Corporate Branding and jokes about The Voice
By: Jeff Barrett
From Fortune 500s to someone who bought their first $10 set of Vistaprints, branding is important. Evident in the term being used more than Men's Wearhouse gives out guarantees. Too often, though, we get caught up in the latest, gadget, tool, piece of technology. It can be overwhelming and doesn't need to be.
There are far more constants in communications than there are variables over time. Branding has been and still is about identifying a market, creating a unique brand proposition and communicating that to a target audience in a timely, relevant and engaging fashion. It is positioning, communication and motivation.
However, advancements in technology have created more opportunities and leveled the playing field. Much attention, for good reason, has been paid to leveraging social media in corporate branding. It's a powerful tool to organize a base of support. Powerful enough to overthrow government in Egypt or get Michelle Chamuel in to the finals of The Voice.
It has been paramount in my branding, the success of my firm and in the success of many others. Still, I have to stress that it is one part of an overall communications strategy. How you put together your brand, how you identify your audience, how you choose to communicate are all first and foremost.
With my background, I realize that sounds odd. I'm one of Forbes' Top 50 in Social Media. I have a tweet chat that trends nationally every week. Humble brag. It's like Tony The Tiger saying Corn Flakes are "Goooooooood." It's like Bill Cosby eating pudding and saying it's J-E-L-L-OK. I promise, it will make sense by the end of this article.
Approach social media as the new golf course. It's where you can meet, connect, rub virtual shoulders and network in a relaxed setting. Just like golf, it has its own rules, norms, evolving standards of communication. In business, golf becomes secondary to the conversation taking place. In social media, remember that the tools you are using become secondary to the conversation taking place. It's all about conversation, not how you are organizing your timeline.
Tools are fun. I wrote half of this article by speaking in to my phone. I'm from the generation that was promised Hoverboards in Back to the Future. I get it. I still want that hoverboard. Too often, though, we read Mashable or TechCrunch and focus on what changes Facebook made. Or we get interested in what the next platform will be and how we might use it.
It's far less complicated. Branding, in 2013, can be broken down to four steps.
Define who you are
Look at your competition before you do anything else. Your brand should be true to who you are but drastically different in approach than your competitors. There usually exists an opportunity to be humorous, serious, or innovative in contrast to an existing brand. Find what makes you unique and do your best to make that apparent.
The good news is that you get to create your own path. Create a culture and communication style that is natural and fits your organization. Comfort is key in communication. From an early age I knew I enjoyed making people laugh. I made it work for me. Don't be afraid to be real, natural, approachable as a brand.
Identify your audience
Take the time to study consumer psychology, what motivates your potential customers to want to engage with a brand and share content. This is the most valuable research you can do. Identify what they want and are not getting from competitors.
"Communicate to your audience not your peers." It's fantastic advice I received from Liz Strauss. When beginning we seek out like-minded individuals. A new technology company may market to the tech community and want to be featured in Technorati or TechCrunch. That's what they read, what their friends read, it's their comfort zone. It makes sense at first glance. However, let's say that same tech company has created a mobile retail app for shoppers. It would make more sense for them to be featured in People, Cosmopolitan, and Vogue. It seems like common sense but this mistake is quite easy to make.
Identify who your audience is and their primary form of communication. Then meet them there and tailor your message.
Create timely, relevant and engaging content
Content that is clever today may be obsolete tomorrow. Timing is everything. Being creative and having a great message are only part of the equation. The first thing to consider is when you will release content. I match up content releases with trending topics or conversations. By inserting content in to popular conversation it becomes relevant. This is where having an editorial schedule for your branding and promotions is vital.
Be aware of what people want to, are talking about on any given day and use it to your advantage. Create content at the right time that is relevant to your audience. Finally, make it engaging. Give people a reason to want to interact with it, share it, ask questions, tell their friends.
Your audience is key in branding. They will build you up if you let them. They will defend you, in times of crisis, if you have built up enough equity.
Bring your audience together
This is the variable in communications. Before social media this was less of a concern. Branding was a one-on-one relationship between the company and the consumer. Now it's a collective relationship. You want to create brand loyalists that talk to each other regularly. You want them to bond collectively with your service or product.
All or at least most of this is universal. It can be done online or offline. Social media is an accelerator. It's an opportunity for small businesses to level the playing field. It's an opportunity for large corporations to seem more human, engaging.
My business model is simple. I motivate brand loyalists to share content. This initial groundswell is then used to convince conventional media (TV, radio, print) to cover the story. News media agrees because it's a known quantity with traction. The result is high exposure with limited cost or time invested.
Remember when I said social media isn't everything earlier? This is why. Social media works in accordance with conventional media, your messaging, your brand loyalists to create effective branding.
Branding is not complicated. It's a circle. Your efforts continuously cycle and work to help the next move. Position in accordance to your competition. Communicate in accordance to what your audience wants and expects. Motivate media to share your content.
Position, communicate, motivate.
Giving efficiency the full throttle at NASCAR
The NASCAR organization has long been synonymous with speed, agility and innovation. And so by extension, partnerships at NASCAR hold a similar reputation. One such partner for the organization has been CDW – a leading multi-brand provider of information technology solutions to businesses, government, education and healthcare customers in the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada. CDW provides a broad array of products and services ranging from hardware and software to integrated IT solutions such as security cloud hybrid infrastructure and digital experience. Customer need is the driving force at CDW, and the company helps clients by delivering integrated services solutions that maximize their technology investment. So how does CDW help their customers achieve their business goals? Troy Okerberg, Field Sales Manager - North Florida at CDW adds “We strive to provide our customers with full stack expertise, helping them design, orchestrate and manage technologies that drive their business outcomes.”
NASCAR acquired International Speedway Corporation (ISC) in 2019, merging its operations into one, new company moving forward. The merger represents an important step forward for NASCAR as the sport creates a unified vision to embrace its long history of exciting, family-oriented racing experiences while developing strategic growth initiatives that will drive the passion of core fans and attract the next generation of race fans. CDW has been instrumental in bringing the two technology environments together to enable collaboration and efficiency as one organization. Starting with a comprehensive analysis of all of NASCAR’s vendors, CDW created a uniform data platform for the data center environment across the NASCAR-ISC organization. The IT partner has also successfully merged the two native infrastructure systems together, while analyzing, consulting and providing an opportunity to merge Microsoft software licenses as well.
2020 turned into a tactical year for both organizations with the onset of the pandemic and CDW has had to react quickly to the changing scenario. Most of the initial change included building efficiencies around logistics, like equipment needing to be delivered into the hands of end users who switched to a virtual working environment almost overnight. CDW’s distribution team worked tirelessly to ensure that all customers could still access the products that they were purchasing and needed for their organizations throughout the COVID timeframe. Okerberg adds that today, CDW continues to optimize their offering by hyper-localizing resources as well as providing need-based support based on the size and complexity of their accounts. Although CDW still operates remotely, the company commits to adapting to the changing needs of their clients, NASCAR in particular. Apart from the challenges that COVID-19 brought to the organization, another task that CDW had been handed was to identify gaps and duplicates in vendor agreements that the two former single-entity organizations had in place and align them based on services offered. CDW further helps identify and provide the best solution from a consolidation standpoint of both hardware and software clients so that the new merged organization is equipped with the best of what the industry has to offer.