Imagine this guy showing up at your office for a job interview. It’s likely your judgment filter would kick in in less than 30 seconds, and you will conclude the applicant is severely out of touch and may have been living in a cave for the last 30 years. Not a good first impression. This week I was working with a trade association that has engaged me to speak to 5 of their chapters in 2014 on branding. During our negotiations, I mentioned to my contact that the trade association’s current logo needed a facelift. In addition to the logo mark being too busy, a major part of the design was the state of Florida. Lose the “So last decade” logos. Yikes! Someone call the brand police, Using the state as art is passé, just like a blue leisure. The light blue leisure suit is a great metaphor for branding that is outdated and reflects a tired or should be retired elements.
Now that I've got your attention, sorry, this week's blog is not about an erotic trilogy or a fantasy business mogul. Its about a real strategy that can make or break any customer experience and ultimately impact a brand. Six months or so ago, at a charity fundraiser, I purchased a weekend getaway. It was a silent-auction item touted on the promotional poster as a “This is paradise!” stay for the weekend at a five-bedroom house on the beach on beautiful Anna Maria Island. Sounded great to me. Waterfront property, relaxation, and all in a vacation area that I had been to before and loved. Soon after the function, I received a certificate in the mail with similar details about the house and their website.
This past week, I received an email from a fellow entrepreneur. It was a notice, that after five long years, he was taking his company off the respirator and closing it down. The news was sad. I know he and his team gave it their all. I could feel his pain in the letter he sent to his customers and friends, it was as if someone had died. My friend lost more than money. His entrepreneurial soul took a traumatic hit too. It’s never easy to pull the plug on a business you started. Especially when you are an eternal optimist, which most entrepreneurs are. You cling on to hope. You believe in miracles. Your ego screams, “No freakin way can you bail and be branded a quitter”. Egos do not always give the best advice. There comes a time in business, when quitting is the wisest action to take. Postponing it will just delay your next success.
There is no amount of butter that can help Paula Deen’s brand get out of this tight jam. The past few weeks have not been pretty for Ms. Paula, the Southern belle, sweet potato, comfort food celeb. After being deposed in a lawsuit where a former employee alleged a culture of racism and sexual harassment, Paula under oath, admitted using the “N” word and I’m not referring to “Non-Fat.” Her million-dollar empire went from deep-fried and happy to “where have all my sponsors gone?” Wal-Mart, Target, Smithfield Foods, Caesars Entertainment, The Food Network, Home Depot and even the drug maker Novo Nordisk all opted-out after the news broke. Doing something bad is never good, but this situation went from bad, to insanely stupid, self-inflicted, career-ruining awful.
When people ask me what one most important action I take every year has contributed to my achievements the answer is simple. I work from a success plan. This success plan includes what I really want in life and in business and how I will get there. I've been doing this for the past 12 years and I believe it's a fool proof way to manifest any set of goals. If you've never done a success plan before, it does require some soul-searching, deep thinking and a good chunk of time the first go round. But once you've done this the first time, then every year all you do is update and the time investment is minimal. If this process is seems overwhelming, don't procrastinate. Break it down into small pieces. Just write one section a day. In a week or two, you should have a critical tool to speed up your path to success.
Are you ready to fight for your personal brand? Many brands on their top game suddenly find themselves in a truck full of brand trouble. A scandal, bad judgment, a legal mess, a tragic accident or the result of just taking your eye off the ball, the brand goes bad. Beat up brands can recover. I look at brands that have fought their way back from near folds and I'm always amazed at the resiliency and dedication I see. In my latest book, Brand Turnaround, I reveal the steps taken by persistent leaders who overcame major brand shake-ups. I call these seven key concepts Game Changers, and one of them is to not give up.
Part I I’m sure I did not make much more than a “C” grade in any English class that I survived. Other than writing my dad’s eulogy, I never wrote much more than a paragraph [...]