Dim Sum Strategy
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Dim Sum Strategy

Bite-Sized Tools to Build Stronger Brands

Peter Wilken

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eBook - ePub

Dim Sum Strategy

Bite-Sized Tools to Build Stronger Brands

Peter Wilken

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About This Book

In the past, brands were the sole domain of owners, advertisers and marketers. Strategies were crafted in smoke-filled boardrooms and rolled out with little to no input from consumers.

Times have changed. Today, consumers are the new owners. They have more information, more channels, more power and more choice but less time, less loyalty and less trust than ever before. Brands intersect every aspect of our lives, but the business of building brands is still misunderstood.

Dim Sum Strategy presents a carefully curated selection of proven strategic tools, with insights and anecdotes from three decades working with some of the world’s leading brands at the world’s top agencies. The book is structured to follow the author’s proven Brand Centered Management™ process, with a smattering of different “tools” split into four parts: Discovery, Definition, Direction, and Delivery. Each tool is presented in bite-sized, standalone chunks; you can read the book in stepwise fashion or cherry-pick in whatever order you wish—just like a dim sum meal.

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Year
2019
ISBN
9781950843046
Part 1: Discovery
As the name suggests, discovery is all about discovering more about yourself, your brand, your organisation and the environment you operate in. I prefer the word discovery to research because it implies probing into previously unexplored areas or looking at old information in new ways to gain insight.
Too often clients want to dive into the ‘fixing’ part without having done their homework. As every great chef will tell you, the best meals from the greatest kitchens start with the preparation: sharp knives; clean pots; fresh ingredients sliced, diced, and ready.
Discovery is the preparation for developing strategy. It’s more than gathering facts. It’s asking better questions. It’s processing raw data into information, information into knowledge, and knowledge into insight. It’s good to separate the yolks from the egg, to have the butter cut and weighed, the lemon squeezed, the salt, cayenne and parsley ready. It’s better to have Hollandaise sauce ready to pour.
The discovery process covers the Four Cs:
Company – the organisation, the heritage and evolution of the brand
Customer – the brand customers, stakeholders and customer segments
Currents – the social, technological, economic and political macro-environment and trends
Competition – the competitive frame
There are no hard and fast rules to how broad or how deep you go with a Discovery process. It varies according to time, budget and need. We employ a variety of methods including a quick strategic health check, semi-structured interviews, buddy-group interviews, desk and Internet research, and commissioned research if required.
I favour in-depth qualitative interviews. It gives you rich data and identifies the main issues and opportunities quickly, accurately and at low cost. Quantifying things can always come later… with a number of interviews you can begin to get a true feel for the importance and urgency of an issue too. I use a Discovery Questionnaire template (see below) that was forged over many years by a collective group of brand specialists at The Brand Company in Hong Kong. We found these questions, with minor modifications to suit customer needs, cover the information we need in a MECE (Mutually Exclusive, Collectively Exhaustive) way.
MECE or Mutually Exclusive, Collectively Exhaustive is a McKinsey thinking tool that is a professional way of saying “cover everything that’s important in the shortest way possible.” A MECE list is often short—no more than three or four points—but it addresses the essential items without repetition or exclusion.
Patterns emerge quite quickly when you use the same set of questions with different customer segments. It does rely on the skill and experience of the interpreter. Being able to actively listen beyond the questions (listen to what I mean, not what I say) is a real skill that allows a good interviewer to know when to prompt or probe and when to stay silent to let responses flow.
I favour qualitative research. It’s called in-depth research for good reason. The secret is having the right questions and the skill to interpret a collective response. Knowing when to filter out irrelevant ‘white noise’ without losing the quiet voice or hidden gem of an insight. Not over-reacting to extreme comments good or bad, but not underplaying the significance of small details sometimes too.
We determine your brand strengths and weaknesses and category opportunities and threats, from different stakeholder perspectives. We present a comprehensive Discovery Report, based on face-to-face interviews with stakeholders within the company, that distils findings into the key challenges and opportunities for the brand. I like to make these visual and use verbatim, quoting the words used by respondents in clusters that make a point.
The secret to a good Discovery Report is to use verbatims. It is difficult to ‘shoot the messenger’ when verbatims are used collectively to make a point. I present clusters of verbatims under a headline word or point. I use this technique for each of the Discovery Questionnaire questions; What Springs to mind, Strengths, Challenges etc.
Responses often reflect broad agreement on issues. Occasionally, issues polarise responses and these are often the interesting, contentious issues where a decision needs to be made one way or another (left or right? black or white? yes or no?).
What is interesting is to see the similarities and differences to responses between different stakeholder groups, and sometimes within the same group, to the same question. Patterns emerge pretty quickly. Everyone feels that character development is pivotal to a boy’s education, nobody thinks there’s a place for bullying. Some issues polarise respondents, such as strategic integration of girls into an all boys school. Some issues are highly relevant to one or two stakeholder groups and not at all to others.
Condensing this into a clear picture takes practice. Discovery Reports help clear the mist by laying out a schematic picture of the key issues and opportunities for the brand. I like to think of it as identifying planets and patterns in a solar system where each planet is a concept, a challenge or an important issue to address. The number of planets varies as does the size and proximity to the centre of the system (the brand). Some planets are micro-planets on the outer fringe; others are Jupiter-like monsters with multiple moons and a powerful gravity that consumes all other issues within a certain radius.
When drafting a Discovery Report we share it first as a group of five or six of us internally to interrogate it, identify patterns and apply the wisdom of multiple minds. Alternative lenses and fresh perspectives from other brand strategists provide objectivity and make the finished Discovery Report robust.
The Discovery Report is then shared with the client problem owner and leadership team for comment and refinement if necessary. Then it becomes a useful historical source to return to and an excellent way of bringing people up to speed quickly on the brand.
The Discovery Questionnaire
I must emphasise, that while it looks like just a simple bunch of questions below, the process of distilling these down to the essential ones has been far from simple. Having presented creative concepts and finished work many times, there is always an element of Pied Piper about the reveal. Once shown it can never be taken back, and the world is changed a little bit forever.
Sometimes it’s useful to remind an audience waiting for the ‘answer’ that they don’t know it until you show it to them. “What am I about to tell you?” is a legitimate question. I ask it sometimes before a Discovery presentation: “Jot down on a piece of paper the key points you think I’m going to make”.
It’s true, much of what will be revealed will be familiar. But what most people forget is that you may have illuminated a handful of points from many thousands of others lying in the litter of leaves that they could also claim to have heard before. And what about things they’ve not heard before, would they have selected those in advance?
With that in mind, I present the Discovery Questionnaire:
1.Who are your key customers, now and in the future?
2.What role do you play in these customers’ lives?
3.How is the brand/organisation perceived by your customers?
4.What are the major strengths of the brand?
5.What are the major weaknesses of the brand?
6.What is the single most important challenge the organisation/brand faces?
7.What is the key promise the brand makes to its customers?
8.And what is the main benefit customers get from delivering against this promise?
9.How well do you deliver your promise?
10.What needs to be done to help your people deliver your promise every day, everywhere?
11.Do they have the tools to deliver it? (If not, what do they need?)
12.How would you describe the culture or spirit of your brand? (think ‘how business is done around here’)
13.How would you describe the ideal culture or personality if different from above?
14.Who do you see as your main competitors and why?
15.Do any competitors own a distinctive positioning in the category? If so, please describe.
16.How does your brand promise differ from your main competitors’ promises?
17.How should the brand position itself relative to these competitors?
18.What are the most important products and services you offer? What lies behind their importance?
19.What would you like the organisation to Continue, to Stop and to Start?
20.You’re the Chairman, we’re giving you a magic wand to change things and granting you three wishes…what are they?
Of course these questions can be modified and personalised for each client. Not every question needs to be asked. Once an area has been illuminated beyond reasonable doubt as a Discovery process unfolds, it is better to use the interview time to probe areas of darkness. A certain amount of repetition is useful to act as reinforcement, but if you ever do conduct an interview process use your common sense to conduct the session to get the most out of the time available.
A Discovery Process is an ongoing one. It doesn’t begin and end with the qualitative Discovery Questionnaire above. The tools in the following section can help you probe deeper into what your brand really represents, and where you want it to go.
Johari’s Window
WHAT THIS TOOL DOES
Johari’s Window is a useful tool for improving self-awareness at both a personal and a corporate level. While it is used more commonly for ‘soft skills’ and interpersonal relationship development, it can also be useful applying it to leadership teams and their businesses.
Johari’s Window was devised by two American psychologists, Joseph Luft and Harry Ingham, in 1955 (the name is a combination of Joe and Harry). Johari’s Window has four panes. They represent windows or lenses on your world based on four dimensions: what you know about yourself, what you don’t know about yourself, what others know about you, and what others don’t know about you. It can be useful to get people thinking about the model at a personal level first, perhaps with a facilitator illustrating by example what a ‘dark area’ of unknown to self but known to others is. Then they can apply the concept to the organisation as a whole.
Area 1 is the open or free area where both you and others know. For example, everyone knows I’m married and live in Vancouver. Everyone knows that Coca-Cola makes soft drinks.
Area 2 is the blind area where other people know things about you that you don’t know yourself. It might be a pleasant thing, like your doctor giving you positive health test results. Or it could be less pleasant, like your clients knowing that their business has been taken over and that major changes are coming that will affect your company.
Area 3 is known by you but not by others. It could be something personal, such as a feeling about a coworker that you keep buried. Or you may have discovered a secret to the success of a competitor that they have no idea you know.
And area 4 is the ‘dark’ area—the unknown space where you don’t know what you don’t know and others don’t either. You don’t know and others don’t know that a cure for cancer is going to be announced tomorrow.
The blind spots in areas 2 through 4 are the key insight of Johari’s Window. Many organisations are so deeply involved in their own category or world that just having them conceive that there are dark spaces out there is a step forward.
Real life examples of Johari’s Window at work abound. During World War II, Alan Turing and the team of code breakers at Bletchley Park solved the German naval cipher. The Germans had invented a brilliant machine called Enigma that created codes that were supposedly unbreakable. With 15,000,000,000,000,000,000 potential combinations, one would be inclined to agree. Instead of applying traditional code breaking techniques, Turing’s team produced what was the precursor of the first digital computer. In effect, they built a machine to beat a machine. So from the early days of the war, British intelligence could read German naval messages. They knew important information that others did not—Area 3 of Johari’s Window.
While the visualisation shows the four windows as equal in size, in reality they can vary drastically for each individual or organisation. The faint lines in the graphic represent a more likely distribution of areas. Most are likely to have larger open or shared areas and smaller hidden ‘dark’ areas.
I have found that organisations with the largest open areas are the ones that are most transparent and comfortable with their identity. They tend to display attributes that one would associate with extroverts: confidence, can...

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