Thursday, July 30, 2015

The 8 Characteristics of a Winning Brand Champion



(Who are some of the most visible and effective brand champions in recent years? Check out our featured quiz, "NAME THAT BRAND" at the end of this article).

First, let's be clear:  There can be only one.

(And no, that is not a reference to the "Highlander" movie franchise).

There can be only one champion of any given brand at any one time. There may be gazillions of "brand ambassadors" spreading the joy and wonder of your organization, product or service all over the place. But only one Brand Champion. Please.

Photo:  soundtrackcollector.com
One Brand Champion per brand means one voice, one face, one personality, and one go-to person for influencers, media, customers, and investors. The value of a single, powerful voice is potentially enormous. The reality is you'll be lucky to find even one person who has what it takes to be that voice.

It's not something we like to talk about it, but many organizations are not blessed with a leader who fully "gets" branding, and loves to talk about their company with anyone, anywhere, anytime -- let alone do so with enthusiasm, obvious pride, and total credibility.

The insiders' secret is that Brand Champions are not born. They are made. Often by people like us.

So, what do we look for in a prospective Brand Champion? It boils down to eight characteristics:

1 - C-level role in the organization -- the CEO is always our first draft pick.

2 - Deep knowledge of and pride in the organization, from end to end.

3 - Understands marketing and the bottom line value of the brand.

4 -  Knows the customers -- in every segment.

5 - Intuitive and empathetic, with the ability to read and reach his/her audience

6 - Excellent storyteller, able to communicate complex topics understandably.

7 - Genuinely likes people and enjoys talking with them (vs. at them).

8 - He/she is the Big Picture person with a vision that is based on an ability to read patterns in both the macro- and immediate market environments.

Tall order. Even among the best, very few can lay claim to total mastery of all eight qualities out-of-the-box. This explains why some organizations contract with a celebrity whose image (a.k.a. personal brand) mirrors that of its product, service and business. Even at that, however, the celebrity can only become the "face of the brand," not its champion and certainly not its guardian.

The good news is that, given a willing and savvy CEO, any organization can develop a brand champion with an investment in media, communication, public speaking, and image development training. It works, and some the finest brand champions in recent history are the proof.

As you think further about the advantages of developing a bona fide Brand Champion, it's likely a few iconic champions will come to mind. Want to test your knowledge? Then it's time to play ...


N A M E    T H A T    B R A N D

Can you name the organization for which each of the following have served as its Brand Champion?

Give it a try and let us know how you score.







1.  ……………………………………
Photo:  mastersoftrivia.com

Image result for arianna huffington



2.  ……………………………………
Photo: huffingtonpost.com

Image result for bill gates
Photo: dailymail.co.uk 





3.  ……………………………………


Photo:  telegraph.co.uk




4.  ……………………………………


Image result for lee iacocca





5.  ……………………………………
Photo:  quotationof.com

Image result for meg whitman pcmag






6.  ……………………………………
Photo:  pcmag.com

Image result for warren buffett



7.  ……………………………………
Photo:  businessinsider.com

Image result for indra nooyi





8.  ……………………………………
Photo:  businessinsider.com

Image result for larry ellison








9.  ……………………………………
Photo:  dailytech.com

Image result for ginni rometty





10.  ……………………………………
Photo:  asmarterplanet.com


What was your score? Is there anyone you would add to this quiz? Why?

Let us know -- we'd love to hear from you!





ANSWERS:  1-Jack Welch (GE); 2-Arianna Huffington (AOL/Time Warner, Huffington Post); 3-Bill Gates (Microsoft); 4-Christine Lagarde (IMF); 5-Lee Iacocca (General Motors) 6-Meg Whitman (hp); 7-Warren Buffett (Berkshire Hathaway); 8-Indra Nooyi (PepsiCo); 9-Larry Ellison (Oracle); 10-Ginni Rometty (IBM)


Thursday, July 2, 2015

#ThrowbackThursday - What is This Strange Power Paper Holds for Writers?

Photo: paperforfountainpens.com
Admittedly, we write a lot around here. In fact, we write more than a lot -- by some standards we write to excess. From ebooks and ads to strategic plans and articles undertaken for ecotech and high tech clients, we live and die by our writing. 

Conserve, Save a Tree, Reduce, The Proverbial Paperless Office 

Our industry focus has grafted these phrases and concepts onto our DNA. Usually. The other day, however, when someone in the office casually commented "... you know, for an office full of tree hugging techies, we sure use a sh**load of paper ... ," I was a little taken by surprise.

Surveying our work space, sure enough, everybody has his or her stash of notebooks. The wastebaskets are half-full of discarded brilliance in hardcopy. Some of us even have semi-sacred journals that are referred to variously as "My Brain," "The Magic Moleskine" and "Her Grimoire." (The latter is an unfortunate third-party reference to my own journal of drafts, ideas, inspirations and diabolical plans).

Our special journals are either Moleskine(tm) products or some other fancy schmancy, paper-filled tomes -- and we genuinely treasure them. For me, writing in my "special" notebook somehow gives texture and substance to abstractions. It also corrals information for me, keeping it in-hand, under control, literally at my finger tips and holds the words still if I need to edit or rewrite any of them. I know my laptop can do all that, yet somehow it just doesn't do it as well.

Is it me?

Maybe it's a generational thing. What about my hipper, cooler, younger associates? So I asked. And you know what? Same thing. Some of the comments were:

     "The feel of the cover and paper helps me think."
     "If I'm writing something that's important to me, it needs a more permanent medium."
     "I write better when I can -- I don't know -- 'touch' the words. Is that weird?"

Okay. Not logical, but consistent.

Then I began to wonder if this was an isolated, creative culture phenomenon. So, I cast a wider net and started researching. What I found was that our attitudes toward paper are, in fact, pandemic. The use of paper among writers is experiencing a dramatic resurgence (if it ever experienced a decline), to the extent that it recently caught the attention of several NPR commentators who have covered it several time in the past few months.

The Eureka Moment

Even more interesting, however, is the evidence that writing on paper is actually good for us, or at least our cognitive performance. A recent study, conducted by Pam Mueller of Princeton and Daniel Oppenheimer of UCLA, examined the effects of taking notes in longhand versus note taking on a digital device (i.e., laptop). The results clearly indicated that "... students who took notes on laptops performed worse on conceptual questions than students who took notes longhand ..." Mueller and Oppenheimer report that longhand note taking appears to require a higher level of cognitive engagement with the subject matter than the act of transcribing content digitally.

I find it comforting to know there's a sort of business case for the attachment we feel toward our notebooks and journals. Right Brain and left brain are in harmony, and all is right with the world.

You're wondering how do we justify writing longhand on paper with the notion of a paperless office, right? I like to think of it as a yin and yang relationship


MORE RESOURCES
"Don't Write Off Paper Just Yet," Morning Edition, NPR, May 2015, http://www.npr.org/2015/05/26/408794149/dont-write-off-paper-just-yet.

"The Pen Is Mightier Than the Keyboard:  Advantages of Longhand Over Laptop Note Taking," Psychological Science, January 16, 2014, http://pss.sagepub.com/content/25/6/1159.

"In A Digital Chapter, Paper Notebooks Are As Relevant As Ever," Morning Edition, NPR, May 2015, http://www.npr.org/2015/05/27/408794237/in-a-digital-chapter-paper-notebooks-are-as-relevant-as-ever.

"The Perfect Writing Surface," Marketplace Morning Report, Wednesday, May 20, 2015