brand power


3f54e250199c9008c0efee934ba28f92The turn of the screw

There was an industrialist whose production line inexplicably broke down, costing him millions of dollars a day.

He finally tracked down an engineering expert who took out a screwdriver, turned one screw, and then – as the factory cranked back to life – presented a bill for $100,000.

Affronted, the factory owner demands an itemised version. The engineer was happy to oblige:

“For turning a screw: $1. For knowing which screw to turn: $99,999.”

And branding is just like that. Everyone is a “brand expert”. After all, how hard can it be, really, to turn a couple of Vision and Values screws.

Except when there are so many inputs and moving parts, the skill is knowing what screws to turn — and what screws to leave in the toolbox.

Or as I sometimes tell my clients, “My job is to show you where the heck Wally is.”


brand YOU


How to play in the realm of making a difference

Brand YOU is who you really are. And it’s by embracing this truth you start being a person who makes a difference in life and the world.

It’s not easy, and I reckon this is what it takes to be that person. First, you want to stop just being concerned about the stuff that until now you think is so “important” – like what people think of you, and what your position is, and how much money you got, and your posture in the community, and what you believe in, and all that other stuff that massages your ego and ultimately doesn’t make a difference to anyone or anything.

Then, if you want to play in the realm of difference making, you need to be willing to take a stand. And you won’t get any applause for it either. To the contrary, people will judge you and criticise you and say things behind your back. You will lose friends on Facebook and Instagram as your popularity takes a dive.

I’ve said it before, and I say it again – popularity is for mediocre people. If you want the monument of having made a contribution to the quality of life, then this is the domain – you have to take a stand for who you are, what drives you, and why you do what you do.

And yes, it does take a heck of a lot of courage. What if it turns out that you’re a fool? What if other people laugh at you? What will people think?

Well I can tell you what they’ll think. They will think terrible things about you. What the heck do you think they are going to think? They think terrible things about you anyway.

If you want to move them, inspire them, give them the opportunity to express their own magnificence, and be that person who does make a difference … the hell with what they think.

You got this!

brand as business


Freedom comes at too high a price

Millennials (Gen Y, born 1980-2000, aged 17-37) aren’t driving motorcycles. And that’s really hurting Harley-Davidson.

Investment management and research firm Alliance Bernstein downgraded Harley-Davidson’s rating from ‘outperform’ to plain ‘market perform’ in a note it sent to investors last week.

Alliance Bernstein analyst David Beckel said in the report that data showed Millennials just weren’t developing a passion for motorcycle riding the way previous generations have done.

Harley-Davidson bike sales in 2016 were down 1.6 per cent overall, compared to its 2015 figures, while the company’s US sales fell 3.9 per cent, according to Business Insider. This is a pretty significant drop, since Harley sales represent about half of the American big bike market.

So what’s happened? What’s happened to the love of “Easy Rider” freedom as expressed and felt on the long, open road?

Well it seems that Millenials were heavily impacted by the 2008 recession period they grew up in, and so are behaving more responsibly than previous generations.

Describing that recession period as a ‘very significant psychological scar’ that ‘severely negatively impacted’ one out of five US households at the time, Morgan Stanley analyst Kimberly Greenberger told Business Insider that, ‘If you think about the children in that house and how the length and depth of that recession really impacted people, I think you have an entire generation with permanently changed spending habits.’

Wow! An entire generation with permanently changed spending habits. So I’m guessing the “A completely irresponsible thing to do” Harley-Davidson ad campaign that ran in the 90s isn’t going to cut it with today’s battle-scarred Millennials.

brand YOU


Never be afraid to bet on yourself

We live in a world full of experts. There’s always someone with more experience than you saying how things are supposed to be done – tweeters, bloggers article writers, senior managers, highly paid consultants.

But the reality is that there is no playbook. We’re all just figuring shit out as we go along. And when all’s said and done, what other bet can you make that’s going to be as sure a thing as betting on you? Answer – None. You are the best bet there is.

Every day you are called to make bets on yourself. There are the big bets such as taking a new job, moving to a new city, starting a business, or getting married. And then there are the small, seemingly insignificant bets, which shape your life just as much as the big ones. These are the everyday bets you take – opportunities, choices and decisions that you meet with either a “yes” or a “no”.

And if the idea of betting on yourself feels a little risky or crazy, just consider this: every time you don’t bet on yourself, you will always lose. No amount of betting against yourself is going to bring your dreams to life. In the end you’ll always be left wondering “What if…” as you look back on a lifetime of regrets and unanswered callings.

On the other hand, when you bet on yourself, you’re believing in what’s awesome about you. You’re believing in your potential. You’re believing in your dreams. When you bet on yourself you get to be in action, and give yourself the chance to win big. Will you always win? No way. Sometimes you’ll lose big time, because losing comes with winning. That’s life. And at the end of the day at least you can go to sleep knowing you gave it a go.

I’ve gone into so many situations where I literally have no idea what I’m doing or how I’m going to approach the project. But somewhere inside me, I know. I actually do have the answers. Maybe not all of them, but at least a sketchy outline, and that’s all I need to get started. I pick up the rest of the plan along the way, and somehow it all works out in the end. Most of the time anyway.

So will you bet on yourself? And the answer should be simple. Every. Single. Time.

You can do it. You’ve got this.