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Q is for Quiet

Follow Your Own Voice.

phasdfasfoto 3So many companies vying for your attention makes the world a very noisy place. Sometimes, as marketers, we need to take a step back, get quiet and remember what we stand for. The most powerful brands are simple and really know what they stand for. Nike. Apple. Google. BMW. Disney. We all know who they are and what they mean to us. That’s the power of good branding backed up with ingenious ad campaigns and really smart integrated marketing strategy.

If you’re a business owner, or looking to expand your business, shhh. Take some time out. Think about what you stand for and write down, in five words or less, what you bring to your  customers. This will become the core of your Brand strategy and you’ll want to use it on everything you do to communicate who you are and what you offer to the world. True, it’s easier said than done. Just be quiet and trust your inner voice. It’s almost always right.

 

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P is for Perfect

Positioned for Success
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As Westerners, we spend a lot of our waking hours (and one would guess, our dreamtime too) reaching for perfection. The concept that ‘nobody’s perfect’ has been written about, sung about, filmed about … and yet we are inundated with other imagery and messages that conflict, that make us believe on some level, just maybe, perfection is attainable. And so we set out, either consciously or unconsciously, seeking and striving for the perfect job, the perfect house, the perfect partner, the perfect kids, the perfect car, the perfect meal, the perfect friends, the perfect Brand Strategy, the perfect website, the perfect blog post, and on and on it goes. No wonder we’re exhausted. No wonder so many of us turn to ways of escaping all this pressure to be perfect.

We might take a lesson from ancient Japanese wisdom. Wabi-sabi is a notion which nurtures what is authentic by acknowledging three simple truths: nothing lasts, nothing is finished, and nothing is perfect. Characteristics of the wabi-sabi aesthetic include asymmetry, irregularity, simplicity, economy, austerity, modesty, intimacy and appreciation of the objects and processes of nature. In a word, I would call it peace. An acceptance and understanding of what is. A calm acceptance that life is fluid.

How does this relate to Brand Marketing? As Marketers, we spend a lot of time defining our target audience. What makes them tick? What do they want? What I’m finding these days is that no matter who our particular audience is, they generally don’t want more pressure to be perfect. They want to be inspired, they want authenticity. These days more people are reaching toward the Japanese world view of wabi-sabi. We are looking within more. Letting go of outside influencers that contribute to our need for perfection (which by the way, does not exist). It’s just more sane, really.

Ever since I adopted my puppy, Brodie, a couple of months ago — I have really noticed a change in my perspective. I’m lighter. I’m finding joy in simple things like crisp November morning walks, writing a great headline (although I’ve always appreciated that!) and being woken up way-too-early by the happy spirit of a 5-month old puppy who can hardly wait to start another day. Brodie is helping me be more flexible, too. To see that I can have fun and still be productive. This slight shift has me looking at new ways to approach my work. To be open to the constant changes and find perfection in the fleeting moments in between the big presentations, deadlines and campaign launches. Living a balanced life knowing that nothing lasts, nothing is finished, and nothing is perfect seems like the perfect way to position yourself and your business for a rich and creative life. Like a way to position yourself for success.

I don’t entirely agree that ‘nothing is perfect.’ I do believe we experience moments of perfection; a breath-taking sunset, the smile of a loved one, laughter of a child, or creating a beautiful ad that inspires. If we can spend more time appreciating those perfect moments, knowing that nothing lasts and nothing is finished we can learn to be more present and less focused on what’s missing from our less-than-perfect lives.

Brodie

Brodie

 

 

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O is for Open

Essential Marketing for New Businesses.

ujujFew things can compare to the thrill of preparing to open a new business. It’s exhilarating and nerve-wracking all at the same time. There are so many decisions to make about the space, the displays, the prices, the merchandise, the services, the staff, the experience you want your new customers to have. The months leading up to opening a new business are likely to be remembered as some of your most exciting times ever. You find yourself leaping out of bed each morning and staying up late as you cross off and add new things to your to-do list. Good stuff.

So often, though, what is not considered is BRAND MARKETING. It’s usually not even in the budget. So many passionate entrepreneurs are dreamy in their visions of success. As they should be. But, the whole “if you build it they will come” concept doesn’t work so well in the bright light of day after you’ve officially opened your doors and are waiting for the phone to ring. The line out the door that you envisioned rarely happens on its own.

Opening a new business is like dating, in many ways. You have to understand what it is you’re offering. You have to understand who’s going to like what you offer. You want to try to look your best. You have to know what you will,  and will not, put up with. (Not all clients/customers are good for you.) And, you can’t expect great things will happen by simply being open. On the other hand, having absolute faith and knowing that miracles do happen won’t cut it either.

So what’s an excited/exhausted new business owner to do? Take a hint from our savvy clients who opened a new yoga studio about a year ago. This dynamic duo was courageous and smart. They had dreamed and they had planned. And when the right space showed up, they jumped in with all four feet. And, from the beginning, they knew they needed a strong marketing strategy. Lucky for them, they turned to us. Lucky for us, they were not afraid to invest in marketing. They already saw the value in it, and knew they had to find a way to distinguish themselves with memorable branding. To articulate a new and unique offering required a professional perspective — and together we hit it out of the park. If you’re considering, about to, or have recently opened a new business, please use the power of brand marketing to propel your vision into a profitable reality.

 

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N is for Novice

Experience Gets It Done.

kkkkkkWe hosted our annual Holiday party last week, which by the way was also our 5th Anniversary celebration and an outstanding evening. While DARCI CREATIVE is still a relatively young business, I’m what you might call a “seasoned vet.” Having dedicated my professional career to helping businesses establish a strong marketplace position for nearly 25 years, I have a trick or two up my sleeve. That brings me to this past Sunday’s New England Patriots game. The Pats played the Broncos and I was introduced to the lightening rod that is Tim Tebow. I was fascinated, as, it seems, is most of the Nation.

So I did a little research. Tim Tebow was born on August 14, 1987. He’s a Leo. And still so young. But, a really good kid who plays football and does everything else in his life for God. Noble. And great fodder for the media. Tom Brady, our man here in New England, was born on August 3, 1977. Also a Leo and a bit more private about his spirituality. Brady’s got 10 years on Tebow, and has faced a lot more adversity than the current NFL ‘It Boy’. For those of you who are not fans of astrology let me explain to you that Leo’s love the limelight. They thrive on being in the spotlight. Leo’s symbol is a lion — which makes them proud warriors and born leaders. (Bill and Hilary Clinton are both Leos, btw.) So these two handsome guys are really well-matched from a psychological standpoint. The difference is experience.

Like a lot of inexperienced players (read: all individuals who are new to something – like marketing) they’ve got drive, they’ve got spirit, and like the familiar cheer goes: “if they can’t do it no one can!” So Tebow was on fire out of the gate. He was in love with his life, in love with that moment, and you could see in his eyes, he was sure he was going to win. But guess what? Tom Brady knew more. With his classic, calm focus, he was determined to find a way to get it done. And that’s just what he did play by play.

I’m not great at sports analogies — because I just don’t know enough about sports to be witty and relevant — but this match-up struck me. It was palpable the way that Brady led the Pats to victory and that Tebow had the talent but not the know-how. I watched a video of Tim’s and in it he said, “I’m a big fan of saying ‘hard work beats talent where talent doesn’t work as hard'”.

How does this relate to Brand Marketing?  I think the key here is that talent + hard work + experience = victory.

It’s like this. After 25 years in the field I know things. Yes, I’ve got talent or I wouldn’t have survived this long in such a competitive arena. And yes, Tim, I’ve worked hard. Really hard. But it’s the focus and strategy that wins the game. Many clients are kind of like Tebow. They’ve got enthusiasm for what they do. They believe in their mission. And, (when it comes to marketing) they are often guilty of committing a bit of hubris, which is a Greek word meaning excessive pride. This leads them to believe that they know more than they do in a field where they have very little experience. If you’re searching for a way to boost your business, hire the experienced pros.

Our job is to nurture the enthusiasm and tame the beast. Let us make the strategic decisions even if you don’t like them — because experience plus talent gets the win. Oh, and on Sunday, December 18th? New England Patriots 41, Denver Broncos 23. Boom.

 

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M is for mmm-mmm good


The Power of a Good Tagline.

asdfowkfI’m a huge fan of great lines. It’s so awesome when something is delivered in a few words that really captures the reader (or the listener) and communicates the essence of a company or product. Like a lot of marketing terms these lines go by several names: slogans, taglines, straplines, or even mottos. But I refer to them as Positioning Lines to my clients. That’s because the string of words that you place alongside your logo and your company name are key critical to establishing your position within the market place.

Here are 5 tips to creating a great Positioning Line. 1. ID: It needs to support — and stay consistent — with the brand name. (eat fresh) 2. Sticky: Great positioning lines stick around because they’re memorable. (‘Does she… or doesn’t she?’) 3. Positive Benefit: You want to convey the consumer benefit for using your product or service in a positive way. (Just do it.) 4. Shine: With so many competing messages in an overcrowded playing field it’s important to set yourself apart with a creative and original Positioning Line, ie, don’t be boring and don’t do what others do. (Have it your way.) 5. KISS: Keep it simple, stupid. This is one of the toughest things to achieve. One word is rarely enough and 7 is usually too many. (Stronger than dirt.)

I think “mmm mmm good” is a much more successful line than, “It’s amazing what soup can do.” What do you think?

Let’s play, “Name that Brand.” Click on the Your Thoughts? link and tell me how many brands you can name for the lines I’ve used above as examples.

 

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L is for Love.

Fate vs. Free Will.

ph;lllloto 2I love what I do. I also love Matt Damon’s movie, “The Adjustment Bureau.” In fact, I’ve watched it four times in the last six weeks. Each time I watch it I feel uplifted because his character represents the qualities that I crave in a relationship: honesty, devotion, absolute commitment and the ability to put the other person first. These are all qualities that lead to great client relationships too, and I dare say that I do my very best to sustain them with all my clients.

It’s not always an easy thing to do, however. Especially when the client decides to exercise their own free will without any input from me. It’s a classic red flag in any relationship when one person makes decisions without clueing the other in on said plan. I consider myself a partner in my client’s business, so imagine the upset that can occur when a client goes rogue. At first, it’s insulting. Then confusing. Next comes the anger and disappointment. Then the final stage of apathy. Like… whatever.

The reason I’m obsessed with “The Adjustment Bureau” is that it gives me hope. Hope that maybe there is someone out there willing to look past what they think is their path and really consider the possibility of something spectacular. Someone who understands that going for spectacular results requires taking risks. If you believe that maintaining the status quo is the best you can do, that’s exactly what you’ll get. But, if you believe something great is possible despite what others think, or what repercussions might arise — I believe the rewards are great.

You do have a choice in your relationships. If a client is moving in a direction that you are not comfortable with — that impacts your ability to produce great results — consider the consequences of resigning the account. You might just free up the space for a new, more perfect client for you. Same thing goes for other relationships in your life. I always scratch my head when people stay in relationships that make them miserable. Take the chance. Exercise free will and choose the best thing for you. Time is our greatest commodity. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you have an unlimited supply.

 

 

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K is for Kick-Ass Creative

Creative Marketing
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What drives success? Well, when it comes to marketing I feel it’s a split between intelligent strategic planning and kick-ass creative. After many years in the field I’ve crossed paths with shops who have a primary strength in one area or the other. Some are whiz bangs at strategic planning but lack any real creative flair, and others are all about the creative with little interest in strategy. You need both.

Of course, the creative is the fun part. But it’s a lot like life, really. You can be creative with the way you dress, or decorate your home, or pick up chicks — whatever. But, you still have to clean the house, pay the bills and plan for the future.

A lot of people may think that Branding is all about being creative, but the best brands are driven first by the strategy. Take this example that we did for our Physical Therapy client.

We developed the Brand position of “Get Going.” and in this piece we created a look and feels that’s all about movement. The best part? When the client saw the online flash ad we developed as part of this campaign, he wrote back: “This is kick-ass.” Moral of the story? Live creatively and be smart about it.

 

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I is for Interesting & Interested

Getting Attention.

photo 1In a recent blog post from Seth Godin he wrote, “Interesting & Interested … it helps to be both. These are two ways you earn attention. If it’s so obvious, why is it so difficult?”

There’s so much to this simple post. And it really got me thinking about mistakes that so many clients make with their marketing. It really comes down to these two words. If you’re interested in who your target audience is, they will find you interesting. How simple is that? The thing is, a lot of clients over think this stuff. Understanding your audience is the real key to successful marketing. Because when you “get them” you can speak their language. And when you make yourself (your company, your product) relevant, you create receptivity.

On the flip side, being interesting is all about being yourself. Don’t try to be like the other guy. Find out what makes you uniquely you and tell your audience about it over and over again, in as many ways as possible. Eventually they’ll think, wow, that company is really interesting.

 

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J is for ‘Just Kidding’

Deliver on Your Promise.

photo 2Ultimately, business is about relationships. It’s about trust: earning it and keeping it. So when you say you’re going to do a thing, you’re best bet is to follow through. In the fast paced, deadline driven world of a brand agency there is a lot of juggling going on. So, there are times when we say we’ll have something for you to review on Thursday, and some other critical situation arises to push that possibility out the window. It happens. Not very often, but when it does it’s essential to give the appropriate head’s up. It’s not a good idea to wait until Thursday to address it. The worst idea yet is to ignore your promise and deliver it on Friday (hoping they won’t notice).

Your Brand is your promise. When you reneg on your promise, or even a tiny speck of your promise, you are damaging your Brand.

My last boyfriend promised he would “love me forever, even if I weighed 200 pounds.” I believed him, and interpreted that to mean that he would love me forever. While I did not set out to test him on his big fat promise, I did hit some tough times when my dream vision for a multi-media production company, crashed and burned. Clearly, said boyfriend did not want to go down with what appeared to be a sinking ship.

Apparently, we have different standards in our personal and business lives. Or, do we? Maybe people who say what they mean and mean what they say are really like that, all the time. My practice is to under promise and over deliver. Clients seem to like that because they know they can count on me to do what I say, and then some. It’s simple. I value their trust and work at keeping it every single day. It’s not always an easy thing to do, but hey, who ever said relationships were easy?

 

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H is for Honesty

Truth in Advertising.

photo 2A few years back, someone said to me, “You’re too honest to be in business.” I was stunned. What an interesting thing to say. Add to that, that the business I’d chosen to be in was advertising! It’s something that I’ve never forgotten. Why is it that we have this notion that to be great in business you have to be a schemer or a wheeler dealer? I look at my business as an integral part of my life. Why then would I have one face at work and another for the rest of my life? I think a lot of my success with marketing comes from helping clients to be honest about who they are and what they are offering. It’s in that honest inquiry that some of the best advertising is made. It’s during that process of establishing what makes a client unique that allows us to mine for gold. I think we’re all pretty savvy about when we’re being jerked around. We can tell when an advertising message is authentic and when it’s just … not. I’m really proud of the work that we do. I feel we are providing a valuable service by helping our clients to articulate who they are and what they are about. Some business people are all about the sale, it’s true. And those are the people who want to gloss over the essence of who they are and send out slick messages to lull consumers (or potential clients) into buying their product or service. So, while in many ways, my chosen field has a bit of a bad rap, it’s not the way I choose to do it. I equate branding with authenticity. And by definition, that’s honest.