Reports Of The Death Of Brand Are Exaggerated

Tracy Stokes
Earlier this year, The New Yorker published an article entitled "Twilight of the Brands," which posited that due to the abundance of information now available to consumers, brands are irrelevant. For all the die-hard brand marketers out there  myself included — it felt like a blow to the chest. But the analysis is flawed and the conclusion is erroneous because the abundance of information now available to consumers makes brands more — not less — relevant. Brands have always been a shortcut to decision-making, and in a world where consumers are increasingly overwhelmed with information, that role becomes even more important. But what has changed is the art and science of brand building. In the age of the customer, we see that:
  • Brand communications have shifted from controlled to chaotic. In the pre-digital world, marketers had the luxury of being able to control most of their customers’ interactions with their brands — through ads, packaging, POS, and carefully solicited PR editorial. But in today’s post-digital era, most of consumers’ information about a brand originates from sources outside of the brand’s control, such as user-generated content, ratings and reviews, or social chatter.    
Read more

Will Social Listening Supplant Brand Health Tracking?

Tracy Stokes
Marketers have long relied on brand health trackers to take the consumer pulse of their brand-- to measure brand awareness, consideration and purchase intent. But with so many customers’ opinions now readily available through social chatter, are these entrenched and expensive budget line items still necessary?  
 
Not so fast.  Today’s brand measurement world is more complex than ever. Consumer behavior is changing rapidly and marketers have gone from data famine to feast.  Today’s Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) needs trusted advisors to help her turn mountains of data into actionable insights. Forrester has identified three core disciplines of brand measurement to help marketing leaders navigate this complex landscape.  These three disciplines are:
 
  • Brand equity reveals what people feel about your brand. Evaluating brand equity helps CMOs understand how consumers perceive a brand, without consideration for brand usage. What does the brand stand for in the eyes of a consumer?
  • Brand health quantifies the strength of a brand in the marketplace. Measuring brand health helps CMOs understand the relationship between how consumers perceive a brand and how that manifests itself in the marketplace relative to competition. 
  • Brand value quantifies a brand as a financial asset. Quantifying brand value helps chief financial officers (CFOs) understand the financial value of a brand to a corporation. It is most commonly used for financial reporting to define goodwill, the value of an acquisition, or the appropriate price for licensing. 
Read more

Trust, Not Buzz, Builds A Strong 21st Century Brand

Tracy Stokes
When I first moved to the US from the UK, grocery shopping at the West Lafayette, Indiana supermarket took forever. What took so long? No, it was not the slow pace of a small Indiana town. It was that I didn’t know any of the brands. So every selection from pasta sauce to laundry detergent to shampoo was a new decision. I had no relationship with the brands. No frame of reference to know which ones to trust. Every time we go to a grocery store or a drug store, we make a multitude of purchase decisions. Our brand relationships are a shortcut in that decision-making process, we select from a shortlist of brands that we trust. This means that household name Consumer packaged goods (CPG) brands that have been around for decades often control mindshare and thus market share.   
 
Forrester’s new TRUE brand compass research proves this out. In February 2013, Forrester fielded the first in a series of quarterly Technographics® TRUE brand compass surveys that explore consumers’ attitudes about specific brands and how strongly they resonate with consumers. From this research we developed two new tools to help guide marketers on their brand building journey - to achieve the right balance of being trusted, remarkable, unmistakable and essential (TRUE):  
  1. The TRUE brand compass ranking gives a snapshot of a brand’s resonance. Is your brand a trail blazer – winning consumer mindshare, or astray – lost its way and it connection to consumers?  
  2. The TRUE brand compass scorecard reveals a brand’s progress along the four dimensions. Is your brand strong on being trusted? Weak on being essential? 
Read more

Strengthen Your B2B Brand With Better Content Distribution

Peter O'Neill

Peter O’Neill here with some comments about being truly effective at content marketing. Did you know that B2B buyers say that 70% of the content they read and study before making a purchase decision is actually found by themselves; as opposed to being given to them by marketing or sales? At Forrester, we like to talk about the new interaction model of need-match-engage, where the buyers now initiate the interaction and spend a major part of their buyer journey doing their own research before calling in potential suppliers.

Content marketing has therefore become much more than product and solutions collateral, campaigns, mailings, and fulfillment. B2B marketers have to be great at being found by buyers in their early research phase (the phases we call discover and explore). In a way, successful marketers will “fool” their buyers into consuming their thought-leadership and educational content in stages 1 through 5 — while hardly realizing its source. And the most successful marketers will learn how to mix their brand "scent" into that content without appearing to be selling — to the extent that buyers will count it as part of their 70%.   

Read more

Strengthen Your B2B Brand With Better Content Distribution

Peter O'Neill

Peter O’Neill here with some comments about being truly effective at content marketing. Did you know that B2B buyers say that 70% of the content they read and study before making a purchase decision is actually found by themselves; as opposed to being given to them by marketing or sales? At Forrester, we like to talk about the new interaction model of need-match-engage, where the buyers now initiate the interaction and spend a major part of their buyer journey doing their own research before calling in potential suppliers.

Content marketing has therefore become much more than product and solutions collateral, campaigns, mailings, and fulfillment. B2B marketers have to be great at being found by buyers in their early research phase (the phases we call discover and explore). In a way, successful marketers will “fool” their buyers into consuming their thought-leadership and educational content in stages 1 through 5 — while hardly realizing its source. And the most successful marketers will learn how to mix their brand "scent" into that content without appearing to be selling — to the extent that buyers will count it as part of their 70%.   

Read more

Don't Push It; Connect Content And Conversation To Pull Consumers Into Your Brand

Tracy Stokes

The Huffington Post publisher Janet Balis recently shared 10 tips for marketers on how brands can become content kings. Balis commented that “one of the most fundamental dynamics of publishing is to connect content and conversation . . . it’s time to move beyond consumption and engagement and translate [content] into social actions.”  At the heart of marketers' interest in branded content is the realization that old-school push communications have lost impact with consumers. And we’re not just talking TV and print here. Forrester’s Technographics® data shows that digital ads such as banner ads, text, and mobile apps are the least trusted form of advertising communications; only 10% of US online adults trust banner ads on websites. With multiple connected devices at their fingertips, today’s perpetually-connected consumers can opt in or out of content on a whim. Branded content offers an opportunity to truly engage with consumers in a way that marketers have never done before. But there’s no shortage of content out there, so where do you start? Apply Forrester’s four C's framework to build your brand with branded content:

  • Capture the brand’s North Star in branded content. Authenticity is critical for branded content. And authentic content begins with knowing who you are. So ask yourself, what’s your brand North Star? 
Read more

Brand as publisher or brand as newsroom? My POV: Brand As Storyteller.

Tracy Stokes

Oreo’s recent quick-thinking “Dunk In the Dark” response to the power outage at this year’s Super Bowl put the spotlight on real-time branded content and reinvigorated the discussion about how brands need to become not just publishers but newsrooms. What’s driving this need? Today’s perpetually-connected consumers — 42% of US online adults and 37% in Europe — can engage brands at any place, any time, and at any velocity. Because of this, the sheer volume of creative content that brands must now churn out is forcing marketers and agencies to reexamine how they think about — and how they resource for — content. This challenge is not to be underestimated. But before you think about scale and real-time response, think about the story you want to tell to create brand advantage. To do this well, you need to first be true to yourself, second know your audience, and then engage your customers with a good story:

Read more

Brand As Publisher Or Brand As Newsroom? My POV: Brand As Storyteller.

Tracy Stokes

Oreo’s recent quick-thinking “Dunk In the Dark” response to the power outage at this year’s Super Bowl put the spotlight on real-time branded content and reinvigorated the discussion about how brands need to become not just publishers but newsrooms. What’s driving this need? Today’s perpetually-connected consumers — 42% of US online adults and 37% in Europe — can engage brands at any place, any time, and at any velocity. Because of this, the sheer volume of creative content that brands must now churn out is forcing marketers and agencies to reexamine how they think about — and how they resource for — content. This challenge is not to be underestimated. But before you think about scale and real-time response, think about the story you want to tell to create brand advantage. To do this well, you need to first be true to yourself, second know your audience, and then engage your customers with a good story:

  • Know who you are. There’s a lot of content out there you can develop or share. So where do you start? Start with your brand. Guide your content development by your brand’s North Star, and make sure there is a logical connection between the content and your brand. 
  • Know your consumers. Figure out what your consumers need. What do they care about? What are they passionate about? Scott Monty, global head of digital for Ford, recently commented that Oreo succeeded at the Super Bowl: “Because they related to us, not because they forced us to relate to them.” 
Read more

Who Is Generation Z? What Marketing Leaders Need To Know To Build Their Brand With This New Generation

Tracy Stokes

Like many marketing leaders out there, you are probably still coming to grips with understanding and working with Millennials — the 20-somethings being courted by media and marketing alike. But now there’s a whole new generation to understand: Generation Z. Who are they? Why should you care about them? And how can you build your brand with them? Here’s what we know.

Who is Gen Z?  
 
Gen Z is the first generation born into a digital world. While there’s no one commonly accepted demographic definition, they are generally considered to be born in the mid-1990s through 2010. They are true digital natives who have grown up in the age of technology. The only world they know is a digital one — where they can connect anytime, anywhere, and to anyone. As a result, they are highly promiscuous when it comes to media consumption; they will be the first generation to consume more media online than offline. And Forrester’s Technographics® research shows that today 84% of Gen Zers multitask with an Internet-connected device while watching TV — using an average of 1.5 other Internet-connected devices.
 
Why should marketers care?
 
The leading edge of this generation is now aged 18 to 23, entering college and the workforce. They are financing more of their own brand and purchasing decisions and experimenting with new products and brands. This makes them a key target for many marketers seeking to forge life-long brand allegiance.
 
How can you build your brand with them?
 
Gen Zers are open to relationships with brands, so long as those brands are authentic and live up to their high expectations. To win the hearts and minds of Gen Zers, marketing leaders must:
 
Read more

How Is Social Media Changing Your Brand Strategy?

Tracy Stokes

How many times have you been asked, “What’s your social strategy?” As Facebook’s IPO grabs the headlines, and new social sites like Pinterest and Tumblr grab consumers’ attention, many marketers are wrestling with what brand building looks like in today’s social world. But the real question you should be asking yourself is, “How does social media change your brand strategy?”  

Marketing leaders now view social media as critical for brand building. In our February 2012 Marketing Leadership Online Survey, nine out of 10 marketing leaders told us that social media is fundamentally changing how brands are being built in the 21st century. In fact, they view it as second only to search for brand building. But many are still struggling to determine how to integrate it into their marketing plans. The truth is, while social is a great new tool, it lacks the power to build a brand alone. Marketing leaders such as Coca-Cola and JetBlue recognize this and are integrating social with paid and owned media to build a 21st century brand experience. In my new report, "How Social Media Is Changing Brand Building," I identify three ways social media can help marketers harness the power of social to build their brand by 1) building a relationship to become more trusted; 2) differentiating through an emotional connection to become more remarkable; and 3) nurturing loyal fans to become more essential.   

How is social changing your brand building strategy? What challenges are you facing in the social brand building world? Comment here, or join the conversation in our community of marketing leaders.

Thanks!