Monday, February 21, 2011

Six-word stories.

I've written extensively on my belief that great brands tell great stories.

Stories help us understand.  They convey meaning.  And in a fast moving world, meaning trumps information.  Too many brands get bogged down in lists of nouns and adjectives. Brands are verbs; like characters in a story, they do things.

The approach I've developed over time for creating persuasive brand narratives involves identifying your archetypal personality (the universal characters that form our collective unconscious), the hero's journey (the brand's true north, why it exists) and conflict (great literature hinges on a clearly defined antagonist; great brands define what they stand for by being equally clear about what they oppose).

Today I stumbled upon a new exercise to help further fine-tune this process:  six word stories - based on the famous challenge issued by Hemingway that resulted in his shortest story ever:  "For sale:  baby shoes, never used."

Some of the brands I've worked with might tell these stories:
  • Land Rover:  "Been there? Twice. Saved village chief."
  • Jaguar:  "Still flirt, no more flings. Monogamous."
  • Sony:  "Can't be done? Not to dreamers."
  • "Del Webb: "Retire? Prefer do-over. Shelved many dreams." 
Why is this important for brands? Allow me to sum it up in six words:  Information overload.  Little time.  Parity attributes.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Creating a culture of learning and innovation.

Tim Brown's piece in HBR ("Permission to Innovate") prompted a good amount of responses and opinions (the holy grail for a blogger!).  His thesis surrounds the idea that certain companies create a culture of innovation by first fostering a level of tolerance - or permission - from users, channel partners, etc. to occasionally miss the mark, provided the company hits the mark more often than not.  These innovative companies tend deploy multiple strategies to experiment and grow in adjacent categories.

What prompted such a volume of comments on Brown's post was his assertion that "what you can't measure, you can't get better at."  (As one comment noted, it was Einstein who said "not everything that counts can be measured, and not everything that can be measured counts.")  The community's response is understandable since metrics are usually code for success v. failure.

I'd suggest a different way in which to view metrics - they should be viewed as a source of learning.

When I worked with Toyota as a client, I was taken by the company's culture of Kaizen, or continuous improvement.  Kaizen is a culture of test, learn and improve - not pass or fail.  Metrics are used as a way of learning, not assigning glory or blame.  If a program misses the mark, managers are celebrated if they can identify root cause solutions and learnings for v2 of the program.

The onus here is on leaders to instill this culture within teams.  When reviewing metrics in staff or project meetings, ask all presenters to focus more on learnings that can be applied going forward, as opposed to discussing metrics in the past tense.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Chamilia selects BD'M.

Barrie D'Rozario Murphy has been selected by Chamilia as the agency of record for the jewelry company’s brand campaign.  Chamilia is a rapidly growing premium, personalized jewelry brand with distribution around the world.  Our assignment will include brand strategy consulting, digital, print and POS creative, as well as media planning and buying.

"We chose BD'M because they understood the passion our customers have for the fashion designs we create," said Claudio Garcia, Chief Sales and Marketing Officer.  BD'M wowed us with ideas we believe we help us achieve our growth goals."  (Thanks Claudio!)

Adding Chamilia is another in a series of wins for our four year old agency.  Two weeks ago BD’M was appointed by Dell as the computer company’s global agency of record for its Public Sector business unit.  And in 2010 we won AOR assignments from Bissell and Del Webb. 

I'm liking 2011 more and more.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Delighting customers

The 2011 Brand Keys Customer Loyalty Engagement Index underscores the role of "authentic innovation" in delighting customers.

It also underscores several themes I hold near and dear to my thinking when designing brand strategies.

First, it's not about the product or service per se.  It's about the total experience.  Every interaction defines the brand.  The packaging.  How the phone is answered.  The quality of the customer service people (are they brand ambassadors or employees?).  The website.  Events.  You name it, the list goes on.  Why?  Because experiences turn perceptions into deeply-held beliefs.  (At BD'M, our approach to Persuasion Planning demands that we think through the types of experiences – not just messages – we want to create.  After all, brands are judged on what they do, not just on what they say.)

Second, it's about "authentic innovation."  I've written before about innovation that solves real customers needs, not just gadgets and gizmos for the sake of gadgets and gizmos.  Innovation is not the domain of the lone genius, it is a highly collaborative process that starts and ends with customer empathy.

Check out Andy Lark's post on this topic, through the lens of Net Promoter Score – the metric that leaves uninspiring brands no room to hide.