Month: September 2014

Facing Resistance To Brand Identity Management

Brand Identity Management

Pitch a new brand identity system to almost any large company with multiple divisions and inevitably someone will plead to be an exception to the new rules. This is particularly true where brands or divisions have had their own identity in the past. Attempts to consolidate a myriad of “brands” into a consistent brand identity system or to replace a whole portfolio of marques with a single power brand will be met with varying volumes of indignation.

Let’s assume there’s a strong business case for doing this. Because that should be a given. And let’s assume that the business case is driven by by a powerful pain point or a significant prompt – because otherwise why would you be motivated to look at change in the first place. Finally, let’s assume that the design team have done a great job and the new identity is powerful, distinctive and well crafted.

Having got all this right, why the resistance?

In my experience, it’s often because when you introduce a new brand identity system you  take away something that people have real ownership of. Once people have an identity that feels like theirs and they have formed an association with it that binds them together as a group, that identity in essence becomes their flag. It is in effect a symbol of their working life. Changing that is tantamount to burning the flag. People respond viscerally to such a shift but they look to articulate their concerns logically – and in a business context, that inevitably means they frame their arguments against what is being proposed commercially.

Here are some of the more predictable lines of argument:

  • “That’s not what people look for”
  • “Our clients need to know it’s us”
  • “We need to highlight this”
  • “That’s not what works in our experience”
  • “We’re not comfortable with that”
  • “We can’t compete with that”
  • “We need to fit in with others in order to be credible”
  • “It’s not exciting enough”
  • “That’s not us”
  • “Changing is a waste of money”
  • “We don’t want to be that close to the corporate brand”

If these or other lines of resistance are clogging up your inbox heading into the brand implementation stage, here are three things you need to ask:

1. Why do they not want to be part of the wider group? Identity fills a vacuum. Often if I’m undertaking a change project inside an organization that has had a plethora of brands, there is a distinct lack of core identity. People generate or adopt brands in order to have something to be part of (whether they recognize that’s why they’re doing it or not). And because there is often no central brand management function controlling who can be a “brand”, identities proliferate like rabbits. The danger sign for me is when internally facing functions identify themselves as something other than the brand that employs them, the organization has a serious, and literal, identity crisis.

To build belief in what is happening, it’s vital that you forge a deepening bond between the functions and the new flag you are asking them to serve under. Purpose, values, behaviors and a strong understanding of the united strategy going forward are critically important. So is patience. You need to engage in conversations with the change-resistant that allow them to freely and frankly express their concerns. And you need to build enough flexibility into your own thinking that if they do raise valid points, you are prepared to step back, evaluate what has been raised and adjust. It’s another one of those fascinating contradictions in branding. Great brand management combines the abilities to be both definitive and iterative.

At the same time, if a group’s independence is so entrenched that the outliers are determined never to be part of the corporate brand, they probably need a reminder from the corridors of power as to who writes their pay checks.

2. What are they really missing? It’s tempting for customer-facing personnel to believe that the brand they’ve been operating under is a critical part of their success. Sometimes that can be because they fundamentally misunderstand the role of the brand.

One of the distinctions that I work very hard to establish is the difference between identity and messages. Frontline staff will sometimes tell me adamantly that the (new) branding is all wrong when the real problem lies with what they are being told they need to talk about – or the lack of such prompts. To address this, hold a series of workshops on key messages with teams and distil what you learn down to a series of compelling and short statements that they can use in contact centers, at trade fairs, in-store etc. Fill these elevator statements out with more detailed explanations for times when elaboration is required.

At the same time, examine the permission system under which these staff operate. What are they directly empowered to do? What you’re looking for here is to make sure that the messages people give, and the actions they are allowed and feel comfortable to take, are directly aligned.

3. What happens if you give in? Inevitably the group requesting to be exempt from the new rules is seeing what they do in isolation. But it’s critical that you evaluate such requests from the point of view of the wider context. Every decision you make has ramifications for every other brand in the portfolio. If you make an exception for one brand in one situation, what precedent does that create – and how far could that precedent spread?

The decision to allow one sub-sub-brand opens the door to more. The decision to include an extra color has the potential to change the palette for everyone. The choice of a name variation locks in confusion. Not unreasonably, the ripples of exception create expectations that others too can plead their case for independence and difference. It doesn’t take long under such circumstances for the regime of exceptions to over-rule the rules and for the consistent brand system that the designers have slaved over for months to be mired in contradictions.

My own guiding rule to anyone asking for an exception? Say No. Until you have to say Yes (but understand that Yes must mean Yes for everyone).

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What It Takes To Write For The Daily Show

*Following responses are not verbatim*

unnamedI recently had the privilege to sit down with Delaney Yeager, a writer from The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Delaney told me about her experience on the show and the hard work it takes to be ready to air at 11pm Monday through Friday. The Daily Show’s focus is political satire covering current news stories through comedy. 2.5 Million viewers tune in every night to hear Jon Stewart report on the daily news.

Christian Roberts: Where did you go to school?

Delaney Yeager: I attended Pace University and had a major in Theater and minors in Creative Writing and Fine Art. As a kid, I wanted to be an actor. But after about two years in the BFA Acting program, I realized I felt more like a writer and director, so I changed my major and got myself a couple minors. I still love theater and have put up a couple shows at small theaters in Manhattan. My senior year in college I got an internship at The Daily Show in production. I met a lot of great people while interning and ended up starting a sketch group with a few former TDS interns. Skootch Comedy – look us up!

Roberts: What’s an average writing day like on TDS?

Yeager: It’s long. The day starts at 9:15 every morning. I normally get there earlier than that to give myself a little bit more time to get prepared. At around 9:15 we meet with the producers, Jon, and the entire writing staff. At this point everyone is up to date on the current events. A big part of the job is watching the news. So Jon will lay out the agenda, we are given our assignments, and then we’re off. We toss around ideas, write the jokes, and write more jokes. It’s the kind of job where you have to always be prepared. You could have a script ready to turn in, then something happens over night, and you would have to toss it and write another. That’s just how it goes!

Roberts: What’s it like working with Jon Stewart?

Yeager: It’s great. I still get star-struck sometimes. He’s crazy nice and the same guy in the office as he is on-camera, which is always refreshing. I mean, he’s Jon Stewart. Enough said.

Roberts: What are important attributes a writer must have for TDS?

Yeager: Definitely being able to work well under pressure. You have to be open to ideas and be able to speak them clearly. It’s a collaborative effort and if a joke doesn’t work you move on to the next one. You should also have a unique point of view, while being able to write in Jon’s voice.

Roberts: What kind of career advice can you give to someone pursuing a career in writing for TV?

Yeager: You must write all the time, even if it isn’t good. It’s a muscle that needs to be worked. Create stuff with your friends to keep the juices flowing, hang out with comedians and writers. Take constructive criticism from your peers, write some more, and have fun. And then write even more.

Personal Branding Blog – Stand Out In Your Career

General Electric, Marriott and Condé Nast Weigh in on Digital Storytelling

As social media channels continue to grow, with mobile feeds dominating storytelling, brands like General Electric, Marriott and Conde Nast have had to work out the best way to position themselves on social platforms. 

General Electric, for example, needs to feel more tangible and accessible to its consumers. Energy, after all, is an invisible product that consumers don't think about until it isn't there. 

"For us, for Thomas Edison's brand, it makes sense to be [one of the] first [brands] on a new platform," said Linda Boff, executive director of global brand marketing for GE, at Advertising Week's digital storytelling panel. "We experiment on new platforms, and it's OK if something doesn't work….It's about finding a great way to use that tool." 

According to Boff, GE was one of the first brands to use Vine when it launched in January 2013. 

"It's important for consumers to be able to feel that they are engaging with brands," said Marla Kaplowitz, North American CEO of MEC. 

As for Marriott, the brand aims to reposition itself as the world's largest travel company that just happens to sell hotel rooms, according to Marriott's vp of creative, content marketing and global marketing David Beebe. In fact, the brand just launched a creative and content marketing studio

"We're selling an experience, and we have to balance what our consumers' real experience is with our marketing [message]," says Beebe, who explained that Marriott wants to own the travel journey on social platforms. "The future of digital storytelling is to use it in a way that adds value to the consumer." 

Condé Nast, according to vp of partnerships Josh Stinchcomb, is leveraging its photography heritage on increasingly popular image-based digital platforms. The brand is also betting big on video content, as that is the preferred method of content consumption for younger consumers, according to Stinchcomb. 

Adweek : Advertising & Branding

How To Land A Telecommuting Job

459082897Telecommuting jobs are becoming more common place, giving job seekers more opportunities to find employment outside of their location.

According to Global Workplace Analytics, the workplace research company, teleworking increased nearly 80% from 2005 to 2012.  The reasons why companies are more willing to embrace telecommuting vary. For one, it’s a cost saver. And on the other hand, advances in technology have made it easier than ever to work anywhere any time.

“Though some might see telecommuting as only a perk to the employee, it is mutually beneficial between the employee and employer because overhead costs are reduced, stress is reduced, and productivity is increased,” says Pete Metz, owner of, a telecommuting job site.  “It’s been said that many employees would choose telecommuting over a pay raise.”

Scams abound with work at home jobs

When it comes to finding a telecommuting or remote opportunity, job seekers have to be careful because scam abounds in this area.  Some scam statistics out there claim the ratio is anywhere from  42:1 to 61:1, which means for every 1 job there’s 42 to 61 scams. That’s not to say there aren’t a lot of legitimate ones, but you have to be careful when searching.

According to Kim Costa, job coach at Snagajob, scams are usually easy to identify because many scammers will require personal information like a bank account number as part of the application process, or will ask for money up front.  Another sign the job isn’t real is the listing claims you will make large amounts of money in a short period of time. “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is,” says Metz. “Use caution and make sure to do your homework by researching the company in question.”

Success comes from your temperament

Your temperament also plays a role in whether or not you will be able to handle a job where you spend most of your days at home alone. Experts say people who thrive working independently and have the ability to shut out daily distractions is best suited for these types of jobs. “Individuals that are considering a telecommuting job must be able to hold themselves accountable, since they won’t have a boss standing over their shoulder every day; they must also consider the solitude that a telecommuting job has as they often will go full days without any personal interaction,” says Costa. “However, there are many positives to working in a telecommuting role, for example, you can often work from the comfort of your own home, dress however you like, take breaks or run errands at odd times of the day.”

According to Metz the traits that successful telecommuters possess include self-motivation, an efficiency in prioritizing, great communications skills and the ability to separate work life from personal life.

Avoid “work at home” when looking for jobs

Searching for a telecommuting job is similar to looking for any other role, but Brie Reynolds, director of content for FlexJobs, says to stay away from search terms such as “work at home” which is used in a lot of scam advertisements. Instead, she says to search for job using terms including telecommuting, remote jobs and/or virtual jobs. It’s also a good idea to visit the websites of the companies you are interested in working for to see what their stance is on remote workers.

Since these jobs are going to be in high demand, experts say you want to set yourself apart from the pack by showcasing how you can work independently. “Any experience you have working on your own schedule and managing yourself is really important,” says Reynolds. What’s more, she says you need to showcase your communications skills whether it’s talking over the phone or using technology to communicate virtually. “You want to brand yourself as someone who has experience” working remotely, says Reynolds, noting that that brand should be represented on your social media pages as well.

Metz says you also want to highlight on your resume that you have the tools to work remotely and you won’t rely on the company to provide the necessary technology. For instance, he says you’ll need a reliable internet connection, computer, phone and online chat tool. “Nowadays many people have the aforementioned tools,” says Metz. “If you’re willing to pay for these expenses out of pocket, it would be a good idea to mention this in your cover letter too.”

Author Bio

Donna Fuscaldo writes for

Personal Branding Blog – Stand Out In Your Career

‘Share a Coke’ Campaign Grows Sales For First Time in 10 Years, WSJ Reports

Coca-Cola Co. is seeing sales rise for the first time in more than a decade, thanks to its personalized bottle campaign, reports The Wall Street Journal.

The "Share a Coke" campaign was first launched in Australia in 2011, with the local executives and the ad agency Ogilvy coming up with the idea. In the years since, the campaign has spread to more than 70 countries, including a U.S. launch this summer.

While Coca-Cola isn't releasing its official sales figures ahead of the planned earnings call in late October, the Journal cites sources who are claiming sales volumes are up 0.4 percent for 12 weeks through August of this year, compared to the same period last year, and that sales dollars are up 2.5 percent overall—all after more than 10 years of steady declines. Those sources also noted that sales at Coca-Cola's biggest rivals—PepsiCo and Dr Pepper Snapple Group—have remained in the negatives. Coca-Cola is increasing its advertising budget by $ 1 billion in the next three years; its budget was $ 3.3 billion in 2013.

The campaign was never intended to mark a permanent change to the soft drink bottles, and already, Coca-Cola is beginning to phase them off shelves. But a senior brand manager for the company has said there will be "serious consideration" given to bringing it back again in the United States next summer.

"At the end of the day, our name is the most personal thing we have. It's our fingerprint…our identity…in one word," said Lucie Austin, one of the original brand executives in Australia to launch the campaign, and who now runs marketing for the Northwest Europe and Nordics business unit at Coca-Cola.

"We gave consumers an opportunity to express themselves through a bottle of Coke, and to share the experience with someone else. The fact that your name is on a Coke bottle, it can't get more personal than that! The campaign capitalized on the global trend of self-expression and sharing, but in an emotional way. Coke is big enough to pull off an idea like this, which speaks to the iconic nature of the brand. Who would want their name on a brand unless it was as iconic as Coke? 'Share a Coke' found the sweet spot by making consumers famous through the most iconic brand in the world."

Adweek : Advertising & Branding

How To Win More Sales By Sacrificing More

passionWhat are you willing to sacrifice for business success? Think hard about it because at the heart of this question is what makes your business special.

You see many businesses only use the term ‘sacrifice’ when they are discussing the cost of the service or the cost of the product. You hear  – What can we sacrifice to hit that price point? What sacrifices can we make to reduce our costs?

That is the wrong way to think about business; profit is created through understanding what you will NOT sacrifice.

Sacrifice is important. Sacrifice is at the heart of defining your brand. The sacrifices which you WILL make, the sacrifices that you will NOT make, demonstrate who you are and why people will want to buy from you.

Why you need to understand the sacrifice you are NOT willing to make

Simply to define your brand. And there is more…. by understanding what you won’t sacrifice, you make

  1. Decision making so much easier.
  2. It easier for consumers to see what you stand for
  3. It easier to choose the right team, the right customer and the right offer.

 You see it is the sacrifices that you WILL not make which is what consumers buy from you.

It is that principle that creates the premium over your competitors if…

You stand by that principle at all times  AND you communicate it clearly AND to the people who value that principle.

So what will you NOT sacrifice?

Be honest. We can easily fool ourselves. Protecting our values is really, really hard. So when you answer that question….don’t choose something that you ought to believe or ought to do….

Choose something that is so dear to you that even when times are hard, when sales are low, when the world is against you…you will NEVER make the sacrifice.

Got what it is?….Understand it?…Do all the people around you understand it? Fabulous you now have the making of a brand to share with the world.

The post How To Win More Sales By Sacrificing More appeared first on The Engaging Brand.

The Engaging Brand

5 tips for creating a company culture that connects with your sweet spot clients

creating a company cultureAn area of marketing that is often overlooked is how important it is to be mindful when creating a company culture. You don’t build a culture to make a sale. But the culture you build, if you’re very clear about your organization’s values and beliefs, can translate your company’s personality and attract right fit prospects. It can also reinforce your current customers’ buying decision.

Company culture doesn’t just happen. If you want it to really flourish, you need to make it a priority for your business. You need to build/strengthen the foundation of your culture and then nurture its growth from there.

The challenging aspect of corporate culture, of course, is that culture is shaped by the workforce. Which means it’s an ever-evolving entity. As employees come and go, the culture can be altered in ways that don’t benefit the employees or the organization.

Your culture is too valuable not to protect. Here are a few ways you can ensure that your culture has a consistent foundation that doesn’t ebb and flow over time. If the core is rock solid, then it’s okay if the details shift a little.  Ready to start creating a company culture? Keep these tips in mind.

Create a manifesto: Don’t hide your culture. Celebrate it. Capturing the essence of your culture in a statement of beliefs or manifesto will allow you to articulate the key values and behaviors that you want to protect.

Put it in your employee handbook, create a beautiful framed version and hang it proudly in your corporate office and read it out loud to kick off each year’s first staff meeting. You could even ask new hires to sign a commitment to honoring the manifesto on their first day of work.

Weave the culture’s core values into your job descriptions and review process: Employees know that if something is important enough to be a part of their annual review, then it must be pretty important to the company. You can reinforce your culture by rewarding your employees for keeping it alive.

It’s also a built in culture training program for new employees. If they know they’ll be held accountable to their job description when review time comes along, they’re much more likely to adopt those wanted behaviors.

Make your staff part of the solution: If you teach your employees how your company culture contributes to the success of the organization and then invite them to help you protect it, they’ll gladly accept the challenge.

Why not a team that is charged with bringing the culture to life through employee events, customer interactions and rewards programs? They’ll probably surprise you with their innovative ideas and enthusiasm.

Hire for culture, train for skills: Identify the attitudes and behaviors that best support your company’s culture and hire for those traits. You can teach skills but you can’t teach attitude. It’s much easier for a new hire to fit into an environment that aligns with his or her own personal beliefs. Trying to force a square peg into a round hole puts a great deal of stress on both the organization and the new employee.

Share the vision: The purpose of a company culture is to support the organization as it marches towards its future. One way to help the employees understand the importance of protecting and building the culture is by sharing the desired end result.

Once they share the vision, they’ll be inspired to guard everything that will help you all achieve that vision. If anything, they will strengthen your culture to help you get there even faster.

Your culture matters every day. Purposefully creating a company culture will help you recruit and retain your best talent. It supports how you deliver excellence to your customers and it is a compass that guides you towards even greater successes. Be sure you protect it like the valuable asset that it is.

The post 5 tips for creating a company culture that connects with your sweet spot clients appeared first on Drew's Marketing Minute.

Drew’s Marketing Minute

Geometry Names a Global Creative Chief

Geometry has named a global creative chief, a year after WPP Group combined G2, OgilvyAction and JWTAction to create the global retail marketing shop.

Jon Hamm, a top executive at Momentum, has assumed the newly created role of chief creative officer. He'll be based in New York and report to CEO Steve Harding.

"We are aiming to redefine activation and this will require exceptional creative work," Harding said, in a statement. "Jon, as a recognized innovator and an inspiring personality, will help us achieve our vision to be the most imaginative, effective and influential activation network and do even more creative work that brings greater results for our clients."

Hamm was chief creative and innovation officer at Momentum in New York, where had worked since 2010. During his tenure, he worked on brands such as Coca-Cola, Nestlé, Sony, William Grant and American Express, for which the agency developed the "American Express Unstaged" series.

This year, Hamm also served on the Cannes Lions Branded Content and Entertainment Jury. Earlier in his career, he helped launch Greenroom Digital in London, which worked for the likes of Sony PlayStation, Nestlé, TopShop, and 20th Century Fox before it was acquired by Interpublic Group's Momentum Worldwide in 2008.


Adweek : Advertising & Branding

Career Success Tips for Women

Successful Woman photo from ShutterstockI realize I’m sticking my neck out here a little… since I’m a guy. What does a guy know about helping women succeed? Given that I have coached a lot of women and helped them advance in their careers, I believe I have some basis for the information that follows.

If you are a woman reading this post and feel you have additional suggestions from your perspective, please feel free to add to the ideas presented here. I realize there are many more ideas that likely have not crossed my mind.

Let me take a crack at suggesting some things that women can do to improve their career situations:

  • Choose I professional field that is in high demand. One example is STEM – science, technology, engineering and math. Not only re these areas crying for talent, but also they are traditionally underrepresented by women. The old stereotypes and prejudices have largely gone away and women have great opportunities today.
  • Develop your managerial skills and pursue such positions. Younger and more progressive companies are truly interested in placing women in managerial positions.
  • Get clear on how your emotional intelligence, listening skills, people skills, etc. provide you an advantage and explain your advantages in persuasive ways in job interviews and other career encounters. Women, as a group, tend to have natural advantages over men in these valuable areas.
  • Build your self-confidence and get coaching in being politely assertive, so that you are not shy in discussing the skills you have, the value you provide and the results you have delivered. You must speak up for yourself in a positive way.
  • Seek out and gain a female mentor who is successful and ahead of you in their career. Formal mentoring programs exist and you can also find someone individually outside of such programs.
  • Review your LinkedIn profile and resume. Make sure they are competitive.
  • If you feel you’re not being treated fairly or underpaid, decide whether it is reasonable to discuss these things with your boss. If warranted, pursue them.

One or more of these actions may be exactly what you need to move your career forward at this time. Think them over carefully, decide which seems most feasible and take action now.

There’s no time like the present to get the career and income you deserve.

Personal Branding Blog – Stand Out In Your Career