Ask 10 people around you to name a brand. I’m sure you will get answers like Coke, Levi’s and Starbucks, or even Fender and Apple.

But brands can be as simple as, well, you.  You are a brand. I am a brand. We have a personality and life experience and other things that people think of when they hear our name.  Some people will think good things and others, I’m sure, not so good. It’s your job to “brand” yourself. If you want people to like you, then you brand yourself in a certain light. Simple?

So, to answer the “simple question” is actually… simple.  Brands need to communicate.  Pure and simple, you need to communicate your personality, a feeling, a quality, in a simple, believable way. Stepping back and understanding the core behind the brand is sometimes the hardest thing to do. It’s subconscious.

Look at those brands I listed above again and compare them to you. When you think of them you might see a logo or a cup or even a guitar shape in your head, but subconsciously you think of what is behind it. A great taste, a feeling or an experience that you can’t put into words. When I think of my best friend there is no logo in my head, but a simple feeling. If I made a tagline for my best friend it might be: “Trusted. Loved and Respected.” Hell, my best friend doesn’t have a logo, brochure or even a website. That’s good branding of a brand.

So next time someone asks you to name five brands… put you on the list.

September 29, 2011 · Posted by in branding  

Facebook

If there’s three things that you can count on in life, it’s death, taxes, and Facebook making changes. (I’m pretty sure that’s how the old saying goes.)

Since the new look is only available to developers right now, I thought I’d share some screen shots to let you know what’s coming.

The image above shows my new profile. You can choose a nice big image of yourself (or a monkey) for people to see.

Facebook

Typically Facebook makes changes to its user interface and design, but this time around it seems a bit more radical, as they’ve made a number of changes that seem to be positioning them to broadcast your lifestream. In a way this is good, because previously it wasn’t easy to go back in time to see all of your old posts, but it’s also a bit weird to think that Facebook has so much information about you.

On the right is a timeline that shows everything from today back to the point when you were born. Yes. When you were born. If there was ever any doubt Facebook wanted to know everything about you, this should dispel that doubt.

Facebook

You can also add important “Life Events” such as getting married, having a baby, losing a limb, or eating a bagel.

I won’t go into much more details, but I thought it might be nice to give a sneak-peek of the coming changes. Also, in six months when they make more changes, we can look back at this post and talk about the “good old days” with some fondness.

September 27, 2011 · Posted by in social media  

Are you tired of messy ketchup packets? Heinz, the ketchup company, was and decided to clean up its image by creating a unique new package.

Heinz Dip & Squeeze, was first introduced in restaurants like Dairy Queen and Chik-fil-A earlier this year. The new packets give people two choices for Heinz Ketchup use. One could peel back the label to dip, or tear off the top if you want to squeeze some ketchup on your food. The new packets also provide people with three times more ketchup than the older version.

“Consumer demand for this product has been tremendous, as there is a universal need for convenient, portable packaging,” said Noel Geoffroy, Vice President of Heinz Brands. “We are thrilled to help consumers make it easier and more fun to dip or squeeze Heinz Ketchup no matter where they are.”

The new design has a familiar face. It’s shaped like a Heinz bottle with the same signature red color and familiar tomato vine and logo. The ketchup will be available in packs of 10 with a suggested retail price of $1.99. Will you buy into the ease of this new product, or run the risk of wearing red with those old packs?

September 27, 2011 · Posted by in branding, design, misc  

IKEA: Mansitters

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IKEA Manland

As a parent, you may have used IKEA’s handy children’s play area. You drop off the kids, and in exchange you get a buzzer to carry around. After 30 minutes, time is up and you need to collect your children.

IKEA does this to enhance your shopping experience. You get a small break to do some shopping without the kids, and they get to play in a supervised environment.

So ladies, would you like to do the same thing with your husbands and boyfriends? IKEA tested a “MÄNLAND” area where wives and girlfriends can leave their (complaining) husbands and boyfriends to “play” for 30 minutes. Everyone needs a break, right?

So… would you like to leave your significant other in the play area, or would you like to be left in the play area while your significant other does some shopping on their own?

September 26, 2011 · Posted by in marketing, misc  

Last week, University of Wisconsin—Madison and the Wisconsin Alumni Association launched a social media challenge aimed to not only increase the visibility of the organizations’ public profile, but also to raise money for UW’s needs-based scholarship fund, Great People Scholarship.

For every new Facebook “like” and Twitter follower the two organizations receive, the university will receive $1 toward Great People Scholarship. The effort is being undertaken by Wisconsin alumnus Will Hsu, his wife Jenny, and his parents, Paul and Sharon. The Hsu family will donate $1 to the Great People Scholarship for every follower or like, up to $50,000. The campaign ends Monday, Oct. 3, 2011.

“We’re trying to make sure people stay connected,” says Will Hsu, who majored in finance, Chinese languages and literature, and East Asian Studies and graduated from UW-Madison in 2000. He is a senior finance manager at General Mills in Minneapolis and a frequent blogger who makes good use of Twitter.

“The growth of social media has really changed the world,” he says. “In the last few years, Jenny and I have watched Facebook and Twitter and some of these other types of social media take off. I think it’s a powerful way for younger alums and current students to get connected and stay connected with the university.”

Social media campaigns like this one have the potential to be extremely successful. They require almost no financial investment and can spread like crazy through social media outlets. However, UW does have a definite advantage over your typical business. Its already high profile gives it a larger platform in which to spread the word. Media outlets are much more likely to pick up on a story like this from a major university, rather than from a small car dealership, or the like.

That said, I’d say the relatively simple Bucky Challenge has already been successful. As I write, it has already raised $12,682 and counting.

UW—Madison: facebook.com/UWMadison; @uwmadison

WAA: facebook.com/buckybadger; @buckybadger

September 23, 2011 · Posted by in marketing, social media  

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