Stronger businesses and brands – that’s our hope for every marketing oriented leader and professional that reads our insights on Branding Strategy Insider. Since 2006 we’ve shared thousands of thought pieces focused on the most important concepts in brand management. This year was no exception. From start to finish we recorded the shaping forces of strategy, markets, culture, consumer behavior, over-communication, disinformation, category disruption, the speed in which our discipline is changing and perhaps most important how brands are responding to earn a place in an uncertain future.
Thank you Branding Strategy Insider readers for helping us along the journey; offering your ideas, questions, suggestions, opinions and sometimes opposing views. You have helped shape us as authors, educators and brand strategists, and have helped make Branding Strategy Insider the leading resource for marketing oriented leaders and professionals.
Now let’s look back on the 35 most read thought pieces of 2020 on Branding Strategy Insider. May they help you develop and release your brand’s full potential.
1. Brands Thrive As Platforms Not Products: In this environment, traditional marketing categories like B2B, B2C, DTC, and others (B2C2C) all become blurry associations that no longer fit. Forget those halfway descriptors about bought, shared and earned media. We live in a whirlyworld of messages, bespoke and not. Everything (and everyone) is also something else.
2. Fourteen Considerations For Successful Brand Strategy: Connecting with consumers is the key skill essential for building stronger brand bridges. It requires an end-consumer orientation for evaluating everything you do, meaning that the brand planner must become the in-house consumer advocate, always taking the consumer perspectives in meetings, evaluating how all new products and ideas might be perceived and better leveraged to enhance ideal brand perception and performance.
3. Why Disruptions Favor Emerging Trends And Brands: When marketplace disruptions are far-reaching and radical, conventional ways of doing business are swept aside, clearing the way for emerging trends and small yet burgeoning brands to accelerate into an enduring and sometimes dominant mainstream position. This is the principle of acceleration.
4. Sixty-One Ways To Differentiate Your Brand: In your quest to create a meaningful difference for your brand consult our list of 61 strategies.
5. Brands Without Meaning Are No Longer Essential: The challenge of creating a successful anything is to take a product that is essentially meaningless — let’s say a T-shirt — and imbue it with meaning.
6. Five Trends Behind Growing Brand Communities: As we shift from prioritizing “operational efficiency” through reach & repetition to “value creation” through resonance & relevancy, the next decade of #perpetualbeta will reward companies that recognize the powerful third rail in the brand-consumer relationship: community.
7. Branding 4.0 For The 4th Industrial Revolution: What is needed is an entirely new way of thinking about branding, one that is rooted in providing value to all stakeholders, in a way that is meaningful to each and recognizes the importance of human needs: belonging, esteem, and self-fulfillment.
8. The Formula For Business Model Innovation: The formula for business model innovation immediately gives us essential questions to ask about our own business model, and how to improve it:
9. Reframing Brand Problems For A Bigger Future: By creating a ‘reality distortion field’ you reframe a problem in such a way that others are more likely to accept your way of thinking. Steve Jobs was very good at reframing issues, and as such he was able to encourage people to look at old problems from a new angle and gain new insights and approaches to help find a solution.
10. Vision 2020: Lead Brands With Meaning: We are headed in a new direction of personal relevance driven by our increasing focus on the Power Of Identity.
11. Embedding Brand Purpose Enterprise Wide: A purpose statement is meaningless unless it translates into action. For that reason, let’s explore five channels through which purpose can be embedded in an enterprise – strategy, operating model, culture, internal reporting and governance.
12. Positioning B2B Brands Around Personal Value: Not only do emotions matter in B2B buying, but they actually matter even more than logic and reason. This finding highlights a potentially untapped opportunity for B2B marketers to reposition brands around personal value.
13. How Amazon Thrives On Being Misunderstood: What are Amazon’s greatest innovations? Drones? Cloud computing? Echo and Alexa? These are impressive; some are even revolutionary. However, I believe Amazon’s greatest innovations are the ones that have changed the basics of competing to the point where they now sound mundane.
14. Eight Brand Storytelling Structures: Every brand wants to take their audience through an unforgettable journey, so taking the time to assess what the journey will look like is a critical part of building a brand story. There are many structures storytellers use to create different types of stories, here are eight of the most common ones.
15. Extending Brand Relevance And Distinctiveness: We know that a successful brand is one that readily comes to mind when thinking of that category. Top-of-mind brands are mentally available due to their distinct yet cohesive (consistent across all touchpoints) equities. One of the keys to brand growth is obtaining a deep understanding of what elements make-up your brand identity.
16. Businesses Survive By Accepting Brutal Facts: Many organizations won’t survive the COVID-19 crisis for reasons that are beyond their leaders’ control. However, when we look back on many business failures and missteps, we will see repeated leadership failures related to the Stockdale Paradox.
17. Six Rules For A Post-Virus Brand Revitalization: For the short-term, there are several ongoing, must-do actions for brands.
18. Identifying Business Winners And Losers: Innovative ideas can fail in two ways. The most visible failures are those introduced into the market without success. More insidious are failures associated with good ideas never getting to market because they lacked the resources and management support for implementation.
19. E-Commerce Strategy: From Transaction To Experience: Online shopping is generally a solitary activity – more about the purchase result than the experience. But is that all about to change?
20. The 50 Most Common Brand Problems: Awareness of the problems and challenges brands can encounter is an important step in maintaining a strong, healthy brand. So we set out to identify, analyze and solve the 50 Most Common Brand Problems faced by marketers today. Which ones are threatening your brand?
21. Three Principles For Facing Change And Disruption: Past experience recommends three principles to use when assessing whether the so-called normal that follows a disruption will be new or not new. These principles lie along a continuum from nothing new to something new to all new. They have granular relevance for brands no less than macro relevance for categories and markets. And they define a sequence of gates through which any change must pass to be lasting and far-reaching.
22. Ten Requirements For Driving Brand Growth: Most marketers still need to fight for market share and to do so successfully should bear these ten actions in mind.
23. The Most Powerful Brands Have Always Been Agile: Marketing and communication has a way of being reinvented over and over again, with each new and unapologetic rendition billed as a break from a seemingly blind and rigid tradition. Except they’re nothing of the sort. Despite keeping things feeling fresh, most reinvention is historical revisitation.
24. Ten Brand Strategies For Success In 2021: In the context of coronavirus, here are ten ways businesses and brands can adjust to make the difference between success and failure in 2021.
25. Building Leading Brands With Trust And Purpose: “Brand that I can trust” has been an attribute that brands have measured for a long time. Looking back, a decade ago, it was hardly a differentiator. However, this attribute has taken a new meaning in today’s day & age especially with Gen Z starting to enter the workforce.
26. Brands Must Adapt To Smaller Consumer Worlds: Today’s marketplace is defined by fragmentation. This diversity of tastes, values, ideologies and lifestyles creates a complex operating environment for brands. The universal mass-market America, defined by a shared aspirational narrative has given way to a nation of Smaller Worlds.
27. Three Factors Shaping New Consumer Behaviors: We can look at several fundamental human motivations that are likely to drive preferences and behaviors in The New Normal.
28. How Brands Thrive On Being The Opposite: Recognizing what you’re not creates new markets, new behaviors, new thinking.
29. Seven Ways Brands Can Create A Social Movement: The strongest brands stand for something bigger than the products that they sell, as we have seen in various examples of social movements. Here are seven things brands can do to create a social movement.
30. Defining And Building Intangible Assets: First, it is important to know that most intangible assets do not appear on the balance sheets of companies. This means that for most companies, much of their value is unreported. Current accounting practices simply fail to capture the value of most intangible assets.
31. Ten Ways To Reimagine Your Brand: In helping clients reimagine offerings and relationships for lasting value we discovered ten things that may help you do the same.
32. Turnaround Strategy Begins At The Core: When a brand is in trouble, focus first on the core customer base. Love the customer you have before you focus on the customer you don’t have. When a brand is in trouble, re-energize, protect, and strengthen the core customer. It is the core customer that will profitably finance a turnaround and provide the platform for the future.
33. Six Keys To Activating The Jobs To Be Done Theory: Nine of the ten most valuable companies in America can trace their greatness to reconceiving a market’s boundaries. From ExxonMobil to Apple to Wal-Mart, these firms expanded markets that others saw as static. How can companies in today’s economy – seemingly hemmed in on all sides by hyper-competitive markets – break into new ground?
34. The Brand Management Of Dead Celebrities: Dead celebrities and icons inspire us, take a place of influence and earn a place of love and respect in our hearts and minds. With various forms of intellectual property, and subject to how it is protected, managed, and creatively re-imagined, deceased celebrities and icons have great earnings potential even after they’ve left the physical world.
35. Building The Customer First Mindset: Agile is often thought of as a process when it’s really a mind-set (supported by processes, of course). Yes, it’s about testing and learning, and new ways of working, but at the heart of agile is the determination to provide the customer with something she or he wants or needs.
The Blake Project Can Help You Create A Brighter Competitive Future In The Jobs To Be Done Workshop
Branding Strategy Insider is a service of The Blake Project: A strategic brand consultancy specializing in Brand Research, Brand Strategy, Brand Growth and Brand Education