Category Insights & Analytics

In a Brand Positioning Jam?

In a sea of sensory overload, consumers are unable to navigate the differences between brands and what they stand for – and how they are different.

I was in Chicago’s O’Hare airport not so long ago and I saw the campaign below from the office brand #Fellowes.   It struck me as a great example of a brand that did their homework to define a brand position that is unique, impactful, and immediately resonates with their target consumers – in this case, business people and procurement staff who purchase and use shredders.

What is the #1 problem that you have had with shredders?  I bet it is that they JAM!!!   They always seem to jam and then it is a brutal wrestling match with a knife, scissors, etc. to push the jammed paper through and ‘set the machine free’… (It would be interesting – and probably a bit scary – to see the statistics of how many people injure themselves trying to de-jamify shredders)

Now, for Fellowes, they could have positioned themselves as faster, as more aesthetic, easier to use, etc… but I assume they ‘did the math’ (evaluated the situation, maybe with consumer insights or maybe with common sense) and realized that the number one problem we all have with shredders is that they are not tough enough… we want shredders to suck huge quantities of paper through and chop it all up – with NO PROBLEMS.

It appears that Fellowes took this opportunity to heart and with their slogans and creative:

“The World’s Toughest Shredders” and “100% Jam Proof” – great examples of carving out a ‘reason for being’ that is unique and immediately resonates with their target consumers.


  • What is your brand’s ‘reason for being?’
  • How does this brand positioning manifest itself to consumers?
  • As consumers expectations change, will your brand position need to evolve to stay hyper-relevant?


Coke and a Smile!

In late 2010, Coca Cola released their ‘Content 2020′ plan… and communicated their strategy though the use of an interesting set of videos.   I have watched the videos too many times to mention – I am a bit spellbound.   I keep coming back for a couple of reasons:

  • The strategy is compelling… the shifts make sense and are brilliantly-explained in a building logic that Barbara Minto would be proud of!
  • Coke’s use of RSA Animate to illustrate their strategy is brilliant – it actually is a great representation of the company’s strategy of ‘creating content so contagious, that it can’t be controlled’… exactly what these videos are…

They have divided the brand communication strategy up into logical chapters:

  1. Liquid and Linked Content Development
  2. The Case for Change
  3. The Evolution of Storytelling
  4. Baking ‘Live Positively’ into Storytelling
  5. From Insights to Provocations – the creative brief = Bigger Thinking
  6. Developing Liquid Content
  7. Investment Principles for Liquid Content
  8. Researching Liquid Content
  9. Applying the Dollar Multiplier to the Iterative Production Process
  10. Summary…

Check out the videos below – I think you might dig them…

Here is video – Part 1

Here is video – Part 2:

No Thanks, I’m Just Looking…

“Can I help you?”

How often to we, as consumers, hear this greeting when we are in the shopping environment?  And, what do we always say? “No thanks…”

Obviously best practices training teaches sales associates to ask open-ended questions as opposed to “can I help you?”   In the end, it IS about the people… the sales associates’ role in driving conversion is irrefutable.  A knowledgeable, unobtrusive, and, well, helpful sales associate can dramatically increase a retailer’s KPIs of sales per square foot, GMROI, and many other productivity metrics.

However, retailers continue to invest in more mechanical efficiency levers like stock-outs, plan-o-grams, etc.  Some new research by Serguei Netessine at INSEAD shows that many retailers might be better served by understanding more about human efficiency analytics and metrics.

Here is a passage from his very interesting article in the HBR:

“The most innovative employee managers we know use business analytics to understand the differences in how individual store associates perform. When these retailers make dynamic adjustments, therefore, they are not only deciding how many but who in particular to move to a sales floor.”

Key takeaways include:

  • Understanding in-store consumer traffic patterns
  • Educating store employees how to meet consumers’ needs
  • Flexing staffing (and specific sales associates) to seize the knowledge above

Check out the HBR story here:


Humanizing Your Brand Data!

Data can be overwhelming.  More commonly, the power of data to inform better decisions is overlooked by business leaders in consumer-focused industries.  Obviously, the financial services and banking industries LIVE for data… and internal finance teams in consumer companies understand and thrive on data.  However, we as marketers can be overwhelmed by the volume of data and struggle to distill the ‘so what.’

Jer Thorp in his new Ted video takes data and puts into animations and other infographics that make the numbers more human and easier to understand.  Imaging taking these ideas and applying them them to brand, marketing, and customer experience KPIs.  Pretty impactful stuff.