Brands, Art, and Fear

I had the chance to meet Seth Godin about 8 years ago. His perspective of marketing and branding is so unique and spot on. I always say, branding is who you are and where you are going.

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It’s about the humans behind the name, product, or company. It’s about making things. It’s about the creation of ideas and the risk of crushing the status quo. We have to care. We have to love what we create. People don’t want to be fooled by flashy logos and bright colors, only to find out, the soul of the individual, product, or company doesn’t give a sh*t. As the old saying goes, “give a damn, many damns.”

Continue reading “Brands, Art, and Fear”

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!

To Blog or Not to Blog

The saying “Content is King” in marketing is more true than most would like to admit. But have we considered that the content we write actually makes us better. Pausing to conceptualize and effectively communicate a thought in two or three paragraphs pushes our intellect and our depth of understanding concerning ourselves and our brand. And for the most partit’s free!

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What is Value?

I often point out to clients that value is not just about money. It’s about necessity. It’s about urgency. It’s about happiness. We all value different things.

Cadillac-CalaisI remember when I was a child, growing up in a lower-income neighborhood of Miami, learning this lesson. Many of my friends, whose family were on government assistance and struggling to make ends meet, had many of the so called “luxuries” my family could never imagine providing. New Jordans, gold chains, Cadillacs, big TVs, and more. The issue for many of these families was not whether or not they could afford it, but rather what they valued. Some lived in a run down house, but the feeling of driving down the block in a great big Cadillac (Diamond in the back, sunroof top, diggin’ the scene with a gangsta lean, gangsta whitewalls, TV antennas in the back) seemed to make them feel better. Some bought their groceries via food stamps, but doing so, wearing fresh Jordans, seemed to bring a sense of confidence they desired to “make it through” the situations they found themselves in. Keeping up with their impression of Mr. Jones was what was most important to them at that place in life.

Now, I’m not condoning this sort of behavior, however the lesson learned was, people will find a way to make things happen if it is important to them. In a down economy, it’s not necessarily money that changes what we buy, but value. Consumers may not buy what you’re selling simply because they don’t value it. Maybe they value family, rest, their home. Maybe they value luxuries that make them forget, even just a little, during hard times.

Here’s a little of what Seth Godin had to say about value: Continue reading “What is Value?”

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.”