I've always felt strongly that thoughts and ideas are the great equalizer of brands. No longer do we live in an era where only the largest of companies dictate their degree of influence based on how much money they spend to get in front of more eyeballs with one more 1-way message that's all about them.
The greatest influence can now be in the hands of the most helpful, transparent and personal brands of the world. Are you ready to be one of them? Caliber's Revolution of Influence blog aims to equip you with the strategies, content know-how, tools and trends to find the path that catapults you to newfound success.
Dan Gershenson of Caliber Brand Strategy + Content Marketing speaks to the virtue of slicing, dicing and adapting content in a variety of formats to help your posts connect to more audiences where they "live" online. So that one post goes a lot farther than just one online environment.
There was a time years ago when that saying about the “cobbler’s children have no shoes” was worn like a badge of honor for me. I was working so hard on other people’s stuff back then that I would neglect to make myself a client. That was common but dumb.
I’ve also worked for agencies that acted this way. I just took a look at one of them and lo and behold, it’s the same website it’s been for years – barely anything has changed, including anything in the portfolio. But there they probably go, “humblebragging” about how they just work so hard on their own clients that they never have enough time to work on their own stuff.
“If we as health care providers do not think like designers, we will fail in our mission to serve our patients.”
-Dr. Joyce Lee
In attending Chicago’s recent Cusp Conference, I came across a host of innovative guest speakers who are changing business models through better design. One of them I thoroughly enjoyed hearing was Dr. Joyce Lee, who is an Associate Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Michigan Medical School and an Associate Professor in the Department of Environmental Sciences at the University of Michigan School of Public Health.
It's not your services. It's not your number of office locations. It's probably not even your years of experience. Dan Gershenson of Caliber Brand Strategy + Content Marketing talks about planning and crafting emotionally-charged content around the types of events and issues your audience actually cares about so you can trigger a real reaction.
Why can’t we talk to potential customers as if we were sitting across the table from them?
I believe we can. I believe we have to.
Instead, brands look at their audiences as a set of statistics rather than a one-to-one conversation. And it’s little wonder why they often wind up sounding like they’re talking to a set of statistics. Why? Because there’s a fear that your brand might not sound professional?
I’m writing this post from a Starbucks, where I just had a meeting. Tomorrow, I’m having a one-on-one at a Panera. When not at either of those, I can be seen at Caribou Coffee or Einstein Bagels.
Seriously, I should just replace my regular office address with those 4 logos.
I know it’s a cool talking point to have an office with a basketball court, foosball tables, tiki bars (I’ve had that one before) and more. But do we really need it to be creative? I’m not suggesting everything has to be steel and grey in our workspaces. Far from it. I’m just wondering if we need so much excess in order to 1) impress clients and 2) come up with good ideas.
Welcome to the 2022 NBA Season. We’re 10 years removed from the lockout that claimed the 2011-2012 season and the landscape sure looks different. It should be an exciting season in the East/Central Division, which of course, is comprised of:
Blessed to be in a city with solid public transportation, not a week goes by that I don’t use a bus, El and Metra train to get me from Point A to Point B. And while you have to put up with the usual annoyances (Exhibit A: Man talking on cell phone at ridiculous decibels), I’ve found that the CTA is doing a good job of meeting expectations in forecasting the arrival/departure times on buses and El trains – in fact, technology has made it about as smooth an experience as you can expect in a city as big as ours. We can tap a Chicago Card to a designated payment area and we’re on our way. We can look down on our mobile devices and see thanks to apps like Buster, the 156 really will be here in 4 minutes. Things are indeed getting better. Not perfect, but better.
I’m a gigantic social media fan, but I can never automatically recommend everyone be on social media. True, I could analyze a company from a brand perspective and I’ll invariably recommend social media channels for them. But as I dig deeper, I come to realize that there are a few cases that it’s not right for. Less because it isn’t right for their brand or because their audience isn’t living on any social media channels, more because their internal culture just flat-out isn’t ready for it or isn’t fully behind it when they do decide to go down that path. I’ll give you some examples:
“I’m pulling my money out of the market. I can’t take it any more. I’m content to put it in the bank and get my 1-2% back. At least I know what I’m dealing with.” – Father of two, interviewed on ABC7 News, Chicago
There, in that brief snippet of man-on-the-street insight, I realized that the most of intelligent of banks need to embrace what they do best (usually): Provide a relatively safe investment that don’t have wild swings up and down.
The idea of greater sales sounds, well, great. But when you think about expansion, have you considered what the consequences of what the move is going to be on your brand, your culture, your people? Many companies don’t. There’s no reason why sales should be on the opposite side of these considerations, especially when it doesn’t have to be.
With this in mind, I created a checklist that can help you decide if a company sale, increase in hiring, large investment in equipment, new distribution channels and ramping up of production will come at the expense of your brand.
We in the advertising and marketing business like to reminisce about our own industry as much as anyone. We like to look back on the work of Bernbach, Burnett and Ogilvy in reverence. We talk about the “Think Small” ad, the “We Try Harder” ads for Avis, the Levy’s Jewish Rye ad and the man in the Hathaway shirt. I love those classics too.
As he was pondering the idea of expansion many years ago, the late Jay Chiat of southern California ad agency Chiat-Day once thought, “Let’s just see how big we can get before we get bad.” As such, the volume of work increased, the agency grew and although there were still “home runs” of memorable work in the bunch, it could be argued there were fewer of them.
As I started to make my way up Diversey Avenue, I heard the clamor of a jazz band playing near Trader Joe’s grocery store. That couldn’t be coming from State Farm, could it? Surprisingly, it was. And already in that moment, I think that maybe, just maybe, I experienced a small piece of what State Farm is striving to do with its new community-based effort, State Farm Next Door.
A couple months ago, I heard Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce President Jerry Roper tell a story of how Mayor Richard J. Daley (that would be Chicago’s first Mayor Daley for history buffs) used to instruct staff members closest to him to always carry a pad of paper with them. That way, when they saw something in their daily lives such as a pothole in need of fixing, they would jot that down and give it to the Mayor. I’d like to think the pothole in question then got promptly fixed.
I can also remember Newark Mayor Cory Booker speaking on Piers Morgan’s program on CNN about how he successfully used Twitter this past Winter to quicken emergency response times toward those residents trapped by a snowstorm.
There used to be a time when country clubs and golf clubs could mention who their course was designed by, show some great aerial photos of the course and rely on that to do much of the heavy lifting for drawing interest.
As a bookend to my other post this week on who doesn’t belong in the brainstorm room, your mission isn’t done when you have a collection of people who could generate great ideas. You also need to be able to recognize a great idea. I wouldn’t begin to suggest that this is easy nor would I suggest every idea I ever had was great. But I can say that by now, I’ve found there are a certain factors at play that help enhance the chances of building a better idea as well as factors that almost doom ideas from the start.
“OK, everybody. Come on into the brainstorm room/conference room and let’s talk about (Insert Initiative Here). We’re going to need to generate some ideas.”
Whoa, whoa, whoa. Let’s take that a step back. As it turns out, the process of cultivating ideas isn’t for everybody. It’s not an automatic right based on title. I think what we forget about brainstorms is that we’re so focused on getting to the quality of the idea that we forget that in getting there, there needs to be quantity (this is a separate post in itself). The minute you brainstorm, you’re turning on a faucet at one speed: Fast. When you have these 3 types of people in the room, you’ll slow the pace to a trickle, if not shut it off completely. Let’s meet them, shall we?
I can recall viewing Darren Clarke on the cover of a now-defunct golf magazine a few years back, with a stogie in his mouth, smiling and speaking inside the interior of the mag of his love of Guinness. And when Clarke won the British Open today, it got me thinking about why this man is so beloved, certainly in Europe and really much further than those boundaries. We can learn a lot about personal branding in his triumph and journey to this point.
#1: He is relatable to the people who are his Fans, who see bits of themselves in him. More than once, commentators over the last few days asked that very question to Clarke himself and his reply was essentially that he was the “Everyman.” Clarke drinks. He smokes. He drives fast cars. He loves his family and is intensely loyal to them.
As many of us in Chicagoland who grew up in primarily a Jewel and Dominick’s world, it’s easy for me to have comfort with both of these grocery store brand names. Yet, I’m ready to step outside of that comfort zone thanks to what Trader Joe’s has brought to the table. And I’m not just talking about food.
I’m a big proponent of building the brand from within – not with only terrific products/services, but a culture that is aligned with that brand and in turn results in better customer experiences.
Are we a fit for you and you for us? We certainly could be. But let’s start simple. Take a look at your calendar and see when you have no more than 45 minutes to talk further about your goals while receiving greater insight on next steps.
"Dan did a great job crafting our website's language as well as developing our brochure. His work was top notch and very impactful. We really appreciate the way he worked his "magic." Dan has our strongest recommendation."
Michael Casaburi, CEO at Revulus Growth Partners
"Dan is not only a person with creative ideas, he is a professional with high intelligence and integrity. He has tremendous energy and technical acumen. Dan is is focused and loves what he does...creating brands and building relationships. He is always willing to offer a helping hand and brings a strong dynamic to any team he is on. I highly recommend Dan to any company that is seeking exposure, growth, financial results and brand development."
Chadia Meroueh, V.P., Auto Tech and Body
"I hired Dan to freshen up the writing on my website, and am delighted with the results. Dan GOT what my consulting business is about in a way that I hadn't experienced from anyone outside my field! More importantly, he was able to take that understanding and write clear and compelling language about my services – AND suggest format changes to the site to make it more effective. I highly recommend him."
Dina Petrakis, Renovation Coach, Littlerock Construction, Inc.