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“We Don’t See Things as They Are, We See Them as We are.” – Anaïs Nin

“We Don’t See Things as They Are, We See Them as We are.” – Anaïs Nin

Sage advice for brands that are failing to reach their targets. How well is your brand connecting with the people who are important to your brand, both inside and out? Is your brand working out from itself, or out from the needs, interests, values and aspirations of people? Bringing empathy to your brand approach changes everything. Seeing things from another perspective opens up new opportunities. Putting people first leads them to putting your brand first. Photo Credit...
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How Clear Is Your Business Vision to the People on the Ground?

How Clear Is Your Business Vision to the People on the Ground?

In the hallowed halls of the C-Suite, your business vision seems clear. But down on the street, in the halls, in the meeting rooms, in the labs, in the factories, in the warehouses, at the desks, and around the water cooler, your vision is hard to see. What else would explain why your organization is failing to keep up with the competition, why customers are going elsewhere, why it is getting harder and harder to hire good people, and why investors are starting to fidget? What can you do to make your vision crystal clear – and actionable? It could be that your “C-Suite ready”...
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From USP’s to Shared Beliefs: The Next Stage of Branding

From USP’s to Shared Beliefs: The Next Stage of Branding

Jim Signorelli is the author of “StoryBranding”. I love the way he makes the distinction between the classic marketing idea of “unique selling proposition” and the modern meaningful branding concept, “unique value proposition”. USP’s (a “plot line” in StoryBranding) We often refer to plot lines as brag lines, simply because that is what they do. They express the brand’s “how so?” more than its “what about it?” Plot lines are more a manifestation of the brand’s opinion of itself. As such, they lack the believability...
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Making Meaning Evident vs. Claiming It

Making Meaning Evident vs. Claiming It

An emotive brand can’t simply advertise its way into being meaningful. It has to exude meaning at every opportunity. All too often brands seeking to appear more meaningful rely purely on tactical communications like an ad campaign. We are as likely as anyone to say, “that’s nice” after viewing an emotional commercial or a touching bit of Flash on a webpage. There’s nothing wrong with that, is there? Well, there can be. Sadly, these brands often come off as being superficial. They wear their feelings on their sleeves. And they use advertising to claim to be something...
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How a Master Plan Creates an Employee Alliance

How a Master Plan Creates an Employee Alliance

A Meaningful Workplace is built from the company’s master plan – a strategic platform used exclusively by senior management – that defines the three core elements of ambition (purpose), feelings (values), and behavior (building a culture). This master plan drives all subsequent activities, which include: Macro Plans – how the business itself will be evolved; Group Plans – how groups of employees will be engaged; Solo Plans – how individual employees will be personally engaged. Building something great and enduring Macro Planning puts the business’s structure, policies, and procedures through...
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The Very Things That Drive Behavior That Matters

The Very Things That Drive Behavior That Matters

“If marketers are not generating emotions and feelings, we are not taking advantage of the very things that drive behavior. Branding is more than stimulating an intellectual process of imaginative thought. It is about experiencing those thoughts as emotionally charged feelings that lead to real actions. Feelings are turned into waking thoughts, which then become intentions, and finally, purchase. The goal of every marketing program should be to infuse products with emotions so strong that customers become loyal not just to the brands but to the brand missions, instilling devotion and...
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Brands as Meaning Makers

Brands as Meaning Makers

Tim Lebrecht is a noted brand and marketing thinker. He recently made a presentation at The Economist’s “The Big Rethink” Brand Power conference in London, at which he urged companies to see the role of a meaning maker for people important to the brand. Tim isn’t talking about a total rethink of the company’s mission or purpose, but rather as he says, “everyday small acts that make the lives of stakeholders a little bit more meaningful. I believe that maybe the sum of all these small parts is greater than the whole. So, what are the qualities of a brand that is a...
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Rebrand? A Perfect Time to Adopt a “Purpose Beyond Profit”

Rebrand? A Perfect Time to Adopt a “Purpose Beyond Profit”

A rebrand is a great opportunity to scratch below the surface to discover how your business can truly matter to people. Seize this chance to do more than simply apply a new layer of paint over your business. There are numerous reasons why companies choose to rebrand. It might be due to a merger, acquisition, or divestiture. It may be because of tired sales, a less-than-desirable image, or heated up competition. It might be a change in guard at the CEO level. Whatever the reason your business needs an update, the rebrand process offers a unique opportunity to go beyond a new name, logo, and...
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Bad Blind Graphic Design Date

Bad Blind Graphic Design Date

One of the new constants of modern life is graphic design. It was with us before, in newspapers and magazines, bus billboards, and the whole gamut of corporate communications. Now the web and mobile have splashed graphic design everywhere we look – but we seem to be looking with half-closed eyes. Plenty of people have written (not saying “complained”) about how the web and mobile have degraded language. Blogs, email, and texting have made us all writers, so we’ve stopped making much of a distinction among ourselves in that regard. We’re in a hurry, we don’t have editors and proofreaders, and...
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Who Knew? No one.

Who Knew? No one.

As the media heated up before the Masters golf tournament, a Wall Street Journal piece noted that the PGA Tour is a non-profit organization “that turns over its excess cash to charity.” Last year, this amounted to $130 million, which is big money for any philanthropy. For comparison, total prize money for the 2013 PGA Tour season is $298 million. I re-read the “excess cash” sentence about four times. The sport of rich white men, awash in corporate sponsorships, is giving big chunks of the money to those less fortunate. Who knew? Not me, or any of my friends who are deep into golf. I bet a...
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Socializing Sustainability

Socializing Sustainability

We hear a lot that companies are struggling with creating the right strategies for socializing sustainability and to get employees even engaged in sustainability. One of the most common complaints is, “They won’t even read our sustainability report!” No, really? Expecting employees to read a sustainability report is like expecting them to read patent applications. No one does that unless they have to, because patent applications are written by lawyers for other lawyers. It’s the same with most sustainability reports: they’re written by sustainability geeks for other sustainability geeks....
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Purpose and Profit

Purpose and Profit

Purpose and Profit If you want to run a successful business that leads with purpose, you had better be good at profit. You have to know your business well enough to shred carbon out of it and inject humanity into it without blowing up the bottom line. Your company also has to be a star in whatever supply chain it’s in, because if you don’t impress your closest peers, customers and suppliers, then your sustainability programs probably don’t amount to much. In short, if your company is succeeding with sustainability, it’s almost certainly well managed. This seems so obvious, I started to...
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Going Beyond the Obvious Emotional Power of Your Brand

Going Beyond the Obvious Emotional Power of Your Brand

Some brands are built around products or ideas that are inherently emotional. But true emotional resonance happens when these brands recognize that their competitors own the same emotional space. Brands seeking to rise above the fray dig deeper into the well of positive emotions that bond brands and people. They build upon, complement, and extend that innate emotional “kick” they deliver with a set of ancillary feelings chosen to support the brand’s purpose beyond profit. A unique purpose and emotional aura distance emotionally meaningful brands from their competitors. They...
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Merchandize Your Corporate Sustainability Report

Merchandize Your Corporate Sustainability Report

When all is said and done, how many people will read your entire corporate sustainability report (CSR), from beginning to end? Chances are that only a few eager readers will read the whole report. Since many of your stakeholders may not delve enthusiastically into the technical details, it may take some additional effort and a bit of creativity to reach them with your company’s main messages about sustainability strategy, philosophies and achievements. While the quality of the full report is top priority, it is important to consider your options to extend the reach of your report through...
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Why Workplaces Aren’t Meaningful Now

Why Workplaces Aren’t Meaningful Now

Disillusioned by the age of conspicuous consumption, worried by the state of the planet and its people, rocked by war, corruption, and financial crises, and immersed in a swirl of information, news, opinion, and gossip, people are searching for meaning in their lives. Today they feel a need to align with people, ideas, and companies that make them feel they’re part of something bigger than themselves. People are seeking a sense of purpose, a reason for being, and the answer to the question, “Why is this good?” Today their idea of good is shaped by an increased awareness of their own needs,...
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