Category Archives: Brand Building

Can I Ask You For Something?

I just stumbled upon this video by Amanda Palmer, it’s worth 15mins of your time. She outlines her experiences on the relationship of an artist and a fan, and how she overcame her initial feelings of guilt when “Asking” for help. It all boils down to two way engagement and building trust.

Rather serendipitously Seth Godin blogged today about evoking trust, which ties in beautifully with Amanda’s TED talk.

What’s the Cost of a Bad Brand and What’s a Good One Worth?

What’s your brand really worth to you? If you’re Coca Cola it’s a heck of a lot, in the past year alone Brand Finance estimate that Coke lost $9bn in Brand Value! In comparison BP and it’s recent Gulf of Mexico disaster lost $3.4bn in brand value last year, only a third of Coke’s loss? Does anyone recall a major Coke slick last year? So what did Coca Cola do so disastrously wrong last year? Not much actually, it appears to be more down to a shift in consumer interests, moving to more healthy and non-carbonated drinks, ouch!

Nokia took the biggest hit of anyone losing $8.8bn in Brand Value last year! The Top of the crop is Google, with a Brand Value (BV) of $44bn

But what does this all mean? To get a bit of perspective, Coke’s BV is now $26bn = 37% of it’s $70bn Market Capital (MC),  Nokia’s BV is $9.6bn = 28% of it’s $27bn MC, Google’s $44bn = 30% of it’s $143bn MC… while the likes of Apple, (whom appear to be in the press all the time) have a BV of $29.5bn which is only 12% of it’s $244bn MC, meaning Coke’s Brand Value is worth 3 times as much to it’s share price than Apple!

While ExxonMobil (the worlds largest company) with a MC of $312bn, has a BV of $14bn, which is just 4.3%

So as you can see, brands are very important, but they can be far more valuable to some companies than others.

more info here

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Do You Know Where You’re Going?

Alice asked the Chesire Cat, who was sitting in a tree.
“What road do I take?”
“Where do you want to go?” the cat asked.
“I don’t know” Alice answered.
“Then, it really doesn’t matter, does it?” said the cat.

If your destination or goals are vague, then the decisions you make will reflect that.

You can apply this philosophy to numerous aspects of your life, be it your job, your personal life, your retirement plans etc unless you’re clear on what you really want, then you’re unlikely to make informed decisions that will help you achieve something truly fulfilling, you need a compass to point you in the right direction.

In Branding terms, these are referred to as your Core Values… as I’ve written before “Your core values are the very essence of what you or your company stand for, strip away everything else and the core values remain, they become your compass in good times and bad times, they guide your decision making process” more on that here

Applying this sort of branding technique to your personal life may seem a bit strange at first, but it could really help, especially if you’re stuck in a rut, or find it difficult to make decisions. Core Values are a reflection of who you are, your essence, you don’t make them up, you discover and refine them.

As David Eagleman explains in his book Incognito, “The next time a friend laments that she cannot decide between two options, tell her to flip a coin. The important part is to assess her gut feeling after the coin lands. If she feels a subtle sense of relief at being told what to do by the coin, then that’s the right choice for her. If instead, she concludes that it’s ludicrous for her to make that decision based on a coin toss, that will cue her to choose the other option”

Why? It’s all to do with the fact that the unconscious mind has already made the decision, it’s just that your conscious mind, which is much slower, hasn’t caught up yet, in this instance, your unconscious mind represents your Core Values. So if you’re someone that usually goes with your gut feeling, great, but wouldn’t it be good to refine the process!

Which came first the egg or the credit card?

I’m often surprised by how many times I’ve been asked by friends & clients to help them name a business or service, as they believe, once they have the name sorted, everything else will fall into place, but this isn’t the best way to do it (but it can work sometimes). What comes first the product or the name? (when I say product I’m referring to your company, services, products), hopefully you will say the product.

Depending on how you market yourself, ie your company name explaining what you do as a company may be vital, or it may be irrelevant. eg Kwik-Print informs you that they’re a printers and they’re quick, while the name MacDonalds has nothing to do with fast food. You should try avoiding negative connotations within the name, and if you’re using a descriptive name you need to get to the point, plus whatever you end up with it should be as memorable as possible or even unforgettable.  Of course you can break all the rules and end up with a name that’s descriptive, an oxymoron, has negative connotations yet still unforgettable. I own no paper™, it has the word “no” in the name (can’t get much more negative than that!), it’s descriptive yet an oxymoron, as it says exactly what we don’t do as a company, we don’t do anything that involves using paper, yet it’s unforgettable.

So if you agree that the product comes first, then surely the next step is, defining your goals, your service offerings, your branding etc well, not exactly, the most important aspect of your business, no matter what industry you’re in, it’s your customers, without them you don’t have a business, plain and simple, so what your customers get out of your product is key to everything. The more you can make your name about what they want & not what you do, the better. Here’s an example, if the benefits for you customers is to help them in their day to day lives and to help them achieve new goals etc, then you’re obviously having a positive affect on them. So, you should be focusing your naming efforts on the outcome for your clients and not on you & your services. You should be looking at the positive results of your service, not the service itself, your audience & customers will only be interested in the results, so that’s where you need to hook them.

Here’s a list of things you should consider before finalising your name and in this order as well.
Your Mission
Your Vision
Your Core Values
Your Unique Selling Point
Your Emotional Selling Point
Your Brand
Your Tagline / Strapline
Your Identity
Your name (Yeah sorry about that, but it’s way down here!)
Your Logo

Briefly, your mission sets the goal for your organisation, it’s purpose. Your vision is more personal and motivational, a driver to help you fulfill your mission. Your core values are the very essence of what you or your company stand for, strip away everything else and the core values remain, they will be your compass in good times and bad times. Before I move on it’s important to understand the importance of this. Your values become the very glue that holds your company together, your values are things you either know already or discover, you can’t invent them or fake them. Plus they must not be confused with your service offering (ie Disney’s core purpose is to make people happy, not build theme parks or make cartoons). Your unique selling point is what makes you different from the competition. The emotional selling point is how customers will feel about using you or your service. Your Brand is your promise, it reflects your Core Values, but note your brand is what your customers think & perceive about you, it’s what they walk away with, it’s important that you live up to your promises and deliver them. Your tagline, supports your brand, it says in words what you can’t necessarily express with a picture or icon. Your identity is the visual element that supports your brand & it’s message (note that, audio, smell, taste & touch are elements to some companies/products identity & brand). Then we get to the the name & eventually your logo.

Of course you can always ignore this entirely, and just come up with a name that has absolutely nothing to do with your product, then market the hell out of it. Egg did it with their credit card & bank services, it’s not unforgettable, but it’s certainly memorable, plus it’s been very successful. Of course marketing alone won’t make your business a success, it’s your customers that make your business a success, so focus your efforts on your customers, as they’re the best viral marketing campaign you can ever have, remember, make your business viral, not your marketing.

Defining a Fan

A short film exploring the roles of fan culture and their importance to brands.

Personally I think Aaron Bogucki nails the definition of a fan by saying “A fan is someone that finds something so inspirational that they alter their lifestyle to support it”

An important takeaway is that big brands need to respect that for someone to be a real fan and possible advocate, they need to do so freely and without pressure or coercion.

created by we are amplify

Don’t Build It and They Will Come, 90k Of Them!

That appears to be Martin Hasek’s philosophy, the creator of Noteslate, and it appears to be working. I posted about the Noteslate back in January, I was sceptical then and unfortunately my scepticism was founded, as this CNN report confirmed shortly afterwards, but that doesn’t appear to have stopped 64,000 people clicking the like button on their homepage, 10,000 following them on Twitter, plus over 17,000 optimistic hopefuls liking the Noteslate Facebook page (there were only 500 when I hit the like button!), most of which are keen to see a real noteslate in production, although some are flagging a bit now on the Facebook page, and posting negative and frustrated comments.

So why do this? Surely Martin is going to anger a lot of people when he comes 100% clean, or will he? After all he’s proven without doubt that his college industrial design project (apparently that’s where it all started) has a market, one that may make investors very interested in the concept, although without any IP protection, I’m not sure how interested they’d be… although if you do the maths, based on the original price of $100 per unit (highly unlikely), that’s still 90k fans & likes x $100 = $9m… not bad for vapourware! Plus if Noteslate don’t release it, someone else undoubtedly will.

Either way, I’d personally love to see a noteslate type of device, without doubt I’d use it everyday, it dovetails perfectly with our no paper philosophy, we’d certainly look at ways of communicating with it and automating syncing with our own systems.

One thing Noteslate highlights and proves to us at no paper, is that people have no problem imagining a world where they don’t use or rely on paper, of course we’ve believed that for a long time, but it’s nice to know others believe and feel the same!

more dis-information at noteslate

more information at no paper

9 Out of 10 Cats With Opposable Thumbs Prefer Facebook!

I caught this advert at the weekend, I thought it was wonderful… although it didn’t make me want to rush out to buy some Cravendale milk! Also worth noting is Cravendale have created an online campaign around this advert, encouraging viewers to follow them on Twitter or like their Facebook page, buts what’s telling is that they have 33,ooo Facebook fans but only 3,500 Twitter followers, or another way of saying it, is that 9 out of 10 cats with opposable thumbs prefer Facebook! (maybe I’m getting my advertising messages confused!)

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Practise What You Tweet

I read this article yesterday about Evan Williams, co-founder of Twitter, and how he rarely tweets, sure enough he only has 128 tweets! which was a little surprising, especially as he’s now head of product development… but as he says he uses Twitter for consumption not broadcasting… although he follows just 1,284 users, while he has 1,257,315 followers (that’s almost a 1,000 to 1 ratio).

As the post highlights, a lack of engagement or passion in another of Evan’s earlier startups Odeo, doomed it from day 1, even though he was able to source funding, he just didn’t appear compelled or interested enough in it to keep it going. I have no doubt Twitter will continue to thrive with or without Evan’s tweets, but it is interesting nonetheless.

To build a company you really have to believe in it and use it’s services. The same is true when building your brand, you have to live and breath your ethos. I posted a few days ago, that you have to be authentic, if you’re not, and you can’t convince yourself, how will you ever convince those you connect with or your customers!

I’m in the early stages of building and launching a new company named no paper onto the world, as the name implies, we don’t use paper. I live and breath this ideology, I only purchase eBooks, no paper books, I have Kindles, Sony eReaders, iPads, iPhones, laptops all choc full of eBooks. Our iPads and iPhones are our daily notebooks (FYI there’s a no paper iApp coming soon). We have a no paper office policy, no printer, no fax machines, no paper notepads in meetings or on people’s desks. Paper invoices are ignored and go unpaid until we receive an electronic version, we do not accept cheques only bank transfers for payment, most if not all business is handled electronically. That may sound draconian at first, but when you adhere to the rules not because you have to, but because you want to, you realise they weren’t rules, they were advice. Then a wonderful thing starts to happen, you become emotionally engaged in the ethos, it becomes visceral (more on that by Anne), you start putting forward your own suggestions, it’s no longer just part of your life, you become part of it. This harks back to the definition of leadership

At home I don’t send letters, birthday or xmas cards and my family and friends know not to send them to me either (I’d rather a phone call or text, costs less and I find it’s more engaging and personal), all my utilities, bills and bank statements are electronic or online, I’m converting all my old paper bank statements, utility bills, insurance records etc into electronic versions (and experimenting in the best way to reference and store them, again something we’re working on at no paper), I refuse to have junk mail and freebie newspapers pushed through my letterbox… I could go on, but you get the idea, I live and breath the brand values of my business… as the saying goes, “If you truly want to understand something, try changing it” but that also works in reverse, “If you truly want to change something, try understanding it!” the only way I can truly understand a life with no paper is to live one… if I can do it, then hopefully I can encourage others to do the same, then in turn they will encourage others.

The AAA of Branding

It’s been a while since I’ve sat down to write anything about branding so I thought I’d dip my toe into it again and start with a short rule of three that successful brands follow.

Attractive: Your customers need a reason, a desire to engage with you. To be drawn in by your brand story and ethos

Authentic: You have to be genuine, you have to be true to what you say. Live your brand by practicing what you preach

Applicable: Your customers need a reason to use you or your service, to make a connection with you, you need to make a difference in their life

that’s all for today, more soon

Freedom of Choice / Sodapopstop.com

If I lived in LA, I probably wouldn’t have any teeth left as I’d be in this shop every single day!

you can’t help but admire and be drawn to this guy as he explains how he’s made his passion his life… as he says “People say you’re here and work all the time… I don’t work, I just play all day long… it’s flavoured water with a lot of bubbles… if I was to define it in one word, I’d say happy”

“I went out and and found 25 little brands of soda, and put them on the shelf and people would ask, what are you doing with all those old things that don’t sell? but when I got to 250 it was, where are you finding them?… now we have about 500 different sodas”

“When you give your customers choice, they’re buy it… the important thing is to set yourself apart and provide your customers with something that nobody else has”

this is a great example of the long tail in action

sodapopstop.com

Organic Fusion Engineer

I dislike job titles (especially inflated ones), I never use one myself, your actions define what you do for a living, not your business card.

If you excel at your work, you won’t require a job title, you probably won’t need business cards either, as everyone will already know what you do & who you are, as you’ll be the person they’re talking about & respect, the person they go to when they need things done really well.

There are times you can put an inflated job title to good use, when you want something to talk about or set yourself apart from the rest of your field, Organic Fusion Engineer is a fun job title I saw on a carpenters business card, I used him because he was recommended, and I’ll always remember the work he did, but I’ll never forget his job title!

what’s the f’in diffference?

here’s a great quote, unfortunately I don’t know who said it… “I wish to do something Great & Wonderful, but I must first start by doing the small things like they are great & wonderful”

As I’ve posted previously, don’t become indifferent to your customers or clients, you could lose them not only because  you did something wrong, but because you didn’t do enough.

Size really does matter, something insignificant to you, may be all important or a stumbling block for your customer.

These things can be difficult to spot, no matter how hard you look, you won’t find them all, plus you’ll never be perfect, so listen to what your audience is telling you, and if they’re not telling you anything, ask them! don’t fool yourself by thinking their silence is because you’ve got everything right, it’s probably because they’re already looking somewhere else.

And make sure you’re asking the right questions, don’t ask, “Is everything OK?” ask “What is wrong & what could we improve?”, don’t ask “Why would you choose us over a competitor?” ask “Why would you choose a competitor over us?”

So, what’s the f’in diffference? Is it the little things? the small stuff? yes… but it’s the small stuff you don’t see and has to be pointed out to you, like the extra “f” in the word difference, that’s the f in difference, don’t expect to find them all on your own.

Le Roi est Mort

In my Digital Brand Protection days, I had a presentation based around ROI, but it had a twist, as on the last slide I revealed I hadn’t been referring to “Return On Investment” as everybody thought, but “Risk Of Investment” that got their attention!

Upon jumping back & going through the presentation again, the audience understood exactly where I was coming from & the importance of what I was saying. Don’t get seduced by only looking at the high returns, weight up the possible costs of damaging your Brand & reputation, especially if you are aligning yourself with another brand.

There are times you have to take the risk and go with your convictions, that’s where RONI comes in “Risk Of Not Investing”. Seth wrote a great piece this morning that’s entirely about RONI.

Yes, absolutely, you could lose everything if you risk it all and go with your gut feeling, but you could still lose everything if you do nothing. If a competitor is hell bent on pushing forwards when you’re content to sit still, don’t be surprised when they win.

“You can never defeat a man, with nothing to lose”

So go for it! what have you got to lose?

A Road to Nowhere

I was in central London the other day, I was in no hurry to get to my next destination, but it started to rain, so I jumped on a bus. After a couple of stops I noticed a tourist having a hard time getting on the bus. His English was fine, he knew where he wanted to go, he was on the right bus, he had money to purchase a ticket, yet he couldn’t get one!

Why? because you can’t purchase a ticket on this bus, you have to purchase it before you get on. So here is a guy that is willing to pay for a service, he has the money in his hand, he’s willing to hand it over in the most logical way, directly to the driver, the guy offering the service, but someone, somewhere (more than likely a bean counter) decided that it would be more efficient & save time, if consumers pre-purchase their tickets, thus freeing up the driver’s time & making the schedule run more effectively. But that’s no good to this guy, he has to get off, find a ticket machine, purchase a ticket then get back on, this process takes more time, so the driver decides that waiting isn’t an option and drives on, leaving this guy behind as he purchases a ticket!? Not a good scenario, the driver could have waited, he didn’t, he had a schedule & job to keep, the passenger could have purchased his ticket beforehand, he didn’t, but he didn’t realise he had too. So who’s to blame, the driver, the passenger, the bean counter? The answer is all of them & none of them!

You could argue that the passenger should have read the signs & bought a ticket, or that the driver should have waited, or that the schedules should allow for this, or that the bean counters shouldn’t get involved in the first place, and you could come up with plenty more reasons, but essentially this approach doesn’t work for a simple reason, because it’s been designed to improve bottom line & efficiency for the bus service & not effectiveness & convenience for the customer, do the latter & you’ll have more passengers than you can handle, which is good for business & something you can solve, so that’s a good thing!

Another example is the incredibly useful & easy to use iPhone app MyRail, that gives real time rail time tables & automatically locates your nearest station using the built in GPS. But it doesn’t work anymore, not because the software is broken, but because  National Rail Enquiries has stopped the app accessing their database. Why, who knows! So rather than allowing me to use an application that is easy to use and convenient for me, with the sole purpose of allowing me to know what time the next train is so I can purchase a ticket. They would rather I logged into a website that doesn’t work on most mobile devices, and when it does make it so tricky & time consuming to get the info I want, that I’ve missed the train, so decide to jump in a cab instead!

This example is madness, why aren’t they looking at the bigger picture, the opportunities are their… if someone wanted to leverage your business or offer a service to your customers that you’re not offering, don’t stand in their way, embrace the fact with open arms, they’re helping you sell your product and they’re servicing your clients where you’re not. If someone is that much of a fan about your products don’t stop them, encourage them, you’ve more to gain than lose!

Straplines: What’s the point?

It depends on your name, your offerings, your products & your services. Sometimes the name says it all ie: “Spit ‘n’ Polish Cleaning Services” doesn’t need much else, they’ve already said what they do in their name, while “Sparkle” would benefit from something like “Cleaning That Dazzles!”

In the second example, you don’t know whether they’re a cleaning service or a product, but that would be obvious from the setting, in a shop, you know it’s a product, on the uniform of someone cleaning an office, you can assume they’re not promoting the products they’re cleaning with.

A really good strap line can become more memorable than the company itself, sometimes evolving into the collective psyche to become a generic term that’s unforgettable, but at the same time you can’t remember which company created it. A few months ago I was driving behind a truck, I cannot remember what the company name was, but that doesn’t matter as I’m not their target audience, but I’ll never forget their strap line, plus I knew instantly what they did. It wasn’t a glamorous profession, they emptied sewage & portable toilets, but, the strap line was humorous, simple, direct, explanatory & above all unforgettable, want to know what it was…

We’re Number One In Number Twos!

Your Identity Matters!

There are those that label a personal domain name as a vanity domain, but I disagree… having a personalised number plate is vanity, owning a personalised URL is foresight… what’s the difference? I’ll give you an example. In an interview, a young woman of 16 said, I want to more famous than Persil Automatic, that young woman was Victoria “Posh Spice” Beckham. There’s no doubting that she’s accomplished her goal… but what’s interesting is that she could have compared herself to “Madonna” or another well known musician, but she didn’t, she chose a washing detergent!?! I could go into this more, but I won’t as Jeremy Bullmore does such a brilliant job at explaining why here.

So coming back to my point, Victoria Beckham knew from a pretty young age how important her image, identity & brand were to her, and she set out to establish it. Now take a look at your own online fingerprint, are you really in control of it. You’re spread across the net on Facebook, Myspace, Flickr, Twitter, Google, Blogger, Plaxo, YouTube, TypePad, Hi5, Yahoo, Bebo, Slideshare, Vimeo, EyeJot, WordPress… I could go on, but you get the picture. Isn’t it about time you consolidated all of your online identity, isn’t it time you made sure no one was pretending to be you!? Yeah it happens everyday, normally to someone famous, but it can happen to you just as easily,  a jilted ex, mates having a bit of a laugh etc

I registered my own name as a domain about 10 years ago, as things change, but my name won’t, my online identity is about me not the company(s) I work at or own, over the years I’ve owned 10 companies, merged & sold 5, each time my emails, contact numbers etc have changed, but my own personal website has always been a constant. But there’s more to it than that, I’ve been helping companies build & protect their digital brands for years, but it’s time individuals wake up to the fact that they need to protect & build their online Brand too. What does your Facebook profile say about you, photos of you with a permanent marker pen moustache drawn on you face as you lay drunk in a heap on New Years Eve? Or your boyfriend posts a video of you in your underwear while you work out on your “Wii Fit.” These may all appear as harmless bits of fun now, but they could be very embarrassing in the future when job interviews or promotions come up.

If you’re in the business of dealing with your clients Brand, Marketing, PR etc then what happens when they type your name into Google, if you can’t demonstrate that you can get yourself to the top of search engines, or more importantly, protect your own identity online, then how do you expect your client to trust you to do the same for them?

So coming back to personalised domains, for an individual Web 2.0 is all about making connections, creating relationships & building trust, and I see the next shift (call it web 2.5 / 3.0 if you want) will be centred around the “individual” aggregating their numerous networks, thus allowing them to leverage the trusted connections they’ve invested so much effort in building. So how better to do that, than to put your own name to it!

Think about it, Your Identity Matters!