Monthly Archives: July 2012

Six Steps to an Effective Brand Plan

You’ve heard about it at meetings – possibly from me. But what is a “brand plan”? It’s both an internal and external document. Internally, it describes your organization’s focus and goals, to align all employees with your mission. Externally, it provides a roadmap for marketing and promotion.

How do you create a brand plan? It can take weeks of research, discovery, analysis, and creative development. But here’s a slimmed-down version to help get you started:

Start With a Vision
Your vision statement is aspirational. It’s about the future, not the present; it’s who you want to be as a company and where you want to be in the marketplace. It’s a goal that you will try to attain for the next three, five, or 10 years. Don’t be timid! A vision statement can be grand, bold, and optimistic. It should be an ideal worth aspiring to. This step involves research and discovery from everyone in the organization, as they’ll all be asked to contribute toward the goal.

Plan the Mission
The vision is where you want to be; the mission is how you get there. How will you achieve your goals and how will you know when you’re successful? At best, a mission statement also includes a brief version of your company’s philosophy and purpose. As says, “Your mission statement doesn’t have to be clever or catchy – just accurate.” Spend time fine-tuning every single word, since your mission statement will be your guiding principles for the life of your vision.

It’s OK to have your head in the clouds when you write your vision and mission.

A brand plan includes an analysis of your company’s place in the market, broken down into four parts: Strengths – including your expertise, uniqueness, resources, or anything else that gives your company an advantage. Weaknesses – issues that may be holding you back from your potential; what knowledge or capabilities are you missing? Opportunities – such as an emerging customer need that you can meet, a new technology that will change your market, or a reduction in regulations or costs. Threats – problems on the horizon such as a customer need, technology, or law that makes the market worse for your company.

Strategize Tactically
You now know where you want to go, how you’ll get there, and your current and future advantages and disadvantages. Now you can create a strategy that will help you get from here to there, using your strengths to take advantage of the opportunities and avoid the obstacles. This means creating a strategy, the large-scale plan for success. Within this are tactics, the individual programs, products, and initiatives that contribute to the strategy. In war, strategy involves which battles you’re going to fight; the tactics are how you fight them. Don’t get them mixed up or you can find yourself wasting resources on a tactic or overlooking the importance of a strategy.

Bring in the Numbers
Visions and missions can be “touchy-feely,” but a brand plan should include numbers. If you’re launching a new product, how many will be in your first shipment? What are your metrics for success – sales, hires, press mentions, social media responses? What’s the minimum ROI that will allow you to move on to the next step? And what’s the budget for each of your tactics? Don’t let your enthusiasm make you neglect the most important numbers – time and money!

Some brand plans are measured in months; others in hours.

3, 2, 1, Launch!
The plan is in place. Now it’s time to execute. Put that new budget to use and start designing, writing, creating, and shipping. After so much discussion and preparation, everyone will be eager for results. Help them out with a quick win, an easily achieved goal that boosts your employees’ confidence and builds momentum for the next round. Quick wins silence doubters and give you something to point to at the first few status meetings and say, “This worked.”

Your brand plan is finished. Guided by your mission statement, you’re implementing your strategy and tactics, making your vision a reality. You’ve made some quick wins, you’re analyzing the metrics, and you’re aware of both the perils and the promise of the future. You’ve put in place a solid foundation for success.

At Brandemix, we specialize in brand planning, brand architecture, brand positioning, and branding initiatives. If you’d like to learn more, contact me. I’d love to share our knowledge with you.

Social Media Fun Facts

In honor of my appearance on HR/NY’s Social Media in the Talent Environment panel (moderated by Brandemix founder and CEO Jody Ordioni), here are some interesting facts about social media that I’ve learned in my recent branding research.

The record for most tweets per second is 25,088, which happened during 2011’s annual TV broadcast of Castle in the Sky in Japan. Viewing the 1986 animated film has become a national tradition, similar to Americans watching It’s a Wondeful Life at Christmas. (Geekosystem)

The previous record for most tweets per second was 13,684, which happened during a Champions League soccer match between Barcelona and Chelsea in April. Before that, it was 12,233, which took place during the New York Giants’ game-winning drive in Super Bowl LXVI in February. (CNET)

Image courtesy of Infographic Labs

Zynga, creator of games like Words With Friends, Cityville, and Indiana Jones, was responsible for 12% of Facebook’s total revenue in 2011. (Forbes)

Searching for the phrase “How to land an airplane” on YouTube brings up 171 results. (YouTube)

The five most popular YouTube videos of all time are music videos, including “Baby” by Justin Beiber at #1. The #6 most popular video is “Charlie Bit My Finger – Again!” (YouTube)

The most followed pinner on Pinterest is Jane Wang, with more than 1.5 million followers. She is Pinterest co-founder Ben Silbermann’s mother. (Zoomsphere)

Image courtesy of Kate T.

In February, the most repinned image on Pinterest was a photo of a woman’s closet. The tenth-most repinned image was a photo of a bookshelf. Two of the top ten were pictures of cookies. (Pinfaves)

The top three brands on Facebook are Coca-Cola, Disney, and Starbucks; all consumer brands. The top three brands on Google Plus are Android, Mashable, and Chrome; all in technology field. (Pardot)

Two people join LinkedIn every second. It’s the 36th-most visited site in the world. Its fastest-growing demographics are students and recent college graduates. (Business 2 Community)

The location with the most Foursquare check-ins is Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, with more than 632,000 check-ins. It’s followed by airports in Los Angles (LAX), San Francisco, and New York (JFK). By comparison, Disneyland has 200,000 total check-ins. (Foursquare)

Image courtesy of Coasttocoast

Disneyland is, however, the second-most photographed location on Instagram. The first is AT&T Park in San Francisco, home of the Giants baseball team. (Instagram)

On Instragram’s list of 15 most photographed places are three New York City locations: the High Line, Madison Square Park, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Empire State Building and the new World Trade Center did not make the list. (Instagram)

Want to learn more about these and other social media sites, and how Brandemix can use them to help your consumer branding or employer branding campaigns? Drop me a line

How IBM’s Intranet Improves Employee Development and Retention

At  HR/NY’s fabulous social media recruiting panel (which I moderated,) the audience and I were wowed as Nabeel Ahmad, Learning Developer at IBM, rocked the New York Times Building. 

He showed how IBM, the conservative corporate giant, has been letting its hair down and opening its intranet to new ideas. The results have been greater collaboration, better retention, and more advancement opportunities. Here’s how IBM did it, and how you can too:

Employees Thank Each Other
Instead of a top-down rewards program, IBM allows its employees to recognize each other with “Blue Thx.” These can be sent to any colleague anywhere in the world. And it’s not a private interaction; a leaderboard shows who’s received the most “Thx” in the last 30 days. Kind, simple gestures like these help unite IBM’s global workforce of 400,000. 

Employees Shadow Each OtheIBM’s ShadowMe program connects employees with senior executives based on department and location. A search for “social learning,” for example, brings up more than 800 IBMers across the entire company. Employees can physically shadow their mentors at the same office, or virtually follow mentors anywhere in the world. An employee never has to miss a learning or development opportunity because the expert in their field is in a different building, city, or country.

Employees Learn From Each Other
IBMers have access to a crowdsourcing resource, allowing them to ask their colleagues questions about any topic. An HR question posted here, for example, yields much faster results than an email submitted to HR…and it cuts down on HR’s workload. While there’s a danger that employees might give each other wrong answers, I’ve found that, like Yelp restaurant reviews, the truth usually rises the top. 


Employees Don’t Have to Email Each Other
Nabeel asked us if we agreed with the statement “I live in my email.” That attitude is a problem at IBM, so senior leaders look for any way to keep employees’ inboxes clean. When new CEO Ginni Rometty took over in January, she didn’t send an email announcement; she put her speech on video and made it available only on internal channels. This showed everyone at IBM how serious she was about cultivating the intranet.

IBM’s collaborative spirit even extends to live events. Before a recent technology panel, employees were asked to submit questions ahead of time. But instead of picking his favorites, the moderator made all the submissions public and allowed employees to vote for the best ones. This ensured that the panel addressed the issues most pressing to the largest group of people. If you’ve been to an event where someone asks a question that’s relevant only to them, you know how important this is.

Nabeel showed us that IBM’s conservative image doesn’t really reflect the true nature of its employees’ creativity, resourcefulness, or satisfaction. If your business is large enough for an intranet, we’d love to put the lessons of IBM and other corporate superstars to work for you. Contact me for more details