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GMC 'Knocks Off' Cadillac

You’re a top General Motors executive with responsibility over the Cadillac and GMC SUV businesses. You’re responsible for both, but your neck is really on the line for Cadillac. You’ve hired new executives. You’re making serious product investments to bring performance up to a world class standard. You’ve even allowed the Cadillac team to move from Detroit to NYC, ostensibly, both to free them from any corporate/cultural obstacles and to tap into (what you've been told is) some unique "style" found in lower Manhattan. Moreover, you’ve also committed to a big marketing campaign - with new creative and lots of expensive media. It seems you've been persuaded to really go for it on Cadillac.


So, with all of that as context, what do you do?

You let GMC SUV’s knock-off Cadillac’s new look & feel in their advertising. Check this out. It’s a GMC Denali ad, but … it's really a Cadillac ad. 

To grow the business, you understand that it is critical that Cadillac break through the clutter of the extremely competitive luxury auto market. A huge aspect of that challenge is carving out a clear Cadillac brand identity: what the brand is, who its for, and most important - what makes it different and special from the competition. Of course that is first accomplished by building better vehicles, and GM is well on their way on this front. It is also done by touching your target consumers in compelling ways. Establishing a strategic and unique identity is crucial to this objective. That's what makes this intra-GM 'brand appropriation' so confusing.

I understand why GMC might want to leverage the new energy around Cadillac, but doing so in this way is a…


Posted by Michael B. Moore on September 5, 2015 at 5:00pm

The Top 10 Laws of The Most Valuable Brands


There are a concrete set of 'best practices' that drive growth at the most valuable brands. It doesn’t matter what the product is - from technology to food to sporting goods to spices - if it is a consumer brand, then these are the rules that you’ve got to follow to grow most effectively and efficiently.


1. A strong brand starts and ends with fundamental consumer insights. You’ve got to commit to always learning more about your consumers - nuances of their identity, what problem you solve for them, what makes you special and different, what emotional value you add, etc.

2. Thou shalt have a strategic, compelling, and differentiating brand positioning that answers the seminal question: ‘Why “your brand?’”! Consumer insights feed creation and growth of your brand positioning.

3. All consumer touch points must flow from your brand positioning. Presuming your positioning reflects the most powerful things you can say to persuade consumers to like and buy your brand, this strategic and creative discipline is necessary to ‘break through the clutter’ to make your marketing and media dollars be most effective.

4. Whatever you’re selling, understand that you’re really in the experience business. Do all you can to create emotional attachments to your brand experience.

5. Become a part of your consumers' lives. Engage with them in as many mediums and ways…


Posted by Michael B. Moore on July 1, 2015 at 2:00pm

In Branding, When Less Is More

Sometimes a product is actually better than its brand. It’s physical product performance is greater than its reputation in the marketplace.  In those instances, a brand can literally hold sales back.


One of the most powerful consumer marketing laws is that once brand identity is firmly established, it can be extremely difficult to change - particularly for the better. As with people, first impressions can be lasting! Take Reebok, for example. They have had major presence in professional sports for decades, yet still struggle to overcome their original positioning as a more fashion oriented lifestyle brand. It’s why Lexus, Infiniti, and Acura were created; to allow Toyota, Nissan, and Honda to sell upscale luxury cars that their base brands could not support.


Case in point, recently I noticed a new silver sedan on the side of the road. It had sophisticated, “Euro” lines and from a distance appeared to be a high-end, luxury vehicle. From afar, if someone had told me it was a new Jaguar or even an Aston Martin, I would have had no reason not to believe them.


I love cars, have owned more than my fair share in my adult life, so my curiosity was peaked. As I walked closer to see what it was, I had an interesting reaction. The closer I got, and the more of the lines and details I noticed, the more impressed I was. This, until I noticed the Hyundai nameplate in the rear. At that point, for better or worse, it was like letting the air out of a  balloon of excitement and expectations! I felt a tangible and significant…


Posted by Michael B. Moore on May 17, 2015 at 10:00am

Cultivating Profitable Brand Experiences

Frequently, a relatively simple adjustment to one’s perspective can have a dramatic impact on productivity. For example, in leadership, embracing a service orientation toward employees can mean all the difference in the world to inspiring top performance.


In consumer marketing, there’s a similarly small but powerful adjustment that can also yield tremendous results.


In brand management, it's so easy to get stuck in the weeds; to become fixated on executing the myriad of moving parts required to build a brand. Doing this risks losing sight of a fundamental human insight at the very core of what drives consumer business.  


It’s critically important to understand that - without regard to whatever you’re selling - in the end, all consumer marketers are really in the experience business!


Let me explain.


  • Our interactions (with people, things, etc.) form experiences.


  • Our experiences create emotions.  


  • Emotions form a sort of psychological frame around the memory of our experiences.


  • The greater the emotional impact - the bigger the frame around our experiences - and the more memorable those experiences are.



Posted by Michael B. Moore on April 23, 2015 at 8:30am

How To Hack Your Brand

Scientists say that the human brain processes the element of surprise in a way that amplifies the underlying emotion of the experience 4X greater than normal. So, something that is typically experienced as “good”, becomes four times better if it comes as a surprise. The same works in the negative. If someone experiences a negative interaction that is a surprise, the overall feeling of it is four times worse than if expected.


So, whether its good or bad, if we are surprised by something, we are hardwired to process that experience four times as deeply as ordinary.

As brand builders, without regard to whatever we’re selling, it's important to remember that we’re really in the experience business. Brands create experiences. People remember and create emotional connections to those experiences. Figuring out ways to inject surprise into our brand can be a way to "supercharge" our marketing.


In essence, this insight can be used as a powerful way to “hack” your marketing to create even more compelling experiences and stronger consumer connections.

Think about how to plant little “Easter Eggs” here and there throughout the brand experience. The surprise aspect of doing that could help to meaningfully bond consumers to your brand - creating greater brand equity, loyalty, and ultimately consumption. It creates more bang for every marketing buck!


There are plenty of ways to approach this. Some have put messages under their bottle caps or on their clothing tags. Maybe its what Cracker Jack was after with the toy in the box.…


Posted by Michael B. Moore on April 2, 2015 at 5:30pm

The Strategy of Image Advertising

Image advertising can be one of the most powerful tools in all of marketing. Beyond simply telling what a product does, image ads encourage consumers to actually feel more about a brand. And it is in those feelings that meaningful brand equity, loyalty, and consumption growth can be best stimulated.

But, like any challenge requiring a tool, you've got to be sure to use the correct tool, and then to use it correctly. An advertising approach that works well for one brand, might be woefully inappropriate for another; even a competitive brand in the same category. One brand might employ an approach that is perceived as an inspiring piece of brand advocacy. Another brand can try the same tack and it could have very different results. Such is the case comparing recent image ads from Coca-Cola and Cadillac.


Coca-Cola is one of the few truly global brands. Sure there are lots of companies that sell around the world, but few that seem to be found in quite so many nooks and crannies globally like Coke does. This ad, Together, celebrates the universality of the Coca-Cola experience: the diversity of its consumers, its red bottle cap, and that they are all brought together - both literally and figuratively - by the iconic shape of its bottle. All of this forms a warm, emotionally resonant package that reinforces the ‘feel good’ aspect of the brand.


In contrast, I recently wrote about Cadillac’s new image commercials. The company has meaningfully upgraded its fleet's performance and has launched a campaign to…


Posted by Michael B. Moore on March 27, 2015 at 9:30pm


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