Does your brand suffer from multiple personality disorder?

courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

Over the course of my career I’ve had the honor of working with some of the best brands around and the most successful were those that had consistency. I’ve also seen many a company that just don’t seem to know what direction to take their brand. It seems that many times the consistency stops at the logo, and even then they miss the boat every once in a while. One of the keys to success is being able to have people remember your brand and spot it at a moment’s notice. This is best accomplished by consistently presenting the essence of your brand in every piece of material your customers see. Whether that be your marketing material, print ads, billboards, you name it. If they can’t pick you out instantly, then your brand isn’t getting its message across. Nothing bothers me more than seeing an ad from a company that has nothing to do with either the company or their brand. They think that as long as the slap the logo on, everyone will understand. This is simply not true. Continue reading

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Sharing is caring – why keeping your ideas to yourself is killing your creativity (and your job)

bartenderI have had my share of creative paranoia in the workplace; you know, when you are afraid to share with others for fear they will steal your idea and claim it as their own. I have even experienced having my designs replicated (design plagiarism). That said, collaboration is the only way to develop meaningful marketing solutions. So why do I still run into those who consider collaboration like looking at their paper for their answers during a quiz? While I really have no answer to why, I do have some thoughts on why it is important to collaborate with others.

Over the years, I’ve been in situations where I’ve worked with teams of designers and on my own. I’ve found that working with a team always spurs more creativity because you get different points of view for the same subject matter. In any conversation you have with someone else, you will get a different perspective from your own, even in the case where you both agree on the topic and the outcome. Everyone has their own thought process and their own way of reaching conclusions. This way of reaching conclusions is a huge part of the creative process as each thought takes you down a new path. Now, when you are working by yourself, it’s easy to halt to the process as you immediately agree with everything you are saying. This can stifle the creative juices and will, in the end, hurt your final product.

Think about it, some of the best ideas came about when a couple, or three, people were sitting at a bar with nothing but a napkin, a pen and a good bartender. It may have started as some political argument, or a discussion about an issue they faced in their life, but that discussion got the creative juices flowing and BOOM, the next great idea happens. I find, in my creative process, that even when I work alone, I need others to help with my inspiration. It may be a phone call to a friend, talking to my family or looking at some other great work someone has done.

All-in-all as long as you are honest, give credit where credit is due and work with integrity, you will always come out better when you share.

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Your Employees are Your Best Brand Champions

You’ve completely revamped your brand, from voice to colors to graphics. You have repositioned your company, but how do you get people to like you, really like you. Well, the best way to sell your brand is through your own people. With social media becoming an integral part of everyone’s life you have the ability to make your people your biggest brand champions and it’s important to ensure your employees are with you on this venture, because if your employees aren’t singing your praises, then no amount of PR is going to make your brand stick.

Jason Falls wrote a great article on this entitled Will Your Company Introduce Your Baristas that talks about the importance of allowing your employees to talk about you online, and the real need to have your employees believe in your brand and product with the line: “If you are afraid of what your employees will say about you online, then your problem is not your employees, it’s you. Hire smarter.” The funny thing about this, is that he wrote this article back in 2010 but it has really been just the last year or so that companies have really embraced this idea of empowering their employees through social media.

The key to this being a success is to incorporate it into your brand strategy. You need to create guidelines about how they represent your brand and ensure that the employees understand, not only the importance of how they present you online, but that they also ambassadors for their company. If you do this in a creative and fun matter you will find that your employees will jump at the chance to be part of it and many times will come up with creative ideas that your marketing team may not have tapped into.

So let the empowerment flow, but be sure that you keep an eye to ensure that your message is getting through.

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Can we do it in the dark?

pool_picLet’s face it, some things are just better in the dark (or at least dim lighting), and while at the gym last week that became all too clear.  I’ve been recovering from an injury so the pool has been my best friend. When I arrived at the gym I found that it was closed for its spring cleaning. It was night and all the lights were off outside, but I saw the jacuzzi was still open and available. This turned out to be one of the most relaxing experiences I’ve had in quite some time. There were a couple of other people in the jacuzzi with me, but since it was dark, I didn’t really eve notice them. I was able to enjoy my solitude even with others around me.

When I think about this, it relates quite a bit to how many of use live our lives these days with many of our social interactions losing their face to face quality as we move through life watching others on Facebook and Twitter. We know those people are there, we can see them, but we don’t have to look them in the eye. We have the ability to live in our own little world where we can interact, ignore, like and dislike without every leaving the safety of our quite secluded darkness.

So I returned to the gym this week intent to have my relaxing solitude experience once again only to face a stark reality. The pool wasn’t closed for spring cleaning anymore and all the lights were on. I got into the jacuzzi and found myself in a circle of people I did not know with all of us simply staring at each other. No one spoke and it brought me right back to what I had been thinking about our lack of real human interaction. Eventually my old non-digital ways resurfaced from somewhere deep inside my subconscious and I struck up a conversation with another woman in the jacuzzi. Turned out our kids had gone to the same pre-school and we knew a number of the same people. We ended our conversation with plans to have coffee next week.

Just goes to show that sometimes shining a little light on things can change your whole perspective.

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Pop Quiz – Are you a Jay Prichett dealership or a Phil Dunphy dealership?

That’s the question your dealership needs to answer after Wednesday’s episode of ABC’s Modern Family that took on the (seemingly) arduous task of buying a car. Phil Dunphy, notorious nice guy, researched, planned and decided on the perfect car for his daughter all before he ever hit the Dealer’s lot. When it came time to sign on the dotted line, Jay, Phil’s ornery father-in-law, jumped in as the old pro in negotiating to save Phil from making a huge mistake by trusting the dealer and his price. Turns out, the dealer was a straight-forward, honest guy who gave Phil the best price on the car. We find this out as Jay insists they “walk away,” thinking the dealer will stop them to negotiate further, which does not happen. Jay then convinces Phil to jump to another dealer in town with the assurance they would give them a better deal. Sadly for Jay, but great for the reputation of dealers, the offer from the other dealer was the real deal, and couldn’t be beat. The dealer wasn’t looking to “sucker” Phil, but looked at him as the new type of shopper who has done the research, knows what the car’s worth and expects a fair price without a hard sell.

See the full article here

Putting our “real voice” out there

Ricky Gervais wants you to talk to him, well, maybe he wants you to listen to him, I can’t really tell! I have been doing some social tech analysis with some of the latest apps, and was surprised that the latest trend is voice. With cat videos taking up so much of YouTube, maybe people are ready for a change. With voice you are able to take on another persona, and some of the apps like Dubbler, even let you change how you sound.justsayin

I’m not really sure where I stand on this as a trend yet, but as a marketer, it’s definitely intriguing. Here is a great article that asks the question is Voice the Next Frontier in Social Media.

I downloaded several of the “just released” apps mentioned in the article and found myself seeing how this could be a great tool for “real-time” testimonials for service companies (like the one I work for), or let’s say you are a restaurant, before sending the first meal out, the chef could take a quick picture and give a quick voice over to that nights special. Three minutes later, you have updated all of your social channels letting followers know “what’s for dinner”. So many quick and inexpensive ways to communicate to the masses!

I played around with a number of these apps and after listening to Tommy Lee scream or say “what’s up” over and over again, I decided the most interesting thing about Just Sayin’ is Ricky himself. His Derek posts are priceless! Dubbler is a tool that’s a little more sophisticated (well, except for the option to turn your voice into a “cat” voice…what is it with cats?!) and I can see using it for story telling, like taking a picture of me with a client and having the client voice over talking about our partnership and what it means to their business. The jury is still out, but I plan on trying these tools out for some low-tech live blogging and just see what happens…stay tuned!

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I Know What You Did Yesterday

i-know-what-you-did-last-summerWhen I Know What You Did Last Summer came out it gave pause to many a teenager (and gown up) that had ever done something wrong (of course not to the extent of the characters in the movie, but still). The idea that someone may know what you’ve done and be able to track you down can be a chilling idea, but for marketers it is the holy grail. I’ve talked about the idea of targeting people when and where they are, especially as it relates to how I want to be targeted, on my terms. I’ve always loved the idea of being able to walk into a store and get a text message saying, “hey we see you are looking at those new shoes, how about we offer you 20% off if you buy those size 7s right now.” I remember working on similar initiatives back in the 90’s with context sensitive selling, which has now become marketplace, but it’s still pretty generic, but that’s all starting to change.

With augmented reality becoming more commonplace and companies focusing on distilling unstructured, big data, down to things marketers can use, my hopes aren’t too far out there. And now I’m looking at companies like PlaceIQ that are taking all that unstructured data about people and what they are doing and turning it into info that marketers can use to determine the best way to target people and market products. And now we are seeing companies like Apple realizing how to get into this game. With their purchase of WifiSlam, Apple is betting that they will be able to work with big data companies to be able to track people inside stores and venues and sell to them on the spot.

As we go further and further into this brave new world, we will really realize that marketers will always know what we did yesterday, today and even the possibility of our plans for tomorrow.

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A Floating “Tech” Incubator – Only In Silicon Valley

incubatorHow far would you go to bring your talent, or idea to Silicon Valley? Apparently for those non-citizens, the answer can be as close as 12 miles away. Blueseed, whose idea has to go under the category of “Only in Silicon Valley”, seems to think they have the solution for those H1 Visa workers – an incubator just of the coast of San Francisco—on a boat. But this is no ordinary boat, more like a floating (non-military community).

Blueseed’s website states: “The location will allow startup entrepreneurs from anywhere in the world to start or grow their company near Silicon Valley, without the need for a U.S. work visa.”

I have to say, I have been watching the incubator trend making a comeback, but I didn’t see this one coming. It is an interesting concept and once again shows the powerful pull of Silicon Valley. So for those of us lucky enough to live and work here (on actual land), let’s take a collective breath and be grateful for what we have…but keep an eye on what’s cooking just off the coast.

incubator1

Read about it yourself. Check out their website:

http://blueseed.co/

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Life of an Artist – Pointers from the past.

IMG_3523When you begin any writing project, it is a good idea to clear your head, define your space, and give yourself a break when you hit a wall. Whether it starts in school, or in the real world, artists (yes, that includes writers, too) are taught to be hard on ourselves. We have all been subject to a brutal critique, or a war-torn bleeding draft; whichever the case, the ego is bound to take a few punches on our way to producing our best work. After recently completing a grueling writing project, I thought I would provide those just starting out with some tips on how to keep going:

  1. Create a creative space – Nothing gets the juices flowing better than creating a space that evokes creativity. Artists thrive in the presence of other great art. Put some prints on the wall of your favorite artists, grab some cool sculptures for your desk and make sure there are lots of colorful playful things around.
  2. Clear your mind and schedule – Dedicate some time to what you are doing. It’s hard to be creative on the spot, you need time to relax and let yourself go. This means that you need to set aside blocks of time where you are dedicated just to your creative process. Make sure it is enough time to get you started as you may find the first hour is nothin but clearing the mind.
  3. Take a break from writer’s block – Writer’s block isn’t just for writers, it’s for any creative. If you find yourself just not feeling it, then take a break, go for a walk, listen to some music or maybe just jump up and down and scream.

These are just a few tips to get you started. Remember, everyone’s creative process is different. There is no one way. Also, here’s a great article on How to Be Creative from Real Simple. Good luck and have fun.

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The Discount War: Are Shoppers Really Looking for Just One Price, No Gimmicks?

There has been a lot of talk recently about how consumers are starting to opt-out of loyalty programs due to lack of true value. I have to say, I have been a little annoyed myself at how some retailers can’t give me the same experience whether I am in the store, or buying online. Why do I continue to keep giving them the same information, and why are they only offering me deals on items I have never bought, nor do I intend to? This doesn’t mean I haven’t found myself purchasing a new brand, a color I don’t really like, or a size that doesn’t really fit, just because I couldn’t pass up the deal. I mean, who doesn’t like a great bargain?

54% of consumers polled feel that programs lack personalized messaging and valuable rewards. — Consumer Insights

Continue reading

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