Friday, June 30, 2006

Reclaiming your Brand

It’s scary to think that if Illinois followed suit with New Zealand we would call ourselves “Corns.” Illinois’ cash crop has brought in tons of revenue from exports just as the kiwifruit has for the tiny island nation. New Zealand relied on the kiwifruit to represent 40% of their horticultural exports for over 25 years, but in 1989 the world got smaller and farmers in Italy, Spain, Chile, South Africa, and France began to expand the market of kiwis (now a $2.5 billion global market) to the point where New Zealand was just another face in the crowd.

Thankfully this time for GMO;s, New Zealand was able to crossbreed kiwis and patent their new Zespri Gold kiwi. It’s sweeter, more tropical, it’s bright yellow, and it’s dramatically expanding the kiwi consumer base. The Zespri Gold sold $150 million last year, and by 2009 sales will hit $650 million. They are determined to become what Dole is to pineapples or Chiquita is to bananas. With their new patent they are able to control the Zespri Gold market by establishing a number of licensing deals with orchards in those countries that were at one point leading to New Zealand’s demise.

New Zealand has reinvented its national brand and rebuilt a franchise. Next on the agenda is a mix of the green and yellow kiwi with a bright red sunburst in the middle. The moral of this story is: when life hands you lemons, crossbreed it with limes.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Creating an Innovative Work Culture

If it weren’t for the strong desire to achieve from managers, the passion and energy that fuel the growth of companies would deteriorate. In fact, the number of managers for whom achievement is a primary motive has increased over the years. However, sometimes the drive for success can lead to lack of communication, shortcuts, or worse, stifling other employees and their innovation. Scott W. Spreier, Mary H. Fontaine, and Ruth L. Malloy discuss in Leadership Run Amok: The Destructive Potential of Overachievers (Harvard Business Review, June 2006) the possible problems that can arise from too much celebration of individual achievement.

David McClelland, a late Harvard psychologist, spent much of his career studying motivation and how it affects leadership behavior. Spreier, Fontaine, and Malloy continued his research and identified six styles of leadership that managers and executives use to motivate, reward, direct, and develop others. They are:

-Directive: Strong, sometimes coercive
-Useful in crises or when a leader must manage a poor performer, but overuse stifles initiative and innovation

-Visionary: Focuses on clarity and communication

-Affiliative: Emphasizes on harmony and relationships
-Appropriate in certain high-stress situations or when employees are beset by personal crises,
but it is most effective when used in conjunction with the visionary, participative, or coaching styles.

-Participative: Collaborative and democratic

-Pacesetting: Characterized by personal heroics
-Can get results in the short term, but its demoralizing to employees and exhausting for
everyone over the long haul.

-Coaching: Focuses on long-term development and mentoring

When using all of these types at the appropriate times, employees can feel empowered to learn and create, expand and develop. When these styles and techniques are used appropriately, managers can not only collaborate better and easier with their employees, but can also sustain the growth of production and achievement.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Chicago Olympic Panel has a brand plan.

As much as today already feels like Thursday, the year 2016 is right around the corner. So, a U.S. Olympic Committee claims they have an 'elegant' venue idea for Chicago. Chicago's global status has put it in the running with Houston, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and San Francisco; all of these cities are set to present their bid Friday to the Committee in La Jolla, CA.

Because Chicago doesn't have a venue able to seat 80,000 people for the opening and closing ceremonies or the track and field events, our civic and corporate leaders have been exploring other possibilities. Ideas for a temporary stadium are in the works, one that will transform into housing after the games.

The catch is -- no one really knows what this 'elegant' idea is. Architects, corporate sponsors, and community organizers are all in the dark until after the presentation to the USOC. Until then, the buzz is out about the secret "elegant venue idea."

While everyone is curious and talking, Mayor Daley says, "When we do things in Chicago, we do them right, but we have to make sure we have a complete understanding of cost and revenue implications before, of course, we commit to a bid."

This July, Chicago hosted Gay Games VII, a worldwide event drawing in people from over 80 countries and endless revenue. Opening and closing ceremonies were at Soldier Field and Wrigley Field, with events held all over the city including Evanston. If Chicago is big enough to hold over 200,000 'fabulous' athletes, I'm sure the USOC can create an 'elegant' venue idea for the 2016 Olympics.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Branding Motorola cell phones with the stars

When you live in Chicago, the suburbs seem so far away. We refer to them as "the suburbs" with a what-a-drag attitude.

But now maybe it seems Motorola headquarters are perfectly located in Schaumburg, IL “close to the customer” – just across the tollway from IKEA and Woodfield Mall. Especially as that they look to become the American Idol of cell phones.

International Idol, more like it.

Because the United States only accounts for 16% of phone shipments, Motorola is turning to soccer star David Beckham, rocker Bono of U2, Russian tennis player Maria Sharapova, and Indian heart-throb Abhishek Bachchan to sell their phones. They have landed the most popular stars in the whole world to pose with their phones, have parties with their phones, and even use their phone to create social change.

That is exactly what Motorola and Bono have teamed up to do. Bono has his own phone, which may just look like a red version of the Slvr, but it's part of Bono's Product Red project. Product Red partners with other brands to fight AIDS and pestilence in the developing world by donating a portion of sales. Motorola is the fifth company to join Product Red, and is successful because of Bono's number 4 ranking in the "Celebrity 100" list of Forbes Magazine.

Hey, if Beckham can sell phones during the World Cup to soccer fans, and Bono can help people with AIDS by selling phones, that's a smart brand. People are attracted to global superstars and activists, and Motorola has realized that with their global likeability, the phones will sell.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

A Lean Brand Experience

During the technology boom in the late 1990’s, everyone was talking about their next big idea. It was all about you, you, you. No one was talking about the customer. They thought that because they were so brilliant, everyone would want to look at what they built. They were wrong.

Now we have Craigslist, the 7th most popular website in the world. Craigslist says that they don’t have advertisements because the user hasn’t asked for them. That’s right. Craigslist has passed up billions of dollars simply because they believe what the users want, the users get. No more, no less.

CEO Jim Buckmaster says, “The revenue aspect is really an afterthought. If I look across the Internet at the big Internet companies, there’s a large proportion of their staff that are devoted in various ways to trying to maximize revenue. Those employees I don’t think are delivering much bang for the buck to the end user.”

Craigslist is a minimalist site, with just rows of text. It is a site where people can post housing for rent, jobs, yard sales, activities, and personal ads. The postings are endless and now over 300 cities are listed. They have 20 employees. What if…this type of leanness were applied to your company and its sales force to create a better experience for your employees and your customers.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Branding By The Numbers?

In 1999, a 19-year-old named Shawn Fanning created a software program that changed the way the world bought and listened to music: Napster. It allowed people all over the world to share mp3 music files for free. No more buying $17 CD’s. A simple key-word search and a click to download was the extent of the process. Getting music had never been easier, and while the musicians weren’t getting a dime, everyone was listening to their music. The government and the music industry together put a ban on this raw innovation, but since then, we have fine tuned it and found ways to share new, old, rare, and popular music that benefit the people and the artists.

It looks as though Nick Grouf and David Waxman are changing the way we make commercials. They created a revolutionary start-up called Spot Runner that makes 30-second spots affordable for any size marketer. Prices start at $499 for the making of the ad, plus $10-$100 for the time slot.

How is it so cheap?

Spot Runner works with independent videographers and keeps a library of images and scenes from thousands of professionally produced tv commercials with graphics, music, and photography. The marketer would browse the library and select an ad template that best suits their company. If you want to customize your ad, look to spend an extra $99-$600, then pick the channels you want it to air on!

This innovation is putting people in business, helping them increase sales, and share their brand. Take the example of a Santa Barbara surf shop. They spent $3000 on a semi-customized commercial that aired 432 times. “I still laugh when I think about how easy and affordable it was,” said owner Terri Merrick. They doubled expected retail sales for the final 3 months of 2005.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Ali The Brand

What products float like a butterfly, sting like a bee, and have outdated haircuts? Muhammad Ali power tools.

Ali Cadillacs.

Ali video games.

Ali sports bars.

Ali slot machines

Ali medications!

The $50 million invested to extend Ali into a brand will be stretched thin as it tries to capitalize on the athletic fame of 30 years ago, and his recent fame of struggling with Parkinson’s.

What’s next: a Muhammad Ali American Girl Doll?

Monday, June 19, 2006

Improving City's Brand Experience With Social Innovation

Constantly assessing a brand’s quality offering and quality experience is key to growth on so many levels. In light of Chicago being recently outbid by Indiana, Michigan, Montana, and California for a 3-year grant to study the state of regional innovation, a new program is gaining strength. It’s called “Innovate Now!”

Lance Pressl, president of the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce Foundation, is organizing 80 businesses and community leaders from across our region to assess Chicago's economic potential and facilitate the spread of innovation. He thinks that, "it's time for Chicagoland to take a hard look at where the region stacks up against others and identify opportunities to embrace innovation and maximize our region's assets."

While I firmly believe that innovation is the key to continuous growth, I can't help but think about what social innovations we could also champion – like improving the living experiences of underprivileged people who live in this city. It's through this kind of innovation that the city could create new value, new offerings, new products, new services, and new tools to improve lives. The city's plan to convene innovators from across the Midwest is exciting to me, and I will keep eye out to compare the rate of innovation to the rate of tearing down affordable housing.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Branding a Legislative Issue

In the debate for the freedom of the Internet, there is a new “brandname” that’s been created: Net Neutrality.

In the fight for equal treatment on the Internet superhighway, lobbyists have created this brand that has memorable alliteration, a likeable connotation of equality, and a brand association with telecom competition.

Not everyone agrees, of course. Publisher and politico Steve Forbes says, “It would be an inexcusable barrier to the tradition of innovation at the heart of the Internet.” He feels it restricts companies like Verizon and AT&T from developing their networks. Already far behind countries like Japan and South Korea, it would compromise our communications industry and send us into a “technological Stone Age.”

While Net Neutrality seems to be great legislative branding, innovation is an investment that holds real fruitful future.

Brand Experience

When I used to hear “It’s not AM, it’s not FM, it’s XM”, I thought: What’s the difference? It’s music, it’s radio…it’s the same songs!

But now that I have had it for 3 months, I can tell you it’s a far superior brand experience.

It’s another classic example of what appears to be a two-player market with competitor Sirius, actually being more dominated by XM than people think. XM according to the latest numbers has 71% of the market share of satellite radio users.

Here are my favorite channels. What are yours?

-7, Seventies Hits
-15, Folk
-25, Adult Contemporary
-26, Modern Hits ‘90s & Now
-46, Early Classic Rock
-49, Later Classic Rock
-50, Acoustic Rock
-75, The Sound of Starbucks
-76, Eclectic/Free Form

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Innovation Possibilities

As an old D.J. and long time music aficionado (not to mention an independent entrepreneur), I couldn’t help but admire the aggressiveness of WBEB-FM Philadelphia. (Smaller Player Spends Big to Remain on Top from, The Wall Street Journal, Tuesday, June 6, 2006)

They have proven that paying attention to the customer and paying attention to the sales force delivers consistent results even in stagnant markets.

Consider the brand innovation possibilities of creating a “Change Agent” in your sales and customer service unit.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Brand Rejuvenation

Well, Allergan certainly wasted no time in leveraging the brand innovation possibilities in its acquisition of Inamed. The company already had market domination with BOTOX, but its launch of its follow-up product JUVÉDERM could have been considered simply a market follower. Instead, it created a “total facial rejuvenation experience.”

So, when we would apply our Forward.Fast.® model, its marketers are doing a lot of things right:
- Likeability
- Logo
- Quality Offering
- Brand Associations
- Brand Attitude
- Quality Experience

It will be interesting to watch which of these brand assets they concentrate on leveraging the most.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Brand Innovation In Supply Chain

Too often when we think about brand innovation, we start with a logo and product enhancement. But if we expand our thinking to the overall brand experience, a more robust brand emerges. In some cases, a key customer experience is that of a distributor or retailer.

Take Pepsi for example, which for the past several years responded to unhappy retailers by modernizing its supply chain delivery.

Its new program featured technology upgrades, revised work schedules, and an overhaul of its order taking systems. It is this kind of broad “brand innovation” that is designed to:
- Connect with what is truly relevant to the customer at all levels of distribution.
- Honestly address the gaps in service issues.
- Make it easier to do business with your brand while also improving efficiencies for you.
- Motivate your customer service teams to be more responsive to customer demands, complaints, and needs.