Marketing guru introduces ‘new brand world'
David Perry -- Furniture Today, May 29, 2013
Dave Roberts, left, Comfort Solutions, and keynote speaker Scott Bedbury.
CHANDLER, Ariz. - Scott Bedbury, the marketing guru who helped build Nike and Starbucks into household brands, brought his playbook to Furniture/Today's Bedding Conference here and introduced "a new brand world."
In a well-received keynote address before a record crowd of 350, Bedbury said the key to creating more meaningful brand experiences in the digital age is to connect with timeless human needs. Everyone needs to feel safe, welcomed, recognized, valued, loved and empowered, he said.
Many brands have been built around those needs, he said, citing Volvo (the need to feel safe) and Nike (the need to feel empowered) as two examples.
Coffee is a commodity, Bedbury said, but Starbucks has elevated the coffee drinking experience by creating "the Third Place," a place between the opposing poles of work and home. That special place has existed since the time a caveman took the long way home and stopped to watch a special sunset, said Bedbury, whose address was sponsored by Comfort Solutions.
Starbucks has succeeded by turning the coffee house into a hip, cool, safe place, an oasis in a frantic world, a welcoming and stimulating place, he said, and one full of emotional connections. And the company has shared that vision with its employees, a critical step in the brand-building arsenal.
"Internal communication in most companies is woefully underdeveloped and may be the most critical brand-building tool you have," Bedbury said.
At the core of every brand, he continued, are its people.
"Anyone and anything that touches your brand is either an asset or a liability," he said. And every "touch point" around the brand - every message, customer and employee - has more influence than ever in the digital media age. He noted how one employee at a New York-based Papa John's restaurant created a media firestorm by referring to a customer as "lady chinky eyes" on the printed order form.
Bedbury presented a list of guidelines that he said can greatly affect everyone's success and happiness. Among them:
* Remember that consumers are really not that into you. They have their own lives to live.
* Respect the consumer's intelligence, their time and their experiences. He said Nike connected with some of its core consumers when it featured an ad showing a solitary runner illuminated by sunlight on an early morning run in New York City. Another Nike ad that resonated with consumers showed a runner tuning out catastrophes during a run but acknowledging another runner.
* Respect the spandex rule. "Just because you can doesn't mean you should," he said, briefly displaying a picture of an overweight woman in a leopard skin spandex suit lifting weights.
* You get what you pay for. Respect and reward those who help you. It's shortsighted to beat up your vendors on price, he said. Will those vendors really give you their best work?
* You can't please everyone. Remember that 5% of humanity is crazy and that another 5% will never be satisfied with anything you do, so you write off 10% right off the top, Bedbury said.
* All brands need to be reinvented every now and then.
* It's not what you say but how you say it. Nike missed the mark with an ad featuring a female athlete, but learned from that mistake and connected with female consumers with an empathetic magazine insert.
* Find the art in everything you do. He cited a Nike Wings ad that featured Michael Jordan with his arms outstretched and this quote from William Blake: "No bird soars too high, if he soars with his own wings."
* Sometimes you need to change course when it seems impossible. Aircraft carriers can change course suddenly, as he demonstrated in a picture of a carrier skidding sideways.
* Be fully present in the moments that matter most to those who matter most. He recalled Nike founder Phil Knight spending an hour in his office on the day Bedbury's son was born, a simple but touching action.
* Have fun.
Bedbury rose to marketing prominence after he joined Nike in 1987 as worldwide advertising director, a position in which he directed Nike's agency in the creation of its iconic "Just Do It" ad campaign.
Several years later he joined a regional coffee company named Starbucks as chief marketing officer. At that time Starbucks had stores in just 14 U.S. markets. He and Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz reshaped the coffee market, turning coffee drinking into an experience rather than something focused solely on the product.
After that Bedbury established Seattle-based Brandstream, an international brand development firm that has consulted with some of the biggest consumer brands in the world.
In 2002 he wrote "A New Brand World," an influential book on brand building.
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