Showing posts from February, 2009

Be a brand fanatic, not a brand lunatic

For an organization’s brand to successfully make its mark on the world, the people who work inside the organization must be fanatically devoted to it. This means that everybody needs to make a commitment to do three things:

1. Demonstrate the brand’s values in everything they do
2. Tell the brand’s story or message when they talk about the organization
3. Visually display images that are consistent with the brand

This can be difficult for people to adhere to, especially when we are talking about a large organization that has a variety of offices and distinct subcultures associated with each. Very naturally, each of these groups sees themselves as distinct and wants to be recognized for what it does. But at the end of the day, if the strategy of the organization is to create awareness around the unified brand (sometimes companies or agencies choose to promote their components rather than the parent), then the employees within distinct subcultures must rise above their day-to-day affiliatio…

Getting over the fear of feedback

In the age of social media I think there is a lot of confusion and fear around the issue of having a message vs. controlling the message. The fact of the matter is, a mature brand engages in all of the following three phases:

1. Phase 1: Has a message
2. Phase 2: Listens to feedback
3. Phase 3: Facilitates a conversation around the feedback

The first phase is the most important. To develop an effective brand (remember that you always have a "default," which is the brand you have if you're not trying to present yourself in any particular way), you have to have a key message. Forget the logo for now, just think about the idea, the concept, the words. Without that you are absolutely nowhere.

But having a message is not the end of the game. And that is where many organizations still don't seem to get it.

The reality is, if you communicate a vision, mission, philosophy, and values, you are in fact making a PROMISE. And people are going to hear your promise and hold you accounta…

How organizations can get people to participate in social media

Posted this on as a response to a question about human capital techniques to get older employees to participate in social media. See what you think about how these apply to total branding - because I truly do believe that social media and branding go hand in hand these days and you really can't have a brand without participating in the conversation:

1. Not sure that "full use" of social media tools is the right goal - rather that the tools are made available as is needed, appropriate, etc. Every agency has to determine what's right for their mission as well as what's right for certain groups of employees vs. others.

2. In general, younger employees seem more comfortable trying new technologies. Conversely, the more "different" social media seems, the more resistance among older employees. Actual comment: "I'm not going onto Facebook; it's not for me" - no real reason that I could see. In theory, social media tools that look …

A Chief Branding Officer for the United States

Right now the State Department is U.S. "brand central" - specifically the Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs.

And we have seen some amazingly talented people occupy that role - most prominently Karen Hughes and Charlotte Beers. Whether you think they succeeded or not, they are brilliant strategists.

I once had the privilege of hearing Karen Hughes speak and will never forget it.

I wonder though whether this position should be broader. Because our brand is about much more than international diplomacy. We need to have a distinctly American communication that is:
ClearCompellingCorrectCoordinatedConsistentI know one possible objection to such an office is that branding is propaganda. But you know what? That is just not true, at least not anymore, in an age where social media rules. Rather, it is about effective communication. Clearing the decks and telling the truth amid all the noise, including the lies, that are propagated out there in print and online. We ar…