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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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Several folks from our creative thinking team were at John Pepper’s Baker University marketing classes for an ideation session on their class project: brand extension ideas for the Apple “iBrand.”

There was a lot of energy from the students in the two classes as we did three creative thinking exercises (based on analogies, randomness, and transformation) and a round of prioritization in less than 50 minutes to generate lots of brand extension ideas!

We used a “Change Your Character” creative thinking exercise to look at how prominent marketers use brand extensions, then had the students apply the ideas to Apple.
If you’re faced with a brand extension challenge, you too can turn to these brands and this creative thinking exercise too, generating three possible ideas for each of the brand extension ideas below:
  • New products allow you to experience the brand in different places (Starbucks)
  • Licenses the brand to various companies (Martha Stewart)
  • Introduces smaller versions of its products (Oreo)
  • Offers related merchandise for users of its main product (Harley-Davidson)
  • Finds new uses for its product & introduces brand extensions (Arm & Hammer)
  • Lends its name to subsidiaries serving different market segments (Marriott)
  • Extends its brand with a fee-based online presence (NASCAR)
  • Lets you experience new products free & then sells them to you (Starbucks)
  • Offers slimmed down versions of its main products (Special K)
  • Offers products complementary to its main line (Fruit of the Loom)
  • Changes certain visible “ingredients” of its product (Oreo)
  • Takes a piece of intellectual capital & uses its theme in other product & service categories (Jimmy Buffett)

Thanks again to John for allowing us to come work with his students! I learn something new every year that we’re able to incorporate right into our planning efforts, and this year was no exception. We’ll be back!

Check out a compilation of “Change Your Character” creative thinking exercises and information on its use.  – Mike Brown

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Download the free ebook, “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” to help you generate fantastic creative ideas! For an organizational creativity boost, contact The Brainzooming Group to help your team be more successful by rapidly expanding strategic options and creating innovative plans to efficiently implement. Email us at info@brainzooming.com or call us at 816-509-5320    to learn how we can deliver these benefits for 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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The title question arose at the Business Marketing Association presentation Thursday. It’s usually preceded by, “Why do you wear orange socks?” The answer speaks to three principles important for a creative perspective:

Accepting Contradictions

I’m proud my name is “Brown,” but the color has never been prominent in my life, despite saying & hearing the color’s name every day.

With this contradiction (being Brown, but not brown), it’s no wonder I wound up at a company named Yellow whose brand color is orange. The contradiction escaped me for several years. Senior management didn’t care for orange, so there was little evidence of it. And even though I was more oblivious than accepting of this contradiction, the result was the same!

Taking Advantage of the Unexpected

When Greg Reid took over as CMO and said, “If our most asked question is why’s the name Yellow if our color’s orange, let’s do something with it,” ORANGE start showing up everywhere. The marketing staff even wore orange socks to our strategic plan presentation.

That triggered a friendly competition with another employee to sport the most orange (socks, shirts, shoes, backpacks, cups, etc.). I became known for wearing orange socks daily. When “Fast Company” profiled us and called me the Cal Ripken, Jr. of orange clothes for the socks, the connection strengthened. Taking advantage of this opportunity, I co-opted the company’s brand as part of my own. ORANGEbecame MY color.

Look for Strategic Connections

Speaking on innovation, I researched what orange represents and found it matched my topics: creativity, balance & harmony, strength, enthusiasm, excitement, happiness, healing, vigor, and success. I used orange even more to link my personal brand and key presentation themes. An added bonus? I didn’t have to buy a new non-orange wardrobe & business accessories.

Now when asked about the color mismatch, I simply say, “I’m like an M&M – brown on the inside, orange on the outside!”

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’m on a panel today addressing “Global Branding Trends, Challenges, and Possible Solutions” at the HDMA Heavy Duty Dialogue ’08 conference. It’s being moderated by Sally Staab a VP at Weyforth-Haas Marketing in Overland Park, KS. The other participants are Walt Delevich from SKF and John Beering from Eaton Corporation.

From my segment on brand strategy in a full house of brands, here are a few keys for branding amid significant M&A activity:

  • Elegant brand architecture often isn’t in the cards with an M&A-based growth strategy – With significant M&A activity, a number of very real factors may confound attempts to create elegantly simple brand architecture. Among the potential issues: the relative strengths of brands in the family, customer loyalty to existing brands, management demands, deal structures, challenges in doing a large-scale conversion, required investment, and long cycles for replacing branded assets.
  • Work with experienced brand strategy partners – A brand is more than a logo and an ad; it’s the promise you make to your key audiences. It’s multi-dimensional and encompasses all customer contact points with the company – employees, products, service, visual and physical cues, and communications. Given this broad definition, few advertising agencies have the full range of capabilities to address all of your brand issues. Engage firms that specialize in branding across all these dimensions.
  • Invest in the necessary fact finding effort to determine your brand strategy – Facts need to be at the heart of any brand strategy decisions, and they should come from as many sources as possible – internally & externally. Inventory the key data sources and audiences whose perceptions you need to understand and project. Beyond analysis of available data, look to both qualitative and quantitative research techniques to bolster your understanding of what the market expects, accepts, and will ultimately reward from your brand.
  • Figure out where you want your brand to be in the future and then work your way back to the present through multiple scenarios – Hypothesize various scenarios on where you want the brand to be in the future relative to customers, products / services, markets, competitors, and the external environment. Pick a future point linked to the longest relevant decision cycles for your brand. Then, work your way back on how you expect to get there, recognizing likely decision points, operational issues, future M&A events, sales & marketing efforts, competitor activity, and the best and worst developments that could happen with your brand.
  • Look to others brands for lessons, even if their situations aren’t completely comparable – You can’t simply follow your industry’s branding conventions if your situation differs dramatically. In that case, find brands outside your industry that you can look to for insights. Ideally seek out brands in similar current situations and others that have brand architectures that resemble how you’d like yours to look. Go to school on what their brand migration paths look like, what rules or approaches they use, etc. Additionally, there’s great value in networking with them and being able to ask direct questions on their strategies.
  • Use in-country experts to assess how your brand will fit in global markets – Don’t depend on uninformed or remote perspectives for determining in-country brand strategy globally. Identify branding partners & key employees with on the ground experience that can provide knowledgeable input and reactions to global brand strategy development. Do the qualitative and quantitative fact finding work in-country or in-region as well. – 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. We draw on our varied strategy experience in defining new brands, jump starting lagging ones, and  rehabilitating battered brands. Email us at info@brainzooming.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can help you enhance your strategy and implementation efforts.

 

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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21

The new year is a time for reflecting on what’s really important. If I may get creative and turn that concept on its side a little, since articulating a new definition for “strategic thinking” (addressing things that matter with insight & innovation), I’ve been trying to get down on paper a list of strategic thinking questions whose answers would help shed light on, “What matters?”

What are great questions to best identify what’s strategic, i.e., what really matters in a particular business situation? This is a starting list of strategic thinking questions:

  • What does our brand stand for?
  • What do we most want to accomplish in the organization?
  • How would we describe our best, most valuable customers?
  • Who don’t we do business with?
  • Who do we win the most business from and why?
  • Who do we lose the most business to and why?
  • What are the biggest cost drivers in the organization?
  • What things would be most devastating (or most embarrassing) if our customers knew about them?
  • What’s the biggest unknown in our market?
  • What are the best opportunities available to us?
Feel free to start using strategic thinking questions from the list above. Feel even freer still to comment on other strategic planning questions you’ve used successfully to identify “what matters.” – 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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