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BRANDE : blog archives for December 2007

December 12, 2007

YOUR BRAND- Will It Blend?

This morning’s email brought me the Top 5 viral video advertisements of 2007– The advertisements that were most successful in attracting online viewers, as ranked by GoViral, the online marketing agency. It’s a subject I am fascinated by since everyone wants to go viral and its harder than you think to achieve viral status, particularly for commercial purposes.

I should know, I think that our viral videos  (http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=brandemix&search=Search) are hilarious but viral, they are not. Not even mildly contagious.

They are-
The Cadbury Gorilla Drummer
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CbLr2NEV_7o
Launch online: August 2007
Views on Youtube: 5m + lots of other user generated versions

Smirnoff Green Tea Partay
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GWzNiUXTh7E
Launch online: August 2007
Views on Youtube: 3.4m

Ray-Ban – Catch Sunglasses
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-prfAENSh2k
Launch online: May 2007
Views on Youtube: 3.2m + user generated content

Lynx/Axe – Bom chicka wah wah
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B8eUGtZr4Co
Launch online: August 2007
Views on Youtube: 3.4m

So, when I went to see the Best of for ‘07, I was was even more puzzled by most. Great songs, pretty girls, humor (particularly Ray-Ban) but still. And the trend of real Global Agencies making what looks like User Generated Home Movies?

There is one on the list that I do think is genius- for building a brand, a cult, and sales.

It’s a campaign called “Will it Blend”
According to a series of 30 second to two minute infomercials demonstrating the Blendtec line of blenders, especially the Total Blender. In the show, Tom Dickson, the Blendtec founder, attempts to blend various items in order to show off the power of his blender. Dickinson started this marketing campaign after doing a blending attempt with a box of matches.

Nothing could be less sexy than a blender, so the fact that this campaign- by the founder, has dramatically increased sales and built such a strong following is really impressive.

Impact

The phrase Will it blend? has become an internet meme on sites such as Digg. Dickson has revealed that the campaign has been a great success for Blendtec. “The campaign took off almost instantly. We have definitely felt an impact in sales. Will it Blend has had an amazing impact to our commercial and our retail products.” Dickson has made many national television appearances, including NBC’s The Tonight Show with Jay Leno on March 30, 2007, on which he blended a rake handle in mere seconds.

Here’s the latest- Blending an Apple Iphone
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qg1ckCkm8YI

Check the rest out:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZLe0T1rUeDA
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DieCnMS0G8k
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ek0OAXmer38
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=29qOT4JozSw
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k7SKDnhI3Eg
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9POR8IfawVo
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a7JCrbRr54w
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sIakPZ0DJjg

Branding for Business Results- That’s what I’m talking about!

December 4, 2007

Manage Your Intranet: Don’t Leave It to the Beav

By Susan Solomon, The ClickZ Network

Every day of his gray-hued life, Ward Clever kissed June goodbye, patted Wally and the Beav on their heads, and drove the Edsel to work. He sat at his desk until 4, pushed a few papers across the desk, and called it a day. The tune didn’t vary much, except when — every once in a while — those crazy boys from accounting trotted across the hall to swap stories about those truly wild guys in finance. But that was a rarity. Most of the time, old Ward relied on a monthly corporate memo or two to learn about anything new in the company.

Today, Ward probably lives in Boca Raton and his sons Wally and the Beav are themselves nearing retirement at Ward’s old stomping grounds, but, man, how times have changed. The company intranet has the power to keep them posted on everything that’s happening to the company, not only in the Mayfield office but also at the outpost in Mexico City. “It’s really neato,” Beaver emailed recently to Wally. “But, geez, did you see what the guys and gals from accounting posted the other day? I don’t think the company brass intended for us to use the intranet for publicizing the number of drinks they all enjoyed at their holiday bash.”

Huh? Cut! I’ll bet you thought this was going to be an article about the wonders of the intranet for employee communications. I’ll bet you thought it was going to be about creating a free-for-all on the company electronic bulletin board. Well, yes and no.

The truth is, the content of internal communications is just as important as the external stuff. It may not be as glamorous, or as widely viewed, as a multimillion-dollar television campaign or even a well-visited Web site, but employee communications is truly a strategic function that affects the corporate bottom line.

Those marketing communications people who have responsibility for the corporate intranet have a very powerful tool to manage. Don’t ignore your duties because it’s “just internal communication.” Employee relations efforts have a significant impact on your bottom line. Here are some suggestions for handling content.

The intranet is not a bulletin board. Don’t clutter your site with employees’ notices about cars for sale and condominium rentals. Worse yet is letting your site become a free-for-all. Employee communications — similar to external communications — must “stay on message.” You don’t have to be Attila the Censor, but you have to be a good editor. Set parameters early about what can and can’t be posted. And make sure you — or another communications professional — are in the editor’s chair. Set up a quick and efficient approval cycle and stick to it to prevent bottlenecks.

Architecture counts. Set up your intranet site with the same care you would your Web site. That includes considering which items go “top of fold.” Test ease of usage with employee volunteers and listen to their responses.

Reward submissions. Give employees “beats” and reward them with bylines. But never, ever let an article go by without your initial perusal. (Have I emphasized enough the importance of an intranet editor?)

Don’t mistake the intranet for email. Email is communicated to a select group of people under some semblance of confidentiality. Forget confidentiality on the intranet, where the message is shared with the entire organization. Therefore, if a department head has a message for a select group of employees, suggest the use of email instead.

Don’t substitute the intranet for face-to-face communications. Employee satisfaction is highly influenced by the staff person’s relationship with her supervisor. Remind supervisors that the intranet is not a substitute for communicating face-to-face with their direct reports.

Empower employees. Give people the tools they need to do their jobs better. This includes online educational materials, software tutorials, and postings of important presentations.

Expand benefits. Let employees better manage their benefits with tools that allow direct access to their pension accounts, health insurance, and so on.

Communicate the message. Use the intranet to let employees preview ad campaigns. Provide an explanation of the strategy behind the campaign and “talking points” that will help employees further the branding message through word of mouth.

Survey employees. Be as responsive to employees as you are to Web site visitors. Survey users on the effectiveness of your efforts, and don’t forget to report on how you’ve used the information to make changes.

Yes, Wally and Beaver, company communications have changed. But the new medium is useless — or could even have negative effects — if you don’t take seriously your responsibilities as communications professionals. So, pay attention to those corporate intranets. Otherwise, I’ll tell Eddie Haskell on you.

November 20, 2007

Props to My Man Mark- Human Capital Business Leader of the Year

At Leviton, I get to do work that’s every HR executive’s dream.

My friend Mark Fogel, vice president of HR and administration at Leviton Manufacturing, and the 2007 Human Capital Business Leader of the Year, is featured in November’s HR Magazine and I was lucky enough to visit with him yesterday.

Leviton underwent a paradigm shift last year, when President Donald Hendler initiated a companywide reorganization. As Leviton moved from a function-based operation to a team-based approach centered around small business units, HR became a catalyst for change.

Mark implemented a “management by objective” structure, where now, every company decision and program must contribute to advancing one of these goals: grow revenue, develop business sources, invest in human development (HR), reduce costs and achieve quality. A new performance management system ties directly into these five goals. Senior managers set individual goals for each of the company’s top 100 executives. Then, Fogel and his team review them and make sure they are covered in executive performance reviews.

Fogel and Shephard have worked hard to break down silos that existed under the previous organizational structure—beginning with the HR function. “It took us five years [2002-07] to build the foundation” for the new management structure. It’s not easy work, but he reveled in the challenge.

As a true thought leader, Marc says this about the environment in which he works-
“Today, I view myself as a business executive, and the entire HR team as businesspeople. I’m a member of the operating committee, and Kim [Kimberly Shephard, SPHR, senior director of human resources] and I attend strategic planning meetings regularly. We know every big project the company does.

By the way- Kim is my friend too.

Catch Mark’s video at
http://www.shrm.org/video/07videos/110107fogel.asp

November 16, 2007

Test Drive Potential Employees and Irritate People

A Recent Post from Tim Ferriss, new uber cult figure and Author of the 4-Hour Workweek has applications in the world of work as well. Pardon my adaptation but I don’t suspect Tim would mind… He’s cool that way. In fact, he might be surprised to hear that I’ve outsourced my blog to him today!

The art of irritation can, in fact, be just as valuable as the art of persuasion. How so? Let’s start with the problem: people are good liars and actors… up to a point.

What if it were possible to fast-forward relationships, whether with new employees or business partners? To get past the honeymoon facade of niceties and see their true tendencies underneath all it all?

Catching bad apples early begins with recognizing a truism:

Adversity doesn’t primarily build character—it reveals it.

Therefore, by putting someone under pressure or in a manufactured adverse situation, you can pull back the covers and get a glimpse of what’s in store a few weeks or months down the line.

Here are a few options for doing your own behavioral cross-referencing with a new potential friend, partner, employee or mate.

1. Meet them for dinner or lunch at an appointed time, and indicate upon their arrival that you made a mistake and set the reservation for 30 minutes prior. See how they respond to the change in plans. (Testing: how they contend with mistakes on your part)

2. Same as 1, but tell them that the reservation was accidentally made for 30 minutes after their arrival. Alternatively, travel with them and purposefully orchestrate things so that you miss a bus or train. Obviously, you then fix the problem and cover costs. (Testing: how they deal with waiting and unexpected changes in plans)

3. Take them to a restaurant with good food but bad service. (Testing: how diplomatically they contend with and resolve incompetence, which is the default mode of the universe)

4. Invite them to an event or function and then profusely apologize when you realize you’ve forgotten your wallet. Offer to repay them later or treat them the next time out. (Testing: how they relate to money issues. Wonderful people sometimes turn into irrational monsters as soon as even a few dollars are involved. It drives me crazy to keep a running ledger of who owes whom for a few dollars here and there, especially in social settings. Repaying the favor is mandatory, but dwelling on differences of pennies is tiring.)

5. Take them somewhere extremely crowded where they’ll be inadvertently bumped, preferably where they are exposed to people of different races and of lower socio-economic classes. Large outdoor markets are good, as are subways during rush hour. (Testing: biases against specific races and social classes, which are usually fast to emerge after there is any physical contact.)

6. Explore the most controversial topics until you find something the two of you disagree on. Ask them to explain why people have the opposing viewpoint. I use this mostly for potential romantic partners and potential travelmates. (Testing: how well they listen and both consider and summarize points-of-view or feelings opposite their own. I always look for both friends and girlfriends who fight well. Not in the physical sense, but in the intellectual and emotional sense. If I travel with one of my best friends for even a week straight, there will be times when we butt heads and fight. It’s inescapable. In those cases, are they civil and good at listening and finding compromises? Good at identifying common ground, picking their battles, and laughing off the unimportant? Or, do they lose control of their emotions and make hurtful personal attacks or generalizations? Do they use guilt or other negative emotions instead of taking time to discuss things logically? Hold grudges?)

Life is both too long and too short to suffer through toxic relationships. Rather than hoping for the best and getting trapped in relationships you are unwilling to end due to guilt and inertia, test drive and get a taste of what’s in store.

Choose wisely.

November 13, 2007

Culture Eats Strategy for Lunch PT 2

 

From the Blog of Dr. Mark Goulston

As leadership expert, Warren Bennis, has said:
“There are none so blind as those who will not see;
none so deaf as those who will not hear;
none so ignorant as those who will not listen and
none so foolish as those who think they can change those who will not see, hear or listen.”

The best laid plans of mice, men…and CEO’s are minced meat against a “can’t do, won’t do” culture. What’s the solution to keep a dysfunctional culture with more “naysayers” than “doers” from spoiling your company’s chance for success?

It’s simple, but it’s not easy:

1. Quarantine — if you can’t exterminate — the “can’t do, won’t do” people away from everyone else
2. Gather the “can do, will do” people in a group
3. Give them a vision that makes sense, feels right and is doable
4. Provide them with the skills and tools to turn that vision into a reality
5. Get out of their way
6. Watch them lap the course and turbo charge your company
7. Then watch the “naysayers” put up, shut up or leave