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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

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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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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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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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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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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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

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  • Developing Strategy

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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 general manager at an industrial manufacturer wondered about how to effectively engage the hourly workforce as innovation strategy participants? He is hoping to figure out a practical way to include hourly employees in innovation activities comparable to those management has undertaken.

His question reflects legitimate senior executive interest in engaging the entire workforce to drive innovation and ROI through far-reaching process improvements. He was wrestling with a common challenge executives face when thinking about engaging an hourly workforce: How can I pull people off the line, shop floor, phones, or wherever else they are producing or serving customers to participate in this non-productive activity?

via Shutterstock

Whether that concern surfaces immediately or later, it is always present. It frequently represents a deal-breaker for engaging hourly employees in any type of process improvement, business engagement, or training opportunity. Because they are paid by the hour and work on activities that directly impact the organization’s output or productivity, they seem to be off limits when it comes to participating in strategic activities to improve the business.

What about the financial hurdle of engaging hourly employees in innovation strategy?

My response to the general manager on the productivity and payment issue centered on two things:

  • He is paying managers and salaried team members when they are spending all or part of a day focused on generating ideas business improvement ideas.
  • Salaried team members are also, in theory, being pulled away from productive activities more directly related to their jobs when they participate in innovation workshops. It is just harder to see the productivity loss with a salaried employee. There is a tacit expectation that salaried workers will put in extra time to make up the difference, lowering their hourly cost to the point where it appears their focused innovation time is free.

That reasoning changes the business decision.

No matter who is participating in the innovation activities, leadership is signing up for a near-term financial hit. Strategic leaders look at this as an investment with an expected future return. Executives focused on short-term issues look at it as a cost and productivity loss that makes it harder to hit their plans.

Granted, the monetary impact is real. Starbucks closed its stores May 29, 2018 to hold workshops addressing racial biases among employees. Some news stories estimate the cost was $12 million: $7 million of foregone revenue at its 8,000 company-owned Starbucks stores and $5 million in wages for employees that weren’t serving customers during those hours. Commentators pointed out, however, that the investment in improved customer relations for Starbucks is minimal compared to the brand’s $24 billion annual revenue.

Run the comparable numbers for your organization. See what the real financial hurdle is in more widely and effectively engaging hourly employees to improve your operation.

If more effectively engaging your hourly workforce is on your senior team’s to-do list, contact us. We’d be happy to share details on how to move forward and dramatically improve your business through greater collaboration! – Edited from Inside the Executive Suite

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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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