Three Levels of Brand Values

(Reading Time: 2 minutes)

I submit to you that there are three levels of brand values.

Level 1 – “No Values”

Here, you’re saying, “Values are irrelevant – profit is what we’re here for.”  You don’t think about your Why; you’re focused on your What and your How. 

It’s unimaginative, but at least it’s honest.  If you’re up-front about your desire to relieve me of some of the money in my wallet, I can work with you on those terms.

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Don’t Waste This Crisis: How Strong Values Improve Strategy

(Reading Time: 6 minutes)

There’s a question that’s asked far too rarely as we develop brand and business strategies.  It’s simple but extremely powerful, since it shapes everything that you’ll do as a team or organization.

The question:

Who do we want to be?

It’s challenging to lead an organization in the best of times.  In a time of scarcity – like the one we recently, abruptly entered – it can feel impossible.

But navigating difficulty is one of the roles of a leader.  As FDR said, “A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor.” 

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Marketing in the Time of Coronavirus

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Last week, I joined a client for a virtual brainstorm.  The focus: Our marketing next steps in these trying times.

We established a rule up-front: For an idea to move forward, it has to serve our customers.  In other words, if it benefits only us, it does not advance.  It goes to either the “rework” or “trash” pile.

This is a good rule for new ideas in general.  Two decades ago, Doug Hall and his team at Eureka! Ranch found that new-product concepts with a high level of “overt benefit” outperformed concepts with a low level by 3:1.

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If Nothing Else, Start With Respect

(Reading Time: 2 minutes)

“Manipulating the masses into buying stuff they don’t need!  That’s what I do!  That’s marketing!”

That’s an actual quote I once heard from a marketing director.  This was during an inventing session, the goal of which was to create new products that would make his customers (in other words, people) happier.

I’ve also been in a conference room when an executive flat-out called his customers (also people) “stupid.”

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J.K. Rowling Is a Hack

(Reading Time: < 1 minute)J.K. Rowling is a hack.

I don’t believe that, but some people do.  Devotees of Hemingway think she uses too many adverbs, probably.  And some call her stories “derivative.”

J.K. Rowling Is a Hack
Hero to many, hack to a few. (Credit: JKRowling.com)

Many, many others love Rowling’s vividly imaginative worlds and the lessons of her stories.  More than a few people even have Harry Potter tattoos.  And, as Roy Peter Clark notes, Rowling’s gift for naming characters is virtually unparalleled. Continue reading “J.K. Rowling Is a Hack”