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Archive for March, 2009

Vintage Coca Cola mural in Greenville, SC

Vintage Coca Cola mural in Greenville, SC

The topic of “what is a brand” or “what do we mean when we say brand” comes up pretty often, so I am always on the lookout for a clear explanation of the term… or at least an explanation that can help frame it for people who aren’t 100% clear what brand really is. (Is it a logo, symbol or mark? Is it a promise? Is it a marketing gimmick?)  Depending on whom you talk to, you might get a completely different answer.

This time around, let’s have Tom Asacker share a few insights on the subject:

A brand is not a logo, and branding is not a communication strategy. A strong brand is a strong bond, and branding is your business.”“To those with a dated, mass-market mentality, branding is still all about image and awareness. It’s about tag lines, logos, cute little animal mascots or clever jingles. It’s about spending megabucks on Super Bowl commercials, hiring celebrities to sing your corporate praises, and covering cars with advertising banners. Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that awareness is unimportant. (…) But, does well-known equal strong? Not any longer. The rise of the global economy [and] the rapid adoption of the Internet have ignited commercial innovation, and put an end to those days forever. Today, like just about everything else, brand logic has been turned on its head.”

“And please, don’t get hung-up on the word brand. Today, the word brand is shorthand for the gut feeling people have about something, some group, or someone. It’s a kind of Platonic Ideal, which stands for the essence of a business, school, organization, person, or even place. If you add up the tangible and intangible qualities of something – the gestalt – and wish to represent the meaning and distinctive character this greater whole conveys to its audience, today we call it . . . brand.

“Think of your brand as a “file folder” in your audiences’ minds (not a perfect metaphor, since memory is malleable, but stick with me anyway.). When they’re exposed to you (e.g., through advertising, design, a salesperson, word-of-mouth, etc.), a feeling is immediately filed away in that “brand file folder.” As time passes, much of what your audience has filed away – the details – will become inaccessible. However, they will remember where they stored the folder: in the front (positive feelings) or pushed to the back (negative feelings). Given the sheer volume of brands trying to find a place in your audiences’ overloaded “brand file cabinets,” you must not only get their attention and be relevant (a file folder labeled with your brand name), but you must also get it placed in the front of their file cabinet (elicit strong, positive feelings of intense personal significance).

“(…) Despite what the Madison Avenue folks may tell you, the strength of your brand lies not in the fact that you own a folder with your name prominently displayed on it. Repetition does not create memories, relevance does. The strength lies in your folder’s position in your audience’s file cabinet (the emotions that linger in their memory). The strength lies in the bond! So make your brand about feeling, not just familiarity. Make it about shared values and trust. About honesty, vulnerability and presence. A brand is not simply a promise. How can it be, with everything changing at breakneck speed? A brand is a living, breathing relationship. Revel in the messy world of emotions and create a brand that’s about leadership and differentiation; about customer insight and radical innovation; and about clarity of purpose, passion and a sense of humor.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Wow. Is it really Friday already?

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Jay Handler (@sellphone) presenting

Jay Handler (@sellphone) presenting

So I spent most of Thursday morning at the Greenville Chamber of Commerce with Chad McMillan, Geoff Wasserman, Trey Pennington, Adam Landrum, Jay Handler, Amy Wood and a roomful of business folks – and we talked about various aspects of Social Media as they relate to business. Great little event with a pretty impressive panel and an even more impressive audience composed of Ad agency and PR folks, major players like Michelin North America, and a number of small businesses looking to gain a competitive edge. Topics covered: Brand development in the age of Social Media, digital relevance, creating brand ambassadors, traditional and new media working side by side, opportunities and dangers in a hyperconnected world, etc.

We took a few pictures to give you guys a glimpse into Greenville’s super double-top secret Social Media underworld. I hope you enjoy them. :)

Photo credits: Yours truly, Trey Pennington and Doug Cone.

Geoff Wasserman moderating the panel

Geoff Wasserman moderating the panel

Using my trigger finger to make a point.

Using my trigger finger to make a point.

Elabortaing on one of Chad's points.

Elaborating on one of Chad's points.

Chad demonstrating his mad Macarena skills.

Chad demonstrating his mad Macarena skills.

Chandler's impossibly cool suite of Macphile SocMed geek tools

Chandler's impossibly cool suite of Macphile SocMed geek tools

Michelin North America starting up a discussion

Michelin North America starting up a discussion

The Jackson-Dawson team and their Macs

The Jackson-Dawson team demonstrating their patented "attention rotation" technique

Chandler's knowledge acquisition method: Pulling up a chair
Hanging out before Jay's session

Hanging out before Jay's session

Between sessions

Greenville Chamber's Claudia Clanton Wise between sessions

Jackson-Dawson's launch operations control center

Jackson-Dawson's shuttle operations control center

The mini muffins I ate

The mini muffins I ate

The notes I took in my trusty Moleskine notebook

The notes I took in my trusty Moleskine notebook

@Geoffwasserman and @melbrooke exchanging knock-knock jokes

@Geoffwasserman and @melbrooke exchanging knock-knock jokes

Jay Handler (@sellphone) showering knowledge upon the crowd

Jay Handler (@sellphone) showering knowledge upon the crowd

Amy Wood (@tvamy)

Amy Wood (@tvamy) being a goof

Merge's Adam Landrum rocking it out as an MC

Merge's Adam Landrum rocking it out as an MC

Copiuos note-taking going on there.

Copious note-taking going on there.

Amy Wood (@tvamy) talking about Social Media and the News Media

The conversation continues

The conversation continues

Amy has a Flip video too. Standard issue gadget for us Social Media types

Amy has a Flip video too. Standard issue gadget for us Social Media types

The Jackson-Dawson team pulling triple attention duty

The Jackson-Dawson team pulling triple attention duty

Trey Pennington (@treypennington) taking the floor.

Trey Pennington (@treypennington) taking the floor.

Trey Pennington answering questions

Trey Pennington answering questions

Talking shop

Marketing peeps talking shop

Trey and Amy hanging out

Trey and Amy hanging out

In case we were wondering where we were this morning...

In case we were wondering where we were this morning...

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Happy Twitterversary!

Hi everyone! Today is my first Twitterversary: I have been using Twitter for exactly 1 year.  And although I had no idea then how big this thing would get, I still made a point to mark the event with this blog post:

I finally started using twitter today, and I am pretty psyched about it.

If you’re one of the 6% of adult internet users currently microblogging (using twitter) to keep tabs on your friends and colleagues, put your seemingly time-wasting hobby to good use – or at least come up with a better justification for your twitter habit at work:

You – “Twitter? Yeah! I use it all the time! It’s a great research tool!”
Your boss – “Really? A research tool?”
You – “Suuuuuure! One could find out all sorts of things thanks to twitter, if they were so inclined.”

Enter tweetscan.com (the twitter ap that turns your geeky and questionable tweeter addiction into a pretty kickass “out of the box” initiative that will make you the envy of your cubiclemates).

If you want to find out what people are saying about ANYTHING, hit tweetscan and enter your keyword in the search box. Try it. Throw your name in there. Throw your company’s name in there too. Find out what people are saying about anything at all. Your new product. The airline you want to book a flight with. Your kids’ top 3 college picks. A restaurant you’ve been wanting to try. A new movie. Your latest customer program.

It’s very cool, pretty effective, and best of all, it’s free.

And fresh.

And they didn’t call it twitscan… which is a very good thing.

Via Church of the Customer.

That’s what I loved about Twitter from the very beginning: The vast potential of the platform and the ocean of applications, from online reputation management to customer engagement and live peer-to-peer collaboration. Endless possibilities. It didn’t take a genius to figure it out, even back then.

Because of some social media restrictions at work, I didn’t get to truly start using Twitter until I left the world of cubicles and TPS reports last September. The stats since then (approx.):

Followers: 5,569

Following: 5,087

Updates: 11,366

My Twitter Grade: 100

My Twitter ranking: 263/1,766,380

More benefits:

About 200 new friends, colleagues and co-conspirators in the Greenville area alone.

A 20%+ increase in my blog’s readership every month.

24-hour access to the best articles and studies about marketing, design, business development on the planet.

Direct access to some of the industry’s best and brightest practitioners, from Ford’s Scott Monty to Alltop’s Guy Kawasaki.

Conversations, conversations, conversations: Twitter has taken the discussions started on this blog to a whole new level.

Knowing what everyone is doing, just in case I want to cyberstalk them.

A whole new category of services companies need help with.

Information: Faster, better and pre-filtered by people I trust.

Enhanced collaboration between fellow practitioners (using Twitter to plan book projects, lectures, seminars, etc.)

Contractor-sourcing (Oh yeah. Twitter is a great place to meet your next graphic or web designer.)

Tighter engagement with a few of my favorite (and least favorite) brands: Jet Blue, The Home Depot, Ikea, Whole Foods, Liquid Highway, Bi-Lo… It’s been pretty rewarding already. Can’t wait to see what 2010 will bring when Twitter becomes even more integrated.

The list goes on. Anyway, here’s to my first full year on Twitter. Thanks for having made it a good one. :)

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Taking a "don't forget the milk on your way home" call.

Taking a "don't forget the milk on your way home" call.

In case you still aren’t sure that I am indeed a real person (made of like… matter), this may be proof. Here, I even interact with my environment:

iv20090045

Me (left) and Jordana Megonigal (right) trying to look busy

Singing McDonald's "I'm Lovin' it!" jingle, Elvis style.

Singing McDonald's "I'm Lovin' it!" jingle, Elvis style.

I can't even think of a smart caption for this.

I can't even think of a smart caption for this.

Here are a few more pics of some of the behind-the-scenes shenanigans that were going on in the main exhibit hall during Innoventure 2009. Check out earlier posts to get a feel for what the sessions were all about.

Trey Pennington and Colin Martin

Trey Pennington and Colin Martin

Trey Pennington - Communications multitasker

Trey Pennington - Communications multitasker

MacBook Karaoke... I think.

MacBook Karaoke... I think.

Innoventure 2009 Tweetup

Innoventure 2009 Tweetup

Checking the Twitter action during the Tweetup

Checking the Twitter action during the Tweetup

The BrandBuilder Laptop

The BrandBuilder Laptop

For the Twitter lowdown on Innoventure 2009, check out #Innoventure09.

For video coverage of the event, go straight to the source, check out the video uploads (starting March 25th).

It was a great event. Thanks a bunch to John Warner, Sean McDonald, Phil Yanov, Bobby Rettew, innoventure 2009, the GSATC and Jute Networks for letting me hang out with some of the smartest people in the South East today.

Have a great Tuesday, everyone. :)

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