Aug
07

Announcing: Ottawa Brand Strategy Boot Camp – August 27

Registration has just opened for the August edition of our successful Beg to DIFFER Brand Strategy Boot Camp – brought to you by the Ottawa Centre for Research and Innovation (OCRI) and Brandvelope Consulting.

Wide angle - brighter

Dennis fields questions at the last OCRI Beg to DIFFER Brand Strategy Bootcamp in May 2009.

Register here at the OCRI Web site.

This  boot camp is for all managers and executives with marketing, PR, or communication responsibility–whether in technology, government, not-for-profit, or other industries.  Basically, if you manage a brand and want to learn how to manage it for maximum connection and value (for your customers and for yourself) this boot camp is for you.

Date:

Thursday August 27, 2009

Location:

Nepean Sailing Club - 3259 Carling Avenue

Two Options:

OPTION 1: Half-Day Bootcamp – morning only

  • 8:30 a.m. – 9:00 a.m. – Registration and Coffee
  • 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. – Seminar 

OPTION 2: Full-Day Bootcamp

  • Morning seminar (as above), plus:
  • 12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m. – Lunch\
  • 1:00 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. – Hands-on Workshop

Why you should attend:

Reason 1: morning session

Dennis at front -square

Morning Session provides theory, practical case studies, & tips

This seminar provides a great overview of three important topic areas for all Brand Managers:

  • What is a brand, and why is it important? You’re being branded one way or the other; we’ll help you take control.
  • The building blocks of brands. How to analyze, develop, and leverage the different facets of corporate strategy to ensure that your brands are making the right promises, and following through.
  • Brand management. How to use the brand elements and marketing tools at your disposal to manage your image in the minds of consumers. How to be a brand stickler without being seen as a “brand cop”. How to get your colleagues to live the brand.
  • Reason 2: afternoon workshop (only for full-day participants)

    Interaction

    Afternoon workshop (available only to full-day bootcampers) is more interactive, and involves hands-on critique of your brand.

    In this smaller-group setting, you’ll get a chance to apply the theory from the morning to your brand and get help from other participants and the workshop leaders.  The workshop will allow you to do a point-by-point inspection all the aspects of your brand. But note that the afternoon is for active participants only; be ready to give and take constructive feedback.

    Reason 3: Take-aways

    All participants will receive 1) Beg to DIFFER Brand Strategy Workbook  plus, full-day participants will also get 2) a personalized assesment of your brand strengths and challenges.

    Reason 4: Beautiful setting

    Nepean Sailing club is at 3259 Carling Avenue, just West of Andrew Haydon Park – only a short drive from downtown and Kanata. This venue offers stunning scenery and a relaxed atmosphere – we took the photo below from just outside the conference room. It’s the perfect place to spend a late August day gearing your brand up for the fall. Google Map here.

    Back deck

    Boot Camp will be held at the beautiful Nepean Sailing Club - 3259 Carling Avenue on Lac Deschênes near Andrew Haydon Park

    Reason 5: don’t take our word for it

    “I thoroughly enjoyed the day and want to thank you and your colleagues for your efforts. I believe this seminar is a definite requirement in the Ottawa area and you have already put in place many of the cornerstones to build on to make this a truly awesome and interactive event for new and seasoned brand management professionals.”

    Dan Chaput
    Director, Marketing Communications
    March Networks

    Register here at the OCRI Web site.

    Aug
    06

    Brand brief: Toronto keeps its nose in the air

    After our criticism of Toronto’s Web site, and some garbage-scented barbs thrown their way in last week’s Brand Jam, it looks like Tourism Toronto has decided to approach the end of the garbage strike with their tongues firmly in their cheeks and their noses in the air.

    new-1

    The just-announced tag for a late summer advertising campaign – wait for it:

    “Toronto never smelled so good.”

      The original article I saw on this is quoted here:

    Toronto Star article: The whiff of opportunity for Tourism Toronto: When you attract attention for all the wrong reasons, you might as well try to play it for a laugh. That’s the thinking behind a new promotion launched today by Tourism Toronto with the slogan “Toronto never smelled so good.”

    Now, to me, this looked like a “fresh” approach to a thorny problem: how to put a positive and even humourous spin on a negative situation. So I gave them the benefit of ther doubt, and whatever the ramifications, I have to admire the guts of the Toronto Tourism folks:

    Metro: Slogan smells ‘so good’“We’re going to take the strike head-on, and use it as an opportunity to invite people back,” Weir said. “It’s been top of the newscasts for the last 40 days. The best thing we can do is let them know the experience here is as high-quality and exciting as it’s ever been — and now there’s no garbage piled up.”

    - Andrew Weir, vice-president of Tourism Toronto

    But in coverage on CBC radio in Ottawa last night, our drive-home host Adrian Harewood talked about the slogan, and spent several minutes of air time chatting with newsman Lawrence Wall about it. The focus of the conversation: Is it true?

    Apparently, many Toronto parks and public spaces still smell fairly pungent after being used as dumps. Reaction from some Torontonians has been even more pointed:

    24 Hours: Does Toronto smell good to you? Toronto never smelled so good. Really? You sure about that? Pretty certain it stank like rotting landfill on my way in to work yesterday.

    Like an old horn-dog perched at a local watering hole ogling young waitresses, the post-strike branding has the distinct smell of desperation, which is as off-putting as bad breath, really.

    So while it’s an attention-getting (and brave) approach, the problem with this slogan is not that it isn’t effective: 1) it’s not true; 2) it can be seen as making light of a serious and divisive issue in the city, and 3) raises questions that actually focus more attention on something that tourists don’t want to think about.

    Should be interesting to see the reaction as this unfolds.

    Live Twitter Feeds about the strike

    Aug
    06

    Jumping the FailWhale: Twitter’s biggest problems

    This morning’s Twitter outage, is only one of the many problems facing brand Twittter. Back in June, early in my Twitter career (yes, the Twitterverse is turning quickly my friends) I blogged about this – No Twitter Brand, what are YOU doing? But now that I’ve had time to think about this some more (thanks for the outage Twitter!), I’ve got some more thoughts – all of which require more than 140 characters.

    Aquatic superstar rising (falling?)... Just one of the great fanart images at www.failwhale.com.

    Aquatic superstar rising (falling?)... Just one of the great fanart images at www.failwhale.com.

    Over the next week or two, I’ll deal with 3 major brand credibility problems Twitter is facing, followed by a set of solutions I’ll modestly put forward. 

    The Jumping the Failwhale series: Twitter’s biggest problems

    • Problem 1: Brand Promise: (in this post – see below) the free ride will have to end, and the real owners of the Twitter brand will not be pleased.
    • Problem 2: Brand Character: (coming soon) Twitter feels more “Social” and less like serious “Media”. Basically, the boss ain’t buying it, and unless something changes, he may be right.
    • Problem 3: Brand Personality: (coming soon)Despite the fresh, breezy cartoon-graphics, the kids aren’t twittering. Twitter is fast becoming an old people’s brand and the problem is hard-wired into the product.
    • Solutions:  (coming soon) My 10 Recommendations to save Twitter.

    Problem 1: Brand Promise. The free ride will end.

    A Brand Promise is the implicit set of expectations a brand builds up in the mind of its customers over time. And just like a real-world promise, the owner of the promise (and indeed the brand itself) is the person to whom the promise is made: the customer. Twitter carried by whales

    The promise of Twitter 

    Twitter users have come to value, and expect, a free, open online community accessible to all with 1) an Internet connection and 2) enough time to cultivate a Twitter brand of your own.

    The problem with this is that of course, the party can’t go on like this forever. There are real world implications to the scale of Twitter’s success. Yup, I mean big crashes like this morning. But more to the point: money / revenue / filthy lucre / a basic business model. This is of course a no-brainer, because it’s a problem with all Social Media. Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, YouTube, and a thousand other online communities and services have built their huge audiences fast on the same implicit promise.

    Try it, use it forever, and pay nothing – with no ads – all of these are very attractive hooks to get people in. But having set those expectations in customers’ minds, no one should be surprised if they feel betrayed if you suddenly try to “monetize” their “eyeballs”. Oh, they’ll understand. But this isn’t about rational thought; it’s about a broken promise.

    I can hear the objection: “but we never said it would be free forever”. Doesn’t matter. Your actions led them to expect it would be free forever, which in their mind is the same thing.

    A summer-friendly analogy

    Imagine that one day I mow my neighbour’s lawn, then laugh off any payment he might offer by saying “that’s what neighbours do”. Don’t you think it would make him happy and strengthen our neighbourly bond? Probably. As long as he didn’t suspect my motives.

    Which leads me to the following week, when I tell him “I’ve decided that the price of gas being what it is, you either have to pay me a dollar to do it again, or listen to a 5 minute pitch for my business.” 

    He’ll understand. He might even recognize that it’s a really good deal I’m offering. But do you think he’d be happy about it?

    An example from my practice

    We dealt with this issue last year while I was acting Vice President of Marketing at CoursePark.com – an online learning management network. We played around with a number of options, from totally free access (like Facebook or Twitter), to pay-per-use, or just a low-cost subscription. Our solution in the end: give users a free-forever option, but a) be very clear what the limits were, b) set clear prices on the commercial e-learning content we sold through our library, c) give them an expanded range of capabilities for free in exchange for sharing their content with the rest of CoursePark, and d) make it easy and transparent to allow them to upgrade to the “enterprise” version for larger programs / more support / more member controls.

    The bottom line

    Be careful what you promise (even implicitly); your customers will hold you too it.
    If you’re building a business, people are cool with that – if they know your motives in advance.
    If you have built expectations that you can’t sustain, don’t assume that you can change the rules at will. You will pay for it.