The day the IHOP/IHOb story broke, Emma messaged me that her son, Luke, wanted to discuss branding strategy with me. I wasn’t sure what to expect. Twelve-year-old Luke’s insight on the dangers of brand extensions was intriguing. We had quite the conversation about when brand extensions do or don’t make sense. Luke clearly saw fewer opportunities for smart brand extensions than I did, so I asked him to share his thoughts with Brainzooming readers. 

Luke Gibson on Branding Strategy: Change is Good. Greed is Not.

If you’re good at one thing, then most likely the right thing to do is stick to that one thing. For example, if you’re really amazing at pottery, you do that as your job, and people know you for your pottery business, then why would you suddenly switch to supply chain and logistics, with little to no experience in that? Don’t be selfish.

So yes, what I’m hinting at is IHOP, or should I say, “IHOb.” I’m sure that all of you knew IHOP, or “IHOb,” for their pancakes, and have gone to eat their pancakes at least once. Most likely you ate them during the day.

In an article for Business Insider, Darren Rebelez, president of IHOP, said, “We had to make a bold move to get people to be willing to talk about us for something other than breakfast food.” Why? Your brand name is still about breakfast food. Might I add, what’s wrong with this picture?

Sam and Pam were walking to the International House of Pancakes. Sam asked, “What are you going to get at the the International House of Pancakes, Pam? Pam said, “I am going to get a hamburger from the the International House of Pancakes, Sam.” Sam said, “That is a good idea, Pam. I think I will have a hamburger, too,” said Sam.

Exactly. And yes, while the burgers at IHOb might be okay, you know what would taste even better? Their pancakes.

I’ve noticed that Foster’s Freeze has done this as well. They have added burgers to their menu. What’s more is that it’s one little burger poster among thousands of ice cream stickers, so it’s also kind of hard to notice. And yes, hamburgers and ice cream are delicious together, but I would like to assume that the better place to get that would be at your local greasy spoon. It’s probable that most people don’t even order the hamburger! As many times as I’ve driven past, there is not one person holding a hamburger! (That Foster’s Freeze happens to be located across the street from a grocery store and surrounded with hot food places, so…) Yes, while their burgers probably taste okay, you know what would taste even better? Their ice cream.

To tie it up, brands should stick to the one thing that they are good at, and can branch off into other related areas. Leave the completely different opportunities for other brands. Your customers see you as greedy when you do this.  – Luke Gibson

Social-First Content to Make Your Customer the Star of Your Content

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Is your brand continually delivering ho-hum content to your audiences?

We’re talking about the kind of content that leads people to view once and avoid twice (now and forever). The type of content that is ALL ABOUT the brand and NOTHING about the audience. Content whose most obvious message is that your brand is BORING, 24/7, 365.

If any of those descriptions feel uncomfortably familiar, there’s HELP and HOPE for engaging, social-first content on the way!

Thursday, June 28, I’ll be presenting a live webinar with actionable recommendations called Make Your Customer the Star of Your Content: How to Stop Boring Your Audience with Same Self-Serving Shtick.

Register Today! Make Your Customer the Star of Your Content

Presented in partnership with Powerpost, we’ll discuss how brands – small and large – can expand their range of topics to go beyond talking about their own brands, and heavy up on engaging, social-first content that speaks to your customers’ strongest interests.

Register today for the FREE webinar to ensure your spot, even if you can’t join us live. Registration opens your access to the webinar on-demand after we deliver it.

That’s Make Your Customer the Star of Your Content, Thursday, June 26, 2018 at 12 noon CDT. Join us and start delivering social-first content the leaves your audience wanting more!

Social-First Content to Make Your Customer the Star of Your Content

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“The more bad ideas the better. If you work really hard on coming up with bad ideas, sooner or later, some good ideas are going to slip through.” – Seth Godin (June 19, 2018)

Failure is an option here. If things are not failing, you are not innovating enough.” – Elon Musk (Sometime before June 19, 2018)

You’ve heard it, and maybe even said it, or wished it. Who wouldn’t want to have explicit permission, even encouragement, to routinely make mistakes with your innovation strategy?

An article in The Wall Street Journal addressed this issue relative to baseball and how the strategies many major league baseball teams are using to improve player performance translate to typical office settings. The article focused on dissecting mistakes to learn valuable lessons, similar to the oft-cited trade-off benefit in making more business mistakes: you will learn more things, faster.

3 Ways a Productive Out Benefits Your Innovation Strategy

One section addressed making productive outs: the idea that when making an out, a batter tries to create a benefit for the team in exchange for not reaching base. Digging further, an article from redlegnation.com makes an important point tied also making more business mistakes: “Some [baseball] players, seemingly, are attempting to record a productive out rather than just attempting to get on base and avoid an out at all costs . . . productive outs should be something that happen at random . . . they should not be something a player strives for, except in very fringe cases.”

Since we are now in the thick of summer, let’s go with this baseball backdrop to explore how some types of productive outs in baseball shed light on your innovation strategy and potential beneficial impacts:

#1 – Helping Other Good Things to Happen

Baseball Situation: A sacrifice fly involves a batter hitting a ball in the air (with fewer than two outs) and so deep in the outfield that a base runner can safely advance after the ball is caught. The team trades one of three outs for the opportunity to move a runner ahead, creating a score (if the runner is starting from third base) or increasing the likelihood of the runner scoring on a subsequent play.

Generalized Impact: A sacrifice fly creates time and space for other positive actions to take place, even though an important objective (the batter reaching base) is never achieved.

Actionable Learning: A comparable business situation involves regularly employing moonshot projects to boost innovation. A moonshot project is one with a large, far-reaching, and overarching objective that may never be fully realized or expected to directly contribute near-term revenue and profit impact. While ultimate success would be beneficial, it’s not essential. What a moonshot project yields, ideally, are near-term benefits through collaboration and smaller discoveries and innovations along the way. These will enhance revenue, reduce costs, and/or otherwise improve profitability and other business prospects.

Business Impact: How many moonshot projects has your organization attempted in the past year? The past few years? If innovation is lagging, purposefully use this concept to get your team thinking bigger while it throws off smaller, innovative benefits along the way.

#2 – Wearing out the Competition

Baseball Situation: Major league teams go to extremes to control how many pitches a starting pitcher throws in any game. One hundred pitches are a frequent limit. That means that the more pitches an opposing team forces an overpowering starting pitcher to throw, the sooner that pitcher will leave the game.

Generalized Impact: Long-at-bats involving multiple foul balls and/or not swinging at pitches outside the strike zone prematurely exhaust one of the opposition’s scarcest resources. You can hit the first pitch and let the pitcher off easy or battle through ten or twelve pitches and wear him down faster.

Actionable Learning: Translating this idea to business means focusing on what your stance is toward competitive strategies and implementation. This upends the strategy of simply trying to beat out the competition on features and benefits. You can purposefully use promotions, market pilots, and the concentration of your resources in niche markets to attempt to divert a competitor’s attention from its pre-planned strategy and force them to follow you. In some cases, your actions may drive a competitor to expend unplanned focus and resources (both at a premium in most organizations) to match your agenda.

Business Impact: Executives typically think about current competitors and ways to outsmart them. How often do you engage your team in developing and implementing strategies to wear down your competitors’ resources to create new advantage for your brand?

#3 – Stacking the Odds with Controlled Failure

Baseball Situation: Hitting behind the runner is another type of productive out. As an example, if a base runner is going from first to second base, a runner tries to hit somewhere closer to first base. If they execute this well, it makes it more likely that the fielder will throw to first (which is easier), allowing the base runner to safely advance.

Generalized Impact: This play represents controlled failure: an experiment that is designed to yield positive results when it doesn’t work (e.g., produces an out), and even better results when it does (the fielder fumbles the ball and the batter is also safe).

Actionable Learning: In a business setting, you may have various unknowns or untested ideas. You can use this idea and design an innovation pilot, experiment, or test whose primary objective, rather than a market success, is a learning success. Gaining the right new insights is the focus, and if a near-term business success happens to result, all the better.

Business Impact: Is the idea of an experiment designed for learning success a new or a familiar concept in your organization? How can you apply it more frequently?

The Similarities Are Striking

Even if you aren’t a baseball fan, there are innovation strategy lessons galore throughout the game. And for the big fans: what strategy takeaways do you find in the intricacies of America’s favorite pastime? – Edited from Inside the Executive Suite

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An executive responsible for strategy planning who was downloading our eBook on 11 Fun Strategic Planning Ideas posed an important question: How can you successfully identify and try new ways to get internal groups working together on strategic planning?

We’re always thinking about increasing the strategically combustible human surface area engaged in strategic planning.


In other words: Brainzooming wants as many smart, diverse people working together as we can effectively and efficiently accomplish on any fun strategic planning initiative.

We tend to find that our ambitions for this exceed that of our clients. (See previous Brainzooming article on the damaging lack of diversity in strategic planning workshops.)

7 Ways Groups Can Collaborate on Fun Strategic Planning

Nevertheless, in answer to this new reader’s question on getting internal groups working together, here are seven ideas we’ve either tried, or would in a minute, to maximize internal collaboration and promote fun strategic planning:

  1. Identify all the potential people involved in strategic planning upfront, nothing those who most need to collaborate
  2. Perform a skills, knowledge, and interests inventory of all your strategic planners, then pair people who complement each other based on the assessment
  3. Create a strategic planning event that includes people from multiple groups and features cross-group activities
  4. Employ an ice breaker where people reveal information they know that is helpful to strategic planning that others will be surprised they know
  5. Use assigned seating to nudge people who don’t work together to at least sit together
  6. Create strategy teams with members of various groups that will need to collaborate to complete their assignments
  7. Make sure each planning group identifies all the departments and people critical to success early on, then require that groups reach out to them BEFORE the planning is done

Implementing even a few of these ideas within a strategic planning process that values diversity and broad participation, will make an impact.

Want to talk more how you can translate this approach to strategic planning? Contact us, and we’ll discuss how we’d customize the process steps and participation opportunities to maximize the impact for your brand! – Mike Brown


fun-ideas-strategic-planning11 Ideas to Create a Fun Strategic Planning Process!

Yes, strategic planning can be fun . . . if you know the right ways to liven it up while still developing solid strategies! If you’re intrigued by the possibilities, download our FREE eBook, “11 Fun Ideas for Strategic Planning.”

Download Your FREE eBook! 11 Fun Ideas for Strategic Planning

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"Forty percent of business in this room, unfortunately, will not exist in a meaningful way in 10 years." John Chambers, 2015

“Forty percent of businesses in this room, unfortunately, will not exist in a meaningful way in 10 years.”

Outgoing Cisco CEO, John Chambers, told the company’s customers that in 2015.

Three years hence, is your leadership team challenging itself to think, plan, and innovate strategically to land on the right side of future success?

If not, it is time right now to download your free copy of Disrupting Thinking – 13 Exercises to Imagine Disrupting Your Brand Before Someone Else Disrupts You!

These exercises will push a status quo-loving management team to zoom its markets, value delivery, and business model past obsolescence.Download Disrupting Thinking
Download your FREE copy of Disrupting Thinking. Start challenging your team’s thinking and strategies to rework your success‐‐before an unexpected competitor makes it too late!


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We have some popular articles on the Brainzooming website about how to imagine a whole array of cool product names. All those articles relate to the early stages of the product naming process. We’ve done a few things, but not as many, on the decision process for picking the creative and strategic options from all the cool product names you end up imagining.

But yesterday, Emma forwarded a link to one of those maddening slideshow posts on 31 Product Naming Fails.

Clicking through all the slides made me realize: for all the imagination you want to have among the people coming up with cool product names, what you MUST have is an eclectic and perhaps slightly shady set of characters reviewing the potential cool product names to prevent a massive product name fail.

18 Sensibilities to Avoid Massive Cool Product Name Fails

Having personally reviewed each of these incredibly terrible product names, I now share with you the 18 sensibilities you must have on your team to avoid a cool product name fail.
You need individuals who:

  1. Possess a good understanding of interpersonal and solo sexual acts, plus a fascination with all the related jargon of both.
  2. Have insight into fringe communities and what they love, embrace, and abhor.
  3. Love horror – both in movies and IRL.
  4. Understand (and/or will track down) all the ways that words in one language won’t work in other languages.
  5. Have a basic clue about life and no appetite for group think or apparently unstoppable momentum for stupid ideas.
  6. Can go six (or even nine) deep on synonyms describing varied sexual activities.
  7. Fully understand all the mechanisms and terminology of what is popularly known as Number 2.
  8. Are diligent at saying all product names aloud before voting yea or nay.
  9. Understand that there are multiple ways to voice a g, a c, or a k.
  10. Have big enough investments in the brand’s success that they won’t let incredibly funny names that no one seems to get make it out of the room alive.
  11. Put the scat in scatological.
  12. Are willing to tell the boss that the family name should never be placed on a building, box, or label. Or uttered aloud. EVER.
  13. Are automatically suspicious of any abbreviation, acronym, or contraction.
  14. Possesses clairvoyant powers and can predict when a currently okay word or sound will fall flat within a decade.
  15. Have a working knowledge of all global genocides, along with the associated moral issues, slang, and sensitivities related to each one.
  16. Know every nickname and euphemism for genitals, what they produce, and all the activities one (or more) can do with them.
  17. Are savvy enough to flip everything upside down and say words backwards to look for sinister alternative meanings and shapes.
  18. Abhor being too true or too literal in describing a product, what it does, and how it looks.

Of course, it’s possible that you don’t need eighteen people on your cool product name review team, if you have the right people in your organization. Heck, if you hire right, one person may be all you need! And that’s all I’ve got to say about that.  😉  – Mike Brown

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Everyone who speaks or has attempted to speak more than one language has truly excellent stories of times when their linguistic wires got crossed. I find these types of stories incredibly charming; in our efforts to understand one another, we often create a delightful kind of chaos–or at least a hilarious kind. For instance, one woman I know proudly introduced herself to someone in Rome by saying that she was “a happy milk” rather than “happy to meet you.” As a second-generation American child, having learned English and Spanish simultaneously, I was eager to make sense of both languages, and particularly colloquialisms. At some point I discovered that TV commercials were an easy way to learn about American English as well as American behavior at large. Mainly, I learned that there were very specific ways of doing everything, and my family was doing all of them wrong — but they were useful, nonetheless.

It wasn’t until much later that I learned I wasn’t alone in having gone the commercial route to becoming American. My mother, as it turned out, had blazed that trail before me, and as today’s guest blogger, she’s here to share her first-generation American childhood experiences with the worlds contained in 1960s American television commercials. Welcome, Mom!  Emma Alvarez Gibson

And Now A Word From Our Sponsor – Sarah Andrade

I cannot recall exactly when I became Brahtti, or rather a part of Brahtti. I know I was too young to find the word in the dictionary, although it would have been futile to try.

Prior to becoming one of (the?) Brahtti, I had lived in a very small town in Mexico where evening entertainment consisted of playing in the street with the neighborhood children — roughly fifty or sixty of us — until our parents had shouted to us to come in at least ten times and we had shouted back “Just a little while longer!” at least eleven.

This changed when the wealthy family of the neighborhood bought a black-and-white television set and those of us who had a centavo could sit on the floor of their living room and watch a show. There were so many of us, and the TV was so small, that it was difficult to see. It was doubly difficult to hear, given all our excitement and the munching of our pumpkin seeds from newspaper cones, but we were all awed to be taking part in this new thing called television.

A year later, when I was five, my family moved to the United States, and wonder of wonders, we soon had our own television set in our very own living room! We did not have to pay a centavo to watch it, and there were a lot more shows. Everyone spoke English on this new set, but my sister and I were learning the language quickly. What’s more, this television actually addressed its audience, which is how I came to discover that I was part of Brahtti.

At first I thought Brahtti was a particular person, but soon I realized it was the name given to us, the collective audience. Prior to each show, there were things that we were asked to buy: shaving cream, cereal, soap, cigarettes, etc. They would say something like, “And now we present Dobie Gillis! Brahtti, YOU buy Tide detergent.” [You might want to say this out loud a couple of times for best results. “Brahtti” rhymes with “hot tea.”] I noticed that they always emphasized the “you,” and I was unsure if they were being a little too demanding, or just trying to make each one of us Brahtti feel special.

Because I was trying to learn the culture as well as the language, I took my cues from the people that would show Brahtti how to do things such as spread peanut butter (huge amounts, followed with a flourished S, as in Skippy), apply shampoo (LOTS of suds) and conditioner (toss my head s-l-o-w-l-y back and forth to show how rich and manageable my hair was) and even relate to the boys (wink, smile, and walk away).

In those days there were door-to-door salespeople, which took my Brahtti status to a whole new level: face-to-face contact. Mama would ask me to interpret for her when these folks would come around, and I would have to explain that no, we could not purchase anything. Sometimes, however, they would leave samples for us. One such sample was the beautiful little bottle with a liquid that smelled of violets. The sales representative asked me to tell Mama that it was toilet water. We both stared at the little bottle in amazement. What a country! Even the toilet was supposed to smell lovely after every use. I proudly placed it on the commode and used it. Every time. After all, I was BRAHTTI. Sarah Andrade

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