia Wright of UCDavis Mag)

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

How far can we elongate the longtail strategy?

I don’t fully agree with the full-scale application of Anderson’s long tail theory in brand building practice as theorists like Mohd Iqbal are propagating.

It’s counter-productive to over-expand or over-dilute a brand’s meaning in an attempt to mean something to everybody (no matter how long the tail is!). Modern researches have proven that if a brand’s projection is a clear and focused lighthouse, consumers can capture the core essence of the brand within their realities i.e. customize the brand meaning for their specific scenarios.
Consumers can therefore contextualise its relevance whilst still inferring the same single-minded meaning.

Universalists must recognise that every brand is a compelling idea that consumers interpret via usage to meet their peculiar needs. I would rather focus on the brand single minded projection and leave the multiple interpretations to the consumers.
Saatchi's One-word-equity is a call to be disciplined in our quest to secure a space in ever-crowded mindspace

Monday, January 7, 2008

One-word-equity and Mimee's Boom-sha-sha

I fully appreciate Lord Richard’s call for one-word equity as a coherent summation of the brand meaning into a simple trigger that allow for brand appreciation
I believe that every great brand becomes stronger by integrating its multi-variegated points of mental association into a central word that can diffuse its substantive meaning to the consumers
One good example that comes to my mind is what Boom-sha-sha has become for Mimee brand of instant noodle.

As a challenger brand in a near monopolistic market, the strategic challenge was to extend its relevance beyond the functional deliverable of a good taste.
It has to create a larger-than-life imagery to drive its road-to-market strategy. The brand leveraged the mystical power of a mnemonic built with strong expressive attitude as a way of securing consumer attention. It worked. Trial to exposure rate was very high…very high indeed.

The mystery surrounding “Boom-sha-sha“ is so deeply entrenched that consumers have come to associate their magical moments with the brand.
This finds a fit with the brand mantra “more to mee”

Does this brand resonate? Part 2

The dynamics of the bond and implications of brand resonance can be appreciated through the theory of magnetism.
A magnet is a material or object that produces a magnetic field. A "hard" or "permanent" magnet (like a strong brand) is one which stays magnetized for a long time. Relative to a brand, every encounter or experience you have with the brand is long-lasting and deeply entrenched. It could b an exposure to the brand’s communication or a visit to a retail outlet.
A "soft" or "impermanent" magnet (like a weak brand) is one which loses its memory of previous magnetizations. These are typologies of brands that we hardly remember or listed in our consideration set. Previous experience is not memorable or evokes any emotion that can induce repeat usage.

I will explain this magnetic theory better through 2 key principles:

Magnet only attracts its like: Brands can only attract consumers who “share” so much with the brand. This supports the theory of brand personality which posits that brands have got human dimension. A brand can be caring, loving, repulsive, energetic etc. Consumers will therefore buy into brands that fully match their present or desired personality.
Just profile a man, on the MTN network, it won’t be far-fetched to know he is global/international/very aspirational and has found a parallel in the brand

Every magnet creates a magnetic field: Every brand must create a sphere of influence either within or outside its category. This sense of membership allows for comparison and consumer appreciation. No brand can exist in isolation. It must enjoy significant point-of-parity before creating its differentiation through the points-of-difference.
A brand’s “magnetic aura” can come in form, packaging, name, slogans, colour mnemonics, product shape, communications etc.

A great brand is therefore measured by how influential it becomes in the marketplace. It’s respected by its ability to shift competitive equilibrium and worshipped by its quest to make an average consumer see himself bigger than he is.
The big question in modern brand world is “How magnetic is your brand?”