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Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Daily Blog Has Moved to!

As of February 1, 2010, all new Brainzooming posts will be at

To View the Daily Brainzooming Blog: You can go right to the up-to-date daily Brainzooming blog at this link.

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Thanks to all of you for following and reading the blog! We appreciate your support and readership and are excited for you to join us at!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Are You Facing a Creative Imbalance?

Being in the transportation industry (as I was) meant a lot of time spent thinking about balance, and not being too heavy inbound or outbound. In moving things (or people), the ideal state is the same number arriving and departing. If you're too heavy outbound, it means you have lots of things going out, but very few coming in. Heavy inbound is the opposite - many things arriving, but few leaving. Within the economy, there are distinct geographic and industrial patterns in the movement of goods and people. As a result, transportation providers are constantly trying to achieve balance within their networks.

All of this has a direct tie to creativity. It's not difficult to find yourself in creative imbalance, with a disconnect between the amount of creativity you're producing and the creative elements you're taking in to fuel your own pursuits.

Typically, I run heavy on the outbound side of creativity. Part of it is my personality; part of it is a strategy to provide real-life testing of the various creativity-instigating exercises and tools I share. If I'm creatively spent and a particular approach helps spur my creativity, chances are it will work for you as well.

Right now though, I'm so heavy outbound, it's a little ridiculous. Beyond blogging and tweeting, I've been doing a lot of proposal writing (which is a wonderful situation to have), building messaging for the business side of Brainzooming, and trying to do more commenting and guest blogging, too.

One problem of being too heavy outbound in transportation is you wind up with all the equipment you need to function located somewhere else. You have problems making commitments because you lack necessary resources.

What that means for me in the creativity world is trying to force myself to schedule an all inbound day - no blog writing, no tweeting, no thinking about what I should be communicating. Simply a day to read, absorb, replenish, and learn, unencumbered by the need to say something.

Quite a goal, and I'll let you know when it's achieved! In the meantime, how's your creative balance? - Mike Brown

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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

8 Ways Social Media Benefits Events

Incorporating social media (via Twitter, blogging, video, community sites, LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.) is a growing phenomenon for live and virtual events. Last week included a swing through Chicago for strategy development on two conferences where I produced social media in 2009. I'll be heavily involved in growing the social media presence for both events (the national Business Marketing Association and the American Marketing Association Market Research Conferences) again in 2010.

According to attendees and event industry observers, we introduced more innovative social media experiences than even many tech-oriented events. This impact at the front end of producing event-based social media comes from the fact the activity merges several areas of expertise for Brainzooming, including:
  • Strategy development
  • Customer experience design
  • Social media
  • Event production
Based on first-hand experience, beyond creating a buzz or "newness" for an event, strategically incorporating event-based social media delivers a variety of real benefits:
  • We created additional layers of content beyond capturing speaker talking points. We produced additional commentary, links to relevant information, and video interviews, among other educational assets.
  • We extended the conference impact to audiences outside the event through conference websites and the liberal use of hashtags.
  • It's possible to motivate favorable behaviors through incorporating promotional offers to drive trade show traffic.
  • It provides another way for attendees to become actively engaged in an event.
  • We gained an understanding of audience reactions to presenters on a real-time basis.
  • It's a way to solicit and address on-site customer service issues.
  • Our efforts provided additional educational value by introducing a large percentage of attendees to social media applications.
  • The social media team's presence prompted new interaction opportunities among those engaged in tweeting at each event.
What experiences have you discovered with event-based social media? We've found that realizing the full range of benefits requires a well-planned strategy and "producing" an event's social media effort, not simply leaving it solely to organic development. (Check out the deck we put together for the AMA Marketing Research Conference to get a sense of the range of interactivity we built into the event.)

Through both producing major events and taking a lead on organic social media in a number of smaller events, we've developed many fundamental approaches and look forward to sharing the benefits of these learnings in events this year. And if you're doing event planning, let us know if you're interested in finding out more about how social media can deliver new value for your event. - Mike Brown

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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Important Update for Those With Favorited or Viewing through RSS - Moving Time!

I've mentioned a few times about moving the blog to a new website. Well, the time has come!

After this Friday, daily blog publishing on will stop. Starting today, you can begin to find new, daily blog posts at! (Note: will still be online for now, although archived content has moved to the new site.)

This move has been a long time coming and with the change to the Wordpress platform, the website will now contain the blog plus information on Brainzooming service offerings, presentations I do, and tools that have been previously scattered across other websites.

I'm still learning about the new website and there are more features to be added, but it's been functioning well the past couple of weeks (i.e., it's been feeding email blog subscribers since January 18), so it's ready for the transition.

Here's what you can do to stay current with daily Brainzooming posts:

Thanks to all of you for following and reading the blog! My goal with every post is to provide something of benefit to you on how to better incorporate strategy, creativity, or innovation into your business and personal lives. Since this is about providing value to you, please let me know your thoughts on the new site.

Thanks particularly to Seth Simonds who has been instrumental in creating the foundation and structure for!

Again, I appreciate your support and readership and am excited for you to join me at the new!

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3 Links Between Your Company and Personal Brands

In a recent blog post, Mike Arauz, a strategist at Undercurrent, raised the issue of how personal and company brands fit together. He addressed the issue in the advertising industry particularly where the personal brands of an agency's employees can readily take on more prominence than its own.

Beyond offering a comment on how I'd handled this situation myself, the post suggested three other important elements in linking company and personal brand strategy:

  • More prominently marketing your personal brand implies you have to manage yourself successfully. As with a company's brand management team, carefully select the people you surround yourself with to help you shape your innovative personal brand strategy.

  • Ideally, your strong personal brand should be complementary to your employer's brand. At a minimum, they shouldn't be in conflict and should work in tandem. At best, the professional characteristics you successfully display in your job should be creatively displayed in your personal brand as well.

  • Make a conscious evaluation of elements from your employer's brand to incorporate into your personal brand for the mutual benefit of both. Are there personality, expertise, or performance attributes your employer is known for that you have come to strongly embody? If so, consider how you can creatively bring these into your personal brand. - Mike Brown

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Monday, January 25, 2010

Domino's, Conan, and 3 Fundamentals for Communicating Big Brand Change

There are lots of discussions on whether Domino's is brilliantly innovative or colossally mistaken in the redesign of its pizza with new crust, sauce, and cheese. It's obviously a multi-dimensional brand question involving both major product and communications decisions.

Not having eaten Domino's for years, I don't know whether it's better or not. Instead, the question here is how to creatively present a major strategy change to customers? Do you do a mea culpa, as Domino's has done, saying we've heard you, and it's necessary to change? Or do you take an even more aggressive stance and sell against what you were doing previously?

While some commentators have said Domino's is doing the latter, it depends on what communications you're watching.

Its 4-plus minute "documentary" version of the story presents a Domino's message of, "We've heard your concerns and have been working hard to address them." Editing to sound bites for a TV spot, however, pushes the message closer to, "We sold you crappy food, and said it was good." By the time comedians and the public get a shot, it's, "We suck, and frankly, we didn't care...until now."

Here are three communications take-aways from Domino's to consider when implementing a major change:

  • Go out of your way to NEVER sell against what you used to do. Violating this simply makes you look stupid ("If you knew you sucked, why were you doing it in the first place?"). Your loyal customers will also FEEL stupid ("They say they suck; what does that make us for liking what they did?").

  • There's a fine creative balance since your focused change message will change based on who's shaping it. Even if you followed the first lesson, somebody outside or inside your own organization will wind up messing up the message (intentionally or unintentionally), ensuring you will be selling against your history.

  • This issue isn't limited to brand changes and turnarounds. It applies to internal programs, reorganizations, career changes, etc. When you're making a dramatic change, really think through your strategy and what you really want to offer as the rationale.

The Conan-Leno Tonight Show debacle at NBC is a relevant example of these three fundamentals. I've never been a big Conan fan, but watched during his last week to see how he handled the messaging relative to the three lessons above:

Periods of major change are great proving grounds for brand marketers. Go to school on these two very prominent examples for approaches and learnings to use in future turnarounds you face. - Mike Brown

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