Sam vs. Bud

(Reading Time: 4 minutes)

The question came up during a friendly game of poker. At the table were several local businessmen who had heard me speak of brand storytelling, and one asked:

“So what’s the difference between a great brand and a brand with a great story?”

As I glanced around the table, I found some help in answering. This was a BYOB poker game. To my left, I saw a Budweiser; to my right, a Samuel Adams. Continue reading “Sam vs. Bud”

Dyson Gets It Right

(Reading Time: 4 minutes)

How might we use a vacuum cleaner to suck up a quick lesson about branding? Consider the case of the Dyson vacuum cleaner – and how it changed my life forever.

The basics of the Dyson story are these: An Englishman named James Dyson became so frustrated with the poor performance and lousy suction of his personal vacuum cleaner that he set out to design a better solution. That’s how great new products usually start out – with a target audience, occasion or problem. With Dyson, it was the problem. Continue reading “Dyson Gets It Right”

Of Consistency and Clown Doctors

(Reading Time: 3 minutes)

Imagine you’ve made an appointment with your family doctor to discuss the shooting pangs in your chest and the fact that your left arm is going numb five or six times a day.

You’re waiting in an examination room in one of those flattering gowns. Suddenly, your doctor pops in wearing in a polka-dotted clown suit, a conical cap and a red rubber nose, laughing maniacally as he hoses you down with his seltzer bottle. Continue reading “Of Consistency and Clown Doctors”

Get Irrational

(Reading Time: 3 minutes)

Visit Las Vegas, and you’ll find pirate ships, volcanoes, a miniature Eiffel Tower and a replica of the New York City skyline – right there in the middle of the desert. Plus, as long as you’re gambling, drinks are free.

Last year, more than 100,000 people visited Las Vegas on an average day. As you read this, players are winning thousands and thousands of dollars – and losing more than that. The percentages always favor the house. Even the most favorable game is simply the least unfavorable. Continue reading “Get Irrational”

Do the Right Thing

(Reading Time: 4 minutes)

Now for a few Nike-like words on behalf of the right thing: Just do it.

In the wake of Enron, Martha Stewart and revelations that something like 89 percent of those who take out personals ads claim to be better-than-average looking, “doing the right thing” has become a bit of a catch phrase. But we still see too many in the business world focused on growing the bottom line at the expense of providing a real benefit. Continue reading “Do the Right Thing”

What Makes a Great Brand Story?

(Reading Time: 3 minutes)

Companies have internal documents, like mission, vision and positioning statements, that often are ineffective. Maybe they were hastily or poorly written, or there’s no strategy for executing them, or they’re too vague and open to multiple interpretations. This creates a gulf between your internal world and everybody else out yonder; what you want to stand for doesn’t match what you actually say and do.

A brand story serves as a bridge between the internal vision and the external reality. It matches both sides so everyone inside and outside knows exactly what you’re about. A good brand story also becomes a template for your advertising and marketing messages from now on and forevermore. And it serves as a guide for your staff, so they can continue to write your story every day. Continue reading “What Makes a Great Brand Story?”