brand strategy inspirations from a master – Coca-Cola

~hello…this blog has moved over to the new HM-2 website…here.

Sharing marketing best practices & insights with the recovering real estate industry and beyond. Below for your enjoyment and inspiration are two videos by the global leader in the beverage category. 

Here Jonathan Mildenhall, Vice-President, Global Advertising Strategy & Creative Excellence at The Coca-Cola Company explains how “Coke will leverage the opportunities in the new media landscape and transform one-way storytelling into dynamic storytelling hoping to add value and significance to people’s lives.” 

I believe the videos outline brilliantly how Coca-Cola will move from “Creative Excellence” to “Content Excellence.”

Also, the fact that Coke has lifted back the curtain on their long term brand strategy via YouTube shows that they mean it & their efforts are already underway.

coca-cola’s Content 2020 

why share this?

  • to say “marketing is now content-driven”. This 125 year old icon is dealing with it and so can you.
  • to show how ‘brand strategy’ starts with a greater meaning and embraces business objectives. These aren’t just buzz words – it is a valid business concept.
  • to inspire you in innovation that embraces market trends; moves beyond formulaic approaches; and makes your brand increasingly relevant and interesting.

Thanks so much for stopping by and I’d love to hear what you think. Comment here or give me a shout on Twitter at @HollyHM2.  

As always – if you enjoyed this post – please share! Until next time – Cheers ;)


how people really shop and a few marketing insights

Today people shop and buy differently thanks to the internet – unsurprising.  However when two landmark studies quantify the process of shopping,  some surprises that have big implications to marketing emerge. Let’s start with the old thinking to better understand what’s new.   (Will it be “Fun”?  Of course it will. ;)

BOTTOM-LINE: Marketers need to understand how people shop today and align their activities accordingly to be most effective. 

the traditional funnel

This outdated model was developed before the prevalence of the internet when there was a barrier to information. Consider: Consumer Reports was a trip to the library and advertising was actually considered somewhat trustworthy.

1 – A person will “recognize a need” and actively begin shopping.

2 – People start with a large number of potential brands in mind. Being in this “Top of Mind” group of brands is the pay-off for “branding advertising”.

3 – Next people enter into a consideration phase. Here they compare features…no make that benefits – and methodically subtract  brands in consideration until… This is when marketing pummels people with “push” advertising telling them why their brand is best…and it worked for a long time. 

4 – Eventually, people emerge with a decision and purchase .

McKinsey & Co.’s Consumer Decision Journey

2008 – 20,000 consumers – 5 industries – 3 continents

You have to love our friends at McKinsey & Company as they always go BIG. In this study, McKinsey illustrates exactly why the Traditional Funnel no longer applies and how marketing should purposefully address the different stages of the consumer decision journey

It begins with triggers that set people on the path of purchasing.  (There are huge ideas here for real estate… ;)

STAGE 1 – Initial Consideration. People start off with certain brands in mind. Interestingly, there are not that many brands included in this initial consideration set. (Ranking the highest was Autos at only 3.8 brands.) (Getting into the Initial Consideration set  is the pay-off for all that “branding advertising” marketers invest in. It seems wasted, until people are triggered and then remember you. However, this is only the beginning. If your marketing stops here  – OUCH!)

STAGE 2 – Active Evaluation. Here people add and subtract brands as they evaluate what they want.

People aren’t just starting with a fixed pool of brand options and then whittling it down from there. They are starting with a small net and then expanding it to consider more brand options.  (It’s in Active Evaluation that a new brand can enter in and knock an Initial Consideration competitor out of the running. If you’re not active in Stage 2…)

And to make things even more interesting, 67% of the information used in Active Evaluation involve consumer-driven marketing touchpoints (reviews, recommendations, past experiences, in-store interactions). Only 33% is company-driven. (So marketers would be well-advised to learn how to influence those consumer-driven touchpoints. Content marketing anyone? Social Media anyone? Experience Focus perhaps? Are you budgeting appropriately?)

STAGE 3 – Moment of Purchase. Ultimately, people emerge with a decision and purchase. It may be made on-line, in a store, or in a sales office.

STAGE 4 – Postpurchase Experience. After experiencing what they purchased, people will use the information to generate more consumer-driven information and the cycle continues.

Google’s Zero Moment of Truth.

2011 – 5,000 consumers – 12 industries – 1 continent

Rather than approach the purchasing decision journey from the consumer behavior perspective, Google look’s at the shopping dynamic through the lens of a marketing model by P&G. Continue reading

What a ‘Brand’ Is and 3 Reasons to Care – Now.

One of my favorite homebuilders got a new logo passed down from corporate recently. When proudly asked by the CEO if they liked the “new brand” – they answered yes. No deeper than that. 

The slightly depressing reality behind this common story is that what could have been an amazing differentiation for a builder – won’t be.  (Indeed, we are in a time when those in the building industry and beyond need to not miss a step, yet many of the steps needed today -never even enter the picture.)  So…let’s start with…

what is a ‘brand’?

A Brand – is what people perceive about a product or a company.  It’s everything that’s been heard, seen…felt about it.  It’s your reputation from yesterday &  today. To really get this – a favorite quote:

If you’re not metaphorically “standing in front of your audience” with promotion and people understand, like and/or talk about you positively – that’s worth something to your bottom-line.  It’s known as positive brand equity.

However- if when you leave the room, the real stories come out and you’re basically looking like a jerk – well no logo is getting you out of that.

3 reasons to care about ‘brand’ – today

Some of you may consider this question a “no-brainer”.  Still, Builders, Developers and other companies with millions of dollars in assets go no deeper than a logo, graphic continuity and maybe a surface competitive positioning when considering their brand.  3 reasons to care about your  “brand” now:

#1  Your Real Brand Can Move Faster Than Ever Before in History

Social media has lifted back the curtain on companies and transparency to the public continues to increase.

It used to be that a problem in the sales office- never got past our 10 closest friends. Now we go to our car – briefly “Like” the brand on Facebook and if possible “briefly” post to their wall telling their whole following that they suck. Then onto our wall to tell our 400 friends about it and for good measure we  jump onto twitter to yell at them again. This takes us all of 4 minutes. Then we start to calm down,  while corporate scrambles to get us to chat privately – or ignores us.

That said,  social media also allows brands an interactive voice to build relationships like never before.  Here when a “problem” arises, you think “Wow that’s not what ____ is about.”  and you get in touch to let them know what’s going on. The heat is lessened in the situation. Sure you’re still pissed, but hopefully the relationship is deeper than just that one salesperson / customer service agent / superintendent.

Bottom-line: Social media communicates your brand in a new, more personal way and can spread directly to your target customer faster than ever before. 

#2. Organizational Effectiveness.

Last week, I read an article titled “The 10 Most Hated Jobs” – 2 of them were in marketing.

“2 –  Director of Sales and Marketing – … The majority who responded negatively cited a lack of direction from upper management and an absence of room for growth as the main sources of their ire.

10 –  Marketing Manager –  respondents in this position most often cited a lack of direction as the primary reason for job dissatisfaction. The most optimistic respondent described it as “tolerable,” and gave it the faintest praise possible by saying, “It’s a job.” (In this labor market, that’s not such a bad thing.)

These are the folks primarily focused on building brand equity and positive momentum for sales…and their biggest complaint is Lack of Direction. [sigh]

Here’s the question – “How can employees build relationships and demonstrate what their company/community/product brand is about – if no one ever clearly told them what it was about?”

People will try. They will interpret as best they can, but with no framework to refer to, the experience provided will vary for customers. The brand perception is muddled and not worth mentioning.

Bottom-line: It takes an intentional team approach to build a remarkable brand. 

#3.  Positive Brand Equity is Valuable.

Years ago a gentleman I worked for who is rightfully considered a leader in the community development industry told me you couldn’t build brand equity. It happened naturally – it was earned.

Today, with transparency at an all-time high – if you set your brand equity goals with your team; perform for customers consistently to meet that goal, and openly communicate the real experience as the social space allows like never before– you can  build positive brand equity. It will be rightfully earned by the team, and not just a natural occurrence.

Become a truly remarkable brand and the value would be: a predisposition for people to consider your product/service/(–approval); a faster sales process; higher referral rate;  lower marketing cost per sale (aka higher ROI) ; competitive differentiation; higher product value. It depends on the team.

Bottom-line:  Companies can intentionally build positive brand equity & it’s worth it. 


KEY TAKE-AWAY:  When you walk out of the room – what do you want people to say? 

At HM-2, we help companies and planned communities clearly define their Brand, engage their teams and intentionally build valuable brand equity. It’s a journey worth taking to get ahead of competitors and excel with customers.

from client to consultant – a really candid perspective

While most of my colleagues completely agree with the following, the general feedback is “you shouldn’t say that in public . . . “

One of the truly brilliant people in the building industry today said that he was a lousy consultant.”     

Ridiculous.  He recently made a client-developer $30+ million (literally) in asset value…so far.

This started me thinking about what I’ve learned in the past couple years moving from employee to consultant.  If you are from the “Client-side” of the industry, you are probably used to approaching work with more of an Employee Philosophy over a consultant perspective.  

What’s important in an “Employee Philosophy”

  • Doing what is right for the asset /company to the best of your ability
  • Understanding  the detail & nuance
  • Long-term ramifications
  • Being as efficient as possible  
  • Honestly sharing the positives and negatives of a project

If you tend to follow this “Employee Philosophy” as a consultant – you probably are Continue reading

how will you approach 2011?

2011 holds a lot of possibility in every industry. Like always, it comes down to how you choose to approach the everyday.  This amazing video I find inspiring, especially in the current economic climate. Hope you enjoy it.  

nimbleness, finding-a-way,  adaptability, creativity, strength, mastery of craft, determination, and joy   


ps. Thank you to the folks at Red Bull for creating such great content and supporting athletes. Always a fabulous example of brand experience – but that’s actually beside the point here. 

So, sent me a free culture book…

So,  just sent me a free 2009 culture book…  To share how great company cultures create valuable brands, I thought I’d share as a premiere example. is an amazingly successful on-line “shoe” retailer. They reached $1billion in sales in only 9 years and they were recently purchased by Amazon for $850M.  Zappos fully embraces being a service company as the driver of their culture and are known for incredible customer service.  Their tagline? – Powered by Service.

In researching this iconic company,  I stumbled into their new website which actually now sells … their culture.   Fill out your information so we can send you a FREE Culture Book.”

 It looked like a nice book. As phone/email were optional, I clicked “submit” to get to the next screen to pay for shipping and – “Thanks! Your book is on the way!” Really?   When that 3 lb “no shipping” envelope arrived, the book was open in seconds.  It turns out that Zappos feels so strongly about their culture that every year they publish this book, which is written by leadership, employees, trade partners and customers.

Key Take-Away: The quote on page 2  is priceless in any business –or personal- relationship.  For those in business of selling new homes, it may inspire your approach to sales, customer service/ warranty, construction, marketing, acquisition and  internal communication.  

“People may not remember exactly what you did… or what you said, but they will always remember how you made them feel.  Tony paraphrasing various authors”

So how did I FEEL?   Candidly… Continue reading