December 2016

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Yesterday I wrote about using memes to drive website traffic and brand interest. Today I’ll build on that with a little search tip.

When I first started What’s The Idea? and blogging about branding, I realized it would be smart to tag my blogs with key content points but also with “Whats the idea” and “whatstheidea,” the actual URL  In a meeting with Faris Yakob, a marketing pal, I mentioned my approach, explaining this activity allowed me to tell people to  Google “whatstheidea+ a brand or marketing topic” and it will likely lead them right to my website.  Faris said I was “indexing” content to my website using Google’s search engine.  Leave it to Faris to find the right words. Love Faris.

By always posting with my brand name — it helps that I have over 2.100 blog posts — it has created breadcrumbs to my site all across the web…wherever Google goes.

Every brand must use this slippery slope to their site. And every brand must post.

Peace.

 

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No one has done more for the medium that is Twitter than “The Donald.”  Listening to a snippet of the president elect yesterday, it made me feel as do many of his sound bites. I get the sense someone feeds him a disruptive and memorable sound bite (or he comes up with it himself) which he repeats 3 times. Sans evidence or support. Then he moves on. These sound bite are what hit the news. The approach is perfect for this Fast Twitch Media world.

In social media, sound bites can become memes. Memes get passed around as fast as jokes and news. And they can certainly last longer.  I built a consulting business around brand and marketing memes.

Have you ever gone to concert and sung along with the artist, but only able to sing a few of the hook lines? On the web, the memorable lines are the memes, everything else is flah-flah-flah content.

So, the social media tip is: “Know how to build memes.”  Memes that point back to you or your company.  Memes that others will replicate and share. Google reads the web every minute. And you can’t buy off Google.  You can sometimes trick it, but it can’t be bought. Memes create traffic.

If you are good at creating memes, endemic to your brand, if you use them and own them, you will win in social media. Just ask “The.”

Peace                                                                                            

PS. For more social media tips, Google “Social Media Guard Rails” (a meme).  

 

 

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In a piece of 2014 research conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit on the subject of customer experience, the top box response to the question below was about message uniformity.

I know to the hammer everything looks like a nail and to the brand planner everything marketing thing looks like brand strategy, but this one made my day. Brand strategy, defined here at  What’s The Idea? as “An organizing principle for product, experience and messaging,” is the key to message uniformity. Sure “voice,” “tone” and “personality” are important (ish) but the substance of the message is how one builds brands.

Find your claim. Identify your three proof planks, make sure they are key care-abouts and brand good-ats, and you have a strategy.

Stick to it and it will stick to your customers. And prospects.  

Happy holidays to all. Peace.

 

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Here’s the thing. Hyundai did an amazing job in America with its long game of winning minds and market share. The low price point, 10-year warranty is the stuff of which Harvard Business School cases are made. I say long term, because that’s how you build a car brand – over time.  It’s a considered purchase, an expensive purchase. Hyundai did it the right way and consumer perceptions of quality and value were growing more and more positive.

Then came Genesis. The car designs were amazing. The ads, off-the-charts well-conceived. But the brand strategy was lacking. America wasn’t ready for a luxury brand from Hyundai. Just wasn’t. (And don’t go all focus group defensive on me.)     

When Peter Arnell did a branding assignment to make Samsung more a mainstream electronics brand 30+ years ago, it felt wrong. But it worked. The timing was right. The proofs were baked. Today Samsung rocks.

Genesis might have worked had it not been a Hyundai brand. Or if introduced 10 years down the road. But Alas, Poor Yorik, it was not.

Peace.

 

 

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Following is Jack Dorsey’s off-the-cuff articulation of Twitter’s brand strategy. “To be the fastest and best service to show what’s happening in the world.”  It was stated in a NYT article discussing the executive departure of Adam Messinger, Twitter’s chief technology officer. I very much like it. It’s focused. It’s organically tied to Twitter’s best feature. It works from a macro point of view and micro point of view.

Twitter is like New Coke.  If it were to go away or change, there would be a revolt.

I’m sorry to hear huge investors want more stock growth. I’m sorry senior officers want to leave. I’m sorry the leadership isn’t what it might be. But Twitter is bigger than all those things. Twitter is the world’s instant mouthpiece. In 750 years when the planet’s denizens are all speaking one language and share the same color skin Twitter will still be around. And Mr. Dorsey’s brand strategy will still hold.

Peace.

 

 

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Just finished reading a story in The New York Times about the Robin Hood restaurant chain in Spain run by Father Angel Garcia Rodriquez, who operates a pay-for establishment during breakfast and dinner only to serve the homeless for dinner. The dinner crowd is served by waiters and waitresses, on real plates, using nice cutlery, not plastic. For free. In addition to the charity, his wish is that the experience will engender hope in his nightly diners. This planned act of kindness is popular and successful and may be on its way to Miami, Florida.

Acts of kindness and selflessness create powerful feelings for all involved. Selling is not a human trait. Charity is. Every brand should ask itself “What is the nicest thing we have done for customers this year?” If the answer is a one-day-sale or a pre-printed holiday card the brand needs to reexamine its approach.

Planned acts of kindness should be requisite for all brands. The financial officers may not always see the value, but they’re not building brands. They are building bank accounts.

Peace.

 

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Positioning Roulette

I came across a brand position tool today called Positioning Roulette. It’s a lovely (sometimes I like to sound British) business idea by a couple of commercially minded planners Ulli Appelbaum and Vincent Schmidlin. Designed to make brand discovery easier. it comprises 29 questions, many with multiple parts, that when answered will give the strategy runner enough information to make smart brand strategy decisions. And ultimately lead one to the strategy itself.

I love this thinking. Positioning Roulette is complex, a bit like DNA mapping, and will certainly provide enough grist to build a brand idea.  And even more fun, especially for DIYers, they’ve productized the idea into flashcards which you can buy on the web.

I’m not sure I’d use the word roulette in the name as it feels very game-of-chancey, but let’s not fuss. Frankly, that’s the point of this post. It is game of chance. With 29 brand related outputs, how do you build the idea?  Ahhh, that’s why you need the experts. It’s the cull-through or what I call the boil-down that’s the hard work. This tool or tool kit will make that very obvious to those in need of brand strategy help. Don’t try this at home. Brilliant execution. Smart men.

Peace.

 

 

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The difference between brand planners can be found in their respective abilities to do something “smart” with the info and data they collect during discovery. One planner’s questions will differ from then next, as will their observation techniques and data sources. Yet once all the hunting and gathering is done, it’s time for all planners to think. And apply. To fill out the brief, as it were.

My framework is different than that of some brand planners and the same as others. I use one claim and three proof planks as the organizing principle.  How I get to the one and three model, however, is through an exploration of “evidence.”  Evidence is not hearsay. It’s not marko-babble. It stuff. Actions.  Existential results. Proof.

When Eva Moskowitz stands on the steps of city hall, alone or with thousands, that’s evidence. When a prepubescent cancer patient has part of her ovary preserved in liquid nitrogen at age 9 so that 15 years later she can gave birth, that’s evidence.

I’ve read hundreds of brand strategy documents from so-called brand planners and am appalled by how few are evidence based. Tring to change that one brand at a time.

Peace.                 

 

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I help companies help themselves. Brand strategy isn’t a tool.  It’s an organizing principle for tools.   The thing about brand strategy is, if you don’t believe it and follow it, it’s worthless. If you don’t enculturate it into the company to truly drive innovation, experience and customer facing communications, you’re not in compliance. Effectively you are driving the car with no destination.  Or a destination of “make more money.”

I see lots of consultants on Twitter who start their profile descriptions saying “I help companies optimize their quack quack quack…”  Brand strategy puts the keys in the company hands, not the consultant’s. Stakeholders who understand this are the ones who succeed.  

When you sign up for a new website or app you have to read and acknowledge the disclaimer.  As a business practice, I should have customers sign a disclaimer statement that they will actively comply with the principles of the brand strategy.

Hmm. I like it.           

Peace.

 

 

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Heart and Humor.

I sadly see a future, probably way before the sea levels rise, when advertising becomes almost completely programmatic.  Not just ad buying but creative. Why is this? Because we can. Sports stories are written by computers. Machine learning is to the point where self-driving cars can avoid accidents (in labs) without human control.  And marketing metrics are plotting success at rapidly growing rates. 

Advertising agencies are expensive. Employing humans to write and produce mediocre ads has been a billion dollar industry for ages. The shops that do good work probably amount to 7% of all shops…and even their outputs aren’t always perfect.  So marketers will ask, “Why not let the algo write my consumer pitches? “Why not put the money saved toward the bottom line or into more media?”  “Why pay a premium for people, when machines can do mediocre?”

This is going to happen. Trust me. But the reason if won’t work well is the algo can’t nail heart and humor.  Or surprise and artistry.

In this future there will be machine advertising and a little bit of old school bespoke advertising. Priced accordingly.

I can wait.                                                 

Peace.

 

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