What’s Next for Brand?

A creative montage of a side profile silhouette of a man wearing glasses and colorful artistic accents inside of his mind and body.

It started out being a person to person in person thing.

Names and Symbols came to represent it. Behaviors, ways of doing business, were associated. It varied only slightly due to geography and political affiliations.  Capitalists reveled in it. Communists considered it propaganda and mastered a political version.

But even as it morphed as the size of some businesses increased and crossed borders at the heart it still represented a perception of being a person to person in person thing.

It continued to be seen as person to person but in person got lost somewhere along the way. Lost but not forgotten.

Brand is a shared perception.

The way people who are aware of your brand think, feel and believe about it is the way we approach it today. Masters of branding do everything they can to keep a singular vision of the product or service at the fore. They change only reluctantly to maintain share of mind and market.

What happens when perceptions are individual?

Big data could give sellers and advertisers a way to unlock the connections to a brand person by person. You could find yourself not only retargeted in your e-mail and on-line activities but in a way that gets at the heart of your relationship with the product or service.

You may see a brand as a world shift in how others see your body. But only you believe this shift is taking place. You could use a service because for you it is way to reflect your outgoing personality. But is it? Perhaps for others it is only a way to obfuscate.

Granted, those reactions are similar to what happens today. The thing to think about is how, as we are locked tighter and tighter in a digital embrace, our brand relationships now have a software filter.

What happens to individuals?

We are just beginning to see the impacts of digital culture. A family sits down for dinner at a restaurant. Mother, father and both children must interrupt their use of their smart phones to give their order. They immediately return to their phones. When dinner is served there is no conversation. They look at phones frequently as they eat. There is no person to person connection in person.

BUT there is a connection on line. Each of them is extending their relationship through a digital filter. One is texting an on-line friend. One is posting photos of the meal on Facebook. One elects to write a review of the meal. In simple terms, their relationships are not direct. They are filtered through the internet.

“Looking for love in all the wrong places.”

It is happening today. The internet has already become a surrogate. People vote with their wallets. A friend, exploring how people who buy on line see their relationships with sellers found that purchase behavior is frequently undertaken to win approval from the seller. It is a kind of “looking for love in all the wrong places.”

The receipt of a simple “thank you” e-mail after you give a brand your name and e-mail address is just the beginning. Whatever you were interested in, they are going to personalize messages to you about similar products. They will exploit your emotional connection without a second thought.

Bending the brand

The more the seller knows about you, the more the brand will be bent to be just for you. Yes, the appeal of most brands is pretty much the same for about 80% of their target audience but research I’ve conducted over the last 25 years shows that there are three reasons most folks buy. The secondary reason gets about 12 to 15% The third gets most of the rest.

Imagine if you were one of the second or third group. What if the digitally information served up to you was personalized to make that the primary way you were encouraged to see the brand? Would you want to get the approval of the brand that knew your heart’s desires? Would you go out of your way to keep that brand in the way you showed the world who you are?

The reality of brand automation

We are not there yet. We are well on the way. Human nature may yet find a way to sidestep the tsunami of surrogacy. This is just the latest revelation about brand. Research done 25 years ago verified the power of brand in the marketplace and predicted the growth of “tribes.”

What is old may yet be new again. And so it goes.


Jerry Fletcher is a sought-after International Speaker, a beBee ambassador, founder and Grand Poobah of www.BrandBrainTrust.com 

His consulting practice, founded in 1990, is known for Trust-based Brand development, Positioning and business development for independent professionals on and off-line.

Consulting: www.JerryFletcher.com
Speaking: www.NetworkingNinja.com
DIY Training: www.ingomu.com

When they don’t know what they don’t know

Arrogance + ignorance is dangerous!

This morning a client and I were doing videos for his upcoming weekly Newsletters for the C-suite.

We were providing advice to overcome problems that center on the combination of arrogance and ignorance that occurs in new senior managers when they don’t know what they don’t know.

 “You’re right,” he replied, “what they don’t know they don’t know could cripple them and their companies.”

But it isn’t just the youngsters that have to watch out for that combination. It can happen regardless of your age, your gender, or any other demographic difference.

For instance, Price Waterhouse once reported results of a survey of CEOs of the 2000 largest companies. These executives were asked if they thought electronic commerce would “significantly change business.” Nearly 60% of them said yes.

Problem is, when asked if e-commerce would “reshape how they do business,” only 20% said, “Yes.” 

They believed that the net would impact business but not their business.

Ignorance and arrogance is the deadly combination. How can you avoid that trap? Here are some controls you need to incorporate into your business planning:

  1. Match your use of the web to your best customers and prospects. They will thank you for your concern and interest. You will have to exceed their knowledge just to stay even but it will be worth it as you maintain the relationship that brought you their business in the first place.
  2. Give your customers the choice between people and technology rather than making that choice yourself. The best example here comes from the financial industries where the specialized advice and information to buy and sell securities that was once the province only of brokers is now available to day traders. Yet, some of the organizations which initially offered their services via the net now find themselves opening brick and mortar offices.
  3. Your audience on the web, not you, will determine what they use… laptop, pad or tablet, smart phone and apps. It is critical to your success that your web site work with the lowest common denominator of software and hardware which your client and prospect base have available. If your customers use Mobile and texting, then make sure your web presence can be accessed that way. If, on the other hand, your customer base is confined to a group of web designers apt to have every plug-in known to man as well as the time and inclination to download your specialized software then offer it to them.
  4. Treat each customer individually. Every interaction on the web is one-to-one. That means that you can and should take the time to learn from them each time they contact you. Only in that way can your relationship grow into the trust that will build a loyal customer base. But be careful. Acquiring information you don’t use is just as bad as not asking at all.

Another thing to keep in mind is that people want to know why you’re asking and how you intend to use the information including whether or not you intend to sell it. Take the time to tell them.

Nothing is as important as getting to trust. To become the constant resource for your customers you need to offer useful content. But the context of the site and the service behind that site are the true value to the customer. In the final analysis, whether you do business on the net or in person this remains the same. Make sure your service rewards loyal behavior and that you maintain their trust by honoring it.

Jerry Fletcher is a sought-after International Speaker, a beBee ambassador, founder and Grand Poobah of www.BrandBrainTrust.com 

His consulting practice, founded in 1990, is known for Trust-based Brand development, Positioning and business development for independent professionals on and off-line.

Consulting: www.JerryFletcher.com
Speaking: www.NetworkingNinja.com
DIY Training: www.ingomu.com

Use Your Brand or Lose It

A man tries to fix a broken hour glass in the forest.

I can still hear his voice in the gym echoing slightly off the plaster walls,”Use it or lose it.”

That memory floated up from the nether reaches as I listened to a client again delaying business cards, letterhead, etc and also deferring publication of his web site.

Whether you are in start-up, refresh or rebrand mode once the development is done, you need to take action. YOu cannot reverse the sands of time.

  • You gotta put it out there
  • You gotta observe the impact
  • You gotta adjust based on experience

Navel gazing doesn’t work

Not publishing a web site dampens your ability to generate credibility. If you are an elite independent professional (like I work with) you know that before you get hired that potential client is going to check you out on Linked In and review your web site at bare minimum. Failure to launch a web site is a failure to engage with what folks might think, feel and believe about you. In short, new prospects will pass you by. Your competitors will lap you.

Perfect doesn’t exist

The major reason for hesitance is that entrepreneurs, and professionals want their company/product/service offering to be seen as “just right.”  In their view, there is always time to “fine tune” the logo one more time. A website must, they believe contain multiple blogs at launch. That on-line presence should, from their perspective, have everything they believe a prospect would like to see.

How do they know what that ideal client wants?

It is the owner/manager/ professional perception, not confirmed data.

It’s a conversation, not a commercial.

The single biggest mistake you as a business owner/operator can make in marketing is thinking you can control the situation. You control only part of what goes out there. The words you use to describe your products and services may have complexly different meanings for prospects. But you won’t know if you don’t put it out there.

What if you are writing to what you perceive to be your ideal client but you’ve never talked to them? Seriously. This happens way too often, particularly in start-ups. The cure is to have solid research. Too expensive? Go talk to some folks that might be buyers. Beware of “lip service.” That’s when they wax poetic about your product or service until you ask them to make a purchase. Suddenly they are extremely busy but wish you the best…

Why do you think you know what they are looking for? Again, what is your research? Been in business for a while? Sales not as good as you hoped? Does your sales compensation program give those guys and gals a reason to defer client activity to the end of the month or quarter? What, if anything, can rebranding do to change that? It could open a market you haven’t tapped into as yet. It could start a new dialog in your client base. But you won’t know if you don’t activate it!

Will you refuse to sell to them if they are not what you imagined your customers to be? (I witnessed this in a multi-national corporation!) All of us dream of our businesses being well received and running like clockwork. We have this fixed idea of who our buyers are and the way they use our products and services.

Have you looked at the inordinate number of ways Excel is used? At last estimate from a friend at Microsoft, over 90% of the uses were not planned. They can’ keep up with the ingenuity of customers. But they continue to listen, learn and adjust the product to meet the new uses. Marketing is messy. User encounters drive it. But you can’t get the experience to adjust your approach without launching.

How to unconfuse it

  1. Pick a name that has a URL you can purchase
  2. Develop a memorable title, benefit or shocking statement
  3. Say that in words the customer uses
  4. Ask them if it makes sense
  5. If they agree, make that part of the logo
  6. Incorporate the problem you solve how you solve it and key statistical support in a value proposition.
  7. Include the value proposition in every communication starting with your web site.

All of those can be done with the proper application of 30-Second Marketing TM. It isn’t easy but it will get you to the point of involving customers and potential customers.


Jerry Fletcher is a sought-after International Speaker, a beBee ambassador, founder and Grand Poobah of www.BrandBrainTrust.com 

His consulting practice, founded in 1990, is known for Trust-based Brand development, Positioning and business development for independent professionals on and off-line.

Consulting: www.JerryFletcher.com
Speaking: www.NetworkingNinja.com
DIY Training: www.ingomu.com