Branding | The Brainzooming Group - Part 51 – page 51
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Yet another way to ideate on a strong “personal” category is to use your current personal strengths and deliberately transform them to identify new and distinctive possibilities. Here’s a relatively quick approach:

  1. State your objective as “Building a distinct personal category to define and differentiate my value to others.”
  2. List 8-10 of your distinctive talents (Tuesday) and areas of incredible value (Wednesday) as Attributes in the left column in the grid below.
  3. Using the objective from Step 1, take each talent and value area in Step 2 and transform them in the various ways suggested below, always asking: “To create a new personal category how can I (INSERT TRANSFORMER FROM BELOW) to / of (INSERT STRENGTH OR TALENT)?

Potential Transformers include Make It Bigger / Do More of It, Make It Smaller / Do Less of It, Replace It, Turn It Around, Remove It, Standardize It, Customize It, Make It More Complex, Simplify It, Eliminate It

Run through as many combinations as you can, trying to generate 2 or 3 new ideas form each pairing. Don’t settle for fewer than 60 possibilities that could fit into the category definition we’ve been working on all week.
Next, we’ll narrow all the possibilities to get close to defining your category.

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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A 360 degree survey can be scary, but it’s a great tool to get a sense of how others perceive you. It can be tremendously instructive and beneficial. I did one through a leadership class several years ago that really helped me redefine some of my behaviors. There are various ones available online.

Another fast way to get some sense of potential areas you can use to define “your category” is to ask yourself and others three value-related questions:

  • What are the TOP 3 things I do that ADD INCREDIBLE VALUE for others?
  • What are the TOP 3 things I do that DON’T DELIVER INCREDIBLE VALUE for others because we can’t/don’t focus enough time, attention, and/or resources on them?
  • What are the TOP 3 things I do that ADD LITTLE OR NO VALUE for others?

Look for themes among the answers and consider using areas of incredible value as potential category definers. Areas where you could deliver value but don’t are potential opportunities for more concentrated effort. Areas where you’re delivering little value could be areas to attempt to eliminate from your routine.

Soliciting reactions about yourself from others may feel intimidating, but assessing and using the responses wisely gives you an advantage most people are unwilling to pursue.

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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Distinctive talents are skills closely associated with you where you continually improve as you do them, you benefit others, and you create a spark that attracts people to be a part of the energy you’re radiating. Building your list of distinctive talents begins with answering these questions openly & honestly:

  • What things motivate you to get up every morning?
  • How are you of the greatest service to others?
  • What activities bring you the most happiness and contentment?
  • What functions, talents, and skills do you (or have you) used that give you the most fulfillment in your professional life, family relationships / duties, spiritual life, and personal interests / hobbies?
  • How would you spend your time, talents, and attention if you didn’t have to work?

Hint – Stumped for answers in some areas? Ask a few acquaintances what they think your distinctive talents are.

After answering all the questions, go back and circle the 5 or 10 or 15 answers that truly fit the distinctive talents definition. Since these areas are likely to be the most intuitive for you, you think less about the mechanics of doing them and simply perform them really well. This makes them ideal to incorporate into creating a new “category” where you’ll be the best in the world.

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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Next week is the 200th Brainzooming post. Starting this blog has been a great personal growth experience, providing an opportunity to interact with people and to create a new outlet for ideas and cartoons. Ideally, it’s also been beneficial for you, the readers.

In June, I asked current readers for input. Your comments helped re-shape the blog’s content and style. Your ideas have been very beneficial.

I’d like to ask your help again to expand the blog’s readership. Specifically I need your help in growing the new reader pool for the blog by 200 people more than typical in the next two weeks.

Here’s how you can help. If you find value in the content, please forward the site’s URL / link with a brief comment to 10 or 20 friends that might also find benefit in it. Heck, if I may be so presumptuous, copy and send the paragraph below, if you’d like:

I just wanted to pass along a daily blog that I’ve been reading on innovation, creativity, and strategy. It’s an interesting mix of topics that helps in thinking about work and even personal life in new ways. Thought you might be interested in checking it out at http://brainzooming.blogspot.com. The posts are pretty short and available via email. Check it out!

Your referrals are vital in helping grow the readership base so that we can get more comments, interaction, and feedback to continue shaping the content to address challenges and opportunities the readers face.

Remember, we’re going for 200 new readers. And as a thank you, to the person who cc’s me (at email address – mike@mikebrownspeaks.com) with the most invites to potential readers (across both BrainZooming and mikebrownspeaks readers), I’ll send a copy of “Made to Stick” by Chip and Dan Heath.

So get cutting and pasting, help the blog grow, and get your chance to win “Made to Stick.” Thanks for your help!!!

Mike

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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A recent post on my musical tastes elicited an interesting reply from “Anonymous” about the predominance of indie acts that struggled with maintaining early critical and/or commercial success. The question was what these bands could have applied from business strategy to improve their longevity. Here are a few thoughts:

  • In applying business strategy, most of these bands are “product brands” (Liz Phair, Cracker, The Lemonheads, Crowded House, etc.). Records labels are the businesses. They Might Be Giants is probably closest to a true business with its diversification into other mediums.
  • Based on the first point, most indie bands don’t subscribe to typical business objectives initially (i.e. Liz Phair disavowing interest in selling records early on, only to realize later that it’s okay). As such, the indie strategy is typically “build it and they will come” – far from a successful long-term marketing strategy.
  • How achievable long-term success is for indie bands seems tied to how their brands are defined:
    – “How” oriented bands – a brand built around style whether musical (M. Ward, Fatboy Slim) or visual (while not on my list, Flock of Seagulls is the ultimate footnote in this category).
    – “Who” oriented bands – built around individuals or groups of individuals (Lemonheads, R.E.M.).
    – “What” oriented bands – the brand is tied to the group’s structure and form. The Clash was about its members and a point of view; U2 is another example. “What” oriented bands seem to have the most viable options for growth and staying power. “How” and “Who” acts seem more hemmed in by fans unwilling to allow change.
  • Speaking of fans, another factor limiting broad commercial success for indie bands is music’s highly emotional nature. This phenomenon limits maneuver for brands seeking out new stylistic territory. If your bathroom cleaner changes formulation, big deal – there’s no emotional connection. If your favorite indie band tries to change, however, there’s a lot greater likelihood you’ll feel betrayed and look for a new one with which to connect.
  • Finally, from a strategy perspective, a business can only afford for its products to be as niche as distribution systems allow for efficiency and profit. When most of these acts became popular, distribution was through physical stores, with higher inherent costs. As a result, bands had to meet tougher sales hurdles to continue recording. With today’s electronic distribution, minimum commercial sales targets have likely declined. The greater distribution efficiency is the only reason most of these acts still even have music available for purchase.

The net of all this suggests a variety of factors that make it tough, albeit perhaps easier today, for an indie band to breakthrough to broad commercial success. But doing so still often pulls a band away from its critical base. The key to doing all this successfully ties to staking out a broad enough structure and form for the band’s brand early on, providing enough room for the expansion necessary to go after commercial success.

As usual, check out Seth Godin’s blog for a couple of intriguing posts that address related aspects of the questions of popularity and targeting your strategy.

Thanks for prompting this response Chris, I mean, “Anonymous.”

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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Powerful comparisons are important to many creative thinking exercises. While the types of comparisons may vary, for the more than twenty-five “Change Your Character” creative thinking exercises on the Brainzooming blog, delegating an opportunity or challenge to someone you wouldn’t typically think about selecting to do your work yields a wide variety of creative ideas.

Creative Ideas from an Unlikely Character?

The Change Your Character creative thinking exercises use someone in a completely different line of work to help you look at your own situation with a fresh perspective.

Here are the steps for Change Your Character:

  1. State the business challenge that you’re addressing – it could be an opportunity, a problem, a new process or approach, etc.
  2. Pick who you want to work on your situation. This could be a real person, a fictional or cartoon character, or even another business that faces an analogous situation.
  3. Once you’ve identified who you’ll put on the job, list 8 to 10 approaches that the person, character, or business uses to address opportunities or challenges.
  4. Using the 8 to 10 approaches, apply them to your situation to generate at least 3 new ideas each for solving it.

Each of the Change Your Character creative thinking exercises does steps 2 and 3 for you. This allows you to focus primarily on step 4 – creative idea generation.

25 “Change Your Character” Creative Thinking Exercises

Here’s a compilation of 25 of these creative thinking exercises you can bookmark for use in successfully addressing future opportunities. Within each category, the situations and characters covered are listed, along with a link to the original article.

Strategy

Relationship & Brand Building

Team Building

Management & Problem Solving

Professional Skills

Just a note – I used Bart Simpson recently, and it worked very well. Give it a try and have great success Changing Your Character! – Mike Brown

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Learn all about Mike Brown’s creative thinking and innovation presentations!

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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My contention is that time shouldn’t be a factor in determining whether an issue is strategic, i.e., what you’re having for lunch 3 years from today isn’t strategic simply because it’s long-term and a significant quality performance conversation isn’t tactical simply because it’s happening this afternoon.

Based on this assertion, somebody asked me the question: if long-term doesn’t define strategic, what does?

Here’s a partial list for considering what’s strategic for a brand. Obviously the list would look different at a department or project level, but here’s an overall picture.

  • Is it central to the brand, its representation, or delivery of the brand promise?
  • Does it broadly and/or directly affect key audiences for your brand?
  • Could it significantly attract or disaffect customers and prospects?
  • Does it significantly affect organizational structure or alignment?
  • Could it materially affect the brand’s financial prospects?
  • Does it touch the heart of the core purpose, values, and/or vision of the organization?
  • Will the organization’s supply of resources or raw materials be dramatically affected?

The more questions you can answer in the affirmative, the more likely an issue is and should be addressed strategically.

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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