Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Two weeks make a huge difference in the life of a logo - just ask the Gap

Last week, after time and money, the Gap unveiled its new logo. Now, this week, after capturing the attention of marketers, advertisers, competitors, and most importantly, consumers, the Gap announced that it would use its original logo instead of the new one.

Do you have whiplash yet?

While this change of events resurrected memories of the New Coke fiasco, for the Gap, the logo was the issue more than the actual product. Had the new logo been amazing and inspiring, perhaps, consumers would not have demonstrated such distaste. But, the new logo lacked imagination. In fact, it actually resembled the logo of another brand - that of a social media company that shall remain nameless.

Since this blogger was unimpressed with the look and feel of the Gap's new logo, I continue to believe that this entire campaign was an orchestrated publicity stunt by the Gap to generate interest in its brand. In today's challenging economy, brands need to stand out...and you just can't pay for the kind of attention that the Gap has received these past two weeks.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Why is there so much noise surrounding the Gap’s new logo?

Almost a week after the introduction of the Gap’s redesigned logo, people are STILL talking about it. While logos are important reflections of a company’s brand, the chatter seems so well orchestrated that I wonder if the Gap unveiled a new logo just to cause a stir in marketing and advertising circles.

But, since this is not the case, I wonder why the Gap created a new logo in the first place. According to Wikipedia, “a logo is a graphic mark or emblem commonly used by commercial enterprises, organizations and even individuals to aid and promote instant recognition. Logos are either purely graphic (symbols/icons) or are composed of the name of the organization (a logotype or wordmark).” Well-known examples include Coca-Cola’s red script, Google’s colorful letters, McDonald’s yellow arches in the shape of an “M,” and the script in Walt Disney’s name combined with the drawing of Mickey Mouse that together form the logo for The Walt Disney Company.

According to David Aaker, brand marketing expert, “An extended identity can help a brand break out of the box…consider the strategic role of the Wells Fargo stagecoach in the brand’s awareness level and associations of reliability and innovation.” The stagecoach image immediately tells a story for the Wells Fargo brand – and the story is an integral part of that brand. Aaker explained in his book, Brand Leadership, that there are several advantages to developing a rich brand identity:

  • a richer brand identity more accurately reflects the brand
  • the point of the brand identity is to provide guidance to decision-makers about what a brand stands for
  • a brand identity should capture the values and culture of a company
  • the extended identity helps the brand move beyond core attributes

So, here are my questions for the Gap’s new logo design team:

  • What is the new logo telling consumers?
  • How is the new logo’s story different from the old logo’s story?
  • How does the new logo fit with the company’s culture?

I think the Gap’s new logo resembles Facebook’s logo – note that it appeared soon after the release of the movie “The Social Network.” Maybe, the question we should be asking is, how else will Facebook redesign our lives? What do you think?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Do your employees like your company or do they dream of moving on? A Review of “Lead Employees to Success, Not Out the Door”

Businesswoman and employee satisfaction researcher Wendy Duncan has written a book for everyone that has been touched by poor management in the workplace: supervisors, leaders, managers, and subordinates (employees). According to Duncan, studies show that the number one reason that employees leave companies is “the failure to connect with their boss or leader. People leave managers not companies.” That statement proves that too many people in supervisory roles just don’t understand the power they wield.

The leaders who work most effectively, it seems to me, never say “I.” And that’s not because they have trained themselves not to say “I.” They don’t think “I.” They think “we;” they think “team.” They understand their job to be to make the team function. They accept responsibility and don’t sidestep it, but “we” gets the credit.” ~ Peter Drucker

In her book, Duncan adds names and descriptions to familiar workplace characters. Supervisors, leaders, and managers who embody these characteristics are the reason that employees don’t give 110%, aren’t totally engaged, and dream of moving on. You may recognize some or all of these characters in your workplace:

  • The bull (aka, bull in a China shop)
  • The intimidator/bully
  • Every man for himself
  • The credit taker
  • The assumer
  • See employee as a customer
  • Bad mouth, loud mouth
  • Discriminating Dick
  • Introvert Ernie
  • Promising Pete
  • Lack of interpersonal skills
  • Condescending Curt
  • Micro-Mary
  • Moody Marge
  • The extreme macro-Mac/ghost manager
  • Brown nose Betty
  • The corporate climber
  • Chatty Patty
  • Executive Romeo
  • The corporate sniper (aka, the black widow)

So, how can employees change their perspectives from dreaming of leaving to, instead, remaining and re-engaging? According to Duncan’s research, studies show that employees need trust in and respect for their direct supervisor as well as for their company’s leadership team. So, in order to create an environment where trust and respect can exist, Duncan provides 24 excellent questions that leaders and managers can ask themselves. While all provide areas where a leader or manager can improve his or her supervisory style, the following are my favorites:

  • Do you bring value to your employees? If yes, what?
  • Do you support your employees whether it is for completing daily job responsibilities or furthering their knowledge or career?
  • Do you give credit where (and when) credit is due?

So, the next time an employee gives notice, consider what you, as the supervisor, could have done differently to make that employee feel more empowered, work harder, or be more motivated. Duncan’s book is a great tool to assist you with your evaluation.

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Monday, October 4, 2010

What’s up with “About Us” pages on websites?

During the last few weeks, I have witnessed a great deal of chatter regarding “About Us” pages on websites. When I say that I witnessed a lot of chatter, allow me to clarify. I have received several e-zines in my email box, read several tweets on Twitter, and read several blog posts on this topic. As a result, I presume that one of three things is happening:

[1] companies are redesigning their websites and eliminating their About pages

[2] companies are focusing their Internet dollars on social media and eliminating their websites

[3] companies are moving the content from their About pages to different pages on their websites

When I consider these three possibilities, I have to shake my head and wonder. The implementation of any of these options will not help a company turn prospects into customers, nor will any of the options lead to increased sales. So I have to wonder, what’s up with About Us pages on websites?

The contents of a website’s About Us page should include the following:

  • company name
  • company address and/or contact information (at a minimum, phone and email)
  • company purpose, i.e., what it does or sells (this can be done with a few sentences, a tagline and logo, a mission statement, a vision statement, a values statement, a brief overview of a strategic plan/company initiatives, or a positioning statement/competitive advantage statement)
  • Optional but recommended: company milestones – if company has 25, 50, or more years of history
  • Optional but recommended: CEO’s, president’s, or founder’s welcome (with the person’s photo)
  • Optional but recommended: video of how to use the product
  • Optional but recommended: link to a press room page or another page with a corporate backgrounder, company fact sheet, or press kit
  • Optional but recommended: link to FAQ page
  • Optional but recommended: link to privacy policy

Unless your company has several websites with different URL’s, a main corporate website has to be a “one-size-fits-all” marketing tool. It has to satisfy many requirements and welcome different audiences simultaneously. Therefore, a website welcomes visitors with no knowledge of your company while also welcoming existing customers. It has to welcome members of the media as well as competitors, investors, and job seekers. As a result, your About Us page must contain information that you may consider repetitive, unimportant, or a waste of space.

But the simple truth is, your About page may be the most important page of your entire website.

Friday, October 1, 2010

A Review of “Leaders Without Borders: 9 Essentials for Everyday Leaders”

Leadership expert Doug Dickerson has compiled an excellent anthology of inspiring anecdotes and guidelines designed for leaders at every level within an organization to develop their leadership skills.

As a leader, how often do you ask yourself these questions? Doug answers them with memorable examples as he breaks down the borders that surround leaders.

¨ How can I energize my employees?

¨ How can I teach my employees to embrace priorities?

¨ How can I share optimism?

¨ How can I establish and motivate a team?

¨ How can I exhibit a positive attitude?

¨ How can I demonstrate authenticity in my actions?

¨ How can I create loyalty?

¨ How can I express kindness?

¨ How can I develop my legacy?

The simple truth is that leaders with borders become insulated from their followers, or in other words, from their employees. This can, and often does, result in disillusioned employees, lackluster work product, stifling office politics, incompetent teams, dissatisfied customers, and decreasing sales. However, when leaders remove the borders around them, they become empowered and able to make a positive long-lasting impact on their employees and companies.

The common theme of all of Doug’s anecdotes was people, and my favorite lines were:

¨ Simplifying the mission is about people in your organizational structure being able to connect the dots because leadership made sure they saw the big picture and knew where the ship was headed.

¨ A leader expanding his borders understands that his success is tied to the success of others around him.

¨ If you are going to leave a strong legacy as a leader, people must be your priority.

In the words of Doug Dickerson, “keep expanding your borders,” and you may be amazed at the results.

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