3 Lessons for a bit less stress in life

Screen Shot 2014 09 04 at 9.47.02 PM 300x214 3 Lessons for a bit less stress in life
Stress sucks energy out of people, then they get distracted and don’t produce because they cannot focus on the stuff that makes them productive. Without productivity a professional or entrepreneur can’t generate value, which converts to income and joy, which makes them really stressed.

A lot of stress that we invite into our lives is preventable. But often we don’t invest in small things that when you need them have a big payoff.

Investing in stress reduction.
There are some things in life I really don’t enjoy spending my hard-earned money on. Three that come to mind are tires, parking tickets and any kind of insurance. While I’ve never experienced a blow out on my car or had to spend the night in jail for parking violations, I do have three stories about insurance that I hope you’ll gain from. Investing in insurance has great upside, especially when your bad luck number is called.

1) Luggage does get lost.
Luggage insurance is $7.50
I buy luggage insurance through American Express. Every time I buy a plane ticket they automatically bill my card $7.50 each way. A few months ago I flew Southwest airlines from Tampa to San Diego.  I presented a program on branding for speakers and consultants at the National Speakers Association’s annual conference. I arrived safely, but my luggage did not. With American Express luggage insurance, if your checked luggage is more than six hours late, you can buy what you need for up to $500 and American Express credits your charge card. If my luggage never showed up or was damaged, this coverage also provides additional replacement cost above and beyond what the airline gives you. Most airline replacement policies pay pennies on what you lose.

The low cost and the ease of getting what you need quickly made this insurance work for me.

2) Stuff happens.
Content insurance is pennies compared to replacement cost
I own a condo that I rent out in a Tampa high-rise. Last month, I got text from my tenant at 4 a.m. saying there was a major water main break in the building. He was not exaggerating. A pipe burst on the 10th floor and water flooded like a baby Niagara Falls for several hours down to the first floor lobby. What a mess! The reality is this stuff can happen in your home or office on any given day. Fortunately I had dwelling insurance, my tenant was not so fortunate. He did not have renters insurance, which is very inexpensive. When he moved to Tampa his former policy lapsed. If you rent, make sure your office and home have content insurance.

Watch the flood, this can happen to you.

3) Computers still crash.
Make sure your data and any contractors’ data is being backed up too
Everything is digital today. Accounting records, work product, and photos and videos preserving your important events and memories. My computer has not crashed in a few years, but when it did, I learned my lesson the hard way. I take two measures to back up my files, one on a cloud product called SugarSync. The nice thing about a cloud is you can access your files on the road and from many devices. I also do a daily back up to an external drive that syncs as soon as my computer connects. Here’s the key, even if you have this all set up like I do, sometimes the sync won’t happen. I can’t explain why, just trust me; it’s a good idea to set up a weekly reminder in your calendar to make sure all systems are working and backing up. And if you’ve got contract staff working remotely, make sure they are taking the same measures as you.

Brand on!

Brand Bummers – “What were they thinking or drinking” brand moves

iStock 000025766279Small 300x199 Brand Bummers – “What were they thinking or drinking” brand moves
CNN’s Anderson Cooper created the Ridiculist, where he features questionable news items, actions and interesting people with his signature full on snarky smile. FOX has Bill O’Reilly and his Pinheads, a noble collection of his favorite idiotic personalities doing really stupid things. This week I’m rolling out Brand Bummers, my official list of brands, people and organizations doing things that I scratch my head and go WHY?

If you make it on the Brand Bummer list, don’t take it personal, take some action and ask yourself, is the Branding Diva® right? Is this a pretty lame act, is it helping build your brand’s image or is it diluting all of the other good branding efforts and investments?

Personal brand bummer! Professional image, NOT!
For years I’ve been a support of Tampa Bay WaVE. It’s a start-up organization that provides education, networking and resources to local startups in the Tampa Bay area. This week I received an email announcing a Shark Tank Simulation event. The event sounded great, but what I noticed might not be the most strategic brand building moves for one of the judges. I’m not sure if the organization posted it or Mr. Simpson provided it, but either way this image would not be the #1 choice on my list for reflecting the credibility of the CEO, Troy Simpson or the image of a successful technology company like ProntoNOW.

Screen Shot 2014 08 06 at 12.28.56 PM1 Brand Bummers – “What were they thinking or drinking” brand moves

Brands are built from a collection of experiences and visuals. If you’ve got an opportunity for brand exposure, put your best picture forward that reflects your brand.

Retail brand bummer! I don’t want to carry this brand home.
I’ve shopped at Dillard’s for years and while they aren’t Nordstrom or Neiman Marcus, they are a fashion brand. Fashion is what society leans on to express who we are, fashion reflects our values and sometimes even badges us with a symbol of social status. Dillard’s carries many great fashion brands from Chanel and Ralph Lauren to Calvin Klein. In fact, their tagline is: The Style of Your life, which in the branding world should confirm the essence of the store.

So for the life of me I can’t figure out why for years Dillard’s sends us home with our fashionable purchase in the ugliest shopping bag known to man. Did they buy a 20-year supply and just can’t give them out fast enough? Hey Dillard’s bag buyer, I’m not saying you have to spend tons of money on an amazing bag like Tory Burch’s fabulous bag. I am saying this touch point is just a huge disconnect to who I believe you want to be in the minds of your customers: a style resource, who gets what’s going on in the world of looking good.
photo dillards 300x225 Brand Bummers – “What were they thinking or drinking” brand moves

Brands are built from a collection of experiences. Your packaging should reflect your brand essence.

Banking brand bummer! Please cut down the phone trees.
This next brand bummer is not isolated to this brand category; in fact many big company brands commit this brand sin everyday. I call it phone tree hell, when calling this brand is dreaded more than getting a root canal and calling your experience brutally miserable would be an understatement. My recent culprit is Bank of America. I get a mailer from them letting me know a loan I have will be maturing soon. They provide a 1-800 phone number to call for questions. I call the phone number only to be directed to the wrong department three times, having to explain my story to three different people. The forth time I call I’m assured they will connect me to someone who can help me, I’m transferred again, only to this time get disconnected.

I know you’ve been here. Poorly planned phone trees that are never tested by brand leadership generally suck. If executive leadership experienced what customers do, I believe we’d have more customer-friendly phone systems instead of hopefully cost efficient ones. I suppose I could change banks, but the thought of what I envision would be even worse, not just a root canal, but one without Novocain.

Redphone copy 300x198 Brand Bummers – “What were they thinking or drinking” brand moves

Brands are built from a collection of experiences. The one your customers have on the phone should be as delightful as your interacting with your in-person support team and your product or service.

Brand on!

My social media sabbatical – a worthy break

Screen Shot 2014 08 18 at 12.58.58 PM 300x200 My social media sabbatical – a worthy break

The last 60 days I’ve been MIA from social media. Except for a few random tweets, my social channels have been inactive.

While social media is seductive, persuasive and can influence behavior and actions that impact my economy and help build my brand, I consciously opted out.

WHY?
My plate has been full with other branding projects, speeches and personal obligations that required my brain and bandwidth.

I’ve had an extremely good year, already surpassed my business goals and I wanted quiet time to do some deep thinking and assess what I felt good about this past year and what I needed to improve on or change.  I believe we’ve got to allow this down time to keep our brains fresh and productive.

Is it bad for a business or professional to disengage, ignore fans and friends and shut off their social feeds for an extended period of time?

HECK NO!
Social media takes time and energy. As an entrepreneur or business leader you have to prioritize your resources and keep you eyes laser fixated on your goals.

Here’s my advice.

Do what keeps your train moving forward and your cash flow flowing.

Do what works for your business model. Social media is not a magic wand for everyone or every business. It’s one of many available tools.

Don’t you dare let those crazy, screaming green men make noise in your head, throw guilt into your emotional energy source and distract you from your focus.

If you are still on the fence, ask yourself this.

If you halted your social media participation will your community protest and throw a public fit, cut off your oxygen or erect a billboard in Times Square saying you’re a social slacker or miss you?

I’ve got a social community of over 200,000 contacts, not sure many even knew I was gone and everyone’s profile avatars still look happy.

Take a social media snooze when you need to. Enjoy the moment. Take care of you.

Brand on!

 

Branding Boogie – Five steps to kick up your brand!

Boots 2TV3A2620 300x200 Branding Boogie – Five steps to kick up your brand!
Brand and branding are a part of everyday life, pop culture and even the media. It’s not uncommon to hear a journalist, a high school kid or even a seemingly out of touch, very mature person talk about brands, what they love, hate or the latest news about them. So if the world is brand-driven, why do so many individuals and businesses get the brand-building dance so wrong?

Branding is not rocket-surgery or tango on a tightrope. In fact, the principles behind a great brand are quite simple. Where I see the weakest brands, I also see patterns of missteps that a little planning, practice and discipline can correct.

The stage for any brand, including speakers, consultants, trainers, authors and entrepreneurs have a lot of similar factors to face. Competition is more intense than ever, as buyers are often uniformed and or confused out of their minds and our world is noisier than ever.

Great brands break through all of this chaos.

Your brand, if done right can actually have a powerful affect on your competitors’ brands. When your brand is perceived as memorable and distinct, the competition will appear like a lost guppy in a sea of sameness, standing for nothing special and with no compelling value.

If thoughtfully planned, your brand can turn the uninformed consumer into a smart buyer. In addition, by getting your brand kicking on all cylinders, your other marketing and sales efforts will be so much more effective.

So what are you waiting for?
Get your branding boots on and let’s shuffle through five critical steps of brand building that will improve your bottom line and make new business development easier and more fun.

When I entered into the speaking business in 2000 my tank of resources was bone dry. I had no experience as a professional speaker, and I had just lived through a really bad experience with a dot.com investment that wiped out all of my bank accounts and 99% of my confidence.

Fast-forward 14 years, today I own a successful and rewarding branding firm. I speak professionally, I’m a published author of two books, and lead a consulting practice. I credit my commitment to building my brand as the Branding Diva® as the number one game-changer in achieving these career results and enjoying a very comfortable quality of life.

Here are the steps I took that can be applied to any organization or individual brand. While I love to dance, if you have two left feet, that is no excuse to miss out on having a rocking brand.

Get clear on what your brand is and is not.
Your brand is the sum of all you do. It’s the impression you create from your story, your communications, your behavior and your performance. It’s not your logo. A logo is no more than an elective tool that works for some brands. I don’t have a logo. I do have a look and feel and tone to my branding that resonates on all of my touch points.

Your brand is sum of all you do.
• How you look
• How you act
• How you sound
• And whether or not you deliver on promises

All of your actions matter.
Remember your market is not limited to just buyers of your brand. The image and perception you portray to your employees, yours peers, the media and even your competition count as well.

2) Articulate your brand essence.
Great brands that stick in the mind of buyers are aligned to business goals, reflecting the core values and the personality of the entity or individual behind them. To stay focused, I suggest developing a written document that clearly articulates your brand essence. While this may be the toughest part of creating or updating your brand, it is also the most essential. Without this one-to-two page brand-planning document that clearly summarizes who you are and what you stand for, you will have to work twice as hard while spending more, and you will likely lower your odds of being successful.

I started practicing this step of articulating my brand essence early in my career. As markets changed and as I’ve grown, I update my brand essence annually. Once you have completed your brand essence, all of your big decisions about marketing, operations, your team and even the kind of work you will accept should support this strategic direction.

A strong brand essence or framework document can take many forms. To help develop this document for your organization, I suggest answering the following questions that I’ve used to help craft my brand.

What is your brand purpose?
Your answer should include: your business mission, your vision and your aspirations.

What are your brand values?
Your answer should include: What motivates your actions? What do you believe in?

How would you like to position your brand compared to your competition?
Your answer should address pricing, social and leadership stature.

What are 3-4 adjectives that best describe your brand personality?
Your answer should be traits or characteristics that you live out everyday. In my case, they are: creative, stylish, witty and confident. Initially, limit your list to 3 or 4 descriptive words, as this will keep you focused on the most prominent traits. You can always add more adjectives later.

What is unique about your brand?
Every brand has unique attributes. Unfortunately, many don’t take the time to identify their strongest differentiators and come up with a plan on how to leverage this distinction as a brand platform. Your distinction could be visual elements, a style of work, or even a communication voice.

So what is unique about you? If you are thinking it’s your love for your customers, or that your service is the highest quality, STOP!!! That is totally LAME. Everyone can say that. Dig deeper. Get creative and put the spotlight on a real point of difference about you or add something to your platform that is different. The list of ways to be distinct is endless.

Once you decide what your unique elements are and you consistently present them to the market, they will become your brand assets. Some brand assets can be protected with trademark registration and copyright law. I trademarked my Branding Diva® years ago. This past year I amped up my brand persona and distinction by producing a music video complete with dancers, costumes and a branding jingle I call The Branding Boogie. Every program I give opens with this branded video. Below you can watch how I end my presentations.

step up your brand Branding Boogie – Five steps to kick up your brand!

Need more ideas on: how to be different, read

3) Create a rhythm with a consistent brand voice.
Once you are clear on your brand essence, your brand voice needs to develop. Your brand voice is the consistent body of content, words, and phrases you use to tell your story. When developing a brand voice, word choice and tone are the two most important aspects. Word choice relates to vocabulary, while tone refers to the attitude of your copy. When you write, consider both. A tool I use is a simple page of words I call my brand language. I try to use these words and phrases on all of my content further strengthening the equity of my brand.

Your list can include:
• A tagline
• Words you made up or coin
• A set of names or nouns you call your offerings and services
• Select adjectives

4) The costume matters. Look your brand.
We are a visual society. In fact some communication experts say 90% of a first impression is formed by what people see. This means every ounce of your brand packaging counts and these elements either add to your desired brand identity or dilute it. How you dress, what your business cards looks like, what your website and social media communicate and your choice of photography all matter. This means small details like the image you post on your Linkedin page is a reflection of your brand, your style, your persona and positioning.

Red has always been a part of my brand identity. I always wear red when I speak. This year I added bright red cowboy boots to my wardrobe to further communicate my down-to-earth, Texas-chic and fun style. Go back to your brand essence. Do your visuals align with what is on this brand framework? If not, you’ve got some work to do.

5) Do the branding boogie everyday.
Great and memorable brands don’t happen overnight. They take time. And in the busy and competitive world we all operate in, consistency and frequency are key. One clever, unique act will not build a strong brand. An attractive logo and punchy tagline won’t do it either. You must live your brand essence everyday. Then repeat, repeat and repeat again.

Your brand essence needs to be integrated into all of your touch points. Every single place you interact with buyers, employees, colleagues and even the media is a brand molding touch point. How your voice mail sounds on your phone, what your office looks like, and the promotional things you give away all need to resonate your brand essence.

Without any choreography at all, every business and person has an organic brand. This free-style brand, reputation and image is the by-product of just showing up in the marketplace. This dance will only get you so far and the market will control your destiny.

Why not take the lead?
Be clear on who you are and where you want to go. Take these strategic steps forward, so all of your moves support your brand essence and you perform at your best everyday.

I wrote this article for The National Speaker’s Association Magazine. It was published in their June issue. If you are interested in taking your message to audiences through speaking, writing, training or consulting you should consider joining NSA. I’ve been a member for years and find that it’s one of my most valuable investments in my professional development. This year I will speaking at NSA’s 2014 convention in San Diego in July. For more info on my talk, the organization and convention visit their site.

Brand on!

I was so mad my hair felt like it was on fire.

shutterstock 89747494 300x294 I was so mad my hair felt like it was on fire.
I have a love hate relationship with technology. Yes, it allows us to do amazing things, fast and from virtually anywhere.  It can also cause serious stress when it lets you down.

As a branding speaker and business consultant, I rely on technology to present ideas and content that educates and inspires my audiences. My presentation software of choice is Power Point and while it has certainly contributed to my success, recently it made me furious.

I’m a MAC user, so this issue may not apply to my PC readers. When I present talks on branding, I insert videos into my Power Point deck. I’ve been doing this for years and by clicking the start arrow button they project sound and display video beautifully.

Then one day I’m in front of 100 people. The video I’ve inserted in my Power Point is a critical part of my program. I tested it the night before and the video worked fine. I arrive early to set everything up. I plug into the venue’s projector and sound system with all of the right adapters, and I think I’m ready to roll.

The host introduces me. I click to move my slides forward anticipating that my cool video will play next. I hit that arrow button that always works and nothing happened. Except my heart rate increases so much, I feel like a heart attack may be next instead of the video playing.

I tried again. The resident IT support showed up and they tried too. Nothing worked.

How could this happen? Who at Microsoft did I piss off?  Was it the driver that was tailgating me yesterday that I shot a not so ladylike gesture to, could they have put the technology voodoo curse on me?

I hate to admit this, but I was definitely shaken by this malfunction. I tried to keep my confident persona present and deliver my content. I got through it without shoes being tossed at me, but no doubt this was not one of my finest presentations.

And I hate when that happens.

As soon as I got back to my hotel I called Microsoft support. “How could this happen?” I screamed.

A calm, gentle voice from some place far away replied, Ms. Post please tell me what version of Power Point is this file in?

With the same hair on fire voice, I said, PowerPoint 97-2004

That’s the problem he said. There are bugs in the older version.

Here’s the crazy thing, I have the newest version loaded, but somehow I either opened an old program version to file my new presentation or accidently saved it back.

The lessons here are:

Always work in the latest PowerPoint from Office 2011, the title will end in .pptx, not .ppt.

Screen Shot 2014 05 31 at 12.12.22 PM 300x124 I was so mad my hair felt like it was on fire.

I also learned that the current version of PowerPoint is not perfect either. Should this issue of can’t play the movie you inserted properly thing happen to you too, be aware that in the Office for MAC 2011 version, sometimes the microsoft.powerpoint.plist gets corrupt.

If you encounter a moment like I did and you are about to potentially deliver a less than killer presentation because of your PowerPoint is not functioning properly, try this.

Just for MACs

1:Quit all the Office Applications

2: Click On GO in your top menu bar

3: Hold the Options key and click Library

4: Select Preferences

5: Look for Com.microsoft.powerpoint.plist and move to the trash

This process will automatically create a new plist Preference, wiping out the corruption and any “ruin a good day” ghosts that were causing you the issues.

In closing, unless you move to planet perfect, technology snafus will happen. Be bigger than them, don’t let them spook you and throw you off your game. Have plan B in your back pocket and do your best!

New gadgets and accessories, I’m sporting and loving!

I’m always on the hunt for cool gizmos that make my world a little better. I recently added a few to my collection and thought they may help you too.
photo 300x296 New gadgets and accessories, I’m sporting and loving!

I adore my iPad. It keeps me connected and productive especially when I’m sitting idle somewhere waiting for something, my food, my drink or my next big idea.

When I purchased it, I opted for the simple black case with an extended keyboard. That worked for a while until my keyboard battery seemed dead more often than I had patience to deal with. Plus, what was I thinking? That black case was boring and did not symbolize my brand style.

Well I fixed that. I found the perfect lipstick red leather case at the Apple store.

Michael Kors iPad clutch
This investment not only generates regular compliments by my fellow fashionistas, but it also makes me feel a lot more creative. It will set you back $130.00, but if you divide all that benefit by 730 days or two years, it’s a steal.

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Jot Touch4 – iPad pen also known as a stylus
Now that I’m a bit more branded up with my accessories, I needed a Bluetooth pressure sensitive writing instrument for my tablet. It takes a little getting used to, but once you do, it’s a very slick and a useful tool to take notes on the fly, doodle in a rainbow of colors and even work the keypad and your favorite app. If you have an iPad, I’d recommend getting one of these.  The battery will last a month and recharges with a USB connector. Just keep your eye on it. Losing this $89.00 pen would be a bummer.

Screen Shot 2014 05 01 at 1.40.59 PM 300x128 New gadgets and accessories, I’m sporting and loving!

Samson mini Go Mic 
One of my goals this year is to master some new skills, using iMovie and then being able to make videos and audio tracks with my Macbook Pro. I’m making decent progress and hopefully will have some things to share soon.  However, along the way, I did discover that the built in microphone in the computer is not good. I found this small and portable clip on model from Samson for $39.00 and it’s really good, plus you can throw it in your bag when you need to produce stuff on the road.

Screen Shot 2014 05 01 at 1.42.14 PM 300x228 New gadgets and accessories, I’m sporting and loving!

Downbeat hearing protectors
This past year I’ve been doing a lot of work in the audiology industry, working with Oticon, a leading manufacturer of hearing devices and their retailers. These are the folks that test your hearing and provide some truly innovative technologies to restore hearing loss. While I’m glad they do what they do, I hope my hearing remains and I’m not a customer anytime soon. Which brings me to my last gadget from Downbeats, high fidelity hearing protectors. These small, fit in your earplugs reduce the damaging noise that can hurt your hearing and clarify the great sounds and grooves you want to enjoy. I’ve worn them several times and they really work. And the best part they are only $10 and come in niffy carrying case that clips on your keys or other accessories. If only they made a red case, then they’s be really perfect.

Screen Shot 2014 05 01 at 1.45.55 PM 271x300 New gadgets and accessories, I’m sporting and loving!

 

49 ways to stand out and brand up!

I wrote this blog a couple of years ago. Today it may even be more relevant as brands and businesses look for fresh ways to stand out in a busy and noisier marketplace. If you read it the first time, I’ve added some new ways to stand out that are worth checking out.

shutterstock 175309430 300x196 49 ways to stand out and brand up!

 

Odd Fish Finish First

Imagine a big glass tank loaded up with hundreds of squirmy gold fish. Pick the one you want and in seconds you’ve lost it because they all look alike.
Suddenly, behind the coral tree, from within the school of many, emerges a slim, purple and orange fish. He quickly stands out from the group, his distinctiveness apparent. He swims around with a unique confidence and a bold identity, while the others just seem to fade away.

Odd fish are memorable. Odd fish command a premium price. Odd fish exude added dimensions of value. Odd fish finish first.
In business, understanding this metaphor is the difference between drowning in a sea of sameness and being a great brand. Jack Trout (speaking of smart fish) noted in his bestselling book “Differentiate or Die” that choosing among multiple options is always based on differences, implicit or explicit. Psychologists point out that vividly differentiated characteristics anchored to a product can enhance the public’s memory of it because they have added uniquely to the mind of the consumer. In other words, if you are promoting a product or service, give the consumer a reason to choose it. This concept is so simple, yet many business leaders
struggle with applying it to their brands.The problem starts with defining what distinction truly is and is not. Distinction is not that you love or care for your customers more than your competition does. It’s not that you are a one-stop shop or even that your product or service is of the highest quality. Those are all vital attributes, but they are also likely touted by 90 percent of the competitive players in your category.

Distinction in branding is something that you do so well and often that it is truly different and has become your asset—so much so that your competition would be unlikely to try to mimic your actions. It’s something that your buyers identify as really unusual and, as a result, award your brand extra space in their info-aged, over-crowded minds.

Developing a platform of distinction requires courage by leadership. Doing things differently can draw out herds of critics, from customers to employers to industry players. That’s to be expected, because new or different requires the adoption of new thinking and it’s human nature to resist it for some time. Have faith and believe in your oddness. Believe in your brand.

Take the test:
How distinct is your brand? Are you an odd fish that stands out or are you simply one of many in a school of fish?

• Visually, does your brand look different than your competitors?
• If you covered up your logo on your brochures and We site with only the content visible, would anyone know it’s your brand?
• Does everyone in your organization know how you’re different?

If you answered “no” to even one of these, you’ve got work to do. As you explore new points of distinction for your brand, ask yourself:

What’s relevant to the needs and desires of your customers?

Are there current events, social attitudes or recent wounds from an issue that would prohibit open acceptance of your point of difference?

Can someone easily copy or imitate your point of difference?

Will this point of difference be sustainable for a substantial period, get better with age, or quickly become irrelevant and out of style?

Does this point of difference have the legs to carry the brand? Can it be leveraged by other aspects of your brand?

49 ways to be an odd fish and stand out. Some of these can be strategic story platforms and others can be seeds for tactical actions.

  1. Share your unique history
  2. Create a distinct experience
  3. Do something backwards
  4. Design a delivery process unlike any other
  5. Let speed (fast or slow) be your unique thing
  6. Show off what you do
  7. Show off what you don’t do
  8. Pick an exclusive philanthropic cause
  9. Design a unique signature gift
  10. Coin a unique word 
  11. Produce a unique event
  12. Launch an advertising or memorable campaign
  13. Let your location/building set you apart
  14. Design your office décor/environment in a special way
  15. Partner with a distinct association
  16. Play off your unique brand name
  17. Tell a compelling story
  18. Introduce a new technology
  19. Leverage a Graphic icon/mark
  20. Combine two unique things to make an unusual combination
  21. Serve a niche market-A lifestyle, age, gender
  22. Offer a distinct pricing model/buying program
  23. Off unique products and services
  24. Own a special style
  25. Have a really cool theme
  26. Use an unexpected color
  27. Build a new system
  28. Tout an accolade
  29. Different ingredients
  30. Unique uniforms
  31. Save the earth while you are at it
  32. Use unexpected humor
  33. Package it in an unexpected fashion
  34. Give something big away
  35. Offer an unbelievable guarantee
  36. Gift often
  37. Be exclusive
  38. Create a mascot
  39. Charge a lot more
  40. Give it away for free
  41. Take alternative payments
  42. Use a metaphor
  43. Rearrange something
  44. Sacrifice something important
  45. Break a century old rule
  46. Conduct an annual poll (quirky, scientific, funny)
  47. Super-size it or exaggerate it
  48. Get nostalgic with something new
  49. Simplify a process

Consumers are smothered with more than 5,000 brand messages every day. The marketplace is cluttered, with many excellent options offered. If you want to make the buyer’s choice easy and finish first, you’ve got to be truly distinct and communicate those unique attributes at all touch points every day. The services and products space is very competitive. To find your distinct calling, you must look deep inside your organization and explore all your branding touch points.
Think about your processes, your communication and your services. The possibilities are endless.

 

Lights, camera, brand! – How video can boost your presence.

TV3A2760 300x200 Lights, camera, brand! – How video can boost your presence.

Using video is like adding high-octane fuel to a Hennessey Venom. In case you missed it, because you blinked, this year the Hennessey Venom GT broke the world speed record at 270.49 mph at the Kennedy Space Center.

“Video has been the fastest and most consistently growing medium for content marketing,” said Lori Rosen, Executive Director, Custom Content Council.

Want more traction on your Website and social media channels? Add video.

Branded video is sharable.

It can become viral.

Today everyone can use video.

I recently added video to my branding tool kit. When I speak, I open every brand talk with my Branding Boogie music video. The video tells a story about boring Bob’s brand and his cry for help. This drama sets the tone for my presentation message. Boring will get you nowhere.

Then after my talk, I close the presentation with this 1-minute video and chorus of the song Branding Boogie “Brand up Baby!”
branding pose  300x154 Lights, camera, brand! – How video can boost your presence.
Watch the Branding Boogie video here

Using video in a presentation is a powerful way to get the audience’s attention and project a consistent brand essence. Like in my case, that’s fun, entertaining and bold. So I produced this video with the help of my long-time, trusted broadcast resource, Christian Schwier and Litewave Media. They are a great firm to work with – always professional, creative and deliver on time and on budget.

Beyond professionally produced videos, this year I’m committed to creating more videos myself too. With an iPhone and iMovie, there’s no reason not to take advantage of this high impact branding method.

Research confirms the muscle of branded video.
Videos in a Tweet can bump engagement 28% according to Twitter’s media blog. Facebook’s stats show even more. Expect a 120% higher hit rate when videos are posted on your Facebook business page.

Got 6 seconds? Twitter Vine is short, sweet and can help you sell.
I just downloaded the app on my iPad and iPhone. I have not mastered it yet, but am working on it. I did find this excellent article with helpful tips and examples on using Twitter’s Vine video to build your brand and this one by always entertaining Gary Vaynerkchuk too.

Screen Shot 2014 04 14 at 11.12.35 AM 300x199 Lights, camera, brand! – How video can boost your presence.

Got a big budget? Check out what Chipolte did.
Last week the Groupon content team asked three branding experts for their favorite food branding examples. I cited Chipotle and how they used video to share their social values and further build their brand with a comedy series they call “Farmed and Dangerous.” The satirical video puts a dark light on corporate agribusiness. Even though Chipotle’s brand role is almost absent until the end, they used entertainment and value spotlighting in a very provocative way to let the public know their views about this issue. Read branding experts favorite food brands article here.

Screen Shot 2014 04 14 at 11.14.03 AM 300x163 Lights, camera, brand! – How video can boost your presence.

Watch the trailer here.

Video is where it’s at. What are you doing to add it to your brand arsenal?

2 fast, free and effective game changers that you can do today

Visonboard photo copy 300x287 2 fast, free and effective game changers that you can do today

Vision boards – get what you want
I recently attended the National Speaker Association’s mid-year conference. I took away many awesome ideas about branding, presentation skills and new technology.  My biggest takeaway was to accelerate your success, get a vision board.

In the early 1990s, I always had a vision board, in my office, at my branding agency in Houston.  A large black bulletin covered with pictures of situations, places and things I wanted to experience, share or own.  When I made something happen or achieved a milestone, I removed the item from the board. By the late 90s, my vision board was empty and I had manifested a bunch of amazing stuff. I credit that board of pictures as an important tool that kept me laser focused on my goals.

Last week, a good friend of mine who had also attended the NSA conference and heard the same speaker recommend, “Get your vision board up. If you can see it, you can achieve it.”

Friday, my friend texted me a picture of her newly completed and hung vision board. It was really cool to see her dreams. It got me thinking—it’s time to have a new visual board again too.

Today it’s easy, free and fast to create a vision board. With the internet you can find pictures of anything in seconds, versus mine in the 90s. I had to buy tons of magazines, dig through hundreds of pages to find the perfect images that represented my wish list.

My new board is in my office. My friend put hers in her bathroom. Put yours where it works best for you.  Include everything you want to achieve. Look at your vision board often and do what it takes to make it happen. There’s not much that a determined person can’t do, especially if you live in the USA.

Another powerful picture – get over rejection
I’ve been reading, How to Get Unstuck by Barry J. Moltz. Barry’s a successful entrepreneur and leads an angel funding network that helps start-ups succeed. This book is really good. As it points out, no one is immune to getting stuck.  In a well-organized style, the book addresses how many entrepreneurs and business leaders often feel. They work hard, put in crazy hours, and it seems they are on a treadmill going nowhere—Barry provides straightforward answers to fix this.

What I love about How to Get Unstuck is that it addresses typical scenarios that growing enterprises experience. From days when you hate your customers, want to kill your employees and vendors, to selling based on features, to not managing rejection well and operating like everything’s an emergency instead of from a pragmatic and proactive game plan. Barry offers up simple steps to get back on track, along with snippets of truth from real companies that were stuck and got unstuck.

I’m telling you about this book for two reasons. One, it’s a worthy read and it can make a meaningful difference in how you run your business.  Two, Barry shares another visualization technique that was a huge game changer in his life.  In chapter nine he covers how dealing with rejection can keep you seriously stuck, or using that rejection as a way to put you on a fast track to accomplishing great results.

You see early in his career he was in sales, making over a hundred calls a day and immersed in rejection. People would not return his calls, gatekeepers would not let him get close to the prospects and his self-worth was feeling below low.  Then one day he came up with a strategy.  He positioned a picture of his family in front of his phone. Every time he made a call and got the BIG NO, that visual reminded him, that if he didn’t make the calls and land business he could not take care of his family.  That was a powerful visual aid in motivating Barry.  From there, he calculated how much he made on each sale and the number of calls that were needed to close a deal. This calculation showed Barry that even when he was rejected, he was earning $2.50 for every dialed call. The bottom line of this math showed Barry that he was earning money even when he was being rejected. Fast forward to today’s branded, relationship selling—every time you send a prospect a relevant news article or share something insightful on social media you can use this method. Making a strong visual, tied to your goals and utilizing this same calculation will get you over your fears.

These two fast, free and effective methods can make a big difference in your life today.

What are you waiting for?

That work you just paid for is not yours.

shutterstock 119600431 300x185 That work you just paid for is not yours.

That’s right. Unless you have a written transfer of copyrights from the creator, whether an artist, copywriter, video producer, web designer etc., you don’t own squat.

I recently had the pleasure of working with Julee L. Milham an intellectual property attorney, on a song copyright issue. In upcoming blog posts, I will share more about this branding  dilemma I faced and the advice Julee provided.

My experience with Julee was excellent. I was very impressed with her knowledge and her level of client service. For a reasonable fee, she quickly provided me counsel and insight on my matter.

I told Julee I was going to blog about my experience with her and asked if she could share some advice that the Karen Post blog readers and others in small business, marketing and branding could gain from. With permission from Julee, here is an important copyright fact every business owner should know about.

When you hire people to create things for you, you don’t own the results unless the transfer of ownership has been agreed to in writing — regardless of how much you pay for the work or what was implied or agreed to verbally.

While that statement sounds unnatural, it’s true. An exception to the rule is when an employee creates something within the scope of his or her job. Under this specific circumstance, you as the employer own legal rights to the work. However, this only applies to true employees (not contract or commissioned labor), and parties often disagree on what’s “within the scope of a job.” Outside of the employee exception, the law says an author (the creator) of a work owns it unless he or she gives it away in writing.

Does anyone take photos for your business? Do you hire contractors to create content for your website or marketing and advertising materials? Without the proper paperwork, the greatest rights you can have in such content is a non-exclusive right to use it. It’s confounding to pay for a job to be done and have ownership still vested with the person you hired.

Transferring copyright in these cases is simple but imperative. This principle runs true all the way down to your personal decisions, such as when you hire a wedding photographer or videographer. After you establish ownership, consider whether you should register any works you create or acquire.

Registration is not required but does provide some advantage- especially in the case of litigation. And before anyone asks, mailing a copy of your work to yourself does not count.

When you hire people to create things for you, you don’t own the results unless you have it in the proper type of writing – no matter how much you pay them or what they said. While that statement sounds unnatural, it’s true. If an employee creates something within the scope of their job, you as employer own it. However, this only applies to true employees (not contract or commissioned labor), and parties often disagree on what’s within the scope of a job. Outside of the employee exception, the law says an author of a work owns it unless he or she gives it away in writing. Does anyone take photos for your business? Or create content for your website or marketing and advertising materials? Without the proper paperwork, the greatest rights you can have in such content is a non-exclusive right to use it. It’s confounding to pay for a job to be done and have ownership still sitting with the service provider. Transferring copyright in these cases is simple but imperative. This principle runs true all the way down to your personal decisions, such as when you hire a wedding photographer or videographer! After you establish ownership, consider whether you should register any works you create or acquire. Registration is not required but does provide some advantages, especially in the case of litigation. And before anyone asks, mailing a copy of your work to yourself does not count.

Julee’s expertise is not limited to general intellectual property law. In fact, she is a specialist in entertainment law. And today with the Internet, the lines between business law and entertainment law are often blurry due to the popularity of audio and broadcast media.

About Julee and her contact info
Julee L. Milham has been practicing law since 1986, primarily in the fields of business, intellectual property, entertainment, alternative dispute resolution, and service to the court. She is board certified in Intellectual Property, AV-rated by Martindale Hubbell, Chair Emeritus of the Florida Bar Entertainment, Arts & Sports Law section, and co-founder of the NYSBA Committee on International Microfinance and Financial Inclusion. Julee is admitted to the bars of Florida, New York, California, and the District of Columbia along with several federal courts. A graduate of Stetson University and Stetson University College of Law, she studied Comparative Human Rights and Corporate Governance at Oxford College of Law in Oxford, England and is admitted to the Roll of Solicitors for England and Wales. Julee can be reached at julee@milhamLaw.com.

If you’ve got a copyright issue or need to protect something you have created and need a trusted legal eagle, I highly recommend Julee.

Brand on!

 

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