Posts in ‘Branding’

We, at Active Garage had run this promotion for the free eBook earlier in the year and we are running this again, now. If you find yourself wondering that if the eBook has been available for free download since then, why are we saying we are “running the promotion again”? Valid point.

Here’s why.

The author of the eBook, Mark McGuinness, is opening doors to folks interested in Creative Success, once again, for his amazingly valuable course “The Creative Entrepreneur Roadmap”, for a limited period and seats are limited.

Before you go ahead with making a decision of if this course if for you or not, I would suggest reviewing the blog I had written in January about what being Creative means and who this book (and subsequently, the course) is for (yes, it is not for everyone… ).

There are some great success stories form real folks who have taken this course and produced magical results by directly applying what they have learnt from the course. For instance, there is:

Since the course is now open for only a limited time, you could also directly go to the opt-in page to check it out and register.

To your Continued Success…

Himanshu JhambThis article was contributed by Himanshu Jhamb, co-founder of ActiveGarage and co-author of #PROJECT MANAGEMENT tweet. You can follow Himanshu on Twitter at himjhamb.
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Note by Will Reed

A few weeks ago, Roger sent me an email telling me he was adapting my One-Year Planning MandalaChart, described in Flexible Focus #64: The One-Year Plan, into a writing and marketing tool for authors. I immediately asked Roger to share his ideas as an ActiveGarage guest post, and he agreed. His post appears below. I think you’ll agree it’s a great example of “tinkering” with an idea and putting it to work in new ways.

Why author’s need an Author MandalaChart


I’ve been following, and learning from, William Reed for most of the last decade. I tend to listen when he speaks. He’s introduced me to numerous creativity ideas and resources, including mind mapping.

I’ve been reading, and saving, his Flexible Focus series since it began. But, I knew that Will had really outdone himself when I saw his One-Year Plan MandalaChart.

The One-Year Plan MandalaChart resonated with me because it addressed several of the most important challenges authors face when planning, writing, promoting, and profiting from a brand-building book: book, including:

  • There’s more to book publishing success than simply “writing.” It’s not enough to provide a clearly and concisely written advice; the advice has to be relevant, and the book has to be visible to its intended readers.
  • Publishing success involves simultaneously addressing multiple tasks. Publishing is not a linear process. Success requires addressing multiple issues at the same time. For example, how authors intend to profit from their book should influence their choice of publishing options.
  • Success requires goals, priorities, and deadlines. In a time-strapped world, it’s more important than ever that goals and tasks be accompanied with deadlines. Without deadlines, days, weeks, months, and years can go by without progress, resulting in a terrible waste of opportunities..

Modeled on, and inspired by, Will’s One-Year Plan MandalaChart, my Author’s MandalaChart provides a visual way to create goals, prioritize tasks, and measure your progress as you move forward.

Author’s MandalaChart matrix

The starting point was to adapt the 8 topics Will addressed in his original One-Year Plan MandalaChart to the specific needs of authors.

Will’s original matrix was addressed the following spheres, or activities, of an individual’s life:

  1. Personal
  2. Financial
  3. Study
  4. Business
  5. Home
  6. Society
  7. Health
  8. Leisure

When adapting the One-Year Plan to my Author’s MandalaChart, I included the following activity areas that authors must address:


  1. Goals. Goals involves answering questions like, Why are you writing a book? and How do you intend to profit from your book? As publishing has changed during the past few years, it’s become more and more important for authors to view their books as new business ventures. Books have to generate income beyond that which comes from book sales. 
  2. Readers. Reader topics include answering questions like Who are your ideal readers?, Why should they read your book?, What do they need to know?, and How will they benefit from your book? Nonfiction publishing success isn’t about how much you know; success is determined by offering the information that your ideal readers need to know.
  3. Competition. Books are not self-contained islands; new books must offer something better than what’s already available. Success requires identifying existing books and analyzing their pros and cons, so you can answer the question, What’s the “missing book” my ideal readers are waiting for?
  4. Message. From analyzing your goals, readers, and competition, you should be able to position your book and organize your ideas into chapters and subtopics within chapters. Your book proposal and press releases must be able to quickly answer questions like, What’s your book’s big idea? and What will readers take away from your book?  
  5. Format. Information can be communicated in lots of different ways, for example, step-by-step procedurals, case studies, personal experiences, question and answer, etc. You can also publish a big book or a small book. Format questions include, How much of a book do you need to write? and How can you simplify your book so you can get it into your reader’s hands as soon as possible?
  6. Awareness. Books are not magnetic, they don’t attract readers like a magnet attracts steel filings. You have to help your reader find you, answering questions like, How can I get my book reviewed? and How can I share my ideas while writing my book?
  7. Demand. Awareness has to be converted into demand, demand must stimulate purchases. Questions to address include, How can I stimulate pre-orders for my book? How can I sell as many books as possible when it’s available? and Where can I sell my book outside ofnormal bookstore channels?
  8. Profit. Finally, authors must leverage books into back-end information products or coaching, consulting, or paid speaking and presenting events. Questions include, How can I help readers implement my ideas? and What kind of marketing materials are speaker bureaus and event planners looking for?

Setting and attracting goals

The most important part of Will’s original One-Year Plan MandalaChart was the way it encouraged users to address each topic in matrix from four perspectives:

  • Current status. Where are we now? What are the strengths and weaknesses of our current position? What are the forces we have to deal with?
  • By December. What are our goals for the remainder of the calendar year? What do we want to accomplish by the end of the year?
  • Image for the end of a year. How can we visually communicate our accomplishments after 12 months?
  • Steps to reach this. What do we have to do to achieve our December and our One-Year goals?

In my version, I made a few simple changes, as follows:

  • Situation. (the same)
  • 90-days. This addresses the fact that “By December” implied an August starting date.
  • 1-year. Rather than a visual image, I felt a description of accomplishments during the past 12 months would be most helpful.
  • Steps to success. (Simple wording change.)

Author’s MandalaChart benefits

Writing and self-publishing involve a curious blend of creativity and self-discipline. Success requires a flexible perspective that combines long-term vision and consistent action in 8 different activity areas.

Although all projects are a work in progress, I feel the Author’s MandalaChart achieves its primary goal of helping authors avoid the common myopia of focusing entirely on writing and makes it easy to maintain a “big picture” view that encourages action in all 8 areas. The Author’s MandalaChart makes it easy to describe short term and long-goals in each area.

In addition, it creates an engaging visual to display on your wall as well as share with co-authors, agents, editors, and—when appropriate—your blog and social market community.

Conclusion

In addition to building on Will Reed’s already strong framework and adapting it for a specific vertical market, the Author’s MandalaChart shows the importance of constantly being on the lookout for ideas and tools that you can put to use in new ways.

The power of idea-sharing venues like the ActiveGarage is that it creates a community of achievers, constantly looking for ways to do a better job to address the challenges we all face, including the need to get more done in less time.

Editor’s NoteRoger C. Parker 37-part ActiveGarage Author’s Journey series offers practical advice for writing a book. He invites you to visit Published & Profitable and download a free proof of his do-it-yourself guide to developmental editing, 99 Questions to Ask Before You Write or Self-Publlish a Brand-building Book

rcp-heming-picRoger C. Parker helps others write books that build brands. He’s written over 30 books, offers do-it-yourself resources at Published & Profitable, and shares writing tips each weekday. His latest book is Title Tweet! 140 Bite-Sized Ideas for Article, Book, and Event Titles
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Week In Review – Mar 14 – Mar 20, 2010

by Magesh Tarala on March 21, 2010

More bang for your IT buck: Three keys to success

by Brian Superczynski, Mar 15, 2010

Making sense of financial implications of IT operations can be tricky. In fact, many organizations struggle to understand IT cost drivers and savings opportunities. To start with, IT and corporate finance should establish a meaningful partnership. But long term success depends upon applying traditional financial management practices to vendor and asset management. more…

Leadership Cancers #1: Independence, The Prisoner’s Dilemma and the Death of Cooperation

by Gary Monti, Mar 16, 2010

Imagine you have 2 resources who need to cooperate to get the task done, but are at odds with each other. This is not an atypical problem in teams. To understand the various scenarios, you can create a cost comparison matrix using the prisoner’s dilemma model in game theory. The most optimal solution may not be viable. You could tie other forms of compensations and incentives to this model to come up with the most cost effective strategy. more…

Save Energy, be on the offensive

by Guy Ralfe, Mar 17, 2010

Being a project manager can sometimes feel like playing the role of “the pack” in rugby. The opposing team can be compared to time and money. Slipping delivery dates is not uncommon. But if you don’t manage the situation carefully, your stakeholders will be calling the shots instead of you. At this point you wills tart playing defense and this will wear your team out. more…

Looking to sell your company? Don’t be in a hurry…

by Steve Popell, Mar 18, 2010

You are right on the money if you are thinking this is not the right time to sell your company. In fact, it may be three or four years before the situation is ripe for merger and acquisition market to turn around fully. In the meanwhile, focus on making your company a highly attractive strategic acquisition candidate. Have a strategic plan and periodically compare plan vs action. more…

Author’s Journey #13: Testing your book’s proposed title and subtitle

by Roger Parker, Mar 19, 2010

Test your shortlisted titles to narrow down to the best one for your book. It takes a little effort to test, but it can save you a lot of frustration down the road. You can use websites, pay-per-click options and online surveys. Follow the best practices and survey the right people. To learn more about surveys and market testing, the recommended reading is Jay Conrad Levinsonand Robert Kaden’s More Guerrilla Marketing Research. more…

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Week In Review – Feb 21 – Feb 27, 2010

by Magesh Tarala on February 28, 2010

The Art of getting what you want

by Vijay Peduru, Feb 22, 2010

Human brain has the tendency to avoid anything that it considers will cause pain. It reaches this conclusion based on instinct and/or past experience. This part of the brain is called the Lizard brain. The Possibilities brain seeks opportunity and freedom. When you want to work out and get in shape or in general, put in effort to convert a possibility into opportunity, your lizard brain may prevent you because it sees pain in the endeavor. You can remove this roadblock placed by the lizard brain by putting the endeavor in the right context.

Seth Godin in his brilliant book “Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?” talks about the Lizard Brain. For a brief Introduction to the lizard brain check this post , this video and this short e-book. more…

Change Management #5 – Project: Three tips to avoid creating Frankenstein

by Gary Monti, Feb 23, 2010

You can avoid creating a Frankenstein if you follow these simple steps:

1. Consider the needs of all the stakeholders when creating a scope of work including competitors and clients. Success includes your needs being met as part of the outflow of providing opportunity for others.

2. Your work must be sustainable, i.e., of good quality.

3. Provide stability, i.e., manage risk effectively.

Dr. Frankenstein driven by ego, pride and vainglory, got isolated from society and this caused him to lose direction and ultimately resulted in his downfall. more…

Growing Pains for Startups

by Guy Ralfe, Feb 24, 2010

Businesses are built around network interactions; each person in the network is a potential communication channel. As the number of people in your organization grows, the number of communication channels grows rapidly according to the formula (N * (N-1))/2 where N is the number of people in the group. This is a potential source of inaction or introducing bureaucracy. Educating the organization on this principle and providing guidance will help employees act confidently in the best interest of the company. more…

Social Media BRANDing – 5 tips to make it work

by Deepika Bajaj, Feb 25, 2010

Many companies have created digital channels like Facebook Fan pages, Twitter, SEO, etc to establish a digital presence. Now, how can they measure the effectiveness and improve? Here are some recommendations:

1. Tie social media activity to revenue growth

2. Know your customers. Don’t limit yourself based on what you know. Instead, try to find who your customers is.

3. Provide relevant content to draw the attention of your customers.

4. Put in place a mobile strategy.

5. Create strong relationships with your customers.

more…

Author’s Journey #10 – How to make the time to write a book

by Roger Parker, Feb 26, 2010

Time is not something you find like a needle in a hay stack. You need to make time for your endeavor by managing your commitments. Here are some techniques to make time to write your book:

1. Start with a plan

2. Commit to daily progress

3. Harvest time

4. Track your progress

more…

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Week In Review – Feb 7 – Feb 13, 2010

by Magesh Tarala on February 14, 2010

Is using Social Media an impediment to your Organization?

by Himanshu Jhamb, Feb 8, 2010

Social media is still not widely utilized in the business world. Organizations are resistant to deploying them because they either don’t see a value for it or they feel their employees will be distracted by them. The reality, their opinions don’t matter. Social media is here to stay. The earlier they realize that it is simply a channel for having online conversation, the better it is for them. more…

Change Management #3 – Technology: Too Good To Be True… Two Deadly Misconceptions and Their Remedies

by Gary Monti, Feb 9, 2010

One of the biggest misconceptions of all time is that technology solves problems. Nothing can be further away from the truth. On the contrary, people solve problems and technology aids in building the solution – it is just a means to an end. The second and less visible but equally important misconception is that technology will somehow change people’s fundamental behavior like sense of responsibility, cooperation, etc. When implementing change we need to be cognizant of the networks and political structures in the organization. With change, the concern for self increases and even small changes can cause disproportional increase in stress and will cause unpredictable behavior. Technology is an amplifier. Applied properly, it can make a good situation better. Misapplied, it can make a bad situation worse. more…

Breakdowns in Social Media Conversations

by Guy Ralfe, Feb 10, 2010

The world is shrinking fast and the pace of communication is increasing proportionally. Even in the online world, it is easy to misunderstand or misconstrue what the other person means. You may be thinking about the same thing and expressing them differently or vice versa. Guy has brilliantly illustrated this through a few examples. This pitfall gets amplified in the online world. So, be extra cautious and make sure you don’t miss opportunities because of it. more…

Intimacy scores with Social Media

by Deepika Bajaj, Feb 11, 2010

Intimacy and Social Media? Hmm… What’s the connection? We don’t typically these words used in one sentence. But, think about it. This is what social media is. It brings us closer together with our friends and acquaintances. We are able to check on them every day, learn what’s happening in their world and provide support, guidance or empathy. Your online presence is an online YOU. It is just like seeing yourself in the mirror. This let’s you be more intimate with yourself! Online media is an amplifier of the social nature of human beings. more…

Author’s Journey #8 – How much of your book have you already written?

by Roger Parker, Feb 12, 2010

If you have been in your profession for a while, you will be surprised to know how much content you already have. Just dig into your hard drive and check your emails, memos, reports, blog posts, etc. After you have located existing content, consolidate them so that you can identify their usability and where they belong in your book. This will help you realize that book writing does not have to be an all consuming endeavor. more…

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social-mediaWe all agree that social media is really effective in discovering people who have similar passions. Still, being in sites like Linkedin and Facebook, where people are connecting randomly it is hard to understand the value of these relationships you are building. It is possible, there isn’t any… But we will never be able to build deep relationships without one on one interaction or meetings in person… So, here are some steps to take virtual social interactions into real world:

1) Be present in community networks

Meet people in community forums that share your common interests. This way you can build relationships with people who live close to you and so you have access to them… In case of social media, these relationships can be in different parts of the world and not be as meaningful for your work or personal interests…

2) Take your business cards to these events

Don’t underestimate the value of business cards…it is great to have blogs, twitter accounts – but there is just a simple problem – to find you in cyberspace, one needs to know your full name….what if they got the wrong spellings or wrong name. With a business card, one can always Google your name…

3) Build Relationships

Yes, you can ReTweet posts and help other elevate their profiles…Still, there is value in sharing other gifts than RTs. Try calling some people you haven’t spoken in a while…you will be surprised how much more pleasure it is to talk to people than to DM or Email.

4) Understand social

Historically, social has been associated with people meeting, talking, exchanging ideas in person. These conversations have led to many innovations, wars and even consensus…the MasterMind thoery dictates that it requires people to exchange ideas that create possibilities they could not see for themselves… Humans will always be Social Animals…Long way before we become Cyber Beasts. So, engage in brainstorming ideas in a conversation….

5) Pleasant Personality

There is a advantage if people see you as having a pleasant personality…that is never visible on social media channels. Some people put pictures that are not true to their real selves…Don’t miss out on being generous to other with your pleasant personality….This will help you surround yourself with people who might potentially become friends, business associates or life partners… So, build connections with social media but power your relationships with personal interactions…

DD-new-pic-headshot Contributed by Deepika Bajaj, President and Founder, Invincibelle, LLC and co-founder, ActiveGarage (the company behind 99tribes). Deepika is also the author of the book DiversityTweet: Embracing the growing diversity in our world and Pink and Grow Rich:11 Unreasonable Rules for Success You can follow Deepika on Twitter at invincibelle
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Managing Your Identity – Telephone Etiquette

by Thomas Frasher on November 20, 2009

whats_in_your_telephone

A professional business people our identity in our marketplace is extremely important.  Identity or brand is an early indicator of the cost of doing business with us. A well respected identity results in lower cost to your marketplace, no matter what that marketplace may be.

Today’s article focus’ on a single aspect of identity management that has raised itself to me several times this week: Telephone Etiquette.

How many of us use conference calling and online meeting sharing systems (Skype, GotoMeeting, Meetingplace, etc) to conduct our meetings?  I have been in 8 conference meetings this week where 2 or more participants were not geographically located in the same area as the main meeting.

Given that we are more and more, required to conduct business in a more virtual fashion, identity management takes on a different complexion. With a virtual meeting, there is little if any visual cues to help people move the conversation along or not step on one another verbally.  Today’s article gives some simple guidelines for making conference calls work more smoothly and helping to build your identity as a competent business person.

1. Pay close attention to your proximity to the telephone or microphone.  Voices will be softer or louder based on this distance and can give the impression that you are either not paying attention or that you are otherwise engaged.  Remember people are "seeing" with their ears on a conference call.

2. Don’t tap the table that is holding the telephone or microphone.  While those in the room may not be able to hear it, the mechanical noise will be transferred to the phone or mic and it is very distracting on the receiving end. Likewise shuffling papers near the phone of mic can be inordinately loud and prevent others from actually hearing what was said.

3. No Side Conversations! This sends a clear message that you don’t consider others thoughts valuable, if a side conversation starts up, as a business leader you need to stop it or bring it into the main part of the meeting.

4. My pet peeve, make sure the other person has finished talking before making your contribution.  care must be taken to manage the meeting so that all the opinions are heard and all the information needed to be passed is passed. I personally must work to remember to not talk over someone. It is very rare when that is required, so be on the lookout for this one.

5. Pay attention to what is being said by others. You have no permanent lock on good ideas, so make sure you are open to the ideas of others, it will improve the quality of your own ideas.  Another peeve I have is when it is obvious that the other person is simply waiting to start talking and they are only gated by me speaking, they are not listening (I admit I’m guilty of this as well).  If you listen carefully to the other people on the conference call you may find the your opinions of them and their contribution may change.

Above all remember to respect your virtual meeting colleagues, which is what the list is all about anyway.

Thomas_Frasher This article was contributed by Thomas Frasher, co-founder of Active Garage. You can follow Thomas on Twitter at tfrasher.
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Branding – The mechanics of Branding

by Laura Lowell on November 6, 2009

mechanicsA well designed brand is like a well designed car – lovely to look at, lots of power, and can really take you places.  The power of a brand is based on how well it can convince people to buy your stuff.  There are countless definitions of what a brand is, and regardless of your definition, if the brand doesn’t help you sell more stuff, then, it isn’t doing its job.

All brands are built with three essential elements:  Personality, Message and Identity.

Brand Personality: Defining the underlying personality of a brand is sometimes difficult, but is always necessary if the rest of the brand elements are to come together.  The personality reflects what the organization wants its brand to be known for. Think about specific personality traits you want prospects, clients, employees, and partners to use to describe your brand. You should have 4-6 traits (5 is ideal), each being a single term, usually an adjective.

Authentic, Creative, Innovative, Approachable

Trustworthy, Trendy, Cool, Desirable, Reliable

Relevant, Honest, Flexible, Unique, Relevant

How you define the personality determines the tone and voice of your brand, and therefore all your communications.  A brand that is “hip, cool, trendy” sounds decidedly different from one that is “honest, trustworthy, reliable”.

Brand Message: What do you customers need from you?  Why should they choose your brand of product or service over another one?  What can your brand deliver that no one else can?  The answers to these questions form the foundation of your messages.    I have found it useful to create three core messages based on these customer needs.  Each of these messages needs to be supported by “proof points” which are specific, measurable and relevant to the audience.  For example, think of Brand X as a car.

Brand X is BETTER:  safety record, flexible seating arrangements, trade-in options

Brand X is CHEAPER:  gas mileage, insurance premiums, maintenance costs

Brand X is FASTER:  redesigned engine, chassis, performance measurements

Which of these messages best reflects the brand is based on the brand personality and the needs of our customers.  It is not based on what we think sounds good, what is easy for us to prove, or what our boss thinks.   At least it shouldn’t be anyway…

Brand Identity: Ask ten graphic designers their opinion of a company logo and you’ll get ten different answers.  Brand design is the aesthetic that communicates the underlying message and personality of the brand.  There are five core elements to any brand identity:

Logo

Tagline

Typography

Photography

Color

How these elements work together are explained in “Brand Guidelines”.  These help anyone working with the brand know what to do and not to do with the brand.  Combined with templates (Presentations, documents or web pages for example) and standardized collateral (business cards, signage and such) your brand begins to take form.  From here on, it is all about execution.

Laura Lowell PicThis article is contributed by Laura Lowell, Author of the Amazon bestseller ’42 Rules of Marketing’ and the upcoming ‘42 Rules to Build Your Brand and Your Business’. You can follow her on twitter at @42_rules.
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Branding – Your brand lives both online and offline

by Laura Lowell on November 5, 2009

There seems to be a perception that online communication is radically different from offline communication.  I strongly disagree.  As Jennifer Jacobson said in her new book, “Communication is communication, both online and offline.”  The tactics are certainly different, but the objective, tone and purpose is the same.  It amazes me when I hear of people pretending to be someone else online – especially professionally.  Yes, there are the stories where it worked to the persona’s advantage, but most of the time, this is not the case.

One of my favorite online/offline stories is about Britney Mason (aka Dave Peck).  Dave was (and still is) a middle-aged father of five, by his own description.  He was new to social media and created a fictional person, Britney Mason, who developed a really big following based on her knowledge of social media and her big boobs (again, Dave’s description).  No one had met her, they had just interacted online. One thing led to another and finally Dave was forced to fess up on national TV with a profile on CNBC.  For Dave, and Britney, things turned out OK. But this is definitely the exception and not the rule.

For most of us, we need to carefully consider our behavior and how it affects our brand, both online and offline.

Online: Online conversations have been compared to a cocktail party.  In “real life” you wouldn’t walk into a cocktail party, or a networking event, or other gathering and start shouting “look at me!”  The same holds true for online communication.  Here are some of the rules of online etiquette you should try and follow:

  • Be authentic: don’t pretend to be someone you’re not.
  • Be honest: lies, even little ones, will come back to haunt you.
  • Be polite: DON’T YELL AT PEOPLE IN ALL CAPS!
  • Be relevant: in a conversation, don’t change the subject to suite your needs.
  • Be friendly: make friends as they are the foundation of your network.

Offline: Offline conversations are more natural for most of us since we’ve been having these all our lives.  Not surprisingly, the rules of polite behavior are pretty much the same whether you’re online or in person.  In person, you can tell almost immediately if someone is being authentic, if they are trying to pull a fast one on you, or only care about what you can do for them. These are the folks who say “thanks” but you know they don’t mean it.

In a recent study I conducted I asked professionals to rank a list of activities based on how important they are in communicating your personal brand.  10 being the most important and 1 being the least important.  The results are interesting:

  • Personal presence and speaking ability are the most important elements when communicating your personal brand
  • Twitter, FaceBook and LinkedIn – while important – are less relevant than articles, books or your website.

Branding online and offline

What does that tell us?  Your brand lives both online and offline.  We are no longer one or the other; we are now a combination of our personal presence on our social profiles, our speaking ability and our books and blogs.

When it comes to building your brand, remember, we are who we are.  Who we are doesn’t change based on whether we’re online or offline.  Unless you’re Dave Peck, of course…

Laura Lowell PicThis article is contributed by Laura Lowell, Author of the Amazon bestseller ’42 Rules of Marketing’ and the upcoming ‘42 Rules to Build Your Brand and Your Business’. You can follow her on twitter at @42_rules.
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Branding – Infuse passion in your brand

by Laura Lowell on November 4, 2009

branding with passionToday’s article on Branding is about Branding with Passion. Before I delve into that, though, here are the links to the branding Series, so far:

  1. Branding – What’s the point?
  2. Branding – What’s your brand promise?
  3. Branding – Branding is a balancing act
  4. Branding – Consistency, Consistency, Consistency
  5. Branding – Don’t get caught in the hype
  6. Branding – Get the mix right
  7. Branding – Your brand is being created with or without you

It’s a lot easier to do things you like, than things you don’t like.  You might be thinking…”duh”.  But how many of you spend your time doing what you are passionate about?  How many companies focus on the things they can do, as opposed to the things they should do?

I’m talking about what in most MBA programs would be called “core competencies”.  These are the fundamental things your customers value, and that your company does better than any of your competitors.  Let’s use HP as an example.  HP is a company with many lines of business, many products and even more things they could be doing.  One of the things that has made HP successful it its ability to “stick to it’s knitting”, as my Grandma used to say.  When they have veered off course, they have acknowledged it and pulled back – sometimes not as fast as they would have liked in hindsight, but they eventually realized it and corrected their course so that they play to their strength of innovation.  Their core competencies are the things that HP people are passionate about – innovation is what they are about.  R&D is a vital part of every successful division.  HP Labs holds more patents than any other working technology lab.  The net result is that HP continues to lead in the businesses where it innovates.  Why?  Because it is doing what it loves to do.

When it comes to smaller scale businesses, the idea is even more important.  Brandon Mendelson started his company in response to, well, having nothing else to do (his words not mine.)  The company, Earth’s Temporary Solution, is the production company behind Brandon’s campaign “A Million High Fives” (#AMHF on Twitter).  Brandon is a guy who does good things, because he wants to.  He is sarcastic and a bit wacky, but he is nothing if not following his passion.

Our goal is to empower others to help those in need. In the not-for-profit world there’s a lot of mistrust and people looking to make a quick buck on willing, happy people, so as a for-profit, we want people to trust us and know we are providing them with the right tools to do the greatest good”, says Brandon.

By following his passion, and sticking to his core competencies, Brandon has amassed a huge following on Twitter, FaceBook and other networks.  Currently, Brandon is one of the most followed non-brand, non-celebrity, non-media outlets on Twitter. He is following his passion, and consequently, people are following him.

Now you ask, how can you identify your passion, your core competencies?  Ask yourself these questions about your business and your brand:

  • Why do my customers choose our brand over another?
  • What do we do that our competitors don’t?
  • What is the one thing that we would protect over anything else?

Your answers will lead you towards clarifying your competencies.  Take them, build on them and make them to focus of your branding (and business) efforts.  When your brand is built on passion, it is authentic.  There is an honesty that comes from doing what you like to do.  You can’t make that up and you certainly can’t fake it.

Laura Lowell PicThis article is contributed by Laura Lowell, Author of the Amazon bestseller ’42 Rules of Marketing’ and the upcoming ‘42 Rules to Build Your Brand and Your Business’. You can follow her on twitter at @42_rules.
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