When I was a software development manager working on the WHIP! Netscape Navigator browser plug-in that allowed non-CAD users to view DWF files, Jason Pratt was my marketing guy. Jason's job was to lay out the road map of features related to DWF files. I was a fan of getting feature requirements directly from the Autodesk discussion forums. We would argue over what to do next, and as part of that, I would accuse him of being part of "the dark side." By the way, Jason is responsible for DWF files having a page size determined by AutoCAD paperspace layouts. This point of view opened the door to features like the Sheet Set Manager and DWF files. At the time, I thought Jason's idea was dumb, because I considered DWF files as glorified JPG files that users could zoom in on, and they would not pixelate. The way Jason envisioned DWF went beyond the zooming. He was right. I was wrong.
So imagine my dismay when I was asked to review some books related to corporate branding. Branding — ew, part of the dark side. Using getAbstract I read summaries of:
- Breakthrough Branding by Catherine Kaputa
- Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World by Michael Hyatt
- StoryBranding: Creating Stand-Out Brands Through The Power of Story by Jim Signorelli
Rather than review them individually, I will just combine them into the categories of IMAGINE, DESIGN, and CREATE which reflect our company motto. If this division is good enough for building automobiles, buildings, bridges, or movies, it should certainly apply to building a brand.
IMAGINE what you want your brand to convey
- Brand entrepreneurs "think strategically and creatively about creating a brand."
- Seven principles form the backbone of Breakthrough Branding include:
- branding boldly,
- owning your category,
- enchanting your clients,
- getting bigger,
- making everyone a growth agent,
- being lucky,
- balancing innovation,
- A simple, heartfelt, and specific "small idea" can be the next big thing.
- Companies need to offer more than great merchandise to succeed; they need a great platform.
- A "small-t truth" tells customers what companies want them to believe.
- A "Big-T Truth" conveys information to customers that they already believe on their own.
DESIGN a brand with customers in mind
- To boost your brand, identify an underserved niche, create a new category, and differentiate your concept from the competition's.
- Establish a memorable, unique name coupled with a catchy tagline.
- Implement strong positioning strategies, such as: being a leader or innovator; having the best price; or offering a new technology, process, or ingredient.
- Create a "wow experience" for your customers with a well-designed item that has a memorable name or title.
- Commit your goals and dreams to writing.
- Develop an effective "elevator pitch" — a sales message short enough to deliver during an elevator ride.
- Establish your "embassies" — external sites where you maintain an active presence, such as Facebook or Twitter.
- Make sure all your traditional and online communications carry a branding statement.
- "StoryBranding" uses stories to show your customers that you understand them and share their values.
CREATE a brand as the sum of interactions with your company
- Create unforgettable and inimitable user experiences with your brand.
- Use the "soft power" of your brand's image, value, and reputation to position it as singular to customers.
- "Cyberbranding" means using digital media to communicate your brand message.
- Decide on your online "home base," the media you control, such as your website or blog.
- Twitter is good for broadcasting your message and for building customer relationships.
- Use Google Alerts to listen in on conversations posted on your "outposts," other websites where people discuss your firm.
- Regularly posting compelling blog content is more important than protecting your intellectual property.
- To build enduring relationships with your prospects, use the "Six Cs" of StoryBranding:
- "Collect the back story" to define your brand’s history and current situation.
- "Characterize the brand" by revealing its "inner and outer layers," as well as its themes and features.
- "Characterize the prospect" by discovering your consumers’ values and needs.
- "Connect the characters" by focusing on the principles that your brand and your prospects share.
- "Confront the obstacles" inherent in building product awareness, product superiority comprehension, brand confidence and brand affiliation.
- "Complete the StoryBrief" by summarizing and testing the information you've gathered.
My background is software engineering. I was brought up on lessons like make coding modules of functional strength and share information among modules by passing parameters. Organizing modules around objects instead of function is preferable since the objects tend to change more frequently than the functions. So this marketing stuff is all new to me. I am used to the light of programming.
Branding is alive in the lab.