Is Your Brand Living Up To Your Customers’ Higher Standards?

I like to think of brand building as the quest for market share and mindshare. But that journey has become a steeper hill to climb. How much steeper? On a scale of 1 to 10, I’d say it’s an 11.

Here’s why. Empowered 21st century customers have higher standards for your company and the products and services you produce. That’s what we learned in our 2012 North American Brand Performance Study. I recently talked about it in the CMO Strategy section of Advertising Age. But I’d like to provide some deeper insight into “Brand Building In The 21st Century” in this post.

To put the learning from our study in context, consider the graphic below. The strength of a brand’s position and perception in the marketplace is built on four pillars of equity: 1) credibility; 2) leadership; 3) uniqueness; and 4) relevance. As you build stronger equity across those pillars, it supports higher performance over the long haul through superior: 1) referral; 2) pricing power; and 3) preference.



This foundation of brand building still applies in the 21st century, but our analysis revealed that the pillars of brand equity have started to crack under the weight of consumers’ higher standards.

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What Kind Of Music Will Chevy's New Agency Arrangement Play?

Forrester applauds GM, Goodby, and McCann for breaking ground to create a new genre of agency orchestration.

Last week's announcement of Chevrolet's new global creative agency Commonwealth, a joint venture between Omnicom's Goodby, Silverstein & Partners and IPG's McCann Erickson Worldwide, is further evidence that the complexity of managing a global brand demands marketers and agencies to work together in new ways.

Despite being created primarily out of financial necessity — to cut more than $2 billion in global marketing expenses — CMO Joel Ewanick and agency leaders at Goodby and McCann arrived at an innovative solution to improve the brand's global creative stewardship. Less-committed CMOs might've given up on the idea that they could get their two most important creative agencies, from different holding companies, to work together. And lesser agencies might have folded up the tent and retreated to greener pastures, before sharing brand strategy and creative duties. But they didn't. They stared a cold financial reality in the eye, apparently over a hot coffee at a shop named Commonwealth.

So what kind of music will Commonwealth be playing for Chevy?

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Is Your Brand Making Promises It Can't Keep?

That's a sure sign that your brand is still stuck in the 20th century. And that’s what I’m going to talk about at this year’s Marketing Leadership Forum in Los Angeles on April 18-19.

We believe that brands will matter more than ever in the 21st century. But the brands that win will focus as much on delivering on their promise as they do on making promises. Come join me and find out how you can update your 20th century brand positioning and align your brand-building assets, to make sure you’re building the kind of brand equity that adds value for your customers and fuels growth for your business.

CMOs Who Kick Bad Habits For Adaptive Habits Are Stronger Performers

What does it take for CMOs to transition the organization from the well-known to the unknown? At Forrester, we call it adaptive marketing. In previous research, we identified the five habits of adaptive marketers. But many CMOs ask whether the destination is worth the journey.

Another way of putting it: What’s the implication of doing things the way they’ve always been done?

That’s the question Forrester sought to understand when we fielded a study in collaboration with The CMO Club to understand how well CMOs have developed capabilities that enable them to nimbly adjust to changing consumer behavior and market conditions.

You can read more about the findings of the study in the CMO Strategy section of Advertising Age.

Here’s the top line:

  • The vast majority of marketers are still struggling to adapt. Seventy-eight percent of marketing leaders are having difficulty with transforming their organization to embrace the habits of adaptive marketers.
  • Marketers who embrace adaptive habits report higher performance. (See chart below.)
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Modern Lessons In Brand Leadership — Highlights Of The 2011 ANA Masters Of Marketing Conference

The 2011 ANA Masters of Marketing conference once again brought together the power brokers of US advertising in a state-of-the-state event of entertainment, networking, and speeches over three days. In all, more than 1,700 marketers and marketing service firms convened in Phoenix to share in this year's official theme — growth.

Indeed, these are trying times for CMOs to deliver growth through traditional marketing. Growth has been challenging and inconsistent for most marketers over the past three years as they fight a war on two fronts — the turbulence of the economy and the turbulence of empowered customers. Thomas Friedman reinforced those points, asserting that in order for America to grow, as a market and a people, the notion of "average" cannot be accepted; companies must become exceptional once again by unleashing creativity and innovation on a global stage. That's why the more salient subtext of the conference was leadership.

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Cannes Lions 2011 Redux: Advertising Creativity Is In The Midst Of An Evolution, Not A Revolution

For one week every year, the South of France becomes the center of the advertising universe. Now in its 58th year, the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity has slowly but surely transformed itself from an advertising awards show into an event that brings together the world’s leading minds on advertising, film, music, and technology to debate the future of advertising.

To the uninitiated, Cannes Lions is a seven-day festival that recognizes and showcases the most creative advertising from around the world in every medium: film, digital, radio, print, outdoor, design, promotions, and integrated campaigns. The entire week is packed with screenings of all of the work, more than 50 seminars, 20-plus workshops, and, of course, the award ceremonies. This year it attracted more than 9,000 registered attendees and garnered almost 29,000 competition entries.

Here are a few of my takeaways and highlights from the Cannes Lions Festival 2011:

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How Healthy Is Your Brand?

I recently talked to Advertising Age about a topic that has become increasingly frustrating for many marketing leaders — how to more effectively manage their brand health in the wake of a tidal wave of consumer sentiment and data. Here's a shorter version of the article and the research.

Today, a brand's health is strengthened or weakened by every interaction and exposure with a consumer, which requires a more vigilant approach to managing brand perception. To keep track of your always-on, anytime, anywhere, unfettered-public-opinion-sharing customers, CMOs must demand a new dashboard to augment classic brand metrics. There are four factors of digital influence that CMOs must consider monitoring:

  • Volume. Brand perceptions are typically measured using representative samples of consumers. But why settle for a mere sample when more than 81% of US adults use social media to create at least 500-billion influence impressions on products and services?
  • Velocity. Marketers usually perform brand-tracking studies once a year or quarterly. But that's too infrequent to monitor the impact of real-time consumer opinion, as Kenneth Cole's Twitter fiasco demonstrated — resulting in a 64% decline in brand equity scores in just three days.
  • Visibility. Consumers are now empowered to voice their unfiltered opinions about a brand to the general public. Already, 25% of search results for the world's 20 largest brands are linked to user-generated content.
  • Volatility. Brand sentiment can be increasingly unpredictable in this digital age. Gap learned this the hard way with its new logo unveiling, which received such negative consumer response online that it returned to the old logo one week later.
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ADAPT To The CORE: How CMOs Can Lead The Revolution In The Next Digital Decade

My colleague, Emily Riley, and I joined forces at Forrester's Marketing Forum to talk about how marketers can prepare for the next digital decade. My message is this. The only way CMOs can effectively lead their organization in the digital era is to ADAPT by embracing a new mental model to overcome the bad habits of marketing. Emily's message is that the digital revolution isn't just a top-down mandate. It's a mission that the entire marketing organization has to embrace at its CORE so that all marketing is customized, optimized, responsive, and empowering.

Tomorrow's Brands Can't Succeed With Yesterday's Leadership

Let’s be clear. I’m not saying today’s marketing leaders need to be replaced. I’m saying your rules need to be replaced.

And the trick to learning new rules is to overcome your mental barriers.

Consider Roger Bannister. He was the first person to run a 4-minute mile. The previous world record of 4 minutes and 1 second had stood for nine years. So many runners had tried to break the 4-minute barrier that scientists actually believed it was beyond the limitations of what the human body was capable of. But in fact, it wasn’t a physical limitation at all. It was a mental barrier. Once Bannister did it, 16 other runners broke it in the following four years. Not necessarily new runners: Many were the same people Bannister had been competing against.

What happened to those runners is what’s happening to you as a marketing leader. You’re having trouble breaking through to the next plateau.

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Attention CMOs: If You Want To Keep Your Job In The Next Digital Decade, Watch These Videos

As a keynote speaker at Forrester's Marketing Forum in early April, I got a backstage pass to talk with some of today's most forward-thinking marketing leaders. Here are two of my favorites speeches from the event.

Dana Anderson, SVP of marketing strategy and communications at Kraft Foods, left us with some memorable lessons about shaking up a buttoned-down global marketing behemoth.

  • Find your swagger. Don't settle for safe and boring. Do something that will make people say, "I want to be a part of that."
  • Be sly. Why waste time and effort battling the entrenched silos when you can just go around the silos?
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The CMO's 2011 To-Do List — Preparing For The Next Digital Decade

I recently talked to Elaine Wong at Forbes about the top priorities for CMOs in 2011.

In the past, the CMO’s to-do list hadn’t changed much from year to year. Bob Liodice, president of the ANA, indicates that the top three or four issues have been pretty consistent over the past several years: strengthening the brand, improving integrated marketing communications, aligning the organization around innovation, and improving marketing's accountability.

But 2010 was a different kind of year: the year that digital became mainstream. This surge, or tipping point if you will, of digitally-enabled business models and consumer lifestyles is changing how CMOs are approaching their to-do list in 2011. After talking to several leading marketers, Bob Liodice of the ANA, and Nancy Hill of the 4As, here's what I learned:

CMOs Begin Preparing For The Next Digital Decade

Fast-follower CMOs want to get a horse in the digital race in 2011. Some are playing catch-up, but they all display a sense of urgency to make their move to remain relevant in the next digital decade. Our prediction is that 2011 will mark a year when many CMOs will remember making significant moves to leverage disruptive technology and emerging media to gain a long-term competitive advantage. Specifically, we identified three macro trends where CMOs will:

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