October 18, 2010 § Leave a Comment
Well folks, I’m making a move – a virtual one. You see I’ve just recently launched a major rebranding/rebuild of my website and I’m going to be doing my blogging there instead of here.
This is my last post here at this address. In a month or two I’ll set a redirect to automatically reroute you to the new blog, but for now I didn’t want to confuse anyone.
The new blog is located at http://equationarts.com/blog, but don’t worry, all the old posts and drawings are waiting for you there along with a whole lot more. I’ve put up more galleries for doodles of Space Bunnies and such, a better page for keeping track of my podcast, The Be a Beacon Show – Personal Branding with David Cohen, and something new, an ecard service, which I’m calling doodlegrams.
I hope you’ll continue to visit the blog in it’s new home, and if you do please drop me a note to let me know what you think of the new site.
August 2, 2010 § 2 Comments
The world is not perfect, and neither is your spouse, sibling, parent, friend, child, or pet, but we love them, warts and all, right? I mean my dad sneezes so loud it shakes the windows, my cat refuses to use a scratching post in any room that has a sofa, and I’ve learned the hard way that when my girlfriend asks for a tiny bite of my sandwich she really means something in the range of tiny-for-a-shark-sized bite to just-go-ahead-and-make-a-new-sandwich-sized bite – but do I love them any less? Of course not, in fact sometimes it’s the foibles, the goofiness, the vulnerabilities, the endearing little imperfections that are well, endearing (except the sandwich thing that’s just annoying).
So why are we trying so hard to be perfect online? Why do we have this impulse to sanitize our communication and project some glistening fantasy of personal brand image for the world to embrace? Vanity? Insecurity? Fear of rejection? Well I say vanity-shmanity just be yourself.
In a photoshopped world filled with spin doctors and corporate speak more and more people are seeking authentic, plain as folk, communications. Letting down your hair, lowering your guard and risking letting a little bit of the real you out into the light of day can be a healthy thing for you and your personal brand. It’s a lot more sustainable and reliable for you to just be you than to always try to live up to the glistening fantasy you. Instead of doing cartwheels to try to project a flawless facade, focus on what you got that rocks – that stuff you do with world-beating zeal and samurai skill. Put the attention on those things and the warts become a whole lot less important. I mean if you think about it, someone with zealously applied samurai skill can be intimidating, but if they’ve got a well placed wart too that might be just enough to make them seem approachable.
Focus on your strengths and don’t get bent out of shape about your flaws – they might just be the endearing qualities that help you build an authentic personal brand.
June 13, 2010 § Leave a Comment
Doubtless there are tons of marketers spending heaps of time, money and resources toward trying to make their brands lovable. Sadly, many of these efforts fall far short of that lofty goal and at best achieve a temporary state of likability.
Cool features, great packaging, witty ads, attractive pricing are all dutifully studied, discussed, reviewed and presented and are all too often cast aside when a new ad, a better price, a shinier package, one extra feature or yikes! – one misstep comes along. Loyalty, or rather its lapse, tells us if we are liked, but not loved.
Perhaps the thing to put the attention on and the energy behind is not to strive so systematically to be lovable, but instead to figure out if your brand might be forgivable.
What does it mean to be forgivable? When we forgive we are letting go of resentment that we feel when someone has offended or hurt us. We look past the infraction, the shortcoming, the fumble and refocus on something else, something that forms the basis of the relationship, something that we deem worthy of forgiveness, something that merits a second chance. Is it love? Maybe not always, but it is certainly a step in that direction. When a company can give us something to believe in and then consistently acts in accordance with that belief – demonstrates the belief not just in words, but in choices and actions, then it is developing for those aligned with that belief something that for want of a better word I would call forgivability.
If I can forgive a brand for a mistake, even an offense, then it is likely that I am drawn to some ideal, a value, belief or empathy with that brand. Certainly some offenses are too severe to be forgiven, but I think that more often forgiveness is simply a moot point, because despite the efforts towards being lovable there is no relationship established, no buy-in to anything meaningful beyond the veneer of product, package and price.
If your company should stumble, release a clinker of a product, have a little scandal, make a PR gaff, who would forgive your brand? Who amongst your customers would give you a second chance? Learn who they are and why they would deem you worthy of a second shot and you may find yourself staring at a mirror’s reflection of your core brand values – or perhaps a compass for finding a true and sustainable path to your customer’s hearts.
May 19, 2010 § Leave a Comment
It’s a business cliche – the benign, committee-composed, sanitized, safe, yawn-fest of a mission statement that seems to propagate across so many organizations. It usually goes something like this: “Our mission is to be the respected leader in our industry by serving our customers with integrity and best-in-class service.” Huh? Okay, it is safe, but If your mission statement sounds like it could have popped out of a random mission statement generator then you’ve missed the point, and an important opportunity.
If there is no actual mission in the mission statement then it isn’t really important, is it? It isn’t going to magically motivate anyone or clarify any employee’s judgment when faced with a decision. How does “dedication to serving excellence” help any CEO map out strategy? What kind of compass is “aspiring to world-class performance” when you’re trying to set direction for a company culture and brand?
Hit the dictionary and you’ll come up with mission = “a specific task with which a person or a group is charged”. Now that sounds simple enough. It doesn’t mention safety. It doesn’t mention committee-think or not offending anybody. It does say specific – I like that.
So rather than harp on about how to write a mission statement I’m just going to offer up a few I’d love to encounter in the wild:
1) Our mission is to take our clients’ businesses from $1 million in revenue to $10 million in revenue – then introduce them to people who can take them further.
2) We are dedicated to cleaning up other people’s ecological messes in a profitable way without dumping our garbage in anyone else’s lawn.
3) Our company’s purpose is to build lawnmowers that make you want to mow the neighbor’s lawn too.
4) Our mission is to get customers from point A to point B, efficiently and safely, without ever forgetting they are people, not freight.
5) We are here to lovingly build furniture that your great-grandchildren will fight over.
6) Our mission is to brighten the world with lights that use less energy.
7) Our mission used to be to make household products that make life better for homemakers, now that we’re big we’ve amended that to also make life better for our employees, our communities and our planet.
8) We were put on this earth to design shoes that make you feel sexy.
9) Writing elegant software that makes your job more fun is our mission.
10) Our mission is to make beautiful kites so that more people look up at the sky and smile.
Got a mission statement that doesn’t play it safe?
What’s the most specific, riskiest, or useful mission statement you’ve encountered?
April 15, 2010 § 6 Comments
So where are the posts, David? Yes friends, I’ve been a little delinquent in my writing, but inspired today by a post written by the awesome Fabeku, I decided to just show up.
Now I don’t want you to think I’ve been idle in my absence. I’ve actually been putting out a fair amount of content, but it has been of a more whimsical and decidedly visual bent. I’ve been a doodling fiend. If you’re interested you can check out the magic marker output (along with the occasional picture shot on the go from my phone) by visiting my posterous at http://davidscohen.posterous.com.
I’ve been enjoying this resurgence of my creativity, and frankly a little nervous about ramping up the degree to which I show the world my soft and silly side, but the fact is I preach authenticity in branding, and by gum I mean to practice it as well. (and how often do you get to say “by gum”?) I expect that the current flood of doodle inspiration will abate a bit over time, but it has been bottled up for a while and it feels good to let the drawings flow and not get too judgmental about them. I’ve picked some fairly humble materials to work with too: basically I’ve been drawing on 4″ x 6″ blank index cards and mostly using Sharpies, pens and highlighters. Sometimes I’ll use nicer art markers too – the highlighter palette is a bit limited. I keep it all on the desk so I can take my doodle breaks, scan them and tweet them to the world. So far, the world hasn’t complained, and I’m grateful for that.
I’m also cooking up a new website for Equation Arts. It’s not quite done yet, but I think it will be a better expression of who I am. Here’s a hint of things to come:
There will also be a lot of the color orange ( I love orange), and some crossover doodles will make their appearance there as well.
I hope that people who connect with me know that I’m a big believer that we all have something special to offer the world and each other, but sometimes we find ourselves framed in the wrong context – that “something special” ends up hidden, muffled, suppressed – unable to shine. So the new website is for me a shift in context toward something more authentic. I hope you’ll stick with me through the transition. Thanks! And remember…
February 24, 2010 § Leave a Comment
I had a nice chat with Janet Powers yesterday – Janet is the Diva extraordinaire behind Diva Toolbox™, a site which has been gracious enough to post a few of my scribblings – the latest being The Title That Used To Be Your Brand. Janet shared with me some of the stats on my past articles and asked if I might be interested in joining their growing family of podcasters under the umbrella of Diva Toolbox Radio (a BlogTalkRadio partnership).
I love the Diva Toolbox™ motto: “Within you lies the ability to do anything. Find it.” I think it is a great thought for everyone. The mission of Diva Toolbox™ is to “empower, educate, and entertain women”, but that is a message for men and women alike. I’m delighted that according to Janet my posts have been well received in the almost entirely female Diva community so I’m strongly considering taking her up on the podcast concept, but I feel that what I do here isn’t exclusively for one gender, nor would my content necessarily change for the audience.
Since you know I’m an advocate for listening to your community and asking for feedback on your brand my questions to my readers of this blog are: Would you like to not just read, but listen to some of my ideas too? And if so, do you think the Diva Toolbox would be a good vehicle for that conversation? Please tweet me @davidscohen or post a comment with your thoughts. Thanks!
February 16, 2010 § Leave a Comment
I recently had a great time visiting with Kenneth Brown, The Passionate Entrepreneur. Ken is a multi-media machine so I was delighted when he invited me for an interview session on his BlogTalkRadio podcast. You can check it out here:
I’ve actually been considering giving the BlogTalkRadio format a try, perhaps even doing some live “Brand Therapy” sessions to give listeners some insights into what I call the Whole Brand ThinkingTM process. I’d love to hear from you if you like the idea, or if you think you might be interested in being the subject of such a session.