Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Is Digital Going Too Far?

It is becoming increasingly obvious that the hyper-digital Age is doing a number on interpersonal communication.  Look around you and see how many people are buried in mobile devices, oblivious of other human beings.  Not only that but we're increasingly prodded to take our relationships with others---including customers---to Digital Land in the form of social media.  I'm starting to wonder if we're going in the wrong direction.

Social Media offers a wealth of good outcomes.  We can engage with a wide range of people, reach people when they are not at our location, and connect with incredible networks.  At the same time, we're more easily able to lose ourselves in digital canyons and lose our souls to "digital heroin".

We're going to need to recapture the magic of our humanity to be successful in our businesses.  To whatever extent possible take advantage of opportunities to talk with people.  This can include networking groups, trade fairs, sidewalk sales, open houses, and -- when online -- videos (either recorded or live fed) where we are real human beings and not strings of text.  At the same time we're going to be better differentiated from our competition who are glued to their smart phones!

Bottom Line:  Are you becoming hyper-digitized and losing a chance to speak with customers?  Review how you interact with the wider world and explore ways to introduce your wonderful personality to other people.  Smile, talk, listen and be successful.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Back To Life!

In recent months I have seen at least a number of examples of iconic brand images restored to life.  For those keeping score I include KFC's Colonel (albeit in a creepy form), Green Giant (ditto creepy) , Planter's (well, a bit too creepy also) and Miller Beer (at least the jingle).  I think Koolaid should be on this list, too.  And while Spring picked up the Verizon guy, I count that as a rescucitation.  I must confess to thinking that despite the slight missteps, this is a good idea.

In my youth I was taught never to fix anything that wasn't broken.  But our culture has a driving, insane need to reinvent and rethink and this has played havoc with branding.

Sometimes there are winners.  I would suggest that the GEICO lizard, the Aflac duck and Dos Equis' Most Interesting Man series improved on earlier duds.  But there have been losses.  McDonald's has lost their way.  MetLife is a loser for dumping the Peanuts gang.  And even the "Dell Dude" was much better than anything since.

Too often the baby is thrown out with the bathwater.  We get it when the Frito Bandito is quetly replaced, or when the Hawaiian Punch guy disappeared.  Some images do more harm than good.  But tossing out a well established, harmless association just to be fresh??  There's too much risk the campaign will lose energy or even stray into pure creepiness.  Think The Noid or the Midas Hand.  Hence it pleases me to no end when bad ideas are scrapped and the tried or true strays back into our lives.

Bottom Line:  Not all of us have brand mascots, but we do all have brands.  Any time we change the image and associations we build carefully over time risks a reversal of our gains.  Thus, if you get the urge to refresh things, think twice and ask people who will give you a candid appraisal.  And if you do fall off the rails because of a refresh, think about reviving the best of what came before!