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Lots of people talk about company culture. Like it’s a good thing. I’m not so sure. Culture, of course, is a good thing. But company culture, in and of itself, can be limiting. When you put a bunch of likeminds in a room the tendency is to swim together.  Nothing wrong with a little corporate water ballet, but I’m one that likes things a tad messy — where ideas and ideals are challenged. That’s how innovation happens.

So what’s better than corporate culture? I’m sure you saw this one coming: brand strategy. That so-called “organizing principle for product, experience and messaging.”  

When a commercial maintenance company uses the brand claim “Navy Seals of Commercial Maintenance,” supported by brand planks “fast, fastidious and preemptive,” company employees are able to build a certain, almost predicable value. Unimpeded by a set of cultural beliefs. Brand strategy is freeing not limiting.

It’s okay to study corporate culture but it’s way more productive to study and set brand strategy.



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I’m a big Lindsey Vonn fan.  It borders on creepy but not creepy enough to visit her Facebook page. Yesterday, Lindsey announced she pulled out of the Sochi games.  I learned about it on Twitter. She in in my Facebook feed, I think, but doesn’t show up so much as she’s kind of busy.

As an adult and marketer, I have started to coalesce my thoughts on social networks. Readers know I’ve long said Facebook is for friends and school peepsLinkedIn is for people with whom I have done business (ish)Twitter is for all of the above plus likeminds and admirees.  Twitter is where I share my total persona. Some politics. Some personal philosophy.  Some troll-able business scat (not the dung).  It is where I hope to learn from others, often those unknown. Twitter is my most expansive social network.  

Facebook is only as good as the shares — and sharing is magnified based on how close you are to the person. I’m not going Gaga over a 7th grade crush showing pictures of her kids in Clearwater (Facebook). Your feed is watered down if it has too many uninteresting posts. Burger King is offering $4.00 duck burgers. That said, I really don’t cull the “follow herd” and that’s an issue for Facebook.  Too much noise in the feed.

What to do about it.

Remove unwanted friends, peripheral people and brands from your Facebook community.  You can always add them back.  You can always find the brand if you need it. Play LinkedIn by the book and only connect with those you have done business with. The rest is spam.  And fly like a birdie on Twitter. Note to Twitter: don’t extend beyond 140 characters.  Where does this leave marketers? Better off. With more traffic to their own sites and ads that are more powerful because they are ads – not friends. Peace.


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The Jimmy Kimmel’s You Tube video about the Twerk-and-ass-fire, or whatever it was, as of yesterday had 12 M hits. The video explaining it was a hoax had 9 million. Cool idea for the today’s media socialists.  The idea was just that, an idea…an attempt to get noticed.  Heightened by pop culture.

I love reading Cathy Horyn, The NY Times fashion writer, during NY Fashion Week.  (Sponsored by Mercedes??) She reminds me how difficult and amazing the creative process is.  And how powerful opinion leader coverage can be.  These are things brand planners care about. Things ad agencies (didge included) also should care about. 

Agencies could take a page from clothing design houses.  They should occasionally open up the creative process to random creative development — a la what some tech companies do, allowing employees to dedicate 10% of their time to personal free-flow creative projects.  Agencies should just have a place where people of all disciplines can meet and play and invent.  I’m not saying creative for creative’s sake and slap a logo on in; I’m saying play with the new tools, audiences and insights then see how they might apply to specific client business problems. Where unlikeminds can exercise.

Ad agencies today use a serial approach and it stifles creativity.  Just as clothes designers who play around the cutting table with color, drape, pattern and motion, ad shops need a place to play a little more. Feel me?


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The evolution of web traffic started with technology. Search begat the first big rush — but of course there had to be something to search so HTML really started it all.  After search came social networks (MySpace and Facebook) which allowed people to create websites or webpages thanks to templates and databases.  Allowing everyone (not just coders) to create a web presence opened this door. Then came music sharing sites and other media upload sites like Flickr and YouTube. All technology enabled.

During the build out of these tech-enabled web sites, communities began to emerge.  And so came enthusiast sites: Tech enthusiasts, movie enthusiasts. porn devotees, daters, news junkies. Those interested in healthcare. Communities sprung up, big and small, but mostly big.

Currently, we’re on an entertainment jag, with games and virtual goods, random video chat and anime mash-ups drawing the attention of the masses and venture money. The iPazzle (technology) is creating some new applications for sure, moving everything toward a single device, but it won’t explode web traffic exponentially.

So what’s next? What human need is not being met?  When we get tired of entertainment what will we seek?  What will generate massive traffic and engagement on the web?  It will be micro-communities. Noah Brief and Piers Fawkes might call them LikeMinds. For me, I’d love to chat with kids who went to Amityville JHS, in school the day Martin Luther King was shot. Or people who saw the Allman Brothers early show at the Fillmore East in 1970 the night they shot the inside album cover. Maybe we are not like minds, but we’re like experiencers… at a certain time and place. There’s an idea for Google or Bing, the search experts. Micro communities. Peace!

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We had a tragedy in NJ this week.  A Rutgers University student took his life after having an intimate relationship with another dude secretly videotaped by a roommate and posted to the web. Prior to taking his life, the young man spent some time online talking about this invasion of privacy, presumably seeking advice and counsel from other young gay men. Sadly, it did not work.

What makes the web important is that you can go online and find communities of people with whom you can open up.  Because we’re human you’ll get good advice and bad but at least you can chat with those sympathetic and experienced – and not feel alone.  Mom’s with kids with allergies, for instance. This is a very good thing and we can thank the web for it.

In the case of the Rutgers man, the online community he turned to did not change the outcome but it could have.  The web may be vilified as the place to “learn how to make a bomb” or “place for pedophiles” yet that is glass half empty stuff. (I love Danah Boyd for her undying perspective on this.) Finding and talking to likeminds privately can be a very good thing.

Teen Suicide.

If this thesis plays out, the teen suicide rate will reduce in time.  People by nature are good — even callous, hurtful teens. To those kids on the website who tried to help the Rutgers student, I applaud you. You were doing goods work. Don’t stop. Peace!

PS. “Doing Good’s Work” is a line I’m recommending to a nonprofit in Brooklyn. (No poaching please.)   Is it better with our without the apostrophe?

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