A giraffe is approximately six feet tall and weighs up to 150 pounds at birth. Even more impressive, it can grow as much as an inch per day! And that’s precisely the subject of this article. No, not giraffes… growth! Brand growth, to be specific.
h2\agency recently published its Brand Growth Manifesto and we have had several requests for a condensed version that summarizes the key points.
Wait, what?! You mean you don’t have time to read our 10 000-word manifesto?
OK OK, here it goes!
We kick off the Manifesto with a few principles that inspired us:
Penetration or customer loyalty?
An age-old question well-discussed by Byron Sharp and Jenni Romaniuk. We expanded on their learnings and applied their approach to a wide range of sectors, from retail to charity.
The gist of it? New customers and light users are key to growing brands. And guess what? Purchase frequency, recency and loyalty all come with increased penetration.
Still want to double-down on a customer loyalty-centered strategy?
Chasing brand differentiation is misleading
Inspired by what Sharp and Romaniuk refer to as the Duplication of Purchase Law, which states that brands share customers in line with their penetration, we challenged a few myths regarding brand uniqueness, brand love and brand fans.
Spoiler alert: don’t let these over-promising terms compromise your brand growth strategy.
As Andrew Ehrenberg famously stated: “Your buyers are really buyers of another brand who sometimes happen to buy you.”
As with brand loyalty, we’re not saying that brand differentiation is inexistent or unimportant, just that it takes up too much of the marketing and communications team’s time and resources from a brand growth perspective.
OK, so what type of differentiation does matter then?
Well, first off, brand distinctiveness: that is, the clever use of brand assets that can be trademarked and legally protected. Refer to h2\agency’s orange backslash ( \ ) in all our communication.
Beyond brand distinctiveness, we discuss offer differentiation: that is how the brand’s products or services are positioned relative to the competition and relative to consumer preferences and buying behavior. This comes in two forms:
- vertical positioning: perceived quality of the offer versus overall costs to produce, distribute and market the offer.
- horizontal positioning: where the offer falls, relative to the competition, on any given consumer preference continuum. In the athletic footwear market, the most relative continuum may be “performance to fashionable”.
Brand growth phases
With these principles in mind, we codified the three overarching phases where brand growth can be stimulated:
The first one is the category entrance phase, or the moment the consumer enters the category. As proposed by Sharp and Romaniuk, this can refer to entering into the category both mentally and physically.
This means your brand needs to be mentally and physically available. Mentally available, by being salient across a wide range of buying situations, and physically available, by being identifiable and easy to buy.
OK, got it, thanks! But wait, that’s not all…
Beyond simply being available to potential buyers, we need to consider the trade-off during the active evaluation / moment of choice phase. This refers to the trade-off that operates prior to the final decision, regardless of the length, nature, or importance of this trade-off. This can include:
- Functional trade-off: “this product has such and such a feature that this other product does not”, or “this product costs 10 dollars more, but will last longer”
- Emotional / intangible trade-off: “I really like what this brand stands for”, or “I like the way this brand portrays women”
- Pricing trade-off: “this brand offers a stripped-down version of this product that fits my needs”, or “this brand allows me to rent this product instead of having to purchase it.”
The third phase is the post-purchase phase, where experience, satisfaction, recommendation, engagement is all monitored and managed in real time to be able to positively influence the dual nature of customer engagement loop. Why dual nature, you ask?
- Same customer repeat purchase: how is my brand doing relative to the good ol’ loyalty loop?
- New customer penetration: how are my current customers affecting brand growth? What can be done about this?
The implications of this phase in today’s data-driven world are nothing short of monumental.
A brand growth framework
So, putting all of this together, we came up with the following brand growth framework:
Disclaimer: we do not intend to represent here the shopper journey or the systematic steps taken by consumers in a purchase cycle.
Now, as you can see in the framework, underlying the three phases is constant value-based innovation. In other words, the ongoing investment in creating and capturing value. We discuss this in detail in our Manifesto: the role of insights and compelling value, the different shades of innovation (from product to service to business model), the dangers of cannibalization, the importance of observation, design thinking and much more.
Once all the bits and pieces of the brand growth framework are presented, we introduce a new concept that summarizes our take on brand growth: brand access. This refers to the firm’s ability to consistently open gates to new (and existing) customers. As illustrated in the framework, this can take on different shapes depending on the phase.
The reason we chose this term is that it incorporates, and goes beyond, several existing marketing notions, such as “pull & push marketing”, “real time marketing” or “cultural movement marketing”, and conceptualizes the essence of what (in our humble opinion) determines brand growth.
In our full-length Brand Growth Manifesto, not only will you find detailed examples, deeper insights, specific implications for marketing, communications and market research, but also ready-to-use tools, such as our Brand Growth Platform®.
“Where do I find this?”, you ask? Right here.