June 2017

You are currently browsing the monthly archive for June 2017.

Aetna Insurance is moving 250 top jobs and its corporate headquarters from home town Hartford, CT to Ninth Avenue, Manhattan. They are investing millions in a new space and taking advantage of the city’s digital workforce – moving to the northern vertex of what I call the Digital Triangle.

I think the insurance business sees the writing on the wall. As do many other businesses who see automation and AI cutting into future earnings. Hartford, once the center of the insurance industry, has seen jobs reduced (according to the NYT) to 37,000 from 60,000 in 1990. As we get closer to socialized medicine, there will be less need for numbers crunchers deciding on health policy and policies. We will still need to insure stuff, however, but software and intelligence is making that work less labor intensive. Slide rile anyone?

I was working on a project for Duck Creek Technologies over a decade ago to develop an “insurance policy in a day.” All built on unique data feeds.

The innovations in insurance will be tech innovations and digital in nature.

Moore’s law for business, in reverse.

Peace.

 

 

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Yesterday’s post was about adherence to the brand strategy. A great brand strategy is the elixir for marketing success but compliance is the key.

In Nicholas Kristof’s Op-Ed piece in the NYT today he suggests paying Congress based upon Americans’ health. If healthcare gets better, they get paid more. The problem with healthcare, however, is also adherence. You can lead a grandpa to the medicine cabinet but you can make him medicate.

The way we mete out medicine and follow up with patients to insure compliance is an important part of the Affordable Care Act. Phone calls from docs, more office visits – a preventative approach – is how the ACA aims to improve compliance.  In brand strategy adherence, as I mentioned yesterday, a brand steward or brand compliance officer is a step in the right direction, but a companywide behavior change is even more profound. For that, as with congress, perhaps financial incentives are required. At least to prime the pump.  Long term, company growth will ultimately be the financial incentive.

Let’s incentivize compliance. It’s the American way.

Peace.

 

 

 

 

Tags: , , , , ,

Yesterday I wrote about the power of a clear brand idea. In closing I mentioned it only works if adhered to.  Smart people in the brand consulting business do training.  After the idea and architecture are sold to senior management, the consultant goes in and trains stakeholders in its proper use and care. A good practice.

I worked at McCann when they launched the new Lucent Technologies brand and the agency created a wonderful brand book that would live on office bookshelves for years, explaining the proper use and care of the brand — well after training faded. Training plus a brand book has a better chance of working. But there is an even better way.

Who is to be the steward of the brand idea? Usually it falls to the CMO and/or brand manager. But for most companies the task is back-burnered. They are too busy. So the position of “brand steward” needs to be created. A chief brand officer, if you will, but really only at a director level.  Just as legal counsel needs to keep the law in mind, a brand steward needs to own brand strategy adherence. Someone to ask “Does this work deliver our brand claim and proof array?”  

It’s not a hard job. It’s an important job. No one ever got sued for nonadherence to brand strategy. And that’s why there is so much sloppy brand craft.

Peace.

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

There’s a famous David Belasco quote that goes something like this ‘If you can’t fit your idea on the back of a business card, you don’t have a clear idea.’ David was an impresario of Broadway plays.

A number of years ago I worked at a web start-up run but a mad code scientist. He was a drag-and-drop genius. Like many entrepreneurs he fancied himself the head of marketing (my job). He wrote a draft of the home page copy which my pops would have called a “doggy’s dinner” of claims, goals and marko-babble. Suffice it to say it wouldn’t fit on the back of a business card. That didn’t keep us from winning Robert Scoble’s Demo of the Year.  It did, however, keep us from becoming bah-millionaires (billionaire slash millionaire). due to feature creep and poor consumer usability.

A good brand strategy – defined as an organizing principle for product, experience and messaging – will fit on the back of a business card. It might not make you a millionaire, but it will make you an articulate marketer. And hopefully it will make your customers similarly articulate about the product. Of course that’s in the execution…which will be a topic for another day.

Peace.

 

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Every brief is a brand brief…that is, until the brand brief is actually written.  This is my life. A friend asked for some help with his website. I was paralyzed until I wrote a brand brief.  “Can’t you just write copy for the website? Only a couple of pages?” Sorry.  

A brand consultancy asked me to work on an idea for a top six business consulting company – they really wanted a brochure. “Love to help. Gotta do a brand brief first.” Want me to write an ad for your energy drink? Brand brief.

I can’t go tactical — not in good conscience — until I understand the organizing principle aka the brand strategy. I’d have restless leg syndrome. I’d be afraid I would do something to hurt the brand – which would be hard since without a brand brief “Who knew?” what would help the brand. 

So this is my career dilemma. The boulder I must push up the mountain. Wouldn’t have it any other way.

Peace.

 

 

Tags: , , , , ,

I’ve written tons of briefs.  Mostly for ads. The last quarter ton have been mostly brand strategy briefs which create “the organizing principle for product, experience and messaging.” My first healthcare brand brief was for the North Shore-LIJ Health System, now Northwell Health.  Fifteen years and 3 agencies later, I’m still excited to hear my strategy every time it pops up on radio, TV or community newspaper. But my head wasn’t into it when I first put paper to pen – I mean how exciting could a healthcare brand be?

Very.

Healthcare, even back in the day, was a crazy fertile space to develop strategy. We’re not just talking whiter teeth here (done that), we’re talking life. Death sometimes. Family. And powerful emotions.

Since North Shore, I’ve done hospice work, nutrition, obesity, accountable care, senior care, acute rehab and global care. The insights have been some of the most exciting I’ve ever encountered. Healthcare is even more exciting today, if you make it so.

To health.

Peace.

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Home delivery is becoming a retail utility. As we gobble up planetary resources and spit out carbon particulates, smart people are going to realize that multiple deliveries each day make no sense.

The US Postal Service, may pass the UPS truck, who drives by the FedEx van to your front door. The Pea Pod man may be in the driveway while this happens, tipping his hat the newspaper delivery lady, parked in front of Blue Apron meal service. And don’t get me started on the pizza kid.

I see a future where a smart companies like Amazon or Uber or TBD recognize the logistics opportunity of collapsing these deliveries into one.  When we to do a better job of consolidating deliveries, we might take 10% of the traffic off our highways.

44% of US homes subscribe to Amazon Prime receiving free shipping. But these are likely individual delivery shipments. Gas. Carbons.

Where the utility idea comes into play is, perhaps, at the post office. All inbound products are amassed somewhere for a one-time a day drop off. Let’s put some energy into this idea. It’s a planetary problem.

Peace.

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Though I am of the belief that political strategists have a lot to learn from brand planners, I do acknowledge borrowing some tools from politics; for instance, the nomenclature for my “brand plank” framework comes from the political arena.  Reading a political story yesterday, in which the word “agenda” came up, I immediately wondered how to use brand agenda in my practice. Clearly a plan needs an agenda. A strategy needs an agenda. But admittedly, an agenda is for a strategist not a consumer. So let’s think this through.

The brand planners adheres to an agenda.

The brand managers adheres to the planks.

And consumers? Consumers adhere to the (brand) idea.

As I think about incorporating a brand agenda into my process, where does it fit?

Does it sit at the beginning of the brief along with Brand Position and Brand Objective? Should it come in at the end after the idea is born. After the planks are scribed and the target parsed?

And what should a brand agenda look like? Is it single-minded? Longer form? Short and pithy?

Let me sleep on it, but I think it should be the last thing on the brief. And in answer to what it should look like, I’m leaning toward “yes, yes and yes, yes.”)

Peace.

 

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

I like beer. More accurately, craft beer. The wifus was at Costco a few days ago and asked if I wanted a case of Kirkland craft beer. I’d seen them in the store but never paid them much mind. “No thank you” I texted back, but was too late. In the fridge last night looking for a Fat Tire or Montauk, Session IPA there was that case of Kirkland. Doh! So I tried one. Wasn’t bad.

I thought I’d heard somewhere that Kirkland was white-labelled by a more famous brewery. After checking the label it turned out the beer was brewed by an unfamiliar company in Minnesota or Wisconsin. A Google search suggested, based upon where your Costco is, it could also be brewed by Saranac or Gordon Biersch. What evs. Not the point,

The point is, what is the brand name on the label?  And what it says to the brain and the taste buds. Kirkland makes underwear. And olive oil. And batteries (maybe.) It therefore can’t make beer.

The smart men and women at Costco headquarters have to know this. They have a chance to establish a strong new brand in a not insignificant category. Let’s get to work on a new name.  The beer is spoiling.

Peace.

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

« Older entries