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Showing posts from January, 2011

15 Hidden Biases That Are Costing You Money

1. "I only need to read industry news to keep me up to speed - otherwise it's a waste of time."
2. "I know what my customer wants - not you."
3. "I don't need to respond to that - saying something will only make it worse."
4. "They didn't say anything, so they must agree with me."
5. "Focus on managing upward - don't waste time on 'nobodies'."
6. "It's more important that the information be technically correct than understandable."
7. "It's a bad market - there are no opportunities out there."
8. "I'm too old to change."
9. "I already know what I think - don't confuse me (with the facts)."
10. "There is nothing new under the sun - everything important has been said already."
11. "People are inherently (good or bad)."
12. "I have experience and you don't, so my opinion is right."
13. "I know all there is to know already."
14. …

Personal Branding & the $50 Billion Sweatshirt: Zuckerberg Meets Eisenberg and Sandberg on SNL

If you didn't see Saturday Night Live last night, this clip is priceless. It shows Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg confronting Jessie Eisenberg, the actor who played him in The Social Network, as well as the Andy Samberg, who plays him on SNL - all at once.
Which one of them is the real Zuckerberg? The person born with that name, who is under the magnifying glass and must conform to a certain image to maintain his reputation? The actor, who is under no such constraints but needed to enact a script convincingly to sell tickets? Or the comedian, who has no skin in the game but to make us laugh and so can perhaps be more insightful than the other two?
There is a lesson somewhere in here about personal branding and how our real personalities translate into others' perceptions of us. And why that matters.
But the real reason to watch is that it's just hilarious.


An Open Letter to Brand Experts: Only You Can Destroy Human Trafficking

Photo by Kay Chernush, courtesy of the State Department
Fellow communicators,
The image in this photo is not what it may seem at first. The men and women aren't just freely socializing on a warm night. The women are human slaves, and the men are about to buy them.
Slavery is a business and it is as old as time. But as we all know, that doesn't make it right. Everyone is born with the right to be free.
This isn't just a moral issue. While criminals make a good living by committing the worst kind of violence against other people - both female and male - the rest of us pay dearly. Human trafficking helps organized criminals to grow in strength and number, putting all of us at risk because the rule of law means nothing to them.
In addition, if we tolerate a two-tier world where some people have rights and others don't, we are enabling a culture where it's OK to abuse other people - especially if you think you've paid for the privilege.
You have the skills to sell just …

NBC Universal: Did Logo Jealousy Destroy The Brand?

Look at this. What is this? NBC Universal's fantastic, famous logo, post-acquisition by Comcast, is now reduced to the corporate "brand" above. (Really it's a wordmark.)
I can't understand the decision from a branding perspective so it must be that politics and culture wars led the corporate brand NBC Universal down the path that ultimately led to the forgettable thing above.
Previously, NBC had a logo that anybody would kill for.
Post-acquisition by Comcast - which may be a financial powerhouse but is an extraordinarily un-memorable company - the corporate brand is similarly dull. I think I could have made it up in about an hour on my desktop.
While it's true that the classic bird is staying on the broadcasting side of the brand, and the spinning globe will remain at the theme parks, the overarching message is one of - wait - there is no overarching message. No emotion. Nothing. It's just a mega-merger with an identity-less monolith "brand" sitting …

A 5-word guide to the language of image

1. Brand = your image (results from your actions, others' reactions, and the social/political/economic/physical environment). The ultimate goal is a strong brand.2. Branding = things you do specifically with intent to build a certain image. A good way to imagine this is a high-schooler trying to be part of the "popular" crowd.3. Advertising = using words and images to make people feel positive about your brand. The most direct way to build one. Language and image tend to be broad and vague to convey a concept that can be interpreted. Ads for Swiffer are a great example.4. Marketing = anything you do to sell your stuff (including product placement, events, social media, brochures, direct sales - the sky's the limit). Normally marketing activities are targeted to a specific and relatively short-term goal, such as a developer trying to sell a lot of newly constructed homes. Therefore, the language tends to be concrete.5. Public relations = anything you do to improve you…

The #1 personal branding secret you can learn from the Kardashian crew

When it comes to branding it pays to learn from everyone, not to focus on the elite. And I have learned a boatload from this family. Over just the past few episodes I was riveted to the screen as I saw: Kourtney in the back of an ambulance, after passing out from over-dietingKhloe admit feeling leaned-on and used by the rest of the familyScott and Kourtney fight over who would watch Mason - she wanted to go to the gym, he was dressed for a business meetingThe mother cry as she told husband Bruce Jenner how he is the family rockKourtney call Khloe a "crazy b****"...and so, so very much more.The Kardashians are natural, absolute masters of personal branding because they understand one thing well: how to turn their flaws into assets. Where most people try to capitalize on their strengths and play down weakness, they do the complete opposite.To do this requires both savvy - knowing what to say and what not to - and nerves of steel. Plus an absolute lack of shame. Not everyone can…

The #1 personal branding secret you can learn from the Kardashian crew

When it comes to branding it pays to learn from everyone, not to focus on the elite. And I have learned a boatload from this family. Over just the past few episodes I was riveted to the screen as I saw: Kourtney in the back of an ambulance, after passing out from over-dietingKhloe admit feeling leaned-on and used by the rest of the familyScott and Kourtney fight over who would watch Mason - she wanted to go to the gym, he was dressed for a business meetingThe mother cry as she told husband Bruce Jenner how he is the family rockKourtney call Khloe a "crazy b****"...and so, so very much more.
The Kardashians are natural, absolute masters of personal branding because they understand one thing well: how to turn their flaws into assets. Where most people try to capitalize on their strengths and play down weakness, they do the complete opposite.
To do this requires both savvy - knowing what to say and what not to - and nerves of steel. Plus an absolute lack of shame.
Not everyone can…

Branding boot camp: The hidden danger of too much social media

Old news: The flood of social media is upon us now, and in response we have turned into a nation of narcissists. It is as if we are all the proud parents of newborn infants - except the infants are ourselves. No trivial moment of our daily lives is too mundane to capture. From sunrise, to midday, to sunset and midnight, all of it is carefully documented on Facebook.As I am not in charge of worrying about how much memory the Internet has, gunking up the system with Tweets about baby drool would normally not be my problem. Except that this kind of self-absorption is doing terrible things to our psyches, and so by extension our capacity to function in a competitive marketplace.The primary dysfunction caused by all this narcissism is that we have lost touch with one extremely important thing: the understanding that there is a world outside our personal individual existences. And that it matters critically to appreciate other perspectives.In the social media society, as always, what I feel…

5 Personal Branding Lessons I Learned At The Food Court

Photo source: Flickr Creative Commons
Around 11:30 a.m. each weekday I hear papers rustling faster than usual. Laughter ensues.
I can hear the clacking of people walking into the office kitchen. The small refrigerator door opens and closes. The microwave door slams shut and beeps. I smell tomato sauce heating up as the microwave hums.
Soon after I head downstairs and survey the gaggle, the throngs, the crowds of people taking up battle stations in various corners of the food court.
It occurred to me that one can observe these people and learn a few lessons about personal branding from them, as follows:
1. Sushi is a success food. People who pay $6.50 for 4 tiny pieces and another $4.50 for a miniscule container of seaweed salad look classy in their self-restraint and athletic in their pursuit of nutritional nirvana.
2. Coffee is always good to get in terms of your image, but not from the vendors that also sell tacos.
3. Hold a Subway sandwich baggie, lose a bit of dignity as you resemble s…

5 Personal Branding Lessons I Learned At The Food Court

Around 11:30 a.m. each weekday I hear papers rustling faster than usual. Laughter ensues.

I can hear the clacking of people walking into the office kitchen. The small refrigerator door opens and closes. The microwave door slams shut and beeps. I smell tomato sauce heating up as the microwave hums.
Soon after I head downstairs and survey the gaggle, the throngs, the crowds of people taking up battle stations in various corners of the food court.
It occurred to me that one can observe these people and learn a few lessons about personal branding from them, as follows:
1. Sushi is a success food. People who pay $6.50 for 4 tiny pieces and another $4.50 for a miniscule container of seaweed salad look classy in their self-restraint and athletic in their pursuit of nutritional nirvana.
2. Coffee is always good to get in terms of your image, but not from the vendors that also sell tacos.
3. Hold a Subway sandwich baggie, lose a bit of dignity as you resemble someone whose mom made them lunch in 5t…

Rebranding the “War On Terror”

Photo credit: Aldrin Muya
Positive marketing messages work, especially when they're issued in the form of a command:"Just do it.""Have a Coke and a smile.""Come back to Jamaica."Same goes in the realm of politics: "Yes we can!"Here, again, it's visible in the realm of social marketing (marketing for a cause):"Only you can prevent forest fires.""Just say no.""See something, say something."It even works in song: "You've got to fight for your right to pa-a-a-arty." (How can you argue with that, anyway?)Experiment: Imagine that you're a publisher and somebody shops you a book called "Don't Eat That." Even if Dr. Oz were the author you'd give it a thumbs down. Yet "Eat This Not That," which is not affiliated with any particularly sterling medical brand or diet doctor (Men's Health magazine???), is so successful it's spawned an entire series. All by adding a pos…

10 Minutes to a Killer Brand & Reputation Strategy

I don't have time to read a lot of b.s. and neither do you. So let's not waste anyone's time with puffery. This post offers some thoughts for fast-moving professionals on the nitty-gritty of how to quickly build an effective brand and reputation strategy (BRS) that you can actually use, whether for yourself or your business. (Note: I recommend consulting a legal professional before implementing any sort of BRS strategy, especially where a business is concerned. This post does not substitute for legal or other professional advice.)
This is deliberately short and in list format, so that you can print and digest it quickly and get moving. It will take you about 10 minutes to read this closely, but by the time you're done you'll be ready to map out a strategy that is comprehensive, clear, and actionable.
Note that the following approach will work best if: 
     1) You are building your personal BRS      2) You are in a position to dictate BRS for an organization that is de…

Brand Management and Reputation Management: Separate & Equally Important

This one is pretty simple.
* Brand = the image that people have of you.
* Reputation = whether people think you have integrity.
Here's where the two concepts come into play:
* Good brands require a good reputation, for obvious reasons. Think of hotel brands, for example: The Four Seasons. The Ritz-Carlton. Hilton. Marriott. All of them have both. Or take car brands. Or banking brands. You wouldn't stay loyal to a business that didn't deliver, would you?
* At the same time, you can have an excellent reputation and yet a weak brand. Recall Burberry before its revamp - quality clothes, but boring. Same goes for Talbots. In fact many companies offer high-quality goods that nobody is interested in - because they offer the steak, but without the sizzle.
The one thing that both brand and reputation have in common is that they depend on what the audience thinks of the company. Not on what the company thinks about itself.
The bottom line for individuals and companies alike is that brand…

Are You An Online Or An Offline Brand?

Did you see that item on the news yesterday, about the lady who texted her way into a fountain at the mall?Apparently she was so intent on her device that she didn't look up until it was too late and she got soaked.I saw that on TV and I saw myself in that clip. For if you were to run into me in real life, most likely I would be intent on a screen. Probably two.In fact I would go so far as to say that I actually don't feel comfortable unless I am very close to a screen. Either writing, or scanning Twitter or discussion boards or the news, or even watching a video on YouTube.If not that, then emailing or (occasionally) on the phone.But when it comes to real-world, face-to-face conversation, I actually find it very difficult to interact.I would think that I am odd except there seem to be articles about this everywhere, and I personally observe it too. After work and school, family members routinely retreat to their screens. And very often family time consists of yet more screens…

The Fastest, Easiest Way To A Successful Personal Brand

5 Personal Branding Mistakes You're Probably Ignoring

And now it's time for Family Feud:1. Scuffed up shoes2. Boring bag or briefcase (or a Jansport backpack!!!)3. Puffy coat 4. Overdone, not-done, or chipped-up nails5. Eye mishaps and messups (shmeary makeup at 3 p.m., overgrown brows, etc.)Now you don't need an excuse to fix yourself up - it's an investment in your brand. Get thee to the mall!

10 Ways to Reinvent Your Personal Brand

1. Attitude: Change your mindset. It's about learning, not perfection, and you are a dedicated lifelong student.
2. Confidence: You are no better or worse than anybody else out there. Value what you bring to the table.
3. Wardrobe: Whatever style of clothing you wear, wear it with intention. People notice your clothes first. And don't forget the shoes.
4. Training: These days, education is available freely, and a lot of it is actually free. Take advantage of it. 
5. Social networking: Find websites that reflect your interest and participate in the community. You don't have to be an expert to join the conversation.
6. Profile photo: Make sure your face is visible. Some people tend to crowd the thumbnail image to the point where they're not even visible.
7. LinkedIn: Must be there.
8. Blog: Whether anybody reads it or not, you must write. If nothing else, it will help you learn your subject matter and polish your communication skills as well. (Same goes for Twitter: Provide use…

Ricky Gervais, the Golden Globes and Fabulous "Brand Britain"

So Ricky Gervais got pulled off the stage at the Golden Globe Awards because his humor was too biting. Give me a break.

Americans love British humor and we also can't get enough of smart, direct British entertainers who verge on the rude:

* Look at American Idol without Simon Cowell. I mean, Aerosmith??? What were they thinking?



* Piers Morgan is, without any effort it seems, stepping in where Larry King has stepped out. He and Sharon Osbourne (Brits Brits Brits) took America's Got Talent from a cheesy, kitschy show to a real talent competition that in many ways was actually better than Idol.



* "SuperNanny" (whoever she is) "invaded" the U.S. and showed us how discipline of a bratty 5 year old AND his parents is done. On that episode where she had the kid stay in bed, by himself, all night even though he woke up the parents like 72 times, I wanted to stand up and cheer.



I was watching the actors in the audience alternately laugh and squirm at the jokes and I th…

Watching a Lady in the Bookstore, Who Was Watching Her Husband Read

With Super Bowl 2011 approaching, AdAge highlights the question on everyone's mind: "Could a Super Bowl Spot Make Us Love Our Government More?" (Some prominent ad execs' reflections on this subject will appear in Harper's Magazine in the issue forthcoming January 20th).OK, obviously this is not the question on everyone's mind. But for marketers this is the equivalent of a logical puzzle. Can a single brilliant spot take the government from Scrooge to Santa Claus?As a public servant myself I have a few insights into this subject that may be helpful. (Speaking only for myself and not astro-turfing, I promise.)* * *Consider this story. It is just too good not to share. And it will get us back to the point, eventually.In the coffee shop where I'm writing this, an elderly woman and her husband are sharing a table with me.She walks away to get a drink and comes back with two Izze sparkling sodas. The cans are skinny and colorful and have images of flowers on th…

The 3 Things A Woman Should Never Wear To Work

Women have always suffered for fashion. But too often they actually inflict the damage on themselves. If you care about your career, do not wear any of these stylish items to work.
Ever.

Unless you don't need the job.
1. Odd ponytail formations




2. Flip-flops and all variations thereof
(You're not out shopping in London on a Sunday.)



3. Uneven cardigan
No matter how well you carry it off, a style like this says "I'm a bit uneven myself."




These days you can get away with a lot when it comes to fashion at work. But styles like this push the envelope a bit too far. Top executives do not dress this way!

Remembering the Starbucks That Was

The logo decision, the idea of going global and corporate and bland, is done. I'm not going to waste any more time on this...Let them do what they want.
Before I let this go, though, I'd like to share some things that come to mind when I reflect on what is so sad about this transition. If I had to sum it up, mainly what I see is that Starbucks to me represents the ultimate human brand, and now they just seem completely cold and greedy.
So here goes.
Here's a bunch of memories, of watching people interact:
* A group of elderly men sitting on the barstools, huddled together, talking. Something about how Starbucks is more fun than religious services. Which their wives prefer.
* A couple dressed in outrageously amazing Greenwich Village nightclub wear--in the suburbs among the hockey moms at 9 o'clock on a weekend morning.
* A little boy sipping his Kids' Hot Chocolate, a total "I'm-in-heaven" look on his face.
I've been well-treated by Starbucks' barist…

Idea: A brand of exercise clothes meant for work

Have you ever noticed how uncomfortable it is to gear up for work in the morning? And then to keep up the appearance?I forget about this during the weekend but then get a rude reminder every Monday at about 6 a.m.Having conducted a brief observational study on this I have discovered the following:1. I still can't tell if my suit separates, which are unfortunately separated completely from the original suit in the closet, are navy or black. Thus it is statistically likely, on any given day, that I do not match. And I know it.If we all could wear exercise clothes all day, how freeing that could be! Not only is exercise wear more comfortable, but it is also mainly anchored by the color black, as opposed to a very similar looking navy. 2. White collar shirt = begging the Devil of coffee not to punish you with a spill. Never works.3. The pointy-toed shoes that are so stylish nowadays are so narrow and so high that I get vertigo just looking at them. I often wonder if the shoes pinchin…

Gabrielle Giffords and the Limits of Image-Building

When I heard that Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords had been shot and maybe even assassinated, I froze. Same as what happened on September 11.On the morning of 9/11, I was drinking coffee and watching the Today show on NBC. It was around 9 a.m. Nine-oh-four to be exact. Sunny day, beautiful actually. Clear and super-blue skies. Even if a little cold.Then a plane…flying…World Trade Center. New York. I knew that building. I had been in that building a million times. It was a shiny building but it had a terrible, ghostly aura. Haunted.The attack didn't happen slow motion, in real life. But in my memory it was that way on TV. Trying to accept that such a thing could have happened is like trying to walk through sand, impossibly slow.The frantic dash – is everyone OK? – to account for everyone. Not knowing the scope of the terrorist attack.Fast forward to a year later and the "Beltway sniper." Again, when I learned, my reaction was – well, to process things unbearably slowly. Th…