I have three favorite charities that also happen to be my favorite nonprofit brands: Feeding America, Teach for America, and Nothing But Nets. The charities share some notable characteristics. …Continue reading
Everyone’s trying to crack the code. Some people think it comes down to luck or the quality of the idea. For others, it’s entertainment–people just like their cat photos.
I recently attended a conference in New York with a group of elite “contagion thinkers” presented by the Marketing Science Institute. Jonah Berger (Author of Contagious: Why Things Catch On) was the headliner, and described his six “STEPPS” for making ideas spread. He was joined by several professors and practitioners from organizations such as Harvard, BuzzFeed and Yahoo to discuss what makes ideas viral, both offline and online. …Continue reading
When you post your ideas online, you want high engagement. Everyone wants to crack that code. But how?
As I explained earlier this week, I recently attended a New York conference for “contagion thinkers” headlined by Jonah Berger (author of Contagious: Why Things Catch On). He shared his six, no-fail “STEPPs” that a brand, product or cause can take to become contagious.
The trick, he says, is to find the right triggers and know when to engage your audience. And by just keeping these six principles in mind as you execute your strategy, you will be ahead of those still following the “build it and they will come” model. They include: …Continue reading
Storytelling succeeds. Stories are more attended to, more memorable and more impactful than any other type of communication. For an example of a brand that has found and leveraged stories successfully, take a look at Charity: Water.
For example, one of their most popular videos tells the story of the water crisis in Africa and other emerging countries. They brought the story to life through images of women and children carrying 40-pound containers of water for hours a day – trips that are dangerous and time-consuming. Worse, the water they collect is polluted and responsible for sickness and death, particularly among the very young. The story relates this problem to education, work and entrepreneurship, as that valuable time and energy hauling water takes away from the activities those people need to progress society. There are over 800 million people who have water issues, and the average income of this group is something like $1 dollar per day. The site presents facts and statistics that describe the problem and serve to structure and position the stories. …Continue reading
It’s not uncommon for social media to be praised as the ultimate key to unlocking meaningful customer relationships – and it’s certainly no secret that over the past few years, brands have rushed to “join the conversations” on Facebook and Twitter or risk being labeled as old-fashioned and out of touch.
While “likes” and “followers” are an indication of interest and loyalty, and sentiment analysis can help brands predict and act on customer trends, they are not a key reason behind brand and business failure. Factors integral to success are often more closely tied to strong management, sufficient capital and a focused emphasis on product quality and customer needs rather than the presence of a branded page. …Continue reading
Panera Bread dominates the bakery/café category. It owns over 60% of the market share, with sales over three billion dollars obtained from over 1,500 units. And just in the last five years Panera Bread has increased its earnings per share by over 24% each year. In 2010, Fortune magazine named it as one of the 100 fastest-growing companies. Operating under the names Panera Bread, Saint Louis Bread Company and Paradise Bakery & Café, its excellence performance has been recognized in several other ways. For example, it had the highest level of customer loyalty among quick-casual restaurants according to a 2012 TNS Interesearch survey and was named Casual Dining Brand of the Year in a 2012 Harris EquiTrend Poll.
Yes, Panera has the functional brand benefits of providing fresh, wholesome and tasty sandwiches in a pleasant setting. But why else has it been successful? …Continue reading
I wrote approximately 50 blog posts in 2012, but there are five that stand out in my mind as being especially provocative or informative. Herewith, my top picks from 2012, with a few runners-up thrown into the mix as well:
My post entitled “CEOs Are Born, Not Made” really hit a nerve. It was stimulated by Bob Lutz’s book that blamed GM’s problems on “bean counter” CEOs rather than “car guys.” I argued that unless you have inherent CEO talent, being a “car guy” will not help. You need to be born with CEO talent, and no amount of training or background experience will help. Many disagreed. Three other posts had CEO themes: one explained why Steve Jobs and Bobby Knight (the fabled basketball coach) were so successful despite being jerks, another told about Tom Aaker, who is a successful CEO with an anti-jerk style, and still another discussed how the talent of Muhtar Kent, the CEO at Coca-Cola, has made a difference. …Continue reading
The Importance of Storytelling in the Startup World
In the bustling Silicon Valley, startups are starting to consistently roll out disruptive innovations, making industry giants become simultaneously nervous and impressed. When it comes to creating their own brands, startups have the flexibility and the risk-taking mentality to push new frontiers that redefine category expectations. Yet, with limited resources and constant uncertainty, startups also turn to basic storytelling to create relevant, differentiated and enduring perception in the hearts and minds of their customers.
Within small companies, each decision maker wears multiple hats – it isn’t surprising that at startups such as Uber and Square, the marketing functions also incorporate PR and communications. A centralized, lean machine often ensures that a consistent brand story is being told. “We always want to communicate to our customers that we are a local advertising technology solution provider, and we’re fast, efficient and cheap,” says Asees Singh, the Director of PR for Paper G. “Telling a great story is central to our brand – if we’re singing a song, our brand would be the chorus that everyone remembers, and the individual executions are the rest of the song.” …Continue reading
When identifying the top print advertisements and best headlines in the last century of advertising, one written in 1926 by a young copywriter named John Caples, only one year on the job, is always part of the conversation. The ad is known by its headline, “They laughed when I sat down at the piano — but when I started to play!” His assignment was to entice people to buy piano lessons by correspondence from the U.S. School of Music. As inspiration he was given a pile of advertisements that worked, another pile that didn’t, and was left to attempt the task.
Under a picture of a young man at a party sitting down to play the piano, the headline set the stage and indeed summarized the story that was recounted in the body of the ad. The hero was ridiculed by the guests when he sat down, but the ridicule turned to accolades and applause when he begins to play, only a few months after starting the correspondence course. The ad was not only critically acclaimed but, more to the point, brought a lot of customers. …Continue reading
Marketers have long championed the cause of branding, especially in the B2C space, citing such benefits as product memorability, familiarity, brand loyalty, and lower product marketing costs. But beyond these quantifiable costs, brands are also a reflection of the company’s spirit, goals, and position in the marketplace. One useful tool in understanding a brand is to think of it in the context of a superhero.
The Importance of Origin
Origin stories explain three important elements of a superhero: mission, identity and powers. Consider the origin story of Batman. Eight-year-old Bruce Wayne, walking with his parents in an alley, runs away as muggers approach and subsequently witnesses the murder of his parents. His traumatic story serves as the backdrop for the creation of Batman. Bruce’s mission quickly becomes clear: to avenge his parents’ death. His identity—millionaire and owner of Wayne Enterprises—explains his ability keep his Batman alter-ego secret. And while Batman has no supernatural power, his Batsuit, Batmobile, and Batcave enable his fight against Gotham’s most evil villains. …Continue reading