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As I mentioned the other day, I did a session locally on linking blogs to business strategy. One segment of the presentation addressed writing less for a blog by featuring guest authors and incorporating more videos.

After the presentation, Jill Tran came over to talk. She has her own interior design firm in Kansas City and is also a blogger. When I asked Jill to do a future guest blog for Brainzooming on creativity and interior design, she suggested we video something. And that’s what we did!

So here’s our first video guest blog, with Jill talking about the intersection of creativity and interior design. (You can click on the link if the video doesn’t appear.) Enjoy!

Now that Jill’s done it, our repertoire of ways for you to be featured on Brainzooming has grown. If you’d like to create a short video on strategy, innovation, or creativity, let me know. If you’d prefer to write a guest post, here’s some background information to get you started. – Mike Brown

Guest Author

The Brainzooming blog has a wonderful group of guest authors who regularly contribute their perspectives on strategy, creativity, and innovation. You can view guest author posts by clicking on the link below.

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Lent begins today with Ash Wednesday. The entire season is an opportunity for more quiet time and prayer. Every year, I’ve been using this day to share a creativity prayer I wrote a couple of years ago.

Spend some time today and in the coming weeks to ask for a potentially new source of inspiration as you try to expand the creativity of yourself and those around you!

Lord,

Thank you for creation itself and the incredible gifts and talents you so generously entrust to me. May I appreciate and develop these talents, always recognizing that they come from you and remain yours.

Guide me in using them for the benefit of everyone that I touch, so that they may be more aware of your creative presence and develop the creativity entrusted to them for the good of others.

Help me also to use your talents to bring a creative spark and new possibilities to your world, living out my call to be an integral part of your creative force. Amen.

 Copyright 2008, Mike Brown

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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Last Thursday, I presented on linking blogs to business strategy at Kansas City’s Central Exchange. While discussing editing blog posts, one potential blogger asked about overcoming the problem of perfectionism when writing. I rather flippantly answered psychological help might be in order.

While trying to be funny, the answer wasn’t completely facetious. I love when things happen exactly on strategy. Through years of observation, however, I’ve come to realize very few mistakes mean even a “figurative” end to the world. Why drive yourself crazy trying to solve every little issue.

This realization began in earnest early in my career, when another person and I were working on a matrix comparing our company to major competitors. It was an arduous project, with many revisions and lots of eyes (including eyes senior to ours) reviewing various drafts. It was eventually published for several thousand sales and management people in the company.

Everything was fine until I received a call from someone who pointed out our company’s goal of “reducing customer exceptions” was mistakenly printed as “reducing customer expectations.” Figuring we were both fired, my co-worker and I went to our boss and informed her of the mistake.

We didn’t get fired. In fact, no one else ever came forward as even noticing the problem.

Despite lots of effort to avoid them, mistakes happen all the time in life. Not that I condone poor performance, but don’t waste your time seeking needless (and often self-defined, not customer-defined) perfection or losing your temper when mistakes do happen. You’ll be much more content and better off if you use a different strategy.

When mistakes occur around you, look hard for what’s actually better because of the mistake than what was originally planned.

In the case of the “lower customer expectations” gaffe, what was better was it made me a more careful editor. Does that mean I’m a perfectionist in writing. Not necessarily. It means I’ve learned and developed a whole repertoire of techniques for overcoming proofreading problems.

For you other perfectionists out there, what strategy do you employ to protect yourself from the tendency to be too correct?  - Mike Brown

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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Boredom often signals a situation has grown stale and needs shaking up before it withers away. Personally, boredom is a primary instigator driving change in my professional life. I quickly lose interest when faced with doing the same thing over and over.

If you’re in marketing, however, be attentive for times though when your boredom reflects a minority viewpoint. In those cases, it can lead you to make bad branding decisions.

I heard Jay Conrad Levinson speak on guerrilla marketing and the danger of marketers becoming bored with their own marketing. Since we’ve seen our advertising from initial concept through various drafts and its initial run, it’s easy, shortly after a marketing campaign hits the public, to prematurely grow itchy for new advertising. The problem is while a marketer could already be bored with a new advertisement or other marketing tactic, the target audience will have barely had a chance to even notice the marketing effort.

The remedy is to live with your boredom and allow the marketplace to get the appropriate number of exposures to actually notice and process what your marketing message is.

While boredom is a great instigator for important change, it clearly can also provide false signals. If you’re feeling bored with your marketing (advertising, online marketing, you name it), check to see if you’re representative of your target audience before you make a change too quickly. - Mike Brown

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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In NASCAR auto racing, there’s a lot of talk about luck. Yet, when I ran a NASCAR sponsorship program, I prohibited use of the word “luck” in any communications about the program.

Why?

Because other than in gaming, customers don’t want to imagine their brand experience involving chance.

So do everyone in your organization a favor and follow the same approach: ban use of the word “luck.”

Banning “luck” forces its removal from conversations about performance and the reasons your business results are strong or weak. With “luck” banned, it can no longer be used to explain or excuse your results.

What do you do instead?

Think strategically, plan innovatively, and perform extraordinarily with “luck” removed from the equation! – Mike Brown

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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HBO ran a program on preparations by four-time NASCAR Nextel Cup Champion Jimmie Johnson and his team for racing in the 2010 Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway.

At the first 2010 team meeting, Johnson’s crew chief Chad Knaus called the team’s attention to the bare walls in the meeting room. He highlighted the absence of all the awards and pictures celebrating the team’s fourth NASCAR championship in 2009. Knaus let the team know it is on the hook to perform at a level in 2010 to allow them to fill the walls once again with racing successes.

Maybe a move like that is easier when you’ve won 4 NASCAR championships in a row! But it’s a great reminder for any of us:

  • Don’t rest on your laurels. Instead, get motivated for the successes that lie ahead of you.

So when you look around your office, what do you see? Are you stuck in past wins, or do you have motivators for the greatness that’s yet to come?Mike Brown

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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As we’ve mentioned previously, during Super Bowl XLIV as part of #BZBowl, Brainzooming Strategic Contributor Barrett Sydnor focused on rating Super Bowl ads based on the memorability criteria highlighted in the book, “Made to Stick.” Here’s Barrett’s assessment:

“I loved that ad with the little kids, you know, the one for . . ., Well I can’t remember who it’s for, but I loved it.”

We’ve all said those same words more or less. Most critiques of Super Bowl ads operate on that level. The ad someone “liked” or thought was the funniest is declared the best Super Bowl ad.

But that isn’t why advertisers buy Super Bowl time. They want to sell stuff, lots of stuff. To accomplish that, the message must be memorable. As Chip and Dan Heath write, it must be “Made to Stick.” So in generating ratings for the Brainzooming Super Bowl XLIV ad analysis, I was more systematic in assessing the best and worst Super Bowl ads using the six strategic characteristics Made to Stick says make for memorable messages.

Simple, Unexpected, Concrete, Credible, Emotion, Story

From kickoff to final whistle there were 31 breaks containing 67 national commercials and at least one very memorable promo. I watched each ad only once—as it ran—and made my judgments as to whether each met the six criteria (yes/no only, no shades of gray here) in as close to real time as possible. I haven’t looked at any best and worst list other than Mike’s.

Most Memorable Ads

  • Based on the Made to Stick criteria, I rated Doritos “Keep Your Hands Off My Momma” as the most memorable Super Bowl ad. It hit on all six cylinders.
  • The runner-up is Google for Paris. I thought it hit on five of six. (Mike and I disagree here.  Actually the next best ad was for The Late Show with Dave, Oprah, and Jay–but I think advertising is like therapy, it doesn’t count if you don’t pay.)
  • Tied for Third: Snickers, Coca-Cola (Simpson’s characters), and Teleflora. All had four of six and all were well done tactics with clear strategies.

Least Memorable Ads

  • The least memorable Super Bowl ad was Diamond Foods. The totally overproduced and under-communicating ad for Emerald Nuts and Pop Secret met none of the “Made to Stick” criteria.
  • The next least memorable ad was Vizio. It did meet one criterion (Unexpected), but the rest of it was so bad it drops to the penultimate place on merit.
  • Third worst went to the Go Daddy spots collectively. They met no criteria and made you feel bad for everyone involved.

A full listing of all the ads with their Made to Stick criteria ratings and my pithy comments can be downloaded at the end of the post.

Summary

Using the same criteria, someone else might reach a different conclusion about most and least memorable, i.e. your mileage may very.  But we should be able to agree that memorable communication counts for something in marketing.

Right now, we’re applying these principles for an event strategy project, designing an innovative positioning and strategy to create greater memorability and impact for attendees. What we’ve found at Brainzooming is beyond applying the “Made to Stick” criteria after the fact, the big opportunity is to innovatively use them in developing communications creative strategy. – Barrett Sydnor

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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