Will Celebrity Star Power Help Build Your Brand?

The power of celebrity is like catnip for marketers. Celebrity or athletic association adds an aspirational edge through outright paid endorsement or coveted “as seen on” editorial placement. In the world of beauty, brands from Cover Girl to L’Oreal add a sheen of glamour to their brands through celebrity spokesmodels. In the field of sports marketing, brands from Nike to Gatorade borrow equity from high-powered athletes to bolster their athletic credentials. And in retail, mass retailers from Macy’s to Sears offer eponymous product lines from celebrities as diverse as Sean Combs to the ubiquitous Kardashians. Q scores are tracked, contracts are negotiated, and millions of dollars exchange hands.  But is it worth it?  
 
If you ask consumers how important celebrity endorsement is to their brand selection, most will vehemently deny it. In fact, our North American Consumer Technographics® data shows that only 19% of consumers rate celebrity or athlete endorsement as important when picking a brand. But most people will probably tell you that advertising doesn’t affect them either. So we decided to dig a little deeper. Forrester conducted a driver analysis in the big-box retail category to identify which category attributes and behaviors have the most meaningful impact on key outcomes like being a more trusted or essential brand. Our research showed that in big-box retail, celebrity or athletic endorsement:
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What Can WWE's John Cena Teach You About Brand Building?

Source: WWE/superstars/johncena
Earlier this summer, I attended an Experian marketing conference in Las Vegas, where I was rather surprised to see WWE champ John Cena on the agenda. Intrigued, I stuck around for his late afternoon session to see what he had to say. I’m glad I did. It turns out John Cena is a great brand builder. This Massachusetts-born native is a $100 million brand with 5.3 million Twitter followers and more than 15 million Facebook fans — just behind Kobe Bryant at 16 million. What’s his secret? Here are three brand-building lessons from John Cena: 
  • Be customer-obsessed. Forrester believes that in the 21st century, the single source of competitive advantage is to be customer-obsessed. Cena gets this. He understands that his brand is only as strong as his relationship with his fans. And he takes that responsibility seriously. Cena claims you won’t find pictures of him at a Miami club, surrounded by a bevy of scantily clad women. His tweets depict his clean-cut image and are PG-appropriate. 
  • Guide your journey with a clear North Star. Leading brands guide their brand, messaging, products, and organization by the light of their North Star — that core brand essence. Oreo’s North Star is to “celebrate childhood.” Cena guides his career with the mantra “hustle, loyalty, and respect.”
  • Build a trusted brand. Cena is trusted by his fans because he is authentic and passionate about who he is and what he does. As he commented, “you have to be authentic, even when you are falling down in a fake fight in a fake universe.”  
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Will Social Listening Supplant Brand Health Tracking?

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

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? 
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Want To Know Your Secret Brand Building Weapon? Sshh, It’s Your Employees.

There’s a lot of effort exerted by marketing leaders to turn customers into brand advocates. But their customers have a lot of brand choices and a lot of other things on their minds. What these marketers are overlooking is the potential brand advocates in their own backyard. Their employees. Employees are fundamentally connected to, thinking about, and representing your brand every day. They are often your biggest fans.

Indeed, our research shows that one of the biggest shifts of brand building in the 21st century is that — for leading brands — it is now a companywide effort. A unanimous 100% of marketing leaders surveyed by Forrester agreed that brand building requires all employees to be brand ambassadors. But the companies they lead are not yet living up to this aspiration. While many marketers’ eyes light up at the prospect of tapping in to their employees' Twitter networks, just focusing on social is missing the point. Yes, social is a valuable tool to create conversation. But true employee brand advocacy requires chief marketing officers (CMOs) to go deeper. They need to make delivering a superior brand experience part of the enterprise culture. Brand advocacy can’t be another task on someone’s to-do list. Make brand building part of how employees do their job and guide them by the light of a clear brand North Star so that your powerful new army marches to the same drumbeat. Forrester’s three-step framework guides the way:

  • Excite with an inspiring brand experience. A PowerPoint presentation at the company meeting just won’t cut it. Bring the brand to life for your employees. Starbucks invested a staggering $35 million to create an interactive brand lab to bring the brand experience to life for its frontline employees. 
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Trust Me, Take Small Steps To Build Brand Trust

I’m currently quite taken with the new Fox TV series The Americans, which features a chameleon-like Matthew Rhys and a kick-ass Keri Russell as deep-undercover KGB spies. They live an apparently normal family life in 1980s suburban cold war America, while unbeknownst to their two American-born children, they conduct brutal covert operations for mother Russia. A recent episode called “Trust Me” exposed the perilous shifting sands of trust in their relationships. It is a world where no one is quite what they seem to be, and every character is constantly reevaluating whom they can trust. It is exhausting. Because without trust, every decision or action is a risk.

This holds true not just for human relationships but also for brand relationships. In both, trust is the cornerstone. Brand trust makes purchasing decisions easier, quicker, and less risky. I choose Amazon because I trust that it will deliver the product I want when I want it. I trust that my Neutrogena sunblock will protect my skin. I trust that my Starbucks coffee will taste good. I recently attended an event hosted by the Marketing Science Institute (MSI) on the topic of “Building Trust In A Digital Age.” MSI seeks to bridge the gap between marketing academic and business worlds, by bringing together marketing thought leaders from both realms to research and discuss big meaty, marketing topics. For the Boston Spring session, attendees debated the nature of brand trust and how it is driven and measured. A couple of highlights:

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

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

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:

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

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

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:
 
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