Sunday, September 25, 2016

Five #PersonalBranding Tips from Vin Scully

As all baseball fans from Los Angeles, all of America, and all over the world, know, the time has come for a classic to retire. Vin Scully, the voice of the Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers for 67 years has announced his final home game for the LA Dodgers. While he will announce three additional games next weekend, the final three games of the Dodgers’ season, he will broadcast those games from San Francisco. There are countless articles online and in print publications recognizing Vin for his spirit, his humility, and his humanity, but as a brand marketer, I believe that everyone can learn five personal branding tips from this inspiring ambassador of baseball.

As Vin’s story goes, he grew up as a New York Giants fan (the baseball team that would eventually move to San Francisco). However, once he joined the Dodgers broadcast team, he could no longer publicly root for the Giants. That said, he dedicated himself to his job and became a rock of Gibraltar to his fans. They knew that whenever they turned on the radio or later, the television, he and his familiar voice would be broadcasting the game.

SHARE ON TWITTER: Vin Scully was the voice of the @Dodgers for 67 years. What can you learn from him? -@DebbieLaskeyMBA #personalbranding

Vin always had a story to tell about the ballplayers, both the Dodgers and all visiting team players. He made his broadcasts come to life, because listeners didn’t just hear about walks, strike-outs, and runs. Instead, he painted pictures with his words and the unique cadence of his voice. Sometimes, he even let the roar of the crowd tell the story. After Kurt Gibson hit a jaw-dropping home run in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series, Vin said, “She is gone.” Nearly 70 seconds after listening to the roar of the crowd, he uttered a statement that has gone down in history, “In a year that has been so improbable, the impossible has happened.” (A fun fact: My dad and I were sitting in the right field pavilion just a few rows up from where that home run was hit, so we didn't hear Vin's remarks until later that night on the TV newscast.)

SHARE ON TWITTER: Everyone has a story to tell, how do you tell yours? -@DebbieLaskeyMBA #personalbranding

Vin’s signature greeting was “Hello or good evening wherever you may be,” and to most, this seemed like a greeting from one family member to another. Since many of Vin’s fans never got the chance to meet face-to-face, his easy-going demeanor and friendly style transformed the connection of broadcaster and listener to two friends or relatives.

SHARE ON TWITTER: Do you have a signature tagline? -@DebbieLaskeyMBA #personalbranding

Once Vin joined the Dodgers broadcast team, he displayed no bias. Clearly, he was a lifelong Dodgers fan, but for the sake of other other teams and competing players, he never used the collective “We” that so many other famous broadcasters used, like Harry Carey of Chicago or Mel Allen of the Yankees. All teams embraced Vin because they knew he was impartial in his broadcasts.

SHARE ON TWITTER: Are you impartial in the workplace? -@DebbieLaskeyMBA #personalbranding

Vin always welcomed newcomers to the broadcast booth. From Jerry Doggett to Ross Porter to Rick Monday, and many, many more, he shared the booth and the microphone – and the fans knew it.

SHARE ON TWITTER: How do you collaborate with others? -@DebbieLaskeyMBA #personalbranding

From a personal standpoint, my father, who passed away last year, became a Dodgers fan at the age of seven. As a result, he listened to Vin Scully for nearly all of Scully’s years at the microphone and heard many Dodgers highlights from Vin including the 1955 World Series, Sandy Koufax’s perfect game, and the many victories in Los Angeles following the move from Brooklyn. According to my dad, Vin often became the 10th man on the field, because he translated the action for fans who weren’t at the ballpark.

On behalf of my dad, thanks for the memories, Vin!

Check out Vin’s letter to his fans: 

Check out Bill Plaschke’s article in the LA Times, “Vin Scully is a voice for the ages.”

Click to watch Gibson’s 1988 World Series home run and listen to Vin:

Image Credit: Pinterest

Monday, September 19, 2016

Ten Inspirational #Leadership Quotes

Everyone has read a book that inspires, whether it was a book during youth, college, or adulthood. If you’re lucky, you’ve also been inspired by a parent, a mentor, or a boss. But if not, don’t despair. Inspiration is omnipresent if you take the time to look. 

When it comes to leadership inspiration, I have ten favorite quotes. Check them out below, and I guarantee that you’ll be inspired.

Leadership is not a gift, not a position. It doesn’t require you to be the smartest person in the room. It requires you to block and tackle for others. –Mark Herbert (Twitter: @NewParadigmer)

A proven leader knows how to build consensus, the kind of person who makes everybody around him or her better. –President Obama in his introduction of Janet Yellen as the new Federal Reserve Chair in October 2013

Management is about arranging and telling. Leadership is about nurturing and enhancing. –Tom Peters

The pessimist complains about the wind. The optimist expects it to change. The leader adjusts the sails. –John Maxwell

If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader. –John Quincy Adams

A community is like a ship, everyone ought to be prepared to take the helm. –Henrik Ibsen in “An Enemy of the People”

Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail. –Harold R. McAlindon

Hire people who are better than you are, then leave them to get on with it. Look for people who will aim for the remarkable, who will not settle for the routine. –David Ogilvy

Trust is deepened by supporting the team, sharing credit with them, and even sacrificing for their welfare. –John Baldoni (Twitter: @JohnBaldoni)

I’ve learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights. –Maya Angelou

What words of wisdom inspire you about leaders and leadership? I invite you to chime in.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Instagram’s Logo Change – A Look Back

Back in May, you may recall that Instagram changed its logo. With the buzz now history, let's take a look back at how the logo change was viewed by some members of the media as well as the reasons behind the design change.

According to Instagram's blog, "You’ll see an updated icon and app design for Instagram. Inspired by the previous app icon, the new one represents a simpler camera and the rainbow lives on in gradient form. The Instagram community has evolved over the past five years from a place to share filtered photos to so much more — a global community of interests sharing more than 80 million photos and videos every day. Our updated look reflects how vibrant and diverse your storytelling has become. Thank you for giving this community (of 400 million users) its life and color. You make Instagram a place to discover the wonder in the world."

Instagram's logo, a retro-looking camera, was one of the most recognizable logos in the entire tech sector. That logo was replaced by a background swirl of sunset colors (orange, yellow, pink, purple) and a white outline of a camera. According to Hannah Jane Parkinson of the Guardian, "As if the camera was murdered - chalk was drawn around its body. Murdered at sundown."

Ian Spalter, Instagram's head of design, said everything correctly in this statement: “Brands, logos and products develop deep connections and associations with people...and we thought we could make it better."

However, Lauren Keating reported in Tech Times, "Instagram lost its mind when it decided to do away with its iconic logo and replace it with the most colorful and vibrant icon we could imagine. It is almost like the purple/pink-fading-to-yellow icon is a metaphor for the end of an era for the app. Sure, it was supposed to signify the changes and evolution of the popular photo-sharing app, but all it does is remind us that the sun has set on its reign as apps like Snapchat continue to rise in popularity. While some may like the colors instead of thinking they stick out like a sore thumb, you have probably noticed how hard it now is to find Instagram by its icon."

There was a different point of view expressed by Lesya Liu in Entrepreneur, "The most recent update is only skin-deep - it did not affect navigation - so it’s very likely people will get over it in a few days, just like they got over the recent algorithm change. After all, Instagram is a very popular platform these days. For a lot of businesses, this is the way to reach millennial demographics, the generation that currently holds the largest buying power. Overall, there are people who really love it and really hate it, which is understandable when one of the respected apps changes something. Yet, the updates are only cosmetic and do not affect the meaning and the value behind the network."

But isn't that the point of a memorable logo? Don't people gravitate toward a logo due to its design? And don't some designs appeal more than others? Think of Nike - its logo appeals and connects more with athletes and runners than those who needlepoint and knit. Think of BMW - its logo appeals and connects more with race car drivers than swimmers. And think of Apple - its logo appeals and connects with techies more than farmers.

Four months after the logo change, do you like the new logo or do you hate it? More importantly, has it stopped you from using the app to share your fave pics and videos? If you're like me, the answer is a big fat NO.

[Images courtesy of Instagram]

Sunday, August 14, 2016

This Online Customer Experience Was Anything But Sweet

I visited an online store recently to make a purchase. The store sells sweets: brownies, cakes, and cookies. The store is also part of a large group of online stores where you can purchase everything except the moon: fruit, flowers, popcorn, muffins, steaks, cheese, caramel apples, and more. 

On this occasion, I simply wanted to purchase something called a Cookie Card, a buttercream cookie and a greeting card. I made the online purchase and provided my friend's address where I wanted the cookie card to be delivered and assumed everything was done.

About three weeks later, when I wondered if the cookie was as delicious as advertised, I asked my friend about the cookie and was surprised to learn that it had never arrived. Disappointed, since I had thought the gift was a great idea and wanted it to arrive in a timely manner, I called the online store.

The first customer service rep I spoke with was extremely rude. You would have thought I was bothering her by calling her during HER WORK DAY. She asked me to repeat my order number several times, because she was clearly not paying attention to me, the customer. Finally, she said that my order was lost. Then, she said that the specific cookie and card that I had ordered were no longer available. She asked me what I wanted to do. I had to go online while I was on the phone (I had not been near my computer or an Internet connection when I made the call) and search through other Cookie Card options. Why couldn’t the rep offer any suggestions? Additionally, even if the company had not been responsible for losing the item, where was the apology, or even better, the statement equivalent to "Let me make this right because we value your business."

I asked to speak to a supervisor and was told, “You will be given the same information.” What information? The rep had not offered to do anything to resolve the lost cookie situation. Since the standard “this call may be monitored for training purposes” had been heard before the customer service rep initially came on the line, I hoped someone would hear my request for a supervisor – that I made three times! At long last, I was transferred to another rep. I explained that my order was lost and asked for another order to be placed immediately.

Once the discussion was over, the new Cookie Card chosen, and the order was placed, I voiced my concern about the first rep, and the second rep apologized and offered to send me a $20 gift card via email. I thanked her but was uncertain if I would ever use it.

Two weeks passed, and I did not receive the gift card. While I may not have used it, the fact that it was promised and did not arrive provided further proof that this company doesn’t care about its customers and repeat business.

So I called customer service again and asked about the status of the gift card. The day after I called, I received an email with a $15 gift discount code, however, it had a date that had already expired – not exactly how I would create repeat business.

I wondered what this company’s leadership team thinks about the importance of repeat business. Upon review of its website, I learned that its mission is to "provide the finest freshly-baked gifts and desserts for all of life’s moments, delivered with warmth and backed by our guarantee of excellence."

It would seem that the marketing/PR team and the leadership team are definitely NOT on the same page. All the proof you need is to read a little more: the company states its promises to customers:
•    Delicious cookies and freshly-baked goods
•    Only the highest quality standards
•    Friendly service focused on excellence
•    Trustworthy, dependable products and services
•    Unique gift ideas and exclusive packaging
•    The strongest guarantee in the business

If I experienced "friendly service focused on excellence" and the “strongest guarantee in the business,” then certainly there’s work to be done!

Can you guess the company? Tweet me @DebbieLaskeyMBA with the hashtag #servicefail.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Why Branding and Storytelling Are Linked

While many in the marketing arena believe that storytelling is the latest buzz, the truth is, storytelling has been around since the invention of brands. You just have to look at memorable taglines. Think about Wheaties' "Breakfast of Champions," or BMW's "The Ultimate Driving Machine," or "Bags Fly Free" from Southwest Airlines.

According to Wikipedia, “A tagline is a small amount of text which serves to clarify a thought for, or designed with a form of, dramatic effect. Many tagline slogans are reiterated phrases associated with an individual, social group, or product. As a variant of a branding slogan, taglines can be used in marketing materials and advertising. The idea behind the concept is to create a memorable dramatic phrase that will sum up the tone and premise of an audio/visual product or to reinforce and strengthen the audience’s memory of a literary product. Some taglines are successful enough to warrant inclusion in popular culture.”

Therefore, taglines are the seeds that create stories, and they introduce brands to new customers and solidify them into the lives of long-term customers. When your executive team conducts the "should our brand have a tagline" discussion, ask these five questions:

[1] Would a tagline clarify the brand’s competitive strength or strengths?
[2] Would a tagline speak to the target audience or audiences?
[3] Would a tagline easily align with the visual representation of the brand's logo?
[4] Would a tagline reflect the personality of the brand?
[5] Would a tagline be easily associated with the brand (and be memorable)?

If you can answer all of these questions with a resounding yes, then you're ready for a tagline. Always remember, though, the key for a successful tagline is to integrate it into all aspects of your marketing strategy from online marketing to in-store displays, from email marketing to advertising, from public relations to social media, etc. The tagline has to become an appendage to all of your communications and promotions - and if done effectively, it will become the core of your brand story, thus making your overall storytelling easy.

So, as you contemplate the importance of storytelling for your brand, consider these questions:

[1] How do you decide on a compelling story?
[2] What elements do you include and which do you leave out?
[3] What is an appropriate length for your story?
[4] Do you feature a person (for example, your founder) in your story?
[5] What is the key take-away from your brand’s story, and is it easy to grasp or embrace?

While the publishing industry is undergoing a transition from print to digital, there is one newspaper that embodies its city, The New York Times. While you may not know that the newspaper began in the mid-1800’s, there is no doubt that you've heard of The New York Times Crossword Puzzle, Art and Theater sections, and its Opinion section. Whenever someone wants to be heard, he or she comments in The New York Times. (Remember Angelina Jolie's editorial when she announced her breast cancer?) The newspaper’s motto was “All the News That’s Fit to Print,” but on its website, the motto was changed to, “All the News That’s Fit to Click.”

According to Southwest Airlines Chairman/President and CEO Gary Kelly, “Southwest was conceived on a cocktail napkin when San Antonio businessman Rollin King and his attorney, Herb Kelleher, met at the St. Anthony Club and etched out what would become the “Texas Triangle,” charting a path for low-fare travel between Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio. The vision was simple: offer business professionals a faster, more efficient way to travel at a lower cost and do it with warm, personable service and a smile.” 

Kelleher knew that in order for his employees to do a good job, they had to have fun. So Southwest allowed flight attendants to wear shorts instead of uncomfortable uniforms and tell silly jokes to passengers over the intercoms. The airline continues to provide peanuts, soft drinks, and juice – when competitors charge or don’t offer any food or drinks. Southwest also invites passengers to travel with their baggage without a fee because according to their ads, “Bags fly free.”

And no discussion about storytelling would be complete without a reference to the master storyteller Walt Disney. There were Snow White, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, and they were just the beginning. From animated movies to theme park rides to feature films, everything that is part of the Disney brand tells a memorable story.

So take a page from your favorite brand's play book - whether it's from movies, sports, or consumer products - and think long and hard as to why it's your favorite brand. I guarantee that you'll see a story lurking somewhere within the tagline.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Tips for #EmployerBranding

On June 29, 2016, I was honored to be the featured guest of Digital Branding Institute's TweetChat or #DBIchat. The chat topic was, "Who Would Be Excited to Work for You? How to Brand Yourself As an Employer." The hour-long chat took place on Twitter, and some customer service and marketing experts chimed in. My special thanks to Shep Hyken, Elaine Fogel, and Ron Thomas.

Here were the eight questions asked during the chat:

Q1: What is employer branding?

Q2: Why should employers care about employer branding?

Q3: What is onboarding?

Q4: What part does onboarding play in employer branding?

Q5: What is a brand ambassador?

Q6: How can a leader inspire his/her employees to become brand ambassadors?

Q7: Is employee engagement just a term or can businesses really create it?

Q8: What are some employer brands that stand out for their cultures?

Big thanks to Juntae DeLane for the invitation to lead the chat. If you missed the chat, check out the full recap below via Storify.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Five Brand Tips for Second Half of 2016

With 2016 nearing the halfway point, it’s time to review your brand strategies and see how effective your overall marketing initiatives have been. But wait. Before you review the email marketing metrics, website traffic metrics, and other key performance indicators, you can learn a lot about your overall marketing impact by reviewing your brand equity. According to Wikipedia, “Brand equity refers to the marketing effects or outcomes that accrue to a product with its brand name compared with those that would accrue if the same product did not have the brand name. “ So if you don’t like what you see, consider implementing these five brand tips for the remainder of 2016.

Build a more engaging Instagram presence and profile. While social media and social networking platforms come and go, Instagram has solidified its popularity with more than 300 million users. Since Facebook purchased it back in 2012, Instagram has become “the home for visual storytelling for everyone from celebrities, newsrooms and brands, to teens, musicians, and anyone with a creative passion.” So, does your brand have an Instagram profile? Some brands that effectively use the site to tell their stories include Tiffany & Co., Sherwin-Williams, M&Ms, Oreo, and the San Diego Zoo.

Build a top-notch mobile experience for your brand. Since most interactions between your brand and prospective customers result by a visit to your website, without a doubt, you want an amazing state-of-the-art website. But upon further thought, many people access the web from their smartphones and mobile devices – on a staggering rate. So that amazing website just might not be amazing on a small screen. Therefore, it’s critical that your site be responsive so that the important information can be seen, read, and acted upon. According to Wikipedia, “Responsive web design is an approach to web design aimed at crafting sites to provide an optimal viewing and interaction experience, easy reading and navigation with a minimum of resizing, panning, and scrolling, across a wide range of devices from desktop computer monitors to mobile phones.”

Conduct a brand audit. If you haven’t conducted a comprehensive brand audit in the past two years, it’s long overdue. This means everything that reflects your brand – all printed collateral, signage, main website and sub-sites, all social platforms, logo, tagline, color palette, press releases, corporate communications, overall brand voice – must be reviewed for consistency and relevancy. If they don
’t align, you have work to do.

SHARE ON TWITTER: If everything that reflects your brand doesn’t align, you have work to do. ~@DebbieLaskeyMBA

Review and update your brand promise. Is it still relevant? Is it still supported by customers? In addition, is your brand story easy to understand? Is it easy to tell? Edit, tweak, and edit again. Make sure everything is up-to-date, relevant, and easy to understand and share.

Engage your employees so that they are enthusiastic about their most important job: being ambassadors for your brand. When employees are happy, customers feel the excitement and want to be part of the brand experience. Educate employees, inform employees, and reward employees. All employees are brand advocates whether they think they are or not.

And one final reminder as you look toward the second half of 2016, to quote Michael Eisner, former CEO of the Walt Disney Company, “A brand is a living entity – and it is enriched or undermined cumulatively over time, the product of a thousand small gestures.” Don’t mess up your thousand small gestures!