Archive for February 20th, 2009


I am very flattered that Steve Woodruff asked me to participate in his Five in the Morning series, so I will ty to be worthy of what is turning out to become a great Friday morning tradition. Without further fanfare, here are five of my favorite “must read” posts from the last few days:

First, let’s start this one off with a bang thanks to a) Logic+Emotion’s Dave Armano, and b) Ford’s very own Social Media honcho Scott Monty, who delivered a fantastic interview on Fox News this week: In Dave’s “battle of the brands” post, Scott aptly deflates an unfortunate “let’s use social media to create viral campaigns” argument and refocuses the conversation on the real value of Social Media – not as a gimmicky “push” channel, but as a genuine engagement channel where real human-t0-brand connections and conversations take place. Scott is brilliant in his subtle approach and a breath of fresh air in an often hyped-to-death nonsensical monologue about the Twitters and Facebooks of the world.

Dave then takes the conversation to a whole different level by getting into the dynamics of personal brands interacting with corporate brands, using Scott’s very unique position: Already active in Social Media and with a fairly large following, Scott brings his network with him to Ford’s doorstep. For better or for worse, the lines between Scott Monty the person and Scott Monty the very public Ford honcho quickly get blurred. Fascinating and well tempered post by one of my favorite people in the blogosphere. I definitely encourage you to read it, bookmark it, digg, and share it as Dave’s questions will be big topics of discussion in months and years to come.

Numero dos: Via my good friend Gabriel Rossi comes this fantastic post by Landor’s Allen Adamson on the difference between “brand” and “branding,” for starters. Here’s a little bit of magic from that post:

A brand is something that exists in your head. It’s an image or a feeling. It’s based on associations that get stirred up when a brand’s name is mentioned. The ing part — branding — is the signal or expression of the brand that generates images and feelings. Branding signals include advertising, package design, product design, functionality, retail environments, online experiences, public relations and human behavior. Branding is the process by which brand images get into your head.

(I may carry a copy of this post in my back pocket as the topic comes up often.) Allen does an amazing job of concisely going through some essential brand attributes that often get overlooked by busy and stressed out brand stewards. Things like differentiation, relevance, esteem and knowledge. Great little post you’ll want to rediscover regularly if you know what’s good for you.

Trois: This is actually a series of posts assembled by Altitude Branding’s Amber Naslund as a Social Media starter kit. Whether you’re getting started in Social Media or trying to find a concise, simple way to explain it to your boss, aunt or client, everyone will find something of value in the posts – if only Amber’s writing style which I kind of dig. In no particular order:

The Social Media Starter Kit: Blogging, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and plenty more to come, I’m sure. Amber is always a great read, so if you aren’t already visiting her blog regularly, you might want to fix that.

d) Valeria Maltoni’s “Don’t Script, Improvise” (based on Mike Bonifer’s wonderful presentation by the same name) takes us out of the Social Media conversation again to focus on smart business strategery. The skinny: Stop being so rigid and scipted with your business, already. Relax and build flexibility into your model. As Valeria’s post is quick to point out:

“Improvisation invites participation, liberates good ideas, and challenges players to work at the height of their intelligence.”

But beyond that, allowing yourself to improvise makes your interactions with customer come across as fresh and genuine rather than rehersed and unremarkable. Chew on that, then read some more.

And lastly, a little bit of a sidewinder to end this episode of Five in the Morning: Instead of a blog post, check out this great article from IDEO’s Tim Brown published by the Harvard Business Review. “Design Thinking” is a ten page guide to rethinking… well, the way you think about business challenges, product development, marketing, growth, etc. Tim is pretty brilliant and IDEO has been writing the book on institutional innovation fo decades now (they helped develop the computer mouse, for crying outloud), so he knows what he is talking about. In times of economic uncertainty and strategic confusion, his toughts on adaptive innovation and hybrid thinking can’t hurt. Read, digg, stumbleupon, bookmark, share, etc. And if you enjoy the article, consider reading more of Tim’s thoughts on his blog.

Wow. Time does fly when you’re having fun. Maybe we should make this Ten in the morning, next time.

Before I take off, two last little things:

1. If you are discovering Steve for the first time in this post, be sure to subscribe to Steve Woodruff’s StickyFigure blog and don’t forget to also follow him on Twitter: @SWoodruff

2. If you are discovering the BrandBuilder blog for the first time, welcome. You can also subscribe to my feed or connect with me on Twitter: @thebrandbuilder

Cheers, and have a great weekend!

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