Follow this 6 step process to drive sales by delivering on your corporate promise and selling the dream.
Apple just made a significant leap in its quest to be Earth’s first essential luxury brand. With the announcement of a number of digital lifestyle services, Apple TV Plus, Apple News Plus, Apple Arcade and Apple Card credit card, the company has firmly staked its ground as a digital lifestyle company in response to a world where privacy is gaining currency. While Tim Cook has been unable to divine The Next Big Thing, he has successfully defended and widely expanded the Cult of Apple. He has discovered that not only do his followers admire elegant design and ease of use, they also like the fact that Apple respects privacy. He’s now featuring this in the company’s go-to-market strategy for digital services with a No Advertising philosophy — one more way to ensure the Cult remains dedicated.
Digital domination over the next ten years is going to depend on the depth and breadth of an ecosystem that serves all our needs as consumers. And the contenders are armed and ready. Facebook, while clumsily going through puberty, owns community with its effort to connect the world. Amazon is master of both the back end and the front end of commerce and strives to be Earth’s most customer-centric company. Netflix is the up and comer with its goal to create the next generation of entertainment. And Google has already managed to fulfill its original mission of organizing the world’s information. To stay in the game, Apple must embrace essential services that rely on IOS and feed our hunger, not only for communication and computing power, but entertainment, education, community and commerce. The next frontier is transportation. With Google in the lead here, you can bet the other FAANG warriors will be making interesting related announcements in the not-too-distant future.
The holy grail is to own our digital lifestyle: the ecosystem in which we live our lives. To keep the cult alive, Apple is full bore into a strategy to accomplish this by leveraging its social currency as a luxury brand while creating a dependence on the source of all things digital. The minute we buy into the Apple ecosystem, our lives run on IOS. We are addicted. We can’t and don’t want to get off it. And with the introduction of digital lifestyle services that also rely on IOS, Apple has set its hooks even deeper. It is the world’s first essential luxury brand.
But the challenge of consumer engagement never subsides. Tim and Mark and Jeff and Sundar and Reed have a daunting task ahead of them. The marathon is young, the competition stiff with new players always on the horizon. Who will win the race to own our digital lifestyle? Or might privacy prevail as we lose interest in this always on, forever connected world of digital dominance?
Apple announced amazing earnings this week with consistent growth across the board and the world. Revenue is substantially up in music and cloud services as well as wearables
while Apple Pay transactions tripled year-over-year and iPhone average selling price
increased from $606 to $724. The company achieved the strongest rate of growth in 11
Apple used to be a tech company, but under Tim Cook, it has been moving steadily into the consumer goods arena. It’s no longer about The Next Big Thing in innovation. Now it’s all about the brand. And a unique brand it is. Apple has become the world’s first “Essential
This means it has reached two marketing milestones that are rarely seen in the same
company: social currency and addiction. Apple has achieved both.
Buying an Apple product offers the consumer an identity that comes with valuable social
currency. Apple products have become synonymous with the essence of cool tech savvyness combined with design sensibility and creativity. The cool kids don’t “use” Apple
products, they are “on” Apple. No surprise here as the Mac gained its entry to the business world through the back door of Creative and Marketing Departments in Corporate America. And right behind Mac was the iPod, the iPad, the iPhone and, of course, the App Store.
Most luxury consumer goods offer social currency. A Ferrari screams power and
masculinity. A Louis Vuitton bag reveals privilege. An Armani suit signals success. And a
bottle of Opus One indicates knowledge of wine as well as the wealth to buy the good stuff. But none of these brands has achieved their social currency while at the same time
inducing addiction—so much more than a craving. Addiction is actual dependence.
The minute you buy into the Apple ecosystem, your life runs on IOS. Everything that
matters to you is now tied to Apple through your iPhone. You’re dependent on it. You’re
addicted to it. You can’t—and moreover—you don’t want to get off it. You’re on Apple and you need more and more of it to survive. Apple Pay, Apple Watch, Apple Store and App Store, and all the other forthcoming A’s Apple will introduce such as Autonomous Anything, Artificial intelligence and Augmented reality are going to suck you further into the Apple vortex. The potential for growth in this company, even without The Next Big Thing, islimitless as it introduces more and more services for its users.
So seven years after Steve Jobs left this earth having created Next Big Thing after Next Big Thing, thanks to Tim Cook, world class steward of the visionary assets he was left, we have an even bigger, stronger Apple and a new category of company: the Essential Luxury Brand. Who will be next to capture social currency and addiction at the same time? A very tough act to follow.
A Series of Tips and Tricks
For the Transformational Marketing Agent
So you need to transform your brand, huh? Sales are drooping. New technology is disrupting. Pipeline is stagnant. People are leaving. It’s a cruel world out there and your company is no longer competitive. How could that be? Just a few short years ago you were on top of the world! Customers were clamoring for your products and services, and talent was lined up down the street for the chance to work there.
Brand transformations are rare. Sure, you can replace the CEO, slap on a new logo, create an enticing new tagline and, if you’ve got it, spend money on advertising to tell the world -- all of which gives your company a bit of a facelift as you do battle in the market. But a real brand transformation involves reimagining the company, redeploying assets, reorganizing structure, redesigning product, renewing the economic model, rewriting the narrative, reviving the spirit, re-engaging the stakeholders, reconfiguring marketing and sales, and resetting expectations. There’s a lot of “re” going on! Everything has to be “redone” from the ground up.
Transformations are at the very core of growth. When the environment shifts (as it inevitably does) and the market changes (ditto), companies must adapt or begin the long slow decline toward death. As they say, if you’re not growing, you’re dying. When there’s a new world out there someone has to reposition the company for success. And that someone might as well be you.
This new blog series explores the top ten keys to becoming a transformational marketing agent.
#1. Reimagine the Company:
A New World, A New Relevance
BlackBerry is a company in full swing of transformation with an impressive leader in John Chen at the helm. At one point, BlackBerry was a giant in the land of smartphones. Most people who needed or wanted one had a BlackBerry. The company invented much of what the smartphone is today, and it built one of the world’s most globally recognized brands. BlackBerry was a market leader, and ruled the roost. But more than that, the company developed a strong emotional connection with their customers that persists even today. They love the company.
But the market changed. Apple introduced the iPhone. Google brought Android to market. Suddenly, competition was everywhere and moving fast. BlackBerry wasn’t fast enough. They lost their grip and fell behind. They watched their market share drop significantly and their relevance diminish over time. But all the while they continued to innovate in connected security and mobility, and they began to focus that innovation on software rather than hardware.
That’s when the board brought in a new CEO. John Chen joined in 2013 after a very successful stint turning around Sybase. He recognized BlackBerry’s legacy and believed the company could be a leader again, but this time by taking advantage of its assets in software, security and mobility, and phasing out the manufacture, distribution and marketing of handsets.
Market Reaction and Product Traction
While John Chen was busy reconfiguring and restructuring, we got to work on reimagining. We found a white space in the market in the larger Internet of Things space and identified a hole we felt BlackBerry could fill and labeled it the Enterprise of Things (EoT). Just a few short months after going public in the new world with the new relevance the company was met with extremely positive reactions from industry analysts and business press as well as customers and shareholders.
Positioning BlackBerry for a new relevance enabled the company to rally around a new north star and emerge with a totally new narrative, which has been disseminated everywhere, including marketing, events, sales and HR. Analysts, the press and — most important — customers have embraced it as well, recognizing BlackBerry’s leadership in (and ownership of) the newly validated EoT space.
After years of decline, BlackBerry’s stock hit a four-year high in June and is up 50% this year. But a shift in public perception began almost immediately. Within two months of the execution of our strategy to position the company for a new relevance, the media’s tone started to change. Whereas coverage had been relentlessly focused on Blackberry’s demise (Forbes: “Lessons From the Fall of BlackBerry”), the commentary shifted, first to BlackBerry’s pivot to the software and services industry (Fortune: “Yup, BlackBerry is now a software company”), and later to an acknowledgement of its renewed promise (Business Insider: “It looks like BlackBerry’s focus on software is starting to pay off”).
Today’s headlines are even more effusive. TechCrunch recently encapsulated the optimism surrounding BlackBerry’s transformation: “When you think about dead companies walking, BlackBerry was clearly one that came to mind, but…the company is actually making a comeback as a software company focused on security, and its latest quarterly earnings report suggests the pivot is working splendidly.” Although BlackBerry’s final chapters have yet to be written, the future is promising.
The Intangibles at the Core of Transformation
At the very core of a successful transformation are two intangibles. An inspirational north star and the will to win. The north star represents potential and possibility. It is evidence of a new destination. A guiding light for operations. The will to win emerges from a new belief system within the company. A winning attitude. The possibility of success. Not very concrete, yet so very critical. These are the stem cells of new growth. If you’re going to be a transformational marketing agent, you’re going to have to identify a new north star and then you’re going to have to infuse the will to win throughout the organization.
While this may at first seem like an impossible task, it isn’t. When attacked with logic and rigor, it becomes rather obvious. The key is identifying the company’s assets and matching them with market opportunity. The asset inventory is the first step. Go ahead. Go crazy. Write down all the assets of the company. Then edit it down to the really core ones. There are probably two or three that really matter in this exercise. Take it down to the very nub.
Then look at the market for the problems your company is seeking to solve as it transforms itself. Detect all the white spaces. Pay special attention to those that are susceptible to your company’s assets. Then stake out the territory. Claim it. Name it. Own it.
Now for the will to win. Without it, the north star is invisible. Inspiration is the key here. And a difficult emotion it is to incite. What it comes down to, though, is a belief system. The stakeholders and the market must have confidence that a new strategy is in place and that leadership is committed to it. Then they have to believe in that strategy. It has to make sense. It has to be easy to understand. There has to be continuous evidence of its logic. But it also has to be visionary and aspirational. It has to capture something new and interesting. Each and every stakeholder has to believe he or she has a role to play in the materialization of the vision. And the market has to believe it has a role to play as well.
If you can create a ripple of emotion in the market through the articulation of an inspiring north star and you can show people their role in making it come to life, you have a shot at igniting a transformation. And there is nothing more rewarding for a marketing transformational agent than that! BlackBerry has inspired the industry with a new vision for itself in a resegmented market. It is no longer about the smartphone, but the smart in the phone—and in cars and containers, medical devices and wearables, consumer appliances and industrial machinery, and ultimately the entire enterprise, the Enterprise of Things.
What’s your north star?
We are excited to announce Cunningham Collective and BlackBerry won PRWeek's "Best in Corporate Branding" Award along with an Honorable Mention in "Best Global Effort" for the BlackBerry Brand Transformation: From Smart Phones to the Smart in the Phone Learn more
By Ryan Walker
From Smart Phones to the Smart in the Phone
On March 15, 2018 Cunningham Collective and BlackBerry took home the PRWeek 2018 Award for “Best in Corporate Branding” along with an Honorable Mention in the “Best Global Effort” category. Emily Stine and Usher Lieberman attended the event to accept the awards on behalf of Cunningham Collective and BlackBerry respectively.
This year’s 2018 PRWeek Awards took place at Cipriani Wall Street in New York City. As the Oscars of the communication industry, the PRWeek Awards celebrate industry leaders in corporate, agency, nonprofit and education teams for the work they have produced. The awards were judged by senior PR professionals and nominees included an all-star list of campaigns for brands such as Chevrolet, Dell, Disney, Hewlett-Packard, Gatorade and McDonalds.
Given the highly competitive field, we were thrilled to win the award for “Best in Corporate Branding” ahead of campaigns from Nielsen/Weber Shandwick/MRM McCann, Honeywell Aerospace/WE Communications and Gatorade/Fleishman Hillard among others. In addition, we were also proud to earn an Honorable Mention in the “Best Global Effort” category that included McDonald’s/The Narrative Group, Guinness/Ogilvy and Disney Consumer Products/Interactive Media.
Cunningham Collective and BlackBerry earned recognition for a brand transformation program that told the story of BlackBerry's strategic pivot to enterprise security software. Andy Cunningham, founder and CEO of Cunningham Collective, commented on the achievement: “We are excited and honored to be recognized for partnering with BlackBerry to position the company for future success in the enterprise security software market. It has been extremely rewarding working with CEO John Chen as he executes a turnaround story for the ages, and we look forward to continuing to help organizations like BlackBerry Get to Aha!”
At Cunningham Collective, helping clients “Get to Aha” is at the core of what we do. This DNA-based positioning framework is Cunningham Collective’s “secret sauce” and served as the key to helping BlackBerry redefine its role and relevance in a new marketplace. It begins with two fundamental questions based on corporate DNA: Who are you as a company? And why do you matter?
Andy Cunningham’s recently released book “Get to Aha!: Discover Your Positioning DNA and Dominate Your Competition,” lays out this framework. The “6 C’s” of positioning (Community, Competition, Context, Core, Category and Criteria)” help a company understand who it is at its core, what that company does, what its primary value proposition is to its customers, how it is positioned against its competitors and finally how to tell the company story in a compelling way that resounds with its customers and market. As Andy writes in the book, “Know what you’re made of, so you can make something of it.”
In our work with BlackBerry, Cunningham Collective helped position the company by completely rebuilding its communication strategy with enterprise security software at the center. The Cunningham team, led by Andy Cunningham and Rosabel Tao, worked with BlackBerry for over a year to shift the public conversation from smartphones to its new strategy around the “Enterprise of Things.” As a result of the successful program, BlackBerry’s stock skyrocketed up 50% overall and reached a four-year high in June 2017. One judge went so far as to say the campaign should be credited with "bringing a brand back to life."
Curious about our success in helping BlackBerry transform from a smartphone manufacturer to a leading enterprise security software company? Email us today to learn how we can help your company do the same.
If you are interested in learning more about the winners of the PRWeek 2018 Awards, please visit https://www.prweek.com/article/1458806/prweek-us-awards-2018-winners.
What makes a luxury brand? And how do you build one?
A friend is creating a new luxury brand of water. Yes. Water. It comes from a hard-to-reach artesian well in the Austrian Alps, contains just the right cocktail of minerals, has a perfect PH balance and is untouched by human hands from source to esophagus. It is delicious. It is natural and healthy. It is expensive. It is also water positioned as a luxury. Brilliant! How is Hallstein Water doing it?
When luxury comes to mind, so do Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Aston Martin, Rolls Royce, Gulf Stream, Opus One, Lalique, the St. Regis and other “high end” expensive consumer brands. We all know them even though not all of us are supporters. These and all luxury brands share three attributes: high quality, scarcity of product and cult of personality. So before you attempt to capture the magic and margin of a luxury brand, make sure you have these in spades.
And beyond that, it’s AP Marketing. From targeting the right customers to generating loyalty among them, do these ten things well and you’ll be on the road to developing a luxury brand. Just remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day.
1. Target Market: The right “who” makes all the difference. Determining the best beachhead for building the brand is critical. Who will be most likely to buy the product? To tell others about it? To be loyal? Understanding the ideal market segment for a luxury product is the key to building a brand.
2. Positioning Strategy: Positioning is the simple articulation of the unique role and relevance of the product in the market. How is it special and differentiated from competitors? And how to articulate this simply and compellingly? Without a unique position brands bang into each other in the market and become confusing to the customer.
3. Branding: The brand stands for something near and dear to the target market’s heart. What is that? Brands are more than a great product. They hit at the very core of a person’s identity and accentuate it. And every touch point with a customer is an opportunity to reinforce the brand.
4. Brand Narrative: There is a compelling story behind every brand. What is that story? What is the reason for customers to believe in this brand? Why this brand, why now? A great corporate narrative can go a long way toward building a following.
5. Evangelists: Breaking new ground in an old market requires that influencers push the brand as much as the company and its customers. Who are the influencers to be targeted here? How do we engage them in telling our story? This is accomplished through influencer marketing.
6. Piggybacking: Most great brands piggyback on the success of other great brands that do not compete but intersect. What are the options for piggybacking here? Partnerships, strategic alliances, cross promotions, etc. comprise a piggybacking strategy.
7. Awareness Generation: Nothing happens in brand building without awareness. It is possible to build substantial awareness through a company’s own media channels (website, blog, social media) and its earned ones (press and analysts). The larger the digital footprint a company creates for itself with a compelling story, the more searchable it becomes and the more awareness generated. This is done through content marketing and public relations. When budgets allow, paid advertising can also play a big role in building a luxury brand. You can start with Google ad words and go all the way to a Super Bowl ad. Targeting these ads is critical. Their placement must align with the target market.
8. Thought Leadership: Positioning the company at the center of a global conversation that matters can be a very powerful marketing tool. It leads to inclusion in press coverage on the issue, policy discussions related to the issue and expert status for speaking events.
9. Customer Communication and Community Building: Brands can no longer sustain themselves merely through product sales. A relationship must be established with the customer. Ongoing communication must take place. Dialog is critical. Community building essential.
10. Customer Loyalty: Loyalty fuels the great luxury brands. They establish themselves by further enhancing the lifestyle the purchaser has chosen to adopt. Carefully determining this lifestyle, articulating it in a compelling fashion, making it visible as a “label” for customers, propelling the lifestyle forward are all critical to building a luxury brand. Part of this involves building an emotional connection with your customers and part of it can be accomplished with loyalty program technology.
By Ryan Walker
Andy Cunningham recently posed this question at the reception celebrating her new book: Get to Aha!: Discover Your Positioning DNA and Dominate Your Competition. The event took place at the Northwestern San Francisco campus on the evening of Monday, October 30.
The evening included refreshments, mingling and book signings. The highlight of the event was a discussion with Andy about the release of her new book hosted by moderator and fellow Northwestern alum Theresa Chong.
Andy discussed the landmark achievements that shaped her career and book, including working with Steve Jobs to launch the original Apple Macintosh. Andy shared anecdotes from her time working with Silicon Valley legends including Jobs and Regis Mckenna, explaining how these experiences taught her the necessity of marketing authenticity to create a compelling and differentiated brand. As Andy put it: "Find out what you're made of, so you can make something of it."
During the Q&A, Andy was asked about the process of identifying the genuine core of companies. By reverse engineering her past successes, Andy eventually came to the conclusion that “companies are like humans: They have their own DNA.” When companies identify that DNA, they can unlock their genuine role and relevance in the marketplace. As Andy pointed out, “positioning must be authentic and credible to be sustainable. Humans have an incredible radar for authenticity.”
Thanks to everyone who came out for the event, and we hope you had as much fun as we did!
Today is a big day at Cunningham Collective! The founder of our firm, Andy Cunningham, has released her first book, Get to Aha!: Discover Your Positioning DNA and Dominate Your Competition.
The book begins with two questions: Who are you as a company? Why do you matter?
These are two very simple questions but they are fundamental for understanding who your company is at your core, what your company does, what your primary value proposition is to your customers, how you are positioned against its competitors and finally how to tell its story in a compelling way to your customers and to the market.
In the chapters that follow, Andy describes the framework she has developed over decades of working with technology companies. It’s a methodology we put to work every day at Cunningham Collective. Our name reflects the truly collaborative nature of our client engagements and the diverse range of talents we bring to bear in our work.
Part II of the book looks at our Aha! methodology in action, with six case studies of real companies that faced real positioning challenges in the real world. In these chapters, Andy recounts the transformational “Aha moments” from our DNA positioning workshops that put them on a journey to market success.
It’s precisely those moments that make Andy’s DNA methodology so successful. Any branding agency can deliver a fancy presentation with clever copy and fancy brand colors to a room of executives, the result of weeks of months of work with their creative team. But without a disciplined process that brings together the right people to work together on a positioning framework they can all get behind, that work, no matter how well-conceived, is at risk to fall flat.
Order your copy of Get to Aha! today at get2aha.com.
Originally published on the McGraw-Hill Professional Business Blog.
Customer experience isn’t for everyone. Really. If it’s not part of your corporate DNA, you shouldn’t make it the focal point of your business. That should be an expression of your DNA. If you’re truly a customer-oriented company, or a “Mother” (in the parlance of my new book, Get to Aha!: Discover Your Positioning DNA and Dominate the Competition), customer service should be paramount. But if you happen to be a product-oriented company, or a “Mechanic,” product features and value need to take center stage. And if you’re the bearer of a world-changing concept, or a “Missionary,” your Next Big Thing or Cult of Personality should reign supreme.
DNA is at the root of everything—in people as well as companies—when it comes to competitive advantage. Just think about professional athletes and how their DNA influences their performance. Businesses should reflect the substance of a company, not an image dreamed up by the marketing department.
The Customer-Centric Conundrum
Yes, companies need to attract customers and keep them. But not every company succeeds with that because of the customer experience they’ve crafted. There’s a belief out there—a misplaced philosophy—that all companies must be customer-centric, what I call the Customer-Centric Conundrum. Customer-centricity is a popular trend that causes companies to work outside their corporate DNA; it’s a fad that’s gotten out of control. It’s easy to see how that happened. It sounds so warm and fuzzy to delight the customer, to be customer-centric, to listen to the customer, and so forth. Who wouldn’t want to do that?
But winning in business is about understanding what makes your product or service better than the competition and then leveraging that in your quest to conquer markets and keep customers.
If you discover that you are, in fact, a Mother, and you choose to differentiate and win because of the experience you offer your customers, you’ll need to nourish your company’s propensity to nurture customer connections. How you hire people, how you compensate those hires, how you measure individual and group success, what you talk about in meetings, your choice of language and tone of voice, your corporate structure—everything must be geared toward maintaining those precious customer relationships.
The Importance of Knowing What You’re Made Of
Here’s what Mothers like Disney, Lyft. Nordstrom, and Zappos do every day. They focus on customers in management discussions; measure success in terms of relationships—not just sales—initiate tracking studies and market research to get to know their customers; create a customer experience that transcends product offerings; measure profits against customer segments; drive marketing through brand and customer loyalty;motivate employees to excel at customer service; and work tirelessly to ensure that their value proposition delights customers.
Is your company a Mother? If so, make sure every single thing your company does is geared to support Mother DNA. Otherwise, you’ll be expending energy on the wrong things. Knowing what you’re made of helps you make something of it.
Originally published on The Huffington Post UK
The Human Genome Project completed in 2003 gave us the miraculous ability to understand who we are through our DNA. And thanks to enterprising entrepreneurs, we now have tools to explore our own DNA and learn what our genes say about us: our origins, our coloring, our tastes and our propensity for certain diseases. Armed with this understanding, we can construct a lifestyle that is aligned with our genes to help us fight off the maladies that afflict our DNA type.
Know your DNA and be a better you.
But just as people can understand much of who we are from our DNA, so too can companies. Like people, companies are organisms that reflect their creators, their environments, their obstacles, and their strengths. They carry a core instruction set that informs the actions and outcomes of their work. In short, they have DNA. Not chemical, biological DNA, of course, but what I call corporate DNA.
While human DNA is ineffably complex, its business equivalent is far simpler, made up of just three kinds of companies. That’s it: only three types of companies in the world, each with its own distinctive DNA. Just as I look the way I look because of my DNA and you look the way you do because of yours, companies are what they are because of their DNA, and every organization expresses the DNA of one of these types.
Although it is less complex, each DNA type resembles its human counterpart: Mothers are customer-oriented companies, Mechanics are product-oriented companies, and Missionaries are concept-oriented companies. After having consulted for more than 30 years with hundreds of companies to help them find their optimal position in the market and tell their stories compellingly, I’ve come to the conclusion that all companies fit into one of these DNA types. I’ve also learned that knowing which type you are is extremely helpful in developing a go-to-market strategy that sticks.
All living species are influenced by a mixture of DNA and environment, and when it comes to corporate DNA, companies are no different. DNA affects a company’s culture; its structure; how it measures success; how it hires, trains, and rewards employees; how it allocates resources; how it frames its narrative; and how it decides what brand to send out into the world. DNA is the single biggest factor when it comes to identifying a company’s role and relevance in the market and determining its optimal positioning.
The key to maximizing competitive advantage is to pinpoint your corporate DNA and use it to your advantage, just like an athlete. The idea is to use your DNA to position your company in the market so that you can win. Your DNA and how it is reflected in your position should lie at the center of every single decision you make, from your go-to-market strategy, to the skill set you seek in your hires, to the way you invest precious resources. It is the foundation for all external messages and campaigns, from branding, to sales strategy, to web copy, to brochure design.
Knowing what you’re made of helps you make something of it.