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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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3

I am asked about personal success strategies frequently, as I’m sure most business people are.

My 4-Step Career Advice

When someone expects career advice and ideas on personal success strategies for free (as they so often do), my standard career advice, particularly to mid-career professionals is:

  1. Get a Plan B up and running while your Plan A is still working.
  2. Start communicating your expertise in your Plan B area (and Plan A if it fits), whether that’s via a blog, a social media site, video, presentations, audio, etc. The medium doesn’t really matter as long as you start communicating what you know sooner than later!
  3. The minute your Plan A job shrinks (or there’s even a hint it might shrink), start ramping up plans for Plan B to become your major income source.
  4. Should plan A ever go away – or you decide you want it to go away – you’re in control of making the right decision.

That’s my standard advice because it’s what I did. And since it has worked reasonably well, I share this personal success strategy because I have at least case to suggest it’s a reasonable strategy. And I don’t want to suggest a bad course of action to anyone.

Nearly Everyone Ignores this Career Advice

career-advicePerhaps because this is my most frequently shared advice (I’ve been giving some version of it for twenty years), it’s the advice nearly everyone ignores.

One friend has been receiving this career advice from me his entire professional work life, and he has yet to act on it. For twenty years he’s been doing something he doesn’t really love doing, but he won’t launch plan B linked to what he is truly passionate about doing. So when his plan A evaporates – and it’s been close before – he will either be starting from scratch on his passion OR wind up doing more of what he hasn’t REALLY loved doing for twenty years because it’s the only thing where he has deep professional experience.

I understand the reluctance to follow this career advice.

Step 1 is a pain in the ass.

That’s not how popular personal success strategies work; they are supposed to start incredibly easy.

Step 1, however, is hard work. It means doing double time, or at least one-plus time. Thus, if you aren’t up for that, you’ll ignore this advice.

I understand the problems with the whole “I have to work even harder now and probably later” part of this personal success strategy.

But it works. That’s why I keep giving it out to people who ask – and don’t want to pay for more customized advice.

Now, having written this, I have a link to give anyone looking for free career advice. Which is a LOT easier and simpler for me. But for you, if you choose to do it, it still going to be hard. It’s so worth it though.

Trust me. It’s great advice, and it only gets better with time. – Mike Brown

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Download the free ebook, “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” to help you generate fantastic creative thinking and ideas! For an organizational innovation success 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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1

A few weeks ago, I texted one of my strategic mentors thanking him for one of the most valuable content strategy lessons he taught me: strong content works in nearly any order.

Over the years I reported to him, I saw him arrange, rearrange, and rearrange again so many presentations as he tried to get the flow just right for the topic, audience, and experience of a particular situation.

The original beginning might wind up as the new conclusion. The apparently logical order of primary messages might be completely upended to make a stronger point. At the last minute, a well-rehearsed transition during a multi-presenter presentation might shift so you were handed the microphone earlier or later than you expected, with much more or much less time to fill, respectively.

And you know what?

The changes worked nearly every time because we had spent so much time making sure the content was strong.

This content strategy lesson benefits me continually in creating blogs, articles, and presentations. This lesson provides countless opportunities to refresh and tailor content for the situation or audience, serving up what is most important in an order designed specifically for each audience.

If you or your brand struggle with generating enough content and adapting it to your audiences’ tastes, put this vital lesson into practice: 

Strong content works in nearly ANY order. 

Go ahead and give it a try.

THE END . . . or maybe this should be the beginning? -  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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A couple recent Brainzooming articles highlighted strategic thinking exercises comparing online and offline situations to help better understand, explain, and develop social media strategy.

One article focused on how using a network TV model helps create fantastic content on an ongoing basis. The other article used models for various social networks as a way to understand how and why you approach each of them differently.

Both these articles and the strategic thinking exercises were well received in part, I think, because they compared the relatively new (social media network strategy) to more familiar things (TV networks, campfires, networking events, etc.).

5 Benefits of Using a Strategic Model

Apples-Orange-LOWe’re big believers in the value of models as strategic thinking exercises for a variety of reasons.

A strategic model can:

  • Provide a different perspective on what you do that you can readily consult to freshen your strategic thinking.
  • Allow you to see the impact of ideas you might want to try in an analogous situation.
  • Create an ongoing source of new ideas through examining what new things are happening within an analogous situation.
  • Suggest potential networking opportunities to reach out to non-competitors facing similar challenges and opportunities.
  • Help you to forecast future events based on how older, comparable industries to yours have changed.

The key to finding viable models for strategic thinking exercises is identifying analogous situations, strategic connections, and even apples and oranges comparisons. With a few options, you can pick one or models that work for you most effectively.

What’s your take on using models for strategic thinking exercises? Any success stories you’d like to share? –  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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4

Social-network-iconsIf you have failed at explaining social media strategy opportunities to executives who just do not get it, it is time to quit speaking CMO and social media speak to them.

CMO speak is not going to cut it.

In my social media strategy workshops, I translate social networks from CMO speak to real life situations executives understand. I have had people from multiple brands at multiple social media strategy workshops say these comparisons are very helpful in communicating to executives.

8 Social Media Strategy Comparisons

So, if you’re looking for a better way to explain social networks as part of your social media strategy, try these descriptions on for size:

Your company blog is like a campfire.

Multiple people tell scary, fun, exciting, emotional, and personal stories around a campfire. They don’t tell boring stories about quality process improvements that are integral to driving best-in-class global satisfaction.

Facebook is like TV.

People spend extended time in front of the screen consuming content from a variety of sources. You need to program way more content than commercials, and increasingly, if a brand wants to get attention for its “commericals,” it has to pay for exposure.

Twitter is like a networking event.

You wouldn’t walk into a networking happy hour and just begin shouting a message to no one in particular. You find individuals and groups, start and join conversations, and demonstrate that you are happy to be there, actively listen to others, and respond to what they say.

LinkedIn is like a professional conference and trade show.

There are a lot of business professionals there and a wide variety of learning and networking experiences, including groups with comparable interests, job boards, trade show booths, seminars, learning materials, etc. Additionally, some people there act as if they know you even though you have never met them before.

YouTube is like a home movie.

It’s informal and spontaneous. Sometimes there’s a lot of talking and sometimes there isn’t. It’s okay that the movies are of varying quality. What matters is that you care about the people and the experiences shared in the movies.

Instagram is like a photo album from a wedding.

There are posed photos, candid photos, and behind the scenes photos. Some are dramatic; others are goofy, fun, heartfelt, and life changing. There are usually people depicted although some photos include buildings, scenery, and other inanimate objects.

Pinterest is like a teenage girl’s bedroom.

It doesn’t take too long looking at a teenager’s room to discover what she’s interested in, whom she cares about, and the brands that matter to her. If she finds something visually interesting that she likes, it has a good shot at getting her attention and being passed along to her friends.

Western-KansasGoogle+ is like a rural area that’s wired for high speed Internet that has fancy windmills and a highway running through it.

It’s a wide-open space with lots of promise. New technology and other advances are going on and changing some things. It is definitely a unique environment, and lots of people are familiar with it because the highway takes them through the area whether they want to be there or not. Yet despite all that, there just aren’t that many people to be found.

And one more . . .

Finally, at the Social Media Strategy Summit, a presenter was talking about how a war room environment allows you to “get your content up right away.” That prompted another comparison: a Social Media Command Center is like Social Media Viagra . . . just thinkin’. –  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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3

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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3

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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