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Brand marketers can find it challenging to identify all the brand language available to communicate a brand’s distinct benefits and value for customers and prospects.

Based on a recent client brand strategy experience, I highlighted an often overlooked source of compelling brand language in my first LinkedIn article: Is Your Brand Exploiting All Its Brand Language?

If you’d like to read the brand strategy lesson from our experience, you can do so over on LinkedIn.

As an alternative, we also put together a screencast that recaps the article plus adds visuals the LinkedIn article does not contain. This is the first time we’re introducing screencasts into the blog. We’re excited by the possibilities because it gives you the opportunity to have a richer experience with Brainzooming blog content. Additionally, because audio and visuals are incorporated in a screencast, I expect it to open up new topics that just don’t come across as strongly when using words alone.

So go ahead and ask yourself: Is our brand exploiting all its brand language? – Mike Brown

Brand Strategy Screencast – Is Your Brand Exploiting All Its Brand Language?


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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 info@brainzooming.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can help you with a strategy session and branding development to create strategic impact for your organization.

 

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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This post was originally intended to be written when universities were changing conferences and suddenly the Big 10 had twelve teams and the Big 12 had ten teams. In the wake of those moves, very regionally-named athletic conferences wound up taking on member universities spanning multiple regions, if not half the United States.

Terminal-HuhWhat prompted the post’s writing currently is the state of the Kansas City airport. Amid airlines consolidating, the Kansas City airport’s original three open terminals have now become two open terminals.

While Terminal B and Terminal C are open, there is no Terminal A anymore.

This seemed particularly odd during my drive into the airport last week. Since some of the Terminal A signage has been removed, signage starts with references to Terminal B.

The problem in each case is a naming strategy that clearly relates names to other systems for which your audience has context. The relationship may be internal (i.e., we have 12 teams or 10 teams as reflected in our name) or external (i.e., we’re all about the Southeast, so that’s reflected in our conference name).

6 Naming Strategy Questions to Anticipate Future Oddities

While it’s fine and well for whoever is in charge to name things however they might like, before using a relational naming strategy, it is smart to ask a few strategic thinking questions and perform some what-if analysis.

These questions revolve around whether your naming strategy will make sense if:

  • You grow?
  • You shrink?
  • You fundamentally change the nature of your organization, products, and/or services?
  • Your far off / future sounding name has to represent your organization when you stay in operation a long time?
  • You change the parts of your organization in a different order than the order in which you originally added names?
  • Your organization changes in some unexpected way (versus the names becoming future oddities)?

Clearly there are advantages to a matter-of-fact naming strategy.

A, B, or C are never going to be a future embarrassment because they get caught cheating on their spouses or at the sports they play. Everybody will already understand a lot of what you are trying to say with a realistic, matter of fact naming strategy.

But, as these currently problematic naming strategy examples illustrate, you can throw what makes sense for a loop when your organization changes in unexpected or unusual ways.

There are certainly other naming strategy questions you can ask, but these six questions are an easy head start to consider when opting for a naming system that everyone is going to know, understand, and be able to compare to the reality your organization is presenting. – Mike Brown

 

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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 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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Do you ever need to explore and describe a new product idea?

Opposite-ExpectationsIf so, here’s a productive twist on a new product ideation strategic thinking exercise we used just this past week that you can use too.

Having limited time with a current client who is exploring a new product idea within a joint venture, we had to cover both the basics of the product definition and some more extreme ideas all at one time.

The answer was to combo up a strategic thinking exercise focused on new product idea basics with another one using extreme creativity questions.

New Product Idea Basics and Extremes in 30 Minutes

This is a worksheet adaptation of the strategic thinking poster we used to create a big head start on new product idea possibilities in less than 30 minutes. We first asked all the basic new product ideation questions followed by the extreme questions. Each question received about 3 to 4 minutes of attention before moving on to the next one.

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Strategic Thinking Exercise with Extreme Creativity

Within the few questions in this strategic thinking exercise, we covered a lot of territory. Additionally, incorporating the extreme creativity questions with the new product ideation basics introduced an intriguing dimension for even an already creative group.

Once we started asking the extreme creativity questions, it was as if the group went, “Oh, you want us to go THAT far. Okay, I’ll go there!” Those questions definitely brought out distinctly different and bolder ideas than the basic questions generated.

Go ahead and have a go with this strategic thinking exercise worksheet, and be sure to let us know how it expands your new product ideas. – 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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DHL-FasterNot every disruptive marketing tactic in a competitor strategy has to be an industry-changing move by a non-traditional competitor against a stagnant old-line competitor. 

Sometimes disruptive marketing might simply involve one behemoth beating up on another one in an unusual way – even through a prank.

A video appearing online last week is an intriguing example of competitor strategy involving disruptive marketing although, according to some reports, it is a prank of a prank.

Disruptive Marketing Pranks

The original video “suggests” that courier DHL shipped several boxes via its competitors, including UPS and TNT. At pickup, each package initially appeared to be black, allegedly from being covered in “temperature-activated ink” that was chilled before shipping. As the boxes warmed during transport, the black disappeared to reveal a prank message on the difficult-to-deliver boxes. DHL (or its agency or some other third party) videoed delivery of the boxes to hard-to-find addresses to create the video shared here.

At the time this is being originally published, there are questions about whether DHL was involved in the prank.

Quite honestly, having competed against DHL where they directly used our company’s name (along with reference to the UPS Brown campaign) in a print ad, I would not put this past them. But whether DHL was involved originally or not, it is still a trigger for strategic thinking about going after a competitor in an unusual way.

Another thing interesting about this example is that from a US perspective, this looks like a small, potentially disruptive competitor (DHL) going after a huge industry leader (UPS).

But that’s not the global picture.

DHL is part of Deutsche Post DHL (which is the German Post Office), the world’s largest courier company. So instead of the little guy engaging in disruptive marketing against the big guy, this would be the biggest guy slapping around a couple of enormous, but still smaller competitors.

Having been in the transportation industry, the delivery side of a prank like this (again, if it is real) would be the least of the concerns for UPS and the other competitor involved. The bigger issue would be the complaints about these boxes that would not move through competitors’ conveyor systems, likely necessitating one-off handling as they started revealing their messages!

Would this fit your competitor strategy?

What do you think?

Would you ever prank your competitor and stick it in the brand’s face like this? Have you already done it? And does the strategy matter based on whether you are the big player or small player in your market? 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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Vegas-BabyIt’s Vegas, Baby! And I’m presenting a social media strategy workshop at the Social Media Strategy Summit on 7 Lessons in Creating Fantastic, Creative Content for a group of incredible brands.

7 Lessons for Fantastic, Creative Content Marketing

The entire social media strategy workshop is created around the value of using models to make content marketing and social networking readily understandable and actionable within an organization.

As a resource for the workshop attendees and to give all of you a sense of the approach, here are the seven social media strategy lessons along with links to more detailed content throughout the Brainzooming blog.

Lesson 1: Imagine You’re a TV Executive

Lesson 2: Place the Audience First in Your Content Strategy

Lesson 3: You Need Lots of Topic Ideas

Lesson 4: Match Your Business Objective with the Social Network and Appropriate Content

Lesson 5: Be an Engaging Brand 24/7

Lesson 6: Balancing Content and Commercial Messages

Lesson 7: Design a Sustainable Content Strategy

And once the workshop is completed? Watch out New York, New York . . . I’m headed your way for roller coaster riding!  -  Mike Brown

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“How strong is my organization’s social media strategy?”

9 Diagnostics to Check Your Social Strategy

Is your social media implementation working as well as it can? In less than 60 minutes with the new FREE Brainzooming ebook “9 Diagnostics to Check Your Social Strategy,” you’ll have a precise answer to this question.

Any executive can make a thorough yet rapid evaluation of nine different dimensions of their social media strategies with these nine diagnostics. Download Your Free Copy of “9 Diagnostics to Check Your Social Strategy.”

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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Peyton-FumbleWhat a start to the Super Bowl!

Twelve seconds into the game, the Broncos blow the first snap, and the Seahawks are on the board with a safety, 2-0. Based on what followed, the NFL Rules Committee will be evaluating a 12-second warning for next season when it’s clear a team is screwed on the first play of the game. Interestingly, I don’t think Volvo took advantage of the safety as part of a real-time marketing strategy. THAT was something a safety-oriented brand COULD have anticipated and been ready with something suited to social media, avoiding the $4 million Super Bowl advertising cost.

For my vote, Bud Light was the winner of paying out the pre-Super Bowl hype with its Ian Rappaport commercials (#UpForWhatever). A couple of commercial featured a supposedly non-actor (Ian Rappaport) who was introduced into a guy’s fantasy world (party girls, twins, alcohol, parties, loud music, beating Arnold Schwarzenegger at “tiny tennis”), and we found out how Don Cheadle and Arnold fit into the teasers. Unfortunately, just when I was ready to find out more about Ian, Bud Light went to a commercial featuring how great its bottles are. Huh? The bottles? REALLY?

Time for a confession: I start every Super Bowl advertisement asking, “Who is the brand?” I can’t get that tremendously distracting question out of my head until the sponsoring brand becomes clear. Since so many sponsors don’t show their cards until the last three seconds of an ad, I miss “getting” a lot of them due to the din of that question. Maserati and TurboTax (with dancing Sean) were both early examples of not saying who they were early enough in the advertisement.

My Best of Show for Super Bowl Advertising

I don’t know if these were the “best,” but I enjoyed these Super Bowl ads and could remember them by the end:

  • Doritos Time Machine (with a nice Colorado-based munchies feel to it)
  • Butterfinger Cups and the counseling session threesome (I know, I know . . . it was juvenile, but hey . . . )
  • U2 for being familiar and extending an offer for everyone. I prompted me to act to get a free (very sloooooooooow) song download at iTunes
  • John Stamos for Lap Yogurt (I know, I know . . . it was juvenile, but hey . . . )
  • Squarespace – Freaked me out initially, but it was at least clear that there’s a lot of crap on the Internet and Squarespace does SOMETHING to help you deal with the horrors and sex on the web
  • Tim Tebow for TMobile – It played on the T. It played on Tebow’s lack of a contract and all the “advantages” that provides. The guy may not fit a single NFL offensive system, but at least he can have fun with his persona.
  • The VW ad was about German engineers getting their wings when a VW passes 100,000 miles. We find out some German engineers have bigger wings than others (I know, I know . . . it was juvenile, but hey . . . ). We ultimately find that when a VW goes past 200,000 miles, “A rainbow comes out of their butts.” Yup, that was ALL in the ad.

Other Notable Super Bowl Advertising

GoDaddy gets something (even if it’s tepid acknowledgement) for finally moving away from salacious ads toward showing individuals who were using the web to create new realities for themselves. Realities where the people at least had their clothes on throughout the commercials.

Radio Shack was the winner of my “Let’s Wait and See Award.” I loved its self-deprecating take on the 1980s calling to ask for its store back (including Alf dismantling a display), but I thought Radio Shack had already remodeled its stores. Great Super Bowl ad, but the ad’s ultimate success will rest solely on the brand experience. It better not feel dated the next time I go to Radio Shack – which may be in the 2080s except I’ll be dead by then.

Based on the chatter at #SBExp, @DiGiornoPizza was the winner in New Jersey-true, insult-based real-time marketing tweets throughout Super Bowl 48.

My Losers, other than the Broncos

My Huh? List of Super Bowl advertisements included:

  • Chevy and cow breeding
  • Bob Dylan for Chrysler – If you’re going to do the same type of thing EVERY year, you have to keep beating yourself. Having someone known for being unintelligible do a very precise voice over, isn’t quite different enough.
  • Budweiser for its “Soldier Returning Home” ad – The soldier ABSOLUTELY deserves a #SaluteAHero welcome. But it was #crass for Bud to put its brand in the center of it. Bud is a beer, not a Hero Maker.
  • Any sappy ad (Coca-Cola, Budweiser puppies, Cheerios, and others) – I just WAS NOT in the mood for those types of ads this year.

Even though my list of losers is short, it seems that too many Super Bowl advertisers employed a strategy that was essentially: “Let’s throw $4 million against the Super Bowl and see what sticks.” That’s a really bad strategy, unfortunately.

Other Random Thoughts

That had to be the first time ever for a 5-0 score in the Super Bowl . . . I couldn’t believe Mars Bar didn’t do SOMETHING on social for the Bruno Mars half time show which, despite what some tweeters in the #SBExp circle thought, kicked ass compared to Beyoncé’s show last year . . . Based on his movie, Aaron Paul is apparently done with meth and now just needs speed . . . Yes, Budweiser failed to share a workable Twitter hashtag for its “Soldier Returning Home” ad. Not sure how a major corporation and its agency let that happen . . . Said it before: movie previews just don’t seem that special among  Super Bowl ads . . . I guess @JCPenney had a whole tweeting with mittens thing going that just looked like drunk tweeting to the uninitiated . . . I guess all those Omaha Sponsorship Deals are pretty much dried up for Peyton Manning.

Final confession? My enthusiasm for Super Bowl advertising has about run its course. Is that just me though? What do you think? 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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In years past years I’ve watched the Super Bowl advertising extravaganza with a tight focus on evaluating each ad and the tools of persuasion used by their creators through rankings, analysis, etc.

This year–not so much. I watched with interruptions, people talking around me, showing me dog YouTube videos and Peyton Manning related tweets. In other words, how real consumers see the ads.

Something Old, Little New, and Lots of Red, White, and Blue

So, I won’t try “best” and “worst.” But certain ad themes do seem to show up every year so I picked a couple that stood out this year to me among the Super Bowl Advertising.

Super Bowl Advertising Theme 1: Didn’t You Used to Be Famous?

Again, a Super Bowl perennial. Appearances here included Arnold Schwarzenegger for the Bud Light Skankmobile, Bruce Willis for Honda safety, and everybody they could dredge up from the 80s for Radio Shack. Arnold and Bud Light should have been embarrassed and I wasn’t sure the Honda ad was ever going to end. But I just might go to Radio Shack and see what’s changed. Not because the ad was funny or beautiful or made both laugh and cry in 30 seconds, but because it got across the desired message: we’ve changed and we think it’s worth your time to see how. I also liked the Oikos ad. Not sure I ever watched a full episode of Full House, but this ad balanced the product, the actors and the inside baseball jokes in just the right way.

Super Bowl Advertising Theme 2: Patriotism

A perennial theme of Super Bowl ads. This year’s the efforts ranged from Chrysler’s return to Detroit only this time with Bob Dylan rather than Eminem, to Budweiser’s Hero Parade with the Clydesdales to Coke’s multilingual “America, the Beautiful.” The Chrysler and Bud ads were more replay than original. Coke broke some new ground, however, and apparently, riled up a few folks who thing “American” is a language. The patriotism themed ad I liked best was the one from WeatherTech. It hit right chords on buy Buy-American without being over produced or jingoistic. A relatively small company making a cut through the clutter message.

Other Super Bowl Advertising Stand Outs

Outside of those themes, there were four other ads I thought particularly good. Microsoft did a great job making technology seem human, General Mills made Cheerios seem timeless rather than old fashioned, Jaguar did much the same for its new F-Type, and Nestle put peanut butter inside chocolate in a whole new way. – Barrett Sydnor


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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 info@brainzooming.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can help you enhance your strategy and implementation efforts.

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