Branding is about more than image recognition for customers. Great brands give their customers something to belong to and talk about. They always have a great story. I was reminded of that last week while in Ontario cottage country visiting relatives and friends before returning to Toronto for some business meetings.
It's a common experience among many communications professionals: after helping an organization build its brand reputation during good times, we often see our efforts unravel the moment an economic downturn hits and senior management decides to cut spending on brand communications. It's understandable. But it's also a mistake, since difficult times are exactly when an organization should remain visible and emphasize its brand.
Dear 20-something, you're being judged. You just don't know it. You have somehow managed to graduate from high school, and in some cases college and university, without knowing how to use to, too and two. You mix up were, where and wear as well as there, their and they're. Notice how I said you're being judged? Not your being judged?
For most people, fashion is a way of expression; for me it was a support system. When I found myself lost or in transition I simply picked a new character to play and let that character loose in a mall. I would pick bits and pieces of the people around me and tried to imitate their appearance. In true alien mode, I formed myself to look like the inhabitants of whatever place I happened to be occupying at the time.
Being friendly doesn't mean sharing every secret or disregarding competition. After all -- you're both after customers in a crowded marketplace. Just realize that strategically aligning with the competition can make your business better. McDonald's needs Burger King; FedEx keeps UPS on its toes. Healthy business rivalries help stave off complacency and will make your company stronger in the long run.
Not that many years ago the first time you were seen by other professionals and colleagues was in an interview, the first day on a new job or in a social setting. Now, it is common for people to Google you or find you on LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram or Facebook to gather up a first impression of who you are before job interviews, as your new position in a company has been announced, or after hearing about you from someone.
They've got an awful lot of coffee in Italy already, and they love and drink it in their own style: typically, espresso gulped down quickly, served not with a cruller, but a cornetto or biscotto. So a big non si fa came to mind when I considered the idea of Starbucks in Italy. That is, until I thought about the power of the brand, something not to be trivialized.
Shame. It's not the type of subject you would openly discuss at your friend's baby shower. Nor is it the topic du jour at the local yoga studio as you head in for your morning workout. Nobody wants to talk about shame or -- more specifically -- the one event, experience or lifestyle choice that has led to them feeling shameful. But choosing to do so can change your life.
You or your business may not have 18 million followers on Twitter, but the lessons from this impulsive online exchange can serve as a lesson for anyone who has an online profile. When you communicate instantly through social media, it's easy to find yourself caught up in an emotional exchange with another user who is criticizing you or your brand.
One symbol has become a powerful tool for connecting with intended audiences on social media: hashtags. They help expand a social network, allow one to participate in important conversations and increase online visibility. While using hashtags on social media may seem like common sense, knowing how to use them strategically is key.