Does your brand deliver what it promises? To make that happen, both strategy and operations must be on the same page.
Strong brands aren’t just the result of a brilliant brand strategy or excellent execution. In fact, the best brands are companies who have figured out the ideal mix of both. To illustrate the importance of that concept, I have often used this simple chart: The Branding Zone Model for Living Your Brand.
My favorite branding clients have been companies that “bend sheet metal for a living.” In other words, they are industrial enterprises such as Dresser Inc., or technology equipment suppliers such as ThermoQuest. Their executive teams are sharp professionals, but most began their careers as engineers or chemists, not business managers.
Continue reading “The branding zone: where business strategy meets operational reality” →
Is your company a Ford or a Ferrari? You might be surprised that your managers and employees aren’t on the same brand wagon.
This is an enjoyable way to begin the brand discussion with a group, using a forced relationship exercise. It generally creates good discussion and gets participants out of their normal frames of thought. The exercise is basically a technique of forcing yourself to think of your organization’s brand in terms of another product or industry. “If our company were an auto manufacturer, which would it be?” Since we often understand other companies’ brands better than our own, it is a means to start fresh in our thinking. I usually pick three from the list posted at the end of this article and spend about an hour on the discussion.
This technique, in various forms, is also known as a forced analogy, “How is my problem like a (insert random object).”
One approach in a forced analogy is to compare a problem or an organization to the various aspects of something else that is familiar to the participants. How is this similar to a shark’s teeth, a shark’s skin, a shark’s living environment, etc? Continue reading “Forced relationships, a fun brainstorm to begin the brand process” →
Your PR team needs to get confident about ethics, particularly the younger members who haven’t yet witnessed ethical crises in their career.
This finding may not be surprising on the face of it. A recent study of Millennial-age public relations practitioners found them to be earnest, eager, and…naive.
The study, funded by the Arthur W. Page Center at Penn State and sponsored by the PRSA Board of Ethics & Professional Standards was administered during September of 2016 to newer members of the Public Relations Society of America.
The majority of respondents said they felt ill-prepared to advise their clients or employers about ethical issues related to their work, and in fact, did not even expect to face ethical dilemmas during their careers.
Yes, this is a facepalm cue for us
older more experienced members of the communications world but should we be surprised? These talented, young pros learned the craft from us. Continue reading “Ethics goes missing in training of young PR professionals” →
“With that much horse manure,” she exclaimed, “there must be a pony in here somewhere.”
Here’s a useful tool for how to develop a brand, leading your team through the brand discovery process. I’m including it here with relatively little explanation, as most of it is Branding 101 stuff. It isn’t brain surgery, but it takes skill and diligence to pull together a successful brand strategy in actual practice.
The name Pony Sheet came from the old story about the young girl whose parents took her out to the barn on her birthday and announced, “We have a big birthday surprise for you.” Opening the door, she spied a huge pile of horse manure in the middle of the floor, a rather disappointing sight. Yet being a young optimist (most children are), the lass clapped her hands with joy. “With that much horse manure,” she exclaimed, “there must be a pony in here somewhere.”
In discussing what is a brand with executives, I use the pony story to illustrate the long, often frustrating process of digging through mounds of information and piles of attributes that everyone thinks must be included in the brand. At some point, it seems much like digging through a mound of horse manure, but with diligent effort, I can promise that eventually, we will discover the pony.
Continue reading “The Pony Sheet – how to develop your brand and ride it” →
Organizations thrive when they learn to ask HOW before WHAT.
When I first joined the leadership team at a top-tier business school, eager to apply my skills as a graduate of the MBA program and a brand consultant in the corporate world, I discovered that our strategic goal was to become the best public business school in the United States.
It was a laudatory aspiration to be sure. Who could argue with it? However, I soon realized the plan was heavy on things we would DO to gain that goal, but very light on HOW we would do it. In an academic environment, with its fiefdoms and diversified management perspectives, this encouraged a focus on the productivity and results of our individual programs and departments, rather than the broader school or the university. Continue reading “Leading in higher education with emotional intelligence” →