4 Factors Driving Brand Relevance

An agency creative director once shared with me the three essentials for a good concept:

1) It must be original, 2) It should be memorable and 3) It absolutely has to be relevant.

Relevance has everything to do with targeting, as in being empathetic with your target audience, speaking their language, understanding their needs and desires, and knowing what problem they have that you can solve better than anyone else. Of the three, it’s easy to see why “relevance” is the most important. It makes the brand message meaningful, and therefore actionable, to a receptive and consequently motivated target customer.

The question all marketers eventually face is when does their successful brand cease being relevant, and therefore lose its sales effectiveness? And also important, what can or should be done about it? Here are four examples going way back to the 1950s that still resonate today.

1. Change In Business Strategy – Recently, MetLife opted to change course by placing more focus on marketing insurance to business and less on marketing to consumers. The long-running campaign featuring characters from the 1950’s Peanuts comic strip seemed out of character for a business-savvy appeal. Charlie Brown in a three-piece suit? Don’t think so. So while the current MetLife campaign was very successful in consumer marketing, it would lack the necessary business relevance to its new target customer. As MetLife wisely surmised, the adorable cartoon franchise would likely be ineffective in positioning its brand with legitimacy against the business-targeted competition.

2. Change In Social Mores – Sometimes things can get branded quite by accident, as in the case of the annual Georgia–Florida football game, aka “the world’s largest outdoor cocktail party.” A sports editor coined the name in the 1950’s after observing a drunken fan. It subsequently grew into a brand for the annual game that the City of Jacksonville promoted heavily. However, after alcohol-fueled incidents and multiple arrests in 1984, coupled with a general rejection of excessive drinking and drunkenness (especially centered around college students), the Southeastern Conference asked CBS Sports in 1988 to stop using the questionable name in marketing its coverage (even though it has died hard to this day). The issue here is that the “cocktail party” brand identification for the event had lacked empathy for a growing social concern (alcoholism, drunk driving) and therefore sensitivity and relevance for the participating entities (the colleges, the conference, the municipality, etc.) as well as the public at large.

3. Change In Lifestyle – Tony the Tiger became the mascot for Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes cereal in the 1950’s, thanks to an art director at Leo Burnett. Frosted Flakes are, well, frosted with sugar (in fact, they’re 37% sugar) and like many such super-sweet cereals, have earned a dubious reputation over the years with dieticians and nutritionists. While Tony the Tiger roared, “They’re Grrrreat!” to Baby Boomers as kids, Baby Boomers as parents (and their Gen X children as parents) are much less convinced. So, in order to maintain the brand’s relevance to changing dietary preferences and health consciousness across generations, Kellogg opted not to retire the 65-year old mascot, but to give him an expanded mission. Now Tony the Tiger touts the virtues of a healthy, well-balanced breakfast and plenty of play and exercise to a new generation of concerned parents.

4. Change In Media Consumption — Similarly, with another brand launched in 1954, Playboy also found itself becoming increasingly irrelevant to the next generation of men. So, in a surprising move, dispensed with nudity in its magazine starting with the March 2016 issue. Not because men don’t find pictures of nude women appealing anymore, but because they can find them for free on the Internet. As a result, Playboy circulation had dropped from a high of 5.5 million in 1975 to 800,000 in 2015. With the new editorial stance, the new, non-plastic wrapped Playboy is repositioning itself as a sophisticated alternative to Esquire and GQ – and hopes to acquire a new crop of advertisers in the process. Time will tell if Playboy can turn around its skid into publishing oblivion, but for now it’s a bold experiment in the art of maintaining relevance … and sales.

Brand survival depends on relevance. And it requires constant awareness and sensitivity to market conditions, trends and shifts in demographics, psychographics, purchase behavior and media habits. Brands that adapt by staying relevant survive and flourish. Those that don’t stay relevant become but a footnote in marketing textbooks.

How will your brand stay relevant for the next 60 years?

The Blake Project Can Help: The Brand Positioning Workshop

Join us in Hollywood, California for Brand Leadership in the Age of Disruption, our 5th annual competitive-learning event designed around brand strategy.

Branding Strategy Insider is a service of The Blake Project: A strategic brand consultancy specializing in Brand Research, Brand Strategy, Brand Licensing and Brand Education

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Fiat have launched a new content partnership with Auto Trader to promote the new Fiat Tipo. The campaign entitled ‘Amore. For Less’ is designed to drive awareness and increase consideration for the new Fiat Tipo amongst in market car buyers, by highlighting that the Tipo gives you more for less. The partnership has been brokered by Chorus, Maxus’ specialist content and partnerships division.

The activity, which is live now and runs until December 2016, features a series of videos spanning lifestyle content, providing tips to consumers on how to get more for less on any car journey, as well as life hack videos demonstrating product features of the new Fiat Tipo. The videos are hosted by lifestyle presenter Torie Campbell and tech reviewer Safwan Ahmedmia. The content will be hosted on the Auto Trader website, as well as being amplified through digital display and also on Fiat’s own digital channels.

Toni Gaventa, Fiat Brand Communications Manager, commented: “We wanted a campaign that provided a fun and light hearted way to demonstrate how you’ll fall in love with all those added extras you wouldn’t expect for such a great price. The content partnership with Auto Trader provides a trusted and credible platform on which to highlight all the ways in which the Tipo gives you more for less on any car journey.”

Rakesh Patel, Commercial Director at Auto Trader, said: “We embrace working with brands that want to reach car buyers in fresh and engaging ways, and at different stages of the consumer car buying journey. We know that 60% of new car buyers visit Auto Trader as part of their online research, and we’re focussed on utilising our rich data to ensure we can target the right audiences at the right time, with the right message.”

Laura Gao, account director at Chorus, added: “Auto Trader is the UK’s number one resource for information amongst in market car buyers. We devised a content strategy that allowed us to show off the Fiat Tipo in a lifestyle context as well as demonstrating product features in a series of hack videos, which we believe will bring the Tipo experience to life in a whole new way.”

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Even as the US economy continues to expand, largely on the back of solid household spending, the corporate profits environment is turning south after several years of exceptional performance (chart 1). This profits recession has led many to believe that an economic recession may be around the corner. However, while a return to substantial corporate […]

Grammy-winning music producer Alex Da Kid paired up with IBM Watson to find inspiration as never before. Together they’ve turned data from music and culture into cognitive music. ‘Not Easy’ is the first release from Alex Da Kid + Watson, featuring X Ambassadors, Elle King and Wiz Khalifa.

In the cognitive era, artists like Alex Da Kid can collaborate with Watson, to make hits from volumes of data. Watson gives artists the tools they need to see inspiration in places they never could before.

Below, see how Grammy award-winning music producer Alex Da Kid and IBM Watson collaborated to turn data insights on music and culture into cognitive music.

Advertising Agency: Ogilvy & Mather, New York
Executive Producer: Steve Ford
Producer: Sarah Pascale
Production Company: KIDinaKORNER
Director: Nicolas Davenel

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Brands No Longer Define Their Own Voice

I still think it’s interesting that we live in this whole networked age where we can speak to anyone we want across a multitude of platforms.

Most of that communication is via text, but soon it will be via real time open video messaging and augmented reality. Just this past week I was tweeting back and forth with Shira Ovide from Bloomberg and Abigail Posner from Google. We had wonderful conversations about the AT&T and Time Warner merger and a discussion about an upcoming podcast that Abigail and I are discussing doing. Yet when I tweeted to a few brands I heard nothing from them. Deafening silence. Unless they had to tell me something they could care less about what I had to say to them. I probably won’t hear anything from those companies. Maybe they didn’t pay their social media team this week or that team is overwhelmed because most companies still underfund this area.

Whatever the case may be, brands are boring on social media. They stick to social media like PR with canned messages and amplified spam.

While brands are boring on social media, the people who work at those brands are not.

I’ve always been at odds with any brand I’ve consulted in the past (Coca-Cola, Kraft, American Express, IBM) or currently work for (Microsoft) on how they should speak on social media. It’s impossible for brands to truly have a personality. In the pre-social media era, that personality came through in various communications like commercials, sponsorships and press releases. But that read only communication seems old and boring in our hyper-connected day and age. Yet brands still follow this stodgy rule of brand voice, brand temperament and brand logic. I guess the people who work behind the scenes really do believe brands are human even though we know they’re not.

What is human? The people who work at brands and companies. Yet many times they’re told to not talk about business, to not show an opinion, to not have a point of view. This goes against the nature of our social world. Social long before social media in that people are social animals and yearn to be connected and talk with others.

Smarter companies have seen that people don’t care too much about the company voice or brand identity. But they love the inside view of who works at those companies. They love profiles, interviews and subject matter expert conversations. In our cognitive era of product development, it’s people who make brands come alive. So why not showcase more of the people talent that makes up that company?

I find it hilarious in the year 2016 all the time from management no matter where I go that “People are the most important part of our organization, that comes first” and yet when those people yearn to breathe free and showcase who they are as representatives of the brand the brand PR police go nuts. “You can’t do that, you’re breaking brand guidelines. We need the brand to speak to the voice of what our brand is and what it believes, not you.”

A few smarter companies have rebelled from these pompous guidelines unleashing social employee advocacy programs to help their employees not only become agents of the brand, but let them share news around the brand in their voice.

No more robot speak is the new rallying cry.

Death to brand journalism is another one.

Platforms and software now exist to scale these types of programs but what’s more important from all this loosening of the rules is what many of us have known for years since the first early community forums: the brand is no longer the defining voice for the brand. The people who work for your brand and your customers are the defining voice of your brand.

Learn how to keep your brand relevant in the 21st Century in my new book Disruptive Marketing.

Join us in Hollywood, California for Brand Leadership in the Age of Disruption, our 5th annual competitive-learning event designed around brand strategy.

Branding Strategy Insider is a service of The Blake Project: A strategic brand consultancy specializing in Brand Research, Brand Strategy, Brand Licensing and Brand Education

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When Hillary Clinton became the first female nominee of a major political party in the United States this summer, she reflected that this achievement “belongs to generations of women and men who struggled, sacrificed and made this moment possible.” Women have been leaders throughout history, making positive changes in their communities. But in so many places around the world, women are held back from leadership on the largest stages by social, cultural and religious barriers.

In the final session of TEDWomen 2016 at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, eight speakers and one performer tackled one of the most fundamental issues facing women today: leadership.

Halla Tómasdóttir at TEDWomen 2016 - It's About Time, October 26-28, 2016, Yerba Buena Centre for the Arts, San Francisco, California. Photo: Marla Aufmuth / TED

Halla Tómasdóttir ran for president of Iceland this year — and came in a strong second from a wide field, against strong odds. She analyzes her campaign onstage at TEDWomen 2016. Photo: Marla Aufmuth / TED

A living emoji of sincerity. “Are you going to quit?” That was the first question the media asked Halla Tómasdóttir, who ran for president of Iceland in 2016, at her first televised debate. Polling at 1 percent at the time, it didn’t look like Tómasdóttir had a chance at winning the election — or making an impact at all on the political debate. Sharing her journey from watching Iceland’s first female president, Vigdís Finnbogadóttir, assume leadership, to deciding to run for Iceland’s highest office herself, Tómasdóttir narrates her motivations, struggles and achievements with wit and warmth. “It’s possible to run a different type of campaign,” she says, explaining how she insisted that her campaign take the high road and stay positive throughout the election, eventually earning her the description of “a living emoji of sincerity” in a New Yorker article. Despite a lack of resources and media attention, and against overwhelming odds, Tómasdóttir finished second in the election. “What we see, we can be. So screw fear and challenges. It matters that women run. And it’s time for women to run — whether it’s for CEO or president.”

Know your own power. US Representative Nancy Pelosi has represented San Francisco’s 12th district for 29 years, is currently the Democratic leader of the House of Representatives, and made history by becoming the first woman Speaker of the House. But she never felt that she was on a course for public office. In a revealing interview with TEDWomen co-founder Pat Mitchell, Pelosi reflects on her career and offers advice to other women seeking leadership positions, urging them to know their power and be their authentic selves. “Nothing is more wholesome to a government than the increased participation of women in leadership,” she says. Read more about the interview here.

Religious life, reinvented. “Religion today has failed to capture the imagination of a generation that is repelled by the viciousness of extremism and alienated by the dullness of routine-ism,” says Rabbi Sharon Brous. As a Jewish leader at the forefront of a movement for multi-faith justice work — which includes women’s mosques, Jewish indie startups, black churches in North Carolina, and a holy bus loaded with nuns — Brous wants to rethink and reinvent religious life, to imagine how religious communities might serve us collectively and how faith might provide a hopeful counter-narrative to the numbing realities of violence, pessimism and radical individualism that are present in all of our lives.

A vision for 2045. “Today’s nuclear weapons are hundreds of times more powerful than those dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki,” says Erika Gregory, director of nuclear nonproliferation initiative N Square. Whether you live in a city (which an enemy nation would likely target) or in a rural area (where many weapons are stored), there’s a decent chance that a nuclear weapon is pointed at you right now. Even with the Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons — the most widely adopted arms control treaty in history, with 190 signatories — there’s still no specific date by which the world’s nuclear countries will abandon their weapons. “Why is there no deadline — and no vision — for nonproliferation?” Gregory asks. One major issue: today’s generation of rising leaders were born after the Cold War, so they don’t remember a time when the nuclear threat was an everyday reality. To get rid of nuclear weapons and to eliminate the materials that can be used to produce them, Gregory says we need to engage this new generation and set a firm deadline for nonproliferation. She’s set her target on 2045. “Let’s close the chapter on nuclear weapons on the 100th anniversary of their invention,” she says. “If there was ever a global ‘moonshot’ worth supporting, this is it.”

Tell your daughters about this year. In a world where women are told to be silent, and to wait beyond all reasonable patience of time, Chinaka Hodge asks mothers to take a stand not just for themselves but for the futures that their daughters have yet to inhabit. In a powerful spoken piece, she admits that “even in the year we leased freedom, we didn’t own it outright,” and she implores women to let their lives confirm the truth of their beliefs, teaching their daughters to demand more than the immediacy of what they are offered. “Tell her you were brave and always, always in the company of courage,” Hodge says. Because when it’s all said and done, the question invariably remains for all of us: “What did you do for women in the year that it was time?”

US Female Olympians Alana Nichols and Michelle Carter with hosts Pat Mitchell and Kelly Stoetzel at TEDWomen 2016 - It's About Time, October 26-28, 2016, Yerba Buena Centre for the Arts, San Francisco, California. Photo: Marla Aufmuth / TED

From left, Olympians Alana Nichols and Michelle Carter speak onstage with hosts Kelly Stoetzel and Pat Mitchell at TEDWomen 2016. Photo: Marla Aufmuth / TED

How two Olympians became their own leaders. In order to become a leader, you have to learn to lead yourself. This is the lesson that led two Olympians down their path of glory. For American shot putter Michelle Carter, the current Olympic champion, learning to become her own leader meant stepping out of the shadow of her father and lifelong coach Michael Carter, an Olympic medalist himself. By making hard decisions in the face of high expectations, she realized that she had to take charge of her own direction. As she says, “I became the CEO of me!” For Alana Nichols, a Paralympics gold medalist in  wheelchair basketball, alpine skiing and sprint kayaking, learning to become a leader meant learning to think of her disability in a new light. At 17, Nichols was paralyzed in a snowboarding incident. As an athlete, she was devastated and thought she’d never be able to play again — until she watched a wheelchair basketball game while in college. “I started looking at what I could do, as opposed to what I couldn’t do,” she says. For both of these inspiring athletes, the ability to lead their athletic communities meant gaining leadership of themselves first.

Shelea Frazier performing at TEDWomen 2016 - It's About Time, October 26-28, 2016, Yerba Buena Centre for the Arts, San Francisco, California. Photo: Marla Aufmuth / TED

Sheléa performs at TEDWomen 2016: It’s About Time. Photo: Marla Aufmuth / TED

We believe in the future of women everywhere. Songwriter and vocalist Sheléa brings the house down with a soulful rendition of “I Believe,” by songwriter Tena Clark, marking the official end of TEDWomen 2016.

Every Brand Needs A Champion At The Top

For brands to succeed today, they need a “champion” at the top. Someone who leads the charge, casts the vision, and sets the standards; but is careful not to over shadow the brand itself or steal the spotlight. The champion must remain in service to the brand.

This role goes beyond that of the CMO and usually falls upon the CEO or the founder. The key criteria for the brand champion is not the craftsmanship of the marketing strategy (which IS the role of the CMO) but the absolute, unwavering belief in the “why” of the brand and its sole purpose for existence. These leaders are so passionate about their brands that they can believe almost anything is possible. And by marshaling that force of will, together with solid brand strategy anchored on a clear articulation of goals, can and do achieve the impossible.

Let’s look at some of the champions who have set the standard.

In the early 60s, the NASA brand had such a champion in President Kennedy. He set the bar very high for the ultimate goal of “landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth” by the end of the decade. And it worked. But to put this audacious goal in correct context, you must remember that space travel at that time was akin to a daredevil stunt–hardly “routine.” After his assassination, presidents Johnson, then Nixon, carried on the moon mission until its conclusion in 1972. While there have been many achievements by NASA since, nothing and no one has yet replaced that original, jaw-dropping piece of goal setting.

In the late 1970’s and early 80’s, Chrysler had such a brand champion in Lee Iacocca, who believed so much in his beleaguered car brand that he pledged to buy back your Plymouth, Dodge or Chrysler car if you weren’t satisfied. His out front, no nonsense style and his introduction of the minivan to the US market (he had also fathered the Mustang while at Ford) saved Chrysler from certain oblivion. Iacocca was an author, a bit of a showman and a charismatic personality that did come perilously close to upstaging his brand. However, Iacocca did put it all on the line for his car company as its spokesman in a national ad campaign just when Chrysler needed it. And it worked.

Walmart, the largest retail chain and employer got its traction in the 1980s under its founder and champion, Sam Walton. His humble, yet visionary leadership with the primary mission of “driving down the cost of living” out of spartan offices in Bentonville, Arkansas (doors laid across file cabinets as desks, etc.) is business legend. Walmart went from rural to urban and achieved respectability in the 80s. Walton’s home-spun genius and shrewdness inspired the launch of another extraordinary retail brand, The Home Depot. Bernie Marcus and Sam Walton even became friends with Marcus adopting Walton’s EDOP (Every Day Low Pricing) model for the better part of Home Depot’s early history.

These are just a few examples of brand champions from the past. There are so many more we could discuss from the 90’s and 2000’s as senior leadership in this period became much more aware of its importance and impact on growth. Jobs, Branson, Musk, Bezos, Schultz … perhaps you could add yourself to this list or know someone who deserves to be, famous or not.

The point is simply this: Brands are human constructs. And while it can be argued that they exist in the mental and economic abstract, they do, in fact, function in the real, physical world. Brands represent the things very talented and inspired people create in order to accomplish a purpose that these people believe very passionately about. The linkage between the creator (often the brand champion) and the brand creation is inescapable. Their leadership in casting a vision for the brand will always play an invaluable role in its success.

The definition of a “champion” is a person who fights or argues for a cause or on behalf of someone else. “Brand Advocates” are what we marketers aspire to create among our customer base through our diligent and consistent efforts. “Brand Champions” have a stake in the game regardless of our marketing efforts, for their very reputation rests on the reputation and success of the brand itself.

Every brand needs one. Are you that champion?

Join 49 other marketing oriented leaders and professionals in Hollywood, California for Brand Leadership in the Age of Disruption, our 5th annual competitive-learning event designed around brand strategy.

The Blake Project Can Help: The Brand Positioning Workshop

Branding Strategy Insider is a service of The Blake Project: A strategic brand consultancy specializing in Brand Research, Brand Strategy, Brand Licensing and Brand Education

FREE Publications And Resources For Marketers

5 Reasons Brands Fail At Innovation

The customer is always right. Especially when it comes to innovation. Whether they know it or not, customers have the answers for where the next big breakthrough will be.

The problem is that customers are notoriously bad at imagining the product that solves their problems and conceptualizing how they would interact with true breakthrough solutions. As Henry Ford reputedly put it, “If I’d asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” The trick is figuring out how to unlock the right information that can get you to the winning solution without relying solely on asking people what they want. This critical step is where many innovation efforts fail.

When the failures occur, it’s not for a lack of effort. Companies often invest heavily to understand the so-called voice of the customer. They may gather overwhelming amounts of data around current and potential customer behavior, opinions, and attitudes. Problems arise when these organizations try to figure out what to do with all the information; they lack a structured way of determining what’s important and what’s not. This makes it difficult to figure out the right direction to take.

And that sad picture describes some of the more customer-centric organizations out there. More commonly, we find companies relying heavily on very short customer satisfaction surveys and highly circumscribed concept tests. These instruments have their place, but they offer little or no insight into the fundamental drivers of demand, what might cause customer preferences to shift, or where an industry should head. By looking with myopic intensity at data that is very easy to collect, companies can miss critical elements of the whole picture and cast their efforts in fundamentally wrong directions.

Even when it comes to new products, which seem straightforward to research, companies’ track records are dire:

  • More than 50 percent of newly launched products fall short of the company’s projected expectations.
  • Only 1 in 100 new products covers its development costs.
  • Only 1 in 300 new products has a significant impact on customer purchase behavior, the product category, or the company’s growth trajectory.

Fortunately, the Jobs Roadmap provides a systematic way to beat the odds. Many new product failures can be avoided simply by understanding what jobs customers want to get done. Rather than leaping to foist a solution on the market, companies need to step back, listen to and observe real and potential customers (including how they react to early prototypes), and then hone in on strategic opportunity areas that show promise for growth.

Doing It Right

Making the innovation process work doesn’t require lashes of genius, nor does it depend on glamorous ideas. By looking intently at customers in the strategic context of the company, great ideas can emerge from simple insights that are easy to act upon.

Consider the story of Uber, an on-demand car service that gets you an affordable ride within minutes. The idea isn’t revolutionary. Taxis and car services have been around for a long time. In shaking up the taxi industry, part of what Uber brought to the table was a more cost-effective business model. By being a coordinator for drivers who had their own cars, Uber could substantially reduce its up- front costs by avoiding the need to pay for cars and medallions. But simply starting a price war by introducing a lower-cost model wouldn’t have been enough to steer people away from traditional taxis. Large incumbents—even in relatively low-margin industries—usually have the resources to weather the storm, even if things are a bit uncomfortable for a while.

The key to Uber’s success is that its efforts rely on Jobs-based principles. It’s almost impossible to list all of the pain points associated with traditional taxis: Long waits while trying to find an empty cab, unfriendly drivers using every trick they know to drive up the fare, and “broken” credit card readers that force you to pay with cash are just a few of the difficulties. Uber’s founders saw the problems that customers were facing and set out to offer a better alternative. Starting from the ground up, they produced a solution that would solve the most important jobs and alleviate as many frustrations as possible. The app’s interface allows you to summon a car on demand and know exactly when it will arrive. The interface provides fare quotes in advance, and back-end staffers will refund fare overages when drivers take overly long routes. Every ride is charged to a credit card on file, eliminating the need to deal with cash. Beyond eliminating a number of important pain points, Uber focused on emotional jobs that the taxi industry had ignored, offering a sense of certainty and control that you simply don’t have as you stand out in the cold waving at passing lashes of yellow or sit in the back of a cab endlessly watching the fare tick up on the meter. By focusing on fundamental jobs and taking a customer-centric perspective, Uber has grown to a $50 billion valuation in a little over five years.

5 Things That Leads Companies Astray

If the route to success is straightforward, why is it so uncommon? Here are five reasons why smart companies go astray.

First, doing things right requires a modest up-front investment of time. In typical corporate life, none of that is available. For example, back in 1999 one colleague had the privilege of leading a team responsible for creating one of the first smartphones ever. Until he pushed back hard, he was given a whole two weeks from the project’s inception to develop the specification for what would be in that device. Really.

Second, following the Jobs Roadmap entails following the Jobs Roadmap also entails asking difficult questions, many of which you’ll struggle to answer. his is not the sort of behavior that’s re- warded in most organizations. We are trained to be solution finders, from early schooling through to our annual employment reviews. Asking awkward questions can elicit equally awkward pauses, when people fumble for smart-sounding answers. You will need to get comfortable with the unknown. In tough questions lies great opportunity. Albert Einstein once said, “If I had an hour to solve a problem I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and five minutes thinking about solutions.” Once you frame a problem very well, the answers can be rather obvious.

Third, market researchers and product developers can focus too heavily on the superficial questions—probing into whether customers like this or that better. They worry that if they delve too deeply into behavioral drivers, customers will come up with rationalizations that don’t ultimately reflect their decision-making process when it comes time to make a purchase. A benefit of the Jobs Roadmap is that it allows you to target and understand discrete pieces of why customers act as they do, getting at the real root causes of behavior first and then becoming progressively more specific about the ramifications for the innovation.

Fourth, managers seek data to justify their conclusions, and data is rarely readily available about Jobs to be Done. Data can be produced reasonably quickly and inexpensively through primary re- search and test-and-learn experiments, but most companies still lack this information. This state of events is actually a good thing: It means that securing the data creates a true advantage for the company willing to do the work.

Last, and quite critically, we must discuss Clayton Christensen. Clay was the first person to popularize the notion of Jobs to be Done, although he is most famous for his concept of “disruptive innovation.” Aside from Clay’s remarkable brilliance, there is good reason why this one man has produced these two concepts. The disruptive innovation theory holds, in part, that products starting out in small market niches can grow to upend industry giants. Companies already incumbent in an industry tend to ignore these niches, focusing on their business as they’ve traditionally defined it. For interlopers, though, looking at underlying jobs helps determine whether that niche is a dead end or a route to eventual greatness. By targeting an under-addressed job to be done, a disruptive entrant can attack incumbents in asymmetric fashion, building strength in corners of the market that seem uninteresting to the traditional giants. When the giants awaken, it is often too late to fight of the clever entrant. Disruption succeeds when it targets the right jobs to be done.

Contributed to Branding Strategy Insider by Stephen Wunker, excerpted from his new book JOBS TO BE DONE: A Roadmap for Customer-Centered Innovation, with permission from AMACOM publishing.

Join 49 other marketing oriented leaders and professionals in Hollywood, California for Brand Leadership in the Age of Disruption, our 5th annual competitive-learning event designed around brand strategy.

The Blake Project Can Help: Accelerate B2C and B2B Brand Growth Through Powerful Emotional Connections

Branding Strategy Insider is a service of The Blake Project: A strategic brand consultancy specializing in Brand Research, Brand Strategy, Brand Licensing and Brand Education

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Ashley Judd speaks boldly about online gender violance — and what we can start doing to end it. She’s onstage at TEDWomen 2016 in San Francisco. Photo: Marla Aufmuth / TED

In all of its formats, in all the ways we listen and watch, the media is extremely powerful in how it represents — or underrepresents or misrepresents — women. Unless we’re prepared to change the way women are portrayed in the stories we tell, we’re not prepared for real change.

In Session 4 of TEDWomen 2016 at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, seven speakers (and a ballet company!) asked us to rethink how we tell each other stories, to empower us all.

Stacy Smith at TEDWomen 2016 - It's About Time, October 26-28, 2016, Yerba Buena Centre for the Arts, San Francisco, California. Photo: Marla Aufmuth / TED

Stacy Smith studies how women are represented in film … starting with a simple headcount. She spoke onstage at TEDWomen 2016: It’s About Time, in San Francisco. Photo: Marla Aufmuth / TED

The epidemic of invisibility. Filmmaking has the powerful capacity to transform and transport ideas. It shows us about the world — and ourselves. But the reality is that many of us are grossly underrepresented, if represented at all, in film. Media researcher and activist Stacy Smith studies inequality in film. Each year, Smith and her team study 100 popular Hollywood films, and they’ve found that women are largely invisible — on and off camera — to the point that women represent less than a third of speaking parts. Why is this? Perhaps thanks to this fact: Only 4.1 percent of films are directed by women. The numbers get smaller when factoring in race, age, sexuality and disability. Smith describes this situation as an “epidemic of invisibility.” Even in these grim circumstances, she offers practical solutions, like “just add five”: If, starting today, each filmmaker was to add five female speaking characters to their film, we would fill the gender gap in a mere three years. Ultimately, viewers have the power to address these problems by supporting women filmmakers and insisting that more women voices are heard.

Let girls flex their bravery muscles. Writer Caroline Paul has lived a high-risk life. After a failed world-record attempt in high school (she wanted to beat the Guinness world record for crawling), she became a firefighter, then a paraglider; adventure and danger are part of her DNA. So it came as a surprise to her that people, mostly men, were baffled by her courage. And then she realized: they were operating under the misconception that women weren’t brave. Where does this frame of thinking come from? It begins in infanthood, she says. Parents spend so much time protecting young girls from falling down and making mistakes that they grow up to be women who see and use fear of failure as a barrier instead of a propeller to power our most courageous and ambitious endeavors. The message of this talk is simple: encourage young girls to get outside of their comfort zones, build confidence by trying and failing for themselves and shaping their destinies based on their capabilities and not their limitations.  “I’m not against fear,” Paul jokes. “I’m just pro-bravery.”

Nanfu Wang at TEDWomen 2016 - It's About Time, October 26-28, 2016, Yerba Buena Centre for the Arts, San Francisco, California. Photo: Marla Aufmuth / TED

Nanfu Wang speaks about her career as a documentary filmmaker at TEDWomen 2016: It’s About Time. Photo: Marla Aufmuth / TED

The power of story to control time. “Time for me has always been an adversary,” says documentary filmmaker Nanfu Wang. “In my work and in my life, I’ve seen how moments can squeeze and dilate, and how in a moment the entire course of a life can change.” For Wang, those moments span from the interrogation room faced by three Chinese national security agents during the filming of her documentary, Hooligan Sparrow, to the sudden death of her father at age 33. These experiences shaped her determination to live every minute as if it were two. When she encountered documentary film, she recognized its power as a way to take control of time by allowing her to live multiple lives and experiences, manipulate time in the editing and storytelling process, and share it with an audience so that they could time travel, too. Storytelling, she says, loosens the grip that time holds on us.

Sisonke Msimang at TEDWomen 2016 - It's About Time, October 26-28, 2016, Yerba Buena Centre for the Arts, San Francisco, California. Photo: Marla Aufmuth / TED

Sisonke Msimang weaves a story about stories suring TEDWomen 2016. Photo: Marla Aufmuth / TED

Stories are not as magical as they seem. Stories are everywhere. From documentaries to podcasts, media offers us an unprecedented opportunity to hear stories from around the world, stories that make us fall in love and push us to imagine beyond what we already know. Sisonke Msimang explains that it’s not uncommon to hear people say that stories help make the world a better place, but she also cautions that stories can create an illusion of solidarity. An activist and social critic, Msimang explores the ways audiences react and engage with the content of nonfiction stories, arguing that such members must push beyond the simple act of listening into the reality which surrounds those highlighted stories. Storytelling alone cannot effect social justice without the credibility of facts and the intellectual curiosity of listeners who dare to ask questions about their content, she says. Instead, action requires a meaningful commitment to the storytellers, rather than their platforms, understanding that “sometimes it’s the messages that we don’t want to hear … that we need to hear the most.”

Jack Myers at TEDWomen 2016 - It's About Time, October 26-28, 2016, Yerba Buena Centre for the Arts, San Francisco, California. Photo: Marla Aufmuth / TED

Jack Myers speaks up for men at TEDWomen 2016. Photo: Marla Aufmuth / TED

The future of men. Author Jack Myers is concerned about young men today. “We need a movement,” he says, “a simple movement with clear purpose, led by both men and women, LGBTQ and straight, that gives young men the confidence to discover their purpose and their place in the future.” He wants us to do away with prescriptive notions of masculinity and embrace non-conventional role models for our men and boys through positive media portrayals, mentorship programs and education. Because none of us should feel limited by the binary expectations of our gender.

When we curb abuse, we’ll expand freedom. “Online misogyny is a global rights tragedy, and it’s imperative that it ends,” says actress Ashley Judd. In an electrifying, spirited talk that shines a light into the darkest corners of social media, Judd shares a glimpse of the vitriolic, hateful and threatening speech she encounters online every day. As a public figure, Judd sees a concentrated form of online abuse, but her experience of online harassment is one that’s shared with many others each day. After a particularly abusive experience following a tweet she sent after a University of Kentucky basketball game, Judd started to write. The resulting op-ed, published against the wishes of her publicist, went viral, encouraging her to start The Women’s Media Center Speech Project with a goal of expanding protections against online abuse. She offers some practical solutions, too: we need digital media literacy; we need to end the sexism in the workplaces of tech companies (tech platforms built from the ground up by diverse teams, instead of a room of dudes, will set better priorities); law enforcement needs to know how online platforms work, and how threats escalate from the internet to the real world. We must have the courage and urgency to disrupt online gender violence as it’s happening.

The importance of female storytellers. “Why do we think that stories by men are deemed to be of universal importance and stories by women are thought to be merely about women?” asks theater director Jude Kelly. We’re taught that divine knowledge and creative genius come through the masculine, but that impacts whether we believe that women’s stories, and consequently women’s rights, matter. “Without that, change can’t really come,” she says. We need to go back through our stories and see that so many are written from a male perspective, and we need to give women the chance to speak on behalf of the world. “All civilizations, all of humanity, have relied upon artists to tell the human story,” Kelly explains, but if that story is told by men, it will be about men.

Our life force, our spirit, is bursting. Darkness opened to bleak light, in this minimalist but powerful performance by Alonzo King LINES Ballet. A woman in a man’s world desperately yearns to break free of her imposed restraints, and eventually achieves a false sense of freedom, only to be ripped back to her harsh reality. Her perpetual fight reveals glimmers of a brighter future beyond the horizon, but ultimately her pained expressions and almost infantile helplessness spirals into unhinged hysterics, as a voice howls hauntingly overhead.

Alonzo King LINES Ballet company, at TEDWomen 2016 - It's About Time,  October 26-28, 2016, Yerba Buena Centre for the Arts, San Francisco, California. Photo: Marla Aufmuth / TED

Alonzo King LINES Ballet presented TEDWomen 2016 with a moving, complex story. Photo: Marla Aufmuth / TED