Branding | The Brainzooming Group - Part 3 – page 3
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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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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


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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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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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Wow, that unplanned blog vacation went on longer than expected.

It has felt all throughout 2018 as if everything else going on in the Brainzooming world has been pulling attention away from the blog (and many other things in my work and personal lives). One of the significant pulls has been a two-year project to launch two new companion brands to Brainzooming.

The first companion brand involves developing and releasing a book on creative leadership. The book is completed, and after a few revisions, we’ll be ready to launch by early July. We did a soft-launch of the book last week at a customer event. Our preparation for that event, plus getting the book to an interim finishing point, drew more creative energy than I’d expected or suspected as we toiled away on it. The upside of the time away from everything else is that we created multiple book-related assets we have ready to go.

The second companion brand encompasses, in its initial version, an online offering targeted at emerging brands. It will provide an amazing range of brand strategy, customer experience, and content marketing assets to prepare owners and entrepreneurs within these brands to aggressively increase awareness, grow into new markets, and/or raise new money to take the brands to the next level. It’s nearly complete and will formally launch on the heels of the new book.

In addition, there is also a new innovation strategy diagnostic that needs tweaking before its broad launch, work on multiple new websites, client follow-ups, invoicing, changed travel plans, multiple road trips, and a few work crises sprinkled throughout the last few weeks away.

Put it all together, and, at least for the last few weeks, blogging has slipped down the list of what is getting attention.

Growing, morphing, and scrambling pains are WAY beyond what you might typically expect.

Our unplanned blog vacation will look less like a vacation and more like a sporadic blogging schedule for a bit, unfortunately.

That’s not what we want to do. But right now, it’s reality. – 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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I lector at several different Catholic parishes around town (since, as one priest put it, I’m a Roamin’ Catholic). One parish provides an annual guide to the primary Bible readings included at mass. It contains background information, pronunciation guides, and verbal cues for reading the Bible passage to the congregation.

My reading assignment for Holy Thursday mass was a passage from Exodus. In it, God gives Moses and Aaron instructions for how the Passover meal is to be prepared and consumed. The background information discussed how central the Passover is to the identity of the Israelites and their relationship with God. It highlighted the three ways Passover is ingrained in the community’s identity through:

  • Creed – God’s identity is frequently described in relation to freeing the Israelites from Egypt
  • Story – Communications that point to and reinforce God’s role with the Israelites
  • Ritual – Prescribed celebrations (i.e., the Passover) that the entire community participates in together

These categories resonated with me as we work with clients on brand identity and culture change engagements. The structure conveniently organizes ideas. More importantly, it is valuable for generating new ideas to solidify and reinforce an organizational identity.

Let’s slightly adapt the categories for use in business and professional settings as a means to solidify organizational identity. Consider using:

  • Beliefs – Fundamental principles organization members believe and that shape their identity and relationship to the organization.
  • Stories – Messages that convey the organization’s past, present, and future among its employees and other audiences.
  • Ritual – The actions and behaviors organization members display to signal their belief and commitment to the organization’s purpose.

Put simply, how are you cultivating and reinforcing what your organization believes, says, and does to strengthen your organizational identity? – Mike Brown

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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 were working with a client’s C-level team to develop its strategic plan. To help them articulate the organization’s strategic direction, we used several branding exercises. These branding exercises focused on identifying:

The combination of branding exercises effectively identified new language to describe its strategic direction and supporting strategies.

During the exercises and conversations to develop its big strategy statement, we discussed the role that expertise plays in the organization’s brand. Because expertise is central to the organization’s products, it has only considered a very strict definition for the attribute. That can be okay, but in a fast-changing market, ensuring everything is 100% proven slows solutions customers need. It also allows new, more nimble competitors to set the ground rules for important product features.

When we questioned the narrow use of expertise, they played back the attributes on the left as the defining characteristics for what expertise means.

We then added all the attributes on the right.

Our point was that the organization’s unquestioned expertise allows it to extend this attribute to work harder. Expertise COULD involve exploration and prototyping, where customers actively test and help develop new solutions. It’s unlikely that any long-term customer invited to test a product in development would see a potential glitch as evidence that the brand lacks expertise.

One meeting participant said this type of strategic thinking was a breakthrough for them. It opens up a whole new array of potential options.

Is your organization laboring under similarly narrow perspectives about your brand attributes?

If that seems to be the case, rethink your narrow definitions of brand attributes. Look at your brand attributes as platforms to innovate, expand, and introduce broader meanings that deliver greater value for your customers.

Or better yet, contact us, and let The Brainzooming Group take you through the business and brand strategy exercises to open your organization to a wide variety of growth opportunities!  – Mike Brown

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Create the Vision to Align and Engage Your Team!

Big strategy statements shaping your organization needn’t be complicated. They should use simple, understandable, and straightforward language to invite and excite your team to be part of the vision.

Our free “Big Strategy Statements” eBook lays out an approach to collaboratively develop smart, strategic directions that improve results!


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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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You’re working on an important new employee or customer communication to further your branding strategy. You’re trying to say things succinctly. Perfectly. But as you’re looking for just the right word that will have just the right impact, it’s not coming to you.

What do you do?

The answer is obvious: you go to an online thesaurus and look up synonyms for the tired old word you would typically use. Or maybe you will settle for a little inspiration to imagine what the right new word could be.

Either way, I have a request to make.

STOP loving those generic words in the thesaurus.

I mean, if you REALLY think communication supporting your branding strategy will be fine with just any old generic word, than I suppose you can go ahead and do it.

On the other hand, if you want to use language that sounds like your intended audience and resonates with them, don’t make the online thesaurus your first stop for ideas.

Instead, explore previously-well received communications you’ve delivered to your audience. While you may be looking for new ways to communicate key elements of your branding strategy, chances are what works with your audience has more to do with building up consistent language that means something to them than it does with constantly throwing new terms at them.

Another great source to draw from?

Revisit comments and language that your audience already uses to talk about your brand. Those can come via documentation from online surveys, online collaborations, customer service calls, emails, testimonials, or content they have shared through social media.

If you have some time and/or the means to do it, reach out to your audience with questions that allow them to talk about the area of interest to you.

In our experience, any of these options are better, more on-target sources for meaningful language than an online thesaurus.

Why?

It’s because these words come directly from the audience. That makes the language more likely to score on its simplicity, understandability, and resonance.

So, yeah, I know it can be tough, but do yourself a favor: step away from that thesaurus.

Your audience will thank you, and so will your ROI.  – 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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