During my Fulbright in India, I told my story via the web. My blog “The Red Thread” became my adventure log, which over 15,000 people have viewed to date. While friends appreciated the happy anecdotes and photos, I got the greatest response from readers when I talked about the difficult times and moments of vulnerability. People sympathized with the challenges and made them gravitate more toward my story.
Growing up “tell me a story!” was my constant refrain to whichever of my parents or grandparents were available to oblige. The importance of story telling clearly remains equally if not more important as I’ve grown up. While I still can’t get enough of a good fictional story, real life stories have shown their importance in shaping my attitude towards people. Knowing someone’s backstory totally changes my sympathies. While I was already a Ryan Gosling fan, this LinkedIn post cracked me up because I can totally relate to the author’s epiphany.
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There are few more carefully guarded leadership brands than those of American presidents. These men (and eventually women?!), who spend enormous amounts of time under the scrutiny of the public eye, begin building their legacies from the moment they enter public office. Their actions accumulate and shape the way they are remembered, for better or worse.
Richard Nixon’s legacy is perhaps one of the most interesting because it is so fraught with scandal. His involvement in Watergate toppled his credibility and brought his political career to a screeching halt.
Nixon’s resignation and illegal actions left a dark mark on his leadership brand. However, this does not necessarily mean that his legacy will remain equally disgraced, thanks to the Nixon Foundation, an organization whose sole purpose is to maintain and strengthen Nixon’s legacy into the future. Legacy foundations exist for many past presidents, helping to craft a leadership brand for posterity and for the history books.
The existence of organizations that shape presidents’ leadership brand, even after they are no longer alive or in the public eye, is a testament to the importance of leadership branding. Ensuring that people remember Nixon’s peace signs and successes and not just the headlines declaring his administration’s end will be difficult. It is possible that Nixon’s deeds will fade into the fog of history, much as the faults of our forefathers have been replaced by their squeaky-clean legends. But perhaps the tension between the two sides of our Janus-like leaders — heroes on pedestals versus humans with flaws — is what ultimately makes leadership brands more authentic in this era when trust is more critical than ever.
I LOVE AMEX. And here’s why. AmEx has got my back. I don’t just feel like or think they have my back; I know and trust that they do. How do I know? They’ve proved it to me – twice…actually thrice now that I think about it. It’s actually really embarrassing how they solidified our relationship.
One of my good friends was getting married to her kilted fiancé in a castle in Scotland – not an event I was going to pass up. So arriving at the airport in Edinburgh, I put up a fight with the rental car attendant – “I’ve never been in a car accident in my life. What do you mean I am legally required to get car insurance?!” Luckily, car rental insurance was included with my AmEx card, so I drove off happy to have avoided paying for totally unnecessary car insurance….which became very helpful when a stone wall came out of nowhere and side-swiped me on a narrow Scottish road. And also when a curb leapt up in front of me and blew out my tire. (Driving on the left is not my area of expertise.)
Anyway not only did AmEx make it incredibly easy to file a claim, but they covered all the damages. But what impressed me the most was the handwritten note I received months after the incident, apologizing to me for how long the claims process was taking (though I hadn’t noticed). It was an amazing gesture.
Then there was the time my iPod got stolen and because I’d bought it with my AmEx less than 90 days before, the company reimbursed me for the device. Practically no questions asked.
What impresses me most about AmEx’s ability to develop a relationship with me is not just the ease and sense that they have my back. Rather it’s the fact that in an industry notorious for fine print and hidden fees, AmEx never seems to try to screw me over.
Perhaps the reason that I trust AmEx is that they demonstrate trust in me. In a moment when I needed help, AmEx didn’t ask a lot of questions or assign blame to me. They simply got me out of trouble. Because AmEx went out of its way to help me, I’m willing to advocate for them. I trust AmEx, so in my estimation, AmEx has definitely entered the Relationship Era.
P.S. When you Google “I love American Express”, you get 1.2 million hits. I am not alone!
P.P.S. I love you AmEx!
Microsoft Won’t Brand Its Own Phones ‘Microsoft Mobile’ — Nor Use Nokia’s Name For Long | TechCrunch
Now that Nokiasoft is (un)officially a thing, following the completion on Friday of Microsoft’s multi-billion dollar purchase of Nokia’s devices division, the..
Intel has masterfully used sensory marketing by linking its brand to sound. I recognized the unmistakable notes of Intel’s jingle before I even understood what the company sold. While most branding is visual, marketing that stimulates the other senses – sound, touch, taste, and smell – can be even more evocative. For example, when I was living in India, I used to pass a Subway sandwich shop everyday on my way home from work. Even though I resisted eating American food while I was in Delhi, I would inhale deeply each time I passed that Subway store because it smelled like home. The distinctive scent of Subway – presumably the scent of its bread baking — instantly transported me to summertime in Maine when my sisters and I would go to the local Subway and get turkey subs, prompting the “sandwich artist” to dub us the “turkey family.” A sniff of Subway’s familiar scent made me feel nostalgic enough to be lured inside…where I would order a chicken tikka sub.
WARNING: You may not want to know how brands create olfactory stimuli…check out the video. But I still feel a little jolt of happiness when I catch a whiff of Subway!
Photographer Max Oppenheim uses over-enthusiastic stock photo fun to promote the annual festival of brand creativity.
Companies can make long lines and irrational buying a good thing.
Love this quote but don’t believe it is universally true. ”Ultimately, this is what brand religion is all about: stoking emotion with a combination of scarcity and urgency. It’s irrational commerce at its finest.” My brand religion is American Express and not because they have created a sense of scarcity or urgency but because they’ve got my back. When my rental car got attacked by a stone wall in Scotland (and whose idea was it to drive on the left side of the road?!), they sent me an apology note when my rental insurance claim was taking too much time to process. Scarcity and urgency would stress me out in this context. TLC was exactly what I (and the rental car) needed. AmEx provided TLC just when I needed it, and now I’m a customer for life.
Reading the case on Burberry, I was struck by Rose Marie Bravo’s purposeful approach to repositioning the brand to meet market opportunity. Bravo said, “we set our sights on becoming one of the luxury greats, so we began by surveying the market and identifying the gaps. Next, we needed to figure out whether we could position ourselves within one of those gaps while remaining true to our core brand values.” Unfortunately, the case didn’t provide the brand positioning map that Bravo and her team create. So I made one of my own!
Bravo talks about two different axes, which I chose to use for my positioning map: cutting-edge versus classic and functional versus aspirational. I decided to label the latter axis as functional versus “art” (which is more opposite to functional and still aspirational). I plotted some of Burberry’s competitors, which are mentioned in the case, on this positioning map.
Burberry does occupy a space that is squarely balanced at the center of this map (assuming that the map only includes luxury players). I can definitely understand why Bravo found this a valuable means to uncovering market opportunity because I found one too! The market needs a cutting-edge and functional brand! I have to admit that this is a tough combo to pull off. Anyone have ideas for brands I’ve missed in this quadrant for the luxury segment?