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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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Fake-Book-BoundDuring a recent “Creating Strategic Impact” workshop, I had the attendees (who were all from one company) form smaller groups to identify potential disruptive competitive threats in their technology industry.

Talking in advance with the client organization’s president, he said his people might struggle with this strategic thinking exercise since they hadn’t previously addressed competitive threats this way.

The One Strategic Truth You Must Never Forget

One group had a participant who quickly completed the first part of the strategic thinking exercise, listing three clear customer benefits his company delivered.

But then instead of identifying companies who might offer any one of those benefits individually, he put a big, bold imaginary circle around those three customer benefits. This quickly dead-ended the strategic thinking exercise as he claimed NO competitor could come to the market with all those benefits. As a result, he reaffirmed his belief that his company had few, if any, disruptive competitive threats.

The other participants in his small group perceived the flaw and tried to help him see the error in his perspective. I too tried to redirect him, pointing out that truly disruptive competitive threats targeting his company weren’t  going to show up nice bows around all three benefits his company delivered.

In fact, very real disruptive competitive threats might appear offering only ONE of those benefits, with little concern for the other two. This new disruptive force would win business with a different approach, different strategies, and different perceptions about what is important to my client’s customers.

Because it was a workshop format, there was no opportunity to spend any more time with this individual to see if he was finally persuaded about competitive threats or not. But whether he was or wasn’t, I suspect many of us, even though we know better, fall into the same trap.

Disruptive Competitive Threats

Let’s state it again so we can all be clear: the disruptive force in your industry isn’t going to show up looking like your brand and offering the same complete set of benefits.

The disruptive force may have only a vague resemblance to your brand and what you do, and win business because it sees the rules of competition and success very differently than your brand does.

That’s why so many companies who TRY reinventing themselves and staying successful fail. They have WAY TOO MUCH invested in every part of their status quo (and likely antiquated) views of the world. Unwilling to blow themselves up because they have too big a stake in what has existed for a long time and persists to today, some other brand with an insightful view of tomorrow is more than happy to do the work for them.

Think about it this way: No matter how much you might hope it might be different, you can’t have archaic and eat it too. 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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Picking up on the competitor strategy theme from the start of the week, I combed the Brainzooming archives to share a variety of competitor strategy ideas we have covered.

82 Competitor Strategy Ideas to Improve Your Competitive Success

Competitive-GorillaHere is a handy summary of 82 competitor strategy tools, questions, and ideas you can use to hone your competitive success now and in the future:

Going on the Attack for Competitive Success

Playing Defense with Your Competitor Strategy

There should be at least a few ideas you can start applying right away to go after that 400 pound competitor gorilla in the room and improve your brand’s competitive success! – 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.

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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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In a Strategic Thinking workshop recently, a participant from the largest business unit of a multinational company asked, “How, when it comes to corporate strategy, can the “tail can wag the dog”?

Put another way, he wondered how his business unit, which feels hemmed in by corporate strategy directives, can better influence or vary the corporation’s direction.

6 Ideas for the Tail Wagging the Corporate Strategy Dog

caymanAnswering his question generated these six ideas. The ideas range from the least risky to the most risky from both an organizational and a personal standpoint:

  1. Demonstrate the ability to outperform expectations even following a sub-optimum corporate strategy (in order to earn the right for greater latitude and experimentation)
  2. Identify new and better ways to deliver on the corporate objectives that stretch the organization in positive ways
  3. Build a rock solid business case demonstrating superior returns from an alternative strategy
  4. Assess what type of strategic change the organization needs and reach out to corporate leaders to make the case for moving forward with a different strategy
  5. Wait out the current direction until it changes, and you can pursue a more targeted strategy
  6. Create a stealth effort to push forward with targeted initiatives

While it seems numbers five and six are wildly different (i.e., one is suggesting “toe the line” and the other is advocating for going against the corporate strategy in a clandestine way), they are both very risky.

If the business unit truly has to sub-optimize to follow the prescribed corporate strategy, it should be a very conscious decision – not the accidental fallout of a strategic disconnect within the organization.

Similarly, making the decision to advance particular initiatives that are right for a business unit but clearly outside corporate strategy may be possible. But pursuing this strategy could be a recipe for huge problems for leadership and the overall organization.

That’s why both five and six, although wildly different strategies, are both very risky. If you decide to go there, be careful . . . very careful! 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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Sometimes at the end of a Brainzooming strategic thinking exercise someone will say the ideas they generated were all old ideas already bouncing around the organization.

If old ideas keep surfacing with no specific resolution, there’s a problem standing in the way of the organization creating strategic impact.

The problem isn’t with a brainstorming technique, however.

The problem revolves around what does or doesn’t happen after an organization generates an idea.

These three questions are vital to troubleshooting this issue:

  1. If an old idea is really a great idea, why hasn’t it been implemented already?
  2. If an old idea that keeps coming up is a crappy idea, why hasn’t it been publicly killed so people quit bringing it up all the time?
  3. If an old idea is somewhere between being a crappy idea and a great idea, why hasn’t it been adapted to turn it into a great idea – or killed as an idea if there really is no greatness in it?

While I’m a big believer in cultivating leftover ideas for a time when they may make more sense, at some point you need to get on with an old idea that’s really a great idea or say good riddance to repeatedly discussing an old idea that doesn’t warrant implementation.

What do you think of that idea? – 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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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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Cool-Product-Names-BrainzooSome time back, Jorma Lehtinen (@Notium) reached out on Twitter about software he uses to visualize data, sharing a visualization of a Brainzooming blog list post as an example. We also tweeted about the importance of underlying information design when it comes to how to make an infographic.

Jorma’s outreach along with Woody Bendle’s article on visual thinking about calorie data prompted publishing this post on problems (and opportunities) associated with infographics.

Infographics are all the rage in social media.

So many of them, however, don’t deliver very much.

They are simply “pretty” pictures over-loaded with all the descriptive text that would be there even without the visual treatment. At the same time, they often obscure or eliminate details needed to make sound assessments on the validity of the underlying data and the conclusions the infographic suggests.

How to Make an Infographic Deliver Visual Thinking Value

Here are eight ways strong visualizations and infographics can deliver value by providing a richer data and analysis experience than the prose they are (or should be) replacing. Not all eight have to be in place, but at least a number of them should be.

Strong visualizations and infographics should:

1. Allow you to convey information more simply

The visual should deliver information at a minimum rate of 500 words per image. It would be great, however, if an infographic were legitimately worth a thousand words. If your image requires too many labels text for explanation, there is more work to do.

2. Make processing information quicker and more efficient

Any visuals should allow the audience to take in, understand, analyze, and draw conclusions with greater efficiency. There shouldn’t be so much detail that it becomes even more cumbersome for a reader to look at an infographic instead of reading prose.

3. Reveal new relationships

Visuals should really shine in highlighting relationships between data that would be lost with prose alone. As a shining example, consider the graphic of Napoleon’s army Edward Tufte has popularized. The visual depicts multiple time, geography, resource, and strategy relationships words alone could never convey.

4. Balance space efficiency and effectiveness

Having attended an Edward Tufte class, a big takeaway was paying attention to information density. Strong visualizations and infographics should pack a disproportionate amount of information into the space occupied. There is a balance though – with too much detail, key points are obscured; with too little detail, the audience doesn’t get the impact of text alone.

5. Offer greater clarity and accuracy

It can be difficult with only words to reveal subtle differences in data. A visual can work much harder to suggest patterns, similarities, and differences with a precision words can’t attain. But as the book How to Lie with Charts (affiliate link) screams out, it’s also easy to mislead your audience with visuals. Caveat audience AND the caveat designer.

6. Generate more possibilities

A rich visual triggers audience members to envision even more new ideas, solutions, or relationships to examine. If a viewer can look at a visual and quickly move on without new thinking taking place, there’s either a problem with the visual or the underlying information.

7. Lead to faster prototyping of ideas, concepts, strategies

Especially with abstract areas, strong visualization should convey a less than completely formed concept more rapidly than explaining it or taking time to physically construct the concept, if that’s even possible. Being able to quickly sketch an abstract concept allows it to move forward and develop with greater speed.

8. Do a better job of making information palatable to consume

Call this the “Spoonful of Sugar” phenomenon. If you hit a reader with a long, convoluted prose description of data or tabular information, you may never convey key insights, conclusions, or recommendations. A visual, especially with challenging information, should be an open door to initially bring a reader into the data, with a suggested path to explore even deeper levels.

What do you think is important when it comes to how to make an infographic ?

Perhaps not surprisingly, many of these criteria for how to make an infographic deliver visual thinking value relate closely to the old maxim about a picture being worth a thousand words. So since this post is over 700 words, I’m looking for an infographic operating at about 75% to blow it out of the water. Any takers? – 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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