My brand briefs are filled with heart-warming, heart wrenching twists of a phrase. They are meant to engage the Amygdala. Trust me, they work when it comes to selling brand strategy (one claim, three proof planks.) But unless you are Bob Dylan no consumer is going to remember your poetic brand claim and proof array. They may remember a song from an ad. They may remember a tagline plastered everywhere locked up with your logo. But for lasting impact and indelible brand strategy, choose deeds over words. Deeds and evidence.
The New York Yankees are a premier sports franchise because of their 27 world championships. Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center is “the best cancer care anywhere” (words) because its physicians have more experience treating cancer (deeds).
When companies bring their brands to me for help positioning, I look for deeds, evidence and proof. That’s the ore that precedes the jewelry.
Tags: amygdala, Bob Dylan, brand, Brand Planning, brand planning tips, Brand Strategy, deeds versus words, Memorial sloan kettering cancer center, ny yankees, one claim three proof planks, whats the idea, whatstheidea
In the toast at my daughter’s wedding I plan on sharing a smidgeon of marital and parenting advice. A brand planner by trade, I make a living observing behavior then packaging it into small, memorable bits of advice.
Toast advice number 1. Don’t use the “H” word. Both my kids should remember this one; it’s good counsel for marriage and parenting. The “H” word is the ugliest of words. More harmful than the “F” bomb and all of its scatological allies. The “H” word is the root of the word hatred… and no good comes of it. Even if you don’t like peanut butter – perhaps it causes a physical reaction – it’s not worthy of hatred. Nor is a poor movie or book. Nor a villain. These are things one might not like, but certainly don’t merit hatred. (How many Eskimo words are there for snow?)
Hatred and the “H” word are a blight on humanity. Yes, humanity kills. Yes, we destroy mother earth. We are jealous, we are covetous. But we needn’t minimize the root cause — using the word in our everyday language.
Start fixing ourselves. Stop using the “H” word.
Tags: brand planning advice, Brand Strategy, the h word, wedding toast, whats the idea, whatstheidea
I’d like to say when it comes to brand planning my philosophy is “listening” but it’s not. Many will tell you the best cultural anthropologists are listeners, observers and silent recorders of behavior. They are.
Many brand planners today are expert listeners but not all see. Watching confirms what the ears hear. Observing can add great texture to the person interviewed. One question I used to ask job seekers when interviewing in the ad business — after a few minutes of the interview — was, “Tell me about me.” (I almost invented the “me too” movement with the question one time, but that’s a story for another day.) The intent was to see if the candidate had any observations about my office, tidiness, books I read, etc. Non-verbal learning.
Anyway, I’ve found that the quietude that happens when one only asks a question and listens can suck the air out of an interview. A good brand planner animates. Laughs out loud. Play acts what a consumer might say or do. It’s okay to interrupt and interject. Most of all a good interviewer shows interest. Makes the candidate some alive. Adding a pulse to a convo can move things in new directions. Also share from your own life, even things a little personal; it peels away some layers.
Listen for sure. But probe and bait for surer.
Tags: Brand Planning, brand planning discovery brand strategy, brand planning tools and tricks, cultural anthropology in branding, whats the idea, whatstheidea
My baby girl is getting married in a couple of months and I’ve been wondering what to say in the toast. Stuff about her? Everyone in the room knows her. Stuff about her soon-to-be-husband? Many will know him better than I. Should I lead with a joke? I’m funnier extemporaneously than when I write material.
I’ve also been thinking about the father daughter song. Should it be a song we have in common? From a concert we attended? Should it be about a thoughtful topic or life-lesson? Will listeners parse the lyrics and read too much into it?
Then it hit me — my toast should be a tad instructive. I am, after all, a father who has been married for over 30 years. I’m also a brand planner by training – someone paid to observe and make actionable important insights. So, how about I give this whole marriage thing some thought and share a couple, two, tree insights about the successful marriage practices. Hmmmm. I like it. So long as it isn’t about me. So long as it isn’t about my wife. Ish.
I’d like to share with my daughter something that lasts. Something that adds value to her relationship. Something that can be passed along the family tree.
I have two months before my presentation, I mean speech. Stay tuned for the insights.
Tags: brand planning insights, Fathers wedding toast, whats the idea, whatstheidea
Not sure if this is an apocryphal story or not but it certainly sounds legit. There is a 10 A.M, Delta flight out of LaGuardia weekdays that flies into Bentonville, AR home of Walmart. Anybody who is anybody in retail, I’m told, has been on this flight known as the Bentonville Bus. If you want to sell to Walmart, you need to meet their buyers which is best done in Bentonville. 60 Minutes did a report recently in which they stated Plattsburgh, NY gobbles up a lot of electricity used to power server farms mining Bitcoin, but I’m guessing the computing power churning in Bentonville is equally massive.
Bentonville computer nerds spend their days running sales reports, projections, analyses and other retail magic, which they send to the desks of the buyers in preparation for hour-long meetings with sales VPs arriving daily on the Bentonville Bus. Oh, to be a fly on the wall of those meetings. The marketers on the Bentonville Bus are a Who’s Who of American industry. You can bet they have a story or two. (Might make a a great book.) The Bentonville Bus is to American business what the All-Star game is to baseball.
Tags: 60 minutes, Bentonville bus, Delta airline, Plattsburgh NY bit coin, sales vps, Tyson foods, walmart, Walmart buyers, whats the idea, whatstheidea
The most powerful cognitive trait on the planet is learning. Animal’s learn where to feed. Insects learn how to procreate. Children learn to associate pain with danger. Learning is everywhere. Except in brand strategy.
At What’s the Idea? learning is a fundie. It has been a peeve of mine for years that most advertising is about claim. Our cereal is tasty. Our bank service is excellent. Our insurance is 15% cheaper. The claims are selling advantages, but not learning. Learning requires that the brain processes something and comes to a conclusion. Learning takes up new space in the mind.
In grammar school students are more likely to remember something they process and logically understand, rather than something experienced through rote recitation. That’s why the What’s The Idea? brand strategy framework relies on proof planks. Proof of claim allows the brain to learn. It created critical thinking around a brand claim. It’s evidentiary.
Branding lasts when there is constant learning. When learning is refreshed. It’s a challenge, I know. But worth it.
Tags: brand plank, brand strategy claim and proof in branding, claim and proof, whats the idea, whatstheidea
Google is an interested animal. I play it like a violin, but it takes practice. The key to using Google to your advantage lies in selecting and posting phrases. Unique phrases. Ehr-ee-body plays in keywords. Phrases, however, are ownable. To start, find what you feel is a meme-able phrase and post it to your site. Then post it again at a later date. Basically, plant it in web soil.
The longer the phrase the better, but you can accomplish success with even a few words.
Google the phrase one claim three proof planks, it comes up What’s The Idea?. Before the phrase resolved to me. I’d have to put it in quotes: “One claim three proof planks.” Before creating gravitational (Googitational?) pull on the phrase, it was likely highjacked by the term “planking,” the core exercise that was so hot for a while. Today the phrase is mine sans quotes.
The more obscure the phrase, the more likely it will come to you. It can even resolve to you very quickly.
Google Campaigns come and go a powerful brand idea is indelible. See?
Now meme on. Peace.
Tags: brand memes, Brand Strategy, campaigns come and go a powerful brand idea is indelible, googitational, Marketing memes, one claim three proof planks, whats the idea, whatstheidea
The Northwell Health logo replaced the North Shore-LIJ Health System logo a few years ago, following a well-funded name change project. I worked on the North Shore brand shortly after North Shore University Hospital and Long Island Jewish Hospital merged to form the ungainly named North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System. In between those events, about 10 years ago, the directors and board members agreed to drop the word “Jewish” and go with North Shore-LIJ during another logo refresh.
All history, provenance and histrionics aside (and it’s a fascinating story, probably would make a good movie), I’m here to talk about the new Northwell logo.
At first glance, the 14 (or 15 in some cases) colored triangles making up the mark set your hair on fire. Who does a logo with all those colors? With all those different size shapes? When logos or brand marks were first crafted (Bass Ale?), they were likely carved or burned into wood necessitating simplicity. Then Gutenberg came along and logos had to be printing-press ready. Business cards and the yellow pages then arrived, shrinking logos even further. But today, in the age of PNGs, hi-def mobile cameras and 3D printers, creative minds aren’t bound so. Reproducing a cacophony of color shapes and sizes may make the head spin but they are recognizable…and that’s the name of the game. The geeze in me says “no,” the aesthetic says “yes.”
Tags: bass ale logo, Long Island Jewish Hospital, north shore university hospital, North shore-LIJ health system logo, north shore-LIOJ Name change, northwell health logo, rethinking logo design., whats the idea, whatstheidea
It only takes one meme to move a market.
I’ve been in advertising, communications and marketing since 1978 (Geezer) and know one of the quickest ways to success is a big communication idea that captures the interested of the masses. If you capture consumer attention, they will sit still long enough for you to deliver something of value, which in turn, hopefully, gets them to buy.
Back in the day, big ad campaigns or big news headlines got people to pay attention. Today online, big headlines and big campaigns are harder to come by. On news sites, every headline is a big headline. Roseanne. Anthony Bourdain. Comey. World Cup. And the ads online are tiny. There are no big campaigns online.
In digital marketing the communication of choice is the meme. A good meme acts like wildfire. But most memes are consumer created. Marketers aren’t good at them. Memes are antithetical to advertising and digital agencies because they can’t get paid for them.
Agencies need to work hard to create marketing memes – then charge for the virality. Charge for the impressions earned. That way they’ll take them seriously.
Today’s marketing world is not optimized unless it takes the meme seriously.
Tags: brands and memes, Marketing memes, memes in marketing, Roseanne. Anthony Bourdain. James Comey, whats the idea, whatstheidea, world cup