Friday, March 1, 2013

A Groupon goodbye

If you haven't read Andrew Mason's resignation letter, you should.

It is the perfect mix of humility and hubris. It explains why Groupon became such a phenomenal success and misguided underachiever.

His ability to pinpoint his own failings in this moment of self-reflection are admirable. It's refreshing to see him accept responsibility and know that his presence will only prevent Groupon from moving forward.

The lesson here is that great idea people are not always great leaders. And, sometimes the noise of "experts" can cause you to lose sight of what got you to where you are.

Good luck in your quest to lose that Groupon 40. Pritikin has worked well for a few of my friends. I look forward to seeing what you come up with next.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Good humor

After watching the commercials on this year's Super Bowl, I was reminded that not all advertising that tries to be funny actually is.

Here's a campaign that is.

Domtar Paper and their agency in their continuing quest to remind us that life without paper is not a life worth living, has crafted a very nice series of spots that focus on the little moments when paper might be important.

These work because there's truth behind each situation, the actors play it straight, not for yuks, and the technique does more than just get attention, it actually sells the product.

I wish all advertising were this good.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

A brand is a brand is a brand

I'm currently working on a brand strategy project for a global business-to-business conglomerate and in the process of researching other global b-to-b brands, I've discovered something.

They're all the same.

They're all producers of quality products.

They're all solutions providers.

They're all innovative.

They're all changing the way you think about [insert product category here].

They're all focused on sustainability.

They're all about ethics.

They're all promoting diversity.

They're all building a culture of collaboration and respect.

They're all providing opportunities for their employees.

They're all strengthening the communities they serve.

All these issues are relevant and important to their customers, regulators and channel partners. I get it. But by focusing only on what's relevant, they're missing the second part of creating a great brand: being different.

Yes, it's hard to be the first to step out of the pack, but there are great rewards for those that take the risk. Because, while rational thinking and functional benefits matter in business decisions, just because someone is sitting behind a desk doesn't mean he checks his emotion at the front door. You're still talking to people with hopes, fears, needs and desires.

Great consumer brands are built on emotions. There's no reason great b-to-b brands should be any different.