5 Branding Pointers Every Marketer Should Embrace

 “Power branding is not an intention, nor is it merely an action. It’s a commitment.”

There’s a guy in New Mexico who really understands brand marketing.

Steve McKee is founder and president of McKee Wallwork + Company.  He’s also the author of When Growth Stalls and Power Branding.

Credit: McKee Wallwork + Company.

Credit: McKee Wallwork + Company.

In Power Branding (2014), McKee provides concise, 2-3 page chapters that each deliver a key thought with examples.  It’s an easy read that will challenge your thinking and/or reinforce any brand marketing discipline that may have gotten a bit out-of-shape.

Here are 5 Power Branding Pointers to whet your appetite:

1. Branding is everything a company does, from the logo on its letterhead, to the way it handles customer complaints, to whether its uniformed personnel keep their shirts tucked in.

2. Branding is like baseball: You may throw a bad pitch, but it’s a long season.  If you execute steadily and consistently, the statistics will work in your favor. Continue reading

Tweets from Brooklyn: NBA Team Exec Wins with Direct Customer Engagement

It’s fascinating to observe how executives communicate, particularly on social media.

Irina Pavlova. President - Onexim Sports and Entertainment Holding USA, Inc.  Credit: Brooklyn Nets.

Irina Pavlova. President – Onexim Sports and Entertainment Holding USA, Inc. Credit: Brooklyn Nets.

A related dynamic is how senior leaders of professional sports teams are increasingly communicating directly to fans.

Last week, the top executive overseeing the operations of the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets selected Twitter to directly engage the team’s fan base, which I’ll discuss.

I’ll also share 7 Tips to help leaders navigate in this new age of omni-platform communications.

But first, some background.


In early July, after just his first season as an NBA head coach, Jason Kidd left the Nets in a controversial, messy fashion. Despite his reported power-play motivations, the Nets, specifically General Manager Billy King, took the high road in public comments.

There was much speculation about how Kidd should be/would be treated in the run-up to his return to Brooklyn as head coach of the Milwaukee Bucks on November 19th, as well as continuing media coverage from both team’s perspectives.

The speculation was fueled by the first public comments on the matter from the team’s principal owner, Mikhail Prokhorov.

Answering a reporter’s question before the Nets’ home opener on November 3rd, Prokhorov invoked a version of the famous American phrase “Don’t let the swinging door hit you in the *** on the way out.”  It was communicated with his typical wit, and a bit of humor, in a calm, non-emotional manner.

For non-NBA fans, note that Jason Kidd’s number is retired and hangs in the rafters of Brooklyn’s Barclays Center. Rightly so. Kidd was a terrific player for the New Jersey Nets, leading their transformation in the early 2000s that culminated in two consecutive appearances in the NBA finals.

Nevertheless, sports fans are typically dismissive of players and coaches who “don’t want to be here,” and it’s fair to say that Kidd wanted to be elsewhere. Prokhorov’s comments reflected that sentiment.


Irina Pavlova is President, ONEXIM Sports and Entertainment Holding USA, Inc., the business entity that oversees and operates the Brooklyn Nets on behalf of its principal owner.

Understanding the backdrop and context, take particular note of Pavlova’s personal account tweet a few hours prior to the game:

Well done!  This is a superb example of leadership in action and effective, “taking the high road” communication.  Importantly, Pavlova was able to change the conversation to where it should be – about the Brooklyn Nets and looking forward, not about the former coach.  Her tweet was noted and reported by the media, including ESPN NY.com, thus propelling her message to a wider fan audience. Continue reading

Demystifying Omnichannel Marketing

“It’s less about creating another channel to sell product. “For us it’s pretty different. It’s about providing a really great experience.” — Andy Katz-Mayfield, Co- Chief Executive, Harry’s

Omnichannel marketing is getting a lot of buzz.

Here’s a quick way to understand the concept, from Daniel Newman writing in Forbes:

[It’s ] “a reflection of the choice that consumers have in how they engage a brand, and therefore is best represented as how brands enable their clients and consumers to use these channels to engage with them.”

Newman points to the emergence of a new breed of “marketers with a hybrid capability to not be just focused on one type of marketing whether it be direct, digital or retail, but rather a marketer that understands experience, and how consumers are seeking ubiquity. From their cell phone to the desktop to an in store visit; we are entering an omni-channel world, where consumers seek an omni-channel experience.”

Omnichannel marketing is not necessarily a new idea, though.  It’s more an evolved idea.

For example, in the pre-social media days, one marketing challenge was to integrate consumer promotion, trade marketing and advertising — plus maybe some PR events — into a cohesive marketing mix.  Today, there are more platforms than ever to engage with customers and build brands, and that’s exciting for the marketing community.

Those “hybrid marketers” also need to understand the discipline of brand management — and how to apply that expertise in today’s omni-touchpoint world.  What’s needed are smart, flexible marketers (those with strong consumer packaged goods (CPG) brand management training should thrive).

With that introduction, let’s explore three current omnichannel marketing initiatives.  See what you can take and apply to your company and team.

Credit: Jack Erwin.

Credit: Jack Erwin.

Jack Erwin

Founded in 2013, Jack Erwin is a new brand of men’s shoes.  This week, the online seller adds a special brick-and-mortar component.

Their approach is a try-on physical outlet dubbed The Fitting Room, opening in New York City on November 13th.

As The Wall Street Journal’s Lauren Sherman explained, it’s a place to get fitted, try on the shoes, and buy.  You can’t walk out the door with any product though – there’s no inventory.  So, unless you need the shoes immediately, it’s a win  — you like them on arrival and know they fit! Continue reading

Creative Branding Hooks $1M Investment from Shark Tank’s Mark Cuban

Founders Brad Schultz, Amy Steadman and Justin Fenchel (left to right) make the Shark Tank pitch for BeatBox Beverages – October 24, 2014. Credit: BeatBox Beverages.

Last Friday night on Shark Tank, Mark Cuban invested $1 million in a boxed, wine-based cocktail business. Why?

Excellent marketing and branding.

The founders of BeatBox Beverages, launched in 2013, have done a terrific job with creative branding, customer target definition, and positioning.  Cuban was sold on the growth opportunity for this fun, lifestyle, experiential brand. Continue reading

Verizon Seeks Big Gas Results from Half-Fast Advertising

First Kmart. Now Verizon.

These companies think a play on funny word expressions not normally allowed in commercials will drive sales.  So I ask, and wonder:  What’s the big attraction with double entendre advertising?

The answer is eyeballs and attention.

In the case of Kmart, I get it.  The brand has long since lost relevance and is suffering financially.  The marketing team needed to break the brand out of its 1970s/1980s cement.  So, last year they came up with a free shipping offer that integrated in-store shopping with their e-commerce website, and created “Ship My Pants.”

The ad won’t go into any time capsules celebrating the best of American culture, but it did go viral and generate tons of attention.  Ship My Pants has reached 22.7 million views – and that’s just on the Kmart YouTube channel.

Seeking to leverage the popularity and build on the momentum, Kmart quickly rolled out a companion ad called “Big Gas Savings.”  Ouch.

 

However, for all the notoriety, the marketing probably didn’t make a business difference (not clear what could have).  Kmart, part of Sears Holding Corporation, continued to lose money. Looking at the rough time frame for the two ads, Adjusted EBITDA for the 13 weeks ending November 2, 2013 was -$139 million.  That was a bit better than the -$169 million loss for the 39 weeks ending November 2, 2013.


That brings us to the Verizon FiOS ad I saw over the weekend.

 

My first reaction was disappointment.  I guess I expected more from Verizon.

Continue reading

Rabbi’s “Look Up” Sermon Reminds that Attitude Essential in Life and Business

What does a Rosh Hashanah sermon have to do with marketing and business?

I’ll explain.

Looking from Dante's View across the Badwater Basin salt pan to Telescope Peak, 11,049 feet, at the top of the Panamint Mountains. Photo Credit: National Park Service.

Looking from Dante’s View across the Badwater Basin salt pan to Telescope Peak, 11,049 feet, at the top of the Panamint Mountains. Photo Credit: National Park Service.

At Dante’s View in Death Valley National Park (CA), it’s possible to see both the highest point in the contiguous United States (Mount Whitney) and the lowest (Badwater).

Rabbi David Nesson described this geological marvel in his Rosh Hashanah sermon. Noting the volatile, dangerous world in which we live, and in the religious/spiritual context of the new year, he identified a life-management choice.  We can either Look Up or Look Down.

No surprise that he encouraged Look Up.  It’s a powerful idea with significant personal meaning.  And, it definitely applies to the business world as well.

Outlook and attitude make a difference in life and in business.  An enthusiastic, can-do approach is positively contagious across the organization. It’s much more fun and productive to work in that kind of environment. Unfortunately, the opposite is also true.

Continue reading

How LinkedIn Users Earn an “F” in Personal Marketing

Enough already.  I have to call “foul” on LinkedIn users.

When I played pick-up basketball, we self-refereed and yelled out “foul” when we got hacked. It worked fine.

It’s time for LinkedIn members to take a similar approach.  Let me explain.

Why is it okay for a stranger to send me a connect request without a reason?  It’s not.

Credit: LinkedIn.com

Credit: LinkedIn.com

Something prompted you to send the message.   Tell me.  LinkedIn makes it easy to replace or add onto the standard verbiage that comes in the connection request box. So, why don’t people do it?

If you can’t take two minutes to tell me why you’re reaching out to connect, then don’t bother.  It’s unprofessional and impolite, and I’m not interested.

Continue reading