Saturday, October 20, 2012

Your Brand, Your Self...Self Assessing

Given my last post about assessing one's values, it took a little more time than anticipated, but a promise is a promise. As mentioned, it's not enough to use an adjective there has to be something behind it; essentially what you bring to the table. To that end, I now present what I've determined are the values of my brand.

- Bringing Levity & Positivity to Just About Any Situation: To varying degrees I can be considered funny, but it's not enough just to tell a joke, it's knowing your audience. Even more, you need to know the impact your comments can make. It's the reason that I say "just about any situation," it's all about limits. Sure, the funeral might seem like a great place to joke about the fact that the guy was trampled by a herd of fat ladies outside a Weight Watchers while dressed like an ice cream cone, but maybe wait until the body's in the ground first? If your brand can achieve this, it shows you take yourself just seriously enough.

- Putting Others at Ease: This one's a bit touchy, as most people think humor & positivity can achieve this, but that's not the case. What really makes this ring as a value is incorporating yourself into a conversation in a way that doesn't just come off as someone who knows things. The key here is to never approach a conversation or situation as if you REALLY know everything, but rather have some knowledge about it and want to hear what others have to say. Look, while we all use Wikipedia, we don't want to hang out with the human version. As a brand, you have to be able to talk to everyone, but also know enough to know when you to start listening to others as well.

- A Resource in Times of Need: Please don't interpret this as being a dumping ground or patsy for people who need their couch moved on a Sunday. This is the demonstration of ability to really help, but keeping it to a minimum and only in times of true necessity. Doing so means that people aren't just going to ring for the slightest thing, but rather when only my level of expertise can provide resolution. From a brand perspective, this prevents over exposure and ultimately diluting of the brand. After all, if you're everything to everyone you're probably closer to being nothing to anyone.

There you have it, my brand values. Even if you disagree, the takeaway here is that the value has to be genuine. At the end of the day, even if your brand value is telling others what they don't want to hear, as long as it's sincere and not some Bravo Housewife audition, it's going to be interpreted as such.

However, keep in mind that while your brand values should be consistent that doesn't mean they can't be changed. After all, we all know that consumer behavior can change and that can always lead to reevaluations of what your brand is presenting.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Your Brand, Your Self...Do You Know Your Values?

Normally when launching a brand, the first step is determining what exactly you're offering the consumer in exchange for their time.

Get your minds out of the gutter, I didn't go through all this trouble to blog about prostitution...although I'm sure if you're in the trade of the flesh, these tips will also come in handy....hey, we can't all be executives, right?

But no, what we ultimately start with is a variation on the old question of "what kind of person do you want to be?" That is to say, what do you want your brand to convey and ultimately attract?

The most obvious answer is the right consumer, but as any quick Facebook page glance confirms, that varies wildly from one person to another. That in itself is the most pure basis for ensuring that your brand is successful. Ultimately, we all hope you choose to have "good" values, but that's not important.

What IS important to any brand's success is that any & all values conveyed be genuine. The moment you try conveying you're about something that you couldn't care less about, you'll be seen as a fraud with zero credibility.

A good example of a brand that doesn't try to be more than the sum or its parts, is Ford. For years, Ford has portrayed themselves as being about the American spirit and keeping that alive. If tomorrow they started a campaign showing themselves to be an international company looking to make constant changes, it wouldn't just ring false but smack of a company trying to play in an arena where it not only can't compete, but doesn't even know what equipment to use. It doesn't matter if the brand IS international and tech minded, it can't just starting billing itself that way out of the blue.

On the other hand there's the infamously failed experiment of New Coke. The Coca-Cola brand has spent so much time establishing itself as timeless & nostalgic that the mere concept of "new & improved" was far off the mark. Coca-cola isn't about the now, but the then. Again, not to say it can't focus on the now, but it's about creating memories & NOT living for now. Plus, if a product that old is all of a sudden improved, the mind almost instantly wonders, "what the hell were we drinking before?"

Such is the perspective to have about our own brands. Not all of us can be humorous or stylish, but why not embrace your traits if you are indeed a bit serious or conservative? While not traditionally desired, keep this in mind, those are just traits, not values.

When thinking about values it's imperative to move one step beyond an adjective. It's not enough to say your value is "humor," that's just a description that can be plopped onto just about anything. Take it further, perhaps your true brand value is the ability to find the funny in otherwise humdrum moments or instead of being "serious," your value is providing stability.

These aren't easy to pinpoint nor should be done in some slap dash attempt to "find yourself." It's just the first step in defining your brand and what that means in hopes of finding the right consumer. Don't worry we'll go into all of this in the coming entries, but continuing this odd experiment brings me to my next entry.

For my next entry (and moving forward with all subsequent ones), I will offer myself up on each point I cover in the hopes it helps solidify them with concrete examples. Not to say that I'm a success story, after all my tales not yet done. But feel free to leave your thoughts on what you think those values will be, might be fun to see if they synch up with the current public perception.

And if not, then hell we can all just have a laugh at the one-man play that is my life. :-)

Monday, September 3, 2012

Your Brand, Your Self...A Theory To Explore

Working in the communications industry, I feel there are times I see things a little different in the world. 

You start noticing the coffee on your favorite sitcom no longer has tape over the logo, but rather now proudly displays itself as Pilon. 

From the start of the fall TV season,  the American Idol judges appear to hydrate solely with branded  Coca-Cola glasses, even when they're not really thirsty.

And when watching Contagion you're the only one who notices Jude Law's character prattling on and on about unique site visitors for no apparent reason at the start of the movie.

The eye just becomes trained to see things, or maybe start looking for them, on another level. An extension of which becomes how you start viewing people. It's that perspective that I'm planning to explore in the coming weeks with a theory I've been contemplating for a bit now.

Each and every one of us is a brand and we need to apply the same rules they do to ourselves.

That's not to say you should start looking for sponsorships or celebrity endorsements, although let's be honest I'm sure you can find one of the Kardashians to do either. However, like the biggest global brands, to truly be successful you must understand what your brand's values, how to appeal to the right demo and how to adapt in a constantly changing environment.

I'm not claiming to be an expert, more like an advertising nut with too much time on his hands and a crazy idea he's been applying to his life as of late. But with the next couple of entries maybe I can provide a perspective that may not have seemed obvious at first, but will maybe become clearer and clearer each week.

And hey, if they made a sitcom from a twitter feed no reason this can't be later revamped into a nice, self-help type best seller, right? After all, the first step in creating a successful brand is to believe in what you're offering and thinking big. :-)

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Back To Blogging

So it's been a while since I've had anything to say.....

Ok, nobody believes THAT, but it HAS been a while since I've officially blogged about it. So I'm going to try something new, each week I will try to post at least one new blog, possibly on a Sunday or Monday night.

I have a vague idea of what topic(s) I want to tackle, but maybe I'll save that for the first post so as not to ruin the surprise of it all. Not that I'll be revealing the secrets of life or anything, but oh well.

In the meantime, I ask that you feel free to read some of my older posts to familiarize yourself with my observations, ramblings and just plain delusions. Hope you enjoy the ride back.

And get ready for the road ahead, I think we'll all enjoy the ride. Like a party bus, minus the drunken vomiting....maybe. :-)