Predict the success of marketing. A Marketing Metrics

Predict the success of marketing. Predicting that influence on brand strategy

The Human Model | Motivators | Challenges | Desire | Familiarity | Leadership | Affirmation | Scope | Comfort | Change | Community | Summary

By Tom Dougherty

Introduction into the art of how to predict the success of marketing

The purpose for all messaging and communications is to have influence on the audience and to persuade it to act. However, getting your message to the proper audience in today’s economic climate is no longer an issue of choosing among the possibilities. Instead, it has become solely an issue of affordability. There is a need to predict the success of marketing messages. In retrospect, many experts have looked at the success of past advertising campaigns but hindsight is not valuable.

predict the success of marketing
A model to predict behavior

Companies do what they “need” to do, instead of what they “want” to do. How do you measure effectiveness and ensure that you win? These questions can be predicted if not measured. We needed a comprehensive model to predict the success of marketing so we created this marketing metrics. For that “need” to be effective, it must be the most meaningful in the market – and it must resonate considering the current situation, such as an economic climate that has changed the mindsets of consumers.

The unwillingness to address those needs and go with the same tired approach – messaging that’s nearly identical to what was delivered years ago and follows the tired reach-frequency format so many misguided marketers follow – produces a predictable, losing formula. After all, in changing times, there will still be winners and there will still be losers.  The difference between the two is one understands the nature of human beings and the other doesn’t.

If you seek to understand something, it always makes sense to model it. The science of physics has been modeling natural laws for centuries. The marketing metrics model presented here is a formula that takes into account the emotional intensities of the primary human motivators within any changing situation, economic or otherwise, to formulate messages that will resonate most strongly with audiences, and predict the success of marketing messages. With this marketing metrics model, you will learn to recognize the elements and, if form follows function, you will be able to understand how to influence and change the model. (Read how precepts control behavior)

The Comprehensive Model of Persuasive Communications for marketing and branding. How to predict the success of marketing A New Human Model for Persuasive Communications

to predict the success of marketing is the goal of any strategist and marketing matrix
How well will our marketing messages resonate

Human behavior can be modeled, as you will see, and this marketing metrics model in particular models the behavioral elements of persuasion. Let’s start by asking ourselves, what do we notice? How do we decide what is important and what we remember? When we examine the answers to those questions, we begin to re-think the waste inherent in current marketing. Looking at the elements of human behavior is quite different from modeling a communication process like reach and frequency. For this new model to be usable, it needs to act as a predictor of human behavior and, by definition, should be able to explain past communication successes and failures.

What Human Beings Notice Most

Human beings are egocentric. We cannot get out of our own way and see almost everything through the filter of self. As a result of this filter, what the receiver considers most when confronted with messages is not so much “what’s in it for me” (which is the traditional model of benefits and features) but rather “am I in it”? Human beings notice ideas and products that, in some way, reflect themselves. They remember products and ideas that help them accomplish their major goal of simply becoming themselves. That is why, if a doctor tells you to lose weight because of the onset of diabetes, we notice and pay attention to messages about weight loss — a message we might have ignored the day before. (Another example: Think of how many For Sale signs you saw when you were buying a house. Then think about how, amazingly, they seemed to disappear once you bought the house.)

The New Marketing Metrics Model to Predict the Success of Marketing and Marketing Messages

Imagine this: You are driving down the highway and you see a billboard that featured your photograph. Would you notice it, regardless of message? Absolutely. There is a communications process that empowers every message to become exactly that effective. It requires an anthropologist’s skill at understanding and modeling human behaviors and motivations. Once that has been uncovered, you would need to include that learning in the message itself. It would be nearly as effective – and in a similar way – as starting every message with the customer’s name and image. Through experience and empirical and scientific research, the human motivators have been effectively modeled here and the basic elements are cross-cultural, so personal impression can be noticed and acted upon. The basic queries in this marketing metrics remain constant regardless of culture or national origin. They are global. Understanding the eight elementary human motivators propels your message to the forefront and ensures it is remembered.

The Unquenchable Thirst for Meaning

Human beings, regardless of culture, seek meaning in all of their actions. (Consider this: We even talk to our dogs, expecting them to give reasons for the things they do.) This represents an opportunity for those communicators who understand this tremendous thirst for meaning. This means that the words we choose to create meaning to our messages and our brand is extraordinarily important. It means that everyone who is exposed to your offering or the communication of that offering sees this meaning and, in fact, will use the words you provide to them. This is a double-edged sword. If you get the meaning wrong, those with whom you are communicating will insert meaning that is not important or motivating to them and, therefore, fail to inspire them to your ideas, services, products or brands.

The Prime Motivators in the Marketing Metrics

The eight primary human motivators form the basics of self-identification and account for a human’s own sense of self — given that the fundamental needs for sustenance, shelter and health are sated. By addressing each of these in your message, you ensure that everyone who is exposed to your message (reach) will notice the message.

1. Affirmation 2. Leadership 3. Familiarity 4. Comfort 5. Change 6. Community 7. Desire 8. Scope

These eight prime motivators are the filters through which all messages are received, accepted, ignored or rejected. The more they reflect the “self-settings” of the recipient, the more likely they are to be acted upon.

Good Times vs. Tough Times and Times of Change

In creating this model, we looked at each of the eight prime motivators needed to predict the success of marketing messages and measured the differences between cultural norms in both good and tough economic times because most companies and brands in the U.S. have become handicapped by this situation. The marketing metrics model will demonstrate the differences in these motivators, predict success and explain failure. We are able to recognize the intensities of each motivator in relation to the situation as well as the rate with which they change during changing situations. In this case, that situation is economic: Going from “good times” to the “tough times” of today. The motivators below are listed in order of intensity during good times and tough times. Also, the way in which each motivator is defined changes slightly, depending on overall circumstances. It is those nuances that often make the difference between a winning message in the context of the times and a losing one. Each motivator has been given an intensity measurement, a ranking on a 10-point scale based on the particular situation. In addition to differing definitions, the rate of change for the intensity of a human motivator from one situation to another is referred to as Acceleration, and those rates are measured on a 10-point scale.

Tough Times
Good Times
1. Comfort 1. Desire
2. Affirmation 2. Familiarity
3. Familiarity 3. Leadership
4. Community 4. Affirmation
5. Change 5. Scope
6. Desire 6. Comfort
7. Scope 7. Change
8. Leadership 8. Community

Desire(Good Times intensity 6.0 — Tough Times intensity 6.5 — Acceleration 8.0)

In good times, the most important human motivator is Desire. It derives its power from its relationship with the other motivators. Simply taking into account the desires of the target audience that you seek to influence is not nearly enough to promise success. It is simply a starting point. A traditional usage and attitudinal study (U&A Study) can discover what people need or want and the results are then used to create messaging that fulfills those desires. However, there is a more powerful means to understand and use this dynamic — one that will make it useful to you as a predictor of success and as a tool to understand past successes or failures in the marketing metrics.

predict the success of marketing

In good times, the fulfillment of desires is defined as “What I Want.” In tough times, it is defined as “What I Need.” Comparing the relative importance of each definition in good or tough times demonstrates why the benefit you offered in relative good times will not resonate as important in tough times. As a general rule, all intensities are increased in tough times and each of the prime motivators is realized as more important. But understanding the nuances is critical in the marketing metrics because it’s what makes the difference between surviving in tough times. In this case, that means your message must be about “need,” not “want.”     Think of it this way: In tough times, you “need” products to simply do their job. In good times, you “want” something more. In tough times, we simply need coffee, so you accept the one at the grocery store. In good times, you want Starbucks. And thus, you have a predictor of what Starbucks is currently going through unless they adapt their communications to the particular nuance.

Familiarity (Good Times intensity 5.0 — Tough Times intensity 7.0 — Acceleration of 6.40)

All communicators understand how important familiarity is to any idea, product, or service because if someone is unfamiliar with that product or service they are less likely to adopt it as a new behavior. Familiarity is also linked to top-of-mind awareness in the marketing metrics but even that is misunderstood. It is not so much about the familiarity of the brand or product, but what is it about that brand or product that makes it feels familiar and at ease.

predict the success of marketing

In good times, the fulfillment of familiarity is defined as “What is Easy.” In tough times, it is defined as “What is Safest.” That is, in good times, consumers are looking to what makes things easy for them, even if its outcome may have risks. In tough times, risk is less accepted. Safe feels familiar to audiences now because it offers a refuge that may herald back to nostalgia.

Seeking the Familiar - predict the success of marketing

For example, when you are thirsty in good times, you might choose what is “easy.” That is, we might grab what is most available. In tough times, we seek “safest,” meaning we might inconvenience ourselves and go somewhere else for something that is healthier or cheaper.

Leadership (Good Times intensity 4.0 — Tough Times intensity 5.0 — Acceleration of 7.0)

When we think about leadership as a human motivator in the marketing metrics we are not talking about taking the lead on something as we might in geopolitical terms. We are talking about leadership in terms of responsibility — meaning, “Who takes the responsibility for this action?” It is an internal question asked by everyone before they take any action.

predict the success of marketing

In good times, from the point of view of the target audience, the fulfillment of Leadership is defined as “My Responsibility” (the consumer) and in tough times it is defined as “Your Responsibility” (the brand). In good times, audiences are more than happy to assume the responsibility because the risks are fewer. Once the element of risk has become more threatening, however, audiences want the responsibility to fall to the experts (or communicator of the message).

Leadership in good and tough times - predict the success of marketing

As strange at it may sound, according to the marketing metrics, we listen to experts more in tough times.  Even if they were the ones who let us down in good times. That’s because the responsibility has shifted. Choice, as we will examine more closely in Scope, becomes less of a motivator.

Affirmation (Good Times intensity 3.0 — Tough Times intensity 7.0 — Acceleration of 6.99)

One of the ways human beings seek meaning is by looking for affirmation in their choices. Consumers wish to make sure that all of their actions are somehow affirmed as “being correct.” As a primary human motivator – regardless of culture, product and category – everyone that your brand or marketing message contacts are seeking this sense of affirmation and certainty.

predict the success of marketing

Without this value in the marketing metrics, target audiences gravitate towards inaction: A refusal to make a choice or fall back into a habit of what “I have always done.” This is a surefire way to assure continued market dominance by the category leader. It means that if we do not provide our audiences with a sense of affirmation, little or no change will take place in the marketplace and the market leader will continue to benefit from this inaction.

Seeking Correctness - predict the success of marketing

In good times, the fulfillment of Affirmation is defined as making the Best Choice and in tough times it is defined as making the Right Choice. For example, in good times, we will look for the best choice in automobiles, something that is top of the line or sporty fits us best. In tough times, we look for those things that are right, such as a hybrid or something more economical. The world, in a way, has determined that it’s right. Talking about the choices consumers make in terms of affirming they have made the right choice makes your messages more meaningful in a difficult economic climate.

Scope (Good Times intensity 3.0 — Tough Times intensity 5.0 — Acceleration 7.75)

Scope is one the most complex of the human motivators in the marketing metrics. When we consider Scope, we see it in terms of how large audiences want their considered set to be. This is related to the other motivators, such as leadership or the transfer of the responsibility of the decision to others. What we seek to understand in looking at scope is what gives the customer or prospect permission to include the scope of either your product or category into their consideration.

predict the success of marketing

In good times, the fulfillment of Scope is defined as having many choices and in tough times it is defined as having precision and more focus. In good times, audiences seek a wide scope, with lots of choices. In tough times, we are looking for “right,” so more focus is needed. Our considered set is smaller and we often give expert advice more weight. This, for example, is why Borders (which is all about choice) found it difficult to survive in a difficult economic climate.

Defining Scope - predict the success of marketing

Comfort (Good Times intensity 2.0 — Tough Times intensity 9.0 — Acceleration 9.18)

Human beings seek comfort no matter the situation, but the intensity surrounding it is much stronger depending on that situation.

predict the success of marketing

According to the marketing metrics, in good times, Comfort is simply accepted as the norm. In tough times, it is actively sought. In good times, most of us feel that we already have comfort so a comfort message is relatively meaningless. In tough times, however, comfort is no longer a given. Therefore, we seek it and a comfort promise – instead of achieving, which has risks – resonates. Note the differences in intensities with this motivator within the two situations. It is only a 2.0 on a 10-point scale in good times. In tough times, it’s a 9.0 with one of the highest rates of acceleration among all the motivators.

Comfort in the ability to predict the success of marketing

Change (Good Times intensity 1.5 — Tough Times intensity 7.0 — Acceleration of 6.99)

The longing for human beings to be in control is a prime motivator. It is within the dynamic of change in the marketing metrics that the need for control becomes most evident. When we think about change as a key persuasive human motivator, we actually think about it as a barrier than as an attraction. The changing situation determines its intensity.

predict the success of marketing

In good times, the resistance to Change is simply uncomfortable and in tough times it is outright feared. Therefore, in tough times, change messages should be softened, otherwise they will feel to audiences like a loss of control.

Perception of change -predict the success of marketing

Community (Good Times intensity 1.0 — Tough Times intensity 7.0 — Acceleration 9.31)

Community in the marketing metrics, refers to the acceptance of the community that affirms our existence and is related to Affirmation. It represents the wish of all human beings to be part of an affirmed group. Very few people are capable of acting as completely independent individuals. Therefore, for the vast majority of people we wish to influence, we must understand the importance of community and the acceptance that community offers.

predict the success of marketing

In good times, the fulfillment of Community is simply about the individual and in tough times it is satisfied through the safety of numbers. In good times, you can risk going it alone – being a leader, a rebel, etc. – because there is less at stake. In tough times, there is too much at risk in going it alone, so you seek safety in a community or being a part of a group.

Seeking Community - predict the success of marketing

Maketing Metrics Summary

Companies and their brands have reached the point in which their communications must change in order to survive in such a changing market. The marketing metrics of the Comprehensive Model for Persuasive Human Communications allows them to alter their messaging so that it becomes more meaningful in context. If nobody adapts to the current context, the default choice will always be the market leader. But the situation actually presents an opportunity for those chasing the market leader (as well as for the market leaders themselves) that reaches target audiences so deeply it causes action. How the primary human motivators are addressed will become the difference between who survives and who doesn’t.

Definitions COMPREHENSIVE MODEL FOR PERSUASIVE HUMAN COMMUNICATIONS: A mathematical model that measures the impact changing conditions have on emotional intensities of primary human motivators. The model can be used to predict and formulate messages for brands that will resonate most strongly with target audiences.

INTENSITIES: The relative strength of human motivators expressed as a ranking on a 10-point scale based on the particular attributes examined by the model. ACCELERATION: The rate of change for the intensity of a human motivator from one state to another, measured on a 10-point scale.

VALUE OF MESSAGE CHANGE: A mathematical representation using intensity and acceleration to predict the value in terms of its overall impact on each motivator.


Download a Power Point Presentation of motivational-Cues and how to predict the success of marketing messages here.pptx
Download a PowerPoint presentation of motivational-Cues and how to predict the success of marketing messages on the link below

Download a Power Point Presentation of motivational-Cues and how to predict the success of marketing messages here.pptx

How to predict the success of marketing messages as a PDF may be downloaded here.

Branding Agencies. A list of our competitors

Listing of branding agencies and companies
Stealing Share is eponymously named

Branding Agencies and Branding Companies

Stealing Share is an eponymously named company that fits nicely into lists of top branding agencies. But, our difference from those traditional branding agencies is that our name says why we do what we do. If you dig deeply into our web site we spend a great deal of time explaining how we do what we do. But, we may not be for everyone so we have also complied a list of of branding agencies.

We talk about our in-house brand research company and our research methodology. We talk about our brand behavioral modeling and our brand strategy development. We explain that our brand creative and design capabilities are focused on executing a strategy that delivers the foundation needed to steal market share. We speak to how important brand training is to your success. We speak differently than other branding agencies across the globe because we ARE different from other branding agencies. We talk the talk and we walk the walk.

Our process is based upon scientific underpinnings that consistently deliver projectable results. We can tell you exactly what prospect behaviors your brand strategy will effect. Other branding agencies leave that to others. We believe you should have a predictive model toto measure your brand’s persuasive ability.

The Socratic method is our best friend. As a result we ask tough questions and we follow them up with more questions. Our goal is to eliminate the suppositions and preconceived answers that often accompany the category experience that most branding agencies brag about.

Is Our Culture a Match with Your Culture (What are you looking for in Branding Agencies?

Which brings this short treatise to a point. Attitude. We can be difficult to work with because we are a meritocracy. We think the best argument should always win and we absolutely hate sacred cows. As a result, our clients are aggressive too. They don’t suffer fools easily and they appreciate critical thought and directness. We believe candor saves everyone a lot of time. Other branding agencies are more interested in making you happy rather than fighting to make you better.

So we are not for everyone. We might not be for you. As a convenience, we created a list of branding agencies and branding companies that compete with us. The description of what they specialize in is in their own words.

Demand clarity from their purpose. Your prospects demand it of you.

Maybe, just maybe, what branding agencies say about themselves is more important than they think. It says who they are, what they do, and why it is important.


Competitor branding agencies
Branding agencies must unlock the key to persuasion

Branding Agencies (A list of branding agencies)

Addison Whitney Addison Whitney is a global branding firm with a passion for building strong brands. We specialize in verbal and visual branding, brand strategy and research. Everything we do is based on a strategic and engaging process that will help you create, renew or strengthen your brand.”

Anagrama Anagrama is  an international branding, architecture and software development firm with offices in monterrey and mexico city. Our clients include companies from varied industries in countries all around the world.

Art. Lebedev Studio Founded in moscow in 1995, art. Lebedev studio is the only design company in the world offering product design, city environment design, graphic design, websites, interfaces, packaging, interior design, typeface design, custom patterns, illustrations, and book publishing under one roof.

Bliss and Tell Branding Company Capturing the bliss of your business so others will tell about your business

Brand Fever Our hybrid team works to build brand value and distinction. We push the boundaries of marketing channels, creating engaging experiences online and offline. We execute with insight-driven creative excellence that transforms touch points into measurable results.

Brand Union We are a global brand agency with deep expertise in brand strategy, design, interaction, brand management and employee engagement. 500 people. 24 offices. Every major market. We have been part of wpp group since 1986.”

Brandingbusiness The leading brand strategy firm dedicated to building b2b brands

Brands for the Heart An online branding agency for startups

BULLDOGDRUMMOND We are students of people and their behaviors. We bring grounded business strategy and creative design thinking together to solve our client’s biggest challenges. And we look at the world from these two very unique points of view to develop uncommon brands, products and experiences that create real value.

Catchword Branding It’s about breadth, ingenuity, and sheer volume (usually 2000+ names per project!). Our creative process is our naming company’s secret sauce. Shhh.

Cato Partners We tell our global clients’ stories.

Our competitors
List of branding agencies. Are any different?

CBX We don’t just build brands, we create relationships. Others appreciate passion, we inspire it. Design is at the core of everything we do but connection is the heart that fuels our passion. We make connection more intelligent, emotional and fascinating. We build it, analyze it and continue to redefine it. We seek to discover ever-growing and evolving ways to connect. This means connecting with people in new, creative, innovative and purposeful ways wherever they work, travel and live. It is with this in mind that we get up every day to work on the complex challenges facing our clients’ businesses.

Chase Design Group Chase design group is a creative agency dedicated to achieving client success through innovative strategy and breakthrough design. We believe that great design can have a direct positive effect on our client’s business results. Our award-winning work spans research, brand strategy, corporate and product identity design, packaging and retail environments. Our team crafts effective solutions with an impeccable aesthetic – solutions that are compelling to the end consumer and produce tangible results. We think that’s what great design is all about.

Chermayeff & Geismar & Haviv Chermayeff & Geismar & Haviv is the brand design firm behind many of the world’s most recognizable trademarks. Since 1958, the firm has pioneered the modern movement of idea-driven graphic design across every discipline, specializing in brand identities, exhibitions, print and motion graphics, and art in architecture.

Cognition A branding agency leveraging the power of brand strategy, advertising, marketing, web design, and mobile app development, to create a comprehensive advantage that helps our clients better compete.

Corebrand  Helps companies understand, craft, measure and leverage the essence of their corporate brands.

Emotive Branding  Time to rethink how your brand makes people feel.

Flux Branding Better branding. For a changing world.

Futurebrand We are the creative future company. Our job is to help you create the future for your brand and business.

Igor A naming agency

Interbrand Creating and managing brand value

Koda A strategic branding and marketing firm, our specialty is developing premium and upscale brands. Our approach is graceful yet voracious. While that means different things to different clients, they all agree on this: koda delivers results far beyond the scope of traditional marketing.

Kudzu Branding  Kudzu Branding Co. Was created specifically for growing businesses. We believe that beautiful design, a well-laid plan and a strong brand ”

Labbrand labbrand is a leading china-originated brand consultancy. Landor is creative branding. We help the world’s best brands stand up, stand out, and stand for something.

Leap branding This is the age of the brand. People interact with them through multiple touchpoints: pixel, physical, verbal. Their synthesis—the new, more complete whole they make together—is how brands are perceived.

Lee branding Consumer-centric marketing for complex brands.

Lexicon branding  Brand names that sell.

Lippincott We see brand as opportunity

Liquid Agency We are a brand experienced agency

Mark Corporate Branding  We believe that a brand is the heart of the matter.

Matchstick Igniting Passionate Brands is a guide for brands who are looking to rekindle their passion or spark the first flame. It outlines some of Matchstic’s most important branding philosophies and practices—ideas that have been honed over our 11 years.

Motto  Today, we create motto’s for our clients to serve as a rallying call — a statement that encapsulates the beliefs and principles that will guide their company.

loogie We help our clients discover their authentic story and find their true voice, all to make their brands clear, compelling, and consistent. We do it by creating powerful experiences across all media, including digital and video. The result? Over time, brands are better known, better understood, and truly unique.

Pentagram Pentagram is the world’s largest independent design consultancy. The firm is owned and run by 19 partners, a group of friends who are all leaders in their individual creative fields.

Proof Branding We explore possibility and achieve stellar results through a well-defined branding process.

Prophet Prophet is a strategic brand and marketing consultancy with offices around the globe. We deliver inspired and actionable ideas that help our clients win in the marketplace. What counts: our collaborative spirit. Our innovative problem solving approach. Our powerful blend of strategy, creativity, and analytics. Our ability to balance your short-term business needs against longer-term growth goals. Our network of business leaders. Our thought leadership in brand, marketing, and beyond. It’s led to successful outcomes for such preeminent clients as bmw, cisco, ge, johnson and johnson, kellogg’s, mcdonald’s, the cosmopolitan, visa, and zurich financial.

Purely Branded  Purely branded is a boutique strategic communications agency focused on delivering sharp brand, digital and marketing solutions that make the most of every dollar in our clients’ budgets.

R&M  Branding agencies, we’re into emotionally pulling customers to companies by grounding our creative ideas in customer-centric truths

SALT Branding  Salt forms strategic partnership with global communications leader WE (formerly Waggener Edstrom)

Savage Brands We approach projects differently from most agencies, and we call it savage thinking®. It’s a strategy, a mindset, a way of working and seeing the world that leads to lasting results.

Scout Branding Company We generate lots of ideas that can be applied across all of the brand components and with your approval, we will execute these ideas. Ad agencies simply craft ads.

Siegel+Gale Making brands different and relevant

Some Odd Pilot Someoddpilot is a branding agency and design studio. Our pursuit is simply this: to tell your story with truth and larger than life vision. Switch  Lliberate your brand— support targeted, immersive experiences.

The Brand Institute  Brand Institute is the world’s premier brand identity consultancy. Our brand agency portfolio of services includes brand strategy/architecture, name development, market research, regulatory and visual identity solutions.

The Branding Company The Branding Company offers you a partnership. We want to work with you to grow your business and make your projects and events as successful and profitable as they can be. … because we care! Creating and offering innovative promotional products & programs that work is what the branding company delivers – our customers come first! Our infrastructure offers the support to deliver branded promotional programs, full service creative advertising and custom design, complete print on demand capabilities, warehousing and fulfillment along with incentive initiatives that are measurable and executable. With more than 30 + years of experience in the promotional management area, tbc can ensure the success of your promotional experience.

Total Identity Brands fit for the future

Trone Brand Energy A full-service integrated advertising and digital agency dedicated to spreading brands’ energy.

Tungston From the initial name development to the matching web site and collateral design, we’ll work with you and your team to create a cohesive brand that communicates your message.

UTA Brand Studio An unwavering focus on creating and sustaining brand attachment.

Want Branding Want branding is a leading independent brand development agency offering world-class capabilities and 20 years’ experience in new brand creation, naming and brand evolution.

Wolff Olins We help ambitious leaders invent the future by reinventing their business or category.

This is just a few of the branding agencies that will apply be your partner for your branding needs. However, if one of your branding needs is to grow your market share all the branding agencies combined lack our experience and focus.

Click here to read an interesting article on the brand of you

Here are a few internal links that speak to branding agencies, branding companies and the process of hiring an agency that you might find interesting.

Using advertising or branding agency search consultants

Agencies that solve the wrong problem

Change your ad agency OR fix your brand



A Critical Look at Spotify

By Tom Dougherty

Spotify ushers in a new form of brand

At Stealing Share, we have a deep appreciation for companies seeking to be different and better than their competition. Regardless of the category or its size, businesses always have the capacity to be unique. They have the ability to fully embrace their customers. And, perhaps over time, their particular customers may come to covet them (we do hope) thus forming a cemented brand. 

We’ve chosen to take a critical look at the streaming music resource, Spotify. We’ve been very impressed with Spotify as they seem to be taking a wise approach to the streaming music experience. Will they be iTunes killers? Well, we’re not taking things quite that far yet. But we do believe with the right branding, Spotify could become the second best streaming music site on the web and maybe one day, the first. 

What is The Spotify Brand?

Spotify branding is tied to its future
Spotify is in a highly competitive category

Much like streaming music sites like Rhapsody, Napster or Pandora, the Swedish born “Spotify is a DRM-based music streaming service offering streaming of selected music from a range of major and independent record labels, including Sony, EMI, Warner Music Group, and Universal.”

Just recently released in the United Stares, The Spotify brand has an amazing wealth of music that users can access through a plethora of technological vehicles. For example, you can easily log into the Spotify system from your computer and use their internet-based interface, which is reminiscent to iTunes (you can even upload the entirety of your music catalog to the Spotify interface, thus enabling you to completely forgo iTunes, should you wish. Or, if you desire to access Spotify from a phone or tablet, Spotify has apps that can be downloaded so you can access the service anywhere. 

Spotify needs to remain current and involved
Spotify plays a strategic game

As stated in the company’s description, Spotify branding works hand-in-hand with both a diverse and large group of indispensable music labels, offering users a sizable database to choose from. Unlike the trendsetter iTunes, a music store where one has to pay $.99 to own a song or $7.99 and up per album, Spotify offers Premium monthly memberships of only ten dollars. With this membership-based program, users can stream any and as many songs as they wish. The only downside is these songs and albums are not yours to keep. Spotify is more like a library, where as long as you pay your membership, you can keep your books for as long as you like. Additionally, full albums and user created playlists can be saved and accessed at anytime. What’s more, music can be streamed at a high bit-rate, giving users a truly vivid sonic experience. 

Spotify, at a quick glance, seems more in tune to user preferences than the other music-streaming giant, Pandora. Pandora, for those readers not aware, is a free, streaming, radio service. With Pandora, one can log on and select an artist or song you wish to hear. Once established, Pandora selects songs from that chosen artist, as well as other similar artists (as specifically selected and categorized by Pandora). Spotify, on the other hand, gives users complete and exacting choice. 

With Spotify, users can specifically select a song or artist they wish to hear, and that very song or artist will be played, not an assortment of similar artists. Pandora is more of a crapshoot, while Spotify gives you immediate gratification.  This then is very beneficial for the avid music listener.

The Genesis of Spotify

A company with, as we see it, such a smart approach to the music experience does not simply bloom and flower overnight. As stated, Spotify was born overseas in Sweden, where it was launched in 2008. 

As has been reported from the Spotify Blog:

The Spotify application was launched for public access on 7 October 2008. While free accounts still remained available by invitation only in order to manage the growth rate of the service, the launch meant that paid subscriptions were opened to everyone (We’ve only just begun! Spotify AB blog. 7 October 2008.)

The first step towards offering free accounts to the public without an invitation was taken on 10 February 2009, when Spotify opened for free registration in the UK (Spotify now available to everyone in the UK. Spotify blog. 10 February 2009). 

Due to a surge in registrations following the release of the Spotify mobile service, Spotify closed its open registrations in the UK for part of 2009, and went back to an invitation-only policy.( 

Following a series of promising years where new investors, subscription programs and awards for the program had been won, Spotify launched their US service in July, 2011. At this juncture, the company was already assessed at one billion dollars. And with the seemingly strong interest in the company, that revenue may continue to rise. 

What exactly is Spotify’s Brand? 

Whenever analyzing a brand, we must first consider “who” the customer believes they are when using that specific product. It’s also wise to contemplate how we perceive that same customer wishes to be perceived by others when using that aforementioned product. That said; let’s apply this specific branding scenario to Spotify.

As onlookers, we believe people who use Spotify are serious about music — and they believe themselves to be serious music listeners. Adding to this, these users are looking for a better alternative to iTunes and I speculate, they believe they have found that alternative with Spotify.

Yet, why would these users think that? Why would Spotify possibly be a better music answer than iTunes? First, using Spotify as a Premium user is ultimately cheaper, $10 a month. This is very cheap for the serious music listener. With this small monthly investment, the music aficionado has immediate access to nearly any song they wish (minus the Beatles and a handful of others) at a high bit rate, 320 kbps, in fact. This, as the Spotify website details is, “some high fidelity.” See, Spotify recognizes that the music lover (or, the music “snob”) cares about that high fidelity and it is a worthy selling point. Moreover, Spotify boasts exclusive content like early album releases to Premium members. Which again, to the music purist, the full album listener, relishes in. 

In a nutshell, Spotify’s brand is about convenience and premium music for the serious music listener. 

What then, is Spotify doing well?

Spotify seems to understand that they are the web and app based option for music enthusiasts. It’s clear that this message is resonating with users too (Spotify now reports being assessed at one billion dollars). 

When it was released in North America, Spotify did something interesting, they made their content available only to invited users. By doing this, Spotify created instant intrigue amongst potential users as potential users desired to be a part of the Spotify network.  This was a classic case of supply and demand, thus by limiting supply, the initial demand for Spotify seemed immense. 

Additionally, Spotify has created a simple to navigate interface on the web and also as a downloadable app for phones and tablets. On each, users can easily import their pre purchased musical MP3 catalog. Users can also search through an overabundance of albums and songs, and save selected songs and albums as playlists that can be accessed at anytime. 

For those that care about simplicity, these attributes are highly favorable. 

What is Spotify doing poorly?

It’s hard to pick apart a company that seems to be doing so much so well. But, we do believe Spotify is making a few blatant mistakes. Incidentally, we believe that there is room for Spotify to grow and become more of a household name in the way iTunes is. 

We believe there is something to be said for owning music. While there are hordes of torrent sites and illegal music options, people at the end of the day, inherently want to do the right thing and not “steal” music. Yet, with Spotify, there is the sense that you are only “renting” your music and that when all is said and done (say, if you were to cancel you membership) you have to give it all back. 

This is a problem and is why similar but less successful sites like Rhapsody, Napster and eMusic have never really competed with iTunes. 

Why is that?

People want to own their personal brand, not rent it. Music is, for many, a major facet in self-identification — as to physically or digitally own the music that makes people “who they are” is indeed a significant feature. It’s why iTunes is such a powerhouse in the music industry and essentially, the leader of the category. iTunes allows users to purchase their music, which is a brilliant thing. Users are provided with an elegant interface where their owned music will remain with them forever. 

What matters is owning music and Spotify is missing this mark. They have miscalculated our need to possess our brand, to catalog our music and keep it for the entirety of our lives if we so wish.

As much as having a Spotify’s Premium membership is significant, and being able to make playlists and stream music whenever and wherever; ultimately the music is not the users. It is Spotify’s and that is not a positive thing for the brand. 

What we suggest for Spotify:

Maintain the position of being the music site for music purists:

Spotify is making wise marketing decisions. Solidifying their site as one for musical purists is an intelligent move. Such users can appreciate that through Spotify you can locate intimate concert recordings, as well as standard EP and LP studio recordings. By having many options Spotify keeps the music junkies of the world satiated.

Don’t try to be the next iTunes:

Spotify, please remember this mantra: “you will never beat the market leader by doing exactly what it is that the market leader doing”; these actions simply solidify your position as a runner-up. Spotify must be uniquely different from iTunes, eMusic, Napster, Amazon and Rhapsody in order to have continued success.

For example, iTunes maintains high audible quality and a song catalog that you must purchase. Spotify has the same high audio quality but they are lacking in interface structure. This could easily be enhanced. As of now, saved playlists, albums and artist files are not alphabetized (via web or smart phone app), nor is search-ability categorized for any kind of user convenience. If Spotify can improve their interface so that it flows with an intuitive and logical sense or order, a sense of musical ownership would be felt by users.

Improve your name:

We cannot deny the fact that the Spotify is a hideous name and lacks any significant meaning for their brand. As has been told by the companies CEO, Derek Ek:

This again takes us back to my flat that I had out in the suburbs of Stockholm. Martin and I were sitting in different rooms shouting ideas back and forth of company names. We were even using jargon generators and stuff. Out of the blue Martin shouted a name that I misheard as Spotify.

I immediately Googled the name and realized there were no Google hits for the word at all. A few minutes later we registered the domain names and off we went.

We were a bit embarrassed to admit that’s how the name came up so our after construction was to say that Spotify stems from SPOT and IDENTIFY.

Sure, this is cute story any integrity behind Spotify’s name is lacking feeling and personal identification.

Spotify is a young enough company in the music service game that they have the breathing room to improve their name. They can and should find a name rename that properly represents them. Currently, Spotify simply misses the mark.

In closing, Spotify has the potential for great success. With proper focus and differentiation, they can compete with iTunes. More importantly, they can carve a nuanced niche in the DRM-based music service marketplace and find great success in the years to come.

Visit Spotify by clicking here

Read about entertainment brands here

Blockbuster Mistakes

Movie Theaters

Branding Investment Services – TD Ameritrade Wins!

Branding Investment Services means Trouble On Wall Street

By Tom Dougherty

branding investment services TD AmeritradeInvestment companies and brokerage houses are ripe for the picking and TD Ameritrade is looking more and more like the grim reaper. It is easy to look at a market caught up in its own outdated business models where Merrell Lynch, Bear Sterns, A.G. Edwards, and the other old school financial services companies desperately hold onto their top-heavy fee structure while leaner competitors like Fidelity, T. Rowe Price and Schwab re-write the rule books.

As the market migrates towards these discount brokerages, the majority of the players are missing the REAL sea change threatening to wash over them like a tsunami.

Investment Services Category Failure

The entire category believes that the customer will choose based on price comparisons and as a result, they are marketing their companies as the “low cost” provider or they spend ad dollars demonstrating the “added value” that they deliver…a superior service that justifies higher prices, higher commissions and hard to justify commission schedules. In the knowledge age that has swept over their customers in the past 15 years, information is hard to hide.

hero-pricing branding investment services TD AmeritradeThe airline industry is experiencing just such a conundrum as passengers are able to see… right on their very own computer monitor, a plethora of choices and the arbitrage that seems to benefit everyone but the passenger themselves.

branding investment services TD Ameritrade logo markIn the world of investment services and brokerages…”a trade is a trade” and customers are finding it harder and harder to justify anything more than a small flat fee. What is wrong with this picture and why is TD Ameritrade poised to begin eating everyone’s lunch? The answer is quite simple. It can be found in the brand promise not in the details of their pricing.

The Fatal Error when Branding Investment Services

Everyone, with just the one out exception talks about themselves in their brand messages. It promises the customer that they have the expertise to guide them, that they have all the services they need and that they are fairly priced. Just a few short years ago, TD Waterhouse (before its merger with Ameritrade) was promising much the same.  This campaign with Sam Waterston built the brand position.


The NEW TD Ameritrade has awakened and has seized the high ground in the battle for the investment category market share. They still mention the amenities that are very much “table stakes” within the category but they surround these messages in the visage of the customer themselves.


They answer the brand question of “Who am I when I use TD Ameritrade?” Instead of harping on all of their non-differentiating amenities and services, they lay claim to the very heart and soul of the investor themselves…The INDEPENDENT investor and his fast track to


TD Ameritrade Has The High Ground

Old-TD-Waterhouse that built the brandBy identifying the customer as the primary differentiator, all of the services and amenities take on new importance. They resonate with greater clarity because they have a raison d’etre. Good news for TD Ameritrade, bad news for the rest of the category.

Branding to grow market share demands that you out smart your competitors and position yourself around the hopes and dreams of those you wish to influence. TD Ameritrade is off to a blazing head start… and they might just have the best playing field as well. (Read a detailed market study on the financial category here)

Effective branding. Stop wasting cash

By Tom Dougherty

Effective branding. Making Your Brand Work — WORK

Effective brandingSo, at last, you have a great brand. You worked hard with your branding agency, and they have developed a great brand that is sure to get you competitive advantage, and promises increasing market share well into the future. What are you doing so as to be cutting marketing costs? Do you have the answers to effective branding?

Not so fast. There are three phases to sound and effective branding. Phase 1 is the familiar part, when you develop the positioning — an arresting and meaningful brand name, memorable brand logo, and a really catchy tag line. Sadly, for many companies in this situation, the time that the new brand is conceived is just a few weeks before it begins to die.

This is because it is not enough for a brand to be conceived. It has to be born into the daily life of prospects and customers, of suppliers and shareholders, not to mention your own employees. Moreover, this is why Phase 2 is so important, at least as important as Phase 1. No one wants their brand conception program to become a miscarriage, or worse still, an abortion. But this is precisely what many companies do to the brand they bled and sweated for, and for which they paid with budgets that were so difficult to get approved.

The 3 Phases of Brand Success

As we said, Phase 2 is about the brand emerging into the world, into the radar screens of the constituencies for whom it was conceived. This involves the translation of the brand essentials into all the ways in which prospects and customers will have brand resources and Effective brandingexperiences that they will inevitably relate to your brand. After all, the residue of these experiences is the real brand, the one that exists in people’s minds, the one that determines whether they will switch to your product, or whether they will stay with your service. What are all these ways?

What is brand optimization and is it even important? You bet it exists and it is vital to your success and cost savings. They are all rather humdrum and common place, you know, your stationery, your advertising, your buildings, your vehicles, your packaging, your merchandising, your sales promotions, your website, your bills, and even more importantly, all the personal interactions they have with your sales people, your dealers, your customer service people, your credit control people, your collections people.

1. This phase can go horribly wrong in three important ways. The first of these is the failure of the effective branding and brand positioning, the name, the logo, the tagline, and the brand graphics being translated consistently into all of these communications that will influence the perceptions that will become the real brand in the marketplace.

2. The second way Phase 2 can founder is the lack of creativity involved in dramatizing the essentials to the fullest extent that each of these media allow (by media, read every sense and touch point between your company and its constituencies, especially your customers, and most critically, your prospects.

3. The third way may be the most important. It is the lack of consistency between the residue left by the conventional communications media and the physical experience of the product and of the people who represent it.

What good is the best ideas, the best graphics, and the best advertising, if the way the product opens, the way it works and the ways in which your people behave leave behind altogether different residues from those of your communications? In addition, if that weren’t enough to think about, there’s Phase 3. Why a Phase 3? Haven’t you done enough if you did Phase 1 and Phase 2 well? Simple. It is because brands, like people, live or die – in TIME.

Effective branding and The Enemy of Success

Time is the greatest enemy of effective branding, if only because people, both your own, and your constituencies, are not only forgetful, marketing Strategy and Effective brandingthey are easily distracted and attracted by other offerings and other events going or perpetually around them. Phase 3 is about consolidating your brand in perpetually refreshing ways without losing sight of any of the consistencies that were so important in Phase 2. Phase 3 is about injecting ever-new ways to communicate the brand essence in all of the many ways in which it will be interpreted and remembered by your constituencies. Because the brand exists in time, and because time inevitably brings change, it also involves effecting slight refinements in the brand’s essentials, in order to maintain the highest ground in the shifting terrain of the market flux.

What does all this mean for you?

It means that your work has only really begun with the development of a new effective branding and brand positioning, a brand name, a brand logo, brand graphics, and a brand tagline. Specifically, it means three things: The first is to assign internal brand champions for every kind of interaction with your prospects and customers, whether communications, whether experiences, or people interactions, champions who will both be vigilant and determined that the brand essentials inform the very way in which all of these interactions are designed and delivered.

Surprising as it may seem, the most important effective branding champions here are those involved in product development, design, manufacturing and actual performance in use. Will they make the right decisions as to the specific areas in which the product will perform in future? Are these ways consistent with the thrust of your brand positioning? (See how Stealing Share builds brand strategies around beliefs)

Effective brandingAfter all, your product or your service, are the most powerful communications that can influence the brand’s stature and penetration in your constituencies minds. The second is to set up an internal evangelical organization within your company to both disseminate the brand internally among all of the people, functions and departments that will interface with the public in any way.

These evangelists are not only custodians of the brand’s translation into corporate behavior, they must infect and inspire your people with the tremendous value of your business to its constituencies, so that their sense of the value of their work in the world translates into more and better ideas, deeper and more lasting relationships with prospects and customers.

rebranding companies and Effective branding
Make Your Advertising Smarter

The third is to ensure that the team of effective branding counselors who helped you to develop the brand essentials are always on hand to help guide your team forward into time, across not only Phase 2, but especially through Phase 3.

This is especially important for two reasons: They are outside your organization, and are less blinded by internal corporate imperatives. They are more detached and can more easily see recognize deviations from the straight and the true. They understand your business well enough to have partnered with you in the development of this brand gestalt, and so they can help you interpret the information you develop about your company’s performance in the market flux into the fine adjustments that will be necessary as time goes on.

As we were saying, you have this great new brand gestalt, these brand essentials, the positioning, the name, the logo, the tagline, and the brand graphics. However, this effective branding is still in the womb of your company. It has to be born, and it has to grow into the world – to fulfill its promise for your business in terms of market share gained, and market stature achieved.