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7 Year Brand Itch.

LinkedIn says it’s my 7th anniversary at What’s The Idea? – so I guess it is. As someone who counsels others on brand building, it might be a good time to look back on how What’s The Idea?, as a brand, is doing.

The brand came to life as a blog while I directed marketing for Zude.com. Zude competed with Facebook in the social media/social networking space when Facebook had 18 million users. Blogging was at its infancy and blogs about branding were not at all common. That said Ad Age had a counter on the top 50 blogs, which I never broke. Some big time talent headed the list. A guy can always aspire.

I had a 1,000 hit day once, thanks to a tweet by Steve Rubel, which made it to Lifehacker, giving What’s The Idea? global relevance (for a few days). When I left Zude WTI became the name of my consultancy. It already had some equity, the name along with the words “brand consultancy” provided a good Is-Does, and it posed the question most marketers ask when strategizing about selling: “What is my focus?”

Over the 7years I’ve had the opportunity to work with a number of name-drop brands and some small lesser known brands. I love them all. My job it to help organize the brand and bring it to life. When a brand is alive, it can be liked or disliked. If the latter it can be fixed. If it just lies their like a lox, as most do, it has nowhere to go in the mind of the consumer.

So here’s too “life,” to another 7 years, and to lots more brand building for What’s The Idea? and its clients. Many thanks.




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(To be read in Alan Iverson’s voice.)

The collaborative economy is bullshit. Sorry Jeremiah.  The craft economy is not bullshit. Social business is bullshit. Social business design is not.  You see talking about talking or talking about doing isn’t doing. Doing is.  WTI readers know I’m all about organizing a brand before putting it into action, but that presumes action.

Imagine living in a hunter and gatherer society and having to listen to a guy is sitting on a stump telling everyone how to hunt, without him ever picking up a spear or arrow.  Or listening to him tell people how to cultivate without getting his ample butt into the fields. There are tons of people today in the social media realm who love to paste other people’s stuff. Collaboration?  Tons more who love to bloviate without really giving away actionable secrets.  Collaboration economy? Is it collaborative to write a vanity press book on collaboration?

Here’s a Benjamin Franklin rule.  Hang out with doers.  People who lead by example. Who get their hands dirty.  You will easily recognize them…they don’t talk about preparing to get their hands dirty. Or hand-dirtying processes. They don’t share charts on hands and more charts on dirty. They are too busy in the muck.  Learning by pushing and selling and talking about it to other doers. 

Please don’t take this screed as being about autonomy and working in a vacuum. I am just suggesting a business person with a plan, a hypothesis, and a doer mentality is a faster learner, better teacher and someone who makes better decisions.  The economy is not driven by collaboration. The economy is driven by people who put the puck in the hoop/net/goal. Peace.

(PS. Jeremiah is really, really smart. I’m leaving his last name off, because I don’t want to pizzle him off. But he knows consultants are paid for tangible recommendations, not collaboration.)

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Under Armour is introducing two new sneaker designs (May I call them sneakers?) this week in an attempt to increase its share of the $22B athletic footwear (sneakers) market.  A market, by the way, that was only about $3B in 1993.  The TV campaign handled by Twofifteen McCann and Digiteria for digital offers a lot of smart tactics: the director of Friday Night Lights, a YouTube takeover to reach the younger buyers, limited distribution to build demand, Cam Newton, and an idea that ties sneakers to sports action – FootstepsAs smart as these tactics are, they feel like a pastiche of forced-together marketing tools from an Effie Awards Annual. I suspect they will work, however.

First and foremost though, one must ask if footwear is a business Under Armour wants to be in.  I say no. And I’ve said so before in WTI.  Sunglasses? No as well. UA founder Kevin Plank, in his heart knows this.  He owns a franchise that is now being diluting.  You can’t keep sticking the same tea bag in new water.  The company already owns fast twitch muscle, form fitting wicking shirts but will lose that ownership as it takes its eyes off the ball. Wicking sneaker tops?  Not so sexy.  Lindsey Vonn. Oh yeah.

Mr. Plank’s next move should be into form fitting shorts and shirts for the fashion conscious market.  Leave the kicks to Nike.  Or start a new footwear endemic company  This is one brand extension that might sell some shoes near term, but is going to turn Under Armour into a brand in decline overall.  And it’s sad.  Stop playing with feet! Peace.

(Picture from NY Times.)

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