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It’s wonderful to feature four important brand strategy questions from customer experience strategy and innovation expert Woody Bendle. In the course of his typical daily routine, Woody has a more than healthy commute by Kansas City standards. Woody texted me about this brand strategy lesson on the way home one recent evening and followed it up the next day with this post reminding those responsible for brand strategy to think about what will happen when our ideas actually meet up with customers. Here’s Woody!

woody-bendleBrand Strategy – When “Good Enough” Isn’t by Woody Bendle

“The enemy of the good is great.”

Have you heard this expression before? 

If you haven’t, the sentiment behind this expression is this: If you are continually reluctant to move forward until you have something that is great or perfect, you might sometimes fail to make valuable progress by getting something out there that is pretty darned good – but not great.

In many situations, I wholeheartedly subscribe to this philosophy.

But, there are occasions when you absolutely need to be better than “good enough.”

One of those occasions involves your brand strategy and every time you are presenting your brand.

Brand Strategy Isn’t the Place for Good Enough

I recently pulled off the interstate to fuel up at a truck stop. As I was fueling, I happened to notice, for some reason, a display attached to the pump about never paying full price for gas again.

Shell-1

I really didn’t think too much about this display until I went around to the end of the pump to grab the squeegee and clean off my windshield. This is what I saw.

140410-Shell3

OOPS!

The original message that got my interest about never paying full price again didn’t come through on the Shell brochure holder.

There, thanks to the application holder lid’s placement, the “Never pay full price again” card became the “pay full price again” card.

I actually did a double-take, shook my head and wondered to myself if anyone had even thought about trying to stick some brochures in the holders to see what it looked like before they had a gazillion of them printed and sent all over the country. The sad thing is if they had just taken the two logos at the bottom of the brochure and moved them to the very top and shifted the rest of the content down,  the message would’ve been read very clearly.

Lessons learned, and it’s a great reminder that design and layout matters.

A Brand Strategy that is “Good Enough” Isn’t

I have no idea if anyone at Shell is even aware of this issue. It did, however, serve as a valuable reminder that every time you are putting your brand in the marketplace, you need to ask yourself several important brand strategy questions:

  1. What am I trying to convey / communicate about my brand or my brand’s promotion?
  2. Is the message clear and compelling – not to me but to the customer?
  3. How will the message be put in front of the customer?
  4. What exactly will the customer see, hear, think, and feel when my message is put in front of them?

And finally, as you are working through the above questions, you’d be well served to think like my Missouri neighbors and just say “Show-Me” a little more often. Woody Bendle

 

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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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I spoke for the third time recently as part of an internal leadership development program for a client organization.

Across the three creating strategic impact workshops, the client has made significant changes to its multi-day program. The modifications have had ripple effects on the creating strategic impact workshop, including changes to its location, length, day of the week, time of day, and room size / configuration.

We’ve also changed the workshop’s content and format each time to dial in the content specifically for the attendees’ complex needs.

That’s a lot of change.

And, at least from my perspective – and from attendee feedback – this recent workshop was the most successful presentation so far.

5 Ways to Help a Speaker Deliver a Successful Presentation at Your Event

Event-AudienceA major part of the success is the internal event organizer’s ability, determination, and eagerness to improve the overall program for attendees. Those positive characteristics spill over into her willingness to create an environment where the speakers can help her be most successful in her objectives.

Her willingness to share information and actively work with us is wonderful and NOT something you always receive as a speaker.

She knows details in five areas that allow a speaker to deliver a successful presentation, all for the benefit of the attendees, by providing:

  • Updated learning objectives for the event
  • A thorough description of the audience members, including the relevant current opportunities and challenges they face that speakers can help them address
  • What they know or will have learned before the workshop
  • The type of experience the client wants the audience members to have overall and from the workshop
  • Ways other speakers have successfully approached the audience previously

If you organize events or even a single speaker for a learning opportunity for your company or association, ask yourself whether you can address these five areas to help your speakers deliver for you and your attendees.

If you can’t address them now, it’s worth the time and effort to be ready to provide this information as you start recruiting a speaker you hope will deliver a successful presentation at your event. Mike Brown

 

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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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From the Road

From-The-RoadSome people have always had the EXACT same travel problem every time you see them. At some point, you realize it’s them, not the airline / car rental company / cabbie / hotel . . . I rented a car with 8 miles on it. That’s the runner up in my rental career next to a 3 miler in Orlando on the way to Daytona for a NASCAR race . . . At a sea food restaurant the other night, every painting in the place was of some boat, ocean, or river scene. And nearly everyone had lights behind the windows in the boat or lighthouse. You don’t see that every day . . . I’m not sure why it smells as if someone immediately behind me is eating a pot roast dinner on this plane.

Branding and Experience

I asked on the Delta Airlines Facebook page why they now call the Biscoff Cookies they serve simply “cookies.” They used to be called “Biscoff” by flight attendants. Not surprisingly, there hasn’t been a response . . . An intriguing, but untrackable customer service metric? The percent of times your employees refer to your brand in the first person versus the third person . . . Every time I see a happy, fun, engaging flight attendant I automatically assume they started at Southwest Airlines.

Talking Business

It’s great to talk shop with someone who does what you do. It’s even better to “ask shop.” Then you can just sit back and listen, and that’s where you get some great learning and new ideas . . . A cramped room can bring out the best questions and conversations with a presentation audience. When a room is too big, there’s too much space for staying aloof. Just the reverse is true for a strategy session . . . One warm-up exercise we use asks who people say you look like. I had NASCAR driver Tony Stewart’s doppelganger in a workshop, but didn’t have time to do the exercise and see if he hears that all the time.

Blogging

Being able to keep writing this blog post on my iPad while we land is a new great part of flying . . . Trying to beat my personal best of writing ten blog posts on a business trip from the East Coast to Kansas City. We’ll see how that goes . . . I don’t generally connect on LinkedIn with people I don’t “know” in some way. After accepting an invitation from someone locally who immediately sent a message for me to make time to learn about what she is doing, I remember why . . . I don’t “get” game apps like other people don’t “get” Twitter. I just don’t have the time . . . I’m cranking on blog posts recently because I’m avoiding getting tax stuff organized . . . These columns are the intersection of “Too long for Twitter” and “Too many for Facebook.” Thanks for indulging me. Mike Brown

 

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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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We’ve covered how comparing apples and oranges in a variety of ways can spur creative thinking. Dilbert took up the identical topic in a Sunday comic strip. Dilbert and Wally double team the pointy-haired boss on appropriate and beneficial ways to compare apples and oranges. 

Dilbert.com

Although you might not completely get the point from Dilbert, it is definitely true that the better you become at finding insightful, intriguing comparisons, the more consistently strong your creative thinking will be.

Comparing Apples, Oranges and Anything Else

This Dilbert comic strip is a great introduction to a compilation of Brainzooming articles on creative thinking and making intriguing and valuable comparisons.

Here is wishing you all the fun and success of making better comparisons for learning, creative thinking, and implementation! – 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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Some Dilbert comic strips are hilarious because they are so accurate. Other Dilbert comic strips are sad and pathetic because you suspect they are too accurate.

This Dilbert comic strip is in the latter category.

If this is how things go at your workplace in the way management tries to surface new ideas and judge whether new ideas are great ideas, you have my sympathies. And if this IS like where you work, the seething resentment created by doing all of that in such a ham handed way will seem way too familiar.

Trying to Come Up with New Ideas in a Bad Place

Dilbert.com

4 Ways Better than Dilbert to Come Up with New Ideas

stickman-drawingIf nothing else, this Dilbert comic provides an opportunity to highlight potential remedies in case any of these behaviors DO seem too much like your work place.

And since I don’t want to leave you in a creatively bad place, here’s a fun feature to lighten everything up – go draw a stickmanMike Brown

 

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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 Buzzfeed article shared by Emma Alvarez Gibson listed things every person with an unusual name understands. I suggested a response for people with common names.

Talking with the woman who is always on the elliptical trainer behind me at the gym prompted me to turn the article idea into reality.

She introduced herself with just her very distinctive first name. Her name was so unusual I wrote it pictogram style on my exercise sheet to remember it. Googling it later, it turns out to be a Biblical name I’d never previously heard, and she’s likely the only person in the country with her exact name.

Contrast that with “Michael / Mike Brown.” Some estimates suggest there may be 30,000 men in the United States with some version of my name.

11 Things Only People with Common Names Will Understand

Mike-and-Friends2

For those of with common names, here are 11 things only we will understand (minus the Buzzfeed GIFs):

1. You will never get your exact name on a social network

There is always someone with your name who beat you to signing up on the latest social network. My one personal exception is Twitter. I’m @MikeBrown on Twitter which leads to the next point.

2. Someone famous who is an embarrassment shares your name

Someone famous will have your name and that person will be a screw up. I have multiples, from national calamities to sports. A guy tweeted me to complain how stupid I was as the Cincinnati Bengals owner. I tweeted back he had the wrong Mike Brown. He replied, “I looked at your profile, and you don’t look like you know anything about football, either.”

3. Googling your name generates tons of hits, almost none of which are you

With a common name, Googling your name means finding yourself on page 107 of the Google results, preceded by 106 pages of articles about famous screw-ups with your name.

4. You must have a descriptor to separate you from the screw ups

You always have to use some other word or phrase to identify yourself. Mike Brown with the big nose. Mike Brown with the dented car. Mike Brown with the cute cat. Mike Brown with all that orange. Part of coming up with “Brainzooming” was it was a distinct and better descriptor. Now, many people have no clue what my actual name is.

5. It sucks when YOUR common name sounds like another common name

I’ve been called Mark throughout my life, even by people who know me. A guy I’ve known for ten years called me Mark in the grocery store recently. Even with “Brainzooming” linked to my name, at least the mix-up has changed. People think my name must really be “Brian,” since no one is named “Brain.” I actually now receive emails addressed to Brian.

6. It’s impossible for people you want to find you to find you

I’ve never been able to say, “Look me up in the phone book” even when people looked in phone books. Back then, there was another Mike and Cyndi Brown living 20 blocks from us on the SAME STREET! These days, you can’t tell someone to find you through Googling, as we’ve already established.

7. It pays to keep your address and phone number the same

With a common name, keeping the same contact information is vital to hearing again from old friends and acquaintances. We’ve had the same address and phone number for years. I’ve had the same cell phone number since the late 1990s. I still maintain my first AOL email address from the mid-1990s that some people still use.

8. Work in a big company long enough, and it will seem EVERYONE has your name

At one point in my corporate life, EVERY guy seemed to be a Mike, including my boss, a guy that worked for me, the president of one subsidiary, and the COO of another subsidiary, to name a few. Cross-company strategic planning meetings were a bit of a cluster to say the least.

9. You will never be able to go by one name

In contrast to the one-named woman on the elliptical trainer, Madonna, or LeBron, people with common names can’t ever go by one name when even a first and last name won’t set you apart. That’s when you hope for other options.

10. It helps having a middle name that stands out – unless people mock it

My middle name is my dad’s first name. In grade school, a kid whose father worked for my dad introduced that fact to my classmates. From then on, kids would call me by my dad’s name to irritate me. Then in my corporate job, my boss casually asked me my middle name at a senior management meeting before our national sales conference. I answered, our company president thought it was hilarious, and for the entire meeting, he jokingly referred to me from the stage by my dad’s name. That went on for several years. Yes, some corporate execs never mature beyond grade school.

11. You can maybe spice things up if you sound foreign

There was a guy in high school named Carlos Moreno. In Spanish I class, I discovered the English version of his name was Charlie Brown. CHARLIE BROWN! Carlos Moreno sounds so much better more exotic. Maybe going by Miguel Moreno would help me, but no one would call me that with a straight face, including me.

What about it common name people?

Do those sound familiar? And what else would you add if you too have a common name? 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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Reflections on Life Last Week

reflectionsLast week’s blog traffic suggests it was a busy week for everyone . . . I admitted something to my Bible group last week that I don’t think I’ve ever told anyone. It was THAT kind of evening . . . One sign of maturity is having something go completely differently than you expected, but completely working out, and being completely okay with that.

My college nickname was probably well earned, as much as I hate to admit it. And no, if you don’t already know what the nickname was, I’m not sharing it here . . . Some people must go half way around the world to SEE what’s right in front of them at home. Face it: Exotic sells . . . There are so many celebrities heading to the Kansas City area in the next two weeks, and I know I won’t get to go see any of them.

Some lessons I learned SO long ago that I simply figure everyone has learned them by now. I’m pretty much always wrong on that lesson though, which is ironic, don’t you think?

Recapping Sports and Business

Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results is supposedly the definition of insanity. Expecting to do the same thing over and over and expecting different results is the definition of traditional strategic planning . . . Why, oh why, do I put off what’s good for me in the interests of things that don’t really help in any appreciable way . . . I shuffle more things than a card dealer. That’s a proven fact . . . Step away from the food. Yeah, I’m talking to you (and by “you,” I mean “me). STEP AWAY from the FOOD.

How tired are you of minor celebrities who spill the intimate personal details of their lives to gain attention and then whine because they don’t want to be defined exclusively by the intimate personal details of their lives? Yeah, I’m talking to you (among others), mid-round NFL draftee offensive lineman from Missouri who didn’t look so great in the NFL combine . . . Sure there’s a common thread. Why wouldn’t there be a common thread?

I received a Big Bang introductory email from a new brand. And by “Big Bang,” I mean the brand decided it needed to include every copy point and potential message it’s contemplated since its inception into one email. And in case you can’t guess, Big Bang Email = Small Whimper Response . . . Pithy is as pithy does. Same with stupidity, and disdain . . . “Guess and go” CAN be a business strategy when you don’t have anything else prepared . . . We might not have a monarchy in the US, but we sure do LOVE a sports dynasty, don’t we “Junior Nation”?

With a Few More Life Reflections

Not every boundary line is the same. Some are bright and bold. Others are fuzzy. Still others seem pretty wide with lots of room to maneuver. If you think number three is what your line seems like, you may want to blink a couple of times and see if the line looks that wide after a second look . . . Two hour naps in the evening may be one of the most underrated things on the planet . . . You have to be interested in helping yourself get better. If not, how can you expect someone else to instill that interest for you in themselves?

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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