Published on June 25, 2007
The Zag of According to: Marty Neumeier Jesse Starmer COM 459
Who are you? A brand needs to have passion and energy behind it in order to survive. Without it, a brand just has a cardboard box that looks like a real company, but with nothing in it and will fall because no emotion is supporting it. Write your brand’s future obituary. Where does your passion lie? What would you like to be remembered for in the future? Where do you have the most credibility? Where do you have the most experience? Obituary One of the world’s most recognizable retailers of books, music, and movies has shut down today. Borders has been in operation since 1971, and pleased millions across the globe with their dazzling selection of entertainment options for all ages. From pop-up books, to r&b cd’s, to the latest action blockbuster movie, customers could find whatever author or artists their hearts desired all under one roof. The company’s closing signals the end of an era for many patrons accustomed to the one-stop shopping Borders offered. The thirty-six year old bookstore started in Ann Arbor, Michigan by Tom and Louis Borders. The first Borders only sold books and catered to local interests alongside other mainstream offerings. Borders expanded throughout the US mostly through the 90’s. In 1997, the first international store was opened in Singapore which began a series of other overseas openings. The goal of being a “headquarters for knowledge and entertainment” was realized in every store within the Borders chain. As the Information Age gained momentum though, the Borders Group feels that people no longer need a “headquarters” to achieve their intellectual and entertainment pursuits. The Internet has provided individuals with a new outlet of unlimited potential for human learning. The restrictions of a central, physical base for acquiring knowledge no longer apply. Sadly, Borders accepts it’s fate and has finally closed their doors across the world. Borders will be truly missed.
What do you do? Your brand must also have a reason to exist beyond making profits. Having a clear purpose of who you are and why your are doing what you are doing will help your brand establish long-term goals and identities while avoiding the pitfalls of short-term gains at the cost of brand image. Write down what your purpose is, beyond selling a product or service. State your purpose is 12 words or less. To create richer, more satisfying lives through knowledge and entertainment. Purpose
What’s your vision? A clear vision of the future for the brand can help empower employees and provide a picture or goal shared by the entire company. A vision needs to be a concrete picture in order to achieve a clear direction for the company to follow. Paint a vivid picture of your future. Test it on a real piece of communication. Go back and refine it further. Use it repeatedly to illustrate the direction of your business. Vision To be a headquarters of knowledge and entertainment within every community a Borders store is in.
What wave are you riding? A brand riding a trend can gain the raw, youthful energy of a movement occurring in the marketplace boosting the brand’s image and acceptance. Make a list of the trends that will power your success. Trends Authenticity Knowledge/Information Entertainment One-stop shopping wide selection café experience
Who shares the brandscape? There will probably be another company in the marketplace that shares the same passion, purpose, and vision as your brand. To zag from the other companies, your brand must be unique in its values. If you are not moving into your own brand category, make sure you can either be number one or two in a more mature category. Profits for brands lower than that are not worth the time. Find out how your brand ranks with customers Design a strategy to become one or two Or, become the first mover in a new category. Rankings Barnes & Noble Borders Amazon
Barnes & Noble
What makes you the “only”? A zag is not a different brand, but something radically different. Your brand should be the only one doing something in their category. If it is not, then you should start over. Complete this sentence: Our brand is the ONLY ____________ that _________________________. Make sure to answer the questions of what, how, who, where, why, and when in your answer. in an era of increased diversity in our communities. When Who want a large selection of options in accordance with their local tastes Why In every city a Borders is in Where For people within the community Who That establishes a diverse offering of product selection according to region How The ONLY bookstore What Statement of “Onlyness” For Borders
What should you add or subtract? We love to add and build, but hate subtracting and saying “no” to things. Part of building an effective brand is having focus and self-discipline. Brand extensions and other offerings must be in line with the company’s purpose and not all over the place confusing consumers. Make a list of all current and planned offerings and brand elements. Decide which offerings to keep, sacrifice, or add. Offerings Books Music Movies Stationary Café Online book sales Used book sales Reading areas Local Interest section Community events Add: Subtract: - Stationary - Cafe + Larger local interest section + Store performances + New release promotional events + More community sponsorships and activities
Who loves you? A community builds a brand. Employees, partners, suppliers, investors, customers, non-customers, and competitors all contribute to the ecosystem of your brand. Diagram your brand’s ecosystem. Decide on how each participant will both contribute and benefit. Employees Customers Management Investors Holding group* Partners and suppliers** * The holding group is Borders Group, Inc. ** Partners include Starbucks coffee and Amazon.com; suppliers include book suppliers, eg. Ingram, Baker & Taylor, music suppliers, movie suppliers, Starbucks, Paperchase, local boutiques who sell their products
Who’s the enemy? You can’t make friends with everyone, so pick a fight with someone. Find the biggest competitor out there and take them on. It will add to your “radicalness”. An old way of doing things could also be an enemy. Point them out and take those on. Tell your customers what you are not in no uncertain terms. Barnes & Noble and Amazon are our biggest competition. Borders is not just another large, corporate bookstore chain, but a bookstore that looks to the community for input on selection and tries to be apart of local activities. Online book sales are a complement to the atmosphere provided by Borders stores. We want you to experience being in a Borders store as much as we want to help you find your selection online.
What do they call you? A brand’s name is the most valuable marketing asset it has. A good brand name can help differentiate company’s as well as their images. Brand names should be 1) different from competitors, 2) brief, 3) appropriate, 4) easy to spell, 5) satisfying to pronounce, 6) suitable for “brandplay”, and 7) legally defensible. Choose a name that’s different, brief, and appropriate. Make sure it’s easy to spell and pronounce. Find out if the name can be used as a URL. Determine how difficult or easy it will be to legally defend. The brand name for the company is Borders and while it is easy to pronounce, spell, brief, and meets much of the other criteria offered by Neumeier, it does not allow for much brandplay and is not very different. Borders sounds like there are restrictions or “borders” limiting a customer of what they want to do.
How do you explain yourself? A brand should focus on creating a “trueline” which is a value proposition which customers will find valuable and credible and competitors can’t claim. It is based on your “only” statement and can also be easily converted to your tagline. Craft a trueline that tells why your brand is compelling. Avoid and commas or “ands”. Turn your trueline into a tagline to use with customers. Trueline Borders connects with customers personal interests to enrich their Borders experience. Tagline We are all Borders.
How do you spread the word? By deploying a focused and aligned message of your brand at all customer touchpoints, a company can help itself stand out from the clutter. Consumers need to take notice of your brand before they can interact with it and tell their friends about it. How can you align all your communications with your zag? Make sure your messaging is as different as your brand. Only compete at the touchpoints you can win. The Borders name and logo should be emblazoned on all customer touchpoints, like: retail bags, signs in the store, on all computer screens within store, signs outside store, and on newsletters, emails, and communications to customers. Since books readers, the core Borders customers, tend to not watch as much television, since they are reading books for their entertainment, and also because of the extremely wide selection of products for customers to choose from, television advertisements may not be such a great idea. Instead, more personalized emails to existing customers of what they might be interested in could help a lot in awareness of upcoming releases. Borders should also partner with authors, musicians, and movie distributors and have the Borders logo on the their respective websites as a place customers can buy their upcoming titles. Authors, artist, etc. have a vested interest in being a spokesperson since Borders is carrying their work. Also, the spokesperson would most likely be talking positively about their work in order to sell more copies avoiding negative backlash directly at Borders. Since Borders prides itself as being a big part of the community, stores could help sponsor local events in relation to their business like school literacy campaigns or local musician performances and raise more awareness of where people could buy more of their favorite books, music, or movies.
How do people engage with you? An essential part of creating your zag is figuring out what you are selling and how you are going to sell it. Choose marketing or value propositions that are not best-practices or methods your competitors use. Create your own market space and ways of delivering your message. Map your value proposition against those of your competitors. See which competitive areas you can avoid entirely. Discover customer touchpoints where you’ll be unopposed. Borders can offer more selection based on local preferences rather than national standards. Each Borders store already has a system like it in place where they listen to what local people want, but it is limited to small sections within the store. If Borders can expand their “Local Interest” sections, they can bring in more people from the community into their stores. Borders should also continue to support activities and performances within their communities. Stores can create a more intimate atmosphere with their customers.
What do they experience? Good execution must follow your zag’s strategy in order to get consumers to believe in your brand. Focus on customer touchpoints and what kind of experience consumers are getting there. Whether it be the web site, direct mail, or behavior of staff, it is important you prioritize and coordinate the experience your customers are getting there since a brand is determined by gut feeling. Map the customer journey from non-awareness to full enrollment. Bet your resources on the experience that zag. The most important touchpoint for Borders has to be each store. The interior design has to be more intimate and provide a relaxed environment where people can browse for whatever they want. Employees also need to be trained to provide not just customer service, but help each person in the store feel appreciated and promote the relaxed, homely feel of the store. Emails to customers also need to have a more personalized theme to them. Events and new releases discussed in emails should be relevant to people within a certain community.
The most important touchpoint for Borders has to be each store. The interior design has to be more intimate and provide a relaxed environment where people can browse for whatever they want.
Employees also need to be trained to provide not just customer service, but help each person in the store feel appreciated and promote the relaxed, homely feel of the store.
Emails to customers also need to have a more personalized theme to them. Events and new releases discussed in emails should be relevant to people within a certain community.
How do you earn their loyalty? There is only one way to get loyalty from customers; earn it. You cannot buy a customer’s loyalty. Your zag must first be loyal to customers before you can get any in return. How can you help customers build barriers to competition? Start by being loyal to customers. Don’t make new customers feel punished or excluded. Give loyal customers the tools to introduce new customers. Borders should focus on a community-oriented approach to business. Reach out and listen to the people who shop at Borders. Chances are that those people will be great feelers as to what people who live in the same region want to buy as well. Provide people within a community the opportunity to personalize the store with what they want and make customers feel they are in their own store, rather own world.
How do you extend your success? Focused brand extensions can help build profits and the brand-portfolio. Less focused extensions can dilute a brand’s name in the eyes of the consumer. Your brand can either build a “house of brands,” where the company stands behind the actions of separate brands that it owns, or develop a “branded house,” where the company is the brand while products and services under it are parts of the main brand. Choose between a house of brands and a branded house. Add extensions that reinforce the brand’s meaning. Avoid extensions that unfocus the brand’s meaning and avoid those that bring you into competition with leaders. Borders is already apart of a house of brands. The Borders Group, Inc., a holding company originally formed through the combination of Borders and Waldenbooks stores, was established in 1995. Besides Borders and Waldenbooks, the Borders Group also owns Paperchase Products Limited, a stationary company whose products are sold in Borders stores, and will operate the new Borders online shopping site launching next year after the partnership with Amazon ends.
How do you protect your portfolio? Brand extensions can lead to the four C’s: contagion, where one products bad quality can spread throughout the brand line; confusion, when a brand starts reaching over its boundaries; contradiction, which occurs in global extensions where a product may mean something different in another culture; and complexity, when an expansion leads to a hard-to-manage brand due to the sheer size of product offerings. Create clear roles, relationships, and boundaries where brands can go to keep them focused on their core purpose. Avoid C-sickness– contagion, confusion, contradiction, and complexity. Understand the long-term effects of brand extensions. Borders should stick with their retail business in books, music, and movies. That is what people know them for and any “unfocused” excursions into other fields will leave people feeling confused.
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