“If everyone loves you you’re doing something wrong”
Anyone that knows me knows that I’m greatly influenced by Seth Godin. One of the ideas he often talks about is the concept of “shipping.” Shipping is getting work done and out the door to consumers. More importantly, he believes we should ship OFTEN and CONSTANTLY. No matter what your occupation or industry is.
This isn’t necessarily an excuse to do lousy work, but more about getting stuff done quickly and in the hands of your market as soon as it does what it needs to do. Then when a new project comes around get that ready and shipped quickly also.
But why is shipping so effective? The first reason is that it is a way of constantly testing your product. You ship, listen to the feedback on what went right and what went wrong, and then you’re ready to implement for the next time you ship. On an on, constant steady improvement with objective feedback(aka sales).
The second reason, and just as important in my eyes, is because shipping tells a story. More specifically, it tells YOUR story. We can trace the story of Apple by looking at their catalog of products starting with the Apple I computer and continuing up to the present day. Both the successes and the failures. This blog is another example. It may not be perfect, but it represents me at this moment in my evolution. My story.
Humans are suckers for stories, we like to see/hear every step in the struggle. Gory or glorious. Because that’s what’s required to tell a story, and that’s what creates a brand. A story. Not just a beginning and an end.
Sweat the small stuff. Communicate the wrong message with any part of your organization and you make your branding job that much harder. In football the analysts focus on how well the Offense is performing, or how well the Defense is shutting down the other team. But close games are usually decided by the Special Teams. If they don’t maximize yardage, then they’re working against their own team’s Offensive or Defensive effectiveness. Same with brands.
Employees. Your employees and your organizational culture determine the quality of work your organization achieves. Work tirelessly towards aligning their outlook with what your brand communicates. If your brand cares about the environment, make sure your employees care about it too. I’ve personally witnessed many companies whose products preach being green, yet their office has no recycling bins for used paper. Hippocrisy at its best. And the staff takes note of this. Their statements about the company to their peers now become empty. With time this detracts from your purpose and brand impact.
Management. Yes, they should live the brand as well. Richard Branson lives for adventure. Virgin’s businesses consist of adventure. Steve Jobs wore jeans and sneakers because Apple stood for anti-establishment. Bill Gates dressed like an overworked accountant for a reason. Windows at one point dominated corporate computing. See a trend?
Correspondence. Your email signatures are another chance to brand yourself. Seems straightforward, but if you aim to be edgy, add some edge to what your email signature says. Don’t miss any opportunity.
Company site. Does your brand evangelize your customers’ right to self-expression? Then think twice about limiting the types of comments that can be Continue reading
TGIF. And because of that I want to give you some reading to do as you pretend to be doing work in the office when you’re really hoping 5pm gets here quickly. Here is the weekly installment of informative News Articles, Posts, and Videos from the Brand Management world that I read. Please let me know what I overlooked or what else I should be reading (MORE LINKS AFTER THE JUMP):
Here is this week’s installment of the informative News Articles, Posts, and Videos from the Brand Management world that I read this week. I encourage readers to add to the list in the comments section. Let me know what I overlooked or what else I should be reading (MORE LINKS AFTER THE JUMP):
What makes people want to follow a brand? An infographic explanatory attempt (partly pictured above, full post HERE)
Branding Forward Project report by Fast Company & Mechanica <—Very Interesting read, and very polarizing. What side are you on?
If you don’t think that reasons matter, then you’ve been living on another planet.
Sometimes the reason WHY we do something is more important than WHAT we do. And this is no less true in the branding sphere. While a good product is the physical manifestation of the value you offer, your brand is the soul. The soul of your company has to be infused with meaning and purpose, otherwise you’re back in the business of selling commodities; the purgatory of brands everywhere.
Apple is obviously one of the first companies that come to mind. All their products are infused with meaning and purpose. Their products ooze out “coolness”, they’re not just looking to provide you with a good product that has a lot of capabilities, they are striving to be different, to challenge the square “inside the box” thinking that PCs were known for. Their “Think Different” campaign from 1997 stated this clearly. So called “me too” products have no place in their production lines; instead Steve Jobs uses his motto “Put a dent in the Universe” to push the brand into trendsetting territory time after time.
The reason WHY you do something is so important that at times it even overshadows a poorly executed or terrible product. We see this often in music. There have been Continue reading
Here is the second installment of the really informative News Articles, Posts, and Videos from the Brand Management world that I encountered and/or studied this week. IGNORE AT YOUR OWN RISK. I encourage readers to add to the list in the comments section. Let me know what I overlooked or what else I should be reading (MORE LINKS AFTER THE JUMP):
Focus Groups: Truly Useful in Brand Innovation? <–Very insightful opinion on Innovation
Next Economy Education (via Brand Noise)
Amex gets it. They just do. If you’re aiming to be recognized as the cream of the crop, then you have to surround yourself with all that is affluent and opulent. You have to immerse yourself in that world, associating your name with those that share the same ideals, while distancing yourself away from anything that doesn’t personify your brand’s beliefs.
This is exactly what they’ve done for decades now, and counting. The executives at Amex, specifically CMO John Hayes, should be dishing out daily relationship advice on their own daytime talk show, because they’ve been responsible for some of the most successful marriages in history. Branding history that is. When two great brands come together to enshrine themselves properly in the public’s mind, it’s like a match made in heaven.
At the end of every summer Amex puts branding “into play” at the US Tennis Open. They’ve been presenting sponsors for 18 years now, with no signs of a breakup any time soon. Tennis fans are more affluent than the general population, yet they get very few opportunities to see world-class pros play. Therefore, watching a single match leaves a distinct memory in their minds. Amex amplifies their customers’ experience around the beloved sport. One of these forms is through exclusive advanced pre-sales of tickets to attend the US Open. At the tennis center they then enhance the experience by providing Continue reading
Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are. -John Wooden, UCLA Basketball Coach 1948-1975
A great quote by one of the greatest sports coaches of the era, as well as one of the most inspiring leaders. And although this quote puts in perspective how we can become honorable individuals, in today’s world it only paints half of the picture. For those of us motivated to become successful within AND without, we should also subscribe to the ideology of one of the all time great philosophers:
“The way to gain a good reputation is to endeavor to be what you desire to appear.” -Socrates
Socrates would’ve been a personal branding expert. He understood that what others think of you is important. In essence, your brand is important. We must take charge of our own personal brand, because in today’s hyper-connected world it usually precedes us. If we don’t do it, then we’re giving others more leeway as to what their perception of us is.
A great place to start to take control of your brand is online. Joshua Hays’ blog has a great series of posts that outline how to start your journey building your online presence (read part 1, part 2, & part 3). He gives some great tips such as:
1)Establishing the same username across the web, starting with your personal domain; which would ideally be http://www.yourfullname.com (i.e. alexcespedes.com, georgewashington.com), and then establishing the same user name for all the social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Youtube, tumblr, etc. A great tool is namechk.com. It allows you to check availability of usernames on ALL major networks at once.
2)Carve Keywords for yourself, dealing with your Continue reading
The video above is part of a great post by Derek Sivers on leadership, but when I first watched it a month ago I noticed there are a couple of great takeaways that can also be applied to the branding world. Here they are:
A bold brand initiates inspiration. Being quiet doesn’t motivate others to give you a chance.
2-Be easy to follow.
This hearkens back to my post on What Makes a Strong Brand where I pointed out that the best brands always have a familiar component to them. Humans resist too much change at once, your new offerings must fall within a reasonable locus outside of your audience’s comfort zone. Just like the dancer in the video was performing very simple “dance” moves with his arms and legs, the value that your brand offers should be easily understood by your target demographic with the necessary steps to participate clearly outlined.
3-Nurture your first few customers. These are your brand evangelists.
Make sure that you nurture your first few customers as equals. Make everything about the movement you’re trying to create with your product, and not about your brand. Humans love to feel part of something, so make sure you’re not putting yourself on a pedestal looking down at your peons.
If your aim is to build a strong following for your brand, you must show off your customers as much as possible. The world needs to see the movement in action. In the video, everyone sitting on the lawn was able to see the crowd growing and gaining momentum, this is key.
Creating a movement energizes your brand’s efforts. We can take cues from many situations in life, even a dancing nut. Observe, Absorb, Employ.