Posts Tagged ‘branding’

The first cuckoos and their lessons in branding

Sunday, May 13th, 2012

I was walking yesterday and heard my first cuckoos. At first there was just one in the distance, and I thought “How perfect!”, spring sunshine and birdsong. We walked a little further then heard him again, only clearer, he seemed to have moved closer. Then I realised the song was different; a moment later it was clear there were two males, both singing their distinctive version of the familiar call, both proclaiming the efficacy of their wares to all the females nearby.

It occurred to me later, on reading a familiar online network’s blogs that we are like these cuckoos, puffing out our chests and singing to the world, hoping someone is noticing… We know the cuckoos strategy works, but does ours?! Its highly distinctive call serves two purposes; firstly it is claiming a territory and is highly recognisable, but its second purpose is the pay- off, it is seeking to attract a mate.

How do we ensure that we are offering something not just distinctive, but also something our audience really wants, or are we just making a lot of noise and achieving very little?

Marilyn’s lessons in managing your reputation

Friday, April 27th, 2012

“All people see is Marilyn Monroe.  As soon as they see I’m not her, they run.”  Michelle Williams, My Week with Marilyn

It is arguable that she created one of the greatest brands of all time, it still makes around $4m pa, and was recently acquired for something like $30m.  This quote of Michelle Williams is interesting because it suggests that Marilyn was aware of the power of her brand, almost before the term was coined.

Not many of us get to make this kind of money whilst we are working for it, let alone when we have been dead 40 years!  This shows the value of reputation.  In my work as a Change Mentor, I am heavily dependent on people saying good things about me as mine is a highly personal, confidential and intangible service.

If you are in this kind of work, you are the brand.  So how do you affect what people say about you?

Well, of course there are a number of things you need to do:-

  1. The results you deliver are obviously important, but it isn’t just what you do, but how you do it.  It is the difference between driving a BMW and an ordinary car.  They both get you there but one delights you en route
  2. Your ability to tailor your service to your client’s individual needs; a premium product needs to be tailored to the user
  3. Your ability to know what they need, sometimes better than they do themselves, and to always work in their best interest
  4. Your personal values come through in this kind of relationship and they have to fit with your client, but they should also be something they can respect.  If they hear you say unflattering or indiscrete things about other clients, then why should they assume you won’t do so about them?!
  5. It can be useful to take a little control over what is said.  Sometimes a client will say something wonderful about you or your work, in your presence, if they do, not only thank them but ask for permission to quote them, or put it on your website.  Ask them to repeat it to others. Repeat these quotes to others
  6. We hear a lot about authenticity these days, but it is very important to be yourself and to do business with people who enjoy and need who you are and what you do best.  You will always be a better you than anyone else and a second best anyone else.

So unlike Marilyn, make the real you the one that you market and brand and that way you will never suffer the pressures she did of maintaining  an image.

Brand management… when you are the brand!

Tuesday, May 19th, 2009

I went to a talk today by a couple of branding experts.  It was very interesting, and peppered with all the sorts of examples and facts & figures one likes to see in a good talk.  They had illustrated their points with slides.  So far so good.  However….. they were sharing a single mike on a stand in a manner that reminded me of Sonny & Cher.  The lady was operating a pc using a remote ‘clicker’ that sometimes worked and often didn’t, so we were often either 2 slides ahead or behind the vocals.  As they changed position and moved their heads the volume kept going up and down.  So the overall impression was not very slick.. AND they were telling us that everything you do reflects on your brand! 

I’m sure they knew their stuff and had I engaged them that they could have contributed to my business but how likely am I to give them that chance?   However this blog isn’t about their mistakes; it is about all those times when we fail to follow our own advice and don’t take the very medicine we are peddling to others.  We all do it and the the state of cobbler’s children’s shoes is proverbial.

As an individual, the ability to take the advice you are capable of dishing out makes good sense, but as a business, it is vital!

“A rock pile ceases to be a rock pile the moment a single man contemplates it, bearing within him the image of a cathedral.”   Antoine de Saint-Exupery


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