Branding | The Brainzooming Group - Part 50 – page 50
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I met John Digles in June 2009 as he produced video interviews for the Business Marketing Association Conference. John’s background is fascinating; he’s an award-winning film maker whose work has gained critical notice, including at the Sundance Film Festival.

John is also founder of entrepreneurial incubator StrategyDeli and sits on the DePaul University Marketing MBA Advisory Council. As Chief Marketing Officer of XanGo, John implemented a number of innovative programs, including:

John is also founder of entrepreneurial incubator StrategyDeli and sits on the DePaul University Marketing MBA Advisory Council. As Chief Marketing Officer of

  • Negotiating a category-creating jersey-front deal with Major League Soccer
  • Creating the award-winning XanGo.TV social media site
  • Leading an international marketing program in more than 25 markets

John’s innovative track record earned him an invitation to address the WFDSA World Conference XIII in Singapore.

Sponsorships represent great marketing opportunities if approached strategically and with activation plans fitting a brand’s business objectives. Today, John shares his perspective on how XanGo put together an innovative sponsorship program that’s led to the brand being featured in tonight’s Major League Soccer championship on ESPN:

 

Jersey-front sponsorships are a long-running international soccer tradition. Global corporations such as Samsung and bwin invest millions supporting top teams and showcasing their brands on the playing fields of the world’s most popular sport. But when XanGo, a 4-year old emerging nutritionals leader and direct sales company based in Utah, inked the first jersey-front sponsorship in U.S. Major League Soccer history in November 2006, it was the first of its kind in North American professional sports.

The innovative deal to place the XanGo brand on the jersey-front of Real Salt Lake (RSL) was a perfect fit for the XanGo healthy lifestyle brand and its reputation as a “company of firsts.” We faced risks, however, that come with introducing this kind of advertising. Some wondered if American soccer fans would accept a branded jersey, while others considered a direct sales company an unlikely sponsor.

Exploring the jersey sponsorship, we formulated an activation program designed to mobilize hundreds of thousands of independent XanGo distributors and “make every game a home game” for RSL. Reaching a new consumer constituency would provide opportunity for distributors to teach the business as they filled the stands and hosted their own events at local soccer matches.

XanGo rolled out with an advanced digital strategy and a branded web site celebrating the game and teaching soccer basics. Research showed the site became a destination for parents whose kids were discovering soccer and joining leagues across the country. Many of these visitors learned about XanGo for the first time.

XanGo distributors and employees made RSL’s branded kit one of the league’s top-selling jerseys. FIFA Soccer by EA Sports, one of the world’s most-popular video games, featured XanGo on the jersey of the game’s RSL team. And the XanGo Cup hosted friendly exhibitions between RSL and international soccer superpowers – and their TV audiences.

Measurement data showed the jersey deal became a key factor in boosting global brand recognition, web traffic, and recruitment.

Weeks after the XanGo sponsorship announcement, David Beckham signed with the L.A. Galaxy and global nutrition and direct sales company Herbalife secured the next jersey-front deal. Jersey sponsorships with major brands followed around the league, including BMO with Toronto FC, Best Buy with the Chicago Fire, and Amway Global with the San Jose Earthquakes.

Network marketing is a passionate, loyalty-driven business. As direct sales brands cut their jersey deals, distributors from each sponsoring company became more vocal and competitive in showing support.

Three years after the first jersey-front deal, Real Salt Lake and the L.A. Galaxy have reached the MLS Cup, taking two direct sales titans to the league’s biggest stage.

While the category-creating deal surprised some, the trend of direct sales sponsorships has aligned thriving nutrition brands with the game, increased consumer awareness of the business and converted millions of passionate distributors into active fans for Major League Soccer. – John Digles

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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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4

Thanks to a tweet from Richard Dedor, Chris Reaburn and I were last minute attendees at a Kansas City PRSA lunch session by Dan Schawbel based on his book Me 2.0 – Build a Personal Brand to Achieve Career Success.

The talk was part of a career day for students interested in PR, so the average audience age was 20. As a result, the slant of the personal branding ideas Dan Schawbel shared was customized for the industry and audience life stage.

The personal branding ideas he covered were nonetheless applicable to anyone working on heightening their own identities. From talking with many people mid-career professionals in transition, however, they tend to be woefully behind on how personal branding applies to their own career situations.

3 Personal Branding Ideas for Mid-Career Professionals

So for the 25 times 2.0 crowd, here are three personal branding ideas customized for you:

1. Volunteering for meaningful assignments with professional associations is a great mid-career internship.

Dan Schawbel highlights the necessity of internships for college-age job seekers. Mid-career professionals seeking new jobs have similar opportunities. I speak with many people whose current job is “looking for a job.” There’s no sizzle and not much built-in skill development there. Yet associations relevant to you are likely looking for knowledgeable mid-career professionals to take on assignments.

One great thing about a smartly-chosen volunteer project is you typically have room to make it much cooler than anyone in the association ever expected. The result is you get to experiment, learn, and have something with sizzle to lead with when networking.

2. Mid-career, it’s imperative to assess your personality and get on with changing what’s not working.

My advice to people who leave for other companies is always to think about who they want to be in a new job, because it’s the only opportunity to create a “new” you. Dan makes the point it’s tremendously challenging to reinvent yourself in the age of (nearly) total visibility to your online presence.

That’s true, but if you continually trip yourself up through the same behaviors, do the self-help, career coaching, or counseling necessary to eliminate rough spots. Become if not a new, at least a “new formula” you.

3. Mid-career professionals need a solid, actively growing offline and online network.

Dan Schawbel is right when he says a larger network has the potential to work much harder for you. As a mid-career professional, you should be good at determining the highest value people in your network.

While you definitely want to serve and cultivate these relationships very actively, you should also be continually reaching out to expand your network offline and online. Focus on adding people you may be able to help while building the most vibrant, responsive network you can. That’s a far better move than creating the largest network possible filled with people having few real ties to you.

What personal branding ideas do you have to share?

Personal branding is of increasing interest, so look for more personal branding ideas in the future. Let me know how we can deliver value to you as part of the Brainzooming family! – 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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9

Big shifts are taking place personally. They’re sure to affect the direction and content on Brainzooming™, and it’s appropriate to let you know what’s happening.

For the past five years, I’ve been working a personal branding plan designed to grow my network, increase learning, and build a stronger presentation and writing repertoire. Important activities have included:
  • Speaking and facilitating with groups internationally on developing strategic thinking, innovation, branding, and social media
  • Starting multiple blogs, including one on humor and another on spirituality
  • Introducing Brainzooming as a “personal” brand
  • Employing a social media strategy to grow the brand

It’s been an aggressive effort, and especially recently, I’ve described myself as doing two full-time jobs. The personal branding effort for Brainzooming takes place early mornings, late nights, weekends, and vacation days away from my primary job in a corporate role.

During my career, my day job has allowed incredible opportunities to grow and contribute beyond my original market research position:

Through it all, it’s been amazing to work with incredibly talented and wonderful people. It’s actually quite staggering to contemplate the incredible opportunities I’ve been provided.

This Friday though, after a difficult decision, I’m leaving my corporate position. Despite all the news suggesting it’s a ridiculous time to do it, nearly all indications suggest it’s exactly the right thing to do.

As a result, next Monday my priorities flip: Brainzooming moves to the forefront and pursuing a potential next corporate position becomes secondary.

While I’ve made a point to keep nearly all references to my corporate position out of Brainzooming, its daily learnings and challenges infuse the blog content all the time. With a different routine and new interactions, what gets covered here will change. Together, we’ll find out exactly what that means as the future unfolds.

Welcome to the new phase of Brainzooming, as it grows into a full-time strategic innovation consulting company! The Brainzooming team looks forward to your ideas, business leads, and guidance as the changes take place!

P.S. Especially the business leads! More on that later! – 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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11

We wrapped up the AMA Marketing Research Conference last week to very kind words from a number of participants about the different nature of the conference experience.

The secret of great, meaningful brand events lies in a simple formula. Look for the strongest possible alignment on these 3 dimensions:
  • Attendees’ personal interests
  • An event’s emotional intensity
  • A brand’s visibility as the event’s enabler

The formula works across many venues and event types. Recognize the enabling brand can be for business (i.e., an event sponsor), or it may be a personal brand (you and your spouse throwing a holiday party).

No matter what the event, consider and deliver on these three variables to see a difference in your audience’s experience and reactions. 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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2

I presented on “Getting Ready for This” at the Fort Hays State University Business and Leadership Symposium. The talk focused on six strategic success skills vital  in today’s workplace amid a dramatically changing business world. The premise is it’s fundamental to possess strategic success skills in co-creating, contorting, and abandoning ideas and strategies based on what’s relevant at any time. It’s not so much “what” you know, as “how” to continually deconstruct and reassemble your  knowledge in dramatically new and relevant ways throughout your career.

It starts with several amazing factoids from the video “Do You Know 3.0?” recounting dramatic demographic, technology, and information-based changes worldwide. It’s been viewed millions of times, and in the event you haven’t seen it, take a few minutes to watch it.

As a brief overview and reference for the presentation, here are the six strategic success skills to more concertedly embrace:

1. Knowing Answers Is Good – Knowing How to Find Answers Is Vital

Since facts change and information deteriorates, it’s vital to be able to know how to seek and vet potential answers since no one can be expected to have a full command of all available knowledge.

2. Balanced Thinking Allows You to Be More Strategic

USA Today featured an article in July on retraining a left brained orientation to a right brained one in order to cope with a changing job environment. We talk plenty about the importance of knowing your thinking orientation, surrounding yourself with a complementary team, and the strategic impact of being able to work with contradictory points of view.

3. Possibilities and Emotion are Important in Business

From someone whose more natural orientation centers on facts and logic, this has been the most challenging of the 6 areas to retrain my own view. The best place to go on this topic is Benjamin Zander, who has been mentioned frequently here. As a homework assignment for attendees at the FHSU presentation, I asked them to watch these two Zander videos and get a genuine sense of the importance of emotion and possibilities thinking:

4. You Have to Be Able to Communicate in Multiple Ways

Communication is in the top 10 topics addressed on Brainzooming so far because it’s so critical to successful creativity, innovation, and strategic thinking. Students need to be pushed to go beyond the typical team presentation that summarizes a semester-long project. They need to be adept at using formats of varying lengths (simple recommendations, elevator speeches, tweets, etc.) and mediums (songs, video, acting, etc.).

5. Leadership Starts Day One on the Job

Leadership is about service, not titles. That means day one is the time for new graduates to start leading on the job. Taking on a strategic leadership role can be simple. You just have to be willing to do something about it!

6. People All Around You Are Making Decisions Based on Personal Branding

Personal branding isn’t a meaningless concept authors dreamed up to sell more books. It’s truly the driver behind why anyone gets hired, advances, and has intriguing opportunities develop. Step one is understanding your talents and exploiting them. Here are two great books to read on how to further develop and sustain a personal brand:

I look forward to comments from those in attendance (and non-attendees as well) with thoughts on the topic since it applies to all of us as dizzying changes occur around us. Stay close to the Brainzooming blog for more on change and dealing with it in the near future!  – Mike Brown

The Brainzooming Group helps make smart organizations more successful by rapidly expanding their strategic options and creating innovative plans they can efficiently implement. Email us at brainzooming@gmail.com or call 816-509-5320 to learn how we can get your Brainzooming!

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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3

Never underestimate predictability as an innovative and very attractive brand benefit.

For example, I stay at a particular hotel regularly where I have gold status. Frequently an upgrade’s offered for the stay. Often it’s a “preferred guest” floor room with slightly more plentiful amenities and free in-room bottles of water. As an all-suites property, there’s a microwave, a small fridge, and two place settings – all great for fixing a 5 a.m. breakfast.

During slow periods, I’ve been upgraded to a multi-level room on the top floor with a wonderful view, meeting space, and a full kitchen. Many times though, even with gold status, I’m in a regular room with few amenities and $4 bottled water.

Rather than gold status, I feel as if I have “Forrest Gump” status in their rewards program because I never know what I’m going to get.

While the preferred guest rooms have better amenities, the hotel remodeled those rooms last. So for nearly two years, the non-preferred rooms were much nicer, with better work space and lighting. The large multi-level room (considered the upgrade pinnacle) was the worst in the property, with water stains, peeling wallpaper, and a full flight of stairs to drag your luggage up once in the room. And invariably, when the room has great meeting space, I’m not traveling with a co-worker where our project would benefit from a place to work after hours.

During one stay the upgrade was to a lower floor multi-level room. This alleviated hauling luggage up the stairs. The meeting space was great with a huge TV, but it went completely unused. The water was still $4 and for the first time, there were no plates, silverware, or napkins. So eating an early breakfast required going outside to buy plastic utensils and paper towels!

Thus while appreciating the upgrade effort, the impact generally creates more challenges or wasted benefits than positives. If they ever asked about my brand experience, I’d say it’s “nice but unpredictable,” since there’s no opportunity to plan ahead to take advantage of a potential upgrade.

What could they do? Three simple steps:

    1. Ask upfront about my particular situation and what would be of greatest benefit.

    More room? Better work space? A nicer view? A particular room location? All of these are available, but depending on the trip, which upgrade provides real benefit changes.

    2. Realize that an upgrade can be about the experience and not the actual room.

    Why not be creative and have upgrade kits with amenities and free water no matter what room I’m offered.

    3. Ask specifically at the end of the stay about how things were and consider the comments.

    This is something they never do.

      Three simple steps. If they did them, they’d discover an opportunity to do less for me (either in actual expense or opportunity cost) and get credit for greater value, simply by asking first and delivering a predictable experience that reflects an understanding of my needs.


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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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      1

      A January post highlighted the plan to broaden Brainzooming through social media. Specific tactics included Twitter, capturing story ideas with Flip video, and participating elsewhere online.

      Since many readers have asked, here’s a progress update: the opportunities, connections, and possibilities from implementing the plan have been beyond my expectations. For those considering using social media in your personal brand efforts, here are some highlights:

      One learning has been that taking a strategic approach to social media for me means concentrating efforts on only a few sites. That’s why there’s little presence from me on Facebook or Plaxo. I will be trying though to make a concerted attempt to get back to some high impact sites and explore new ones. One is Bulbstorm.com – a crowdsourcing beta site allowing individuals and businesses to solicit input on ideas while still protecting fundamental, proprietary elements of the ideas through varying access levels.

      What a partial year so far of learning, meeting new people, and discovering new opportunities! Email or DM me with questions on your social media effort or suggestions for mine. 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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