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Showing posts from February, 2011

Why High-Tech Companies Have Low Brand I.Q.’s

Source: Flickr - Caption: "Famous Female Inventors: From an early age Amanda Theodosia Jones showed great promise. Among other things she devised a motivational method to dramatically speed the learning in young children to ride a bicycle."

I will admit it. I am a geek. I get obsessed with little technology things.Often I have big tasks to complete. But I postpone those tasks so I can do things like install Chrome add-ons. Even more frighteningly to those who know and love me, I can go on and on about these little technology things. (Strangely it seems to get worse the more I know someone doesn’t want to hear it.) For example – and I don’t work for Google nor am I paid to promote their products - I have been proselytizing for Google Voice for weeks now. Even though the voicemail transcription is bad. Even though I can’t get the conference calling feature to work. Even though I don’t do anything with it, usually, except make phone calls. I just love tinkering with Google Voice.…

Value from the Customer's Perspective

Photo: FlickrSomeone left a flashlight in the recycling room yesterday. Sort of gross, but I decided to try and rescue it. It was just so Jeep-looking (yellow and black).Plus it was free. I sprayed some Fantastik on it, replaced the batteries and voila! It was clean and it worked.That flashlight was a value.Sat on the train the other day and looked up at the advertisements. There was the one for McDonalds' dollar menu. It said something like, "You're a great negotiator. We'll give it to you for only $1.00."Pictured up there was: coffee that tastes watery (I've tried it); a processed white biscuit with sausage inside (I eat kosher but even if I weren't – just the sight of it made my arteries scream for mercy); and other stuff loaded with simple carbohydrates and sugar. The kind of food that makes you get fat and go flying.The kind of food that wouldn't be worth it even if they paid YOU to eat it.McDonald's dollar menu is not a value.Another food ex…

New brand opportunities in the DIY culture

Do you subscribe to Lifehacker?

I do. I love that site. That's how I got to the truly idiotic video above (don't even start it until 1:20), which provides a short how-to guide on taking a 10 cent coffee cup and crafting it into a holder for a $400 smartphone.

Whatever! It's so stupid. But I love the thinking behind it. I love DIY culture. There are so many different ways to get through life easier, cheaper, and happier overall. As the New York Times reports, recent research suggests that ordinary individual people - not companies - are more and more innovative, companies less and less so. According to research at MIT:

"The traditional division of labor between innovators and customers is breaking down.....the amount of money individual consumers spent making and improving products was more than twice as large as the amount spent by all British firms combined on product research and development over a three-year period."

Lifehacker often has tips by such ordinary fol…

"Sloppers, Supersloppers, Slimers, & Sponges": Get Creative Now - Or Technology Will Eliminate Your Job

If you are doing anything repetitive, it is susceptible to automation.
Automation means the machine does it, not you, and you can find a job somewhere else - involuntarily.
The divide between employees who add value ("creators") and those who don't ("servers") was highlighted in this week's Wall Street Journal in an op-ed by Andy Kessler, author of Eat People: Unapologetic Rules for Entrepreneurial Success, where he breaks down "servers" into four categories.
(Lest anyone think that I am standing on a soapbox, I read this and winced because branding professionals are one of them.)
1. Sloppers - people who move information or things from one place to another without adding any value - e.g. I send the form to you, you send it to someone else, it gets approved. Not brain surgery, that.

2. Supersloppers - people who add an illusion of value to products through branding.
3. Slimers - people who earn their living in finance - because it's getting easier a…

Thanks to Google, I Remember Their Names.

These are some of my relatives, on my father's side, who were murdered in the Holocaust.

Thanks to several visual and content databases created in partnership between Google and Yad Vashem, I finally learned what names were. After an entire life of not knowing, because it was considered something we should not talk about - should move on from.
The photo database was announced on International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
My father's family was from Romania. They were (are) Hasidim. A sect called "Satmar." They keep to themselves, mostly, and are very religious.
I still don't know much about why they do the things they do. I just know that they were nice to me when I spent time with them.
I would like to know more.
Due to Google's efforts, there is a YouTube channel dedicated to testimonials as well as a searchable photo archive online.
I couldn't find them there, they were listed in a database on Yad Vashem's site.
Sometimes I hear the anti-Semitic accusation…

The Wounded Child and The Personal Brand

Jamie Lee Curtis and Sigourney Weaver in one movie - a good reason to watch "You Again," out on Redbox this weekend, and it was worth the price of "admission." Painfully I laughed and winced as well as the ensemble cast, led by talented Kristen Bell, conveyed the secret struggle many of us go through as we overcome the petty, constant emotional scarring that was high school.
The opening sequence of the movie hit especially close to home. When Bell tells a group of PR trainees that "You can't control what others do to you, but you can control how you react to it, and that is the essence of public relations," I literally felt like she had reached into my high school yearbook. (I mean, it wasn't that bad, but let's just say there's a reason why the tome isn't coffee-table reading in my living room today!)
Aside from learning that my life is a Hollywood cliche, I gained some insight from the movie about a topic that has been percolating in m…

Personal branding tip: 10 Ways To Make Sure Your Voice Is Heard

Lately The Huffington Post has been posting some great blogs on communication by psychologist Robert Leahy (@AICTCognitive).
It's funny how most of us are so bad at communication yet we think we are so good at it and there is "nothing new under the sun" to say on this topic. So untrue!
For example I am paid to communicate. And yet I have learned that I can sometimes be vague when I communicate verbally. That is a big deal!
I've also learned that there are times when it is more efficient for me to communicate in person (brainstorming sessions can't be done by email) while other times writing is much better (strong opinions are good in blogs, but sometimes off-putting in person).
Obviously understanding where and how you communicate best has a major impact on your personal brand. Although the proliferation of social media encourages us to think that everyone is interested in our every little thought, the opposite is actually true. Sometimes the more you say, the less p…

The financial benefit of diversity as a strategy

It has been my observation that companies treat diversity as a compliance tool rather than a strategic one. Legally they do what they must, and culturally they box it into the "defensive measures" category of reputation management, doing just enough so that people can't say that they are biased.Wow is that shortsighted (dumb).Real diversity would stomp out all the meetings where homogeneous (or brainwashed, or intimidated) people talk about the weather and vacation, drink coffee with packets of Equal and those too-little half-and-half cups, stuff their faces with muffins and bagels, then "debate" and "settle" on the equivalent of junk-food ideas before heading off to the next meeting, then lunch and the gym.The cost of a wasted meeting = hourly salary x # of people. Imagine $50 an hour x 10 and you have $500 right there. Was it useful?The cost of a poorly thought out initiative or program, of course, can run into the millions, billions, even trillions…

10 Amazingly Simple Ways to Brand Your Company Effectively

If you know what you're doing, branding doesn't have to be complicated or even expensive. Here are some ideas to consider:
1. Buy 10,000 rubber bracelets in your brand color, promoting a cause, "sponsored by [you]" Obviously you should also promote the cause on your website, in your literature, and even donate money to the cause periodically so that the promise is real. The smart thing about doing this is that you associate your brand with social responsibility, you make your employees (that includes you) feel good about working for you, and you get 10,000 people to wear your bracelet. Plus, once the bracelet is printed, a few thousand more isn't going to cost much more at all.2. Sponsor home parties promoting your brand. They had an item in the Wall Street Journal the other day about home parties that go way beyond Tupperware. You can look it up if you want but the point is, people are social, word of mouth sells things, and nobody has any money these days. A per…

The Right Way to Focus for Brand Leadership

Most people understand in a theoretical way that focus is important in order to build a brand. However, they don't always actually implement that focus because they are afraid of losing business.The key mistake there is to confuse "focus" with "selling only one thing." The fact of the matter is that the more focused your brand is, the more things you can actually sell. This is because the narrower your focus, the more likely it is that you completely occupy a certain place in the customer's mind. Once you have "permission" to live there, you can become part of the customer's psychological life as well as their physical one, interrelate your functions with their other activities, and upsell from there.In an ideal world, you start with a functional benefit offering - e.g. "Nike sneakers are better for running" - and then move on to an emotional one - "Nike = achievement." Soon everything stamped with the little Nike swoosh co…

Health Food Marketing Tip: Target Kids, Not Parents

A grocery store I go to recently decided to cluster together health food in a certain section of one of their stores, near the front.
This is a fantastic development both for me, because I know where to find it, and for the family, because they are becoming conditioned to understand that most of the time, healthy food is going to make them feel better than junk food will.
Thus they are beginning to demand it. And now, they know exactly where to go to find it - rather than the esoteric places I tend to haunt.
Here are 3 products that are specifically aimed at non-health-food types, that the family loves:
1. Morningstar anything 2. Gardein beefless tips (also the chicken tenders) 3. Nature's Path instant oatmeal with flaxseed
I'm sure there are others, but it's been an interesting progression to see how health food marketing only works when the family really wants it.

Personal Branding & Your Health: 15 Actions To Take Right Now - That Actually Work

Talk to your doctor as you are working out your lifestyle routine, especially if you have any conditions, are aging, or are doing what you think you should be doing but it's not working for you. Sometimes a health condition can mess you up. For example, I recently read that if you have hypothyroidism, raw spinach, cauliflower, cabbage and broccoli can interfere with the functioning of your thyroid – that was pretty shocking! Or you may have insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, an endocrine imbalance, celiac disease or even food allergy. Many people crave bread and cheese because they're allergic to wheat and dairy.Totally love yourself, all the time. You may be fat and feel lousy. You may find yourself horrendous to look at. You may have tried, and failed, many times before. Forget all that and give yourself a big hug. Think about it this way: If you do anything in life as a way to punish yourself for "not being good enough," you can count on failing big time.Focu…

It Takes A Dictator To Build A Brand

Great brands are not built by a committee of disinterested parties. They are hewn from the psyches of extremely obsessed people who narrate the story of their creation down to the smallest detail.

This is so obvious to me yet in real life many brands behave in such a way as to distribute the thinking. They think that they are companies, not brands (mistake #1); de-fang their leadership (mistake #2); try to ensure "buy-in" through numerous committees, working groups, and "task forces" (mistake #3) announced with grand fanfare yet destroyed by no follow-through (mistake #4); and jumble up their potentially powerful messages with corporate gobbledygook (mistake #5).

All of this is a huge mistake. Great brands are not about being politically correct. They are not about being all things to all people. They are about doing one thing inordinately, incredibly well. Usually because someone at the heart of the brand has an almost insane dedication to the brand as a personal ca…