This past year, I had the privilege of working with a chemistry company called Celanese. The assignment was to re-energize a business to business brand that helps manufacturers of all kinds create innovative products. The mission was accomplished. In collaboration with a team spanning 26 countries, the company’s brand evolved into an even stronger persona; one that reflected ingenuity, creativity, forward thinking and a united spirit of over 7,000 global employees. The 12-month brand transformation centered around the core values of the organization and required serious alignment with the company’s vision, business practices, communications and the internal culture.
Imagine this guy showing up at your office for a job interview. It’s likely your judgment filter would kick in in less than 30 seconds, and you will conclude the applicant is severely out of touch and may have been living in a cave for the last 30 years. Not a good first impression. This week I was working with a trade association that has engaged me to speak to 5 of their chapters in 2014 on branding. During our negotiations, I mentioned to my contact that the trade association’s current logo needed a facelift. In addition to the logo mark being too busy, a major part of the design was the state of Florida. Lose the “So last decade” logos. Yikes! Someone call the brand police, Using the state as art is passé, just like a blue leisure. The light blue leisure suit is a great metaphor for branding that is outdated and reflects a tired or should be retired elements.
This week, I accompanied my dear friend, Pam Iorio, the former Mayor of Tampa, to the Lead & Succeed event in Tampa. If this event comes to your town, attend. For five bucks you will hear top notch business speakers and likely make some great contacts too. Pam was one of several keynote speakers and she inspired everyone, including me, to find a higher level of leadership in themselves. She shared stories about her journey in life and she talked about the three important behaviors that she sees in great leaders. 1) They don’t waste energy fretting about the competition. They focus on their own performance and improving. 2) They treat everyone with respect and make everyone feel important. 3) They don’t give self-doubt a chair at any party. While these points are pretty simple advice, if you think back to any moments of soft leadership you observed, or were a part of, they were not likely practiced.
A couple of weeks ago, I seduced many of you into opening my blog only to find out that I’ve not read Fifty Shades of Gray yet but did read Magic of Impromptu Speaking, by Andrill Sedniev, while taking some time off of work. I promised a review on the book, so here goes. The book caught my attention as its subtitle states: Create a speech that can be remembered for years in under 30 seconds. The fact is, I and gazillions of other book buyers gravitate to titles that promise fast and almost immediate results. A good formula to remember when you are writing product copy or selling a book. So was he telling the truth or committing a marketing sin and telling a big white lie? It’s a gray area. Maybe not fifty shades but at least three. The book is excellent, filled with wisdom that can be applied to formal speeches and varied other opportunities of attention, like when doing a media interview, interviewing for a job or taking a stance in a board meeting. All good stuff for building a brand.
This past weekend, I traveled to Columbus, Ohio, to attend the Ohio State University versus Penn State football game. I had a fabulous time and picked up some great brand building ideas that can apply to many businesses.
Here’s the recap on my adventure and eight branding building ideas. 1) Southwest Airline’s identity is in transition. Brands change. The quirky, casual carrier has evolved. Their frequent flyer program still works and is one of the best for rewarding loyalty. My plane ticket was free. Their once low-cost pricing strategy is just a memory and bags fly free soon may be too. Their uniforms have also evolved. The khaki shorts and t-shirts are in the closet and a more formal garb is being sported, maybe to align better with the more upscale pricing. The seats are getting smaller and the people are getting fatter.