branding

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If I say Las Vegas shooting you know what I mean. If I type “Las Vegas sh..” into Google, it auto defaults. In 5 years if I say Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino are you likely to think of the same carnage? Hopefully not.

The words “nine one one” have a very different meaning than the words “nine eleven.” Words high-jacked by violent human and natural disasters affectively become brands. Disaster brands. There aren’t going to be a lot of babies named “Sandy,” for instance, on the south shore of Long Island for a long while. Columbine, Pulse Nightclub, the list goes on.

Disasters are happening more and more in our society. And how they are propagated and recorded in history are mostly determined by the media. If the media overuses Mandalay Bay as shorthand for the Las Vegas massacre, it will completely ruin that brand. As of now, it’s still a tossup whether Mandalay Bay can last as a brand.

Media people tend to favor location-based naming. Yet even that can put a blight on a community, read “Amityville, Horror.” Sandy Hook has etched it name into our collective minds…and the school was torn down. Newtown, CT the location of the school is slowly healing as a disaster brand. 

I don’t know the answer. I just want to suggest a more sensitive approach to creating names for these violent disasters.  

Any thoughts?

Peace.

 

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A term of art in branding these days is “elevator speech.” It is a reference to a concise explanation of purpose. David Belasco, a great theater impresario, once said “If you can’t put your idea on the back of a business card, it’s not a clear idea.”

The thing about elevator speeches is that they can be poorly constructed. They can meander. They also can be incomplete. Last week I met someone who referred to herself as an educational consultant, when in fact, she counseled high school students selecting colleges. I thought she provided consulting services to K12 and universities. Poor elevator speech.

I get around this by coaching clients to think about their Is-Does: What a brand is and what a brand does.  In this day and age of tech start-ups, it is sometimes hard to know if you are dealing with a company, service, software, hardware or some combination thereof…often referred to as a platform. You are likely to find a company’s Is-Does in the first sentence and “About” paragraph of their press releases. Also on their website About section. But even there, they are not always clear. Not always succinct.

Undercurrent’s Is-Does: “Strategic partner for the 21st century” is a good one. Pregnant with meaning. My Is-Does for What’s the Idea?: “A brand consultancy” is good one, but lacks a benefit a la for the 21st century reference of Undercurrent — read innovation.  

A good way to judge your Is-Does is to think of it as you would a 5 second radio sponsorship. Fill in these blanks. This program brought to you by Brand X, the ________, that ________. Hmm. Maybe I should change Is-Does to The-That.  

Get your Is-Does right…so others can. It’s the first step in good branding. Peace. 

 

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The two most important elements in marketing are claim and proof.  It’s how you build businesses. Simplified and organized, this claim and proof approach is the foundation of branding.  One claim, three support or proof planks.

One of my kids just graduated college and is on the interview circuit. Loaded for bear, somewhat unfettered, he believes a willingness to work hard, learn and focus on achievement are the qualities that will land him a job. He’s not wrong. But these things sound like your average cover letter. When shared face-to-face over a desk, they are a bit numbing.  My suggestion was “don’t forget the proof.”  Follow up each claim with examples. 

This is what marketers often forget.  More often than not marketers and their agents remove proof so they can shoehorn in more claims. It’s claim-apalooza out there. All theater, exposition, and context – no proof.

When a job seeker organizes what s/he wants the interviewer to know about themselves and sells it with stories about real event it can be indelible.  Same with brand building. When the dude jumped out of the capsule up in space and free-fell to earth while drinking Red Bull (JKJK), he evinced an energy rush second to none. 10 million media impressions be damned. That was a powerful moment of proof. Peace.

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i vs. Smart.

There are two brands in the mobile phone business iPhones and smartphones. In the U.S. and U.K. the “i” is winning.  In the ROW (rest of world) the smarts have it. Smartphone is a generic term and more often than not includes phones with Google’s Android operating system. That said, most people just call them smartphones not Android phones. 

As Microsoft starts to improve its standing in the U.S. with its own Windows phone operating system (7 or 8?) it, too, will probably be referred to as a smartphone.  Remind you of Mac vs. PC? 

What I enjoy about branding – way more than using paid media to display my ideas in market – is to listen to the market, hear how it speaks and thinks, and use the market’s own language to  gain conversation.  iPhone is paid, smartphone is organic. Mac is paid. PC is organic.

Xerox is paid and organic.  

Apple is a lovely brand.  It has taught the world how to design and market. The world is catching up. It needs a new I, me thinks.  Peace!

 

 

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