Country Branding Challenges

The following article comes from The Smithsonian. It mentions the slogan of Chile, Allways Surprising, work I was happy to lead while at Interbrand. I remain proud to have coined the slogan for a truly diverse and surprising country. It was a tremendous project originally meant only for Chilean exports but was soon purloined by other government departments.

I appreciate the tone and content of the article … any place branding is received with great scepticism and jadedness. You are lucky to please 20% of constituents with anything that is developed. It takes a commitment to reinforce the branding for years as there is never a home run in such efforts. Here is the article. Read more

A Mad Message

Professor Marshall McLuhan is an interesting chap. His notable ideas: “the medium is the message” and “the global village” continue to inform (and to prompt debate). Some argue that McLuhan predicted the World Wide Web almost thirty years before it was invented. His ideas also covered metamedia, media ecology, figure and ground media, tetrad of media effects, and hot and cool media.

Born in Edmonton, educated in my hometown Winnipeg, and notable while a Professor at the University of Toronto, McLuhan passed away in 1980. He was a celebrity intellectual and as the Globe and Mail points out, “For most of the 1960s and part of the 1970s, McLuhan seemed to be everywhere – on radio, in print, in film (most notably with a cameo appearance in Woody Allen’s Annie Hall) and especially on television. The latter, ironically, was a medium he considered pernicious, a certain harbinger of the eventual demise of print culture. He distilled his genius, including phrases that became and remain part of the daily lexicon, such as ‘the medium is the message,’ into sometimes puzzling aphorisms, an early form of the sound byte.” Read more

Is There “Non-Content Marketing”?

The marketing world has finally discovered that honest and valuable content makes a difference in interacting with consumers. Not surprisingly, marketers had to name and define this activity. It is called “Content Marketing” and definitions abound but it is meant to encompass all marketing formats involving the creation or sharing of content for the purpose of engaging current and potential consumers.

It begs me to ask the question…is there any non-content marketing?

Beyond my jadedness, the intent is to provide high-quality, relevant and valuable information to prospects and customers to drive brand awareness, consideration, and purchase. Content Marketing can take many forms such as custom magazines, print or online newsletters, digital content, websites or microsites, white papers, webcasts and webinars, podcasts, roadshows, roundtables, interactive online, e-mail, and events. Read more

The Pursuit of Mediocrity

“Today, even critical books about ideas are expected to be prescriptive, to conclude with simple, step-by-step solutions to whatever crisis they discuss. Reading itself is becoming a way out of thinking.”

William Henry wrote this in 1994 in his book, In Defense of Elitism. I have to report that he was accurate but may have miscalculated how quickly and, to what extent, this has taken hold in society. One only has to see the headlines in once-respected newspapers and magazines or take in the astonishing range of poorly written blogs or view scrolling tweets of perpetuating nonsense to conclude that we are losing the ability to search for, develop, and discover knowledge. This morning I was greeted with the following headlines from various sources “7 Things You Need to Know About …”, “13 Do’s and Don’ts of …”, “The 9 Most Common …”, “Top 10 Tips for …”, “5 Ways to …”. Read more

‘Top-Drawer’ Business Books 2011

Books are highly subjective – what appeals to some may not appeal to others. Business books specifically tend to resonate best when they address a pressing issue or interest and when they provide inspiration. In previous years, I have contributed lists of the “best” business and marketing books. I have assembled my own and conducted podcasts to share them. Those opportunities were cool but I was never completely comfortable labeling any book “best”.

So I opt to call my selections ‘Top-Drawer’. This slightly tongue-in-cheek honor is meant to describe books that are top-of-mind, notable, relevant, well written, practical, thought-provoking, and innovative. Life is too short to drink cheap scotch – equally so there is precious little time to tolerate books that are not ‘Top-Drawer’. Thirteen make the list this year and are in no particular order. Enjoy and I look forward to feedback on the selections.

Best Practices Are Stupid: 40 Ways to Out-Innovate the Competition by Stephen M. Shapiro

The author introduces a great premise … it’s time to innovate the way we innovate. Innovation tends to be episodic but Shapiro emphasizes the need to consistently produce fresh ideas and implement them with passion. He makes suggestions that are great in theory (a little harder in application but valuable) like hire people you don’t like, define challenges you want your employees to overcome, and create an environment that tolerates experimentation and failure. The bottom-line…reward success and failure equally, punish inactivity. Read more