Enduring Rock Bands Share Traits For Brands

As Ben Ratliff journalist for the New York Times revealed today, bands like the Rolling Stones, the Beatles, and the Beach Boys stood for an idea beyond their success. The same is true for enduring brands. They stand for something that resonates because they’re radically different from what’s expected with unique values, millions love, share and sustain.

How can that be tapped by brands and what’s the most essential element in this saturated world?

  • Be different to what’s been done as Timberland demonstrated
  • Be principled like Disney, but not too uptight
  • Be heroic with a validated opinion that charts a new course for business e.g., Nike
  • Be known for being remarkable as is Apple
  • Be followed like Coke
  • Be sustainable and fresh like Patagonia
  • Be a challenger of the rule like you.

Breaking the frame is the common thread that generates shareability. We needn’t be surprised nor challenged by it, especially when one considers their own ‘rock n roll’ lifestream.

Dirty Brands: 5 sex myths that ring true

I read a blog post about sex myths and realized they’re right for brands also:

  1. Love is an emotion and not the same as anger, sadness or surprise
  2. Men want sex, women want relationships i.e., products wants sales, brands want relationships
  3. Love and hate are polar opposites, but a millimeter apart i.e. brand experience
  4. Porn appeals only to men is rubbish: sex sells
  5. Men are genetically programmed to cheat and many brands are guilty of doing that demonstrably these last few years.

A brand declines when it is no longer sublime, enjoyable or just plain down boring. Come on, let’s go, roll said the traffic cop yesterday




For Everyone, Eveywhere: a summation of Occupy Wall St.

Business creates wealth, purpose and dignity, “The lack of money is the root of all evil” commented Mark Twain. Building new sources of growth and being successful in new markets often demands acting in an unfamiliar manner and in entrepreneurial ways. Robert Lowenstein of Bloomberg Business Week finally provided the elevator pitch in his article in last weeks edition, “It’s not a hippie thing.”

“They want more and better jobs, more equally distribution of income, less profit (or no profit) for banks, lower compensation for bankers, and more strictures on banks with regard to negotiating consumer services such as mortgages and debit cards. They also want to reduce the influence of corporations – financial firms in particular – wield in politics, and they want a more populist set of government priorities: bailouts for student debtors and mortgage holders, not just for banks.”

Now that wasn’t too hard, was it? In all these weeks there have been countless opportunities for the media to compile with alacrity a succinct perspective of OWS. But the task of achieving them is not so simple. No one really doubts that free markets, fueled by capitalism, can be the most effective engines for generating growth and relieving the poverty trap. It’s whether these clogged arteries can be tipped less in the favor of the bankers, with genuine transparency, regulatory guard rails and oversight.
As Aristotle would have told us, “The greatest virtues are those which are most useful to other persons.”

The tsunami of new money that awaits the herd is not too keen on the latter it would seem. But that new money is without question, like its eager voyeur OWS, at the front line of change of New Century Capitalism. What is it? Utilitarianism – the greatest happiness for the greatest number or myopic on profit and survival of the fittest (to be defined). The latter will no doubt receive an abundance of attention over these coming weeks, what with the debilitating recession, euro bailouts in the billions, the weakening of sovereign nations’ credit worthiness and the chaffing of the unemployment belt.

The business model has already been created: making profit while doing good. And prevalent between the shifting goal posts are the idiosyncrasies necessary for change: the technology platforms to enable, new business systems to employ, changing consumer appetites (for change), transformation of buyer behavior in social sharing, different partner incentives open to adaptation and changing regulation. These foundation stones are worthy – evidently some were thrown aside by the original architects. Perhaps their rough edges will weather better in future storms and provide against internal corporate slippage?

The principles of making money while doing good has flaws; it costs to set it up, it needs change from within the enterprise to accomplish and will take leadership to counter all fears. And be warned of Peter Drucker, “If you find someone focusing on CSR, fire him, and fire him fast,” which I find particularly grievous.

Conscious commerce need not be about feeding the world. It should be focused on the transformative power of business for economic, personal and social good, to engage the public, entice investors and shape a better world. That’s what OWS makes clear from its words and deeds: new century capitalism that is focused on making money while doing good for everyone, everywhere.

The Future is in New Century Brands

Savvy CMOs know that brand building is not a technology arms race. The mindset to create better customer experiences relies on adding value to the conversation through product offerings

By Dean Crutchfield

The baleful consequences of the great recession cannot be resolved by maintaining the same approaches when we created it. The ‘new normal’ in business means many brand owners need to leverage something much larger than a re-take on marketing. They need to accelerate their collaboration with consumers, so that principles such as “For People, For Planet, For Profit” combined with tools of the web and next generation media, can transform brands’ role in the economy, society, and business.

These “New Century Brands” can go beyond the customer centricity school of thought – a focus on creating a positive consumer experience at and after the point of sale to differentiate from competitors which has only truly been achieved by a handful of marketers like Disney, Apple and Mini. New Century Brands help consumers achieve more and do better. Why? Today’s consumer desires a two-way relationship that demands brands be magnanimous, malleable and functional. An untapped opportunity exists for brands to act and feel different from many of those dominating the landscape today by allowing their customers to proactively take part (in the business) and become virtual owners, enabling their customers to participate in delivering the brand as a platform for action or wealth creation.

The majority of brands are not platforms for action and wealth creation, and only a phalanx of New Century Brands exist, but there are three reasons it’s now possible: Mindset, Skills and NextGen Media. Product Red’s success isn’t just a platform for action to eliminate AIDS in Africa. What’s overlooked is that its category busting business model has reinvented the approach to philanthropy by successfully combining making money with doing good, revealing that consumers and brands are now capable of collaborating at a sophisticated level, yielding brand advocacy and new kinds of demand-creation.

Today the Internet is just the plumbing. According to McKinsey & Co. two thirds of the (world’s) economy is influenced by personal recommendations and 95% of social media users believe a company should have a presence in social media. Consequently, brand Mecca’s are being created deep inside social network communities, proof that New Century Brands can be built by harnessing communities across multiple platforms to strengthen and expand products, especially as consumers increasingly move into extending the product itself. Amazon has leveraged the power of digital communities by placing consumers at the center of the brand experience. Its expanding new value pools by creating a system for recommendation based on users’ past purchases combined with user-generated content.

Consumers and communities are thriving online. Alas, many brands have been dilatory, reacting to customers who ask instead of demand creation by being harbingers of change. We’re witnessing a proliferation of platforms, places, systems and devices where a brand is experienced, with mobile fast becoming the newest media channel and the front-end to everything from healthcare to financial services through to package delivery systems and disaster relief.

The opportunity for New Century Brands is to harness skills that recognize storytelling is the new marketing across multiple points of presence, expanding the way we consume, a new path that companies like Aol are bent on. Bain & Co. found that the most recommended company in any given category grows 2.5x the category average and a multitude of filters have evolved to help connect audiences in a more effective/targeted way. The 130 million users who are exchanging more than $1,000 worth of goods on eBay every second are testament to its unbridled success that is a direct result of the online community it has fostered. The business model thrives on a community-generated system of reporting by displaying a seller’s history and community-generated ranking. This reputation mechanism facilitates wealth creation through interaction and commercial exchange, establishing trust and ensuring the relevancy of the eBay brand.

With the serendipitous expansion of digital networks, digital groups and cultures have exploded. Weber Shandwick’s study on what influences purchase decisions found that word of mouth (including strangers) is the number 1 purchase decision influencer! Case in point, Groupon was founded only a few years ago with the mindset that you can appeal and activate a base of millions with a coupon offer that has proved to be a prolific success, posting a deal-a-day to over 2 million fans in over 40 cities and is fast becoming a game changer in how we shop.

Savvy CMOs know that brand building is not a technology arms race. The mindset to create better customer experiences relies on adding value to the conversation: being useful, providing entertainment, sharing knowledge, enabling sharing, creating connections within a community and encouraging new forms of self-expression and personal identification through product offerings. In 2006, when Blake Mycoskie saw children with no shoes on in Argentina, he created TOMS Shoes, which is short for “better tomorrow”. The unique business proposition is based upon for each pair sold; one pair is donated to a child in need. It’s a runaway success online and has established footprints in major retailers such as Whole Foods and Nordstrom’s.

All these uncommon stories share a common bond:

  • It is in their DNA from day one, not an after thought
  • It is the core of their differentiation, not a promotional initiative
  • It is integral to every part of the operation, not just marketing
  • It is genuine, sought after and sustainable, not peripheral

Brand hegemony is no longer about control. Emergent forms of company-consumer connections and social computing interacting with a new kind of collaboration are revolutionizing the way we interact, socialize, and consume. Therefore, CMOs need the skills and vision to craft new century brand experiences, products, services and businesses that bring people closer to the brand, creating intense physical, sensory and emotional experiences. As Michael Porter and Mark Kramer pointed out, “a social dimension to your value proposition offers a new frontier in competitive positioning.”

We’re in the midst of a major transition and “Imagination is more important than knowledge” read the sign hanging in Einstein’s office at Princeton. The revolution of innovation isn’t just happening in the R&D labs of global brands; it’s prolific in the garages and bedrooms of millions. What might seem like trivial tinkering today might well be a game changer tomorrow with a new rulebook: align your strategy with competitors, flout what they do and invent new market rules.

PBS: Nightly Business Report with Susie Gharib

Is Tiger Woods still marketable as a brand?

One on One with Dean Crutchfield, Senior Partner at Method

SUSIE GHARIB: Tiger Woods in the spotlight today giving that long-awaited public apology to fans, family and sponsors. He acknowledged the damage he did to his multi-million dollar sports brand and his business partners. The golf champion earned more than $60 million in corporate sponsorships last year. But the one thing Woods didn’t say today, when he’ll return to competitive golf.

TIGER WOODS, PRO GOLFER: I do plan to return to golf one day, I just don’t know when that day will be. I don’t rule out that it will be this year. When I do return I need to make my behavior more respectful of the game.

GHARIB: So when Woods does return to the game, will the Tiger brand still be marketable? Joining us now, Dean Crutchfield, senior partner at Method. It’s a New York agency that specializes in building corporate brands. Dean, welcome to NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT.


GHARIB: So here’s the big question, is Tiger Woods still marketable as a brand?

CRUTCHFIELD: Absolutely. The court of public opinion has been out for the last three months, but after the performance today, I believe they’re going to return with a positive verdict. He’s going to be back in business and he’s still a big brand and many big brands are going to want to be associated with that.

GHARIB: Really, big brands will want to be associated, even in spite of the fact he has this bad boy behavior?

CRUTCHFIELD: Yes, I think — the wonderful thing about America, anyway, is that there’s a great way of looking forward, not back and I think what was put out today by Tiger was humanity. There was sincerity and there was honesty and I think that’s what we needed. So it was well placed. I believe that there are certain brands, appropriate brands that will be looking for the opportunity. They might even get a discounted rate. Let’s not forget we have the best player in the game and everyone wants him back on the course.

GHARIB: What would be some brands would be interested in taking on Tiger as a sponsor?

CRUTCHFIELD: Well if you look at the some of the leisure and entertainment brands, car brands, mobile brands, technology brands. There’s a whole bunch of businesses that could be very interested in this. I think what we have to look at is what’s relevant and what’s not. And most importantly, what’s the audience? So clearly, certain brands are not going to be interested. It’s not going to be Johnson’s baby powder, but I think there are many other brands that would like to seize upon the opportunity.

GHARIB: Let’s go back to some of these sponsors that we currently have and ones he’s lost. AT&T and Accenture dropped the Tiger brand. Nike stood by him. Who really made the right call here?

CRUTCHFIELD: Nike. I think the harshness of the other brands in just dropping him immediately actually didn’t really reflect well upon them. Clearly, you wouldn’t actually have Tiger as your main voice to the market as he was for Accenture. But just to drop him like a piece of trash I think was undeserving of somebody like that and it didn’t give him the chance to actually come around and tell his story. So I think that really, the brands like Nike have done a good job. They stuck their course. It’s about sport. He’s a sports man and basically they stuck by him and I think that will do them a lot of favor.

GHARIB: What about from the point of view of shareholders of these companies? When you do the economic, do the math on all of this of these multimillion-dollar celebrity sponsorships, what is the value to those shareholders? What’s the return on their investment?

CRUTCHFIELD: The value is huge. You know, brand activity and marketing is massive value to companies. If you look at global corporate sponsorship, they’ve got about $50 billion, 17 of which is in the U.S. What’s important about that, it might be only a few points of the total marketing spent of major brands, but it’s the mentions that they get in terms of web and radio and TV. These impressions are worth billions of dollars. So it has a hugely influential role in building a brand.

GHARIB: So how would you measure? Is there any way to financially quantify, if you’re getting your money’s worth?

CRUTCHFIELD: Well, it’s a difficult thing in this business to actually come out with any formula that does it. What we do know is that the top 100 brands in the world are together worth over $2 trillion. That’s brand value. That’s an enormous sum of money, an enormous amount of value and that’s a big role the brands play, including the sponsorships that they make with major personalities. In fact if you look at global sponsorship, most of it is actually in sports.

GHARIB: OK, real quickly, how many years or months is it going to take for new marketers to approach Tiger Woods?

CRUTCHFIELD: I’m sure they’re already approaching him now. It’s a question of what he’s putting out there, the fact that he’s actually left this big cliffhanger whether he’s coming back to the game will surely unveil itself over the next few weeks. I think the assumption is that he will be in the game and there are going to be sponsors interested in doing business with him.

GHARIB: Very interesting. Dean, thank you so much for coming on the program.

CRUTCHFIELD: My pleasure.

GHARIB: My guest tonight Dean Crutchfield of Method.

What is Your Share of Trust?

To regain trust we must first learn from the carnage of message management we have been through these last 12 months. From the very beginning we created a cacophony of conflicting messages from discombobulated departments: investor relations, marketing, public affairs, media relations and HR. Then it dawned upon all of us that audiences overlap and the need for unity and consistency is critical. Making matters worse is that we all knew this already.

What is Your Share of Trust?

Dean Crutchfield article, December 2008, Advertising Age


During the latter part of the last century we finally accepted that the age-old notion of “economic man” – a rational, single-minded, self-interested entity – no longer existed. It was abundantly clear that every economic, business and purchasing decision was made by “ethical man” – an emotionally charged, moral entity that was consumed by the affects on people, their community, their well being and their environment. Suddenly, the marketing of “values” and the selling of reputations, products and services had become big business and forever inextricably intertwined.

It was a new era and a quantum leap: a crying out for words like ethics and trust indulged by the rapid adoption across corporate governance, stakeholder groups, CSR, business ethics and the role of vision, mission, values and culture within companies.

Studies audaciously revealed that people had more trust in brands than the Church, Government and Institutions! In the wake of the Enron and WorldCom debacle, this took a thorough beating for sure, but we’re an optimistic lot and past failures are not an indication of future performance. Or so we thought.

Even the 2008 Edelman Trust Barometer survey of 3,100 opinion leaders across 18 countries revealed some fascinating findings:

“At least 70% of respondents in North America (71%) and Asia (72%) state that global business plays a role that no other institution can in addressing major social and environmental challenges. Fifty-seven percent in the European Union and 63% in Latin America also believe this to be true.”

This merger of the economic and ethical has transformed the meaning and context of trust. Hitherto, trust has been an essential ingredient of all brands and their reputations. Consumer expectations are a combination both emotional and rational: that the brand can and will deliver on promise and that it won’t rip them off.

Here’s the catch: stocks do not have a memory recall button, but consumers do. And now we’re deep into another debacle where global markets have been ripped to shreds and working folk are losing their livelihoods and homes, all the while staring down the barrel at sky high gas prices, avoiding salmonella infected jalapeno peppers, tainted baby milk, toys coated in lead paint, lethal pet foods, plastic bottles leaching off poisonous chemicals, the list goes on (too long).

As the shock, horror and probes in the media have shown about the current pandemonium, the notion of trust (in the commercial world) is still naively centered on the transaction itself and minimizing the “risk” involved in the transaction – which is what brands are supposedly all about. But even at this level of transactional trust, the relationship between business and the consumer is a contract of trust that has clearly been broken. With money easy to come by, confidence at arrogant levels, hedge funds heralded as kings and basic risk management theory thrown out of the window we are steeped once again in very murky waters.

The outcome of these times will reveal that our notion of trust has dramatically moved on from just the transaction itself or trust in the company’s product, but to trust in the people behind the product! Right now, it’s less about “can I trust them to deliver?” but “are they the sort of people who would…?”. Are they the sort of people who would sell me a stock that wasn’t worth the paper it was written on; who would sell me a mortgage I can’t repay; who would tell me a product safe when it’s not; who would use questionable chemicals to manufacture goods more cheaply; who would test on animals; pollute the environment, all in the search of a profit?

Today, most organizations commonly refer to the meaning of share in terms of market share, profit share, revenue share and share of wallet, etc. What they often foolishly overlook, however, is that they are also competing with other organizations for share of trust.

So in today’s world, full of litigation, accusation, scandal and bankruptcy, evidence and counter evidence, when it’s down to the wire, whom do you trust? Which of the organizations you are doing business with are and have the sort of people who would tell the honest truth in this matter?

To regain trust we must first learn from the carnage of message management we have been through these last 12 months. From the very beginning we created a cacophony of conflicting messages from discombobulated departments: investor relations, marketing, public affairs, media relations and HR. Then it dawned upon all of us that audiences overlap and the need for unity and consistency is critical. Making matters worse is that we all knew this already.

Secondly, the smug belief that perception is reality has been found wanting. The truth should not be whatever you get others to believe, it should be about the delivery between word and deed: finance might be the brain of the economy, but brands are its heart.

People and business live their lives in the future not the present. If you take away the future the present becomes meaningless. So as we reap the bitter harvest of imprudent lending, there will be revealed a huge new market for trust that the few and the honorable can mount. In this overwhelming need for revitalization of trust, corporations, governments and regulators will all be ferociously fighting to recapture their share.

So even if I’m praying for light at the end of the tunnel, thanking Paulson for the bail out and calling the police to tell them my tax dollars have been stolen, it all comes down to who do you trust? And in this market for “trust” – worth trillions – the battle will be won and lost on the words and deeds of brands.

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