Stop branding. Start leading.

Stop branding. Start leading.

Brand management and leadership share a common space: Influence. Can a brand share the characteristics of a good leader? Or should it? Picture a brand that you would go to the ends of the earth for. We all have at least one. Something you’d always buy. Someone you’d always vote for. Something you'd travel far to see in concert. Something you'd tell your friends about without their asking. What are the characteristics of that brand? I'll give you a list and we'll see how close it matches what you have in your mind’s eye. It’s transparent and honest. It does…
Not the viral you were hoping for

Not the viral you were hoping for

Don't you love the surveys like this one that pit congress approval ratings against things like lice and (worse) replacement refs? (Congress looses in a landslide in case you were wondering. You may now thank me for not using the phrase "Spoiler alert.") They're funny because they use the device of surprise. When you say something unexpected or place an element outside its usual context it makes us uncomfortable or jarred, and we laugh. The other response to an unexpected element is revulsion. Like the way a body works to expel a virus. It’s working against the system. It doesn’t…
Simple – A 3-3-1 Brand Strategy

Simple – A 3-3-1 Brand Strategy

Let’s get to the simple side of complexity. Try this on for size, fellow branding geeks. Branding happens in three stages: What you think you’re gonna get What you actually get What you’re gonna do about it Building a brand is about asking and answering three questions: What do I/we do well? How I/do we do it differently? Why does it matter? And managing a brand is about one thing: Inspiring a shared vision. Will that work?  
As Branding Dies Leaders Rise

As Branding Dies Leaders Rise

Branding (not product branding, but that enterprise-level notion of name and reputation we’re still wrestling with) is dying because we’ve run it into the ground. If you asked anyone or anything to wear as many hats, mean as many things, or be a placeholder for so many musings as contradictory (think tactics promoted as strategy), impertinent (think one-size-fits-all-contexts theories), and importance-inflated (the genocide in Rwanda is an element of a brand? Really?) as we ask of branding, it’d die too. From sheer exhaustion. It’s not the years (to paraphrase Indiana Jones). It’s the mileage. Branding started as a notion of…
Which sandbox: Keep Joy In Your Brand

Which sandbox: Keep Joy In Your Brand

Paul Hawken could have used his time at the Denver Sustainable Industries Economic Forum to talk about anything. And he covered a fairly wide variety of topics. But what stood out was his reminder that "people want to play in the fun sandbox." That sustainable solutions to business and our world should be joyful. Think of the innovation that’s going on in this space, he challenged us. The amazing technology. System-changing ideas. Massive shifts in the status quo. The wondrous problems about to be solved. The human spirit and joy behind it all. If those interested in sustainable development focus…