Take Along, Share and Simplify: Essential Verbs to Enhance Your Brand Strategy in 2015, Part 2

Back in November, I shared with you two essential verbs to enhance your brand strategy: amaze and respect. Now I have three more verbs to share with you for your 2015 brand plans:

Back in November, I shared with you two essential verbs to enhance your brand strategy: amaze and respect. Now I have three more verbs to share with you for your 2015 brand plans:

Take Along
Pomegranates have always had a rough reputation in the world of fruit: How do you eat them? How do you peel or cut into them without getting that staining red juice all over the place? And, once you figure that out, how do you remove all those beautiful ruby seeds (actually called arils) out easily? Pomegranates are the antithesis of take-it-everywhere, eat-on-the-run bananas.

But 10 years ago, the folks at POM Wonderful took it upon themselves to make pomegranates more accessible to Americans and introduced the nutritional wonders of pomegranate juice in a big way to our health-obsessed country. Customers found POM Wonderful Juice delicious to drink, fun to hold and loved the antioxidant boost. Sales soared. Pomegranate juice became a part of healthy lifestyles.

Over time, the brand builders at POM took on this fresh fruit’s primary pain point among customers—extracting the seeds without a huge mess. There had been a brief instruction on the website, but then POM took it a step further—it was simply done for customers! POM introduced conveniently packaged arils in easy-to-tote cups so customers can use them in salads or just pop them in your mouth like you might raisins. Voila! Ease, convenience, antioxidants … all portable.

Brands that gain the coveted access into their customers’ daily lives do so by creating products that are in some way meaningful and easy to use. This “take along” effect (also mastered by others quite successfully like Starbucks and Republic of Tea with their traveler’s tins of teas) keeps a brand top of mind. Is there any way this “take along” verb would help your brand become a bigger part of your customers’ lives?

Share
GoPro’s founder and CEO, Nicholas Woodman, writes this:

We help people capture and share their lives’ most meaningful experiences with others—to celebrate them together. The world’s most versatile cameras are what we make. Enabling you to share your life through incredible photos and videos is what we do.

The verb share centers GoPro’s brand mission. Woodman elaborates, “Like how a day on the mountain with friends is more meaningful than one spent alone, the sharing of our collective experiences makes our lives more fun.” In today’s visually dominant world, the products that GoPro creates enhance its customers’ experiences and make shareability easier than ever.

As stated on the website: “Our customers include some of the world’s most active and passionate people. The volume and quality of their shared GoPro content, coupled with their enthusiasm for our brand, are virally driving awareness and demand for our products.”

Does your brand make sharing possible in some easy and virally visual way? How can you differentiate your brand through creative sharing strategies?

Simplify
In brand building exercises, it is quite common to play with questions like “What if your brand was an automobile … or a celebrity or a color? What would it be?” Those activities are often thought provoking if most of the conversation centers around the why that particular model/person/hue was chosen.

Along those playful lines, here’s another question to ponder: “What if your brand was a magazine … in this case Real Simple?” Real Simple is one of women’s favorite magazines because it truly demystifies almost everything … from cooking several course holiday dinners to removing wine stains to entertaining outdoors to mentoring. Here’s how the brand describes itself:

Real Simple is the everyday essential for today’s time-pressured woman, the guide she can trust to make her life a little easier in a world that’s more complicated by the minute. With smart strategies, genius shortcuts, and shoppable solutions, we help her simplify, streamline, and beautifully edit her life, armed with calm, confidence—and the power of the right lipstick.

Real Simple’s articles are practical and informative and surrounded by lots of white space and often summarized in the back of the physical magazine on perforated tear off cards that their readers can slip in their wallet and take to the store or save in an easy to find manner. Real Simple is part knowledgeable friend, part cheerleader, part organizer and the verb simple is a brand filter for all they do. In our complex, hyper speed, information-overloaded society, Real Simple is an oasis of uncomplicated and straightforward answers.

Customers crave simplicity (just take a peek at Google and Apple’s strategic success). Is “simplify” a conscious part of your strategic plan in 2015? How can this verb be incorporated more holistically across all your brand touchpoints?

Take along, share and simplify … three more robust verbs that have the potential to set your brand apart this next year. Think through these verbs in relation to your brand mission. Fast forward and consider how your customers might feel if these were a part of your strategy, and then, go ahead do something with these verbs!

Amaze and Respect: Essential Verbs to Enhance Your Brand Strategy in 2015, Part 1

No doubt your strategic plan has powerful verbs in it already: verbs like activate (previous customers), entice (new customers), cross-promote (merchandise across channels), engage (customers with content) and increase (profitability). I expect those verbs are baked into most plans. But brands that make a difference in the lives of their customers often add a few unexpected verbs into their strategic planning and their actions.

Harvard Business Review recently featured a cover story that promoted three key verbs as critical to marketing success: THINK, FEEL, DO. Does your 2015 brand plan include those verbs?

No doubt your strategic plan has powerful verbs in it already: verbs like activate (previous customers), entice (new customers), cross-promote (merchandise across channels), engage (customers with content) and increase (profitability). I expect those verbs are baked into most plans. But brands that make a difference in the lives of their customers often add a few unexpected verbs into their strategic planning and their actions. As the new year quickly approaches, I invite you and your team to consider a few of these:

Amaze
The brand builders at Quicken Loans, the nation’s largest online retail mortgage lender and the second largest retail home lender in the United States, have mindfully incorporated a powerful verb in its tagline: Engineered to Amaze.

The verb amaze is a driver in all of the company’s brand touchpoints—from the short video clip of Quicken Loans’ amazingly simple mortgage process on the home page to the text query (“AMAZE” to 26293) to the Zing! Blog where “Amazing Insights on Home, Money and Life” are offered to customers.

Breaking out of the maze of bureaucracy and painstaking processes that the mortgage industry is known for is what drives the leaders of Quicken Loans to create products and services that are amazingly useful to customers. Delighting its customers with a fast, efficient, friendly loan process distinguishes this brand and is part of the reason J.D. Power ranks Quicken Loans the “highest satisfaction in primary mortgage origination” for the last four years.

What do your customers find amazing about your brand? What new strategies might you adopt in the upcoming year to be even more amazingly useful to your customers?

Respect
Where does the verb respect fit in your brand’s DNA? For Jeffrey Raider and Andy Katz-Mayfield, the two co-founders of Harry’s, an online men’s shaving boutique, this verb dominates their strategy. Here’s how the two describe their service:

Like most of you, we’ve long had to choose between over-priced, over-marketed razors that disrespect your intelligence, and low quality, cheap razors that disrespect your face. We knew there had to be a better way, so we created Harry’s as a return to the essential: a great shave at a fair price.

Respecting customer intelligence, respecting the customer’s face, lathering in an edited and simplified shopping experience (like one of these men did in his first business—Warby Parker) and creating a meaningful charitable connection all adds up to a new venture that elevates a daily chore. Harry’s believes “a great shave is powerful, preparing you to conquer the world in your own way, every day.”

It’s apparent that this respect for their customer’s time, attention and wallet coupled with respect for the activity of shaving informed all Raider’s and Katz-Mayfield’s brand launch decisions. The co-founders conducted their own shave tests and found all existing products on the market lacking. In addition to finding a European manufacturer to make a different type of blade, it led them to reconfigure the razor handles and craft two unique and exclusive Harry offerings: The Winston and The Truman, inspired by old pens and knives.

“With Harry’s,” Raider says in a Fast Company interview, “I think we care about customers a lot, but it’s more about respecting them and giving them a product they really like, but not overwhelming them with choice-just sort of giving them a shaving tool we think will work really well.”

Plain and simple, how well does your brand respect your customers’ attention, time and wallet? In 2015, how can you be ever more respectful?

Tune in in early December for the final three verbs you should use to enhance your brand strategy in 2015!

Verbify! Verbify! Verbify!

What’s your brand verb? Yes, you read that right … verb. Each and every day great brands are energized by verbs. Google searches. Nike inspires. Disney entertains. J.Jill uncomplicates. Apple creates. IKEA improves. LinkedIn networks. Chipotle nourishes. These verbs harness and direct all the brand activities for these organizations both internally and externally. Jim Collins writes that “Greatness is not a product of circumstance. Greatness is a function of conscious choice and discipline.” Great brands purposefully and powerfully live by their brand verbs. Their greatness lies in this deliberate verb action-orientation day in and day out.

What’s your brand verb? Yes, you read that right … verb. Each and every day great brands are energized by verbs. Google searches. Nike inspires. Disney entertains. J.Jill uncomplicates. Apple creates. IKEA improves. LinkedIn networks. Chipotle nourishes. These verbs harness and direct all the brand activities for these organizations both internally and externally. Jim Collins writes that “Greatness is not a product of circumstance. Greatness is a function of conscious choice and discipline.” Great brands purposefully and powerfully live by their brand verbs. Their greatness lies in this deliberate verb action-orientation day in and day out.

We tend to spend a lot of brand energy on adjectives trying to best our competitors: smarter, better, faster, thinner, bigger, smaller, cheaper. I like a lot of these “ER” words and find them helpful in product development tinkering. There is indeed a place for them in our business planning. But “ER” words are at best incremental improvements on existing solutions. They are not words of vision. Verbs are where the real action is!

Try this simple but powerful exercise I call verbifying: Grab three stacks of different colored sticky notes and give one of each color to each of your key leaders. On the first color, ask each brand leader what one verb best describes what your brand does for your customers. Take a look at all those responses. Is there unity among your leadership team about what drives your brand’s purpose? About what matters most to your customers? If there are disconnects, what conversation is necessary to bring alignment internally? If your leaders are not on the same page, then your brand energy is being diluted.

Next, pass out another colored sticky note and write down three of your top-selling products or services. What verb defines each of those products or services? Brands are created by these tangible customer-facing touchpoints and experiences. What do these “spokesproducts” do for your customers? Are the verbs that describe these products and services connected to your main brand verb? Why or why not? In my new book, “ThinkAbout: 77 Creative Prompts for Innovators,” I share examples from across a multitude of industries and customer segments of products that support their brands through this powerful verb connection. Might your brand be sending a flurry of mixed messages into today’s attention-deficient world? If warranted, how can you better synchronize all your brand touchpoints to support your mission-minded brand verb?

And lastly, ask each of your brand ambassadors to note the verb that best describes their contribution to your brand on the final sticky note. Jim Collins advocates being sure organizations have “all the right people in the right seats on the bus.” As their leader, do you know what verbs each of your key contributors bring to your brand creation? Are they Innovators? Dreamers? Doers? Revolutionaries? Analyzers? Thinkers? Tinkerers? What does your brand require of its people? What might be missing? Do you have the right mix of leaders on board to fully and purposefully live out your brand verb?

Nike inspires athletes of all shapes and sizes (and the company lovingly declares that if you have a body you are an athlete!) to find their greatness. I encourage you to do the same. Find your brand’s greatness by taking a few moments to verbify your brand, your products/services and your people.