Friday, August 23, 2013

It's not me, it's you

What Nike understands so well that few other brands understand is that it's not about them.

It's about you.

Their brand and this campaign is relevant after 25 years because it's not about their patented design, their special materials or even the sports stars that endorse their products. It's about that little voice inside of all of us that says, "Get up. Get going. Go further. Go faster." It's about our desire to reach that next level, whatever that level is for us as individuals, while acknowledging the possibility that our potential is beyond what we can even imagine today.

They found that truth about the connection between their products and their users and it became the core of their brand.

What's the truth about your customers? What do they want not from you, but from life? What makes them tick? How does your product help them achieve that? Answer those questions and you'll be on your way to creating a lasting brand.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

A writer's writer

My connection to Elmore Leonard, though tenuous, goes way back to the late '60s.

He lived near us in Birmingham, Michigan when I was seven or eight.

Later when I was working at Campbell-Ewald advertising, I learned he had been a copywriter there as well. Rumor has it, he penned his first novel behind a closed office door while he was supposed to be writing copy for Chevrolet.

I only really knew him through his writing.

His work is clean, compact, and seemingly effortless. For those reasons, some don't consider him to be a great writer. I consider him to be great precisely for those reasons.

He knew how to grab attention, create characters, write dialogue and craft stories that sucked you in, all without drawing attention to himself.

He told the story, never getting in the way of it.

As someone who writes for a living – albeit at a very different level – I can only admire his work and hope to learn from its craftsmanship.

Over the past two days, I have seen many celebrations of Leonard's work, but this does it best for me. It's a compilation of all the opening lines he's ever written in published novels and short stories.

What can we learn from these? The importance and power of a strong opening.

They're so good, I need to reread those I've read already and get my hands the ones I haven't.

It's a good thing I have a lot of travel time coming up.