Branding | The Brainzooming Group - Part 52 – page 52
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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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Here’s the second part of the recap from The CMO Summit based on my notes and “ideas” list:

Those were among the highlights. I’ll also post on some related questions and comments from the strategic thinking session.

Here’s one last recommendation – when attending a conference, don’t check voice mail continually; try to stay in the moment. QTM: Do you give your team the latitude to keep things going when you’re away so that they’re not having to call you all the time? If not, figure out how you can start to do this!

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 spoke recently on “Cultivating a Strategic Perspective” at The CMO Summit sponsored by marcus evans. I spent most of my time on the B2B side, and there were a number of valuable sessions.

From my notes and “ideas” list, here are the first five stand out ideas along with related QTM’s (questions to marketers) from various presentations; we’ll have a second five from the conference tomorrow:
  • Kevin Young from LandAmerica delivered a kick-in-the-head on solid business fundamentals that Jay Conrad Levinson introduced as “Guerrilla Marketing.” In developing leads, look at all the available free and low-cost tools you have at your disposal (click here for a set of questions to help target tools for your business). QTM: When was the last time you did a 6-degrees of separation exercise to identify how you can easily get to your hard-to-reach decision makers through a contact you both know?
  • Stewart Stockdale from Simon Property Group shared a fascinating case study on how the company has turned marketing into a profit center, looking at its shopping center assets and visitors as media outlets and audiences, respectively. QTM: When is the next time (hopefully SOON) you’ll look at turning your business model on its head to find new growth opportunities?
  • Marketing legend Dr. Phil Kotler made the point that a CMO’s chief role includes seeding strong marketing people and processes throughout the organization. QTM: Are we all investing enough time and effort on this and the related area of team development?
  • My good friend, Nicholas de Wolff from Thomson used an intriguing audience participation exercise. He had one person try to name nearly 30 brands based only on their logos (he missed just two). Nicholas then challenged all of us to think about whether our brands could be recognized based only on our logos. QTM: Well, could they?
  • Keith Pigues from PlyGem shared results of a new B2B trend study from the Institute for the Study of Business Marketing. Keith heads the national Business Marketing Association; I was just selected for the national board. If Keith is representative of the passion, intellect, and drive of the other members, I’m even more excited about this opportunity. QTM: How are you giving back to our profession?

Check back tomorrow for another 5 take aways from The CMO Summit.

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 title may seem harsh, but it’s a safe premise: NOBODY CARES ABOUT YOU.

There are probably some exceptions (your parents, a loved one, a few altruistic souls), but unless you’ve EARNED the opportunity for someone’s sustained interest, NOBODY CARES ABOUT YOU! This reality is important because most brands have not created important enough relationships with customers for them to be more interested in the brand than themselves.

The questions to ask for any brand communication are:

  • How does this information benefit our audience? AND
  • Why should they care about it?

A brochure draft recently came to me for review. Technically it was written fine, but it contained mind-numbing details about the brand’s history, awards, and operational statistics. The questions above obviously weren’t considered. It was only about what WE wanted to say. There was no recognition of the utter lack of benefit for our customers, and the near certainty that they wouldn’t care about a history lesson on us.

Recently, I’ve received the other end of this treatment as well. A service provider repeatedly leaves me voice mails about his “concerns” about us. Remember, we’re paying his company money to provide us a service. Quite frankly, his concerns aren’t at the top of my list, i.e. I DON’T CARE ABOUT HIM! At least not until after he expresses interest in what benefits us.

Use these two questions liberally when providing information and building relationships. Think and act outside in, seeking first to understand and benefit others. In this way you can hope to win the coveted position in the minds and hearts of customers where they might genuinely care about you.

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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