Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Seamless Summer 2011

"No more pencils.... no more books...No more teacher's dirty looks! Out for summer! Out till fall, we might not come back at all"
ALICE COOPER


It's that time of year again.

Like many of you, this is the time of year we get ready to trade business casual for shades and flip flops, enjoy a few cold ones and slow down for the summer.

Beginning this week, TSB launches its summer format for July/August, 2010. Regular visitors will notice a posting once a week as we dig into the TSB vault and re-post material that you might want a second look at.

It is summer, afterall.

When the right kind of day is welcome relief for winter-weary spirits.

Summer not only changes the way we approach our work, it also has a way of making the music we enjoy more vivid.

Summer songs are unlike any other.

Once "Schools Out", reading, 'riting, and 'rithmetic give way to racing, romance, and rocking good tunes. It is only fitting that today on TSB, we unveil our 2010 list for the Top Five "Songs of Summer".

Our choices are based on three general criteria:

- The song needs to be a Top Ten single on Billboard.
- Reflects summertime values of fun in the sun.
- Comes with a kickass video.

Close, but no cigar honors go to several artists including:

- Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler with his solo effort ...



... as well as ...

- "Summertime Blues" - Eddie Cochrane
- "In the Summertime" - Mungo Jerry
- "Cruel Summer" - Bananarama
- "Surfin' USA" - The Beach Boys
- "Summertime Girls" - Y & T
- "Hot Summer Nights" - John Travolta and Olivia Newton John
- "Soak Up the Sun" - Sheryl Crow
- "Summer in the City" - The Lovin' Spoonful
- "Heat Wave" - Martha and the Vandellas
- "Summer of 69" - Bryan Adams
- "Margaritaville" - Jimmy Buffett

So here it goes ... TSB's Top Five "Songs of Summer":


#5. "Something Like Summertime" - BON JOVI




#4. "California Girls" - DAVID LEE ROTH




#3. "Walking on Sunshine" - KATRINA AND THE WAVES




#2. "All Summer Long" - KID ROCK




#1. "The Lazy Song" - BRUNO MARS



Hope you enjoy many perfect days through July/August when the sun is shining, the breeze is blowing, the birds are singing, lawn mower is broken and the music is rocking!

All summer long.


"Money can't buy you happiness, but it can buy you a yacht big enough to pull up right alongside it" DAVID LEE ROTH



You can learn more about Gair's seminars and speaking programs at http://www.gairmaxwell.com/. In the meantime, his book, "NUTS, BOLTS AND A FEW LOOSE SCREWS" waits patiently for you at Chapters.ca and Amazon.com.

If you want the goods on The Seamless Brand and how this team can help sharpen your message and anchor your story, explore http://www.seamlessbrand.com/. You can also follow The Seamless Brand on Twitter - http://twitter.com/#!/seamlessbrand or press the "like" button and plug into The Seamless Brand on Facebook - http://ow.ly/3VW68

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Not My Canada


As Canadians we have all been tainted by Vancouver's ugly brush.

What happened in the aftermath of Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final will have serious legal, financial social and cultural repercussions for many years to come.

To say, it was bad for Canada's brand as a progressive, peace-loving nation is a gross understatement.



I can't speak for Jimmy Kimmel, but "Vancouver" is not my Canada.

A truer reflection of the kind of Canada I know is the story of the Maeng family in Moncton, N.B., where a community rallies to support hard-working immigrants facing a cruel and misguided federal deportation order. The images in this video aren't nearly as graphic and won't inspire any late-night comics, but they do say something about the true fabric of a nation.



The Maeng story may not receive as much global media attention as the Vancouver riots, but from where I sit, Moncton's reaction to an ordinary family's ordeal says a lot more about this country than the actions of any drunken mob. People in Moncton, and all of New Brunswick responded with a tsunami of tweets and Facebook posting, urging political leaders to take the necessary steps to allow the family to stay in Canada.

"Moncton" is the kind of Canada you would find in any community from Yarmouth to Yellowknife; Truro to Toronto; Ottawa to Owen Sound; Saskatoon to Sherbrooke; Edmunston to Edmonton; Winnipeg to Windsor; Bonavista to Burnaby and all points in between.

In a most symbolic and metaphorical way, "Vancouver" is not my Canada.

But, "Moncton" is.


"There are no limits to the majestic future which lies before the mighty expanse of Canada with its virile, aspiring, cultured, and generous-hearted people"

SIR WINSTON CHURCHILL


You can learn more about Gair's seminars and speaking programs at http://www.gairmaxwell.com/. In the meantime, his book, "NUTS, BOLTS AND A FEW LOOSE SCREWS" waits patiently for you at Chapters.ca and Amazon.com.

If you want the goods on The Seamless Brand and how this team can help sharpen your message and anchor your story, explore http://www.seamlessbrand.com/. You can also follow The Seamless Brand on Twitter - http://twitter.com/#!/seamlessbrand or press the "like" button and plug into The Seamless Brand on Facebook - http://ow.ly/3VW68

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

More than Words


You've dropped off the kids at school.

Back on the main drag, you are bopping along to the Bee Gees hit "Jive Talkin'", blaring from your radio.

As the tune fades, an announcer cuts in and segues to a commercial.

"We offer fast friendly reliable service at affordable prices. Our friendly & knowledgeable staff is here Monday-Friday 9-6 and Saturday 10-4 for your shopping convenience. Quality selection. Guaranteed lowest prices. Just some of the things that you can depend on and trust from your locally owned & operated value center. Convenient payment plans available. Some restrictions apply – on limited time offers. So call or drop in and experience service, selection and the difference quality makes!"

Never once, have you slammed on the brakes and turned the car around just to head to a store promising "friendly and knowledgable staff".

Later that same day, you arrive home, fire up the computer and search the latest job postings.

As kids focus on homework at the kitchen table, you stumble across an ad that reads like this:

"XYZ Company is currently seeking an energetic, enthusiastic, team player to assume the role of Executive Assistant to the President & CEO. Working with the President & CEO, the incumbent will be responsible for providing a high level of administrative support. This dynamic and rewarding career opportunity offers a challenging, fast-paced, results-oriented environment, ideal for positive, self-motivated and energetic multi-taskers with pro-active problem-solving abilities. You will need strong communication and computer skills, be able to work independently while exceeding customer and key stakeholder expectations".

Never once, when you were growing up, wondering about your dream job, did you aspire to become an "incumbent".

If you really stop to think about it, do any of these one-size fits-all radio ads or generic job postings ever, ever, ever register on your personal give-a-shit-a-meter?

Whether you are trying to sell a product or service or attract top-notch talent, your choice of language will either work for you or against you. The words you choose will either attract, repel or create indifference in the mind of the woman you are trying to speak to.

Choked by decades of hype, white noise and the emptiness of adspeak, your prospect, customer or future employee is hungering for words she can actually believe in. Inundated by more than 5,500 advertising messages a day, her brain has been trained many times over to tune out anything that comes across as "blah, blah, blah".

She is starving to feel something real.

Words that resonate within her soul.

She is the same person who was stirred by the aching words of a song written by the Brothers Gibb back in 1968 that promised:

"It's only words, and words are all I have, to take your heart away".

What about your brand?

Is it carefully selecting from a cornucopia of words that seamlessly link your brand promise to something that actually matters? Or is it merely recycling the same old politically correct, guaranteed-not-to-offend, regurgitated crap that everyone else spits out?

Is it time for your brand to embrace a new language?

With words she craves?


"This world has lost its glory, let's start a brand new story now, my love.
Right now, there'll be no other time and I can show you how, my love"

THE BEE GEES


P.S. .... This topic requires no further explanation:




You can learn more about Gair's seminars and speaking programs at http://www.gairmaxwell.com/. In the meantime, his book, "NUTS, BOLTS AND A FEW LOOSE SCREWS" waits patiently for you at Chapters.ca and Amazon.com.

If you want the goods on The Seamless Brand and how this team can help sharpen your message and anchor your story, explore http://www.seamlessbrand.com/. You can also follow The Seamless Brand on Twitter - http://twitter.com/#!/seamlessbrand or press the "like" button and plug into The Seamless Brand on Facebook - http://ow.ly/3VW68

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Branding Guidelines: Brick by Brick


Branding can be a dicey subject for small to mid-size companies.

For some, it feels like you roll those bones and take your chances.

Branding is more readily associated with the world of packaged goods or the Fortune 500. Branding books (including my own) use examples like Apple, Starbucks or Southwest Airlines; stories that don’t always resonate with small to medium sized enterprises, business-to-business companies, or industrial product firms. But, these types of companies share more in common than you think with some of the biggest brands in the world.

Take for example, Proctor & Gamble.

The world's largest advertiser.

In 2010, the estimated total spend from P&G was $8.6 billion. It works out to nearly 11% of net sales produced by 24 brands, including Tide detergent, Pampers diapers, and Gillette razors. When it comes to sheer numbers, Proctor & Gamble sets the gold standard when it comes to spending money on advertising.

Knowing those numbers will give you added perspective on a legendary story about a former P&G chairman. It seems this chairman was addressing a high-level advertising conference many years ago, discussing the billions spent annually on marketing, advertising, sponsorships, coupons and many other promotional programs.

The chairman announced to all the other suits in the room, “I’m positive we waste half the money we spend”.

The he paused and admitted with a sigh, “I just don’t know which half.”

Whether your company is a global behemoth like Proctor & Gamble investing $8.6 billion or a small enterprise forking over $8.6 thousand dollars, no one wants to waste half of their advertising budget. More often than not, this is precisely what happens when business owners and executives fail to grasp several guidelines that provide the foundation for successful brand building.

Three things to keep in mind:

#1. Your choice of Message will ALWAYS be more critical than your choice of Media.

Think less about who you are targeting and how often your message is getting out there. Success in this game is less about "frequency" and "reach" and much more about what you actually say in terms of a "message". What can you be best in the world/country/state/province/city at and can you back it up? In what ways are you remarkably different from your competitors and how is that difference relevant to your customer?

#2. Your Message must be DRIVEN by emotion; supported through logic.

Will the message be one that an audience actually cares about and see as relevant? Or will you spread marketing fluff that sounds like "fast, friendly, reliable service at low prices', "we have a full range of products to meet all your needs" and "come and meet our friendly and knowledgeable staff". These phrases lost all meaning and credibility more than a decade ago. No one gives a rats ass about your staff and how helpful they are. That's a given.


#3. The level of COURAGE it will take to develop an emotionally-driven message and share it with your customers and employees.


Do you have the courage to make that leap - even without having all the facts? The courage to face complaints about your ads or videos? The courage go out on a limb, take a calculated risk, listen to your gut and follow your heart?

Never forget, fortune favors the brave.

No matter the size of the firm or whether it falls into the B2B category, any company can apply these principles. Just the other day, I stumbled on to the story of Acme Brick, founded in 1891 and based in Fort Worth, Texas. Acme sells most of its products through the building trades and a good portion of their $1.5 million marketing budget goes into strongly branded tactics including partnerships with pro sports celebrities and teams, supporting charitable causes or PR events (like setting the Guinness World Record for building the world's largest brick as pictured above). In 1995, Acme Brick also introduced an unheard of 100-year producht guarantee (3 to 5 years was the industry standard) to further differentiate themselves from others.

These brand-building efforts have paid off.

A 1998 survey of homebuyers showed Acme had achieved 84 percent brand preference when no other supplier was above 10 percent in their regional market. In fact, Acme estimates their brand is worth an extra ten cents for every dollar's worth of Acme brick sold and $250 in incremental revenue per home. The company also believes about $20 million of Acme's annual $200 million brick sales represents R.O.I. on the yearly investment Acme makes in brand-building. In other words, a 13-fold return on an average annual budget of $1.5 million.

Acme Brick has proven a strong message (100-year guarantee, for example), harnessed with emotion (you'll see in a minute) and the courage to put it out there (watch the video) can pay off in spades.



If you can create a brand of distinction out of a brick, can you see how almost anything can be branded to create value? Acme's efforts may not be on the same level as P&G's "Old Spice Guy", but the same principles hold true when it comes to giving any product or service a little more sex appeal.

A brand of distinction is so reliable and rare that people spread stories about them.

A brand of distinction will never be viewed as just another brick in the B2B or small business wall.

Regardless of size or industry, brands of distinction enjoy a tremendous competitive advantage since word of mouth and referrals are still the most powerful form of advertising. But, the reverse is also true. If your company wears little more than a badge of ownership, your competitors have a major opportunity to beat you to the punch and start building their brand of distinction.

Brick by brick.


"It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you'll do things differently"

WARREN BUFFETT


P.S.... Can't help but think of diehard Bruins fans like Mark Eagles, who must be flying like Bobby Orr today after Tim Thomas takes Boston to 7th heaven.


You can learn more about Gair's seminars and speaking programs at http://www.gairmaxwell.com/. In the meantime, his book, "NUTS, BOLTS AND A FEW LOOSE SCREWS" waits patiently for you at Chapters.ca and Amazon.com.

If you want the goods on The Seamless Brand and how this team can help sharpen your message and anchor your story, explore http://www.seamlessbrand.com/. You can also follow The Seamless Brand on Twitter - http://twitter.com/#!/seamlessbrand or press the "like" button and plug into The Seamless Brand on Facebook - http://ow.ly/3VW68

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Sharp Stick of Transparency


Time and Money.

You can't spend one without saving the other.

Risk and Reward.

You can't have more of one without increasing the other.

These centuries-old truths serve us two sides of the same coin. Rest assured, these truths will still hold true long after we're all dead and gone.

Thanks to technology, the latest such double-sided truth to permanently enter our world is Transparency and Accountability. Like it or not, these values now walk hand-in-hand in our 21st century Digital Economy. Since the web has made broadcasters of us all, the illuminating light of transparency can be directed toward your personal or professional brand at anytime from anywhere. While this represents a potential loss of privacy it also demand a higher degree of public accountability.

Which may not be a bad thing if it exposes less-than-ethical business dealings.

It has become increasingly difficult to hide secretive and shady schemes under the glaring light of social media exposure. At one time, only traditional media could blow the whistle on shysters and slimeballs, but today anyone with a Facebook account can get into the act.

Never has a double-edged sword been so painfully sharp.

Case in point:

Noticed a posting the other day about a Moncton-based car dealership I have never done business with. The less-than-flattering article is now doing more damage than any full-page newspaper ad or 30-second radio spot can hope to repair. Just to get a sense of how accurate the article may be, I re-posted it on my own Facebook profile and was surprised to see the level of criticism and contempt it inspired.

Rodney LeBlanc:
As soon as I saw the heading...knew exactly which dealership was being mentioned. Have heard dirty tactics more than once...my uncle was a victim.
23 hours ago · Like

Glen Munro: The practice they have in place is disgusting
23 hours ago · Like

Sean Andrus: It's really happening here...not to me but to one of my old employees. She couldn't afford to lose the $500, was trying to reduce payments - instead she gained an extra $500 in credit card debt!
23 hours ago · Like

Roger Surette:
My wife bought a car from them about a year and a half ago and the service she has got since the purchase has been horrible!!! It seems that they are out for the money and not customer satisfaction...
22 hours ago · Like

Remi Boudreau: Just recently bought a car there and can't say enough about how frustrating the experience was... I'm good with numbers and knew aprox how much I should be paying monthly since I had the price of the vehicle and the cost of returning our ol...See More
19 hours ago · Like

Larry Busey:
I bought a car there. They screwed me over, too. All kinds of shady tactics, similar to when David Puddy yanked Seinfeld's insider deal. I've also heard numerous stories. This is not an isolated incident/issue.
13 hours ago · Like


Words and phrases like "victim", "frustrating" and "David Puddy" are not what the owners of any business have in mind when they think about how they're going to attract more business. The dealership in question serves as a great example of how every business needs to pay attention to what the Cluetrain Manifesto predicted as far back as 1999.

"All markets are conversations".

Here in Moncton, New Brunswick, this two-sided coin of transparency and accountability can force governments to clean up administrative messes made by bungling bureaucrats (as in the recent case of the Maeng family); or it can severely limit the number of customers who might otherwise be tempted (through advertising) to do business with your company. If its happening in Moncton, its happening everywhere.

Power - real power - has never been more in the hands of ordinary people.

Conversations are taking place whether you and I like it or not, but the word is getting out much louder and faster than ever before. And while it represents a potential loss of privacy does the higher degree of public accountability make it worth the trade?

How is your brand holding up under this level of scrutiny?

Can it withstand the sharp stick of truth that transparency demands?


"There is not a crime, there is not a dodge, there is not a trick, there is not a swindle, there is not a vice which does not live by secrecy"

JOSEPH PULITZER


P.S. ... Can you imagine it getting much worse than seeing your brand compared to David Puddy?



You can learn more about Gair's seminars and speaking programs at http://www.gairmaxwell.com/. In the meantime, his book, "NUTS, BOLTS AND A FEW LOOSE SCREWS" waits patiently for you at Chapters.ca and Amazon.com.

If you want the goods on The Seamless Brand and how this team can help sharpen your message and anchor your story, explore http://www.seamlessbrand.com/. You can also follow The Seamless Brand on Twitter - http://twitter.com/#!/seamlessbrand or press the "like" button and plug into The Seamless Brand on Facebook - http://ow.ly/3VW68

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Brace For Impact


Until yesterday, I had never heard of Ric Elias.

And I highly suspect you hadn't either.

But, there is something about his message that struck me.

And now I am wondering how it will impact you ...



How will Ric's message impact your day?

Is there something you need to get done?

Today.

Is there someone you are thinking about?

Right now.


"Catch that magic moment. Do it right here and now. It means everything"

VAN HALEN



Would you like Gair to add snap, crackle and pop with thought-provoking substance to your organization or event? Details on his game-changing keynotes, seminars and speaking programs can be discovered at http://www.gairmaxwell.com/

If you are curious to know more about his moderately bent philosophy that drives it all, Gair's book, "NUTS, BOLTS AND A FEW LOOSE SCREWS" waits patiently for you at Chapters.ca and Amazon.com.

Get to know Gair on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/#%21/gair.maxwell

For more info on The Seamless Brand and how this award-winning team can help your company or organization zig while everyone zags, why not zip on over with a simple click and explore http://www.seamlessbrand.com/.

You can also follow The Seamless Brand on Twitter - http://twitter.com/#!/seamlessbrand or press the "like" button and plug into The Seamless Brand on Facebook - http://ow.ly/3VW68

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Hiring Lessons from the NFL


You are about to make a key hire.

Someone you hope will figure in your organizational plans for a long time.

After an exhaustive recruiting and evaluation process, two top-notch perfectly qualified candidates have emerged as finalists. Experts who know them both say you could flip a coin between them.

Doesn't matter if it lands on heads or tails, you still win.

This scenario is precisely what unfolded in 1998 when two quarterbacks were regarded as the cream of the crop in the NFL Draft. The Indiannapolis Colts, picking first, spent many months evaluating the choice between the two. The San Diego Chargers, picking second, felt no matter who the Colts took, they were still in great shape.

Pulitzer Prize winner Dave Anderson of the New York Times said before the draft, "Someday these two [quarterbacks] might be what John Elway and Dan Marino are now--on the way to the Pro Football Hall of Fame together after being drafted in 1983 together."

The Chargers GM at the time, Bobby Beathard was quoted as saying, "You can go five to ten years without getting a chance to draft a quarterback like this".

History will show the Colts selected Peyton Manning with the #1 choice while the Chargers gleefully welcomed Ryan Leaf to the team with a four-year contract worth $31.25 million that included an $11.25 million signing bonus.

At the time, this was the highest amount of money ever guaranteed to an NFL rookie.

History will also show that while Manning has fashioned a Hall of Fame career that includes one Super Bowl triumph, Leaf is widely regarded as the greatest draft bust ever. Not just one of the greatest. The biggest flop ever. Period.

It would be easy to blame scouts and management for what happened as the highly-touted Leaf seemd to self-destruct in San Diego. In his rookie year, his attitude was called into question as he nearly fought an angry fan, often screamed at reporters and faked an injury to leave practice to golf. After threee seasons, he was released by the hapless Chargers before bouncing through Tampa Bay, Dallas and Seattle. Once hailed as a better prospect with a stronger arm and more potential upside than Manning, Leaf was out of football after 5 years.

San Diego lost millions and face.

Indiannapolis became home to "Peyton's Place".

Leaf's legacy?

One of disgrace.



But, what does this story mean for your business and the way you recruit and hire talent?

For openers, it helps if you understand that each NFL team will invest millions of dollars and countless man-hours to professionally scout and evaluate talent. With the possible exception of the NASA screening process for astronauts, few organizations spend as much time, money and effort up front to try and make the right hire. The Manning-Leaf story illustrates how difficult ANY hiring process is when it comes to the UNPREDICTABLE nature of trying to predict human behaviour. This is an imperfect science at best. If the best recruiters and evaluators in the world can't get it right 100% of the time, does it make sense to expect whoever does the hiring in your organization to be flawless when it comes to picking the right people?

While convenient to point fingers at the person(s) doing the hiring, the role of the coach in any successful hire can't be discounted either. When Manning joined the Colts, the respected Jim Mora was in charge for his first three seaons followed as head coach by Hall-of-Famer Tony Dungy. It can be argued that while Manning enjoyed the benefit of stability and expertise from his head coaches, Leaf did not. In fact, San Diego went through thre different head coaches in each of Leaf's three seasons and neither Kevin Gilbride, June Jones or Mike Riley ever landed another NFL head coaching job. Nor will they ever be confused with coaching greats such as Lombardi, Walsh and Dungy.

It has been my experience as a business coach and consultant that hiring is but one aspect of the on-boarding process and more time, care and attention needs to be paid to how talent is nurtured and developed once when a person joins an organization. Could the track Ryan Leaf ultimately followed in the NFL have been changed if he had the opportunity to play for someone like Tony Dungy? In football and in business, the performance of any player can be impacted in a huge way by the coaching and leadership qualities of the person in charge. But far too often, narrow-minded owners and managers complain they "can't find any good people" without ever stopping to ask whether they are part of the problem in the first place.

These are the same owners and managers who frequently turn to HR consultants and headhunters promising their clients the world. Its as though the latest "behavioural-based interview techniques" or "effective screening programs" will be the magic bullets that achieve hiring results.

Few in the hiring and headhunting business will point out to their clients the many other factors that impact the development of talent. Coaching is but one of many, taking into account the role the deeper issues of culture and the brand itself plays in terms of who it attracts, who it repels and why that would even matter to certain candidates. In other words, you might have a computer programmer with superior skill sets who might shine at Microsoft, but bomb at Apple. Again, experience has shown the majority of companies advertising for top employees are doing so without fully understanding who they are in the first place and what would make a perfect match.

Beginning with knowing who you are as a brand is vital to the development of any successful recruiting and retention strategy. One of several NFL teams that has this core component down pat are the three-time Super Bowl champions out of New England.

The Patriots have been one the most dominant teams of the past decade. In an era where dynasties aren't supposed to happen, New England has been a dynasty team. And it all starts with the brand values that head coach Bill Belichick brings to the business of recruitment and retention.

When assessing talent, Belichick and the Patriots will place a higher value on intangible soft skills and whether an athlete is "right for our system"; selfless, self-motivated, with the humility to take direction and mesh well with others in the locker room. He and his scouts are less concerned with tangible, physical skills like those revealed in benchpress numbers, vertical leaps and time in the 40-yard dash. In other words, the Patriots are looking much deeper than what's on the resume or what they get fed in the first interview.

Belichik knows even the most talented player in the draft will fail without proper development while someone with less obvious physical skills can still shine in the right system. How else does one explain what happened when the Patriots selected future Hall-of-Famer Tom Brady with the next to last pick (199th overall) in the 2000 NFL Draft? While Brady is a bona fide super star, he is not a prima donna. Despite three Super Bowl rings, he is still a willing student who listens to his coaching staff while leading is teammates with the grit of a grizzled war veteran.

How would Brady fare with another team?

Great question since Pats players tend to look great in New England, but seldom perform well after they've been released or traded. Perhaps, its because Belichick is drafting players that already fit the mold which makes them perform in his system.

While Ryan Leaf has been barbecued in the media for more than a decade, few will call the San Diego Chargers on the carpet for failing this talented individual on two fronts:

#1. Not having their own brand values set in stone to guide the way they recruit and develop talent.

#2. For not having their own coaching ducks in a row.

In business and in sports, you have to select players you can coach, but you also have to coach the players you draft.

If that isn't part of your hiring philosophy, failure is just a Ryan Leaf away.


"On a football team, it's not the strength of the individual players, but it is the strength of the unit and how they all function"

BILL BELICHIK


Would you like Gair to add snap, crackle and pop with thought-provoking substance to your organization or event? Details on his game-changing keynotes, seminars and speaking programs can be discovered at http://www.gairmaxwell.com/

If you are curious to know more about his moderately bent philosophy that drives it all, Gair's book, "NUTS, BOLTS AND A FEW LOOSE SCREWS" waits patiently for you at Chapters.ca and Amazon.com.

Get to know Gair on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/#%21/gair.maxwell

For more info on The Seamless Brand and how this award-winning team can help your company or organization zig while everyone zags, why not zip on over with a simple click and explore http://www.seamlessbrand.com/.

You can also follow The Seamless Brand on Twitter - http://twitter.com/#!/seamlessbrand or press the "like" button and plug into The Seamless Brand on Facebook - http://ow.ly/3VW68

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Branding Without Advertising


Can you build a compelling brand without spending enormous amounts of money of advertising?

The answer is yes.

Costco does it.

So does Wizard Academy.

While we're at it, let's throw in Starbucks, Facebook and Google.

They may not purchase traditional newspaper, radio or TV ads, but Google, for example, invests heavily in its brand. The home page offers nothing but a search box and links to their services. That strategic decision sacrifices hundreds of millions of dollars in potential ad revenue, but Google weighs that against building its brand around something more important than cold hard cash.

They have put customer needs first.

They have narrowed their focus.

So much so that Google now owns a single word.

"Search".

To the point where "to Google" has synonomous with the word "search". Its now part of our everyday language, used as a verb instead of a noun.

They also have a brand promise that supports their story.

"Don't Be Evil".

There was a time when ad agencies and media companies also served as chief brand architects for their clients. That was back in the 20th century when the media-industrial complex reigned supreme and audiences were easier to reach. But, that era packed up and left long ago, leaving many design firms and media suppliers forced to reconile the fact that high level brand strategy that guides creative efforts are being developed elsewhere.

In today's 21st century Digital Economy, brand strategy requires a fundamental knowledge of business operations, financial engines, competitive landscape, story development and internal culture. In the long and twisting dirt road to building a brand, external messaging usually occurs late in the process - and ONLY if its needed.

While ad agencies and media companies tend to focus on producing spots for short-lived campaigns, great brands are more enduring because the compelling story they represent has to transcend any and all platforms or potential campaigns. And when they do make strategic decisions to invest in on-the-ground advertising or marketing tactics, well-branded companies enjoy better results thanks to a sharper message that lands with a resounding THUD! in the mind of the customer.

Brands of distinction make selling easier.

With or without the ads.

A great example is Brock Wagner’s Saint Arnold Brewing Company. This Texas-based micro-brewery has made suds according to European tradition, without the additives and preservatives common in mass-produced beers. And when you hear Brock's story, it just might resonate with part of your own brand-building efforts.



Brands of distinction like Saint Arnold are built on much more than eye-popping logos, clever taglines or sweeping mission statements. To play at the highest level, brands of distinction share a single word in common.

Trust.

In other words, the ability and capacity to not only make a promise, but to keep it.

Hundreds of companies have blown billions of dollars on Super Bowl ads and other major events trying to build a brand. However, buying your way into the hearts of customers may not be the most effective strategy.

Is there something big companies like Google and smaller ones like Saint Arnold have done with their brand-building efforts you could replicate?

Do you have a remarkable product or service, 100% focused on what your ideal customer cares about most?

Have you been laser-focused on crafting a timeless "story" and enduring message people will actually believe in?

It is possible to create a compelling brand while spending relatively little on advertising. Much tougher to advertise your way to the top without a meaningful brand to take you there.

If you do have to advertise, are you convinced your brand is capable of squeezing every ounce of value out of those precious marketing dollars?

Otherwise, you'll piss that ad budget away like cheap, watered-down beer.


"It is not slickness, polish, uniqueness, or cleverness that makes a brand a brand. It is truth"

HARRY BECKWITH


Would you like Gair to add snap, crackle and pop with thought-provoking substance to your organization or event? Details on his game-changing keynotes, seminars and speaking programs can be discovered at http://www.gairmaxwell.com/

If you are curious to know more about his moderately bent philosophy that drives it all, Gair's book, "NUTS, BOLTS AND A FEW LOOSE SCREWS" waits patiently for you at Chapters.ca and Amazon.com.

Get to know Gair on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/#%21/gair.maxwell

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