maximum potential

these are the thought starters, insights, and inspiration to get you, and the brands you manage, to reach your maximum potential

when “me too” doesn’t work

ever!  “me too” never works, that is if you’re trying to win. these days there are way too many “me too” brands.  the majority of the messages i see on tv are all the same; most brands are competing on the same select variables.   they end up in the same place and instead of serving their purpose (reducing choice for the customer) they create clutter, noise, and confusion.  

the same is true for individuals.  friends look at friends who appear to have things going for them and try to copy their dreams, lifestyle, or choices.  we even do this with strangers.  we see people on tv or in the news and try to imitate their walk and their talk with the hopes that it will enable us to enjoy their success.  but it doesn’t work, not if you want to win.   

the reality is, copying will put you at parity…if you’re lucky.  a passion brand or lovemark, whether personal or product-related, will never be  at parity.  it will always carve out a unique space for itself.  it will identify it’s unique vision/purpose and then leverage this unique perspective on life to create value for and give the people in its circle something by which to navigate life.  

‘me too’ happens when you look outside for answers; the best answers come from within.  what’s core to your brand?  your best you is never “me too,” it’s always your unique you.

Filed under: business branding, lifemark, personal branding, , , , ,

it’s time to grow up, shouting doesn’t work: truth #2

this post is one of a series as i write my book to help marketers and advertisers (re)Think how we approach communicating with our audiences. in order to sharpen my thoughts and ensure that i am building rather than adding to the clutter, i decided to write the book (at least the headlines of it) through weekly wednesday posts on my blog so that we could discuss together. you can check out the entire series here. for those who read for more of the (re)Think life slant, don’t worry, i will include life applications as much as possible.

truth #2: it’s time to grow up, shouting doesn’t work

as humans, we want attention.  when we speak, we want others to listen.  we want to be heard.  after all, we are important aren’t we?

in reality, brands are no different.  and like little kids who have yet to fully mature, when brands don”t get the attention they so desperately want (think they deserve) they yell.  and if that doesn’t work, they yell louder by launching a new campaign, increasing their tv buy, or dialing up their print ad executions.  after all, who doesn’t pay attention when someone is yelling.  the problem with yelling is that it doesn’t work.  besides the fact that people get annoyed, they also get used to it.  pretty soon it all becomes part of environment and we block it out.

the reality: shouting may have worked a few decades ago when there were only two of you competing for attention, the cost of publishing was not zero, and information could not travel as fast because there was no internet or social media. but those days are a thing of the past.  you can shout all you want, but your listeners are not listening because they are immune to those who talk at them instead of with them.

consequently, it’s time to grow up.  it’s time to stop yelling and shouting and learn to use your grown up words.  it’s time to join the adult conversation.  if you don’t, you will miss opportunities to join the dialogue that all of the other adults are already having about you…without you.

Filed under: business branding, lifemark, my book, , , , , ,

2009 brand of the year

great brands…


…connect emotionally as well as logically


…change lives





… move people to action





…do the impossible







…create change






only one month into 2009 and it’s clear that barack obama is the brand of the year (probably century).  and watching things transpire over the last few months it has become clear to me that a great brand can only be human.  there are products, services, and companies that we all love and respect, but can they ever be truly great?  

brands are built on relationships and connections and, for most of us, the strongest connections we will build in our lives will be to other people.  consequently, each one of us harnesses the ability to be their own unique and truly great brand.  the question is, do you have the courage to try?  

(for the most amazing display of barack obama’s inauguration, told completely through pictures, click here. )

Filed under: inspiration, lifemark, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

do blacks “buy black?”

in response to a project i was working on today, i posted this question on facebook and twitter receiving responses from my friends who represent diverse cultural, social, professional, and economic backgrounds.  the responses that came in ranged from the emotional to the rational.   however, the majority of comments were actually questions dealing with the definition of “buying black”:  are they products produced by black owned businesses, targeted towards blacks, or even just believed to be a way to buy “blackness;” the commodification of certain cultural values thought to be possesed by black people.

for blacks, there is an added benefit to buying black.

for blacks, there is an added benefit to "buying black."

although the secondary data to support either way is extremely limited (both we and the client were disappointed), the story my fantastic team was able to pull together suggests that the answer is’yes.’  at the end of the day,for blacks, supporting black owned businesses is more than just about buying a product, it is about supporting community (an incredibly important value when it comes to this consumer base).   a look at sales data from a few very popular brands belonging to black owned businesses validates the argument showing that blacks account for the majority of sales.  in addition, anecdotal support through personal stories and examples like this recent blog post here support the idea as well.  

so, although there is no definitive data, as of yet, on this issue.  the jury is leaning heavily towards yes.  what then are the marketing, advertising, business, financial, social, and cultural implications of “buying black?”

Filed under: Uncategorized, , , , , , ,

whose lovemark are you?

for those unfamiliar with the term, lovemarks are an interesting concept developed by kevin roberts, ceo of saatchi & saatchi, and are the ‘future beyond brands.’  according to kevin, “brands have (simply) run out of juice.”  consequently, he encourages us to stop developing brands and start developing lovemarks.  the difference?  while we may love brands, we love and respect lovemarks!  he defines a lovemark as the following: 

“Lovemarks transcend brands. They deliver beyond your expectations of great performance…Lovemarks reach your heart as well as your mind, creating an intimate, emotional connection that you just can’t live without. Ever.

Take a brand away and people will find a replacement. Take a Lovemark away and people will protest its absence. Lovemarks are a relationship, not a mere transaction. You don’t just buy Lovemarks, you embrace them passionately. That’s why you never want to let go.

Put simply, Lovemarks inspire.”

a great example of showcasing that your product is a lovemark is what crispin porter did with the whopper.  and while we all might strive to start turning every product, company, and brand we work on into a lovemark (it’s clear that in a down economy you would prefer to have a lovermark, right?), the question for today is about you.  

are you a fad, a product, a brand, or a lovemark?  on the job?  with your family?  in your community?  whose lovemark are you?  who never wants to let you go?  who would freak out if you were eliminated (laid off)?  who in your life thinks you are irreplaceable?  has your company decided that they won’t go into battle with you?  

i encourage you to make a list of all of the important stakeholders in your life (your family, friends, job, community organizations, etc) with two columns next to it-desired state and current state.  while the desired state for all should be the same for all (re: lovemark), after reflection, you may realize that the current state is not.  if you find a gap anywhere (you want to be a lovemark to your campany but you are more like a product), I would recommend that you start crafting out a plan about how to get more love and/or respect from the people you have determined to matter.  

so…whose lovemark are you (leave comments below)?


whos lovemark are you?

who's lovemark are you?

Filed under: lifemark, , , , , , , , , ,



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