The Magic of Branding

With over 6,400 books written on branding, the subject has gotten complex. Yet simplicity is where the power exists. This video was conceived, written and narrated by award-winning designer, branding specialist and Fast Company blogger David Brier to distill branding down to its basics answering that basic question “What is branding?” Written simply with equally minimalistic motion graphics, this video unveils the magic, the spark and the simplicity that is branding in its most fundamental form.

Are You Indispensable?

It’s been 5 years since Seth Godin’s first visit to Orange County. I went with a few colleagues not knowing what to expect. Since then, Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? has become one of my favorite books and I’ve bought many copies to give out to friends. He left us with a charge to think differently about branding & marketing; to think differently about what we make. He told us to make art, give gifts, do work that matters, connect, lead, ship, and make a difference.

Brian Elliot of thegoodbrain.com, former Universal Home Entertainment exec with 15+ years in brand strategy, production, DVD and original content, hosted that evening’s keynote with Seth Godin. This morning, he FINALLY received permission from Godin to post his epic full-length keynote and emailed the link to a bunch of us who were there. There were about 900 people in attendance that day, back in 2010, at the the St. Regis Hotel to hear Seth LIVE. His message about being “indispensable” is even more relevant today.

If you don’t know Godin, he’s the godfather of modern marketing, bestselling author of more than a dozen biz books and has one of the most read blogs on the planet. I hope you enjoy this rare treat!

Be Irreplaceable

Screen Shot 2014-10-29 at 11.20.53 AMAs a branding/marketing specialist, I’m regularly asked to find creative ways to annihilate the competition, or least give them a run for their money. The easiest way to do this is to highlight what is uniquely yours, what makes you irreplaceable. Once you show up as a unique option in the sea of mundane mediocrity, you will be noticed. Not everyone will love that unique part of you, but the goal is not to get everyone to like you and follow you. The goal is the hunt down the consumers, the followers, the fans who will fall in love with your uniqueness and follow you to the ends of the earth. The ones who have been secretly wanting what you have to offer.

The Humility of the Artist

I was reading Seth Godin’s blog post this morning and it profoundly hit the nail on the head. Here’s what he said,

It seems arrogant to say, “perhaps this isn’t for you.”

When the critic pans your work, or the prospect hears your offer but doesn’t buy, the artist responds, “that’s okay, it’s not for you.” She doesn’t wheedle or flip-flop or go into high pressure mode. She treats different people differently, understands that she is working to delight the weird, not please the masses, and walks away.

Isn’t that arrogant?

No. It’s arrogant to assume that you’ve made something so extraordinary that everyone everywhere should embrace it. Our best work can’t possibly appeal to the average masses, only our average work can.

Finding the humility to happily walk away from those that don’t get it unlocks our ability to do great work.

Knowing who you are and where you are going is branding. That is the brand, whether the brand is you, a product or service. Being confident in allowing your brand to be itself is not arrogantit is strategic. We must be artists, creators, innovators; we are all original.

I asked a client (singer/songwriter) the other day in a session, “Who was Michael Jackson like?” “What about Prince? Or Miles Davis?” The answer, obviously was no one. They were confident in being themselves and they created forms of music that no one before them had created. We don’t really consider musicians who followed in their footsteps to be legends. Being legendary requires being unique, different. It required these artists to be themselves, not attempting to please everyone, but pushing to have personal integrity and originality in their work.

Michael Jackson Prince Miles DavisNo one can be you. There is no competition to you. When you choose to be yourself and stay focused on a clear path, you don’t really compete with anyone. You now have something unique. Now all you have to do is market, effectively tell your story to a specific demographic. Branding and marketing…defining who you are, where you are going, and sharing that story effectively. 

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What Does the Fox Say?

Love what Seth Godin had to say about the newest viral music video on YouTube.

The viral music video of the moment is right here.

The question for the marketer, music or otherwise, isn’t, “what are the hooks and tricks I use to go viral?” No, the question is, “is it worth it?”

What does the fox say has the hooks and tricks in abundance. It has Archie McPhee animal costumes, nonsense words, just the right sort of production values, superfluous subtitles, appropriate silliness. It would probably help the cause to add spurious nudity, but give them points for getting the rest of it right.

To what end?

If your work goes viral, if it gets seen by tens of millions of people, sure you can profit from that. But most of the time, it won’t. Most of the time, you’ll aim to delight the masses and you’ll fail.

I’m glad that some people are busy trying to entertain us in a silly way now and then. But it doesn’t have to be you doing the entertaining–the odds are stacked against you.

So much easier to aim for the smallest possible audience, not the largest, to build long-term value among a trusted, delighted tribe, to create work that matters and stands the test of time.

“Baby bump bump bay dum.”

WHEN YOU SELL UNLIMITED HOPE…

I was reading Seth Godin’s blog this morning and this stood out to me:

When you sell unlimited hope…

then all news is bad news. That’s because news is fact, what happened, not hope, and the truth can’t possibly be as good as the hope was.

The problem with marketing promises that spin out of control, that pile expectations on top of dreams, is that when reality appears, when the quarterly numbers or the new policies or the final product arrives, it will inevitably disappoint.

This is the challenge of the Kickstarter artist, the growth stock CEO and the well-published author. Dreams are irresistible, but they will never match reality when it finally appears.

The desire to promise the world is nearly uncontrollable sometimes. If you do this then everything will be alright. If you follow me, then life will be better. If you buy my new CD, it will change you forever.

Chances are, even if they are beneficial, they will not meet the expectations put on them. The old proverb says, “For though a righteous man falls seven times, he will get up again.” We get better though the journey, through mistakes and through failures.

Next time you’re selling something, consider whether your product is promising the world or supporting the journey. And consider which one will benefit your customer for the long haul. Which one will bring them back over the years?

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