Friday, September 21, 2012

The return of the NFL (No Fun League)

Last week in its efforts to "protect the shield," the NFL threatened to fine Alex Smith $15,000 for wearing a San Francisco Giants cap during his post game presser. Apparently, players and coaches are contractually obligated to wear only NFL-licensed logoed merchandise during media availabilities in the 90 minutes following a game.

Now, I understand the issue.

You can't have every player showing up at their press conference wearing gear from their local sponsors. But let's get real here. Football fans are sports fans, and if their hero is seen supporting another area team that's making a playoff push, it only helps the NFL by demonstrating  they care for the whole sports community, not just their 100 yards of turf.

Besides the NFL has bigger image problems, retirees who can barely remember their names, officials who can't remember how many times out a team gets in a half, and a bounty case they're having trouble finding the evidence to support.

The NFL's image has taken a beating over the last 12 months. The last thing they need is to be seen as small and petty.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The eyes have it

75% of the U.S. Population, including me, wear some form of corrective eyewear. I'm pretty sure 100% of us have complained about how much our glasses cost.

Go into your neighborhood optical center and even without an exam, you can easily walk out the door having spent $400 or more for a well-designed pair of specs.

My question has always been, "Why?" What is in those few ounces of plastic and steel that make them worth so much?

Of course we know why glasses manufacturers charge so much for so little – because they can. This has created an opportunity for a disruptive new company, Warby Parker.

Bucking conventional wisdom, this 2011 start-up designs and manufactures its own glasses using the same materials and factories as the big boys, Luxotica and Safilo designs. Unlike those companies, Warby Parker sells their glasses online for $95. That price includes prescription lenses, free shipping and returns.

How good an idea is this? In just three weeks they met the entire sales goal for their first year.

It's working because they realized the opportunity was not to offer cheap glasses – there are websites that sell glasses for less than $95 – but to offer a limited collection of stylish glasses for a reasonable price.

So instead of feeling cheap and wondering if the glasses you purchased from a discount website are an appropriate expression of your personal brand, you feel smart.

Nice insight. Nice innovation. Nice brand.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

There is no safe path

You can't know everything there is to know.

You can't predict everything that must be predicted.

You can't plan for every contingency.

You can't reach your destination quickly by taking small steps.

If you want to achieve greatness, if you want to lead, if you want to change the world, sooner or later you have to leap.

The chasm is never as wide nor as deep as you believe. Success is probably closer than you think. Failure will hurt less than you imagine.

Stop worrying. Start doing.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Making your brand mean more

When I saw this article on McCormick spice company's new retail store in Baltimore, I was reminded of an exercise I did with a consumer packaged goods client a few years ago to help them better understand their brand and create new products.

In order to help them bring their brand to life, we started the off-site session with a visit to The Weber Grill, a theme restaurant in Chicago built around the Weber Barbecue brand. After taking it all in (including the steaks and martinis), we spent the following morning imagining a restaurant bearing their brand by answering the following questions:
  • Where is the restaurant located?
  • What kind of building is it in?
  • Who are your best customers?
  • How do they feel when they enter?
  • What does the decor look like?
  • Who's the executive chef?
  • What does the waitstaff wear?
  • What's level of service do you deliver?
  • What's on the menu?
  • And finally, how do they feel after they've paid their bill?
It was an interesting and enlightening process.

What happened was the team went from thinking about the brand as a few well-chosen words and pictures in a powerpoint presentation to a customer-focused business that had to actively engage people.

So even if you're not planning on opening a retail experience for your brand, it's an exercise worth exploring to help make that abstract brand statement come to life in the eyes of your team.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Simple ain't easy

I love simple. Maybe because I am simple. Or it's just that it's so damn hard to do well.

This spot makes simple look easy.

The airline business is complex. Planes, routes, fees, fares, rules, apps, websites, amenities, pilots, flight attendants: there's so much to talk about.

Unless you uncover a truth.

This spot reminds us that even though the process of flying has been burdened with hassles like full body scans, middle seats, people who refuse to turn off their cell phones, at its heart it's magic.

And who doesn't want a little more magic in their life?