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Do you have many things you want your employees to understand about your corporate branding strategy, what they should be doing to carry it out, and how they should interact with customers to fulfill your brand promise?

Do you have lots to say about your corporate branding strategy, but no time or opportunity to say it all?

Try these four ideas to prioritize internal messages for employees to help them understand and carry out your corporate branding strategy.

1. Crafting Brief Internal Brand Messages

This idea is from a corporate branding consultant. Assemble all the internal brand messages you hope to share with employees and put them to this test:

“If you had 3 minutes, a megaphone, and all your employees in the parking lot, what would you say?”

Three minutes translates to approximately four hundred words – about this blog post’s length. With that limit, which internal brand messages will make the cut?

2. Even Shorter Internal Brand Messages

This puts your messages to the tougher elevator speech test:

“If you have a 30-second elevator ride, what internal brand message would you want your employees to be able to share with customers (knowing they also have to understand, explain, and carry out that message)?

In crafting the elevator speech, what elements of the brand promise, brand benefits, and points of differentiation are vital?

Elevator-Picture

3. Creating Instantaneous Brand Messages

At a long-ago workshop, author Jay Conrad Levinson challenged the marketers to develop brand memes. Levinson used “meme” to represent a symbol or icon instantly recognizable that conveys your brand and its promise to customers.

A text-based logo with a bland brand name doesn’t pass this test. In that case, what else could you depict to instantly allow customers to get your brand, what it stands for, and what it does?

101002 The Brainzooming Group Logo - No Tagline copy

Our Meme

4. First, Last, Only Corporate Branding Strategy Messages

This final idea is a variation on a reminder for getting the most from church: What would you want your first brand message to employees to be? What would you want your last brand message to employees to be? And if you could deliver only one brand message to employees, what would it include?

Have three individuals or groups answer this question separately. Look for the common messages among the three scenarios. Those are the ones to prioritize.

From Corporate Branding Strategy to Internal Brand Messages

Try these four ideas to prioritize your internal brand messages and fashion something employees can understand, remember, and carry out successfully.  – Mike Brown

10 Lessons to Engage Employees and Drive Improved Results

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This new Brainzooming mini-book, “Results – Creating Strategic Impact” unveils ten proven lessons for senior executives to increase strategic collaboration, employee engagement, and grow revenues for their organizations.

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  • Learn smart ways to separate strategic opportunities from the daily noise of business
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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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If your brand has been battered in the marketplace, you need to develop and implement a turnaround corporate branding strategy. Having been there and done that with a Fortune 500 business-to-business brand, here are five keys to successful turnaround branding.

5 Keys to a Successful Turnaround Corporate Branding Strategy

Traffic-Circle

1. Be prepared for a multi-front branding battle.

A turnaround corporate branding strategy is not a one front battle. If a brand were just a logo, it would be. Since a brand is more than a new ad and a new logo, however, you must fight the turnaround branding battle on multiple fronts. That involves the brand’s strategic foundation, its people, product and service quality, brand cues, and communications channels.

2. Ask questions and pursue facts relentlessly.

Facts are at the heart of driving turnaround branding strategy. Got big data? Got small data? Either way, use it to form strategies and decisions. You have to ensure you are listening everywhere for what customers, the marketplace, competitors, and other stakeholders are “telling” you about your brand position.

3. The real competitive threat isn’t always the obvious one.

It’s easy to think the competitors you are up against with your turnaround branding strategy are the competitors that look like your own brand. It’s vital, however, to identify potential competitive substitutes – even unconventional ones – for the benefits your brand delivers. Niche players could become the competitors that disrupt and crush your turnaround branding efforts.

4. Figure out what your brand is really about in the minds of customers.

Determine what your brand represents right now in the marketplace and what opportunities there are to change your position. Exploring the benefits the brand currently delivers and has the opportunity to start delivering could lead to a very different position than what the brand currently occupies.

5. Your brand story needs to be simple, consistent, and visible.

Getting ready to deliver on your updated brand promise means everything has to be aligned, beginning with alignment to your brand culture. Enabling the brand promise starts with having the right people in place, then training and developing them to carry out what you tell the marketplace you’ll do. The key is making sure everything is ready behind the scenes before you start talking to the market.

A Corporate Branding Strategy Caution

Don’t be fooled by there being just five turnaround corporate branding strategy steps on this list. There’s a lot contained in those five steps, so start early and keep at it!  – Mike Brown

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Looking for Brand Innovation to Grow Your Business? Brainzooming Has an Answer!

Brainzooming Outside-In Innovation Strategic Thinking Tools eBookBusiness growth can depend on introducing new products and services that resonate more strongly with customers and deliver outstanding value.

Are you prepared to take better advantage of your brand’s customer and market insights to generate innovative product ideas? The right combination of outside perspectives and productive strategic thinking exercises enables your brand to ideate, prioritize, and propel innovative growth.

Download this free, concise ebook to:

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Download this FREE ebook to turn ideas into actionable innovation strategies to drive your organization’s comeback!


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Every now and then, we’ll run a post that recaps Facebook and Twitter updates, blog post scraps, and other random creative thinking, all smushed together, Larry King-style. If you enjoy those, today’s your day!

Creative Thinking on Love and Nastiness

If we’re willing to self-talk at the top of our lungs, we can tell ourselves anything without hearing the blatant truth swirling all around us. . . In the film about the band Kansas called “Miracles out of Nowhere,” Rolling Stone writer, David Wild, remarked on the band’s humble origins in my home state, “It’s hard to get your ass kissed in Kansas.” So true, so true. . . An honest to goodness Walmart moment: A woman (in a car in the parking lot with the windows rolled down) delivering what sounded like a church sermon while talking on the phone to someone obviously more interested in sexual exploits than God, as she stated ever so bluntly, “It doesn’t matter if she’ll let you [FILL IN EXPLICIT SEXUAL ACT]. God don’t care about that.”

Perhaps the most dangerous thing I’ve ever said to my wife is, “When you’re done trying to stubborn that to death, let me know, and I’ll help you do it” . . . I survived that remark to realize that love is figuring out all those little things you can say and do you KNOW will get under the skin of your partner, and then removing them from your personality and vowing to never ever ‘go there’ with any of them . . . Business wisdom from Mother Angelica on one of her TV shows, “If you took ‘but’ out of the dictionary, you’d be forced to tell the truth.”

Pencil-Med

When someone says they don’t believe in dogma or want to have any part of it, watch out, because there is a high likelihood they are about to introduce their OWN dogma, which is of course very acceptable to them . . . A school anxiety dream (i.e., having chemistry and accounting quizzes today that seemed far off at one point and I knew I’d study in advance, but never did and now it’s too late) woke me up at 4 in the morning. Guess those type of dreams never go away, no matter how long you’ve been away from school . . . If you’d have told me 15 years ago I’d hate a week where there was no time to exercise and would LOVE getting an hour of cardio exercise wedged into a busy schedule, I’d have told you that you were crazy. See, you CAN change, too.

One day, someone typed the search term “sleeping with my sociopath boss” and reached the Brainzooming blog. We’re happy to help in any way we can. . . A scary “closed blog” test for content creators: Give a blogger a list of his/her own post titles that include numbered lists and see how many of the lists they could reproduce from memory . . . When your alarm goes off and you haven’t been to bed yet, that’s a bad sign. And eating sushi at 2 a.m. isn’t an exactly a good sign, either . . . Producing events and meetings will make you either a yeller or someone who hardly ever yells. You get to pick which side of that fence you want to live. My advice? Pick wisely, because your reputation will be based on your pick. . . Why do people reply “Maybe” to an invitation? Perhaps the spirit is willing, but the event is weak?

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If you are in charge of developing innovation strategy, you have to answer the question, “What are our next big innovation opportunities?”

Being responsible for developing innovation strategy also means reaching out beyond your innovation team to employees, customers, and other stakeholders to gather valuable input.

When your outreach consists of asking stakeholders what your next big innovation opportunities are, however, you are missing the mark.

Delegating the Wrong Question to the Right People

Quesiton-Mark-Puzzle

Photo by: Leung Cho Pan

When answering the question about big innovation opportunities, your answer will likely come after significant exploration, ideation, concept development, prioritization, and prototyping. With that work out of the way, you are ready to speculate about the future opportunities.

Thinking you can delegate to others your job of developing innovation strategy and answering the important question you must address will not work. You cannot expect others to answer in one-step the question you might work months to address.

Yet, companies try to do just that.

Innovation Strategy that Has a Chance to Work

Talking with someone inside a big company recently, what they have tried to ask various stakeholders what they think the next innovation should be. First, it was through an employee “idea box.” When that did not work, it was through talking to customers, asking them what the company should innovate. That was not successful either.

No surprise in either case.

When taking the right step to reach out to employees and customers, do not expect them to develop your strategy. Instead, solicit input and help them articulate insights they have to help shape the innovation strategy.

  • Employees know about challenges and lost opportunities with customers. They know about problems with processes that restrict delivering value.
  • Customers know why they don’ use your product more. They know the problems or challenges they have with your product and what they wish you did more of or better.

Talk to your stakeholders about topics they can address. Give them information and the strategic thinking structures they can use to better articulate their thoughts.

Then, get back to the work you should be doing to turn that information, along with the other work you are doing, into answers about what your next big innovation opportunities are.

If you’d like to learn very productive ways to explore and identify your innovation opportunities, we invite you to download our FREE “Outside-In Innovation” edition of the Strategic Thinking Facebook. It’s waiting for you below, and will jump start answering the innovation questions you need to answer!

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“Share more case studies” is a common request at Brainzooming strategic thinking workshops. Many people want to know what another brand did in a particular situation and the results the brand experienced, even if the case study brand has nothing to do with their own brand.

Whenever I receive this request, I’m reminded of Barrett Sydnor saying, as he often does when comparing two situations, “Your results may vary.”

Just because another brand experienced a certain result means almost nothing if your brand has fundamentally different characteristics.

Strategic Thinking Lessons You Can Use

I was recently talking with another speaker about her discomfort with her own presentation and the absence of case studies.

She did not present her brand’s experience with social media in a regulated environment as a case study. Instead, she presented principles other brands should consider for approaching social media in a regulated industry, whether in the same industry as hers or another one.

Despite what attendees may request, I told her she was absolutely on the right track with her presentation and how she shares strategic thinking lessons.

She presented attendees concepts and approaches based on her experience. By generalizing the content into strategic thinking lessons (instead of delivering an overly-specific and overly-individualized case study), her content was of much greater benefit for attendees as a strategic thinking resource – whether they appreciated that or not.

Why Recipes Are Better than Dinner Stories

Our-Family-Recipes2

Think about a great dinner someone else made. They could tell you all about the story of making the meal, how the guests ate and enjoyed the meal, and the wonderfully positive reactions the dinner guests shared.

But if you wanted to try to replicate the experience with your own dinner guests, you are pretty much out of luck. Unless, that is, you can pick apart the story for clues about the ingredients, how it was prepared, and the way the host created the great experience.

If the person shared the recipe, however, you would know HOW to prepare the great dinner yourself. Now you would be in the position to decide whether your dinner guests might like the meal prepared just as the recipe specifies. Or with some modifications. Or maybe they wouldn’t like it at all because there are ingredients your dinner guests can’t eat or wouldn’t enjoy.

Hearing only the story about dinner is like hearing a case study.

Receiving the recipe, however, is like getting the principles and strategic thinking lessons behind the business situation a speaker shares.

Armed with those, you are in a position to translate and adapt the ideas to make them work best for you, or decide whether they will even work in your situation. And that’s all irrespective of how they worked for the speaker.

Next time you’re at a conference, look for the speakers sharing their recipes and NOT just their dinner stories. That’s when you will really be getting your money’s worth.  – Mike Brown

Looking for Results?

When it comes to results, if you want to learn about the advantages of engaging more people with greater diversity in creating strategic impact, we have just the mini-book for you

“RESULTS!!!” is a quick read mini-book designed for busy executives who want to take the first step toward smarter strategy and greater market success. Get your FREE copy today.

Then let’s talk about how to make it happen for your organization.


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Almost daily, people are looking at the Brainzooming blog for ideas for cool product names.

Since time has passed since we shared an updated list of creative thinking questions for creating cool product names, here are twenty-one additional questions.

These creative thinking questions are representative of those we use with clients to explore ideas for cool product names. Using questions such as these creates an efficient and very productive naming process. During a recent naming exercise for a client, we generated seven hundred naming ideas and four hundred naming possibilities using questions comparable to this during a two hour online collaboration session.

Yes, you read that right. 700 naming possibilities and 400 specific name ideas in 2 hours!!!

Idea-Bulb

21 Creative Thinking Questions for Cool Product Names

Ask these questions and imagine as many possibilities as you can for each question. The mega-list of names that results from that exercise will provide the basis for forming a variety of actual name possibilities.

  1. Is there a fictional person’s name associated with the product?
  2. Is there a real person’s name associated with the product?
  3. What animal represents the product?
  4. What are descriptive names for the geographic area from which the product originates?
  5. What are descriptive names for the geographic area that the product is associated with?
  6. What are nicknames for people who will use the product?
  7. What does the product most remind you of in another product?
  8. What emotional words describe the reactions people have when using your product?
  9. What made up word or words would does the product suggest?
  10. What names do people call the product after they’ve seen or used it for some time?
  11. What names do people call the product when they first see it?
  12. What words describe the product’s most prominent features?
  13. What words describe the product’s most prominent benefits?
  14. What words describe what users do with the product when it’s used as intended?
  15. What words describe what users do with the product when it’s used in a mistaken way?
  16. What words describe what users do with the product when it’s used in a very naughty way?
  17. What words or phrases would people use to describe the product when it works exceptionally well?
  18. How about when it works well over an extended period of time?
  19. What words would make users of the product proud or excited about their participation with it?
  20. What’s the most matter of fact name that describes the product?
  21. What’s the strongest description of the product?

If your team is dispersed, call us to find out how an online Zoomference collaboration allows many more of your team members to participate in naming exercises.

And if you’d like us to run with the project and generate the list of names, we’re happy to make it happen using a customized list of creative thinking questions tailored to your naming assignment.

And if you’re a few steps away from a name because you’re still searching for new product ideas, our Outside-In Innovation eBook is a must download resource. Get yours today using the download button below! – Mike Brown

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It’s one thing to have the creative thinking skills to bust creativity barriers when imagining new creative ideas. It’s another to pave the way for successfully pitching ideas internally or externally. Here are seventeen articles touching on the creative thinking skills you need for pitching ideas with greater impact.

Anticipating Receptivity to Change

New-Street

7 Lessons to Get Ready for Change Now

Don’t wait for the time when you’re going to pitch the idea to start getting ready for change. Start early. Start right now, before you need to start.

Creating Change and Change Management – 4 Strategy Options

Depending on your organization’s strategic situation sets the stage for determining the right mix of emotion, fact, and intensity to pitch new creative ideas.

3 Strategies for Navigating a Political Environment

If your organization’s environment is overtly political (or even subtly political), you need to be thinking about how it will affect reactions to your creative ideas.

Bringing Creative Ideas to Fruition

Dinner-Table-Food-Fight

Project Management – Dinner Table Analogy for Project Team Members

There are times to challenge creative ideas within a project team, and there are times you don’t. Here is a way to help team members understand which is which.

Project Management – 15 Techniques When Time Is Running Down

How you finish up a creative idea, pitch, or prototype can impact how the idea is received. Even if you have to rush through the preparation, you can avoid calling attention to parts that aren’t as fully developed as others.

Creative Thinking Skills – 5 People Vital to Critical Thinking, Literally

It’s far better to invite naysayers to challenge your idea before the big day comes to pitch your creative idea in the limelight. Here are five types of critical thinkers to invite to the challenge party.

Strategic Thinking Exercises – Who is the Positive Devil’s Advocate?

While we’re big on challenging the flaws in a creative idea to anticipate any potential issues, it’s also valuable to think about the challenges of outrageous success with your idea.

Packaging Creative Ideas

Framing-Ideas

Why Serve Up Your Treasure Like Trash?

Don’t short change presenting your creative ideas. The lack of impact in how you present creative ideas can directly reflect on perceptions of your ideas.

How Are You Staging Your Next Idea?

Giving tangibility to your creative idea can make it easier to pitch the possibilities of how it can strategically change your organization’s situation.

Project Management Techniques – 5 Final Report Success Tips

Sometimes you’re communicating your creative ideas in a report format. Here are five tips to set your communication up for success.

Customer Experience Strategy – 11 Ways to Demo an Intangible Service

If your idea is intangible, this article, focused on demonstrating intangible services, features strategies that can extend to demoing creative ideas.

Creative Thinking Skills: 9 Ways to Present a Business Strategy with Panache

If you really want to go over the top in sharing your new ideas, here are nine possibilities you need to explore.

Building Connections to the Audience

Mike-Brown-Making-Big-Ideas-Happen

Making Challenging Content Accessible: 5 Steps to Creating a Nick Cave Fan

If you suspect your creative ideas are going to be challenging to the audience’s sensibilities, here are ways you can build a connection to an audience that may really struggle to understand your perspective.

Innovation Strategy with a New Audience

When you are introducing a new idea to an unfamiliar audience, go out of your way to complete the homework that will unveil the similarities you share so you can start from a point of agreement.

Improve the Success of Your Letters to Santa – Guaranteed!

While the title suggests this post only applies to letters to Santa, it’s really a four-part recommendation formula that is tailor-made to communicate creative ideas to busy executives.

Managing Clients Who Love Their Creative Ideas

It may be that you are in a client situation where the client LOVES their own ideas. If that is the case, there are ways to dissect the ideas to keep what’s good and take a shot at changing what isn’t good in a completely acceptable way.

Structuring the Evaluation

Strategic Questions – 19 Ideas for Reviewing Creative Design Work

Don’t walk into an evaluation of your creative idea and have it turn into a like / don’t like conversation. Instead, provide a framework to evaluate the idea that allows you to showcase how your creative ideas are both creative AND strategic. – Mike Brown

Mike-Brown-Gets-Brainzoomin

Learn all about what Mike Brown’s creativity, strategic impact, and innovation presentations can add to your business meeting!

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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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