BRANDING TRAGEDY….OR NOT

I’ve been working to finalize my book and get it published. When I was literally about two weeks away from publication, I thought I’d double check a few things…including the title. I looked at it as merely a formality, as I had researched it about three years ago when I originally had the idea for the book. I considered it all part of “crossing the t’s and dotting the i’s.” I did a search on Google and search on Amazon to see what else was out there…and something came up that I hadn’t seen before. It led me to dig a little deeper and a little deeper and then realized there might be an issue.

Oh no.

I touched base with the trademark lawyer, who advised against using the name that I’ve been using because someone has a trademark on it. While you can’t trademark a book title, you can trademark courses and programs related to a book. Since I planned to conduct seminars and teach people how to develop their personal brands, I knew I needed to be mindful of trademark issues. It didn’t really matter for the book title itself, but for the courses that would correspond to the book, the title I had chosen would be problematic.

I was devastated.

Here I was, all ready to go. I had the (which I’ve had for several years), everything designed and laid out–the works. But because of my background in branding, I knew that this could be very tricky.

So I fell back and regrouped.

With the help of family and friends, I explored a bunch of different options and finally narrowed it down to what I felt was a good title and subtitle, one that still integrated the core concepts I have been espousing without violating anyone’s trademark.

I used trademarkia.com to do my initial research. This is a super handy site if you’re looking at branding questions. You can search on words, phrases and marks that are filed with the US Patent and Trademark Office.

Just to be safe, I hired a lawyer from legalforce.com for a 15 minute consultation. I was skeptical going into the call that it might be a scam, that she would only try to upsell me to a more expensive consultation (I had been given another quote for a thousand dollars to get advice on the exact same research). But that is not what happened at all! I got great advice quickly and was able to move forward with confidence that I was on solid ground.

I’m actually really happy with where I landed, and I think it’s even stronger than what I had before. Throughout this process, I’ve learned:

  • Sometimes our setbacks are really a set up for something even better!
  • Legalforce.com is a viable solution for simple legal questions.
  • If you’re an entrepreneur and need to be mindful of your brand trademark issues, be sure to do your homework and triple check that you’re in the clear before moving forward!

So now the name of the book is Your Branding Edge: How Personal Branding Can Turbocharge Your Career. Let me know what you think of the new name!

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DIGITAL INTEGRATION: LOOKING AT ALL YOUR MARKETING OPTIONS

binary-system-1543168__340Often people come to me asking for a website, or to have me talk with their team about social media best practices, or ask my advice about what their LinkedIn profile should say. While I am happy to help with all these various digital activities, I always encourage someone to look at the larger overall digital marketing plan. In fact, marketing integration is much more important than in “traditional” marketing because each element builds upon (and depends on) each of the other elements.

Is yours complete?

If you pour your heart into making a great website, but it gets no traffic, your efforts will have been in vain. If you’ve labored over just the right keywords, but you have no way to talk to your prospects once you’ve brought them to your site, you will lose a LOT of traffic.

Digital branding requires that you look at all the different possibilities and, based on your strengths, capabilities and assets (coupled with a solid understanding of your consumer), design a digital marketing plan just for your needs. Ideally, you’ll want to use many of the following elements in your plan:

  • A strong website: There must be a “home base,” someplace for consumers to come to be informed, to get involved, to be a part of your community.
  • SEO: This gets people to come to that magnificent website that you just spent thousands of dollars on
  • Social Media: How will you engage with your target audience? Go “hang out” with them (virtually speaking) and join the conversations that are inevitably happening about your industry, product or segment.
  • E-newsletters/other e-mail marketing: Offer content and continue to have an on-going dialogue with your current (and future) clients.
  • Blog: This allows for an in-depth conversation about topics of interest both to you and your target audience.
  • Mobile: Everybody’s on the move. If there is a way to stay engaged with your audience on that most treasured of all tools (their phone), everyone will benefit!

The good news is that integrating these is not difficult, but it does require some strategic planning on your part. If you’d like help with that, give us a call. We’d love to help.

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DIGITAL REVOLUTION OR EVOLUTION

51GNAHdkzHL._AC_US160_Later this week, I will be training a group of insurance sales agents on the best ways to tap into the power that social media networks can provide, counseling them on how to authentically present themselves to potential clients as a viable solution to the financial challenges they meet. In the training that I do, one of my biggest hurdles is with those who are entrenched in what they have been doing and honestly, if what you have been doing is working for you, keep doing it. Just understand that the world is changing …. everyday …. every minute. Evolution is inevitable, and revolution is always possible!

As pre-work for the discussion, I have asked each one of them to watch the following video to prepare for the session. It was created by Eric Qualman from Socialnomics. While I wish the sources for all the “facts” were given, the spirit of the video is totally valid and worthy of consideration.

Check it out: http://www.digitalbuzzblog.com/the-social-media-revolution-visualised/

Have a digital day!

GUIDANCE ON SOCIAL MEDIA BEST PRACTICES

I was presenting today to the Transformers® and G.I.Joe® marketing teams at Hasbro®, to provide guidance on social media best practices. Here’s what I told them:

 

  • Listen: One of the easiest ways to get started is to conduct a Social Media Audit.Find out what people are talking about—you’ll be amazed at what you learn from this purest of all forms of consumer research! Get competitive intelligence, identify new market opportunities, and understand brand and category perceptions.
  • Strategy Still Matters: Social Media Tools are just that…tools…one of the biggest mistakesI see is that companies get enamored with the “new-fangled” tools and start to use them…without a thought to the overriding rationale for choosing that tool over any other (traditional) marketing tool.
  • Provide Value: You cannot simply shove your marketing message down someone else’s throat. Delight your consumers with added value and they will stick to you like Velco®
  • Think Collaboratively: There is no such thing as “us” versus “them” anymore. You build something great with others—your consumers, your customers, your suppliers, EVERYBODY!
  • Authenticity & Transparency Are Critical: If you try to be sneaky, you will be outed eventually. That has always been the case, of course, but now, with the internet, the public outrage spreads faster than wildfire, is global and permanently on record.
  • Leverage Multimedia: Video is phenomenal.Opportunities abound for you to use sight, sound and motion as never before.
  • Seek To Engage—Permanently: Social Media is not a “hit it and quit it” kind of a thing. Even if you look at it from a financial standpoint, you will be convinced that you want to nurture a life-long love affair with your consumer, not a one-night stand.
  • Go Beyond Basic Measurement: The digital world can measure everything—how many seconds someone watches a video, how many people comment about a topic, who’s following whom. While marketing has always struggled with presenting senior management with the exact ROI on a TV commercial or newspaper story, social media offers more measurement opportunities than ever before.

 

Did I miss any? Feel free to add your comments as well!

BEST OF SOCIAL MEDIA

So today’s project is trying to find some great (current) examples of social media done right. I teach businesses about the necessary mindset for using Web 2.0 tools, and I have found that specific examples help them wrap their brains around a concept in a much more tangible manner.

 

So, who’s done a good job in engaging their consumer base in meaningful interaction that builds relationships and company value at the same time?

 

I’ll put this out there as a list to get some conversation started, but if you have others, I’m all ears:

 

  • Entertainment industry
  • Charity Tie-ins
  • Viral campaigns
  • Blogs
  • Video
  • iPhone Apps
  • kids campaigns
  • Mobile marketing

 

Tell me:

 

  • What did they do that was so interesting?
  • Why do you think it was so great ?
  • How did they do it (what elements did they use)?

 

You can post something here as a comment or send a tweet to @Rahna.

 

Thanks!

VIDEO MATTERS

I’ve been focusing on on-line videos this week and thought I should share some of what I’ve discovered.

 

Here’s the bottom line: VIDEO MATTERS.

 

Whether you are a small business wanting to add a little mini-documentary video to your website or you are a large advertiser looking for new uncluttered channels on which to convey your message, on-line video is a rich area to explore.

 

If you’re a skeptic about the power of video, I have two words for you: Susan Boyle.

 

In case you missed it, Susan Boyle exploded onto the worldwide web in April as a contestant on Britain’s Got Talent. In the past two months, she has racked up over 100 million views — remember, the Super Bowl is viewed by something like 93 million! Suffice it to say, her life has been permanently altered by YouTube. And as we move forward, yours will be too.

 

In fact, it very likely already has been (especially if you are 18-34 years old). How many of you have seen amazing videos where men are bonding with lions or cats are hanging from ceiling fans? I’d bet a lot of money that the majority of you have. See my previous blog post for more quantitative info on trends and growth in on-line video.

 

Want another concrete example? Okay, a friend of mine is in charge of Digital Media & Marketing for Hyperion Books and spends her days leveraging the power of the internet to let people know about the wonderful books Hyperion publishes. Does she use video? You bet.

 

She recently worked with author Kelly Corrigan to develop a short but moving video on Transcending to promote the paperback release of her book The Middle Place. Upon posting the video, she and her team started to spread the word by sending an email to 50 of their interested friends. To date, the video has enjoyed over 4.4MM views and, more importantly, the book sat at #2 on the The New York Times Bestsellers List for many weeks. That’s low-cost, high-impact marketing. 

 

So what does this mean for you? As I said at the start of this article, video matters. Consider advertising on-line as a viable alternative, and develop a video strategy for your digital efforts. Do you have any video on your website and/or on other websites? You should consider what the benefits could be for you.

 

Video allows you to:

  • Discuss your topic with passion 
  • Take advantage of sight, sound, and motion
  • Engage with your audience more thoroughly
  • Show your thought-leadership
  • Develop your brand more distinctly
  • Entertain, inform and delight your consumers
  • Improve your SEO rankings

 

Here are a few tips:

  • Be really compelling: make sure the topic is relevant to your business
  • Be succinct: most people will willingly sit through an engaging one- or two-minute video
  • Be proprietary: embed the video on your own site
  • Optimize: pay attention to meta data and Google Video map details
  • Market your video: there are tons of video-sharing sites out there to post on
  • Spread the word: use other media (both digital and non-digital) to spread the word

CLARIFICATION ON BLOG POST COMMENTS

I gave a talk a few weeks ago about the Top Ten Secrets of Digital Brandingwhich was then written up in the local newspaper (follow the hyperlink to see the full article).

 

I want to clarify something pointed out in the article that may be misleading. Many of the people in attendance were not very knowledgeable about the blogosphere and had some questions about why they should blog and how commenting works. In the article, I am quoted as saying that you can edit the comments and pick and choose which ones get posted. While that is technically true, I want to be clear that I do not think that you should only publish positive comments. In general, you should publish all comments, as long as they are relevant to the discussion. The article is not clear that I was talking about spam comments or something off-color or outright offensive. Those are the ones that should be screened.

 

If you missed the talk but would like to have the information, check out our new FREE downloadable e-book on the Top Ten Secrets of Digital Branding.

 

Enjoy!