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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

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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IHOP, the International House of Pancakes, has been generating fanfare for teasing a name change to IHOB. On Monday, after speculation ranging from the B representing bacon or breakfast (traditionalAF) to Beyoncé (WTF), IHOP ended the speculation.

B stands for Burgers.

Because, you know, all restaurants want to fill up the parts of the day where they’re open but sucking wind on customer traffic, so…

…why not BURGERS?

Emma and I were chatting on Monday about the IHOP brand strategy. I predicted that the whole thing, while couched in a big brand strategy change, was actually a short-term promotion. My thought was that it’s a New Coke kind of brand strategy cooked up by an ad agency. It will run for like three weeks. IHOP will happily accept all the, “OMG, HOW STUPID CAN YOU BE?” attention-getting social media posts, the taunts of competitors, and the follow-on media coverage.

Because, without all of this noise, no one would be talking about IHOP!

Then in a few weeks, they’ll go, “You know what? YOU ALL ARE RIGHT. WE’RE ABOUT PANCAKES. HOW FUNNY! AND PLEASE TALK ABOUT US SOME MORE!!!”

A Business Insider story reports that IHOP (which I use because I’ve not seen any mention of this name change being real) has added seven burgers to the menu. Because after a year of talking to their customers, the big insight was that the market is looking for burgers from IHOP.

Of course.

In the article, they admit that this is a temporary IHOP brand strategy. It’s clear from miles away that the burger push is an attempt to drive lunch and dinner traffic. (See also Starbucks: Pushing cold drinks to drive afternoon and evening traffic. Plus providing places to pee for everyone in the free world).

So really, the story is that IHOP is couching a promotion in a brand change they’re more than willing to undo, because the IHOP brand strategy change part was never real.

This is, I think, their formula:

That’s how I’m calling it. But whether I’m right or wrong, if your brand isn’t getting all the attention you think it should, you have to ask the question: Are we willing to be cheap and pathetic to get attention? Or can we earn it with a brand-authentic strategy?

The other question is how often will IHOP go back to the well on this brand strategy. How many name changes do you think they can pull off over the next five years? My guess is three – at most. – Mike Brown

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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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The best opportunity to reduce wasted time during strategy planning is BEFORE it starts. That’s why summer is perfect to start simplifying this fall’s strategy development.

To get a head start, download Right Now – 29 Ideas to Speed Up Your Strategic Planning Process Right Now!

It’s a quick read, but filled with ways to remove the wasted, unproductive time in strategy planning. The twenty-nine ideas in Right Now will speed up what is typically a long process and move you through strategic planning more swiftly:

  • 10 Ideas to Speed Up Developing Strategy
  • 5 Things to Do If You Haven’t Started Planning
  • 1 Question to Focus and Speed Up Strategy Meetings
  • 13 Possibilities for a More Efficient and Effective Strategic Planning Process

Getting a head start, before next year’s strategic planning starts, will make it even easier to save your organization tons of valuable time!

Download Your FREE eBook! Right Now! 29 Ideas to Speed Up Strategic Planning

If you’d like help in implementing these steps and using collaborative strategy planning to actively engage your organization and deliver a plan that won’t sit on the shelf, contact us. Let’s figure out the approach that streamlines your strategic planning process most effectively!

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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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Social-first content focuses on turning the traditional marketing communication model upside down.

Instead of starting with what your brand wants to say, then finding compelling ways to deliver the message, social-first content starts with the audience. Step one is to understand the audience’s full range of personal and professional interests. Then, based on information the audience is seeking, a brand identifies compelling ways to reach the audience via social media and other online means with content the audience wants. The brand’s actual presence within the content is the last decision; its presence can vary by message, timing, and communication channel. The key is that the brand never overshadows the social-first content message.

Social-First Content Provides a Powerful Brand Boost

Social-first content is getting quite a bit of outside attention recently.

Social Media Social Hour Podcast

First, I appeared on the Social Media Social Hour podcast hosted by Tyler Anderson. I met Tyler when we were both speaking at an earlier Social Media Strategies Summit. In the podcast, we discussed social-first content and its importance to unlocking a wealth of publishing opportunities for brands that their audiences will actually find valuable. You can listen to the FREE Social Media Social Hour podcast on the Casual Friday website. We welcome you to listen, and let us know where you stand on implementing a social-first content focus.

Hubspot User Group

Next, I’ll be speaking on Boosting Your Brand through Social-First Content at the Kansas City Hubspot User Group meeting. While the space is limited for the June 12th event, if you’re in the Kansas City area (or can get here), I’d love to have you join us!

PowerPost Podcast

Then, a few weeks later, I’ll be presenting a social-first content overview on the PowerPost podcast on June 28th. That appearance is both live, and will be available on-demand afterward. We just booked that appearance this week, so we’ll share registration information as the date approaches.

Boost Your Brand through Social-First Content

How is your brand performing on social-first content? If you would like to boost your brand’s performance, download our eBook on Social-First content. Also, contact us to learn how a Brainzooming workshop or custom strategy will effectively and productively take your brand from last to social-first in content marketing! – Mike Brown

Boost Your Brand’s Social Media Strategy with Social-First Content!

Download the Brainzooming eBook on social-first content strategy. In Giving Your Brand a Boost through Social-First Content, we share actionable, audience-oriented frameworks and exercises to:

  • Understand more comprehensively what interests your audience
  • Find engaging topics your brand can credibly address via social-first content
  • Zero in on the right spots along the social sales continuum to weave your brand messages and offers into your content

Start using Giving Your Brand a Boost through Social-First Content to boost your content marketing strategy success today!

Download Your FREE eBook! Boosting Your Brand with Social-First Content

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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An efficient AND effective innovation strategy adapts to a company’s business objectives, strategic priorities, and team. It doesn’t start with getting everyone together in a room for a creative thinking workshop and expecting innovative ideas to happen spontaneously. Analysis, outreach, and design thinking combine to make in-person innovation productive and ROI-driven – after completing the pre-work.

Before holding innovation strategy workshops, we take advantage of best practices, stakeholder input, & upfront analysis to surface high-impact innovation opportunities.

5 Ways to Boost Your Innovation Strategy’s Efficiency

Here’s an example from a Brainzooming engagement to help a client’s finance team lead an innovation strategy initiative. The objective was to reduce the company’s working capital levels on an ongoing basis. We employed five techniques in advance of an in-person innovation workshop to focus the work and boost success.

#1. Identifying innovation across industries

Brainzooming identified relevant best practices and innovative strategies across industries. This work provided an external checklist of innovation opportunities to shape further analysis and to design the online surveys.

#2. Aggressive data mining and analysis to create focus

Brainzooming conducted internal analysis to highlight 80-20 opportunities. This helps focus innovation efforts. As is typical, this step uncovered powerful improvement-related insights hidden within summarized data.

#3. Online input and collaboration for greater access

We employed an online survey to reach stakeholders who are highly relevant to the innovation initiative’s success but might otherwise have been overlooked. Viewing the financially-driven working capital initiative as business innovation pointed to the need for sales, customer service, and other areas to participate actively.

#4. Engaging atypical stakeholders and experts for input

Rather than assuming that the department responsible for the innovation strategy has all the answers, we actively included other groups. We sought to reach out to sales, customer service, and other departments focused on customer and business relationships with significant accounts payable levels.

#5. Workshop design capitalizes on findings

The in-person innovation workshop design and implementation benefits from all the activities up to that point. The early input shapes the strategic priorities, innovation exercises, and additional deliverables to foster successful implementation.

Want to maximize innovation AND efficiency?

Is your management team looking for collaboration and innovation, but concerned about how it will impact the focus on efficient daily operations? Contact us, and let’s talk about how to deploy an efficient innovation strategy initiative in your organization to maximize your results and impact. – Mike Brown

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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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It’s important that a brand strategy lead to displaying your brand personality in a way that fosters affiliation among customers and creates interest with prospects.

That sounds like a mouthful. It also sounds expensive and complicated to do. It definitely can be, but it most certainly doesn’t require an expensive or complicated brand strategy.

Here is a prime example from the grocery store over the weekend.

Among the four pancake mixes, which one stands out?

The three with the flavor variations and the predictable photos of pancake stacks? Or the one with the predictable flavor and the pancake stack that uses bananas, blueberries, and chocolate to make a smiley face on the pancakes?

For me, Bisquick won. It stood out because its stack of pancakes displayed personality.

Think about it. All of the boxes feature a stack of pancakes. All of them required a food photo shoot. Yet only Bisquick made a brand personality statement with its photo. It’s not symmetrical. It’s not the best of the photos. But it’s the only one that brought fun and brand personality to the grocery store aisle.

Which raises the real question for you: How is your brand strategy exploiting every opportunity to add fun and brand personality to boost the attention your brand garners? Well? – Mike Brown

Download our FREE eBook:
The 600 Most Powerful Strategic Planning Questions

Engage employees and customers with powerful questions to uncover great breakthrough ideas and innovative strategies that deliver results! This Brainzooming strategy eBook features links to 600 proven questions for:

  • Developing Strategy

  • Branding and Marketing

  • Innovation

  • Extreme Creativity

  • Successful Implementation


Download Your FREE eBook! The 600 Most Powerful Strategic Planning Questions



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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Struggling with spending your time on what’s most important? Do you do things, but it feels like you’re wasting time and distracting yourself from tackling the big activities you SHOULD be doing?

Maybe I’m the only one that struggles with this, but I doubt it.

I typically manage my time based on what I can mentally work on productively right now. If one work activity isn’t flowing creatively or productively, I’ll simply switch to another task. That’s true even if it’s not the next task on the priority list. The key is finding the activity that I can successfully work on right then.

This strategy works pretty well for me, until I find myself putting off important tasks (typically administrative activities with the business) that aren’t the next most productive thing I can do. That’s when I have to stop and create a block of focused time to work on the important things I dislike doing.

During a period like that recently, I drew the graph below. The objective was to analyze the gap between what I should be doing (x-axis) and what I really am doing (y-axis).

When I did that, the less critical activities that I work on because they are easy and productive jumped out (upper left). The lower right was filled with the financial, compliance, and administrative tasks that are important but seem like huge time drains. A few things did fall along the green line, which means I am spending the right amount of time on them. In these cases, I’ve been looking for strategies to handle these differently. That might be regularly assigned times or finding other people who can take them on and do them more productively than I can.

This might be a good activity to spend a few minutes on today.

Are you aligning your time management with what you SHOULD be doing? Or are you filling your time with activities that you PREFER to do, and wind up getting too much of your time and attention? – Mike Brown

 

Fast Forward: Successfully Implementing Your Plan! 

In the FREE eBook, Fast Forward, we highlight ideas, tips, and checklists you can quickly use for implementation success:

  • 10 ways to simplify and strengthen the language you use to communicate strategic priorities
  • 9 ideas for introducing your strategic plan with style and impact to engage your organization
  • 4 keys for selecting the right collaborative leaders during implementation
  • 12 questions to better launch your successful strategy implementation process
  • 4 strategies to navigate typical execution challenges
  • Using mini-plans to increase implementation flexibility

If you’re on the hook to move your organization from strategy to implementation ASAP, Fast Forward is for you! Download it TODAY!
Download Fast Forward Today!

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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