Tag Archives: Branding

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.

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

Will This Advertising Idea Ever Fly

To promote their exhibition stand at the Frankfurt Book Fair, Eichborn the publisher with the fly prepared 200 flies with an ultra light banner. The banner was attached with natural wax. After a short time the banner dropped off by itself. And the flies were not harmed.

The concept is certainly remarkable, if not unforgettable, but whether those experiencing this viral campaign remember the company name as well or just the fact that they saw flies with adverts attached to them is another question?

I first saw this on the Unionversity website

Fun Feels Good

I saw this on Jodi’s Blog the other day and thought what a brilliant way of showing how approaching an issue in a new or fun way can have terrific results by engaging the user in a visceral experience (see Anne’s blog for more on that). What’s also interesting is that this is entirely a marketing exercise by Volkswagon.

more info at The Fun Theory

There’s An Ad For That

You have to admire Verizon’s audacity in creating this advert to try and snag AT&T customers over to their network, by playing upon Apple’s “There’s an App for That” tagline used in their iPhone & App Store adverts (in case you’ve been living in a cave for the past year, you’ll find plenty of them here).

But it’s not just Verizon that’s brand jacking Apple’s App Store advert, Pepsi have created a chat up application named “AMP UP Before You Score“… No doubt this will offend some, but that’s the whole point, they’ll get plenty of free publicity that way… anyway it’s an amusing and nicely designed iPhone app, plus it’s coded well.

Download AMP UP Before you Score

Did You Know, Shift Happens

As I’m a bit of a closet statistics junkie & as these videos have been bouncing around the web for the past 2-3 years, I thought I’d compile a post with some of the best.

Did You Know? 3.0 (Official Video) -2009 Edition

Did You Know 4.0

Did You Know 4.0 (Convergence)

The Social Media Revolution Fad

Did You Know 2.0 (SHIFT 2008 Edit)

The Social Media Revolution Fad

As I’ve re-quoted before “Statistics are like bikinis. What they reveal is suggestive, but what they conceal is vital“ Aaron Levenstein

This video makes compelling reading/watching, but read between the lines, there’s more to this than meets the eye, major changes are unfolding in the social media environment, information/data/ID aggregation is becoming the new hot potato, the shift is about linking you to the stuff you want to know in a transparent & convenient way.

For more info & a list of quotes & stats go to the socialnomics blog

Also check out a brilliant and ballsy presentation by Marta Kagan entitled What the F**K is Social Media: One Year Later

Also note Marta doesn’t use the that annoying Social Media Expert moniker, she calls herself a Bonafide Marketing Genius, now that’s a great job title! (as long as you live up to it of course, although reading her blog, it looks like she does)

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!

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!

Twitter to charge commercial accounts, is this a good idea?

Where did I hear about this first, on twitter of course! thanks to Matt Ryan

In this piece in Marketing Magazine, it would appear Twitter is working out ways to monetize it’s service.

Co-founder Biz Stone told Marketing: ‘We are noticing more companies using Twitter and individuals following them. We can identify ways to make this experience even more valuable and charge for commercial accounts.’

I appreciate Twitter needs a revenue stream, adverts certainly wouldn’t work, they’d drive people away, so charging corporations is a good approach, if they’re using twitter for commercial gain, why shouldn’t Twitter benefit? But how do you distinguish between an individual or a company or brand. Celebrities are brands, but they’re individuals, CEO’s may be the voice for a corporate, but they too are individuals! What about non-profits or high profile bloggers etc, simply setting a threshold on follower numbers wouldn’t help either.

For Twitter to make this work simply, they should add an opt in premium account version that sits within Twitter, then anyone can have the premium version if they want, be it corporate, celeb or individual. Add extra features for the premium version, such as filtering, allowing you to use key words to filter incoming tweets, or ways to group your followers or those you’re following, or ways to delve into the demographics of your followers, their locations, their amount of activity, their gender etc. All useful stuff for a corporate’s marketing department and something they’d happily pay for!