Archive for Brand

How Good Are You at Spotting Fakes?

 

smile

photo by strollerdos (via Flickr)

I took a very interesting test recently in which I was shown video of 20 people smiling, and was asked to decipher if I was looking at a genuine smile or a fake smile. I got 17 out of 20 correct. It certainly wasn’t easy, but I think that we are all programmed with pretty good bullshit detectors. We can usually tell if somebody is lying to us, giving us a fake smile, or isn’t genuinely interested in us. This can be a client, a new acquaintance, a cashier, a potential love interest or a customer service agent. And we don’t need to see their faces to tell if someone truly cares or if they’re just going through the motions. It’s generally very difficult to glean tone via text alone, but it is easy to tell if a person, company or organization is “phoning it in” even in e-mail or social networks. Yes, it will take you longer to respond to people, and to post new information, but take that time to make it genuine. It may seem like you’re accomplishing a lot when you re-post the exact same information across a dozen different networks or to your entire e-mail database. But, I assure you, you are accomplishing less. We can tell you don’t care about us. We can tell you’re not treating us special. We can tell you’re giving us a fake smile. Take the time to be real and make us feel special.

By the way – TAKE THE TEST

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More on RSCVA Tagline

Hey all. Just a quick link to an article from the Reno Gazette Journal that talks about the RSCVA tagline that I wrote about last month. It shares some decent quotes/perspectives about the challenges of coming up with a good tagline, and a reminder that the tagline is only a small part of the branding. I also couldn’t agree more with the idea presented in the RGJ article that approval by a committee often leads to a watered-down, lame tagline, logo, brochure, TV ad, brand, whatever. Try to avoid making eye contact with the comments on the article – they’re not overly impressive.

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RSCVA Reveals Their Branding Campaign

The Reno-Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority (RSCVA) revealed their branding campaign to their Board this morning for approval.

For the past year, the RSCVA has been conducting research to best understand their target drive and fly markets (mostly Bay Area/Sacramento/etc for the drive markets, and southern California for the fly markets). They identified a couple of segments of those markets that made the most sense to target with a campaign – those who hadn’t been to the Reno/Sparks/Tahoe area before, and those who had been here before, but not for a while. Through their research, they discovered what we all pretty much already knew – these markets view the area as offering gambling exclusively. Astutely, the RSCVA recognizes that people will gamble once they’re here, but gambling alone is no longer enough to get them here.

For the past seven years (or so), the RSCVA has worked to position the Reno/Sparks/Tahoe area as “America’s Adventure Place.” While the area does offer a remarkable number of outdoor and indoor adventures, it was apparently too much of a disconnect for people to rip them away from visions of blackjack and divorce. Ultimately, it didn’t help the decline in visitors to the area for the past 11 years now.

The new brand positioning was described as “refreshingly offbeat.” It’s referring to the idea that the Reno/Sparks/Tahoe area is a little quirky, fun, unique and proudly unapologetic for being so. I think this brand positioning can work. When a small group of us were given a sneak peak at the positioning last week, I told Michael Thomas (Executive Director of Marketing) and Ellie Oppenheim (President/CEO) that I thought the positioning would resonate – it would just come down to execution. The positioning of being “refreshingly offbeat” is not untrue. I think we can all accept that this position accurately describes Reno/Sparks/Tahoe. And that’s what a brand needs to give it a fighting chance. It can’t be overly ambitious. It can’t be such a wide disconnect from what exists in people’s minds currently. A brand only exists in people’s hearts and minds. A brand is not a logo. A brand is not a tag line. A brand is composed of the images/thoughts/feelings that are conjured up in the hearts and minds of people when they interact with you/your brand. So, I applaud the RSCVA for understanding and really embracing the reality of one of the brand positions this area can really own. There are certainly others, but this is an absolutely attainable brand position that our region can own. But, again, it comes down to execution.

That being said, the RSCVA and their marketing partner (Mortar) presented some of the creative execution to the Board today to help them position Reno/Sparks/Tahoe as “refreshingly offbeat. Among the creative was a new logo for the area. Noticeably different than the previous logo, in that it graphically separates Reno and Tahoe. This was borne from research that the drive markets don’t buy in to the idea that Reno and Tahoe are one area. They view them as distinctly different. One of the people interviewed in RSCVA’s research said, “It’s not Reno-Tahoe any more than it’s SanFrancisco-Monterey.” Interestingly, the further you get away from Reno and Tahoe, the more people were apt to accept it as one region. In other words, folks in LosAngeles are cool with thinking of the area as Reno-Tahoe. So, the RSCVA didn’t want to abandon reference to Tahoe altogether, but needed to separate the two for the drive markets.

Old RSCVA Reno-Tahoe Logo

Old RSCVA Reno-Tahoe Logo

New RSCVA Reno Tahoe USA Logos

New RSCVA Reno Tahoe USA Logos

The new logo feels a bit retro for me, but I think it can grow on me. I don’t really love the “USA” part of the logo, though. I’m not sure why they felt that needed to be a part of the logo, but I’m hoping they had a good reason based in research.

Among the other creative execution revealed, was a few sample ads, and then the tag line of, “A Little West of Center.” Again, the tag line is not the brand, but it’s meant to serve as a memorable phrase that encompasses the brand positioning. I don’t adore the tag line, and the Board was pretty split on it, as well. In fact, the brand positioning was accepted by the Board, but they rejected the tag line, asking Mortar and the RSCVA to try again. Bummer. I’ve been in that position, where we excitedly present creative work to a Board, and some love it and others hate it. I’ll be interested to see what they come up with and how well the next round is received.

As I mentioned earlier, the success of this campaign will not be attributed to the logo and the tag line (the two things people put the most focus on), but rather the full execution of the brand campaign, which includes a number of integrated marketing communications components such as public relations, communication channel selection, engagement of locals (we ARE the brand in many ways), copywriting, using social media and word-of-mouth, and of course the infrastructure to come through on our brand promises of offering quirkiness and unique events. Stay tuned, folks. Oh, and visit Reno, Tahoe, USA : )

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Social Media Porn Star

I was watching some show on MTV today about people being addicted to porn. In fact, one woman was so addicted, that she wanted to become a porn star herself. The show goes on to show scenes of her crying because her parents aren’t proud of her being a porn star, etc, etc. But here’s what occurred to me: why does anybody who does porn automatically become a porn star? You’re a star after just one film, regardless of the quality? The world doesn’t work like this. What’s with this self-anointed stardom?

And then I realized there is another group of people that are just like “porn stars”: The ever-popular Social Media Expert. I know, it’s super popular to criticize the social media expert – and I don’t want to jump on that bandwagon. But, understanding social media as a channel for strategic and effective communications is a large part of my job, and there are many many people who are really undermining the level of understanding needed to be a “star.” With little to no experience in understanding social media as a communication tool, folks are fully prepared to anoint themselves as experts and oversell their under-qualified services.

If your girlfriend set up a camera in the bedroom one night, would you start listing “porn star” on your resume? No? Well, then why do you believe that you’re a social media “expert” because you decided to set up a Facebook page in 2008? My point is simply that you’re no more a Social Media Expert than the girl who got breast implants and decided to do a film in her neighbor’s garage for $50 is a porn star.

There’s more to being a star; there’s more to being an expert. Don’t kid yourself. And, for everybody else: don’t believe everyone who tells you they’re a star.

"I'm a star, baby" (photo by danielcorba via flickr)

"I'm a star, baby" (photo by danielcorba via flickr)

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My Other Life…

I told myself I would never do a blog entry where I apologized for not posting in a while. So, I’m kinda not doing that right now. I’ve got to find a harmony with the things that I blog about in this space (typically marketing or new media driven) and the things that I blog about on the KPS|3 Marketing blog (typically marketing or new media). Since the topics are starting to tend to be the same, I’ve got to do some soul searching and decide what I really want this space (mikemywords) to be and how it will be distinct from my work blog.

In the meantime, here are some of my more recent blog postings on the KPS|3 blog. I think you’ll find some articles you enjoy among this group…

1. Is TV Advertising Dying?

2. Planning an Advertising Campaign in Multiple Languages

3. How Do You Network?

4. Social Media is NOT a Goal

5. Social Media Lesson: Avoid a Bad Haircut

6. Marketing Rule: A.B.M.

7. Legally Blog

8. Your E-Mail Address Says a Lot About You



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PostSecret: A Lesson in Social Media Excellence

needles  hacker  baby   

PostSecret is a very interesting entity. It calls for people to submit their secrets (some funny, some sad, some loving, some scandalous), anonymously, on a postcard and mail them to PostSecret’s founder, Frank Warren. Frank then selects a handful of postcards to share, online, once a week (Frank actually refers to PostSecret as a “community art project”). I’m not going to review the history of PostSecret (although it’s very interesting, and Frank now tours around both with museum displays of submitted secrets, and speaking to large groups about the therapy of letting go of secrets, among other things). But I encourage you to read up on the history of PostSecret (plus a pretty decent little interview on Guy Kawasaki’s blog, actually).

This post, however, is to highlight how well PostSecret has done in entering the world of social media. I know I usually complain about how awful most organizations are at participating in social media, but this time is different. I’ve been consistently impressed with PostSecret, and their ability to be true to their community and offer value to the relationship. PostSecret secrets have been simply shared on a blog for a long time now, and I feel like they cautiously moved into the world of social media. Based on what I’ve read, this was due, in part, to the PostSecret Community (those loyal PostSecret followers) begging to not “taint” PostSecret in the social mediasphere. Ironically, I feel like they didn’t want to share the secret pleasure they had discovered in PostSecret with the social media world. PostSecret moved into Facebook not too long ago, and then recently into Twitter. And it’s really their Twitter presence I’d like to applaud the most. Here’s the top 5 things they’ve done BRILLIANTLY in their Twitter community:

1. Kept It Real: Frank is at the heart of all communication. He is the face of PostSecret, he is transparent, and he is accessible. Followers feel like they have a relationship with him. He responds in a reasonable amount of time, despite having more than 100,000 followers on Twitter. He also talks about real things that are happening in his life. Sure, the tweets about seemingly mundane parts of people’s lives are what makes Twitter laughable and futile, it’s also what makes you a real person. People don’t want to talk to your brand – they want to talk to a PERSON who represents your brand well. So, it’s ok to pepper in some flavor with an occasional tweet that contains your opinion, or your joys, or your frustrations. we all have them. Use discretion, but be real. Who ever wanted to join a community of logos?

2. Asked for Feedback: Frank will be publishing his fourth PostSecret book soon, and I have LOVED that he is asking his community on Twitter for feedback on the cover artwork being sent to him by his publisher (example here). Heck, he’s even asked his Twitter community to submit their own cover artwork for consideration. It’s this kind of engagement that is frickin’ gold! We don’t feel like followers of PostSecret, we feel like valuable members of a community. You should all strive to offer your community opportunities to give you feedback. What can you ask for feedback on?

3. Asked for Help: Besides asking for feedback (a form of help), Frank has even reached out to his Twitter community to ask for help with translating, decoding, understanding certain postcard secrets that are sent to him. He recently asked for help decoding a Star Wars coded secret he received (here). Think about how you can apply this to your organization. How can you ask for assistance? Make your community feel valuable. 

4. Gave Added Value: One way to reward your community for connecting with you in a social media space is to give them “more than the average bear.” What I’m saying, in a convoluted way, is thank them for being a part of your community by giving them things that the people that simply browse your website wouldn’t get. For example, a sneak peak at a new product, a discount that only your community gets, a prize giveaway or just some kind of access to something that ONLY they get. For PostSecret, it’s sharing secrets that come in the mail before they get published (and some of them never get published, making the community feel that much more special). We’re getting secrets that nobody else is getting! So, think about it. What can you offer (OF REAL VALUE!) that adds value to your community, and makes them feel special for being a part of it? It has to be more special than simply reminding people in your community of the discount that you’re already offering every Tom, Dick and Harry.

5. Sparingly Self-Promoted: Yes, you need to promote. And yes, PostSecret promotes. Frank promotes his book release, his tours and the art shows. But he does it sparingly. It’s OK to talk about the great things you’re doing with passion and excitement. Again, we didn’t join this community to be sold to. BUT, Frank gives us so much value in being a part of this community, that we don’t mind the occasional promotion of a book or a show. Think about it in terms of talking to a friend – if they had a new product, or an exciting tour, or something coming up and mentioned it, you wouldn’t consider it promotional. Well, that’s how it works here. It’s just like a buddy mentioning another exciting thing that is happening in their life. So, promote, but promote in an unassuming way that reads like another excited statement about your life. 

My hat is off to you, PostSecret (and specifically Frank Warren), for being a glowing example of how to use social media properly. Thank you for doing it right. There are so many people treating Twitter as a new ad platform, that’s it’s refreshing to see you use it as a community.

(note: images from postsecret.blogspot.com)

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Twitter Sinners

I know… “Another post about Twitter? I’m sick of it!” 

Sorry, but folks are still so blatantly abusing Twitter, I’m forced back on my platform to expose the heathens. Twitter is not a new advertising platform. It’s not a new place for SPAM. I don’t know how many times I have to repeat this VERY SIMPLE law of most all social media: treat it like a real relationship. Right now, you’re not treating Twitter right. You’re abusing it – and that makes you a Twitter Sinner. I’m here to save your soul.

1. Social Media is not about collecting friends. How many friends do you have in real life? I need an exact number. You don’t know, do you? Why not? Because you don’t collect friends. That’s not how friendship, or any relationship, works. So, why do people think that social media is about collecting friends? Do not obsess about how many friends or followers you have. You’re not a better person if you have more followers. 70,000 – oh my! There is no direct correlation between followers/friends and your worth. Deal with it!

2. Give value to your relationship. Any good relationship is symbiotic – you give to me, I give to you. Too often, Twitter relationship are parasitic – one party consumes and doesn’t give back. These are the worst Twitter sinners. Are your messages purely promotional? Or do you offer value to the relationship you’ve created? Do you share articles, insights, breaking news, anything of value? No, telling people you can make them a millionaire is not a post of value. It’s a selfish, promotional tweet.

3. Content before followers. You should post a dozen updates (arbitrary number) with some sort of value before you start hunting for relationships (followers). You’re disgusting, following 800 people with 4 updates. If you want to have a relationship with me, I want to know it will be worthwhile. This is also a rule about giving value to your relationships. 

4. Be upfront with who you are. Are you a company that will be posting promotions, sneak peaks, extras, etc? Are you a person, who will sprinkle tweets with updates about your personal life? It doesn’t matter what you are, I just need to know. I need to know what kind of relationship I’m getting into here. 

5. Do more than re-tweet. Look at your stream of updates – how often are you beginning it with “RT” (ReTweet)? You’re just an aggregator. Have an opinion. Generate your own stuff. Sometimes it’s nice to have somebody passing info along from multiple sources – so I understand if my position on this is controversial, but you’re asking me to have a relationship with YOU. You are the guy at the party, who, when asked his opinion on a matter, quotes somebody else. You’re Matt Damon‘s character on Good Will Hunting. And nobody likes Matt Damon. (OK, just kidding. That was a cheap shot at Damon). 

Here’s a few Twitter Sinners I’ve collected just today. Repent, and change your ways…

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