hypocritical : talking the talk without walking the walk

January 30, 2007

Branding discussion at the University of Portland

Last night, I was given the opportunity to present to a group of MBA students at the University of Portland. (Thanks to Dr. Howard Feldman and Nicole Elovitz for the chance to present.)

Let me repeat that: Me in front of MBA students.

I know. What were they thinking? I mean, seriously. Have they seen how I drone on and on here? Apparently not. (One of the upsides or relative anonymity.)

And--true to form--I droned on and on for them, as well.

It's not often that I'm given the opportunity to talk about brand for three hours straight.

I mean, I do. Quite regularly. To my family. To my friends. To people walking down the street.

But, this was actually their collective choice. Poor souls.

Whoa whoa whoa. Of course, I thought of you, gentle reader. Calm down. Look at what I've done, so that you could share in the experience. I'm posting the slides below. Unfortunately, that means it will be sans my compelling commentary. But, I'm sure you can ad lib. Don't forget, imagine it with a really nasal tone.

Sweet dreams.

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Branding discussion at the University of Portland

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January 19, 2007

AT+T to Cingular to AT+T

I was going to write something about this AT&T to Cingular to AT&T fun. But, Colbert nails it. And gets extra credit for referencing the "Cingular trademark."

(Note: Intentional misuse of "+" for "&" because Blogger doesn't seem to like ampersands in titles.)

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AT+T to Cingular to AT+T

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January 17, 2007

Making the involuntary voluntary

Influencing brand, in my not-so-humble opinion, is all about making the involuntary voluntary.

(I was going to stop there. Leave that hanging like some insightful piece of Joseph Rago prose. Allow you to bask in my genius. But then I realized that it bears a little more explanation, a little more context.)

I can hear you saying it. What am I babbling about?

Take the human body. (You've got one right? I mean, anyone who's anyone has one. They're nearly as popular as iPods and mobile phones. Nearly. If you don't happen to have a body, ask someone in the office if you can borrow theirs. In fact, maybe I would suggest this to be the first course of action. I don't want anyone within my already minuscule reader base to be injured.)

So, you have your human body. Congrats, Igor.

Now, as we all know, with the body, there are some activities which are critical to survival and, as such, managed by a part of the brain that we can't easily influence with our conscious mind. These little functions like hearts beating and digestion and breathing we like to call "involuntary."

Then, there are some functions that are purely window dressing or subjective, over which we have complete conscious control. Things like what kind of food we eat or what words we use or how we walk. These actions we like to call "voluntary."

Business, it seems, tends to be filled with a very similar mix of functions, some voluntary efforts and some involuntary efforts. At least, in the classic view.

Common thought would have us believe that voluntary efforts for business are things like marketing, communications, blogging, product development. They're important. They're fun. But they're not critical to the business surviving, per se.

Equally common and mundane thought would have us believe that involuntary efforts include the things that make the business run. Usually, they are not fun. But they are important. Or so I'm told. They are things like finance, IT, HR, customer support.

But here's my thinking: In businesses that are attuned to brand, every effort is a voluntary effort. Because everything the business does, no matter how rudimentary, affects its brand in the mind of the consumer. Influences the market. Develops an emotional response.

Now, there's a complete book I can write here. But I'm going to stop there. Branding is about making the involuntary voluntary. And in so doing, making the business thoughtful in all aspects of its function. For the benefit of the brand.

Am I right or am I right? I'd love to hear from you. So long as you tell me I'm right. All right? All right.

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Making the involuntary voluntary

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