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The latest news on Branding from Business Insider

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    meeting, working, business, coworkers, thinking, brainstorming

    Getting a steady stream of work is hard, especially when you’re just starting out. So you take every client you can and work day and night to keep the lights on.

    But there’s a problem.

    This behavior that pays the bills in the short-term won’t get you to the next level. If you want to grow your client base and make money as a freelancer, then you need to start doing things differently.

    To get on the right track, avoid these three mistakes:

    1. Relying on job boards for all of your work

    Job boards are one of the best ways to get clients in the early days when you’re just scraping by. But you shouldn’t depend on them forever. Here’s why:

    • You become a commodity. There’s simply too much competition responding to job boards. So instead of shining for your creative work, you become a number in a large crowd. To sift through all of those people, the hiring person or organization has to focus on objective criteria like price and your qualifications.
    • If your background and experience don’t match up properly, or your price is out of an employer’s league, they’ll just discard your submission and move on to the next person. The marketing ROI of this activity becomes so low that your time is probably better spent doing other things to bring in business.
    • You have no control or leverage. When all of the contract terms are dictated to you, you have no other choice but to accept. So all of the important aspects of the project like pricing, scope and timing are set in stone before you even get to the bargaining table.
    • The scope may be outlandish or the timing absurd, but you can’t change any of those elements. You can either agree and be held accountable, or they’ll find someone else.
    • You’re dealing with price-sensitive people. Like it or not, companies using job boards are inherently price-sensitive. Which is perfectly fine; everyone has a budget. But the problem is that price-sensitive people aren’t loyal to you; they’re loyal to the lowest price.
    • If another solution comes along that’s a better fit for their budget, then your services will no longer be needed. So you need to find a new way to succeed, rather than trying to undercut your competition.

    Job boards are a great way to find clients when you’re starting out. But you need to move beyond them if you want to grow your business and make more money.

    Here’s what you should do instead:

    2. Not marketing yourself or building your brand

    You’re busy dealing with clients, and you spend every waking moment on billable work that will actually get you paid. But that’s also the problem.

    To grow, get more clients and charge higher rates, you need to market yourself and build your brand.

    How are you supposed to find the time?

    Pay yourself first. Spend two hours each morning on brand building and business development activities to create demand for your services and raise your visibility within your niche. Then do client work when you’re done.

    For example, you should make a name for yourself by doing what you do best: writing, designing, creating or whatever else. Submit your work to the best, most relevant publications you can think of, both on the Web and in traditional print.

    That will build your brand and give you social proof, but you’ll also start discovering new, more effective online marketing channels to reach your target audience.

    You’ll also want to start crafting your own unique selling proposition (what you do, how you do it and who you do it for) and what makes you different from everyone else in the marketplace.

    These activities will create inbound demand and attention for your services, which means you can charge higher rates, control the scope of each assignment and deliver your services within a realistic time frame.

    And then it will give you the freedom to take the final step:

    3. Never turning down work

    You do not have to take on every client.

    And you shouldn’t. So you have to start turning the bad ones away, even if it means less money initially.

    In Book Yourself Solid, Michael Port describes having a “Velvet Rope Policy.” You have to screen clients carefully so you’re only letting the best ones in.

    The biggest problem with bad clients or projects is that you won’t do your best work, which means both you and the client will end up unhappy. And nobody needs the stress or hassle of dealing with difficult clients, anyway.

    Your lost time on bad projects also has an opportunity cost—hours that could have been spent servicing good clients or marketing yourself to create more inbound demand.

    As a freelancer, there are only two ways to make more money:

    1. Take on more clients.
    2. Charge higher rates.

    If you limit the number of clients you take and force yourself to only accept great ones, then you can also afford to charge higher rates.

    When you transition from being a new freelancer to becoming the best in your industry, the profitability of your work and each new client’s needs move you closer to your professional goals.

    You can’t just accept work for work’s sake.

    And if you want to reach these goals sooner (rather than later), you need to start generating more inbound demand instead of only relying on job boards.

    Get our best career advice delivered to your inbox. Sign up today!

    Brazen Life is a lifestyle and career blog for ambitious young professionals. Hosted by Brazen Careerist, we offer edgy and fun ideas for navigating the changing world of work -- this isn't your parents' career-advice blog. Be Brazen.

    Read more posts on Brazen Life »

    Please follow Careers on Twitter and Facebook.

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    Kardashian

    At his concert in Atlantic City on Sunday night, Kanye West told the crowd that his girlfriend, Kim Kardashian is pregnant with his baby.

    Is there any problem here?

    They are not married, and Kim is technically still “hitched” to Kris Humphries since the dissolution of their 72-day marriage has not been finalized. Details. Details.

    In the celebrity world in which Kim and Kanye live, being married does not seem to be a requirement. In fact, being “bad” is actually good. At the very least, their “bad” boy and girl images are good for their pocketbooks.

    Kim Kardashian’s net worth is estimated to be between $35 and $40 million, whereas Kanye’s net worth is pegged at $90 million. As of this post, Kim has nearly 17 million and Kanye has over 9 million followers on Twitter. It seems that Kanye fits well with Kardashian branding since his name, as with Kris Humphries, begins with a “K” – or could that be another koincidence. How do I tap into that “K” Klub?

    Brief History

    Ever since they came “on the scene” in 2007 with their reality TV Show on the E! channel “Keeping Up With the Kardashians,” the Kardashian women led by mother Kris and including daughters Kim, Kourtney, and Khloe have developed a brand that brought in $65 million as of 2011.

    This indicates that there is a significant market for the wide variety of Kardashian-branded products that include apparel, fragrances, skin care, tanning lotions, jewelry, candles, and expensive bottled water.

    Even if you are in the sizeable segment of Americans that believes the Kardashians have little or no talent, these numbers should get your attention. That’s more than the combined earnings of A-list actors Angelina Jolie, Sandra Bullock and Tom Cruise during the same year. That’s not all. With her nearly 17 million Twitter followers, Kim Kardashian alone receives $10,000 per Tweet from her contract with in-stream advertiser Adly.

    First signs of trouble

    However, all is not well with the Kardashian brand. Over the last two years, it has taken a series of hits that is causing increasing damage to the Kardashian image. It got slammed in November of 2010 when the Kardashians received a letter from the Attorney General of Connecticut. The letter claimed a prepaid debit card branded as the Kardashian Kard, which targeted young girls, had hidden predatory fees.

    Information about the card spread like wildfire in the news media. CBS news interviewed me for the story, and because of the resulting negative PR conflagration, the Kardashians terminated their association with the card. This termination, however, caused the Revenue Resource Group, LLC to sue them for $75 million and breach of contract.

    72-day marriage fiasco

    The wedding of Kim Kardashian to New Jersey Nets basketball forward Kris Humphries took place on August 20, 2011. It is estimated to have cost $10 million. However, by most reports, it did not cost the Kardashians a dime since it was financed by a variety of media and sponsors that used the wedding to promote their products.

    Unfortunately, the marriage lasted a mere 72 days when Kim announced through her publicist that she is filing for divorce. This caused the segment of anti-Kardashians to grow and for many to label the wedding a sham and a publicity stunt. Even noted saxophonist, Dave Koz, who played during the ceremony, told the press that he thought the wedding lacked authenticity and seemed more like a scene in a movie than a real wedding.

    Anti-Kardashian petitions and boycotts

    Two days after the marriage ended, petitions were circulated online to boycott the Kardashians. At the time of this writing, the Boycott Kim.com petition had amassed 285,692 signatures. The objective of the petition signers is to get the E! Channel to cancel the Kardashian’s reality show, and to encourage Sears to stop selling a line of Kardashian clothing in their stores.

    In addition to these boycotts, PETA has created a billboard in Hollywood criticizing Kim Kardashian for wearing fur. And human rights organizations are accusing the Kardashians of manufacturing their clothing in Chinese sweatshops. Upon doing an image damage assessment, it seems as if the American public is divided into three camps—the Kardashian lovers, the Kardashian haters, and those that really don’t care one way or the other about the Kardashian brand.

    Will this celebrity brand continue to thrive?

    Even before the anti-Kardashian movement gained traction, some believed the brand would not have staying power because they saw little talent behind it. In a story by Andrea Chang in the Los Angeles Times,marketing expert Eli Portnoy said, “The Kardashians are a great example of, in my mind, talentless celebrities or celebrity for celebrity’s sake who took advantage of their looks, a sex tape, a lot of pretty raw and low-level stuff that titillated and fascinated the American public.”

    While the anti-Kardashian camp would wholeheartedly agree, the Kardashians are still being talked about everywhere you turn – talk shows, news programs, and Saturday Night Live. Kim’s Twitter following continues to grow, and companies are willing to pay Kim and her sisters a sizeable amount for their Tweets. Tyler Perry even cast Kim Kardashian in his movie “The Marriage Counselor.”

    While he has taken some heat for that decision, he knows that Kim Kardashian has a lot of followers, and they go to movies and buy products. Now with her pairing with Kanye West, everyone is calling them a Hollywood power couple. Some have even branded their pairing with the power-couple handle “Kimye.” I like “Kimkan” better to get that double-meaning vibe, but nobody asked me.

    After all, what is a brand? It’s a shortcut to purchase comprised of two main components – (1) a target audience that has a need and (2) an image of the product that fills that need better than competitors. As long as the Kardashians have a large audience, their brand will be alive and well. While no brand likes haters, marketers know that detractors go with the territory.

    As George Bernard Shaw once said, “Better that half of them love you and half of them hate you than everyone think you are nice.” Perhaps more importantly, it appears that in the celebrity universe, it is good to be “bad.” You must admit that, with a combined net worth nearing $130 million, being “bad” is not so bad for their bank accounts.

    SEE ALSO: When A Cover-Up Causes More Damage

    Please follow Advertising on Twitter and Facebook.

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    soda wars coca cola pepsi

    Coca-Cola and Pepsi have been battling each other for more than a century.

    It's a legendary brand rivalry.

    The fight has often gotten personal. Most recently, Pepsi went after Coke's famed mascots: the polar bears and Santa. The feud has even spilled over into outer space.

    How did it end up this way?

    CnnTees put together an infographic entitled "The Soda Wars" that includes everything you'd ever want to know about the history of the Coke vs. Pepsi.

    The saga began in 1886, when John S. Pemberton developed the original recipe for Coke. Here's what was in it:



    Pepsi-Cola was created in 13 years later by pharmacist Caleb Bradham



    Coca-Cola was already selling a million gallons per year by the time Pepsi came to be



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

    Please follow Retail on Twitter and Facebook.


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    Mr. Clean shovel

    We recently compiled a list of the sexiest brand spokespeople of all time, including characters like the Fantanas, the T-Mobile girl, and the Brawny man. We listed 10 icons, but none of them were as excited about the honor as Mr. Clean. 

    We chose Mr. Clean as the ninth sexiest spokesperson because he's buff, bald, and cleans up after himself. What more could you want?

    This afternoon, Procter & Gamble's Mr. Clean posted on his Facebook page about his excitement about being chosen for our list:

    Mr. Clean calendars

    No pictures for the months have been released yet, but hopefully they're in the works.

    The wall post has only been up for 4 hours, but already has over 250 "Likes," and quite a few comments and shares. Looks like fans are pretty stoked about the possibility of a sexy Mr. Clean calendar.

    SEE ALSO: The 10 Sexiest Fictional Brand Spokespeople Of All Time

    Please follow Advertising on Twitter and Facebook.

    Join the conversation about this story »


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    vintage packaging

    You might not recognize some of your favorite products if their classic, old-school packaging lined grocery store shelves today.

    There once was a time when Jif came out of beautiful glass jars, and people would gargle Listerine out of what looked like perfume bottles.

    Design blog Abduzeedo compiled a list of classic packaging to showcase their fascinating evolution.

    THEN: This vintage bottle of Listerine looks like perfume.



    NOW: Out with the glass, in with the plastic.



    THEN: Soda cans used to look completely different.



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

    Please follow Advertising on Twitter and Facebook.


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    Wil it blend?

    Let’s begin with a little story.

    A couple of years ago I was at a conference where GE and their agency, BBDO, made a presentation of their new “Imagination” campaign. After showing some nice TV spots and explaining that they’d spent $300 million on media over the last year, they proudly declared that brand awareness had increased substantially. This generated polite applause.  

    Next up was the Marketing Director of blender manufacturer, Blendtec who proceeded to blend a brick, some ball bearings, an 8 ft garden rake and finally a Blackberry donated by a member of the audience (which had to be a plant, right?)

    He then put up a single slide showing that every time they posted a self-produced, ten dollar video on YouTube in their long-running “Will It Blend” campaign (which to-date has had more than 220 million views,) sales went up by an accurately measurable percentage. Understandably, the crowd went nuts.

    The point being, GE spent hundreds of millions and couldn’t quantify with any certainty what they had achieved for all that money. Blendtec spent pennies and achieved consistently significant and measurable results.

    In two weeks many companies will be paying close to $4 million a pop for thirty seconds of air time on the Super Bowl. They and their ad agencies will pronounce that this is money well spent, but there will be little data to substantiate this. A recent study of CMO’s demonstrates that the majority don’t establish their budgets according to ROI targets.

    It also showed that the four major “brand valuation” companies put GE’s brand value in a wildly variable range, with two having it rising, and two having it falling in exactly the same period. And these are the experts. As one of the authors of the study put it… “That more than a fifth of marketers use brand awareness as their primary metric is disturbing, since it could be good or bad. After all, TWA had terrifically good brand awareness just before they went out of business.”

    And the current obsession with social media hasn’t helped the situation, in fact in some ways, it has exacerbated it. There’s lots of talk about engagement metrics, re-tweets on Twitter, Likes on Facebook and clicks on everything else, but this is rarely correlated to sales. For while the audience for digital is easier to measure because there's a ton of data attached to it, the question rarely asked is, what is it that’s being measured? It certainly isn’t the ROI. As I mentioned earlier, this is primarily the fault of the CMO who is using the wrong components to build his/her marketing plans, but it’s also the fault of their agency, which is merrily going along with the latest flavor du jour the client may have read about in the Harvard Business Review, or Wired, or heard about on the golf course. The agency goes along with it to show they are up to speed with the latest and greatest, but also because it will provide them with a bit more sustenance from the increasingly shrinking fees clients are paying their agencies these days.

    And there, we have the suppurating nub of the problem.

    Clients now see their advertising agencies in the same light as vendors who supply janitorial supplies or delivery services. They have become purveyors of a commodity product, and they have helped dig this hole for themselves. Over the years, I have seen many arguments expounding on how advertising agencies should be fairly compensated for their services. Most were written by ad agencies, so, per force, smacked of the expected smoke and mirrors, brand building rubbish I talked about at the beginning of this rant. But then recently, I came across a white paper from the Blamer Partnership, a consultancy dealing with client/agency relationships, with particular emphasis on compensation issues, which spells out a kind of AAAA (not AA) seven step approach to how clients may get a better ROI from their agencies, whilst their agencies may be fairly recompensed for their efforts. This is a long overdue, urgent discussion that with the increasingly frenetic obsession with new media, social networking and big data, needs to be addressed in order to achieve, as the Blamer Partnership describes it, a purposeful relationship between clients and their agencies that is accountable, measurable and honest. Good luck with that. We’ve certainly been waiting long enough.

     ---

    George Parker has spent 40 years on Madison Avenue. He’s won Lions, CLIOs, EFFIES, and the David Ogilvy Award. His blog is adscam.typepad.com, which is required reading for those looking for a gnarly view of the world’s second oldest profession.” His latest book, "Confessions of a Mad Man," makes the TV show “Mad Men” look like “Sesame Street.”

    Please follow Advertising on Twitter and Facebook.

    Join the conversation about this story »


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    The Super Bowl is always important for marketers; people scrutinize every spot. If all goes well, senior executives will shower the brand manager with praise, hand out a big bonus and offer up a promotion. If things go poorly, however, he will be criticized and, in some cases, fired.

    For two brands this year, however, the Super Bowl is particularly important. In some ways, the Super Bowl will either spark a revival or mark the beginning of the end. If things go poorly, it isn’t likely they will be back next year; this is it.

    Ford’s Lincoln is counting on a strong Super Bowl performance. The brand has struggled for years with slumping sales and an undefined brand image. Lincoln really can’t compete with luxury brands such as BMW, Mercedes and Lexus. Ford has been quick to drop brands that don’t fit the portfolio such as Jaguar and Land Rover but Lincoln remains.

    Late in 2012 Ford rolled out a turn-around plan for Lincoln. The goal is to revitalize the brand. The Super Bowl plays a big part in this effort; it is Lincoln’s opportunity to present its case.

    If the Super Bowl effort works, it will jump-start Lincoln sales and advance the brand revitalization. If the effort fails, however, Lincoln will have missed its big moment and the brand may well fail.

    RIM’s Blackberry needs a Super Bowl bounce perhaps more than any other brand. The struggling smart phone maker is losing steam as its market share slips away and people abandon the devices. The company is rolling out a new platform this week, Blackberry 10, and two new devices. The Super Bowl is its moment to explain why people should use a Blackberry instead of a device from Samsung and Apple.

    If Blackberry fails to make a strong case on the Super Bowl, there is little reason to have much hope for the firm. In the fast-moving world of technology, a brand can quickly be left behind. This is Blackberry’s opportunity to gain some ground.

    NOW READ: The 10 Most Fascinating Brands To Watch In 2013

    Please follow War Room on Twitter and Facebook.

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    2013 Toyota Camry Hybrid LE

    DETROIT, Feb 1 (Reuters) - Toyota Motor Corp again topped an annual U.S. consumer survey on brand perception released on Friday as all the top automakers' scores rose from last year.

    Ford Motor Co, Honda Motor Co Ltd, General Motors Co's Chevrolet, Daimler AG's Mercedes-Benz and Volvo rounded out the top six, which was unchanged from last year, according to Consumer Reports, the influential consumer magazine that conducted the survey last month.

    "The brand leaders have a really strong hold on the mind-share of the consumer," Jeff Bartlett, deputy auto editor online for Consumer Reports, said in an interview.

    "We're seeing much less space between brands. In other words, consumers seem to think many excel in the areas that matter most to them and it's harder for brands to stand out."

    For example, he said safety is very important to consumers, but most cars are pretty safe.

    The survey comes less than a month after the Detroit auto show, during which the industry showed off its latest vehicles and concept cars.

    Bartlett said the survey was "one window into what consumers are thinking" and is often a lagging indicator influenced by news headlines or neighborhood experiences.

    Each of the top 10 saw perception scores rise in the survey. It is based on how consumers perceive each brand in seven categories: quality, safety, value, performance, design, technology and green attributes. The first two categories remain the top buying factors, the magazine said.

    Toyota led with a score of 133 points, up about 11 points from last year. Ford, Honda and Chevy saw their total perception scores respectively rise about 2 points to 117.8 points, about 26 points to 114 and more than 7 points to 94.4.

    Rounding out the top 10 after Mercedes (77.4 points) and Volvo (76.5 points) were GM's Cadillac (66.2 points), BMW (65.6 points), Chrysler's Dodge brand (55.8 points) and Tesla (54.8 points).

    Tesla, relying largely on its new Model S all-electric sedan, gained about 13 points and Dodge's 23-point gain bumped Toyota's Lexus brand to 11th from 9th last year.

    The bottom five in the survey were BMW's Mini brand (10 points), Fiat (8 points), Chrysler's Ram (7 points) and Mitsubishi and Toyota's Scion (each at 6 points).

    Please follow Getting There on Twitter and Facebook.

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    doritos fashionista super bowl commercial

    Recently, the Internet was equally delighted and horrified by two very distinct marketing campaigns, one by a prominent technology company Qualcomm and the second by the US Government in response to a petition to create a Death Star.

    Qualcomm’s recent performance at CES made me feel like I just watched my Grandmother say “OMG” out loud. Not only did they misunderstand their audience but they also confused the entire tech world so much that the only thing anyone remembers from the keynote is Maroon 5 sounding like Dido, that Big Bird has a creepy stalker, and that BOOM! is suddenly something people say.

    That thing being promoted…something about a processor? Yeah, no one remembers that.  

    Compare that to the U.S government’s  brilliant response to a petition to begin construction on a Death Star by 2016. When you think “White House” or “government,” one generally doesn’t think of Internet-savvy, relevant content or innovative brand communications. We think of bureaucracy and people in suits with PCs from the 90s. Paul Shawcross is the Chief of the Science and Space Branch at the White House Office of Management and Budget and author of the witty response declining the Death Star request.  

    Among his reasons, Shawcross explains, “Why would we spend countless taxpayer dollars on a Death Star with a fundamental flaw that can be exploited by a one-man starship?”  Not only is this an authentic, relevant, and funny brand response to a clearly satirical petition, it is also universally educational, value-adding, and an incredible recognized opportunity. This specific piece of communication makes me and many others want to read news from the U.S. Government and the space program.  

    What an amazing shift for a brand associated with stodgy, vague, censored communications.

    What marketers and Internet professionals can take away from these two examples is that the best idea always wins, not the biggest budget or the most over-the-top content.  The “best idea” is the concept that most effectively identifies the best strategic things to communicate to a target audience through the most appropriate, natural channels, and then executing the idea in a meaningful, authentic, and value-adding way. If you do this correctly, a simple 520 word editorial could have more positive impact for your brand than a $500k major conference keynote.  

    Here are a few more lessons to help you identify the “best idea.”

    1. Stereotyping vs. Demographics

    Identifying an accurate demographic for your product and planning communications around it is one of the oldest foundations of marketing. Every product, service, and brand needs direction about which audience they should pursue; the audience most likely to purchase their product and become a brand ambassador for them.

    There is a huge difference between identifying and speaking to a demographic group and blatant stereotyping. Stereotypes, as a rule, are not very nice and unless very well-parodied, generally make you look like clueless or like a bigot. No one likes to hang out with or support bigots, so don’t be one.

    Stereotyping your audience is an incredibly effective way to alienate them. Not only do you alienate the people who you are stereotyping, but you also alienate the people who notice you are stereotyping another group.

    Effectively identify the correct demographic for your brand or product by doing market research and then talking to this group in a way that makes sense, but is not playing off stereotypes.

    2. Lacking in.. well.. any type of distinguishable central theme

    Qualcomm’s purported theme for their keynote was “Generation Mobile” and how the tech world wasn’t yet prepared for them. While this, by itself, may have made for a great keynote, this message was forcibly drowned by a multitude of other aspects and themes:

    How do any of these themes support the idea that technology is not prepared for a generation of people born alongside mobile technology? That’s right.. they don’t.

    Every piece of marketing, whether it is a blog post or a conference keynote, should be focused on your brand’s message and central theme. If you deviate, it dilutes the impact of your efforts and can even completely drown it. Albert Einstein sums it up pretty effectively, “Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius—and a lot of courage—to move in the opposite direction."

    3. Adhering to an “any press is good press” mentality

    The old marketing adage of “any press is good press” is no longer valid. Major brand mistakes can cost you thousands of social followers and create a wave of slam pieces in major and alternative media. Sure, people will talk about your brand for free, but they are proactively saying negative things that are amplified across the “internet of everything.” A negative message repeated over and over is not a good thing. It snowballs out of control incredibly quickly.

    Qualcomm’s biggest mistake at CES was placing a huge, expensive bet on an assumption: that a tech-savvy and internet-friendly audience would find an entirely over-the-top interpretation of the “internet of everything” entertaining and spread it like wildfire. Qualcomm placed a huge bet on controlling and manipulating something notoriously uncontrollable: the social web and its collective opinions.

    Don’t focus on attempting “viral” content. Focus on creating authentic, intelligent, and useful marketing collateral that will resonate with the correct demographic by nature, instead of trying to create something false in hopes of “having it go viral.”

    4. Recognizing opportunity

    The White House didn’t have to respond to a petition calling for them to “secure resources and funding, and begin construction of a Death Star by 2016” differently than any other spoof petition. What makes this response particularly interesting is that Mr. Shawcross recognized the unique opportunity this specific spoof petition presented to educate the 35,000 plus petition signers (and now thousands more on the social web) on the surprisingly large number of current and future space and space-lifestyle programs the US Government is running/organizing/creating.

    This response was also particularly effective because the communication played along with the original poster and his engaged supporters, augmented it, and provided additional value in a very entertaining way. This kind of brand communication is precisely how to shift your brand perception in a way the social web will appreciate and embrace.

    It doesn’t hurt that the author is the Chief of the Science and Space Branch himself. Sometimes a little star power (see what I did there?) in the right channel is incredibly powerful.

    5. The value-add

    This piece is special is because it isn’t just fluff. A funny response from the White House about Star Wars geekery would have been enough to make the petition signers feel like they were being listened to and appreciated, but Mr. Shawcross took it a step beyond by providing resources and additional information on programs that are relevant to the topics within the petition itself. It lays out very clearly all the awesome things the US Government is doing with the  professional- and consumer-space areas (including a probe to explore the exterior layers of the sun and Astronomy Nights on the South Lawn of the White House).

    Always, always, always develop content that creates implicit value for the person reading it. By creating value, people will come back to you again and again to learn and edify their own thinking; supported by your brand and your brand content.

    6. Authenticity and approachability

    People don’t want to talk to a machine. Or, to a marketing agency. Or to anything that uses the “royal we” when answering a customer question. People like talking to people (I know, shocking). Create a brand style that encourages engagement and open conversations with your customers or community. Knowing what your community or customer is thinking is absolutely invaluable to your future marketing efforts, and the only way you’ll find out (at least until we develop mind-reading technology) is if they talk to you.

    Mr. Shawcross’ obvious comfort with internet meme and relevant topical geekery is a great way to lower the defenses of the intended audience. How can you feel insecure or skeptical when someone is speaking the same language you are? The tone, subject matter, and word choices within this piece of content all support each other and create a unified front to speak to the intended audience.

    Make it a priority to create a brand style guide that defines your brand voice as approachable and human. The spike in engagement and interest you will see is worth it. Understand the idiosyncrasies of the audience to which you’ll be speaking, and leverage this knowledge to create a seamless, natural piece of content that communicates your central theme in an easy, effortless way.

    SEE ALSO: 7 Ways To Make Your Brand Look Terrible On Social Media

    Please follow Advertising on Twitter and Facebook.

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    burberry trench coatBurberry CEO Angela Ahrendts took the helm of the fashion brand in 2006, and back then, the company had lost its focus.

    Now, the brand has come back strong, but it was quite a trip. Burberry was about its iconic trench coats, and yet, they were nowhere to be found — not even on the backs of her own executives.

    Ahrendts described what it took to revamp the Burberry brand in a recent column at Harvard Business Review.

    "In luxury, ubiquity will kill you—it means you’re not really luxury anymore," she wrote. "And we were becoming ubiquitous."

    So what did she do?

    She centralized the brand. Everything, from now on, would be consistent. 

    To do this, she would need a "brand czar."

    Ahrendts explained:

    "Great global brands don’t have people all over the world designing and producing all kinds of stuff. It became quite clear that if Burberry was going to be a great, pure, global luxury brand, we had to have one global design director.

    "We had an incredible young designer named Christopher Bailey, with whom I’d worked at Donna Karan and who I knew was a sensational talent. So I introduced him early on as the 'brand czar.' I told the team, 'Anything that the consumer sees—anywhere in the world—will go through his office. No exceptions.'"

    In doing this, Ahrendts has shown a remarkable amount of trust. It's quite a risk to delegate everything about a global brand to one person.

    But it also helps make the brand consistent, as long as its keeper remains effective.

    SEE ALSO: The Secrets Of The Apple Store's Success >

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    boston market undercover boss

    A Boston Market employee got fired on national television after going on a rant about how much he hates customers to a co-worker who was actually an undercover exec.

    Boston Market chief brand officer Sara Bittorf was on CBS reality show Undercover Bosswhich puts incognito company execs into regular stores to see what things are really like on the ground.

    The employee, identified only as Ronnie, is the first worker to ever be fired on the show.

    "I literally hate customers more than anything in the entire world. I hate them so much," he said in his rant. "They're terrible. It's all about them all the time and they demand everything."

    "I can't have someone who just told me that they hate customers more than anything in the world serving our guests," said Bittorf on the show. "That's the complete antithesis of what we stand for.'"

    Then, she broke her cover, told Ronnie who she really was, and lectured him. She advised the branch manager that the worker should be fired and that was the end for Ronnie.

    He didn't seem to think he did anything wrong though.

    ''I would tell them my attitude would change but I didn't think it was that terrible," said Ronnie. "It's not wrong of me to hate people."

    We spoke with Bittorf right before the show aired and she said that the employee in question "wasn't living up to our values" and she was forced to "take care of it."

    Here's a clip from the show:

    SEE ALSO: Step Inside The Building Where McDonald's Runs Its Global Empire >

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    On April 20, 2010, the oil rigger Deepwater Horizon exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, causing the largest accidental marine oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry.  After the explosion killed or injured 28 workers and released 4.9 million barrels of crude oil, the gushing wellhead was finally capped. British Petroleum (BP), the multi-billion dollar oil and gas company, was indisputably responsible.

    Instead of expressing true remorse and compassion for the disaster, then CEO Tony Hayward committed a series of cultural gaffes that enraged U.S. citizens and lawmakers. For instance, well before the Gulf crisis was resolved, Hayward proclaimed that he “wanted his life back.” Then, as efforts to plug the leak continued feverishly in the U.S., he casually took in a sailing race with his son off the Isle of Wight in the UK.

    Hayward’s American Disconnect

    This behavior was consistent with Hayward’s work/life balance philosophy.  He once said publicly that he didn’t work weekends and took all of his holidays no matter what.  What the British Hayward failed to realize was that most Americans don’t necessarily agree with this point of view. It is the American way to take responsibility for one’s mistakes and do everything you can to remedy a bad situation. Until the problem is solved, free time does not exist. Since Americans were affected most when Deepwater Horizon exploded, many wanted to see Tony Hayward on a boat participating in the clean-up.

    Although much of his business is conducted in the U.S., Hayward did not demonstrate strong global competence. His lack of understanding regarding how the crisis would be received in the U.S. led to a backward slide of goodwill and a plunging stock price for BP. That summer, it would also cost him his job.

    To find out how you can avoid a Tony Hayward-like PR catastrophe, read my advice over at the AMEX Open Forum.

    NOW READ: 3 Areas You Need To Focus On To Get 'Executive Presence.'

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    cheese dip

    Some brands, like Virgin, have done a great job extending their brand. It's gone from music, to airlines, to trains.

    Not all companies are that good at starting new lines, however.

    The iced tea company Arizona, for example, should probably have stuck to its delicious beverages instead of dabbling in the dip market. 

    Parham Santana, a brand extension consultancy, took a poll of 11,000 Adweek readers who were asked to pick their top three from a list of 10 best and worst identified by Parham Santana.

    According to John Parham, president of the company. “A successful and lasting brand extension franchise must have three things: a logical fit with the parent brand; leverage for competitive advantage, and; opportunity to enhance the brand and produce sales.”

    None of these brands had these.

    Virgin Water Purifier: 229 votes

    Richard Branson should stick to airlines, and mobile, and anything but this, basically. You can still buy these online. They went on sale last May.



    Samsonite Outerwear: 409 votes

    This hasn't launched yet. Set be be released this fall.



    Smith & Wesson Apparel: 556 votes

    People like their guns, not their clothing. You can buy these for upward of $80 on the S&W website. These have been on sale since 2006.



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Kate Middleton Princess Duchess of CambridgeWhen Kate Middleton wears a brand, it quickly sells out. 

    The fashion phenomenon has been dubbed, "The Duchess Effect."

    While Middleton is also a fan of high-fashion favorites like Burberry and Stella McCartney, much of her wardrobe is purchased on High Street. 

    From Zara to J Brand, see the labels that she's boosting sales for. 

    Zara

    Even with a baby bump, Kate Middleton has shown her love for this up-and-coming brand. 

    The royal sweetheart reportedly wore a Zara cape out on the town during a London shopping trip this week, and she's been known to sport Zara dresses, tops and jeans to everything from children's charity plays to Olympic events.

    A lacy Zara shift she wore to a charity event in December sold out on the website within hours. 



    LK Bennett

    Another sell-out, this time in shoes.

    Kate Middleton's well-known LK Bennett nude heels have become an online sensation, with a company executive noting the platforms are by far the brand's best-sellers.

    Middleton wore the heels again and again this summer at weddings, birthdays and during a cross-country Canadian tour. The publicity spurred a shoe shopping spree for the UK accessory chain.



    Prabal Gurung

    The duchess shot this brand to online fame after donning one of its floral frocks to a meeting with the president of Singapore

    The Prabal Gurung dress was sold out in less than an hour, helping to rocket the brand to fame during fall's New York Fashion Week.

    The designer shared his excitement on Twitter



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    burger king perfume

    If you're craving some Lay's chips in London or a Burger King meal in Australia you're in luck because those brands exist abroad.

    The only problem is that you might never be able to find them.

    Famous brands in America often go by extremely different names abroad. Sometimes the change makes sense, other times the changes are so small and random that it seems completely ridiculous.

    See if you can identify what famous brands are called outside of the U.S.

    Do you know what Burger King is called in Australia?



    The Australian franchise of Burger King is called Hungry Jack's.



    Do you know what name T.J. Maxx goes by in the U.K., Ireland, Germany, and Poland?



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    News outlets are reporting today that OfficeMax and Office Depot are apparently considering a merger.

    The move makes sense for many reasons. The combination will result in significant cost reductions. The new entity will have a stronger negotiating position with suppliers. And competition in the brutal office-products industry will decrease at least a bit.

    The biggest benefit, I suspect, will be branding.

    OfficeMax and Office Depot have long had a simple problem. The names are so similar that people get them confused. The stores are similar, too. I suspect many people visit OfficeMax and walk out thinking they just went to Office Depot, and vice-versa. One of the stores is very near my house. I visit it often but I have no idea which one it is.

    This is a major problem for the companies. Differentiation is critical; you have to be unique to justify premium pricing. But how do you differentiate a brand when consumers constantly confuse you with your competitor?

    The beauty of the merger is that it ends the confusion. One brand will emerge when the dust settles.

    This is really the only way the branding situation could end happily. In theory, one of the companies could have moved to a different brand but this wasn’t likely to happen; the company that made the change would have incurred significant costs while the company that didn’t change enjoyed significant benefits. A merger, though, is a solution that benefits both companies.

    Over the next few days analysts will calculate all the cost savings that will come from this merger. The biggest benefit, however, is the resolution of a difficult branding problem.

    SEE ALSO: The Ten Most Fascinating Brands To Watch In 2013

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    Struggling companies often do better when they focus on their core brand.

    There are good reasons to have many different brands. A broad portfolio lets you target different customers with unique brands. It also reduces risk; if one brand gets into trouble the other brands can help offset the declines.

    The problem is that managing a big brand portfolio is difficult; each brand requires marketing investment and attention. Brands don’t thrive when you neglect them.

    When an organization is having financial troubles, a large portfolio can be a major strategic issue. There is not much money for investment so some brands get neglected or, even worse, all the brands get little support.

    This is why companies that get into trouble often prune brands and focus on the core. When McDonald’s stumbled, for example, the company ditched Chipotle and Boston Market and many other brands. General Motors made pruning the portfolio a key part of its turnaround plan. P&G rebounded under CEO A.G. Lafley by focusing on the big brands that mattered.

    The New York Times Corporation is making a similar move. Last week the company announced that it was rebranding the International Herald-Tribune. The century-old paper would now be known as the International New York Times.

    A week earlier, the New York Times announced it was seeking a buyer for The Boston Globe.

    Last August, the New York Times sold the About Group, which includes About.com.

    The New York Times Corporation, once a collection of media brands, will soon have just one main brand, the New York Times.

    This makes perfect sense for two reasons. First, the company is struggling. The stock trades at less than $10 a share, down from over $45 a share back in 2004. Revenue is falling steadily. Profits have been inconsistent; the company made $160 million in 2012 but lost $40 million in 2011. With limited resources, the New York Times has to focus on the brand that matters; there just isn’t money or time to spend on other brands.

    Second, the New York Times is a strong brand; it has high awareness and a loyal following. Readers value the product. The challenge is to turn this into financial returns. Perhaps the most encouraging sign in recent years is that readership held up better than expected when the paper eliminated free internet access and started asking people to pay.

    The New York Times Corporation will succeed if it can ensure that the New York Times brand emerges as the most respected and trusted source of information and perspective in the world.

    The other brands in the portfolio were distractions; the New York Times is making a smart bet.

    SEE ALSO: An OfficeMax-Office Depot Merger Could Work Because People Get Them Confused

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    pret a manger martin bates

    Pret-ah-mon-gur?

    Pray-a-mahn-jay?

    Pretty manager?

    Pret A Manger is an international fast food chain that has its name mispronounced all the time.

    We spoke with Martin Bates, president of Pret U.S., and asked the brand name and the pronunciation issues that come along with it in America.

    "I'm kind of okay with it," he said. "If people can't pronounce it I think I'm okay with that. It has this sort of charm to it."

    Still, the management at Pret U.S. have talked about changing it up. 

    "We've always had this debate on changing the name," said Bates. But in the end, the name appears to have stuck.

    "We do occasionally hear the 'pret-ah-mang-gur,'" he said. "But I think people are mostly used to us now."

    So, how do the folks at Pret want you to pronounce their name?

    Well, they don't want you to put on too much of a fake French accent. Make sure you say the "t," and don't say "mang-gur."

    It's "pret-ah-mahn-zhay."

    And if all else fails, just go with "Pret" (rhymes with "Brett").

    The name means "ready to eat" in French and is a nod to prêt-à-porter, which means "ready to wear" in the fashion world.

    But a name, however it's pronounced, isn't everything.

    Pret A Manger wants to capture a wider audience who care about becoming a little healthier, but still get their food fast. That's what it's focused on.

    "That's more endearing to people than whether they can pronounce the name or not," said Bates.

    SEE ALSO: 13 Fast Food Menu Items That Have Fanatical Cult Followings >

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    On April 20, 2010, the oil rigger Deepwater Horizon exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, causing the largest accidental marine oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry.  After the explosion killed or injured 28 workers and released 4.9 million barrels of crude oil, the gushing wellhead was finally capped. British Petroleum (BP), the multi-billion dollar oil and gas company, was indisputably responsible.

    Instead of expressing true remorse and compassion for the disaster, then CEO Tony Hayward committed a series of cultural gaffes that enraged U.S. citizens and lawmakers. For instance, well before the Gulf crisis was resolved, Hayward proclaimed that he “wanted his life back.” Then, as efforts to plug the leak continued feverishly in the U.S., he casually took in a sailing race with his son off the Isle of Wight in the UK.

    Hayward’s American Disconnect

    This behavior was consistent with Hayward’s work/life balance philosophy.  He once said publicly that he didn’t work weekends and took all of his holidays no matter what.  What the British Hayward failed to realize was that most Americans don’t necessarily agree with this point of view. It is the American way to take responsibility for one’s mistakes and do everything you can to remedy a bad situation. Until the problem is solved, free time does not exist. Since Americans were affected most when Deepwater Horizon exploded, many wanted to see Tony Hayward on a boat participating in the clean-up.

    Although much of his business is conducted in the U.S., Hayward did not demonstrate strong global competence. His lack of understanding regarding how the crisis would be received in the U.S. led to a backward slide of goodwill and a plunging stock price for BP. That summer, it would also cost him his job.

    To find out how you can avoid a Tony Hayward-like PR catastrophe, read my advice over at the AMEX Open Forum.

    NOW READ: 3 Areas You Need To Focus On To Get 'Executive Presence.'

    Please follow War Room on Twitter and Facebook.

    Join the conversation about this story »


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    higgs boson

    One of the serious side effects of the financial meltdown is the cutting of funds for scientific research.

    Development of the microprocessor to power your computer and mobile phone is a bi-product of government-funded scientific research to land a man on the moon.

    Cures for disease, the development of renewable energy, and the ability to grow more food and create safe drinking water are just a few of the benefits that are derived from investments in science.

    This is why scientists, whether they like it or not, need to learn how to brand their work in a way that those with less scientific knowledge understand the great returns that can be generated from their investments. This requires using branding elements to put complex scientific concepts into the brains of mere mortals who vote for funding scientific projects that can help us all.

    The “God particle”

    The most recent example of applying branding to scientific research is the discovery of the Higgs boson, which has been labeled the “God particle” because its postulated existence is required to explain the creation of the universe from a scientific perspective. Most scientists hate the term. In fact, the two who are credited with inventing it, Leon Lederman and Dick Teresi, claim it was used as a joke. Even so, the media latched onto the term “God particle” to emphasize its importance and to make it easier for people to understand it.

    Without the branded label, The Higgs boson is not easy for the average person to understand. It is a particle that acts like a sticky substance, which causes sub atomic particles to slow down and stick together to form atoms that have mass. Back in July, Scientists at CERN in Geneva Switzerland announced that they discovered a subatomic particle they thought was the Higgs boson. After reviewing the data over the past 8 months, the scientists confirmed their discovery.

    British physicist Peter Higgs theorized the existence of this particle in 1964 to help explain matter and mass. According to Dick Teresi, co-author of The God Particle: If the Universe Is the Answer, What Is the Question?, six other scientists helped in its theorization, but Higgs is “the only major particle that the discoverer, or the theorist, named after himself.”

    Bosons are one of the two basic classes of subatomic particles that carry force and occupy the same quantum state and space no matter how many of them are present. French physicist Paul Dirac named bosons after the Indian physicist Satyendranath Bose who worked with Albert Einstein in defining what they are. In addition to the Higgs boson, other particles that exhibit this behavior include photons and gravitons

    DNA

    Confirmation of the Higgs Boson comes 60 years after James Watson and Francis Crick publicized their discovery of the double-helix structure of deoxyribonucleic acid – a molecule that is a fundamental building block of life. Since the name is a bit too complicated for the average person to read and remember, it is frequently branded by the familiar acronym – DNA. DNA is commonly used to solve crimes, find cures for diseases, confirm paternity, and establish relationships between various populations around the globe. In fact, DNA is frequently used as a metaphor for the structure, fabric, or building blocks of just about anything.

    Big Bang Theory

    While many associate it with a popular TV show about Ph.D. student physicists at Caltech, Big Bang Theory is the term first used by an English scientist, Fred Hoyle, on a radio broadcast in 1949. Oddly enough, many claim he used the term in a derogatory way because he believed in a competing Steady State theory for the creation of the cosmos. Anyway, the Big Bang Theory is the branded term used to explain the explosive origin of the universe nearly 13.8 billion years ago. It has grown to become the prevailing cosmological model for explaining the beginning of the universe.

    E=MC2

    The branding of scientific terms can also take the form of an equation. Perhaps the most famous equation is E=MC2, which shows the equivalence of energy and mass. Albert Einstein introduced the equation in a 1905 paper entitled “Does the inertia of an object depend upon its energy-content?” While the concept is difficult for the average person to really understand, the equation has turned into a familiar brand. You will find this equation as a branding element on T-shirts, pasted all over science buildings, and in graphic form just about everywhere. Along with the “God Particle” and the Big Bang Theory, it helps us to understand how a huge amount of energy that occupied little or no space exploded and transformed into the universe with massive stars, planets, comets, asteroids, and all the objects we know. All of these concepts combine with DNA to help explain how life as we know it evolved.

    So many to thank for helping us understand science

    We should be grateful to scientists for their amazing discoveries that have helped to change our world. We should also thank those that branded them so that inventors are able understand them well enough to create products that make our lives better. Now, all we need is for science marketers to make these discoveries even easier to understand. That way, perhaps our politicians and the electorate that put them in office would support funding education and projects for stem cell research, cures for diseases, the exploration of space, and other projects that aim to improve life on Earth.

    SEE ALSO: One Of Nike's Core Strategies Is In Danger

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