Monday, June 18, 2012

Stay Focused

When you create your company you set out with ideals and build on a promise to the customer or client, this grows into your brand promise and becomes your position in the consumers mind. Use our service or product and you will receive a level of quality that isn't offered by our competition, we are what you want, because we are better than anyone else. If you are wise early on your will already have established dominance in your domain and niche in the marketplace, either being first to market or by solid marketing.

Sadly though as you grow and think of investment and future positioning it is tempting to consider something that isn't exactly aligned to your current business. It offers riches and success beyond your wildest dreams, and surely everyone else seems to be making the changes. Trouble is though that this probably isn't exactly in the your domain of expertise. So you go ahead and make the move as company anyhow, whether through acquisition, investment or merger. The reality is that what you have started to do is blur your companies boundaries, take it out of focus. This not only causes confusion within your own company for employees but more importantly it affects the mind of your customers. Your brand maybe known for reliability or safety and the wrong growth in the wrong area may make people start to question what your brand stands for. You may offer one very successful product, but then start to offer alternatives not quite in alignment. What happens, you muddy the waters of all that you had laid down before. It can lead to short term gains, but ultimately alter the brand perception.

So how to avoid this. Stay Focused. Keep to your company goals and brand values. Keep to your core products and improve all that surrounds them. Of course disruption comes along and times change, but think how to integrate the right opportunities that continue with the right brand voice. Don't be tempted to blur your company or brand for the sake of a quick profit, the damage maybe hard to undo.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

What Star Wars Teaches Us About Branding - Audience Participation

When you create something and place it in the public domain, there is value in leaving enough space for people to project their own personalities onto it. Create a compelling message and wrap it in a evocative story. The critical part is to let the audience grab the concept or idea and make it their own, give them the tools to edit, copy and paste their own content into the work, this not only can increase your marketing reach with word of mouth and social sharing but also it starts to create unique stories and a shared culture that can live without the original creators input. The brand can become far more organic and find a more natural path to success.

Catastrophic Star Wars Costumes

A great example of the power of this is the film and franchise of Star Wars. It doesn't take much to find Stars Wars on YouTube and see all the fan videos, remakes and outtakes that they have made. Search for Star Wars on Google and see all the fan sites and forums about the Star Wars universe. Think about how a whole generation bought into the story and still talk about it today. Consider the iconic characters and their cultural place as references in conversations. Did George Lucas plan all of this? Or did this occur through the adoption of the film by people that fell in love with the brand all the way from films and books to toys? 

The genius of the Star Wars brand is how people adopted it and made it their own. There was enough space and depth to give people a platform to build from. They could relate and find meaning inside the story. There is a powerful brand lesson here about telling stories, allowing room for adaptation and most importantly allowing audience participation in the messaging. Don't just build a brand with dogmatic imagery and messaging, keep some space between the lines for people to fall in love and become your biggest fans.